After the undoubted achievements of the thirteenth century, the fourteenth is usually considered a period of spiritual recession for the major institutions of the western church. The regular orders, on the whole, suffered along with the rest, and apparently none more so than the family of Saint Francis. Like its fellows, it experienced the general decay of discipline known as conventualism. In part, however, this was but the symptom of a more fundamental malaise, a diffuse but widespread disenchantment with the ideal which, in the previous century, the order had made peculiarly and gloriously its own, that of absolute evangelical poverty; and this in turn, it goes without saying, followed from the catastrophic double conflict on poverty which filled the first quarter of the fourteenth century: the ‘practical’ conflict over observance between the spirituals and community, which led many spirituals into heresy and revolt against the church; and the ‘theoretical’ conflict which embroiled pope John XXII with all shades of opinion in the order, and came likewise to a heretical and schismatic end. No wonder, then, if the fourteenth century seems, for the Franciscans, an epoch peculiarly bleak.