words, words, words – monastic words

It’s been a few weeks so hopefully you’ll have a nice long list of monastic terms. This isn’t exhaustive and I may add to it over time but how did you do?

abbey – larger monastic house indicating independence. The head the house was an abbot (male) or an abbess (female). Abbot comes from the Latin word abba meaning father. In the Benedictine order the abbot’s rule over his house is absolute.

advowson – the right to appoint to an ecclesiastical job i.e. the vicar.

alien priories – monastic houses which were subsidiary or dependent i.e a daughter house of a continental monastery. This houses were gradually suppressed particularly during the reign of Edward III.

almoner – monk or nun responsible for charitable giving. In larger houses there may have been a specific building that people could come to for alms and food called an almonry. In some foundations you might also find an almshouse where the poor and elderly could find shelter.

anchorites, anchoresses and hermits – monks and nuns who withdrew from the world to live alone. They lived in very enclosed accommodation away from the rest of the world. Some of them were sealed into their homes.

Austin Canons -the so-called “black canons- because of their destinctive habits. https://thehistoryjar.com/2015/06/15/monastic-orders-part-2-canons/

The rule of St Benedict All monks and nuns, no matter what their order, follow the rule of St Benedict, which governs their day and their devotions.

Benedictines an order of monks and nuns . https://thehistoryjar.com/2015/06/14/medieval-monastic-orders-part-i/

Benefactors patrons contributing to the building and extension of monastic foundations usually in return for prayers and as a method of shortening a stay in purgatory.

Boarders wealthy patrons had a tendency to send their old servants or extended family members to live in monastic houses. These people would not take holy orders, they were living in the monastic house as a retirement home.

Brewhouse – all ale was home-brewed.

Brigettines – often double communities – i.e. monks on one side and nuns on the other- there was only one house in England, of nuns only, at Syon they had a reputation for learning and zealousness.

Bursar- official role looking after the money.

Canonical hours – The seven specific services of the day – Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, Compline, Mattins and Lauds.

Carrells – study cubicles often found in the cloister.

Carthusian – monastic order https://thehistoryjar.com/2015/06/14/medieval-monastic-orders-part-i/ Their monastic foundations are often referred to as charterhouses.

Cell – this could either be the individual living space of a monk such as the Carthusian cells that can be seen at Mount Grace or it can also describe a very small house of four or fewer monastics which is entirely dependent on it’s mother house. A cell of this kind may be placed to grow a daughter house or to keep oversight of a property or as a location for punishment.

Cellarer – Second in charge, responsible for food and drink and fuel. The domain of the cellarer was the cellar or cellarium which simply means storehouse. In most monasteries this is a very large space, sometimes vaulted, in the west wing of a monastic foundation. It would be on this side of the abbey that you would find all the administration for running the abbey.

Chantry – A chapel or altar given by a donor in expectation that the monks and nuns would say masses for the donor’s soul after his or her death.

Chapter – the morning briefing that took place every day in monastic houses where the work of the day would be allocated, punishments given, notices read and the rules of St Benedict read – one each day. This all took place in the chapter house. https://thehistoryjar.com/2015/08/04/chapter-houses/

Cisterican – monastic order, the so-called “white monks” https://thehistoryjar.com/2015/06/14/medieval-monastic-orders-part-i/

Cloister – the enclosed area with a walk all the way round its perimeter at the heart of a monastic house.

Cluniac – monastic order. In total there were 32 cluniac houses in England. They were alien priories because they were all daughter houses to the mother house at Cluny.

Compline The last of the canonical hours laid out by the Rule of Benedict. The canonical hours are also referred to as Divine Office.

Conduit Water supply, either a spring (as at Mount Grace) or a large raised tank in the conduit house.

Corrodian – lay person who paid the monastic house a sum of capital in order to live in the monastic house, all inclusive, until their death.

Cowl – A long cloak with an attached hood.

Crypt – chamber below floor level – in a church contains graves or holy relics.

Daughter house – As monastic houses received endowments they wanted to expand the number of houses so they would send a group of monks or nuns to another part of the country to develop a house. The original house was the mother house, the dependent house the daughter house and over the passage of time there were even grand daughter houses.

