That the statutes were obeyed is evident from the many dispensations ("exceptions" to the rule) requested from the Augustinian Curia in Rome. When Jerome Seripando O.S.A.,
the great Prior General of the Tridentine period, published new Constitutions in 1549, he deviated but little from the old laws since a complete revision would have increased the tension and confusion of that difficult period.
New laws for the whole Order could be made only by General Chapters, but lost their binding force unless approved by the following chapter, then could he abrogated only when repudiated by two successive chapters. General Chapters were held regularly every three years until the time of the Great Schism
After this disastrous period had passed they were convened very irregularly, the interval lasting from four to six years. The general could be re elected as often as the voters desired and usually remained in office for life.
In the history of the Augustinian Constitutions, the name of Thomas of Strasbourg in placed with those of Clement of Osimo O.S.A. and Augustine of Tarano O.S.A. as a major early contribitor to the structuring of good governance within the Order.
Although the Augustinian legislators conformed to the decision of the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, when it endorsed and made applicable to all the Orders the longstanding Cistercian customs about chapters and government, they also proceeded in these matters with considerable independence.
Although their norms for the celebration of chapters and the election of superiors agree essentially, but not literally, with those of the Dominicans and Franciscans, they specified in greater detail the rights and obligations of the local prior and the officials of his community, the prior provincial and his council, the provincial and general visitators (an office thenceforth permanent and of great importance for the preservation of discipline) and the superior general.
As was the case in the two Orders just cited, the Augustinians also called all their superiors to account in chapters, but they were more severe than the Dominicans and Franciscans in specifying in three long lists the reasons for the removal of unworthy superiors: local superiors in Chapter 31, provincials in Chapter 33 and the prior general in Chapter 40.
In these chapters of the constitutions there is present the fullness of that healthy democratic spirit, according to which the mendicant Orders were governed even in the Middle Ages. In order to avoid any unjust sentences, judges were reguired to establish the truth of the charges, hear the accused superior and consider well whether his offense merited the penalty indicated.
Moreover, the members of the general chapter were advised that if, "after recognizing, considering and discussing" the performance of the superior of the Order, they find he has done well in his office, they may proceed to a re-election rather than choosing a successor (Chapter 38).
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