Medieval Monasteries

Medieval Monasteries

Medieval monasteries were even richer than medieval kings, and they took over the medieval church as the monks living and working there were seen as very holy.

Monasteries gained their vast wealth from people working on church land freely due to their ultimate belief in Heaven and Hell, and the Church’s teaching that they were the only way to Heaven. People also paid the church for baptisms, marriage and death along with tithes - a tenth of a family’s annual earning. All of this helped the church to be become very rich and powerful and they gained a lot of land to build the monasteries on.

Fountains Abbey Monastery
Fountains Abbey Monastery

Just like with local churches, people showed their love of God by working on monastic land for free. It is clear to see that the medieval monasteries tricked people into working freely by taking advantage of their beliefs and fears, but monks living and working at the monasteries would have actually believed it was the only way to salvation.

It is also easy to believe that the monks would have enjoyed living off the land for their own pleasure and gaining from the labour of others. However, a lot of monasteries did carry out important community duties and had a type of medieval hospital attached to them, where monks would perform medical treatment. Several monasteries were also learning and culture centres and some like the priory at Lindisfarne became well known for the reverent monks living and working there. Life at Lindisfarne was tough even though the actual monastery was well off, and not many peasants worked on the land as there were hardly any people living nearby.

Only the prestigious Oxford and Cambridge Universities could be acknowledged as greater centres of learning that some monasteries. Monks were required to read and write as their monastery roles needed these skills to carry out assigned tasks.

See also: The Organisation within a Monastery

MLA Citation/Reference

"Medieval Monasteries". HistoryLearning.com. 2015. Web.