The Crusading Idea in Cluniac Literature of the Eleventh Century

  • E. Delaruelle
Part of the Readings in European History book series (SEURH)


Noteworthy as Cluny’s role may have been in the eleventh century as far as strictly religious history is concerned, it is possible that it has been overestimated in the fields of political, social and literary history. For the last thirty years certain historians have been infected with what one can only call ‘panclunism’. Cluny has been given the credit for the creative vitality of the age, and to her has been attributed a decisive influence over the ‘Gregorian reform’, the development of the pilgrimage to St James of Compostela and the redaction of the epic songs and heroic poems of chivalry. Just as there has been a tendency to represent the church as hitherto a spiritual society but now organising herself into a juridical and political entity, or to portray a holy pope like Gregory VII as evolving into an expert on war and finance,1 so too, we are told, did the monastic institution, pressurised by circumstances and attempting to meet a variety of demands, become more and more involved with the world.


Eleventh Century Crusade Idea Promise Land Military Enterprise Benedictine Monastery 
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  1. 1.
    [E. Delaruelle from ‘L’idée de croisade dans la littérature clunisienne du XIe siècle et l’abbaye de Moissac’, in Annales du Midi, 75 (Toulouse, 1963) 419–39. Ed.]CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Sources. On St Mayeul, De vita b. Maioli Libellus: PL 142, 943–62, is the most interesting, not only as regards its subject but also from the point of view of hagiography. PL 142 contains the main material on St Odilo: the life by Jotsald, cols 895–912; his letters, 939–42; his poems, including the Epitaphium Ottonis I magni imperatoris, essential to our inquiry, 961–8; his sermons, 991–1036, which were written, it seems, for the community at Cluny and which have been partially translated in Raymond Oursel, Les saints abbés de Cluny (‘Coll. Les écrits des saints’, Namur, 1960) pp. 89–161. Several lives of St Hugh were produced: most of them are edited in AA SS April n1 641–65; most relevant are, perhaps, the Analecta, pp. 665–70. All this material is also in PL 159, 845–928, plus the correspondence of Hugh (cols 927–46), with many references to other works.Google Scholar
  3. Beside the history of the great abbots and their work must be set the daily life of the monastery by a scrutiny of the charters, especially BB IV. R. Glaber, Historiarum libri V: PL 142, 611–98, is particularly significant because of his one-time connections with Cluny, where he stayed. On the problems of whether Glaber was a Cluniac, what is meant by Cluny, what was the difference between the Burgundian abbey and other Benedictine monasteries, what was the spirit of Cluny, see J. Leclercq, ‘Pour une histoire de la vie à Cluny’, in RHE LVII (1962) 786 ff.Google Scholar
  4. Secondary Works. Unfortunately no work has been specifically devoted to our theme. One can have recourse to the general histories of the Benedictine order, notably E. Sackur, Die Cluniacenser, 11 101–13; Dom P. Schmitz, Hist. de l’Ordre de saint Benoît, 1, 2nd ed. (Maredsous, 1948) pp. 234–46, with a map in addition to the text: no. 6;Google Scholar
  5. P. Jardet, Saint Odilon, sa vie, son temps, ses oeuvres (Lyons, 1898) is still useful.Google Scholar
  6. More recent is the work of G. Gaillard, ‘La pénétration clunisienne en Espagne pendant la première moitié du XIe s.’, in Bull. trimestr. du Centre internation. d’études romanes (1960) 8–15;Google Scholar
  7. G. Gaillard, ‘Cluny et l’Espagne dans l’art roman du XIe s.’, in Bull. hisp. LXIII (1961) 153–60;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. E. Magnien, ‘Le pèlerinage de Saint-Jacques de Compostelle et l’expansion de l’ordre de Cluny’, Bull. hisp. (1957) in 3–17. The article by R. d’Abadal i di Vinyals, ‘L’esperit de Cluny i les relacions de Catalunya amb Roma i la Italia en el segle X’, in Studi medievali, 3rd ser. n 3–41, does not touch at any point on the problem of the crusades.Google Scholar
  9. On Spain at this time, see the important work by R. Menendez Pidal, La España del Cid, 4th edition, completely revised, published in Obras completas (Madrid, 1947) esp. vol. I, and in II the genealogical table of various Spanish dynasties, and maps.Google Scholar
  10. On the idea of the crusade, see the remarkable work by Carl Erdmann, ‘Die Entstehung des Kreuzzugsgedankens’, in Forschung z. Kirchen- u. Geistesgesch. VI (Stuttgart, 1935), where the gradual emergence of the idea in the west is examined together with the rise of a new spiritual consciousness and the Christianisation of war in a society transformed by the Gregorian reform: esp. pp. 60 ff. on the Cluniacs before the holy war, pp. 88–91, 124–7 on the Spanish crusades. Reference will also be made to the present writer’s article ‘Essai sur la formation de l’idée de croisade’, in Bulletin de littérature eccl. (=BLE) (1941).Google Scholar
