Cluny, Abbey of
CLUNY, ABBEY OF
A Benedictine abbey of primary importance in the reform of the Church in the Middle Ages, located in the Rhône Valley (Burgundy), Diocese of Mâcon, department of Saône-et-Loire.
Foundation and Buildings. On Sept. 2, 909, Duke William of Aquitaine offered Bl. berno the territory of Cluny on which he planned to build a monastery under the patronage of SS. Peter and Paul and which he exempted from all temporal authority except that of the Holy See. The successive stages of the buildings at Cluny have been the subject of intensive study by K. J. Conant. Berno replaced the original oratory with a church begun in 910 (Cluny I); this church, razed by majolus, was replaced by Cluny II, which was dedicated in 981. The monastery was rebuilt by odilo. Under hugh, Cluny III was an immense church completed c. 1113, and dedicated by innocent ii in 1130. Its main altar had been consecrated by urban ii in 1095. This sumptuous basilica influenced the Romanesque architecture of Burgundy (paray-lemonial, etc.) and the monumental sculpture of France and Spain in the 12th century. Six centuries later, during the tenure of Frederick Jerome de la Rochefoucauld (1747–57), the monastery was partially replaced by structures still in existence. The old basilica was almost totally destroyed during the 1798 to 1823 period.
Abbots and Monks. The list of abbots has been carefully established by G. de Valous [Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. A. Baudrillart et al. 13 (1956) 40–135]. Several of these had a hand in the making of medieval Europe. odo of cluny (927–942), Berno's successor, was the first of a series of abbots who during two centuries enabled Cluny to play its important role. Majolus (948–994), Odilo (994–1049), and Hugh (1049–109) were saints who epitomized the Cluniac ideal. Besides being counselors to the German emperors and diplomats in the service of popes and kings, the abbots of Cluny strove to create an authentic monastic spirit in their concern for the interests of the Church and the needs of the time. Many monasteries introduced internal reforms and adopted Cluniac customs; priories were founded and gradually united by the adoption of common observance in essential matters. Together these formed an Ordo cluniacensis, which progressively became an order (i.e., a grouping of monasteries under the sole authority of the abbot of Cluny) under Odilo, Hugh, and their successors (see cluniac reform). Until the 12th century, the growth of the Cluniac properties was rapid. Cluniac "provinces" were established in France, Germany, England, Italy, and Spain, totaling 1,184 houses at the peak of the order's development (beginning of 12th century). Enjoying canonical exemption and temporal immunity, they were subject only to the Apostolic See.
Under Pons de Melgueil (1109–22) a less glorious period began, even though the prestige of Cluny remained great. peter the venerable (1122–57) engaged in a series of animated discussions with bernard of clairvaux concerning Cluniac observance. Despite the fact that the statutes were reformed in 1132, the vitality of Cluny diminished, especially because of difficult economic conditions. Subsequent abbots, chosen often from the great feudal families (Clermont, Anjou, Alsace, etc.), engaged in national or local struggles, and at the end of the 13th century, the order became completely national and French. Unfortunately the popes, with a view to remedying the deplorable state of the Curia's finances, conceded Cluniac priories in commendam, and certain abbots preferred to reside in Avignon rather than at Cluny. Jean de Bourbon (1456–85) was the last regular abbot. The commendatory abbots left a part of the government in the hands of vicars-general, but Cluny declined rapidly despite efforts at reform, especially in the 17th century. The order was divided into the Old Observance and the Strict Observance. On Feb. 19, 1790, Cluny came to an end juridically. The number of monks living in the Abbey of Cluny varied. There were 76 at the time of Odilo's election (994); more than 400 at the beginning of the 12th century; 140 during the abbacy of Eymard Gouffier (1518–28); 72 in 1635; and 36 in 1725.
Legislation and Observance. At the time Cluny's foundation, Berno introduced the usages of Baume, i.e., the Rule of St. benedict as adapted by the legislation of benedict of aniane (see benedictine rule). At the beginning of the 11th century, the first customary appeared. It was a liturgical directory founded on usage, not on law. Several redactions, even for Cluny itself, are known. Under Abbot Odilo: the Antiquiores consuetudines (B), c. 1000 to 1015; and the Consuetudines Farfenses, c. 1030 to 1049. During the tenure of Hugh: the Consuetudines Bernardi, c. 1070; and the Consuetudines Udalrici, c. 1080 to 1083. The Consuetudines are descriptive rather than regulatory and do not contain the entire observance. When the needs of the order demanded, as they did during the terms of Peter the Venerable (1132) and Jean de Bourbon (1458), the Statuta were revised. Religious observance varied during the eight centuries of the abbey's existence. The daughter abbeys, moreover, were not required to follow the same observances as Cluny, for the customary was essentially flexible and devoid of legalism.
Cultural and Liturgical Life. Cluny's influence was not the result merely of the strong personalities of its abbots. Its monastic spirit was due to the hundreds of monks who generously consented to live the Cluniac observance of prayer and work, and whom Callistus II, in 1120, called "the mirror of monastic observance in modern times" (Patrologia Latina, ed. J. P. Migne, 180:1164D). The cultural and artistic activity of Cluny surpassed that of all other monastic centers, with the exception of monte cassino (see cluniac art and architecture). Texts cited by J. Leclercq show that Cluny joined a profound spirituality with broad culture. The library had 570 volumes in the 12th century; and Cluniac writings reveal essentially biblical, patristic, and historical orientation, which attached importance to the authors of classical antiquity.
The primacy of the liturgy in Cluniac observance did not impede individual work and private prayer. Most of the additional liturgical offices that brought on Cluny the accusation of "ritualism" had accumulated prior to Cluny. The customaries and statutes provided for many mitigations and dispensations (especially with regard to the monks entrusted with conventual functions). The weekly liturgy was essentially the same as that of the Rule of St. Benedict, with various supplements and with an amount of solemnity measured by the importance of a feast. The temporal and sanctoral cycles were related to the Roman rite, with local and monastic usages. A long and sometimes exhausting liturgy seems not to have excluded an air of joy and contentment.
Bibliography: l. h. cottineau, Répertoire topobibliographique des abbayes et prieurés, 2 v. (Mâcon 1935–39) 1:816–25, with bibliog. k. j. conant, "Mediaeval Academy Excavations at Cluny, VIII: Final Stages of the Project," Speculum 29(1954) 1–43; "Mediaeval Academy Excavations at Cluny, IX: Systematic Dimensions in the Buildings," ibid. 38 (1963) 1–45; "New Results in the Study of Cluny Monastery," Journal of the Society of Architectural History 16 (October 1957) 3–11; "Measurements and Proportions of the Great Church at Cluny," Beiträge zu Kunstgeschichte und Archäologie des Frühmittelalters 22 (1960) 230–38. p. schmitz, "La Liturgie de Cluny," Spiritualità cluniacense (Todi 1960) 83–99. j. leclercq, "Spiritualité et culture à C1uny," ibid. 101–51, with bibliography; Aux Sources de la spiritualité occidentale (Paris 1964). k. hallinger, ed., Corpus consuetudinum monasticarum (Siegburg 1963– ), ed. of Cluniac customaries. For additional bibliography, see cluniac reform.