A study of life inside medieval monasteries that explores monastic spirituality, daily routines, contact with the outside world, and the historical impact of these foundational institutions on the Western world.
How did the Western monastic tradition begin? What was monastic life typically like for a monk or nun? How was the institution of the monastery formative to Western culture from antiquity through the Middle Ages? This book covers the entire span of monastic history in the late-ancient and medieval periods and provides an in-depth look at several monasteries across Europe. Each chapter introduces the reader to the surviving evidence for the houses studied, such as its monastic rules, plans, records of visitation, chronicles, and biographical accounts; and aims to give an "insider" viewnot only of monks' and nuns' daily activities, but what these dedicated individuals' values, ambitions, and aspirations might have been.
• Surveys the history of the monastery, describing its origins, purpose, geographic spread, and impact on the larger society
• Provides a glimpse of the rich and often idiosyncratic evidence that survives for medieval monasteries
• Emphasizes the pervasiveness of monasticism in medieval Europe, the versatility of the monastic tradition, and its remarkable survival
• Brings to life the interior experience of a typical monk or nun, allowing readers to understand what draws some individuals to the monastic life
About the Author
Sherri Olson, PhD, is associate professor of history and codirector of the medieval studies program at the University of Connecticut.
Table of Contents
List of Maps ix
1 Benedictine Beginnings 1
2 The Monastery in an Age of Invasion and Reform: Saint Gall and Cluny 29
3 Child Oblates and Personal Fulfillment in the Monastic Life 59
4 Checking Up on Monks and Nuns in Thirteenth-Century Normandy: Archbishop Eudes Rigaud 95
5 Godstow Nunnery, 1133-1540: A Women's Community of the Later Middle Ages 143
6 Monks and Peasants 179
Glossary of Terms 193