Robert of Arbrissel: The Reluctant Founder

Berenice M. Kerr

in Religious Life for Women c.1100–c.1350

Published in print July 1999 | ISBN: 9780198207528
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191677717 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Historical Monographs

Robert of Arbrissel: The                         Reluctant Founder

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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This chapter discusses the life of Robert of Arbrissel. He was an itinerant preacher, and founder of the abbey of Fontevraud. He was born at Arbrissel and died at Orsan. The discussion examines the context in which Robert lived and worked and the various constructs with which others have sought to explain his life. The order of Fontevraud was renowned for its strict interpretation of the Rule of Saint Benedict and its structure represented a unique solution to the question of how best to serve the spiritual and material needs of women striving to follow a monastic vocation. Robert of Arbrissel broke new ground by integrating the male element, necessary for the cura monialium, into the very structure of the order he founded. The position of both the men and the women was carefully defined so that each group knew exactly what was expected of itself and of the other.

Keywords: Order of Fontevraud; eremitical movement; Robert of Arbrissel; statutes

Chapter.  23277 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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