chapter  9
26 Pages

A New Crusade: Bernard, Ep. 364; Peter, Letter 164

The group of letters discussed in the previous two chapters, all concerned in some way with the ‘domestic’ matter of Cluniac-Cistercian relations,1 is flanked in Peter’s letter-collection by three letters which address themselves to what can be described as ‘political’ issues, episcopal election and crusade. The first of these, relating to the election of Henry of France in 1149 as bishop of Beauvais, presents itself as a reply to a request by Bernard for advice.2 The other two letters, traditionally associated with the Second Crusade of 1147-48, but now accepted as relating to the subsequent attempts to launch a new crusade, comprise an appeal for assistance by Bernard3 and Peter’s response.4 In consequence, they are dated by Constable to March/April 1150.5 There has been a move among recent critics of the Peter/Bernard correspondence to differentiate between ‘internal’ issues concerning monastic policy, on which the two men were clearly divided, and ‘external’ issues affecting the monastic order as a whole. Piazzoni, who prefers to talk of moments of ‘collaboration’ and ‘alliance’ rather than friendship, cites the election at Beauvais as an example of shared concern to promote the status of monasticism by the choice of a monk over a cleric, regardless of his monastic persuasion.6 Lang speaks of their ‘mutual sympathy’ for the Second Crusade.7 The consequent tendency to treat letters on issues such as these in isolation from those relating to Cluniac-Cistercian relations obsures the fact that echoes from the earlier debate may appear to disturb the apparently harmonious surface of these exchanges.