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Carthusians and Cistercians

The aspiration to a dimension of religious life made up of prayer and contemplation, in opposition to the Cluniac model, gave birth to the desire for isolation in Francha; Brunone of Cologne, in 1084, isolated himself in the mountains of the French Alps, founding the Grande Chartreuse (near today’s Grenoble), from which the Carthusian movement originated.
The most convincing rule to the monastic model of Cluny was that originated, at the end of the 11th century, from the foundation of the Cistercian order, whose name derives from the Burgundian abbey of Cîteaux (in Latin Cisterium), founded in 1098 by Robert of Molesmes.

Unlike the Cluniacs, the monks of Cîteaux combined hermeticism and community life: the common dormitories were restored, the rigor of the Benedictine rule was recovered and a choice of complete poverty was implemented, from food, to clothing, to architecture: the abbeys they were built around an austere church, without a bell tower or decorations.
The Cistercian rule also provided for the revaluation of manual work, in particular that of the fields that surrounded the monastery. The monks in fact categorically forbade the use of servile labor, instead devoting themselves intensely to the improvement of agricultural techniques and breeding. The opening of the order was immediately immense, above all thanks to the personality of Bernardo di Clairvaux (in Italian Chiaravalle), the great preacher who spread this monastic model throughout Europe. An aristocrat by origin, Bernard entered the order in adulthood, preaching and professing the need for total body humiliation. At his death (1153) the order numbered at least 300 monasteries, which in the space of a few decades assumed considerable importance also from an economic point of view. In fact, the efficient agriculture they practiced allowed the abbeys to accumulate substantial surpluses, to be resold on the markets. Precisely the order that arose as a reaction to luxury found itself the owner of conspicuous material goods and land wealth.


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