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The Cistercians in Yorkshire title graphic

Scholars of note: some interesting Cistercians who have left their mark


The ruddy abbot
A poem written by a friar at Oxford in the mid-fourteenth century names the abbot of Louth Park as one of three monks at the university who openly vented his dislike of the mendicants. This Cistercian abbot is compared to a leopard, and reference is made to his ruddy complexion, a sure sign that he enjoyed an indulgent lifestyle.
[Stevenson and Salter, The Early History of St John’s College, pp. 9-10.]

Several Cistercian scholars are noted for their infamy. These include two polemicists, John Hooper and Henry Crump. Hooper, who was one of the most active monk polemicists at this time, was condemned to death at Gloucester in 1555.(33) Crump, a Cistercian of the Irish abbey of Baltinglass, in Co. Wicklow Ireland, was a forceful character who officiated for a time as regent of students living at University Hall. His open attack on Wyclif and his supporters, whom he denounced as ‘Lollards’ – and was, in fact, the first to describe them as such - led to his suspension from the university. Upon his return to Ireland, c. 1385, Crump’s attack on the friars contributed to his condemnation for heresy. He returned briefly to Oxford, where he was once again suspended but then restored.(34)

Magician and devils, from the 'Omne Bonum'
© British Library
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MS image of magician with devils

Another Irish Cistercian who was renowned for his notoriety was Richard Archebold, who sought to attain the unattainable, to convert metal amalgam into gold. His dabbling in alchemy saddled the Order with considerable debt. Richard’s ability to convince the abbot of Woburn to finance his schemes shows his considerable powers of persuasion, but his ability to attain gold was less successful and his endeavours cost, rather than made, money. In fact, in 1470 of £67 3s 4d contributed by the abbots in England and Wales for the maintenance of St Bernard’s, £25 was required for Richard’s expenses; on top of that he received some £13 from individual abbots. Not surprisingly his fellow scholars hoped Richard would make a speedy retreat to his homeland.(35)

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