life rule time monks chapter abbot monastic monasteries society institute
MONACHISM, the word Monachism, or Monasticism, primarily meaning the act of "dwelling alone" (p.ovaxOs, p.ovd.Cecv, juOvog), has come, by an easy and natural transition, to denote the corporate life of religious communities living a life of poverty, celibacy, and obedience, under a fixed rule of discipline. The root-idea of monachism, in all its varieties of age, creed, and country, is the same - namely, retirement from society in search of some ideal of life which society cannot supply, but which is thought attainable by abnegation of self and withdrawal from the world. This definition applies to all the forms of monachism which have left their mark on history, whether amongst Brahmans, Buddhists, Jews, Christians, Moslems, or the communistic societies of the present day, even when theoretically anti-theological.
This broad general conception of monachism is differenced in the following ways : - It may take the form of absolute separation, so far as practicable, from all human intercourse, so as to give the whole life to solitary contemplation - the anchoretic type ; or, contrariwise, it may seek fellowship with kindred spirits in a new association for the same common end - the ccenobitic type ; it may abandon society as incurably corrupt, as a City of Destruction out of which the fugitive must flee absolutely - the Oriental view, for the most part ; or it may consider itself as having a mission to influence and regenerate society - which has been, on the whole, and with minor exceptions, the Western theory of the monastic life.
The question has been warmly debated whether mona chism be an evil or a good, - whether a natural, perhaps a necessary, part of Christianity (as being, indeed, the strict logical issue of the triple vow of baptism, literally construed), or a foreign element introduced into it with unfortunate results, and rather an excrescence on its system than an orderly and healthy development. Unlike many other institutions which have needed the lapse of centuries and the gradual approach of decay and degeneracy to show their weak places, monachism in its Christian form displays some of its most unlovely features while yet almost in its cradle, whereas not a few of its best achievements belong to a late period in its history ; and it has throughout displayed a singular elasticity and power of taking a fresh departure, after seeming to have exhausted its energies. Its champions and its opponents have thus always had ample materials for their briefs, and there is little probability of the controversy ever coming to an end. But the most philosophical mode of viewing its relation to Christianity is to recognize that monachism has made a part of every creed which has attained a certain stage of ethical and theosophical development ; that there is a class of minds for which it has always had a powerful attraction, and which can otherwise find no satisfaction ; and consequently that Christianity, if it is to make good its claim to be a universal religion, must provide expression for a principle which is as deeply seated in human nature as domesticity itself, albeit limited to a much smaller section of mankind.
- Three main factors combined to produce the phenomenon of monachism in early Christianity, each of them set in motion by the general dissolution of morals in the pagan society of the time, of which we get a sufficient glimpse from the Christian standpoint in the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, and from the pagan standpoint in the sixth Satire of Juvenal. These three factors were - (l ) the Oriental tendency towards retirement, contemplation, and asceticism, influencing the infant Christian church through the agency of those Jewish ascetics, the Essenes and Therapeutw, who had begun long before the gospel times both the solitary and the common life in Palestine and Egypt, and who probably contributed many converts to Christianity, and became practically merged therein, as they disappear from history in the first century of the Christian era; (2) the Hellenic teaching of the Alexandrine Neo-Platonists on the purification of the intellect by abstention from physical indulgence ; and (3), perhaps a more powerful influence than either, that old Roman spirit of austerity and discipline which, while looking back regretfully to the memories of the simpler habits of republican times, could find nothing amidst the social luxury and administrative weakness of the decaying empire which presented its ideal, save the monastic system with its rigid proscription of luxury, and even of comfort, in every form. The first-named of these three factors was, however, necessarily the earliest to operate. The Scriptures attest clearly the existence of a body of ascetics in the persons of the Nazarites, leading always for a certain period, and sometimes for life, a stricter existence than the ordinary Jew ; Elijah and John the Baptist furnished examples of the solitary hermit type ; the Schools of the Prophets at least seem to have been celibate and ccenobitic communities, living by a fixed ascetic rule ; and it is familiar to all that such was the actual discipline of the Essenes (see ESSENES). The sect of the Therapeutte, known to us only from the book De Vita Contemplativa (ascribed to Philo), and described as chiefly, though not exclusively, established in Egypt, bore much resemblance to the Essenes, differing from them for the most part by greater austerity in the matter of food, and by their preference for the solitary life over the common fellowship of the Essenes ; for their custom was that each member confined himself to his lonely dwelling (called by the afterwards famous name of ,uorac•i-7'iptor) throughout the week, while all assembled on the Sabbath for joint worship, and for instruction from the senior of the society. So closely does this polity resemble that of several of the earliest Christian societies of the kind that Eusebius devotes a chapter of his Ecclesiastical History (ii. 17) to asserting their identity, holding that Philo could have been speaking of none save Christian ascetics, a view in which he is followed by Sozomen and Cassian in ancient times, as also by many moderns. This view has been rendered much more probable by recent inquirers, who seem to have made out that the De Pit. Cont. is spurious, and was written about 300 A.D. ;1 for there is a general agreement amongst the fathers that the monastic life did not begin till nearly two hundred years after Philo lived ; and Tertullian (160-240 A.D.) declares explicitly that Christians in his time did not withdraw from society, - " We are not Indian Brahmans or Gymnosophists, dwellers in woods, and exiles from life ; . . . we sojourn with you in the world" (Apol., xlii.). Yet there is no reason to doubt that the leaven of Essenism was at work in the church from the earliest time, and helped to form the temper which issued in monachism. Still, the process was slow and gradual, passing through very much the same stages as can be traced by careful inquiry in the case of the Essenes. That is t-o say, the new converts to Christianity, being for the most part dwellers in cities, were in necessary and daily contact with the heathen society around, whose relaxation was such as to induce an even greater recoil from habits of self-indulgence than the stricter morality of their new creed enjoined, so that a body known by the name of "Ascetics " sprang up very soon within the church, and were urged on to still greater severity of life when the rapid progress of Christianity brought large numbers of merely nominal converts in, whose practice fell too conspicuously below their profession. The desire of protest against such a state of things led to the gradual separation of the devotees into a kind of order within the main body, and to their actual withdrawal from habitual intercourse with their less strict fellows, which led in turn to their departure from the towns into more secluded places, even before any formal conception of the monastic life had shaped itself in their minds. But the first glimpse obtainable of the " common life," and that only an indistinct one, is in the New Testament, and applies to women alone. There is mention in the pastoral epistles (1 Tim. v. 9-12) of a class of widows, apparently not as mere recipients of relief, but as constituting an ecclesiastical grade ; while in Acts ix. 39 it appears as if a number of women belonging to this order were united in some kind of community under the headship of Dorcas, for the narrative rather implies that they were her assistants in making clothing for the poor than themselves the objects of her bounty. This conjecture receives some confirmation from the mention of " the virgins who are called widows " (ras irapNvovs.;43 A.Eyo,uvas xijpcts) in the shorter recension of the Ignatian Epistle to the Smyrnwans, and from the statement of Athanasius, that Anthony, when himself about to begin the solitary life which he is regarded as having instituted, first placed his sister in a convent of virgins (n-upOEvi5va), - facts which prove the organization of women at an earlier date in community life than of men, and lend some probability to the notion that it may have begun very soon indeed, especially when the prominence given to the virgins as a separate and seemingly long-established order in the church by such early writers as Tertullian and Cyprian is borne in mind.
Two other causes must be taken into account as tending to stimulate monachism when once it began. First is the theological opinion, early formulated, and never since without many advocates, that two distinct standards of life and holiness are set forth in the gospel : that of precept, and that of "counsels of perfection," - the former binding all Christians without exception, the latter being voluntary, and merely offered for acceptance to such as aim at especial sanctity. The second, and even more powerful, agent was Gnosticism, not only in its earlier forms and in the kindred spirit of Montanism, but still more in its Manichxan development, when its dualism led to exaggeration of the antagonism between flesh and spirit, and the human body was regarded no longer as a servant to be trained, but as an enemy to be crushed and beaten down with unrelenting hostility. But in every age of monachism, from the earliest to the latest, social disorders and insecurity have proved the chief feeders of the cloister, never widely popular in times of healthy and orderly national life, but eagerly resorted to as a place of shelter from social turbulence.
There are five main classes of monastic institutions, each of which approximately marks a new departure in the history of Western monachism (for the East has never had more than the first), as they succeed one another in chronological order, without in any instance involving the abandonment of the previous foundations. They are - (1) Monks ; (2) Canons Regular ; (3) Military Orders ; (4) Friars ; (5) Clerks Regular. All of these have communities of women, either actually affiliated to them, or formed on similar lines.
There is no doubt as to the time and the person, when, and by whom, the first decisive step was taken which left a marked interval for all time between those ascetics who continued to live in family life, if not really part of it, or who at least dwelt close to some ordinary church, to which they resorted habitually, and the seekers after some more retired and separate mode of life, whether singly or in communities. During the stress of the Decian persecution (249-250 A.D.) Paul, a native of the Lower Thebaid, born of wealthy parents about 228, was denounced by his brother-in-law to the authorities as a Christian, and fled for safety into the desert, where lie established himself in a cavern, shaded by a palm-tree, and with a spring of water close by. There he remained till extreme old age, dying, if we may accept Jerome's chronology, in his hundred and thirteenth year, about 342. Although he did not collect any band of disciples around him, nor even, so far as is recorded, attract any casual visitors, except his more famous successor, Anthony, who is alleged, in a narrative containing many legendary details, to have had an interview with him when himself a very old man, the day before Paul's death ; yet there seems reason to believe that the fame of his example spread sufficiently to induce imitation of it, and that anchoretic cells began to be set up sparsely in the deserts even before Anthony adopted that mode of life. Anthony's career differed in various respects from that of his precursor. In the first place, it was voluntary choice, not fear of persecution, which sent him into solitude. He was born about 250 at Coma in Upper Egypt, of wealthy Christian parents, and was left at eighteen years of age in possession of a large fortune and of the guardianship of a younger sister. He had received what was probably a fair vernacular education, but distaste for study, or perhaps more probably that difficulty which contemplative intellects experience in the acquisition of languages, left him unacquainted with Greek or Latin ; yet the intimate knowledge of Scripture which he afterwards displayed cannot be satisfactorily accounted for in any other way than as the result of attentive perusal, since no mere listening to the lections in church would suffice to convey it ; and we must therefore take Athanasius's statement of his ignorance of letters to denote the absence of culture, not as implying actual illiteracy. One day, hearing the gospel read, "Go and sell that thou bast, and give to the poor .. . and come, and follow Me," he took it as a direct address to himself, and at once returned home, distributed his property amongst his neighbours, reserving only a small sum for the support of his sister whom he placed in charge of some Christian virgins, and then betook himself to a solitary life, first visiting the most eminent ascetics and anehorets he could find, in order that he might learn the peculiar merit of each, and imitate it. He fixed his dwelling first in a tomb, then in a ruined fort near the Nile, where he remained for twenty years, leaving it but once, in 311, to encourage the Christians of Alexandria during the persecution of Maximin ; and lastly in a small grove of date-palms, a few miles west of the western coast of the Red Sea, near the base of Mount Kolzim, where he made an enclosure and planted it as a garden. He quitted this retirement but once in his remaining life, when he again visited Alexandria in 335, at the request of Athanasius, to preach against the Arians. Yet his fame drew not only frequent visitors to his cell, but numerous disciples and imitators around him, attracted not alone by his pious austerities, but by his cheerful and courteous manners and shrewd practical judgment. He made the solitary life honourable and popular, fully justifying Jerome's phrase in comparing him with Paul, " Hujus vita; auctor Paulus, illustrator etiam Antonius." When Anthony died in 365, aged one hundred and five, the desert was already studded with hermitages in every direction, and the second great step in the development of monachism had been long taken by Pachomius, who stands out in history at once as the founder of the ccenobitic life amongst Christians and as the author of the first formal monastic rule. Born about 292, and converted to Christianity in early manhood while serving in the army, he was baptized on obtaining his discharge, and at once adopted the ascetic life under the direction of the hermit Palwmon, with whom he retired to Tabennm, an island in the Nile, between Farshoot and Dendarah. Here he began his new institute, whose distinguishing features were as follows. The monks were distributed into cells, each of which contained three inmates, known in this relation as syncelli (the usual number in other Egyptian foundations was two in each cell, while in Syria the tenant had no partner). A large number of such cells clustered near each other formed a /aura, and each such Laura had but one common place for meals and other assemblies. Work and food were apportioned to each inmate according to his physical strength, and such as were permitted exceptional strictness in fasting were not to undertake the heavier tasks of bodily labour. Their dress was to be a close linen tunic, with a white goatskin by way of upper garment, which they were not to lay aside at meals or in bed, but only when they assembled for the eucharist, when they wore their hoods only in addition to the tunic. They were divided into twenty-four groups or classes numbered according to the letters of the Greek alphabet, into which they were distributed according to their intellectual and spiritual proficiency, the least intelligent being placed in class c, the letter of simplest form, and the ablest in class the most complicated. Each group was subdivided into bands of ten and a hundred under decurions and centurions, and all subject to the Abbot, who was himself in turn, when the institution spread and ramified, subject to the Superior (or Archimandrite) of the mother-house ; while the finance of each house was managed by a steward (aKovOitos), who was similarly accountable to the treasurer or steward at Tabennm. Their usual food was bread and water ; their luxuries, oil, salt, and a few occasional fruits or vegetables, chiefly pulse ; frugal meals which they ate in strict silence - sometimes broken by the voice of a reader, appointed to recite lections from the Bible - each man so wearing his hood or cowl as to hide his face from his companions. They assembled twice daily for common prayer, and met further for communion on Saturdays and Sundays. A strict probation of three years was imposed on postulants for admission, during which they were confined to simple tasks of labour, and were not permitted to enter upon actual study till they had satisfactorily passed through this term. Their work was tillage for their own immediate wants, and weaving mats or baskets for sale, to procure such necessaries as their direct labour was insufficient to provide ; and, as time went on, other handicrafts were practised in the cloisters, such as those of smiths, tailors, boat-builders, tanners, and so forth. Pachondus induced his sister to found a convent of nuns governed by very similar rules, and subject to the authority of a visitor appointed by himself, as superior of the whole institute. Such was the success of the Pachomian rule that before the founder died (between 34S and 360) he had no fewer than fourteen hundred monks in his own coenobinm, and seven thousand altogether under his authority. Nor was its influence confined to Tabennm and its dependencies. Ammon carried the rule into the Nitrian desert, where five thousand monks were soon- collected ; Hilarion bore it into Syria and Palestine, Eustathius of Sebaste into Armenia, Ephraem Syrus into Mesopotamia, Basil the Great into Cappadocia and Pontus (though a rule of his own framing supplanted it later); and, above all, it was brought by Athanasius himself into Italy, whence it spread over the West till modified in various ways by subsequent legislation, and finally displaced by the Benedictine institute. And such was its popularity, meeting as it did a need of the time, that its votaries in Egypt alone amounted by the 5th century to more than a hundred thousand, of whom three-fourths were men. This rule has come down to us in two very different forms : an earlier and probably original one, preserved for us in the Historia Lausiaca of Palladius, bishop of Helenopolis (367-430) - a great storehouse of details on Egyptian monachism, which is very brief, and has been summarized above - and a much longer recension, extending to 194 heads or chapters, preserved in a translation by Jerome, in whose time the monks governed by it had increased to fifty thousand. It had not, however, a complete monopoly, for there were also similar rules in local use, going by the names of famous ascetics such as Paphnutius, Macarius, and Serapion ; nor was it uncommon to find communities wherein two or three different rules were followed simultaneously by the various inmates. The rule of Basil, however, proved to the East what that of Benedict did to the West, in that it practically absorbed or supplanted all its predecessors, while, unlike the great Western reform, it has had no subsequent competitors, and remains to this day the single monastic code of the Oriental Church. This rule is embodied in the Ascetic Sermons of Basil, and also in two recensions, a longer and a shorter one, of the actual provisions of his code, which are marked with not a little of the shrewd practical sense, as well as lofty piety, which characterized the founder, - being especially noticeable for their discouragement of the solitary mode of life, and for their recommendation of labour. The development of Oriental monachism thus ceases with the Basilian rule, and there are only two seeming exceptions to this fact : the institution of the Accemeti ((I/cap:Trot), or " sleepless " monks in the 5th century, for the purpose of keeping up unbroken prayer day and night - a system copied much later in the West by the communities founded for "perpetual adoration ; " and the erection, for these very monks, of the great monastery of the Studium at Constantinople (named from Studius, its founder), which was the Cluny of its time and country, as a centre of the more intellectual monastic life, and as the model of stateliness in ecclesiastical ceremonial.' Greek monachism, as an institute, has no history later than the 5th century. The monks indeed constantly appear as factors in the controversies of the centuries which followed, at once the polemical and the political disputes showing them equally fierce and eager partisans (notably in the Iconoclastic controversy, which found them the most ardent champions of images) ; but they cannot be said to have exerted much influence upon society till a very late period of their history, when they were instrumental in keeping the national spirit and the national religion alive in Russia when suffering under the Tatar yoke, and they performed a like service for Greece during the centuries of Turkish oppression. It may further be added that, however low the intellectual life of Eastern monasteries may appear when judged by a Western standard, the clergy who are trained in them, technically known as the "Black clergy," stand much higher in character, acquirements, and general influence than the secular or "White clergy" of the parishes, whether in Greece or in Russia.
