Post-classical history


During the decades surrounding the pivotal pontificate of Innocent III two distinct but clearly related phenomena shook the earth under the church. Neither doctrinal dissent nor the establishment of new religious orders was new, but, when they appeared at this time, they came from quite a different source. Both now emerged from a laity disturbed by the blatant affluence of the church and suspicious of the motives and sincerity of churchmen wearing silken vestments and using golden chalices. It was a laity yearning for a simpler spiritual life. The Christ they knew had been born in a manger and, as an adult, had no place to lay his head. When he sent out his apostles and disciples to preach his message, he told them, ‘Take nothing with you, neither staff nor pack, neither bread nor money, not even a second coat’ (Luke 9, 3). Essentially there was a quest for a new model for the Christian life. Many felt that it was not necessary to abandon the world for the shelter of a monastery to be a good Christian nor was it necessary to try to live monk-like or nun-like in the world. The Jesus they worshipped lived a holy life in the world, but it was a life of simplicity and poverty: these became the central elements of a new piety. Their attractions touched deep the souls of thousands of Christians, like Waldès and the heretical Waldensians and Francis of Assisi and the orthodox Franciscans. While other elements also helped to shape these and similar movements, at base they all exhibited the desire for a more personal form of religion, one shorn of its accidentals and excesses and centred on the imitation of Christ. Official suspicion greeted almost every expression of this desire, a suspicion leading occasionally to acceptance but frequently to outright condemnation and even to the spilling of blood.


Heresy was nothing new to the church. What was new in the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries was the form which it took. Heresy, by its nature, was a departure from accepted orthodoxy, and in the high Middle Ages it was a dissent espoused not by bishops and scholars but largely by lowly priests and unlettered laymen and lay-women, their emphasis, at least at first, not so much on matters of doctrine – that would follow – but on practical piety in everyday life. For this reason it is usually called ‘popular’ heresy.

When Innocent III ascended the papal throne in 1198, the church was being seriously challenged by strong, independent movements, particularly in France and Italy but not only there. Neither Catharism nor Waldensianism, the two principal dissident movements of the time, was doctrinally uniform, yet the general lines can be discerned. It can be said of both these heresies that each had two elements, an ethic and a doctrine, and we should not think that the latter was equal to the former in attracting recruits. These two movements differed from each other and, indeed, were mutually antagonistic. They need be looked at separately.

The Cathars, it has been persuasively argued, were the most significant medieval heretics, even if judged only by their numbers and their superior organization. The movement began in the 1140s and spread throughout large parts of western Europe in the subsequent decades, presenting Innocent III with his greatest challenge. Yet it survived his response, only to be dealt its death-blow not by crusade but by inquisition, although there lingered even then a few flickering signs of life in remote areas. Such a striking resemblance appears between the Bogomils, an Eastern sect with its origins in Bulgaria, and the Cathars that it seems that the Cathars to some extent probably owe their beginnings to an infiltration of Bogomil teaching into the West, probably in the Rhineland near Cologne, by the 1140s. Both movements shared, among many other things, a basic dualism, a belief in two basic principles, one good and spiritual and the other bad and material, one deriving from God and the other from Satan. The repudiation of material things meant the repudiation of the flesh (and sexual relations) as well as the repudiation of Catholic sacraments.

At Cologne in the 1140s there was ineffective repression of the movement, and, when it reappeared in the West in the 1160s, it was joined by an evangelical element. These were to be the two main ingredients of Catharism, a dualistic theology and an emphasis on a simple, rigoristic way of life. They were not equally emphasized in every place where the movement took hold. The movement’s spread was remarkable, even if we cannot plot its course step by step. Nearly contemporary with its first appearance at Cologne, it was also reported at Champagne and Liège. But it was the 1160s which were critical in its spread. By then the Cathars were also in the vicinities of Bonn and Mainz, where they came to the attention of Hildegard of Bingen, who sent an anti-Cathar sermon to Mainz. In 1163, another German preaching against these heretics discussed their name:

In German they are called ‘Cathars’, in Flemish ‘Piphles’, in French ‘Texerant’.

It should be added that later, because of their prominence in the vicinity of Albi, they were frequently called ‘Albigensians’. The name ‘Cathars’ derives probably not from the Greek for pure ones but from the spurious allegation of cat-kissing in their ceremonies. Whatever its derivation, it is the term most generally in use by historians.

The Languedoc region of France was to become the ground where Catharism grew more successfully than anywhere else, yet there is no evidence of Cathars there before the 1160s. A region rather than a precise political division, the Languedoc took its name from the form of French spoken there, langue d’oc (or Occitan), where ‘yes’ was rendered ‘hoc est’ or simply an unaspirated ‘hoc’ instead of the of the north (langue d’oï). By 1165 the Cathars there were perceived as such a danger that a conference was held at Lombers, near Albi, attended by the archbishop of Narbonne, five other bishops, six abbots and other ecclesiastical officials together with prominent members of the nobility. No effect emerged from what was more a debate than a trial, other than an apparent tolerance of the Cathars by the lay leaders. Also, in the 1160s they can be seen in Lombardy, where a certain Mark the Gravedigger, it was said, was converted by a Frenchman at Concorezzo near Milan; in turn he soon converted others. Before long Cathars were in other parts of Italy: in the north at Desenzano on Lake Garda, Vicenza, Verona and Mantua and in central Italy at Florence and even further south not far from Rome at Orvieto. By the end of the twelfth century there were scores of flourishing Cathar communities in western Europe, the most successful in southern France and northern Italy.

Attempts were made to repress this heresy. At Cologne in 1144 confessed Cathars were seized from the clergy who tried to protect them and burned by the people. In 1163 further trials were held at Cologne. As early as 1145 St Bernard, abbot of Clairvaux, preached against heretics, quite possibly Cathars, in the south of France at Toulouse, Albi and surrounding villages with apparent success, but a success only of the short term. Generally speaking, the Cathars in northern France and the Rhineland were checked, and their influence faded. To the south the developments were startlingly different. The meeting at Lombers in 1165 had no measurable success, for, among other reasons, the secular authorities were unwilling to intervene. Other preachers came into the Languedoc, but they had not even the limited success of Bernard. In Toulouse a trial was held in 1177, and a local merchant abjectly recanted, yet four of his sons and their families later appeared as Cathars. Innocent III confronted a serious, seething problem when he became pope in 1198.

