A minority looks at the mendicants: Isaac Nathan the Jew and Thomas Connecte the Carmelite

Ram Ben-Shalom*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This article focuses on the Thomas Connecte affair: the case of the charismatic friar who swept large areas of western European society along in pietistic and religious enthusiasm, established a reformist movement in several Carmelite convents, preached against the corruption of the priesthood, and was ultimately burned as a heretic in Rome in 1433 by the order of Pope Eugenius IV. The Hebrew testimony by the Jew Isaac Nathan concerning a pietistic movement led by an anonymous friar, which appears as an Exemplum in Nathan's book, Me'ametz Koach, is identified here as being an account of Connecte, thus shedding new light on the Connecte affair in addition to providing a perspective on the broader question of the cultural relations between Jews and Christians in the 15th century. The analysis contained in the Hebrew Exemplum points to a complicated image of the 'other', that is, of Christianity, an image composed of negative aspects - Connecte and his movement - and positive aspects, as represented by the Pope's response to Connecte. Isaac Nathan's antagonism towards Thomas Connecte is situated here within the context of his general attitude towards the mendicants, and his simultaneous position within the Jewish community and as a member of the western European high bourgeoisie.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)213-243
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Medieval History
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research for this article has been supported by the Dunar Center for research in Jewish studies, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem.


  • Carmelites
  • Eugenius IV
  • Exempla
  • Friars
  • Isaac nathan
  • Jews
  • Martin V
  • Mendicants
  • Preaching
  • Prophetic preaching
  • Thomas connecte
  • Vincent Ferrer

RAMBI Publications

  • Rambi Publications
  • Isaac ben Kalonimus ben Judah Nathan ben Solomon -- active 15th century
  • Jewish philosophy -- Middle Ages, 500-1500
  • Judaism -- Relations -- Christianity -- Middle Ages, 500-1500
  • Thomas Connecte


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