1st Edition

Studies in Byzantine Monasticism

By Alice-Mary Talbot Copyright 2025
    320 Pages
    by Routledge

    This volume includes seventeen essays on Byzantine monasticism, focusing on the 9th to 15th centuries.  Envisaged as a companion Variorum volume to Talbot's Women and Religious Life in Byzantium (2001), this compendium complements its predecessor by focussing more attention on male monasteries, hermits and holy mountains, while offering some pioneering studies of female patrons, rural nuns, and the links of many Byzantine women to Mount Athos. The volume also complements Talbot's 2019 monograph, Varieties of Monastic Experience in Byzantium, 800-1453, by offering detailed analyses of topics that could only be briefly addressed in that book. 

    Introductory essays include an overview of the historical development of Byzantine monasteries and holy mountains, emphasising the intertwining of monasticism with urban and rural society. Subsequent essays explore the regimen at coenobitic monasteries, while paying considerable attention to the less well-known lifestyles of hermits, especially those on holy mountains.

    Other topics include: monastery gardens and horticulture; the culture of the refectory; challenges for adolescent novices; factors influencing the choice of a monastery’s foundation site; female patronage of monastery construction and restoration; the conversion of monasteries from male to female and vice-versa; rules regarding personal poverty for monastics; and the choice of a monastic name.

    Chapter 1 – “Monasticism”

    From Palgrave Advances in Byzantine History, ed. Jonathan Harris (Houndmills, 2005), 119-132


    Chapter 2 - “A Monastic World”

    From The Social History of Byzantium, ed. John Haldon (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 257-278


    Chapter 3 – “Monasticism in Constantinople in the Final Decades of the Byzantine Empire”

    From 550th Anniversary of the Istanbul University International Byzantine and Ottoman Symposium (XVth Century), 30-31 May 2003, ed. Sümer Atasoy (Istanbul, 2004), 295-308


    Chapter 4 – “Founders’ Choices: Monastery Site Selection in Byzantium”

    From Founders and Refounders of Byzantine Monasteries, ed. Margaret Mullett (Belfast, 2007), 43-62


    Chapter 5 – “Byzantine Monasticism and the Liturgical Arts”

    From Perceptions of Byzantium and its Neighbors (843-1261), ed. Olenka Pevny (New York, New York, 2000), 22-39

    Hermits and Holy Mountains


    Chapter 6 – “Holy Mountains of Byzantium”

    English version of “Les saintes montagnes à Byzance” in Le sacré et son inscription dans l’espace à Byzance et en Occident, ed. Michel Kaplan (Paris, 2003), 263-275


    Chapter 7 – “Holy Men of Mount Athos”

    From The Monastic Magnet: Roads to and from Mount Athos (Oxford, 2008), 41-61


    Chapter 8 – “Searching for Women on Mount Athos”

    From Speculum 87 (2012), 995-1014


    Chapter 9 – “Caves, Demons and Holy Men”

    From Le saint, le moine, le paysan: mélanges d’histoire byzantine offerts à

    Michel Kaplan, edd. Olivier Delouis, Sophie Métivier et Paule Pages (Paris, 2016), 707-718


    Chapter 10 - “Building Activity in Constantinople under Andronikos II: The Role of Women Patrons in the Construction and Restoration of Monasteries”

    From Byzantine Constantinople: Monuments, Topography and Everyday Life, ed. Nevra Necipoğlu (Leiden, 2001), 329-343


    Chapter 11 – “Nuns in the Byzantine Countryside” (with Sharon Gerstel)

    From Deltion tes Christianikes Archaiologikes Hetaireias 27 (2006), 481-490


    Chapter 12 – “The Conversion of Byzantine Monasteries from Male to Female and Vice-Versa”

    From Polypleuros Nous: Miscellanea für Peter Schreiner zu seinem 60. Geburtstag, edd. Cordula Scholz and Georgios Makris (Munich-Leipzig, 2001), 329-343


    Chapter 13 – “Mealtime in Monasteries: The Culture of the Byzantine Refectory”

    From Eat, Drink and Be Merry (Luke 12:19): Food and Wine in Byzantium, edd. Leslie Brubaker and Kallirroe Linardou (Aldershot, 2007), 109-125


    Chapter 14 – “The Adolescent Monastic in Middle and Late Byzantium”

    From Coming of Age in Byzantium: Adolescence and Society, ed. Despoina Ariantzi (Vienna, 2018), 83-97


    Chapter 15 - “Personal Poverty in Byzantine Monasticism: Ideals and Reality”

    From Mélanges Cécile Morrisson [= Travaux et Mémoires 16] (Paris, 2011), 829-841


    Chapter 16 – “Byzantine Monastic Horticulture: the Textual Evidence”

    From Byzantine Garden Culture, edd. Antony Littlewood, Henry Maguire and Joachim Wolschke-Bulmahn (Washington, DC, 2002), 37-67


    Chapter 17 – “Monastic Onomastics” (with Stamatina McGrath)

    From Monastères, images, pouvoir et société à Byzance, ed. Michel Kaplan

    (Paris, 2006), 89-118




     Alice-Mary Talbot has spent most of her scholarly career at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C., where she has held several research and administrative posts. In the 1980s she was executive editor of the three-volume Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Subsequently she managed the Dumbarton Oaks Hagiography Database project. From 1997 to 2009 she served as director of Byzantine studies, and finally as editor of the Byzantine Greek series of the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library (2009-2019). Her research focuses on Byzantine women, monasticism and hagiography.