One of the most striking features of the twelfth-century Church was the growing desire of women for a greater role in the monastic life. Contemporary monastic reformers responded to this demand in various ways: some focused their appeal on women, others actively discouraged all contact; but all were agreed on the need to regularise religious life for women. In England this phenomenon is most clearly seen in the emergence of the Gilbertine order, founded by the Lincolnshire priest, Gilbert of Sempringham. The Gilbertines were the only native monastic order in medieval England, and were highly unusual in their provision for both nuns and canons. In the first full-scale study since 1902, Brian Golding provides a comprehensive account of the history of the order from its mid-twelfth century origins up to the early fourteenth century. His detailed analysis of the economy of the Gilbertines reveals much about monastic revenue and organization, and about the order's relations with their lay patrons and benefactors.
Dr Golding goes on to show that by 1300 the Gilbertine experiment was largely dead. The founding ideals of a structure in which men and women could live in harmony and order had given way to male domination and the marginalization of the nuns. This stimulating and informative study will be essential reading for all historians of medieval monasticism.
`essential reading for local historians ... Dr Golding's study is admirably written and can be warmly recommended.'
Dorothy Owen, Lincolnshire History and Archaeology, Vol. 31, 1996
`Golding gives a very detailed account of the Gilbertine foundations ... The effect most in evidence ... is the depth of reflection, and the amplitude, of the book: we have waited long, and are richly rewarded.'
C.N.L. Brooke, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 48 No. 1 - Jan '97
An original study of the origins and development of England's only native monastic order, which shows the flourishing and decay of the Gilbertine ideal
`In addition to his contributions to Gilbertine scholarship, Golding's careful discussion of social interaction and economics, topics not easily or commonly treated in monastic histories, will serve as a valuable reference.'
Speculum - A Journal of Medieval Studies