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Aelred of Rievaulx and the Nun of Watton: an Episode in the Early History of the Gilbertine order

  • Giles Constable (a1)


Although the story of the nun of Watton by Aelred of Rievaulx was published by Twysden in the seventeenth century and reprinted by Migne, it has never been studied in detail for the light it throws on religious life and attitudes in the twelfth century and on the history of the order founded by St Gilbert of Sempringham. This neglect has been the result less of ignorance than of the nature of episode, which was described as ‘disgraceful and fanatical’ by Dixon, ‘distressing’ by Eckenstein and by Graham, ‘painful’ by Powicke, ‘strange’ by Knowles, ‘of almost casual brutality’ by Nicholl, and as ‘curious’ and ‘unsavoury’ by Aelred Squire.



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1 Twysden, Roger, Historiae anglicanae scriptores x (London 1652) pp 41522 , reprinted in PL 195 cols 789-96, which will be cited here by column and section only; compare Hoste, [Anselm], Bibliotheca [Aelrediana], Instrumenta patristica 2 (Steenbrugge/The Hague 1962) p 121 . Twysden took his text from the only known manuscript, now Corpus Christi, Cambridge, MS 139 fols 149r-51v (see n 12 below), of which photographs were kindly sent me by Professor C. R. Cheney, to whom I am also indebted for checking some readings. The printed text is on the whole accurate. Among the more important corrections from the MS are uiridior for nitidior (791D line 6), ut for vero (791D line 15), intente for attente (792B line 8), temptas for tentons (792B line 15), uel denudauit for evoluit (793A line 9), oporteret for oportet (795A line 6), respicientesque for respicientes (795B line 14); and etiam for et(796D line 9).

2 Dixon, W. H., Fasti Eboracensis: Lives of the Archbishops of York, ed Raine, James, 1 (London 1863) p 220 ; Eckenstein, [Lina], Women [under Monasticism] (Cambridge 1896) p 218 ; Graham, [Rose], [S.] Gilbert [of Sempringham and the Gilbertines] (London 1901) p 40 ; Daniel, Walter, [the] Life [of Ailred of Rievaulx], ed Powicke, [F. M.], [Nelson’s] Medieval Classics (Edinburgh 1950) intro p lxxxi (compare Powicke, , Ailred of Rievaulx and his Biographer Walter Daniel [Manchester 1922] p 59 , where he said that the tract ‘shows the monastic attitude at its worst’); Knowles, MO p 257 and p 263, compare p 207, where he cited this work (somewhat paradoxically) as evidence for the universal praise of Gilbert’s nuns; Nicholl, [Donald], Thurston [Archbishop of York (1114-1149) (York 1964) p 33 ; Squire, [Aelred], Aelred [of Rievaulx: A study] (London 1969) p 118 . Through the courtesy of Professor C. N. L. Brooke, I have seen the unpublished chapter on the Gilbertines by David Knowles, intended for his Monastic Order, in which he referred to the story of the nun of Watton as ‘repellent to modern sentiment’ and said of it and Gerald of Wales’s story about Gilbert (see pp 221-2 below) that, ‘The only two anecdotes which show him in contact with the nuns obscure rather than reveal the picture’. The principal sources for the history of Gilbert and his order are the Vita and sets of Constitutions and Capitula printed (in an incomplete and not entirely satisfactory edition) in a separately paginated section (following p 945) of MA 6, 2 pp v*-xcvii*. which appear as v*-lix* in the 1846 reprint, which will be cited here.

3 Lazzari, [Francesco], Esperienze [religiose e psicoanalisi] (Naples 1972) pp 3964 (‘Peccato e redenzione in un testo monastico’). I am indebted to Dom Jean Leclercq for sending me a copy of this chapter.

4 Some of my own views concerning the episode were developed in the course of fruitful discussions with Dr Elkins, the distinctiveness of whose approach will be clear when her thesis is published.

5 ‘His extra propositum praemissis, ad ea quae proposuimus enarranda transeamus’ (791B); ‘Sed ut ad propositum redeamus’ (794B).

6 The Cistercian Henry Murdac was archbishop of York from 1147 (enthroned 1151) until his death on 14 October 1153, during which period he remained abbot of Fountains: Hunt, William, in DNB, 2 ed (London 1908-9) 13 cols 121820 ; HRH p 132. As archbishop of York, he confirmed the foundation of Watton: MA 6,2 P 955.

