Property, Piety, and Castles
The churchmen and aristocrats who dominated the German scene in medieval times knew how to struggle among themselves for control of the available resources, and how to exploit them to the best advantage. At the same time, there existed a strongly pious tendency providing material support for innumerable monastic establishments. Various motives can be adduced: dynastic prestige and local pride; family connection with certain bishoprics and monastic orders; personal religious commitment and a perceived need for a family mausoleum; networks of kinship, friendship, and prayer confraternity; adverse crises or notable victories in need of commemoration; and so on. But the overriding conviction appears to have arisen from a firm belief in the overwhelming power of prayer. The almost uncontrollably violent tendency of the aristocracy was therefore tempered by a piety which then acted as an economic and social quantity to be reckoned with.
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