What was it that constituted the Catharism to which Innocent III was to respond in a most aggressive manner? In the first place, its organization. Catharism was not a sect within the Catholic church: it was itself a church, one in opposition to the Catholic church. It had bishops and dioceses. In the Languedoc in the early thirteenth century it had dioceses at Agen, Albi, Carcassonne and Toulouse. In Italy the territorial division of the four dioceses there was less clear. A separate church though it was, Catharism had no pope, no overall leader: it was a religion of strong local communities. Three levels of membership were noted as early as 1143 at Cologne, and so that structure continued: the perfects, the believers and the sympathizers. The elite perfecti formed the core of the movement: men and women who had passed through a rigorous probationary period, after which they received the consolamentum (literally, ‘the consoling’), a laying on of hands, which released the person from the power of Satan and now allowed that person to speak to God in the Lord’s Prayer. To compare the perfecti to Catholic priests or Catholic monks provides some glimpse of their role, but the comparison should not be pressed too far. They bound themselves to an austere life of fasting and abstinence from sex and from all products of coition such as meat, milk, cheese and eggs. It was a code of life more rigid than the most rigid Catholic monastic orders. The perfecti tended to live in small communities. Some travelled, preaching and teaching and encouraging others. They formed a class apart, not a priesthood, for there was no Mass, only a blessing of bread while reciting the Lord’s Prayer, an elite class deferred to by other adherents, who genuflected to them. Their numbers were never very large, although precise figures elude us. About the lowest order, the supporters, little can be said except that they gave material support to the perfecti and listened to sermons. The intermediate order, the believers, was composed of those who had accepted the teaching but were not yet prepared for the consequences of the consolamentum. Some believers took that step after several years of intense training. For others the consolamentum was a deathbed ritual, since to die unconsoled was to die still in the power of Satan.

To summarize their belief system is hazardous, for it was not exactly the same everywhere. Basic to their world-view was the dualistic dichotomy already mentioned, but, even here, there were differences. Extreme and moderate dualists both saw a world of material, visible, physical reality, the object of our senses, particularly sight and touch, and it was evil. The human body was evil, and to propagate the human body was evil. The moderates believed that Satan, the fallen angel, was created by God, and he in turn created material things. More radically, the extremists believed there are two eternal powers, one of good and one of evil, joined forever in combat. All agreed that the world of the spirit is the world of the good, which derives from God, himself a wholly spiritual, non-material being. The human soul is the spiritual part of every human being, but, while joined with the body, it is under the control of Satan. The ritual of the consolamentum released the soul from the control of Satan, liberating it from the power of evil.

Their ethic followed logically from their basic world-view, and its preachers could find passages in the gospels to support their ethic. Renounce the world and all its pomps. Live by the spirit, which can be willing, while the flesh is weak. Abstain from carnality. Fast and abstain from worldly pleasures of all sorts. It was an appeal not that different from that which sent thousands of young men and women into monasteries in the twelfth century. The vital difference was that Catholic teaching, even St Bernard’s at his most rhetorical, did not hold that their world-denying life was the only route to personal salvation. For the Cathars it was the only route. Cathar preachers found in the lapses from virtue of Catholic priests and bishops a rich vein to mine. Who could deny such evident evils and who could justify the worldliness and lack of spirituality among the Catholic clergy? The Cathars held that their perfecti, having renounced material pleasures, were the only true Christians. Dualism resolved the perennial problem of how a good God can permit earthquakes and illness and disease simply by positing an evil God or, at the least, an evil Satan, to whom material disasters could be attributed. To calculate the numbers attracted to this church is fraught with difficulties. That there existed Cathars among the peasantry in rural areas is abundantly clear, but, only if guesswork were to replace evidence, can actual numbers or even reasonable estimates be given for them. For the towns of Lombardy and the Languedoc some evidence is available. For example 600 perfectigathered together at Mirepoix in 1206; extrapolating from this figure it is possible to say that there may have been as many as 1,500 perfecti in the Languedoc. At Béziers, in 1209, about 200 Cathars were identified out of a population of about 10,000. In some villages such as Cambias they formed a majority and, in others, a minority, even a small minority. It was never a mass movement but one that the pope judged he could not ignore.

Innocent III, committed to reform, placed the suppression of heresy as his top priority. Earlier attempts had little success. Almost at once the new pope sent two Cistercians into the Languedoc to preach and to excommunicate heretics. Two others replaced them in 1203, then later another Cistercian was added to the team. Local bishops were not pleased with the intrusion of papal legates into their dioceses. The bishop of Béziers was suspended from office not for heresy but for failing to cooperate with the Cistercian legates. The archbishop of Narbonne was nearly suspended at this time for the same reason, but his suspension did eventually come in 1212. The lay nobles were even less cooperative, and, as a result, in 1207 the count of Toulouse was excommunicated. The preaching mission took on new impetus in 1206 with the arrival of the Spanish bishop Diego of Osma and one of his cathedral clergy, Dominic (later St Dominic). Their plan, approved by Innocent, was that preachers should travel barefoot, eschewing every sign of luxury, in other words, like the Cathar preachers. Also, they should not be reluctant to engage the Cathars in open, public debates. In the following spring, Innocent ordered 12 Cistercian abbots to adopt this preaching method in the Languedoc. Eight days of debate followed at Servian, where Diego and Dominic triumphed. At Montréal the debate lasted two weeks, and 150 Cathars returned to Catholicism. By the end of the summer of 1207 the monks wanted to return to their monasteries, and Diego returned to Osma, where he soon died. Events soon took a dramatic turn. The mission by preaching and example was soon replaced by violence.

Map 14 Places associated with the Cathars (Albigensians) in the Languedoc

On 14 January 1208 the papal legate to the Languedoc, Peter of Castelnau, was assassinated by a knight of Count Raymond VI of Toulouse. The parallel of the Becket murder could not have escaped many. Peter had excommunicated the count and, in the preceding month, had had acrimonious exchanges with him. There is no evidence to suggest the count’s complicity in the murder, but his failure to arrest the assassin and to express regret infuriated Innocent. The result was the Albigensian Crusade. Innocent III called on King Philip Augustus of France to lead a crusading army south to suppress the heresy. Preoccupied with difficulties with King John of England and Otto IV of Germany, Philip Augustus refused. The pope appointed a papal legate and promised those taking the cross all the benefits of crusaders going to the Holy Land. Once a movement to recover the holy places in the East from the infidel, the crusade had recently been turned against Christians in Constantinople and now was being used against Christian heretics in the West. A corner had been irrevocably turned in the crusading movement.

The Albigensian Crusade lasted 20 years and was only partially successful in gaining its aims. In late June 1209 a crusading army gathered at Lyons: a large army led mostly by the barons of northern France. On 22 July they arrived at Béziers, which they easily took. The people of Béziers sought safety in their churches. The church of the Magdalene, crowded with frightened inhabitants, was burned as was the cathedral. The abbot of Cîteaux allegedly said, when asked how to distinguish Catholic from heretic, ‘Kill them all: God will sort it out.’ On to Carcassonne, which surrendered. Other fortified towns in the vicinity, such as Narbonne and Albi, soon followed suit. By then the crusading army was being led by Simon de Montfort, a nobleman from the vicinity of Paris.

When, in the spring of 1210, his army took Minerve, they burned alive 140 perfecti on a huge pyre. Most of the fortresses in that region of the Languedoc were under the control of the crusaders; there remained the region of Toulouse, which was to dominate the hostilities for the rest of the war. Count Raymond VI of Toulouse had given his support to the crusaders in 1209, but now the crusade turned on him. When he failed to respond promptly to an order to turn over named heretics, he was excommunicated. In July 1211 de Montfort positioned his army outside Toulouse but was unable to breach the defences. King Peter II of Aragon intervened diplomatically and, in early 1213, convinced Innocent III to halt the crusade. The pope’s legates on the ground in southern France subverted the peace, and the crusade started again. Peter II fell in battle near Toulouse in late summer 1213.

