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Cluniac Monasticism

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 09:02 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 42.9 
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Assess the strengths and weaknesses of Cluniac monasticism between the tenth and twelfth centuries.




The nature of Cluny lay in the circumstances of it’s foundation. It was endowed with a measure of independence by it’s founder, Duke William, allowing the monks to elect their own abbot, placing the abbey directly under the guardianship of St Peter and the Apostolic See. As a house dedicated to reviving strict Benedictine observance Cluny was not unique, but it was this indepencence, the succesion of talented abbots and it’s organisation set up by Abbot Berno that laid the foundations of the abbey’s later greatness.


The independence granted Cluny in it’s foundation charter was esssential in the development of Cluny free from the interference of lay magnates and local bishops. It’s direct dependence on Rome was not initially of great importence; other foundations had beemn bequeathed to the apostles before. However, this was an important foundation upon which later abbots were to build. By seeking papal approval for Cluniac reforms the abbots forged a valuble direct link to the papacy, whilst gain officail public regognition and endorsement of the Cluniac regieme. In obtaining the right to accept monks from other orders in 931 Odo had confirmed the righht of the Cluniacs to reform others houses, while Cluny gained freedom from the local bishops under Abbot Odilo in 998. it was ‘the subsequent growth, under far straiter papal oversight, of Cluny’s exemption from episcopal control in spiritual matters, that did most to consolidate Cluny’s subject houses under it’s own central authority’ . This meant Cluny was immune to challenges to it’s authority from both without and within the church. Cluny became of particular note to sucessive Popes, with it’s reputation for reform, and the papacy continued to support the cluniacs, with Pope John XIX giving Cluny’s monks complete freedom from interference whereever they were in 1024.


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