The Cistercian challenge

In 1098 a group of monks left the Burgundian monastery of Molesme in 1098 and established what they called Novum monasterium, the New Monastery. Their goal was to follow the Rule of Saint Benedict more carefully, but they apparently had no intention of starting what would become the first independent monastic order of their era.6 By the time the founders in 1119 or 1120 began calling the New Monastery Citeaux, they had acknowledged that they had done more than found a monastery. In the...

Anders Winroth

The legal underpinnings of the Western church experienced a major transformation during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. This was a period in which papal legislation found its stride, in the form of conciliar decrees and papal decisions. Papal jurisdiction was much expanded and produced a rich body of case law which became systematically collected. The law of the church, 'canon law', became a subject of study in the emerging universities of Europe, which produced an expanding and often...

Miri Rubin And Walter Simons

Medieval Christian Europe has long been acknowledged as a place and a time central to the formation of the Christian heritage. Until recently it was still described in popular and learned books alike as the 'age of faith', a time of intense religious feeling and extravagant action in the pursuit of religious goals crusade, inquisition, scholastic theology and mysticism. It was an age characterised by an imposing public Christian art and the institutions of the papacy in the lead. Until recent...

The Cistercians

Bernard of Clairvaux stands out as the most prominent monk of the Cistercian order, which had its beginnings when Robert of Molesmes led a group of monks to a new monastery in 1098, aspiring to return to the purity of Benedict's Rule, which they felt had been lost with the growth of Cluniac monasticism. The Cistercian Order epitomized the spirit of reform through its emphasis on work, austerity, simplicity and withdrawal from the world. Cistercians revised the daily schedule to allow more time...

The rise of universities and the elaboration of the papal bureaucracy

The emergence of papal power as an international force in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries could not have happened without the parallel development of two characteristic high-medieval institutions the university and the administrative apparatus of the papal curia. Higher learning in the eleventh century was the preserve of cathedral and monastic schools, loosely organized and guided by prominent individual teachers. The articulation of more systematic institutions of higher learning came...

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Anxiety that sex polluted and the concomitant insistence on clerical celibacy have, of course, a history that long pre-dates the pontificate of Innocent III already in the fourth century these were topics that caused impassioned debates in ecclesiastical circles and which opened up differences of opinion between East and West The East adopted a compromise that demanded a celibate episcopate but that allowed those priests and deacons who were married before ordination to continue thereafter to...

Brigitte Resl

The thirteenth century saw the triumph of the Gothic style in architecture in the building of great cathedrals all across Europe, a phenomenon much celebrated by modern art historians. 'The Gothic Image' seems to capture the spirit of the 'Age of Cathedrals' with its intellectual ambitions, artistic development and the craftsmanship available in twelfth- and thirteenth-century Europe.1 But who paid for it all The material support offered to ecclesiastical institutions is probably most often...

The mendicant orders the problematic Franciscans

The Franciscans, like the Dominicans, came to experience problems in university and parish life, but their difficulties were much more fundamental. They had a founder whose words and impact were controversial and disturbing. Everything that Francis of Assisi said and wrote was a challenge to the way the Christian Church had functioned until that time. In marrying Lady Poverty he insisted that the imitation of Christ meant a literal abandonment of all worldly goods. To become a follower of...

Councils

The twelfth century witnessed the first large 'general' synods since the seminal councils of the fourth to the ninth centuries. Most notable are the four Lateran councils 1123,1139,1179 and 1215 and the two Lyon councils 1245 and 1274 , the largest of them attended by over a thousand prelates from throughout the Latin Church and beyond, though representation from each country was by no means proportional, and observers from the Byzantine sphere were rare.1 Important as the example of the great...

Canonization of saints

Another procedure that added further to the business of the curia and to the prestige and authority of the papacy involved the canonization of saints. Like provisions, the rise of this institution was passive before it was codified as an exclusive power of the apostolic see. Ulrich of Augsburg is often credited as the first saint canonized by the papacy. In 993 Pope John XV declared that his memory should be revered and 'consecrated to divine worship'.11 Ulrich's canonization and other early...

Beverly Mayne Kienzle

'Our order is abjection it is humility it is voluntary poverty, obedience, peace, joy in the Holy Spirit', wrote the Cistercian abbot Bernard of Clairvaux 10901153 to the monks of St Jean d'Aulps who had affiliated with Citeaux. Bernard further explained in a sermon that voluntary poverty, like the fortified city into which Jesus entered Luke 10.38 , defends its inhabitants from envy, within themselves and from others. Advising Atto, bishop of Troyes, Bernard asserted that, 'The reward for...

The papacy on the periphery

An aspect of papal power in the High Middle Ages which is often overlooked involves the interactions between Rome and such 'fringe' regions as Iberia, Ireland, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. Popes of the eleventh century were acutely aware of the importance of cultivating relationships with the expanding periphery. Politically, it was advantageous to encircle the often troublesome realms of Germany and France with sympathetic churches on their borders. Such a policy also continued a...

Monasticism

Monastic spirituality centres on the struggle for spiritual perfection, as the Prologue to the Rule of Benedict reads 'monks must prepare themselves in body and soul, to fight under the commandments of holy obedience'.12 A life of reading, prayer and meditation aspired to mystical union with God and citizenship among the number of the chosen in the heavenly Jerusalem. In monastic thought, the heavenly city's closest earthly parallel was the monastery, which contained, in so far as possible for...