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Founded by Robert of Molesme in the late eleventh century, the Cistercian Order was one of asceticism, prayer and self-sufficiency. Its spread was to have significant impact, not only on monastic life and the monasteries' political power, but also on rural development, economics and architecture. This book presents a detailed history of the 'White Monks' and richly illustrated studies of 65 Cistercian monasteries, including Fountains Abbey and Citeaux, founded in 1098 and still functioning. Photography by Henri Gaud.