05.07.01, Berman, RESPONSE: Berman on Bouchard's Review of Waddell (TMR 05.03.12)

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Constance H. Berman

The Medieval Review baj9928.0507.001


Constance H. Berman. Narrative and Legislative Texts from Early Citeaux: A response to Bouchard's review..
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Constance H. Berman
University of Iowa

Constance B. Bouchard's review TMR 05-03-12 of Waddell, Chrysogonus, ed. Narrative and Legislative Texts from Early Citeaux, etc. includes an entire paragraph that may appear to be a critique of my recent work, The Cistercian Evolution: The Invention of a Religious Order in Twelfth-Century Europe (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000). Although I hesitate to conclude that this is the intention, several of her statements about the relationship of Waddell's to my work stand in need of clarification. Otherwise her insights appear to be a critique of my The Cistercian Evolution, rather than an evaluation of Waddell.

Bouchard says, "Her argument, that the early history of the Order was created from scratch in the 1160s, was based on her own self-described "whirlwind" trip to the European archives to examine some of the manuscripts containing the early narrative and legislative texts, none of which she believed could have been written before the 1160s." The fact is that after extensive work on published editions, I found difficulties that could not be resolved and was fortunately able to look at a number of originals in a few weeks in May 1997; my argument is hardly based on a "whirlwind" tour, although I am still astonished that so many things were available to me on that trip--several years earlier those in Ljubljana would not have been; a year later many of the manuscripts were in display cases in exhibitions concerning the ninth centenary of the founding of Cîteaux. I certainly regret commenting on my great good luck or the cooperation of librarians in seeing all those manuscripts in a few weeks in May 1999, if that comment had led readers to think my work on those manuscripts, for all of which I obtained microfilms, was hasty or superficial.

Bouchard continues, "But she did not look at nearly as broad a collection of manuscripts as did Waddell (she did not note Paris, BNF 15292, which contains the earliest version of the pope's confirmation of the Carta caritatis, and she did not examine any thirteenth-century or later manuscripts, even though they may have reproduced earlier versions of texts than late twelfth-century manuscripts)...." While it is true that I did not include many of the thirteenth-century and later manuscripts many of which I did look at on that and other trips, to include them would have undermined my central argument. Because despite the fact that later manuscripts MAY reproduce earlier versions of texts than the surviving twelfth century manuscripts, there is no possible guarantee that they do. Waddell's search for a "best text" for purposes of monastic indoctrination is not the same as a search for the earliest text for the purposes of making historical judgments. Clearly our aims were and are different.

Moreover, with regard to Paris, BNF 15292, which Waddell calls PAR6 on page 78 of Narrative and Legislative Texts, he identifies this as a mid twelfth-century manuscript with a fourth quarter of the twelfth century insert which is the earliest extant copy of the purported 1119 papal bull. The manuscript itself has an ex libris identifying it as from Morimond which is in a late twelfth century hand. There is no reason to believe that the copy of the bull was inserted before the book was marked as from Morimond. If as Waddell argues, moreover, this is a late twelfth century version and the earliest for the purported 1119 papal bull, this would only confirm my argument about the late appearance of that text. Again the insecurity of the text's date prevented me from including it.

Bouchard then says, "her own arguments for the dates of some of the manuscripts that Waddell places a generation earlier are rather simplistic in comparison. For example, she dates a manuscript from Slovenia (Ljubljana 31) to c. 1180, based on her superficial reading of Natasa Golob's survey of Cistercian manuscripts from Slovenia, whereas Waddell, who appears to have read Golob far more carefully, dates the manuscript to c. 1147."

I hasten to disagree here, for Waddell discusses this manuscript on pages 50-2 of Narrative and Legislative Texts, where the last sentence of the paragraph beginning on page 51 and ending on page 52, reads, "Still to be studied in more convincing detail is the date of the ms." [His emphasis.] Waddell dates the manuscript to "toward 1147" on page 50, but gives no argument that I have found for WHY he dates it to that date except for a larger polemic which asserts that the contents of that text were in place by that date--these assumptions are what The Cistercian Evolution attempts to get beyond. Waddell's dating is by his own admission certainly not based on a more careful reading of Golob, but on the contents rather than the manuscript.

Bouchard concludes, "The nearly simultaneous appearance of Berman's book and Waddell's edition, of course, also prevented him from commenting on her choices of dates." This is in fact, not quite true. In May 1998 I presented those findings of spring 1997 at the Cistercian studies conference in Kalamazoo in a paper that I had sent several months before, with forty-odd pages of notes about what I had found about the manuscripts, to Waddell who chaired that session. Not only did he have access to my findings at a time when I did not have access to his, but I generously provided him the opportunity to take my considerations into account in his editions.

Moreover, although Waddell did not do me the courtesy of acknowledging that correspondence in his edition, he did take the opportunity, in 81 pages of Cîteaux to misread, misquote, misrepresent, and attack, The Cistercian Evolution; see Chrysogonus Waddell, "The Myth of Cistercian Origins: C.H. Berman and the Manuscript Sources," Cîteaux 51 (2000): 299-386; its errors of fact suggest that the editors allowed Waddell to publish without any constraint and without checking his assertions against my book. They did publish my response, in which I restrained myself from including a list of the many errors, "A Response to McGuire and Waddell," Cîteaux 53 (2002, appeared fall 2003): 333-37; see also the long and very productive interchange with Bruce Venarde in H-France, 5th week of November 2002.

Bouchard is absolutely correct in her statement that "Here it is regrettable that Constance H. Berman was not able to use Waddell's editions in her research on the twelfth-century development of the Cistercian Order (The Cistercian Evolution: The Invention of a Religious Order in Twelfth-Century Europe [Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000]). Well perhaps this is true. If his books on these documents (I hesitate to call them editions since they are neither critical nor scholarly) had appeared before mine, he would not have been able to dismiss manuscripts such as that from Montpellier H322 in his edition of the lay-brother treatises. If I had read his conclusions about the manuscripts before I completed the book, I would have been able to argue against his many egregious misdatings. In my own review of several of these volumes for The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, I have provided a list of questions which scholars should ask themselves as they attempt to extract what is useful from Waddell's work. As I say there as politely as I may, "These are disturbing publications in that they appear at first sight to be critical editions of the early Latin texts and a careful study of the manuscript tradition: they are not."

My work and that of Bouchard have often overlapped; see, for instance, the many acknowledgments in her Holy Entrepreneurs. Cistercians, Knights, and Economic Exchange in Twelfth Century Burgundy (Ithaca, 1991) to the debt owed to my earlier Medieval Agriculture, the Southern-French Countryside, and the Early Cistercians. A Study of Forty-three Monasteries (Philadelphia, 1986). Again here Bouchard at times appears to be reaffirming my findings. Her review's discussion of the texts that Waddell describes parallels my own conclusions. As she says, "these texts were far from static in the twelfth century, and that the different manuscripts give widely variant readings not because the copyists were inattentive, but because the texts had different meanings at different times and places, even within the first few generations of the Order's existence." Isn't that exactly what The Cistercian Evolution is all about? While I do not think these volumes are the "scholarly editions" that will replace for all time earlier ones, I can only be grateful to Bouchard (and to the editors of The Medieval Review) for allowing me to clarify my position with regard to some of the texts that Waddell mentions.

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Constance H. Berman

University of Iowa