Day room – place where monks and nuns went during their times of recreation.

Day Stair – the way that the monastic inhabitants got from their dormitories to the cloister. Lay brothers and sisters had their own wings that mirrored those of the monks and nuns.

Dorter or dormitory – sleeping quarters

Double orders – foundations which included both men and women in their monastic houses. The only time the two groups came together was during worship.

Drying Room – most associated with Cistercians who provided a room for the lay brothers to dry out after a day working.

Foundation – 12 monastics plus their superior were required to found a monastic house. They would also require the funds to survive and to build a monastic house. This was provided by the founder.

Frater or refectory – dining room.

Friars – rather than living in enclosed houses this group of religious orders travelled around the country begging and preaching. https://thehistoryjar.com/2015/06/16/monastic-orders-part-3-friars/

Grange– a manor or farm that sent all its proceeds to the monastic house that owned it and whose organisation was dependent on the monastic house for instructions as to what to do.

Guest-house hospitality was an underpinning requirement of the Rule of Benedict.

Habit – religious attire

Hours – canonical hours

Infirmarer -responsible for the preparation of medicines and tonics as well as the care of patients in the infirmary. Infirmaries are also called farmeries.

Lady Chapel – chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary

Lay brother and lay sister – monastic servants who said some divine offices but who had permission to say the rest of the offices where they worked. Their accommodation mirrored that of the “choir” monks and nuns but in a separate wing – usually the western range associated with the practical administration of the monastic house. Lay brothers are also sometimes described as conversi.

Laver/lavabo – washing trough

Library– does what it says on the tin.

Mendicant – monastics who beg for their livings.

Military orders https://thehistoryjar.com/2015/06/17/monastic-orders-part-4-the-military-orders/

Misericord – perch to rest upon during long religious services. Found in the choir stalls. The choir or quire is the part of the church between the nave and presbytery where the monks and nuns would have their services.

Night Stair – access from the dorter to the church for night offices – mattins and lauds – these two services are sometimes called the Nocturns. Hexham has a very fine example.

Novice Master– monastic responsible for the care, tuition and discipline of novices who had not yet taken their final vows. Novices served a probationary period before taking their vows.

Oblate – child given by its parents to religious life.

Officers – also called Obedientiaries– monastics who held offices for the running of the monastery; either its spiritual life or its working life e.g. cellarer.

Parlour – room where monks and nuns could meet and speak.

Pittance – a food treat given in addition to standard monastic rations usually to celebrate a liturgical feast day.

Porter – door keeper.

Precinct – area around the abbey belonging to the abbey. Usually enclosed by a wall.

Prior – second in command to the abbot in Benedictine houses; where the monastic foundation was a daughter house the prior was the person responsible for the house reporting back to the abbot in the mother house. Some orders did not have abbots, so the prior was the superior.

Priory – smaller than an abbey usually a daughter house. All Austin Canons lived in priories, so it also depends on the order who lived there!

Sacristry – room for storing sacred vessels cared for by the sacrist.

Warming-house – room with a fire where monastics could warm themselves.

Royal Forests in medieval England

Forest comes from the Latin word meaning outdoors – so medieval forests included woods, heaths, wasteland and all manner of open spaces. Their aim was to protect the beasts which the king hunted – deer and boar amongst others. The rules of vert and venison were designed for the protection of habitat, animal and ease of the hunt.

By 1086 there were in the region of 25 royal forests. The Anglo Saxon Chronicle contains many bitter complaints on the matter. At one point during the thirteenth century it’s estimated that a quarter of the country was designated royal forest which meant that it fell under forest law which was an arbitrary system based on the king rather than common law and its precedents.

Now I know that there is still a words, words, words challenge ongoing but it seems to me that this has real potential – so here is an unexpected History Jar challenge – how many of the medieval royal forests can you name?

words words words 3- monastic habits

Sorry can’t resist the very bad pun. How many words pertaining to monasteries can you identify – could be architectural or to do with monastic life and roles?

words words words 2: churches and cathedrals

Well it’s taken a bit longer because of the thinking time! Clearly the cogs need more time to go around when I’m thinking of words and the definitions which go with them. However, we’ve arrived at the second of the words, words, words challenges. How many specialist words can you think of to do with churches and cathedrals relating to architecture or spaces within churches and cathedrals — and no, gift shop is not the first word on your list. Nor is cafe – I mean I know I have a reputation but really!

