19.08.18 Baudin and Grélois, Le Temps Long de Clairvaux

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Constance H. Berman

The Medieval Review 19.08.18

Baudin, Arnaud et Alexis Grélois, eds. Le Temps Long de Clairvaux: Nouvelles Recherches, Nouvelles Perspectives (XIIe - XIIe siècle). Actes due Colloque International. Troyes: Conseil Départmental de l'Aube, 2017. pp. 408. ISBN: 978-2-7572-1083-3 (hardback).

Reviewed by:
Constance Berman
University of Iowa (Emerita)
constance-berman@uiowa.edu

Two things are remarkable about this collection of articles. First, it has relatively little to do with Bernard of Clairvaux, except for an opening contribution by André Vauchez. Second, there is no mention of the current status of the abbey itself until the concluding chapter.

Most of us who have worked on the Cistercians have never been to Clairvaux. It was and remains a high-security prison. Still since the beginning of this century, local erudites and officials have agitated for access to parts of the complex and for the restoration of some of its parts; this was accomplished in time for the 900th anniversary of the founding of the abbey and there are now several beautifully restored areas.

This volume edited by Arnaud Baudin and Alexis Grélois is beautifully produced, having excellent photographs, a comprehensive index, abstracts in French and English and with information on "Consulting Clairvaux Abbey's Digital Archives" (found at www. archives-aube.fr). It is one of three volumes commemorating the abbey's history and the conferences celebrating its anniversary. The other two arel'Industrie cistercienne (XIIe - XXIe siècle), ed. Arnaud Baudin et al. (Paris, 2017) andLes Pratiques de l'écrit dans les abbayes cisterciennes (XIIe - milieu du XVIe siècle), ed. Arnaud Baudin and Laurent Morelle (Paris, 2016).

Opening with "Bernard de Clairvaux: approche historiographique et état des questions," by Vauchez (17-30), the volume's Introduction also includes "Les recherches actuelles sur le monde cistercien: un état de la question dans les sciences humaines et bibliques," by Annie Noblesse-Rocher (31-36), and "'Oubliant ce qui est en arrière et me portant vers ce qui est en avant,' Clairvaux et les institutions cisterciennes," by Guido Cariboni (37-46).

Vauchez describes the contradictions in a Bernard of Clairvaux attacking the increasing temporal power of the Church, but also attacking the heretics who were complaining of that same temporal power. Noblesse-Rocher surveys new studies including those on monastic versus scholastic studies, a subject treated in more detail by Gilbert Fournier (see below). Cariboni challenges notions of "ideal/reality" in Cistercian studies, suggesting that monastic reform was always more forward- than backward-looking. He suggests that by concentrating on how their new order was developing, Bernard and his companions focused much less on primitive practices than has been thought. Although accepting (in my mind too completely), the diatribes against Berman, The Cistercian Evolution, he concludes that Cistercians developed in positive ways over the course of the twelfth century.

The next section of the volume considers Clairvaux in a European context, often extending to its far reaches. The considerations are self-evident in Şerban Turcus, "Les deux faces d'une même médaille. Les filiations de Clairvaux et de Pontigny dans le royaume de Hongrie et en Transylvanie" (49-62); Annick Peters-Custot, "Clairvaux et l'ordre cistercien dans un espace en marge de la chrétienté romaine: le royaume de Sicile aux époques normande et souabe" (63-76); Karen Stöber, "Clairvaux in Catalonia" (77-87), which treats both men's and women's houses; Maria Alegria Fernandes Marques,"Claraval e Portugal: uma relaçāo de séculos" (89-104); and Emilia Jamroziak, "Clairvaux and the British Isles" (105-113). These are all regional accounts of the arrival of monks from Clairvaux and the regional impediments to their arrival and practice.

The section "Les claravalliens dans l'église et dans le monde" contains the novelties, reconsiderations of aspects of life at Clairvaux that we may have thought we understood.

The first two contribution consider monastic charity as enacted in almsgiving and hospitality. "The Porter of Clairvaux. Space, Place and Institution: An Example of the Evolution of the Spirituality of Charity during the Thirteenth Century," by Anne E. Lester (117-134), guides us to the section of the Clairvaux cartularies concerned with the abbey's gate-keeper or porter, who distributed alms at the abbey's gate. Jean-Baptiste Vincent, in "Hospitalité et accueil des laïcs dans les abbayes claravalliennes normandes (XIIe-XVIIIe siècle) (135-54), describes the layout of monastic space within an abbey's enclosure walls that was designed to isolate visitors and alms-seekers from the community within.

