This book will make an important contribution to our understanding of monastic life by exploring key aspects that have been either inadequately addressed or overlooked by historians. For example, what effect did the ascetic lifestyle have on the monks physical health and mental well-being? How difficult was it for newcomers to adapt to the rigours of the cloister? Did the monks suffer from anxiety and boredom; what caused them concern and how did they seek comfort? What did it really mean to live the solitary life within a communal environment and how significant were issues of loneliness and isolation? Drawing on chronicles, letters, customaries and miracle stories, the experience of medieval monastic life will be presented through the monks' own words.

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