The Culture of Medieval English Monasticism - Studies in the History of Medieval Religion v. 30 (Hardback)James G. Clark (editor)
Hardback 256 Pages / Published: 20/09/2007
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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 mentalite - 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.
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer Ltd
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 534 g
Dimensions: 234 x 156 x 20 mm
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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