medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

in an effort to give Frank and the other Larnéd Members of this list every
opportunity to come up with creatively Dumb answers to more or less obvious
Questions, i have one of the latter to float.

browsing through a chance find, surely known to all here

Jacques Berlioz, et al.  “Bernard dans les exempla (XIIIe-XVe siècles),”
in Patrick Arabeyre, et al., eds. Vies et légendes de Saint Bernard de
Clairvaux: création, diffusion, réception (XIIe-XXe siècles): actes des
Rencontres de Dijon, 7-8 juin 1991 (Présence cistercienne, Textes et
documents, V) (Saint-Nicolas-lès-Cîteaux: Abbaye de Cîteaux, 1993), pp.

i happened upon a St. Berniesque exemplum which involved Henry D. France
(perversely called by the French "Henri de France"), third son of Louis VI
and, therefore, brother of Louis VII.

i am very interested in Henry D., as he was the "abbot of the royal abbeys"
[i.e., the secular collegial abbeys directly controled by the king] from a
very early age, including that of St. Mary of Etampes, whose Spectacular

has been at the center of my Art Hysterical interests for several decades

sometime during the run-up to the second crusade (1146-7) Henry D. fell under
the spell of St. Bernie and was converted from his quite opulent life as,
literally, a Prince in the Church, and became a simple monk at Clairvaux.

though he only lasted three years there before being called/forced to the see
of Beauvais (and later to that of Reims), it appears that his conversion was
an utterly sincere one (what did he have to gain by giving up the World?).

the circumstances surrounding his conversion and its aftermath are of
particular interest to me.

the exemplum in question, from the collection of Caesarius of Heisterbach
(Strange ed., I., p. 26; Tubach 3333) purports to depict Henry, brother of the
king of France, visiting St. Bernard (presumably at Clairvaux) and asking that
the monks there pray for him. Bernard “a l’espoir que ces prièures seront
efficaces. Henry rejoint plus tard le monastère.” (i can send the complete
Latin text to anyone who wishes it.)

my Quetio is: to what extent may we rely upon this story as an accurate
reflection of some historical event;

i.e., *did* Henry, indeed, visit Bernard (at Clairvaux) before his

on the One hand, it is clear that the "purpose/aim/goal" of exempla --as a
genre-- was not to recite historical events, so we may assume some liberty
might have been taken in the details recounted in this one, in order to better
fit the story to its pedagogical purpose.  

as such the source is inherently unreliable in its details.

on the Other, Henry is specifically mentioned by name, in an account by a
fellow Cistercian, written a scant two (or three) generations after the
supposed event occurred.  

now, my very, very limited experience with exempla suggests to me that one of
the operational motifs of the genre was to make a famous person, mentioned
specifically by name, the subject of the "lesson" which was being made an
"example" of.

however, might Caesarius not be repeating part of an historically accurate
oral tradition within his Order which surrounded what was, after all, perhaps
the most spectacular Conversion achieved by the Order's most spectacular

any stray Thoughts (Dumb or Otherwise) on this Question would be appreciated.


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