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Carmelites, mendicant orders, propoganda


The late Middle Ages was a difficult period for the mendicant orders. Many of their claims to be the "New Apostles," with special efficacy in the confessional, the pulpit, and the classroom—as Penn Szittya has recently shown—were under sharp attack. Though less visible as teachers and preachers than the Dominicans and Franciscans, the Carmelites were also the victims of anti-mendicant hostility from an early period. Furthermore, they were disliked by the other orders because they claimed superiority be reason of alleged great antiquity and the special patronage of the Virgin, for Carmelite legend holds that the Old Testament prophets Elijah and Elisha founded the order of the Carmelite Friars. Such a genealogy, of course, was hotly contested, and as a conscious response to criticism, during the first half of the fifteenth century Carmelites often attempted to propagandize for their views in tracts and picture cycles.