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10 Videos about Monks and Nuns in the Middle Ages

Want to learn more about the medieval world of monks and nuns? Here are ten videos we found that offer some quick information on monasticism in the Middle Ages.

A Mini Guide to Medieval Monks

From English Heritage – There were many different religious communities in medieval Britain. Many of English Heritage’s religious sites were once home to one of the four major monastic movements – the Benedictines, Cluniacs, Carthusians and Cistercians. But do you know the difference between these religious orders?

Why monks had that haircut

From Vox – Known as “tonsure,” the typical monk hairstyle has many variations throughout religions. The particular hairstyle worn by Christian monks has its own variations and controversies as well. Three different types of tonsure were popular: a coronal tonsure, a Pauline tonsure, and a third Celtic tonsure that came to represent the differences between the Roman Catholic and Celtic Catholic church. The winding path of this tonsure is a new way to look at the division within the religion and the unpredictable ways something like hair can represent faith.

Cluny Abbey: The Most Significant Monastery of the Medieval World

From Vantage Travel – France’s magnificent Cluny Abbey was founded in 910 AD on a hunting preserve owned by the Duke of Aquitaine. At its height, Cluny Abbey was the greatest monastic order in the Western world; four of the order’s abbots became popes, including Urban I

The Medieval Cistercians

From Marshall Poe’s channel – A film about the work of historian Constance Berman on the medieval Cistercians. The film was made by students at the University of Iowa.

Irish monks in medieval times were bilingual

From Utrecht University – In her PhD thesis Nike Stam analysed bilingualism in texts by medieval Irish scribes. It appears that code-switching in medieval Irish texts may be both a functional communicative device and an unconscious expression of bilingual identity.

Hrotsvitha, Hildegard, and the Nun who Resurrected Theater

From Crash Course – This episode talks about Hrotsvitha, the cool 10th century nun from Lower Saxony who was maybe the first playwright of the new era of theater. She wrote comedies with a moral message, and influenced future heavy hitters like Hildegard of Bingen.

Costume Demo: Benedictine Nun from the Barking Abbey Elevatio and Visitatio

From Medieval Convent Drama – Details on the costume for nuns in the Medieval Convent Drama Project at the University of Fribourg

Monastic Life

From Timelines.tv – What was life like in a medieval monastery? Why did people choose the monastic life, and what opportunities did it offer?

What Was Life Life? Meet a Medieval Monk

From English Heritage – Young English Heritage Members Emily and Sam visit Rievaulx Abbey in North Yorkshire to meet St Aelred, its most famous abbot, to discover what life was like in this Cistercian monastery. Find out what the monks used to eat, how they dressed and why they communicated using sign language.

and finally…

Medieval helpdesk

From NRK – A comedy bit from the Norwegian show “Øystein og jeg” – while not quite true, medievalists usually find this quite funny.



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