A beguine is a female priestly unit resembling a shepherdess; she is available at the Guild Hall as a Flemish unique unit. She is able to keep up with infantry armies, thus making her an excellent field medic. However, she cannot convert (unless captured by a Chiliasm-armed Hussite) or carry relics. Keeping pace with your soldiers makes the beguine a very hungry girl; recruiting one costs a whopping 100 food.
Available to: Flanders
Trained at: Guild Hall
Cost: 100 Food
Armor/Pierce Armor: 0/2
Special: Heals units (except siege weapons and ships).
Speed: Mendicant Orders
Hit Points: Celibacy
Beguines make no sound when converting. It's rather funny to see one waving her arms, like a shepherdess gathering her flock, and before somebody knows it, they've switched sides, without knowing how or why.
Luckily this will only happen in three cases: deathmatches, during scenarios, or if a Hussite priest converted her, which can definitely be heard. (Flanders does not receive Heresy, which means she's a tad vulnerable to Hussite rhetoric.)
The beguine has a few advantages over regular priests. She moves faster and has additional pierce armour, as well as more hit points than the standard Flemish clergyman. The greatest advantage might though be the fact that she costs only food.
100 food sounds a lot at first compared to the 75 (50) florins of a Priest, but especially in the beginning, you will probably need your florins for more important stuff like upgrades. Later on, 100 food are almost nothing and the beguine works well with your pikemen, quickly healing them without being easily shot down and, moreover, still keeps your army at a decent speed.
Be careful when you're facing Bohemian priests. Once your beguines are converted - and then as well able to convert - they should be treated with respect.
If you are playing a game that begins in the 15th Century (or Post-15th), a known bug enables beguines to convert. As thus, they can safely replace priests, although the longer range and relic-carrying capabilities of the latter will require a few clergymen to be on the field.
Beguines were Roman Catholic lay religious communities active in the 13th and 14th centuries, living in a loose semi- monastic community but without formal vows or the rules of an order. During the time of her novitiate the beguine lived with "the Grand Mistress" of her cloister, but afterward she had her own dwelling, and, if she could afford it, was attended by her own servants. The same aim in life, kindred pursuits, and community of worship were the ties which bound her to her companions.
At the start of the 12th century there were women in the Low Countries who lived alone, and devoted themselves to prayer and good works without taking vows. At first there were only a few of them, but in the course of the century their numbers increased. This was the age of the Crusades, and the land teemed with desolate women - the raw material for a host of neophytes. These sole women made their homes not in the forest, where the true hermit normally dwells, but on the fringe of the town, where their work lay, for they attended to the poor. A few decades later devout women, who for various reasons had chosen not to join a convent, formed communities on the fringes of society in Flanders as well. It was not until the 13th century that the beguine movement was officially recognised and some of them grouped their cabins together to form a community, called Beguinage.
Beguinages were places of sanctuary where women could retreat from the turbulent society in which they lived to follow a secure, useful and peaceful life without the need to take the vows of a nun. Many poor women, widows of Crusaders, and others ,would have sought refuge here as did women from wealthy families who preferred a more simple way of life.
By the 14th century some communities were absorbed by monastic and mendicant orders], and others developed into Flagellants or other practices considered heretical. In 1311, Pope Clement V accused the Beguines of spreading heresy, and they were suppressed under John XXII, Urban V, and Gregory XI. The Pope made an exception for Flanders, which explains why the beguinages continued to exist. They were rehabilitated in the 15th century by Eugene IV.
Of all the communities which remained after the abolition, that of the Leuven Grand Beguinage is generally acknowledged as the oldest. It was allegedly founded in the early 13th century - the oldest written documents date back from 1232.