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The Order of Cistercians (icon; O.Cist. or, alternatively, O.C.S.O. for the Trappists (Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance)) is a Catholic religious order of enclosed monk
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

s and nun
Nun
A nun is a woman who has taken vows committing her to live a spiritual life. She may be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live her life in prayer and contemplation in a monastery or convent...

s. They are sometimes also called the Bernardines or the White Monks, in reference to the colour of the habit
Religious habit
A religious habit is a distinctive set of garments worn by members of a religious order. Traditionally some plain garb recognisable as a religious habit has also been worn by those leading the religious eremitic and anachoritic life, although in their case without conformity to a particular uniform...

, over which a black scapular
Scapular
The term scapular as used today refers to two specific, yet related, Christian Sacramentals, namely the monastic and devotional scapulars, although both forms may simply be referred to as "scapular"....

 is worn. The emphasis of Cistercian life is on manual labour and self-sufficiency, and many abbeys have traditionally supported themselves through activities such as agriculture and brewing ale
Ale
Ale is a type of beer brewed from malted barley using a warm fermentation with a strain of brewers' yeast. The yeast will ferment the beer quickly, giving it a sweet, full bodied and fruity taste...

s.

The term Cistercian (French Cistercien), derives from Cistercium, the Latin name for the village of Cîteaux, near Dijon
Dijon
Dijon is a city in eastern France, the capital of the Côte-d'Or département and of the Burgundy region.Dijon is the historical capital of the region of Burgundy. Population : 151,576 within the city limits; 250,516 for the greater Dijon area....

 in eastern France. It was in this village that a group of Benedictine monks from the monastery of Molesme
Molesme Abbey
Molesme Abbey was a well-known Benedictine monastery in Molesme, in Laignes, Côte-d'Or, Burgundy, on the border of the Dioceses of Langres and Troyes.-History:...

 founded Cîteaux Abbey
Cîteaux Abbey
Cîteaux Abbey is a Roman Catholic abbey located in Saint-Nicolas-lès-Cîteaux, south of Dijon, France. Today it belongs to the Trappists, or Cistercians of the Strict Observance . The Cistercian order takes its name from this mother house of Cîteaux, earlier Cisteaux, near Nuits-Saint-Georges...

 in 1098, with the goal of following more closely the Rule of Saint Benedict. The best known of them were Robert of Molesme
Robert of Molesme
Saint Robert of Molesme was a Christian saint and abbot, one of the founders of the Cistercian Order in France.-Life:Robert was a member of the nobility in Champagne, a younger son, who entered the abbey of Montier-la-Celle, near Troyes, at age fifteen and later rose to the status of prior...

, Alberic of Citeaux and the English monk Stephen Harding
Stephen Harding
Saint Stephen Harding is a Christian saint and abbot, one of the founders of the Cistercian Order.-Life:Stephen Harding was born in Dorset, England. He was placed in Sherborne Abbey at a young age, but eventually put aside the cowl and became a travelling scholar. He eventually moved to Molesme...

, who were the first three abbots. Bernard of Clairvaux
Bernard of Clairvaux
Bernard of Clairvaux, O.Cist was a French abbot and the primary builder of the reforming Cistercian order.After the death of his mother, Bernard sought admission into the Cistercian order. Three years later, he was sent to found a new abbey at an isolated clearing in a glen known as the Val...

 entered the monastery in the early 1110s with 30 companions and helped the rapid proliferation of the order. By the end of the 12th century, the order had spread throughout France and into England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Eastern Europe.

The keynote of Cistercian life was a return to literal observance of the Rule of St Benedict
Rule of St Benedict
The Rule of Saint Benedict is a book of precepts written by St. Benedict of Nursia for monks living communally under the authority of an abbot. Since about the 7th century it has also been adopted by communities of women...

. Rejecting the developments the Benedictine
Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

s had undergone, the monks tried to replicate monastic life exactly as it had been in Saint Benedict's
Benedict of Nursia
Saint Benedict of Nursia is a Christian saint, honored by the Roman Catholic Church as the patron saint of Europe and students.Benedict founded twelve communities for monks at Subiaco, about to the east of Rome, before moving to Monte Cassino in the mountains of southern Italy. There is no...

 time; indeed in various points they went beyond it in austerity. The most striking feature in the reform was the return to manual labour, especially field-work, a special characteristic of Cistercian life. Cistercian architecture
Cistercian architecture
Cistercian architecture is a style of architecture associated with the churches, monasteries and abbeys of the Roman Catholic Cistercian Order. It was headed by Abbot Bernard of Clairvaux , who believed that churches should avoid superfluous ornamentation so as not to distract from the religious life...

 is considered one of the most beautiful styles of medieval architecture
Medieval architecture
Medieval architecture is a term used to represent various forms of architecture common in Medieval Europe.-Characteristics:-Religious architecture:...

. Additionally, in relation to fields such as agriculture, hydraulic engineering and metallurgy
Metallurgy
Metallurgy is a domain of materials science that studies the physical and chemical behavior of metallic elements, their intermetallic compounds, and their mixtures, which are called alloys. It is also the technology of metals: the way in which science is applied to their practical use...

, the Cistercians became the main force of technological diffusion in medieval Europe.
The Cistercians were adversely affected in England by the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, the Dissolution of the Monasteries
Dissolution of the Monasteries
The Dissolution of the Monasteries, sometimes referred to as the Suppression of the Monasteries, was the set of administrative and legal processes between 1536 and 1541 by which Henry VIII disbanded monasteries, priories, convents and friaries in England, Wales and Ireland; appropriated their...

 under King Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

, the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 in continental Europe, and the revolutions of the 18th century, but some survived and the order recovered in the 19th century. In 1891 certain abbeys formed a new Order called Trappists
Trappists
The Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance , or Trappists, is a Roman Catholic religious order of cloistered contemplative monks who follow the Rule of St. Benedict...

 (Ordo Cisterciensium Strictioris Observantiae – OCSO), which today exists as an order distinct from the Common Observance.

Foundation



In 1098, a Benedictine abbot, Robert of Molesme, left his monastery in Burgundy with around twenty supporters, who felt that the Cluniac communities had abandoned the rigours and simplicity of St Benedict's Rule. The abbey church at Cluny
Cluny Abbey
Cluny Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in Cluny, Saône-et-Loire, France. It was built in the Romanesque style, with three churches built in succession from the 10th to the early 12th centuries....

, the largest in Europe, had become wealthy from rents, tithes, feudal rights and pilgrims who passed through Cluniac houses on the Way of St. James
Way of St. James
The Way of St. James or St. James' Way is the pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the apostle Saint James are buried....

. The massive endowments, powers and responsibilities of the Cluniac abbots had drawn them into the affairs of the secular world, and their monks had abandoned manual labour to serfs to serve as administrative officials or "choir monks". On March 21, 1098, Robert's small group acquired a plot of marshland just south of Dijon
Dijon
Dijon is a city in eastern France, the capital of the Côte-d'Or département and of the Burgundy region.Dijon is the historical capital of the region of Burgundy. Population : 151,576 within the city limits; 250,516 for the greater Dijon area....

 called Cîteaux (Latin: "Cistercium". Cisteaux means reeds in old French), given to them expressly for the purpose of founding their Novum Monasterium.

Robert's followers included the Benedictine monks Alberic
Saint Alberic
Saint Albéric of Cîteaux , sometimes known as Aubrey of Cîteaux, was a Christian saint and abbot, one of the founders of the Cistercian Order.-Life:...

, a former hermit from the nearby forest of Colan, and Stephen Harding
Stephen Harding
Saint Stephen Harding is a Christian saint and abbot, one of the founders of the Cistercian Order.-Life:Stephen Harding was born in Dorset, England. He was placed in Sherborne Abbey at a young age, but eventually put aside the cowl and became a travelling scholar. He eventually moved to Molesme...

, a member of an Anglo-Saxon noble family which had been ruined as a result of the Norman conquest of England
Norman conquest of England
The Norman conquest of England began on 28 September 1066 with the invasion of England by William, Duke of Normandy. William became known as William the Conqueror after his victory at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066, defeating King Harold II of England...

. During the first year, the monks set about constructing lodging areas and farming the lands of Cîteaux, making use of a nearby chapel for Mass
Mass (liturgy)
"Mass" is one of the names by which the sacrament of the Eucharist is called in the Roman Catholic Church: others are "Eucharist", the "Lord's Supper", the "Breaking of Bread", the "Eucharistic assembly ", the "memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection", the "Holy Sacrifice", the "Holy and...

. In Robert's absence from Molesme, however, the abbey had gone into decline, and Pope Urban II
Pope Urban II
Pope Urban II , born Otho de Lagery , was Pope from 12 March 1088 until his death on July 29 1099...

, a former Cluniac monk, ordered him to return.

The remaining monks of Cîteaux elected Prior Alberic
Saint Alberic
Saint Albéric of Cîteaux , sometimes known as Aubrey of Cîteaux, was a Christian saint and abbot, one of the founders of the Cistercian Order.-Life:...

 as their abbot, under whose leadership the abbey would find its grounding. Robert had been the idealist of the order, and Alberic was their builder. Upon assuming the role of abbot, Alberic moved the site of the fledgling community near a brook a short distance away from the original site. Alberic discontinued the use of Benedictine black garments in the abbey and clothed the monks in white cowls (undyed wool). He returned the community to the original Benedictine ideal of work and prayer, dedicated to the ideal of charity and self sustenance. Alberic also forged an alliance with the Dukes of Burgundy, working out a deal with Duke Odo the donation of a vineyard (Meursault
Meursault
-See also:* Communes of the Côte-d'Or département* Route des Grands Crus* French wine-External links:* * In French.* * In French....

) as well as stones with which they built their church. The church was sanctified and dedicated to the Virgin Mary
Blessed Virgin Mary (Roman Catholic)
Roman Catholic veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary is based on Holy Scripture: In the fullness of time, God sent his son, born of a virgin. The mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God through Mary thus signifies her honour as Mother of God...

 on November 16, 1106 by the Bishop of Chalon sur Saône.

On January 26, 1108 Alberic died and was soon succeeded by Stephen Harding, the man responsible for carrying the order into its crucial phase.

Constitution and rule



The order was fortunate that Stephen was an abbot of extraordinary gifts, and he framed the original version of the Cistercian "constitution" or rule: the Carta Caritatis (Charter of Charity). Although this was revised on several occasions to meet contemporary needs, from the outset it emphasised a simple life of work, love, prayer and self-denial. Although the Cistercians originally regarded themselves as the "perfect", reformed Benedictines, they distinguished themselves from the monks of Benedictine houses by wearing white habits instead of black. Cistercian abbeys also refused to admit children, allowing adults to choose their religious vocation for themselves – a practice later emulated by many of the older Benedictine houses.

Stephen also acquired farms for the abbey to ensure its survival and ethic, the first of which was Clos Vougeot
Clos Vougeot
Clos de Vougeot, also known as Clos Vougeot, is a wall-enclosed vineyard, a clos, in the Burgundy wine region, and an Appellation d'origine contrôlée for red wine from this vineyard. It was named for the River Vouge, which is in fact only a stream separating the village Vougeot from...

