Monastery (Latin, Monasticum; Greek, Μοναστήριον; from μοναστήρ, equivalent to μοναστής, a solitary, a monk; from μονάζειν, to be alone, to live in solitude; from μόνος, alone) is the name of a residence of persons, male or female, who have bound themselves by monastic vows. We confine this article to Christian monasteries of the Western world. and refer for pre- Christian monasticism to the article SEE MONASTICISM; and for Oriental and Russian monasteries to the article SEE MONKS, EASTERN.
1. Monasteries received various distinctive appellations, derived from the names of the founders of the order; from that of the patron or guardian saint to whom they were dedicated; from the site which they occupied; from the peculiar design of the foundation or occupation of the monks; from the particular color of the habit worn within the walls, and other circumstances. SEE MONK.
To one or other of the four leading orders a monastery was usually referred:
(1) the Order of Basil, including all the Greek monks and Carmelites;
(2) the Order of Augustine, in its three classes — canons regular, monks, and hermits, together with the congregations of nuns;
(3) the Order of Benedict, with its various branches, male and female;
(4) the Order of Francis, with its numerous ramifications. The common appellation of monasteries are the following: (1) Μοναστήριον, monastery, as being the residence of monasterium, μονάζοντες, μοναχοί, μοναχαί, μόναι,or religious solitaries.
(2) Claustrum or claustra, cloister; literally, a place of confinement. This was the prevailing name in the West, and the choice of the name indicates the strict seclusion which prevailed.
(3) Coenobium, a common dwelling-place.
(4) Laura, λαῦρα or λάβρα, which is the old name for the residence of the anchorites. It appears to denote a narrow, confined, and inconvenient abode. According to Epiphanius (Haeres. page 69), it was the name of a narrow, dirty street in Alexandria, whence it was applied to the wretched habitations of anchorites in the Thebaid, Palestine, and Syria. By Latin writers laura is usually employed in contradistinction from coenobia.
(5) Σεμνεῖον, which is the name applied by Philoto the abodes or places of resort of the Therapeutce, and hence it was sometimes given to monasteries. The Latins retained the word sunmniun (simnium, or scimnium).
(6) Α᾿σκητήριον, i.e., ἀσκητῶν καταγωγή, a place of religious exercise or contemplation. We find. various words of similar form to the Latin asceterium; such as archisterium, architerium, arcisterium, architium, etc.
(7) Φοντιστήριον is the same as ἀσκήτηριον, but with special reference to meditation and spiritual exercises. Monasteries retained this name chiefly on account of their schools.
(8) ῾Ησυχαστήριον, place of silence and repose. This term was applicable to those monasteries in which silence was, to a certain extent, imposed on the members.
(9) Conventus, a convent, in reference to the common life of the inmates.
(10) ῾Ηγουμενεῖον, denoting properly the residence of the president (ἡγούμενος or ἡγουμένη), was used for the whole building.
(11) Μάνδρα, a word which means a pen, or sheepfold, and refers to the residence of the anchorites in remote districts, or to their congregating together in flocks. Hence the president was sometimes-called archimandrite.
(12) Lastly, the Syrians and Arabians, almost without exception, used the word daira, dairon (Arab. deir), to denote a monastery. The word is derived from another which is especially applied to the tents and other habitations of the nomadic tribes (see Du Cange, in the Glossarium medice et infimce Latinitatis, under the respective words).
The word monastery, in a most strict acceptation, is confined, in its modern and Western application to the residences of monks, or of nuns of the cognate orders (as the Benedictine), and, as such, it comprises two great classes, the Abbey and the Priory. The former name vas given only to establishments of the highest rank, governed by an 'abbot, who was commonly assisted by a prior, sub-prior, and other minor functionaries. An abbey always included a church, and the English word Minster, although it has now lost its specific application, has its origin in the Saxon and German Minster (Lat. monasterium). A Priory supposed a less extensive and less numerous community. It was governed by a prior, and was generally, although by no means uniformly, at least in later times, subject to the jurisdiction of an abbey. Many priories possessed extensive territorial domains, and of these not a few became entirely independent. The distinction of abbey and priory is found equally among the Benedictine nuns. In the military orders, the name of Commandery and Preceptory corresponded with those of abbey and priory in the monastic orders. The establishments of the Mendicant, and, in general, of the modern orders, are sometimes, though less properly, called monasteries. Their more characteristic appellation is Friary or a Convent and they are commonly distinguished into Professes Houses (called also Residences), Novitiates, and Colleges or Scholastic Houses. The names of the superiors of such houses differ in the different orders. The common name is Rector, but in some orders the superior is called Guardian (as in the Franciscan), or Master, Major Father Superior, etc. The houses of females — except in the Benedictine or Cistercian orders — are called indifferently Convent and Nunnery, the head of which is styled Mother Superior or Reverend Mother. The name Cloister properly means the enclosure; but it is popularly used to designate, sometimes the arcaded ambulatory which runs around the inner court of the building, sometimes in the more general sense of the entire building, when it may be considered as synonymous with Convent.
2. During the persecutions in the early ages of Christianity many believers sought shelter in the mountains and deserts, where they gradually acquired a taste for solitude and devotion. In process of time disorders arose among the various monastic orders, and it was found expedient to collect the monks into large societies, living under a common government, and within the walls of separate buildings, appropriated to the purpose. In the year 340 Pachomius built a large mobium, or monastery, on an island of the Nile, and the example was soon extensively followed. In these establishments, which in some places were very large, the members lived in strict subordination to their superiors.
The monastery was divided into several parts, and directors were appointed over each. Ten monks were subject to one who was called decanus, or dean, from his presiding over ten; every hundred had another superior, called centenarius, from his presiding over one hundred. Above these were patres, or fathers of the monasteries, called also abbates, abbot, from the Hebraeo Greek word ἀββᾶ, a father; and hegumeni, presidents, and archinmandrites. from mandra, a sheepfold, they being, as it were, the keepers or rulers of these sacred folds in the Church. The business of the deans was to exact every man's daily task, and bring it to the conomus, or steward of the house, who himself gave a monthly account to the father of them all (Bingham, Origines Ecclesiasticce, book 7, chapter 3, § 11).
The rules and regulations of these houses varied according to the difference of the founders, and other circumstances. To give some impression of the routine of a conventual house, we recite the rule of St. Benedict as in operation: "The abbot represented Christ; called all his monks to council in important affairs, and adopted the advice he thought best: he required obedience without delay, silence, humility, patience, manifestation of secret faults, contentment with the meanest things and employments. Abbot selected by the whole society; his life and prudence to be the qualifications, and to be addressed dominus or pater. Prior appointed by the abbot; deposable for disobedience. A dean set over every ten monks in larger houses. The monks to observe general silence; no scurrility, idle words, or exciting to laughter; to keep head and eyes inclined downwards; to rise to church two hours after midnight; to leave the church together at a sign from the superior. No property; distribution according to every one's necessities. To serve weekly, and by turns, at the kitchen and table. On leaving their weeks, both he that left it and he that began it to wash the feet of the others; and on Saturday to clean all the plates and the linen which wiped the others feet. To render the dishes clean and whole to the cellarer, who was to give them to the new hebdomary. 'These officers to have drink and food above the common allowance, that they might serve cheerfully. Daily routine-Work from prime till near ten o'clock, from Easter to October; from ten till near twelve, reading. After refection at twelve, the meridian or sleep, unless any one preferred reading. After nones labor again till the evening. From October to Lent, reading till eight A.M., then tierce, and afterwards labor till nones; after refection, reading or psalmody. In Lent, reading till tierce; doing what was ordered till ten: delivery of books at this season made. Senior to go around the house, and see that the monks were not idle. On Sunday, all reading except the officers. Workmen in the house to labor for the common profit. If possible-to prevent evagation-water, a mill, garden, oven, and all other mechanical shops, to be within or attached to the house. Reflection in silence, and reading Scripture during meals: what was wanted to be asked for by a sign. Reader to be appointed for the week. Two different dishes at dinner, with fruit. One pound of bread a day for both dinner and supper. No meat but to the sick. Three quarters of a pint of wine per day. From Holyrood-day to Lent, dining at nones; in Lent, till Easter, at six o'clock; from Easter to Pentecost at six; and all summer, except on Wednesdays and Fridays, then at nones. Collation or spiritual lecture every night before compline (after supper); and compline finished, silence. SEE BREVIARY;
SEE COMPLINE. Particular abstinence in Lent from meat, drink, and sleep, and especial gravity. Rule mitigated to children and the aged, who have liberty to anticipate the hour of eating. Dormitory, light to be burning in. To sleep clothed, with their girdles on, the young and old intermixed. Monks travelling to say the canonical hours wherever they happened to be. When staying out beyond a day, not to eat abroad without the abbot's leave. Before setting out on a journey to have the previous prayers of the house, and upon return to pray for pardon of excesses on the way. No letters or presents to be received without the abbot's permission. Precedence according to the time of profession. Elders to call the juniors brothers; the seniors to call the elders nonnos. When two monks met, the junior was to ask benediction from the senior; and when he passed by the junior was to rise and give him his seat, and not to sit down till he bade him. Impossible things ordered by the superior to be humbly represented to him; but if he persisted, the assistance of God to be relied on for the execution of them. Not to defend or excuse one another's faults. No blows or excommunication without the abbot's permission. Mutual obedience, but no preference of a private person's commands to those of the superiors. Prostration at the feet of the superiors as long as they -were angry. Strangers to be received with prayer, the kiss of peace, prostration, and washing their feet, as of Christ, whom they represented; then to be led to prayer; the Scripture read to them; after which the prior might break his fast (except on a high fast). Abbot's kitchen and the visitors' separate, that guests coming in at unseasonable hours might not disturb the monks. Porter to be a wise. old man, able to give and receive an answer; who was to have a cell near the gate, and a junior for his companion. Church to be used only for .prayer. Admission-Novices to be tried by denials and hard usage before admission. A year of probation. Rule to be read to them in the interim every fourth month. Admitted by a petition laid upon the altar, and prostration at the feet of all the monks. Parents to offer their children by wrapping their hands in the pall of the altar; promising to leave nothing to them (that they might have no temptation to quit the house); and if they gave anything with them, to reserve the use of it during their lives. Priests requesting admission to be tried by delays; to sit near the abbot; not to exercise sacerdotal functions without leave, and conform to the rule. Discipline-Upon-successless admonition :and public reprehension, excommunication; and, in failure of this, corporal punishment. For light faults, the smaller excommunication, or eating alone after the others had done. For great faults, separation from the table, prayers, and society, and neither himself nor his food to receive the benediction: those who joined him or spoke to him to be themselves excommunicated. The abbot to send seniors to persuade him to humility and making satisfaction. The whole congregation to pray for the incorrigible, and if unsuccessful, to proceed to expulsion. No person expelled to be received after the third expulsion. Children to be corrected with discretion, by fasting or whipping" ("Sanctorum Patrum Regulse Monasticoe," in Fosbrooke's British Monachisnm page 109). By the strict law of the Church, called the law of cloister or enclosure, it is forbidden to all except members of the order to enter a monastery; and in almost all the orders admission of females to the monasteries of men is denied. Yet must they have been at times admitted, if we may believe the accusations brought against the chastity of monastics, especially since the Middle Ages. In the Greek Church the law of enclosure is far more rigidly enforced than in the West. Thus in the celebrated enclosure of Mount Athos, not only women, but all. animals of the female sex are rigorously excluded.
3. In the East monasteries are supposed to have existed about the time of Christ's stay on earth. SEE MONASTICISM. In the West the first monasteries were founded by St. Martin of Tours, about 360, at Liguge, near Poictiers, and at Marmoutier. The chiefs only of these monasteries were in orders, and women who entered the monasteries were permitted to relinquish the monastic state and marry down to the 6th century. SEE CELIBACY. The regular life of the community was introduced by Eusebius of Vercelli about 350. Theodoret mentions a large number of monasteries, both in the East and West, some founded by St. Basil about 358, others by St. Augustine in Africa about 390, and some by St. Ambrose at Milan in 377. On British soil St. Patrick is supposed to have started the first monasteries near the opening of the 6th century, when he flourished as bishop of Ireland. During thirty-three years he worked at the conversion of the people to the Christian faith, and filled the island with schools and monasteries, the sites of which are still to be distinguished by the round towers that served as belfries for the conventual churches. The prefix " kill" is the Latin l'cella, and marks the "religio loci" of innumerable localities in Ireland; and well has Macaulay said that "without these Christianizing institutions the population would have been made up of beasts of burden and beasts of prey." A missionary spirit has always distinguished the Irish Church. Its monks, as hardy navigators, established themselves in the Hebrides, with Iona for their capital, and passed over to the western districts of Britain; whence they settled upon the coasts of Brittany, together with the British population expelled by Saxon invasion in the 4th and 5th centuries. It was a province of Gaul that had remained comparatively free from Roman rule, and preserved old Celtic habits, while the rest of Gaul was Romanized. The missionary spirit of his race impelled Columban to settle in Gaul, and to found the monastery of Luxeuil, in Burgundy, the mother of numerous conventual establishments, and the capital of Monastic Gaul (Milman, Latin Christianity, 4:5). He has been termed the Irish Benedict, and various legends are connected with his name, which are only reproductions of Benedictine fable. Though he treated the Roman see with respect, he never sacrificed his own independence of opinion to its authority; and he gave to the see of Jerusalem precedence in point of honor (Ep. 5, sec. 18). He also gave his monks a rule, but its excessive severity prevented its extended use; and it was superseded by the Benedictine rule, which finally became the universal law of monasticism. The County Down monastery, on the north-west coast of Ireland .and Clonfert were towns of monks rather than monasteries. The former contained more than three thousand under religious vow in the time of Patricius. The founder having been accompanied by learned monks from Gaul and Lerin, these monasteries soon became renowned for their sound learning, as well as for a pure faith. In England all the most ancient sees have been established upon pre-existing monastic foundations. At the close of the 5th century Dubricius, bishop of Caerleon, founded Llandaff monastery. St. David, his successor at Caerleon, built the monastery at St. David's, a site indicated to him by St. Patrick, the wild promontory on which the cathedral now stands. He also rebuilt the convent at Glastonbury; and it was in honor of St. David that the privilege of asylum was indulged to sites in any way connected with his name — a privilege that may occasionally have secured innocence against oppression and wrong, but which became intolerable from abuse in later years. St. Asaph, in its origin, was a convent of nine hundred and sixty-five monks, founded at the end of the 6th century by Kentigern, himself a monk and missionary bishop among the southern Scots and Picts. Bangor, on the Dee, was founded by Ittud, a fellow-disciple with St. David at St. Germain of Auxerre. It contained within its "wide precincts" a whole army of monks. Yet it was only a little more than half the size of the Irish establishment of the same name. The diocese of Bangor owes its origin to the foundation of Daniel, a disciple of Dubricius, at the commencement of the 6th century. Winchester, first established as a monastery by Cenwalch, king of Wessex, under a promise to his dying father, was made an episcopal see by the same king about the middle of the 7th century. Ripon was a monastery founded by Alfrid, king of Northumberland, having Wilfrid for its first abbot. He repaired and beautified the cathedral at York, of which see he became bishop, and built the priory of Hexham in the most elaborate style; the church was said to have been the most beautiful on this side of the Alps. Wilfrid was the first of a series of clerical and monastic architects who for several centuries made Anglican ecclesiastical buildings the glory of Europe. It is curious to find that the churchwarden's sovereign cure for all defects was also introduced by him: "Parietes lavans... alba calce, mirifice dealbavit" (Montalembert, 4:235). Ely was at first a double monastery for monks and nuns of the foundation of Ethelreda, queen of Northumberland: "virgo bis nupta." Columba, like Pelagius, is the classical equivalent for a Celtic name. He is not to be confounded with Columban, the Celtic founder of Luxeull. Columba (born A.D. 521, died A.D. 597), after founding thirty-seven monasteries in Ireland, passed over to the Hebrides, selected Iona, the most desolate of those desolate islands, flat-lying and sandy, as the site of a monastery, and made it the "glory of the West," and the cradle of the civilization of North Britain. SEE IONA. From Iona, Aidan went forth as the apostle and bishop of the Northumbrians; and, having found a site as desolate and unattractive as Iona on Lindisfarne (since called Holy Island), there founded a monastery, which became the mother-church of all the provinces north of the Humber. The character of sanctity impressed upon it by St. Aidan long distinguished it; and its abbots, like himself, mostly became bishops of the northern provinces. His great and benevolent character has been nobly drawn by Bede (H.E. 3:3, 17). Hilda, foundress (A.D. 658) and abbess