  11. 1.
    Anouar Hatem, Les poèmes épiques des croisades, genèse, historicité, localisation, Essai sur l’activité littérataire dans les colonies franques de Syrie au Moyen-Âge (Paris, 1932) pp. 43, 45, 52. These views on the origin of the crusades occasionally further the ‘panclunism’ referred to above: ‘for two centuries this Burgundian institution ruled the papacy unceasingly’ (p. 45). The truce of God was ‘par excellence a Cluniac institution’ (p. 76).Google Scholar
  12. 3.
    Ferdinand Chalandon, Histoire de la première croisade (Paris, 1925) pp. 12, 14.Google Scholar
  13. 4.
    P. Boissonnade, Du nouveau sur la Chanson de Roland (Paris, 1923) p. 11. It is at the point where he makes the most decisive and delicate statements that he too often fails to give references. On p. 12, for example, he says that ‘monks and clerks encouraged these matrimonial alliances’ between France and Spain, which were decisive in the idea of a holy war. On p. 22 he refers to the crusade of Barbastro as the ‘first that the papacy organised under the influence of French monks’.Google Scholar
  14. The same author returns to the problem and underlines even more heavily the role of the Cluniacs in ‘Cluny, la papauté et la première grande croisade internationale contre les Sarrasins d’Espagne, Barbastro (1064–1065)’, in Rev. des questions hist. CXVII (1932) 257–301.Google Scholar
  15. His conclusions have been challenged by A. Fliche, Histoire du Moyen Âge, II: L’Europe occidentale de 888–1125 (G. Glotz, ‘Histoire générale’, Paris, 1930) p. 551, n. 12 and by Erdmann, op. cit. p. 61, who speaks of ‘pure fantasy’. But neither of these specialists discusses the subject at any length.Google Scholar
  16. 1.
    J. Bédier, Les légendes épiques, Recherches sur la formation des chansons de geste, 111 (Paris, 1912) pp. 368–72, 384. See also IV 462, which inspired E. Petit in his Histoire des ducs de Bourgogne.Google Scholar
  17. 3.
    Ibid. cols 947, 951, 96o; De vita S. Odilonis, col. 897, and 1, n. See BLE (1944) 24–8, where I have studied the new kind of warrior, very different from the plundering baron. A biography such as the Vita Geraldi Auriliacensis of St Odo contributed to the new concept. Here one ought to add a note on the famous satirical poem by Adalbert of Laon on Cluny and Odilo: it has been edited and translated with a commentary by G. A. Hückel, ‘Les poèmes satiriques d’Adalbéron’, in Mélanges d’Histoire du Moyen-dge (published under the direction of Luchaire, ‘Bibi. de la Faculté de lettres de Paris’, XIII, Paris, 1901) pp. 49–184. For Hückel, the appearance of Robert the Pious marked a new monastic policy: the king calling into public life the monks, whose numbers were increasing, especially the Cluniacs; the Carmen ad Robertum denounced this policy, condemning at the same time Odilo and the new style of life at Cluny: ‘I am a soldier now…. No, I am no longer a monk but I fight under the orders of a king, Odilo, king of Cluny’ (VV. 113–15). But this poem is too old–the MS. comes from the early part of the eleventh century (p. 124) and the satirical character is too marked for us to be able to find in the extract evidence relating to the idea of a crusade in Cluny: if the Saracens are involved (VV. 120 ff.) it is in connection with a raid in the diocese of Tours and the inspiration is burlesque, which affects the way this pamphlet must be interpreted: not too seriously.Google Scholar
  18. 4.
    2852, 2855, 2888, 2977, etc., and for the end of the period with which we are concerned, 3600 (A.D. 1083), 3601, 3610, 3614, 3615, 3626, 3652. For the region we are dealing with, see no. 3410: donation by Almodis and Raymond de St Gilles; 3454 and 3500: donation by Roger de Foix. There is only one case of a Holy Land pilgrimage, 2922: Archimbald viscount of Mâcon, written before going to Jerusalem. On the composition of the Gluniac domain in the Pyrenean Midi, see nos 3410, 3414, 3416, 3419, 3454, 3457, 3471, 3480, 3500, 3514 (la Daurade de Toulouse), 3515 (Camprodon). Among these donations we have already noted the one made by Almodis, even though it does not exactly relate to this region; but Raymond de St Gilles associates himself with his mother in this deed, and one wonders where he got the idea of the crusade from: may one suppose he had actually fought in Spain? See Laurita and John Hill, ‘Raymond IV de Saint-Gilles, comte de Toulouse’, in Bibl. méridion. 2nd ser. XXXV (Toulouse, 1959) 7, where the authors quite rightly point out our ignorance of the precise relationship between Raymond and Cluny with regard to the crusading idea.Google Scholar
