Monks, Nuns, and Friars

Andrew D. Brown

in Popular Piety in Late Medieval England

Published in print March 1995 | ISBN: 9780198205210
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191676550 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Historical Monographs

Monks, Nuns, and Friars

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)
  • History of Religion


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In the twelfth century, the power of laymen had been deliberately harnessed to the monastic ideal. Great families still relied heavily for their hope of salvation on large benefactions to monastic communities engaged in permanent prayer and penitential exercise. However, by the time religious houses were suppressed in England in the 1530s, they no longer led society spiritually and intellectually. It would indeed be possible to chart a decline in the value attached to the religious by the laity from the thirteenth century onwards. The history of late medieval piety can be presented as a continuing search for novel expressions of spirituality. The Cistercians overtook the Benedictines in the twelfth century, the mendicants rose to popularity in the thirteenth, and for laymen the parish, chantry, and private chapel became the focus of spiritual attention by the fourteenth.

Keywords: laymen; salvation; prayer; England; laity; piety; spirituality; benefactions

Chapter.  10302 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500) ; History of Religion

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