Learning Objective

Compare and also contrast some of the monastic orders that were formed throughout the center Ages

Key Points

Because that the ubiquitous power the religion, and also especially Christianity, monasticism grew in middle ages Europe.Medieval monastic life had prayer, reading, and manual labor.From the sixth century onward, many of the abbeys in the West were of the Benedictine Order, established by Benedict of Nursia, who wrote significant rules for monastic life.By the 11th century, the Cistercians reformed the Benedictine means of life, adhering much more strictly come Benedict’s initial rules and also focusing on hands-on labour and self-sufficiency.During the rule of Pope chaste III (1198–1216), two mendicant orders, the Franciscan and also the Dominican, to be founded.Francis of Assisi founded the order of the Franciscans, that were well-known for their charitable work.The Dominicans, started by Saint Dominic, focused on teaching, preaching, and also suppressing heresy.

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Benedict’s Rule

A book of precepts created by Benedict that Nursia (c. 480–550) because that monks living communally under the authority of one abbot.


Certain Christian spiritual orders that have adopted a way of life of poverty, traveling, and also living in urban locations for objectives of preaching, evangelization, and ministry, particularly to the poor; much more generally one ascetic lifestyle that consists of poverty and also begging.

Christian monasticism

The devotional practice of people who live ascetic and also typically cloistered lives that are specialized to Christian worship.

Monasticism in the center Ages

Christian monasticism is the devotional practice of individuals who live ascetic and also typically cloistered resides that are committed to Christian worship. Monasticism ended up being quite well-known in the center Ages, with religious beliefs being the most important force in Europe. Monks and nuns to be to live isolated native the human being to end up being closer come God. Monks provided service come the church by copying manuscripts, developing art, educating people, and working as missionaries. Convents were especially appealing to women. It was the only place they would receive any type of sort of education and learning or power. It likewise let castle escape undesirable marriages.

The Benedictines

From the 6th century onward most of the monasteries in the West were of the Benedictine Order. The Benedictines were established by Benedict that Nursia, the most prominent of west monks and also called “the father of western monasticism.” He to be educated in Rome but soon sought the life that a hermit in a cavern at Subiaco, external the city. He climate attracted followers through whom he founded the monastery that Monte Cassino, between Rome and Naples, approximately 520. He created the Rule, adapting in component the previously anonymous ascendancy of the understand (Regula magistri), which was written somewhere southern of Rome approximately 500, and defined the activities of the monastery, its officers, and their responsibilities.

By the nine century, greatly under the motivation of Emperor Charlemagne, Benedict’s Rule came to be the basic guide because that Western monasticism. Beforehand Benedictine monasteries were reasonably small and also consisted of an oratory, a refectory, a dormitory, a scriptorium, guest accommodation, and also out-buildings, a team of regularly quite different rooms much more reminiscent the a decent-sized roman villa than a huge medieval abbey. A monastery of around a dozen monks would have actually been normal during this period.

Medieval monastic life contained prayer, reading, and also manual labor. Prayer to be a monk’s an initial priority. Except prayer, monks carry out a selection of tasks, such as preparing medicine, lettering, and also reading. These monks would additionally work in the gardens and on the land. Castle might likewise spend time in the Cloister, a covered colonnade approximately a courtyard, whereby they would certainly pray or read. Some monasteries held a scriptorium whereby monks would write or copy books. Once the monks wrote, castle used very neat handwriting and would draw illustrations in the books. As a part of their distinct writing style, castle decorated the an initial letter of each paragraph.

The efficiency of Benedict’s cenobitic Rule, in enhancement to the stability of the monasteries, make them really productive. The abbeys were the main storehouses and also producers that knowledge.


Saint Benedict Saint Benedict, the founder that the Benedictine Monastic Rule, by Herman Nieg, Heiligenkreuz Abbey, Austria.

