When I was student a MSCD (now it is called Metropolitan University of Colorado at Denver) I took some French lit classes for easy A’s (and got them). For a course on Medieval literature I wrote a piece about what I called true Renaissance linking Romance literature and cathedral building. My professor really liked it and mentioned I should start looking into it and write something more elaborate. Unfortunately at the time I was raising a kid alone and between work and school, the project never saw the light of day. I lost the paper since. I kept it on a diskette which got lost somewhere. Little did I know that 20 years later I would remember it. Little did I know that Romance literature and cathedral building weren’t the only reasons that made the 10th and 11th century the true beginning for the Renaissance.
If the creation of the Order changed significantly the future of France and Europe, many others events arrived almost simultaneously. Was there a relation between them. I believe so.
Where the need of the new order? Founded in 1098 by Robert of Molesme with Etienne (Stephen) Harding and Alberic of Citeaux, all three former Benedictine monks. The reason of the schism are fairly clear, Benedictines weren’t following the strict rule of Benedict: pray and work (Ora et labora). The labor part was left to serfs owned by the Abbey. The original name of Citeaux (Reeds in old French) was Cistercium a village about 20 miles from Dijon. The most important man in the order was Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.
2) Town Franchise.
Until the middle of XI century, town were under control of lords and or bishops. Mans was the first French town allowed to elect their own leaders known as “Eschevins”. But the trend spread and others would follow.
Colin de Plancy in his “Legendes de la Sainte Vierge” (Legends about Virgin Mary) published in 1845 shows how troubadours in the XI century started spreading those legends. Interestingly all Cistercian Churches were dedicated to Mary, just like the cathedrals would be a century later.
4) Renewal of Gnosticism
In all the religions of the known world the study of Gnosticism reappeared. At first among Muslims then among Hebrew, the study of forbidden text was spreading. Christians were not left out and many Benedictine monks went study in Spain in Muslim schools. The most known was Gerbert D”Aurillac, also known as Sylvester II the millennium Pope.