Cistercian monasteries - preface to Knights Templar preceptories

The development of the 12th and 13th century Templar commanderies in Europe seems to have been closely related to the pattern of Cistercian settlements. This is one of the ways the Cistercians preceeded the Templars. In what way did the Cistercian monasteries preceed Templar commanderies?
It was a (Benedictine) Cluniac abbot, Robert de Molesmes, who founded in 1098, with the consent of the Duke of Burgundy, Citeaux Abbey, the mother house of what later came to be the new Cistercian Order.. The Cistercian reform developing here, advocated an austere life and worship stripped of all extras. Starting with sister abbeys in La Ferte, Pontigny, Clairvaux and Morimond, the way of Citeaux deployed in France and the rest of Europe.

In 1112, Bernard de Fontaine, monk at Citeaux and future Saint Bernard, was sent to found Clairvaux Abbey, taking with him from Clairvaux thirty companions, including his uncle André de Montbard. The latter would later become one of the nine founding knights of the Order of the Temple.

Bernard became the first abbot of Clairvaux. Within the Cistercian order, he reformed further the Benedictine tradition imposing a drastic return to rigor, purity, prayer, simplicity and austerity as well as practical, mainly agricultural work. By opposing the opulence, richness and lazyness of Cluny he goes so far as to impose on his monks an austere lifestyle similar to that of "heretics" born around the year 1000. He wanted a stripped and confident faith.

All these Cistercian monasteries, which developed as self sustaining units, became important agricultural production centers. They played a key role in the clearing of undeveloped land throughout the Middle Ages. They were the blue-print of the Templar commanderies with the same agricultural and economic purpose, that developed after the 1120s.

This blog is a translation, witrh some additions, of parts of this paper in French. Illustration Praying and working Monks - source Fair Use intended.

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