The Medieval Monasteries
This chapter considers the role of the monasteries in the Middle Ages as agencies of technical and commercial innovation. There was a second source of economic advancement on marginal lands in the Middle Ages. It was to be found in the economic actions, and particularly the agrarian initiatives, of the monastic foundations in western and northern, and ultimately, also, in eastern Europe. Monasteries exemplify the tendency for advanced techniques to be found in marginal lands. Monasteries and convents required men and women willing to lead dedicated communal lives within the discipline of one or other monastic order. The enlargement of their number also required donors willing to provide resources, which essentially meant land, for the religious houses to live on. Among those who possessed large enough tracts of land to make the appropriate gifts available were rulers and powerful lords.
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