People in History: A Medieval Monk

A monk copying a manuscript.
Main page: The Middle Ages 

A monk in a medieval monastery.

Learning about monks in the Middle Ages can seem a bit familiar. You already studied early Christian Irish monks, but even though they had some things in common with medieval monks, there were differences too. Luckily, what you learned about the early Irish monks will help you when you're studying medieval monks.

The medieval monks still copied manuscripts and prayed (of course), but they had different buildings in their monasteries, and other jobs to do. Unlike earlier monks, these monks would be members of Orders, such as the Dominicans or the Franciscans. Many of these orders still exist today. Sometimes you might even see a monk walking about town.

So, if you wanted to be a monk in the Middle Ages, how would you talk about yourself? Ignore the fact that you have a vow of silence!

  • Introduce yourself. You can say you are a novice. Why did you want to become a monk? What order are you a member of? Why are monasteries important to people in the Middle Ages?
    • Once that's done, talk about your monastery. What services does it provide to people? What buildings does it have, and what are they for? Who's in charge?
      • Be sure to mention the different types of architecture that were being used for churches in the Middle Ages.
        • Next, your roles and duties. So, when you move on from being a novice to becoming a monk, what vows do you take?
          • What is your role? What other roles are there? (e.g. infirmarian, sacristan, etc.)
            • What do you do every day? Talk about life in the monastery, and the work you do.
              • Before you finish, talk about meals and the kind of food you eat.
                • Then wrap up by talking about the new orders that are being set up. Why is this happening?

                  So, in short...

                  1. You're a novice. Introduce yourself and your order.
                  2. Talk about your monastery.
                  3. Talk about religious architecture during the Middle Ages.
                  4. Talk about the vows you must take to become a monk.
                  5. Talk about your roles and the roles of the other monks.
                  6. Talk about everyday life in the monastery.
                  7. Talk about the meals.
                  8. Talk about the new orders that are being set up.

                  • get confused between medieval monks and early Christian Irish monks. It can happen easily to take care!
                  • talk about anything that isn't based around a solid fact like you learn in class. No small talk! 

                  Making mistakes like that will cost you marks, as the information you write down must be relevant (important). You get 2 marks for every relevant point you make, so try to make sure you have at least 10 relevant points in each answer. The more you have, the less chance you have of losing too many marks if you get anything wrong or mix anything up.


                  1. good advice keep it up

                  2. nice clever work well done will help people very much

                  3. Thank you, helped a lot. (:

                  4. Sitting jc tomorrow thanks

                  5. Im a 1st year and I Use this website for every project so thanks!

                  6. Lol I have j.c next month thanks for this...

                  7. This helped so much thanks :)