From: St. Dominic and His Work, by Pierre Mandonnet, O.P.,
        Translated by Sister Mary Benedicta Larkin, O.P., B. Herder Book Co., St. Louis/London, 1948.

The Legislation of the Preachers


ANY attempt to study the primitive legislation of the Order of Preachers encounters a serious obstacle at the start: this legislation is still unknown. It is extant, nevertheless, and the problem of finding it is not insoluble. For nearly half a century all the elements of a solution have been available. It is our purpose to consider them.

Two texts contain an ancient form of the legislation of the Preachers. One is in the prototype manuscript of the Dominican liturgy which Humbert of Romans, fifth master general of the Order, succeeded in having approved by the general chapter of 1259. It is the official edition of the Constitutions as they existed at that date; it shows the text that St. Raymond arranged in 1241, supplemented by the articles of the general chapters from 1241 to 1259. By eliminating these additions from the chapters it is possible to have access to the text edited by St. Raymond.(1)

The other text presents an earlier stage of Dominican legislation. It has been preserved in only one manuscript, formerly in the convent of Rodez (hence the name given it), and today in the general archives of the Order in Rome. Father Denifle edited it for the first time.(2)

Thanks to this latter text, there is some likelihood of identifying the primitive Institutions of the Preachers. Furthermore it opens with these words: "These are the first Constitutions of the Order of Friars Preachers." What are these first Constitutions?

By a strange confusion, somewhat comparable to that which obscured recognition of the Rule of St. Augustine, the Constitutions of the Rodez manuscript appeared as the somewhat late work of the chapter Generalissimum of 1228. If such be the fact, the first legislation came into being as late as twelve years after the birth of the Order and seven years after the death of the Founder!(3)

The mistake of a master historian, in the case of a remarkable study, gave rise to this error. Supplementing the edition of the Rodez text with a long commentary in order to emphasize, with his characteristic erudition, particulars and details of the legislative text about to be given to the public, Father Henry Denifle was led to assign to it a more or less approximate date. This chronological note was only of slight import in the work. The question was not approached in a critical manner, and the statement did not have the force which certain later writers ascribed to it in their reports, without pursuing a new investigation.(4)

A few protests were raised against the error when it was discovered.(5) This important problem related to the origin of the Order of Friars Preachers must be examined again, because an erroneous solution gives a false historical perspective.


First, let us show that Denifle did not at all establish the date of the first edition of the Constitutions of the Preachers as 1228. Our investigation will throw light on the exact date and the special circumstances in which the Constitutions were elaborated. We shall at the same time become acquainted with this legislation itself.

Father Denifle says:

The Constitutions of 1228 are not the oldest of the Order in the sense that there would not have been others earlier. Such an assumption would be erroneous. Froger de Peña, in his deposition for the process of canonization, declared that Dominic had a certain regulation introduced into the "Rule of the Preachers." Similar declarations occur frequently. But before 1228 the Constitutions bad not any determined order; they were still very incomplete, and, even if they had been compiled, it is hardly credible that there would have been many copies for circulation.(6)
This surprising declaration is not proved, nor is it referred to again by the author, either in the work under consideration or in his later writings. A comparison which he makes- between the history of the Franciscan and that of the Dominican legislations is the only precise argument seeming to justify or rather to illustrate these few sentences. But certainly a comparison with the history of the Friars Minor can contribute nothing. That they waited until 1260 before having a text drawn up, thanks to St. Bonaventure, does not prove that the Preachers did not possess true Constitutions before 1228. The beginnings of the two Orders are too different to permit reasoning by analogy.

Moreover, it appears that Father Denifle was especially impressed by the historical introduction at the beginning of his manuscript. This introduction, indeed, gives the chapter of 1228 a role of first Place, thus opening the way to a false interpretation. If the text is examined a little more carefully, it will be found to give no justification for the conclusion we are contesting. This introduction is most solemn:

"In the year of our Lord 1228 there assembled at Paris at St. Jacques twelve provincial priors, along with Jordan of Saxony, Master of our Order, each with two definitors. . . ."(7)


The style is in marked contrast to the brevity characteristic of the clear-cut juridical texts that follow. Since it was one of the only two chapters Generalissima recorded in Dominican history, the assembly of 1228 marked an important date. Gregory IX (1227-41) had just been elected Pope. As Cardinal Ugolino, nephew of Innocent III, he had for twenty years shown concern for the projects and experiences of St. Dominic and was particularly interested in the legislation of the Preachers. But Humbert of Romans tells us that until 1228 the annual general chapters could at will add to or subtract from the legislation of the Order. In the years just before 1228, apparently one chapter was abrogating what a preceding chapter had legislated.(8) The result was confusion. The first rectification over, the time had come to stabilize the law.

Therefore it was decided that an exceptional number of definitors should be gathered at Paris. The work of this assembly should henceforth be considered definitive. If later anything needed to be changed, such change could be made only by a procedure requiring approval by three successive chapters (an act which was then put in force and stands to this day). Furthermore, care was taken to exclude from these variations a number of points which only another chapter Generalissimum would have power to modify. Certain prescriptions were to remain so unchangeable and inviolable that their observance might not in any way lapse.

That is what the historic prologue states about the intentions of the chapter of 1228. Its hopes, as we may judge, were not devoid of a certain naïveté; its aim, however, was clear and precise. The chapter fulfilled the mission confided to it, in view of which it had received extraordinary powers. Its enactment of laws of stabilization contributed greatly to the permanence of the statutes of the Preachers. But did it accomplish anything more? Should we be impressed by its importance to the extent of attributing to it the composition, the organization, the very promulgation of this law? Further reading in the historical introduction will show that there is no warrant for such a conclusion; in fact, this text gives us exact information about the work of the capitular fathers.

The power which they received to "constitute, abrogate, change, add, modify," they used only very modestly to "publish some constitutions" (constitutiones quasdam... ediderunt), and that is all. They do not say that they changed anything or suppressed or arranged in order. On the contrary, they state that they took great care not to upset the previous order of the Constitutions. In fact, they say expressly "that they took care to insert a few additions in their respective places among the other articles" (Quas in locis suis inter constitutiones alias inserere procurarunt).

What more decisive testimony could be invoked than this explicit declaration of the capitular fathers of 1228?

Previous to that date, the major part of the Constitutions had, therefore, been committed to writing; it followed a determined order; this order was not at that time modified; the text was merely enriched by a few new elements.

Hence the Rodez text cannot be considered the original work of the chapter Generalissimum of 1228. The historical introduction to the manuscript is only one of a few additions made to the primitive text at that time. The manuscript contains several other additions of earlier or later date. Father Denifle himself, in the notes of his edition, acknowledged that nearly twenty passages of the text were additions, corrections, or suppressions expressly imposed by the chapter of 1236, as can be verified by consulting the Acts of that year. One paragraph must be dated 1240 or 1241; in fact, there are eight textual corrections dating from 1240.(9) This evidence, which might be a cause of some embarrassment to the eminent critic, is surprising only if his hypothesis has been accepted. It is in perfect accord with the title of the manuscript: "These are the first Constitutions of the Order of Friars Preachers, which were in use in the time of Jordan of Saxony, immediate successor of the Blessed Dominic, from which Brother Raymond of Peñafort, third master of the Order, arranged and organized other Constitutions that are now observed."(10)


The Rodez manuscript transmits the Constitutions of the Order to us such as they existed in the time of Jordan of Saxony, that is, before St. Raymond arranged them. These Constitutions are called primae, not only because they are an earlier form of the legislation of the Preachers, but also because they remained substantially identical from the beginning in spite of additions or partial modification. The Rodez text presents the latest state of this first legislation, that of 1241. Moreover, it presents this legislation in second-rate shape; the scribe did not keep his manuscript thoroughly up to date.

If historians since the time of Father Denifle had not readily accepted this erroneous date of 1228, they would have opened a question about the origin and date of the earlier text, referred to in the historical prologue. Likewise they would easily have seen that the principal documents of primitive Dominican history, while attaching little or no constitutional importance at all to the annual general chapters from 1221 to 1227 (we have noted the testimony of Humbert of Romans), assign to the foundation of the Order by St. Dominic in 1216 and to the first general chapter called by the Patriarch in 1220, a chief part in this matter of legislation.

In fact, the first Constitutions of the Order were drawn up on these two dates. Afterward, in the chapter of 1228, they were supplemented by a number of articles and again at chapters from 1239 to 1241, when the text, corrected slightly and arranged by Raymond of Peñafort, was again solemnly approved and confirmed. Pursuing the work of discrimination as begun by Father Denifle in the notes of his edition, we can align these additions and consequently identify within this text the first legislation of the Preachers and the very work of St. Dominic. That is the main purpose of this study. To clarify the procedure, we shall begin by stating our method of investigation and giving a summary of the conclusions we expect to establish.

St. Dominic drew up the first part of his Constitutions in 1216. This contains the Preachers' laws of observance which take the place of the Disciplina monasterii in the Augustinian legislation and form the true Rule of the Order of St. Dominic. These laws of observance were assembled in a booklet under the characteristic title, Liber consuetudinum, and constitute the first part of the Rodez text. These observances are often taken verbatim from the Customs of Prémontré. But St. Dominic made a large number of additions and corrections that profoundly transformed the spirit of this Rule and made it an original law, so that often in the documents of the time it is called the Rule of the Friars Preachers. This first part of the text has since been subject only to very rare additions.

