Ecclesia in Medio Nationis

Ecclesia in Medio Nationis

Reflections on the Study of Monasticism in the Central Middle Ages

The role of monastic institutions in society during the Central Middle Ages has been much debated in medieval studies. Some scholars saw monasticism as the principal motivator of economic, social, intellectual, and "spiritual" progress in human society, while others regarded monastic ideology as fundamentally antisocial and oriented toward itself.

These debates remained pertinent until the final decades of the twentieth century, but seem to have lost some of their relevance to the present-day scholar. Today monasticism is studied as a social entity that needed interactions with the outside world to survive and to give a clear sense of purpose to its members. Drawing on recent trends in historical scholarship, this book—which contains four chapters in English (including the introduction and conclusion) and five chapters in French—seeks to identify some of the major questions that will dominate research into monasticism in the years to come. Contributions deal with the evolution of monasticism itself, its links with aristocracy, the economic relations of religious communities and their physical and ideological boundaries, and the representation of the outside world in monastic manuscripts.