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Papauté, monachisme et théories politiques. Volume I

 | 
Pierre Guichard
, 
Marie-Thérèse Lorcin
, 
Jean-Michel Poisson
, 
et al.

Le monachisme

Count Simon of Crepy's monastic conversion

Herbert Edward John Cowdrey

Texte intégral

  • 1 The range of possible dates is securely indicated by two charters: (i) Simon's charter of 31 Mar. (...)
  • 2 G. De Nogent, Autobiographie, 1.10, éd. E. R. Labande Paris, 1981, pp. 58-65.
  • 3 In Latin, Anecdotes historiques, légendes et apologues tirés du recueil inédit d'Etienne de Bourbo (...)

1Between March and May 1077, Count Simon of Crépy (1048-81/2), a leading feudatory of the Capetian crown whose complex of lands lay mainly between the Rivers Seine and Somme, astounded his French contemporaries by withdrawing from the world and becoming a monk1. Medieval historians today are most familiar with this event from Guibert of Nogent's autobiography, written in 1114/152. According to Guibert, Simon's conversion occurred with a suddenness reminiscent of St Paul's on the Damascus road. It happened thus: his powerful father, Count Ralph IV (1055-74) had been buried in a town, Montdidier (Somme), which he had seized and not inherited; Simon decided to transfer his remains to a town of his inheritance, Crépy-en-Valois, where he had him buried at the abbey of Saint-Amoul; the sight of his father's corrupted body turned his thoughts to the misery of the human condition, and he now began to feel a distaste for his earthly glory. So he fled beyond the boundaries of France (as Guibert understood them), entering the Burgundian monastery of Saint-Oyend (later known as Saint-Claude) in the Jura, while his fiancée (Judith, daughter of Count Robert II of Auvergne) became a nun. A similar story of Simon's sudden conversion was told in France by Latin and vernacular writers from the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries3.

  • 4 Vita beati Simonis comitis Crespeiensis auctore synchrono, in: J.-P. Migne, Patrologia Latina (her (...)
  • 5 A loose citation of Dialogues, 2.1: Gregoire le Grand, Dialogues, éd. A. De Vogue and P. Antin, «S (...)

2However, a diametrically different construction of Simon's spiritual Odyssey is to be found in a Vita Simonis which was almost certainly written by a monk of Saint-Oyend4; he claimed to rely upon the living testimony of companions who took the habit with Simon (1223A). Their lifespan provides the terminus ante quern of the Vita. Since it refers to Abbot Hugh of Cluny as being dead (1219A), it must have been written after 29 April 1109. Whereas Guibert reiterated that Simon's conversion was sudden, the Vita presents his development as a gradual and protracted matter of «how he brought the intention of faith to the fruition of acactivity» (1211B). In effect, his life was marked by four ascending stages. The first was his life in the world, and his monastic future was early presaged. In early youth his exasperation after an unsuccessful day's hawking led to perverse and foul thoughts. A reference to a comparable experience of St Benedict foreshadows the future5; the dispelling of his thoughts by the Holy Spirit thus marked the start of a holy way of life (conversatio) the demands of which he kept in mind even when immersed in worldly affairs (1211BC). For the Vita, the re-burial of his father's remains was undertaken at the instigation of Pope Gregory VII to make amends for his father's seizure of Montdidier. It did not immediately lead to his becoming a monk, although it moved him to contempt of the world and to vigils, fasting, and almsgiving, and to wearing a hair shirt (1212B-1213B). A pause in his warfare against King Philip I of France allowed him to make a pilgrimage to Rome where he sought penance from Pope Gregory VII (1213C). But although he remembered Christ's precept: «Whoever does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple» (Luke 14: 33), Gregory gave him penance and intimated that he should return to his warfare until peace was secured (1213CD). The time to be a monk was not yet.

  • 6 For the legends of Alexis, see Acta Sanctorum, Iui. 4 (Antwerp, 1725), pp. 238-70.
  • 7 Cf. the experience of William of Warenne, future earl of Surrey, and his wife Gundrada as related (...)

3His progress to monasticism was the next stage. It began with his betrothal to and separation from Judith of Auvergne; his marriage to her had been arranged, evidently by his magnates anxious for the continuance of his father's principality. Gradualness again prevailed: although Simon suggested that both should renounce the world (1214C) only Judith as yet entered a monastery (1214CD). The Vita does, indeed, compare Simon to St. Alexis, the fourth-century patrician's son who left his bride on their wedding night for a life of poverty and pilgrimage (1215AB)6. Yet its final comment concerned, not Simon's becoming a monk, but how by preaching chastity to his betrothed he shunned his father's myriad carnal sins (1215B). There followed another marriage negotiation with William, king of England, who offered him his daughter (1215B-1216A). Simon continued publicly to dissemble his purpose of celibacy and raised difficulties about consanguinity with the queen. The king agreed to his proposal that he should seek the counsel of Pope Gregory VII at Rome (1216AB). Instead he subsequently decided to become a monk at Saint-Oyend (1216B). The Vita offers no explanation of this change of course, which may have been partly occasioned by difficulties created by King Henry IV of Germany for those crossing the Alps7. It does, however, record a vision that Simon had experienced some time ago: the patron saints of the monasteries with which he was most closely associated, St. Arnulf and St. Oyend, had appeared to him with a third, nameless saint and charged him to become a monk at Saint-Oyend (1216CD). There he led a monastic life of exceptional austerity (1217A-D), although the Vita records a gradual progress in monastic virtues (1217D).

