Letter xxx (Circa A. D. 1132) to Henry, Bishop of Winchester
To Henry, [49] Bishop of Winchester

Bernard salutes him very respectfully.

To the very illustrious Lord Henry, by the Grace of God Bishop of Winchester, Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, health in our Lord.

It is with great joy that I have learned from the report of many persons that so humble a person as myself has found favour with your Highness. I am not worthy of it, but I am not ungrateful for it. I return you, therefore, thanks for your goodness; a very unworthy return, but all that I am able to make. I do not fear but that you will receive the humble return that I make, since you have been so kind as to forestall me by your affection and the honour that you have done to me; but I defer writing more until I shall know by some token from your hand, if you think fit to send one, how you receive these few words. You may easily confide your reply, in writing, or by word of mouth if it shall so please you, to Abbot Oger, who is charged to convey to you this note. I beg your Excellency also to be so good as to honour that Religious with your esteem and confidence, inasmuch as he is a man commendable for his honour, knowledge, and piety.


[49] He was nephew, by his mother, of Henry I, King of England, brother of King Stephen, and son of Stephen, Count of Blois. "His mother, Adela," says William of Newburgh, "not wishing to appear to have borne children only for the world, had him tonsured." In 1126, The History of the Abbey of Glastonbury counts him among the number of the abbots of that monastery, and says, "he was a man extremely versed in letters, and of remarkable regularity of character. By his excellent administration the Abbey of Glastonbury profited so much that his tame will be held in everlasting memory there" (Monast. Anglican. Vol. ii. p. 18). Henry was elevated later on to the see of Winchester, and Bernard complains of him in writing to Pope Eugenius. "What shall I say of his Lordship of Winchester? The works which he does show sufficiently what he is." Harpsfield reports that he extorted castles from nobles whom he had invited to a feast, and Roger that he had consecrated the intruder William to the See of York (Annal. under year 1140). The latter calls him legate of the Roman See. Brito and Henriquez must, therefore, be wrong in counting him among the Cistercians, and the latter in particular, in speaking of him as a man of eminent sanctity, taking occasion from the testimony of Wion (Ligno vitæ), who calls him a man gifted with prophecy, because when on his death-bed, in receiving the visit of his nephew, Henry, he predicted to him that he would be punished by God on account of the death of S. Thomas of Canterbury, whom he had himself consecrated; as if that saying may not have been inspired by fear rather than prophecy, as Manrique rightly says in his Annals. Peter the Venerable wrote many letters to him, which are still extant, among others Letters 24 and 25 in Book iv., in which he requests that he may return to Cluny to die and be buried there. Being invited to do so at the request of Louis, the King of France, and of the chief nobles of Burgundy, and also at the letters of Pope Hadrian IV., he sent on his treasures to Peter the Venerable, and, leaving England without the permission of the King, arrived at Cluny in 1155. He discharged from his own means the debts of the abbey, which were then enormous; he expended for the support of the monks who lived at Cluny, more than four hundred in number, 7,000 marks of silver, which are equal to 40,000 livres. He gave forty chalices for celebrating mass, and a silk pannus (which may have been an altar vestment, or more probably a hanging--[E.]) of great price; he buried with his own hands Peter the Venerable, who died January 1st, 1157. Having returned at length to his see, he died, to the great grief of the Religious of Cluny, on August the 9th, 1171.

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