Cistercian Movement

The next wave of monastic reform after the Benedictines came v the Cistercian movement. The an initial Cistercian abbey was established in 1098, at Cîteaux Abbey. The keynote that Cistercian life to be a return to a literal observance that the Benedictine Rule, rejecting the breakthroughs of the Benedictines. The most striking function in the reform was the return to hands-on labour, and especially to ar work. Influenced by young name of Clairvaux, the main builder the the Cistercians, the Cistercians ended up being the main force of technical diffusion in middle ages Europe. By the end of the 12th century the Cistercian residences numbered 500, and also at its elevation in the 15th century the order claimed to have close come 750 houses. Most of these were constructed in wilderness areas, and played a significant part in bringing such isolated parts of Europe into economic cultivation.

Mendicant Orders

During the dominance of Pope innocent III (1198–1216), 2 of the most well known monastic orders to be founded. They were referred to as the mendicant, or begging, orders because their members begged for the food and also clothes. At their structure these orders rejected the previously developed monastic design of living in one stable, isolated neighborhood where members operated at a trade and owned home in common, consisting of land, buildings, and also other wealth. By contrast, the mendicants avoided owning property, go not work at a trade, and embraced a poor, often itinerant lifestyle. Lock depended for your survival on the goodwill that the world to whom they preached. They would certainly usually take trip in pairs, preaching, heal the sick, and also helping the poor. Francis that Assisi founded the stimulate of the Franciscans, who were recognized for your charitable work. The Dominicans, founded by Saint Dominic, concentrated on teaching, preaching, and also suppressing heresy.

The Dominican order came right into being in the Middle eras at a time as soon as religion was starting to be contemplated in a new way. Men of God were no much longer expected to stay behind the walls of a cloister. Instead, they traveled among the people, acquisition as their instances the apostle of the primitive Church. Prefer his contemporary, Francis, Dominic saw the need for a new kind of organization, and also the quick expansion of the Dominicans and also Franciscans during their an initial century of presence confirms the the order of mendicant friars met a need.

The inspiration for the Franciscan Order came in 1209 as soon as Francis heard a sermon on Matthew 10:9 the made together an impression ~ above him the he determined to dedicate himself completely to a life the apostolic poverty. Clad in a stormy garment, barefoot, and, after ~ the Evangelical precept, without staff or scrip, he started to preach repentance.

Francis was quickly joined by a prominent fellow townsman, young name of Quintavalle, who added all the he had to the work, and by various other companions, who are stated to have reached eleven in ~ a year. The brothers stayed in the deserted leper nest of Rivo Torto near Assisi, however they spent lot of your time traveling with the mountainous districts the Umbria, always cheerful and full the songs, yet making a deep impression on your hearers by your earnest exhortations. Your life was exceptionally ascetic, despite such practices were supposedly not prescribed by the very first rule that Francis gave them (probably as early as 1209), which appears to have been nothing more than a arsenal of Scriptural passages emphasizing the duty of poverty.

Similar come Francis, Dominic sought to develop a new kind that order, one that would carry the dedication and systematic education of the older monastic orders like the Benedictines to bear on the spiritual problems the the burgeoning population of cities, yet with more organizational adaptability than either monastic assignment or the secular clergy. Dominic’s new order was to be a preaching order, through its members trained to preach in the vernacular languages. Rather than earning your living on vast farms as the monasteries had done, the new friars would endure by begging— “selling” themselves with persuasive preaching.

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Dominic influenced his pendant with commitment to learning and virtue, a deep acknowledgment of the spiritual strength of worldly deprivation and the spiritual state, and also a highly developed governmental structure. In ~ the same time, Dominic urged the members that his bespeak to develop a “mixed” spirituality. They to be both energetic in preaching and also contemplative in study, prayer, and meditation. The brethren the the Dominican Order to be urban and also learned, as well as contemplative and also mystical in your spirituality. While this traits had an affect on the females of the order, the nuns especially absorbed the last characteristics and also made them their own. In England, the Dominican nuns blended these elements with your own defining characteristics and created a spirituality and collective personality that collection them apart.