4In due course Simon advanced to a third stage, of an eremitical life in the forest (1217D-1219A, 1220B), still progressing in his observances until he replaced his hair shirt with an iron corselet (1218D-1219A). Gregory VII eventually summoned him to Rome, choosing for him and his companions a hermitage near the church of St. Thecla on the Ostian Way; life was so hard that all but two of his companions died of plague and only one of the survivors, Robert, stayed with him to the end (1220B-D, 1222B). Simon himself asked Gregory's leave to return to the Jura but died in St. Peter's basilica during a vigil of prayer that the pope imposed on him to seek the apostle's will (1221BC).

5The final stage of the Vita's account was the glory into which he was received. By Gregory's command he was buried in St. Peter's amongst the papal tombs (inter apostolicos). For the Vita it was the climax of his story: «because he sought to follow the apostolic life (vitam apostolicam), he rightly received the supreme honour» (1221D). A posthumous vision of his companion Robert confirmed that he indeed won a throne of glory among the apostles (1222C). For the Vita, Simon's life was a long and gradual ascent towards such final blessedness; no single incident stands out in the climacteric way that the sight of his father’s decaying corpse was to stand out for Guibert of Nogent.

6Read by themselves, the accounts of Simon's conversion in Guibert of Nogent and in the Vita seem to offer contrasting traditions which were being concurrently narrated in monastic circles some thirty years after he died. It would prima facie be tempting to prefer the account in the Vita: it is fuller and more circumstantial, it reflects the traditions of Simon's own monastery of Saint-Oyend; Guibert wrote with a more sharply focused, and perhaps more distorting, didactic purpose. Yet since he wrote at Nogent which is only some 34 km. from Crépy, Guibert's account is not to be dismissed out of hand. In fact, other and often earlier evidence that can be gleaned from charters, letters, and chronicles suggests that there is a measure of truth in both accounts, while neither should be exclusively followed.

  • 8 Prou, pp. 229-30, no 88.

7Simon himself left a record of the transfer of his father's body in a most instructive charter of 10778. Its significance is both political and religious. From a religious point of view it confirms the motive of filial piety upon which the Vita insists and which, in answer to his inquiry, Gregory VII had urged upon him (1212BC). Such piety must attend to both body and soul. Simon accordingly had his father brought from Montdidier, where he had rested for three years after the dissolution of his body, to the church of Saint-Arnoul. This church, the charter continues, was established according to a noble plan (honorifico scemate) by Ralph and his ancestors in their castle of Crépy, and there Ralph had been baptized. After the custom of his forebears Simon had him placed there and laid in a double tomb (in spelunca duplici) next Simon's mother and his own wife. It reads as a touching vignette of family piety in a society where agnatic relationships within families whose lordships were becoming increasingly centred upon their castles and their churches called for strict order and linear solidarity.

  • 9 For Anne, see R.-H. Bautier, «Anne de Kiev, reine de France, et de la politique royale au XIe sièc (...)
  • 10 Recueil des historiens des Gaules et de la France, éd. M. Bouquet and others, 24 vols. (Paris, 173 (...)
  • 11 RHF 14.539, = Alexander II, Ep. 41, PL 146.1319-20; the date is after mid-1062: Bautier (as n. 9), (...)
  • 12 Chronique de Saint-Pierre-le-Vif de Sens, dite de Clarius, éd. R.-H. Bautier and M. Gilles (Paris, (...)

8Other documents, however, disclose how much more there was to Ralph's reburial than that. Adela, Simon's mother, was but the first of three wives. After her death in 1054, Ralph had taken a second, Eleanor, heiress of Montdidier and Péronne, who had the unkind nickname Haquenez. It was by making this marriage that he had been able to seize Montdidier. But this did not satisfy his aspirations. When King Henry I of France died in 1060, he made the further coup of marrying, probably in 1061, his widow, Anne of Kiev, the mother of the eight-year-old King Philip I9. Ralph was related to the dead king, so the marriage was doubly flawed. Eleanor was not prepared to acquiesce in being put away. She appealed to Pope Alexander II at Rome, taking with her a letter from Archbishop Gervase of Reims in which he reported the disturbance of the realm and the boy-king's grief at his mother's remarriage. Gervase regretted that the plight of the kingdom prevented his coming to Rome in person; but he commented upon how Eleanor had been wrongly set aside by her husband, though his plea on her behalf is lost through the incomplete preservation of the letter10. Alexander's reply, addressed to Gervase and his suffragans and to the archbishop of Sens, Richer, and his, shows that Eleanor was well able to speak for herself: Count Ralph had robbed her of all that she possessed (no doubt the reference is to his retention of Montdidier and Péronne), and he had put her away upon a false accusation of her unchastity. Archbishop Gervase was to investigate. If her story were true, he was to restore her possessions and to make Ralph take her back as his wife. Should Ralph refuse, Gervase was to pass canonical sentence upon him, and the pope would in due course confirm it11. A chronicler at Sens noted that Ralph had married Anne contra ius et fas (apart from putting away Eleanor, Ralph and Anne were related within the prohibited degrees), and that he was indeed excommunicated12.

