By Sherri Olson
A examine of lifestyles within medieval monasteries that explores monastic spirituality, day-by-day workouts, touch with the skin global, and the historic effect of those foundational associations at the Western world.
• Surveys the background of the monastery, describing its origins, function, geographic unfold, and impression at the higher society
• presents a glimpse of the wealthy and sometimes idiosyncratic facts that survives for medieval monasteries
• Emphasizes the pervasiveness of monasticism in medieval Europe, the flexibility of the monastic culture, and its notable survival
• Brings to existence the inner event of a standard monk or nun, permitting readers to appreciate what attracts a few participants to the monastic life
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273 Blanche: I have no other refuge. Prioress: Our Rule is not a refuge. It is we who guard the Rule, not the Rule, us. —From The Carmelites, a play about a Carmelite convent in Compiègne during the French Revolution and Terror, by Georges Bernanos (transl. Gerard Hopkins), p. 41 CONTENTS List of Maps Acknowledgments Introduction 1. Benedictine Beginnings 2. The Monastery in an Age of Invasion and Reform: Saint Gall and Cluny 3. Child Oblates and Personal Fulfillment in the Monastic Life 4. Checking Up on Monks and Nuns in Thirteenth-Century Normandy: Archbishop Eudes Rigaud 5.
1 This is a striking claim to make about the founder of an institution of almost any sort in the early Middle Ages. Life was precarious on the Italian peninsula in the sixth century, the time and place in which the Rule of Saint Benedict was composed. The relative peace following the invasion and settlement of the Ostrogothic peoples by the early part of the century was overthrown by another wave of warfare beginning in 535. As part of his initiative to “reunite” both halves of the old Roman Empire, the Christian Byzantine Emperor Justinian fought a twenty-year war of such destructiveness that it is said the people of Italy looked back to the rule of the Ostrogoths as a golden age.
One monastery in France, at Corbie, may have had 350 monks before the year 1000,6 but that would have been considered a large house for this period. For the sixth century the average figure would have been much smaller: the author of a monastic rule known as the Rule of the Master envisioned a community of about twenty-five monks, and according to tradition, Saint Benedict established about a dozen monasteries before he founded Monte Cassino, each containing twelve monks. Conditions certainly favored the small community because it could more easily avoid exceeding its ability to sustain itself than a larger house, and the simpler its character the easier it would be to rebuild after a Muslim, Magyar, or Viking raid, or even a Christian one, since such attacks were also launched by Christian lords—and ladies.