Desultory fighting continued for the next two years with the crusaders in control of much of the region with the principal exception of Toulouse. When the Fourth Lateran Council concluded on 30 November 1215, it stripped Raymond VI of his title and made Simon de Montfort count of Toulouse. He took Toulouse in 1216, while Raymond VI was securing fresh recruits from Spain and his son, Raymond VII, was gaining support in eastern Languedoc. In the summer of 1217, while de Montfort was campaigning with little success in Provence, Toulouse rose against his garrison, and Raymond VI returned to a hero’s welcome. A siege by the crusaders was set up but failed in June 1218, when de Montfort was struck by a stone projectile that crushed his head. At the pleading of the new pope, Honorius III (1216–27), Philip Augustus sent a royal army south under the command of his son Prince Louis.

The crusade now was but a pretence; the reality was a war being waged by the king of France in the Languedoc for the purpose of extending royal power into the south. What remains of the story pertains more to French political history than to church history. Louis failed in another siege of Toulouse. Truces were made in 1223 and in 1224. By then Louis VIII was king of France and Raymond VII count of Toulouse. Yet Louis’s large army had limited success and was weakened by a long siege at Avignon. Tired after 20 years, the count of Toulouse negotiated a peace when he and the 15 year old Louis IX met at the cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris. He kept much of his ancestral territories, but they would be ceded to the royal family at his death. Then the king of France would have control over most of the south of France. It had been a successful war for the French, but clearly not a crusade. It failed in its stated purpose, to eradicate the Cathar heresy. The counts of Toulouse and most of the other great men of the south were not heretics, despite rumours circulating among the crusaders that Raymond VI was a Cathar supporter and that two perfecti were with him constantly ready to give him the consolamentum, should he show signs of dying. These southern leaders fought against attacks on their lands. Many heretics were ruthlessly killed, yet Catharism was far from subdued. It would take another campaign, of a different sort, to accomplish that.

Plate 12 Albi Cathedral. Reproduced by permission of Tim Benton.

The elimination of Catharism was effected by trials and punishment. A procedure for criminal cases with its history in Roman law was employed by the popes to eradicate heresy. It was a procedure that vested a papal agent with the power to investigate and to punish the heretics. Its procedure was by way of investigation rather than by accusation. It could be called simply the ‘investigation’, but it is known to history by a synonym, the ‘inquisition’, and the papal agents as ‘inquisitors’. Canonical legislation against heretics was already in place; it remained to identify them and deal with them. Pope Gregory IX (1227–41) appointed members of the order founded by the preacher Dominic to go into the Languedoc in 1233 with considerable authority. Three Dominican inquisitors arrived at Toulouse. Other inquisitors were soon at Albi, Moissac and Cahors; at these places the dead were exhumed and burned. The presence of the inquisitors led to near rebellion at Narbonne and to their being expelled from Toulouse. The inquisition was particularly active in the early 1240s and by the decade’s end the back of Catharism was broken.

How did this inquisition proceed? When the inquisitors arrived in a community such as a parish, they summoned the whole parish, and a sermon was preached, exhorting those present to assist in the extermination of heresy. A period of grace was allowed, generally about a week or so, during which individuals could confess, repent, be absolved and punished leniently. Questioning of individual parishioners then began:

Have you seen a heretic?
Have you heard sermons preached by heretics?
Have you witnessed a consolamentum?
Have you supported heretics materially?

And so forth. The questioned would be encouraged to implicate others, who, in turn, would be questioned. When sufficient evidence was acquired about an individual, the inquisitor provided the accused with a statement of the charges but not with the names of the accusers. If convicted, the person would be invited to confess and repent. There is no evidence that confessions were extorted by torture at this time. Punishment depended on whether the person confessed or was contumacious. An analysis of the penalties imposed by the inquisitor Bernard de Caux in 1245–46 is instructive. He questioned 5,605 – every adult in two archdeaconries south-west of Toulouse, all of whom were transported to Toulouse for questioning – and, in the end, pronounced 207 sentences. Only 23 of these were imprisonments; the rest were lighter penances (e.g. pilgrimages). There was some resort at this time to the secular arm for execution: one of every 100 condemned, according to one estimate. The inquisition continued on in the south for some time as did Catharism, but the latter was leading an underground existence, and by the turn into the fourteenth century only remnants could be found in remote places, like Montaillou in the remote hill country of the Pyrenees, kept alive by the example ofperfecti rather than by their theology. Yet Catharism was not the only heresy confronting the church at this time.

The Waldensians took their name from Waldès, a wealthy merchant of Lyons. According to one version, he was deeply moved by the story of St Alexius, who renounced wealth to live in poverty and, who, when he returned to his father’s house, died unrecognized. After taking steps to provide for his wife and daughter, in 1173 Waldès gave up business, wealth and family to become a wandering preacher, giving himself up entirely to a life of poverty. Relying only on alms, he lived sparingly and provided for the needy during the famine of 1176. He soon attracted followers to this simple life, but his new life went beyond poverty and acts of charity. Waldès and his followers preached, and their preaching brought them into conflict with the church. The problem was not what they were preaching – mostly exhortations to live a better Christian life – but that they were preaching at all. These preachers were laymen and, indeed, laywomen, and the church viewed preaching as coming through bishops as successors to the apostles and, thus, restricted preaching to those members of the clergy who were approved by the bishops. Waldès and his followers, however, felt they needed no licence to preach. They heard the words of Christ, sending out his disciples in pairs to prepare for his coming:

Go barefoot, carrying neither purse nor pack … When you enter a town that welcomes you, eat what is put before you. Cure the sick there and say, ‘The kingdom of God is near’ … Whoever hears you hears me and whoever rejects you rejects Him who sent me.

(Luke 10, 4, 8–9, 16)

To Waldès this was a mission for all Christians, and so he and his followers went out barefoot, two by two, to preach repentance and conversion of life, living off what was provided for them. They stood in opposition to the teaching of the church about preaching, and this opposition led in time, almost inexorably, to heresy. A compromise, which proved only temporary, was reached between Waldès and Pope Alexander III at the Third Lateran Council (1179). The pope embraced the poor man of Lyons and approved his life of poverty but allowed him and his followers to preach only if the local priests agreed. To the pope Waldès professed the orthodox Christian faith and renewed his vow of poverty. The compromise was unworkable, principally because very few priests agreed to allow the Waldensians to preach, yet many of them still preached. A new archbishop came to Lyons in 1183 and refused to allow Waldensians to preach there. Still, their preaching continued, and the archbishop expelled and excommunicated them. They were not Cathars or in any way sympathetic to the Cathars, against whom they themselves preached and with whom they debated, yet, in 1184, the Waldensians were condemned with the Cathars at the Council of Verona with little distinction made between them. Their expulsion by bishops merely led to their expansion. In Lombardy, like the Cathars, they found a tolerant atmosphere and fertile soil for their appealing message. Some drifted from a condemnation of bad priests to the position that sacraments, including the Mass, administered by bad priests were no sacraments at all. By the 1190s this was heresy. In parts of Italy Waldensians, who were not priests, celebrated Mass. Some Waldensians denied the existence of purgatory. A line had been crossed.

