Bernard never wrote to Eleanor [of Aquitaine], but he sent six letters to her husband, Louis VII. In not one of these letters does he so much as mention her. We might think he did not dare attack her directly. Yet he never hesitated to address the king in harsh words, reproaching him, for example, from one end to the other of the long letter 221. Surely, if he had had anything to say to the queen, he would not have fallen back on doing it anonymously by means of a message to some unknown maiden in letter 113. Similarly, Bernard vehemently denounced the king’s misdeeds in a long letter to cardinal Stephen, without the slightest allusion to his queen. In the last paragraph of this letter he mentions, among other instances of marriages marred by consanguinity, the union between Louis and Eleanor. But he lay no particular stress on it. And, again, whenever Bernard wrote to Suger about the king, he mentioned only him.

It has often been said that the presence of Eleanor and other ‘amazons’ on the second crusade was one of the causes of its failure. At the beginning of Book II of the De consideratione, where Bernard indulged in a retrospective examination of conscience about this disaster, he attributed it, not to the presence of women, of whom there is no mention, but to division between christian princes.

Jean Leclercq, Women and Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1989)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s