Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 May 2011
Most medieval Christian philosophers were clerics and priests, who staffed the schools (and later the universities) in towns and cathedral cities. Many of these were also monks and friars. Monks contributed to philosophy in the cloisters of their monasteries and in universities, and friars also contributed both in the schools or studia of their orders and within universities.
The transformation of the Roman Empire, particularly between the fifth and sixth century, was accompanied by educational initiatives on the part of bishoprics and monasteries. Between 397 and 421, Augustine of Hippo outlined a program in his treatise On Christian Doctrine for communicating Christian doctrine into which was integrated the study of profane authors and ancient culture. Influential works were produced in Italy (by Boethius, Cassiodorus, and Pope Gregory the Great) and in Spain (by Isidore of Seville), which enabled active centers of culture in the West as far away as Anglo-Saxon England to counteract the stagnation of imperial decline.
The task of the monk was to escape from this world in order to find God. What place Benedict of Nursia (d. ca. 550), the father of Western monasticism, allowed for scholarly studies by the monks who followed his Rule is not clear, although lectio divina was an obligation that required literacy, books, meditation, and thought. Cassiodorus (d. ca. 580), on the other hand, provided a library in his monastery in Calabria in southwest Italy, called the Vivarium or “fish pond,” from which ancient and Christian books were disseminated throughout Europe – to Northumbria, for example, and to the court of Charlemagne and to Isidore’s Seville.
To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.
To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.
To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.