Ozment, Steven E. The Age of Reform: 1250-1550 : An Intellectual and Religious History of Late Medieval and Reformation Europe. New Haven, Conn. ; London: Yale University Press, 1980. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Chapter 3, “The Spiritual Traditions” Part 3 “The Franciscan Movement” pp. 98-115
“In the high and late Middle Ages large numbers of laity and clergy were gripped by the biblical ideal of apostolic poverty. This was an ominous development in spirituality for the authority of the church and rapidly produced a widespread counterreligious culture” (Ozment 1980, 98). From the consideration of poverty as an ideal there arose various groups which fought against heresy but then elevated poverty to a biblical mandate. One of the most notable was Francis of Assisi, born 1181 or 1182 (Ibid.), working at the same time the church at Rome was gaining in wealth and power. The Franciscans were recognized by the Pope, originally serving to conciliate those who were militantly heterodox in their commitment to poverty. At the same time, Francis also encouraged people to learn trades, not so as to become wealthy, but as an example and to avoid laziness.
After Francis’ death his followers and biographers sought a balanced observance which would avoid splitting the movement, the church, and society, while encouraging the life of simplicty and service.