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Glaber’s Cluniac preoccupations
By Brent Hardy
Master’s Thesis, Simon Fraser University, 1996
Abstract: In this thesis I examine a set of specific themes and ideas in the works of Rodulfus Glaber that type him as a Cluniac monk of the early eleventh century. Glaber’s life was peripatetic, and over the course of nearly fifty years he lived in three major monasteries, one of which was the Burgundian monastery of Cluny. Despite the fact that Glaber spent only four or five years at Cluny, the other two major houses in which he lied, St-Germain d’Auxerre and St-Benigne at Dijon, were tied closely to the great monastery through their abbots, Helderic and St. William. Both men had spent time at Cluny themselves and were sent out by Maiol, the fourth abbot of Cluny, to reform their respective monasteries according to the customs they had learnt at Cluny. I propose to demonstrate that while the institutional links between these houses were not so strong as we might imagine, the abbots of Cluny and the abbots of these other houses were linked by personal relationships and shared ideals that cemented a powerful bond between them.
Glaber’s two works, The Five Books of the Histories and the Life of St.William, are not ideological treatises, yet they consistently reflect the beliefs of one intimately familiar with Cluniac thought and practice. There are three Cluniac themes that I will draw out of Glaber’s works. First, he expressed a commitment to monastic reform that had as its goal the ‘monasticization’ of all of society. Second, his view of all things was tinged with an apocalyptic hue. For Glaber this was intensified and given greater meaning by the proximity of the millennium. Finally, he made use of a scheme of quadripartition, in which the fourth and final age was the age of justice. He embraced a notion of significance of Cluny’s place in Christian history. The final age was an age being brought to fruition by the reform-minded monks associated with Cluny. Among those monks we must surely include Rodulfus Glaber.