Monks at Work


Monks at Work

ISBN: 9781641891097


Monks at Work offers a new perspective on the history of medieval monasticism in western Europe from late antiquity to the early modern period. During this time, Christian monks, both male and female, sought salvation in the safety of their cloisters, where they directed their moral disposition in pursuit of Christian virtue.  It is this portrait of premodern ascetics as cloistered and self-interested seekers of salvation that dominates the modern perception of medieval monasticism.  Monks at Work provides a new narrative of the history of Christian monasticism by drawing attention to the largely overlooked activities of male and female religious in the world beyond their cloisters, especially their pastoral and missionary work.  It argues that the ancient Christian models of religious devotion that led monks to abandon the world for their own salvation were equally powerful in compelling them to return to it for the benefit of others.



Introduction: The Cloister and the World

Chapter 1: The World Left Behind, including sections 1.1 “The Mirage of Isolation,” 1.2 “Self-Sufficient Societies?,” and 1.3 “Preaching at the Edge of the World.”

Chapter 2: The Cloistered Heart, including sections 2.1 “Monks Among the Tribes,” 2.2 “Carolingian Intrusions,” and 2.3 “The Care of Souls.”

Chapter 3: The Embarrassment of Riches, including sections 3.1 “The Power of the Prelates,” 3.2 “Crusade and Mission,” and 3.3 “The Perils of Pedagogy.”

Chapter 4: Brave New Worlds, including 4.1 “A Chorus of Contempt,” 4.2 “The Harvest of Souls,” and 4.3 “Acta Sanctorum.”

Author Bio(s)

Scott G. Bruce is professor of history at the University of Colorado at Boulder and director of the Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies.

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Arc Humanities Press