A RELIGIOUS ORDER AT THE HEART OF SOCIETY
Mendicant orders adopted a lifestyle of poverty and depended solely on charity for their material existence. Owning property and the Dominican order's income appear to be entirely in contradiction with this vow. The first reform, the Observant, began in France around 1400 and was to restore the fundamental principles of the Dominican rule in members. This, endorsed by Yves Mahyeuc, would only reach Brittany a century later.
The Dominican's main activity was preaching, prepared for with intellectual training. Even though members were poor, they were taught to carry out this duty. All convents taught theology before anything else which could then be complemented by teachings on philosophy, the canon law and Sacred Scripture.
In the 11th and 12th centuries, the importance of the Couvent des Jacobins was not only linked to the worship of Our Lady of Good News, it was also an educational centre whose intellectual influence generated an increasing number of vocations. Several Dominicans from Rennes became famous for the quality of their research.The members were given permission to teach philosophy and theology in public.
Their teachings drew on the convent's extensive library: over 5,000 books, a proportion of which is now housed at the Champs Libres, in the Rennes Métropole library). Just before the French Revolution, some members began to embrace the new ideas brought by the Freemasons. Out of the 20 Dominicans still at the convent in the 1770s, at least five of them were actively involved in the Perfect Union lodge.