The Spiritual Life of Cluny in the Early Days

  • Kassius Hallinger
Part of the Readings in European History book series (SEURH)


In 1942 G. Schreiber declared that the problem of Cluny had not yet been solved, and this surprising judgement still holds good.2 In spite of E. Sackur’s monumental work and mounting piles of literature on the subject we have still not nearly fathomed the phenomenon of Cluny in all its depths.3 We do not even possess an adequate list of all its affiliated houses, and as for Cluny’s own inward life, it remains for us a thing practically unknown.4 Sackur’s tendency to exaggerate the importance of Cluny meets with growing opposition, and recent research has not only modified our former conception of Cluny: it has even detached from it altogether the vast area of reform in Lorraine.5


Spiritual Life Eleventh Century French Edition Monastic Community Interior Life 
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  1. 1.
    This article appeared first in DA 10 (1954) 417–45. The [French] edition was an abridged and modified version of the original, made at the request of Dom J. Leclercq and translated by Dom H. Rochais. To these two confrères I wish to express my gratitude. [It is from the French edition, ‘Le climat spirituel des premiers temps de Cluny’, in RM 46 (1956) 117–40, that the present translation has been made. Ed.]Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    G. Schreiber, Gemeinschaften des Mittelalters (Münster, 1948) pp. 81–8.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    E. Sackur, Die Cluniacenser in ihrer kirchlichen und allgemeingeschichtlichen Wirksamkeit, 2 vols (Halle, 1892–4).Google Scholar
  4. A bibliography of later work is given by K. Hallinger in Enciclopedia cattolica, 111 (1949) cols 1883–98.Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    On the question of Cluniac houses, the two publications of J. Bouton, in Bernard de Clairvaux, Comm. d’Histoire de l’Ordre de Cîteaux (1953) pp. 193–249, need some revision.Google Scholar
  6. The most useful lists are in G. de Valous, Le monachisme clunisien (Paris, 1935) 11 179–270Google Scholar
  7. J. Evans, Romanesque Architecture of the Order of Cluny (Cambridge, 1938) pp. 153–218.Google Scholar
  8. See also N. Hunt, Cluny under St Hugh (London, 1967) pp. 5 ff. and 124 f Ed.Google Scholar
  9. 5.
    See P. E. Schramm, in Göttingische Gelehrte Anzeigen, 207 (1953) 80 ff.Google Scholar
  10. T. Schieffer, in DA 1 (1937) 352 ff.Google Scholar
  11. On reform in Lorraine, see K. Hallinger, Gorze–Kluny (‘Studia Anselmiana’, XXII–XXV, Rome, 1950–1).Google Scholar
  12. 1.
    The main conclusions are summarised in Bruno Gebhardt, Handbuch der deutschen Geschichte, I: Frühzeit und Mittelalter (1954) pp. 215–18.Google Scholar
  13. See also p. 117, n. 9 of the French edition of the present article for a lengthy bibliography in which the sole English publication is that of H. Dauphin in Downside Review, 7 (1952). Ed.Google Scholar
  14. 2.
    See F. Heer, Aufgang Europas, 1 (1949) pp. 387, 407; Schreiber, op. cit. pp. 102 ff. For a better understanding, see the detailed treatment in the German original of the present article in DA 10 (1954) 418 ff.Google Scholar
  15. 3.
    See A. Brackmann, Hist. Zeitschrift, 139 (1929) 34 ff. See also the following notes.Google Scholar
  16. 1.
    G. Tellenbach, Church, State and Christian Society at the Time of the Investiture Contest (Oxford, 1940) pp. 189 ff.;Google Scholar
  17. A. Fliche, La réforme grégorienne, 1 (Louvain, 1924) pp. 39–60.Google Scholar
  18. Most important is the short study by C. H. Talbot, ‘Cluniac Spirituality’, in The Life of the Spirit, 2 (1945) 97–101.Google Scholar
  19. 3.
    E. Werner, Die Gesellschaftlichen Grundlagen der Klosterreform im rr. Jahrhundert (dissertation, Leipzig, 1952; publ. Berlin, 1953).Google Scholar
  20. P. E. Schramm, Geschichte in Wissenschaft und Unterricht, 11–12 (1954) 754. To his opinion can be added the observation that E. Werner has not achieved his object: Marian devotion, an increase in the number of Masses, the cult of the cross are something quite other than a sociological phenomenon. At Cluny, prayer for the dead had roots that were deeper than superficial economic considerations. In short, Werner has yet to prove that the whole interior and external life of Cluny was merely a façade.Google Scholar
  21. 4.
