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War and the Making of Medieval Monastic Culture

War and the Making of Medieval Monastic Culture

Volume: 37
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 250
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  • Book Info
    War and the Making of Medieval Monastic Culture
    Book Description:

    Monastic culture has generally been seen as set apart from the medieval battlefield, as `those who prayed' were set apart from `those who fought'. However, in this first study of the place of war within medieval monastic culture,the author shows the limit

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-841-4
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    Among the sculpted capitals of the Romanesque church of Notre-Dame in Beaugency (dép. Loiret) modern visitors may notice a pair of human figures engaged in a curious and striking scene of combat. In the midst of a forest of columns topped with acanthus leaves and vines in which few human faces are visible, at precisely the point where the nave meets the choir, a fight to the death has just ended. The unlikely victor, an unarmed, unarmored young man, stands to the left, his slingshot still dangling from his right hand, a stone he will not now need gripped in...

  6. 1 Encountering War in the Scriptures and Liturgy
    (pp. 9-38)

    Warfare seeped into monastic life through the sacred texts that formed the basis of monks’ daily reading, chanted prayers, and private meditation. Those who sought escape from a violent world in the peaceful confines of the cloister were constantly confronted by images of battle. The Bible, above all, was a treasure trove of military history and martial imagery; indeed, its very words could surround the speaker with impenetrable armor, or become potent weapons with the power to curse and even kill.¹ Beginning in the earliest Christian centuries, generations of exegetes built up a thick carapace of interpretation around every mention...

  7. 2 Monks and Warriors: Negotiating Boundaries
    (pp. 39-70)

    ‘It is good for a man to know his established order,’ wrote the twelfth-century canon Philip of Harvengt, ‘and its limit or boundary, lest he impudently presume to go beyond its fixed boundaries, or weakly shrink from them.’¹ Philip’s sentiment reflects the deeply felt concern with the definition of orders (ordines) and the reinforcement of boundaries between them that runs through much of the writing of eleventh- and twelfth-century churchmen. This interest did not consistently reflect a real or imagined tripartite system of ‘those who prayed, fought, and worked’; throughout this period, various schema were current which divided society into...

  8. 3 Spiritual Warfare: The History of an Idea to c.1200
    (pp. 71-111)

    Writers who wrestled with the moral dimensions of worldly military service recognized the inner warfare waged in the spirit as a fundamental part of the good Christian life. If engaging in spiritual combat kept one on the path to righteousness, winning a decisive victory in what Saint Augustine (d.430) called ‘the narrow theater of the heart’ marked one as a saint. Christ himself had taught men to do battle with the forces of evil, and those who wished to follow in his footsteps could find no better way than by devoting their lives to service in the militia Christi. But...

  9. 4 Martial Imagery in Monastic Texts
    (pp. 112-155)

    Even as the clerical creation of a new model of Christian knighthood threatened the long-held monastic monopoly on spiritual warfare, monks clung tenaciously to their identification with the true milites Christi and continued to present their calling as a form of military service superior to any other. ‘Do not yearn to be sent forth to the place of battle,’ the Cistercian abbot Aelred of Rievaulx (d.1166) told his monks, ‘for this is the place of battle.’¹ A survey of sermons, letters, and works of hagiography by monastic authors of the eleventh and twelfth centuries turns up this sort of martial...

  10. 5 Warriors as Spiritual Exemplars
    (pp. 156-196)

    As members of an elite corps of spiritual warriors, medieval monks modeled the virtues of the true soldiery of Christ for other members of Christian society, and held themselves to be superior to all lay arms-bearers, even the most pious crusaders and members of the military orders, whose spiritual warfare was tainted by physical violence and bloodshed. Historians have long recognized the role of clerics in the promotion of saintly warriors as exemplars for pious arms-bearers and have linked the cults of various warrior-saints to the development of Christian knighthood and crusading ideology. What has been less appreciated is the...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 197-200)

    Within the history of Christianity’s long, vexed relationship with war, monastic communities have been assumed to have had little to do with warfare either conceptually or in practice. The main contention of this study, that monastic identity was negotiated through direct, constant confrontations with war and warriors, has challenged the traditional exclusion of professed religious from this historical narrative. In so doing, it has aimed to undermine one of the central divisions historians have traditionally emphasized in their reconstruction of the medieval past: the ideological separation of peace-loving religious communities from bloodthirsty knights, of ‘those who prayed’ from ‘those who...

  12. Appendix: The Loricati, c.1050–1250
    (pp. 201-202)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 203-228)
  14. Index
    (pp. 229-236)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 237-241)