The Cistercians' critics
Settle the Cistercians in some barren retreat
which is hidden away in an overgrown forest: a year or two later
you will find splendid churches there and fine monastic buildings,
with a great amount of property and all the wealth you can imagine.
[Gerald of Wales, The Journey through Wales
/ Description of Wales, tr. L. Thorpe (Harmondsworth, 1978),
... they obtain from a rich man a valueless
and despised plot in the heart of a great wood, by much feigning
of innocence and long importunity, putting in God at every other
word. The wood is cut down, stubbed up and levelled into a plain,
bushes give place to barley, willows to wheat, withies to vines;
and it may be that to give them full time for these operations,
their prayers have to be somewhat shortened.
[Walter Map, De Nugis Curialium -
Courtier’s Trifles, ed. and tr. M. R. James, rev. C. N. L.
Brooke and R. A. B. Mynors (Oxford, 1982), p. 75].