  • 13 Bautier (as n. 9), p. 558.
  • 14 Nothing whatever is known of Anne after this point: Bautier (as n. 9), pp. 560-3.

9Whether or not he died an excommunicate13, it can be understood that the sight of the bodily corruption of so sinful a father may have moved Simon as deeply as Guibert of Nogent suggested. One senses a deeper meaning even than family piety when Simon laid his father to rest at Crépy, rather than Montdidier, in spelunca duplici with his first wife. On earth, it was as though the carnal lusts and worldly ambition that had led Ralph to wrong Eleanor and to incur excommunication by taking Anne of Kiev had never prompted him14. In heaven, there was a hope that Ralph would receive remission of sins and stand renewed, if the duties of religion were duly performed for his soul though this was not a case for half measures.

  • 15 Bruel, 4.585-6, no 3477.
  • 16 Prou, pp. 268-9, no 105, = Bruel, 4, p. 608, no 3493. For the date, see P. Feuchere, «Une tentative (...)
  • 17 Prou, pp. 230-2, no 89, = Bruel, 4, p. 613-14, no 3499.
  • 18 Prou, pp. 229-30, no 88.

10And so, as his charter for Saint-Arnoul declares, Simon also took due thought for his father's soul. More than either the Vita or Guibert of Nogent makes clear, he took the sovereign remedy of turning to the monastic order for the benefit to his father of its prayers and alms. He particularly turned to Cluny, to which he had already, upon becoming count, assigned tithes at Mantes as well as founding a Cluniac house15. During his last year as count he went further, and assigned the monastery of Saint-Amoul at Crépy to Abbot Hugh of Cluny so that it should be wholly subject to him under an abbot chosen from his monks. The gift of his family monastery was in several respects remarkable: 1076/7 was a very early date for Abbot Hugh to accept a dependency north of the River Loire; the gift was evidently a by-product of Pope Gregory VII's direction that, in seeking peace with King Philip I of France, Simon should be guided by the papal legate Bishop Hugh of Die and by Abbot Hugh (1213D-1214A); and Simon described himself as the abbot's servulus who held him in outstanding love16. After entering Saint-Oyend, Simon secured from the king a confirmation of all his gifts to Cluny17. Simon did well for his father's soul no less than for his body. He procured for him the intercession of the Cluniacs, and at Crépy itself, his charter providing for his father's reburial ended by making gifts to Saint-Amoul to ensure his local remembrance18.

  • 19 Ibid.
  • 20 The suggestion that Simon's departure for Saint-Oyend was not a matter of sudden impulse but that (...)

11But what of Simon himself? The Vita may have been correct in emphasizing that his main thought was for his father: it was for his welfare that he sought Gregory VII's advice (1212C); in due course his renunciation of the carnal delights of marriage was made in expiation of his father's sins (1215B). Except for Guibert of Nogent, no early source suggests that it was through his father's reburial that Simon's thoughts were consciously directed towards his own monastic conversion; his charter, perhaps drafted by a monk of Saint-Arnoul, tells only of Simon's recognition that the day of this life is as nothing in comparison to the life to come, and of his fixing his mind so far as he was able upon the contemplation of eternity19. When the Vita takes up this thought, it does not develop and intensify it beyond the pattern of an exemplary pious layman (1213AB). Nevertheless the Vita does indicate by the story of his vision (1216C) that a vocation to monasticism had in another way been forming in his mind20. If its depiction of Simon's spiritual development as gradual rather than sudden is probably basically true, it may still not do justice to the intensity of his response to his father’s reburial which made him turn to Pope Gregory VII and to Cluny for help with his father's commemoration, or to the profound spiritual experience which led him to take the habit at Saint-Oyend. Guibert of Nogent may be correct at least to insist upon the depth of his spiritual reactions, even though he oversimplified and misconstrued them.

  • 21 PL 162, 941B. For Stephen, see S. de Montenay, L'Abbaye bénédictine Saint-Pierre de Bèze, 630-1790 (...)

12One thing seems certain: there is no need to postulate a clash in his loyalties or purposes as between Cluny and Saint-Oyend. He looked to the one for his father's posthumous commemoration, and to the other for his own monastic home. As a monk he still enjoyed good relations with Abbot Hugh whom he served well in a visit to the king's court (1219A), while his admirer and imitator, the saintly Stephen, later abbot of Bèze, was to move happily and profitably from Saint-Oyend to Cluny and back again21. It is not clear why Simon chose to be a monk of Saint-Oyend rather than of Cluny, but it is possible that the eremitical and austere manner of life which, according to the Vita, he increasingly adopted was more readily available at Saint-Oyend. It is quite conceivable that, discerning his spiritual bent, Abbot Hugh may have advised him accordingly.

13If Simon of Crépy's monastic conversion raises questions about the process by which he formed and implemented his intention, it also provides evidence, especially through the Vita, for the ideas and actions of major ecclesiastical and secular rulers of his time, especially Pope Gregory VII, the Capetian King Philip I, and the Anglo-Norman King-duke William I, with all of whom he had prolonged dealings. Three subjects may particularly be selected for discussion.

