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XIII. PART

CEN T. of living. The Fratricelli were real monks, sub. :,jected to the rule of St FRANCIS; while the

. Bizochi, means a more striking air of external devotion than the rest of their fellow-christians; hence it came to pass, that all those who were ambitious of appearing more religious and devout than their neighbours, were called Beghardi, or Beguttæ.

The observations we have hitherto made with respect to the origin and signification of the words in question, will serve as a clue to deliver the attentive reader from that labyrinth of difficulties in which the history of the Beghards, and Beghinæ has been involved. They will also enable him to account for the prodigious multitudes of Beghards and Beguines that sprung up in Europe in the thirteenth century; and will shew him how it happened, that these denominations were given to above thirty sects or orders, which differed widely from each other in their opinions, their discipline, and manner of living. The first and original signification of the word Beghard, (or Beggert, as it was pronounced by the common people) was importunate beggar. Therefore, when the people saw certain persons, not only embracing with resignation, but also with the most voluntary choice, and under a pretext of devotion, the horrors of absolute poverty, begging their daily bread from door to door, and renouncing all their worldly possessions and occupations, they called all such person's Beghards, or, if they were women, Beghurts, without ever once considering the variety of opinions and maxims by which they were distinguished. The sect called Aposiles, the rigid Franciscans, the brethren of the free spirit of whom hereafter), all embraced this sordid state of beggary; and though among these orders there was not only the widest difference, but even the greatest opposition, the Germans called them indiscriminately Beghards, from the miserable state which they had all embraced. Nor is this to be wondered at; the character which they possessed in common was striking, while the sentiments and maxims that divided them escaped the observation of the multitude.in;""; .:"3 . in

But the word Beghard acquired a second, and a new signification in this century, being employed, as we have already observa ed, to signify a person who prayed with uncommon frequency, and who distinguished himself from those about him byjan extraordinary appearance of piety. The force of this term, in its new signification, is the same with that of the word Methodist, which is at present the denomination of a certain sect of fanatics in these kingdoms. Such, therefore, as departed from the manner of living that was usual among their fellow citizens, and distinguished themselves by the gravity of their aspect, and the austerity of their manners, were comprehended under the general denomination of Beghards and Beguttes in Germany, and of Beguines and

.'s na wa Beguines

PART II.

Bizochi, or Beguins, if we except their sordid ha-CE N T.

i XII. bit, and certain observances and maxims, which they followed in consequence of the injunctions of the famous saint now mentioned, lived after the mannerofother men, and were therefore considered

24

in

Beguines in France. The use of these terms was, at first, so
extensive, that, as we could shew by many examples, they were
applied even to the monks themselves ; but, in process of time,
they were applied with less extent, and were confined to those
who formed a sort of an intermediate order between the monks
and citizens, and who resembled the former in their manner of
living, without assuming their name, or contracting their obli-
gations. The Terriaries, therefore, or half-monks of the Do-
minican, Franciscan, and, in general, of all the religious orders,
were called Beghards; for though, as lay-citizens, they belonged
to the body politic, yet they distinguished themselves by their
monkish dispositions, and their profession of extraordinary piety
and sanctity of manners. The Fraternity of Weavers, the Breth.
ren of St ALEXIUS, the Followers of GERHARD the Great, in
a word, all who pretended to an uncommon degree of sanctity
and devotion, were called Beghards, although they procured
themselves the necessaries of life by honest industry, without
having recourse to the sordid trade of begging.

The denominations, therefore, of Beghards, Beguites, Beguins, and Beguines, are rather honourable than otherwise, when we consider their origin; and they are mentioned as such, in several records and deeds of this century, whose authority is most re; spectable, particularly in the Testament of St Lewis, king of France. But, in process of time, these terms lost gradually, as the case often happens, their primitive signification, and became marks of infamy and derision. For among these religious beggars and these sanctimonious pretenders to extraordinary piety, there were many, whose piety was nothing more than the most senseless superstition ; many, also, whose austere devotion was accompanied with the opinions of a corrupt nature, and entirely opposite to the doctrine of the church, and (what was still more horrible) many artful hypocrites, who, under the mask of religion, concealed the most abominable principles, and committed the most enormous crimes. These were the fools and knaves who brought the denomination of Boghards into disrepute, and rendered it both ridiculous and infamous ; so that it was only cmployed to signify idiots, heretics, or hypocrites. The denomination of Lolbards, of which we shall have occasion to speak more amply hereafter, met with the same fate, and was rendered contemptible by the persons who masked their iniquity under that specious title.

PARTI

CE N T.in no other light, than as seculars and laymen (1) XIII.

It is, however, to be observed, that the Bizochi were divided into two classes, which derived their different denominations of perfect and imperfect, from the different degrees of austerity that they discovered in their manner of living. The perfect lived upon alms, abstained from wedlock, and had no fixed habitations. The imperfect, on the contrary, had their houses, wives, and possessions, and

were engaged, like the rest of their fellow-citizens, A great dif-in the various affairs of life [t]. ference be

XLI. We must not confound these Beguins and tween the Francis. Beguines, who derived their origin from an austere can Be

branch quins and those of

[s] See the Acta Inquis. Theolos, published by LIMBORCH, Germany and the' p. 298, 302, 310, 313. and particularly 307, 329, 382, 389, &c. Nether. Among the various passages of ancient writers, which tend to lands.

