Science & Culture

Francesc Eiximenis

by Chiara Mancinelli

Francesc Eiximenis, O.F.M., (Girona, ca 1330–Perpignan, 1409) was a prolific medieval author and a respected political counselor to the royal family as well as to municipal authorities. Born in Girona in a family of merchants well connected to the royal house[1], he was ordained sub-deacon on 22 December 1352. His formal education was completed in educational centers under the Crown of Aragon as well as European ones such as Oxford, where the Franciscan studies conducted there affected him profoundly, and Paris, Cologne, and Rome. Moreover, in his works, he refers to his stay on La Verna Mountain, in Tuscany, the site where St. Francis received the stigmata in 1224 and subsequently a key spiritual center for Franciscans. In 1365 he was present at the Avignon papal court, where he witnessed the first revelation of Prince Peter of Aragon, and where he returned in 1383 as the companion of Friar Esteve Fort, who undertook the role of discrediting the predictions of Prince Peter of Aragon, which had favored the Roman pope.

Having returned to Cataluña, his presence in Vic, Barcelona, and Tarragona was documented.

The predilection conferred on Eiximenis by the Crown was demonstrated by the support given to the Franciscan on the occasion of the award of his degree as Magister Theologiae in 1374 at the learning center of Tolosa. This reflected the interest of King Peter IV and Prince John to make use of the friar’s collaboration. Indeed, his assignments in matters political, diplomatic, and cultural demonstrated the value placed on Eiximenis’ abilities. In addition to significant achievements—including the examination of Hebrew works charged to friars Eiximenis, Tomas Olzina, and Nicolas Sacosa by King John I; his preaching during the commemoration for the victory in Sicily in 1392; and the assignment by King Martin I to take part in the proceedings among theologians to address the Western Schism (also Papal Schism, 1378-1417)—Eiximenis maintained in constant collaboration with the royal family during the reigns of Peter IV, John I, and Martin I between the end of 1397 and the beginning of 1398. Also significant was the relationship between Eiximenis and queen Maria de Luna, Martin I’s wife, who the friar praised for her devotion and the political adroitness demonstrated during her period of lieutenancy. Likewise, under petition of Eiximenis and the Master of Theology Bartolomeu Borrás, the queen financed the building of the convent of Santo Espíritu del Monte (1404), which aspired to observe the Franciscan rule to the letter.

Nevertheless, the continuous relationship between Eiximenis and the Crown didn’t require submission, because the Franciscan moved away from political attitudes and decisions that he did not share. He also was not the confessor of any member of the royal family.

Eiximenis performed missions commissioned by the city of Valencia as well, where he lived from 1382 to 1408. In effect, in 1387 Eiximenis was one of the three clerics responsible for delivering the funeral eulogium of King Peter, he was apostolic commissioner for the Crusades of 1397 and 1399 against the pirates of the north African coast, and in 1399 he participated in a commission charged to write the statutes of the city’s schools in an attempt to unify them. Furthermore, the many donations received by Eiximenis from the city of Valencia underscored his talent as emissary, diplomat, and counselor. In 1408 the Pope of Avignon, Benedict XIII, summoned the Franciscan to the council of Perpignan. On November of the same year he appointed him Patriarch of Jerusalem and, five weeks later, Bishop of Elna, an administrative and not titular post.

Eiximenis died in 1409, probably on 23 April.

The multiplicity of questions attended by the Franciscan is reflected in his multifaceted works: in effect, Eiximenis dealt with economics in the Tractat d’usura (1374),[2] while the Crestià, which was planned in thirteen books of which we know only four (Primer 1379-1381,[3] Segon 1382-1383,[4]Terç 1384,[5] Dotzè 1387 and 1391[6]) was intended to be a foundational summa of Christianity, including the education of the prince. In effect, the question about how to govern the community correctly, one of the axes of Eiximenian thinking, was explained to ecclesiastics and the laity in many of his works, including the Regiment de la cosa pública (1383),[7] the Epistola a l’infant Martí, duc de Montblanc, donant-li consell sobre el seu regiment a Sicília (1392),[8] the Ars praedicandi populo (ca 1377)[9] and the Pastorale (1398).[10] After the Dotzè, Eiximenis started writing spiritual and devotional texts, like the Libre dels àngels (1392),[11] the Vida de Jesucrist (written between 1399 and 1406),[12] the Psalterium alias Laudatorium(written between 1404 and 1408).[13]

