The concept of Reform amidst institutionalist historiography is usually built on anachronisms. According to it, the inception of its principles can be traced back between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. When it comes to the ecclesiastic sphere, it seems evident, since the contemporary catholic church attempted to present itself as a reformist political actor as far back as the Middle Ages. Therefore, most of historiography pertaining to the Cistercian Reform in the Iberian Peninsula has deduced interpretative schemes that end up making monasteries into anachronical institutions. Even fairly recent approaches that were thoroughly influenced by social history seem to be unable to explain the strengthening of the monastical institutions through a plethora of legal reasonings that go beyond legal positivism.
A rare 16th century manuscript with Amesbury provenance, Add. A.42, provides a glimpse into the intellectual and spiritual aspirations of English Fontevraudine nuns just prior to the dissolution of the monasteries in England. Their French order had been reformed and their rule rewritten in 1475, after a time of turbulence following agricultural disasters, plague, schism, and the Hundred Years War. By comparing Add. A. 42 and their revised rule with the original statutes, one concludes that English Fontevraudine convent life had indeed evolved by the early 16th century from its 12th century beginnings, especially regarding enclosure.
The monastic reforms of the 15th century in Austria were strongly supported by the dukes and driven by reforming commissioners from the religious houses themselves. However, papal legates left their traces, too. The paper deals with the dress regulations for the Upper Austrian canonry of St Florian issued by cardinals Cusanus and Carvajal, and the repeated attempts to have a provoking article regarding the canons’ dress recalled.