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introducció inquietuds
 Vision of the cosmos: analogy and exemplarism
 The poetry of the troubadours
 Vernacular languages and science
 The spiritual concerns of the laity
 The universities and scholasticism

The profound spiritual concerns shown by laypeople in western Europe, from the beginning of the 12th century and throughout the 13th, were a component of the first order in the process of intellectual emancipation that can be found among the laity itself in the twilight of the Middle Ages. In fact, they proved to be a privileged route of access to the knowledge held by the clergy, that is, to theological knowledge above all.

This phenomenon coincided, in the Crown of Aragon, with the constitution, generalisation and consolidation of a rich and varied, vernacular cultural tradition at the dawn of the 14th century. Some of the main contributions to the extension of written Catalan originated from the realm of spirituality and were due to the efforts of laypeople. This was the case with Ramon Llull and Arnold of Villanova, who contributed decisively to the particular character of this tradition. At the same time, they can both be explained as the result of an overturning of the barriers separating the different compartments into which knowledge was divided, to the extent of enabling certain laypeople to feel the need to move beyond the cultural tools they had acquired naturally in the process of their socialisation and to encroach upon areas of knowledge reserved until that time for specialists, that is to say, clerics. Llull and Villanova, therefore, lived at the very beginning of this tendency and ensured that the trend was manifested by Catalan culture in a remarkably precocious way.

Penitential piety and the very varied forms it took throughout the 13th century constitute the clearest display of this desire in laypeople to find certain particular forms of spirituality in which they could play a leading role, without straying from their estate. A well-known display of such penitential spirituality was that provided in Occitania and in the Crown of Aragon in the fifty years comprising the last quarter of the 13th and the first quarter of the 14th centuries; this display amounted to a wide-reaching and forceful current, linked in various ways to the Friars Minor, especially to the group called Franciscan Spirituals, and also present, though with its own particular characteristics, in the Italian peninsula and even as far as Sicily. It formed, therefore, a wide-ranging Mediterranean arc which offered the space within which the Ramon Llull and Arnold of Villanova developed their chief activity in this period.

Source: Albert Soler, “Espiritualitat i cultura: els laïcs i l’accés al saber a final del segle xiii a la Corona d’Aragó”, Studia Lulliana 38 (1998), pp. 3-4.

There are aspects of this in Ramon Llull’s Blaquerna , such as the exemplary life of the hero’s parents, Evast and Aloma, and in his Doctrina pueril, such as the proposal to institute a form of elementary education for infants by means of reading and writing, aspects which can be explained by Llull’s proximity to social groups marked by the spiritual concerns of the laity. This does not mean that Llull personally shared any specific objective particular to the Beguins: his objective was the Art. On the other hand, certain of the first disciples of Llull in the Catalan territories of the 14th century were definitely spiritual laypersons, and it was they who unleashed the fury of the inquisitor Nicholas Eymerich after 1372.


enllaç UB Centre de Documentació Ramon Llull