Letter xxix (A. D. 1132) to Henry, King of England
To Henry, King of England

He asks the King's favour to the monks sent by him to construct a monastery.

To the illustrious Henry, King of England, Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, that he may faithfully serve and humbly obey the King of Heaven in his earthly kingdom.

There is in your land a property [46] belonging to your Lord and mine, for which He preferred to die rather than it should be lost. This I have formed a plan for recovering, and am sending a party of my brave followers to seek, recover, and hold it with strong hand, if this does not displease you. And these scouts whom you see before you I have sent beforehand on this business to investigate wisely the state [47] of things, and bring me faithful word again. Be so kind as to assist them as messengers of your Lord, and in their persons fulfil your feudal [48] duty to Him. I pray Him to render you, in return, happy and illustrious, to His honour, and to the salvation of your soul, to the safety and peace of your country, and to continue to you happiness and contentment to the end of your days.


[46] The history of the Abbey of Wells, in England, explains to us what is meant by these words of Bernard. "The Abbot of Clairvaux, Bernard, had sent detachments of his army of invasion to take possession of the most distant regions; they won brilliant triumphs over the ancient enemy of salvation, bearing from him his prey and restoring it to its true Sovereign. God had inspired him with the thought of sending some hopeful slips from his noble vine of Clairvaux into the English land that he might have fruit among that nation, as in the rest of the world. The very letter is yet extant which he wrote for these Religious to the King, in which he said that there was a property of the Lord in that land of the King, and that he had sent brave men out of his army to seek it, seize it, and bring it back to its owner. He persuades the King to render assistance to his messengers, and not to fail to fulfil in this his duty to his suzerain; which was done. The Religious from Clairvaux were received with honour by the King and by the realm, and they laid new foundations in the province of York, founding the Abbey of Rievaulx. And this was the first planting of the Cistercian Order in the province of York." (Monast. Anglican. Vol. i. p. 733.) Further mention of Henry I. is made in the notes to Letter 138.

[47] Esse. The word is a common one with Bernard to signify the state of a man or a business. See Letters 118, 304.

[48] Since kings and princes are, as it were, vassals to God.

letter xxviii circa a d 1130
Top of Page
Top of Page