The Waldensians, also known as Waldenses (wɔːlˈdɛnsiːz,_wɒl-), Vallenses, Valdesi, or Vaudois, are adherents of a church tradition that began as an ascetic movement within Western Christianity before the Reformation. Originally known as the "Poor Men of Lyon" in the late twelfth century, the movement spread to the Cottian Alps in what are today France and Italy. The founding of the Waldensians is attributed to Peter Waldo, a wealthy merchant who gave away his property around 1173, preaching apostolic poverty as the way to perfection.
Waldensian teachings came into conflict with the Catholic Church and by 1215 the Waldensians were declared heretical, not because they preached apostolic poverty, which the Franciscans also preached, but because they were not willing to recognize the prerogatives of local bishops over the content of their preaching, nor to recognize standards about who was fit to preach. Pope Innocent III offered the Wal