Semimonastic communities of W Eur. from 12th c. on. Beguines (sisterhood) are the original order; Beghards the male counterpart. Celibacy required as long as one remained a mem.; supported themselves by manual labor; devoted to devotional exercises and deaconess work. Persecuted for heresy and prosecuted for concubinage (13th c.), many joined the tertiaries of the mendicant orders. A few small communities of Beguines survive in the Neth. and Belgium. See also Communistic Societies, 2; Inquisition, 1; Lollards; Mechthild of Magdeburg; Nicholas of Basel.
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
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