English Life and Manners in the Later Middle Ages

By A. Abram | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
SOME ASPECTS OF MONASTIC LIFE

A KNOWLEDGE of the characteristic features of Monastic Life in the centuries immediately preceding the era of the Reformation is of especial value, not because they were in themselves particularly interesting, but because they led up to that era. The subject, however, is so vast that we can only hope to touch upon one or two aspects of it, and we shall therefore confine ourselves to those which bear most directly upon the mode of life of the religious orders.

The number of convents in England at the close of the Middle Ages was very large--counting monasteries, friaries and nunneries together,--between six and seven hundred. The rules of the different orders varied slightly, and conditions of life also depended to some extent upon the size and resources of the respective houses, but they had many features in common.

A large and wealthy monastery was a very imposing institution and very elaborately organized. Its head, the Abbot, or in some cases the Prior, was not only an absolute ruler within his own domain, but also a person of great social weight outside it. He often had a house apart from the monks and a large staff of servants of his own. The residence of the Prior of Durham was

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English Life and Manners in the Later Middle Ages
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xi
  • List of Illustrations xiii
  • Abbreviations Used in The References xv
  • Chapter I Social Classes 1
  • Chapter II Life Amongst the Aristocracy 9
  • Chapter III Characteristics of Town Life 18
  • Chapter IV The Position of Women 31
  • Chapter V The Church and the Nation 46
  • Chapter VI Some Aspects of Monastic Life 62
  • Chapter VII Business Life 80
  • Chapter VIII The Unemployed 95
  • Chapter IX Aliens in England 103
  • Chapter X Family Life 113
  • Chapter XI "Mete and Drinke" 134
  • Chapter XII The Mirror of Fashion 152
  • Chapter XIII Houses 173
  • Chapter XIV Public Health 190
  • Chapter XV Education 204
  • Chapter XVI Amusements 230
  • Chapter XVII Travelling 248
  • Chapter XVIII National Character 260
  • Appendix Authorities 284
  • Index 337
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