Reviled and revered
This chapter sheds light on the dynamics of male–female spiritual friendships in thirteenth-century Europe, with a focus on northern France. It argues that the beguines, though marginalized as at best peripherally “spiritual,” were in practice central to the intellectual and spiritual formation of scholars trained at the Sorbonne. Robert of Sorbon and later his followers connected to lay religious women’s communities as a part of their own adherence to a wide-ranging religious reform movement. An analysis of Sorbon’s sermons demonstrates that the image of the beguine as marginal for the sake of Christ became central to the spiritual program of the Sorbonne.