. In terms of receiving grants of land, the order would accept only undeveloped land (or in some cases, they accepted developed land and relocated the serf
SERF
A spin exchange relaxation-free magnetometer is a type of magnetometer developed at Princeton University in the early 2000s. SERF magnetometers measure magnetic fields by using lasers to detect the interaction between alkali metal atoms in a vapor and the magnetic field.The name for the technique...

s elsewhere). They developed this land by their own labour, or by that of illiterate peasant lay brothers known as conversi. Stephen handed over the west wing of Cîteaux to a large group of lay brethren to cultivate the farms. These lay brothers were bound by vows of chastity and obedience to their abbot, but were otherwise permitted to follow a less demanding form of Cistercian life. Their incorporation into the order represents a compassionate outreach to the illiterate peasantry, as well as a source of labour on "unmanorialized
Manorialism
Manorialism, an essential element of feudal society, was the organizing principle of rural economy that originated in the villa system of the Late Roman Empire, was widely practiced in medieval western and parts of central Europe, and was slowly replaced by the advent of a money-based market...

" Cistercian lands.

Polity


The lines of the Cistercian polity were adumbrated by Alberic, but it received its final form in the Carta Caritatis. This document arranged the relations between the various houses of the Cistercian order, and exercised a great influence also upon the future course of western monachism. From one point of view, it may be regarded as a compromise between the primitive Benedictine system, in which each abbey was autonomous and isolated, and the complete centralization of Cluny
Cluny Abbey
Cluny Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in Cluny, Saône-et-Loire, France. It was built in the Romanesque style, with three churches built in succession from the 10th to the early 12th centuries....

, where the Abbot of Cluny
Abbot of Cluny
The Abbot of Cluny was the head of the powerful monastery of Cluny Abbey in medieval France. The following is a list.-List of abbots:-References:...

 was the only true superior in the body.

On the one hand, Citeaux maintained the independent organic life of the houses: each abbey had its own abbot elected by its own monks, its own community belonging to itself and not to the order in general, and its own property and finances administered without interference from outside.

On the other hand, all the abbeys were subjected to the General Chapter, the constitutional body which exercised vigilance over the order. The abbots met annually at the General Chapter in mid-September at Cîteaux. The Cistercian constitution attached particular importance to attendance at this meeting, which was compulsory, and absence without leave was severely punished. The Abbot of Cîteaux was the president of the chapter. He had a predominant influence and the power of enforcing everywhere exact conformity to Cîteaux in all details of the exterior life observance, chant, and customs. The principle was that Cîteaux should always be the model to which all the other houses had to conform. In case of any divergence of view at the chapter, the side taken by the Abbot of Cîteaux was always to prevail.

Spread: 1111–52



By 1111 the ranks had grown sufficiently at Cîteaux, and Stephen sent a group of 12 monks to start a "daughter house", a new community dedicated to the same ideals of the strict observance of Saint Benedict. It was built in Chalon sur Saône in La Ferté
La Ferté Abbey
Founded in 1113, the Cistercian abbey La Ferté was the first of the four great daughter-houses of Cîteaux. It was closed in 1791. The abbey church was demolished, but the 18th century abbatial palace remains, and can be visited. It is located 12 km south of Chalon-sur-Saône, in Bourgogne,...

 on May 13, 1113.

That same year, a charismatic young Burgundinian nobleman named Bernard
Bernard of Clairvaux
Bernard of Clairvaux, O.Cist was a French abbot and the primary builder of the reforming Cistercian order.After the death of his mother, Bernard sought admission into the Cistercian order. Three years later, he was sent to found a new abbey at an isolated clearing in a glen known as the Val...

 arrived at Cîteaux with 35 of his relatives and friends to join the monastery. A supremely eloquent, strong-willed mystic, Bernard was to become the most admired churchman of his age. In 1115, Count Hugh of Champagne gave a tract of wild, afforested land known as a refuge for robbers, forty miles east of Troyes
Troyes
Troyes is a commune and the capital of the Aube department in north-central France. It is located on the Seine river about southeast of Paris. Many half-timbered houses survive in the old town...

, to the order. Bernard led twelve other monks to found the Abbey of Clairvaux
Clairvaux Abbey
Clairvaux Abbey is a Cistercian monastery in Ville-sous-la-Ferté, 15 km from Bar-sur-Aube, in the Aube département in northeastern France. The original building, founded in 1115 by St. Bernard, is now in ruins; a high-security prison, the Clairvaux Prison, now occupies the grounds...

, and began clearing the ground and building a church and dwelling. The abbey soon attracted a strong flow of zealous young men. At this point, Cîteaux had four daughter houses, being Pontigny
Pontigny Abbey
Pontigny Abbey, founded in 1114 as the second of the four great daughter houses of Cîteaux Abbey, was a Cistercian monastery situated in the commune of Pontigny, on the River Serein, in the present diocese of Sens and department of Yonne, in Burgundy, France.-History:Hildebert , a canon of...

, Morimond
Morimond Abbey
Morimond Abbeyis a religious complex in Parnoy-en-Bassigny, Haute-Marne department, in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France. It was the fourth of the four great daughter abbeys of Cîteaux Abbey, of primary importance in the spread of the Cistercian Order, along with La Ferté to the south,...

, La Ferté and Clairvaux. Other French daughter houses of Cîteaux would include Preuilly, La Cour-Dieu, Bouras, Cadouin and Fontenay
Abbey of Fontenay
The Abbey of Fontenay is a former Cistercian abbey located in the commune of Marmagne, near Montbard, in the département of Côte-d'Or in France. It was founded by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux in 1118, and built in the Romanesque style...

.

With Saint Bernard's membership, the Cistercian order began a notable epoch of international expansion; and as his fame grew, the Cistercian movement grew with it. In November 1128, with the aid of William Giffard
William Giffard
William Giffard was the Lord Chancellor of England of William II and Henry I, from 1093 to 1101.Giffard was the brother of Walter Giffard earl of Buckingham. He also held the office of Dean of Rouen prior to his election as bishop. On 3 August 1100 he became bishop of Winchester by nomination of...

, Bishop of Winchester
Bishop of Winchester
The Bishop of Winchester is the head of the Church of England diocese of Winchester, with his cathedra at Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire.The bishop is one of five Church of England bishops to be among the Lords Spiritual regardless of their length of service. His diocese is one of the oldest and...

, Waverly Abbey was founded in Surrey, England. Five houses were founded from Waverly Abbey before 1152, and some of these had themselves produced offshoots.

The Norman invasion of Wales
Norman invasion of Wales
The Norman invasion of Wales began shortly after the Norman conquest of England under William the Conqueror, who believed England to be his birthright...

 opened the Church in Wales
Religion in Wales
Christianity is the largest religion in Wales. Until 1920 the established church was Anglican, although Wales has a strong tradition of nonconformism and Methodism....

 to fresh and invigorating streams of continental reform, as well as the new monastic orders. The Benedictine houses were established in the Normanised fringes and in the shadow of Norman castles, and because they were seen as instruments of conquest, they failed to make any real impression on the local Welsh population. The Cistercians, in contrast, sought out solitude in the mountains and moorlands, and were highly successful. Thirteen Cistercian monasteries, all in remote sites, were founded in Wales between 1131 and 1226. The first of these was Tintern Abbey
Tintern Abbey
Tintern Abbey was founded by Walter de Clare, Lord of Chepstow, on 9 May 1131. It is situated in the village of Tintern, on the Welsh bank of the River Wye in Monmouthshire, which forms the border between Monmouthshire in Wales and Gloucestershire in England. It was only the second Cistercian...

, which was sited in a remote river valley, and depended largely on its agricultural and pastoral activities for survival. Other abbeys, such as at Neath
Neath Abbey
Neath Abbey was a Cistercian monastery, located near the present-day town of Neath in southern Wales, UK.It was once the largest abbey in Wales. Substantial ruins can still be seen, and are in the care of Cadw...

, Strata Florida
Strata Florida Abbey
Strata Florida Abbey Flowers. Ystrad corrupts into Strata, while Fflur is the name of the nearby river. After the region around St. David's was firmly occupied by the Norman Marcher lordship of Pembroke by the early 12th century, with St...

, Conwy
Aberconwy Abbey
Aberconwy Abbey was a Cistercian foundation at Conwy, later transferred to Maenan near Llanrwst and in the 13th century was the most important abbey in North Wales....

 and Valle Crucis
Valle Crucis Abbey
Valle Crucis Abbey is a Cistercian abbey located in Llantysilio in Denbighshire, Wales. More formally the Abbey Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Valle Crucis it is known in Welsh both as Abaty Glyn Egwestl and Abaty Glyn y Groes.The abbey was built in 1201 by Madog ap Gruffydd Maelor, Prince of...

 became among the most hallowed names in the history of religion in medieval Wales. Their austere discipline seemed to echo the ideals of the Celtic saints
Celtic Christianity
Celtic Christianity or Insular Christianity refers broadly to certain features of Christianity that were common, or held to be common, across the Celtic-speaking world during the Early Middle Ages...

, and the emphasis on pastoral farming fit well into the Welsh stock-rearing economy.


In Yorkshire
Yorkshire
Yorkshire is a historic county of northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Because of its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been increasingly undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform...

, Rievaulx Abbey
Rievaulx Abbey
Rievaulx Abbey is a former Cistercian abbey headed by the Abbot of Rievaulx. It is located in Rievaulx , near Helmsley in North Yorkshire, England.It was one of the wealthiest abbeys in England and was dissolved by Henry VIII of England in 1538...

 was founded from Clairvaux in 1131, on a small property "in a place of horror and dreary solitude". This land was donated by Walter Espec
Walter Espec
Walter Espec was a prominent military and judicial figure of the reign of Henry I of England.His father was probably William Speche, a follower of William I of England In the years up to 1120 he with Eustace Fitz John controlled northern England. He was the builder of Helmsley Castle; he built...

, with the support of Thurstan
Thurstan
Thurstan or Turstin of Bayeux was a medieval Archbishop of York, the son of a priest. He served kings William II and Henry I of England before his election to the see of York in 1114. Once elected, his consecration was delayed for five years while he fought attempts by the Archbishop of Canterbury...

, Archbishop of York
Archbishop of York
The Archbishop of York is a high-ranking cleric in the Church of England, second only to the Archbishop of Canterbury. He is the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of York and metropolitan of the Province of York, which covers the northern portion of England as well as the Isle of Man...

. By 1143, three hundred monks had entered Rievaulx, including the famous St Ælred
Ailred of Rievaulx
Aelred , also Aelred, Ælred, Æthelred, etc., was an English writer, abbot of Rievaulx , and saint.-Life:...

, who became known as the "St Bernard of England". From Rievaulx was founded Melrose Abbey
Melrose Abbey
Melrose Abbey is a Gothic-style abbey in Melrose, Scotland. It was founded in 1136 by Cistercian monks, on the request of King David I of Scotland. It was headed by the Abbot or Commendator of Melrose. Today the abbey is maintained by Historic Scotland...

, the earliest Cistercian monastery in Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

. Located in Roxburghshire
Roxburghshire
Roxburghshire or the County of Roxburgh is a registration county of Scotland. It borders Dumfries to the west, Selkirk to the north-west, and Berwick to the north. To the south-east it borders Cumbria and Northumberland in England.It was named after the Royal Burgh of Roxburgh...

