I am reading a book (Kathryn Kerby-Fulton, Books Under Suspicion, (University of Notre Dame Press) 2006.) called Books Under Suspicion. In it, there is an ongoing struggle between the mendicant orders and the antimendicant heretics. There is no good definition for what an antimendicant is in this context. Can anyone help me sort out this debate?


The Franciscans here represent the mendicant movement; local bishops were unable to control them through the usual clerical channels, due to the lack of property. The antimendicant movement also found backing from some of the previously established clerical orders, such as the Dominicans. It was a hot issue during the 14th century. See below for a book that covers some of the controversy, being an academic study of one of the antimendicant publications of that time.

Central to the friars’ identity (particularly the Franciscans’) was the concept of voluntary poverty. The friars claimed that they owned nothing and that in doing so, they were following directly in Christ’s footsteps. Fitzralph challenged these assertions in a treatise, the De pauperie salvatoris. The dispute between Fitzralph and the mendicants escalated and resulted in a papal commission to investigate his allegations. He died in 1360, before the commission had reached a verdict but his texts were widely circulated and influential in later anti-mendicant attacks. Another copy of the De pauperie salvatoris is found in MS 103, alongside texts by the most prominent of all medieval critics of the friars, John Wyclif (c.1320-1384).

The Friars in Ireland 1224-1540 by Colmán Ó Clabaigh (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2012)

  • There are plenty of mendicants that aren't Franciscans: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foolishness_for_Christ – Aaron Brick Nov 24 '18 at 23:18
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    So, to clarify, an antimendicant is a group that claims the medicant orders were not upholding their vow of poverty? – Sarah Stapleton Nov 25 '18 at 0:17
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    @SarahStapleton: no, the issue was not their failure to uphold their vows of poverty, but rather their failure to obey the bishops. Here I have given only an introduction; you could read the book for a complete analysis. All of the religious and political issues from the later middle ages are much more complex when viewed up close. – Peter Diehr Nov 25 '18 at 0:20

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