Printer Friendly

Spaces of lay-religious interaction in Cistercian houses of Northern Europe.

Monastic spaces played a significant role in the interactions between Cistercian monasteries and their lay patrons, benefactors, and other supporters. This essay examines the reasons for the choice of particular locations and explores how the rituals were used to develop and strengthen bonds between the monastic communities and their wider familia. The examples are taken from Northern England, Scotland, and the Southern Baltic, representing both 'standard' Cistercian monasteries and those on the frontiers of the Christian world: Rievaulx and Fountains, founded 1132; Holm Cultram, founded 1150 (Northern England); Melrose, founded 1136 (Scotland); Kolbacz, founded 1174 (Western Pomerania); and Marienwalde founded c. 1280 (Neumark, a region immediately south of Pomerania). They demonstrate responses to local expectations and allow us to explain the degree of adaptability possible within the Cistercian model. These monastic foundations were all to a greater or lesser extent located on the frontiers of Latin Christendom, and provide good examples of the great expansion of the Cistercian order in the twelfth century and its attractiveness to the laity. The founders of the Cistercian houses in these regions tended to be people on the social rise, such as Walter Espec, founder of Rievaulx, and Warcislaw Swictobrzyc, founder of Kolbacz; other foundations were manifestations of conquest and territorial control in open frontiers and disputed borders, such as the foundation of Holm Cultram Abbey by King David I of Scotland and his son Henry, and the foundation of Marienwalde by the Askanian Margraves of Brandenburg.

The space of a monastic house, especially a Cistercian one, functions on many levels. The concept of space--a physical location to which complex cultural and religious meanings are ascribed--is always created and re-created by people using it. It is never static and its interpretations are often ambiguous. Historians often borrow anthropological and sociological theories of space, and medieval monasteries provide some of the best examples of how meanings are created and used. (1) Within the cloistral range, each building had its own purpose--either liturgical or practical, but usually a combination of both. The meaning attached to a given space could be altered temporarily or permanently by the time of day or by ritual or practical needs. The most striking example of this fluidity of function was in the chapter house, which was one of the most important buildings within the monastic precinct and served a variety of purposes central to the spiritual and practical functions of the community of Cistercian monks. Over a long period of time, the changing needs of monastic communities, changes in the numbers of monks, and other factors such as the disappearance of lay brothers, caused the west range of the Cistercian cloisters to be remodelled. By the fourteenth century, the need for greater privacy and space for intellectual work, as well as the desire for greater comfort, also impacted on the shape and appearance of many cloistral buildings, leading to the sub-division of the infirmary and dormitory into individual cells. (2)

Cistercian abbeys were complex structures consisting of buildings of various types organized in such a way that the life of the monastic community could be conducted in its entirety within the walls of the precinct. The design of the central structure--the cloister--was much older than the emergence of the Cistercian movement in the early twelfth century and based on the earlier Benedictine tradition. Yet although the Rule of St Benedict was the founding text of the Cistercians, the white monks were selective in adopting the monastic practices of their predecessors. The relationship of the Cistercian communities with the outside world was a major departure from the Benedictine model. One of the most important differences was the rejection of the cumbersome individual commemorations that the Benedictine monasteries provided for their benefactors. The design of the Cistercian precincts raised a barrier against the demands of the laity, and this created an aura of exclusivity in the locations the laity were permitted to enter.