14The first is Gregory VII’s attitude to the monastic conversion of greater and lesser lay rulers. In one famous case at least, that of Abbot Hugh's admission to his abbey of Duke Hugh I of Burgundy (1075-8), Gregory quickly sent Hugh a letter of sharp reproof for admitting to the shelter of the cloister one of the few princes of his time who was a genuinely Christian ruler and for thus leaving countless Christian people with no protector:

Behold! those who seem to fear or love God flee from Christ's battle, put aside their brothers' safety, and seek rest as though loving only themselves. The shepherds flee as do the dogs, the defenders of the flock; wolves and robbers attack Christ's sheep while no one resists. You have taken or received the duke into rest at Cluny, and brought it about that a hundred thousand Christians lack a guardian.

  • 22 Gregory VII, Registrum, 6.17, 2 Jan. 1079, in: Das Register Gregors VII, éd. E. Caspar, MGH Epistol (...)
  • 23 See above, p. 259 and n. 7.
  • 24 For Count Guy of Mâcon, see Bruel, 4, p. 650-1, 770-1, no 3528, 3610.
  • 25 They are referred to in The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis, 8.27, éd. M. Chibnall, 6 vo (...)
  • 26 A.1088, PL 162, 940A-942A, 960D-962B.

15Gregory further drew Abbot Hugh's attention both to St. Benedict's prescription of a year of novitiate, and to Pope Gregory the Great's stipulation that a knight should not become a monk before three years had elapsed22. The question arises why Gregory should have condemned so roundly in the case of Hugh of Burgundy the monastic conversion that he appears to have welcomed, if not positively encouraged, in Simon of Crépy (1220B-D, 1221B-D) and that Pope Urban II treated with approval in the epitaph that he is said to have composed for Simon's tomb in St. Peter's (1223A-1224A). Not only does Gregory seem to have raised no difficulties based on the writings of St. Benedict or St. Gregory, but there is no suggestion that he did not approve of Simon's actions at every stage. This is particularly surprising for two reasons. One is that Simon's final decision to become a monk was his own, taken without consulting Gregory to whom, for whatever reason23, he did not travel before entering Saint-Oyend (1214B, 1216BC). The second is that he was repeatedly the cause of other laymen, both great and small, leaving their stations in the world and becoming monks. Most remarkably, according to the Vita it was Simon's entering Saint-Oyend that prompted Duke Hugh of Burgundy to leave the world, as well as Count Guy of Mâcon and many others, great and small (1216D)24. When Simon's fiancée Judith took the veil at La Chaise-Dieu two of her kinsmen became monks there; they were Adelbert who eventually became abbot of Bourg-Dieu at Déols (1087-92) and archbishop of Bourges (1092-7), and Gamier of Montmorillon who remained for some forty years as an exemplary monk (1214CD)25. When Simon himself entered Saint-Oyend, he took with him 'certain outstanding men of his own household» (1216BC); the Chronicon Besuense names Ralph and Franco whom he sent ahead, and Robert, Arnulf, and Warner who made their professions with him; another nobleman, Stephen, later abbot of Bèze, followed them26. In 1080, as he returned to Rome from negotiations with Robert Guiscard, duke of Apulia, his preaching led almost sixty knights to take the habit in various monasteries (1221AB). Simon's conversion to monasticism was and remained infectious among the very classes whose members Gregory, when dealing with Duke Hugh of Burgundy, seems concerned to leave in the world. Why did he reprove Hugh's conversion but accept Simon's?

16The answer suggested by the evidence of the Vita is that Simon's conversion was, from Gregory's point of view, well prepared in political respects; Hugh's had been impulsive and had «brought it about that a hundred thousand Christians lacked a guardian». Under Gregory's guidance, Simon had done all that was needed to establish pax et concordia in and around his lands. He had brought his father's body from burial in a place Montdidier that he had seized unjustly (1212C). On his penitential pilgrimage to Rome in 1076 he had received Gregory's direction that, while doing penance for his sins in the early part of his war with King Philip I, he should resume the governance of his lands under the guidance of Hugh of Die and Hugh of Cluny «until he had renewed peace with the king». He prosecuted his feud against the king until it was victoriously concluded and an assembly of magnates from both sides had established what rightfully belonged to Simon's inheritance. Thus «peace was restored and all things were set in order that had been in disorder during the long period of warfare» (1213C-1214B). That done, Gregory was happy for Simon to enter the monastic order. Gregory's chagrin that Duke Hugh had not taken similar thought for the peace and well being of his lands may have been the greater because Abbot Hugh who admitted him to the cloister had been the pope's agent in duly settling Simon's affairs.

  • 27 For some remarks on its importance for Gregory's relations with Byzantium, see H.E.J. Cowdrey, «Th (...)
  • 28 Reg. 8.1a, b, pp. 514-6, esp. pp. 514/24-515/10,516/5-10.

