Francesc Eiximenis (Girona, 1327/32 — Perpignan, 1409), was a Franciscan friar who wrote on a wide variety of matters and has become a fundamental point of reference for understanding Catalan culture and literature in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
After studying in the schools of his order, he completed his studies at Oxford University and then travelled around different cities of Europe. In 1374, thanks to royal patronage from the Crown of Aragon, he obtained the title of Master of Theology from the University of Toulouse. On his return to Catalonia, he devoted himself to teaching and, between 1384 and 1408, when he was living in Valencia, he wrote most of his works and was also very active as a preacher and as a Councillor in the Town Hall. In 1408, in recognition of his fidelity, Pope Benedict XIII bestowed upon him the honorary title of Patriarch of Jerusalem and made him Bishop of Elna, where he died shortly afterwards.
The considerable oeuvre of Francesc Eiximenis, which was widely translated and circulated among the nobility and city-based classes, is essentially concerned with the religious, philosophical and civil education of laymen. His contribution to Catalan literature lies in the quality of his prose, the narrative skills he applies to everyday local examples and scenes, and his re-creation of colloquial language. Again, his texts, which are mostly unpublished, explain the increasing presence of theological and scholastic concepts in the texts and literature that were written in the ordinary layman’s language of the period.
Besides his works in Latin, which were addressed to university or scholarly audiences, another notable publication is his encyclopaedia Lo Crestià (The Christian), of which only volumes One, Two, Three and Twelve (written between 1379 and 1386) are known. Among his other works in Catalan are Llibre de les dones (The Book of Women, 1396), Vita Christi (Life of Christ, written before 1403) and Llibre dels àngels (The Book of Angels, 1392), the latter book being his most widely published, read and translated work.
Web page: Guillem Molla for AELC.
Translation: Julie Wark.
Photographs: Martí de Riquer: "Francesc Eiximenis", dins Martí de Riquer, Antoni Comas, Joaquim Molas: Història de la literatura catalana. Barcelona: Ariel, vol. 2, 1964, p. 313-376; Xavier Renedo i Sergi Gascón (curs.): Prosa. Barcelona: Teide, 1993, and Soledad Vila: La ciudad de Eiximenis: Un proyecto de urbanismo en el siglo XIV. València: Diputació Provincial de València, 1984.