Standard Article


  1. Greg Peters

Published Online: 25 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc0315

The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

How to Cite

Peters, G. 2011. Cistercians. The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 NOV 2011


Founded in 1098 by the Benedictine monk Robert of Molesme, the New Monastery at Cîteaux secured a lasting footing under her first abbots, Alberic and Stephen Harding. Dissatisfied with the spiritual state of his own monastic foundation of Molesme and eager to establish a more authentic observance of the Rule for Monks of Benedict of Nursia, Robert, along with a number of other monks (including Alberic and Stephen), moved to the forest in the Burgundian region of France, near Dijon. Orderic Vitalis, the English chronicler of the 12th century, writes that in time Odo, Duke of Burgundy, gave Robert and his companions a manor located at Cîteaux, on which the monks began to build a new cenobitic monastery. The Exordium cistercii, a brief account of the early history of the monastery up to 1115, reveals that this manor belonged to Reynard, Viscount of Beaune, and his wife, Hodierna. The text claims that it was “for the remission of their sins and those of their forebears” that Reynard and Hodierna gave their manor to Robert and his companions for “observing the Rule of Saint Benedict more strictly and faithfully than they have hitherto done” (Elder 1998: 11).


  • cistercians;
  • the new monastery, at cîteaux;
  • Benedict XII, cistercian monk, series of documents;
  • Rancé, and direction of his spiritual life;
  • “declaration on cistercian life”;
  • cistercian order today;
  • cistercian monasteries, into one order