Words words words – castle glossary

beware – not all castles are as defensive as they look! Bodiam Castle, Kent.

How did you do? It’s probably one of those activities that build over the period of a couple of weeks. It certainly has for me and has been a popular challenge with He Who Is Occasionally Obeyed. No doubt we’ve forgotten a few. If you’ve got more than 50 can I just check that you’re not James St George who built Edward I’s castles?

Anteroom: small outer room – think of it as a waiting room or a connecting room that you have to get through before arriving in a larger room. Ie a large body of men couldn’t rush through an anteroom and attack everyone in the great hall , they’d have to file through.

Bailey: A courtyard defended by the outermost ring of a castle wall is called the outer bailey. Sometimes the bailey is also described as a ward. The outer bailey usually contains ancillary buildings. In very large fortifications that is an outer, middle and inner bailey. The inner bailey is the courtyard nearest to the keep. If a castle is built on a hill the arrangement may be described as an upper and lower bailey – but basically it’s all the same – a way of describing how close a courtyard is to the defensive centre of the castle.

Barbican: A stone building protecting the gateway or entrance of a castle.

Barrel vaulting: ceiling curved like the inside of a barrel.- at its most simple a set of arches side by side. Helps make the walls thicker and stronger. Often reinforced by ribs.

Bastion: Angular projection in the wall – to provide better defensive fire.

Battlements: A parapet with indentations and raised portions (merlons). Battlements are sometimes called crenellations. You would need a licence from the king to crenellate.

Berm: the bit of land between the moat and the curtain wall.

Buttery: Room to store drinks – rather than butter think wine, beer and ale.

Buttress: stone support for a wall.

Cannonier – gun port – demonstrating that castle architecture evolved to reflect the development in weaponry.

Casemate: fortified gun emplacement

Cistern: Tank to store water.

Concentric: Castles built with rings of stone walls one inside the other. Think Edward I.

Crenet: Another name for an embrasure which is the open bit behind an arrow loop where someone can stand and draw their weapon.

Curtain wall: Connecting wall between towers of a castle – or if there are no towers the wall that makes up the main defensive portion of the castle.

Drawbar: The rather large wooden beam used to secure the rather large wooden gates.

Drawbridge: The wooden bridge that clatters down or up so that horses can gallop across the moat into the castle – as evidenced on many a good black and white Hollywood blockbuster.

Drum-Tower: A large circular tower that was usually low and squat.

Fore building: The building infant of the keep – a bit like a pawn in front of the king on the chess board – it’s there for defensive purposes.

Fosse: A ditch surrounding a castle – for those who can’t afford moats or who wish to demonstrate their grasp of Latin.

Garderobe: Castle toilet. The garderobe was often a projection from the wall over the moat or alternatively it was a chute that dropped into the base of a tower which periodically had to be cleared out (lovely.) You would also keep your spare clothes in the garderobe chamber as the smell kept moths at bay….and possibly everything else as well.

Gatehouse: A building protecting the entrance to a castle. Larger castles might have an outer and an inner gatehouse adding to the number of defensive structures to be surmounted by attackers.

Gate passage: passageway beyond the main gate leading through the curtain wall to the outer bailey.

Great Hall: The main room in the building where the castle owner and his family lived. We tend to think of great halls as being part of the keep but there are castles where the great hall is separate to the main defensive structure.

Hoardings – the wooden structures built out from the top of the curtain wall or towers.

Keep: Main stone tower of a castle. It was also known as a donjon.

Lancet: Long, narrow window with pointed head – good for defensive projectiles. Plus who wants a big draughty window with no window panes in the middle of winter? To be fair many solar windows were lined with thin horn window panes or glass or there would have been shutter.

Loop: Narrow opening in castle wall that was used by archers to fire on attacking soldiers.

Machicolations: Projecting stonework on the outside of castle towers or walls, with holes in floor for dropping missiles on people attacking the castle.