The overall design of the Cistercian precincts gave the greatest protection to the central cloistral part with the church, which was surrounded by the Inner and Outer Court. The Inner Court contained the abbot's lodgings, infirmary, dormitory for the novices, cemetery, and the guesthouse. The main gatehouse of the Inner Court was usually a two-storey structure with accommodation for the porter and two vaulted entrances for pedestrians and vehicles. The gatehouse was also a distribution point for charity to the poor, which was under the porter's supervision; many Cistercian abbeys distributed food handouts during times of famine. (3) The Outer Court, which usually housed industrial and service buildings grouped into yards or courts, provided separation from the outside world as well as the connection to the monastic estates, especially home granges located in the immediate vicinity of the abbey. While the particular shape and arrangement of the monastic precinct varied from place to place depending on the landscape, water-courses, and the size and wealth of the community, the spaces of the monasteries were clearly distinguished from their environmental surroundings. Walls had both practical and symbolic roles: they delineated monastic, sacred space, and symbolized 'withdrawal from the world'. These structures were designed to protect the cloistral buildings and their inhabitants and to mark clearly the separation between the monastic and outside worlds. (4) Clairvaux began to construct its first wall as early as 1135. (5) By the fourteenth century, we can see a great proliferation of fortified walls for defensive purposes in the face of frequent and destructive wars. On the English-Scottish frontier, Holm Cultram Abbey received a licence to fortify its precinct in 1304, (6) while the wall around Melrose Abbey was first mentioned in 1422 but must have existed earlier than that. (7) The completion of the defensive wall around Kolbacz Abbey in Pomerania was mentioned in its chronicle in October 1349. (8) There is also evidence for walls in neighbouring houses--Dargun (Mecklenburg), Chorin, and Zinna (both in Brandenburg). (9) The structure that linked the monastic world with the outside was the outer gate, which closed the precinct walls, while the inner gatehouse controlled access to various parts of the monastery within their own enclosures. (10)

Monastic Spaces and the Laity

Hospitality was one of the central duties imposed on the monastic communities by the Rule of St Benedict. How the guests in Cistercian houses should be received and hosted was described in detail in the Ecclesiastica Officia, a customary which guided all aspects of the communities' lives. (11) The prescription to show kindness to the guests was frequently repeated by the General Chapter. (12) Despite the importance of the reception of guests in the Cistercian ethos, this is a topic which remains largely unexplored by historians. Although David H. Williams drew together a large number of scattered details about the practice of Cistercian hospitality, he did so without posing or answering any questions, while a recent study by Jutta Maria Berger focused on the theory and theological underpinnings of Cistercian hospitality but less on the practice. Only an article by Julie Kerr on late medieval customs addresses the Cistercian context directly. Her recent book on Benedictine hospitality provides an interesting comparative angle with the practices of the white monks. (13)

Hospitality--interactions with patrons, benefactors, and ecclesiastical visitors--was all conducted within the monastic precincts, but the spaces into which lay people were admitted were specially selected and usually depended on the context of the occasion, the status of the person, and the attitudes of the abbot and the monastic community. Cistercian rules of separation from the laity were far more defined than those of the Benedictine communities. (14) In the Benedictine houses, the guests, particularly important ones, were given a tour of the monastic buildings, whereas in the Cistercian houses lay access to the cloistral part was restricted to occasions when specific liturgical ceremonies were held--for example the yearly procession around the cloister with candles on the Feast of the Purification of Mary (2 February), in which the entire community, lay brothers, familiares, and guests took part. (15) The level of documentation of actual interactions varies greatly, since some involved mundane matters which were not documented, while important, high-powered interactions such as royal visits were more likely to leave traces in the sources.

Lay guests were never allowed simply to wander around; their movements were restricted largely to the Inner Court, outside the western range, where the guesthouse was located. It is clear that any contact between the monks and guests was discouraged. (16) Upon arrival, the guests' first contact was with the porter and during their stay they were looked after by the guest master. Guests were expected to pray separately from the monastic community, usually either in the gate chapel or the Galilee porch, in the most western section of the church. Typically for the period, food played a major role in the hosting of guests. A separate kitchen catered for the abbot and his guests. They were offered much richer food than that given to the community, but had to adhere to the fasting principle on the prescribed days. One of the reasons for the development of impressive abbatial houses (residences) was precisely the need for providing high-status space for entertaining important guests. By the end of the twelfth century, both Cistercian and Benedictine abbots operated 'a two-tier system of hospitality', that is inviting selected guests to dine with them, while the common guests ate in the guest hall. (17) In larger Cistercian houses, such as Fountains Abbey, different categories of guests were accommodated in different buildings completed in the 1160s. More important visitors were housed in two comfortable houses equipped with fireplaces and flushing latrines, while ordinary guests stayed in the hall. (18)

