Cluniac Reforms

Cluniac Reforms

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The Cluniac Reforms were a series of changes within medieval monasticism
Christian monasticism
Christian monasticism is a practice which began to develop early in the history of the Christian Church, modeled upon scriptural examples and ideals, including those in the Old Testament, but not mandated as an institution in the scriptures. It has come to be regulated by religious rules Christian...

 of West
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 focused on restoring the traditional monastic life, encouraging art, and caring for the poor. The movement is named for the Abbey of Cluny in Burgundy, where it started within the Benedictine order. The reforms were largely carried out by Saint Odo (c. 878 – 942) and spread throughout France (Burgundy, Provence
Provence ; Provençal: Provença in classical norm or Prouvènço in Mistralian norm) is a region of south eastern France on the Mediterranean adjacent to Italy. It is part of the administrative région of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur...

, Auvergne
Auvergne (province)
Auvergne was a historic province in south central France. It was originally the feudal domain of the Counts of Auvergne. It is now the geographical and cultural area that corresponds to the former province....

, Poitou
Poitou was a province of west-central France whose capital city was Poitiers.The region of Poitou was called Thifalia in the sixth century....

), into England
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

, and through much of Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 and Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...



The impetus for the reforms was corruption within the church, particularly simony
Simony is the act of paying for sacraments and consequently for holy offices or for positions in the hierarchy of a church, named after Simon Magus , who appears in the Acts of the Apostles 8:9-24...

 and concubinage
Concubinage is the state of a woman or man in an ongoing, usually matrimonially oriented, relationship with somebody to whom they cannot be married, often because of a difference in social status or economic condition.-Concubinage:...

. These abuses were thought to be a result of secular interference in the monasteries and of the Church's tight integration with the feudal and manorial systems. At the same time, the Papacy wished to reassert control of all clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

 and to stop the investiture
Investiture, from the Latin is a rather general term for the formal installation of an incumbent...

 of bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

s by secular rulers. Since a Benedictine monastery required land, it needed the patronage of a local lord
Lord of the Manor
The Lordship of a Manor is recognised today in England and Wales as a form of property and one of three elements of a manor that may exist separately or be combined and may be held in moieties...

. However, the lord would often demand rights and assert prerogatives that interfered with the operation of the monastery. The Cluny reform was an attempt to remedy these practices in the hope that a more independent abbot would better enforce the Rule of Saint Benedict.


William of Aquitaine
William I of Aquitaine
William I , called the Pious, was the Count of Auvergne from 886 and Duke of Aquitaine from 893, succeeding the Poitevin ruler Ebalus Manser. He made numerous monastic foundations, most important among them the foundation of Cluny Abbey on 11 September 910.William was the son of Bernard II of...

 formed the first Cluny monastery in 910 with the novel stipulation that the monastery would report directly to the pope rather than to a local lord. This meant the monastery would be essentially independent, since the pope's authority was largely theoretical at any significant distance. Further, the Abbot of Cluny retained authority over the daughter houses his order founded. By the twelfth century the Congregation of Cluny included more than a thousand monasteries.

Among the most notable supporters of the Cluniac reforms were 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...

, Lambert of Hersfeld
Lambert of Hersfeld
Lambert of Hersfeld was a medieval chronicler, probably a Thuringian by birth. His work represents a major source for the history of Germany and the Holy Roman Empire in the eleventh century....

, and Richard of Verdun
Richard of Verdun
Richard of Verdun was the abbot of the influential northeastern French Monastery of St. Vanne from 1004 to 1046. Richard entered the monastery of St. Vanne as a young man, and upon his arrival he was shocked and dismayed by the relatively poor state of the monastery . So great were his feelings...

. The reforms encouraged the Church in the West to be more attentive to business and gave wish to papacy to attempt to assert control over the Eastern Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...



During its height (c. 950–c.1130), the Cluniac movement was one of the largest religious forces in Europe. At least as significantly as their political consequences, the reforms demanded greater religious devotion. The Cluniacs supported the Peace of God
Peace and Truce of God
The Peace and Truce of God was a medieval European movement of the Catholic Church that applied spiritual sanctions in order to limit the violence of private war in feudal society. The movement constituted the first organized attempt to control civil society in medieval Europe through non-violent...

, and promoted pilgrimages to the Holy Lands. An increasingly rich liturgy stimulated demand for altar vessels of gold, fine tapestries and fabrics, stained glass
Stained glass
The term stained glass can refer to coloured glass as a material or to works produced from it. Throughout its thousand-year history, the term has been applied almost exclusively to the windows of churches and other significant buildings...

, and polyphonic choral music
In music, polyphony is a texture consisting of two or more independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords ....

 to fill the 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,...


In 1098 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...

 led a band of 21 Cluniac monks from their abbey at Molesme

 to establish a new monastery. The group hoped to cultivate a monastic community in which monks could live in stricter observance of the Rule of Saint Benedict. The monks acquired a plot of marsh land just south of 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"), and so founded the Cistercian order.

See also

  • Investiture Controversy
    Investiture Controversy
    The Investiture Controversy or Investiture Contest was the most significant conflict between Church and state in medieval Europe. In the 11th and 12th centuries, a series of Popes challenged the authority of European monarchies over control of appointments, or investitures, of church officials such...

  • Gregorian Reform
    Gregorian Reform
    The Gregorian Reforms were a series of reforms initiated by Pope Gregory VII and the circle he formed in the papal curia, circa 1050–80, which dealt with the moral integrity and independence of the clergy...

  • Concordat of Worms
    Concordat of Worms
    The Concordat of Worms, sometimes called the Pactum Calixtinum by papal historians, was an agreement between Pope Calixtus II and Holy Roman Emperor Henry V on September 23, 1122 near the city of Worms...

  • First Council of the Lateran
    First Council of the Lateran
    The Council of 1123 is reckoned in the series of Ecumenical councils by the Catholic Church. It was convoked by Pope Calixtus II in December, 1122, immediately after the Concordat of Worms...