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Religious Life in Normandy, 1050-1300

Religious Life in Normandy, 1050-1300: Space, Gender and Social Pressure

Volume: 33
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 254
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  • Book Info
    Religious Life in Normandy, 1050-1300
    Book Description:

    The religious life was central to Norman society in the middle ages. Professed religious and the clergy did not and could not live in isolation; the support of the laity was vital to their existence. How these different groups used sacred space was centra

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-587-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of maps
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-15)

    In September 1087, William the Conqueror died. His body was taken to his own foundation of St-Etienne in Caen whereupon ‘Dom Gilbert the abbot came out reverently in procession with all his monks to meet the bier, and with them came a great multitude of clergy and laity, weeping and praying.’¹ Allowing for the twelfth-century chronicler Orderic Vitalis’s rhetorical flourishes, the burial of the duke of Normandy was an occasion for a great gathering of monks, clergy and laity. They assembled to bury their leader at the site of a significant monastic foundation, underlined by its magnificent architecture. It is...

  7. 1 Display
    (pp. 16-51)

    Display of religious sentiment, wealth and affiliation, articulated through actions, symbols, architecture and ritual, was a very important part of medieval life, as anthropologically informed studies make clear.¹ Display manifests itself in several ways in relation to the construction of space as well as its use and the proper behaviour expected within it. It is also connected to symbolism and what these symbols meant to different groups of people and in different circumstances. In other words, display demonstrates what an individual or community thinks is important and what it wants others to see. Topography and external architecture were essential in...

  8. 2 Reception and Intrusion
    (pp. 52-87)

    In this chapter I examine the theme of intrusion by the laity into sacred space and the methods used to accommodate it. It would be wrong to talk of intrusion purely as the incorrect use of space. Attitudes towards a lay presence in religious spaces varied according to context, and, accordingly, could be welcomed or discouraged. Reception and intrusion can, however, be seen as a direct result of display and are revealed most obviously in normative texts and miracula.¹ The services provided by monastic houses for lay people led to ingress by the laity into both nuns’ and monks’ cloisters....

  9. 3 Enclosure
    (pp. 88-126)

    The rule of St Benedict clearly shows that enclosure was the principal means by which religious communities sought to protect their vocation from any interference from the outside world: it was enforced by monastic rules and expressed in the monastery architecture. In the preceding chapter, we saw how the laity intruded on sacred space. Enclosure, and the rules and customs governing it, were not just designed to keep lay people out, but also to ensure professed religious remained within their monasteries as far as possible. In this chapter, we shall consider how enclosure worked in practice as against the statutes...

  10. 4 Family
    (pp. 127-152)

    The family is central to our understanding of the interaction between the laity and religious.¹ Monks, nuns and priests all had blood relations as well as their new religious family within the cloisters and churches of Normandy. Families were also the first point of contact between the religious and secular spheres and were thus both of benefit and disadvantage to the religious life. Relatives – parents, siblings and children – founded monastic institutions, contributed to their endowment and provided their professed members.² But the family could also be a burden on already stretched financial resources and make demands on the monks’ and...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 153-162)

    The duchy of Normandy experienced great variety in the forms of the religious life. Although our story begins with the re-establishment of Benedictine monasticism in the tenth and eleventh centuries, this renewal of spiritual life gave the impetus for further developments and the foundation of new orders. By the mid-twelfth century several Savignac and Cistercian houses were in existence, founded in response to the more ascetic ideals of figures like Robert of Molesme, founder of the Cistercian order, and Vitalis of Savigny. As the century progressed, the number of hospitals and leper houses increased, founded in a spirit of charity...

  12. Appendix A: Male religious houses
    (pp. 163-192)
  13. Appendix B: Nunneries
    (pp. 193-203)
  14. Appendix C: Hospitals and leper houses
    (pp. 204-211)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 212-228)
  16. Index
    (pp. 229-240)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 241-247)