Quality of Life in Medieval Monasteries and Nunneries

Miniature of the abbess of the White Nuns cutting the hair of a novice.

The purpose of this thesis was to explore the possible differences of quality of life in medieval monastic institutions based on the sex of their inhabitants, their location, and/or their ideology.

Before the Dawn: Monks and the Night in Late Antiquity and Early Medieval Europe

making a bed medieval

Various aspects of daily monastic life prepared monks for this primary nightly labor, the emotional and psychological effects of which were probably further heightened by physiological reactions to chronic sleep deprivation.

Bede’s Temple as History

The Venerable Bede Translates John by J. D. Penrose (ca 1902)

Another IHR paper, this time, a talk given about Bede’s writing and his interest in the image of the Temple and its relation to Christianity. This paper also examined how Bede’s views shifted over time. How did Bede view Judaism? Was he truly ambivalent?

Ghost Commandery: Shaping Local Templar Identity in the Cartulary of Provins

templars seal

What makes the case of this cartulary particularly interesting is that the Templar house in Provins was not established until 1193, sixty years after André’s gift. In 1133, there were no Templars living in Champagne at all.

Vikings, the barbaric heroes: exploring the Viking image in museums in Iceland and England and its impact on identity

Viking ship at the Vikingsheimar Museum - Iceland

This study analyses the responses of Icelandic and English individuals in regards to their views on the Viking image as represented within museums and in society.

The Sword Brothers at War: Observations on the Military Activity of the Knighthood of Christ in the Conquest of Livonia and Estonia (1203–1227)

Livonian Sword Brothers - 19th century image

The Knighthood of Christ of Livonia (Militia Christi de Livonia) was the first of the medieval military religious orders to be founded for service outside the Holy Land and Iberia, and thus the first one to be actively involved in warfare anywhere in northern Europe.

INTERVIEW: A Conversation with SD Sykes about Plague Land

Burial of plague victims - The Black Death

My interview with fiction author, SD Sykes about her fantastic medieval crime novel, Plague Land.

Latin Patrons, Greek Fathers: St Bartholomew of Simeri and Byzantine Monastic Reform in Norman Italy, 11th-12th Centuries

A mosaic with Roger II receiving the crown from Christ, Martorana, Palermo. The mosaic carries an inscription 'Rogerios Rex' in Greek letters. (Wikipedia)

St Bartholomew of Simeri (ca. 1050-1130), a Greek monastic founder and reformer from Calabria, saw the effective end of Byzantine imperial power in southern Italy in 1071, the conquest of Muslim Palermo by Robert Guiscard the following year, and the rise of the Norman kingdom of Roger II at the end of his life.

The Power of Word: Preachers in Medieval Dubrovnik

Franciscan Monastery - Dubrovnik, Croatia

In the pastoral of the Franciscan and Dominican orders preaching became the principal task of their mission. Preaching manuals represented the basis of the new art. The preachers also used sermon collections, Bible concordances and exempla collections.

Byzantine Monastery discovered in Israel

Photographic credit: Israel Antiquities Authority

Archaeologists in Israel have discovered the remains of a Byzantine-era compound near Jerusalem. They believed it is to have once been a monastery and includes an oil press, wine press and mosaics.

A monastic landscape: The Cistercians in medieval Leinster

Clonmacnoise Monastery (Leinster, Ireland)

This study endeavours to discuss the Cistercian monasteries of Leinster with regard to their physical location in the landscape, the agricultural contribution of the monks to the broader social and economic world and the interaction between the cloistered monks and the secular world.

Were medieval monks obese?

Were medieval monks obese

The modern image of the medieval monk, as often depicted in Robin Hood’s Friar Tuck, is of the overweight man who indulges in food. How accurate is this stereotype?

Religious Education as the Basis of Medieval Literature

The figure of Grammatica, the first stage of medieval education, threatens an inattentive student with her birch - south portal, Chartres cathedral, c.1150. Photo courtesy University of Leicester

The medieval literature was written with a purpose to teach Christian dogmas to the masses. The prose and poetry of the time meant to show men the ugliness of sin and the beauty of goodness.

