Front Matter Early Times The Druids The Britons Caesar in Britain Queen Boadicea The Great Walls The Great Irish Saint The Anglo-Saxons Brave King Arthur The Laws of the Saxons The Story of St Augustine Three Great Men The Danish Pirates King Alfred and the Cakes Alfred conquers the Danes A King's Narrow Escape The King and the Outlaw The Monasteries An Unlucky Couple St Dunstan King Canute and the Waves A Saxon Nobleman Lady Godiva's Ride The Battle of Hastings The Conquest Lords and Vassals Death of William The Brothers' Quarrels Arms and Armour The "White Ship" Matilda's Narrow Escapes Story of Fair Rosamond Thomas a Becket Murder of Thomas a Becket Richard's Adventures Richard and the Saracens The Faithful Minstrel Death of Richard The Murder of Arthur The Great Charter The Rule of Henry III A Race Persecution of the Jews The Conquest of Wales A Quarrel with France The Coronation Stone The Insolent Favourite Bruce and the Spider Death of Edward II The Murderers punished The Battle of Crecy The Siege of Calais The Age of Chivalry The Battle of Poitiers The Peasants' Revolt Richard's Presence of Mind A Tiny Queen Henry's Troubles Madcap Harry A Glorious Reign The Maid of Orleans The War of the Roses The Queen and the Brigand The Triumph of the Yorks The Princes in the Tower Richard's Punishment Two Pretenders A Grasping King Field of the Cloth of Gold The New Opinions Death of Wolsey Henry's Wives The King and the Painter A Boy King Lady Jane Grey The Death of Cranmer A Clever Queen Elizabeth's Lovers Mary, Queen of Scots Captivity of Mary Stuart Wreck of the Spanish Armada The Elizabethan Age Death of Elizabeth A Scotch King The Gunpowder Plot Sir Walter Raleigh King and Parliament Cavaliers and Roundheads "Remember" The Royal Oak The Commonwealth The Restoration Plague and Fire The Merry Monarch James driven out of England A Terrible Massacre William's Wars The Duke of Marlborough The Taking of Gibraltar The South Sea Bubble Bonny Prince Charlie Black Hole of Calcutta Loss of the Colonies The Battle of the Nile Nelson's Last Signal The Battle of Waterloo First Gentleman of Europe Childhood of Queen Victoria The Queen's Marriage Wars in Victoria's Reign The Jubilee

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

The Monasteries

King Edred, being as simple and credulous as the people, like them imagined that Dunstan was a saint, and obeyed him in everything. Dunstan, being a priest, wanted to have only priests who shared his opinions in England, so he began to found new monasteries in different parts of the country.

These monasteries were large houses, where many men lived together under the orders of one of their number, the abbot, or prior, whom they elected to be their master. The monks, as the dwellers in monasteries were termed, were good men who thought they could best serve God by promising never to marry, always to obey their superior, and, among many other things, to lead simple and holy lives.

Near each monastery, or forming part of it, there was a church or chapel, where the monks assembled several times a day, and even in the night, to say their prayers and sing hymns. They all ate their meals together in a large hall, called the refectory; and while they ate, one of their number read aloud to them from some holy book.

Each monk had his own sleeping room, a narrow little place called a cell, where there were sometimes a hard bed, a stool, and a crucifix; but very often the monks slept on the floor, with a stone or a log of wood for a pillow. Their only covering was a rough woollen dress which they wore summer and winter, and which was often fastened around the waist by a rope.

Each monk was expected to do something for the good of the rest. Some of them studied, preached, and copied manuscripts in the monastery library, or scribarium, while others cooked, sewed, wove cloth, tilled the ground around the monastery, or watched the cows and sheep. They were good, earnest, and charitable men, so everybody loved and respected them, and the poor and ignorant often came to them for help and advice. M many people gave them land and money, the monasteries soon became very rich.

Besides the monasteries, or religious houses for men, there were similar places for women. These were called convents, or nunneries, and the women who dwelt in them, the nuns, were under the orders of an abbess, or prioress.

The nuns, besides looking after their own housekeeping, took care of the poor and sick, and taught young girls. Their main occupation, however, was needlework, in which they soon excelled. Besides sewing for themselves and for the needy, these holy women made fine lace and delicate embroidery, which they either gave to the church or sold to the wealthy.