A Submissive Movement: Fear or Devotion Essay

A Submissive Movement: Fear or Devotion Essay

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A Submissive Movement: Fear or Devotion?
The flagellant movement consisted of groups of people who would partake in extreme measures to atone for their sins. It was known as the “Brotherhood of the Flagellants or Brethren of the Cross” (Ziegler. It was a movement that emerged greatly in the 13th and 14th centuries. These extreme measures included whipping, fasting and wearing hair shirts. These groups would move from town to town publically chanting, praying and beating themselves. The members were seen as people who had extreme faith and devotion to God and His Church. The exact cause of the flagellant uprising is unknown and will probably never be discovered; however, could the uprising have been caused by fear? The members of these groups used pain as a form of submission to God; a submission that believers thought was necessary because of the fear that God instilled in his followers. The pain was used as a way to atone for one’s sins in the same manner Jesus was persecuted.
The members of these groups were mainly men with no official political affiliation. Most flagellants in either of the two major waves, the first being in 1260 and the second occurring in 1348, were made up of mostly lay people, with some clerical members. This was a grass-root movement, one that while influenced by monastic practices, arose from the people themselves. It was purely voluntary. The flagellant movement became a lay spiritual expression, a movement motivated and driven by the laity, with minimal direction from the Church. Additionally, all accounts of the flagellant movement seem to point to an uprising of people in the same area because of the people’s need for it. The members were idealized for their devotion and since the movement was volun...


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...n). These people wanted to achieve forgiveness while they experience the slightest bit of holiness that Jesus had. They endured the pain, suffering, and discomfort in order to save themselves and save the others who have sinned as well (Brakke).



Works Cited

Brakke, David. "Asceticism." Church History 65.4 (1996): 786-8. ProQuest. Web. 29 Apr. 2014.

Kroll, Jerome, and Bernard S. Bachrach. The Mystic Mind: The Psychology of Medieval Mystics and Ascetics. New York: Routledge, 2005. Print.

Byrne, Joseph Patrick. "At The Church and Churchyard." Daily Life during the Black Death. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2006. 85-113. Print.

Queen, Christopher. "Asceticism." Philosophy East and West 49.1 (1999): 75-8. ProQuest. Web. 29 Apr. 2014.


Ziegler, Philip. "Germany: The Flagellants and the Persecution of the Jews." The Black Death. New York: John Day, 1969. 85-109. Print.

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