Herald of a future third age (
status) for mankind, the medieval abbot Joachim of Fiore (d. 1202) attracted and affected many individuals from Dante to Columbus. This book concentrates on the beginning of the story: it proves Joachim intended that he and his own order of monks, the Florensians, were to initiate the beginning of the third age. Using a variety of documents, Stephen Wessley uncovers Joachim's motivations when he broke away from the Cistercian monks to found his own reformed monastic group. Joachim's intended role for his Florensian monks, to be initiators of the new age, Wessley argues, was preserved by them well after Joachim's death. Drawing on manuscript evidence, the author traces this Florensian ideology through a period of major crises in the order to its appropriation by Franciscans.