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Monastic Reform and the Geography of Christendom: Experience, Observation and Influence

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date12/2012
JournalTransactions of the Royal Historical Society
Number of pages18
Original languageEnglish


Monastic reform is generally understood as a textually-driven process governed by a renewed interest in early monastic ideals and practices in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and focusing on the discourses of reformers about the Egyptian ‘desert fathers’ as the originators of monasticism. Historians have suggested that tropes about the desert, solitude etc drawn from early texts found their way into mainstream accounts of monastic change in the period ca.1080-1150 . This article challenges this model by proposing that considerations of ‘reform’ must take into account parallel movements in Greek Orthodox monasticism and interactions of practice between the two monastic environments. Three case studies of non-textually derived parallel practices are discussed, and the importance of the Holy Land as a source of inspiration for such practices is advanced in place of Egypt.

Bibliographic note

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=RHT The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society (Sixth Series), 22, pp 57-74 2012, © 2012 Cambridge University Press.