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50) Friars had first launched widespread preaching in thirteenth-century towns, and Observant friars would emerge as star performers in the fifteenth, the preaching tours of San Bernardino and John of Capistrano legendary in Italy, so too John Brugman in the Low Countries, along with other regional figures.
In the 1420s-1430s the cult of the Holy Name spread through Italy, championed by the Franciscan Observant Bernardino of Siena, critiqued by others including the humanist Ambrogio Traversari.
46) See James Mixson, Poverty's Proprietors: Ownership and Mortal Sin at the Origins of the Observant Movement (Leiden: Brill, forthcoming 2009).
He notes only briefly the connection between Observant preachers, the Monti di Pieta and anti-Semitism.
They were both leading members of the observant movement, that is, the movement for reform, within the Order of Preachers.
The early observant position on poverty caused tremendous strife within the order--one need only think of the better known conflict between spiritual and conventual Franciscans to appreciate the divisions that disagreements over poverty could generate in a religious order--and, from all appearances, would have condemned the reform movement to ultimate failure.
In order to understand his position, we must therefore consider the origins of the Dominican observant movement and its early position on poverty.
61) It was at this meeting that Pope Eugene IV, a strong supporter of the reformers, tried to impose Albert of Sarteano, one of the four so-called "Pillars of the Observants," on the order as its next Minister General.
This is not to suggest that the altar represented a clearly-defined program of Conventual propaganda, but rather that the divisions between Conventuals and Observants that became increasingly obvious over the course of the later Quattrocento could already begin to be discerned in the Santo high altar project.
66) Up to the mid-fifteenth century, Observants seem to have preferred using old, established iconographic formulas with a strong emphasis on images of the Crucifixion and the Madonna (the latter either grouped with other saints, often Franciscans, or in narrative scenes such as the Annunciation, Assumption, or Coronation), themes long popular in Franciscan churches in general.
A memoriale written by the nuns of Santa Maria di Monteluce at Perugia in order to preserve their history for future sisters, clarifies the system of artistic patronage in fifteenth-century houses of Observant Poor Clares.
22) To understand their private attitudes toward art and devotions during the Quattrocento, we must turn to the writings and paintings created by the abbess at another Franciscan Observant convent, the Corpus Domini at Bologna.