7 It is uncertain whether or not these were specific officials of the community, but they may correspond to the three ‘religious and discreet’ nuns who were entrusted with particular functions in the later Inslituliones ad moniales pertinentes cap 3, in MA 6,2 p xliv* (compare cap 12 p xlvi*).

8 According to Powicke, in his introduction to Walter Daniel, Life, p lxxxi, the nuns lay in wait for the young man and captured him, but the text says that the magister congregations (that is, Gilbert of Sempringham) sent out some brothers (793 C).

9 According to Squire, Aelred p 117 the young man was forced to mutilate himself, but the text leaves no doubt on the point. The use of the plural suggests that the testicles were removed and not the penis, as the interpretation of Lazzari requires (see p 216 below). The removal of both the penis and testicles under such circumstances would in all probability have been fatal.

10 ‘What would they not suffer,’ he continued, ‘what would they not do to preserve chastity, those who could do such things to avenge it?’ These statements, and the previous one that the nuns acted ‘full of zeal for God but not of wisdom’, tend to refute the opinion of Powicke, in his introduction to Walter Daniel, Life p lxxxii that, ‘Ailred himself does not seem to have been shocked.’ Aelred’s words (Non laudo factum sed zelum) echo the famous words of Bernard in his Sermo super Cantica 66, 12 (Approbamus zelum, sed factum non suademus) in Sancii Bernardi Opera, ed Leclercq, Jean and Rochais, H. M. (Rome 1957-) 2 pp 1867 .

11 Eckenstein, Woman pp 218-19 said that it was addressed to Gilbert himself; Powicke, in his introduction to Walter Daniel, Life p lxxxi proposed either prior John of Hexham or abbot Simon of Wardon.

12 Bale, Index p 13; Peter Hunter Blair, ‘Some Observations on the Historia Regum Attributed to Symeon of Durham’, Celt and Saxon: Studies in the Early British Border, ed Chadwick, N. K. (Cambridge 1963) p 116 ; Squire, Aelred pp 73-4; and especially Baker, [Derek], ‘Scissors and Paste: [Corpus Christi, Cambridge, MS 139 Again]’, SCH 11 (1975) pp 83123 . It was assigned to Hexham, however, by Hoste, Bibliotheca p 121 and by Stacpoole, [Alberic], ‘The Public Face [of Aelred, 1167-1967]’, DR 85 (1967) p 320 .

13 Hoste, Bibliotheca p 39 (dating the work 1158/65) and p 121 (dating it c 1160); Stacpoole, ‘The Public Face’, p 320 (c116o); Squire, Aelred p 117 (about 1160); Baker, ‘Scissors and Paste” p 97 (‘between 1155-7 and 1158-65 (probably 1160)’).

14 She must have been born between 1143 (or more probably 1147) and 1149. Aelred’s terminology is not very helpful, since he referred to her as ‘puella quaedam quatuor ut putabatur annorum… Quae mox ut infantilem excessit aetatem, cum puellaribus annis puellarem induit lasciviam’ (791B). Among boys, a puer might be up to twenty-eight years of age, according to Adolf Hofmeister, ‘Puer, luvenis. Senex. Zum Verständnis der mittelalterlichen Altersbezeichnungen’, Papsttum und Kaisertum…Paul Kehr zum 65. Gebiirtstag dargebracht, ed Brackmann, Albert (Munich 1926) pp 287316 . On the later ages of reception in the Gilbertine order, see the lnstitutiones ad moniales pertinentes cap 35, in MA 6, 2 p li*.

15 Institutio de exordio cap 1, in MA 6, 2 p xix*.

16 On Aelred’s friendship with Gilbert, see Golding, [Brian], ‘St Bernard and St Gilbert’, The Influence of Saint Bernard, ed Ward, Benedicta, Fairacres Publication 60 (Oxford 1976) p 48 . Aelred referred to Gilbert as ‘vir venerabilis ac Deo dilectus pater et presbyter’ (789D); Compare his Sermo 2 de oneribus, in Maxima bibliotheca veterum patrum (Lyons 1677) 23 col 12F, which is called the ‘only satisfactory’ edition by Squire, , Aelred p 169 n 15 .

