[Stephen Harding (right) and the Abbot of St. Vaast in Arras (left) present their churches to Mary]
[c. 1125, source: Wikimedia Commons]
In 1111, Stephen sent out a group of monks to found the first Cistercian daughter house: La Ferté. Three more daughter houses (Pontigny, Morimond, and Clairvaux) followed in the next two years. Under the guidance of Cîteaux, these four houses became the core of the new order and any new houses were to answer to one of them. A system of visitation was set up, with the abbot of each monastery responsible for overseeing its daughter houses.
[Bernard of Clairvaux in an Initial B, 13th century, source: Wikimedia Commons]
Eventually, however, the Cistercians ran into many of the same problems faced by Cluny. Despite the desire to retreat from the world, the Order’s popularity and success at cultivating previously unusable land dragged it back into contact with the secular world. The Order had grown too large to manage effectively, and by the 13th century, the mendicant orders (Franciscans and Dominicans) had eclipsed it in popularity. It remains, however, a powerful and respected Order to this day, both in its original observance and in the Trappist Order, reformed in the 17th century.
*Many monasteries at this time merely paid lip service to this ideal, which became central to the Cistercian Order.
**Thus taking Cîteaux out of the systems of manorialism and fief holding.
***Two examples of this would be the Templars and the Beguines.
Barber, Malcolm. The Two Cities: Medieval Europe 1050-1320. London: Routledge, 1993.
Cook, William R. and Ronald B. Herzman. The Medieval Worldview: an Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
Hill, Bennett D. "Cistercian Order." In Dictionary of the Middle Ages v.3, edited by Joseph R. Strayer, 403-406. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1983.
The Cistercians - Order of St. Benedict
Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance - O.S.C.O.
Cistercians - Wikipedia