17While in the world Simon promoted peace and concord by reburying his father in a place that had been rightly his, by ordering his own inheritance, and by winning through to agreement with his king. The pursuit of peace and concord was a prime religious and political aspiration of Gregory and of his contemporaries27. A second subject that deserves consideration is how the consequences of Simon's monastic conversion tended to give it political effect. For he became not only a monk and hermit, but a «holy man» from whom everyone, from the pope down to even humble people who everywhere turned to him (at Saint-Oyend: 1217D-1218A; as a hermit: 1218B-D; at Compiègne: 1219AB; upon his former inheritance: 1219C-1220A; in South Italy: 1221A; at his funeral in Rome: 1221D), derived benefit. Gregory VII's employment of him to promote peace features in the Vita's presentation of his journey from Rome in 1080 to Robert Guiscard, duke of Apulia. It refers to the pope's long discordance from the duke; in fact, Roger had been three times excommunicated and Norman depredations upon the lands of St. Peter were a long-standing problem. Without referring either to the context of Gregory's second excommunication of Henry IV of Germany and consequent need to rehabilitate the treaty of Melfi (1059) or to the sequel in the Norman sack of Rome in 1084, the Vita exhibits Gregory as dispatching Simon from fear that Rome would suffer from a warfare that was not further defined; he acted simply to make peace (pacandi gratia). Simon's successful negotiations with the duke are similarly regarded (pacem reformans, omnibus illue pacificatis); upon returning to Rome Simon informed Gregory about what he had done for the sake of peace (quidquid egerat de pace) (1220D-1221B). For the Vita, the effect of Simon's journey was to bring about the peace with the Normans that the pope desired. The terms of Robert Guiscard's oath and investiture at Ceprano in June 1080, with their careful stipulation of matters settled and still left open, may well reflect the peace that Simon negotiated28.

  • 29 Reg. 7.25-7, pp. 505-8. For further discussion, see H.E.J. Cowdrey, «The Gregorian Reform in the A (...)

18The Vita records Simon's dealings with William I of Normandy and England after his monastic conversion in a similar light. While still a hermit in the Jura, he journeyed in Northern France and Normandy, where he found William's eldest son Robert Curthose at war with his father, against whom he had been in rebellion since 1077. Simon contributed to the reconciliation of father and son which occurred by Easter 1080. The effect of Simon's mediation was, once again, to renew peace and to deliver a province from disorder: utrique compassus, pace reformata pestilentiae malum a regione fugavit (1219B-D). While the Vita makes no reference to this, Gregory VII himself urgently sought the reconciliation of William and Robert, and warmly applauded its achievement29.

19Simon sought in other ways to resolve French conflicts and feuds. The purpose which led him to France in 1079-80 was a request from Abbot Hugh of Cluny to the abbot of Saint-Oyend that he might go to Philip I's court to reprove the king for having taken away some of his possessions. Simon met the king at Compiègne, where his plea for their restoration was readily granted (1219AB). While Simon was staying at la Ferté, a castle of his sometime inheritance, he successfully obtained the pardon from a penalty of mutilation of a robber who had waylaid one of his former friends and explained his act of forgiveness (1220AB).

  • 30 Simon's death must have occured before that of Queen Matilda of England (2 Nov. 1083) since the Vi (...)

20The Vita also sheds light on how his dealings with Simon both before and after his conversion helped Gregory to maintain the authority at Rome that he was remarkably successful in preserving until 1084, as well as to provide for leading supporters from outside Rome. When Count Simon made his penitential pilgrimage in 1075, his penance was evidently commuted for money or other valuables; it yielded resources both for Gregory's own purposes and for the maintenance of two unnamed religiosissimi viri who were currently in Rome (1213D). Simon's death, which probably fell in the late September of 1081 or 1082, at a time when Rome was increasingly threatened by Henry IV (1221C)30, provided the occasion both for a demonstration of Roman solidarity at his funeral and for a lavish papal distribution of alms to the Roman poor (1221D-1222A). This is excellent evidence for Gregory's methods of financial and social control at Rome.

21Gregory's insistence upon the abbot of Saint-Oyend’s sending a reluctant Simon to his side at Rome on pain of interdict upon himself and his monks (1220B-D), and his underlying acceptance of Simon's monastic conversion, are the more explicable in the light of Simon's character and services as a «holy man» to himself, to churchmen like Abbot Hugh of Cluny, and to friendly rulers like King William I of England.

  • 31 Among them, A. Fliche, Le Règne de Philippe 1er, roi de France (1060-1108) (Paris, 1912); Feuchere(...)
  • 32 Feuchere (as n. 16), pp. 13-15. Simon's apparent lack of concern for the future of his inheritance (...)

