The Adoption of an Order and Customs

  • Henrietta Leyser
Part of the New Studies in Medieval History book series


Eremitical communities if they prospered were, as has been seen, organised under a leader whose commands, if not beyond criticism, were yet regarded as both necessary and authoritative. A certain recognisable pattern was imposed on the hermits’ lives by their observances of the offices of the church but in other respects their routine diverged greatly from that of established religious houses. Their poverty, their asceticism, their practice of manual labour in particular were traits which marked them out as different. In general the hermits seem to have been able to forge this new way of life fairly peacefully among themselves. In some communities there were quarrels as to both means and aims but it seems as if the leaders had more often to try to give shape to religious aspirations than to reconcile conflicting schemes. But the hermits were seldom content to have simply established a working community. They were not sure that to live in obedience only to a superior was a sufficient guarantee against the pitfalls of an arbitrary life. They felt uneasy at having no recognised status within the church, at having to depend on the spoken word rather than the written rule and they felt worried about the permanence of their ideals, how to ensure the continuity of their settlements.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Vita Stephani... Obazinensis, Bk. 11, Ch. 1, p. 96.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Peregrinus, Historia Praelatorum et possessionum ecclesiae b. Mariae de Fontanis, L. d’Achéry (ed.), Spicilegium, II (Paris, 1723), Ch. 6, pp. 574–5.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Hugh of St. Victor; cited in C. W. Bynum ‘The discovery of the individual’, p. 10.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Memorials of... Fountains, p. 35.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    The debate is given in J. Dickinson, The Origins of the Austin Canons and their Introduction into England (London, 1950), p. 30.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Vita Romualdi, Ch. 35, pp. 75–6.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Vita Johannis, Ch. 29, p. 1087.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Seher, Primordia Calmosiacensia, Bk. I, p. 326.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Tractatus de conversione Pontii de Larazio, Ch. 20, p. 183.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Exordium... Haffligeniensis, Ch. 5, p. 15.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Vita Stephani... Obazinensis, Bk. 11, Ch. 1, p. 96.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    ‘Vie de Gaucher d’Aureil’, Ch. 13, p. 52.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Herman, Liber de Restauratione... S. Martini Tornacensis, Ch. 4, p. 277.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Vita Stephani... Obazinensis, Bk. I, Ch. 26, p. 82.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
  16. 16.
    Ibid., Bk. 11, Ch. 7, p. 106.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Anselm of Havelberg, De Unitate fidei et Multiformitate Vivendi ab Abel Justo usque ad Novissimum Electum, MPL, CLXXXVIII, col. 1141.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Henrietta Leyser 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henrietta Leyser

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations