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The Harmonious Relations between
Nobles and Monks


Hugh O’Reilly

The constant solicitude of knights and lords toward the monasteries was manifested by the meticulous and familiar attentions they so abundantly proffered. Reports of such treatment animate and embellish the monastic chronicles.

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Nobles showed great solicitude for the monks, often giving provisions and sharing their table
The greatest personages of Feudalism did not consider it below their dignity to take every small precaution to favor the monks. It was not enough for William VIII, Duke of Aquitaine and Count of Poitiers, to found the Abbey of Montierneuf in his capital of Poitiers and provide it a rich dowry upon his return from Rome to confer with Pope Gregory VII.

Returning from numerous expeditions where he had pacified rebellious feudal lords, punished oppressors, and re-established safety on the roads and countryside, this great warrior would never fail to visit the monks, whom he called his lords, before returning to his palace. He would even enter into the kitchen to ask the cook what the monks would eat that day. If he learned there were no eggs, cheese or fish, he would immediately order his treasurer to provide the necessary money for a more abundant table.

After the death of William (1086), the monks had the most tender solicitude for his soul. In addition to the daily prayers for his eternal rest and solemn celebration of his birthday, every day his plate was placed on the refectory table with his juste, that is, the portion of wine assigned to each religious, as if the Duke were one of them and would come to take his place at their side.

Based upon and translated from
Charles de Montalembert, Les Moines d’Occident
Paris: Lecoffre, 1860, Volume VI, p. 28

Posted August 15, 2008

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