The Empire of the White Monks

Petra Gerster in search of the Cistercians

This documentary is about the spectacular advancement of a religious order to business empire. For the glory of God, medieval Cistercian monks became early capitalist entrepreneurs. For almost four centuries, the “White Monks”, who were named after their white habits, dominated large parts of the European market – causing both fear but also admiration. How did it all start? How modern was their organisation really? And what has remained of the once most powerful empire in the Middle Ages?


WRITER: Daniel Sich     DIRECTOR: Daniel Sich, Stephan Koester    PRESENTER: Petra Gerster     CAMERA: Tom Kaiser, Roland Breitschuh     EDITOR: Claudia Spoden     MUSIC: Paul Rabiger     COMMISSIONING EDITOR: Reinold Hartmann, Ingo Witt