Lofts: Good Ideas (Good Ideas Series) by Aurora Cuito

By Aurora Cuito

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106). By the late twelfth century the White Monks in Wales had established themselves as sheep farmers on a large scale. By the second decade of the thirteenth Strata Florida was trading in wool with Flanders, and from there on there is plentiful evidence of Cistercian involvement in the transport of wool within Wales, across England, and to the Continent. Some houses had their own ships. Flemish importers of wool in the thirteenth century and Italian merchants of the fourteenth listed Welsh houses with wool for sale, and top of the list was Neath.

However, for most their existence was an ordered one, framed by the church and the cloister. Yet we know that there was potential for things to go wrong both on an individual and a collective level. As we have seen, the Cistercians introduced a novel method of keeping their abbeys on the straight and narrow: the annual visitation of a daughter house by the abbot of the mother house. Minor transgressions would be dealt with there and then, but more serious matters might be taken to the General Chapter.

Sometimes monks offered their ‘special friends’ the right to take the monastic habit just before they died in a ritual known as ad succurrendum. Burial in a monastery was popular with people from all walks of medieval life, but as a rule, the wealthier the patron, the more visible his or her tomb. Sadly much of our physical evidence – the actual tombs – has disappeared over the centuries, but some splendid examples still survive in Wales, such as the magnificent effigies of the Hastings family and others in Abergavenny Priory.

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