The importance of receiving guests as a religious duty is highlighted by the fact that the guesthouses were often erected within the first phase of the cloistral building programme. Their particular shape and size was often linked to the local conditions and expectation of the patrons. The building of the guesthouse of Marienwalde Abbey in the late thirteenth century was contemporary to the monastic church and was of an unusually large size especially in relation to the relatively modest dimensions of the precinct and cloistral complex. It was located beyond the water-channel surrounding the precinct, but had its own well-protected spot facing the lake on one side and marshland on the other, and accessible through a single causeway. The building itself, made of brick, housed stables on the ground floor and living accommodation in the upper storey. It is very likely that this sizable structure was built specifically for the Margraves of Brandenburg, founders of the Marienwalde Abbey, and used by them during frequent visits to this politically sensitive region. (19) In this particular case, the shape of the guesthouse was clearly influenced by the needs and wishes of the patrons and they must have claimed its extensive, if not exclusive use. This can be contrasted with the guesthouses of Rievaulx Abbey, a large powerful Cistercian house, whose patron, Walter Espec, was very supportive, but whose heirs, the Ros family, remained largely distant from the abbey in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The original wooden guesthouse at Rievaulx was destroyed by fire in 1134. The description of the event, in which the future Abbot Ailred was involved as a lay guest--staying in the accommodation while awaiting admission to the novices group--gives some important clues. When the fire broke out, the future abbot 'was sitting with some others at a table in the southern part of the house'. (20) As Peter Fergusson has stressed, this shows that Ailred had already a privileged position, but it also suggests that even the early guesthouse had some areas set aside for more important guests. (21) Unlike the guesthouse in Marienwalde, which was a residence for visiting patrons, Rievaulx's first guesthouse housed a variety of people.

The scope of Cistercian hospitality was not only dependent on the local context and location, but also on changes over time. By the fourteenth century, the status of many Cistercian abbots, especially those in charge of large monasteries, was that of powerful prelates. Many of them secured an expensive papal privilege of using pontifical insignia. The internal matters of the community tended to be governed by the priors, while abbots increasingly became the 'external face' of the monastery. The abbatial residences were frequently rebuilt in the later Middle Ages in fashionable styles and the hosting of guests and meetings with powerful laymen often took place in these houses, which had little connection with the life of the community itself. (22)

As much as hospitality was a formalized and traditional part of the relationship between the Cistercian houses and the lay world, other forms of contact had a greater discretionary element. This exclusivity of the Cistercian space made the occasions when lay people were admitted to the monastic church or the chapter house particularly meaningful and desirable.

Donation Ceremonies

Donation ceremonies were the most important types of mutually beneficial interaction which occurred between benefactors and monastic houses. An act of donation to a monastery was a good deed in itself and the reciprocity embedded in the act of giving obliged the monks to pray for their benefactors and to provide other material or spiritual counter-gifts. (23) The acts of giving are recorded in numerous charters of donations, but the details of the actual ceremonies were rarely listed. (24) The acts of donation were public events attended by the kin group of the donors, their neighbours, and various associates of the abbey. These events did not have to happen in the abbey itself; in fact, many high status donations by royalty occurred at the locations where the court was stationed, while grants from local people, especially knightly families, were almost always performed at the abbey. The customs of monastic scriptoria varied greatly as to the degree of narrative elements in the charters and only some make reference to the spaces in which the donation ceremonies took place.

