Was a generic name for all Franciscans or friars minor. Folly deliberately chooses some lesser-known orders and lesser-known names for well-known orders.
By the time Erasmus came to write the Praise of Folly, serious attempts at monastic reforms were being made. But it is true that some orders, notably the Franciscans, were extremely distrustful of learning, and especially the humanist learning which they regarded as leading to heresy. When Rabelais was a Franciscan, his Greek books were confiscated. The earliest French humanists were themselves favourable to the monastic vows. Some indeed were monks. But the Parisian humanists favourable to monks were inclined to feel that if only priests understood Latin all would be well again. This was the view of Josse Clichtove, an early humanist who defended the monastic vows, worked for the reform of the monasteries and was strongly anti-Lutheran. He typifies a party of humanists less reactionary than the rest of the Paris theology faculty, but less radical than Erasmus, whom Clichtove attacked soon after the publication of the Praise of Folly.
Stories of debauched, drunken and lecherous monks may be exaggerated. but totally irreligious behaviour was scandalous and widespread. Folly gets the mentality with pitiless accuracy when she points to the mixture of excessive punctiliousness in rule-keeping with wide-ranging breaches of the spirit and letter of the vows. Her most important criticism is that directed against the imposition of uniformity on people of different gifts and temperaments. This was the kernel of the moderate humanist criticism of the religious orders and is frequently found in Erasmus.
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