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A Short History of Monks and Monasteries   By: (1865-1933)

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Sometime Fellow in Church History in The University of Chicago




The aim of this volume is to sketch the history of the monastic institution from its origin to its overthrow in the Reformation period, for although the institution is by no means now extinct, its power was practically broken in the sixteenth century, and no new orders of importance or new types have arisen since that time.

A little reflection will enable one to understand the great difficulties in the execution of so broad a purpose. It was impracticable in the majority of instances to consult original sources, although intermediate authorities have been studied as widely as possible and the greatest caution has been exercised to avoid those errors which naturally arise from the use of such avenues of information. It was also deemed unadvisable to burden the work with numerous notes and citations. Such notes as were necessary to a true unfolding of the subject will be found in the appendix.

A presentation of the salient features of the whole history was essential to a proper conception of the orderly development of the ascetic ideal. To understand the monastic institution one must not only study the isolated anchorite seeking a victory over a sinful self in the Egyptian desert or the monk in the secluded cloister, but he must also trace the fortunes of ascetic organizations, involving multitudes of men, vast aggregations of wealth, and surviving the rise and fall of empires. Almost every phase of human life is encountered in such an undertaking. Attention is divided between hermits, beggars, diplomatists, statesmen, professors, missionaries and pontiffs. It is hoped the critical or literary student will appreciate the immense difficulties of an attempt to paint so vast a scene on so small a canvas. No other claim is made upon his benevolence.

There is a process of writing history which Trench describes as "a moral whitewashing of such things as in men's sight were as blackamoors before." Religious or temperamental prejudice often obscures the vision and warps the judgment of even the most scholarly minds. Conscious of this infirmity in the ablest writers of history it would be absurd to claim complete exemption from the power of personal bias. It is sincerely hoped, however, that the strongest passion in the preparation of this work has been that commendable predilection for truth and justice which should characterize every historical narrative, and that, whatever other shortcomings may be found herein, there is an absence of that unreasonable suspicion, not to say hatred, of everything monastic, which mars many otherwise valuable contributions to monastic history.

The author's grateful acknowledgment is made, for kindly services and critical suggestions, to Eri Baker Hulbert, D.D., LL.D., Dean of the Divinity School, and Professor and Head of the Department of Church History; Franklin Johnson, D.D., LL.D., Professor of Church History and Homiletics; Benjamin S. Terry, Ph.D., Professor of Medieval and English History; and Ralph C.H. Catterall, Instructor in Modern History; all of The University of Chicago. Also to James M. Whiton, Ph.D., of the Editorial Staff of "The Outlook"; Ephraim Emerton, Ph.D., Winn Professor of Ecclesiastical History in Harvard University; S. Giffard Nelson, L.H.D., of Brooklyn, New York; A.H. Newman, D.D., LL.D., Professor of Church History in McMaster University of Toronto, Ontario; and Paul Van Dyke, D.D., Professor of History in Princeton University.

A.W.W. Trenton, March, 1900.


Page PREFACE, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 BIBLIOGRAPHY, . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13


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