Article

Carthusians and Eremitic Orders

Julian Luxford

in Medieval Studies

ISBN: 9780195396584
Published online July 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396584-0138
Carthusians and Eremitic Orders

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)
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The Carthusian monastic order was founded by Bruno of Cologne and a handful of companions near Grenoble, France, in 1084–1086. Its first customary, often called its “rule,” was written c. 1127 at the Grande Chartreuse, the motherhouse of the order. Carthusian monasteries are called charterhouses. There were at least 226 of them in pre-Reformation Europe, distributed across eighteen provinces. About twenty charterhouses were founded for Carthusian nuns (on whom there is a thin and mostly obscure literature), the rest for monks. Medieval charterhouses were occupied by two sorts of monk: those who served in the choir and were accommodated in individual cells, and lay brethren (conversi), who lived a communal life and occupied separate quarters, usually contiguous with or very close to the main monastery. The Carthusians enjoyed considerable popularity in the late Middle Ages, when, against the general tide of patronage of monasteries, there was a flush of new foundations. This popularity was due largely to the spiritual purity of the order, encapsulated in a postmedieval motto commonly applied to the Carthusians: “numquam reformata quia numquam deformata” (“never reformed because never deformed”). Partially because there were few charterhouses in the order’s English province (nine in England, one in Scotland), very little—less than 10 percent—of the primary source material or scholarship on the Carthusians is in English.

Article.  10892 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500) ; Literary Studies (Early and Medieval) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy ; Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400) ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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