Innocent III, in 1208, reconciled a number of French Waldensians, agreeing that they could continue their lives as poor wandering preachers, now called ‘the Catholic Poor’. Two years later a Lombard follower of Waldès was reconciled, and with him others, who formed a Catholic community. Essential to each submission was a profession of orthodox faith, a concern for which had by now replaced the purely disciplinary issue of authority to preach. By this time, the movement had experienced its first of many schisms. In 1205 the Poor of Lyons and the Poor Lombards split over several issues, including personalities, but particularly over the desire of the Italians to form a separate church distinct from the Catholic church, in which they existed as a sect. These two branches of Waldensians remained separate and drifted further apart as each found its separate (if related) place in the ecclesiastical landscape of the times. The Waldensians in France, small in numbers, continued, despite sporadic and largely ineffective persecution, into the sixteenth century. The movement in Italy faded in Lombardy but remained strong in the valleys of Piedmont, where a separate Waldensian church continues to this day. Some evidence suggests that the Waldensians penetrated deep into the German-speaking lands, particularly into Austria south of the Danube and possibly into Bohemia and Moravia, but we should not press similarity of doctrine and practice, known to us principally from their persecutors, so far as to see links back to Waldès, when none is compellingly seen.

Often classified with the Cathars and the Waldensians are the Humiliati (Humble Ones). They also had much in common with the early friars, and a corrected view of their place in history would put them in the company of Francis and his followers rather than with Waldès and his Poor Men or, at least, would see them as a bridge between the two. The Humiliati came from all parts of society, although most were probably artisans; they lived in urban and, to a lesser extent, rural areas in northern Italy, particularly near Milan and Verona. They foreswore luxuries, wearing coarse woollen garments and donating superfluous income to the poor. In addition, they shared with ‘heretics’ a refusal to take oaths, and it was this that was the sticking point. Humiliati were among those condemned as heretics in 1184, but whether those referred to in the papal condemnation are the same as those who appear in the next decade is not altogether clear. In 1199, they approached the newly elected Innocent III, who, after several inquiries, sanctioned three orders of Humiliati: the First Order for clerics who lived in community, the Second Order for laymen and laywomen who could live separately in community and the Third Order for laymen and lay-women – even married – living in their own homes. They prospered, and, in 1216, an observer wrote,

This religion has so grown in the diocese of Milan that they now have one hundred and fifty houses, men on one side, women on the other, not counting those who live in their own homes.

At first, more a loosely linked network of houses than an order like the Franciscans, the Humiliati as a centralized order with a master general, general chapter, annual meetings and annual visitations owes that structure to the canonist-pope Innocent IV, who, in 1246, issued directives to bring about that effect. Two factors have combined to marginalize the Humiliati historically. In the first place, numerous as they may have been, they were a fairly localized order with most of their houses in northern Italy and not international as were the friars or the Cathars and Waldensians. Second, the order fell victim to events in the sixteenth century – including the attempted murder of their cardinal protector by a discontented member of the order – and ceased to exist, unlike the four orders of friars. The order, consequently, has not received until recently the scholarly attention afforded the friars, with the unfortunate result that they have tended to be seen more as heretics than as a religious order.

Arising from sources similar to those that gave rise to the Humiliati were the Beguines and Beghards, who formed communities, respectively, of women and men, although some, in the early days, lived singly. Like the Humiliati, they were falsely accused of heresy. Their name, it is sometimes suggested, derives from ‘Albigensian’. It was the communities of Beguines that flourished. Their origins lie beyond our sight, but they can be seen in the Low Countries at the turn of the thirteenth century. They did not form an order: they were laywomen who took no vows but promised, while living in community, to remain celibate; many wore simple habits. They were not enclosed, and some of them worked in the towns where their beguinages were located. They could freely leave at any time. While in community, they shared a life of communal prayer. In 1216, Honorius III gave verbal approval to them, and, in 1233, Gregory IX formally took the Beguines under his protection. There were communities at Cologne in 1223, at Leuven in 1232, at Mainz in 1233 and at Namur and Paderborn in 1235. Their reliance on the friars for spiritual direction subjected them to criticisms intended for the friars. Yet they clearly had their admirers. The English scholar and bishop Robert Grosseteste warmly approved of their life, which he found ‘perfect and holy’. In the century after the approval by Pope Gregory they flourished, and communities arose in many of the towns of the Rhineland and the Low Countries. At Cologne, by 1309, there were 164 houses with a population estimated at 1,000. At the same time Strasbourg had about 600 Beguines. At the Council of Vienne, in 1312, two hostile decrees were enacted against the movement, and subsequently it began to decline. In many ways, the Beguines presaged the later development of the Devotio Moderna (see chapter 17). Modern visitors to such places as Bruges and Leuven can see excellent examples of beguinages, owing much to their revival in the seventeenth century.

The movements described in this section did not exist in isolation. They formed part of a larger scene in which many Christians found that their increasing wealth did not provide them with what they wanted from life, and, like others before and after them, they renounced the material things of this world, which they had found wanting, and dedicated themselves to a simple way of life, becoming poor not by necessity but by choice. The voluntary poverty of Waldès and others like him was shared, in a strikingly similar way, by Francis of Assisi.

The friars

Any discussion of the friars must begin with St Francis of Assisi. He was the dominant historical figure in the early history of the friars. While there were other notable figures like Dominic and Clare of Assisi, it is Francis of Assisi who, above all others, commands our attention. The unreserved admiration of the ages has been given to the poor friar Francis. He was born in 1181 into a comfortable bourgeois family in the hill town of Assisi, overlooking the Spoleto valley in central Italy. The facts of his early life are a bit sketchy. Yet this much can be said. Francis entered into the family cloth business, perhaps travelling with his father to France. Like other young men of his class, Francis took up arms and fought for Assisi against rival communes. In an engagement against neighbouring Perugia in 1202, he became a prisoner of the enemy. Ransomed, he returned to Assisi, where he suffered from some unnamed illness, perhaps depression. In 1205 Francis undertook to go on a military expedition against the pope’s political enemies in southern Italy, but he got only as far as nearby Spoleto. There he experienced a troubling dream, which compelled him to give up his military ambitions. In the next two years Francis left his family and its riches and became a solitary. He lived for a while in the ruins of the church of San Damiano outside Assisi and, at times, in caves that punctuate the hill country of Umbria. He even befriended lepers, in one account embracing and kissing them. Then, in 1208, on the feast of St Matthias (24 February), while at Mass, Francis was deeply moved by the reading of the gospel in which Christ told his apostles:

Proclaim that the kingdom of God is at hand, cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You have freely received, you must freely give. Do not take gold, silver or copper for your purse. Take no pack for the journey, no second coat, no shoes, no walking stick, for the labourer is worthy of his hire.

