A full and comprehensive survey of the development of the Cistercian Order which emerged from the tumultuous intellectual and religious fervour of the eleventh and twelfth centuries.
The Cistercians (White Monks) were the most successful monastic experiment to emerge from the tumultuous intellectual and religious fervour of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. By around 1150 they had established houses the length and breadth of Western Christendom and were internationally renowned. They sought to return to a simple form of monastic life, as set down in the Rule of St Benedict, and preferred rural locations "far from the haunts of men".But, as recent research has shown, they were by no means isolated from society but influenced, and were influenced by, the world around them; they moved with the times.
This book seeks to explore the phenomenon that was the Cistercian Order, drawing on recent research from various disciplines to consider what it was that made the Cistercians distinctive and how they responded to developments. The book addresses current debates regarding the origins and evolution of the Order; discusses the key primary sources for knowledge; and covers architecture, administration, daily life, spirituality, the economy and the monks' ties with the world.
Professor Janet Burton teaches at the School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology, University of Wales Trinity Saint David; Dr Julie Kerr is Honorary Research Fellow in the School of History, University of St Andrews.
Introduction: Reform and renewal
The 'desert-place called Cîteaux'
'In mountain valleys and plains': the spread of the Cistercian Order
'Lonely wooded places': the Cistercians, their sites and their buildings
Unity and concord: the administration of the Order
Ora et labora: daily life in the cloister
'Angels of God': Cistercian spirituality
Conversi, granges and the Cistercian economy
'Lanterns shining in a dark place': the Cistercians and the world