In 1220 at the first chapter of the brethren under the direction of St. Dominic and the elected definitors, the second part of the law of the Preachers, the constitutional part, was drawn up. That part organizes the religious body. It determines the central organs and e subordinate officers and regulates their duties. It establishes the social rule of the Order: preaching, studies, mendicant poverty. These Constitutions are contained in the second part of the Rodez text. They are genuinely original. In this second part of the manuscript later additions have been more numerous.

To give more force to our demonstration, we shall first make use o only two documents, which critics rightly regard as having exceptional value: the Libellus de principiis ordinis praedicatorum of Jordan of Saxony, and the Testimony of the Process of Canonization of St. Dominic. With the help of these documents we shall establish the existence of a primitive written law, composed of two distinct parts. We shall then show that it is precisely this law which is contained in the manuscript of Rodez.


First of all, we must consider the testimony of Jordan of Saxony. In 1234 the second master general of the Order wrote, as an historian and not as a panegyrist, the Libellus de principiis ordinis praedicatorum to acquaint future friars with the origin and early history of the Order. The last editor of this work emphasized its exceptional documentary value and the truthfulness of the testimony.(11)


Jordan was particularly competent in regard to the legislation. He was present at the chapter of 1220 when the work of the foundation was for the first time revised and completed. He presided at all the general chapters from 1222 until his death. Assuredly he had the right to declare, as he did on one occasion, that he knew perfectly the facts, constitutions, and intentions of the constituents of all the chapters of the Order.(12)

Two dates in the Libellus mark the stages in the legislation of the Preachers: 1216 and 1220.

Before 1215 the preachers who gathered with Dominic at Toulouse were not "subject to him by the bonds of a true religious obedience"; the Order of Preachers was not yet "instituted', they had simply been concerned with discussing its organization."(13)

In 1215 Dominic went in the company of Foulques, bishop of Toulouse, to the Lateran Council to ask the Pope for "confirmation of an order which would be called and would really be an Order of Preachers."(14) Having heard the appeal, Innocent III "exhorted Dominic to return to his brethren and, after fully deliberating with them, to choose by unanimous consent a rule already approved; the Bishop would then assign a church to them. Finally, Dominic would return to receive from the Pope the confirmation of the whole undertaking."(15)

What follows should be cited verbatim:

After the Council, therefore, they returned and made known to the brethren the words of the Pope. Without delay these future Preachers chose the Rule of the illustrious preacher Augustine. Moreover, they imposed upon themselves a certain number of customs more rigorous as regards eating, fasting, sleeping, and wearing wool. Likewise they proposed and decided to have no possessions in order that the office of preaching should not be impeded by solicitude for things of earth; and it was agreeable to them henceforth to have revenue only.(16)
Jordan of Saxony again mentions a legislative enactment in 1220 with reference to the chapter of Bologna:
In the year 1220, there was celebrated at Bologna the first general chapter of the Order. I was present at it, having been sent from Paris with three friars; for Master Dominic in his letter commanded that four friars be sent from the house in Paris to the chapter at Bologna. When I was sent, I had not yet spent two months in the Order.

At this same chapter it was decided with the common consent of the brethren that the general chapter should be celebrated one year at Bologna and the following year at Paris; moreover, it was specified that it would be held at Bologna that coming year. Likewise it was decided there that for the future our brethren would no longer have possessions or revenues, and that they would renounce those which they had acquired in the vicinity of Toulouse. Many other constitutions were drawn up there which are still observed today.(17)

Finally, Jordan makes a brief mention of the chapter of 1221.(18)

This short sketch of the primitive legislation is much more precise and complete than it appears at first. Let us review it now step by step.


Elsewhere we have studied what occurred at the audience in Rome in 1215. Dominic returned to Toulouse with the intention of having an approved rule chosen by the assembly of his brethren. From the first, the legislation of the Preachers was marked by a character which it would thereafter retain. Even today its most remarkable feature is that it represents not the personal work of a leader, but a common production, conceived and given vigor by the assembly of the Order. Dominic did not, any more than the Pope, impose anything by an absolute act of authority. He inspired and directed it. Thus it was that in 1216 the brethren chose the apostolic Rule of St. Augustine.

What we know now of this Rule shows that the friars could have made no other choice. Dominic's clerical projects had to merge into the great canonical movement, the contemporary model of clerical reform. But, by the same token, the nature of the traditional text which they agreed to follow left the way open for new Dominican legislation.

The Commentary of St. Augustine, deprived of its head by the disappearance of the Disciplina monasterii, required, from the very moment of its adoption, a legislative complement. Of itself it could bring to the new enterprise no precise determination which would orientate or hinder its original development. Dominic and his brethren, therefore, had full liberty to supplement the Rule with statutes selected and adapted to their purposes.(19)

Jordan called this legislation consuetudines; it was the traditional term, universal in the twelfth century. Practically the consuetudines regulated observance "in regard to food, the fasts, the dormitory, and clothing"; other details will be given later. It was to be expected that the first law of the Preachers would consider these points: men could not live a common life without a determined ordo, that is, for observance and the liturgy. This truth, accepted in all ages, was of primary significance with the religious legislators of the Middle Ages.

This law of observance was written; some formal examples will be quoted later. But we may here remark that, considering the development of law in the preceding century and the juridical temper of the period, educated men, like Dominic and his followers, would have been expected as a matter of course to give permanence in writing to the observance which they wished to practice along with the Rule, which itself was a written document. Moreover, a few months later Dominic would disperse his brethren to the four corners of Europe, commissioning them to found convents and in their turn to recruit new friars. To preserve the unity of the Order under such conditions, a written law would be a necessity.

The word consuetudines may be regarded as a technical term in the legal language of the age. It was not employed in its ordinary sense; it was a written law, thus defined by Évrard de Béthune early in the thirteenth century: Consuetudo est jus scriptum more Statutum."(20) Indeed it was in writing that from one foundation to another these customs were transmitted, according to the universal practice of textual plagiarism.

Moreover, we should not forget that this law concerned regular observance, the foundation of monastic life. The primitive institution of the Preachers found its mold therein. Dominic formed no empty plans. Only one prescription of constitutional intent is noted by Jordan as the expression of something to be desired; in the future they would not accept revenues or have possessions.(21) The law of 1216, therefore, contained the Commentary of St. Augustine and the Customs of the Preachers. The principal part of this ensemble that constituted a true Rule was not the Augustinian text but the Customs. Indeed, in the Customs the friars had their actual Rule. Nor should we be surprised to find this name applied to it in another document, describing in detail the daily life of the first Preachers between 1216 and 1220.


At the time Jordan was composing his Libellus, the process for the canonization of St. Dominic was opened in Bologna. Deposition was made by nine witnesses who had lived in intimate association with the saint, some of them from the foundation of the Order. Among those testifying were the priors of Bologna and Padua and a provincial of Lombardy, all three, priests and preachers, learned men who knew how to choose their words and avoid literary verbiage.(22) In these nine depositions, the words regula, ordo, constitutio, as applied to the legislation of St. Dominic, occur nearly thirty times. Used sixteen times is the word Rule: "his Rule," "the Rule of the Friars..... the Rule of the Order," "Rule of the Friars Preachers." There is nothing vague about the reference. The quality of the testimony would be a warrant for that; but the very use which the witnesses make of this word is characteristic. The witness said that Brother Dominic "observed the Rule strictly and perfectly himself, and exhorted the brethren and commanded them to observe the Rule perfectly, and he severely punished delinquents."

Such expressions occur in almost all the depositions. They give the idea of something juridical, an expressed and detailed positive law.(23) Several points of it are indicated: "For what concerned himself and others as to vesture, food, drink, fasts, and all other prescriptions, he observed in all its fullness the Rule and way of life of the Friars Preachers."(24)

It also included a schedule of silence, variable according to hours and degrees of obligation,(25) a code of faults and list of penances, a list extremely severe.

These penalties for the "transgressions" of the friars, which are likewise called their "imperfections," "their faults," and even their "sins,"(26) give evidence that the Rule had the sanction of authority. To suspend a point, even on a journey, it was necessary to have a dispensation from Dominic. Therein he was considerate for the friars but not for himself.

Finally, it was by a profession of obedience that the friars submitted to the yoke of this Rule.(27) Even the ritual of this profession was appointed: it was made "in the hands" of Dominic or his representative. This rite, still in practice with the Preachers, is notably different from that used by the Benedictines. The novice places his hands within the hands of the prelate, in a gesture of feudal homage symbolizing the promise of obedience.(28)

Three witnesses give evidence on six different occasions that this Rule was written,(29) a fact supported by the precision of its detail and Dominic's zeal for its observance. The testimony of the friars of Bologna, therefore, reads like an expressed confirmatur on what we were led to affirm from the nature of the primitive observances of St. Dominic and from their title of Customs.


