A tally of houses involved in the Grand Union
On Page 149 of the work cited below, the late Augustinian historian Francis Roth O.S.A. stated that to give an exact number of the communities involved in the Grand Union is an impossibility, and that only an estimate can be made.
Nobody these days would disagree with that statement.
There were approximately seventy houses of the Tuscan Hermits (i.e. the religious order formed at the Little Union of 1244). This includes their houses north of Tuscany over the Alps.
Another nine of their houses were located in territories to the south of Tuscany, including Santa Maria del Popolo
in Rome, the venue of the Grand Union.
Their grand total, therefore, is placed at seventy-nine houses.
The houses of the Gianboniti (the Order of Hermits of Brother John the Good) and Brettini (the Hermits of Brettino) in the March of Ancona and Romandiola were so intermingled that in many instances they cannot definitively be assigned to either Order. Roth has made an estimate of sixty-four houses.
(Because both orders had officially followed the Rule of Augustine, since 1215 and 1228 respectively, often their houses were simply recorded as belonging to “Augustinian hermits.”)
(Another historical difficulty is that a community could be shifted to another location and, without our knowledge of the dates being definite, it is easy to make the mistake of actually counting the same community twice.)
Beyond Italy, the Gianboniti had an estimated thirty-six additional houses in central Europe, Spain and possibly England.
Excluding the houses of the Williamites (because they withdrew from the Grand Union soon after it began), this gives a conservative tally of 179 houses.
Other Augustinian historians in the twentieth century have generally agreed on a tally of between 180 and 200 houses being involved in the Grand Union, even if different sub-sections within their calculations display some variance.
For further reading
Cardinal Richard Annibaldi. By Francis Roth O.S.A. A long article that appeared in English in successive issues of the scholarly historical periodical, Augustiniana, of the Augustinian Historical Institute of Louvain, Belgium in 1952-1954. The second section of this article, dealing with the details above, appeared in Augustiniana in August 1952, pp, 108-149.
The Foundation of the OESA: A Reconsideration. This scholarly article written by Assistant Professor Eric Saak Ph.D. is available on Augnet. Click here.