Medieval Monks

There were a lot of different orders of monks in the Middle Ages (still are, in fact), but the primary monasteries in England consisted of: Dominicans:  Dominicans are about preaching and doctrinal conformity.  They were (no surprise) the order behind the inquisition, with the intent to rule out any doctrine that didn’t abide strictly by received Catholic theology.  “Domingo de Guzman (around 1170-1221), a Spanish priest travelling with his bishop Diego of Osma, encountered by chance Cistercian monks who tried to bring the Cathars of Southern France back to the Catholic Church. He saw the deficiencies of their attempts and decided to do a better job, by walking and dressing humbly, listening to and talking with people, being aware of contemporary developments, and first of all preaching the Gospel. He gathered a band of priests around him. After the Fourth Read more…

Strata Florida Abbey

Strata Florida Abbey was an order sponsored by Lord Rhys of Deheubarth and was always a strong supporter of the native Welsh Princes.  One of the Chronicles of the Prices (not the Red Book of Hergest, but the more complete one which includes the events of 1282), was possibly written here. “The site of a 12th century Cistercian Abbey, Strata Florida is situated in the hills above the Ceredigion town of Tregaron and has been shaped by both human and natural influences. As the Ice Age ended, the retreating glacier widened the valley and left behind ridges known as moraines. Over the last 12,000 years, Tregaron Bog (Cors Caron) has formed in the lake created by one of the moraines and within the bog, scientists have found pollen evidence to help them piece together the site’s dynamic history. Extensive clearance Read more…

Valle Crucis Abbey

Valle Crucis Abbey was a monastery of the Cistercian Order, established in a valley north of Dinas Bran in 1200 AD.  Traditionally, the Cistercian monks were supportive of the Welsh Princes.  By the Reformation, the Abbey fell into disuse and disrepair.   “Valle Crucis (Valley of the Cross) takes its name from from Eliseg’s Pillar nearby, which would already have stood for nearly four centuries when the abbey was established in 1201. The new foundation was a Cistercian house, a ‘daughter’ of Strata Marcella, near Welshpool; its patron was Madog ap Gruffudd Maelor, ruler of northern Powys. So that the abbey could enjoy solitude required by the order, the existing settlement of Llangwestl was removed to Stansty, north-west of Wrexham. …The abbey suffered a serious fire soon after its founder’s death in 1236; traces of burning are visible on the Read more…

Books in the Middle Ages

Books have been around as long as there has been writing–it’s just that in the past, they were less accessible, expensive, and rare.  Many, many fewer people were literate, especially as we understand the word (see my post on literacy: http://www.sarahwoodbury.com/?p=1310). “Every stage in the creation of a medieval book required intensive labor, sometimes involving the collaboration of entire workshops. Parchment for the pages had to be made from the dried hides of animals, cut to size and sewn into quires; inks had to be mixed, pens prepared, and the pages ruled for lettering. A scribe copied the text from an established edition, and artists might then embellish it with illustrations, decorated initials, and ornament in the margins. The most lavish medieval books were bound in covers set with enamels, jewels, and ivory carvings.”  Source: The Art of the Book Read more…