The beguines and beghards
that are the focus of the essays collected here represent the new forms of medieval spirituality that emerged in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
On the other, the spread of Joachite themes mixed with the precepts of the Franciscan Spirituals--such as Olvi and Arnold--in oral and printed vernacular was brought about by sects like the Beghards
. (34) The writings themselves were sown on fertile land.
The selections are not limited to the narrowly orthodox: Cathars, Lollards, and Waldensians are represented, as are Beghards
and Beguines, controversial visionaries (chapter 37) as well as recognized saints.
Examples abound throughout the book; the society of the Beguines and Beghards
, referenced in several sections, are certainly outside the modern norm.
Busson calls this form of belief "mysticism," whose sources he detects in the teachings of the "Spirituals" (followers of the Beguines and the Beghards
), in the letters of Guillaume Briconnet (the bishop of Meaux and the principal promoter of an ecclesiastical reformation that dies in 1524), and in the teachings of Medieval mystics.
The second chapter deals with Alfonso Martinez de Toledo's Arcipreste de Talavera, and it proves that in homiletic prose men are subjected to as much criticism as women, as becomes evident in the passage in which Martinez de Toledo writes about the Beghards
. My only objection to this intelligent chapter is that Archer qualifies the Arcipreste de Talavera's prose as 'narrative' on many occasions, a labelling that seems inaccurate in the light of my Teatralidad y textualidad en el 'Arcipreste de Talavera' (London: Queen Mary, 2003),which proves this text to be more dramatic than narrative (a claim recognized by Archer on p.
As religious fervor grew, he notes, the two camps also saw the appearance of popular preaching societies, the Beghards
and Beguines among the thirteenth-century French and Flemish, the Sufis among the Arabs and other Muslim nations.
The English-speaking world has had to make do with Ernest McDonnell's rather our-of-date and unwieldy, The Beguines and Beghards
in Medieval Culture: With Special Emphasis on the Belgian Scene (New Brunswick, NJ, 1954).
One would like more guidance to the scholarship on such topics as the medieval debates over scriptural interpretation, or the Beguines and Beghards
. Also, Salminen's critical edition of the Heptameron should be added to the bibliography.
Finally, the immensely useful online Catholic Encyclopedia at the "New Advent" site (http://www.csn.net/advent/) now contains nearly 7000 articles, many of which concern medieval persons and subjects, like "Beatification and Canonization," "Relics, "Beguines and Beghards
," or "Saint Clare of Assisi." Fourth, women's religious institutions are marked both by continuity and by change, and the call to the community life persists in the modern world.
Three years earlier, the Council of Vienne (1311) had placed under interdict and excommunicated all beguines and beghards
. To have an idea of how many people were affected by this measure, we can cite the English chronicler, Matthew Paris, who as early as 1243 reckoned the number of beguinages at Strasbourg as eighty-five (as against seven Dominican convents).