The Culture of Medieval English Monasticism

The Culture of Medieval English Monasticism

Edited by James G. Clark

Hardback
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Boydell Press

Overview

Overview

Examinations of the culture - artistic, material, musical - of English monasteries in the six centuries between the Conquest and the Dissolution.
The cultural remains of England's abbeys and priories have always attracted scholarly attention but too often they have been studied in isolation, appreciated only for their artistic, codicological or intellectual features and not for the insights they offer into the patterns of life and thought - the underlying norms, values and mentalité - of the communities of men and women which made them. Indeed, the distinguished monastic historian David Knowles doubted there would ever be sufficient evidence to recover "the mentality of the ordinary cloister monk". These twelve essays challenge this view. They exploit newly catalogued and newly discovered evidence - manuscript books, wall paintings, and even the traces of original monastic music - to recover the cultural dynamics of a cross-section of male and female communities. It is often claimed that over time the cultural traditions of the monasteries were suffocated by secular trends but here it is suggested that many houses remained a major cultural force even on the verge of the Reformation.

James G. Clark is Professor of History at the University of Exeter.

Contributors: DAVID BELL, ROGER BOWERS, JAMES CLARK, BARRIE COLLETT, MARY ERLER, G. R. EVANS, MIRIAM GILL, JOAN GREATREX, JULIAN HASELDINE, J. D. NORTH, ALAN PIPER, AND R. M. THOMSON.

Details

September 2007
12 black and white illustrations
256 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Studies in the History of Medieval Religion
ISBN: 9781843833215
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BIC HBJD1, 1DBKE, 2AB, 3H
BISAC HIS037010
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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Culture of English Monasticism - James G. Clark
An Early Tudor Monastic Enterprise: Choral Polyphony for the Liturgical Service - Roger Bowers
Monastic Murals and Lectio in the Later Middle Ages - Miriam Gill
The Meaning of Monastic Culture: Anselm and his Contemporaries - Gillian R Evans
The Monks of Durham and the Study of Scripture - A. J. Piper
Worcester Monks and Education, c. 1300 - R. M. Thomson
What Nuns Read: The State of the Question - David Bell
Private Reading in the Fifteenth- and Sixteenth-Century English Nunnery - Mary C. Erler
Holy Expectations: The Female Monastic Vocation in the Diocese of Winchester on the Eve of the Reformation - Barry Collett
Culture at Canterbury in the Fifteenth Century: Some Indications of the Cultural Environment of a Monk of Christ Church - Joan Greatrex
The Monastic Culture of Friendship - Julian P Haseldine
Monastic Time - J D North

Reviews

This collection is unusual, therefore, in its tight focus on post-Conquest Benedictine life. But it is all the stronger for this, the essays building a core thesis through their very breadth of evidence. Within a clear chronological framework, the excellent introduction presents at once a cogent survey of a complex, active field and a challenge to reassess the relationship between the rule, conventual life and its cultural products. (...) This collection ties English Benedictine life firmly into wider secular and clerical trends, while illuminating its distinctive cultural expressions and its many contributions to their forms. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW

These (essays) broaden the range of material available to serious readers of monastic history. AMERICAN BENEDICTINE REVIEW

This collection of twelve essays is a welcome addition to the revisionist literature.
(The book) presents a picture of late medieval monasticism at odds with the traditional picture of decline and decay. On the contrary these essays argue effectively that late-medieval English monasticism was a vital intellectual force, abreast of current pursuits, and that its interaction with secular society might be a source of strength not a cause for concern or condemnation. CATHOLIC HISTORICAL REVIEW

A rich and varied collection of essays that should have broad appeal. (...) An important and valuable addition to monastic research and makes a strong case for the vibrancy of monastic culture in the later middle ages. HISTORICAL JOURNAL

Our reformation studies too often fail to take sufficient account of the situation before the Dissolution of the monasteries. With great scholarship this study sympathetically describes that situation in all its richness and vitality. All who read it will benefit from their efforts. I certainly did and owe a debt of gratitude to the authors. HISTORY OF WOMEN RELIGIOUS

This admirable collection of essays approaches monastic culture in a remarkably comprehensive fashion. (...) The essays in the collection are well written and copiously documented; the footnotes of several essays are a veritable treasure trove.

The collection is a strong one, and one that should interest not only scholars of medieval English monasticism specifically but also those of later medieval culture more generally.JOURNAL OF BRITISH HISTORY

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