Missives from the Alps 1: Joachim of Fiore
Number One in an ongoing series of articles about the historical sources, underpinnings and concepts behind Dead Air
Avid readers of the Dead Air wiki may have noticed a few references to Joachim of Fiore in the timeline and who’s who. This is a historical reference, not an Ars Magica one, so we thought it might be worth flagging up a bit of additional context.
Joachim of Fiore was a Cistercian monk (and later hermit) in the late 1200s who was a prolific author and was interested in exploring the hidden meanings behind the lives of the apostles and scripture. He is famous in theology for his theory of the tripartite ages of history and their alignment with the Trinity. In Joachim’s thinking, the Age (status) of the Father began with Adam, came to fruition with Abraham and ended with Christ, while the status of the Son began with King Uzziah of Judah, came to fruition with Zechariah—John the Baptist’s father—and was about to end in Joachim’s own time.
This last point accounts for the popularity of Fiore’s prophetic message. According to Joachim, the Age of the Holy Spirit, believed to have begun with Saint Benedict of Nursia, was soon to be fulfilled. And perhaps more importantly, in Joachim’s thinking, this would represent a transformation in the relationship between God and mortals, meaning there was no further need for a priest to intercede with God on behalf of man. A new gospel would be born on the principles of universal love.
Joachim’s work prompted quite a bit of schism and heresy over the next fifty years – including a group called the New Apostles, led by Fra Dolcino of Novara. One of Fra Dolcino’s “new apostles” was a woman named Margaret of Trent, who like the rest of the group ended up burned at the stake at the hands of infamous inquisitor Bernardo Gui.
What does this have to do with wizards?
Well, Joachim’s theories were extremely attractive to the magi of House Jerbiton – representing as they did the idea that a new age of rapprochement between man (or magus) and God was dawning. And equally, a Church with an extensive vested interest in the importance of priests took a dim view of Joachim’s theories. In the 1240s his writings were suppressed and in 1318, they were declared heretical.
In the world of Dead Air, Margaret of Trent, she of the New Apostles, was secretly Margherita Boninsegna, Maga and Prima Jerbiton and her unfortunate intersection with Bernardo Gui and a heresy charge led to her death and the end of House Jerbiton’s dalliance with “the Joachimite heresy”.
Equally, the transition between Joachim’s second and third ages is seen by many of the more apocalypse-obsessed in House Criamon as another aspect of the onrushing Eschaton. Joachim’s book Expositio in Apocalypsim is a fixture in many libraries where Criamon magi gather.
Click here for more on Joachim, and why he might be relevant to the affairs of magi