(Matthew 10, 7–10)

Francis, that day, removed his shoes, donned a rough cloak, girded it with a knotted rope and committed himself to the literal fulfilment of the gospel mandate. He had experienced a profound conversion of life and had found his mission. The similarity to Waldès could not be more apparent. Like the poor man of Lyons, Francis became the poor man (poverello) of Assisi, reacting to the gospel call to live like Christ, by abandoning worldly goods, caring for the poor and the abandoned and preaching the gospel message of repentance. It was not only Waldès whom Francis resembled but scores of others, including the Humiliati, who renounced the world for a simple Christian life, but, unlike Waldès, Francis escaped the taint of heresy and, unlike the Humiliati, Francis achieved renown and founded an order that is still with us. Francis had no intention of founding an order – he wanted only to live a holy life – but his vision was so attractive that it appealed to young men like himself, comfortable, middle-class, town-dwelling and idealistic laymen. Almost immediately such young men wanted to join him. To them he said that they should sell their worldly goods and give everything to the poor. Some did. Francis and his small band of poor brothers (fratres minores, friars minor) walked barefoot, eating what was given them by sympathetic persons and preaching – always preaching – the message of penance. In a word, they were itinerant preachers, like the Humiliati, but with a stricter, more literal commitment to poverty. They owned nothing, and that was the cornerstone of the movement and a source of problems in later decades.

In the summer of 1209 they were eight, and they went out in four pairs, one pair going, it is said, to northern Italy and then to Compostela. Others joined, and soon there were 12. In 1210 Francis walked barefoot to Rome, probably with the other 11, to seek papal approval for his band as an order. Several cardinals had misgivings. When the matter was brought before Innocent III, he too felt that the non-possession of property and the austerity of their life could create problems. He was right, as events were to prove. Exactly what Innocent did is shrouded in mist. He gave some sort of approval, which may have amounted to nothing more than oral encouragement. Francis had brought a primitive rule with him, which received some form of papal sanction.

The most high God directed me to live the life of the gospel. This I had written down in brief and simple words, and his holiness the pope confirmed it.

(St Francis, Testament)

Later, Pope Honorius III (1216–27) was twice to give approval to rules for the order. And, when, in 1227, their long-time supporter, Cardinal Ugolino, himself a nephew of Innocent III, became Pope Gregory IX, their future as an order was assured.

When Francis and his brothers returned to Assisi in 1210, they accepted the offer of local Benedictines to use a dilapidated church. This Portiuncula church on the valley floor below Assisi became their centre. A massive basilica was built around this tiny chapel in the sixteenth century. In the winter of 1210–11 other recruits came to the Portiuncula, so that by the summer of 1211 Francis’s band numbered a score or more. During their preaching journeys in that summer others joined them in their life of poverty and preaching. From the sacristy of the Portiuncula, where they were living, they moved to rude huts near the church. It was there, at the Portiuncula, on Palm Sunday, 1212, that a young noblewoman of Assisi, named Clare, presented herself. Other women followed her, and they were given the newly restored church of San Damiano as a place to live. They formed the Second Order, the Minoresses or, more commonly, the Poor Clares. Social and canonical restrictions of the time did not permit them to beg or preach, but they could and did live lives of voluntary poverty. What was once a small band of men had become two orders. It was the order of men (Order of Friars Minor) that was to experience phenomenal growth. They came to Assisi, mostly laymen but some clerics, almost all comfortable and privileged, but no applicants were refused. At Whitsun, 1217, a chapter of the friars was held at the Portiuncula, and a blueprint was devised. Soon there were 12 provinces, half of them outside of Italy. At about this time Francis, in practice, seemed to abandon the actual running of the new, expanding order, although he was still its head. Two vicars were appointed to run the order in 1219, when Francis sailed to the East to join the Fifth Crusade, not to fight but to preach to the Muslims. Under a flag of truce, Francis crossed enemy lines, gained audience of the sultan, preached to him and returned without making any converts. Upon his return to Italy in 1220, Francis gladly gave up any title of authority in the order, his much neglected body now feeling the pains of an illness that would kill him. He wished to retire to the life of a solitary, his first calling. But, first, he and his close associates produced a new rule for the order, the so-called First Rule (1221), which probably elaborated on the skeleton of the rule, now lost, presented to Innocent III in 1210. This new rule was further elaborated two years later in what became known as the Second Rule, when Honorius said that he was ratifying ‘the rule of your order approved by our predecessor of happy memory, Pope Innocent’. It codified Franciscan practice and ideals. All friars, it said, are to live ‘in obedience, without property and in chastity’. A probationary year for candidates is to be observed. The daily order of prayers is set out. Further, Francis says,

The friars should appropriate nothing for themselves … They are strangers and pilgrims in this world, serving God in poverty and humility, and it is this poverty, my dear brothers, that makes you heirs and kings of the kingdom of heaven, poor in material things, but rich in virtues … To this poverty, beloved brothers, cling with your whole heart, never wishing to have anything else in this life.

While the rule may have resolved some issues, it contained the seeds for disputes about the nature of Franciscan poverty that were to plague the order for some time.

Meanwhile, the order was rapidly expanding. Early missions to France and Germany were ill-planned and failed, and friars who went to Morocco were never heard of again. These were but early setbacks. When Francis went to the East in 1219, there was already a group of friars at Acre in the Holy Land. In the same year there was a community near Paris, and in the next few years communities were founded at Le Mans, Bayeux, Vézelay, Chartres and elsewhere in the north of France. By 1225 there were houses in modern Belgium at Namur, Bruges, Ghent and Ypres. Other missions went to the south of France, at first, in 1217, with no success, and then, in 1219, with long-lasting success. The earliest of these successful southern missions was at Cahors. Dates are elusive, but communities were soon to be found at Arles, Aix-en-Provence, Montpellier, Nîmes and Perigeux. The first mission for Germany and Hungary, which set out in 1219, also proved a failure: none of the friars spoke German or Hungarian, presuming on providence to provide. They were beaten and abused, fortunate to return to Italy with their lives. In 1221, this time led by a recently professed German friar, Caesar of Speyer, a university graduate, a fresh attempt was made. At Augsburg they were warmly received and provided with a house, which became the centre of the German mission. From Augsburg one group with a German friar founded houses at Würzburg, Mainz, Worms, Speyer, Strasbourg and Cologne. Another group of friars went to Salzburg and a third to Regensburg. The German province was quickly divided into four ‘custodies’: Franconia, Bavaria–Swabia, Alsace and Saxony. No one knows exactly how many houses were founded in Germany in the 1220s, but there must have been dozens. By 1223 there was a Franciscan presence in Hungary. Into the Iberian peninsula, visited earlier by other friars, came new missions: in 1217, when the friars were mistaken for Cathars and maltreated, and in 1219, when they numbered more than 100. Before long the Franciscans had houses at Lisbon, Burgos, Coimbra, Compostela, Barcelona, Toledo and Saragossa, to mention only some.

