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Monastic Hospitality

Monastic Hospitality: The Benedictines in England, c.1070-c.1250

Volume: 32
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 260
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  • Book Info
    Monastic Hospitality
    Book Description:

    Hospitality was an integral part of medieval monastic life. In receiving guests the monks were following Christ's injunction and adhering to the Rule of St Benedict, as well as taking on an important role within society andproviding a valuable service for

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-575-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    Hospitality has been integral to society from time immemorial. Its significance in Biblical times is reflected in the Old and New Testaments, chiefly in Abraham’s encounter with the angels in Genesis 18: 1–15 and Christ’s injunctions to care for the stranger in Matthew 25: 40. Its importance in classical and medieval times is evident in contemporary writings such as the works of Homer and Cicero, the Anglo-Saxon poem, Beowulf, and the Arthurian romances.² Whether these writings reflect the ideals or the practices of the societies that produced them, they are a testimony to the place they accorded hospitality.³ Of...

  7. 1 The impulse: what prompted monastic hospitality?
    (pp. 23-49)

    The monastic community that extended a warm welcome to guests stood to enhance its reputation and might also reap financial benefits. Shortly after his consecration to the See of Canterbury in 1093, Anselm wrote a letter of advice to his former community at Bec in which he encouraged the monks to use hospitality to secure the goodwill and support of others. Anselm was not alone in realising the potential benefits of extending a warm welcome to guests. Following his visitation of Abingdon Abbey in 1245, Robert de Carevill instructed the monks to receive ecclesiastical and lay visitors according to their...

  8. 2 The Administrative Structure
    (pp. 50-93)

    The twelfth century saw significant changes to the administrative and social organisation of the monastery. The growing withdrawal of the abbot from communal life meant that he might have his own quarters and household, and was frequently absent from the monastery leaving the prior in command. Related to this was the division of revenues between the abbot and convent, a lengthy process that began in a number of houses from the mid-twelfth century. There was an increase also in the number of monastic officials appointed who might now be assigned independent revenues and delegate much of their work to lay...

  9. 3 The reception of guests
    (pp. 94-120)

    How were guests welcomed upon their arrival at the monastery and just how important was the manner of their reception? The monastic community that received its guests warmly and courteously stood to enhance its reputation and might thereby secure goodwill and material benefits.² Therefore, the way in which guests were welcomed was potentially of practical and symbolic importance. The Rule of St Benedict sets down basic guidelines and states that everyone should be welcomed as Christ but an especially warm reception extended to pilgrims and monks. Whilst the Rule remained the basic point of reference throughout the Middle Ages, practices...

  10. 4 Provision for guests: body and soul
    (pp. 121-161)

    How were guests provided for during their stay, and to what extent did they interact with the monastic community? These questions are not easily answered for whilst the customaries and statutes shed some light on the care of guests, particularly religious guests and prelates who often joined the community in the refectory, they reveal little about how visitors passed their time and the nature of facilities in the guesthouse. Archaeological evidence and standing remains can disclose much about the size and grandeur of the guest lodgings and their location in the precinct, but more personal details are scarce. Alexander of...

  11. 5 Provision for guests: entertainment and interaction
    (pp. 162-176)

    The Rule of St Benedict makes it clear that conversation between monks and guests should be avoided. Nevertheless monks ought to be polite to any visitors they should happen to meet. For practical purposes a little necessary conversation was permitted to the guestmaster and anyone else who had a legitimate reason to speak with visitors. Over time the monastery’s relationship with its patrons and benefactors, the regular arrival of messengers and of people seeking advice and conducting business, meant that interaction (and conversation) was an inevitable part of daily life in the monastery, but one that had to be monitored...

  12. 6 The financial implications of hospitality
    (pp. 177-196)

    Hospitality was a basic part of the monastery’s financial outlay but it could be an expensive one, particularly by the twelfth century when monasteries felt that they were more greatly burdened with guests than their predecessors.² It is, however, difficult to estimate the actual cost of administering hospitality at this time. The later Middle Ages is better served and obedientiary rolls dating from the late thirteenth century record payments relating to guests. For example, the chamberlain of Abingdon’s rolls for 1428–29 list payments for various items of furniture and also tools purchased for the hospice; the treasurer’s rolls for...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 197-202)

    In 1224, shortly after the first Franciscans arrived in England, two of the four friars who had travelled from Canterbury to London progressed to Oxford. They were Brothers Richard of Ingworth and Richard of Devon, and their journey was made at the end of October.¹ They are probably the friars referred to in the late fourteenth century by Bartholomew of Pisa in his account of how the Franciscans earned respect in England and, more specifically, amongst the monks of Abingdon who had shown them an inhospitable welcome on their journey to Oxford.² Bartholomew describes how the two Franciscans took a...

  14. Appendix 1 Joceln of Brakelond, monk of Bury St Edmunds
    (pp. 203-204)
  15. Appendix 2 The Waterworks Plan of Christ Church, Canterbury
    (pp. 205-208)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 209-232)
  17. Index
    (pp. 233-244)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 245-253)