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date: 05 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines various aspects of medieval monasticism (with a particular focus on nuns), looking at the intersection of material and spiritual factors, and the evolutions of different orders. The practical establishment and ongoing endowment of monasteries complicated their spiritual identity, and these tensions persisted throughout the middle ages. There were always, moreover, monastic activities and groupings that did not fit the large-scale model, such as Beguinages and mendicant tertiary orders. Thus there are various ways in which understanding monastic identity in its own time and place are complicated, most notably in the backwards-projections that monastic orders made of their own collective identities, and the tendency to tell their histories without recognition of the changes and developments in their own orders. The important experiences of nuns are also frequently excluded from these histories.

Keywords: nuns, monks, Conrad of Eberbach, Bernard of Clairvaux, Cistercians, Franciscans, Dominicans

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