Rievaulx Abbey and its social environment, 1132-1300
This thesis examines Rievaulx abbey's relationship with its social environment from the foundation in 1132 to 1300. In particular it analyses social networks around this institution and the types of relationships with individuals, families and tenurial groups developed over the course of the first two hundred years of Rievaulx abbey's existence. Although the work focus primarily on Rievaulx abbey, comparative material from other Yorkshire houses as well as continental Cistercian houses is discussed. The core source is the cartulary of Rievaulx abbey. By a careful analysis of the distribution of information, its hierarchy according to certain inferable rules, and the relations between individual entries in the cartulary, this thesis shows how Rievaulx abbey understood the social networks of which this monastic house became a part, and how the monastic community saw its own place among the diverse social strata of twelfth-century Yorkshire. In the first chapter, issues of religious foundations, the motivations of patrons and their interpretations currently present in scholarship are discussed before the analysis of the troubled relationship between Rievaulx abbey and its patrons. The second chapter contains an examination of the interaction of the Cistercian monasteries with lay people in the respect of fraternities, burial requests and prayers as well as the implications of the abbey's landholding for its benefactors and their heirs. The central part of the thesis, in the second chapter examines the relationship of Rievaulx abbey with its lay neighbours and benefactors. The closing parts of this chapter are devoted to the complexities of land holding and the abbey's perception of its relationship with benefactors. Chapter three presents issues of monastic co-operation, conflict and the monopolist tendencies of religious houses before examining the place of Rievaulx abbey in relation to other monasteries in Yorkshire. The next chapter discusses Rievaulx abbey's contacts with archbishops, bishops, deans, chapters and canons in the wider context of the internal Church politics. The fifth, final chapter examines Rievaulx abbey's involvement in the wool trade and the consequences of its business with the Italian merchants on the background of historiographical interpretations of Cistercian economy and its involvement in the commercial world.