|About the Book|
Founded in 910 to return to the authentic monasticism of Saint Benedict, the abbey of Cluny led a revolution in the medieval Church. Wresting secular hands from control of monastic offices and finances, the great Burgundian monastery and its hundredsMoreFounded in 910 to return to the authentic monasticism of Saint Benedict, the abbey of Cluny led a revolution in the medieval Church. Wresting secular hands from control of monastic offices and finances, the great Burgundian monastery and its hundreds of daughter houses inspired eleventh-century churchmen to seize control of the Church from petty lords and outraged emperors. Powerful and respected, the Cluniac Order cast a long shadow over the European Church, but its very position of leadership brought prosperity into the cloister and, in its train, complacency. The Cistercians were founded in 1098 to revive the primitive observance of the Rule of Saint Benedict. Having experienced the worldly dangers threatening, even embraced by, the Black Monks of Cluny, the White Monks of Citeaux resolved to withdraw from, not to reform, the world. Their uncompromising asceticism attracted scores of young men, and soon the Cistercian Order outstripped the Cluniacs in pious prestige and personnel. A rivalry inevitably sprang up. Cluniacs, like Idung of Prufening, felt drawn to the more austere Cistercian way of life. Some Cistercians felt attracted to the less rigorous and liturgically richer life at Cluny. Each all too frequently felt obliged to justify his departure by commenting on the shortcomings of his former monastery. Gentle conciliatory spirits might call for charity from both White Monks and Black and the leaders of the two great Orders might develop a deep personal friendship, but ink and acrimony continued spasmodically to flow until the Cistercians, like their Cluniac brethren, succumbed to being respectable, comfortable fixtures of the medieval landscape.