The Catholic University of America Press

Nicolas de Clamanges

Spirituality, Personal Reform, and Pastoral Renewal on the Eve of the Reformations

Christopher M. Bellitto

Cloth 978-0-8132-0996-8 $49.95
February 2001 Out of Print

Studied almost exclusively as a literary humanist, Nicolas de Clamanges (ca. 1363/1364-1437) was closely involved in the Great Western Schism, French humanism, politics at the University of Paris, and Church reform. Far more than an elegant writer, this Parisian scholar and sometime papal secretary was an important but until now unjustly neglected religious reformer.

In Part One of this volume, Christopher M. Bellitto presents a biography of Clamanges' life and a survey of his writings within the multiple contexts in which he operated: schism, Hundred Years' War, Parisian humanism, French civil war. It places his literary images of a troubled Church within the framework of his ideas of the humanism of reform, identifying his great debt to Pauline and Augustinian ideas of the interplay of divine and human activities.

Part Two explores Clamanges' normative emphasis on personal reform, which was essentially a via purgativa that drew on monastic piety and late medieval spirituality, especially the imitation of Christ in the Modern Devotion. His was an inside-out reform that radiated from the heart of the individual Christian through the rest of the Church. In Clamanges' writings, we hear the calls for the personal reform of the cleric-in-training ultimately directed toward improvements in the cura animarum and the demand for the renewal of episcopal leadership that were hallmarks of Trent's systematic reform program.

This examination of his thought reveals Clamanges to have been in continuity with ancient and medieval Catholic reform ideas that foreshadowed not Luther, but Trent. His spirituality of personal reform may be seen as one bridge over which the Fathers' model of personal reform was passed along from the early Church to the twelfth-century renaissance, and then through the late Middle Ages to early modern Catholicism and the Council of Trent.


Christopher M. Bellitto is assistant professor of church history at St. Joseph's Seminary, coeditor of Reform and Renewal in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and author of several works, including From Day One to Vatican II: Reform and Renewal in Catholic Christianity.


"Bellitto's portrait of Clamanges' career and approach to reform is precise and informative. . . . Bellitto offers valuable insight."--Renaissance Quarterly

"A very well written and researched study of the life, historical setting, and work of Nicolas de Clamanges."--Sixteenth Century Journal

"The only readily available treatment of reform thought of a significant figure of the late medieval Church."--Theological Studies

"Bellitto's study helps make accessible to Anglophone audiences the important recent studies of Clamanges written by French and Italian scholars . . . and his use of the recent editions of Clamanges' works insures that his interpretations are based on much more reliable readings than those found in the early modern, uncritical editions."--Prof. Phillip H. Stump, Lynchburg College

"A careful examination. . . . Bellitto makes an undeniably important contribution to our understanding of the complexities of the late Middle Ages by restoring Clamanges to the discussion of religious reform that pervaded this pivotal period in the history of the church. . . . As Bellitto aptly demonstrates, historians who have portrayed the late medieval church as complacent, indifferent to criticism, and immune to calls for reform fail to take into account individuals like Clamanges, whose clamor for reform clearly demonstrates an awareness of the problems plaguing the church alongside the urgent need for reform. Bellitto accurately situates Clamanges within the context of the Middle Ages, both informed by and contribution to conceptions of spirituality that emphasized interior piety and personal reform."--H-France Book Reviews

Product Details

Pages:xii, 146 pages

Dimensions:5.5x8.5 inches


CIP Information: 00-030311/ BX4705.C57 B45 2001/ 282'.092--dc21


1. Clamanges, Nicolas de, ca. 1363-1437