In this section Alexis Grélois treats Cistercian nuns: "Clairvaux et le monachisme féminin des origines au milieu du XVe siecle" (55-92) traces some of the recent historiography, describes the relationship between Bernard of Clairvaux and the nuns of Jully, suggests the tendency of Cistercian nuns to undertake the care of lepers, opines rivalry between Cîteaux and Clairvaux over the filiation of houses of nuns, mentions conflict in the 1240s between newly-named father-visitors and houses of nuns that preferred episcopal visitation, and finally underlines the ambivalence of abbot visitors to come to the aid of communities of nuns in times of crisis and their tendency instead to suppress the nuns and take over their properties. All this is done with a focus on relationships to Clairvaux specifically. Unfortunately, this volume appeared before Berman, The White Nuns (Philadelphia, 2018), which expands and provides clarification on many of these items.

Two articles address Clairvaux's urban properties. François Blary, "Le domaine de Clairvaux: des granges et des possessions urbaines. Les recherches d'un équilibre entre ruralité et urbanité cistercien" (183-200), and Benoît Chauvin and Gilles Vilain, "Clairvaux à Bar-sur-Aube (fin XIIe s. -1270)" (201-251). Blary begins with the granges and then ties them to the urban buildings using maps and plans of properties. Chauvin and Vilain provide a model of how it is possible to research the urban history of one of the centers of the Champagne fairs by using documentation about urban properties belonging to Clairvaux, a monastic community usually treated as belonging to the history of an institution in the countryside. The considerable documentation for such monastic communities, perhaps particularly that for houses of nuns, provides considerable, still not exploited evidence for secular, monastic, and clerical property owners consolidating rights in city centers. This is my favorite contribution to this volume; its conclusions are supported by an "archive" citing 62 charters, which could easily be presented in a graduate seminar. In them we find references to widows, including several describing large families. For instance, Lambert of Bar, camerarius of count Thibaut III, made an exchange of property that was confirmed by his mother Margaret and his brothers John, Henry, William the archdeacon, Symon, and Peter, and that was also confirmed by his wife, Luca and their sons, Peter, Milo, Symon, and Lambert (226-27). Even without listing daughters, such documentation of large families, possibly in this case of a bourgeois family, suggests a birth rate that will soon outrun the property and assets available to be given to offspring. Here is rich, often untouched documentation that crosses the divide between monastic and urban history in the middle ages.

In the section on Clarevallian "culture" Gilbert Fournier, "L'absent de l'histoire. La culture universitaire dans la bibliothèque de l'abbaye de Clairvaux d'après la catalogue de 1472" (255-279) challenges the notion of a monastic intellectual culture divorced from that of the urban schools. This is to reiterate contrasts between traditional modes of seeing urban and scholastic versus monastic history.

Claude Andrault-Schmitt, "L'expression architecturale chez les claravalliens de l'Aquitaine du nord - les abbatiales des Châtelliers, Boschaud et Valence (1129-1297)" (297-318) is much in the mode of the Claravalliens in the wider Europe described above. This is a regional examination of evidence found regarding buildings like that of Obazine, but of abbeys attached to Clairvaux. But Sylvain Demarthe, "Autour du concept de 'l'art cistercien': construction, déconstruction, résistance" (281-296), is something else again. After reviewing the scholarly and editorial decisions that created an entire industry to study Cistercian art and the place of light and dark in the photographic evidence for such abbeys as those in Provence, Demarthe argues quite convincingly against any Bernardine or Claravallian plan.

Finally, in a section entitled "Clairvaux après Clairvaux," Hélène Millet considers "Les Cisterciens et le Grand Schisme d'Occident. Clairvaux et son abbé Matthieu Pyllaert (v. 1358-1428) (321- 340) followed by Bertrand Marceau, "Autorité abbatiale au temps de la première modernité. Clairvaux face à la commende (XVe-XVIIe siècle) (341-357). Finally, Jean-François Leroux discusses "Clairvaux hier, aujourd'hui et demain" (359-366), and Isabelle Heullant-Donaf considers "Clairvaux, work in progress" (367-374).

Overall this is a significant contribution to a twenty-first century understanding of Clairvaux and the early Cistercians.

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