    Such was the reaction of C. Schmitt, Encicl. cattol. IX (1952) cols 65–7.Google Scholar
  22. See also A. Hessel, in Hist. Zeitschrift, 128 (1923) 1–25;Google Scholar
  23. W. Williams, in Monastic Studies (1938) 24–8; J. Laporte, in Congrès, pp. 138–43;Google Scholar
  24. A. Nitschke, ‘Die Welt Gregors VII’ (diss. Göttingen, 1950). Compare the discussions of P. E. Schramm, in Göttingische Gelehrte Anzeigen 207 (1953) 72 and K. Voormann, ‘Studien zu Odo von Kluny’ (diss. Bonn, 1951). I am grateful to Professor W. Holtzmann for having allowed me to examine the last named work.Google Scholar
  25. For the works of Odo of Cluny, see M. Manitius, Geschichte der latein. Literatur des Mittelalters (Munich, 1923) 11 20–7.Google Scholar
  26. 2.
    Odonis abbatis Cluniacensis Occupatio, ed. A. Svoboda (Leipzig, 1900). See Manitius, op. cit. II 22 and L. Kolmer, Beilage z. Jahresber. d.H. Gymn. Metten (1912) pp. 31 ff.Google Scholar
  27. 2.
    St Basil, Regula ad Monachos, 3, PL 103, 496; St Augustine, Enarratio in Ps. 132: PL 37, 1729 ff. See A. Zumkeller, Das Mönchtum des hl. Augustinus (1950) pp. 129 ff.Google Scholar
  28. 3.
    For St Gregory’s influence on St Odo, see Laporte, loc. cit. pp. 138 ff. Statements by St Gregory in favour of the eremitic life may be found in Dialogues, 2, ed. U. Moricca, Fonti per la Storia d’Italia, 4 (1924) p. 14 and in Regist. Epist. 1, 5; MGH Epist, 15. See also O. Pored, ‘La doctrina monastica de San Gregorio M.’ (diss. Washington, 1950).Google Scholar
  29. 1.
    VG II 16, col. 94. For the authenticity of this life, see A. Poncelet, in Anal. Boll. 14 (1895) 89–107.Google Scholar
  30. A. Zimmermann, Lexicon f. Theol. u. Kirche, 4 (1932) 406 ff. In the Collationes Odo places the monks among the ranks of celestial beings: they lose their kingdom when they are led astray through earthly things. See below, n. 5 for further references.Google Scholar
  31. 4.
    VG n 8; Coll. I, 1o, cols 91, 168: ‘ad desiderium conditoris incalescere’. VG 2, praef., col. 87. See also the homily for the feast of St Martin, Bibl. Cl. 126, and Coll. 2, I I, col. 196 (conditio portandae cruris: daily martyrdom). Stress is frequently laid on austerity: see, for. example, Coll. 2, 8, cols 167 ff. The necessity of struggling against the vices is expressed in VG 2, 1, col. 88. For the previous history of the theme of monastic martyrdom, see E. Malone, ‘The monk and the martyr’ (diss. Washington, 1950) and J. Leclercq, La vie parfaite (Paris, 1953) ch. 5, pp. 125–60.Google Scholar
  32. 2.
    A valuable introduction to this concept of the patristic age is given by J. Daniélou, Sacramentum futuri (1950) pp. 3–52. For the fathers a life free from marriage was equivalent to a return to paradise (reditus in paradisum): see D. Dumm, ‘St Jerome’s theory of virginity’ (diss. S. Anselmo, Rome, 1950).Google Scholar
  33. 3.
    G. Bürke, ‘Die Origenes Lehre vom Urstand des Menschen’, in Zeitschrift f. Kathol. Theol. (1950) 20 ff.Google Scholar
  34. E. Peterson, ‘Der Stand der Vollkommenheit in der Urkirche’, in Acta et documenta Congressus generalis de statibus perfectionis, 1 (1950) 476–9.Google Scholar
  35. 4.
    JS 114, col. 50. On the peace which exists between the ‘perfect’ and the wild beasts, see A. Stolz, Theologie der Mystik (1936) pp. 26 ff.Google Scholar
  36. 1.
    De Genesi ad litteram, VI 24: CSEL 28, 1196. Numerous references to other sources are given by G. Ladner, Mitt. des Inst. Österr. Geschichtsforsch. 60 (1952) 41–8, esp. n. 82.Google Scholar
  37. 2.
