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The Cistercians in Yorkshire title graphic

The cost of financing the General Chapter


The cost of hosting the General Chapter was quite considerable, and external support was granted to help Cîteaux sustain its guests. In 1189 Richard I gifted the church of Scarborough and its revenues, as well as fish,(1) to help finance the entertainment of the visiting abbots; (2) the grant of fish was fairly common and fishing rights were reserved to Cîteaux in Lake Geneva from 22 July-14 September.

Measures were also taken to keep costs to a minimum. It was agreed that abbots should not stay longer than necessary, and there were restrictions on how many companions they might bring, although the precise details changed over the years, and were not always observed. From 1134 each abbot was to bring only one lay-brother, although it was conceded that abbots from overseas might have two horses with a boy or ‘familiar’; in the thirteenth century each abbot could bring two horses and two servants, and abbots from further afield, such as England, were allowed an extra travelling companion. This extension seems to have imposed too great a burden on Cîteaux and by the fourteenth century the ruling of one horse and one companion had been reinstated. From the thirteenth century visiting grooms were not admitted within the abbey precinct but stayed in Dijon, although this arrangement was probably as much to maintain decorum as limit expenses, for the grooms were notorious for their squabbles and unruly behaviour. While the General Chapter was in session, Cîteaux was stretched to its capacity and any other guests who arrived at this time were refused entry. (3)

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