chapter  7
24 Pages

Bitterness and Sweetness: Bernard, Ep. 387; Peter, Letter 149

As discussed previously, Peter’s letter 111, attempting to reopen the Cluniac-Cistercian debate, remains seemingly without response from Bernard. While in terms of the subsequent letter-collection this can be seen as enhancing the moral status of Peter, and in consequence of Cluny, for having made unrequited overtures, as regards the eliciting of some kind of actual and immediate response it should, perhaps, rather be viewed as a failure. Peter will return to the attack in 1149, some five years later, with a third ‘open’ letter which again centres on the issue of communal caritas, this time presented in relation to the notion of cohabitatio, ‘dwelling together’.1 Whereas the two previous letters, 28 and 111, employed the device of a ‘personal’ frame, letter 150 is preceded by a separate letter,2 which ostensibly addresses itself to a ‘personal’ communication from Bernard.3 A closer inspection, however, suggests that in this letter Peter is already paving the way for the ‘open’ letter to follow. This may indicate that Peter has chosen to vary his tactics, through an apparent separation of ‘private’ from ‘public’. Once again, however, the separation may prove to be misleading. Letter 150 will form the focus of the following chapter. This chapter will concentrate on the ‘private’ letters which precede it.