Some parts of Llibre de les dones (1396),[14] the Tractat de Penitència and the Tractat de Contemplació, are part of the Scala Dei (beginning fifteenth century), a devotional and ascetic treatise that Eiximenis offered to Queen María de Luna.[15]

Moreover, there are some Eiximenis’s texts with uncertain dates (Allegationes, 1398-140816[16]) or consist of fragments (one sermon[17] and a fragment of the Summa theologica[18]).

With respect to De triplici statu mundi (1378-1379),[19] the positive disposition toward the Roman pope that emerged in the text, in contrast to information that seems to indicate Eiximenis’s inclination for Avignon, has divided scholars on whether or not to ascribe the text to the friar.

The posts he held for the royal family and the municipal authorities make Eiximenis one of the most important and influential Franciscans of his time and underscore his political and economic competence. Similarly, during the course of his oeuvre, Eiximenis elaborates a precise political and ethical vision at the heart of which is the concept of community, or cosa pública (Res Publica), that emanates from the living body of Christ.

The value of Eiximenis’ work lies in his intention to transmit his vision to the political and administrative spheres so that it may operate in society. This pedagogical undertaking, which included his texts addressed to both ecclesiastics and the laity, was reflected by a number of precise decisions by the Crown and the city of Valencia.


[1]The original surname of the friar could be "Examnis," changed for "Eiximenis" when he received the habit.

[2]Hernado i Delgado, J., El “Tractat d’usura” de Francesc Eiximenis”, AST, 57-58 (1984-85), pp. 1-96

[3]The text was edited in 1483 by Lambert Palmart at Valencia; there are no modern editions.

[4]There is no complete modern edition.

[5]Terç del Crestià, a cura dels pares M. de Barcelona i N. d’Ordal, Barcino, Barcelona, 1929; Gracia, Jorge J. E, Com usar bé de beure e menjar, Editorial Curial, 1983; Renedo i Puig, X., Edició i estudi del “Tractat de Luxúria” del Terç del Crestià de Francesc Eiximenis, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, 1995.

[6]Tractat de Regiment de Prínceps e de Comunitats, edición de Antoni Bulbena i Tosell, La Acadèmia, Barcelona, 1904; Dotzè llibre del Crestià, II, v. I-II, Collegi Universitari de Girona, Diputació de Girona, Girona, 1986; Dotzè llibre del Crestià, I, v. I, Collegi Universitari de Girona, Diputació de Girona, Girona, 2005.

[7]Regiment de la cosa pública, edición facsimil de M. Sanchis Guarner, Societat Bibliogràfica Valenciana, 1972; Regiment de la cosa pública, edición del P. D. de Molins de Rei, Barcino, Barcelona, 1927; Regiment de la cosa pública, versión de J. Palomero, prólogo de A. Hauf, Acadèmia Valenciana de la Lengua, Valencia, 2009; Regiment de la cosa pública, introducción de L. Brines, versión y notas de J. Palomero, Bromera, Alzira, 2009; Lo Regiment de la cosa pública en el Dotzè del Crestià. El gobierno de lo público en el Duodécimo del Cristiano, introducción de Albert Hauf i Valls, Vicent Martines Peres y Elena Sánchez López, traducción de edición de Vicent Martines Peres y María Justiniano Ortuño, Centro de Lingüística Aplicada Atenea, Madrid, 2009.

