Key Stage 3 History: Medieval Life 10: Monks and Nuns I Oxford Open Learning

    Key Stage 3 History: Medieval Life 10: Monks and Nuns

    The last blog in our  Key Stage 3 History series takes a look at medieval monastic life.

    Monks and Nuns

    I knew it! I just knew the local monastery was up to no good! My husband has just got home from town with the gossip. Apparently, there are accusations flying around that the monks in the monastery are not living as they should. They have rich clothes, lots of good food and gallons of wine a day! Where are they getting the money you might ask! From us! We have to pay a tithe and the money is being spent on some so-called monks living it up and having a fine old time of it!

    When monks and nuns are doing it properly, they have a terribly hard life. They have to get up at 1:30 in the morning to go to church. They can go back to bed afterwards, but they have to be up again at 5:00 for another church service. Then it’s a bit of breakfast before they go to work, then church, then work, then church. After lunch they pray again before they get a bit of free time. I’d sleep if it was me! Then it’s church again, work again, dinner, church again and bed time at 8:00. Every single day. For the whole of their lives. I’d go stark raving mad!

    There are lots of different jobs for them to do. There’s working in the herb garden and making medicines (everyone goes to the monastery for help if they’re sick because we don’t have doctors), writing manuscripts (every book in the country is written by hand!), being in the choir, cooking… The list goes on.

    And if the constant work and prayer wasn’t enough, a good monk or nun lives a very strict life. They aren’t allowed any personal possessions. They have to wear plain clothes made of the cheapest cloth. Laziness is seen as the ultimate sin so they have to be busy all the time. Most monasteries have a vow of silence as well – you are only allowed to talk if it is really necessary. (I’d never manage that! Can you imagine how much trouble I’d be in constantly?!)

    I’d love to know if the stories in town are true. Are the monks really taking our tithe money to live the life of luxury when we can barely afford to pay the tithe in the first place? What a scandal! The gossip won’t go away from this one! I bet we’ll still be talking about this for years.

    Penny Brooks


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    Greg is the Head Of Operations at Oxford Home Schooling and has more than 25 years of experience in Distance Learning and Home Education