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able failure, and, perhaps, at the same time, the most complete, was that of the Friars. Their object was higher than that of the Monks, but their decay was even more rapid and striking, and their debased state more offensive and troublesome. But the various orders of monks have all a similar history. They commence in enthusiasm, they end in luxury, sloth, and obstructiveness. They claim at their first origin the regulation of themselves, as of those wholly given to God; they end by spending their energies and their wealth in battling against bishops, and propping up the enormous pretensions of the court of Rome, to the confusion and injury of Christendom. The rule of S. Benedict, the foundation of all mediæval monasticism, breathes the highest and most intense devotion. By it the heart and 'body was to be prepared to go forth to the warfare of holy ' obedience to the commandments,' and its votaries were 'to run 'the way of God's commandments, so that, never departing from 'his governance, remaining under his teaching in the monastery ' until death, they, through patience, are partakers of Christ's sufferings, that they may be accounted worthy to be partakers of his kingdom.'1 Such was the sublime conception of the great monastic saint; but what was the history of those who came in vast numbers, throughout all the lands of Christendom, to bind themselves, by solemn oaths, to keep this rule? We will adduce no unfriendly testimony, but that of a monk of the order in the eleventh century. How shall I begin to speak? for on all sides is the sacred end of monkish life transgressed, ' and hardly aught is left, save that, as our holy father Benedict foretold, by our tonsure and habit we lie to God. We seem 'almost all of us prone to pride, to contention, scandal, detraction, lying, evil-speaking, hurtful accusations, contumacy, 'wrath, bitterness, despising of others, murmuring, gluttony, and 'seduced by a love of costly apparel.' 2 The reform of the order which had thus degenerated was naturally an object at the heart of all the holiest of its members. But how was monasticism to be reformed? Was the rule of S. Benedict to be altered and adapted to the lower tone of the age, and to the experience of human weakness, or was a still more stringent asceticism to be striven after, and the qualities of courage, devotion, and endurance to be appealed to, and enlisted in the cause? The former method was the reformation of Clugni, the latter that of Citeaux. The magnificent monastery of Clugni, which ruled over 10,000 monks scattered in various daughter establishments throughout Europe, greatly modified the strictness of the Benedictine rule. The notion of the Abbots of Clugni was, that the monk was called 1 Maitland's 'Dark Ages,' p. 168.
Chronicon Vulturnense; quoted in Life of S. Stephen Abbot, p. 52.
to the life of Mary, not to that of Martha,-that every comfort and convenience was to be provided, that religious men might give themselves wholly to religious services and studies. But what was the effect of this principle, combined with the vast wealth which had been heaped upon Clugni? Not only did these monks eat meat every day in the week, except Friday, 'but they ransacked earth and air for highly flavoured dainties; they kept huntsmen who searched the forest through for venison and wild boars; their falconers brought them the choicest 'birds-pheasants, partridges, and wood-pigeons. Wine well 'spiced, and mixed with honey, and meats highly seasoned with 'pepper, ginger, and cinnamon were to be found in the refectory at Clugni, with all kinds of costly spices brought from beyond 'the sea, and even from the East. Many were the broad lands possessed by the monks of Clugni, with vassals and servants, both men and women. Italy, Spain, and England sent the 'produce of their lands to clothe the brethren, one province especially, from the Rhone to the Alps and the sea, was ap'pointed to this duty, and sent its treasures to the camera of Clugni.' But the tolerated luxury of this great religious house, instead of reconciling all men to this amended edition of the rule of S. Benedict, only brought out more strongly the complete monastic degeneracy of the age. Some ardent spirits determined to try a higher and more searching rule than even that of S. Benedict. Robert, Alberic, and Stephen the Englishman, first at Molesme, and then more completely, and with greater success, at Citeaux in Burgundy, inaugurated a new order, in which, while they professed a Benedictine restoration, they took care to make their ordinances and regulations convey a distinct reproof of the luxurious Benedictinism of Clugni. It is acutely remarked by Dr. Maitland, that, had the founders of the Cistercians desired simply a wilderness to build in, they might, whatever their nicety of taste in those matters, have been accommodated with a suitable one, without coming into the immediate neighbourhood of Clugni. That, had they desired simply an ascetic restoration, they might have preserved the ancient black Benedictine garb, without attracting all men's attention by the novelty of a white dress. 'I do not dispute 'that Alberic might dream that the Virgin Mary decided that his monks should wear white garments; but it leads me to 'suspect that he might have been thinking on the matter when he was awake, though even then, perhaps, it was not because 'the monks of Clugni wore black ones. Nor do I take upon me to say, that he was thinking of the fine chandelier composed of brass, gold, and silver, which hung from the roof of the Church 1 Life of S. Stephen Abbot, pp. 57–62.
at Clugni, when he gave special directions that the Cistercians should have none but iron candlesticks in their churches; nor, indeed, that he meant to be personal in the minute directions 'which he gave respecting various little matters, wherein grounds of accusation against the monks of Clugni were afterwards found; but it seems impossible not to believe that there was from the first something like a design on the part of the Cistercians to reform (not to say rival or humble) the monks of Clugni.' But, without doubt, the motives which animated the first Cistercians were not entirely drawn from jealousy of Clugni. There was a burning zeal for religion, and an attempt to compass an exalted holiness by a rigid asceticism. The manual labours prescribed by S. Benedict, but which, with the Clugniacs, consisted in working in the garden, and shelling peas," became, with the Cistercians, the hard and regular employment of all the hours that could be spared from the divine service. Their diet had none of the delicacies of Clugni, but consisted of one or two meals of bread and vegetables, even eggs and fish being excluded. Upon this miserable sustenance they lived, or rather slowly died, as outraged nature sooner or later revenged herself. It was in this school that the great spirit of S. Bernard learned that fierce asceticism, which gives to some of his writings the character rather of vituperative railing than of fair discussion.. The aim of the Cistercian use was to reach abstinence and mortification of the extremest type. For a time they succeeded in doing this at the expense of the health, temper, and usefulness of the members of the order; then came the reaction, in which Cistercians and Clugniacs were not far asunder.
The Abbey of Citeaux was founded in 1098, and within thirty years the order had increased so rapidly that an affiliated abbey was erected in England. This foundation was made by William Giffard, bishop of Winchester, and the place selected was Waverley, near Farnham in Surrey. An abbot with twelve monks came from the Cistercian house of Aumone in Normandy, and established themselves on the English soil. The annals of this abbey are now republished in the chronicle series of the Master of the Rolls, and the learned labours of Mr. Luard, the editor, have put us in easy possession of many interesting facts connected with the rise and progress of the Cistercian order in this land.
From the very first the Cistercians were the spoiled children of the papal see, and by a series of bulls and ordinances every conceivable privilege and exemption was heaped upon them. Pascal, the bishop, servant of the servants of God,' gives to them at their first institution, the place which they had chosen 1 Dark Ages, p. 358.
2 Udalric, on the Customs of Clugni.'
'safe and free from the molestation of all men,' and places their abbey under the special protection of the apostolical see. No ' archbishop or bishop, emperor or king, prince or duke, count or 'viscount, judge or person ecclesiastical or secular,' is to venture to oppose them. Innocent III. gives them the power of refusing the jurisdiction of the local ordinaries when accused of crimes, and not content with thus shielding the monks themselves, he also protects from the ecclesiastical censures of the bishops, all their servants and dependents, any one associated with their convents, and all those who had been their benefactors. Pope Alexander III. gives them the high privilege of not being visited, even under the authority of Rome, except by abbots of their own order. He exempts them from the claim for hospitable entertainment which the bishops were wont to make on the abbeys; he protects their animals, when being kept on the lands of others, from liability to tithes. He forbids even their making confessions except to priests of their own order. He discharges them from all taxes and claims of bishops of whatever sort. Innocent IV. exempts them from being obliged to plead in any law court. Alexander IV. severely reproving the bishops who 'continually grudge and oppose their liberties and immunities,' allows them to erect oratories and chapels in any place not exempt from diocesan jurisdiction, and thereby to make it exempt, and to introduce all the special privileges of the order; protects them from the claim of tithes in respect of lands which shall in any future time be brought into cultivation, while Boniface extends this protection to those to whom the Cistercians shall have granted lands for service or fines. The privilege of Pope Honorius is even more remarkable. He protects the Cistercians not only from the diocesan bishop, the natural enemy of the papacy, but even from the apostolical legate himself, who is not, without the special direction of the Pope, in any way to interfere with them. This same Pope allows the Cistercians to receive persons near their death into their houses, so as to exempt them from the mortuary fee due to the priest of the parish on a death, while both he and Pope Innocent give special enunciations of these privileges to the Cistercians in England. The Cistercian, in fact, according to the legislation of the Popes, was bound by no law, human or divine, except his own rule. So far as everything external to the order was concerned, he might commit any crime with impunity, he might obstruct, inconvenience, and paralyse ecclesiastical discipline, he might exempt large tracts of land from contributing to the burdens of the state, he might rob the parish priest of his dues, and by the erection of a chapel in his
1 Monasticon, vol. v. p. 220-236.
parish in fact deprive him of his cure of souls-kings, judges, bishops, even papal legates, were to this privileged order but as so many ordinary persons. They were an imperium in imperio which could not be touched or interfered with. To the class of men surrounded with these portentous privileges vast estates in almost all the counties of England rapidly accrued. The magnificent foundations of Furness, Rievaulx, Fountains, Tintern, Ford, and Vale Royal, were all Cistercian. Eighty-five abbeys in various parts of England owned the maternity either of Citeaux or Clairvaux. It is clear that the mere fact of the existence of such an order, in itself so strong, and upheld by a foreign power of unlimited force, must have rendered the violent suppression of monasteries inevitable, if anything like good government was to be reached. The Black Benedictines, protected by no exemptions, more genial, more popular, might have assimilated themselves to the requirements of their Church and country, and even taken the popular side against the papal pretensions. It is possible to conceive a Glastonbury, a Croyland, or a S. Albans, flourishing in literary pursuits and magnificent services even in reformed times. But the Cistercian was necessarily doomed. He was the bitter product of a false asceticism, and, when he degenerated from his ideal, and exhibited the enormous luxury of Fountains or Vale Royal, he was an anomaly and a sham, only propped up by the timid deference so long yielded to the false pretensions of Rome.
There were, it is to be presumed, some signal merits in the Cistercian order, especially in its early days, to justify the reiterated gifts of papal privileges, but if we are to take the character given of it by one of the abbots of the order in 1264, we scarcely seem able to regard it with unmixed admiration. Thus writes the Abbot of Savigny to his affiliated houses in England: It has become known to the chief pontiff that our order needs reformation in many points on account of the oppression and insolence of some abbots, who basely and un'justly compel their children to yield to them, and intrude into their convents their relations and other persons of bad 'character. Many convents are defrauded of the freedom of 'election; honourable and useful monks are expelled without reasonable cause; scandals are not looked to; quarrels increase and multiply; novelties are introduced; zeal is diminished; 'lax practices gain head; and the strictness of monastic dis'cipline is remitted. The visitation of the order is only super'ficial, being conducted simply according to the self-will of the 'abbot of Citeaux, and that house is overwhelmed with debt, which it is endeavoured to throw on the whole order."1
1 Monasticon, vol. v. p. 227.