Inauguration of the exhibition Scotism Made in Louvain – The Scholastic Culture of the Franciscans in Belgium

June 3, 2024
Maurits Sabbe Library, KU Leuven

Charles Deberiotstraat 26
Leuven 3000

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities


  • UCLouvain


Université Catholique de Louvain
Université Paris-Sorbonne


Université Catholique de Louvain
Université Paris-Sorbonne

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2024 marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of Theodor Smising’s giant volume De Deo Uno (printed in Antwerp in 1624), which was soon followed by a second volume De Deo Trino (printed in Antwerp in 1626). Smising’s work was the first printed output of what developed into a specific tradition within early modern thought, the Louvain tradition of Scotism, itself but one part of the broad Scotist tradition that build upon the thought of John Duns Scotus (ca. 1266–1308). This Louvain tradition was primarily based in the Franciscan Convent of the Holy Trinity in the famous university town. The convent itself was much older, dating back to around 1230, when the Franciscan Order was in its very beginnings and long before the University of Louvain was founded (in 1425). In 1607 a second Franciscan Convent was founded in Louvain, St. Anthony’s College, one of a series of convents established by the Irish Franciscans as a result of their persecution in their homeland by the English Protestant rulers. The Irish Franciscans in Louvain, and in their other convents on the European continent, too cultivated the intellectual heritage of Duns Scotus, editing and commenting on his works and writing new works “ad mentem Scoti.” Both of the Franciscan convents in Louvain were closed in the turmoils after the French Revolution. The buildings of St. Anthony’s College still exist, whereas the older “Minderbroedersklooster” (on our exhibition poster) completely vanished from the cityscape.

In recent decades, the Maurits Sabbe Library has acquired a large fund of Franciscan books, mostly from various houses of the Franciscan Order in Belgium that have closed their doors. Our exhibition “Scotism Made in Louvain – The Scholastic Culture of the Franciscans in Belgium” explores this material, complemented by material from the KU Leuven Central Library’s Special Collections and two manuscripts from the archives of KADOC (Documentatie- en Onderzoekscentrum voor Religie, Cultuur en Samenleving). The exhibition tells the story of a significant local scholarly tradition which is placed in the context of the broader Scotist tradition of the Early Modern Period. Whereas Scholasticism as such is often seen as an exclusively medieval phenomenon, our exhibition highlights one important aspect of early modern scholastic culture.

Funded by the European Union

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