Monasticism In Western Europe

1394 Words6 Pages
Throughout the history of Western Europe, monasticism held an incredibly important place in society, a continuous presence in a chaotic world. Though the very first monks originated in the East, far earlier than they appeared in the West, monasticism was a guiding force in the shaping of the Middle Ages. Even as the political structure of Western Europe was turned on its head, monasticism quietly remained, changing to suit the needs and beliefs of the period. Though certain aspects remained the same, for example, the monastery’s presence as a center of peace and refuge, between 400 and 1100, monasticism had vastly changed, both at its core and in its outward appearance. The first form of monasticism to enter the West, just at the end…show more content…
Though there was originally a certain degree of opposition from the bishops, soon many of the great intellectuals of the West began to gravitate toward Monasticism, spreading it farther throughout Europe. Important men such as Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine, and John Cassian all had a hand in the spread of monasticism, founding monasteries during their travels. These early monasteries attracted important laymen and often served as a kind of training base for bishops. During the next two hundred years, as the situation in Europe grew more and more dire, the monastery was a refuge, an island of calm and protection in an otherwise violent world. At this time, the Rule of Benedict was written, a text that would influence monasticism throughout the rest of the Middle Ages. Though not widely in effect at the time, it gives a good window into the function of monasticism in society. With a strict emphasis on obedience and hierarchy, the Rule attempted to create something constant and reliable in an ever-changing world. Emphasis drifted away from true education and philosophy like that of the Roman paideia, leaning more toward unquestioning obedience and daily routines to be closer to God. The community within the monastery was the most important – any interaction with the outside world was frowned upon and viewed as dangerous. Monasticism was highly antisocial – monks were not like the average…show more content…
It also took on the highly ritualized manner of the Carolingians, with more and more emphasis put on making sure the rituals were correctly performance. This was in part due to the spread of the Angle/Irish form of Christianity to the Carolingians, not that of old Rome. In this newer form, learning was done in the church, so Latin culture was bund up in a Christian context. Any interest in culture was highly pedantic. At this point, monasticism had a near monopoly of religion in society. The life of a monk was no longer given over to meditation or personal thoughts, instead focusing on liturgical duties. Carolingians found their answer in the Benedictine Rule, which made a
Open Document