The similarities between Franciscans and Dominicans are greater than their differences.

Arising out of inspiration and sustained by necessity, the Franciscan and Dominican Orders constituted righteous alternatives in an environment fraught with iniquity. Though differing in specifics of practise, the two fraternities were brothers in purpose, with mutual success reflecting their intense allure to the population of thirteenth century Europe.
Since the late eleventh century, the continent was saturated in sin. The Catholic Church was rife with simony and worldly association. Laymen enjoyed pronounced influence in ecclesiastical appointment, and the Popeís efficiency was impaired by the control held by the emperor and wealthy Roman community . Remarkable headway was made in the pontificates of Gregory VII and Urban II, but it remained impossible for the two to sit on their accomplishments; the wheels of corrupt society still turned steadily spreading materialism among the exploding population . Communities of monks were introduced to bring direct religious contact with laypeople, but problems soon sprouted within their closed quarters, too. Supposed to reside in poverty, their pure, ascetic lives became tainted with endowments from affluent families . The microcosm was not so isolated after all, and monasticism thus failed to stand as a flawless model for long.
Within the confines of the Church a weightier dilemma arose. The late twelfth century saw the removal of bishops, whose seats were vacated due to deaths and filled with those holding radically different beliefs. In the absence of authoritative clergy those who became known as heretics were free to interpret and invent doctrine as they pleased, and to disperse their perspectives unchecked. Heresy congealed into heretical orders like the Cathars, especially prevalent in Southern France. Drawing locals into their ranks through compelling sermons and ascetic example, heretical groups flourished in Languedoc. Soon integrating themselves into general society, these same disciplines quickly replaced Catholicism in certain areas. With men "showing forth in themselves nothing of the Christian religion either in their lives or in their conduct ," a cure needed to be found for this rapidly spreading cancer before Europe descended irrevocably into the hands of the devil.
This formed the backcloth against which two men rose to meet the challenge of heresy and basic sin. As twin diseases, these infected the span of Europe, unbridled by the closeted monks in their cloisters and unaffected by regular clergy who lacked skills befitted to battling the infirmity. What Christendom needed was honest reform, founded upon principles the people could trust to be righteous and pure of intentóideals conceived of divine inspiration, not from the self-interest of a morally tainted Church. Francis of Assisi and Dominic came from different walks of life to tackle these same opponents, used different weapons to attack with the same intention, and with the same degree of morale. Somewhere in their contrariety, however, a complementary pair was matched, showing common threads in the fabric of their constitution.
Francis was born John Bernadone in 1182 as the son of a rich Italian merchant, "in accordance with the vanity of the world ." His passage to piety was dramatic and characterised by crises, unlike his counterpart Dominicís gradual ascent to direction. His calling came as a divine vision, with the specific instruction to mend the breaking Church , and that charge he took seriously. His efforts in coming decades would both focus and contribute greatly to this end.
Dominicís ascension to the same undertaking was less spectacular. A child of lesser nobility, Dominic nevertheless was self-dedicated to becoming an educated member of clergy. Joining the Canon Regulars when he completed his formal studies at the age of 24, it was with them he caught the feverish desire to preach. While traversing Europe he observed conspicuous contrast of religious zeal, and became infused with the ideal of invigourating the continent with religious spirit. Getting his assignment for Languedoc by Pope Innocent III , Dominic realised there the power of preaching. There too his experience with debates and conversions plotted out the course of his future as a religious leader.
The following of Francis were marked by the four cornerstones of humility, simplicity, poverty, and prayer . Centred on modeling the life of Christ, early Franciscans displayed the extremities of Christís renowned asceticism. Humility was demonstrated by Francis consistently, in his unwillingness to accept recognition as an