chapter  5
26 Pages

Reproach, Iocus and Debate: Bernard, Ep. 228; Peter, Letter 111

As stated in the previous chapter, Peter’s letter 29, written in 1138, is followed by a seeming epistolary silence which is not broken until late 1143/early 1144, after Peter’s return from a visit to Spain. Ep. 228 from Bernard, presenting itself as the reply to a missing letter from Peter,1 will be followed by Peter’s letter 111, a second ‘open’ letter on the subject of Cluniac-Cistercian relations.2 Although Zerbi’s assertion that the intervening gap represents a period of epistolary ‘coolness’ cannot be proved, several factors may appear to make it likely.3 The overt link forged in letter 111 between tithes and Langres as potential threats to caritas seems, as he suggests, to signal the public resumption of the correspondence.4 Bernard’s ep. 228 makes references to two failures to reply on the part of Peter. This is taken by Torrell and Bouthillier as evidence of further missing letters.5 In fact, as will be seen, the surrounding language may suggest that there is no need to look here beyond the earlier letters written by Bernard from Italy during the papal schism.6 Like letter 28, letter 111 employs the device of a ‘public’ centre and a ‘private’ frame. While the first of these seems to offer a far more conciliatory approach than that found previously, the second, developed at considerably greater length than in the earlier letter, may be thought to constitute a challenge to Bernard. In particular, it will be argued in what follows that both ep. 228 and letter 111 draw heavily on the Augustine/Jerome correspondence, specifically the demand by Augustine that Jerome engage in ‘debate’ and/or write a ‘palinode’, that is, a public recantation of his interpretation of Galatians. The evidence suggests that Bernard should be seen as responding to pressure from Peter contained in the latter’s missing letter. As will be seen, Bernard’s response can best be construed in a negative fashion.