Between 1216 and 1220 this law spread into all the new convents. Proof of this fact is found in a little anecdote which Humbert of Romans reports as coming from a direct auditor: in the chapter of 1220, Dominic declared that the rules did not oblige under pain of sin; then he added "that, if any were to believe the contrary, he would himself without waste of time go through the cloisters to cut all the rules to pieces with his knife."(30)

This short account reflects the spirit of St. Dominic. It also reveals that as early as 1220 the Founder did not hesitate to call his law a Rule; nor did the Bologna witnesses who used the term, with remarkable insistence, in 1233. The term was used with perfect warrant. The actual Rule, in the traditional meaning of the word, was not the Commentary of St. Augustine; it was the law of observance composed by the Father of the Preachers. The terminology used by the witnesses showed the clarity of their penetration. Moreover, it will be evident farther on that they probably did not speak without forethought.

The witnesses for the process of canonization give the impression of having always lived according to the Rule of St. Dominic. Such would be the case, for they had all entered the Order after 1216. Furthermore, nothing in their testimony indicates in any way that this Rule of. the Preachers, which they also spoke of as "the Rule" in an absolute sense, could be any other than the Rule which they knew and practiced in 1233. This point should be carefully noted.

Moreover, they picture St. Dominic engaged in organizing his Order (instruere, ordinare),(31) and completing his Rule; they mention several additions which they saw enacted;(32) their remarks even make it possible to assign as the time of their insertion the chapter of 1220. Here we can resume Jordan's narrative.


In 1220 the time was ripe for St. Dominic to organize his followers into a great society, strongly centralized, thoroughly adapted by its spirit and its laws for the work given it by the papacy along with the glorious title of "Order of Preachers." In confirming the new society and taking it under his government in 1216, Honorius III had practically emancipated it from every other authority.(33) Favored by this encouragement, the dispersal of the friars in 1217 and the foundations in Paris and Bologna transformed the little canonical community of the Preachers of Toulouse into a world-wide Order.

The enterprise now advanced with giant strides. The most fruitful ideals of the period, embodied in the Order of St. Dominic, gave it at certain junctures an unexpected scope of development. Four years after its birth, it was able to plan a definitive organization in a general chapter.


The following is a description by two witnesses of these first general assemblies.

At the time of the first chapter of the Friars Preachers in the city of Bologna, Brother Dominic declared to the brethren there: "I am only worthy to be deposed because I am useless and without vigor." And he humiliated himself in every way. Then, as the brethren did not wish to depose him, it was his wish that definitors be elected with power to legislate, regulate, and rule, as much over himself as over others and over the whole chapter as long as it would last.(34)

At this time (1220), the Blessed Brother Dominic, in dependence only on the pope, had plenary power, all right to manage, organize, and correct the whole Order of the Friars Preachers. It was that very year in which the first general chapter of the Order was being celebrated at Bologna.... It then pleased the Blessed Brother Dominic that the chapter should appoint definitors who in regard to the whole Order, the masters, and the definitors themselves would have full power to define, organize, pass laws, and punish, with all due reverence and respect for the master.(35)

This twofold testimony again tallies with Jordan's accounts which we have cited above. The three together permit us to gauge the legislative importance (our chief interest at present) of the chapter of 1220. They emphasize the juridical character of the full powers given to Dominic and to the definitors, and they refer again to the Pope. In 1216 the Order had received its law of observance; at this time it received its constitutional law. Echard aptly characterized the assembly of 1220 when he wrote: "This chapter can be called the chapter of the institution and promulgation of our laws and of the acceptance of our Constitutions."(36)

As in 1216, Dominic had this law established by an assembly of the brethren, that is, by their elected representatives: he had definitors chosen to whose power he became subject, keeping only a kind of directive influence. This arrangement was not the pure fruit of humility. A certain anecdote related by one of the witnesses reveals that on fundamental matters Dominic showed a regard for the opinions of the brethren. For example, upon their remonstrance, be abandoned his first idea of confiding the temporal affairs of the Order to a lay group that the clerics might be freer for study and preaching.(37)

The undertaking was immense. Jordan records in particular the institution of the general chapters and their regimentation; the establishment of absolute poverty; and the plan of renouncing common possessions as well as revenues previously acquired. The witnesses add other points in regard to poverty;(38) one of them tells of the organization of the government of the Order by the clerics. All note with insistence the prescriptions referring more directly to the spirit and aim of the Order, the life of prayer and preaching: "to speak only of God or with God."(39) Finally, Jordan ends with an expression freighted with meaning: "Many other rules were formulated there which are still observed."


To the original Customs there was added a second body of laws. The Rule of the Preachers, at the close of 1220, was therefore composed of two types of written texts. There was a law of precise and detailed observance dating from 1216, and a body of Constitutions of institutional import, drawn up in 1220.

Jordan's explicit statement and the implicit testimony of the Bologna witnesses give evidence that these observances and these primitive Constitutions were still in vigor in their time, that is, in 1233-34. At this point we unexpectedly find the answer to the problem raised at the beginning of this chapter about the connection between the primitive law and the Rodez text. Does not this manuscript contain the exact legislation in use between 1228 and 1240? Then it contains the integral primitive law of the Preachers with its observances and its Constitutions from 1216 to 1220.

Here we might interrupt our proof, and be content to refer to the Rodez text, edited by Denifle under an incorrect title, in order to reconstruct the primitive Rule and analyze its nature.

But this identification of the primitive law and the substance of the Rodez text, so important for the first history of the legislation of the Preachers, deserves further consideration. Besides, up to the present time, has not this solution escaped the notice of the historians of the Order? Hence it is fitting to substantiate it by certain other proofs, which will have the value of opening the way to more exact data on the primitive substance of the Rodez text.


The primitive history of the Order attests the existence of a written law for the Preachers in 1216-20. Moreover, the historical introduction of the Rodez manuscript explains that the major part of the text in its characteristic order is from a date prior to 1228. It is only natural to suppose that the part referred to was the text in use from 1216 to 1220.

This hypothesis, concerning which the least that can be said is that there is a strong presumption in favor of it, would yield to certitude if the impossibility of the contradictory solution could be demonstrated.

If the text from a date prior to 1228 were not the text of 1216-20, it would mean that between 1221 and 1227 the first written text had been abrogated and a new one constituted. But such a proposition encounters a series of impossibilities.

First of all, what authority in the Order or in Christendom would have had sufficient influence to cause the rejection of a text composed under the direction of St. Dominic with the approbation of the Pope? What authority could have required the Order to accept a new law? What power could have reshaped the text of a law that had been lived in rigid practice by a religious society for several years? And who would have compiled the new Constitutions? The law of 1216-20 had been the joint work of St. Dominic and his friars, Those who had drawn up the text of 1220 through their elected definitors did not have to demolish their first edifice to rebuild another from it.

And when would they have accomplished this? We have noted above what Humbert of Romans thought of the chapters preceding the chapter of 1228. The Master of the Order placed the formulation of these observances at the very beginning of the Order.

Further, to what extent have historians followed the traces of this juridical revolution? Neither Jordan, the Bologna witnesses, nor the other chroniclers indicate anything in favor of the hypothesis. If, on the other hand, we consider the evidence available on the legislation from 1216 to 1220, and even Jordan's express declaration about the legislative continuity between 1220 and 1234, we would have to suppose in the historical sources a conspiracy of silence. Lastly, let us recall that the development of the history of the Preachers manifests none of those convulsive changes that prolonged the legislative incertitudes of the first years in the history of some other orders of that period even into centuries.

These considerations are enough to prove, almost by an appeal to the absurd, the literal continuity of the law of the Preachers from the year 1216. A comparison of the Rodez text itself with that of the law of 1216-20 will now afford a positive proof.


In fact, this text presents the exact form which the history should lead us to expect. It is composed of a Prologue, of two parts called Distinctions, and of a short regula conversorum.

The Prologue, the scheme of division, and the first part are, to a large extent, taken literally from an edition of the Customs of the Premonstratensian Canons dating from the beginning of the thirteenth century.(40) The ensemble, necessarily including the regula conversorum which merely substituted some prescriptions for those in the first part inapplicable to the lay brothers,(41) constitutes a genuine law of observance with regulations for the canonical Office, the refectory, the fasts, the food, the dormitory, the sick, the novices, silence the habit, shaving, lists of faults and penances. According to Prologue its title was Liber consuetudinum, Book of Customs. The titles regula canonicorum and regula conversorum were also used. All these terms suit the contents perfectly.(42)

The Second Distinction is of an entirely different cast. It contains not a single word from the Premonstratensian text. It presents a rather large number of supplementary articles that are easily identified the very nature of the prescriptions or by the word Statuimus, which denotes the work of a general chapter. It settles with finality the constitution of the Order: general and provincial chapters, the master of the Order, provincial and conventual priors, studies and professors, preaching, absolute poverty.

From a literary standpoint the difference between the Distinctions is not less notable. The First Distinction comprises a series of short articles, each treating a particular point, with appropriate titles, the list of which is given in the Prologue; it belongs to the classic literary genre of books of customs. The Second Distinction, on the contrary, forms a single unified text, without titles and chapter divisions, in a notably different literary form. We should be inclined to compare it to the Charter of Charity of Cîteaux, a constitutional statute totally original in the history of religious legislation.

Noting the characteristics of these two Distinctions so markedly different that they could not have been drawn up at the same time, we can easily recognize in the first the Customs of 1216 described by Jordan of Saxony and the witnesses for the process of canonization, and in the second the constitutional law of 1220. Certain features in the text make possible a detailed identification.

