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Monasticism and Intellectual Culture

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Exam Question
! What part did English monasticism play in the life of the kingdom? (2012)
! Did increasing access to education have significant effects on political culture? (2013)

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Intellectual culture -­‐ very broad term
Increasing access to education in monasteries
Pre-­‐scholastic period
Beginnings of a literate public
Monastic orders participate in this education

Medieval education
! The Seven Liberal Arts
‣ Trivium
- Grammar
- Logic -­‐ dialectic
- Rhetoric
‣ Quadrivium
- Arithmetic
- Music
- Geometry
- Astronomy
! Varro -­‐ described this system
! Transferred into England by Augustine in the 5th century
! Strict educational structures applied to the post-­‐Roman period and into the early Middle
Ages
! Reliance on antiquity
! Ultimate aim of theological discourse

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! Hugh of Saint Victor -­‐ Didascalion (On the Study of Reading)c. 1120

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‣ Describes an education which ultimately leads to wisdom
‣ Fallen nature -­‐ we have been taken away from wisdom
- Duty to return through our education
- 6 books -­‐ culminating in scriptural exegesis

! Grammar is the foundation
‣ Learn Latin syllable by syllable -­‐ spoken tuition
‣ Disassemble language into its constituent parts
‣ Not to be inventive with language -­‐ in order to not fall into error
Nearly all the sources Hugh of
Saint Victor provides are from late antiquity
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! Monasteries before the 11th century
‣ Would take children in -­‐ oblates
- The Cistercians did not take part in this practice -­‐ taking in of oblates
occurred less and less
- Replaced by centres for higher learning

! Need for these clerical workers -­‐ skills of reading and writing
! Schools in towns and cities -­‐ higher learning in cathedral schools

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! Hugh of St Victor
! St Victor was an Augustinian foundation -­‐ established in 1104
! Emphasis on logic -­‐ becomes much more important as the century continues =>

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culminates in the scholastic movement

! Canon regular -­‐ group of men living together
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‣ Interact with people more than the Cistercians
11th century -­‐ discovery of a letter of Augustine of Hippo
‣ Letter to his sister
‣ Loosely defined a community that could live together
Developed customaries -­‐ rule books that became associated with certain foundations
Importance of teaching
Saint Victor became such an illustrious foundation that its customary was exported to
other parts of France and Britain
People would come to Saint Victor and then go back to daughter houses in Britain
Rapid expansion of the Augustinians
‣ About 230 houses in Britain by the 15th century

! Ultimate object is scripture
! Hugh -­‐ literal, allegorical, tropological and anagogical
! Literal -­‐ takes scripture at face value => complete history of the world
‣ Could be controversial
‣ Richard of St. Victor (d. c.1170) on architecture -­‐ yet the Pope Gregory argued
that Ezekiel's measurements must be seen as allegorical
- Richard disagrees and wrote an extended text on what the literal
interpretation would look like -­‐ use of grammar => puts drawings in
! Allegorical -­‐ look at inner meaning
! Tropological -­‐ emphasises scripture's action of telling people how to live their lives
‣ Not always explicitly stated in scripture -­‐ need of exegesis
Anagogical -­‐ concerned with the spiritual journey of one's mind and soul
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‣ Beautiful things are more close to the divine

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! Expansion of the Augustinian order -­‐ emphasis on teaching => increase of literacy
! Establishment of the university system at the beginning of the 13th century
‣ University of Paris is central
! By 1200, Paris had a population of 25-­‐50k people -­‐ up to 10% may have been students
‣ So many students and teachers -­‐ in their interests to protect themselves =>
formalised structures
‣ The university is essentially a guild -­‐ corporate structure
Oxford provides the closest parallel
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‣ In the 1130s the Augustinians set up 2 foundations -­‐ Osney and St Frideswide
- Not in the middle of nowhere like the Cistercians

