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The Cistercians in Yorkshire title graphic

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... they obtain from a rich man a valueless and despised plot in the heart of a great
wood, by much feigning of innocence and long importunity, putting in God at every other word. The wood is cut down, stubbed up and levelled into a plain, bushes give place to barley, willows to wheat, withies to vines; and it may be that to give them full time for these operations, their prayers have to be somewhat shortened.(1)
[Walter Map, twelfth-century archdeacon, satirist and critic of the Cistercians]

The initial ‘Q’ from the Moralia in Job depicts a Cistercian monk reaping corn
© Bibliotheque Municipale de Dijon
<click to enlarge>
The initial ·Q· from the Moralia in Job depicts a Cistercian monk reaping corn

Cistercian communities needed to acquire or have access to vast tracts of lands to sustain arable and pastoral farming and thereby support the self-sufficiency of the house. This land was primarily worked by the lay-brothers, whose activities were co-ordinated from agricultural centres known as granges. The Cistercians directly exploited their lands from the granges, cultivating and harvesting crops and rearing livestock. They developed a highly efficient land-based economy and even their most bitter critics acknowledged their effective transformation of these desolate sites.

In this section you can read more about Cistercian farming at the Yorkshire abbeys of Fountains and Rievaulx: