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Regulations of the Property of Cluny, 1150

Because of the size of the holdings of some of the larger monasteries the administration of affairs was sometimes inefficient. Each dean had supervision over a particular part of the estates of the monastery, and was expected to provide from the produce and revenue of his district sufficient to feed the monastery for a certain period of time each year. Other plans are mentioned. The clothing of the monks appears to have been provided from income received from many countries, and from an estate pledged by a Crusader.

I, brother Peter, humble abbot of Cluny, make known to all who read this that when I was inducted into this office twenty-six years ago, I found indeed a large church, devout and famous also, but exceedingly poor, burdened with great expenses, and, in proportion, hardly any income at all. There were brethren to the number of three hundred or more, but the house could not support one hundred by its own outlay. There was always a crowd of guests and a countless number of poor. The combined yearly supply from all the deaneries was scarcely sufficient for four months, sometimes not for three months, and the wine from all sources was never enough for two months, nor even for one. The bread was scanty, black, and made of bran. The wine was exceedingly watery, tasteless, indeed, scarcely wine at all. Besides our other expenses, for which we borrowed at a high rate of interest, the treasurer of Cluny expended more than 20,000 solidi for the purchase of grain and wine only. Seeing these straitened circumstances, I took counsel with some prudent brethren who were living at that time, and, as seemed advisable to them and to me, I made arrangements for provisions throughout the deaneries and decreed that they should supply the community of Cluny with bread, beans, and oil; one of the deans for 1 month, one for 2 months, one for 3 weeks, one for 5, and one for 8 days---in fine, for the whole year. And in order that this regulation might be observed annually forever, I decreed it in chapter with the consent and approbation of all the brethren, and confirmed it in writing....

But, with the lapse of time, it seemed advisable to me as well as to the brethren that certain elements of the former regulation should be changed, and that certain deaneries which were furnishing provisions should be assigned to other services for the monastery, just as good judgment might determine. For this reason the care of the horses of all guests was assigned to the deanery called Marseilles, because it is especially productive in oats. Certain other commissions on behalf of the brethren were assigned to Gaillac. Julich was excused from the payment of provisions imposed upon it because we had transformed its demesnes into vineyards and because of annual charges payable on behalf of the community to Lord Hugh, Bishop of Auxerre. For a like reason the deanery of St. Hippolyte was also excused....

Our arrangement, namely, that the respective deans should in turn provide all the brethren with bread, beans, and oil, was as follows . . . (divisions of payments arranged for various deaneries). These provisions were so arranged that the said officials should give to the tax-collector not only three or four setiers of grain for each day's needs, but whatever amount should be necessary . .. both bread and beans. Likewise the treasurer shall do as has been said. Subsequently both treasurer and tax-collector shall exact the same from those who would formerly have furnished these supplies. If the deans can furnish them with these supplies let the treasurer and the tax-collector take them; but, if not, then the treasurer and the tax-collector shall supply the provisions. Nor is it to be forgotten that, in connection with the subject under discussion, it was an ancient custom for bread, wine, and better food to be given on each anniversary day in memory of those deceased brethren who were professed, and whose names are read from the book in which the rule is written. But in place of the better food the following exchange was made by our holy father Hugh, namely, that certain ovens of the villa of Cluny, together with their incomes, which formerly belonged to the treasury, should now be taken by the almoner....

Wherefore we have imposed this task [of providing clothing] for the most part on the Prior of Cluny, namely, that he should sufficiently provide for all the brethren dwelling at Cluny, i.e., tunics, vulgarly called frocks, cloaks or hoods, fleeces, fleece head coverings or caps, wool shirts, trousers, and pillow slips or coverings for pillows. However, in order that he may fully meet the obligation imposed on him there have been assigned to him twenty silver marks from the Italian income, twenty from Spain, twenty from a certain English manor called Offord, and fifteen marks from a certain manor in England given by Earl Eustace, which, aside from this grant to Cluny, he wished to belong to the monastery of Romille, which monastery itself he had already given. But if general refections, gratuitous or obligatory, should occur and excuse them from giving bread or beans, they should be excused.

This second plan likewise remained in effect for a long time. But since, as it is written, where there is more counsel there is greater security, and however good any plan might be, when a better appears, it must be changed without hesitation; so, it happened that, just as a second plan followed the first, a most excellent third plan followed the second. The nature of this is as follows . . . (rearrangement of payments from the deaneries).


J. P. Migne, ed., Patrologiae Cursus Completus, (Paris, 1854), Vol. CLXXXIX, p. 1047; reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 318-321.

Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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© Paul Halsall, October 1998
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