The Dominican editor declares, as he copies a text of the Prologue Prémontré, that he will give in advance the chapter headings in each Distinction.(43) But the list which he gives is limited to the chapters of the First Distinction; there is no indication of chapters for the Second, either in this list or elsewhere. Can it not be accounted for by the fact that the Second Distinction did not yet exist when the Prologue was written?

Though a large number of prescriptions were borrowed from the Customs of Prémontré, the First Distinction is an original composition. In fact, it included a certain number of appropriate and important regulations that gave a new spirit to the Rule. Nothing is more characteristic of the new spirit in this law of observance than the dispensations it provided in the interests of study, and no longer merely for the needs of health. It would not be a mistake to regard dispensation as one of the most characteristic innovations of the ordo of the Preachers, an innovation that caused scandal in the religious circles of the age.


Here and there throughout the Rule dispensation was provided for. But particular provisions did not satisfy the purpose of the Dominican lawmaker. He resumed the question ultimately, and in the Prologue itself he wrote the general law of dispensation, linking it to the final mission of the Order. Then was enacted that admirable little charter of Dominican life where, in the concise and juridical style of the period, the ideal according to which the Order of Preachers still lives was expressed with striking clearness.

Nevertheless, the prelate has the power of dispensing the brethren in his convent, when it seems expedient, especially in whatever may hinder study, preaching, or the welfare of souls, since our Order is known to have beer, instituted from the beginning especially for preaching and the salvation of souls, and our study ought to be directed principally, ardently, and supremely to the end that we may be useful to the soul of our neighbor.(44)
With a perspective strongly emphasizing its institutional import, we meet here the universal rule of dispensation. This provision rendered needless the particular dispensations already included in different sections of the text. They were retained, however, and remain as evidence of an earlier condition.

The general law of dispensation was, therefore, an addition to the Rule. Its antiquity in the Dominican legislation is clear from the fact that it speaks only of the prelate and of his convent; no reference is made to the provincial or the general. This omission surprised Humbert of Romans,(45) but it shows that when this law was enacted the Order still had only convents and no provinces. It dates then from 1220 at the latest. The inclusion of particular dispensations in the various chapters of the Customs would point to a time still earlier; such articles could date only from 1216.


In the First Distinction, there is a chapter which in its final form must be not earlier than 1220 or 1221, because the title magister ordinis occurs there in the formula of profession.(46) But in the preceding chapter there is a totally different formula which speaks neither of the master nor of the prior of the Order, but only of the prelate: "Let them promise stability and the common life, and pronounce obedience to the prelate and his successors."(47)

This phrase, which is found in a text of the Dominican reviser, is in the traditional formula of canonical profession;(48) the formula of 1220-21 emerged from it by the suppression of the first two terms, replacing them simply by a profession of obedience, a fact which explains its curious redundance and its incorrect grammar.(49) The first form with its archaic character can date only from 1216. In fact, at that time,(50) under the influence of the canonical texts, the Preachers did not hesitate, though in quite a relative sense, to speak of stability. This selection of little details which help to place the writing of the First Distinction in 1216, could be increased.(51) Yet it seems superfluous to press the point.

The Bologna witnesses, as we noted, mentioned a number of prescriptions that St. Dominic had caused to be written into his Rule in 1220. The identity of the articles can be verified: all these rules and even phrases indicated by the witnesses may be found in the Second Distinction of the Rodez text.(52) The Libellus of Jordan of Saxony(53) also shows agreement on these points.

Thus even in the smallest details the accord can be traced between the legislations of 1216 and 1220 and the two parts of the Rodez text. If we bear the other arguments in mind, a conclusion is warranted. The law of the observance drawn up by St. Dominic in 1216 forms the First Distinction of the text. The constitutional law of 1220 is embodied verbatim in the Second Distinction.

It would be a long task now to examine word for word the Rodez text to ascertain therein the original Rule under the later modifications. In any case, such a scrutiny is not necessary for the purpose in view. Our purpose is served by an acquaintance with the first history of the law of the Preachers and the possibility of an analysis of its typical nature in the original itself.

Before closing this consideration, let us summarize the primitive substance of the Rodez text.

The Prologue is evidently from 1216. It forms part of those extracts from the Customs of Pre'montr6 which form the substratum of the First Distinction. The only later addition is the general precept of dispensation.

The section at the end of the Prologue which introduces two Distinctions is likewise from 1216, since it is modeled on the division of the Customs of Prémontré.(54) That does not mean that in 1216 Dominic foresaw in detail the work of 1220. In providing for a Second Distinction to include the future Constitutions, he simply conformed to the plan of the Prémontré texts and to the expressed indication of the Prologue.(55)


We can say that the First Distinction is comprised of the Customs of 1216. Its nature as a law of observance required that it should be written from the beginning and remain unchanged.(56) Furthermore the fact that in 1216 a second part was projected for later Constitutions, proves indeed that it was the intention to modify the first no further. If there were changes in the law of observance, they consisted only in corrections of words or parts of phrases, like those ordained in 1236 and carefully cited by Denifle.(57) One or another short chapter not listed in the Prologue might also have been added later.(58) For the discovery of these additions, there is a key in the belated character of certain prescriptions,(59) or at times in a typical word, like statuimus or item. Inversely, whatever has been derived from Prémontré is certainly primitive. The regula conversorum must also date from 1216.

The Second Distinction has passed through many more transformations than the First. In certain passages the most varied prescriptions have accumulated, are repeated, and appended sometimes at random. Introductory words like Item, Idem, Statuimus, Praecipimus, occur frequently, and the later form of certain determinations leaves no room for doubt. We can distinguish a fundamental group dating from 1220, another from a short time later, and finally a whole series of articles of diversified character successively issued by general chapters, notably in 1228, 1236, 1239-41. The text of 1220 overs nearly half of the Second Distinction; the other portion is not quite so extensive.


The foregoing discussion has brought out more than one salient trait in the legislation of the Preachers. We can now study the design of the whole, with reference to the very text of that law which has been discovered in its primitive and substantially unchanged form.

Briefly we shall note five characteristics: the legislation of St. Dominic was a canonical law; it was, nevertheless, essentially original; in accord with contemporary law; inspired by the latest decrees of the Church; vigorously constituted and fruitful from its inception.

Jacques de Vitry made no mistake when he viewed the Order of Preachers as the last branch on the canonical tree and the ultimate expansion of the Augustinian institution. The large number of customs from Prémontré embodied in the Dominican law stand as permanent evidence to this fact. When he borrowed a great part of their observances from the Norbertines, St. Dominic did not hesitate to shape his Order, so to speak, in continuity with one of the most famous canonical types in the great movement of clerical reform. He had no hesitation in letting slip from their text into his own, words as typical as canonicus, ordo canonicus, religio, or disciplina canonica.(60) Once, in an original text, he referred to the promise of stability (61) which was to be made at the close of the novitiate. If he was actuated by any desire for a radical break with the canonical movement, he would have most carefully avoided this word, because the interpretation could be ruinous in view of what was most original in the design of the Order: its broad liberty of action and its universality.(62)

What Dominic sought from canonical life, particularly from the text of Prémontré, was regular observance: the liturgical life; the hours solemnly chanted in the church; the ascetical life minutely organized in monastic tradition; austerity for hours of sleep and kind of clothing, coarse food, silence, a spirit of constant humility and fraternal charity, frequent chapter of faults, penances determined in advance according to a detailed and severe code.

With great zeal Dominic labored to have this Rule observed, even by those on a journey. Truly, he was the authentic heir of the reformers of regular life, among whom he did not hesitate to enroll his name. In that capacity, he was even a severe reformer, judging from the particular practices introduced by him into his own observances, which were, in truth, more rigorous than those of other canons.

At the same time he conserved what was best in the monastic heritage: the contemplative life. From the very first, the life of the friars was molded in this form. (63) For his own life and for that of his brethren, St. Dominic resolved the seeming contradiction of continual prayer and the apostolate by his admirable command: "Speak only of God or with God."(64) Thought on the import of these words in the Rule of 1220 will lead to the discovery of one and the same meaning in the expression of St. Thomas, "contemplata aliis tradere,"(65) and in the theological mission of the Order of Preachers. Thus, while adhering to the traditional spirit of regular life, Dominic pursued an end quite different from that of the monks and even of the canons, and wrote a law that was essentially original. His Order was, above all, the Order of Preachers; regular life itself, as ordained to this new end, flowed in a vastly different channel; the result was a transformation.

The metamorphosis of the canonical order, Ordo canonicus, into the Order of Preachers, Ordo Praedicatorum, was effected by a series of laws absolute in originality.


In the Prologue, this end of the Order, noted in the little charter cited, led to a prescription that would seem calculated from the first to enervate the vigor of the regular life: the universal principle of dispensation. The Order had been instituted for the salvation of souls. Study and the apostolate had to stand in the forefront of the life of observance. Detailed provision was made for them in articles in the Customs.

It need not be thought that the apostolic end, as a first and normal consequence, sets up an obstacle to regular life. Far from opposing it, the apostolate requires and stimulates regular life. We may discern in the very strictness of Dominican observance an essential help to the apostolate. If St. Dominic, for example, cultivated the love of poverty to the extent of making his friars mendicants,(66) an unprecedented move, he knew well from his own experience and that of others in tragic extremities, that sacrifice and penance were the strong arms of the preacher. This mendicant spirit empowered the Order of St. Dominic with mighty energies for conquest in imitation of the apostles and effectively transformed it into an apostolic Order.(67)

In the spirit of this fundamental rule, there were certain other observances, like that of silence, which commands a very remarkable code in the Rule of St. Dominic,(68) the special injunction for the master of novices,(69) or some of the faults anticipated,(70) and the direction to quicken the recitation of the Office or to postpone at times the celebration of the chapter,(71) all of which were a consequence of the original orientation of religious life toward study and preaching.

Finally and emphatically as early as 1220, the law of the Preachers organized this study and preaching in a remarkable program which the sons of St. Dominic would keep ever in view. The Rule provided that each convent have a doctor and a master of students,(72) specified the courses and the books of study (strictly theological),(73) the dispensations and privileges of students, outlined their obligations, and sketched the plan for their education.

It regulated the choice of preachers, forbade their being occupied with temporal business, counseled them on their conduct in the world, on a journey, in regard to bishops;(74) described in a few profound words what their spiritual life had to be; and, in conclusion, organized the officium praedicationis, the selection and appointment of preachers general.


For new wine, new bottles. To meet the essential needs of the thirteenth century, the Order of Preachers designed its legislation on the basis of contemporary law.

Though still uniquely original, the Constitution of the Preachers in this way reflected the tenor of the civil constitution of the communes. In that age, for a religious society to be modem to that extent was to find itself an innovator.(75) Is this to be wondered at?

Did not Dominic rear his Order in Bologna in the shadow of that law University to which students flocked from all corners of Christendom, and did not many of its famous jurists become his friars?

The Constitution of the Preachers as revealed in the primitive text and as it remained had a triple basis: a deliberative assembly, a personal authority, an electoral body.(76) The general chapter, which is elected, legislates and controls once a year; it has full powers; it can correct the faults of the master general and even depose him.(77) it has its counterpart on a lesser scale in the provincial chapter.(78)

The master general, likewise elected, governs in a permanent capacity. He is the defender of the law and is the head of the army of Preachers.(79) He is also the source of authority, confirming the prior provincial, who is in a certain sense his vicar and in his turn confirms the conventual prior.(80)

Lastly, the electoral body, under certain conditions, is constituted by the assembly of the professed; it has the choice of superiors and of the delegates to general chapters; it can accuse them through visitators and chapters. Moreover, on certain occasions it selects the councilors of the superiors.

This organization, which creates neither an absolute monarchy nor a democracy in the modern sense of the word, is very balanced. The authority is conferred by the superior, but the choice of superior comes from the subject. A close contact binds the various organs. The council and the control are interposed from above.

The Order is strongly hierarchical, under the direction of a single head who confirms its superiors; through intermediary offices, however, it is decentralized; it avoids the arbitrary, because the law, which is the work of a general chapter, rules the general himself; it escapes paralysis because that law is living, a true lex communis generated in the thirteenth century.


This adaptation to the contemporary law evidently constituted a great force in the law of the Preachers. It had another spring of power, not less important. In becoming, as it were, an innovator in religious legislation, St. Dominic was, in last analysis, only realizing the imperative hopes of the fathers of the Lateran Council, and of Pope Innocent III, whose keen analysis of the religious needs of the age guided the conciliar deliberations. Dominic and his brethren fashioned their Rule in a certain measure in accord with the four canons of the Council of 1215.

Canon 13 prescribed cultivation of the traditional institution of religious life: regular spirituality.

Canon 12 dictated for him, under the form of provincial and general chapters and the provision for visitators, the modern government of his Order, common and controlled."'

Canon 11 sketched his scholastic and doctoral program.

Canon 10 established his mission as preacher and pastor of souls.

Therein, surely, lay one of the notable features of the Rule of St. Dominic, namely, that it was drawn up in full accord with the designs and the projects of the Church. The official confirmation of the Rule in the very year of its foundation, unprecedented as such action was, shows how the Church regarded it.

This reliance upon, or better, this appeal to the solemn commands which the fathers of Christendom had just proclaimed in the Council, guaranteed the immediate fruitfulness and the rapid expansion of the enterprise. That is the final feature to be noted. From its inception, the Rule of St. Dominic was precise, vigorous, sound, clearly organized, and well adapted to the work which it pursued; and it was characterized by the essential features that it would preserve. From these qualities it derived a mighty impulse for conquest. Born of its own age, it was the product of ripe experience; thus, in two successive stages, within four years, the clear genius of St. Dominic endowed society and the Church with a Rule so well planned that it had only to develop according to its own power in order to govern and place at the service of Christendom an army of preachers that increased rapidly.

Soon, extending beyond the limits of the Order, the Rule of St. Dominic began to radiate an influence on other religious foundations that were groping, sometimes in the dark and often in dangerous bypaths far from their true end, for an answer to the unrest, if not to the needs, of contemporary Christian society.


1 Father Denifle has carefully done this in his edition: Die Constitutionen des Predigerordens in der Redaction Raimunds von Peñafort, in Archiv für Literatur und Kirchengeschichte des Mittelalters, V (1889), 530-64; cf. Liber Constitutionum Ordinis Fratrum Fraedicatorum; Analecta sacri Ordinis Fr. Praed., III (1897), 2660, 98-122, 162-81.

2 Die Constitutionen des Predigerordens vom Jahre 1228, in Denifle, Archiv, I (1885), 162-227; the edition has been reprinted in Liber Consuetudinum, Analecta O.P., II (1896), 619-48.

3 That runs directly counter to the statement of Humbert of Romans. Speaking of the Salve procession, which dates from 1221, he writes: "At the beginning of the Order, when the Constitutions were formulated, a procession of this kind was not usual" (De vita regulari, II, 131).

4 Reichert, for example, in his official edition of the Acts of the Chapters, declared without hesitation: "In this year ( 1228) the first Constitutions of the Order were promulgated" (Monumenta O.P., III, 3). He merely relied on Denifle. The official edition of the Rodez text also proposed, and without proof, the date of 1228.
      All the chronicles or legends or histories of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries repeat, often literally, the text of the Libellus, on which we rely. It is well to note the chronicle of Brother Pipin (early fourteenth century), which distinguishes the confirmation of the Order by Honorius III in 1216 from the confirmation of the Constitutions "in the third year following" (Analecta O.P., XV [1921], 197). At first glance, this may seem to indicate the year 1219. But a more attentive reading will show that it is a question of the "third year following" the pontificate of Honorius, that is, the fourth, from July, 1219, to July, 1220. The information clearly refers to the legislative work of the first chapter of the Order (May 17, 1220). Moreover, the Constitutions were never confirmed, in the technical sense of the word.

5 Mandonnet, in Rev. Hist. eccl., XI (1914), 13; see also supra, chaps. 3 and 4). Let us recall that the origin of the Constitutions of the Preachers in 1216-1220 is not only clearly evidenced by all the ancient documents, it was still held in the eighteenth century by the historians of the Order (Echard, I, 12, 20; Mamachi, pp. 376, 592).

6 Denifle, op. cit., p. 165.

7 The following is the complete text of the prologue:

"In the year of our Lord, 1228, there assembled in Paris in the convent of St. Jacques twelve provincial priors, along with Jordan, the Master of our Order, each with two definitors delegated by the provincial chapters, to whom all the friars agreed to entrust their own votes, granting plenary powers to their delegates: that whatever would be done by them, either in constituting, or abrogating, changing, adding or modifying, would henceforth remain firm and stable: no one, whatever the authority would be permitted to change anything adopted by this chapter, because they themselves decreed that it was to stand in perpetuity. Therefore' having invoked the grace of the Holy Spirit, the aforementioned priors with their definitors, after diligent consideration, with unanimity and concord, published certain constitutions for the welfare, the honor, and the preservation of the Order, which they took care to insert in their respective places among the other articles. The Constitutions which they wished to be observed inviolable in perpetuity concerned the alienation of property and rejection of all revenues, concerning removal of appeals, that nothing in their definitions might work to the prejudice of anyone through the friar definitors in the case of provincial priors, nor through the priors in the case of the brethren. There were certain constitutions which they wished to stand as decreed, so that, whatever the cause, circumstance, event, and business arising, no change could be made, except by the same kind of chapter. The making of constitutions with the approval of three general chapters, journeying on foot, carrying money for travel expenses, abstaining from meat except in case of illness. The relate however, had power to dispense from these according to conditions of time and place" (Denifle, Archiv, I [1885], 193 f.).

8 This is an indication that that constitution was not in effect from the beginning (the process of approbation by three successive chapters), and that is true. For in the beginning any general chapter could legislate; but on the occasion of the first chapter Generalissimum ( 1228) that constitution was enacted, as is patent in the acts, De generalissimo capitulo. Nor was it without cause. For when any chapter could make constitutions, and by the same right abrogate them, the result was ridiculous and confusing and what was established by certain definitors in one year was frequently abolishd by the next chapter." Humbert, op. cit., II, 58. Having entered the Order at Paris in 1225, Humbert was a direct witness for the years 1225-28.

9 Denifle noted about fifteen corrections or additions from 1236 (cf. Acta capitulorum I, 6f.) and one from 1241 (Denifle, Archiv, 1, 226). There were others which Denifle did not notice, probably because he did not have access to a complete edition of the acts of the chapters.

