chapter  3
22 Pages

The Proof of Caritas: Peter, Letter 65, Bernard, Ep. 147

In the previous chapter it was argued that Peter the Venerable’s letter 28 should be read as constituting an indirect response to Bernard’s Apologia. As stated there, this chapter will begin by considering what significance should be attributed to Bernard’s intervention and to Peter’s reply, before turning to the next phase of the correspondence, dating from 1137 to 1138. Bredero links both works with a troubled period of Cluny’s history. The year 1126 saw the brief return to Cluny of Pons of Melgueil, Peter’s predecessor but one. The latter had abdicated his position as abbot, whether voluntarily or under compulsion, in 1122, to go to the Holy Land. On his return, he attempted during Peter’s absence to reclaim the abbey. Violence ensued, and Pons finally died in prison.1 According to Bredero, rather than voicing external criticism in the Apologia, Bernard should in fact be seen as promoting internal Cluniac moves towards reform.2 This proposition is intimately bound up with his thesis that Pons’s abdication arose from his attempts to implement these moves, and that Peter the Venerable was appointed as a proponent of traditional Cluniac monasticism.3 As Pacaut has pointed out, however, this contention is unsupported by external evidence.4