The project “Observing the Observance” aims to explore the role and functions of religious people and religious orders in Europe during the end of Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The main purpose of the Observant reform was a “return” to the first “observance” of the religious rules, but reformers quickly fulfilled other missions, such as the pastoral care of lay people, the regulation of religious and moral life, the promotion of new cultural and educational models.
This movement appeared in the end of the XIV c. and spread in all religious orders, and almost all European countries, during the XV c. and the beginning of the XVI c. How can we evaluate its role and its influence in the evolution of the social, political, cultural and economic structures of the European society? What kind of role did it play in the birth of the protestant Reform; can we still talk about a “pre-reforming” movement?
The study of this important phenomenon has recently become a point of interest for several researchers. In order to propose a synthetic view and a better understanding of the Observant movement, whose main characteristic was its capacity to involve almost all the existing religious orders, different historiographical points of view need to be compared, questioned and discussed. An international interdisciplinary approach will be promoted: besides historians, the project includes historians of arts and musicologists.