Saturday, 28 August 2010

I'm still here...

... still reading chronicles.

Being a monk in an Anglo-Saxon abbey could be tough. Here's just one example of why.

After the death of King Cnut in 1035, there was danger of war between the supporters of his two sons Harold and Harthacnut, rival claimants to the throne. The chronicler of Crowland Abbey in Lincolnshire describes how this affected the monks:

"A vast multitude of men and women, smitten with alarm, together with their children and all their moveable property, took refuge at Croyland, being attracted... to the slimy retreats of the marshes, and the alder-beds, and the mud of the lakes, as though to some very strong castle of refuge. These newcomers everlastingly disturbed the whole monastery with numerous quarrels and bickerings, and rushing all day long into the cloisters, continually occupied themselves, either through the servants of the monastery or in person, in plying the ears of the monks; endeavouring, by means of winning words, to gain over the masters of the place, and so induce them to look favourably upon their state of indigence. The consequence was, that the monks abandoned the cloisters, hardly ventured to descend from the dormitory to the choir for the performance of divine service, and were scarcely able to meet the refectory for the purpose of taking their food at the common table."

Poor things.

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