The Strengths And Weaknesses Of Cluniac Monasticism

Table of Content

Assess the strengths and failings of Cluniac monasticism between the ten percent and 12th centuries. The nature of Cluny ballad in the fortunes of it ’ s foundation. It was endowed with a step of independency by it ’ s laminitis, Duke William, leting the monastics to elect their ain archimandrite, puting the abbey straight under the care of St Peter and the Apostolic See. As a house dedicated to resuscitating rigorous Benedictine observation Cluny was non alone, but it was this indepencence, the succesion of gifted archimandrites and it ’ s administration set up by Abbot Berno that laid the foundations of the abbey ’ s subsequently illustriousness.

The independency granted Cluny in it ’ s foundation charter was esssential in the development of Cluny free from the intervention of ballad barons and local bishops. It ’ s direct dependance on Rome was non ab initio of great importence ; other foundations had beemn bequeathed to the apostles before. However, this was an of import foundation upon which subsequently archimandrites were to construct. By seeking apostolic blessing for Cluniac reforms the archimandrites forged a valuble direct nexus to the pontificate, whilst addition officail public regognition and indorsement of the Cluniac regieme. In obtaining the right to accept monastics from other orders in 931 Odo had confirmed the righht of the Cluniacs to reform others houses, while Cluny gained freedom from the local bishops under Abbot Odilo in 998. it was ‘ the subsequent growing, under far straiter apostolic inadvertence, of Cluny ’ s freedom from Episcopal control in religious affairs, that did most to consolidate Cluny ’ s capable houses under it ’ s ain cardinal authorization ’ . This meant Cluny was immune to challenges to it ’ s authorization from both without and within the church. Cluny became of peculiar note to sucessive Popes, with it ’ s repute for reform, and the pontificate continued to back up the cluniacs, with Pope John XIX giving Cluny ’ s monastics complete freedom from intervention whereever they were in 1024.

This essay could be plagiarized. Get your custom essay
“Dirty Pretty Things” Acts of Desperation: The State of Being Desperate
128 writers

ready to help you now

Get original paper

Without paying upfront

However, this would hold been nil without the model religious life that was seen to be at Cluny. The continual usage of vocal supplication was popular with the temporalty, with many wishing to be included in the supplications of the monastics. The personal qualities of the archimandrites were besides much admired, as was the manner of life practised at Cluny. The cluniac theoretical account of Benedictine obervence was seen by many by the clip of Abbot Hugh to be an achieved ideal, the most perfect manner of life and worship. Individual monastics were besides praised by comtemparys for their ascectism and monkish qualities, and the eremetic qualities which could be found within the common life of the monastry. Charity and almsgiving besides formed a regular portion of life at Cluny, which once more showed the sanctity and faithful observence of the monastics.

It was a combination of the personal authorization of the archimandrites, the Benedictine observence of the Cluniacs and the reputation and public regard in which the order was held that resulted in the enlargement of the Order. The success of the order in it ’ s resoration of Benedictine observence attracted invitations by ballad barons for the Cluniacs to reform their monastries, and gifts of houses, some new foundations, some old abbeys. Such reform was non ever welcomed by the monastics of the profered houses, such as the monastics of Fleury. Papal paronage, and the will of ballad helpers meant that from the clip of Odilo these reformed houses became dependecies of Cluny. This was non ever set into consequence instantly, and the stringency of the bond varied from house to house. It was the independency granted in the founding charter that allowed the Order to spread out this manner, and develop independently. Not merely was Cluny free from control of any local baron or bishop, it was besides trusted by all due to this liberty.

Cluny attracted gifts from all degrees of society and of all kinds, from monstries, churches and lands, to child oblates, gifts of money big and little and goods. It besides attracted many new recruits to it ’ s religious residences. This crestless wave in Numberss had both positive and negative consequences. Expanded Numberss meant that Cluny could no longer back up it ’ s community from the environing lands and their ain green goods. Increased Numberss besides brought increased jobs with disicpline and ordinance. The more brethern, the less like the ideal Benedictine household the monastries became, and the more distant the archimandrite. The enlargement in the figure of houses meant that by 1095 existent supervising of them became impossible. The archimandrite of Cluny was continually on the move, while many houses merely seldom saw thei R abbot.This led to a relaxation of subject and observence, taking to misdemeanors of the regulation

