Monastic orders

High Middle Ages used to be called the times of the victorious Church. The Christianity united European lands and countless monastic orders sprang all over as a result. After The Order of St. Benedict many others were founded, among the strictest of which were Cistercians and Chartusians. Men and women who joined them mostly sought to reform established practises of piling of an enourmos wealth within the Church. Thus, austerity became the leading principle of medeaval monastic communities.

Most widely known monastic orders

Benedictines: knowns as the 'Black Monks' in reference to the color of their habits the order was founded at the beginning of the 6th century by St. Benedict of Nursia. The Benedictine vow includes a promise of stability (i.e. to remain in the same community), conversatio morum (a Latin phrase suggesting "conversion of manners") and obedience (to the community's superior, seen as holding the place of Christ within it). Although Benedictines do not take a vow of silence, hours of strict silence are set, and at other times silence is maintained as much as is practically possible. Social conversations tend to be limited to communal recreation times.

Cistercians: A reformed Benedictine order, dressed in white (as opposed to the black cucculas worn by the Benedictine monks). The original emphasis of Cistercian life was manual labour and self-sufficiency. As a consequence, many abbeys have traditionally supported themselves through agriculture and brewing ales, over the centuries, however, education and academic pursuits came to dominate the life of their monasteries. By the 15th century more than 750 Cistercian houses were established in European teritorries.

Chartusians: an order of enclosed monastics, founded in 1084 in present Germany and known for the extreme discipline and austerity of its members, who spent most of their days in their cells devoting their time to prayer and meditation. Today, Chartusians stay notoriously secluded, though a 2005 documentary Into Great Silence gave an unprecedented views of life within the hermitage.

Franciscans: the order of monks, who adhere to the teachings and spiritual disciplines of St. Francis of Assisi. The movement originates within Roman Catholicism, where it also remains most numerous. However, Franciscan Orders and Franciscan spirituality also form part of other denominations including Old Catholics, Anglicans, and Lutherans. At the beginning of the 13th century they were radically different from the others, as they spent much of their time traveling, always cheerfully singing, preaching the duty of poverty and begging.

Templars: the monks of Solomon's Temple were among the wealthiest and most powerful of the Christian military orders, formed in 1119. Templar knights, in their distinctive white mantles with a red cross, were among the most skilled fighting units of the Crusades. Non-combatant members of the Order managed a large economic infrastructure throughout Christendom, innovating financial techniques that were an early form of banking and building fortifications across Europe and the Holy Land. In 1312, under pressure from King Philip of France, Pope Clement V disbanded the Order. Many of the members were arrested, tortured, and then burned at the stake. The abrupt disappearance of a major part of the European infrastructure gave rise to speculation and legends, which have kept the "Templar" name alive into the modern day.

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