10 Denifle, Archiv, I, 193.

11 Cf. Scheeben's introduction to his critical edition, p. 20.

12 Jordan, Epist. 49 (to Brother Stephen, provincial of Lombardy); cf. Epist. 48 (to Diana).

13 Jordan, Libellus, nos. 31, 37.

14 Ibid., no. 40.

15 The clause, "to whom the Bishop would assign a church," is missing in the manuscript of the Bollandists which, according to Scheeben, constitutes a first edition of the Libellus. The additions of this kind which are found in all the other manuscripts, point to a second copy, probably also from the pen of Jordan, who may have added these few details before 1235 from the accounts of the earlly brethren. The existence of such corrections enhances the historical value of the Libellus. Cf. Scheeben's Introduction.

16 Jordan, no. 42. The last four words of the Latin text, eis adhuc habere complacuit, are also from the second copy.

17 Jordan, nos. 86 f.

18 He recalls only that it was there decided to send friars under the direction of Brother Gilbert to found a convent in England. He was not present at this chapter (the only one in which he did not directly participate); he was there appointed provincial of Lombardy (Jordan, no. 88).

19 Humbert of Romans acknowledged this with frank simplicity in his explanation of the choice of the Rule of St. Augustine: A Rule was required which would in no way contravene the essential prescriptions on study and preaching which they proposed to enact: such a Rule was that of St. Augustine: "For, since it contains little more than certain spiritual exhortations and recommendations dictated by reason, a character not marked in other rules, all the statutes pertaining to the state of preaching can be added to it" (Humbert, De vita regulari, I, 51).

20 Cited by Du Cange, II, 557.

21 The corrector of the Libellus modified it slightly: (Sed tantum reditus) eis habere complacuit (no. 42), "But it was agreeable to them to have only revenues." It was, therefore, a desire, an intention, and not yet a statute. Likewise we see that the friars at Paris did not conform to it and that St. Dominic resisted (Processus [Bologna], no. 26).
      The friars of Paris had, moreover, a very special reason for derogating from the ideal of absolute poverty: ecclesiastical decrees formulated in that city by Robert de Courson about 1213-14 obliged every superior of a monk or canon to provide traveling expenses and a horse for these religious on a journey so that they might not have to belz (Mansi, XXII, 828). In 1216, they were right, therefore, not yet to establish irrevocably the statute on apostolic poverty, and to allow freedom at least for revenues. If the rich holdings of the sisters of Prouille are compared with the meager possessions which the Preachers deprived themselves of in 1220, it will be granted that their derogations from absolute poverty were limited to the strictly necessary. It appears that the evidence of John of Navarre at the process of canonization should be carefully weighed. We do not know to what extent he generalized in the particular case of the Parisian Preachers. Furthermore, his statements tend to emphasize St. Dominic's confidence in Providence as well as his love of poverty, and not to give information about the economic condition and ideal of the Preachers. The testimony of this same John of Navarre about the travel expenses (Acta Sanctorum, August, I, 454) is capable of almost any interpretation.

22 The witnesses from Toulouse, on the other hand, were often unlettered men. There is a striking contrast between the character of their deposition and that of those from Bologna. The former contami many accounts of marvels, but nothing in Darticular about the subject in question. It is true that their testimony concerned a period in Dominic's life before the constitution of the Order.

23 "He did not spare himself in the least matter"; or again: "he observed the laws of fasting with all fidelity," are characteristic expressions which recur frequently.

24 The law of fasting was quite detailed; from one source it is known that he kept all the fasts imposed by the Rule, and from another source that he fasted from September 14 to Easter and on all Fridays of the year.

25 "He always observed silence at the customary hours and as appointed by Rule."

26 St. Dominic himself in 1220 carefully distinguished the obligations of the Constitution under penalty from the obligations under sin.

27 Cf. Processus (Bologna), nos. 25, 30, 41, 46; Jordan, nos. 58, 66; Frachet, p. 170.

28 This act, which had the advantage of superimposing on the vow of religion immediate obedience to a single head, was of great importance for the centralization of the Order of Preachers. It would be unnecessary, however, to emphasize the influence of this element: the professio manualis to a single head was already practiced at Cluny (much more strictly even than with the Preachers, since the abbot of Cluny was always to receive it in person) without effecting any resemblance between the unity of the Order of Cluny and the unity of the Order of St. Dominic (G. de Valous, Le monachisme clunysien des origines au XVe siècle, 1935, I, 34 ff.).

29 The texts are as follows:
      "It was his custom, whether in or out of the convent or on a journey, to speak either of God or with God; he encouraged the brethren in this practice and also inserted it in their Constitution" (Brother Stephen; no. 37). "Whence he enjoined that they should use coarse garments and never carry money for a journey but everywhere live on alms. And this he had inscribed in his Rule' (ibid.; no. 38). " He always spoke either of God or with God, and exhorted his brethren to this and had it written in the Rule of the Friars Preachers" (Brother Paul of Venice; no. 41). "And he provided in their Constitutions that they should not accept possessions in the Order' (ibid.; no. 42). "Never did he (the witness) hear an idle word. . .but he was always talking of God. And he preached of God to whomever he met on the road. And he encouraged his brethren to do likewise. And this he caused to be established in the Rule of the Friars Preachers" (Froger de Peña; no. 47). "And he loved poverty so greatly that he did not wish the brethren to have possessions but to live on alms. And he had this written in the Rule of the Friars" (ibid.; no. 47).
      Thus we see that the texts are explicit; they indicate additions made in writing in a written Rule. They indicate that this earlier Rule was something they had always known. With the exception of John of Navarre (1215), all the witnesses from Bologna entered after the year 1216.

30 Humbert (De vita regulari, II, 46) seems to interpret the story as referring to the Rule of St. Augustine. But evidently it was not St. Augustine's Commentary which could give occasion for numerous and definite transgressions, but the detailed prescriptions of the Rule of St. Dominic. It might be wise also to note that the word is used in the plural, "rules."

31 In 1218, Dominic may even have decided on a date: he hoped to complete the work of organization two years later, that is, in 1220 (Processus [Bologna], no. 12).

32 The law referred to, which required renunciation of all property (nos. 38, 42, 47), was explicitly attributed by Jordan (no. 87) to the chapter of 1220. Note also the details mentioned by friars Rudolph and Paul of Venice (nos. 32, 42).

33 By the three bulls issued on the occasion of the confirmation. The first (Laurent, no. 74) was a bull of papal protection of the goods and observances of the community in Toulouse. The second (no. 75) confirmed the Order of St. Dominic and took its laws and its property under the protection and government of the Pope ("We confirm your Order. . . the Order itself, its possessions, and rights we place under our government and protection"). The mention of the rights and of the govermnent is especially important. The third bull (no. 77), addressed to the friars, adopted them as speciales filios ("hoping to cherish you in our favor as our special sons.") This is not the least important of these three privileges. In the late twelfth entury, under Alexander III, this was a technical expression to signify exemption, essenially for those religious who on account of poverty could not pay a tax to the Church and were dispensed by the regular channel of exemption (Schreiber, I, 47 ff., 52-55). Like each of the terms in the vocabulary of the exemption, the expression, when popularized, underwent a change of meaning. Between 1243 and 1253 Innocent IV declared that it did not signify exemption, but meant simply that the religious thus qualified could be excommunicated only by the pope and the legates a latere (c. 1, De verborum significatione, V, 12, in VIo; Potthast, no. 15127). Even with this restriction, the privilege was still considerable, since it deprived the local clergy of the chief weapon they had continued to use against the Preachers. Altogether these privileges cast a remarkable light on the action of St. Dominic a few months later, when, independent of his Bishop (Processus [Bologna], no. 26), he dispersed his friars, and by this act transformed his Order into a world-wide organization.

34 Processus (Bologna), no. 33 (Brother Rudolph).

35 Ibid., no. 2 (Brother Ventura of Verona).

36 Echard, I, 20.

37 Cf. the deposition of Brother John of Spain at the process of canonization (no. 26). The friars had recalled the difficulties of the monks of Grandmont, maltreated and starved by the lay brothers, to whom they had relinquished power over their temporalities in order to devote themselves to contemplation. This is recounted by Jacques de Vitry in his Historia occidentalis, pp. 313-15.

38 Processus (Bologna), nos. 32, 38, 41,

39 Ibid., nos. 35, 41, 47. Here we may note that this is very indirect information; the speakers are not historians of legislation but witnesses to the virtues of St. Dominic. Their remarks on legislation are thus the more interesting.

40 These Institutions of Prémontré were published by Martène (De antiquis Ecclesiae ritibus) in 1737 and 1783.
      In publishing the Rodez text, Denifle has carefully noted the parts borrowed from the Institutions of Prémontré, according to Martène.

41 That is, concerning the Office and the habit. For the rest, reference was made to the First Distinction: "Concerning fasts, food, abstinence, faults, and all other matters, let them conduct themselves according to what is prescribed in the Rule of the canons" (Denifle, Archiv, I, 227).

42 The title Liber consuetudinum, on the other hand, no longer suited the whole Rule when the Second Distinction, or constitutional part proper, had been compiled. That is why the chapters 1248-51 decreed its removal. But even in 1220 or 1221, the Preachers had substituted for it the more modern term, Institutiones.

