In the 12th and 13th centuries, beguines founded loose religious communities while neither joining formal orders nor adopting an approbated monastic rule. This thesis focuses above all on the economic activities and social integration of beguines. Religious aspects are disregarded to a large extent. Based on economic aspects, the paper examines the integration of beguines in urban societies in the time after the prohibition of their communities at the Council of Vienne in 1310/1311 until 1600.The first part centres on the emergence of beguine communities and questions concerning the naming of these communities. Differences between German-Rhenish and Belgian-Dutch regions and the impact of the decisions at the council of Vienne in 1310/1311 are outlined. The second part focuses on the economic performance and the social and charitable activities of beguines, such as the care of the sick, death vigils and burial prayers. In addition, the involvement of beguines in annuity markets and pious endowments is addressed. In the third part, the social integration of beguines is studied, taking a critical approach towards the widespread academic consensus which proceeds on the assumption that the nobility and the urban patricians put an end to their hold over beguine communities. As a consequence, the social background of beguines changed. In this context, the widely differing developments in German-Rhenish and Belgian-Dutch areas are examined in detail. Finally, the gradual loss of their economic position during the 14th and the 15th century is discussed.As a result, this thesis has been able to identify beguines as a social and economic group, which, due to its economic activities and social commitment, was highly integrated into urban societies.