    Tertullian, De carnis resurrectione, 61: PL 2, 932. Here, asceticism is a means of anticipating the final and eternal silence: ‘uirtutis futurae liniamenta’. Similarly St Cyprian, De oratione, 36, CSEL 3, 1, p. 294, 11: ‘imitemur, quod futuri sumus’; and St Augustine, Enarratio in Ps. 132, n. 13: PL 37, 1736: ‘corde praecede, quo sequaris corpore’. Others also, outside Africa, had the same ideas: e.g. St Jerome, Epistolae, 22, 41: CSEL 54, 210: ‘esse incipe, quod futura es’, and earlier Origen, Exp. in Eph. 5: ‘qui similes angelis futuri sumus, iam nunc incipiamus esse’: text in Fr W. B. Bornemann, In investigation monachatus origin (1885) p. 24.Google Scholar
  38. 1.
    Pachomius, Regula, 60, ed. A. Boon, Pachomiana latina (Louvain, 1952) p. 32; St Basil, Regula, praef.: PL 103, 487; St Benedict, Regula, cap. 6, ed. C. Butler (1935) pp. 28 ff.Google Scholar
  39. 4.
    The information supplied by JS 1 32, col. 57 is confirmed by the customaries of Cluny edited by B. Albers, Consuetudines monasticae, 11 (1905) p. 22: see Gorze-Kluny, 11 872–1 ff and 925–33.Google Scholar
  40. G. Brugnoli, ‘La biblioteca dell’abbazia di Farfa’, in Benedictina, 5 (1951) 10 ff. betrays a total ignorance of Cluniac customs and tradition.Google Scholar
  41. The list of books given in the Consuetudines Farfenses belongs to Cluny: see A. Wilmart in RM (1921) 89–126.Google Scholar
  42. 5.
    I. Cechetti, ‘Tibi silentium laus’, in Miscellanea Mohlberg (Rome, 1949) pp. 521–70, esp. pp. 522 ff., which contains studies on gnostic, biblical, christological, ascetic, mystical and liturgical silence. He does not deal with monastic silence.Google Scholar
  43. On this see D. P. Salmon, ‘Le silence religieux’, in Mélanges bénédictins (Paris, 1947) pp. 11–57. St Odo knew St Gregory the Great’s Moralia, 30 XVI, n. 53: PL 76, 533, where apocalyptic silence is treated. It is hardly likely that Odo depended directly on St Ignatius of Antioch.Google Scholar
  44. 3.
    G. Bekès, De continua oration Clementis Alexandrini doctrina (‘Studia Anselmiana’, Rome, 1942). See also n. 5 below.Google Scholar
  45. 5.
    Occupatio, lib. VII, VV. 542–50 (uita angelica and sexual abstinence); similarly in VG n 8, col. 91: ‘monachi perfecti beatis angelis assimilantur’. Monasticism is for St Odo caelestis disciplina, caelestis militiae tyrocinium: see his sermon on St Benedict, Bibl. Cl. 138, 141, where Benedict is described as an angel: col. 141. When speaking of St Odo, John of Salerno can think of no better expression than angelicus uidelicet et humanus. On patristic references to the uita angelica, see Leclercq, La vie parfaite, pp. 19–56; L. Bouyer, Le sens de la vie monastique (Paris, 1950) pp. 43–68;Google Scholar
  46. J. Daniélou, ‘Terre et paradis chez les Pères de l’Église’, in Eranosjahrbuch, 22 (1953) 433–73.Google Scholar
  47. 3.
    E. Norden, P. V. Maro Aeneis Buch VI 2 (1916) p. 52 (there, nec mortale sonans). The liturgical application of this quotation from Vergil shows how highly Odo esteemed the liturgy. Similarly Coll. 2, 6, col. Igo: ‘quibus eloquia Dei credita sunt’; ibid. the condemnation of terrenis inhiare.Google Scholar
  48. 3.