It has been already mentioned that the bad side of monaehism appears almost as early as its good side.
While the system won the admiration of all the most eminent Christian teachers of the age which saw its birth and early growth, and while we are met by a still more remarkable fact that from the time when monachism was fairly established till we enter on the Middle Ages there are but two or three names of distinction amongst the clergy, whether as writers or administrators, to be found outside the ranks of monachism, amongst whom the most famous are Ambrose and Leo the Great, nevertheless, there is a heavy account on the other side. Not only did the institute speedily find itself caricatured by the Messalians, Euchites, Gyrovagi, Sarabaites or Remoboth, Cireumcelhones, and other companies of professed ascetics, wild in doctrine, vagrant in habits, and turbulent in conduct, but the more genuine societies had scarcely fewer faults in too many cases. Lay in their origin, and for the greater part of their earlier history having but rarely ecclesiastics amongst them (a single priest ordained for each monastery to minister to its inmates being the utmost allowed for a considerable time), they were not subject to the same strict inspection and discipline as the clergy, in case a whole community chose to disregard its rule ; though of course it was easy to deal with an offender who had the tone of his monastery against him. The clergy were subject to the direct control of the bishops, and many disciplinary canons of councils laid down rules for their conduct ; but this was not the case with the monks for a considerable time - nor indeed ever effectively in the East - and their lay character gave them practical independence of any authority external to their abbot. And, despite the stringency of the monastic rule itself, which, even before actual vows began to be introduced (probably on the recommendation of Basil), always involved during compliance with it the three engagements to the observance of poverty, chastity, and obedience, which make up the staple of the monastic principle, and though pains were taken to exclude unfit applicants (such as criminals, slaves who had fled for reasons other than ill-treatment, or persons who had kindred dependent on them), while a long probation was exacted from all who were accepted, yet it was impossible that more than a small proportion of the many thousands who flocked in during the first enthusiasm for the new movement should have had any real sympathy with the restraints and aspirations of such a mode of life. Severe asceticism operates differently on different natures, and while there are some whom it does but discipline and refine there are more whom it tends to coarsen and to brutalize, even apart from the many whom it is apt to affect with morbidness, if not actual insanity. And it is unquestionable that vast numbers of those who entered on the monastic life came from the poorer classes, in search of some less toilsome mode of existence than they had previously led, preferring the contemplative societies, wherein almost no labour, certainly none of a severe and trying cast, was practised, to those where agriculture and other active employments, requiring more energy than mat and basket weaving, were enjoined. Such men, uneducated and undisciplined, were liable to be thrown entirely out of gear by the complete revolution in their mode of life, - especially when the community they joined was not only contemplative, but situated in some place where the ungrateful soil made tillage nearly impracticable, and the vast numbers crowded together were far too numerous for any tasks which could be assigned them. From the bosom of such societies came not only single examples of exaggerated spiritual pride, bitter fanaticism, avaricious greed of the scanty articles whose usufruct was permitted, fierce sensuality, and wild religious delusions, but they gave birth to companies like the Roo-Koi, or "grazing monks," of Mesopotamia and Palestine, who roved about, shelterless and nearly naked, as Sozomen and Evagrius tell us, in the mountains and deserts, grovelling on the earth, and browsing like cattle on the herbs they casually found ; and to those fierce bands of Nitrian and Syrian ascetics who, reared in the narrowest of schools, treated any divergence from their own standard of opinion as a crime which they were entitled to punish in their own riotous fashion, two instances of which have left an indelible brand on their history - the murder of Hypatia in Alexandria, and that of the patriarch Flavian at the Robber Synod of Ephesus. An equally singular, but more sporadic and temporary, form of asceticism was that of the Stylites or Pillar-hermits (o-rvAfrat, '<coal-at), who followed a fashion first set by Simeon, a Syrian monk who spent almost half of the 5th century on the summit of a column GO feet in height. This unwonted kind of austerity at first gave rise to strong objections, even from hermits themselves, and a messenger was sent to Simeon, bidding him in the name of a synod of bishops to descend from his pillar, but with instructions to permit him to remain if he showed himself ready to comply. Such proved to be the case; and, having thus assured themselves that he was not influenced by spiritual pride, they left him to follow his own devices. And we have the direct personal testimony of the wise and temperate Theodoret that he exercised a strong and salutary influence over the nomadic Saracen tribes, converting many hundreds and even thousands to Christianity, besides being the shrewd and trusted adviser, not only of the peasants who flocked to him for counsel, but of Arab princes, Persian kings, and even Roman emperors. He cannot be judged, therefore, by ordinary standards, and it is more than likely that a less extraordinary mode of life would have given him less power for good ; but he is the only eminent figure in the class to which he belongs, and the fashion he set may be said to have died out with his namesake, the younger Simeon, a century later. Even when the healthier side of monachism as it appeared in Egypt and Syria is dwelt upon, and the fullest weight is allowed to the contemporary pictures drawn by great Christian writers of the monasteries as schools of a philosophy truer and purer than that of the Porch or the Academy, as places where the equality and brotherhood, merely dreamed of as unrealizable fancies in the outer world, could be seen in living action - where children, deserted by their parents or otherwise orphaned, were carefully reared - where the sick were lovingly tended - where calmness, piety, and self-forgetfulness were the rule of all, - it must be confessed that the complaint of the Government, embodied in the hostile legislation of the emperor Valens in 373, subjecting monks to the conscription (which drew forth an indignant protest from Chrysostom), that monachism was injurious to society and to the healthy condition of civil life by draining off so large a fraction of the population into the backwater of the cloister, was perfectly well founded. And no small part of the overthrow of Christianity in Egypt and Syria by Islam is due to the practical withdrawal of all the devout from family and public life, leaving no spiritual energy to cope with the Koran in the towns and villages whither the conquering Arabs came to settle and proselytize.
The history of monachism in the West is far more varied, chequered, and interesting than in the East. It takes its beginning from the visit of Athanasius to Rome in 340, during his second term of exile, when he brought with him his Life of St Anthony, and pressed his example on the Roman Christians who mourned as patriots, not less than as devotees, over the lax and enervated habits of society. The popular imagination was caught at once, and not only was the basis of monachism successfully laid in Rome itself, but Eusebius of Vercelli introduced it into northern Italy, where it was fostered a little later by the illustrious Ambrose at Milan. From the very beginning a marked difference shows itself in the spirit of Western monachism as compared with the parent institute in the East. Partly from dissimilarity of climate, but still more from that of racial and national temperament, there has always been less tendency in the West to either abstract contemplation or severe self-torture, such as is equally common to many of the Egyptian or Syrian ascetics and to the Yogis of Hindustan. Hard work, with due intervals for food and recreation, occupied all that part of a Western monk's time which was not devoted to prayer or study, and a careful apportionment of his duties throughout the day gave each hour its appointed task to be fulfilled, leaving very few loose ends of time to be wasted. It is true that the Basilian rule aimed at this same end, and that a very minute time-table forms a part of other early Eastern codes ; but, as already remarked, the work was neither hard enough nor abundant enough to provide really healthy labour, or to occupy the mind sufficiently to keep it from vague speculation or morbid brooding during the hours of so-called toil. From this fundamental unlikeness springs the broad distinction between the two types of the monastic life, in that the West did not merely provide shelter for such as felt unable to endure the storms of the world, leaving secular society to take care of itself as best it could, but, contrariwise, employed the cloister far more as a training-school for the strong, as the standpoint whence to work the lever which moved a world. Even the more remotely secluded monasteries of the West, instead of serving as refuges wherein the inmates might effectually cut themselves off from all intercourse from without, were rather military outposts and frontier forts of civilization, which taught the arts of peace, the processes of agriculture, and at least the rudiments of social morality, to the rude and almost nomadic hunters and forayers, of whom many of the wilder tribes in outlying districts consisted. And if such was the case even where the conditions seemed least favourable, it may readily be understood what an ample field for exertion the more settled regions provided.
It would seem that it was some modification of the Pachomian rule which first made its way into Europe, but the interest excited by the movement led to variety of choice on the part of the teachers who aimed at spreading its influence in Italy. Thus, Urseus, abbot of Pinetum (probably near Ravenna), translated the Basilian rule into Latin, and it soon took root in southern Italy, where it continued to hold its ground for a considerable time. But a far more important part in the propagation of the monastic institute in the West was taken by Jerome, who, after spending a considerable time, beginning in 374, first as a hermit in the desert of Chalcis, and later at Constantinople, returned to Rome in 382, where he was secretary to Pope Damasus. He acquired much influence over a distinguished group of Roman ladies of high social position, the most celebrated of whom are Paula, and her daughters Blesilla and Eustochium, and employed that influence in urging the adoption of the monastic life upon them. Blesilla died early, it was said and believed in consequence of austerities pressed upon her which her constitution was unable to bear ; and the unpopularity which this report brought upon Jerome, co-operating with the death of his patron Damasus and other causes, drove him back to the East, whither Paula and Eustochium also betook themselves, finally settling down in Bethlehem, where the elder lady built three convents, of one of which she was superior, while Jerome, who similarly erected a monastery for monks in the immediate vicinity, acted as chaplain and director to the community.
As the taste for pilgrimages had already become deeply rooted, the convent at Bethlehem was ere long a favourite resort of pilgrims, and exerted considerable influence in prompting the erection of similar foundations in the West. Quite another impulse was given to the furtherance of monachism by Augustine. While, amongst the many documents which have been ascribed to him, the only one which is of the nature of a monastic code is his 109th Epistle, addressed in terms of severe reproval to the nuns of a convent he had himself founded at Hippo, but which had fallen away from discipline, his personal example gave rise to a new type of the common life, in that he formed a sort of college of priests, who shared the episcopal house with him, ate at a common table, and copied in other particulars the observances of monasteries, but without losing their secular character. This was the origin of the institute afterwards famous as the Austin Canons, a foundation of the llth century. It is true that Eusebius of Vercelli had anticipated Augustine by collecting the clergy of his cathedral (and, as it would seem, the remaining ecclesiastics of the city) into a common dwelling, but the difference in his case was that he obliged them to adopt the habit and style of monks, and thus was in no sense the originator of a new institute. Another important contribution of Augustine's to the history of the common life is his treatise De Opere Honachorum, wherein he sets forth the imperative need of making hard work an invariable factor of the monastic profession, notably on the ground that most of the monks in Africa came from the lower ranks of society, such as freedmen, farm-labourers, and artisans, who were spiritually injured by being raised into a grade viewed with more general respect than that from which they had sprung, while they were actually subject to fewer privations and lighter employment than they had been accustomed to. And he adds that amongst other evil consequences of this idleness was that they were found tramping the country selling sham relics, which they palmed off on the unwary, extorting money in other fashions also, and bringing discredit on their profession by their hypocrisy and vices - a picture only too faithfully repeated by the Mendicants a thousand years after the date of this treatise. The 5th century was one of rapid progress in the spread of monachism in the West. Chief amongst those who helped to popularize it stands the name of John Cassian (350-433), a monk of Bethlehem, who made a long and careful study of the Egyptian forms of monachism, of which he has bequeathed us valuable details in his De Institutione Camobiorum and Collationes Patrum, the former of which is a treatise on the monastic life, and indeed virtually a rule, though a somewhat prolix one, mainly derived from Macarius, while the latter is a record of the teachings of some hermits of the desert of Scete. Both of these works exercised a powerful influence in their own day, and the second retained its repute much longer, having been warmly approved and recommended for study by Benedict, Bruno, Dominic, and Ignatius Loyola, all four founders of celebrated orders_ Cassian fixed himself at Marseilles, where he founded a famous monastery of which he was probably abbot, and which was the centre whence monachism, uniting the peculiarities of East and West, was propagated in southern Gaul, and notably planted in the island of Lerins, which became the seat of one of the most eminent monasteries of the early Middle Ages. Northern Gaul had received the institute earlier through the agency of Martin, bishop of Tours (316-397), who founded monasteries near Poitiers and in his own diocese, which were soon thronged, so that his funeral was attended by two thousand monks. Spain was even earlier in the field than Gaul, but there is some obscurity as to the history of the introduction of monachism there, all that is certain being that it had made its footing good before 380, the (late of a council of Saragossa (Ciesaraugusta) which forbade priests to assume the monkish habit. Still more obscurity hangs over the first establishment of monachism in Britain, as to which no trustworthy records have come down to us, though all probability points to its importation from Gaul in some variety of the Pachomian rule ; while Germany did not receive the institute till the following century.
It must not be supposed, however, that the principle of monachism met with no opposition in the course of its progress. Apart from the opposition of those who disliked it precisely for its merits, for its protest against the dissolute morals and enervated habits of a luxurious and rotting society, and for the manner in which it won to itself many of the noblest and most promising of the young and ardent of both sexes, and without taking into account the more reasonable objections of statesmen, there were not lacking warnings of the dangers attending exaggerations of the principle of monachism, uttered by some of its most eminent upholders. Augustine's sharp censures have been already mentioned, and to them may be added the decrees of the council of Gangra in 363, or thereabouts, which anathematize those who adopt a celibate life on the ground that marriage is evil, who wear a peculiar dress as a mark of holiness, condemning such as use ordinary clothing, or who desert their parents or children dependent on them under the plea of desiring to Lead an ascetic life. So, too, the great Chrysostom, himself a warm advocate of monachism, found himself obliged to teach his flock the sanctity of Christian family life, and the truth that there was often as much selfishness as piety in retirement to a hermitage from the cares and duties of society. These arguments and decisions were, however, aimed only at abuses and exaggerations of the monastic idea. It remained for Jovinian and Vigilantius to assail the actual principle. Their writings have not survived, and we can judge of their arguments only from the account given of them by their chief opponent Jerome, whose eminent gifts, however, did not include either moderation or controversial fairness, so that it is not safe to assume that we have all their case before us. As regards Vigilantius, he accurately represents the Puritan type of mind protesting against the external part of the popular religion of his day, often with good reason, but also showing equal intolerance for harmless, if not useful, practices; so that his condemnation of monachism is only part of his general objection to the temper of his tiine. But Jovinian's objections seem to have gone deeper. He had been himself a monk (and indeed never resumed secular life), but he disputed absolutely the thesis that any merit lay in monachism, celibacy, fasting, and asceticism considered in themselves, save in so far as they contributed to foster the Christian temper and life, which might and did flourish equally, he urged, under quite different conditions, while it was by no means unfrequent for spiritual pride, if not Manichman error, to lay hold of those who devoted themselves to the ascetic profession. This was, in fact, going very little further than Chrysostom had done, or than Nilus did a short time later. But Jovinian's divergence from the standard of his day was not confined to practical questions ; it extended to theological doctrines also, and accordingly his strictures on monachism, probably more incisive and less qualified than those of its other critics, were involved in his condemnation as a heretic by synods at Rome and Milan in 390. The reaction, of which he may be regarded as the mouthpiece rather than as the sole representative, was thus effectually crushed, and that for centuries. And though Jovinian is undoubtedly more in accord than his opponents with the modern temper on the subject of monachism, and while it may be allowed that his teaching might have been a useful corrective in Eastern Christendom, where family life was all but overborne by asceticism, yet the impartial historian must admit that his success would have been an irreparable misfortune for civilization in the West. Such a dispassionate estimate of asceticism as his, if widely entertained, would have been fatal to the spread of monachism, and thus one of the most important conservative and statical forces in the preservation of the older culture, one of the most powerful dynamical forces in reducing the chaotic materials of early medieval society to order and coherence, would have been lost to Europe; nor is it easy to conjecture what effectual substitute could have taken its place. As it was, the movement was not checked for a moment by this partial reaction ; and not only did the older communities thrive and spread during the 5th and early 6th centuries, but new ones were established, - chief among which stand those of Cmsarius of Arles and of Donatus of Besancon in southern Gaul, that of Isidore of Seville in Spain, and the early Celtic code, of which only traditional fragments survive, but which seems in Britain to have been strongly affected by tribal influences, so that a monastery was often recruited from a single clan, and the abbacy became hereditary in the family of the chieftain, a fact which is noticeable even in the succession of the abbots of Iona, who for ten elections after Columba. were of his family in the tribe of Conall Gulban.1 But, swiftly as monachism spread in Europe during the breaking-up of the Western empire, some of the causes which hastened its progress also tended to its rapid decay. The disturbed state of society, and, in particular, the prevalence of petty warfare, drove many thousands of persons to seek a quiet refuge in the cloister without any more directly religious motive. When once there, they found in every place some rule in force which was either imported directly from Egypt or Syria, or else, like that of Cmsarius, modelled on Eastern lines, and therefore ill suited to the severer climate of Europe and the more active habits of the people. The austerities were thus too. oppressive for general observance, and the result was a widespread neglect of rules which continued nominally in force, while at the same time the very monks who had ceased to keep them laid claim to special sanctity on the pretence of their strict way of life. The time was ripe for a reform, or rather for a wholly new departure in the shape of a rule devised to meet Western needs, and not merely adapted more or less clumsily from Oriental asceticism. The fitting man to accomplish this difficult. task appeared in the person of Benedict of Nursia, author. of the most famous of all monastic codes. Born of a respectable family about 480, he adopted the ascetic life at fourteen in a cave near Subiaco, not far from Rome,. where he remained for three years, at the expiration of which he was chosen abbot of a neighbouring convent, then in a very relaxed state. His rule proved too stern for his new subjects, who attempted to poison him, whereupon he resigned his office and returned to Subiaco, around which he soon erected twelve monasteries, each peopled by an abbot and twelve monks. Fresh attempts on his life and on the discipline of his. society drove him out again in the year 528, when he fixed his dwelling at Monte Cassino, the place where his celebrated rule was drafted in the following year, and which has ever since prided itself on its rank as the cradle of the Benedictine Order and the premier abbey of Western Christendom. The famous institute which he devised.
has a great surface likeness to the rule of Basil, which alone has rivalled it in permanence, though far below it in diffusion and, it may be added, in services to humanity. Superior in flexibility and in the power of adapting itself in new conditions of circumstance and society to any rule which preceded it (and indeed to most of those devised later), the effect it produced in its own immediate day and for several centuries afterwards is almost incalculable.
Obedience, silence, humility ; worship, study, and work ; such are the ideas and employments with which this code of seventy-three chapters is occupied. It opens with a sermonet or hortatory preface, and then proceeds to define the existing classes of monks, as divided into Coenobites, Anchorets, Sarabaites, living by twos and threes together without any fixed rule or lawful superior, and Gyrovagi, vagrant tramps who, even at that time, as more than a century earlier, continued to bring discredit on the monastic profession. It was one great aim of the Benedictine reform to extirpate these two latter classes, and the method adopted was the addition of a fourth vow, that of " stability," to the three usual pledges. This fourth vow bound the monk to continuance in his profession, and even to residence for life at the monastery in which he was professed, unless temporary absence or permanent transfer were permitted by the authorities, and thus struck directly against the temper of restlessness and desire for change which were such powerful factors in generating the irregular and wandering classes just named. Chapter ii. describes the qualities of an abbot, and also decrees that no distinctions of worldly rank or station are to be recognized amongst the inmates of the monastery. Chapter iii. is one of those which best enable us to estimate the foresight and good sense of Benedict. It enacts that the abbot is to call the entire body of the brethren together to deliberate on any weighty matter, and not to decide it till he has heard the counsel of even the very youngest ; while in matters of less moment consultation with the elder members suffices. Chapter iv. enumerates the instruments of good works, summed up in seventy-two pithy maxims, mainly Scriptural in letter or spirit. Chapter v. is on the obedience of disciples. Chapter vi. is on silence, recommending spareness and wholesomeness of speech, but not laying down any hard-and-fast rules such as those of the Trappists of a later day. Chapter vii. treats of humility, including injunctions to the monk to confess his secret faults and thoughts to the abbot, to do nothing but what the common rule or the example of his seniors teaches, and to exhibit lowliness and meekness in outward bearing as well as in the inward spirit. Chapters ix.-xx. are occupied with directions about the performance of Divine service, so far as relates to the recitation of the Canonical Hours, seven of the (lay and one of the night. Chapter xxi. provides for the appointment of deans (officers over ten monks) in large monasteries, to be chosen by merit, and not by mere seniority. Chapter xxii. prescribes rules for the dormitory, each monk to have a separate bed with suitable coverings, and to sleep in his habit, and girded, so as to be ready to rise at a moment's notice, and a light is to be kept burning in the dormitory till morning. Eight chapters (xxiii. xxx.) then deal with offenders, a graduated scale of penalties being provided : first, private admonition ; next, separation from the brethren at meals and recreation; then scourging ; and, finally, expulsion in the case of hardened offenders, but not until the abbot has used every means to soften and reclaim them. Even in this last event, the outcast may be received again, and that thrice, on the condition of forfeiting his seniority and descending to the lowest place. After the third expulsion, return was finally barred. Chapter xxxi. is on the character and duties of the cellarer, an important officer in monasteries ; who was steward, and had the charge of all the stores, and the responsibility of serving them out as needed ; while the next chapter provides for the appointment of inferior officers to take charge of the tools, clothes, and other goods belonging to the monastery. Chapter xxxiii. prohibits any monk to give, receive, or keep aught as his own without leave of the abbot, who is, however, bound to supply him with all necessaries. Murmuring at anything in the manner of distribution is censured in the next chapter as a very grave offence. Chapter xxxv. ordains that the brethren are to serve in the kitchen by turns, unless excused by reason of sickness or some more important occupation, and that whoever is on duty on Saturday is to clean up for the week, and to deliver all the cloths and utensils to the cellarer in good condition for his successor in office. Chapter xxxvi., while warning the sick not to be impatient or exacting, gives careful directions for their comfort. They are to be placed in an infirmary and to be committed to the care of a competent attendant, are to be allowed baths as often as is expedient, and a flesh diet to promote their recovery, though against the rule for those in health. Old men and children are also to be dispensed from the rigour of the rule, and they may have their meals before the usual hours, instead of waiting for the others. Chapter xxxviii. directs that reading aloud during meals is to be practised, and that no conversation, even about the subject of the reading, is to be carried on by the brethren, who are to keep silence, using signs if they need anything. The reader is to be appointed for a week, and to enter upon his duties on Sunday. Ile is to be allowed a little food before beginning his task, lest he should become faint, and is to finish his meal afterwards along with the kitcheners and waiters. And the readers are not to take turns of duty in order, but only such persons are to be appointed as can discharge the office satisfactorily. Chapters xxxix. and xl. prescribe the daily rations of food and drink. Two meals are allowed, consisting of two cooked dishes (pulmentaria), to permit a choice of food, lest one or other dish should be unsuitable to any one, and a third dish of fruit or young vegetables is granted as an occasional addition. A pound of bread is to be served out daily for each, though the abbot is empowered to increase the rations of such as had extra hard work to do ; while the rations of children are to be proportionably diminished, and flesh-meat is forbidden to all except the sick and weak, but there is no prohibition of any flesh save that of four-footed beasts, thus leaving the use of poultry, eggs, and fish optional. One pint of wine daily is allowed to each monk, but the hesitation with which this is conceded is noteworthy ; and, while the prior is empowered to increase the allowance if he judge it well, the brethren are told that voluntary abstinence is the best course, and that where a house is too poor to provide wine those debarred from it are not to murmur. Chapter xli. prescribes the hours for meals at differen t seasons of the year, care being taken that both meals shall be taken by daylight, without used of lamps. Chapter xlii. directs the monks to assemble in the evening for a reading, preferably of the Collations of Cassias, followed by compline, after which silence is to be strictly observed, save for some necessary cause. Chapters xliii.-xlvi. impose penalties for minor breaches of rule, such as coming late to prayers or meals. Chapter xlvii. gives some further directions as to Divine service, throwing on the abbot or his deputy the responsibility of notifying the hour for it, and provides that no incompetent person shall be set to chant or read. Chapter xlviii., although brief, is one of the most important and characteristic in the rule. It is on daily manual labour, and begins with the pithy axiom, " Idleness is an enemy of the soul" (Otiositas inimiea cut anima). It proceeds to enjoin that the brethren are to distribute the time not already taken up with prayer, meals, and sleep, into periods of manual labour or devout reading. From Easter till the 1st October they are to work from prime till the fourth hour. From the fourth till nearly the sixths hour they are to read. On rising from mealtime after the sixth hour they are to rest in silence on their beds - the familiar siesta of warm countries - but those who prefer to read may do so, provided they disturb no one. Noses are to be said about the middle of the eighth hour (2.30 P.M.), and then work is to be resumed till evening. From the 1st October till the beginning of Lent they are to read till the second hour, then to say terse, after which to work till the ninth hour. At the ninth hour they are to leave off work, and after their meal to road spiritual books or the Psalms. In Lent they are to read from the morning till the third hour, then to work till the end of the tenth hour. And every one is to have a book given out to him from the library at the beginning of Lent, which he is to read through ; while two senior brethren are to go the rounds during reading hours to see that the monks are actually reading, and neither lounging nor gossiping. On Sundays all are to read throughout the day, except such as have special duties to discharge ; and if there be any who either cannot or will not read or meditate, some task to keep them from idling is to be assigned them. Sickly and delicate brethren are to be given light work, suitable to their health. Chapter xlix. suggests, without commanding, the adoption of some voluntary self-denial dimming Lent, to be undertaken with the abbot's approval only, - austerities without such sanction being denounced as vainglorious. Chapter 1. directs that brethren who work at a distance, so as to be unable to attend common prayer, are to recite the office where they may happen to be. Chapter li. prescribes that monks sent on an errand, and expecting to return the same day, are not to eat while out, unless they have special leave from the abbot. Chapter Iii. gives a few directions as to behaviour in the oratory. Chapter liii. contains rules for the entertainment of guests. The most noteworthy provisions are that the abbot is licensed to break his fast with the guests, unless on a church fast-day, in order to bear them company at meal-times ; that the kitchen for the abbot and guests is to be separate from the general kitchen, and served by the same two brethren for a year, to insure that no additional labour may fall on the ordinary kitcheners through the unexpected arrivals of strangers needing to be fed ; that the guest-room be entrusted to a brother (the hospitaller), and that no monk shall speak to or mix with the guests unless by special appointment - a very salutary regulation, in view of the miscellaneous rout of visitors likely to apply for food and shelter. Chapter liv. forbids monks to receive letters, tokens, or gifts, even from their nearest kin, without the abbot's permis.- sion, or to give any such things to another ; and the abbot is empowered to transfer presents to some person other than him for whom they were intended. Chapter lv. prescribes the dress, and, with Benedict's usual good sense, leaves it wholly in the abbot's discretion to provide clothing suitable to the climate and locality, merely ruling that in temperate places a cowl and tunic, thick in winter and thin in summer, with a scapular (a sleeveless woollen garment passed over the head, and falling down over the breast and hack) for work hours, as also shoes and stockings, all of the ordinary country make and cheapest kind, shall suffice. Each monk is to have a change of these garments, to allow of washing, and yet another for use when sent on a journey, to be of rather better materials, and to be kept in the general wardrobe when not in actual wear. The old clothes arc to be given up when new ones are served out, and are to be laid by in the wardrobe for the poor. A straw mattress, blanket, quilt, and pillow are to be furnished for each bed ; and in addition the abbot is to give every monk a knife, a pen, a needle, a handkerchief, and tablets. Chapter lvi. rules that the abbot is to take his meals with the guests and strangers, with the privilege, if guests be few, of inviting any of the brethren he chooses, so long as some seniors are left in charge. Chapter lvii. prescribes that craftsmen amongst the brethren are to work with the abbot's permission, and if their work is to be for sale, those who are entrusted with making the bargains are to deal honestly with purchasers, and to sell rather below the current trade price. Chapter lviii. lays down the rules for the admission of new members. It is not to be made too easy. The postulant is to be allowed to knock for entrance in vain for four or five days, then to be brought into the guest-room for a few days more, and so be transferred to the novice-house, where he is to remain under the charge of a senior monk for two months. If he persevere at the end of this time, the rule is to be read over to him, and the option of departing or remaining is to be offered. If he persevere, he is returned to the novice-house for six months' further probation, after which the rule is again read to him as before, and yet a third time after a further term of four months. Not till he has surmounted this final ordeal can he he admitted into the community, and before that is done he must divest himself of his property, either giving it to the poor, or making a deed of gift to the monastery. Then he is allowed to sign the act of profession, including the vow of stability, which he is to lay with his own hand on the altar. Chapter fix. provides for the dedication of young children, noble or poor, by their parents to the monastic life, and requires a promise from the latter never to endow the oblate with any property, directly or in trust, though they may give to the monastery if they please and reserve the life-income to themselves. Chapter ix. regulates the position of priests who desire to live in the monastery. They are to enjoy no relaxations or priority in virtue of their ecclesiastical rank, though the abbot may assign clerical functions to them ; and a somewhat like rule is laid down for clerks in minor orders. Chapter lxi. provides for the reception of strange monks as guests, and for their admission if desiring to join the community. The abbot is enjoined to listen to any criticisms such a guest may offer, and is empowered to give him, if accepted as a new member, higher standing than that of his entrance, but is forbidden so to admit a monk of any known monastery without the consent or letters commendatory of its abbot. Chapter lxii. rules that the abbot may choose a monk for ordination as priest or deacon ; but the ordinee is to rank in the house from the date of his admission, except when officiating, or if the community and the abbot single him out for promotion by merit. If he misbehave, he is to be reported to the bishop, and if continuing to misconduct himself, shall be expelled, - only, however, in case of obstinate disobedience to the rule. Chapter lxiii. lays down rules for the gradation of rank in the community, and warns the abbot against arbitrary government. Chapter lxiv. allows the abbot to be chosen either by the common consent of the whole community, or by a select electoral committee ; and the lowest in standing may be chosen, if lit. In the event of a bad choice, the bishop of the diocese, the neighbouring abbots, or even the neighbouring laity, if having reason to think the election made for the purpose of keeping up abuses, may annul it and appoint another superior. Chapter lxv. speaks of the mischief occasioned in many monasteries by the rivalry of the provost or prior with the abbot, and advises that no such officer be appointed ; yet, if the circmnstances of the place need one, the abbot may name a brother to the post, but lie is to be as entirely subject to the abbot as any other monk, and may be admonished, deposed, or expelled for misconduct. Chapter lxvi. directs the appointment of a porter to answer at the gate, and further recommends that every house shall have its own well, mill, garden, bakery, and handicraftsmen, to avoid the need of intercourse with the outer world. Chapter lxvii. directs that no monk shall quit the cloister without leave of the abbot, and that, on the return of any from a journey, they are to beg the prayers of the community for any faults they have committed during their absence, and are forbidden to speak of what they have heard or seen outside. Chapter lxviii. bids a monk who has received a hard or impossible command to undertake it patiently and obediently. If he find it beyond his powers, he may mention the cause quietly to his superior ; and, if the command is still persisted iii, he must obey as best he can. Chapter lxix. forbids monks to uphold or defend one another in the monastery, even their nearest of kin. Chapter lxx. forbids striking or excommunicating another, without the abbot's authority, and provides that children, until fifteen, shall be subject to discipline from all the monks ; but any who shall chastise those above fifteen without the abbot's leave, or be unduly severe towards the younger, shall be himself punishable by rule. Chapter lxxi. lays down that the principle of obedience is to prevail throughout the community, not only towards the abbot, or his officers, but from the juniors towards their seniors. Chapter lxxii. is a brief exhortation to zeal ; and chapter lxxiii. a note to the effect that the Benedictine rule is not offered as an ideal of perfection, or even as equal to the teachings of Cassian and I3asil, but for mere beginners in the spiritual life, who may thence proceed further.
It has been necessary to make this detailed analysis of the rule, because no mere summary of its general scope conveys an adequate notion of it ; and it plays so important a part in the history of European civilization that it is expedient to obtain a clear idea of its details as well as of its main outlines. The first peculiarity in it meriting attention is the absence of any severe austerities. Plain and bare as the food and lodging appear if tested by modern notions, yet it is to be remembered that what is called " comfort " is a wholly recent idea, and even still scarcely familiar, it may almost be said, out of Great Britain and its colonies. The scale of living appointed by the rule secures a greater abundance of the necessaries of life, not only than was at all common amongst the Italian poor of the Gth century, but than is to be found amongst the humbler peasantry of any European country at the present day ; while even the excluded superfluities entered but little into the habits of any save the very wealthy. Next, high thinking - the highest thought of the time - was united with this plain living, as the considerable stress laid upon reading attests. To this part of the code is due the great service performed by the Benedictines, both in the erection of schools, and in the preservation of almost all the remains of ancient Latin literature which have come down to us. It made it not only possible but easy for them to become a learned order, and it is a very imperfect estimate of the stride forward in this provision which Milinan makes, when he views the injunctions as to reading in the mere light of expedients to fill up time somehow. If it were so, the hours for reading would have been fewer, shorter, and more occasional, merely rounding off the intervals between times of labour; but they are just as prominent and nearly as long as these. It is true that Benedict, whose own education had been abruptly broken off by his early retreat from Rome, did not specifically enjoin the pursuit of learning on his monks; but they borrowed the idea at once from his contemporary, the celebrated Cassiodorus, the real founder of monastic learning, of which his monastery of Viviers in Bruttium is the first known school. But the most valuable feature of the rule is the position of dignity which it assigns to work. It is scarcely possible to realize at the present day the dishonour into which toil of all kinds had sunk in the days of Benedict. Not only had the institution of slavery degraded many kinds of occupation, but the gradual disappearance from Italy of the yeoman class, ruined and exiled by the concentration of great estates (latifundia), or slain in the ceaseless battles of competitors for empire or of barbarian invaders, left few save serfs and bondsmen to till the soil, while the military habits of the invading tribes led them to contemn any life except that of a warrior. It is the special glory of Benedict that be taught the men of his day that work, sanctified by prayer, is the best thing which man can do, and the lesson has never been wholly lost sight of since.
The new institute spread with even more astonishing rapidity than the earlier monachism which it practically supplanted. in the West, and its history thenceforward is, with one important exception, that of Western conventual , life .for some centuries. Moreover, besides marking the ( close of the first or tentative era of monachism, when all kinds of crude essays and experiments were being made, and being itself the beginning of a new and settled order, it has the distinction of giving greater dignity and weight to the female side of monachism than had been the rule previously. Numerous and crowded as convents for women were in the early church, there is little evidence of their exercising any powerful influence as a factor in the practical religious life of the time, and though a few individual women of eminence, a Euphrosyne or a Macrina, illustrate the annals of the common life in the East, yet as a class the Basilian nuns do not play at all so important a part in ecclesiastical history as the spiritual descendants of Scholastica, sister of Benedict; for the same flexibility and comparative gentleness of his rule which made it healthier for men than its precursors were still more effective when dealing with the more sensitive organization of women. Accordingly, the Benedictine nuns offer a far greater variety of type than their Eastern sisters, and exerted a much more visible influence upon society, even before those newer forms of the organization of women's work in the church were devised which have given it much additional importance. Further, whereas the most serious and well-founded objection alleged against monachism is that by parting large companies of men and women irrevocably from each other, and treating this severance as an indispensable condition of the highest kind of life, it has tended to throw discredit on marriage and the family, and so to weaken society, which is based on family life alone, a strong counter-plea can be put in for the Benedictines. Not merely are they free, as already remarked, from the anti-social tendencies of Oriental monachism, which actually did disintegrate society in Egypt, but their institute was the one corrective in the early Middle Ages of those habits and ideas which tended to degrade the position of women. The cloister was not alone the single secure shelter for women who had no strong arm to rely on ; but it provided the only alternative profession to marriage, and that one recognized by public opinion as of even higher distinction, and opening to women positions of substantial rank and authority, less precarious than the possession of temporal estates, which might only serve to attract cupidity, and so invite attack. The abbess of a great Benedictine house was more than the equal of the wife of any save a very great noble ; and, as single women were thus not obliged to look to wedlock as the only path to safety and consequence, they were enabled to mate on more equal terms, and were less likely to be viewed as the mere toys or servants of the stronger sex.
But the special eminence of the Benedictines, in which they were without even the semblance of rivalry till the Jesuits arose, is that they were a missionary, civilizing, and educational body. It is true that the first successful efforts to convert the barbarian conquerors of the empire somewhat precede their entrance on that field of labour, and 151fila amongst the M■eso-Goths, Valentinus in Bavaria, and Sever-inns in Austria had achieved much even before Benedict was born ; but their work needed to be taken up on a larger scale, and by a permanent organization not liable to be imperilled by the death of any one missionary or group of missionaries. And the task of laying the very foundations of civilized society, apart from the question of religious conversion, was as yet quite unessayed. It was as teachers of what for those times was scientific agriculture, as drainers of fens and morasses, as clearers of forests, as makers of roads, as tillers of the reclaimed soil, as architects of durable and even stately buildings, as exhibiting a visible type of orderly government, as establishing the superiority of peace, over war as the normal condition of life, as students in the library which the rule set up in every monastery, as the masters in schools open not merely to their own postulants but to the children of secular families also, that they won their high place in history as benefactors of mankind. No doubt there was another side to this picture, even before the order began to deteriorate collectively ; but the good actually effected far exceeded the evils which may have accompanied it. The Benedictine institute was carried to Sicily by Placidus in 534 ; to France by Maurus, Simplicius, and their companions in 543 ; to Spain at a somewhat later and uncertain date ; but did not touch any of the Teutonic countries till the very end of the century. That 'm work was chiefly accomplished by another agency, that of t the Celtic monks, themselves disciples of a Christianity presumably carried to Ireland from Gaul, and following a rule seemingly adapted from that of Pachomius. The early history and constitution of Irish and Scottish monachism are too obscure to be set down with any confidence, but it is at least clear that it was mainly tribal in organization, and even less subject to episcopal authority than the Eastern and Italian forms. The same holds good of the Welsh communities which survived the Saxon invasions of Britain. Legend is abundant, trustworthy record is scanty, and only a few facts can be rescued from oblivion. Amongst them may be included the introduction into Scotland of a species of monachism resembling that of Augustine, by Ninian, first missionary of the southern Picts, who borrowed his institute from Martin of Tours, and set up a cathedral, a house of canons, and a school of learning at Whithorn (CaNdicla Casa) in Galloway before the close of the 4th century, himself dying, it is thought, about 432 (2Elred, Yit. Kin.). The foundation of the second model of Welsh monachism (the first has gone below the horizon of history) is ascribed to the bishops Germanus of Auxerre, and Lupus of Troyes, who visited Britain in 429 to combat the prevalent Pelagianism, itself a form of opinion due to a British monk. They are alleged to have been, directly or through their disciples, founders of great monasteries and schools at Hentland on the Wye, at Llantwit, Llancarvan, Docwinni, Bangor, Whitland, &c. ; while among the more famous names connected with these and similar houses may be mentioned Asaph, David, Mut, Dubric, Cadoc, Gildas the Wise, and Kentigern, the last-named being a zealous missionary. But Ireland was the true stronghold of Celtic monachism, and before the close of the 5th century was already thickly planted with religious houses. Armagh, Clonard, Aran, Lismore, Cluain-ednech, Clonfert, and, above all, I3enchor or Bangor, the famous abbey of Comgall, on the coast of Down, near the entrance of Belfast Lough, are some of the more conspicuous foundations ; and there are numberless stories recorded of the learning, the austerities, and the miracles of their inmates. The chief interest they have for the student of ecclesiastical history lies rather, however, in the colonies they sent forth than in their home operations, and it is to the great foundation of Columba (521-597) at Iona, time hive of missions and home of Western learning, more than to any Irish monastery, except Bangor, that time Celtic raid on heathenism is mainly due. The rule of Columba' resembles the Benedictine in prescribing three kinds of employment - prayer, work, and reading ; while under the last-named head not only Scripture but all attainable secular learning was included, and it is also certain that the work of copying MSS. in a careful and beautiful fashion, which became so important a part of monastic occupation, reached maturity first at Iona. It remains only to say in this connexion that the discipline of Iona, apparently borrowed from Irish use, made the abbot supreme, not merely over his monks, as in other rules, but over bishops also, whose office was simply that of ordaining such as were to be promoted to holy orders ;1 they had no territorial jurisdiction as rulers, because the monastery, not the diocese, was the primary local unit in Celtic Christianity, and thus a great founder or abbot was of more account and power than a bishop. Another famous pupil of Irish monachism, Columbanus, trained at Benchor along with his companion Gallus, exercised a powerful influence on the religious life of his time (543-615), not only as the founder of important monasteries at Luxeuil, Fontenay, and Bobbio, and as scholar and missionary, but also as the author of a rule, more severe both in its provisions and in its penalties than the Benedictine, with which it disputed for a considerable time the first place, and which it might very probably have displaced, had not the Benedictine institute, as of Italian origin, found that favour at Rome which a Celtic code, bearing more than one trace of divergence from Latin usages, could scarcely expect. With the mention of another prominent name in the list of distinguished Celtic reformers and missionaries, that of Fursey, abbot of Lagny near Paris (c. 650), we close this sketch of the Celtic movement in the 6th and 7th centuries, merely adding that its extent and influence may be partly estimated from the number of monasteries founded in England and various parts of the Continent by Irish monks, and the list of Celtic saints recoverable from the different martyrologies and similar records. The former amount to more than one hundred ; the latter to nearly three hundred.
Returning to the Benedictines, the most important event in their history after the consolidation of their institute was the favour they received from Gregory the Great, himself once a monk, who set himself to reform monastic discipline, then at a very low ebb save where the new foundation was at work. He enacted several regulations for the better government of monasteries, such as prohibiting the admission of any persons under eighteen, exacting two years' novitiate, enforcing inclosure, visiting relinquishment of monachism with imprisonment for life, and finally, in the Lateran synod of 601, exempting monasteries in all cases from the jurisdiction of bishops (a measure due, it appears, to episcopal misconduct and oppression rather than to monastic ambition), thereby abolishing the measure of control which the eighth canon of Chalcedon and the legislation of Justinian I. in 535 had left in the hands of the diocesan, and leaving only the still surviving check, that the bishop's consent was required for the erection of any new monastery. The mission of the monk Augustine to England in 596 was, however, destined to produce more immediate and fortunate results than this piece of legislation. It brought Latin monachism into a part of Britain whence Welsh monachism had been long extirpated, and though little success attended the original foundation at Canterbury, yet two other houses were destined to be the cradles of great things. Jarrow-on-Tyne, founded by Benedict Biscop, trained the illustrious Bede, to whom is due the monastic school of York, which in its turn sent out Alcuin to reconstitute European learning under the fostering hand of Charlemagne; Nutcell in Hampshire reared Boniface to be the apostle of Germany, and founder of one of the most celebrated and powerful monasteries of the Middle Ages, that of Fulda. Nevertheless, decline set in very soon, and the 8th century was a time of deterioration amongst both the seculars and the regulars. To amend the former, Chrodegang, bishop of Metz, instituted in 760 an order of Canons Regular, living by a rule carefully based on and' adapted from the Benedictine, with the bishop as abbot, the archdeacon as prior, and with a general likeness in all the details of community life, except that there was no obligation to poverty, and the canons were allowed to enjoy any private property and such fees as they might receive for the performance of religious rites. This rule became extremely popular, was sanctioned by the council of Aix-la-Chapelle in 816, and was adopted in most cathedrals of France, Germany, and Italy within fifty years after, besides making some way in England also. It prevailed till the institute of the Austin Canons was substituted for it. And, as regards the laxity amongst regulars at this time, there is extant a very interesting letter from Bede addressed to Ecgberht, archbishop of York, calling his attention to the excessive number of monasteries in northern England which were conducted without a rule, and were often merely fictitious institutions, founded by laymen with the object of obtaining charters of privilege which would exempt them from civil and military burdens, - such laymen then assuming, without warrant, the title and powers of abbots, and filling their houses either with monks expelled from their own societies, or with lay retainers induced to receive the tonsure and promise obedience. Bede calls on the archbishop to convene a synod and institute a visitation for the correction of these abuses. The cause of the decline of the monasteries is to be sought in their popularity, which brought them great estates and other kinds of wealth, leading to the relaxation of the vow of poverty, which was interpreted as merely forbidding individual property ; in the growth of pluralities ; and in yet another cause which at first does not seem to lead in the same direction - the growing custom of ordaining monks, hitherto laymen, to fit them better for missionary work. But this led, not only to much more intercourse with the society of a lax and turbulent age than suited with claustral rules, but to ambition, as it became customary to fill several sees with monks from certain abbeys. The declension, notably in the habits of the superiors of wealthy houses, had become very marked, when a reformer arose in the person of a second Benedict, of Aniane in the modern department of the Horault (750-821), who, in gratitude for an escape from drowning in the Ticino in 774, adopted the monastic life, and changed his name Witiza to that of the great Nursian monk. But he accounted the Benedictine rule too easy, and adopted instead the severest practices of Eastern monachism. He quitted the house of Seine, where he had been professed, and betook himself with a couple of companions to Aniane, where by 782 he had built a monastery for a thousand monks, with dependent cells, and collected a considerable library, paying special attention to the acquisition of the rules of the different monastic bodies both of East and West. He was transferred by his warm patron, the emperor Louis the Pious, to an abbey built for him near Aix-la-Chapelle, whence he acted as in some sense a superior-general and inspector of all the Benedictine houses, and drew up a harmony of all the rules he had collected to aid him in the task of reform. What he actually effected was the practical abolition of most of the competing codes, so as to leave the Benedictine in nearly sole possession, and to procure the enactment of a large body of canons in the council of Aix-la-Chapelle before mentioned, which laid down detailed provisions for the government of monasteries, whose very minuteness made them vexatious and ultimately intolerable, so that the reform lasted scarcely two generations from its inception. Parallel with the time of declension and partial reform just described was the rise and decay of the noble and far-sighted school-system projected by Charlemagne, and entrusted to the superintendence of Alcuin. Its relation to monachism as distinguished from the history of education, is that one of its main features was the capitulary of 789, which directed that, besides the primary school attached to each monastery, all the more important houses were to found and open secondary ones also, with a higher range of subjects, even if such schools were interior or claustral, and only for the junior monks and novices, not exterior and free to the general public. Several of these schools rose to considerable efficiency and repute, notably those of Fulda, St Gall, Tours, and Rheims, discharging to some extent the functions of universities. But the weakness of the later Carolings involved this plan in the troubles which ended in the break-up of the empire of the Franks, and the 10th century saw the end of it. In England monachism shared the common destiny of decay. It had been marked during the period known as the Heptarchy by a degree of royal favour unparalleled elsewhere; for it may almost be said that the number of kings, queens, and persons of royal race who here betook themselves voluntarily to the cloister - and not under political compulsion, as often in contemporary France - exceeds the aggregate of those in all other countries. Yet it is likely that the fashion set in this wise helped to hasten decay, by inducing many persons to adopt the monastic life with little taste for its restrictions; and it is certain that secularity (chiefly manifesting itself in costly dress), riotousness, and drinking had become frequent amongst the English monks of the 8th and the early part of the 9th century. The decay was further precipitated by the spread of the institute of Chrodegang, which thinned the supply of recruits to monachism proper, as the easier life of canons regular was preferred. The same cause affected the convents of nuns, for an order of canonesses was established about this time on similar lines. The one bright spot in the history of 9th century monachism is the conversion of Sweden by Anskar, a monk trained in the famous house of Old Corbie in Picardy, which, albeit Benedictine, had been mainly planted by a colony from the stricter Columbanian house of Luxeuil, and had thus kept the traditions of a purer time almost unimpaired.
The 10th century - emphatically the " Dark Age " or "Age of Lead " - was the time when monachism, both in East and West, touched its lowest point. Three causes contributed to this in the West : - first may be placed the raids of the Northmen ; next, the growth of the feudal system, converting abbots into secular lords in virtue of the lands held by their monasteries being chargeable with feudal obligations ; and lastly, the seizure and impropriation of monastic revenues by kings, princes, and bishops. The last of these causes was at work in the East also, further complicated, as we learn from the decrees of a council held at Constantinople in 861, by the foundation of monasteries intended from the first merely as sources of pecuniary advantage to the founders; although the success of Greek monks in the conversion of Bulgaria, Moravia, and, somewhat later, southern Russia, showed that the cloister had not become quite effete even under the conditions of the Byzantine empire in that era.
What the state of things was in the West, even at the outset of the 10th century, may be learned from the language of the council of Trosley, near Soissons, in 909. It speaks of the ruin of many abbeys by the heathen, and of the disorderly condition of many which survived. Monks abandon their profession ; married lay abbots, with guards and hunting retinue, occupy the cloisters of monks, canons, and nuns ; and the rules are universally disregarded. But, as constantly before, so then, reformers were at hand. Berno first abbot of Cluny in France, Dunstan in England, and, somewhat later, Anno archbishop of Cologne in Germany, undertook, and to a considerable extent effected, the work of reform. Only the first of these, however, calls for special notice here ; and it will suffice to say that Berno, after having been abbot of Beaume, was set by William the Pious, duke of Aquitaine, over his new foundation of Cluny in 910, where he speedily initiated a reform of the Benedictine rule, whose very name, and even the memory of the reforms of Benedict of Aniane, had been forgotten in nearly all the so-called religious houses of the time. This new rule is the first example of the establishment of an order within an already existing order, of which it still formed part, many subsequent instances of which occur later. It was stricter than the original code in several particulars, notably as regards fasting and silence ; and it laid especial stress on liturgical splendour. Cluny became the head of a large number of dependent houses, and, under the government of Berno's successors, Odo, Aymard, Majolus (who refused the papacy), Odilo, and Hugh I., rose to great eminence, but was nearly brought to ruin by Pontius, abbot in 1109, who was soon deposed, and succeeded by Hugh II., and then by Peter the Venerable, who completed the work of drafting the statutes of the new order, begun long before, but not finished, by his predecessors. In his time (1093-1156) the Cluniacs spread over not only the whole of France, but had houses in Italy, Spain, England, Palestine, and in Constantinople itself, and the "Arch-Abbot," as he was called, had more than 300 churches, colleges, and monasteries under his authority. It is enough to say, with regard to Dunstan's reforms in England, that they were directed to two objects: the substitution of monks for secular canons, and the introduction of the Benedictine rule, till then practically unknown in England, into the monasteries, - for the monachism introduced by Augustine belonged to an earlier type.
The 11th century is noticeable for several events in the history of monachism; first of which stands the foundation of the Order of Camaldoli by Romuald, early in the 11th century, a strict community of hermits, living by the system of an Eastern Laura of detached cells; but this society has never been of much importance. The Order of Vallombrosa, founded by John Gualbert in 1039, is more remarkable, as being the first to introduce the grade of " lay-brothers," which plays so large a part in later monastic annals, - the object being at once to open the cloister to a class previously barred by the obligation to recite the office in choir, which necessitated a certain degree of education, and to lighten the strain on the choir-brethren by relegating the rough work of the monastery to an inferior grade of inmates, thus securing more time for reading and meditation for the cultured monks. A series of struggles between bishops and abbots in this century in respect of monastic jurisdiction - the practice having constantly vacillated in despite of Gregory the Great's decision 400 years earlier - issued mainly, though not wholly, in favour of exemption, and the reforms pushed everywhere rehabilitated monachism in popularity. The great stimulus given to the spirit of ecclesiastical discipline and energy by the Hildebrandine movement continued not only during the reign of Gregory VII., but for a considerable time after : amongst its results were the Order of Grammont, founded in 1074, but not transferred to the place whence it is named till 1124; the far more celebrated and influential Carthusians, a peculiarly ascetic community, established by Bruno at the Chartreuse, near Grenoble, in 1084, which still boasts that it is the only order which has never been reformed on the ground of deviation from its original institute ; and the Order of Fontevraud, founded for both monks and nuns (more strictly, canons and canonesses) by Robert of Arbrissel in 1100. Regarding the last named two remarkable facts may be cited : that the founder in 1115 entrusted the superior-generalship of the whole institute to the abbess of the nuns ; and that he provided that new abbesses should always be elected from secular women, as having more practical knowledge of affairs and capacity for administration than women trained in a cloister. There is yet one order more belonging to this period of new foundations, of higher note than most - that of the Cistercians, founded by Robert of Molesme in 1098 at Citeaux, near Dijon. This society, chiefly famous as that to which Bernard of Clairvaux belonged, carried its asceticism into a region whence the other monastic bodies had banished it, that of Divine service. The barest simplicity in buildings, church furniture, and worship was enjoined by the rule : plain linen or fustian vestments, iron chandeliers, brass or iron censers, no plate save a chalice and a tube (and those of silver rather than of gold), no pictures, stained glass, or images, and only a few crosses of painted wood, and the most rigid simplicity in chanting, - such was the ceremonial code with which they challenged the costly ritual of Cluny. A more durable innovation was the institution of " General Chapters," to which every abbot of a Cistercian house had a right to be summoned to share in the deliberations held at the chief establishment, and which he was even bound to attend, that, while each dependent house thus obtained a representation in the parliament of the order, it could be called on to render to the central authority an account of its own doings. The Austin Canons, already mentioned, were probably founded at Avignon about 1061, and the Order of Premontre by Norbert in 1120. This society was simply a stricter body of Austin Canons, standing towards them much as Cluny did to the Benedictines. But there are yet two other institutes of this active period which differ from all previous foundations. So far, the new orders are merely modifications, more or less sweeping, of the original Egyptian system, but the crusades gave birth to two entirely unprecedented forms of monachism : - the Military Orders, of which the most celebrated are the Templars, the Hospitallers, and the Teutonic Knights ; and convents of women, affiliated to these orders, who were appointed to serve in the lazar-houses, hospitals, and similar institutions attached to them, and whose rule, for the first time in monastic history, was drawn up on a distinctly active and not a contemplative basis. Work of the sort had been done long before, but only as a casual accident, not as the primary object of a community.
The military orders are in a more accidental fashion than any other variety of monaehism, being due to the desire felt to lessen the perils which attended pilgrimage to Jerusalem, then almost as much part of the religious craving of Christendom as the hajj to Mecca is with devout Moslems. The Templars were at first designed only as an armed escort to protect the visitors from attack, and the idea of permanent guardianship of the Holy Places did not shape itself till later; while the Hospitallers (afterwards famous as Knights of Rhodes and of Malta, as the main bulwark of Christendom against the Turks, and as maintaining the police of the Mediterranean against all pirates and rovers), borrowed the first idea of their institute from the knightly order of St Anthony of Vienne, founded in Dauphine about 1095, and devoted themselves originally to tending sick pilgrims at Jerusalem. The Teutonic Knights date from the third crusade, and owe their foundation to the sufferings of the duke of Swabia's army at the siege of Acre, as it would seem that the Hospitallers were either unable or unwilling to supply the needed assistance. These knights, when at last the Eastern crusades were abandoned, turned their arms against the heathen of Prussia, which they conquered, as also Livonia, Courland, and Pomerania, besides keeping the Slavonic enemies of Germany in check by frequent raids into Lithuania and Poland, holding their ground as a sovereign order for three centuries, till the Reformation brought about their fall. The common characteristic of all these orders was the union of the seemingly incompatible qualities of the monk and the soldier in the same persons, of the convent and the barrack in the same house. But the contrast was not so sharp to media;val eyes as it would be to modern ones ; for while knighthood was surrounded with religious ceremonies and sanctions on the one hand, and on the other the feudal rank of bishops and abbots made them in some sense military chiefs, occasionally even taking the field in person, there was no great difficulty in accepting the permanent combination of what was often found casually united. The military orders passed away when their work was ended : the Templars, as the victims of a great crime, closed by a ghastly tragedy ; the Hospitallers, and those Spanish and Portuguese orders which were enrolled as regiments against the Arab invaders of the Peninsula, though titularly still existing, yet really ceased to be more than a name when the Moslem power in Europe was finally broken. But the active organization of women was a more fruitful germ, and has never since ceased to put forth new developments, varying with the noticed wants of each period. To this epoch belongs also the beginning of that policy of the Roman see of utilizing the monastic orders, won over by special privileges and exemptions, as a body of supporters - almost a militia more to be relied on than the secular clergy, and thereby the seed of conflict between seculars and regulars, destined to work much evil later, was sown, and also the beginning made of that denationalization of monachism which tended from the first to its unpopularity and decay.
It was found that a new order was the best safety-valve for enthusiasm which might become dangerous if discouraged, but which could be made a valuable ally if allowed to take shape in a fresh society, hoping to surpass all its precursors ; and it is worth remarking that the one occasion when this wise policy was departed from, when Peter Waldo vainly sought in 1179 recognition and sanction from Pope Alexander III. for his proposed institute of mission preachers, gave rise to a sect (the Waldenses) which is still existing, and which has given trouble to the Roman Church quite disproportionate to its numbers and influence. The Carmelites, founded by Berthold of Calabria on Mount Carmel about 1180, and incorporated under rule by Albert, Latin patriarch of Jerusalem in 1209, were the last order of importance which sprang up at this time; for the Gilbertines, an English order founded at Sempringham in Lincolnshire in 1148, curious chiefly for their double monasteries for men and women ; the Beguines, c. 1170 (who are, however, notable for their semi-secular and parochial organization, whence many later active bodies have borrowed hints); the Humiliati, c. 1196; and the Trinitarians, for the ransom of captives amongst the Moors and Saracens, founded by John de Matha and Felix de Valois in 1197, never rose to great influence or popularity, though the Semites, an order of the year 1223, became powerful in Italy. This period of rapid multiplication was quickly followed by one of equally rapid decay, the first to show clear tokens of degeneracy being the once rigid Cistercians, who never recovered their old moral footing, and who, it may be mentioned, were accountable for much of that hatred of the Church of the Pale in Ireland by the natives, which, given fresh fuel by the Reformation, has lasted to the present day.' Yet another fresh departure in the history of monachism, in some respects the most momentous of all, was taken in the 13th century by the institution of the Mendicant Orders, constitutions or canons he promulgated at the Lateran council in 1215, had expressly forbidden the foundation of any new orders, bidding all who desired to embrace the monastic life join some approved community, and similarly directing that such as desired to found new houses should take their rule and constitution from one of the recognized societies. But circumstances were too strong for him, and this very pope was destined himself to sanction two of the most remarkable societies which the Latin Church has ever produced. The time was an anxious one. The speculative activity of the age, coupled with the abuses in the church, was multiplying sects, formidable in numbers, and still more from the contrast their austere mode of life presented, not only to that of the secular society of the day, but to that of the ecclesiastics, notably those of rank, whose pomp and luxury gave rise to the first faint stirrings of a revolutionary spirit amongst the commons, which the great pope, who was then the most conspicuous figure in Europe, did not fail to observe. No effectual weapon of resistance seemed at hand ; the parochial clergy, yielding to the difficulties which an isolated rural life throws in the way of intellectual effort (far graver then than even now), had almost everywhere sunk into sloth and incapacity ; the monastic orders were content, in the better instances, with maintaining their own internal discipline, and had no surplus energy for external work, while in the worse examples (as in that of the Cistercians, just referred to) they served rather as beacons of warning than as patterns for imitation ; and, in short, there was an ever-increasing mass of home mission work to be done, and no one to do it.
But the two men who were to do it were already at hand in the persons of Francis Bernardone of Assisi and Dominic Guzman of Osma. The ruling idea in the mind of the former was the elevation of poverty to the first place amongst Christian graces, as the most obvious way of conforming the life of a Christian to that of the founder of his faith ; the more intellectual Spaniard dreamed of an aggressive body of skilfully-trained preachers, able at once to grapple with the subtle dialectic of the enemies of the established creed, and to appeal in clear and homely language to the uneducated, amongst whom the Albigenses and other sectaries were making considerable conquests. Francis, the poet and devotee, in renouncing even the scantiest provision which the strictest orders of his time secured for their members, and bidding his followers to live on alms daily begged, taking, in the most literal sense, no thought for the morrow, appealed to the popular imagination, always ready to kindle at the sight of genuine self-sacrifice ; Dominic, with not less insight as a thinker whose first care was for doctrinal orthodoxy, as that of Francis was for personal piety, saw that there was a demand ready to spring up for more exact and intelligent religious teaching than could then be had, save in a few great cities. The occasion which urged him to the task he undertook is noteworthy. He had long been a canon of Osma, the strictest and sternest member of an ascetic community, when in 1203 he had to go on a journey with his bishop, which brought them into the very midst of the Albigenses in the county of Toulouse, where they saw how powerless the clergy were to contend against their rivals. On their road home the bishop and Dominic met the three papal legates returning discomfited from Languedoc, but attended with as much pomp as a triumphal progress would have justified. Dominic rebuked them sternly, telling them that it was not by splendid retinues and costly garb that the heretics won their converts, but by zealous preaching, by humility, by austerity, and by at least seeming holiness. Both the new founders sought and obtained at Rome, after some difficulty, the approval of their new institutes, and that in the very year 1215 which had seen the formal prohibition of all fresh orders. Francis speedily returned to his home, but Dominic, whose idea had by this time expanded from that of converting merely the Albigenses of Provence and Languedoc to that of influencing the whole world of nominal Christians and outer heathen, settled himself in Rome, where the pope appointed him to the important office of Master of the Sacred Palace, which has ever since been held by a Dominican, and carries with it the authority of chief censorship of the press. The two new foundations borrowed from each other, Francis copying Dominic's scheme of itinerant preachers, and Dominic imposing on his disciples the mendicant poverty of Assisi. These two particulars, the total absence - at any rate at first - of such endowments as had proved a snare to the older societies, and the substitution of itinerancy for inclosurc, are the features which distinguish the friars from the monks who preceded them. The Franciscan institute was a bold attempt to democratize the church ; Dominic's Friar Preachers, though recruited freely from men of a humble grade, have always had somewhat more of an aristocratic tone about them, due to their intellectual calling ; they have held a high place in Christian art, counting amongst them such names as Fra Angelico and Baccio della Porta ; and their reputation for orthodoxy and for a purer type of moral theology than the Jesuit one has always stood high. They also count amongst their members the two most eminent divines of the Middle Ages, Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas, and they have been fruitful in producing zealous missionaries ; but the one great blot on their career is that they have been the directors and officials of the Inquisition ever since the formal constitution of that tribunal as a permanent organization. The Franciscans, less distinguished for mental triumphs than their competitors, have yet some famous names, chief of which are Duns Scotus and Roger Bacon - for Bonaventura, though set by the Franciscans as the "Seraphic Doctor" in competition with Aquinas, the "Angelic Doctor" of the Dominicans, is scarcely entitled to very high intellectual rank - and at one time they seemed likely to establish as firm a hold on the university of Oxford as the Dominicans did on that of Paris. The swiftest success and popularity attended the two new orders ; privileges and exemptions were showered on them from Rome ; wealth, in despite of their vow of mendicancy, was emulously thrust upon them by the laity ; and, above all, a remarkable and widespread religious revival, a dead-lift to ministerial efficiency in every direction, repaid their early labours, while they had between them almost a monopoly of the popedom for nearly two hundred years. And one peculiarity of their organization gave them a -degree of strength which no other orders possessed. Each monastery of the older societies was practically isolated and independent of all others, unless it were itself a dependent priory or cell belonging to a greater house. Some societies had, it is true, general chapters, but these were rare, and at best only effectual in establishing a certain uniformity of practice in all houses of the same rule. But the Friars, like the Templars and Hospitallers of an earlier day, and like the Jesuits of a later one, were enrolled in something of military fashion, under a superior-general, with wide powers, who directed and controlled their actions from one central point. Every group of neighbouring friaries was formed into a congregation, under a local head or provincial, and he was always in direct communication with the general, so that a common government united the whole body into a compact mass. But their very success was fatal to their character. The vow of poverty was the first part of their institute to break down. Even before they began to be counted amongst the richest orders of Christendom, there is indisputable evidence - that of Bonaventura, himself general of the Franciscans - that the mendicant system was working nothing but mischief. He tells us, writing while the order was still very young, and within fifty years of the founder's death, that it was even more entangled in money cares and business concerns than the -endowed communities, precisely because there were no funds available to fall back on in emergencies ; that the brethren, discouraged from work by mendicancy, were habitually idle ; that they roamed about in disorderly fashion under pretext of questing ; that they were such brazen and shameless beggars as to make a Franciscan as much dreaded by travellers as a highwayman ; that they made undesirable acquaintances, thus giving rise to evil reports and scandal ; that conventual offices had to be entrusted to untried, unspiritual, and incompetent brethren ; that vast sums were lavished on costly buildings; and that the friars were greedy in the pursuit of burial fees and of legacies, so that they encroached upon the rights of the parochial clergy. If such were the mischiefs at work before the first zeal had begun to cool, it may readily be gathered how entire was the failure at a later time. Indeed, as regards the Franciscans, not only did they endeavour to evade the stringency of their institute even in their founder's lifetime, but the whole society was soon divided into two hostile camps, one of which desired to adhere closely to the original rule, while the other was content to fall in with the habits of the " possessioners," as they had been wont contemptuously to name the endowed orders. And what is very curious in this connexion is that the friars who were loyal to the principle of poverty broke away for the most part from the church, forming new sects, such as the Fratricelli, or attaching themselves to elder ones, like the Beghards and the Apostolici, which handed on in secret the Gnostic traditions of the third century, apparently stamped out in the crusade against the Albigenses, while those who openly disregarded the will of their founder remained steadfastly in the Latin church. No order, except the Benedictines, has had so many branches and reforms as the Franciscans ; amongst which it will suffice to name the Capuchins, the Minims, the Observants, and the Recollects ; while the Poor Clares, the nuns of the institute, have also divided into Clarissines and Urbanists. The institution of Tertiaries, seculars affiliated to the order as honorary members, while continuing to live in the world, and adopting a certain modified daily rule, was a powerful factor in the success and strength of the order, and was adopted, but with less conspicuous results, by the Dominicans. The rivalry of these two great bodies with each other, prolonged with much bitterness for centuries, and their disputes with the parochial clergy, whom they long displaced in general repute and influence, belong rather to general church history than to the annals of monachism, and may be passed by with this brief allusion ; while it suffices to say that all the support they, and the other less important communities of the same kind, such as the Carmelite and Austin Friars, received from the popes, whose most effective allies they were in every country where their houses were found, was not able to avert their decline in general estimation ; and there is no figure in later mediaival literature on which the vials of contempt and indignation are so freely poured as on the begging friar, and that, it must be said, deservedly.
As the 13th century is the apogee of later monachism, so the decline begins steadily at the very outset of the 14th (which is also the date of ordination becoming the normal custom for choir-monks, instead of the exception, as formerly), continuing down to the crash of the Reformation.1 The great schism of the West, the rise of the Wickliffites and Lollards in England, and of the body later known as Hussites in Bohemia, could not fail to act injuriously on the monastic orders ; and, though the creation of fresh ones continued, none of those founded during this era were influential, and few durable. It will suffice to name some of the more prominent : - the Olivetans in 1313, who were rigid Benedictines ; the nuns of Bridget of Sweden in 1363, who followed a rule compiled from those of Basil and Augustine ; the Hieronymite monks in 1374 ; the Brethren of the Common Life, founded by Gerard Groot in 1376, who did much for education and in home mission work, but are chiefly famous now in virtue of one member of their society, Thomas a Kempis; the Hieronymite Hermits in 1373-1377; the Minims in 1435; the Barnabites, a preaching and educational order, in 1484; the Theatins (a body of Clerks Regular who aimed at little more than raising the tone of clerical life, made but slight pretension to austerity, and are, indeed, mainly noticeable as having suggested to Ignatius Loyola several points which he adopted in regulating the mode of life to be pursued by the members of his institute) in 1524 ; and the Capuchins in 1525.
In the Reformation era itself the monastic bodies had sunk so low in the estimation of even the rulers of the church that one clause in the report of the committee of cardinals appointed by Pope Paul III. (a body composed of Sadolet, Contarini, Reginald Pole, Giberti, Fregoso, B•dia, Aleand.ro, and Caraffa, afterwards Paul IV.), delivered in 1538, was worded as follows : - " Another abuse which needs correction is in the religious orders, because they have deteriorated to such an extent that they arc a grave scandal to seculars, and do the greatest harm by their example. We are of opinion that they should be all abolished, not so as to injure [the vested interests of] any one, but by forbidding them to receive novices ; for in this wise they can be quickly done away with without wrong to any one, and good religious can be put in their place. At present we think the best thing to be done is to dismiss all the unprofessed youths from their monasteries."
As this formal document showed the current of high ecclesiastical opinion, so the lay view took expression in the Epistolx Obscurorum Virontin of Ulrich von Hutten, which was to the Dominicans of the 16th century almost what the Provinciales of Pascal were to the Jesuits of the 17th ; while they came also under the more delicate scalpel of Erasmus's wit. Not that the objections were wholly new, for it is evident from Thomas Aquinas's defence of monachism against its detractors that they were nearly all used in the 13th century. The interests involved were, however, too vast and complicated, the supposed impolicy of an admission on so large a scale of the charges alleged against monachism by the men of the New Learning too serious, to allow of any such sweeping measure of reform as that proposed by the cardinals being carried out. A certain amount of discouragement shown towards the older societies ; the enactment of some partial corrections by the council of Trent, not touching any principle whatever, but apparently saying something because public feeling looked for something to be said ; and, above all, the creation of a new type of order, the famous Company of the JESUITS (1534), represent the total action taken by the Roman Church during the actual crisis of the Reformation. Apart from such direct revolts from the Latin obedience as those in Bern, Zurich, Denmark, and Sweden, which at once involved the monasteries in the general overthrow of the old system of things religious, the most remarkable proceedings in the reaction against monachism were those taken in England, at a time when no breach with the Roman Curia was thought of. So far back as the 13th century Kings John and Edward I., and yet again in 1337 Edward III., had confiscated the "alien priories," as those houses were called which were dependencies of foreign monasteries, and the last named let out their lands and tenements until the peace with France in 1361, when he restored their estates; and similar raids were made on them both in his reign and in that of Richard II. Henry IV. showed them more favour ; but in 1410 the House of Commons proposed the confiscation of all the temporalities held by bishops, abbots, and priors, petitioning the crown to employ their revenues in paying a standing army of knights and soldiers, in augmenting the incomes of some of the nobles and gentry, in endowing a hundred hospitals, and in making small yearly payments to the secular clergy. This fact attests the unpopularity of the church and the religious orders at the time, and, though the large scheme was dropped, yet in 1416 parliament dissolved all the alien priories, and vested their estates in the crown. They were for the most part applied to ecclesiastical purposes ; but some portion, at any rate, passed into private hands, and was permanently alienated. Hence there was nothing to create surprise, much less opposition, when Cardinal Wolsey in 1523 obtained bulls from the pope authorizing the suppression of forty small monasteries and the application of their revenues to educational foundations, on the plea that these lesser houses were quite useless, and not homes of either religion or learning, whereas a learned clergy was imperatively needed to combat the new religious opinions which were making rapid way. And that the monasteries had been subject to serious vicissitudes all along appears from the fact that only about one half of all the foundations known to have been made in England were in existence at the date of the dissolution. There is little reason to trust the charges of immorality brought against the monks when Henry VIII. had once resolved on the pillage of the monasteries, seeing how the path opened by Wolsey could be followed up. The characters of the king himself, of Cromwell, his chief agent in the dissolution, and of Layton, Legh, and others of the visitors appointed to inquire into the condition of the houses, are such as to deprive their statements of all credit ; and, besides, the earlier Act of dissolution, granting the smaller monasteries to the king, limits the charges of misconduct to them, expressly acquitting the larger houses. Nevertheless, when the appetite for plunder had increased with the first taste of booty, accusations of precisely the same sort were brought up against the great monasteries, though in no instance has any verifiable proof been preserved.1 But there can be no reasonable doubt (especially in view of the visitations of Archbishop Warham and other pre-Reformation prelates), that the religious houses, viewed simply as corporate estates, had been very badly managed for a considerable time, were heavily encumbered, and a weight round the neck of financial progress in England ; and that, as spiritual agencies, they had mainly outlived their usefulness, so that, lamentable as were the circumstances of their destruction, and scandalous as was the waste of the property seized, there is little reason to suppose that any practical benefit would have flowed from their continuance, whatever might have been the advantages of an honest and economical measure of reform, or even of transfer to other purposes on the principle of cy pres.2 The negative evidence of the effeteness of the older orders supplied by their very small share in the counter-Reformation, which lay virtually in the hands of the Jesuits alone, is reinforced by the reports made by the emissaries of the new company to their superiors, which attest that the accusations of the German reformers against both the secular and regular clergy on the score of ignorance and dissoluteness were only too well founded. Accordingly several new societies were instituted during the latter half of the 16th century, aiming at putting new wine into the old bottles of the Carmelites, Cistercians, Augustinians, Dominicans, and Benedictines ; but none of them proved of much importance. A larger measure of success attended some established on an active basis, such as the Fathers of Christian Doctrine, a catechizing order erected by Pius V. in 1571 ; two communities for tending the sick, one founded in Italy by Camillo de' Lelli in 1584, the other, the Brothers of Charity, by John of God at Granada in 1538, but not formally sanctioned till 1572 ; and still more prosperity attended the Ursuline Nuns, a community chiefly devoted to the education of young girls, founded at Brescia by Angela de' Merici in 1537, and confirmed by Paul III. in 1544. Yet, with the single exception of the Jesuits, no new society could be said to have laid hold in any degree of the popular mind, nor were the attempts to revivify the elder bodies continued. It remained for two newer still to rehabilitate the waning respect for monachism of all kinds, and that by borrowing one chief feature of the Jesuit organization, the abandonment of that principle of isolation from the outer world which lies at the root of true monachism.3 Of these the first was the Oratory, founded by Philip Neri in 1558, but not approved by authority till 1577, and copied independently by Cardinal de BernIle at Paris in 1611. There were no vows imposed on the members of this society, though they lived under rule, and they employed themselves in doing all kinds of clerical work under episcopal supervision. The Italian house is chiefly celebrated as having included the famous Cardinal Baronius amongst its earliest recruits ; but the French one held a high place in the religious revival of the 17th century, well-nigh rivalling the Benedictines of St Maur in learning (with such representatives as Simon, Thomassin, Morin, and Malebranche), and the reformed Cistercians of Port-Royal in piety, though sharing with the latter the reproach of ,Jansenism. But the second was far more influential, and has been fruitful ever since in the works of its copyists as well as in its own. It was the institute of the Sisters of Charity, established by Vincent de Paul in 1634, on the lines of the ancient community of the Hospitaller Nuns of St Augustine, but with some remarkable modifications, not only in respect of the vows, which were only yearly and inward, but in the spirit of their discipline, as formulated in his own memorable words, - " Your convent must be the houses of the sick ; your cell, the chamber of suffering ; your chapel, the parish church ; your cloister, the streets of the city, or the wards of the hospital ; your rule, the general vow of obedience ; your grille, the fear of God ; your veil to shut out the world, holy modesty." The original scheme of Francis de Sales for the Nuns of the Visitation, founded in 1610, was almost identical ; but the opposition was then far too strong, and he was forced to make them a cloistered community. Vincent's order of Mission Priests, more commonly known as Lazarists, was also a successful and useful institute, though not vying in the extent of its influence with the other, which, as has been implied, has powerfully affected the organization of many of the active communities which have since been formed. No religious body did more to enable French monachism to bear up against the general obloquy it encountered during the 16th, 17th, and early 18th centuries, - a temper on the part of the public due to more than one cause. In the first place, the wars of religion had done much to harden and coarsen the feelings on both sides, and rigid adherence to the extreme positions of Catholics or Huguenots, as the case might be, was set far above any gentler and higher ideas. Next, the monasteries of both sexes had all but universally fallen into the patronage of the crown (in virtue of the concordat of Bologna, between Pope Leo X. and Francis I.), and were jobbed away as apanages for a dissolute nobility, who squandered the revenues, and suffered discipline to become relaxed, often to the generation of serious scandals. This malversation operated in two ways. It made the monasteries hard and bad landlords, grasping closely all the feudal privileges and monopolies which they continued to enjoy, a proceeding which bore hard on the tenants and labourers, so that the monks shared to the full the unpopularity of the nobles (precisely as was the case in Germany, during the Peasants' War of 1525) ; and the evil repute of the cofivents - of whose real character we get at least one trustworthy glimpse in the account of the abbey of Maubuisson which Angelique Arnauld reformed - came home to all the Huguenots and their friends, because both before and after the legal continuance of the edict of Nantes they were used (according to a very early application of monastic houses not yet obsolete) as prisons, where Huguenot women and girls were shut up in order to bring about their conversion, forcibly if necessary, but somehow in any case. And there is evidence to show that the Huguenots resented this policy most bitterly, not only on polemical grounds, but because they were firmly persuaded that the morals of their wives, daughters, and sisters were in no less peril than their faith in such places. When to this sentiment is added the hostility of the Jansenists to the school of opinion which had persecuted them, razed their famous house of Port-Royal, and literally flung the bones of its deceased members to the dogs, it will be easy to judge how powerful were the forces mustering for the overthrow of monaehism, and how little even such stern reforms as De Rance's at La Trappe, which has always had a marked attraction for soldiers, could do towards abating the danger. Nor were there wanting public scandals and cases before the law-courts which helped to fan the rising flames of hatred.' Another cause which contributed much to the decay of discipline and of practical religion in monasteries of both sexes was the custom which prevailed throughout the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, of disposing of the younger members of poor but noble families in the cloister as a safe and reputable provision, without any regard to the vocation of those so dedicated, and merely because the sum which sufficed to secure permanent admission was much smaller than that necessary to purchase a commission or public office for a son, or to provide an adequate dowry for a daughter.2 At the Revolution, the religious houses, amounting (without reckoning various minor colleges and dependent establishments) to 820 abbeys of men and 255 of women, with aggregate revenues of 95,000,000 livres„ were suppressed by the laws of 13th February 1790 and i 18th August 1792. In Germany the storm had broken somewhat earlier, if not quite so violently. The Thirty Years' War had wrought much mischief to not a few of the religious houses, without taking into account the great number which had been destroyed in the territories of the Protestant princes ; and when the death of Maria Theresa in 1780 left her son Joseph II. free to act as he pleased, he dissolved the Mendicant orders, and suppressed, in despite of the personal remonstrances of PiusVI., the greater number of monasteries and convents in his dominions. In Italy, despite the multiplication of new institutes, the process of decay continued throughout the 17th century, and one most remarkable testimony to the fact appears in the report of the Venetian ambassadors at Rome in 1650 to their government of an interview they had with Pope Alexander VII.
"The Pontiff . . . began by saying that for some time past the Apostolic See, considering not the abundance only, but the superfluity of religious institutes, had become convinced that some of them, degenerating from the first design of their founders, had lapsed into a total relaxation of discipline, and that it was just as advisable for the church as for the laity to adopt the expedients used by wise husbandineu when they see that the multitude of branches has impoverished their vines instead of making them more fruitful. That a beginning had been made in that matter by suppressing sonic orders ; but this was not enough. . . . A great 'limber of very small convents had been suppressed, . . . and it was proposed to continue the work by proceeding to the final abolition of certain others which, by their licentious mode of life, fined the world with scandal and murmurs. . . . That be proceeded slowly, because lie desired, in a matter of so much importance, to obtain the good-will of the secular princes. . . ." The remarks closed with a recommendation to the republic of Venice to suppress the canons of San Spirito and the Cruciferi in their city, and to apply their revenues towards defraying the cost of the war in Candia. (Ranke, Die Rem. Pdpste, App. No. 129.) But the policy thus indicated was not carried out by Alexander VIL's successors, and there is evidence that things did not mend as time went on. The emperor Francis I., in his character of grand-duke of Tuscany, caused an edict to be published at Florence in 1751, forbidding the clergy to acquire property in mortmain, and issued together with it a paper of instructions pointing out the grave social disadvantages of enriching artificial families, such as convents, colleges, and the like, at the expense of natural families. And the menace implied in these documents was carried into operation by the suppression of several convents of nuns, for which the reluctant consent of the pope (Benedict XIV.) was extorted. When Francis died in 1765, and was succeeded in Tuscany by his brother Peter Leopold, the latter began his reign with what may be styled a formal act of war against the Roman Curia, by declaring the bull In Cana Domini null and void in Tuscany, and forbidding its recognition or publication there. At once he was beset with appeals from priests and nuns, calling his attention to several grave abuses in the church, and notably to moral scandals of the most serious kind in the convents of nuns, especially those under the direction of the Dominicans, accusations which were fortified with full details of time and place. The result was that Leopold caused a scheme of ecclesiastical reform to be drawn up in 1770, containing stringent enactments for the abatement of monachism, for the suppression of all small convents of mendicants, and for the exclusion of monks and friars from the direction of nunneries, which were to be subject in all spiritual matters to the ordinaries only. And the Jansenist bishop of Pistoia and Prato, Scipio de' Ricci, upon entering on his diocese in 1780, at once began to inquire into the scandals which raged in the Dominican nunneries of his jurisdiction, especially in Pistoia,' the result being that lie excommunicated the Dominican friars, and prohibited them from officiating. The pope at that time was Pius VI., an ardent devotee, warmly in favour of monachisin generally, and of the lately suppressed Jesuits in particular, so that he took up the cause of the friars (though their evil repute had prevailed for 150 years), and issued a brief of censure against Ricci. He laid it before the grand-duke, who wrote a strong remonstrance, accompanied with proofs furnished by Ricci, and informed the pope that unless the brief were promptly withdrawn, and the convents obliged to submit to the ordinary's jurisdiction, he would himself reform at his own discretion every religious house in Tuscany. Accordingly, the brief was retracted, and Ricci was given full liberty to repress the disorders complained of. There is not any similar evidence forthcoming as to the condition of the monasteries in other parts of Italy; but Tuscany is likely, from local causes, to have been above, rather than below, the average moral level. Against this general tendency to monastic decay may be set the foundation of the Passionists in 172:5, and of the Iledemptorists or Liguorians in 1732; but these two institutes, though pious and respectable, have never exerted much influence.
There is little to chronicle in regard to the later annals of monachism in Spain and Portugal. Peter of Alcantara, as reformer of the Franciscans of the latter country in the middle of the 16th century, and his more famous contemporary, Teresa, as reformer of the Carmelites in Spain, are eminent figures in the annals of their time; but they cannot be said to have produced any permanent effect on the fortunes and tone of their several institutes, far less upon the common life in general. The stamping out of all varieties of opinion, at any rate in respect of outward expression, by the Inquisition in the Peninsula makes the evidence scanty and vague; but the fact that Portugal took the lead in 1759 in striking at the Jesuits, then the most eminent and powerful of the orders, though far surpassed in mere wealth and numbers throughout Western Europe by the Franciscans, and that its policy in this respect was quickly followed by Spain, attests the growth of a hostile feeling by no means likely to have been limited to the great company. In fact, if popular rhymes and proverbs may be trusted, the charges current against the religious orders in Spain do not seem to have differed from those alleged elsewhere, whatever may have been the amount of truth in them. And the testimony of Blanco White, always to be trusted on matters within his experience, is decidedly adverse.
The terrible crash of the French Revolution, which affected, directly or indirectly, every country in Europe, was not least influential in its incidence on monachism. On-the one hand, the actual destruction which it brought upon the religious houses of France was adopted as part of the revolutionary programme in all countries where such institutions were still intact ; and, on the other, there was a considerable measure of improvement brought about in not a few places by the fear of public opinion, while the new institutes which continued to spring up were all but invariably active, both founders and the sanctioning authorities recognizing that any society seeking to make its footing good must needs first prove its capacity for practical usefulness. In France itself the laws which abolished all religious communities were relaxed by connivance in favour of the Sisters of Charity even under the Terror and the Directory ; while in 1801 a decree of the Consular Government, issued by the Minister of the Interior, authorized Citizeness Duleau, former superior of that society, to revive it by taking young women to train for hospital work ; and various other active communities were restored by Napoleon in 1807. Further revivals took place at the Restoration, the most celebrated of which was the Dominican, owing to the talents and eloquence of Lacordaire and the group be gathered round him; but Benedictines, Carthusians, Trappists, and other societies of the older type were not slow to avail themselves of the opportunity to return and to found anew, amidst a poverty which recalls the original institution, their abbeys and priories. But they met with little favour under the Orlcanist monarchy, and the Second Empire was their time of most security and progress. Since its fall, they have again been actively discouraged by a strong party in the Republic, and their position remains precarious. France has been, further, the chief seat of the many new societies founded for some especial department of charitable work, the most characteristic example of which is perhaps that of the Little Sisters of the Poor, who house and tend aged invalids. As a broad general rule, nearly every post-Reformation institute is styled, not an " Order," but a " Congregation "; but the only distinction which can be drawn between these two names is that " order " is the wider, and may include several congregations within itself (as the Benedictine order, for example, includes the congregations of Cluny and of St Maur), while a " congregation " is a simple unit, complete in itself, and neither dependent on another institute nor possessed of dependent varieties of its own. Another distinction drawn between the elder and younger societies is that the former are said to make "solemn vows," the latter only "simple vows." The difference here is not in the matter of the vows, which are usually the same in all cases, nor even in the ceremonies attending their utterance, which may also be alike, but in the superior binding efficacy of the solemn vows in Roman canon law, which rules that they so bind the member to his society, and the society to each member, that neither can sever the connexion, so that only the pope can dissolve it, and that in rare and exceptional cases alone. And it may be added that the term " religious " is restricted in the Latin Church to communities whose institute has been formally approved by the Roman see, and whose vows are for life, and not merely renewable, - a principle which excludes the Sisters of Charity, for example, from the use of this title. By the laws of France, and of sonic other countries, life-vows are invalid and even prohibited, but when they make part of the original institute, such disapproval by the civil power is not held to reduce them to the canonical level of temporary vows.
Returning to the history of Western monachism, the fall of the religious houses in Spain dates from the law of 21st June 1835, which suppressed nine hundred monasteries at a blow ; and the remainder had hut a short respite, as they were dissolved on 11th October of the same year. In Portugal, where a bias against the Roman Curia has been a traditional part of patriotism ever since the revolution of 1640, when the pope sided with Spain against the house of Braganza, there was little feeling to protect the monasteries when it happened that the crown wanted their possessions, and they were all suppressed by the decree of 28th May 1834. No European country had so many religious houses as Portugal in proportion to its population and area, and the number of the foundations dissolved in 1834 exceeded 500. In Switzerland, a considerable measure of suppression followed the war of the Sonderbund in 1847 ; while in Italy, the last country where monachism had remained almost unmolested, an Act was passed in the Sardinian Parliament on 7th July 1866 for the suppression of monasteries within the Piedmontese dominions, and for the confiscation of their property. The measure was extended to the whole of Italy after the unification of the kingdom ; the orders were expropriated in 1873 ; their houses were declared national property, and were put to secular uses, no exception being made in favour of San Marco at Florence, of Assisi, of Vallombrosa, or even of Monte Cassino itself.' On the other hand, several Roman Catholic societies have attained considerable success in the United States and Canada, thus in some degree recovering for the principle they represent part at least of the ground lost in Europe ; while in three religious communions outside the pale of the Latin obedience - the Evangelicals of Germany, the Reformed of France, and the Church of England - the organization of women for charitable and religious work on the lines of various old institutes has been actively carried out. The Deaconesses of Kaiserswerth, founded by Pastor Fliedner in 1836, derive part of their rule, and even of their dress, from the Dames de St Augustine, themselves lineal descendants of the first Hospitallers of the crusades, and have ramified into several countries ; the Strasburg and Mithlhausen Deaconesses derive theirs partly from the Flemish Beguines and partly from some points in the Moravian organization, itself handed down from those seceding Franciscans to whom the Unitas Fratrunt really owes its origin; while the various Anglican communities, of which there are several, have borrowed freely from different sources, according to the preference and knowledge of each founder. Some attempts at reviving the common life for men also have likewise been made, but none on any large scale ; only one has as yet exhibited any signs of vitality, a preaching order at Cowley, near Oxford, which has obtained some footing in England, and has even been able to spread to America.
Bibliography. - The bibliography of Monachism is excessively copious, and it is impracticable to indicate more than a few of the most important and trustworthy books. General: - Ilospinianns, De Monachis Libri Sex (Geneva, 1659), bitterly hostile, but a copious and trustworthy record of facts ; Helyot, Histoire des Ordres .Religieux (8 vols., Paris, 1714-1721), and again (as Dictionnaire des Ordres Religleux), with continuation by Badiche (4 vols., Paris, Migne, 1860), - this book has itself a copious catalogue of works on its subject prefixed ; Alteserra, Aseetie6n, sive 0 riyinum Rei Monastior Libri Decent (Paris, 1674) ; Holstenius, Codex Begularum (3 vols., Rome, 1661); .Montalembert, Moines d' Occident (7 vols., Paris, 1860-1877) ; Dugdale, Monastieou Anglicanum (edited by Caley, Ellis, and Bandinel, 8 vols., London, 1846) ; Rosweyde, Vitx Patrum (Lyons, 1617). Special : - Benedictines - Mabillon, Ada SS. Ordinis S. Benedieti (9 vols., Venice, 1733) ; Cluniacs - Marrier, Biblietheea Cluniacensis (Paris, 1614) ; Cistercians - Gaillardin, Les Trappistes (Paris, 1844) ; Besoigne, Ilistoire de l'Abbage de Port-Royal (8 vols., Cologne, 1752-56) ; Dominicans - Touron, Ilistoire des Hommes Illustres de l'Ordre de Saba Dominique (6 vols., Paris, 1743-49) ; Franeiscaus - Sedulius, Historia Seraphim (Antwerp, 1613) ; Wadding, Annetta Minorum (20 vols., Rome, 1731-94).
(R. F. L. )