Constant J. Mews

title.none: Kienzle, Cistercians, Heresy and Crusade in Occitania, 1145-1299 (Constant J. Mews)

identifier.other: baj9928.0203.017 02.03.17

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Constant J. Mews, Monash University,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2002

identifier.citation: Kienzle, Beverly Mayne. Cistercians, Heresy and Crusade in Occitania, 1145-1299: Preaching in the Lord's Vineyard. York: York Medieval Press, 2001. Pp. v, 254. 75.00. ISBN: 1-903-15300-x.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 02.03.17

Kienzle, Beverly Mayne. Cistercians, Heresy and Crusade in Occitania, 1145-1299: Preaching in the Lord's Vineyard. York: York Medieval Press, 2001. Pp. v, 254. 75.00. ISBN: 1-903-15300-x.

Reviewed by:

Constant J. Mews
Monash University

This monograph deals with a theme of immense importance in the evolution of the medieval West, the persecution of Cathar heretics and sympathizers in Occ itania in the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Its author, a distinguished authority in the field of sermon studies, takes up a theme all too often glossed over in much literature relating to Cistercian studies, in which more attention is often attached to themes of contemplative spirituality, love and friendship than to Cistercian involvement in a war against heresy. Kienzle's subtitle, "Preaching in the Lord's Vineyard," elucidates the actual subject matter of this book: Cistercian preachi ng about the evils of heresy in Occitania. Whereas Jean Leclercq devoted much attention to expounding the contemplative theological ideals dear to the great Cistercian writers of the twelfth century, Kienzle brings out with great forcefulness that, at least from 1145, Cistercians were deeply engaged in a pastoral (and subsequently military) endeavor, a prolonged assault against the challenge of heresy. Through her close study of the sermons of Bernard of Clairvaux, Henry of Clairvaux, and He^ëlinan d of Froidmont, the Cistercian roots of mendicant preaching against heresy become fully evident. One of the great merits of Kienzle's study is that it bridges a gulf all too often evident in the historiography of this period, between awareness of twelfth-century monastic culture and a thirteenth-century world dominated by mendicant friars and scholastic intellectuals. By focussing on a period of Cistercian culture, often considered by historians to be one of falling away from the ideals of the Carta caritatis, Kienzle demonstrates the key role that Cistercians played in shaping the ethos of Latin orthodoxy as marked by profound fear of heretical subversion. While unable to take advantage of Constance Berman's The Cistercian Evolution: the Invention of a Religious Order in Twelfth-Century Europe (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000), Kienzle develops a complementary theme by examining the links between an increasingly institutionalized religious order and the

development of ecclesiastical ideology in the later twelfth century.

A key difficulty with all anti-heretical literature, particularly acute in the case of Cathar heresy, is that so little evidence survives from the twelfth century about the Cathars themselves. How we are to interpret its rhetorical claims? As Kienzle observes in an excursus on methodology, the study of medieval heresy has attracted much debate in recent years. Her own approach focuses on examination of the rhetorical strategi es employed within anti-heretical sermons. She is concerned with the power of apocalyptic typology, generated within a preaching context, to demonize minority groups. She acknowledges that there is a significant school of French historiography "that stresses the 'invention' of heresy, and the roles of secular processes and/or the discourse of persecution" (p. 21), but insists that "it is possible to uncover the sub-text and reconstruct the historical reality of dissidence beneath the language of the polemics attacking it" (p. 23). This theoretical aside is perhaps less satisfying than her actual analysis of specific texts. Cistercians, heresy and Crusade focuses much more on the historical record of preaching against dissidence than on analysis of Catharism as a religious movement. She does occasionally draw on Ren^ë Girard's notion of "mimetic rivalry" to illustrate that both Cistercians and Cathars each sought to imitate the apostles through strict asceticism, but does not pursue this c omparison in detail. The strength of her study lies rather in her attention to both the ideology and practice of Cistercian preaching. She leaves us in no doubt that contemplative monks were very concerned with what was going on in the Lord's vineyard.

Kienzle outlines the growing concern with heresy in Cistercian literature during the twelfth century. Her early chapters, "The Lord's Vineyard in the Twelfth Century" and "Monastic Spirituality and Literature: the Domestic Vineyard" provide

background to more detailed investigations of the preaching activity of individual Cistercians. Her analysis of Bernard of Clairvaux focuses on the sermons of 1143/44 and the preaching mission to Toulouse in 1145. There is no way around the fact that Bernard, the great preacher of the love of God, had an enormous influence in shaping monastic perception of the heretic as the demonic force in society. Bernard's writings are so extensive that it would have taken an entire monograph to docum ent his evolving fear of heresy. Given that Bernard is so often celebrated for his introspective spirituality, it is salutary to be reminded of the darker side of his preaching. While Kienzle argues that there is an ambiguity present in Bernard's writings about violence, she does note that his claim that it was better for a heretic to be restrained by the sword than to lead others into heresy, the abbot of Clairvaux lay the groundwork for an apparatus of ecclesiastical power very different from the early ideals of Ci^^ïteaux.

As Kienzle explains, Henry, abbot of Clairvaux (1176-79), made cardinal bishop of Albano in 1179 and papal legate in 1181, had no qualms about developing this principle that secular and spiritual authority should work hand in hand. While she does not discuss the institutionalization of the Cistercian Order in these decades, her analysis provides a chilling complement to the research of Constance Berman on the creation of Cistercian self-identity during these ye ars. In being promoted from abbot to cardinal legate and papal legate with responsibility for suppressing heresy in Occitania, Henry laid the foundations for the subsequent Crusade.

Even more sinister, however, is the rhetoric of Arnaud Amaury, the abbot of Ci^^ïteaux who exclaimed during the siege ofBe'^ëziers in 1209, when asked whether both catholics and heretics should be killed: "Kill them all, God will recognize his own." Arnaud was both a monk and the leader of a military expedition. The f act that Caesarius of Heisterbach reports Amaury's claim without any disapproval of the need to repress heretics with violence gives us some clue to the profound institutionalization of violence that had seeped into Latin orthodoxy by the early thirteenth century. Diego, bishop of Osma, and Dominic of Guzman, were working in Arnaud's shadow when they preached in Be'^ëziers in 1206. The brutality of the subsequent military campaign against Cathars made their task all the more difficult, as Cistercia n abbeys became the victim of harsh reprisals. Kienzle emphasizes the continuity in the perspective of Cistercians and Dominicans in the early thirteenth century. Unfortunately, she only hints at the links between Cistercians and Parisian scholastics during this period, and does not explore such a complex intellectual as Alan of Lille, who became a Cistercian during a mission to the Midi in around 1198. In a sixth chapter, Kienzle examines the sermons (not all published) of He^ëlinand of Froidmon. She notes that He^ëlinand has a more historical turn of mind than his Cistercian predecessors, and argues that he was more accurate in his portrayal of Cathar beliefs than either Bernard or Henry of Clairvaux. While He^ëlinand does not have quite the virulence of Arnaud, it is clear that he had no doubt that Cathars represented an axis of evil, to paraphrase the rhetoric of a more recent advocate of godly violence.

This book tells a fascinating and horrific story. There is always more that can be said about the campaigns against Cathar heretics in the Middle Ages. Although Kienzle speaks about Cistercian desire to work with secular authority in the repression of heresy, we do not learn about the actual process by which the Albigensian Crusade fostered the interests of both the French crown and the French nobility in expanding into Occitania. It would be good to learn more about Cistercian involvement in the colonization of Occitania and the destruction of its local culture. Did anti-h eretical preaching change its style in the course of the thirteenth century? As in any violent armed conflict, it is essential to go beyond black and white simplifications, to explore what was inevitably a very complex situation, in which many different visions of orthodoxy competed for influence. Kienzle has looked afresh at a period in the history of the Latin West that should make all of us uncomfortable. Perhaps even more disturbing is the thought that the rhetoric of violence and vilificatio n can still be found in some contemporary discourse of government, claiming to rule in the name of God.