The Memoirs of Abbot Guibert of Nogent

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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...

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... monk and that’s because of his dedication, community and his educational values. He felt that the times when monks liked in isolation where over and he was able to match to this because of his relationship with his mother. He knew she was his guidance and he needed that assistance and comfort she provided for him. He enjoyed the community aspect by showing his authority by being an active member of society. That was fueled by his need to be a critic on ever aspect of his abbacy and religious order. He was also very dedicated to reading and writing which gave him a niche within the education aspect of the medieval monastery. 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.

Works Cited

Guibert of Nogent. Self and Society In Medieval France: The Memoirs of Abbot Guibert of Nogent. Edited and Translated By John F. Benton. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984.

Benton, John F. ed “Introduction” Self and Society In Medieval France: The Memoirs of Abbot Guibert of Nogent. Edited and Translated By John F. Benton. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984.

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