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Cluny charter - 910

Cluny. "Cluny-Abtei-Ostfluegel-mtob". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons


On this day, September 11, 910, William I of Aquitaine donated the town of Cluny to become the seat of a monastery. His charter made clear that he did so to save his soul. He also invoked curses on anyone who would impede or undermine the intent of the charter. Here are key provisions of the charter.


“Therefore be it known to all who live in the unity of the faith and who await the mercy of Christ, and to those who shall succeed them and who shall continue to exist until the end of the world, that, for the love of God and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, I hand over from my own rule to the holy apostles, namely Peter and Paul, the possessions over which I hold sway:  the town of Cluny, namely, with the court and demesne manor, and the church in honour of St. Mary the mother of God and of St. Peter the prince of the apostles, together with all the things pertaining to it, the vills, indeed, the chapels, the serfs of both sexes, the vines, the fields, the meadows, the woods, the waters and their outlets, the mills, the incomes and revenues, what is cultivated and what is not, all in their entirety….

“I give these things, moreover, with this understanding, that in Cluny a regular monastery shall be constructed in honour of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, and that there the monks shall congregate and live according to the rule of St. Benedict, and that they shall possess, hold, have and order these same things unto all time.  In such wise, however, that the venerable house of prayer which is there shall be faithfully frequented with vows and supplications, and the celestial converse shall be sought and striven after with all desire and with the deepest ardour; and also that there shall be sedulously directed to God prayers, beseechings and exhortations as well for me as for all, according to the order in which mention has been made of them above….

“We will, further, that in our times and in those of our successors, according as the opportunities and possibilities of that place shall allow, there shall daily, with the greatest zeal be performed there works of mercy towards the poor, the needy, strangers and pilgrims.”


Date: Martin, Dennis. “Unceasing Prayer in an Uncertain World.” Christian History 29 (2007). Text:

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