The End of Europe's Middle Ages

The Mendicants

Although vows of personal poverty were standard throughout the regular clergy, many orders became very wealthy as institutions. From the Latin word, menicitas, meaning "begging", the mendicant orders arose during the monastic reforms of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries seeking to enrich their spiritual experiences by living lives of poverty and preaching in imitation of Christ and his apostles. The mendicant orders took vows of personal and corporate poverty, removed themselves from the isolation and security of the monastery and preached throughout the streets of cities, dependent upon the charities of others for support. Largely an urban phenomenon, and less common in the colder climates of northern Europe, the mendicants were popular with the laity because they provided an outlet for the charity and piety that was required for salvation. In 1274, the Second Council of Lyons officially recognized four mendicant orders: the Dominicans, the Franciscans, the Carmelites, and the Friars Hermits of St. Augustine. Other mendicant orders were recognized later, such as the Servites in 1424.

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The End of Europe's Middle Ages / Applied History Research Group / University of Calgary
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