of Whitby, received the veil from him. The feminine love of whatever is beautiful in nature led to the selection of a most noble site for her abbey, and contrasts strongly with the masculine austerity and contempt for aesthetics that led the Celtic monks to choose Iona and Lindisfarne. The influence of Hilda was everywhere felt: kings and princes sought her counsel; she was a "mother" by endearment to the very poorest who received alms at the abbey gate. Bede (H.E. 4:23) speaks in enthusiastic terms of her tender care and administrative tact. A convent for monks as well as nuns was under her rule, and Bede notes that six prelates, eminent for their piety and learning, received their training at Whitby under her eye. To Hilda also we are indebted for having drawn the earliest Saxon poet, Caedmon, from his obscurity. He was a common herdsman, but at her persuasion became a monk. He anticipated Milton in taking as a theme for poetic song the fall of Satan and the sin of our first parents. The foundation of Wearmouth Abbey by Benedict Biscop, a monk of Lindisfarne (A.D. 665), was remarkable for the introduction of painted glass. Workmen were brought from the Continent, who instructed the Saxon monks in the mystery of their craft (Milman, Latin Christianity, 4:4). The sister-foundation, Jarrow, endowed with a domain granted by Egfrid, was the monastery in which the venerable Bede had his cell. In South Britain the most ancient monastery was that founded by Augustine at Canterbury, and placed under Benedictine rule. The deed of gift whereby king Ethelbert conveyed the site (A.D. 605) is, according to Palgrave, the earliest existing document of the public records of England. Gregory followed up the mission with a colony of monks, who also imported all that could be required for the observance of the Romish ritual. Thus the subjugation of England to the see of Rome was the work of the Benedictine monks. One of their number, Mellitus, first bishop of London, founded Westminster Abbey. The first metropolitan recognised by all England was Theodore, an Oriental monk, a native of Tarsus, and placed in the see of Canterbury by pope Vitalianus, A.D. 668. The council held at Whitby on the subject of Easter (A.D. 664) showed that strong traces still remained of the Oriental tendencies of the British Church; and an African monk, Adrian, was sent with the bishop elect as a safeguard and trusty envoy: "ne quid ille contrarium veritati et fidei,. Gracorum more, in ecclesiam cui praecesset, introduceret" (Bede, H.E. 4:1). To him is due the creation of the parochial system, by persuading the territorial proprietors to build and endow churches, retaining the advowson in their own hands. The Church-rate is of coordinate date. Theodore was a laborious student, and, with the assistance of Adrian, he gradually made the monasteries of England schools of sound learning. The principal sees having sprung from monastic origin, the canons were naturally monks. After the Conquest disputes arose between the secular and the regular, i.e., between the parochial and monastic clergy; and an attempt was made by Walkelin, bishop of Winchester, to supersede the monastic chapter by a body of forty secular clergy, Lanfranc, however, vigorously opposed the change, and obtained from pope Alexander a constitution in confirmation of the capitular rights of the monasteries affected (Fleury, H.E. 61:53; comp. also Soames, Latin Ch. during the Anglo-Saxon Times [Lond. 1848, 12mo]; and Soames, The Anglo-Saxon- Ch. [Lond. 1856, 12mo, 4th ed.]).
4. In 550 the rule of St. Basil, followed by all Greek monasteries, was introduced at Rome; but St. Benedict gradually absorbed all other monks into his great rule. In 585 St. Columban's rule of prayer, reading, and manual labor was founded in Gaul. In 649 the Monothelite persecution in the East transferred many monks to the Western Church, and in the 8th century the Iconoclasts were the cause of a still larger assimilation. In the 13th century St. Dominic prevailed on women to observe a stricter rule. The first written rule — that of St. Basil, bishop of Caesarea in the 4th century, who embodied the traditional usages, was derived from that of Pachomius, and aimed at the combination of prayer and manual toil;' it was modified by St. Benedict, the patriarch of Western monks, but in the 11th century was still vigorous in Naples. Polydore Vergil says that in 373 St. Basil first enacted the triple vows 9f chastity, poverty, and obedience. In 410 Lerins was founded. The Benedictine rule spread rapidly in Italy before his death in 543. Maurus and Plaidus extended it in France and Sicily; others introduced it into Spain, where monasteries are said to have existed in 380; and in less than two centuries all the monastic orders in the West were affiliated to it. St. Columban built the first abbey in England in 563, as he had done in Ireland; in the latter instance it was preceded only by the St. Bridget's cell at Kildare, which was famous in 521, being established probably by a pupil of St. Patrick. In 802 the Council of Aix-la-Chapelle decreed that the Benedictine rule should be universally adopted. From the 10th century it put forth branches: Clugny in 910, under its abbots, embraced the rule; so did the Camaldolesi in 1020, from St. Romuald;-the Cistercians in 1098, from St. Robert; the Carthusians in 1080, from St. Bruno; the Valombrosans. in 1060, from John Gualberte; the Celestines in 1294, from Peter di Merona; and the Olivetans in 1319. At Bangor in 603 there was a monastery with seven portions, each consisting of three hundred monks. with their provosts or rectors. Benedict Biscop in 677 built the monasteries at Wearmouth and Yarrow of stone; and in 1035 Lanfranc united all the English abbeys into one congregation. St. Maur in 1621 was the last instance of its reform. The lands possessed by monasteries were held under the same tenure as all other land; and, till a comparatively late period, the abbots themselves led their quota of troops into the field. In the time of Charlemagne fourteen monasteries of the empire furnished their proportion of soldiers. In 982 the bishop of Augsburg and the abbot of Fulda were killed in the same battle. Charles Martel was opposed by troops collected and headed by an abbot of Fontenelle.