In England there was a similarly rapid expansion, and here the 1220s was also the crucial decade. We are fortunate to have an almost contemporary account in Thomas of Eccleston’s The Coming of the Friars into England. Crossing the English Channel, nine friars arrived at Dover on 10 September 1224. Their leader was Agnellus of Pisa, a deacon. Three of the nine were English: Richard of Ingworth, a priest, Richard of Devon, an acolyte, and William of Esseby, a novice. From Dover they travelled to nearby Canterbury, staying there at the cathedral with the monks of Christ Church. After two days the party split. Five remained at Canterbury to establish a house. The other four, including the two English Richards, moved on to London, where they were given hospitality by the Dominicans before receiving use of a dilapidated house on Cornhill. After Agnellus came to London, the two English friars pressed on to Oxford. After a fortnight as guests of the Dominicans, who had already been at Oxford for three years, they were given the use of a house from a benefactor. The Franciscans hoped to gain recruits at the university, and they were not to be disappointed. Thus, within six weeks of their arrival they had friaries at Canterbury, London and Oxford, but this was but the beginning. Very soon, probably by 1225, they were at Northampton and Cambridge, later at Norwich, Gloucester, Salisbury and York, all before 1230. By 1240 there were 28 houses in England, scattered throughout the country, but always in towns, from Scarborough in the north-east to Exeter in the south-west. Eccleston said that in 1256 the friars numbered 1,242. And, in 1230, Richard of Ingworth crossed the Irish Sea to found a province in Ireland.

In the meantime, other friars were founding provinces in Bohemia, Hungary and Poland. It was a growth of almost incomprehensible proportions, greater than the extraordinary growth of the Cistercians a century earlier, like a prairie fire sweeping through Christendom. What did St Francis make of all this, as he lay dying at the Portiuncula in October 1226? We shall never know. The poverello of Assisi, his body marked by the stigmata, simply bade those attending him to be faithful to the teachings of Christ. His small band of itinerant preachers was now a vast organization with priests as well as laymen, with university graduates as well as the unlettered and with his Lady Poverty under threat.

Two issues almost immediately surfaced: the owning of property and the education of the friars. Wherever Francis’s poor brothers went they received generous gifts from lay benefactors, including the houses where they were to live, yet the rule did not allow individual friars or communities of friars to own anything. Besides houses they would soon want churches. To institutionalize the vision of St Francis, of necessity, required compromises with that vision. How could friars, who could not handle money, contract with workers to build their convents and their churches? And how could friars, who could own nothing, hold their property? In 1230 Pope Gregory IX, long a supporter of the order, arranged a compromise. The friars could appoint agents to handle their financial affairs, and they could remain mendicants, receiving alms from benefactors. His successor, Innocent IV, in 1245, effected a further compromise. He vested ownership of their buildings – a great basilica now rising in Assisi and many churches elsewhere – and furnishings and books in the Holy See, which gave the friars permanent use of them. These were compromises which may have resolved strictly canonical issues, but they failed to satisfy those friars who shared the pure vision of St Francis, some of whom, at this time, chose to live in huts and caves. They and those like them would be heard from during the order’s ensuing history.

Another issue had risen even before St Francis died: the attitude of the order towards education. He is quoted by an early biographer as saying,

Some of my friars are being seduced by a curious quest for learning; on the day of retribution they will have an empty hand. It is my wish that they be made strong in virtue so that, at the inevitable time of tribulation, they will have the company of the Lord and their books will be thrown out of windows and packed away in chests.

Although Francis had an elementary knowledge of Latin and, at some point, even took deacon’s orders, his sympathies were clearly with the unlettered lay friars. Yet by 1219 his friars were gaining recruits at the University of Paris, where soon masters of theology joined their ranks, including, in 1236, the greatest Parisian theologian of the time, Alexander of Hales. At Oxford they soon established a school of theology and invited the eminent scholar, Robert Grosseteste, a secular cleric, to lecture in theology to them. At Bologna also, before 1236, the friars had a school of theology. At Padua, where a university had recently been founded, their scholar-preacher, St Anthony of Padua, preached to such large crowds that people queued early on the days when he preached and shopkeepers closed their shops. The order was changing, and after 1239 all major offices within the order had to be held by priests. And, in 1257, the friars selected the eminent Parisian theologian, Bonaventure, as their minister general. Under Bonaventure the general chapter, in 1260, restricted admission to educated clerics and laymen of distinction. Although it is true to say that Francis himself could not now have become a Franciscan, it would be a harsh judgement that would condemn the organic growth of any human institution led by honourable men. Both Francis and Bonaventure are venerated as saints, yet each had a different view of the Franciscan vocation. Contemporaries universally praised the personal saintliness of Bonaventure, particularly his attachment to a simple life of poverty, even in the midst of the great university. He recognized that the order had changed, but, he said, so had the church changed in accidental ways while remaining consistently true to its essential self. The basic issue here that will perhaps be debated as long as historians examine it is whether the pristine life envisioned by Francis could survive its organization into an order. Even those, perhaps a minority, who answer in the affirmative must acknowledge the difficulties inherent in such a transition.

The Dominican friars (Order of Preachers), although similar in many ways to the Franciscans, had a distinctly different origin. The founder, the Castilian Dominic of Guzman (c.1171–1221), we have already encountered as a preacher by word and example against the Cathars. Unlike Francis, Dominic was well educated in the liberal arts and theology, and also, unlike Francis, he was a cleric in holy orders when he appeared on the public scene. In 1206 Dominic and his bishop, who was to die in the following year, adopted the simple lifestyle of the Cathars and walked on foot, without a retinue, from place to place in the Languedoc, preaching and even debating with their opponents. Dominic soon established a house for some women converts, who became proto-Dominican nuns. In Dominic eloquence and learning were joined with austerity and unworldliness. Successes were many, but not on a large scale. Innocent III’s calling of a crusade against the Cathars undoubtedly affected Dominic’s mission. There is no evidence that he was involved in that tragic campaign, although it is true that he was friendly with Simon de Montfort and his family. Dominic continued his preaching amidst the turbulence of the crusade. At Toulouse a group of men, not bound by vows but only by personal loyalty to Dominic, joined his preaching mission. In April 1215 the bishop of Toulouse recognized this nascent community and authorized their preaching. Six months later Dominic was in Rome, where he approached Innocent III for confirmation of the new order. It was just weeks before the opening session of the Fourth Lateran Council. Innocent agreed in principle to Dominic’s request but told him to adopt an already-existing rule. He returned to France to confer with his followers. They chose to follow the Rule of St Augustine, to which they added constitutions. Pope Honorius III approved the new order in 1216. Futher provisions were made in 1220. The

Map 15 Mendicant friars

Dominicans did not become canons, but friars. They were vowed to an evangelical poverty, which did not allow them to live off the rents of lands, as did the monks and canons, but from spontaneous gifts and from what they could beg. The friars were to wear a rough, woollen white habit, covered by a black cloak, which gave them the name Black Friars. The Order of Preachers was now established.