17 Compare Squire, Aelred p 139 and, on the date of these sermons, Hoste, Bibliotheca p 55 (1158-63) and Stacpoole, ‘The Public Face’ p321 (1158-63). This reference was thought to apply to Gilbert of Swineshead (Holland) by Mabillon (PL 184 cols 9-10), who was followed by Meer, Frédéric van der, Atlas de l’ordre cistercien (Amsterdam/Brussels 1965) p 298 ; but this was disapproved by, among others, Mikkers, Edmond, ‘De vita et operibus Gilberti de Hoylandia’, Citeaux 14 (1963) p 34 . I am indebted to the Reverend Lawrence C. Braceland for these references.

18 Graham, Gilbert pp 128-9; Knowles, MO p 263.

19 Chronica monasterii de Melsa, ed Bond, E. A., RS 43 (London 1866-8) 1 p 107 ; compare Memorials of the Abbey of St Mary of Fountains, ed Walbran, J. R., 1, SS 42 (Durham 1863) p 97 n 7 and Nicholl, , Thurstan p 161 .

20 On St William of York, see Knowles, David, ‘The case of St William of York’, published in 1936 and reprinted in a revised form in his The Historian and Character (Cambridge 1963) pp 7697 and Talbot, Charles H., ‘New Documents in the Case of Saint William of York’, CHJ 10, I (1950) pp 115 . His apparent murder in 1154 contributed to the rise of a popular cult (and eventual canonization), which was doubtless a source of embarrassment to his opponents, the supporters of Henry Murdac.

21 Compare Finucane, R. C., ‘The Use and Abuse of Medieval Miracles’, History 60 (1975) PP 110 .

22 These events seem to have taken place successively: first the delivery of the child; second, in two or three stages, the freeing from the fetters.

23 On miraculous freeing from fetters and prisons (with which is associated opening of doors) see Weinreich, Otto, Gebet und Wunder (Stuttgart 1929) pp 34 [200]–286 [452] esp 143-75 on the Acts of the Apostles and 261-3 on various saints down to the twelfth century; Loomis, C. Grant, White Magic: An Introduction to the Folklore of Christian Legend, Medieval Academy of America Publication 52 (Cambridge, Mass., 1948) p 89 ; Gunter, Heinrich, Psychologie de la légende, trans. Gomnet, J. (Paris 1954) pp 334 and 1568 ; Festugière, A. J., ‘Lieux communs littéraires et thèmes de folk-lore dans l’hagiographie primitive’, Wiener Studien 73 (1960) pp 12352 ; and Thompson, [Stith], Motif-Index [of Folk-Literature] (2 ed Bloomington/London 1975) 5 p 278 (no R 121).

24 Brewer, E. Cobham, A Dictionary of Miracles (Philadelphia nd) and n 23 above. There is a note in a seventeenth-century hand at the end of the text in Corpus Christi, Cambridge MS 139 fol 151v: ‘Talis fabula narratur de quodam monacho de Euesham tempore Rie. primi 1196. Consimilis fabula narratur et asseveratur per fratrem Philippum de clara villa, de quadam puella, nomine Elizabeth, in monasterio vocat. Erkenrode in territorio Leodicensi. monasterium erat virginum Beati Bernardi. Vide in Alexandro Essebiensi paga 185a’. This should be compared with the parallel note in MS 4 (Oxford, Bodleian MS Selden supra 66) of the vision of the monk of Eynsham, in Eynsham Cartulary, ed Salter, H. E., OHS 49, 51 (Oxford 1907-8) 2 p 371 . But I can find no closely parallel miracle either here or in the Vita of Elizabeth of Erkenrode by Philip of Clairvaux, published in Catalogus codicum hagiographicorum bibliothecae regiae Bruxellensis (Brussels 1886-9) 1 PP 362-78.

25 See Catalogue of Romances in the Department of Manuscripts in the British Museum (London 1883-1910) 2 (ed H. L. D. Ward) pp 720 (11) and 740 (3) and 3 (ed J. A. Herbert) pp 69 (109), 326 (xv), 333 (1), 341 (13), 395 (371), 523 (43), 547 (100), 565 (75), 575(13),626(6), 676(7),691 (59),696(6), 716(12), and 717(41); Poncelet, Albert, ‘Index miraculorum B. V. Mariae quae in latine sunt conscripta’, An Bol 21 (1902) p 245 (no 4) and p 284 (no 605); Herbert, J. A., ‘A New Manuscript of Adgar’s Mary-Legends’, Romania 32 (1903) pp 41521 , saying that the abbess delivered was ‘one of the most popular of all the Mary-Legends, and practically all the great Latin collections include it’; Liber de miraculis sanctae dei genitricis Mariae, ed Crane, Thomas F., Cornell University Studies in Romance Languages and Literature 1 (Ithaca/London 1925) pp 515 and 99 . Compare intro pp xii and xxiii; Tubach, Frederick C., Index Exemplorum: A Handbook of Medieval Religious Tales, F[olklore] F[ellows] Communications 204 (Helsinki 1969) p 9 (nos 2 and 4); and Thompson, Motif-Index S p 383 (no T 401.1).