Monasteries were called ingenua if exempt from their foundation, or libera if the grant or privilege had been made subsequently. Those which were not exempt were compelled to render to the bishop obedience; annual fees called jus synodale, or circadas; procurations; or the provision of entertainment; solemn processions, and the right of celebrating mass in their minsters. All abbots, however, despite their repugnance, certainly after the 9th century, were compelled to make the profession of canonical obedience to the diocesan when receiving his benediction, and this implied his right to give holy orders, consecrate churches, altars, and cemeteries, and grant chrism and dismissory letters when the abbots travelled out of the diocese.
5. In their first institution, and in their subsequent uses, there can be no doubt that monasteries were among the most remarkable instances of Christian munificence, and they certainly were, in the so-called Dark Ages, among the beneficial adaptations of the talents of Christians to pious and charitable ends. The foundation of the monastery was the dictate of religious motives in the youth of the Church, but the reward of piety was temporal also; the estates of the founder were improved, the vassals educated, order introduced, the sick and aged tended, and handicraft and useful arts taught. "The services," says Blunt, "that monasticism has rendered to civilization in the transition of society from ancient times to the Middle Ages have been most important. Monks were the skilled agriculturists of the period; and many terms in rural life, and in the fauna and botany of all Northern Europe, may be traced back through them to Greek and Latin terms; e.g. 'hawky,' οἴκι, harvest-home; and 'ranny,' aranea, a shrew-mouse; 'chervil,' χηρόφυλλον. The belladonna, which is now found indigenous, was introduced first among the pharmaceutical herbs of the convent-gardens, for the monks were the physicians of the period. As men of letters also and energetic missionaries they kept the lamp of knowledge and civilization from expiring in the very darkest periods; and whatever was done in the way of educating the young was carried on within the walls of the monastery." Monasteries, indeed, were the sole preservers of learning in the Dark Ages. The Benedictines, bound by the rules of their order to mental as well as bodily labor, performed a work that has been of priceless value. That anything at all has come down to us from classical antiquity is owing in great part to their diligence as transcribers. Gerbert, an abbot, and afterwards pope Silvester II (999), speaks of his care in collecting books, and of the host of copiers that were found in every town: "Tu sai con quanta premura io raccolga da ogni parte libri; tu sai quanti scrittirie nelle citta e nelle ville d'Italia in ogni luogo s'incontrino" (Muratori, Lit. It. III, 1:29). Desiderius, abbot of Monte Casino, and subsequently pope Victor III, employed many copyists, " antiquarii," as they were called (Muratori, Stor. IV, chapter 28; Mabillon, Act. Bened.). Three offsets from the Benedictine stock have also rendered invaluable services to literature: the Clugniac monks, dating from the early part of the 10th century; the Carthusians (1084); and the Cistercians (1090). They created a craving for the luxury of books, beautifully written and sumptuously illuminated; and libraries, gradually increasing in size, soon grew up from their labors. "It was their pride to collect, and their business to transcribe books" (Hallam, Literature of the Middle Ages, 1:82); and their collections were the " germ whence a second and more glorious civilization" should in due time spring (Macaulay, Hist. of England, chapter 1). But the evils which grew out of these societies more than counterbalanced the good. Being often exempted from all civil or foreign ecclesiastical authority, they became hotbeds of insubordination to the state and of corruption to the Church. The temptations arising out of a state of celibacy, too often enforced in the first instance by improper means, and always bound upon the members of these societies by a religious vow, were. the occasion of great scandals. Moreover, the enormous wealth with which some of them were endowed brought with it a greater degree of pride and ostentation and luxury than was becoming in Christians; and still more in those who had vowed a life of religious asceticism. Thus it came that the intrigues of the friars, the accumulation of wealth, and the decay of discipline wrought the fall of the monasteries. SEE MONASTICISM; SEE MONK. The monasteries of England were the first to feel the displeasure of the outside world. Corruption had become so apparent in the 8th century as to call for the founding of the Clugniac order on British soil. But this order, in turn, though beginning in the 10th century with a strict rule, sank into luxury in the 12th; the Cistercians then started to shame them, but soon lost all moral vigor; next the Franciscan mendicants appeared, but they degenerated more completely in the first quarter of a century after their introduction into England than other orders had in three or four centuries (comp. Matt. Paris. A.D. 1243; see Brakelond, Chronicles Abb. S. Ednmundi; Tho. Elmham. Hist. Mon. St. Aug. Cantuar.; Hugh de Poitiers, Monastere (ke Vezelai). No wonder, then, that an opposition found ready utterance and prompt organization, and, led successively by the greatest of Anglican scholars and divines, as Wykeham, Fisher, Alcock, Chichely, Beckington, the countess of Salisbury, and cardinal Wolsey, claimed the monastic endowments for university foundations. "What, my lord," said Oldham to Fox in 1513, "shall we build houses and provide livelihoods for a company of bussing monks, whose end and fall we may live to see?" SEE REFORMATION, ENGLISH. Thus it was not reserved for the period of the Reformation to inaugurate opposition to monasteries. Their dissolution was commenced in England as early as 1312, when the Order of Templars was suppressed, and a portion of their possessions given to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. During the 15th century many other houses were dissolved, and their revenues transferred to the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Henry VIII obtained an act of Parliament for the dissolution of the monasteries, and the transfer of their revenues to the crown. Rome itself had furnished a precedent for Henry's attack on the monastic institutions. About the year 1517 cardinal Wolsey was desirous of building and endowingi two splendid colleges — one at Ipswich, the place of his birth; the other at Oxford, the place of his academical education. For this purpose Clement VII granted him a bull, which empowered him to visit and suppress certain monasteries. A number of these, variously stated at from nineteen to forty, were consequently dissolved, and their revenues applied by Wolsey to the purpose contemplated.