Dominic’s vision extended beyond the strife-ridden lands of southern France. On 15 August 1217 Dominic sent forth from Toulouse eleven friars: four to Spain and seven to Paris. And very soon others were sent to Bologna. This was but the beginning. By 1221 the order had expanded to such an extent that what had been two small houses in 1215 was by 1221 an order divided into five provinces: Spain, Provence, France, Lombardy and Tuscany. And the chapter of 1221 projected new provinces in Germany, Hungary, England, Greece, Scandinavia, Poland and the Holy Land. Soon there were these 12 flourishing provinces. To Hungary, in 1221, were sent the Hungarian Friar Paul, a master of canon law at Bologna, and three companions. At the same time the chapter dispatched Friar Christian to Germany, where he established a house at Cologne. Friar Solomon of Aarhus went to his native country, where the archbishop of Copenhagen warmly welcomed him and where, probably in 1223, he founded a priory at Lund. The largest mission went to England. Gilbert de Fresney, an Englishman educated at Bologna, and 12 others landed at Dover in early August 1221, their destination Oxford. Stopping briefly at Canterbury and London, they arrived at Oxford on 15 August 1221. A priory was established, and friars soon became students at the university. Elsewhere, two friars arrived at Cracow in 1222 and soon built the first Polish priory there. Three years later effective plans were made to establish other priories from Cracow: at Wroclaw (Breslau) on the Oder, at Sandomierz on the Vistula, at Gdansk on the Baltic Sea and, further away, at Prague in Bohemia. The growth of the order, if not as spectacular as the Franciscans, was still exceptional, and by 1256 there were about 13,000 Dominican friars.

By then the attachment to universities was an obvious part of the Dominican plan. There were priories already established at Paris in 1217, Bologna in 1218, Palencia in 1220 and Montpellier in 1221, and others were to follow. Richard Fishacre, the first Dominican Oxford graduate, wrote an influential theological commentary. Albertus Magnus at Paris was among those theologians using the philosophical works of Aristotle. His student, Thomas Aquinas, taught at Paris and Naples as well as at Dominican houses of studies and remains the best-known theologian of the Middle Ages. All Dominican priories were to have a resident theologian, and some houses, like Cologne, became centres of advanced study for the Black Friars.

Other orders of mendicant friars also appeared, but the provisions of the Fourth Lateran Council forbidding orders with new rules created a serious obstacle, which the Franciscans avoided by having been approved by Innocent III before the council as did the Dominicans by adopting the Rule of St Augustine. Both the Carmelite friars and the Austin friars emerged as orders from associations of hermits. The Carmelites derive from Western hermits living, in imitation of the prophet Elijah, on Mount Carmel, near Haifa in the Holy Land. They were Westerners, possibly crusaders and pilgrims who stayed on to live solitary lives of contemplation. By the beginning of the thirteenth century they formed a loose association. Sometime between 1206 and 1214 the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem gave them a ‘formula of life’, which probably described the life which they were then living. These hermits lived in separate cells in the wilderness and came together only for Mass in the morning in their oratory and for a chapter meeting on Sunday. Although Jerusalem fell to the Muslims in 1187, the strip of coastal land in which Mount Carmel lay remained in Christian hands. The continued way of life of the hermits was in peril in the shifting political and military sands of thirteenth-century Palestine. Yet after the fall of Jerusalem the hermits stayed in place and even received their formula of life. There is no suggestion of an exodus of hermits for a half century after the fall. A guide for Western pilgrims, written about 1231, described Mount Carmel:

On the ridge lies a pleasant place where live the Latin hermits, who are called Brothers of Mount Carmel. They have an oratory dedicated to Our Lady, and many springs flow from the rocks there.

Then they left, not all at once, but in a steady, continuing stream, and returned to the West. The initial reason eludes us, perhaps some specific incident of unpleasantness with the Muslims, but once started it was to continue with groups of hermits from Carmel establishing communities at various places in western Europe. The contemporary historian Vincent of Beauvais (d. 1264) said that the diaspora began in 1238. Another, not wholly accepted, source relates that hermits from Carmel went to Valenciennes in northern France in 1235. It is safe to say that in the years surrounding the year 1240 they migrated to Cyprus, Sicily, England and Provence, sponsored in all these places, it would seem, by returning crusaders. And for the next decades they continued to come until in 1291 whatever remained of their presence on Mount Carmel was burned down by the sultan’s army. One Western visitor in about 1350 claimed to have seen ten Carmelite houses in the Holy Land, but this seems unlikely.

A change took place once they were in the West. They came as hermits who lived solitary lives of contemplative prayer, but they soon became friars with an apostolic mission. This was not their initial intent. For example, when they went to England in 1242, they established themselves in remote places: Hulne in Northumberland and Aylesford in Kent. Their next two foundations were in remote parts of Norfolk and Kent. This was soon to change. Subsequent foundations, almost without exception, were in towns: London and Cambridge in 1247, then York, Norwich, Bristol and Lincoln, all before 1260. And so it went on. By 1300 there were at least 1,000 Carmelites in England, and they were definitely friars, like their neighbours in these towns, the Franciscans and Dominicans.

What had happened to the provisions of their formula of life that required them to live as hermits in the wilderness? Almost at once upon their arrival in the West, a party arose among them which wanted to adopt an active ministry like the friars. To settle this matter Pope Innocent IV, in 1247, revised the formula and issued the new document as a rule. They could now live wherever they wanted (i.e., in towns) and were to take their meals in common. They had become mendicant friars with an urban mission. Not only at Cambridge, as seen already, did the Carmelites establish houses but also at other university centres such as Paris, Oxford and Bologna. Yet there were to be continuing tensions, pulling towards contemplation and towards active ministry. About 1270 a former general of the order lamented the abandoning of the life of the desert for the life of the towns. And these tensions were never fully resolved in our period.

The Austin (or Augustinian) Friars, like the Carmelites, were originally hermits. As an order they came into existence by the efforts of mid thirteenth-century popes to give disparate Italian eremitical groups a common organization. As early as 1223, five hermitages in Tuscany adopted a loose association; they were joined by eight more hermitages in 1228. This collection of 13 Tuscan groups of hermits formed the core of a new order. In 1244, Pope Innocent IV through Cardinal Annibaldi arranged the formal union of most of the hermitages of Tuscany with the Rule of St Augustine as their rule, to which constitutions were added. Attracting other groups of hermits, the new order had 61 houses within 10 years. Others were added in 1256, when an order of hermits with three provinces in northern Italy joined this expanding union of hermits as did other groups, especially hermits from the March of Ancona. In that year Pope Alexander IV confirmed the Great Union and gave the order its name, Order of Hermit Friars of St Augustine. Hermit friars they were called, but they were more friars than hermits. They followed the paths of the other orders of friars into the towns and universities of Europe and within a century of their founding had over 500 houses.

Other orders of friars came into existence in the thirteenth century, adopting, as required by the Fourth Lateran Council, one of the older rules, but they never attracted the large numbers of the four major mendicant orders. The Second Council of Lyons (1274) forbade them to accept new members, and they slowly died out.

