Tintern Abbey John Keats

The Cistercian Order was founded in 1098 at the abbey of CĂ®teaux. A breakaway faction of the Benedictines, the Cistercians sought to re-establish observance of the Rule of Saint Benedict. Considered the strictest of the monastic orders, they laid down requirements for the construction of their abbeys, stipulating that “none of our houses is to be built in cities, in castles or villages; but in places remote from the conversation of men. Let there be no towers of stone for bells, nor of wood of an immoderate height, which are unsuited to the simplicity of the order”. The Cistercians also developed an approach to the Benedictine requirement for a dual commitment to pray and work that saw the evolving of a dual community, the monks and the lay brothers, illiterate workers who contributed to the life of the abbey and to the worship of God through manual labour. The order proved exceptionally successful and by 1151, five hundred Cistercian houses had been founded in Europe. The Carta Caritatis (Charter of Love) laid out their basic principles, of obedience, poverty, chastity, silence, prayer, and work. With this austere way of life, the Cistercians were one of the most successful orders in the 12th and 13th centuries. The lands of the Abbey were divided into agricultural units or granges, on which local people worked and provided services such as smithies to the Abbey.

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