Middle Ages

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by mickey2303
Last updated 6 years ago

Social Studies
European history

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Middle Ages


In the Middle Ages, men thought that storms and lightning, famine and sickness were signs of the wrath of God, or work of evil spirits. The world was a terrible place that was filled with misery. In this, great numbers of men went to desert places and became monks or hermits in the sense that they would serve God better. Soon, monks drew together and formed monasteries living in groups and following certain rules.The Medieval Monastery was established in the Middle Ages and the first Medieval monks adhered to the Benedictine Rule that was established by St Benedict in AD529. Different orders of Monks were also establised during the Middle Ages which included The Cistercian Monks (or White Monks) and the Cathusian Monks (or Silent Monks).Monasteries were dotted throughout Medieval Europe and each endeavoured to form an independent, self-supporting community whereby the Monks had no need to go beyong their walls . Monasteries were a settlement complete in itself!

The principal buildings of monasteries were grouped in an inner court called a 'cloister'. These included a church, a refectory or dining room, a kitchen, laundry and buttery, a dormitory (where monks slept) and a chapter house where business transactions took place. There was also a library, a hopsital, a school, a guest house for the reception of travellers, a barn, bakery, laundries, workshops and storerooms for provisions. Beyond these buildings and guarded behind walls were the orchards, grain fields, vegetable gardens, often a mill and if the monastery was built near a stream, fresh water.Monasteries received pilgrams, travellers and the Monks fed the poor, attended to the sick as well as provide education to those intending to lead active lives in the world. Monasteries were in charge of having monks copy, by hand, the manuscripts of classical authors and preserve valuable books including re-writing of the Bible in Latin. The daily life of a Medieval Monk was dedicated to manual labour, worship and reading from the Bible - this was centered around the hours. The 'Book of Hours' was the main prayer book and was divided into 8 sections to be read at specific times of the day called by the following - Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, Nones, Vespers and Compline.A monk wore a ground length tunic or habit of undyed wool. It was belted with a drawstring pouch. Over the tunic, a monk wore a scapula (or long strip of cloth). Monks also wore a cowl or hood. All Medieval monks were clean shaven and distinguished by their partly shaven hair called 'tonsures' - their hair was partly shaven except for a narrow strip around the head. Any man, rich or poor, noble or peasant could become a Monk. Having once joined, you remained a monk for the rest of your life under strict discipline and took 3 vows.

Most people of this time saw this way of living as an opportunity to demonstrate their faith to God. In Medieval times, there were many cultural and religious influences in Medieval Europe. The world of Medieval Europe was largely an agricultural world dominated by men. Leaders and priests taught people to accept their positions in life and the fact that they had few rights and freedom. Also, the majority of people believed the Catholic Church's teaching that the Earth was the centre of the universe and that the sun, plants and stars revolved around it. Medieval Europeans were superstitious and believed that the Earth was flat and if they travelled too far, they would fall off the edge.By the 1100's, Christianity in the form of Catholicism was the most powerful and influential religion - it influenced everyone's life. From birth to death, whether you were a peasant, a serf, a noble, lord or King - life was about religion and your devotion to the Church. Major cities lay in ruins however, monasteries, because they were remote and hard to access, remained strong and retained the culture, books and knowledge lost everywhere else. Certain orders of monks were missionaries and it was they who went out to conquer the barbarians with religion rather than a sword. The monks were able to restore and preserve knowledge both within and outside of their monasteries as they provided education and helped the cause of learning by teaching boys to read and write in Latin (the language of educated men). Monks were the inventors of machinery, many alcoholic beverages, basic science, preservation and re-establishment of Latin, provided knowledge, as well as tutor chieftains who would begin the royal lineage of kings and lords. Within the walls, the monks painted, carved wood, weaved, tanned leather, provided tailoring and basic carpentry - this all contributed to medieval culture as the monks were pioneers!As the popularity of monks and monasteries grew, monks became influential figures in the Middle Ages culture and society.Therefore, after centuries of civil war, corruption, the Roman Empire slipping away and attacks from Barbarians, the importance Monks and Monasteries played in the Middle Ages was enormous. Thety played a vital role in the creation, preservation and transmission of culture. Events that took place were recorded during this time and these served as a good source of middle age historial record keeping and simultaneously, monks nurtured scholarship, education and the desire to maintain moral values.

Fascinating Video Link describing life as a Monk in Medieval Europe during Middle Ages

Monks lived in communities called Monasteries

Monks took 3 vows - The Vow of Poverty, Chastity & Obedience

Monasteries were the guardians of classical learning where Monks spent their days praying, translating texts and studying

The greatest care was taken to copy and re-write manuscripts "illuminated" in blue and gold

Importance of Monks & Monasteries in Medieval Culture


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