26 Printed from Balliol College, Oxford, MS 240 fol 147 by Kjellman, [Hilding], [La] deuxième collection anglo normande des miracles de la Sainte Vierge et son original latin (Paris/Uppsala 1922) pp 601 and in the unpublished 1958 Oxford dissertation of J. Jennings, ‘Prior Dominic of Evesham and the Survival of English Tradition after the Norman Conquest’ pp 200-3, of which copies have kindly been sent me by Sister Benedicta Ward.

27 Canal, José M., El libro ‘De laudihus et miraculis sanctae Mariae’ de Guillermo de Malmesbury, OSB († c. 1143) (2 ed Rome 1968) pp 1546 ; compare Southern, R. W., ‘The English Origins of the “Miracles of the Virgin”’, Mediaeval and Renaissance Studies 4 (London 1958) pp 2001 . Sister Benedicta Ward informs me that this work has also been edited by Peter Carter in his unpublished 1959 Oxford dissertation, ‘An Edition of William of Malmesbury’s Miracles of the Virgin Mary’, where he lists as sources for this story, in addition to Dominic of Evesham, Aberdeen MS 137 fol 107, Cambridge MS Mm. 6.15, and Toulouse MS 482. William’s version is about a fifth longer than Dominic’s and includes more biblical citations and passages of direct address, especially a long speech of the indignant nuns directed against their peccant abbess. William described at less length than Dominic the appeal of the abbess to the Virgin and omitted Her requirement that the abbess confess and make a vow before receiving Her assistance.

28 See the articles by Herbert and Southern cited nn 25 and 27 above. The Latin collection was made either by or for Alberic, who appears as a canon of St Paul’s between 1148 and 1162. On the later Old French versions, see Kjellman, , Deuxième collection pp 607 and intro pp xli-xlii and Kraemer, Erik v., Huit miracles de Cautier de Coitici, Annales Academiae scientiarum Fennicae B 119 (Helsinki 1960) pp 9 and 6477 .

29 Later Gilbertine legislation (possible influenced by this episode) laid down that in cases of incest the man should be imprisoned immediately, even if the master was absent, or expelled from the order and that the woman should be condemned forever to solitary confinement: Scripta de fratribus cap 28, in MA 6, 2 p xliii*.

30 Gregory of Tours, Historia Francorum6, 36, ed Arndt, W. and Krusch, B., MGH SRM 1 (Hannover 1884-5) 1, 1 p 276 , compare 5, 32 ibid pp 224-5. On the barbarian law-codes, see The Burgundian Code, trans Drew, Katherine F. (Philadelphia 1972) pp 60 (LII, 5) and 68 (LXVIII) and The Lombard Code, trans Drew, Katherine F. (Philadelphia 1973) PP 93 (Rothair 212) and 201 (Liutprand 130); arid on the practice in Mediterranean and middle eastern societies of tilling unwed mothers before the birth of their children, see Black-Michaud, [Jacob], Cohesive Force (Oxford 1975) pp 218 and 2267 . The right of a husband, brother, or son to attack an adulterer was repeated in the Leges Henrici primi cap 82, 8, ed Downer, L. J. (Oxford 1972) pp 2589 .

