Beghards

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Related to Beguines and Beghards: Béguines

Beghards

(bĕg`ərdz), religious associations of men in Europe, organized similarly to the BeguinesBeguines
, 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
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. 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 Germany, France, and Italy. Although they survived into the 15th cent., they were from the beginning unpopular and mistrusted. The Beghards were condemned by the Council of Vienne (1311), allegedly for teaching that those who gain perfection in this life cannot commit sin and therefore cannot be blamed for any act. This idea was foreshadowed in the Albigensian teachings. The Beghards were also influenced by the pantheism of a mystical sect, the Brothers of the Free Spirit, which flourished about Cologne.
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Some, like the religious confraternities, the guilds, the mendicant orders in their early days, the associations of mendicant Tertiaries, the Humiliati, and the Beguines and Beghards were expressions of corporate religiosity.