"Throughout the 11th and 12th centuries there was a growing spirit of religious fervour in Europe. Groups of pilgrims embarked upon journeys to holy sites and the Crusades were organized to set the Holy Land free from the Muslims. At the same time, more and more devotees renounced the mundane world to retire into religious communities called monasteries. Soon monks gained great influence on all aspects of contemporary society. Besides devoting themselves to a strict devotional life, they also cultivated a knowledge of both intellectual and manual work that highly contributed to the social prosperity."