31 Bracton, On the Laws and Customs of England, ed Woodbine, George E. and trans Thorne, Samuel E. (Cambridge, Mass., 1968) 2 p 415 (fol 147); compare Pollock, Frederick and Maitland, Frederic W., The History of English Law before the Time of Edward I (2 ed Cambridge 1898) 2 pp 4901 and 544 n 1 , and Green, Thomas A., ‘Societal Concepts of Criminal Liability for Homicide in Mediaeval England’, Speculum 47 (1972) pp 67980 . Thompson, Motif-Index 5 pp 232 (no Q 451.10) and 313 (no S 176) cites some examples of castration as a punishment. Abelard is only the best-known of several examples from the twelfth century and later. Geoffrey of Anjou is said to have had the bishop-elect of Séez, Gerard, and a number of his clerics emasculated and to have had the membra euneuchatorum brought before him in a basket: William Fitz-Stephen, Vita s Thomae cap 55 (where some of the barons at Northampton in 1164 contemplated the same treatment for Thomas Becket) in Materials [for the History of Thomas Becket], ed Robertson, James C., RS 67 (London 1875-85) 3 p 65 ; compare Gerald of Wales, De principis instmctione cap 3 in Opera, ed Brewer, J. S., Dimock, J. F., and Warner, G. F., RS 21 (London 1861-91) 8 p 301 and The Letters of Arnulf of Lisieux, ed Barlow, Frank, CSer 3, 61 (London 1939) intro p xxxiv . Among later examples (for which I am indebted to professor John Beckerman) see Wykeham’s Register, ed Kirby, T. F., Hampshire Record Society 11 (London/Winchester 1896-9) 2 pp 37980, 478, and 534 and The Register of Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury 1414-1443, ed Jacob, E. F. (Oxford 1943-7) 3 p 73 .

32 Vita s Willelmi auctore anonymo, in The Historians of the Church of York and its Archbishops, ed Raine, James, RS 71 (London 1870-94) 2 pp 28990 ; compare Nicholl, , Thurstan p 33 . Two other cases of judicial castration and blinding are found in William of Canterbury, Miracula s Thomae cap 2,3 in Materials, 1 pp 156-8—also in Bigelow, Melville, Placita anglo-normannica (London 1879) pp 2601 —and Benedict of Peterborough, Chronicle of the Reigns of Henry II and Richard I, ed Stubbs, William, RS 49 (London 1867) 1 pp 7980 .

33 Lazzari, , Esperienze pp 478 . Later (pp 50-4) he interpreted the account at the beginning of the story of the visions of the nuns at Watton as evidence of their own sublimated, and of Aelred’s suppressed, homosexuality.

34 Sigmund Freud, Briefe 1873-19.39, 2 ed Ernst and Lucie Freud (Frankfurt a. M. 1968) P 399 (letter to Lytton Strachey in 1928).

35 Campbell, [J. K.], Honour, [Family and Patronage: A Study of Institutions and Moral Values in a Greek Mountain Community] (Oxford 1964) p 278 , compare pp 183-4, 202-3, and 349-50; Black-Michaud, Cohesive Force pp 218 and 227, who stressed the importance of sexual integrity as an aspect of political integrity. ‘The dynamics of honour and dishonour in sexual transgressions’ in modern Spanish society are discussed by Julian Pitt-Rivers, ‘Honour and Social Status’, in Honour and Shame: The Values of Mediterranean Society, ed Peristiany, J. G. (London 1965) pp 457 , who also emphasized (pp 25 and 74) that ‘The laundry of honour is only bleached with blood’.

36 Vita, in MA 6, 2 p vii*.

37 Campbell, Honour p 280.

38 793 A, D and 794A. Aelred twice emphasized the concern of the nuns for their ‘shame’ (793A and 794A) and their ‘verecundia virginalis’ (794B).

39 Turner, Victor, ‘Social Dramas and Ritual Metaphors’, published in 1971 and reprinted in his Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors: Symbolic Action in Human Society (Ithaca/London 1974) PP 3942 .

40 Foreville, [Raymonde], [Un] procès [de canonisation à l’aube du XIIIe siècle (1201-1202). Le Livre de saint Gilbert de Sempringham] (Paris 1943) pp xixii ; Fredeman, Jane, ‘John Capgrave’s Life of St Gilbert of Sempringham’, BJRL 55 (1972-3) pp 11245 ; compare Golding, ‘St Bernard and St Gilbert’ p 47.

41 Archbishop Henry Murdac’s charter confirming the foundation laid down that there were to be thirteen canons having charge of the nuns and serving them ‘in accordance with the institutes of the order of Sempringham’; MA 6, 2 p 955. Compare Foreville, Procès intro p xi and p 87, where she apparently confused Watton with Malton, on which see the following note.

42 789D. In the letter cited p 223 below, archbishop Roger of York and bishop Hugh of Durham wrote that there was one house in the diocese of York where men and women lived honourably within the same wall. This was doubtless to distinguish Watton from Malton, which was for canons only: see MRHEW p 198.