43 "Moreover, for each of these Distinctions we have designated appropriate chapters, and we have noted the titles so that when information is sought by a reader, it may be found without difficulty." Denifle, Archiv, I, 195.
      We must not conclude from this that the Dominican legislator had already composed the Second Distinction; he was only copying this statement from the text of the Prologue of Prémontré. He anticipates the copying of other Constitutions later.

44 Denifle, Archiv, I, 194.

45 Humbert, op. cit., II, 23. His explanation is this: "And perchance it was imposed through an oversight, because it was found in the Constitutions of certain religious who had only conventual prelates." His mistake was only a slight one: these religious were the first friars themselves.

46 Chap. 16 (cf. Denifle, Archiv, I, 203). The title of Master of the Order appeared for the first time in a letter of Honorius III on April 28, 1221, that is, between the first and second chapters of Bologna. Only at this second chapter does it seem to have been definitively adopted. Previous to that time the papal letters used the term Prior ordinis; the Institutions of 1220 that of praelatus major.

47 Chap. 14 (cf. Denifle, Archiv, I, 202).

48 It was derived from the Benedictine formula which required the three vows of "stability, conversion of morals, and obedience." The term communitas or vita communis was an equivalent for conversatio morum or regularis. It had a special significance in the canonical reform of the clergy. Cf. this passage, written in 1148 at the house of the Canons of St. Genevieve in Paris: "When we made our profession, therefore, we promised, as we well know, three things: chastity, the common life, and obedience" (PL, CXCVI, 1399).

If we consider this equivalence, we see that the form used in the Dominican Customs recalls the very formula of profession among the Premonstratensians:

"I Brother N., making an oblation, consecrate myself to the church of holy Mary, the Mother of God, and its holy patron; and I promise amendment of manners and stability of habitation, according to the Gospel of Christ and the apostolic institution and according to the Rule of St. Augustine. I also promise obedience even unto death in Christ our Lord, to my Lord N., pastor of the aforesaid Church and his successors, whom the more prudent part of the congregation will have chosen" (PL, CXCVIII, 479).

The Dominican formula suppressed the dedication to the local church, a difference of no slight importance. It likewise suppressed the qualification, "whom the more prudent part... " a phrase which was included, however, in the privilege of foundation in 1216 (Laurent, no. 74).

49 "Ego N. facio professionern et promitto obedientiam Deo, et beatae Mariae et tibi N. magistro ordinis praedicatorurn et successoribus tuis secundum regulam beati Augustini et institutiones fratrum praedicatorum, quod ero obediens tibi tuisque successoribus usque ad mortem."

"I N. make my profession and promise obedience to God, and to the Blessed Mary and to you, N., Master of the Order of Preachers and to your successors according to the Rule of St. Augustine and the Institutions of the Friars Preachers, that I will be obedient to you and to your successors even unto death" (Denifle, Archiv, I, 202).

50 In 1216 and 1217 (Laurent, nos. 74, 79). In fact, it was more a question of stability in the Order and of obedience to the superior than of stability of place. By suppression of the offering of service to the local church and to its patron, the profession of the Preachers, after 1216, differed notably from that of the canons.

51 For example, its detailed lists of faults and penalties, borrowed from the Customs of Prémontré, which had ten remarkable chapters on faults, composed in part of Clunysian elements.

The law of fasting from September 14 to Easter (chap. 6; Denifle, Archiv, I, 198), which was also taken from Prémontré.

The Customs of Prémontré as the model for its composition; the Rule of Prouille (Balme, II, 425 f.; Simon, p. 143), which was composed by St. Dominic, certainly before 1217 and probably about 1212-13, already had for a foundation the Customs of Prémontré; accordingly, in 1216 Dominic must have composed the Customs of the Friars on the model of these same texts of Prémontré. That is exactly what Humbert of Romans maintains (De vita regulari, II, 2 f.).

52 Absolute renunciation of property, and revenues (Processus [Bologna], nos. 32, 38, 42, 47), recorded in chap. 26; the rule to speak only of God or with God (ibid., nos. 29, 32, 37, 41, 47), in chap. 31; the command not to carry money on a journey (ibid., nos. 26, 38), in chap. 31; the command to study the Bible continually (the theological books, ibid., no. 29), in chap. 28; the prohibition against employing in a temporal office a friar successful in preaching (ibid., nos. 26, 32), chap. 31; the rule requiring only humble and unpretentious convents (ibid., nos. 17, 32, 38), in chap. 35.

53 The renunciation of possessions and revenues (Jordan, no. 87), recorded in chap. 26; the alternation of the general chapters between Bologna and Paris (Jordan, no. 87), in chap. 13.

54 Martène, Rit., III, 323; Denifle, Archiv, I, 194 f.

55 The last Distinction of Prémontré is introduced in these words: "In this Fourth Distinction can be found certain points which were passed by the community council in general chapter for the preservation of the Order and if anything different in character of emergency measures shall be decreed later, they can be appropriately inserted here" (Martène, Rit., III, 323). That is exactly what the Second Distinction in the Rodez text shows. It will be noted that the brief summary of the First Distinction which the Prologue of the Preachers gives is also drawn from the Prologue of Prémontré. It is true also for the outline of the chapters of the First Distinction (the only index given in the Dominican text). On the contrary, the summary of the Second Distinction as given in the Rodez text is thoroughly original.

56 The Prologue, taken from Prémontré, expresses this idea: "Now this uniformity will doubtless be more easily and more perfectly observed if everything that ought to be done be committed to writing."

57 Still it must be remarked that these additions are few in number: only four as against fifteen in the Second Distinction. It is true that, if the redactor of the Rodez text had made all the corrections required by the chapter of 1236, there would have been one in the Prologue, ten in the first part, and eighteen in the second. On the other hand, the inclusion of these revisions prevents our considering the First Distinction as immutable. To the ten corrections of 1236 should be added the six of 1240. Everything inclines to the belief that these sixteen changes were not the only ones; the other seventeen general chapters, about which unfortunately we know so little, could not have failed to leave some trace in the first part of the Rodez text.

58 This argument must not be carried too far; certain titles indicated in the list might conceivably cover several chapters: for example, De culpis (chaps. 21 to 25); De jeiunio et prandio, which structurally, it seems, ought not to be separated from De refectione et cibo, which seems to contain it implicitly; De noviciis, which does not expressly correspond to any chapter, can be at once put in its class: De magistro novitiorum (13), De recipiendis (14), De tempore probationis (15), De modo faciendi professionem (16). Three chapters are omitted from the list: De mulieribus non intromittendis (3), De lectis (10), De scandalo fratrum (18). Each of these chapters is extremely short: one sentence, three sentences, one sentence.

59 Thus it is that the provincial and general chapters, the institution of which does not go back farther than 1220 and 1221, are mentioned altogether four times in the First Distinction (chaps. 14, 23, 24); the Master General twice (chap. 16); the conventual prior, once (chap. 14). The number noted is limited in the extreme, if we consider that the prior or prelate who, in name, dates from 1216, is mentioned more than sixty times. Further, the five passages containing these terms should be regarded as revisions; in fact, when they were formulated, a place had to be left in the text for the inclusion of these later articles. It was necessary, here, to determine action on grave faults as affecting their penalty or conditioning entrance into the Order. Indeed the additions made by the chapter of 1240 concern these paragraphs (De recipiendis, De culpis).
      It might be remarked that the paragraphs relating to the novices (chaps. 13-16) must certainly evidence the largest proportion of additions or corrections of this kind. The institution there regulated changed greatly as the Order developed and took final shape. We even regard the chapters De magistro novitiorum and De recipiendis as the only primitive ones in the whole text in question, though not in their totality.

60 Prol.; Dist I, chaps. 14, 25; Reg. convers. In chap. 14 the word also belongs in an original text. The Order adhered to it in a special way; in fact, this admonition is found in the report of the chapter of 1246: "Likewise let all know that in that article which reads that no one may be received as a canon or lay brother, the word ought to be canonicum, and let those who do not have the word canonicum inscribe it there." In 1249-51, the text was modified, and the word clericum then appeared. Acta capitulorum, I, 44, 49, 55.

61 Dist. I, chap. 14. Once even there was mention of the Rule of St. Benedict (Regula, Dist. I, chap. 21), taken from the Benedictine Customs through the medium of Prémontré.

62 In its original meaning, the stability promised in the Benedictine profession was limited to stability of habitation. It appears in most formulas of canonical professions, and notably at Prémontré. The canons were indeed also attached to a particular church. But the word has no such meaning in the text of the Dominican Customs from which there was suppressed in 1216 from the formula of canonical profession the offering by which the religious devoted his person to the local church.
      Moreover, the correct of stability in place had by that time evolved far from its original meaning. In expressly reserving to religious in the privileges of foundation the right to go later on to a more austere Order, the popes had made a first breach. A still more important derogation, because of its more frequent occurrence, came with the affiliation to the monasteries of subordinate foundations, priories, hermitages, and especially churches in which the canons officiated. Their local stability was broken.
      In 1108, Pascal II recognized it: "For after a cleric is transferred by his bishop, or a monk by his abbot, from church to church and from monastery to monastery, he is not held by the bond of profession to stability of place and obedience to the abbot." Cited by Schreiber (11, 327); but the reference be gives is incorrect.

