go to home page go to byland abbey pages go to fountains abbey pages go to kirkstall abbey pages go to rievaulx abbey pages go to roche abbey pages
The Cistercians in Yorkshire title graphic
 

Text only version

Rievaulx Abbey: Location

Rievaulx Abbey: History
Sources
Foundation
Consolidation
Rise and Fall
Dissolution

Rievaulx Abbey: Buildings
Precinct
Church
Cloister
Sacristy
Library
Chapter House
Parlour
Dormitory
Warming House
Day Room
Refectory
Kitchen
Lay Brothers' Range
Novices' quarters
Abbot's Lodging
Infirmary
Guesthouse
Gatehouse

Rievaulx Abbey: Lands

Rievaulx Abbey: People

Multimedia

Abbeys

People

Glossary

Bibliography

Evaluation

Contact Us


Rievaulx under Abbot Aelred (1147-1167)

(1/15)

He turned the house of Rievaulx into a stronghold
for the sustaining of the weak, the nourishment of
the strong and whole; it was the home of piety and
peace, the abode of perfect love of God and neighbour.

[Walter Daniel, Life of Aelred (1)]

Aelred, the former steward of King David of Scotland, entered Rievaulx as a monk in 1134, during William’s abbacy. He soon rose to prominence within the community officiating as novice-master and representing the abbey on an embassy to the papal curia in 1141/2, to voice the Cistercians’ opposition to the appointment of William Fitzherbert as archbishop of York. In 1143 Aelred was sent to lead Rievaulx’s new daughter-house at Revesby, Lincolnshire, but was recalled four years later to lead the monks of Rievaulx, following the departure of Abbot Maurice (1145-7). Aelred presided over Rievaulx for twenty years, a period which was to be a high-point in Rievaulx’s history. This was also the heyday of the Order – in fact, 1147, the year that Aelred succeeded to the abbacy at Rievaulx, was something of a ‘Golden Year’ for the Cistercians.

The Rievaulx chapter-house
© Stuart Harrison
<click to enlarge>

The Rievaulx chapter-house

Rievaulx flourished under the dynamic leadership of Abbot Aelred, who soon became a prominent figure in public affairs and the most renowned religious person in the country. As the pre-eminent theologian in England, Aelred was sometimes referred to as the ‘Bernard of the North’. He was renowned as a preacher and may even have given the sermon at Westminster Abbey in October 1163, at the translation of the relics of the recently-canonised Edward the Confessor. A friend and counsellor to royalty and ecclesiastics, Aelred was sent to arbitrate, to advise and to negotiate peace. In 1149/52, for example, he was amongst those appointed to resolve a conflict between Prior Roger and Archdeacon Wazo over seniority at Durham; (2) in 1151 Aelred was sent to negotiate peace between the young prince, Malcolm of Scotland, and the rebel clansmen; in the 1160s he was asked to investigate the authenticity of a reported miracle at the Gilbertine nunnery of Watton.(3)

A frog in the throat
On one occasion when Aelred was returning from a visit to Scotland he encountered a man who had swallowed a frog.
Read more

Aelred also secured good relations with other religious. Indeed, it was at his request that Reginald of Durham wrote a biography of the twelfth century hermit, Godric of Finchale, who had been a good friend of Aelred’s.(4)

<previous section> <next>