The following calculation has been made as to the number and wealth of the religious houses in England dismantled and scattered at the period of the Reformation: "The number of houses and places suppressed from first to last in England, so far as any calculations appear to have been made, seems to be as follows: .
Of lesser monasteries, of which we have the valuation.................... 374 Of greater monasteries ............................. 186 Belonging to the Hospitallers....................... 48 Colleges ........................................ 90 Hospitals.......................................... 110 Chantries and free chapels ......................... 2374 Total......................................... 3182
These are in addition to the friars' houses, and those suppressed by Wolsey, and many small houses of which we have no particular account.
The sum total of the clear yearly revenue of the several houses at the time of their dissolution, of which we have any account, seems to be as follows:
Of the greater monasteries ..............£104,919 13 3
Of all those of the lesser monasteries of which we have the valuation. 29,702 1 10
Knights Hospitallers, head house in London 2,385 12 8
We have the valuation of only twenty-eight of their houses in the country 3,026 9 5
Friars' houses, of which we have the valuation 751 2 0
Total ............................£140,784 19 2
If proper allowances are made for the lesser monasteries and houses not included in this estimate, and for the plate, etc., which came into the hands of the king by the dissolution, and for the valuation of money at that time, Which was at least six times as much as at present, and also consider that the estimate of the lands was generally supposed to be much under the real worth, we must conclude their whole revenues to have been immense. It does not appear that any exact computation has been made of the number of persons contained in the religious houses.
Those of the lesser monasteries dissolved by 27
Henry VIII were reckoned at about ............ 10,000
If we suppose the colleges and hospitals to have contained a proportionable number, these will make about ..................................... 5,347
If we reckon the number in the greater monasteries according to the proportion of their revenues, they will be about 35,000; but as, probably, they had larger allowances in proportion to their number than those of the lesser monasteries, if we abate upon that account 5000, they will then be.. 30,000
One for each chantry and free chapel ............ 2,374
Total................................ . 47,721
But as there was probably more than one person to officiate in several of the free chapels, and there were other houses which are not included within this calculation, perhaps they may be computed in one general estimate at about 50,000. As there were pensions paid to almost all those of the greater monasteries, the king did not immediately come into the full enjoyment of their whole revenues; however, by means of what he did receive, he founded six new bishoprics — viz. those of Westminster (which was changed by queen Elizabeth into a deanery, with twelve prebends and a school), Peterborough, Chester, Gloucester, Bristol, and Oxford. And in eight other sees he founded deaneries and chapters, by converting the priors and monks into deans and prebendaries — viz. Canterbury, Winchester, Durham, Worcester, Rochester, Norwich, Ely, and Carlisle. He founded also the colleges of Christ Church in Oxford and Trinity in Cambridge, and finished King's College there. He likewise founded professorships of divinity, law, physic, and of the Hebrew and Greek tongues, in both the said universities. He gave the house of Gray Friars and St. Bartholomew's Hospital to the city of London, and a perpetual pension to the poor knights of Windsor, and laid out great sums in building and fortifying many ports in the channel" (Baxter, Hist. of the Church of England). Compare Hook, Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury, volume 1 (Lond. 1868, 8vo); Fuller, Church Hist. 1:115 sq.; Burnet, Hist. of the Reformation; Soames, Ref. Ch. of England, volume 1, especially the Introd; Fosbrooke, Brit. Monachism, chapter 1-5, and 52; Hill, English Monasticism, its Rise and Influence (Lond. 1867, 8vo), page 488 sq., 515 sq.