, it was built in 1136 by King David I of Scotland
David I of Scotland
David I or Dabíd mac Maíl Choluim was a 12th-century ruler who was Prince of the Cumbrians and later King of the Scots...

, and completed in less than ten years. Another important offshoot of Rievaulx was Revesby Abbey
Revesby Abbey
Revesby Abbey was a Cistercian monastery located near the village of Revesby in Lincolnshire, England. The abbey was founded in 1143 by William de Roumare, Earl of Lincoln. The first monks came to the abbey from the great Yorkshire house of Rievaulx Abbey...

 in Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire is a county in the east of England. It borders Norfolk to the south east, Cambridgeshire to the south, Rutland to the south west, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire to the west, South Yorkshire to the north west, and the East Riding of Yorkshire to the north. It also borders...

.

Fountains abbey
Fountains Abbey
Fountains Abbey is near to Aldfield, approximately two miles southwest of Ripon in North Yorkshire, England. It is a ruined Cistercian monastery, founded in 1132. Fountains Abbey is one of the largest and best preserved Cistercian houses in England. It is a Grade I listed building and owned by the...

 was founded in 1132 by Benedictine monks from St Mary's Abbey, York
St Mary's Abbey, York
The Abbey of St Mary in York, once the richest abbey in the north of England, is a ruined Benedictine abbey that lies in what are now the Yorkshire Museum Gardens, on a steeply sloping site to the west of York Minster. The original abbey on the site was founded in 1055 and dedicated to Saint Olave...

, who desired a return to the austere Rule of St Benedict. After many struggles and great hardships, St Bernard agreed to send a monk from Clairvaux to instruct them, and in the end they prospered exceedingly. Before 1152, Fountains had many offshoots, of which Newminster Abbey
Newminster Abbey
Newminster Abbey was a Cistercian abbey in Northumberland in the north of England. The site is protected by Grade II listed building and Scheduled Ancient Monument status...

 (1137) and Meaux Abbey
Meaux Abbey
Meaux Abbey was a Cistercian Abbey founded in 1151 by William le Gros, 1st Earl of Albemarle , Earl of York and 4th lord of Holderness, near Beverley in the East Riding of Yorkshire....

 (1151) are the most famous.


In the spring of 1140, Saint Malachy
Saint Malachy
Saint Malachy was the Archbishop of Armagh, to whom were attributed several miracles and a vision of the identity of the last 112 Popes...

, Archbishop of Armagh, visited Clairvaux, becoming a personal friend of St Bernard and an admirer of the Cistercian rule. He left four of his companions to be trained as Cistercians, and returned to Ireland to introduce Cistercianism there. St Bernard viewed the Irish at this time as being in the "depth of barbarism":
Mellifont Abbey
Mellifont Abbey
Mellifont Abbey , located in County Louth, was the first Cistercian abbey to be built in Ireland.-Origins:Founded in 1142 on the orders of Saint Malachy, Archbishop of Armagh, Mellifont Abbey sits on the banks of the River Mattock, some ten km north-west of Drogheda.By 1170, Mellifont had one...

 was founded in County Louth
County Louth
County Louth is a county of Ireland. It is part of the Border Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Louth. Louth County Council is the local authority for the county...

 in 1142. Thence were founded the affiliated monasteries of Bective Abbey
Bective Abbey
Bective Abbey is a Cistercian abbey on the River Boyne in Bective, County Meath, Ireland. The abbey founded by Murchad O'Maeil-Sheachlainn in 1147 as a 'daughter house' of Mellifont Abbey. Although nothing remains except old ruins and walls, it is in a remarkable state of preservation...

 in County Meath
County Meath
County Meath is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Mid-East Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the ancient Kingdom of Mide . Meath County Council is the local authority for the county...

 (1147), Inishlounaght in County Tipperary
County Tipperary
County Tipperary is a county of Ireland. It is located in the province of Munster and is named after the town of Tipperary. The area of the county does not have a single local authority; local government is split between two authorities. In North Tipperary, part of the Mid-West Region, local...

 (1147–1148), Baltinglass in County Wicklow
County Wicklow
County Wicklow is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Mid-East Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Wicklow, which derives from the Old Norse name Víkingalág or Wykynlo. Wicklow County Council is the local authority for the county...

 (1148), Monasteranenagh in County Limerick
County Limerick
It is thought that humans had established themselves in the Lough Gur area of the county as early as 3000 BC, while megalithic remains found at Duntryleague date back further to 3500 BC...

 (1148), Kilbeggan in County Westmeath
County Westmeath
-Economy:Westmeath has a strong agricultural economy. Initially, development occurred around the major market centres of Mullingar, Moate, and Kinnegad. Athlone developed due to its military significance, and its strategic location on the main Dublin–Galway route across the River Shannon. Mullingar...

 (1150) and Boyle in County Roscommon
County Roscommon
County Roscommon is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the town of Roscommon. Roscommon County Council is the local authority for the county...

 (1161). Malachy's intensive pastoral activity was highly successful:
As in Wales, there was no significant tradition of Benedictine monasticism in Ireland on which to draw; although in the Irish case, this represented an insecure foundation for Cistercian expansion. Irish Cistercianism would eventually become isolated from the disciplinary structures of the order, leading to decline in the 13th century.


Meanwhile, the Cistercian influence in the Church more than kept pace with this material expansion. St Bernard had established the unique position as mentor of popes and kings, and in 1145, King Louis VII
Louis VII of France
Louis VII was King of France, the son and successor of Louis VI . He ruled from 1137 until his death. He was a member of the House of Capet. His reign was dominated by feudal struggles , and saw the beginning of the long rivalry between France and England...

's brother, Henry of France, entered Clairvaux. That same year, Bernard saw one of his monks ascend the papal chair as Pope Eugene III
Pope Eugene III
Pope Blessed Eugene III , born Bernardo da Pisa, was Pope from 1145 to 1153. He was the first Cistercian to become Pope.-Early life:...

. Eugene was an Italian of humble background, who had first been drawn to monasticism at Clairvaux by the magnetism of Bernard. At the time of his election, he was Abbot of Saints Vincenzo and Anastasio
Tre Fontane Abbey
Tre Fontane Abbey , or the Abbey of Saints Vincent and Anastasius, is a Roman Catholic abbey in Rome, currently held by the Trappist Fathers of the Cistercian Order. It is known for raising the lambs whose wool is used to weave the pallia of new metropolitan archbishops. The Pope blesses the lambs...

 outside Rome. When news of the fall of Edessa
Siege of Edessa
The Siege of Edessa took place from November 28 to December 24, 1144, resulting in the fall of the capital of the crusader County of Edessa to Zengi, the atabeg of Mosul and Aleppo.- Background :...

 reached him in Viterbo
Viterbo
See also Viterbo, Texas and Viterbo UniversityViterbo is an ancient city and comune in the Lazio region of central Italy, the capital of the province of Viterbo. It is approximately 80 driving / 80 walking kilometers north of GRA on the Via Cassia, and it is surrounded by the Monti Cimini and...

, he addressed the papal bull Quantum praedecessores
Quantum praedecessores
Quantum praedecessores is a papal bull issued on December 1, 1145, by Pope Eugenius III, calling for a Second Crusade. It was the first papal bull issued with a crusade as its subject....

to Louis VII, with the result that a European monarch took up a crusade for the first time.

A great reinforcement to the order was the merger of the Savigniac houses
Congregation of Savigny
The monastic Congregation of Savigny started in the abbey of Savigny, situated in northern France, on the confines of Normandy and Brittany, in the Diocese of Coutances. It originated in 1105 when Vitalis of Mortain established a hermitage in the forest at Savigny in France.-Founding:Vitalis was a...

 with the Cistercians, at the instance of Eugene III. Thirteen English abbeys, of which the most famous were Furness Abbey
Furness Abbey
Furness Abbey, or St. Mary of Furness is a former monastery situated on the outskirts of the English town of Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. The abbey dates back to 1123 and was once the second wealthiest and most powerful Cistercian monastery in the country, behind only Fountains Abbey in North...

 and Jervaulx Abbey
Jervaulx Abbey
Jervaulx Abbey in East Witton near the city of Ripon, was one of the great Cistercian abbeys of Yorkshire, England, founded in 1156. Initially a Savigniac foundation, the abbey was later taken over by the Cistercian order and responsibility for it was taken by Byland Abbey. Originally founded in...

, thus adopted the Cistercian rule. In Dublin, the two Savigniac houses of Erenagh and St Mary's became Cistercian. It was in the latter case that medieval Dublin acquired a Cistercian monastery in the very unusual suburban location of Oxmantown
Oxmantown
Oxmantown or Oxmanstown is an area of Dublin, Ireland, situated on the Northside of the city between the River Liffey, the North Circular Road, and Smithfield Market...

, with its own private harbour called The Pill.

By 1152, there were 54 Cistercian monasteries in England, some few of which, had been founded directly from the Continent. Overall, there were 333 Cistercian abbeys in Europe – so many that a halt was put to this expansion. Nearly half of these houses had been founded, directly or indirectly, from Clairvaux, so great was St Bernard's influence and prestige. He has come almost to be regarded as the founder of the Cistercians, who have often been called Bernardines. Bernard died in 1153, one month after his pupil Eugene III.

Later expansion




From its solid base, the order spread all over western Europe: into Germany, Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, Croatia, Italy (where the Certosa di Pavia
Certosa di Pavia
The Certosa di Pavia Gra-Car , Shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Grace, is a monastery and complex in Lombardy, northern Italy, situated near a small town of the same name in the Province of Pavia, 8 km north of Pavia...

 is their most famous edifice), Sicily, Kingdom of Poland, Kingdom of Hungary
Kingdom of Hungary
The Kingdom of Hungary comprised present-day Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia , Transylvania , Carpatho Ruthenia , Vojvodina , Burgenland , and other smaller territories surrounding present-day Hungary's borders...

, Norway, Sweden, Spain and Portugal. One of the most important libraries of the Cistercians was in Salem, Germany
Salem Abbey
Salem Abbey , also known as Salmansweiler and in Latin as Salomonis Villa, was a very prominent Cistercian monastery in Salem in the district of Bodensee about ten miles from Konstanz, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.-Abbey:The abbey was founded in 1136 by Gunthram of Adelsreute Salem Abbey (Kloster or...

.

In 1153, the first King of Portugal, D. Afonso Henriques (Afonso, I), founded the Cistercian Alcobaça Monastery. The original church was replaced by the present construction from 1178, although construction progressed slowly due to attacks by the Moors
Moors
The description Moors has referred to several historic and modern populations of the Maghreb region who are predominately of Berber and Arab descent. They came to conquer and rule the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim, although earlier the people had followed...

. As with many Cistercian churches, the first parts to be completed was the eastern parts necessary for the priest-monks – the high altar, the side altars and choir stalls – and the consecration of the church is recorded as taking place in 1223. Two further building phases followed for the remainder of the nave, until the final consecration in 1252.