    Heer, op. cit. 1 402, 393, 396, 398, 410; W. Weisbach, Religiöse Reform and mittelalterliche Kunst (1945) pp. 37–41;Google Scholar
  49. I. Herwegen, Kirche and Seele (1928) pp. 22 ff. It seems however to be during the Carolingian era that Christ the king began to be represented in ways which highlighted his humanity rather than his divinity. So, in the following era, the tenth century, it was necessary to re-emphasise his divinity.Google Scholar
  50. 4.
    humilis Deus; dulcedo praesens; cordis secretum. In Cluny’s early years Christ is sometimes presented as a king: e.g. De S. Bened.: Bibl. Cl. 142; Coll. I, 31, col. 179 and passim. But this is neither the only nor the main concept: Coll. I, 19, col. 172 (shepherd); cols 170, 182 (humilis rex, humilis Dews); cols 214, 26, (the one who is scourged, crowned with thorns, given gall to drink); VG 2, praef. cols 13 and 87 (carrying his cross); ibid. col. 88 (agnus); ibid. col. 75 (pauper); Coll. 2, 30, col. 210 (sacerdos); VG 115, and Coll. 1, 18, cols 76 and 172 (veritas), and passim. In the primitive church the concept of Christ the king was not predominant in the liturgy, as is shown by A. Dumon, ‘Grondleggers der Middeleeuwse vroomheid’, in Sacris Erudiri, 1 (1948) 206–24. The same has been proved of the writings of St Ambrose: K. Baus, Das Gebet zu Christus beim hl. Ambrosius (Trier). My pupil M. Balsavich has shown that the same is true of Gregory the Great: ‘The testimony of St Gregory the Great on the place of Christ in prayer’ (diss. S. Anselmo, Rome, 1955). On the affective character of Cluniac devotion to Christ, see VG 1 6, col. 7o (cordis secretum, refectio, riuos dei); ibid. cols 71, 73, 76 (the interior guest); ibid. cols 7o, 72, 79, 91 (dulcedopraesens); col. 94 (in Christo delectation); col. 74 (suauis amplexus sponsi); sermon for the feast of St Benedict, Coll. 2, 6, 11; VG 1 12, cols 143, 191, 195, 74 and passim (Christus = sponsus); Coll. 2, 23, col. 203 (puer Jesus); Coll. 2,,6 and 3, 37, cols 199 and 246 (benignus iudex) and VG 1, praef. col. 60 (benefactor populi).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 1.
    On the contrast between Cluny and the monasteries of the empire, see Gorze–Kluny, 1 417 ff. The difference between the two monastic branches does not, however, signify an iron curtain between Burgundy and Lorraine, as Dom H. Dauphin suggests (see above, p. 30 n.); nor did it amount to lasting ill-feeling, and I would not agree with Weigle, according to whom the two groups would have nothing to do with each other (DA 9, 584). Some hostile reactions did indeed result from the reform. Later the two sides came to collaborate, regarding each other at times with indifference, at times with admiration. On this subject, see what is said about Fleury and the development of the young reform movement at Gorze, about the modifying of customs, about personalities such as Richard of Verdun, Herrand of Halberstadt, Bern of Reichenau, Eckard of Tegernsee-Aura (see the index of Gorze–Kluny). It is from such, research on common problems that I approach the question of the independence or dependence of the two types of monastic observance (ibid. pp. 663, 983 and passim). On Richard’s reform I would refer, in spite of some differences of opinion, to the valuable and penetrating work of Dom H. Dauphin, Le Bienheureux Richard, Abbé de St-Vann de Verdun (Louvain, 1946).Google Scholar
  52. 3.
    Coll. 2, 25, col. 205: pretiosa anima; VG 1 16, cols 193 and 76: cultus animas; VG 1 9, col. 71: arx pietatis in corde. An example of the affective aspect of private devotion is Odo’s veneration of Mary as Mater Misericordiae. On this subject, see P. Cousin in Congrès, pp. 210–18, and H. Barré, ‘Marie et l’Église du Vénérable Bède a S. Albert le Grand’, in Marie et l’Église (Société française d’études mariales, Paris, 1951) p. 78, n. 190. Long before Bernard, Odo evoked the theme of mystic marriage: see above, p. 42 n. Contrary to what Heer puts forward, op. cit. 14.01, Odo, before Mayeul, insisted on the idea of Christ as head of the mystical body. See his sermon for the feast of St Peter, Bibl. Cl. 129 and 200 ff. Also prior to Mayeul, he placed the accent on contemplation: see JS III 12, col. 84; VG II 9, col. 92: ‘suspensus in contemplatione’ and passim.Google Scholar
  53. 3.
    Sackur, op. cit. II 445 ff.; W. Schwarz in Zeitschrift f. Kirchengesch. 42 (1923) 257; Fliche, op. cit. 139 ff. See also the bibliography in Tellenbach, Church, State and Society.Google Scholar
  54. 5.
    C. Erdmann, Die Entstehung des Kreuzzugsgedankens (1935), insists on this.Google Scholar
  55. See also T. Schieffer, in Archiv f. mittelrhein. Kirchengeshich. 4 (1952) 37. See above, p. 35, n. I, for the authenticity of VG.Google Scholar
  56. 3.
