Project Report from the year 2000 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Culture and Applied Geography, grade: 1,0, University of Sussex, language: English, abstract: Beguines have been the subject of numerous controversies from the Middle Ages to the present. Their contentious history results partly from the heterogeneous composition of their movement and the difficulty of defining this wide-spread group of pious women. One point at least is agreed upon: The beguine movement arose at the beginning of the thirteenth century and existed until the early Renaissance; geographically it was situated in the more developed countries of Central and Western Europe (i. e. France, Belgium, Rhineland Germany, Netherlands). The aim of this essay, however, is concerned less in a description of the external circumstances than in an analysis of the beguinal way of life. Firstly, this investigation deals with the typical features of the beguine movement focussing on their alternative lifestyle for medieval women (section II). Thereupon, section III explores, whether the components of this innovative movement caused a sensation for their contemporaries and how the reactions of the secular and the ecclesiastical authorities influenced its development. Finally, section IV examines the background and the conditions for the diminution of the religious movement.