It is hardly necessary to state that all the Reformed churches in the 16th century discarded the practice of monachism, and suppressed monasteries as useless. In some of the German states, however, the temporalities of the suppressed monasteries were retained, and were granted at pleasure by the sovereign, to be enjoyed together with the titular dignity. In Roman Catholic countries also, as, e.g., France, Spain, Austria, and Italy, the suppression of monasteries has been more or less general in more recent times. SEE MONASTICISM. But, as count Montalembert has well put it in his celebrated work on the A Monks of the West (Edinb. 1861-7, 5 volumes, 8vo), "this work of spoliation, which may be said to have fairly set in with the Reformation, is now proceeding with methodical gravity." In the five years from 1830 to 1835 no less than "3000 monasteries have disappeared from the soil of Europe." In Portugal some 300 were destroyed, 200 in Poland, and the number annihilated by queen Christina of Spain, though it has never been estimated, was certainly not much smaller than in Poland. The destruction, however, has proved greatest in the recent reforms in France, and especially in Italy. The great monastery of Clairvaux, which once held St. Bernard and his five hundred monks, is now a prison with five hundred convicts in it. The celebrated abbey at Clugny, which figures so largely in the history of the Middle Ages, has been turned into stud-stables, and in 1844 the place of the high-altar was "the starting- post of the stallions." The abbey of Le Bec, in Normandy, from which Lanfrane and Anselm came forth successively to fill the see of Canterbury, has been utilized in the same fashion, and horses fatten where monks once fasted and prayed. A china manufactory is carried on in the Chartreux of Seville, and swine have taken possession of the cells in the Cistercian abbey of Cadouin. Everywhere, as the count informs us, the- work of ruin proceeds. "Sometimes," says he, "the spinning-mill is installed under the roof of the ancient sanctuary. Instead of echoing night and day the praises of God, these dishonored arches too often repeat only the blasphemies and obscene cries, mingling with the shrill voice of the machinery, the grinding of the saw, or the monotonous clank of the piston." Nor is this all. John Knox has been sometimes stigmatized as a barbarian for the encouragement which he is said to have given the populace in demolishing Christian edifices where the relics of idolatry were enshrined; yet even where the excited rabble did their worst, the ivied ruin still remains to tell of a grandeur which has passed away, and to mark, for the present and other generations, the spot where their fathers prayed. But in France, it appears, the work of demolition is done much more scientifically and thoroughly. They are not content there with confiscation, plunder, profanation; they overthrow, raze from the foundation, leave not a single stone standing on another. "The empire of the East," says the count, "has not been ravaged by the Turks as France has been and still is by the band of insatiable destroyers who, after having purchased these vast constructions and immense dominions at the lowest rate, work them like quarries for sacrilegious profit. I have seen with my own -eyes the capitals and columns of an abbey-church which I could name employed as so much material for the neighboring road." And again: "What remains of so many palaces raised in silence and solitude for the products of art, for the progress and pleasure of the mind, for disinterested labor? Masses of broken wall inhabited by owls and rats, shapeless remains, heaps of stones, and pools of water. Everywhere desolation, filth. and disorder" (Introduction, chapter 8). The young and free kingdom of Italy has not been slow to perceive that a sacerdotal class, with interests alien, if not antagonistic, to society and to the family, is necessarily and logically a foe to civil and political liberty. By a law enacted June 28, 1866, all monasteries and similar religious corporations in the kingdom of Italy were suppressed, their members pensioned, and their property sold and funded for the maintenance of public schools. Monte Casino and San Marco, of Florence, were alone exempted. The former is left as a venerable monument of the past; the latter is spared in honor of Savonarola and the beautiful frescos of Fra Angelico da Fiesole. This law has been executed with great rigor: and in spite of allocutions, excommunications, and all the brutumfulmen of the Vatican, the work of secularization is already finished. Some of the monks have gladly seized the opportunity of bettering their condition by marriage; others have returned to their homes or accepted the refuge offered by charity; but the great majority of these unfortunates, whose only crime consists in having been misplaced in chronology by being born several centuries too late, and whose habits are too fixed and inveterate to be easily changed, hire houses and live in clubs on the subsidies of the government. While in Italy and France, the two most Catholic nations, the monastic system is thus rapidly disappearing, the tendency to introduce similar institutions in Protestant countries, especially the effort of the Ritualists of the Anglican communion, under the pretence (more or less honest) of promoting Christian charities, can only be regarded as a fatal retrogression and dangerous degeneracy.
In 1870 revelations of corruption, bestiality, and cruelty in a Polish convent contributed more than all else to quicken the Protestant, and we may well say general dislike for monastic institutions. The story of Barbara Ubryk, the Polish nun, however exceptional, could not but raise a sense of horror throughout Europe, and it is not to be denied that the prejudice such an instance excites is in a great degree just. It is one thing to hear of. an exceptional instance of individual cruelty; it is another thing to know that such cruelty can be practiced in the name of religion, and in institutions which, under its shelter, claim peculiar immunities. There is great force in the plea that one such case substantiated justifies the public control of all similar establishments. In England, the famous trial of "Saurin v. Starr" revealed what spiritual tyranny and moral degradation might be concealed in conventual institutions under the most harmless exterior. The convent which Miss Saurin entered was one of those for which the plea is advanced that they do practical service in the cause of education and charity. It is not difficult to imagine that a hotheaded Protestant might have been for the time confused if he had been taken to see Miss Saurin and her fellow- sisters patiently devoting themselves to the instruction of their scholars. Yet, whatever the technical result of the trial, it left all impartial readers with a most painful impression of the degrading and demoralizing atmosphere of the convent. And in consequence Parliament was moved to appoint, March 29, 1870, a select committee to make inquiries concerning conventual or monastic institutions in Great Britain. The result of such investigation was unfavorable in that country, and has turned popular opinion against their existence. In Poland also the Russian government has in very recent times found itself faced with a most alarming spread of treason and corruption generated and fostered in monasteries, and the days of monasticism may be said to be numbered even there. As what is said of English Christianity is so well applicable to all other Protestant countries, we quote Mr. Blunt here in conclusion of this subject: "The day of monasticism has forever set... There is no longer any need for its existence, even if it could be set up again in its best condition. More than Benedictine learning sheds a ray of glory on our colleges. Our Poor-laws render unnecessary the alms for the' monastery wicket; and such doles would become a positive evil now as an encouragement to idleness and sloth. Our clergy are welcome visitors at the cottage fireside, where the monk of later days was not, with his contributions for the house. The glory of monasticism was the fidelity with which it discharged its earlier mission; the self-sacrifice with which it taught men to rise superior to the trials and calamities of life; the unfeigned piety with which the monk resigned every earthly advantage that he might win a heavenly reward. But it survived its reputation, and there is more hope of recovering to life the carcass around which the eagles have gathered than of renovated monkdom. The ribaldry of Boccaccio and Rabelais, the Ep. obscuror, vit., and the more measured terms of Piers Ploughman and Chaucer, were mainly instrumental in bringing about the downfall of monasticism; but this was after it had already been shorn of its splendor, and when scarcely a ray remained to it of its former glory" (comp. Murphy, Terra Incognita, or the Convents of the United Kingdom [Lond. 1873, 8vo; Pauli, Pictures of Old England [Lond. 1861, 12mo], chapter 3).