  19. The problem has been treated by A. Fliche, ‘Urbain II et la croisade’, in Rev. d’hist. de l’Égl. de Fr. XIV (1927) 296 ff.Google Scholar
  20. 1.
    PL 142, 941, Epist. 2. In Epist. 3 Odilo addresses Garcia, wishing him pacem et victoriam but without promising him any other help than that of prayer. It is doubtless the same Garcia that we meet in BB IV 3343, victorious over the Saracens. If the vocation of the Cluniacs differs from that of the milites it, too, can be seen in a heroic light: but its struggle is against Satan. The Vita Maioli (PL 142, 952) describes as one of Mayeul’s virtues the power he brought to bear in the spiritual combat. On the heroic ideal, see E. Delaruelle, ‘La pietà popolare nel sec. XI’, in X Congresso internaz. di sc. stor. (Rome, 1955) Relazioni, 111 322–5.Google Scholar
  21. 2.
    See Lamma, loc. cit., and ‘Momenti di storiografia cluniacense’, in Istituto stor. ital. per it M. Evo, 42–4 (Rome, 1961).Google Scholar
  22. 1.
    PL 142, 943, De vita b. Maioli Libellus. Remarkable though it is, this page of Odilo raises a question: where exactly do the monks stand with regard to the third age, which is the age of the priests? Are we still in the third age or are we entering a new era, that of the ordo monasticus? ‘Deinde coepit monasticus ordo pullulare.’ Perhaps one may look for at least a partial solution in the fact that Odilo, unlike the previous abbots of Cluny, who had only been monks, was also a priest and always showed himself proud of this dignity: in one charter (2888) he is mentioned under the designation ‘Odilo, cluniensis monasterii presbiter et monacus’. One can thus understand that he would not differentiate between the ordo clericorum and the ordo monachorum in the same way that others would want to. On all these questions, see Dom J. Leclercq, ‘Le sacerdoce des moines’, in Irénikon, XXXVI (1963) 15 ff.Google Scholar
  23. 1.
    H. Marrou, ‘Ammien Marcellin et les Innocents de Milan’, in Mélanges Jules Lebreton 11 (‘Recherches de sciences religieuses’ XL, 1952) pp. 179–90. Jotsald, cap. XII, describing the virtue of strength in Odilo, tells us that he had dreamed of martyrdom.Google Scholar
  24. 2.
    P. Lauer, ‘Le règne de Louis IV d’Outremer, Annales de l’histoire de France a l’époque carolingienne’, in Bibl. de l’École des Hautes-Études, sc. philol. et hist. 127 (Paris, 1900) 281–2; edition of the text pp. 319–23, where the following passage occurs: ‘cuncti flete/pro Willelmo/innocente/interfecto’.Google Scholar
  25. 5.
    Perhaps I may be permitted to refer to my paper given to the Congrès des Sociétés savantes de Saint-Gaudens, Fédération des Pyrénées, Languedoc et Gascogne, 1962: ‘L’adoration des Mages au portail de Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges, sa signification théologique et spirituelle, ses parallèles’ (published in Revue de Comminges, 1964).Google Scholar
  26. 2.
    Émile Lesne, Hist. de la propriété eccl. en France, iv: Les livres, ‘scriptoria’ et bibliothèques du commencement du Ville d la fin du XIe s. (‘Mémoires, et travaux... des Facultés cathol. de Lille’ XLVI, Lille, 1938) p. 499.Google Scholar
  27. 1.
    Analecta hymnica medii aevi, ed. C. Blume and G. M. Dreves, II: Hymnarius moissiacensis, Das Hymnar der Abtei Moissac im X. Jt nach einer Hs. der Rossiana (Leipzig, 1888).Google Scholar
  28. 2.
    G. G. Meersseman, ‘Der Hymnos Akathistos im Abendland, I: Akathistos-Akoluthia u. Grusshymnen’, in Spicilegium Friburg. 11 (Freiburg, Sw. 1958) nos 16, 17, 18, pp. 153–7. The author has placed these hymns in the Marian context of the high middle ages. Dating from the tenth century, these hymns come before the influence of the Akathistos hymn, which in this sphere would merely reinforce Marian devotion in its Cluniac sense–i.e. in the direction of praise and devotion rather than towards the struggle against heresy and paganism, as happened later.Google Scholar
  29. 3.
    In the same collection, Analecta hymnica, by Dreves, Hymnodia gotica: Die mozarabischen Hymnen des alt-spanischen Ritus, ed. C. Blume (1897). Most interesting from our point of view are nos 195, 205, 206. The hymn to St Saturninus is no. 163 (in the Moissac collection no. 89).Google Scholar
  30. 4.
    Cap. 49 in the catalogue of Marguerite Vidal and others, Quercy roman, zodiaque (1959) p. 133. See Rousset, op. cit. p. 8 and Émile Male, L’art religieux du XIIe s. en France (Paris) p. 10, who has reason to think that the Jerusalem portrayed in the cloisters of Moissac is the heavenly Jerusalem and not the city of which there was talk of conquering.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1971

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  • E. Delaruelle

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