Medieval Monasticism traces the Western Monastic tradition from its fourth century origins in the deserts of Egypt and Syria, through the many and varied forms of religious life it assumed during the Middle Ages. Hugh Lawrence explores the many sided relationship between monasteries and the secular world around them. For a thousand years, the great monastic houses and religious orders were a prominent feature of the social landscape of the West, and their leaders figured as much in the political as on the spiritual map of the medieval world. In this book many of them, together with their supporters and critics, are presented to us and speak their minds to us. We are shown, for instance, the controversy between the Benedictines and the reformed monasticism of the twelfth century and the problems that confronted women in religious life. A detailed glossary offers readers a helpful vocabulary of the subject.
This book is essential reading for both students and scholars of the medieval world.
Table of Contents
1. The call of the desert.2. The rule of St Benedict.3. Wandering saints and princely patrons.4. England and the continent.5. The emperor and the rule.6. The age of cluny.7. The cloister and the world.8. The quest for the primitive.9. The Cistercian model10. The new monasticism versus the old.11. A new kind of knighthood.12. Sister or handmaids.13. The Friars.14. Epilogue: The individual and the community.
C.H. Lawrence is Professor Emeritus of the University of London, UK. His previous publications include St Edmund of Abingdon (1960); Matthew Paris and St Edmund (1996); The Friars: The Impact of the Mendicant Orders on Medieval Society (2001) and The Letters of Adam March (ed. and translated 2006-10).
"The evolution of monasticism – which shaped piety, learning, processes of organisation as well as the medieval landscape – was one of the characteristic features of the middle ages. Drawing on a wealth of international scholarship, Professor Lawrence’s informative and enjoyable book on this important subject is certainly the best introduction in the English language."
Jens Röhrkasten, University of Birmingham, UK
"C. H. Lawrence’s classic study presents the evolution of monastic life and thought from primitive fourth-century eastern foundations to the variety of medieval orders. Enhancing our understanding of saints’ lives, monastic rules, and pilgrimage narratives, it is a rich resource for students and scholars alike."
Ruth Harwood Cline, Georgetown University, USA