Moat: A deep wide trench round a castle, sometimes called a ditch or a fosse.

Motte: A mound of of soil. Some mottes were only about 5 metres (16 feet) high, but some were over 18 metres (60 feet). The Normans built wooden watchtowers on the top of their mottes. Gradually motte and baileys were rebuilt in stone. Many small motte and baileys date from the Anarchy when Stephen and Matilda fought one another for the throne.

Motte and bailey: basic keep sitting on top of a mound. The mound would usually be surrounded by a palisade. Motte and bailey castles were initially built from wood and were later rebuilt in stone – somewhat reducing the fire hazard. The bailey was a bit of flattened earth near the motte.

Mural tower: A tower built into the wall.

Mural passage: A passage or corridor in the wall itself.

Murder-Holes or meutrieres in the roof or ceiling of a castle – usually leading to a gate house or through a passage into a ward.These were used for pouring scalding water, hot oil or other equally unpleasant stuff on attackers who had managed to enter the outer defences of a castle.

Palisade: A strong timber fence built on top of an earth rampart – usually seen in depictions of early motte and bailey castles of the kind build by Norman Conquerors.

Pantry: room near the great hall used to store food.

Parapet: A low wall on the outer side of the main wall.

Portcullis: Grating made of metal and wood. The portcullis was dropped vertically from grooves to block passage through the gate of the castle – to prevent entry or indeed exit through gateways. Castles often had more than one portcullis so that attackers might find themselves trapped beneath the handily placed murderholes.

Postern gate: the back door – for daring escapes and raids.

Rampart: A defensive stone or earth wall surrounding a castle.

Sally port: Another name for the back door for daring escapes and raids.

Screen(s) passage: Passage way for the transport of food and drink from the pantry and buttery by servants for the enjoyment of those in the great hall.

Shell-Keep: A wall surrounding the inner portion of the castle -think of an onion. The curtain wall is the outside skin, the shell-keep is the layer closer to the middle of the onion.

Solar: The upper living room of castle. The solar was usually situated above the hall and was used mainly as a bedroom. It was often the only semi-private accommodation in a castle.

Spiral staircase: does what it says on the tin.

Tower: Towers usually comes as square, polygonal, or round – and let’s not forget the drum tower.

Turret: A small tower. A turret on top of the main tower was often the main observation point in a castle.

Vice: a spiral staircase – cos why have one self explanatory word when you can have another more complicated one as well.

Wall-Walk: A passage along the castle wall. It can also be called an alure if you really want.

Window seat: Does what it says on the tin.

words words words 1

Little Moreton Hall

Every specialist subject has its own glossary – or jargon if you’re being unkind. Clearly a change is as good as a rest so we’re going to move away from pictures for the time being – your challenge this week is to think of as many specialist words related to medieval castles as you can. And your starter, for absolutely no points is garderobe – which is of course a medieval toilet.

Picture quiz 11 answers

It’s a tenterhook! – the devices by which cloth was attached to the drying frame or tenter. As the cloth dries the tenterhooks prevent the cloth from shrinking. Hence – on tenterhooks…and if you look at the map you may find tenterfields near wool producing mills.

So there you have it.

Picture Quiz 11

I know it looks like a bit of lumpy metal – but its rather important to the development of the medieval economy.

My other challenge of the week is for my class, but I don’t see why everyone can’t have a go if they wish, is to look at a local map and see how many place names near them are associated with the wool or cloth trade – obviously that will depend where you’re reading this from. But in addition to sheep, there’s wool – an no Wool in Dorset is not associated with the wool trade somewhat bizarrely, cloth manufacture and dyeing. Happy hunting.

Picture Quiz 10 – answers

Its a watering can – or a thumb pot. There’re plenty of Roman examples in existence. Place the pot holed side down in a bowl of water and the water enters the chamber. Cover the hole on the top of the pot with your thumb and hey presto – the water stays in the ceramic pot until you remove your thumb and the water cascades out. The one in the image is a reproduction – I shall be asking Father Christmas for one this year – assuming he’s not staying at home and maintaining social distancing…

Picture quiz 10

Once again I’ve opted to provide you with the whole item – what is it? Nothing medical on this occasion.