As a consequence of the wars between the Christians and Moors on the Iberian Peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

, the Cistercians established a military branch
Military order
A military order is a Christian society of knights that was founded for crusading, i.e. propagating or defending the faith , either in the Holy Land or against Islam or pagans in Europe...

 of the order in Castile
Kingdom of Castile
Kingdom of Castile was one of the medieval kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula. It emerged as a political autonomous entity in the 9th century. It was called County of Castile and was held in vassalage from the Kingdom of León. Its name comes from the host of castles constructed in the region...

 in 1157: the Order of Calatrava
Order of Calatrava
The Order of Calatrava was the first military order founded in Castile, but the second to receive papal approval. The papal bull confirming the Order of Calatrava as a Militia was given by Pope Alexander III on September 26, 1164.-Origins and Foundation:...

. Membership of the Cistercian Order had included a large number of men from knightly families, and when King Alfonso VII began looking for a military order to defend the Calatrava
Calatrava la Vieja
Calatrava la Vieja is a medieval site and original nucleus of the Order of Calatrava. It is now part of the Archaeological Parks of the Community of Castile-La Mancha. Situated at Carrión de Calatrava, Calatrava during the High Middle Ages was the only important city in the Guadiana River valley...

, which had been recovered from the Moors a decade before, the Cistercian Abbot Raymond of Fitero
Fitero
Fitero is a town and municipality located in the province and autonomous community of Navarre, northern Spain.The Monastery of Fitero is situated here.-External links:*...

 offered his help. This apparently came at the suggestion of Diego Valasquez, a monk and former knight who was "well acquainted with military matters", and proposed that the lay brothers of the abbey were to be employed as "soldiers of the Cross" to defend Calatrava. The initial successes of the new order in the Spanish Reconquista
Reconquista
The Reconquista was a period of almost 800 years in the Middle Ages during which several Christian kingdoms succeeded in retaking the Muslim-controlled areas of the Iberian Peninsula broadly known as Al-Andalus...

 were brilliant, and the arrangement was approved by the General Chapter at Cîteaux and successive popes, giving the Knights of Calatrava their definitive rule in 1187. This was modeled upon the Cistercian rule for lay brothers, which included the three monastic vows of poverty
Poverty
Poverty is the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty or destitution is inability to afford basic human needs, which commonly includes clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live...

, chastity
Chastity
Chastity refers to the sexual behavior of a man or woman acceptable to the moral standards and guidelines of a culture, civilization, or religion....

, and obedience
Vow of obedience
The Vow of Obedience in Catholicism concerns one of the three counsels of perfection. It forms part of the vows that Christian monks and nuns must make to enter the consecrated life, whether as a member of a religious institute living in community or as consecrated hermit...

; specific rules of silence; abstinence on four days a week; the recitation of a fixed number of paternoster
Paternoster
A paternoster or paternoster lift is a passenger elevator which consists of a chain of open compartments that move slowly in a loop up and down inside a building without stopping. Passengers can step on or off at any floor they like...

s daily; to sleep in their armour
Armour
Armour or armor is protective covering used to prevent damage from being inflicted to an object, individual or a vehicle through use of direct contact weapons or projectiles, usually during combat, or from damage caused by a potentially dangerous environment or action...

; and to wear, as their full dress, the Cistercian white mantle with the scarlet cross fleurdelisée.

Calatrava was not subject to Cîteaux, but to Fitero's mother-house, the Cistercian Abbey of Morimond
Morimond Abbey
Morimond Abbeyis a religious complex in Parnoy-en-Bassigny, Haute-Marne department, in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France. It was the fourth of the four great daughter abbeys of Cîteaux Abbey, of primary importance in the spread of the Cistercian Order, along with La Ferté to the south,...

 in Burgundy. By the end of the 13th century, it had become a major autonomous power within the Castilian state, subject only to Morimond and the Pope; with abundant resources of men and wealth, lands and castles scattered along the borders of Castile, and feudal lordship over thousands of peasants and vassals. On more than one occasion, the Order of Calatrava brought to the field a force of 1200 to 2000 knights – considerable in medieval terms. Over time, as the Reconquista neared completion, the canonical bond between Calatrava and Morimond relaxed more and more, and the knights of the order became virtually secularized, finally undergoing dissolution in the 18th-19th centuries.

The first Cistercian abbey in Bohemia was founded in Sedlec
Kutná Hora
Kutná Hora is a city in Bohemia, now the Czech Republic in the Central Bohemian Region.-History:The town began in 1142 with the settlement of the first Cistercian Monastery in Bohemia, Kloster Sedlitz, brought from the Imperial immediate Cistercian Waldsassen Abbey...

 near Kutná Hora
Kutná Hora
Kutná Hora is a city in Bohemia, now the Czech Republic in the Central Bohemian Region.-History:The town began in 1142 with the settlement of the first Cistercian Monastery in Bohemia, Kloster Sedlitz, brought from the Imperial immediate Cistercian Waldsassen Abbey...

 in 1158. In the late 13th century and early 14th century, the Cistercian order played an essential role in the politics and diplomacy of the late Přemyslid and early Luxembourg state, as reflected in the Chronicon Aulae Regiae
Czech literature
Czech literature is the literature written by Czechs or other inhabitants of the Czech state, mostly in the Czech language, although other languages like Old Church Slavonic, Latin or German have been also used, especially in the past. Modern authors from the Czech territory who wrote in other...

. This chronicle was written by Otto and Peter of Zittau
Zittau
Zittau is a city in the south east of the Free State of Saxony, Germany, close to the border tripoint of Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic. , there are 28,638 people in the city. It is part of the Görlitz district....

, abbots of the Zbraslav
Zbraslav
Zbraslav is a municipal district and cadastral area of Prague. The southernmost district of Prague, it lies on the Vltava River in the national administrative district of Prague 16....

 abbey (Latin: Aula Regia, "Royal Hall"), founded in 1292 by the King of Bohemia and Poland, Wenceslas II. The order also played the main role in the early Gothic art
Gothic art
Gothic art was a Medieval art movement that developed in France out of Romanesque art in the mid-12th century, led by the concurrent development of Gothic architecture. It spread to all of Western Europe, but took over art more completely north of the Alps, never quite effacing more classical...

 of Bohemia; one of the outstanding pieces of Cistercian architecture
Cistercian architecture
Cistercian architecture is a style of architecture associated with the churches, monasteries and abbeys of the Roman Catholic Cistercian Order. It was headed by Abbot Bernard of Clairvaux , who believed that churches should avoid superfluous ornamentation so as not to distract from the religious life...

 is the Alt-neu Shul, Prague. The first abbey in the present day Romania was founded on 1179, at Igris (Egres)
Igriș Abbey
Igriş Abbey is a former Cistercian monastery in Sânpetru Mare, Timiș County, Romania. The Igriş Abbey was founded in 1179 as a filial abbey of Pontigny...

, and the second on 1204, the Cârţa Monastery
Cârta Monastery
Cârţa Monastery is a former Cistercian monastery in the Ţara Făgăraşului region in southern Transylvania in Romania, currently a Lutheran Evangelical church belonging to the local Saxon community...

.

Following the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland
Norman Invasion of Ireland
The Norman invasion of Ireland was a two-stage process, which began on 1 May 1169 when a force of loosely associated Norman knights landed near Bannow, County Wexford...

 in the 1170s, the English improved the standing of the Cistercian Order in Ireland with nine foundations: Dunbrody Abbey
Dunbrody Abbey
Dunbrody Abbey is a former Cistercian monastery in County Wexford, Ireland. The cross-shaped church was built in the 13th century, and the tower was added in the 15th century. With a length of 59m the church is one of the longest in Ireland...

, Inch Abbey
Inch Abbey
Inch Abbey is a large, ruined monastic site 0.75 miles north-west of Downpatrick, County Down, Northern Ireland, on the north bank of the River Quoile in a hollow between two drumlins and featuring early Gothic architecture...

, Grey Abbey
Grey Abbey
Grey Abbey is a ruined Cistercian priory in the village of Greyabbey, County Down, Northern Ireland, currently maintained by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency...

, Comber Abbey
Comber
Comber is a small town in County Down, Northern Ireland. It lies 5 miles south of Newtownards, at the northern end of Strangford Lough. It had a population of 8,933 people in the 2001 Census. Comber is part of the Borough of Ards...

, Duiske Abbey, Abington, Abbeylara
Abbeylara
Abbeylara is a village in the easternmost portion of County Longford, Ireland, located about three kilometers east of Granard on the R369 regional road. Its name is derived from a monastery, the great Abbey of Lerha, founded in 1205 by Hiberno-Norman magnate, Risteárd de Tiúit, for Cistercian monks...

 and Tracton
Tracton
Tracton is a southeast County Cork parish, lying roughly 7 kilometres south of Carrigaline. It is named after Tracton abbey a Roman Catholic monastery that was in the area in medieval times. The parish GAA team were Intermediate County hurling Champions in 1991. Irish Republican Diarmuid Lynch was...

. This last abbey was founded in 1225 from Whitland Abbey
Whitland Abbey
Whitland Abbey was a Cistercian abbey near Whitland in south-west Wales, now in Carmarthenshire.Whitland was founded on 16 September 1140 by monks from the mother house of Clairvaux. In 1144 it was located at Little Trefgarn near Haverfordwest. It moved to Whitland in about 1155, a site having...

 in Wales, and at least in its earliest years, its monks were Welsh-speaking
Welsh language
Welsh is a member of the Brythonic branch of the Celtic languages spoken natively in Wales, by some along the Welsh border in England, and in Y Wladfa...

. By this time, another ten abbeys had founded by Irishmen since the invasion, bringing the total number of Cistercian houses in Ireland to 31. This was almost half the number of those in England, but it was about thrice the number in each of Scotland and Wales. Most of these monasteries enjoyed either noble, episcopal or royal patronage. In 1269, the Archbishop of Cashel
Archbishop of Cashel
The Archbishop of Cashel is an archiepiscopal title which takes its name after the town of Cashel, County Tipperary in Ireland. The title is still in use in the Roman Catholic Church, but in the Church of Ireland it was downgraded to a bishopric in 1838....

 joined the order and established a Cistercian house at the foot of the Rock of Cashel
Rock of Cashel
The Rock of Cashel , also known as Cashel of the Kings and St. Patrick's Rock, is a historic site in Ireland's province of Munster, located at Cashel, South Tipperary.-History:...

 in 1272. Similarly, the Irish-establishment of Abbeyknockmoy
Abbeyknockmoy
Abbeyknockmoy is a village and parish in County Galway, Ireland. It is best known for the nearby ruins of the 12th century Cistercian abbey, established with the Kings of Connacht as its benefactors. The abbey was the burial site of King Cathal Crobhdearg Ua Conchobair and contains fine examples...

 in County Galway
County Galway
County Galway is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the city of Galway. Galway County Council is the local authority for the county. There are several strongly Irish-speaking areas in the west of the county...

 was founded by King of Connacht
Kings of Connacht
The Kings of Connacht were rulers of the cóiced of Connacht, which lies west of the River Shannon, Ireland. However, the name only became applied to it in the early medieval era, being named after The Connachta.The old name for the province was Cóiced Ol nEchmacht . Ptolemy's map of c. 150 AD...

, Cathal Crobhdearg Ua Conchobair, who died a Cistercian monk and was buried there in 1224.

By the end of the 13th century, the Cistercian houses numbered 500. At the order's height in the 15th century, it would have nearly 750 houses.

It often happened that the number of lay brothers became excessive and out of proportion to the resources of the monasteries, there being sometimes as many as 200, or even 300, in a single abbey. On the other hand, at any rate in some countries, the system of lay brothers in course of time worked itself out; thus in England by the close of the 14th century it had shrunk to relatively small proportions, and in the 15th century the régime of the English Cistercian houses tended to approximate more and more to that of the Black Monks
Order of Saint Benedict
The Order of Saint Benedict is a Roman Catholic religious order of independent monastic communities that observe the Rule of St. Benedict. Within the order, each individual community maintains its own autonomy, while the organization as a whole exists to represent their mutual interests...

.

One of the more famous Cistercians was Roger, the writer of the Chronicle of the Priest of Duklja
Chronicle of the Priest of Duklja
The Chronicle of the Priest of Duklja is a medieval chronicle originally written by a Catholic monk of the Cistercian order by the name of Roger for the Croatian Ban Paul Šubić because an order form by Ban Šubić and a quote of Catholic monk have been discovered...

.

Decline and attempted reforms


For a hundred years, till the first quarter of the 13th century, the Cistercians supplanted Cluny as the most powerful order and the chief religious influence in western Europe. But then in turn their influence began to wane, as the initiative passed to the mendicant orders, in Ireland, Wales and elsewhere.

However, some of the reasons of Cistercian decline were internal. Firstly, there was the permanent difficulty of maintaining the initial fervour of a body embracing hundreds of monasteries and thousands of monks, spread all over Europe. As the very raison d'être of the Cistercian Order consisted in its being a reform – a return to primitive monachism with its field-work and severe simplicity – any failures to live up to the ideal proposed was more detrimental among Cistercians than among mere Benedictines, who were intended to live a life of self-denial but not of great austerity.

Relaxations were gradually introduced in regard to diet and to simplicity of life, and also in regard to the sources of income, rents and tolls being admitted and benefices incorporated, as was done among the Benedictines; the farming operations tended to produce a commercial spirit; wealth and splendour invaded many of the monasteries, and the choir monks abandoned field-work. The later history of the Cistercians is largely one of attempted revivals and reforms. The general chapter for long battled bravely against the invasion of relaxations and abuses.


In Ireland, the information on the Cistercian Order after the Anglo-Norman invasion gives a rather gloomy impression. Absenteeism among Irish abbots at the General Chapter became a persistent and much criticised problem in the 13th century, and escalated into the conspiratio Mellifontis, a "rebellion" by the abbeys of the Mellifont filiation. Visitors were appointed to reform Mellifont in its head and members on account of the multa enormia that had arisen there, but in 1217 the abbot refused their admission and barred the abbey gate with a crowd of lay brothers. There was also trouble at Jerpoint, and alarmingly, the abbots of Baltinglass, Killenny, Kilbeggan and Bective supported the actions of the "revolt".

In 1228, the General Chapter sent the Abbot of Stanley
Stanley Abbey
Stanley Abbey was a medieval abbey near Chippenham, Wiltshire in England which flourished between 1151 and 1536.- Foundation :The abbey was given by Empress Matilda in 1151 to monks from Quarr Abbey on the Isle of Wight. Originally at Loxwell, to the east of Chippenham, it moved to nearby Stanley...

 in Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Wiltshire is a ceremonial county in South West England. It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. It contains the unitary authority of Swindon and covers...

, Stephen of Lexington, on a well-documented visitation to reform the Irish houses. A graduate of both Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

 and Paris
University of Paris
The University of Paris was a university located in Paris, France and one of the earliest to be established in Europe. It was founded in the mid 12th century, and officially recognized as a university probably between 1160 and 1250...

, and a future Abbot of Clairvaux (to be appointed in 1243), Stephen was one of the outstanding figures in 13th century Cistercian history. He found his life threatened, his representatives attacked and his party harassed, while the three key houses of Mellifont, Suir and Maigue had been fortified by their monks to hold out against him. However, with the help of his assistants, the core of obedient Irish monks and the aid of both English and Irish secular powers, he was able to envisage the reconstruction of the Cistercian province in Ireland. Stephen dissolved the Mellifont filiation altogether, and subjected 15 monasteries to houses outside Ireland. In breadth and depth, his instructions constituted a radical reform programme:
The arrangement lasted almost half a century, and in 1274, the filiation of Mellifont was reconstituted. By this time, however, "the Cistercian order as a whole had experienced a gradual decline and its central organisation was noticeably weakened."


In 1335, the French cardinal Jacques Fournier, a former Cistercian monk and the son of a miller, was elected and consecrated Pope Benedict XII
Pope Benedict XII
Pope Benedict XII , born Jacques Fournier, the third of the Avignon Popes, was Pope from 1334 to 1342.-Early life:...

. The maxim attributed to him, "the pope must be like Melchizedech
Melchizedek
Melchizedek or Malki Tzedek translated as "my king righteous") is a king and priest mentioned during the Abram narrative in the 14th chapter of the Book of Genesis....

 who had no father, no mother, nor even a family tree", is revealing of his character. Benedict was shy of personal power and was devoted exclusively to restoring the authority of the Church. As a Cistercian, he had a notable theological background and, unlike his predecessor John XXII, he was a stranger to nepotism
Nepotism
Nepotism is favoritism granted to relatives regardless of merit. The word nepotism is from the Latin word nepos, nepotis , from which modern Romanian nepot and Italian nipote, "nephew" or "grandchild" are also descended....

 and scrupulous with his appointments. He promulgated a series of regulations to restore the primitive spirit of the Cistercian Order.

By the 15th century, however, of all the orders in Ireland, the Cistercians had most comprehensively fallen on evil days. The General Chapter lost virtually all its power to enforce its will in Ireland, and the strength of the order which derived from this uniformity declined. In 1496, there were efforts to establish a strong national congregation to assume this role in Ireland, but monks of the English and Irish "nations" found themselves unable to cooperate for the good of the order. The General Chapter appointed special reformatores, but their efforts proved fruitless. One such reformer, Abbot John Troy of Mellifont, despaired of finding any solution to the ruin of the order. According to his detailed report to the General Chapter, the monks of only two communities, Dublin and Mellifont, kept the rule or even wore the habit. He identified the causes of this decline as the ceaseless wars and hatred between the two nations; a lack of leadership; and the control of many of the monasteries by secular dynasties who appointed their own relatives to positions.

In the 15th century, various popes endeavoured to promote reforms. All these efforts at a reform of the great body of the order proved unavailing; but local reforms, producing various semi-independent offshoots and congregations, were successfully carried out in many parts in the course of the 15th and 16th centuries.

Protestant Reformation



The English Reformation
English Reformation
The English Reformation was the series of events in 16th-century England by which the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church....

 was disastrous for the Cistercians in England, as Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

's Dissolution of the Monasteries
Dissolution of the Monasteries
The Dissolution of the Monasteries, sometimes referred to as the Suppression of the Monasteries, was the set of administrative and legal processes between 1536 and 1541 by which Henry VIII disbanded monasteries, priories, convents and friaries in England, Wales and Ireland; appropriated their...

 saw the confiscation of church land throughout the country. Laskill
Laskill
Laskill is a small hamlet situated 5 miles north-west of Helmsley, North Yorkshire, England, on the road from Helmsley to Stokesley...

, an outstation of Rievaulx Abbey
Rievaulx Abbey
Rievaulx Abbey is a former Cistercian abbey headed by the Abbot of Rievaulx. It is located in Rievaulx , near Helmsley in North Yorkshire, England.It was one of the wealthiest abbeys in England and was dissolved by Henry VIII of England in 1538...

 and the only medieval blast furnace so far identified in Great Britain, was one of the most efficient blast furnaces of its time. Slag from contemporary furnaces contained a substantial concentration of iron, whereas the slag of Laskill was low in iron content, and is believed to have produced cast iron with efficiency similar to a modern blast furnace. The monks may have been on the verge of building dedicated furnaces for the production of cast iron, but the furnace did not survive Henry
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

's Dissolution in the late 1530s, and the type of blast furnace pioneered there did not spread outside Rievaulx. Some historians believe that the suppression of the English monasteries may have stamped out an industrial revolution.

After the Protestant Reformation


In the 17th century another great effort at a general reform was made, promoted by the pope and the king of France; the general chapter elected Richelieu (commendatory) abbot of Cîteaux, thinking he would protect them from the threatened reform. In this they were disappointed, for he threw himself wholly on the side of reform. So great, however, was the resistance, and so serious the disturbances that ensued, that the attempt to reform Cîteaux itself and the general body of the houses had again to be abandoned, and only local projects of reform could be carried out.

In the 16th century had arisen the reformed congregation of the Feuillants
Feuillant (monks)
The Feuillants were monks of the Cistercian order who established an abbey in the diocese of Rieux in 1145.The abbey was named Notre-Dame-des-Feuillants and the name came to be applied to the monks too. Pope Gregory XIII established the Feuillants as a separate congregation in 1589 under their...

, which spread widely in France and Italy, in the latter country under the name of Improved Bernardines. The French congregation of Sept-Fontaines (1654) also deserves mention. In 1663 de Rancé reformed La Trappe (see Trappist
TRAPPIST
TRAPPIST is Belgian robotic telescope in Chile which came online in 2010, and is an acronym for TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope, so named in homage to Trappist beer produced in the Belgian region. Situated high in the Chilean mountains at La Silla Observatory, it is actually...

s).

The Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, the ecclesiastical policy of Joseph II, the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, and the revolutions of the 18th century, almost wholly destroyed the Cistercians; but some survived, and since the beginning of the last half of the 19th century there has been a considerable recovery. Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi , pronounced . 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was the pre-eminent political and ideological leader of India during the Indian independence movement...

 visited a Trappist abbey near Durban
Durban
Durban is the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal and the third largest city in South Africa. It forms part of the eThekwini metropolitan municipality. Durban is famous for being the busiest port in South Africa. It is also seen as one of the major centres of tourism...

 in 1895, and
wrote an extensive description of the order:
In 1892, the Trappist Observance left the Cistercians and founded a new Order. Today, there are two Cistercian Orders:
  • The Common Observance, with about 30 monasteries and 800 choir monks, the large majority being in Austria, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Vietnam and Eritrea; they represent the main body of the order and follow a mitigated rule of life; in Asia they run farms, in other parts of the world they work in schools and parishes;
  • The Strict Observance, or Trappist
    TRAPPIST
    TRAPPIST is Belgian robotic telescope in Chile which came online in 2010, and is an acronym for TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope, so named in homage to Trappist beer produced in the Belgian region. Situated high in the Chilean mountains at La Silla Observatory, it is actually...

    s, with nearly 100 monasteries, about 1,566 solemnly professed choir monks and 150 solemnly professed non-choir monks (lay brothers). Including those in monastic formation and oblates there are 2,132.

Cistercian Nuns



There has also always been a large number of Cistercian nuns
Cistercian nuns
Cistercian nuns are female members of the Cistercian Order, a religious order belonging to the Roman Catholic branch of the Catholic Church.-History:...

; the first community was founded in the Diocese of Langres in 1125; at the period of their widest extension there are said to have been 900 monasteries, and the communities were very large. The nun
Nun
A nun is a woman who has taken vows committing her to live a spiritual life. She may be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live her life in prayer and contemplation in a monastery or convent...

s were devoted to contemplation and also did field-work. In Spain and France certain Cistercian abbess
Abbess
An abbess is the female superior, or mother superior, of a community of nuns, often an abbey....

es had extraordinary privileges. Numerous reforms took place among the nuns. The best known of all Cistercian women's communities was probably the Abbey of Port-Royal, reformed by Mother Marie Angélique Arnauld
Marie Angelique Arnauld
Jacqueline-Marie-Angélique Arnauld or Arnault, called La Mère Angélique was abbess of Port Royal, a center of Jansenism....

, and associated with the story of the Jansenist controversy
Jansenism
Jansenism was a Christian theological movement, primarily in France, that emphasized original sin, human depravity, the necessity of divine grace, and predestination. The movement originated from the posthumously published work of the Dutch theologian Cornelius Otto Jansen, who died in 1638...

.

The nuns have also followed the split in observances followed by the monks. Those who follow the reform of De Rancé are called Trappistines. As with the men, the houses of this branch outnumber those of the Original Observance.

Architecture



Cistercian architecture
Cistercian architecture
Cistercian architecture is a style of architecture associated with the churches, monasteries and abbeys of the Roman Catholic Cistercian Order. It was headed by Abbot Bernard of Clairvaux , who believed that churches should avoid superfluous ornamentation so as not to distract from the religious life...

 has made an important contribution to European civilisation. Architecturally speaking, the Cistercian monasteries and churches, owing to their pure style, may be counted among the most beautiful relics of the Middle Ages. Cistercian foundations were primarily constructed in Romanesque
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

 and Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

 during the Middle Ages; although later abbeys were also constructed in Renaissance
Renaissance architecture
Renaissance architecture is the architecture of the period between the early 15th and early 17th centuries in different regions of Europe, demonstrating a conscious revival and development of certain elements of ancient Greek and Roman thought and material culture. Stylistically, Renaissance...

 and Baroque
Baroque architecture
Baroque architecture is a term used to describe the building style of the Baroque era, begun in late sixteenth century Italy, that took the Roman vocabulary of Renaissance architecture and used it in a new rhetorical and theatrical fashion, often to express the triumph of the Catholic Church and...

.

Theological principles



In the mid-12th century, one of the leading churchmen of his day, the Benedictine Abbot Suger
Abbot Suger
Suger was one of the last Frankish abbot-statesmen, an historian, and the influential first patron of Gothic architecture....

 of Saint-Denis, united elements of Norman architecture
Norman architecture
About|Romanesque architecture, primarily English|other buildings in Normandy|Architecture of Normandy.File:Durham Cathedral. Nave by James Valentine c.1890.jpg|thumb|200px|The nave of Durham Cathedral demonstrates the characteristic round arched style, though use of shallow pointed arches above the...

 with elements of Burgundinian architecture (rib vaults and pointed arches respectively), creating the new style of Gothic architecture. This new "architecture of light" was intended to raise the observer "from the material to the immaterial" – it was, according to the 20th century French historian Georges Duby
Georges Duby
Georges Duby was a French historian specializing in the social and economic history of the Middle Ages...

, a "monument of applied theology". Although St Bernard saw much of church decoration as a distraction from piety, and the builders of the Cistercian monasteries had to adopt a style that observed the numerous rules inspired by his austere aesthetics, the order itself was receptive to the technical improvements of Gothic principles of construction and played an important role in its spread across Europe.

This new Cistercian architecture embodied the ideals of the order, and was in theory at least utilitarian and without superfluous ornament. The same "rational, integrated scheme" was used across Europe to meet the largely homogeneous needs of the order. Various buildings, including the chapter-house to the east and the dormitories above, were grouped around a cloister
Cloister
A cloister is a rectangular open space surrounded by covered walks or open galleries, with open arcades on the inner side, running along the walls of buildings and forming a quadrangle or garth...

, and were sometimes linked to the transept of the church itself by a night stair. Usually Cistercian churches were cruciform, with a short presbytery
Presbytery (architecture)
The presbytery is the name for an area in a church building which is reserved for the clergy.In the oldest church it is separated by short walls, by small columns and pilasters in the Renaissance ones; it can also be raised, being reachable by a few steps, usually with railings....

 to meet the liturgical needs of the brethren, small chapels in the transept
Transept
For the periodical go to The Transept.A transept is a transverse section, of any building, which lies across the main body of the building. In Christian churches, a transept is an area set crosswise to the nave in a cruciform building in Romanesque and Gothic Christian church architecture...

s for private prayer, and an aisled nave
Nave
In Romanesque and Gothic Christian abbey, cathedral basilica and church architecture, the nave is the central approach to the high altar, the main body of the church. "Nave" was probably suggested by the keel shape of its vaulting...

 that was divided roughly in the middle by a screen to separate the monks from the lay brothers.

Engineering and construction



The building projects of the Church in the High Middle Ages
High Middle Ages
The High Middle Ages was the period of European history around the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries . The High Middle Ages were preceded by the Early Middle Ages and followed by the Late Middle Ages, which by convention end around 1500....

 showed an ambition for the colossal, with vast amounts of stone being quarried, and the same was true of the Cistercian projects. Foigny Abbey was 98 metres (321.5 ft) long, and Vaucelles Abbey was 132 metres (433.1 ft) long. Monastic buildings came to be constructed entirely of stone, right down to the most humble of buildings. In the 12th and 13th centuries, Cistercian barns consisted of a stone exterior, divided into nave and aisles either by wooden posts or by stone piers.

The Cistercians acquired a reputation in the difficult task of administering the building sites for abbeys and cathedrals. St Bernard's own brother, Achard
Achard
Achard is a surname, and may refer to:* Achard of St. Victor , French bishop* Albert Achard , French World War I flying ace* Antoine Achard , Swiss Protestant minister* Count Achard of Lecce, Norman count of Lecce...

, is known to have supervised the construction of many abbeys, such as Himmerod Abbey
Himmerod Abbey
Himmerod Abbey is a Cistercian monastery in the community of Großlittgen in the Verbandsgemeinde of Manderscheid in the district of Bernkastel-Wittlich, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, located in the Eifel, in the valley of the Salm.-First foundation:Himmerod Abbey was founded in 1134 by Saint...

 in the Rhineland. Others were Raoul at Saint-Jouin-de-Marnes
Saint-Jouin-de-Marnes
Saint-Jouin-de-Marnes is a commune in the Deux-Sèvres department in western France.-References:*...

, who later became abbot there; Geoffrey d'Aignay, sent to Fountains Abbey in 1133; and Robert, sent to Mellifont Abbey in 1142. On one occasion the Abbot of La Trinité at Vendôme
Vendôme
Vendôme is a commune in the Centre region of France.-Administration:Vendôme is the capital of the arrondissement of Vendôme in the Loir-et-Cher department, of which it is a sub-prefecture. It has a tribunal of first instance.-Geography:...

 loaned a monk named John to the Bishop of Le Mans, Hildebert de Lavardin, for the building of a cathedral; after the project was completed, John refused to return to his monastery.

The Cistercians "made it a point of honour to recruit the best stonecutters", and as early as 1133, St Bernard was hiring workers to help the monks erect new buildings at Clairvaux. It is from the 12th century Byland Abbey
Byland Abbey
Byland Abbey is a ruined abbey and a small village in the Ryedale district of North Yorkshire, England at .-History:It was founded as a Savigniac abbey in January 1135 and was absorbed by the Cistercian order in 1147. It wasn't an easy start for the community who had had to move five times before...

 in Yorkshire that the oldest recorded example of architectural tracing is found. Tracings were architectural drawings incised and painted in stone, to a depth of 2–3 mm, showing architectural detail to scale. The first tracing in Byland illustrates a west rose window
Rose window
A Rose window is often used as a generic term applied to a circular window, but is especially used for those found in churches of the Gothic architectural style and being divided into segments by stone mullions and tracery...

, while the second depicts the central part of that same window. Later, an illustration from the latter half of the 16th century would show monks working alongside other craftsmen in the construction of Schönau Abbey
Schönau Abbey
Schönau Abbey in Schönau in the Odenwald, in the Rhein-Neckar-Kreis in Baden-Württemberg, was a Cistercian monastery founded in 1142 from Eberbach Abbey...

.

Legacy


The Cistercian abbeys of Fontenay
Abbey of Fontenay
The Abbey of Fontenay is a former Cistercian abbey located in the commune of Marmagne, near Montbard, in the département of Côte-d'Or in France. It was founded by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux in 1118, and built in the Romanesque style...

 in France, Fountains
Fountains Abbey
Fountains Abbey is near to Aldfield, approximately two miles southwest of Ripon in North Yorkshire, England. It is a ruined Cistercian monastery, founded in 1132. Fountains Abbey is one of the largest and best preserved Cistercian houses in England. It is a Grade I listed building and owned by the...

 in England, Alcobaça
Monastery of Alcobaça
The Alcobaça Monastery is a Mediaeval Roman Catholic Monastery located in the town of Alcobaça, in central Portugal. It was founded by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, in 1153, and maintained a close association with the Kings of Portugal throughout its history.The church and monastery...

 in Portugal, Poblet
Poblet Monastery
The Royal Abbey of Santa Maria de Poblet is a Cistercian monastery, founded in 1151, located at the feet of the Prades Mountains, in the comarca of Conca de Barberà, in Catalonia . It was founded by Cistercian monks from France on lands conquered from the Moors...

 in Spain and Maulbronn
Maulbronn Abbey
Maulbronn Monastery is the best-preserved medieval Cistercian monastery complex in Europe. It is situated on the outskirts of Maulbronn, Baden-Württemberg, Germany and is separated from the town by fortifications. Since 1993 the monastery is part of the Unesco World Heritage.- History :The...

 in Germany are today recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The abbeys of France and England are fine examples of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. The architecture of Fontenay has been described as "an excellent illustration of the ideal of self-sufficiency" practised by the earliest Cistercian communities. The abbeys of 12th century England were stark and undecorated – a dramatic contrast with the elaborate churches of the wealthier Benedictine houses – yet to quote Warren Hollister, "even now the simple beauty of Cistercian ruins such as Fountains and Rievaulx, set in the wilderness of Yorkshire, is deeply moving".

In the purity of architectural style, the beauty of materials and the care with which the Alcobaça Monastery was built, Portugal possesses one of the most outstanding and best preserved examples of Early Gothic. Poblet Monastery, one of the largest in Spain, is considered similarly impressive for its austerity, majesty, and the fortified royal residence within.

The fortified Maulbronn Abbey in Germany is considered "the most complete and best-preserved medieval monastic complex north of the Alps
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

". The Transitional Gothic style of its church had a major influence in the spread of Gothic architecture over much of northern and central Europe, and the abbey's elaborate network of drains, irrigation canals and reservoirs has since been recognised as having "exceptional" cultural interest.

In Poland, the former Cistercian monastery of Pelplin Cathedral
Pelplin
Pelplin is a small town in Tczew County, Pomeranian Voivodship, Poland. Population: 9,993 . The former Pelplin Abbey is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pelplin, and the abbey church is now Pelpin Cathedral.It is located at around ....

 is an important example of Brick Gothic
Brick Gothic
Brick Gothic is a specific style of Gothic architecture common in Northern Europe, especially in Northern Germany and the regions around the Baltic Sea that do not have natural rock resources. The buildings are essentially built from bricks...

. Wąchock abbey
Wachock
Wąchock is a town in Starachowice County, Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, Poland, near Starachowice. In 2006, it had 2,777 inhabitants.- History :...

 is one of the most valuable examples of Polish Romanesque architecture. The largest Cistercian complex, the Abbatia Lubensis
Abbatia Lubensis abbey
Lubiąż Abbey , also commonly known in English as Leubus Abbey, is a former Cistercian monastery in Lubiąż,, in the Lower Silesian Voivodeship of southwestern Poland, located about northwest of Wrocław...

 (Lubiąż
Lubiaz
Lubiąż is a village on the east bank of the Odra River, in the administrative district of Gmina Wołów, within Wołów County, Lower Silesian Voivodeship, in south-western Poland. It lies approximately south-west of Wołów, and west of the regional capital Wrocław. The village has a population of...

, Poland), is a masterpiece of baroque architecture
Baroque architecture
Baroque architecture is a term used to describe the building style of the Baroque era, begun in late sixteenth century Italy, that took the Roman vocabulary of Renaissance architecture and used it in a new rhetorical and theatrical fashion, often to express the triumph of the Catholic Church and...

 and the second largest Christian architectural complex in the world.

Art




The mother house of the order, Cîteaux, had developed the most advanced style of painting in France, at least in illuminated manuscript
Illuminated manuscript
An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented by the addition of decoration, such as decorated initials, borders and miniature illustrations...

s, during the first decades of the 12th century, playing an important part in the development of the image of the Tree of Jesse
Tree of Jesse
The Tree of Jesse is a depiction in art of the Ancestors of Christ, shown in a tree which rises from Jesse of Bethlehem, the father of King David; the original use of the family tree as a schematic representation of a genealogy...

. However, as Bernard of Clairvaux, who had a personal violent hostility to imagery, increased in influence in the order, painting and decoration gradually diminished in Cistercian manuscripts, and they were finally banned altogether in the order, probably from the revised rules approved in 1154. Any wall paintings that may have existed were presumably destroyed. Crucifix
Crucifix
A crucifix is an independent image of Jesus on the cross with a representation of Jesus' body, referred to in English as the corpus , as distinct from a cross with no body....

es were allowed, and later some painting and decoration crept back in. Bernard's outburst in a letter against the fantastical decorative motifs in Romanesque art
Romanesque art
Romanesque art refers to the art of Western Europe from approximately 1000 AD to the rise of the Gothic style in the 13th century, or later, depending on region. The preceding period is increasingly known as the Pre-Romanesque...

 is famous:

Some Cistercian abbeys did in fact contain later medieval wall paintings, such as Tintern Abbey
Tintern Abbey (County Wexford)
Tintern Abbey was a Cistercian abbey located on the Hook peninsula, County Wexford, Ireland.The Abbey – which is today in ruins, some of which have been restored – was founded in the 13th century by William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, as the result of a vow he had made when his boat was...

 (known from archaeology) and Abbeyknockmoy
Abbeyknockmoy
Abbeyknockmoy is a village and parish in County Galway, Ireland. It is best known for the nearby ruins of the 12th century Cistercian abbey, established with the Kings of Connacht as its benefactors. The abbey was the burial site of King Cathal Crobhdearg Ua Conchobair and contains fine examples...

 (traces of which still survive in the presbytery
Rectory
A rectory is the residence, or former residence, of a rector, most often a Christian cleric, but in some cases an academic rector or other person with that title...

), both in Ireland. The latter murals depict Saint Sebastian, the Crucifixion
Crucifixion
Crucifixion is an ancient method of painful execution in which the condemned person is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead...

, the Trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

 and the three living and three dead
The Three Dead Kings
The Three Dead Kings, also known by its Latin title De Tribus Regibus Mortuis or as The Three Living and the Three Dead, is a 15th-century Middle English poem. It is found in the manuscript MS. Douce 302, and its authorship is sometimes attributed to a Shropshire priest, John Audelay...

. The abbey contains a fine example of a sculpture
Sculpture
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

d royal head on a capital
Capital (architecture)
In architecture the capital forms the topmost member of a column . It mediates between the column and the load thrusting down upon it, broadening the area of the column's supporting surface...

 in the nave, with carefully defined eyes, an elaborate crown and long curly hair. The east end of Corcomroe Abbey
Corcomroe Abbey
Corcomroe Abbey is an early 13th-century Cistercian monastery located in the north of the Burren region of County Clare, Ireland, a few miles east of the village of Ballyvaughan. It was once known as "St...

 in County Clare is similarly distinguished by high-quality carvings, several of which "demonstrate precociously naturalistic renderings of plants". By the Baroque period, decoration could be very elaborate, as at Alcobaça in Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, which has carved and gilded retable
Retable
A retable is a framed altarpiece, raised slightly above the back of the altar or communion table, on which are placed the cross, ceremonial candlesticks and other ornaments....

s and walls of azulejo
Azulejo
Azulejo from the Arabic word Zellige زليج is a form of Portuguese or Spanish painted, tin-glazed, ceramic tilework. They have become a typical aspect of Portuguese culture, having been produced without interruption for five centuries...

 tiles.

Furthermore, many Cistercian abbey churches housed the tombs of royal or noble patrons, and these were often as elaborately carved and painted as in other churches. Notable dynastic burial places were Alcobaça for the Kings of Portugal, Cîteaux for the Dukes of Burgundy, and Poblet
Poblet Monastery
The Royal Abbey of Santa Maria de Poblet is a Cistercian monastery, founded in 1151, located at the feet of the Prades Mountains, in the comarca of Conca de Barberà, in Catalonia . It was founded by Cistercian monks from France on lands conquered from the Moors...

 for the Kings of Aragon. Corcomroe in Ireland contains one of only two surviving examples of Gaelic royal effigies
Effigy
An effigy is a representation of a person, especially in the form of sculpture or some other three-dimensional form.The term is usually associated with full-length figures of a deceased person depicted in stone or wood on church monuments. These most often lie supine with hands together in prayer,...

 from 13th and 14th century Ireland: the sarcophagal tomb of Conchobar na Siudaine Ua Briain (d. 1268).

Commercial enterprise and technological diffusion



According to one modern Cistercian, "enterprise and entrepreneurial spirit" have always been a part of the order's identity, and the Cistercians "were catalysts for development of a market economy" in 12th century Europe. It was as agriculturists and horse and cattle breeders that the Cistercians exercised their chief influence on the progress of civilisation in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

. As the great farmers of those days, many of the improvements in the various farming operations were introduced and propagated by them, and this is where the importance of their extension in northern Europe is to be estimated. They developed an organised system for selling their farm produce, cattle and horses, and notably contributed to the commercial progress of the countries of western Europe. To the wool and cloth trade, which was especially fostered by the Cistercians, England was largely indebted for the beginnings of her commercial prosperity.

Farming operations on so extensive a scale could not be carried out by the monks alone, whose choir and religious duties took up a considerable portion of their time; and so from the beginning the system of lay brothers was introduced on a large scale. The duties of the lay brothers, recruited from the peasantry, consisted in carrying out the various fieldworks and plying all sorts of useful trades. They formed a body of men who lived alongside of the choir monks, but separate from them, not taking part in the canonical office, but having their own fixed round of prayer and religious exercises. They were never ordained, and never held any office of superiority. It was by this system of lay brothers that the Cistercians were able to play their distinctive part in the progress of European civilisation.

Until the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

, most of the technological advances in Europe were made in the monasteries. According to the medievalist Jean Gimpel, their high level of industrial technology facilitated the diffusion of new techniques: "Every monastery had a model factory, often as large as the church and only several feet away, and waterpower drove the machinery of the various industries located on its floor." Waterpower was used for crushing wheat, sieving flour, fulling cloth and tanning – a "level of technological achievement [that] could have been observed in practically all" of the Cistercian monasteries.


The Cistercian order was innovative in developing techniques of hydraulic engineering
Hydrology
Hydrology is the study of the movement, distribution, and quality of water on Earth and other planets, including the hydrologic cycle, water resources and environmental watershed sustainability...

 for monasteries established in remote valleys. In Spain, one of the earliest surviving Cistercian houses, the Real Monasterio de Nuestra Senora de Rueda
Real Monasterio de Nuestra Senora de Rueda
Rueda Abbey or Rueda de Ebro Abbey is a former Cistercian monastery in Sástago in the Ribera Baja del Ebro comarca, province of Zaragoza, Aragon, Spain, 74 kilometres to the south-east of Zaragoza on the left bank of the Ebro...

 in Aragon
Aragon
Aragon is a modern autonomous community in Spain, coextensive with the medieval Kingdom of Aragon. Located in northeastern Spain, the Aragonese autonomous community comprises three provinces : Huesca, Zaragoza, and Teruel. Its capital is Zaragoza...

, is a good example of such early hydraulic engineering, using a large waterwheel for power and an elaborate water circulation system for central heating
Central heating
A central heating system provides warmth to the whole interior of a building from one point to multiple rooms. When combined with other systems in order to control the building climate, the whole system may be a HVAC system.Central heating differs from local heating in that the heat generation...

.

The Cistercians are known to have been skilled metallurgists
Metallurgy
Metallurgy is a domain of materials science that studies the physical and chemical behavior of metallic elements, their intermetallic compounds, and their mixtures, which are called alloys. It is also the technology of metals: the way in which science is applied to their practical use...

, and knowledge of their technological advances was transmitted by the order. Iron ore deposits were often donated to the monks along with forges to extract the iron, and within time surpluses were being offered for sale. The Cistercians became the leading iron producers in Champagne
Champagne (province)
The Champagne wine region is a historic province within the Champagne administrative province in the northeast of France. The area is best known for the production of the sparkling white wine that bears the region's name...

, from the mid-13th century to the 17th century, also using the phosphate-rich slag from their furnaces as an agricultural fertiliser. As the historian Alain Erlande-Brandenburg writes:

Theology



By far the most influential of the early Cistercians was Bernard of Clairvaux
Bernard of Clairvaux
Bernard of Clairvaux, O.Cist was a French abbot and the primary builder of the reforming Cistercian order.After the death of his mother, Bernard sought admission into the Cistercian order. Three years later, he was sent to found a new abbey at an isolated clearing in a glen known as the Val...

. According to the historian Piers Paul Read
Piers Paul Read
Piers Paul Read, FRSL is a British novelist and non-fiction writer.-Background:Read was born in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire...

, his vocation to the order, by deciding "to choose the narrowest gate and steepest path to the Kingdom of Heaven at Citeaux demonstrates the purity of his vocation". His piety and asceticism "qualified him to act as the conscience of Christendom, constantly chastising the rich and powerful and championing the pure and weak." He rebuked the moderate and conciliatory Abbot Peter the Venerable
Peter the Venerable
Peter the Venerable , also known as Peter of Montboissier, abbot of the Benedictine abbey of Cluny, born to Blessed Raingarde in Auvergne, France. He has been honored as a saint but has never been formally canonized.-Life:Peter was "Dedicated to God" at birth and given to the monastery at...

 for the pleasant life of the Benedictine monks of Cluny. Besides his piety, Bernard was an outstanding intellectual, which he demonstrated in his sermons on Grace
Divine grace
In Christian theology, grace is God’s gift of God’s self to humankind. It is understood by Christians to be a spontaneous gift from God to man - "generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved" - that takes the form of divine favour, love and clemency. It is an attribute of God that is most...

, Free will
Free will
"To make my own decisions whether I am successful or not due to uncontrollable forces" -Troy MorrisonA pragmatic definition of free willFree will is the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. The existence of free will and its exact nature and definition have long...

 and the Song of Songs
Song of songs
Song of Songs, also known as the Song of Solomon, is a book of the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament. It may also refer to:In music:* Song of songs , the debut album by David and the Giants* A generic term for medleysPlays...

. He perceived the attraction of evil not simply as lying in the obvious lure of wealth and worldly power, but in the "subtler and ultimately more pernicious attraction of false ideas". He was quick to recognise heretical ideas, and in the 1141 and 1145 respectively, he accused the celebrated scholastic theologian Peter Abelard
Peter Abelard
Peter Abelard was a medieval French scholastic philosopher, theologian and preeminent logician. The story of his affair with and love for Héloïse has become legendary...

 and the popular preacher Henry of Lausanne
Henry of Lausanne
Henry of Lausanne , French heresiarch of the first half of the 12th century. His preaching began around 1116 and he died imprisoned around 1148.-Life and teachings:Practically nothing is known of his origin or early life...

 of heresy. He was also charged with the task of promulgating Pope Eugene's bull, Quantum praedecessores
Quantum praedecessores
Quantum praedecessores is a papal bull issued on December 1, 1145, by Pope Eugenius III, calling for a Second Crusade. It was the first papal bull issued with a crusade as its subject....

, and his eloquence in preaching the Second Crusade
Second Crusade
The Second Crusade was the second major crusade launched from Europe. The Second Crusade was started in response to the fall of the County of Edessa the previous year to the forces of Zengi. The county had been founded during the First Crusade by Baldwin of Boulogne in 1098...

 had the desired effect: when he finished his sermon, so many men were ready to take the Cross that Bernard had to cut his habit into strips of cloth.

Although Bernard's De laude novae militiae was in favour of the Knights Templar
Knights Templar
The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon , commonly known as the Knights Templar, the Order of the Temple or simply as Templars, were among the most famous of the Western Christian military orders...

, a Cistercian was also one of the few scholars of the Middle Ages to question the existence of the military order
Military order
A military order is a Christian society of knights that was founded for crusading, i.e. propagating or defending the faith , either in the Holy Land or against Islam or pagans in Europe...

s during the Crusades
Crusades
The Crusades were a series of religious wars, blessed by the Pope and the Catholic Church with the main goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem...

. The English Cistercian Abbot Isaac of l'Etoile, near Poitiers
Poitiers
Poitiers is a city on the Clain river in west central France. It is a commune and the capital of the Vienne department and of the Poitou-Charentes region. The centre is picturesque and its streets are interesting for predominant remains of historical architecture, especially from the Romanesque...

, preached against the "new monstrosity" of the nova militia in the mid-12th century, and denounced the use of force to convert members of Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

. He also rejected the notion that crusaders could be regarded as martyr
Martyr
A martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce, or accept, a belief or cause, usually religious.-Meaning:...

s if they died while despoiling non-Christians.

One of the most well-known Cistercian theologians was Thomas Merton
Thomas Merton
Thomas Merton, O.C.S.O. was a 20th century Anglo-American Catholic writer and mystic. A Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky, he was a poet, social activist, and student of comparative religion...

, a prominent author in the mystic
Mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

 tradition and a noted poet and social and literary critic. He entered the Abbey of Gethsemani
Abbey of Gethsemani
The Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani is a Trappist monastery near Bardstown, Kentucky in Nelson County—situated on more than 2,000 acres of farmland, and considered to be the "mother house" of all Trappist and Trappistine monasteries in the United States of America...

 in 1941 where his writings and letters to world leaders became some of the most widely read spiritual and social works of the 20th century. Merton's most widely read work remains his autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain
The Seven Storey Mountain
The Seven Storey Mountain is the 1948 autobiography of Thomas Merton, a Trappist Monk and a noted author of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Merton finished the book in 1946 at the age of 31, five years after entering the Gethsemani Abbey near Bardstown, Kentucky...

, followed by New Seeds of Contemplation and No Man is an Island.

Organisation



Cistercian monasteries have continued to spread, with many founded outside Europe in the 20th century. In particular, the number of Trappist monasteries throughout the world has more than doubled over the past 60 years: from 82 in 1940 to 127 in 1970, and 169 at the beginning of the 21st century. In 1940, there were six Trappist monasteries in Asia and the Pacific, only one Trappist monastery in Africa, and none in Latin America. Now there are 13 in Central and South America, 17 in Africa, and 23 in Asia and the Pacific. In general, these communities are growing faster than those in other parts of the world.

Over the same period, the total number of monks and nuns in the Order decreased by about 15%. There are approximately 2500 Trappist monks and 1800 Trappist nuns in the world today. There are on average 25 members per community – less than half those in former times. As of 2005, there are 101 monasteries of monks and 70 of nuns. Of these, there are twelve monasteries of monks and five of nuns in the United States.

The abbots and abbesses of each branch meet every three years at the Mixed General Meeting, chaired by the Abbot General, to make decisions concerning the welfare of the Order. Between these meetings the Abbot General and his Council, who reside in Rome, are in charge of the Order's affairs. The present Abbot General is Dom Eamonn Fitzgerald of Mount Melleray, Waterford, Ireland.

Since 2010 there is also a branch of Anglican Cistercians http://ocista.webs.com in England. This is a dispersed and uncloistered order of single, celibate, and married men that is officially recognized within the Church of England. The Order enjoys a link with the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance through their ecumenical link with Mount Saint Bernard Abbey in Leicestershire.

Monastic life


At the time of monastic profession
Profession (religious)
The term religious profession is defined in the 1983 Code of Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church in relation to members of religious institutes as follows:By religious profession members make a public vow to observe the three evangelical counsels...

, five or six years after entering the monastery, candidates promise "conversion" – fidelity to monastic life, which includes an atmosphere of silence. Cistercian monks and nuns, in particular Trappists, have a reputation of being silent, which has led to the public idea that they take a Vow of silence
Vow of silence
A vow of silence is a religious vow, usually taken in a monastic context, to maintain silence. Known as Mauna in Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism, the practice is integral to Christian and Islamic traditions as well...

. This has actually never been the case, although silence is an implicit part of an outlook shared by Cistercian and Benedictine monasteries. In a Cistercian monastery, there are three reasons for speaking:
Many Cistercian monasteries produce goods such as cheese, bread and other foodstuffs. Many monasteries in Belgium and the Netherlands, such as Orval Abbey
Orval Abbey
Orval Abbey is a Cistercian monastery founded in 1132 in the Gaume region of Belgium and is located in Villers-devant-Orval, part of Florenville in the province of Luxembourg...

, Westvleteren Abbey
Westvleteren Abbey
Westvleteren Abbey or St. Sixtus' Abbey, Westvleteren, which belongs to the Cistercians of Strict Observance, or Trappists, is located in Westvleteren, West Flanders, in Belgium...

 and Westmalle Abbey
Westmalle Abbey
The Trappist Abbey of Westmalle or Abdij van Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van het Heilig Hart , which belongs to the Cistercians of Strict Observance, is located in Westmalle , in the Campine region of the province of Antwerp .The abbey was founded in 1794, but the community was not elevated to the rank of...

, brew beer both for the monks and for sale to the general public. Trappist beer
Trappist beer
A Trappist beer is a beer brewed by or under control of Trappist monks. There are a total of 174 Trappist monasteries worldwide ; only seven produce Trappist beer and are authorized to label their beers with the Authentic Trappist Product logo that indicates a compliance to the various rules of...

s contain residual sugars and living yeast, and, unlike conventional beers, will improve with age. These have become quite famous and are considered by many beer critics to be among the finest in the world.

In the United States, many Cistercian monasteries support themselves through agriculture, forestry and rental of farmland. The Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Spring Bank, in Sparta, Wisconsin
Sparta, Wisconsin
Sparta is a city in and the county seat of Monroe County, Wisconsin, United States, along the La Crosse River. The population was 9,522 at the 2010 census.-Notable people:*William Hawley Atwell, U.S. District Court Judge in Texas*Larry Baumel, NASCAR...

, from 2001 to 2011 supported itself with a group called "Laser Monks", which provided laser toner and ink jet cartridges, as well as items such as gourmet coffees and all-natural dog treats
Dog food
Dog food refers to food specifically intended for consumption by dogs. Though technically omnivorous, dogs exhibit a natural carnivorous bias, have sharp, pointy teeth, and have short gastrointestinal tracts better suited for the consumption of meat...

. The monks of New Melleray Abbey
New Melleray Abbey
New Melleray Abbey is located near Dubuque, Iowa. The monks there are members of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance . The abbey is located about 15 miles southwest of Dubuque and is located in the Archdiocese of Dubuque. The current Abbot is the Right Reverend Brendan...

, rural Peosta, Iowa
Peosta, Iowa
Peosta is a city in Dubuque County, Iowa, United States, and an exurb of the city of Dubuque. It is part of the Dubuque, Iowa Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 1,377 in the 2010 census, an increase of 111.5% from 651 in the 2000 census...

 produce caskets for both themselves and sale to the public.

Additionally, the Cistercian monks of Our Lady of Dallas monastery run the Cistercian Preparatory School
Cistercian Preparatory School
Cistercian Preparatory School is a Roman Catholic school for boys located in Irving, Texas, in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas. Serving grades five through twelve , the school has a population of about 350 boys...

, a Catholic school for boys in Irving, Texas; while Cistercian College, Roscrea
Cistercian College, Roscrea
Cistercian College, Roscrea or Roscrea College is a private boarding school in Ireland. It is a Roman Catholic seven-day boarding school for boys and was founded in 1905....

 is one of two remaining monastic secondary schools in Ireland.

See also

  • Martyrs of Atlas
    Martyrs of Atlas
    On the night of 26–27 March 1996, seven monks from the monastery of Tibhirine in Algeria, belonging to the Roman Catholic Trappist Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance , were kidnapped in the Algerian Civil War. They were held for two months, and were found dead on 21 May 1996...

  • Monastery of the Holy Spirit
  • Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey
    Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey
    The Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey is located near Dubuque, Iowa. The nuns there are members of the Order of the Cistercian Strict Observance , part of the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Dubuque. The current Abbess is Sr...

  • Southern Star Abbey
    Southern Star Abbey
    The Abbey of our Lady of the Southern Star or Southern Star Abbey is a Cistercian abbey located in a remote, rural area of the North Island, New Zealand in the Diocese of Palmerston North. It is of the Trappist tradition . The monastery supports itself by operating a dairy farm...


External links




Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Trappists)


Order of Cistercians Common Observance


Abbeys