22A third subject deserving consideration is the effect of Simon's conversion upon the secular politics of his time. Historians have often indicated the course and results of the accumulation and dissolution of the lands of the counts of Crépy-Valois31. Although the family could claim Carolingian descent, it was only towards the end of Count Ralph IV's lifetime that his essentially personal agglomeration of power came to comprise seven counties that he held (Amiens, Vexin, Valois, Tardenois, Montdidier, Vitry, and Bar-sur-Aube), seven more from which he received homage (Corbie, Vermandois, Péronne, Meulan, Montfort, Dammartin, and Soissons), and five large advocacies (Saint-Denis, Jumièges, Saint-Wandrille, Saint-Père at Chartres, and Saint-Amoul at Crépy). The clamp which this set upon the northern part of the Capetian demesne is clear. It is not surprising that, on Ralph's death, King Philip I who was newly married to Bertha of Frisia should have invaded the northern part of Simon's inheritance. By 1077 Simon had wrested back the whole of it and restored relations with the king. But since he left no male heirs, the effect of his monastic conversion was the rapid dispersal of his lands: three of his brothers-in-law were major beneficiaries Count Theobald I of Champagne secured Vitry and Bar, Bartholomew Bardoul and then his son Hugh the southern Barrois, and Count Herbert IV of Vermandois Valois and Montdidier; Philip I acquired the Vexin with the advocacy of Saint-Denis and Corbie; while the bishop of Amiens gained comital rights32. A prime political beneficiary was the king, especially by his ac quisition of the Vexin, the buffer county that bestrode the River Seine between Normandy and the Capetian demesne. Against the background of this dispersal, some political repercussions of Simon's conversion may be noticed.

  • 33 For a list of charters in which Ralph is named, see Feuchere (as n. 16), p. 37.
  • 34 Prou, p. 7, no 2 (1060), p. 12, no 3 (1060), p. 63, no 22 (1065), p. 66, no 23 (1065), p. 173, no 6 (...)
  • 35 Prou, pp. 229-34, no 88-90, pp. 268-9, no 105.
  • 36 According to the Vita Simon met the king in his palace at Compiègne, on the River Oise at the nort (...)

23As Simon pursued his monastic career, it reinforced his long-standing connections with both King Philip I of France and King William I of England. It is at first sight surprising that the Vita should introduce Simon as régis Francorum primipilus (1211B). But as his attestations of royal charters make clear, his father had been close to his Capetian suzerain33. Philip I quickly restored him to favour after his marriage to Anne of Kiev. From an early age he took Simon to the king’s court where he witnessed charters in his father's company34. If Philip used Simon's accession to invade the Vexin and to encourage Simon's relative Hugh Bardoul to seize Bar-sur-Aube and Vitry, Simon was able within two years to recapture and pacify all his lands. Simon's monastic conversion took place in an atmosphere of reconciliation and amity that Pope Gregory VII encouraged (1213CD)35. As a monk Simon was listened to obediently at the Capetian court when he demanded the righting of the king's wrongs to Abbot Hugh of Cluny (1219AC)36. His presence and standing at the Capetian court, which were attested from his boyhood, were thus confirmed after he became a monk.

  • 37 The gap between 1060 and 1065 in Simon's attested presence at the Capetian court (above, n. 34) pr (...)
  • 38 The difficulties attaching to the marriage negotiations to which the Vita refers (1215B-1216A) hav (...)

24His connection with the Norman court at Rouen was no less close. It began early in the 1060s, perhaps just before 1063 when Duke William invaded Maine and Count Ralph acquired Amiens and the Vexin. These events brought the two men together, and Ralph sent Simon to be brought up at William's court37. The Vita several times refers to Simon's time there as a nutritus, as well as to his kinship with Duchess Matilda (1215BC, 1215D, 1219C, 1222A); since Matilda gave lavishly to adorn his tomb, there was manifestly a life-long bond. It is not surprising that, in 1077, William, now king of England, wished to counter Philip I's gathering hostility by making Simon his son-in-law (1215C-1216B)38. As a monk, Simon was occasionally active at the Norman court as at the Capetian. His work in reconciling Robert Curthose to his father won the effusive gratitude of the king and queen (1219C-1220A).

25To this extent, the monk Simon's continuing prestige at the Capetian and Norman courts served politically Gregory's purpose of promoting peace and concord by fostering just and strong dynasties. It may, however, be doubted whether Gregory understood the political implications of the dissolution of the lands of the counts of Crépy which was the inevitable consequence of the monastic conversion of the childless Simon. The passing of the Vexin to the Capetian king, in particular, contributed to the discord and warfare between him and William I that led to the latter’s death in 1087 from an injury sustained during an attack upon Mantes, the capital of the Vexin. But it was not to such political consequences that those who encouraged or approved of Simon's withdrawal from the world primarily looked.

Notes

1 The range of possible dates is securely indicated by two charters: (i) Simon's charter of 31 Mar. 1077 for Saint-Amoul at Crépy, in: Recueil des actes de Philippe Ier, roi de France (1059-1108), éd. M. Prou (Paris, 1908) (hereafter Prou) pp. 229-30, no 88; (ii) Philip I's charter of before 23 May 1077 in confirmation of all Simon of Crépy's gifts to Cluny, in: Prou, pp. 230-2, no 89, = Recueil des chartes de l'abbaye de Cluny, éd. A. Bernard and A. Bruel, 6 vols. (Paris, 1876-1903) (hereafter Bruel), 4, p. 613-14, no 3 499. Prou accurately dates these charters.

