chapter  IX
11 Pages


The twelfth century in Europe saw a great monastic revival, perhaps because by the mid-century it had attained a period of comparative peace. The raids of the Northmen, which had been such fatal enemies to monastic peace earlier, were over: the feudal forces which had been evolved in the struggle against them had made a stable civilisation possible. The investiture struggle came to an end, and cathedral schools flourished. The great order of Cluny had inspired a reform of Christendom, yet to some it now appeared itself in need of reform. In its desire for the due and splendid recitation of the praises of God it had departed far from primitive Benedictine simplicity and poverty. “We read the rule daily in chapter,” zeal could say, “and we keep it not.” Robert, abbot of Molême in Burgundy, and a few of his monks, were filled with the desire to keep the Benedictine rule in its original strictness and severity: when the other monks refused, they withdrew from Molême and founded in 1098 a new monastery at Citeaux, (Cistercium), near Dijon. Building a small church and huts in the waste among the pools which gave the spot its name, they led for a time a struggling life, but the count of Burgundy built their cloister walls for them, and as they cleared the woods, gave them sheep from his demesne for the new pasture. They made their habits of the cheap undyed “blanket” woven from their own wool, instead of the dyed cloth of the black monks, and they made them straight and narrow.