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(bāgēnz`), religious associations of women in Europe, established in the 12th cent. The members, who took no vows and were not subject to the rules of any order, were usually housed in individual cottages and devoted themselves to charitable works; their community was called a beguinage. Until the 14th cent., numerous women of high social standing went into the communities. From Belgium and the Netherlands the movement extended across France and Germany. During the earlier years, their services to society brought the Beguines favor and protection from secular and church authorities; but in the 13th and 14th cent. accusations of heresies and immorality among them as well as among the BeghardsBeghards
, religious associations of men in Europe, organized similarly to the Beguines. They resembled a Franciscan group, with whom they were later often confused. Of unknown origin, they first appeared at Louvain in 1220 and soon spread throughout the Netherlands and into
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, the corresponding bands of men, led to the scattering of the members. The character of the surviving communities eventually changed, in some localities taking the form of almshouses for needy spinsters.


See study by E. W. McDonnell (1954, repr. 1969).


12th-century French mendicant order. [Fr. Hist.: Espy, 98–99]
References in periodicals archive ?
Beguines lived through--and helped propel--times of great transition and reform.
Swan brings the reader out of the Low Countries (Belgium and the Netherlands), most closely associated with beguines, to France (Colette of Corbie), to Italy (Frances of Rome), to Spain (Maria Garcia), and across Europe as women, particularly between the 13th and 16th centuries, sought a way to live consecrated lives outside cloister.
But their institutionalization also corresponded to new difficulties, as the general economic crisis of the fourteenth century reduced the jobs available to beguines and as the ecclesiastical hierarchy became increasingly disapproving of those--especially women--who did not fit conveniently into the command structure.
Chapter 3, "The Contemplative and the Active Life," shows the beguines both in their contemplative mode as anchoresses and recluses and in their active mode as teachers, as cheap labor in the textile industry, and care givers for the living and the dead.
It is of special interest to scholars of things Franciscan, who will find a wealth of material illuminating the lesser-known inner world of the Franciscan pious, which is used in its largest sense as encompassing all three Orders plus beguines, Capuchins, Damianites, and others (vii).
Many Beguines were mystics and poets of the highest order.
1213) and, like her, accepted designation as a beguine.
32) As pious but unprofessed women, usually living collectively in communal institutions called beguinages, Flemish beguines were initially not subject to the authority of any religious rule, let alone to that of a distant bishop.
Contractor address : Avenue de Beguines immeuble le Cervier B
These were the Beguines, contemplative, chaste women who served the poor and outcast, but lived under no rule or vow and were free from both marital and ecclesiastical constraint.
No survey can include everything, but it is surprising that the Beguines are omitted.
Poor's inventive phrases bring us through paradox into understanding the medieval world of authority: "defiant conformity" keeps Mechthild as an agent, but one of her own historical period and its priorities (55); "aestheticizing dissent" locates Mechthild's writing style as specific to her role as simultaneous dissenter and defender of the church (40); "conformist dissent" jars our presumptions and gets to the heart of the reformist program and collaboration of emerging groups such as the Dominicans and Beguines in the thirteenth century (49), while also carefully exploring what it means to be writing on the geographical and institutional frontier.