The Culture of Medieval English Monasticism (Studies in the History of Medieval Religion)
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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 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.
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.
or other forms of polyphony indicates a general absence among the monks of interest in forming with him an ensemble to sing polyphony. His playing at the canticles of matins and lauds (respectively, Te Deum and Benedictus) was specifically mentioned, no doubt in performances alternating organ interludes with vocal plainsong, in a manner manifest by all the surviving Te Deum organ settings (see e.g. Early Tudor Organ Music, I. Music for the Office, ed. J. Caldwell, EECM, 6 (1966), nos. 1–3, pp.
laudabilem paupertatem’. He always behaved with ‘affabilitas and an immense copia benevolencie’.27 One of the militares of the court became jealous and tried to stir up resentment against Aelred, eventually giving way to an outburst at a full assembly of the court, in the King’s presence, reviling and abusing him. Here was the antithesis of the loving community of monastic life. Aelred’s response was masterly: ‘You say well, excellent knight,’ he replied. ‘Everything you say is true. For I am
the Durham monks stint when it came to having their copy made: it was on a very grand scale, and written in textura, for the most part by an exceptionally proficient Breton scribe, William le Stiphel, a scribe who had already worked for Uthred.47 He completed the first half of the Old Testament, up to Judith, in 1386, as he recorded in a colophon that refers to the direction of the subprior, who normally played an important part in library matters at Durham, but he had not got far into the Psalms
and Dissolution. They address monasteries of men and women, of the Benedictines, the Cistercians, the regular canons and the reformed orders, not only the greater abbeys and cathedral priories but also those of lesser status and meagre endowment. They consider the observant life of the cloistered religious in this period, their performance of the liturgy (and liturgical music), their practice of prayer, reading and their pursuit of study, and their occupation in the practical arts, and also their
difficulties of defining literacy’ (pp. 65–6, n. 1). All are listed in WNR. At Swine, however, it is uncertain whether the twelve Latin texts donated to the convent by the vicar of Swine in about 1400 (see WNR, pp. 168–70, and WHAT NUNS READ: THE STATE OF THE QUESTION 121 number of surviving manuscripts tells us nothing about the size of the library. It is therefore my contention that more nuns than we suppose might have been able to construe a Latin text, and more nunneries than we