Medieval Monks and Monasteries


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About the Book

The Middle Ages in Western Europe extended from roughly 500 to 1500 c.e. During these thousand years, hundreds of monastic communities were founded and played important roles in religious, economic, social, literary and even military realms. Each had different emphases and goals, ranging from aristocratic monasteries and nunneries that offered comfort and security, to rural institutions that specialized only in the most ascetic lifestyles.
This book has two goals. The first is to detail the most significant monastic and secular events of the Middle Ages in Western Europe, such as the decline of the Roman Catholic Church, the rise of Protestantism and the various types and purposes of monasteries and nunneries. The second is to introduce some notable (and unusual) individuals who made their mark upon the Middle Ages— such as Eustache, the French monk who became a pirate and made a pact with the Devil.

About the Author(s)

Hunt Janin is an American writer living in southwestern France. He has written numerous nonfiction and scholarly books on a range of subjects, including medieval history and cross-cultural studies.

Ursula Carlson is a professor emerita at Western Nevada College, Carson City, Nevada.

Bibliographic Details

Hunt Janin and Ursula Carlson
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 222
Bibliographic Info: appendices, chronology, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8732-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5005-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction 3
1. The Importance of Monasticism in Western European Medieval Society 7
2. Some Defining Characteristics of Christian Monasticism 13
3. Early Western European Monasticism 18
4. An Overview of Medieval Monastic Callings 32
5. Notable Medieval Abbeys and Monasteries 41
6. The Economic Roles of Monks 51
7. Monks and Vineyards 57
8. Armed Monks 65
9. Medieval Academic Life 74
10. Scholasticism 79
11. Medieval Heresy 81
12. Monks in the Scriptorium 84
13. Monks and Medicine 93
14. Alchemy and the Mendicant Orders 96
15. Nuns 98
16. Beguines 102
17. Early Irish Beliefs and Irish Monasticism 106
18. The Monk Raoul Glaber Meets the Devil 113
19. Robert d’Arbrissel: Controversial Breton Hermit and Monk 115
20. Chaucer’s Literary Sketches 118
21. Peter Abelard: ­Pre-Eminent Theologian and ­Ill-Fated Lover 123
22. Eustache: French Monk and Pirate 128
23. The Monk Matthew Paris: So Good at So Many Things 132
24. Monastic Sheep Farming 135
25. Evaluating the Black Death 143
26. Fountains Abbey 147
27. The Poisoned Chalice and Fatal Affray of Furness Abbey 151
28. Medieval Pilgrims 153
29. Goliards: Wandering Poets 157
30. François Villon: Murder and Poetry in Medieval France 160
31. Limiting the Number of Monks 162
32. The Avignon Papacy 167
Assessment: The Inherent Features of Medieval Monastic
Life in Western Europe 171
Appendix 1. The Medieval Renaissance of the 12th Century 175
Appendix 2. The Canticle of the Sun 177
Appendix 3. “The Splendors of Avignon and the Evils of the Times” 178
Appendix 4. A Medieval Pilgrimage to Jerusalem 180
Appendix 5. ­Far-Ranging Friars: John of Montecorvino and Odoric of Pordenone 183
Appendix 6. “Lightning Chastises the Monks” 185
Appendix 7. The “Clerical Estate” in England in the Later Middle Ages 186
Appendix 8. Monastic Rivalries in Medieval Paris 188
Chronology 189
Chapter Notes 195
Bibliography 205
Index 213