Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/56

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
36
THE CHURCH.

for the most part the abbeys were sources of evil rather than of good.[1]

This is scarce to be wondered at if we consider the material from which their inmates were drawn. It is the severest reproach upon their discipline to find so enthusiastic an admirer of the strict Cistercian rule as Caesarius of Heisterbach asserting as an admitted fact that boys bred in monasteries made bad monks and frequently became apostates. As for those who took the vows in advanced life, he enumerates their motives as sickness, poverty, captivity, infamy, mortal danger, dread of hell or desire of heaven, among which the predominance of selfish impulses was not likely to secure a desirable class of devotees. In fact, he assures us that criminals frequently escaped punishment by agreeing to enter monasteries, which thus in some sort became penal settlements, or prisons, and he illustrates this with the case of a robber baron in 1209, condemned to death for his crimes by the Count Palatine Henry, who was rescued by Daniel, Abbot of Schonau, on condition of his entering the Cistercian order. Scarcely less desirable inmates were those who, moved by a sudden revulsion of conscience, would turn from a life stained with crime and violence to bury themselves in the cloister while yet in the full vigor of strength and with passions unexhausted, finding, perhaps, at last their fierce and untamed natures unfitted to bear the unaccustomed restraint. The chronicles are full of illustrations of this passionate religious energy in natures wholly untrained in self-control, and they explain much that otherwise would seem incredible to the calmer and more self-contained world of to-day. For instance when, in 1071, Arnoul III. of Flanders, fell at Montcassel in defending his dominions against his uncle, Robert the Frisian, Gerbald, the knight who slew his suzerain, was seized with remorse for his act and wandered to Rome, where he presented himself before Gregory VII. with the request that his hands be stricken off as a fitting


  1. Varior. ad Alex. PP. III. Epist. xcv. (Migne, Patrolog. CC. 1457). Cf. Pet. Blesens. Epist. xc— Innocent. PP. III. Regest. i. 386, 476, 483, 499 ; v. 159 ; viii. 12; IX. 209; xiii. 132; xv. 105.— Pet. Cantor. Verb, abbrev. cap. 44.— Gerhohi Lib. de Ædificio Dei cap. 33; Ejusd. Exposit. in Psalm. Ixiv. cap. 35. — Chron. S. Trudon. Libb. iii., iv.,v. — Hist. Vezeliacens. Libb. ii.-iv.— Chron. Senoniens. Libb. rv., V. — Caesar. Heisterbac. Dial. Mirac. Dist. iv. cap. 65-67. For ample details as to the immorality of the monasteries, see the author's "History of Celibacy."