To an extent that should not be minimized, the friars emerged from forces similar to those that gave rise to heresy, yet the papacy, perhaps having learned from the handling of the Cathars and Waldensians, was able to turn their energies to constructive use within the church. Yet they were more than merely a movement contained within the institution: the orders of friars were the last great innovation of the medieval church. They were not cloistered monks, like the Benedictines, Cistercians and Carthusians, nor semi-cloistered, like the Augustinian canons. They were not bound to live lives enclosed in a monastic setting, intent on perfecting their own souls. They set themselves in the midst of settled populations, their doors open to the spiritual needs of their neighbours. One cannot argue persuasively that this was all planned in advance, that there was an analysis of the needs of the church and that this form of life was thus devised. No study groups; no great plan. In its origins, it was to a significant extent a lay movement characterized by an obvious spontaneity. Within the period of several decades in the thirteenth century the church had taken a leap forward, and the friars became a fixed element in the medieval church.

Further reading

An excellent general survey of medieval heresies is Malcolm Lambert, Medieval Heresy: Popular Movements from the Gregorian Reform to the Reformation (3rd edn; Oxford, 2002). For the Cathars see particularly Malcolm Lambert, The Cathars (Oxford, 1998) and Malcolm Barber, The Cathars: Dualistic Heretics in Languedoc in the High Middle Ages (Harlow, Essex, and New York, 2000). Also useful is Michael Costen, The Cathars and the Albigensian Crusade (Manchester and New York, 1997). For one aspect of Cathar history see Carol Lansing, Power and Purity: Cathar Heresy in Medieval Italy (Oxford, 1998). For the role of the Cistercian preachers against the Cathars see Beverly Mayne Kienzle, Cistercians, Heresy and Crusade in Occitania, 1145–1229: Preaching in the Lord’s Vineyard (York, 2001). James B. Given discusses the use of inquisitorial tribunals against Cathars in Inquisition and Medieval Society: Power, Discipline, and Resistance in Languedoc (Ithaca, NY, and London, 1997). For an account of the Waldensians that takes the story into the early modern period see Euan Cameron, Waldenses: Rejections of Holy Church in Medieval Europe (Oxford and Malden, MA, 2000). The sections on southern Europe in Gabriel Audisio, The Waldensian Dissent: Persecution and Survival c.1170–c.1570 (tr. Claire Davison; Cambridge, 1999) may be particularly helpful. For heresy in Aragon see Damian J. Smith, Crusade, Heresy and Inquisition in the Lands of the Crown of Aragon (c.1167–1276) (Leiden and Boston, 2010). Much is to be learned from Bernard Hamilton, The Medieval Inquisition (London, 1981) and from Edward Peters, Inquisition (New York and London, 1988). For an English translation of pertinent texts see W.L. Wakefield and A.P. Evans, Heresies of the High Middle Ages: Selected Sources Translated and Annotated (New York, 1969). An informed analysis can be found in Heinrich Fichtenau, Heretics and Scholars in the High Middle Ages, 1000–1200 (tr. D.A. Kaiser; Philadelphia, 1998).

Two important contributions to the study of the Humiliati are the essays by Brenda Bolton in Innocent III: Studies on Papal Authority and Pastoral Care (Aldershot, Hants, 1995) and the impressive monograph The Early Humiliati (Cambridge, 1999) by Frances Andrews. Also, using archival sources is Sally Mayall Brasher, Women of the Humiliati: A Lay Religious Order in Medieval Civic Life (New York and London, 2003), which concludes to a majority of women, particularly in the Third Order. On the Beguines the classic work is Ernest W. McDonnell, The Beguines and Beghards in Medieval Culture: With Special Emphasis on the Belgian Scene (New Brunswick, NJ, 1954). A more recent work of much value is Walter Simons, Cities of Ladies: Beguine Communities in the Medieval Low Countries, 1200–1565 (Philadelphia, 2001). On the status of Beguines and others like them in the canon law see Elizabeth Makowski, ‘A Pernicious Sort of Woman’: Quasi-Religious Women and Canon Lawyers in the Later Middle Ages(Washington, DC, 2005).

The starting place for the friars should be the comprehensive, eminently sound account given by C.H. Lawrence in The Friars: The Impact of the Early Mendicant Movement on Western Society (London and New York, 1994). There are many lives of St Francis, not all works of hagiography. The reader will find accessible and readable Adrian House, Francis of Assisi: A Revolutionary Life (London, 2000). Also, John Holland Smith, Francis of Assisi (London, 1972), provides a fair account, if somewhat flavoured with Jungian psychology. Michael Robson gives an informed analysis in St Francis: The Legend and the Life (London, 1997). A short biography by Jacques Le Goff is now in English: Saint Francis of Assisi (tr. Christine Rhone; London and New York, 2004). A valuable collection in English translation is Francis of Assisi, Early Documents (4 vols; R.J. Armstrong, J.A.W. Hellermann and W.J. Short, eds; New York, 1999–2002). For a general history of the Franciscans see John Moorman, A History of the Franciscan Order: From its Origins to the Year 1517 (Oxford, 1968), now to be read with Michael Robson, The Franciscans in the Middle Ages (Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2006). For the early period see Rosalind Brooke, Early Franciscan Government: Elias to Bonaventure(Cambridge, 1959) and Cajetan Esser, Origins of the Franciscan Order (Eng. tr.; Chicago, 1970). Of the troubles within the Franciscan order the definitive study is Duncan Nimmo, Reform and Division in the Medieval Franciscan Order: From Saint Francis to the Foundation of the Capuchins (Rome, 1987). Rosalind Brooke has also published a fascinating study of the ‘image’ of St Francis in literature, art and architecture: The Image of St Francis: Response to Sainthood in the Thirteenth Century(Cambridge, 2006). David Burr’s brilliant book, The Spiritual Franciscan: From Protest to Persecution in the Century After Saint Francis (University Park, PA, 2001), deserves close attention. The Dominicans are well served by William A. Hinnebusch in The History of the Dominican Order: Origin and Growth to 1500 (2 vols; New York, 1965). For Dominic’s life see Vladimir Koudelka, Dominic (trs. C. Fissler and S. Tugwell; London, 1997). M. Michelle Mulchaney has written learnedly about the education of the Dominican friars: ‘First the Bow is Bent in Study … ’: Dominican Study before 1350 (Toronto, 1998). For the Carmelite and Austin Friars there are no readily accessible general histories in English; one, however, will find very useful Andrew Jotischky’s study of medieval Carmelite historiography: The Carmelites and Antiquity: Mendicants and Their Pasts in the Middle Ages (Oxford, 2002). Also for the Carmelites there are helpful articles in the journal Carmelus; in addition, Carmel in Britain: Essays on the Medieval English Carmelite Province (ed. Patrick Fitzgerald-Lombard; 2 vols; Rome, 1992) has relevant information about the largest Carmelite province. For the Austin Friars a good starting place is David Gutierrez, The Augustinians in the Middle Ages, 1256–1356 (tr. Arthur J. Ennis; Villanova, PA, 1984), which treats their foundation and first century. For England see Francis Roth, The English Austin Friars, 1249–1538 (2 vols; New York, 1961–66). Frances Andrew has written a valuable book about the lesser known orders of friars: The Other Friars: The Carmelite, Augustinian, Sack and Pied Friars (Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2006).

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