The Memoirs of Abbot Guibert of Nogent
When thinking about a medieval monastery the first thing that comes to mind is the origin of the word monastery which comes from the Greek monos, meaning alone. Monasticism in itself is a way of life that is devoted to God in seclusion. A large part of monasticism is isolation, not only from the neighbors but from family. When taking the vows to be a monk one not only completely devotes ones life to God but all friends, family and earthly possessions are left behind. Taking the vows of monasticism takes brutal dedication and severe strength. What pushed Guibert of Nogent into monasticism is that his mother withdrew from the world after his father’s death. During that time he was left alone and became very rebellious. He also was drawn to the medieval reform of monasticism which gave it a more community aspect. Thirdly, literature and history became a large part of the monastery during the middle ages and Guibert wanted to be a successful writer and historian. When Guibert joined the monastery he joined a strict religious order that had come along way form the time of hermits and the reforms where relevant to him, for the most part. Guibert of Nogent became a monk because he was suited for monastic existence and to give himself the restraints and success he wanted from life.
He was at a young age and was left without guidance and became boisterous. On his adolescence, he says, “I emulated older boys in their juvenile rowdiness, and I was completely bereft of responsibility and discretion.” When he was left on his own Guibert became very unsettled and this lead to issues with himself and other around him. He wanted the structure and dedication that life in a monastery provides. His mother wanted him to go beyond the church and was very against him going into the monastery. Taking that into consideration it gives Guibert a very difficult choice but he chose the one he wanted due to the guidance of the abbot. In addition, he states how upset his mother was with him becoming a monk: “…Invested me with it while my mother watched in tears from afar…” This shows how he is willing to disappoint his mother to please himself and that proves his dedication. When thinking about the sacrifices Guibert gave up in order to live the monastic life. It’s what he truly wanted to be, a person cannot just join a monastery you have to be dedicated and strict. He gave up his training with his master that he had training with for years to become a monk.
When monasteries first started to appear during the third and fourth centuries it was far more somber and focused towards the hermit form of life. During the eleventh and twelfth centuries monasteries became more community focused and more socially drawn. Guibert chose monastic life because how communal it had been reformed during the Middle Ages. During his run as abbot Guibert became involved inn all aspects of his community surrounding his monastery. On his affairs, he...