43 Knowles, [David], ‘[The] Revolt [of the Lay Brothers of Sempringham]’, EHR 50 (1935) p 481 (no 7).

44 MA 6, 2 p 955; PL 195 col 795CD.

45 See the Institutiones ad moniales pertinentes cap 35 (cited n 14 above) and Scripta de fratribus cap 4, in MA 6, 2 p xxxvii*.

46 Compare Institutiones ad moniales pertinentes cap 4-7, in M/4 6, 2 pp xlv*-xlvi* and passim in the Gilbertine legislation.

47 Aelred himself was very concerned (perhaps more than Gilbert) about the possibility of contacts between men and women in religious life: see his De institutione inclusarum cap 19, ed Dumont, Charles, Sources chrètiennes 76: Textes monastiques d’Occident 6 (Paris 1961) p 92 , where he condemned the association of women even with old men whose chastity was secure.

48 See in particular the important series of articles on early Cistercian legislation by Jean-A. Lefèvre, whose conclusions were summarized by Knowles, David, ‘The Primitive Cistercian Documents’, Great Historical Enterprises (London/Edinburgh 1963) pp 198222 and Zakar, Polykarp, ‘Die Anfänge des Zisterzienserordens. Kurze Bemerkungen zu den Studien der letzten zehn Jahre’, ASOC 20 (1964) pp 10838 .

49 The projected (or lost) second part of the Libellas de diversis ordinibus et professionibus qui sunt in (aecclesia, which was written probably in the diocese of Liège in the second quarter of the twelfth century, dealt among other subjects with women ‘who take up Christ’s sweet yoke with holy men and under their guidance’: ed Constable, Giles and Smith, Bernard (Oxford 1972) p 4 . On the continued popularity of syneisactism in twelfth-century England, see Gougaud, Louis, ‘Mulierum consortia. Étude sur le syneisaktisme chez les ascètes celtiques’. Érice 9, 1 (1921) pp 14756 and Reynolds, Roger E., ‘Virgines subintroductae in Celtic Christianity’, HTR 61 (1968) pp 559 and 5634 , who defined the practice as ‘the chaste living together of a male and female ascetic’ (p 554), of which the purpose was both spiritual assistance and a test of chastity. Aelred specifically condemned it in his De institutione inclusarum (see n 47 above).

50 Talbot, C. H., ‘The Liber confortatorius of Goscelin of Saint Benin’, Analecta monastica 3, SA 37 (1955) pp 1117 , esp intro pp 8 and 22-3; compare Chamard, [François], [Les] vies [des saints personnages de l’Anjou] (Paris/Angers 1863) 2 pp 10219 and 53141 .

51 Chamard, , Vies 2 p 535 .

52 The Life of Christina of Markyate, ed and trans Talbot, C. H. (Oxford 1959) p 175 ; Compare Pächt, Otto, Dodwell, C. R., and Wormald, Francis, The St Albans Psalter, Studies of the Warburg Institute 25 (London 1960) pp 2730 and 1367 , suggesting parallels between this life and that of St Alexius. See also pp 196-8 above.

53 Vita b Gaucherii, Nova bibliotheca manuscriptorum librorum, ed Labbe, P. (Paris 1657) 2 P 562 .

54 Vita, MA 6, 2 pp ix*-x*.

55 Vita, MA 6, s p v*, compare pp v*-vi*, where he recounted Gilbert’s dream of putting his hand on a woman’s breast and consequent avoidance of female company.

56 William of Newburgh, Historia rerum anglicarum 1, 16, in Chronicles of the Reigns of Stephen, Henry 11, and Richard l, ed Howlett, Richard, RS 82 (London 1884-9) 1 p 545 . This work wis begun in 1196, soon after Gilbert’s death, at Newburgh in Yorkshire.

57 Gerald of Wales, Gemma ecclesiastica 1, 17, in Opera, 2 p 247-8. This work was written between 1194 and 1199, according to Richter, Michael, Giraldas Cambrensis (Aberystwyth 1972) p 66 . Graham, Gilbert p 40 called this story ‘gossip’. For Knowles’ opinion, see n 2 above.

