This series aims to provide the student, scholar and general reader with authoriative short studies of key aspects and personalities in the medieval world.;This book studies the origins and impact (over their first 100 years) of the friars - the mendicant (=begging) preaching orders that emerged in the early 13th century to meet the challenge presented to the medieval Church by an increasingly secular society. This confident new secular culture (associated with the growth of towns, universities, and the rise of a literate laity), caused the Church to lose its monopolistic hold on the medieval mind: and throughout Christendom dissatisfaction and doubt led to heresy. The friars arose around the charismatic figures of St Francis of Assisi (Franciscans) and St Dominic (Dominicans).;They were a new concept: preachers going out into the world to reclaim it for God, rather than escaping from the world into enclosed monasteries. The new movement was thus a revolutionary response to revolutionary developments and was itself nearly condemned as heretical at the outset. Lawrence's study is not primarily theological but social and political, studying the impact of the friars on their time. In doing so, he illuminates the secular world of the 13th and 14th centuries through which they moved.;The creative role of visionaries like St Francis and St Dominic is given its due, but Lawrence emphasizes the role of the popes, whose patronage turned the armies of holy beggars into a disciplined pastoral force for orthodoxy. The central concern is with the friars' social impact their mission to the towns, their ubiquitous presence at the courts of kings, their many services to the papacy as inquisitors, nuncios and ambassadors to the east.