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Mendicant Orders (friars)

The Mendicant Orders, popularly known as the ‘friars’, emerged in the thirteenth century. They were above all committed to poverty. This meant communal as well as individual poverty, and the mendicants relied on begging for their daily needs. Unlike the monks, they were not bound by vows of stability and the friars generally moved around the towns, preaching and caring for the sick. They also played a prominent role in the universities.

The Mendicant Orders included the Franciscans [Grey Friars/Friars Minor] and Dominicans [Black Friars/Friars Preachers], as well as the Carmelites [White Friars] and the Augustinian Friars. The first friars arrived in England in 1224, and generated considerable interest and support. This meant that the established monastic orders had new competition for patronage and recruits; in some cases this led to hostility and rivalry.