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Arnold of Brescia

1100-1155. Radical church reformer. After studying under Peter Abelard,* he joined the Augustinian order. He returned to Italy where he advocated the necessity of apostolic poverty by the church. His proposals were condemned by the Second Lateran Council and he was banished. Arnold then went to France, where he helped his teacher Abelard defend himself at Sens (1141). They were unsuccessful and were condemned to confinement in separate monasteries. Arnold resumed his teaching in Paris, but was banished from France and lived for a time in Zurich, afterward in Bohemia. In 1145 he was reconciled with the pope, but this was short-lived. After condemning the papal power once more, he allied himself with a rebel political party that wished to abolish the temporal power of the pope and establish a commune at Rome. The community had created a senate and appointed a patrician in place of the city prefect, who was dependent on the pope. In this situation Arnold advocated the idea of reclaiming for Rome her ancient powerful position in the world. He encouraged his followers to appeal to Frederick I with a statement that included a condemnation of papal approval of the emperor, the allegation that the Donation of Constantine* was a fable, and a claim that the empire belonged to the city of Rome. The more extreme schemes in this statement repelled many, and in the election of 1152 Arnold's group was defeated. Later he was excommunicated and expelled. Frederick I captured him and returned him to Rome, where he was condemned by the prefect to be hanged and his body burned (1155). A movement grew in memory of Arnold called the Arnoldists. They stressed apostolic poverty and repudiated the power of the hierarchy, holding as invalid sacraments administered by clerics who had worldly goods.

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