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! Need for educated men was beginning to make demands on Oxford
‣ Land disagreements could only be resolved in an ecclesiastical court -­‐ need for
lawyers and educated men
- Need for trivium -­‐ legal arguments
! Lawyers had to be educated at Oxford -­‐ become accustomed to idiosyncrasies of the law
system within their own particular city

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! Alexander of Neckham -­‐ taught theology at Oxford

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‣ Was taught in Paris
‣ Writes a schoolbook on grammar -­‐ describing life in Paris to give students
vocabulary
Beginning of corporate identity of Oxford
Rapid rise in literacy
Clanchy -­‐ cast doubt on assessing periods via their literacy
‣ Yet it is very important
Universities and demand of students accelerated the process
‣ Need more books -­‐ system of lending and copying
Expansion of people who could read and the content for people to read
Education for lay brothers -­‐ they provide labour and get an education
Saint Victor -­‐ if you wanted to be educated, you could apparently go there
Schools in smaller towns -­‐ provide basic education
Paris is the place for theology, Bologna is the place for law
Still have the cathedral schools teaching -­‐ less important as the universities begin to
take over

! Beginning of 13th century -­‐ about 300 students at Oxford
! Nobility would have tutors -­‐ secular education
‣ Knowledge of kingship and government


Late Medieval Preaching, Literacy, Popular Piety and Private Devotion
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Not really education trickling down -­‐ laity pushing up and demanding knowledge
Affected their life everyday
Yet had little knowledge of what the words meant => questions
'Popular' -­‐ of the populace
Changing practices in personal devotion

! Important events in 'popular preaching' movement:
! 1215 -­‐ Lateran IV

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‣ Edicts concerning standards of clerical education, pastoral care and preaching
1327 -­‐ start of the Hundred Years War with France
c. 1320s-­‐40s -­‐ Richard Rolle writes numerous vernacular devotional texts
1348-­‐50 Black Death
1376 John Wyclif while at Oxford starts to be seen as controversial
1378 -­‐ Great Schism
c. 1360-­‐87 William Langland's Piers Plowman -­‐ secular, allegorical commentary on
Church and society
1384 -­‐ Peasants' Revolt
‣ Wyclif's first serious problems at Oxford => due to Court connections he avoids
excommunication and maintains his living
1385-­‐92 creation of numerous translations of Middle English Bible translations =>
Wyclif's Bible (attributed to him and/or his followers)
1415 -­‐ 31 years after his death Wyclif is declared a heretic in response to the growth of
the Lollard movement
1453 -­‐ end of the Hundred Years War

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Lateran IV
Bishops need to start choosing 'suitable men' for preaching in their dioceses
Poorly educated parish priests
Prompts a 'preaching movement' -­‐ difficult term

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Popular preaching started with the friars going into towns
Taking what is happening in a monastic setting and bringing it into towns and cities
Close to 6,000 extant sermons -­‐ source for what is occurring
Most preached in local parishes were probably in English
Yet many are still written in Latin -­‐ language of the Church

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Nobility -­‐ court language of Norman French
Lowest level -­‐ middle English
Preachers are also interested in pastoral issues
Clerics are told what not to ask parishioners -­‐ do not want to give them ideas
‣ Indicative of what the lay people are asking about
! Lay people wanted to know how they were supposed to live as a 'proper Christian'
! Preachers may tell them not to worry about clothing and food -­‐ issues during the war
! Theological instruction -­‐ use exemplar and metaphors to teach major doctrines

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! Redemption, salvation, atonement, the Trinity

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‣ Why God sent Jesus to save them
Theology of the redemption within a legal context => Devil's right theory
‣ Are very familiar with legal terms
‣ Found in theological and secular texts e.g. Piers Plowman
English translation of the gospel of Nicodemus -­‐ apocryphal text
‣ Christ descends to Hell
The Devil's Parliament -­‐ Middle English text on which the Devil has a parliamentary
section with other devils
‣ Argument with Christ
Mankind sentenced to the prison of the devil -­‐ oppressed => only Christ can hold back
the violence of the Devil
Sermons can also be used to directly comment on society
‣ End with proper conduct
News about the war is given from the pulpit -­‐ preaching as propaganda
People heard Latin every week -­‐ had some knowledge of it

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Literacy is difficult to quantify
Nobility were literate
Gentry were likely to be educated
Necessity of money for education
Growing merchant class -­‐ start to educate their children
Below that, many will not be able to read -­‐ do not have access to texts

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! Affective piety -­‐ idea that you are taking on the emotional and physical experience of

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Christ at the time of his suffering
Books of Hours c. 1320
Devotional text -­‐ to allow a lay person to have a relationship with God
Moving of monastic experience to the laity
Meditative => contemplation
Nothing like this 100-­‐200 years before
Mostly used by women
Further transference from the monastic -­‐ growing devotion to the name of Christ
‣ Cult of the Holy Name
- Starts with the laity
- Poetry
- Repetition of the name of Christ -­‐ mantra
- Symbols
Church institutionalise this growing cult
One of the only examples of a movement that starts at the bottom and then is
institutionalised by the church
Would have access to secular tales such as Chaucer and Piers Plowman -­‐ theological
allegory but also a satire
Manuals are being written -­‐ proper codes of chivalry

! Romance literature -­‐ very popular

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Arthur and the knights
Started in France and came over to England
In popular preaching
Used to give moral directives

Examples of public devotion
Funerary monuments and chantry chapels
Monumental brasses
Concept of purgatory -­‐ intercessory prayers
Nigel Saul -­‐ Church Monuments in Medieval England
‣ Essential to the salvation of the soul


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From Memory to Written Record -­‐ M. T. Clanchy

! Development of literate ways of thing and doing business -­‐ just as important as
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invention of printing in later Middle Ages
‣ Printing succeeded because a literate public already existed
Anglo-­‐Saxon monasteries -­‐ literate culture had already been created => illuminated
manuscripts
Growth in uses of literacy is indicated by the production and retention of records on an
unprecedented scale
‣ Anglo-­‐Saxon England -­‐ about 2k charters and writs
‣ 13th century England -­‐ tens of thousands of such charters and writs
- 8 million charters may have been written in the 13th century alone for
smallholders and serfs
Spread of literate modes
‣ By reign ofa Edward I -­‐ royal or seigniorial writs reached every bailiff and village
in England
‣ Use of charters as titles to property made its way down the social hierarchy
- 11th century -­‐ royal courts and monasteries
- 12th century -­‐ secular clerks and knights
- Laity in general by reign of Edward I
✦ Participated in literacy even if they could not read and write
Seal or signum
‣ Edward the Confessor -­‐ only the king is known to have possessed one
‣ Edward I -­‐ even serfs were required by statute to have them
Growth of making of records and a literate mentality
Preference for reading aloud rather than scanning a text silently by eye


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! Property rights and knowledge had traditionally been held in living memory
‣ Yet 2 centuries later, by Edward I's reign, the king's attorneys were arguing in
many of the quo warranto prosecutions against the magnates that the only
sufficient warrant for a privilege was a written one -­‐ specific statement in a
charter
- Written titles were revet and few charters were sufficiently exact
- Threatened to disenfranchise nearly all the magnates
- Quo warranto cases were rapidly suspended in the 1290s => government
had to concede that tenure 'from time out of mind' was a legitimate
claim
✦ Yet principle for future -­‐ written records


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! 1066-­‐1307 England was peculiarly open to continental influences
‣ Normans => Angevins => Poitevin and other southern favourites of John and
Henry III
‣ Combination of influence created an amalgam of Anglo-­‐Saxon, French and
Latin culture
! William the Conqueror's Domesday survey at beginning of the period and Edward I's quo
warrant prosecutions -­‐ both countrywide inquiries which aimed to record the most
important rights of the king and his feudatories in writing
‣ Nothing on this scale survives from any other European state

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