[8]Rubió i Lluch, A., Documents, vol. II, IEC, Barcelona, 1921, pp. 399-403

[9]De Barcelona, M., L’Ars preaedicandi de Francesc Eiximenis, en Homenatge a Antoni Rubió i Lluch. Miscel.lània d'Estudis Literaris, Històrics i Lingüístics, vol. II, 1936, pp. 301-340; Art de predicació al poble, edición de Xavier Renedo, Eumo, Vic, 2009

[10] Martínez Checa, M., Francesc Eiximenis, Pastorale: edició i traducció, Tesis doctoral, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, 1994

[11]Gascón Uris, S., Edició crítica del Libre dels àngels, 1392 de Francesc Eiximenis, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, 1992; De Sant Miquel Arcàngel, edición a cura de Curt Wittlin, Curial Edicions Catalanes, Barcelona, 1983;Francesc Eiximenis, Àngels e demonis, edició i comentaris de Sadurní Martí, Quaderns Crema, Barcelona, 2003.

[12]Hauf, A., La "Vita Christi" de Fr. Francesc Eiximenis (1340?-1409), y la tradición de las "VC" medievales: aportación al estudio de las principales fuentes e influencia de la VCE, y edición de los cinco primeros libros, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, 1976; El naixement de l’infant Jesús, edición de Jordi Rubió i Balaguer, Barcelona, 1951; Hauf, A., Fr. Francesc Eiximenis, O.F.M., "De la predestinación de Jesucristo", y el consejo del Arcipreste de Talavera "a los que deólogos mucho fundados non son", AFH, 76, 1983, pp. 239-95.

[13]Francesc Eiximenis, Psalterium alias laudatorium Papae Benedicto XIII dedicatum, edito por Curt J. Wittlin, Pontificale Institute of Medieval Studies, Toronto, 1988.

[14]Lo Llibre de les Dones, Universitat de Barceloona/Curial Edicionc Catalanes, 1981. Edición critica a cura de Frank Naccarato; bajo la dirección de Joan Coromines; revisada por Curt Wittlin y Antoni Comas. Introducción y apéndice de Curt Wittlin, “Biblioteca Torres Amat”, vol. 9 y 10.

[15]Scala Dei, devocionari de la reina María, versión al catalán moderno de Elisabet Ràfols, Publicacions de l’Abadia de Montserrat, 1985 ; Balzer de García, P., Scala Dei, traducción de Ana Guelbenzu, Styria, Barcelona, 2007

[16]Hauf, A., Les Allegationes de Fra Francesc Eiximenis, OFM, sobre la jurisdicció i el poder temporal de l’Esglèsia, en Estudis de Literatura Catalana en honor de Josep Romeu i Figueras, II, PAM, 1986, pp. 5-33.

[17]Perarnau, J., Un fragment del “Liber Sermonum” de Francesc Eiximenis, ATCA, 10, 1991, pp. 284-293

[18]Amorós, L., O.F.M., El problema de la “Summa Theologica” del Maestro Francisco Eiximenis O.F.M. (1340?-1409), AFH, 52, 1959, pp. 178-203

[19]Haufi Valls, A. G., El “De Triplici Statu Mundi” de Francesc Eiximenis, O.F.M. EUC, XXIII, Barcelona, 1979, pp. 265-283

Bibliographic References

Evangelisti, Paolo, I francescani e la costruzione di uno stato, Editrici Francescane, Padova, 2006.

Francesc Eiximenis i la casa reial. Diplomatari 1373-1409, a cura de Jaume Riera i Sans, Publicacions de l’Institut de Llengua i Cultura Catalanes, Universitat de Girona, 2010.

Francesc Eiximenis, Art de predicació al poble, edició de Xavier Renedo, Eumo Editorial, Vic, 2009.

Francesc Eiximenis, Regiment de la cosa pública, introducció Lluis Brines, versió i notes de Josep Palomero, Bromera, Alzina, 2009.

Ivars, Andrés, “El escritor Fr. Francisco Eximénez en Valencia (1383-1408)”, AIA 1920, tomo XIV, pp. 76-104; AIA 1921, tomo XV, pp.289-331; AIA 1923, tomo XIX, pp. 359-398; AIA 1923, tomo XX, pp. 210-248; AIA 1925, tomo XXIV, pp. 325-382; AIA 1926, tomo XXV, pp. 5-48 y 289-333.

Read this article in Italian:  eiximenis_web_it_2.pdf

Read this article in Catalan:  eiximenis_web_it_3.pdf


La Verna, a sacred spot associated with Saint Francis of Assisi located in the Tuscan Appenines.