How did the Western monastic tradition begin? What was monastic life typically like for a monk or nun? How was the institution of the monastery formative to Western culture from antiquity through the Middle Ages? This book covers the entire span of monastic history in the late-ancient and medieval periods and provides an in-depth look at several monasteries across Europe. Each chapter introduces the reader to the surviving evidence for the houses studied, such as its monastic rules, plans, records of visitation, chronicles, and biographical accounts; and aims to give an "insider" view-not only of monks' and nuns' daily activities, but what these dedicated individuals' values, ambitions, and aspirations might have been.