    B 1 i 135. On the chronology of the customaries, see R. Philippeau in RM 44 (1954) 141–51Google Scholar
  57. 3.
    and the basic study of M. Rothenhauesler in Stud. Mitt. OSB 33 (1912) 605–20. [See also Hunt, op. cit. pp. 11 ff. Ed.]Google Scholar
  58. 3.
    T. Mayer, Fürsten und Staat (1950) pp. 65 ff. See also Gorze–Kluny, pp. 564 ff. To stand for freedom in abbatial elections was to oppose the bishops and also the seigneurs: ibid. pp. 565 ff. (case of St Mihuel in 1076).Google Scholar
  59. 4.
    On the system of Cluniac priories, see Gorze–Kluny, p. 757. The Cluniac hierarchy was, so to speak, ‘afeudal’ to the extent that it was hardly influenced by French feudal vassalage, as is shown by J. F. Lemarignier, in Revue historique de droit français et étranger, 31 (1953) 171–4.Google Scholar
  60. The anti-feudal aspect of the Cluniac priories had already been indicated by G. Schreiber, in Zeitschrift f. Kirchengesch. 62 (1943) 65 ff. E. Werner, see above, p. 31, n. 3, does not fail to recognise this partly anti-feudal aspect but he prefers to concentrate on the feudal aspects of the Cluniac structure. See also p. 53, n. below. [Hunt, op. cit. pp. 124 ff. and esp. pp. 154 ff., gives a description of the Cluniac structure. Ed.]Google Scholar
  61. 5.
    Sackur, op. cit. 1 289 ff.; R. Molitor, Aus der Rechtsgeschichte bened. Verbände, 1 (1928) pp. 139–41; Gorze–Kluny, p. 86o. [See also Hunt, op. cit. p. 164. Ed.]Google Scholar
  62. 5.
    T. Mayer, in Zeitschrift f. Schweiz. Geschichte, 28 (1948) 145–76, dealing especially with JL 5167 for Schaffhausen and 5184 for Marseilles, and with the refusal to bestow the privilege recommended by Abbot William of Hirsau, who in the pope’s eyes was still too inclined to acknowledge the rights of lay seigneurs. On the independence of Pope Gregory VII, see Werner, op. cit. pp. 89 ff.Google Scholar
  63. 1.
    So H. Jedin. In justifying a total liberty, the foundation charter of 910 tried to achieve, in the midst of a feudal society, a certain ideal inherited from ancient monasticism: the ideal of an existence extra mundum (see DA 10 (1954) 437). Here the problem of Cluniac feudalism is barely touched. Final judgements on this subject seem premature. Cluny was neither exclusively feudal nor in every aspect anti-feudal. One finds a basic structure which is feudal and which, at the same time, has characteristics which can be described as strongly anti-feudal. See Gorze–Kluny, pp. 755, 774, 1018. I have never, as Werner says (op. cit. p. 33), defined Cluny simply as antifeudal.Google Scholar
  64. 2.
    The formula ‘Gregorian Cluniacism’ used by F. Weigle, in DA 9 (1953) 584, takes no account of all the explanations which I have summarised (Gorze–Kluny, pp. 544–97, esp. p. 584) by saying that Gregorianism and Cluniac monasticism are, in their ultimate development, very different from each other despite their common sources. A dispassionate appreciation is given by T. Mayer, in Histor. Zeitschrift, 174, 573.Google Scholar
  65. 3.
    A. Blumenstock, Der päpstliche Schutz im Mittelalter (1890);Google Scholar
  66. L. Taché, in Revue de l’Université d’Ottowa, 11 (1941) 5 ff. and 149–77; J. F. Lemarignier, in Congrès, pp. 288–40.Google Scholar
  67. 6.
    On the canonical movement and the investiture contest, see G. Ladner, Theologie und Politik vor dem Investiturstreit (Baden–Vienna, 1936) pp. 42 ff.Google Scholar
  68. On the part played by the canonical movement, see the very balanced view of C. Dereine in RHE 46 (1951) 767–70.Google Scholar
  69. 2.
    extra mundum. Even at the beginning of the twelfth century there were contacts between the two parties. See J. Sydow, Stud. Mitt. OSB 63 (1951) 45–66.Google Scholar
  70. A. Chagny, Cluny et son empire (1949) pp. 275 f, shows the slow decline of Cluny at the time of its supremacy.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1971

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  • Kassius Hallinger

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