Module Identifier WHM1630  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Miss Karen Stober  
Semester Semester 2  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   15 Hours 6 x 2 hour seminars and 3 hours of tutorials  

Brief description

This seminar series has been designed to allow students to study in some depth the history, the impact and the achievements of the most important religious order in medieval Wales, the White Monks (and nuns) or Cistercians. The Cistercian monks, introduced to Wales with the establishment of their first Welsh abbey at Tintern in Monmouthshire in 1131, were immensely popular with the local lay community and came to be patronised enthusiastically by the Welsh princes and the nobility alike. They were the patrons and promoters of native poetry and literature, responsible for the recording of such crucial works of Welsh history as the Brut y Tywysogion, the Chronicle of the Princes, and an inspiration for many of Wales’ outstanding poets, including Guto’r Glyn, Dafydd Nanmor and Tudur Aled. They developed an elaborate system of granges and, with the help of lay brethren or conversi, were among the most successful wool merchants in the country, as well as sustaining their communities through farming and running mills.


This module equips students to investigate an aspect of medieval history in depth, through the analysis of sources of different types in combination with an up-to-date appraisal of historical interpretations of the period.


1. Introduction: history of the Cistercian order
2. The Welsh Cistercian settlements
3. The economy of the Welsh Cistercians
4. Cistercian life, doctrine, Cistercian writings
5. The Welsh Cistercians as patrons of the Welsh bards
6. The Welsh Cistercians and the Reformation

Reading Lists

** Recommended Text
Burton, J (1994) Monastic and Religious Orders in Britain, 1000-1300 Cambridge
Coppack, G (1998) The White Monks: the Cistercians in Britain, 1128-1540 Stroud
Davies, R.R (1987) The Age of Conquest, Wales 1063-1415 Oxford
De Waal, E (1998) The Way of Simplicity: the Cistercian Tradition London
Robinson, D. (ed.) (1998) The Cistercian Abbeys of Britain: Far From the Concourse of Men London
Williams, D.H (1990) Atlas of Cistercian Lands in Wales Cardiff
Williams, G (1962) The Welsh Church from Conquest to Reformation Cardiff
Williams, G (1999) Wales and the Reformation Cardiff
Williams, D.H. (1998) The Cistercians in the Early Middle Ages Leominster
Williams, D.H (2001) The Welsh Cistercians Leominster
O'Sullivan, J.F (1974) Cistercian Settlements in Wales and Monmouthshire, 1140-1540 New York
Knowles, D (1948-1959) The Religious Orders in England, 3 vols Cambridge

Lewis, F.R (1938) ‘Racial sympathies of Welsh Cistercians’, Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion,


This module is at CQFW Level 7