Nasty Habits - Satire and the Medieval Monk

What made medieval monks laugh? Edward Coleman looks at humour, holy men and the sub-texts of comment in 12th-century England.

The ruins of Rievaulx Abbey on the River Rye in North Yorkshire by WyrdLight.com. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.The great Cistercian abbey of Rievaulx in Yorkshire, whose impressive ruins survive today, was founded in 1151-32, and was largely complete by the death of Abbot Ailred (who had made a major contribution to its construction) in 1167. The monks of Bievaulx are fulsomely praised in Ailred's biography:

They venerate poverty... counting riches and honours as dung... spurning fleshly desires and vain glory in food, drink, act and affectation... they observe at all times a discreet uniformity, using only so much and such means of sustaining life as will just maintain the needs of the body and their fervour in the worship of God.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email digital@historytoday.com if you have any problems.

 

X

Get Miscellanies, our free weekly long read, in your inbox every week