The friars represented a remarkable innovation in medieval religious life. Founded in the early 13th century, the Franciscans and Dominicans seemed a perfect solution to the Church's troubles in confronting rapid changes in society. They attracted considerable enthusiastic support, especially from the papacy, to which they answered directly. In their first two hundred years, membership grew at an astonishing rate, and they became counsellors to princes and kings, they receiving an almost endless stream of donations and gifts.
Yet there were those who were not so enamored of them, who believed the adulation was misguided or even dangerous, and who saw in the friars' actions only hypocrisy, deceit, greed, and even, signs of the end of the world. In the mid-13th century, writings appeared denouncing and mocking the friars, and calling for their abolition. Their French and English opponents were among the most vocal, leaving a vivid record of condemnation. From harsh theological criticism and outrage at the Inquisition, to vulgar stories and bathroom humor, these are their stories.
Tim Rayborn is a medievalist with a Ph.D from Leeds University, UK. A professional musician devoted to early music (with a specialty in medieval repertoire), he also writes on a variety of medieval topics. He lives in Berkeley, California, USA.