illustrate the history of the Fratricelli and Beguins, I shall quote only one, which is to be found in JORDAN's Chronicon. published by MURATORI, in his Antigg. lial. medii ævi, tom. iv. p. 1920. and confirms almost every thing we have said upon that head; Anno 1294. “ Petrus de Macerata et Petrus de Forosemproneo Apostatæ fuerunt ordinis Minorum et hæretici. His petentibus eremitice vivere, ut Regulam B. Francisci ad litteram servare possent, Quibus plures Apostatæ adhæscrunt, qui statum communitatis damnabant et declarationes Regulæ, et vocabant se Fratres S. Francisci (he ought to have said Fratricellos) Seculares; (i. e. the Terciaries, who were the friends and associates of the Fratriselli, without quitting, however, their secular state, or entering into the monastic order), Sæculares autem vocarunt Bizócios aut Fratricellos vel Bocasotos" (here JORDAN is mistaken) in "affirming, that the Sæculares were called Fratricelli; for this latter name belonged only to the true monks of St Francis, and not to the Tertiaries. The other circumstances of this account are exact, and shew that the more austere professors of the Franciscan rule were divided into two classes, vicinto friars and seculars, and that the latter were called Bizocbio : "Ti dog. matizabant, quod nullus summus Pontifex Regulam B. Fran. cisci declarare potuit, Item, quod Angelus abstulit a Nicolao tertio Papatus auctoritatem . , Et quod ipsi soli sunt in via · Dei et vera ecclesia, &c. . . iis i

[t] This division is mentioned, or supposed, by several authors, and more especially in the Acia Inquisit, Tholosana, p. 303, 310, 312, 313, 319, &c. "

branch of the Franciscan order, with the German C ENT. and Belgic Beguines, who crept out of their ob

PART II. scurity in this century, and multiplied prodigiously in a very short space of time [u]. Their origin was of earlier date than this century, but it was only now that they acquired a name, and made a noise in the world. Their primitive establishment was, undourtedly, the effect of virtuous dispositions and upright intentions. A certain number of pious women, both virgins and widows, in order to maintain their integrity, and preserve their principles from the contagion of a vicious and corrupt age, formed themselves into societies, each of which had a fixed place of residence, and was under the inspection and government of a female head. Here they divided their time between exercises of devotion, and works of

honest [u] In the last century, there was a great debate carried on in the Netherlands concerning the origin of the Beghards and Beguines, of which I have given an ample account in a work not yet published. In the course of this controversy, the Beguines produced the most authentic and unexceptionable records and diplomas, from which it appeared, that, so early as the eleventh

and twelfth centuries, there had been several societies of Be? .guines established in Holland and Flanders. It is true, they had

no more than three of these authentic acts to offer as a proof of their antiquity; the first was drawn up in the year 1065, the second in the year 1129, the third in 1151; and they were all three drawn up, at Vilvorden, by the Beguines, who, at that time, were settled there. See AUB. MIRÆ Opera Diplomaticohistorica, tom. ii. c. xxvi.p. 948. and tom, iii. p. 682. edit, nov. -ERYCIUS PUTEANUS, De Beghinarum apud Belgus instirutio et nomine suffragio. This treatise of PUTEANUS is to be found with angther of the same author, and upon the same subject, in a work entitled, Josephi GELDOLPHIA RYCKEL Vita S. Vegge cum Adnotationibus, p. 65--227. Duaci, 1631, in 410. Now, though we grant that those writers are mistaken, who place the first rise of the Beguines in the twelfth or thirteenth century, yet the smaļl number of authentic records, which they have to produce in favour of their antiquity, is an incontestable proof of the obscurity in which they lay concealed before the time

in which these writers place their origin, and may render it al. - most probable, that the only convent of Beguines, that existed

before the thirteenth century, was that of Vilvorden in Brabani.

EN T. honest industry, reserving to themselves the li, *,,berty of entering into the state of matrimony, as

also of quitting the convent, whenever they
thought proper. And as all those among the
female sex, who made extraordinary professions
of piety and devotion, were distinguished by the
title of Beguines, i. e. persons who were uncom-
monly assiduous in prayer, that title was given to
the women of whom we are now speaking [w].
The first society of this kind, that we read of, was
formed at Nivelle in Brabant, in the year 1226
[x]; and was followed by so many institutions
of a like nature in France, Germany, Holland, and
Flanders, that towards the middle of the thir-
teenth century, there was scarcely a city of any
note, that had not its beguinage, or vineyard, as
it was sometimes called in conformity to the style
of the Song of Songs [y]. All these female societies

were [w] All the Beghards and Beguines that yet remain in Flonders and Holland, where their convents have almost entirely changed their ancient and primitive form, affirm unanimously, that both their name and institution derive their origin from St BEGGHE, duchess of Brabant, and daughter of PEPIN, mayor of the palace to the king of Austrasia, who lived in the seventh century. This lady, therefore, they consider as their patroness, and honour her as a kind of tutelary divinity with the deepest sentiments of veneration and respect. See Jos. GELD. A RycKEL in vita S. Beggæ cuin Adnotat. Duaci et Louaniï edita ; 2 work of great bulk and little merit, and full of the most silly and insipid fables. Those who are no well wishers to the cause of the Beguines, adopt a quite different account of their origin, which they deduce from LAMBERT LE BEGUE, a priest and native of Leige, who lived in the twelfth century, and was much esteemed on account of his eminent piety. The learned PETER COENS, canon of Antwerp, has defended this opinion with more erudition than any other writer, in his Disquisitio Historica de Origine Beghinarum et Beghinagiorem in Belgio, Leod, 1672, in 12mo,

[x] Other historians say, in the year 1 2017. [1] See MATTH. PARIS, Histor. Major, ad An. 1243 and 1250, p. 540. 696.- THOMAS CANTIFRATENSIS in Bono Universali de Apibus, lib. ii. cap. li. p. 478. edit. Colvenerië PETRUS DE HERENTHAL, in his Annals, from which, though

they

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