The Humiliati

Also present with the Waldensians at the Third Lateran Council in 1179 were townspeople from Lombardy who sought permission to preach against heresy and to live in poverty but remain in their homes. The Humiliati attracted followers from various social classes, with a large proportion of women. All shared a spiritually based desire to live in community by their manual labour. They remained mostly in urban settings and sought independence for their way of life but without dissent from the doctrines and practices of the church. Jacques de Vitry reported that groups of Humiliati were living in Milan and its vicinity in the 1170s, but most evidence about them dates from the late Middle Ages. An anonymous chronicler of Laon, writing around 1180, compared the

33 See works by P. Biller and G. Audisio in the bibliography and Chapter 20 in this volume.

Humiliati and the Waldensians for their rejection ofoath-taking. Ad abolendam (1184) grouped various adherents to the apostolic life, including the Humiliati, in its condemnation. However, the Humiliati in some regions continued to obtain support from local clergy and in 1201 received Innocent III's approval for their propositum, allowing them to live in evangelical poverty and to engage in preaching. Innocent III delineated three 'orders' among them (clerical, regular and tertiaries) but the reality oftheir lifestyles held greater complexity. One group, comprising male and female communities, corresponded roughly to the mixed orders of canons and canonesses, another to monastic sisters and brothers, and the third included lay members who lived in their own homes. The Humiliati illustrate markedly how twelfth-century Christians adapted the search for poverty and religious perfection to urban life.34

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