6. In architectural arrangement, monastic establishments, whether abbeys, priories, or other convents, followed nearly the same plan. The great enclosure (varying, of course, in extent with the wealth and importance of the monastery), generally with a stream running beside it, was surrounded by a wall, the principal entrance being through a gateway to the west or north-west. This gateway was a considerable building, and often contained a chapel, with its altar, besides the necessary accommodation for the porter. The almery, or place where alms were distributed, stood not far within the great gate, and generally a little to the right hand: there, too, was often a chapel with its altar. Proceeding onwards, the west entrance of the church appeared. The church itself was always, where it received its due development, in the form of a Latin cross; i.e., a cross of which the transepts are short in proportion to the nave. Moreover, in Norman churches, the eastern limb never approached the nave or western limb in length. Whether or not the reason of this preference of the Latin cross is found in the domestic arrangements of the monastic buildings, it was certainly best adapted to it; for the nave of the church, with one of the transepts, formed the whole of one side and part of another side of a quadrangle; and any other than a long nave would have involved a small quadrangle, while a long transept would leave too little of another side, or none at all, for other buildings. How the internal arrangements were affected by this adaptation of the nave to external requirements we have seen under the head CATHEDRAL, to which also we refer for the general description of the conventual church. Southward of the church, and parallel with the south transept was carried the western range, of the monastic offices; but it will be more convenient to examine their arrangement within the court. We enter, then, by a door near the west end of the church, and passing though a vaulted passage, find ourselves in the cloister court, of which the nave of the church forms the northern side, the transept part of the eastern side, and other buildings, in the order to be presently described, complete the quadrangle. The cloisters themselves extended around the whole of the quadrangle, serving, among other purposes, as a covered way from every part of the convent to every other part. They were furnished, perhaps always, with lavatories, on the decoration and construction of which much cost was expended; and sometimes also with desks and closets of wainscot, which served the purpose of a scriptorium. Commencing the circuit of the cloisters at the north-west corner, and turning southward, we have first the dormitory or dorter, the use of which is sufficiently indicated by its name. This occupied the whole of the western side of the quadrangle, and sometimes had a groined passage beneath its whole length, called' the ambulatory, a noble example of which, in perfect preservation, remains at Fountains. The south side of the quadrangle contained the refectory, with its correlative, the coquina or kitchen, which was sometimes at its side, and sometimes behind it. The refectory was furnished with a pulpit, for the reading of some portion of Scripture during meals. On this side of the quadrangle may also be found, in general, the locutorium or parlor, the latter word being, at least in etymology, the full equivalent of the former. The abbot's lodge commonly commenced at the south-east corner of the quadrangle; but, instead of conforming itself to its general direction, rather extended eastwards. with its own chapel, hall, parlor, kitchen, and other offices, in a line parallel with the choir or eastern limb of the church. Turning northwards, still continuing within the cloisters, we come first to an open passage leading outwards, then to the chapter-house or its vestibule; then, after another open passage, to the south transept of the church. Immediately before us is an entrance into the church, and another occurs at the end of the west cloister. The parts of the establishment especially connected with sewerage were built over or close to the stream; and we may remark that both in drainage and in the supply of water great and laudable care was always taken. The stream also turned the abbey mill, at a small distance from the monastery. Other offices, such as stables, brewhouses, bakehouses, and the like, in the larger establishments usually occupied another court, and in the smaller were connected with the chief buildings in the olly quadrangle. It is needless to say that, in so general an account, we cannot enumerate exceptional cases. It may, however, be necessary to say that the greatest difference of all, that of placing the quadrangle at the north, instead of the south side of the church, is not unknown; it is so at Canterbury and at Lincoln, for instance (comp. Hook, Church Dict. pages 414, 415). This branch of the subject may be followed out in the several plans of monasteries scattered among topographical works, and especially in Parker, Glossary of Architecture, page 146 sq.
Literature. — The large number of works treating of Monasticism (q.v.) should be consulted by the student, especially the Church histories. See also Walcott, Sacred Archceol. S.v.; Blunt, Theol. Dict. s.v.; Eadie, Eccl. Dict. s.v.; Riddle, Christian Antiquities, pages 781-783. The best materials for a history of the series of confiscations that ensued in England are' in Three Chapters of Letters relating to the Suppression of Monasteries (Lond., Camden Society, 1843).