One of Cluny ’ s early strenghts was it ’ s archimandrites, many of whom were canonised. Berno and Odo were both work forces of differentiation, with Odo being called upon to reform other houses, and whose good dealingss with ballad swayers gained the abbey two of import charters, one from Rudolf of Burgundy in 927, one from Louis vitamin D ’ Outremer in939, which confirmed the abbey ’ s independency and rights. Aymar was non such a solon but under him the abbey ’ s keeping were consolidated and their personal businesss good ordered. Odilo was another archimandrite of great religious energy and an active reformist and builder. Throughout his and Hugh ’ s riegn the powers of the archimandrite over the Order increased, until by the clip of Hugh the archimandrite had become about a monarchial figure. The archimandrite was besides going more removed from the community of brethern, through his increased power and function in public life, and going above the day-to-day subjects of the Benedictine observence. This was non nessercarily a good thing, since it was damaging to the Benedictine ideal of humbleness, asceticism and familial bonds, although the strenght of the abbot brought many benefits to the Cluniac Order and to their mission of reconstructing Benedictine observence. Hugh himself was a great adult male, with peculiar ties with the Popes of his clip, frequently being asked to move as official emissary and mediate between controversialists on the Popes behalf, as he did with Henry II and Pope Gregory.

That Hugh was trusted by both sides in the differences testifies to his personal unity and endowments, from which the order besides benefited. These work forces were all synonmous with the order they represented, with Cluny reflecting the features of its great archimandrites, and they of their abbey to the benefits of both. However, the strenght and outstanding place the archimandrite had aquired were merely every bit good as the adult male. Pons left a trail of break in his aftermath, with the order enduring from internal splits, deficiency of subject and a tarnished repute. Peter the Venerable tried to reform the Order, but it was a difficult occupation, confronting oppostion from protagonists of Ponss and those houses where observence had slackened, and while he was largly successful, Peter could non entirly mend the harm done to Cluny ’ s repute and religious energy. The factionalism was so bad because Ponss had been the caput of all the cluniac houses, and so any break at Cluny disturbed the whole order. Pons had besides left fiscal adversities and debts behind him, which were to blight Peter. Not merely had Ponss emptied the caissons, the convulsion at Cluny stemmed the flow of pecuniary gifts upon which Cliuny had become reliant to buy supplies for it ’ s expanded Numberss.

Earlier Monetary gifts led to the splendifing of the churches and monastry edifices, and of the implements used. This was contrary to the Benedictine ideal of poorness, and criticised by newer orders commited to genuine poorness and terrible acsetism. Religious ideals had changed, and the Cluniac manner was no longer seen as the ideal. There was a new religious clime I n which Both laxness and cluniac practises such as leting oblates and deceasing work forces into the order, and the luster of the churches were criticised. This ‘ crisis of prosperity ’ could barely be avoided, being as it was a reaction against the wealths of success. The Cluniacs were criticised by those who favoured a more eremetic manner of monasticism, and the stricter Cistercians. They were besides criticised by laypersons and other cabals within the church. As an order, their popularity was on the ebb by the 12th century.

The chief strenghts of cluniac monasticism lay in its independency, it ’ s early religious energy, it ’ s observence of the Benedictine regulation and it ’ s sainly archimandrites. These provided really good for Cluny for a important period, but over-growth of the order led to a relaxation in observence of the Rule, and with the disasterous abbacy of Pons and a basic displacement in spiritual sentiment these strenghts became failings that


  1. Evans, Cloistered Life at Cluny 910-1157 ( Oxford University Press, 1931 )
  2. Ed. Hunt, Cluniac Monasticsm in the cardinal in-between ages, ( Macmillan, 1971 )
  3. Lynch, The Medeval Church, ( Longman, 1992 )
  4. Cowdrey, The Cluniacs and the Gregorian Reform, ( Oxford, 1970 )
  5. Lawrence, Medeval Monasticism, ( Longman, 1989 )
  6. Southern, Western Society and the Church in the Middle Ages, ( Pelican, 1970 )
  7. Ed. Holmes, The Oxford Illustrated History of Medeval Europe, ( Oxford, 2001 )

Cite this page

The Strengths And Weaknesses Of Cluniac Monasticism. (2017, Jul 17). Retrieved from

Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront