Monasteries were important cultural centres in the Middle Ages. Here, classical authors were copied and studied, new music and new sermons were composed, and new standards from abroad were introduced and spread throughout an ever larger Europe. Monks and nuns created European networks, connecting them to individuals with whom they shared particular interests in theology and learning, but they also had a keen eye for the importance of cultivating connections to local magnates and kings.
In the long thirteenth century, new orders like the mendicants emerged, and monastic life as a whole flourished. Sustained experimentation, the adaptation of new intellectual inspirations and the adjustment of organizational structures were major characteristics. There was a balance between contemplating the transcendent and securing the material foundation that allowed the individual monk or nun to disappear into the Divine. Monastic communities were powerful centres for innovation that decisively influenced secular life and shaped European history.
The thirteen studies in this volume are offered in honour of Professor Brian Patrick McGuire, a recognized authority on the Cistercians, and in acknowledgment of his significant contribution to European monastic culture.