58 See Vita, MA 6, 2 pp xii*-xiii* and above all Knowles, ‘Revolt’ pp 485-7, from whom the summary of charges given here derives and who dated the revolt from c 1166-7 ‘at the latest’, and Foreville, Procès pp 83-110, who dated it from late 1165. Both Knowles (pp 475-87) and Foreville (pp 90-110) independently published, from somewhat different sources, the main documents dealing with the affair. They are cited here by number (not page) from Foreville, whose dossier is more complete, but references will be given to Knowles, also by number and especially to his no 7, which was omitted by Foreville. On the possible connection between this revolt and the affair of the nun of Watton, see the thesis of Sharon Elkins cited above; on this and parallel episodes in the histories of other reformed religious orders, see Becquet, Jean, ‘La première crise de l’ordre de Grandmont’, Bulletin de la Société archéologique et historique du Limousin 87 (Limoges 1960) pp 283324, esp pp 2989 .

59 Knowles, ‘Revolt’ p 470.

60 Foreville, Procès no 3 (Knowles no 1) from William of Norwich, no 4 (Knowles no 6) from Henry of Winchester, no s (not in Knowles) from Robert of Lincoln, and no 6 (Knowles no 2) from Roger of York and Hugh of Durham, and Knowles no 7 (not in Foreville) from Roger of York. The terms of these letters are similar—perhaps suspiciously so—but William of Norwich, Roger of York, and Hugh of Durham emphasized that they had taken steps to ensure the separation of the sexes.

61 Foreville, , Procès no 9 (Knowles no 8).

62 Foreville, , Procès nos 10 and 13 (Knowles nos 10-11).

63 Foreville, Procès no 6 (Knowles no 2). It is uncertain from the text whether the phrase ‘ut fama publica est’ belongs with ‘seorsum’ or ‘honeste’. Roger and Hugh went on to deny the other charges against Gilbert but added that they had ordered, and he had agreed, to separate the canons from the nuns in accordance with the papal mandate.

64 Knowles no 7 (not in Foreville). Some ten years later the cardinal-legate Hugh of Pierleone visited the nuns at Sempringham, ‘whose way of life…’, he wrote to the pope, ‘might better and more truly be said to be in heaven than among mankind’, and praised Gilbert and his order: Foreville, Procès no 16 (Knowles no 9).

65 This problem is discussed, and a somewhat different solution proposed, in Sharon Elkins’s thesis.

66 Compare Lea, Henry C., History of Sacerdotal Celibacy in the Christian Church (3 ed London 1907) 1 p 343 , who commented on the small effect that clerical scandals seem to have had on public opinion in England in the twelfth century.

67 Foreville, Procès nos 1-2 (not in Knowles). Compare Vita, MA VI, 2 p xii*, where Gilbert himself was said to have favoured Becket and to have been held for questioning by the royal judges until he was freed at the king’s command. The Vita was written after the deaths of both Becket and Henry, however, and at a time when all good men were supposed to have supported Becket.

68 Knowles, David, The Episcopal Colleagues of Archbishop Thomas Becket, Ford Lectures 1949 (Cambridge 1951) pp 1214 (Roger of York), 14-15 (Hugh of Durham), 15-16 (Robert of Lincoln, who was linked by family and friendship with Becket’s enemy Gilbert Foliot), 31-3 (William of Norwich, also a friend of Foliot), and 34-7 (Henry of Winchester). On Hugh, see also Scammell, [G. V.], Hugh [du Puiset, Bishop of Durham] (Cambridge 1956).

69 Foster, C. W., The Registrum Antiquissimum of the Cathedral Church of Lincoln 1, LRS 27 (Lincoln 1931) pp 1201 (no 194); compare Eyton, R. W., Court, Household, and Itinerary of King Henry II (London 1878) p 87 and Scammell, , Hugh p 274 .

70 Foreville, , Procès no 1 (not in Knowles).

71 Vita, MA VI, 2 p xiv*, compare p x* on his high repute among contemporaries.

72 Map, Walter, De nugis curialium 1, 27, ed James, M. R., Anecdota Oxoniensia: Mediaeval and Renaissance Series 14 (Oxford 1914) p 55 .

73 Foreville, , Procès pp 173 , including thirty-four letters and two collections of miracles.

74 Vita, MA VI, 2 p x*; compare the Scripta defratribus cap 28 (cited n 29 above) on the treatment of incestuous members of the order and the Institutiones ad moniales pertinentes cap 35 and Scripta defratribus cap 4 (cited nn 14 and 45 above) on the age of reception.


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