They were especially numerous in the Rhineland in the end of the 13th and during the 14th century; and they seem to have corrupted the originally orthodox communities of Beghards, for Beghards and Brethren of the Free Spirit are used henceforward as convertible terms, and the same immoralities are related of both.
In advanced religion, indeed, prayer is the chosen vehicle of the free spirit of worship. Its mechanism is not unduly rigid, and it is largely autonomous, being rid of subservience to other ritual factors.
For the further growth of the commune, the action of the great archbishop, Heribert (1018-1045), the establishment of the carroccio, the development of Milanese supremacy in Lombardy, the destruction of Lodi, Como, Pavia and other neighbouring cities, the exhibition of free spirit and power in the Lombard league, and the battle of Legnano, see the articles Italy and Lombards.
The same free spirit is the secret of much of the originality and the excellence of the decorative art of Japan.
So again, in his view, the history of mankind is a history of the necessary development of the free spirit through the different forms of political organization: the first being that of the Oriental monarchy, in which freedom belongs to the monarch only; the second, that of the Graeco-Roman republics, in which a select body of free citizens is sustained on a basis of slavery; while finally in the modern societies, sprung from the Teutonic invasion of the decaying Roman empire, freedom is recognized as the natural right of all members of the community.