Skip Navigation Links
Main page
Skip Navigation Links
HistoryExpand History
Skip Navigation Links
ThemesExpand Themes
TourismExpand Tourism
EducationExpand Education

Skip Navigation Links
Picture categoryExpand Picture category
Skip Navigation Links
Time lineExpand Time line



Town monasteries in the Sound region before the Reformation.

The Monasteries Importence to Produktion
The monasteries had important tasks, when it came to the spreading of the Christian doctrine, but they also had great importance when it came to the introduction of new agricultural methods and cultural plants. Christianity was thus deeply rooted in the medieval agricultural society. Gradually many monasteries in Europe developed into real companies, where the main occupation was production. They produced and sold wine, animals, corn and even iron goods. This is why there were monastery reformers, who wanted to take the monasteries back to their original tasks.

The Cistercian Order
The Cistercian order from around the 12th century was such an order. It started in Citeaux (in Latin Cistercium) in France and its founder was Bernhard of Clairvaux. The archbishop Eskil in Lund was his personal friend and that could be the reason that Cistercian monasteries were founded very early on both sides of the Sound, in Herrevar in Scania in 1145 and in Esrum in Zealand in 1151. Sorø monastery, which was founded by the Benedictines in 1151, took on the Cistercians´ rules in 1161.
The immigrating monks, who founded the early Cistercian monasteries, took with them building traditions and this in connection with the order´s regulations on the appearance of the monastery, makes it plausible to talk of a Cistercian building style.
According to the rules the Cistercian monasteries had to be located in the villages and the monastery should participate in the work of clearing the forest and create new cultivations. The commitment to new cultivations also made these monasteries knowledge centres for modern agriculture methods.
Esrum Monastery
Esrum Monastery
Bernard of Clairvaux
Bernard of Clairvaux
Cistercian monk
Cistercian monk

New Piety
These reform monasteries aimed at a more heartfelt piety. The worshipping took on a more intimate character and was close to the ideas of the mysticism. The abbot in Äbelholt Monastery gave examples of this perception in his letters.

The Maria Cult
Another sign of the transition to a more heartfelt and intimate piety was the upturn of the Maria Cult in the monasteries in the 12th century. In the monasteries the monks saw life as a struggle against evil and the fear of the just God made them seek help from the motherly Mary, who prayed for the sinners. Archbishop Anders Sunesen wrote one of the many Mary hymns, which were performed with music. His paean to May was called Missus Gabriel de Coelis and the theme of the hymn is the Annunciation. It is about Mary´s intimate relationship with God, a relationship that is typical of the Mysticism.

The Monasteries´ Land
In the course of the Middle Ages churches and monasteries become large landowners like the king and the squires. The archbishopric in Lund, for instance, had more than 300 properties and all of Bornholm at its disposal. In the course of the Middle Ages the monasteries in Scania came to own more than 2000 properties. A large number of the estates were acquired as gifts, donated to the monasteries.
After Peter Bogorm (Pierre Le Mangueur) around the end of the 12th century invented Purgatory (Purgatore) they now operated with a state between heaven and hell, an hour of reckoning, whose length could be shortened by your own and purchased prayers and masses.
This increased the power of the church over the souls and added to the land and wealth of the churches and monasteries.
Originally there were strict rules about the right of inheritance of the church, but it was circumvented by the donation of soul gifts. Even though it was prohibited for the monks to buy land until 1216, it was circumvented, when landowners mortgaged an estate to the monastery, which then took over the land, if the mortgage wasn´t paid.

The Dominicans and the Franciscans
Another group, which also reacted against the rich monasteries, were the mendicant order. But these had a quite different working method. Instead of withdrawing to contemplative and heartfelt piety the mendicant friars wanted to work for the public in an outgoing way. They preached, helped the poor and nursed the sick. In order to finance their activities the monks begged for money. This is why their monasteries were placed in the cities, where there were trade.
The most prominent mendicant orders were the Dominicans (the black monks) and the Franciscans (the grey monks). These orders had been founded by Domenicus (1170-1221) and Franciscus (1182-1226). A Dominican monastery was founded in Lund in 1222 – the first in the North and a Franciscan was founded in 1232. A Franciscan monastery was founded in Ystad and in 1270 a Dominican monastery was founded in Helsingborg, which was dedicated to St. Nicolaus.
Franciscan Monastery in Ystad
Franciscan Monastery in Ystad

©  Øresundstid 2009