Narratives of resistance: arguments against the mendicants in the works of Matthew Paris and William of Saint-Amour

The Confirmation of the Franciscan Rule (Cappella Sassetti, Santa Trinità, Florence) - 15th century

The rise of the new mendicant orders, foremost the Franciscans and Dominicans, is one of the great success stories of thirteenth-century Europe. Combining apostolic poverty with sophisticated organization and university learning, they brought much needed improvements to pastoral care in the growing cities.

The Friars Preachers: The First Hundred Years of the Dominican Order


When Dominic of Caleruega began preaching in southern France in the early 1200s, he would have had no idea of the far reaching influence that the band of men he would attract would leave such a broad and enduring influence on medieval history.

Irish Hagiographical Lives in the Twelfth Century: Church Reform before the Anglo-Norman Invasion

Saint Brendan and the whale from a 15th century manuscript

In order to further disentangle the reality and fiction of this view of culture versus barbarity and of reform versus wickedness, I shall analyse twelfth-century Irish vitae.

BOOK REVIEW: Plague Land by SD Sykes

Plague Land by SD Sykes

My review of SD Sykes brilliant medieval thriller, Plague Land.

Manor Village and Individual in Medieval England

Medieval peasants

This thesis explores peasant life of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries in England from information found in the manorial court rolls-the village court records–of Ramsey Hepman grove and Bury.

Miracula, Saints’ Cults and Socio-Political Landscapes: Bobbio, Conques and post-Carolingian society

Medieval depiction of the martyrdom of St. Faith with a red hot poker

Despite the centrality of monastic sources to debates about social and political transformation in post-Carolingian Europe, few studies have approached the political and economic status of monasteries and their saints’ cults in this context, to which this thesis offers a comparative approach.

Women, Heresy, and Crusade: Toward a Context for Jacques de Vitry’s Relationship to the Early Beguines


Grundmann‘s search for a founding figure is understandable in light of the problematic nature of Beguine institutional history. Beguine historiography has long struggled with the anomalous lack of clear foundation documents and accounts.

Norse Influences in the Organisation of the Medieval Church in the Western Isles

Norse era construction - St. Magnus Church, Egilsay, Scotland

In its definitive form of a system of local churches serving identifiable districts, usually known as parishes, grouped together under a diocesan bishop, the medieval church cannot be said to have existed in the general area of Scotland until the twelfth century. At this time, and for some three centuries previously, the islands to the north and west, with parts of the adjacent mainland, were under Norse control.

Saints’ Cults in Medieval Livonia

Medieval Saints

Saints’ cults played a crucial role in medieval society. Although we know very little about the beliefs and rituals of the indigenous peoples of Livonia, either before or after the thirteenth-century conquest, we may assume that the process of Christianization must have caused major changes in their religious practices.

Fund-Raising for a Medieval Monastery: Indulgences and Great Bricett Priory


Fund-Raising for a Medieval Monastery: Indulgences and Great Bricett Priory By R.N. Swanson Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History, Vol.40:1 (2001) Introduction: Although they tend to evoke derision and dismissal because of their association with Chaucer’s Pardoner and Luther’s onslaught on catholicism, indulgences were, arguably, one of the fundamental and most ubiquitous elements […]

‘The Raw and The Cooked’: ways of cooking and serving food in Byzantium

Byzantine Food

Departing from ancient tradition, which associated the eating of uncooked food (ōmon) only with barbarians, raw food was widely consumed, above all in monastic communities, but also on an everyday basis in Byzantium.

Remains of medieval church discovered in Nottinghamshire

The area of Rufford Abbey today. The archaeological dig was done next to the ruins of the abbey. Photo by James Hill

The remains of a medieval church, which was once part of Rufford Abbey in Northamptonshire, England, have been uncovered after a two-week dig.

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