The institutions of the middle ages are generally seen as tradition-bound; Monks and Markets
challenges this assumption. Durham's outstanding archive has allowed the uncovering of an unprecedented level of detail about the purchasing strategies of one of England's foremost monasteries, and it is revealed that the monks were indeed reflective, responsive, and innovative when required. If this is true of a large Benedictine monastery, it is likely to be true also for the vast majority of other households and institutions in Medieval England for which comparable evidence does not exist.
Furthermore, this study gives a unique insight into the nature of medieval consumer behaviour, which throughout history, and particularly from before the early modern period, remains a relatively neglected subject. Chapters are devoted to the diet of monks, the factors influencing their purchasing decisions, their use of the market and their exploitation of tenurial relationships, and their suppliers.