2 G. De Nogent, Autobiographie, 1.10, éd. E. R. Labande Paris, 1981, pp. 58-65.

3 In Latin, Anecdotes historiques, légendes et apologues tirés du recueil inédit d'Etienne de Bourbon, dominicain du XIIIe siècle, ed. A. Lecoy De La Marche (Société de l'histoire de France, Paris, 1877), pp. 66-7. In French, Les Vers de Thibaud de Marly, éd. H. K. Stone (Paris, 1932), pp. 107, 112 (written c. 1182/5); Dou conte Symon and Histoire du filz du conte de Crespi, poems respectively of the first half of the thirteenth century and of the fourteenth, in E. Walberg, Deux Anciens Poèmes inédits sur Saint Simon de Crepy (Lund, 1909), pp. 45-54, 63-80.

4 Vita beati Simonis comitis Crespeiensis auctore synchrono, in: J.-P. Migne, Patrologia Latina (hereafter PL) 156.1211-24 (references are made in the text by column numbers). Excerpts from the Vita occur, in a lightly paraphrased form, in Alberic of Trois-Fontaines, Chronicon, Monumenta Germaniae Historica (hereafter MGH), Scriptores, 23.674-950, at pp. 793, 797-9; Alberic wrote c.1250. For Saint-Oyend, and for a still-useful commentary on the Vita, see P. Benoit, Histoire de l'abbaye et de la terre de Saint-Claude, 2 vols. Montreuil-sur-Mer, 1890, esp. 1.449-86. Further sources which do not ascribe Simon's monastic conversion to his seeing his dead father are: Hariulf, Vita sancti Arnulfi episcopi Suessonensis, 1.25, PL 174.1396 (written after c.1114): the Chronicon Besuense (Bèze, Côte d'Or), of early twelfth-century date: Joannis monachi Chronicon Besuense, a.1088, PL 162.941A: Hugh of Fleury, Liber qui modemorum regum Francorum continet actus, MGH Scriptores, 9.390, early twelth-century.

5 A loose citation of Dialogues, 2.1: Gregoire le Grand, Dialogues, éd. A. De Vogue and P. Antin, «Sources Chrétiennes», 251,260,265 (Paris, 1978-80), 1.136.

6 For the legends of Alexis, see Acta Sanctorum, Iui. 4 (Antwerp, 1725), pp. 238-70.

7 Cf. the experience of William of Warenne, future earl of Surrey, and his wife Gundrada as related in the foundation charter of the Cluniac priory of Lewes (1077): W. Dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum, 6 vols, (new edn. by J. Caley, H. Ellis, and B. Bandinel, London, 1817-30), 5.12, = Bruel, 4, p. 689-96, no 3561.

8 Prou, pp. 229-30, no 88.

9 For Anne, see R.-H. Bautier, «Anne de Kiev, reine de France, et de la politique royale au XIe siècle», Revue des études slaves, 57 (1975), 539-64.

10 Recueil des historiens des Gaules et de la France, éd. M. Bouquet and others, 24 vols. (Paris, 1738-1904) (hereafter RHF), 11.499: the probable date is mid-Nov 1061: Bautier (as n. 9), p. 556. See also Gervase's earlier letter to Pope Nicholas II (died? 22 July 1061): RHF 11.498-9.

11 RHF 14.539, = Alexander II, Ep. 41, PL 146.1319-20; the date is after mid-1062: Bautier (as n. 9), p. 557.

12 Chronique de Saint-Pierre-le-Vif de Sens, dite de Clarius, éd. R.-H. Bautier and M. Gilles (Paris, 1979), a.1060, p. 126.

13 Bautier (as n. 9), p. 558.

14 Nothing whatever is known of Anne after this point: Bautier (as n. 9), pp. 560-3.

15 Bruel, 4.585-6, no 3477.

16 Prou, pp. 268-9, no 105, = Bruel, 4, p. 608, no 3493. For the date, see P. Feuchere, «Une tentative manquée de concentration territoriale entre Somme et Seine: la principauté d'Amiens-Valois au XIe siècle», Le Moyen Age, 60 (1954), 1-37, at p. 37.

17 Prou, pp. 230-2, no 89, = Bruel, 4, p. 613-14, no 3499.

18 Prou, pp. 229-30, no 88.

19 Ibid.

20 The suggestion that Simon's departure for Saint-Oyend was not a matter of sudden impulse but that it was deliberated for some time is confirmed by the statement of the Chronicon Besuense that he sent ahead of him two of his companions: a.1088, PL 162, 941A; also by the Vita's hints in his dealings of 1075 with Gregory VII (1213CD) and in his reaction to the arrangement of his marriage in 1077 (1214B: utbonum quod in se latebat penitus operiret).

21 PL 162, 941B. For Stephen, see S. de Montenay, L'Abbaye bénédictine Saint-Pierre de Bèze, 630-1790, Dijon, 1960, pp. 76-96.

22 Gregory VII, Registrum, 6.17, 2 Jan. 1079, in: Das Register Gregors VII, éd. E. Caspar, MGH Epistolae selectae, 2 (Berlin, 1920-3) (hereafter Reg.), pp. 423-4.

23 See above, p. 259 and n. 7.

24 For Count Guy of Mâcon, see Bruel, 4, p. 650-1, 770-1, no 3528, 3610.

25 They are referred to in The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis, 8.27, éd. M. Chibnall, 6 vols., Oxford, 1969-80 (hereafter OV), 4.326-8.