63 "Since the importunity of Lia is almost continually jealous of the desirable embraces of Rachel, we more insistently ask your Order and more earnestly beg that you who (by your Rule) sit at the feet of the Lord with Mary, should humbly implore...." Letter of Honorius III to the Preachers of Paris, December 30, 1220 (Laurent, no. 122). Cf. (in Analecta O.P., III, 379) a letter in a quite similar vein, written by Gregory IX to the Preachers on March 29, 1227, a few days after his election. Rachel and Mary of Bethany represented the contemplative life, especially since the time of St. Gregory (Moral., VI, chap. 18). In the early thirteenth century these figures were not used as images, but as technical allegories in theology.
      On the other hand, in 1205, Innocent III considered that the apostolic life meant a renunciation of the "embraces of Rachel" for the Cistercian Peter of Caste1nau (PL, CCXV, 525). It was the triumph of the genius of St. Dominic to have reversed this situation.

64 The command has even more force since it was addressed by Dominic to friars about to set forth on a preaching mission.

65 For St. Thomas, it is the singular state of bishops, preachers, and doctors, to be able to keep their action in an overflow of contemplation, whence his formula; "Thus it is better to give to others the fruits of contemplation than simply to contemplate. Summa theol., IIa, IIae, q.188, a.6; cf. q.182, a.1 ad 1um; IIIa, q.40, a. 1 ad 2um.

66 Dist. II, chap. 26, realized it in one phrase: "no possessions or revenues may be received." This prescription is so typical and so comprehensive in its simplicity that, when the Second Council of Lyons sought to describe all mendicants in one phrase, it borrowed this expression: "(orders) in which profession according to the rule or constitution forbids the holding of revenues or possessions" (Hefele-Leclercq, VI, 201).
      Other features of the apostolic life are detailed: not to carry money on a journey (Dist. II, chap. 31); always to have a companion (ibid.); to eat what is provided (Dist. 1, chap. 8); to travel on foot (ibid., chap. 22).

67 We cannot estimate the magnificence of the successful combining in one Rule elements so apparently contrary as the regular conventual life and apostolic labor. It was a case of supernatural inspiration supplementing the characteristic genius of St. Dominic.
      Salanhac (no. 3) aptly comments on this balance of elements from the Benedictine, Augustinian, and apostolic spirit as realized by St. Dominic in his life and in his Order. He concludes: "The glorious confessors, Augustine and Benedict, endowed him who, by training in regular discipline, prepared himself for the office of preaching. For as he was a canon by profession, he was a monk in the austerity of is life, In fasts, in abstinence, in vesture, in the dormitory, in the discipline of silence and of the chapter, as well as in the other observances found in the Rule of St. Benedict, almost all of which, along with other special practices, he ordained should be observed. Likewise, as we profess the Rule of St. Augustine, he also observed it and gave it to others to be observed. Over and above that, according to the increasing grace of the apostolic rule, he required that we should not have possessions, that we should not use horses but travel about on foot, carrying neither silver nor gold, reaching and working for the salvation of men; contented only with the food at and according to the admonition in St. Luke 10:7, eating and drinking such things as they have. Desiring to do more, the holy man abstained from meat and willed and decreed that his sons should abstain, knowing wbat was said to the innkeeper: 'Whatsoever thou shalt spend over and above, I, at my return, will repay thee' (Luke 10:35). Therefore, it is evident to anyone who judges without prejudice, that the holy man was a canon by the vow of his profession, a monk by the austerity of his life, an apostle by the office of preaching."

68 Dist. 1, chap. 17.

69 Let him teach them "how assiduous they must be in study so that day or night, at home or abroad, they may be engaged in reading or meditation" (Dist. 1, chap. 13).

70 "If anyone shall fall asleep while studying, etc...... (Dist. I, chap. 21). Cf. the recommendation to visitators: "whether they dwell in peace, are assiduous in study, fervent in preaching," etc. (Dist. II, chap. 18).

71 "All the hours should be recited in the church breviter et succincte so that the brethren may not lose devotion and that their studies may suffer as little interruption as possible" (Dist. I, chap. 4); the chapter "may also be omitted at times, lest study should be hindered" (ibid., chap. 1).

72 The office of master of students was an original creation of St. Dominic.

73 We use the term "theological studies" as the expression was understood in 1220: study of Holy Scripture, according to the method of questions and disputation. The prescriptions of 1220 fall into line with this academic ideal. St. Dominic's preaching was marked by it even in 1206.

74 While full of wisdom and urbanity, this recommendation treats the exemption of the Preachers as regards the bishops. They should, if they can, visit them and ask their direction, but they are not required to ask of them the commission to preach.

75 By the institution of general chapters, the Order of Cîteaux had already brought its Constitution into line with this law, so characteristic of the medieval period. But it did not modify the patriarchal and even feudal role of the abbot, who held a pivotal place in the Benedictine organization.
      The religious world of the twelfth century, and Prémontré in particular, felt the influence of Cîteaux. Yet there remained a considerable stretch to be covered in order to adapt the ancient edifice of religious government to the lines of contemporary law: this was the feat which the Rule of St. Dominic accomplished.

76 In its principles, organs, and its fundamental balance, this legislative section was already contained in the text of 1220. Legislation at once collective, centralized, elective. It was already sketched in 1216.

77 The essential organ in the remarkably centralized body of the Preachers is not the Master of the Order but the general chapter, or, as it were, the complex combination of the Master and the chapter, with the chapter predominant. Final decisions are with the chapter. The Master governs between chapters. Further, the primitive legislation treats exclusively of the chapter and its rights in relation to the Master; not a word is said about the powers of the Master; but reference is often made to his possible excesses.

78 There may have been some influences from the Franciscan province (1217) on the Dominican province ( 1221); as in the chapters celebrated by both Orders on the feast of St. Michael (cf. Regula Ia, chap. 18, ed. Boehmer, p. 12; Denifle, Archiv, I, 218). The status of the provincial chapter among the Minors before 1221 is far from being clear. However, the differences are fundamental.
      The Franciscan province was the very first step in the organization of an Order whose authority was still vested in one man, St. Francis. The province is a decentralized subdivision; the typical organ in the Franciscan system is the minister provincial, vicar of St. Francis. The provincial chapter is a huge gathering of all the Franciscans of a particular region.
      The Preachers, on the other hand, had from the first developed a solid and classic conventual organization. The central authority, constituted in 1220 in the complex organ of the chapter of the representatives and of the Master, had been exactly balanced and arranged in anticipation by this conventual organization. The necessity of decentralization or of an administrative subdivision never made itself felt as it did with the Minors.
      Another need, however, was felt, as it was by other monks and canons, that of regular control. To be efficacious, this control had to be regional. Thus it was that when all the great orders of the twelfth century, following the lead of Cîteaux, strove to establish this control by universal federation of convents, with the aid of general chapters and regular visitation, the thirteenth century saw the birth of regional federation. There was the organization of the provincial chapters of canons in Germany (middle of the twelfth century), the organization at Prémontré of visitation in the province (beginning of the thirteenth century), the "chambrerie" at Cluny (beginning of the thirteenth century), and especially canon 12 of the Lateran Council (1215), which had an immediate influence on the provincial institution of the Preachers.
      It is worthy of note that the general chapter, universal, and commanding full authority, is primarily a legislative organ. The provincial chapter, with limited and regional authority, is primarily an organ of control. This results in two different but parallel bodies. That feature has been preserved in the Order. It is a magnificent heritage.

79 The power and duty of the Master and of the provincial are not defined by the law of the Preachers. This is owing to the fact that, on the one hand, the characteristic organ of the Preachers is the collective authority; on the other hand, personal authority exists of itself, and there is no need of describing it with the minutiae detailed for the original and complex organs of the chapters. That does not mean that personal authority has no importance with the Preachers, or that it may not be very characteristic. On the contrary. But its qualities are not stamped by legislation. They are rather the fruit of events and circumstances. The attitude of St. Dominic and especially his relations and the relations of his Order with the Holy See have contributed more than any other factor to determine the role of the Master. Finally, general trends in the thirteenth century seem to explain more clearly the nature of personal powers in the Order of Preachers.

80 This process of confirmation seems a definition of later date than the text under consideration, but previous to 1228.

81 Canon 12 of the Lateran Council did not, as is sometimes said, impose a general chapter on religious orders. On canons regular and monks of a like rule (kingdom or province) it imposed the celebration of chapters on the model of those begun by Cîteaux. Four persons were to preside at the chapters; visitators were to be elected, and the place of the next chapter designated (Hefele-Leclercq, V, 1342).
      This prescription did not greatly influence the institution of the general chapter of the Preachers (which would have been instituted in any case), but the provincial chapter. In fact, the assembly of the convents of one section was much more efficacious or correction and visitation than the universal assembly. That fact explains the prescription of the canon for a provincial assembly. Moreover, the "Provincial Text" of the Preachers is inspired directly by the text of this canon. It also provided for the nomination of four definitors who would preside over the chapter. At the chapter, visitators for the province would be elected; faults would be corrected; the place of the next chapter would be appointed. In the Dominican texts the province is referred to repeatedly by the same expression as in canon 12 (Dist. II, chaps. 15, 16).