26 A.1088, PL 162, 940A-942A, 960D-962B.

27 For some remarks on its importance for Gregory's relations with Byzantium, see H.E.J. Cowdrey, «The Gregorian Papacy, Byzantium, and the First Crusade», in: Byzantium and the West C.850-C.1200, éd. J.D. Howard-Johnston, Amsterdam, 1988, pp. 145-69, esp. pp. 153-60. I plan to discuss its significance in the West in my forthcoming study of Gregory.

28 Reg. 8.1a, b, pp. 514-6, esp. pp. 514/24-515/10,516/5-10.

29 Reg. 7.25-7, pp. 505-8. For further discussion, see H.E.J. Cowdrey, «The Gregorian Reform in the Anglo-Norman Lands and in Scandinavia», Studi Gregoriani, 13 (1989), 321-52, esp. pp. 336-7. For an act of restitution made by Simon while still count in 1075 to the archbishop of Rouen, see D.R. Bates, «The origins of the Justiciarship», Proceedings of the Battle Abbey Conference on Anglo-Norman Studies, 4 (1981), 1-12, at p. 7 and n. 57.

30 Simon's death must have occured before that of Queen Matilda of England (2 Nov. 1083) since the Vita records her sending to Rome the gold and silver to pay for his tomb (1222A); in Oct.-Nov. 1083 the situation at Rome would not have permitted his impressive funeral (1221D-1222A, cf. Reg. 9.35a, pp. 627-8). 1080 is not impossible, but (i) it would allow Simon only some three months after his return from France and Apulia to re-establish himself in Rome; (ii) Gregory twice declined his request to return to Saint-Oyend (1221B); (iii) according to the Vita the Romans failed for some time duly to value him (1221D). The case for 1081 is stronger than has been appreciated: (i) the Vita places Simon's request to return to the Jura and so the vigil in St. Peter's during which he fell mortally ill not long after his return from Apulia (1221B); (ii) the monk who brought safely to Rome Queen Matilda of England's gold and silver for Simon's tomb (1222A) did well whether Simon died in 1081 or 1082. The monk is unlikely to have got to Rome before, at earliest, the Christmas after Simon's death. Henry IV was in the vicinity of Rome from early in 1083; though not impossible then, the monk's journey would have been easier a year earlier. Nevertheless, 1082 remains a possibility for Simon’s death: (i) the Vita was compiled some thirty years afterwards, so that its nec multo post (1221B) can conceivably represent two years; (ii) Simon's death in 1081 would reduce his stay at Rome after his journeys to a brief year and a quarter; a further year would help to explain the impression that he left as well as the monk Robert's long association (diu conversatus) (1222B). 1081 and 1082 are best regarded as equally possible. The Vita gives 30 Sept, as the day and month (1221C).

31 Among them, A. Fliche, Le Règne de Philippe 1er, roi de France (1060-1108) (Paris, 1912); Feuchere (as n. 16); Chibnall, OV 4.xxx-xxxiv; M. Bur, La formation du comté de Champagne vers 950-vers 1150 (Nancy, 1977), pp. 216-17; Bautier (as n. 9).

32 Feuchere (as n. 16), pp. 13-15. Simon's apparent lack of concern for the future of his inheritance finds an illuminating parallel in the case of St. Adelelme of La Chaise-Dieu and Burgos: Vita Adelelmi auctore Rodulfo monacho Casae Dei, cap. 2, Espafia Sagrada, éd. H. Florez, Madrid, 1747, 27.842-4.

33 For a list of charters in which Ralph is named, see Feuchere (as n. 16), p. 37.

34 Prou, p. 7, no 2 (1060), p. 12, no 3 (1060), p. 63, no 22 (1065), p. 66, no 23 (1065), p. 173, no 66 (1074).

35 Prou, pp. 229-34, no 88-90, pp. 268-9, no 105.

36 According to the Vita Simon met the king in his palace at Compiègne, on the River Oise at the northern tip of the royal demesne. Simon had gone to Compiègne incognito to be present at the translation of a prominent relic, Christ's burial shroud, in the church of Saint-Corneille, but was recognized (1219AB). Further light on the occasion is shed by Philip I's charter of 1092 for Saint-Corneille which, evidently looking back to this translation, gives the history of the relic and notes that Queen Matilda of England paid for the costly new reliquary: Prou, pp. 318-21, no 126.

37 The gap between 1060 and 1065 in Simon's attested presence at the Capetian court (above, n. 34) probably indicates the range of dates within which Simon's period with the duke of Normandy must be set, but it is likely to have begun in the context of the political events in Maine in 1062-3. Count Ralph attended the duke's court at Fécamp at Easter 1067: OV 4, ed. Chibnall, 2.196-9.

38 The difficulties attaching to the marriage negotiations to which the Vita refers (1215B-1216A) have been pointed out by F. Barlow, William Rufus (London, 1983), pp. 443-4. It may be added that negociations that the Vita may have misdated would be plausible after the death of King Alphonso VI of León-Castille’s first wife, Agnes of Aquitaine, on 6 June 1078: for Alphonso's marriages, see P. David, Etudes historiques sur la Galice et le Portugal du Vie au XIIe siècle (Lisbon, 1947), pp. 386-90. Robert Guiscard may have sought a wife for a member of his family rather than for himself.

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