The descendants of the founder of Kolbacz Abbey--Warcislaw--donated and sold to this Cistercian house the whole of their patrimony in the area around the monastic house, alienating huge tracts of land by donation and sale. This process lasted for three generations, which meant that by 1242 the family had lost all its landholdings in the provincia Colbazensi. (25) Among the string of charters showing this process there is a document issued between 1220 and 1227 by Swictobor, son of Kazimierz, and his mother which records the donation of 'Smirdinza', a village belonging to his inheritance. The charter states that the grant occurred in a solemn ceremony at the high altar of Kolbacz Abbey in the presence of Abbot Palno and 'many monks and conversi'. (26) Donations were never affairs of individuals, but involved the whole kin of the donor, neighbours, and the monastic community. This is reflected in the wording of the charters, which always proclaims the grant being made to 'the abbot and the community serving God', while the donation was specifically beneficial in the intercession for the souls of the ancestors, descendants, and entire family of the donor. The relatives and neighbours populated the witness lists, but the names written down were usually a fraction of those actually present. The location of the ceremony indicated in the Kolbacz Abbey's charter was fairly typical for the important acts, and normally inaccessible to the majority of the participants.

The monks' choir and the area around the high altar were not normally open to the lay brothers, whose choir was further west in the nave behind the space reserved for the novices. (27) Some historians stress that the special separation of monks and conversi increased in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, while in the earlier period, the structure of the monasteries allowed for greater contact between both groups. This has been traced by Peter Fergusson using the example of Rievaulx Abbey where the architectural scheme introduced by the first abbot, William, allowed the lay brothers to enter the cloister and attend the chapter on some occasions. By the 1180s, the entrances to the cloisters from the inner court were blocked, preventing their access to the monks' space. (28) The degree of access to the holiest places within the monastery, permitted to the laity, also changed over time, but in the 'opposite direction' to the situation of the conversi. This will be explained in the discussion on burials.

The lavishness of the donation ceremony and its symbolically meaningful location were emphasized more in the cases of problematic benefactors, individuals whose grants were of vital importance, and when the security of the donations needed to be particularly strengthened. Although grants were always given in perpetuity, they were secure only if the benefactor and his or her heirs were willing to uphold the initial promises. The solemnity of these donation ceremonies and the spaces in which they took place were often linked to the need to make the donations very secure. Specifically, these rituals expose monastic fears as to the future actions of the lay people, as can be seen in the case of Hugh de Malabisse's grant to Rievaulx Abbey. Hugh de Malabisse was the son of a steward of Roger de Mowbray also called Hugh de Malabisse. Since Roger was a generous benefactor of Rievaulx and a supporter of Cistercian monasticism in Yorkshire, he influenced his men also to give pious donations. Hugh senior was a man who established the success of his family, the status of which was further advanced by his son. (29) Being linked to the Mowbrays and having a record of earlier grants to both Rievaulx and neighbouring Byland Abbey made Hugh junior exactly the kind of benefactor to be treated as a 'friend' of the abbey. One of his charters for Rievaulx Abbey between 1160 and 1165, recording a donation of attractively located meadows and pastures, contains a brief description of a ceremony involving the donor and taking place in the monastic church, which was on this occasion full of both monks and lay people. The ceremony included a large counter-gift, but what is more significant is the fact that Hugh placed the charter by his own hand on the high altar at Rievaulx, in this way entering the most sacred part of the monastic church. (30) The solemnity of the act and power of the space were used to make the donor fearful of the eschatological consequences of breaking his promise to the monastic community.

Meetings and Gatherings

Many monastic institutions, especially old Benedictine communities with large conventual buildings and opulent churches were particularly suitable for important ceremonies such as coronations, crown-wearing, dubbings, for holding councils and even early 'parliaments'. (31) Such large gatherings were unlikely to occur in Cistercian houses, but more pragmatic gatherings, often very significant ones, are also documented for a number of northern Cistercian houses. High-status visitors--royal, ducal, or local powerful men--used the Cistercian house as a venue for meetings with other lay people. This was often the case if the location of the monastery was close to the border or within the disputed territory. To some extent the monasteries were a 'neutral' ground for meetings, so at times of war or conflict they were suitable venues for negotiations. Abbatial residences and guesthouses, which were designated spaces for entertaining guests, and were the most public spaces within the monastic precinct, were the obvious choice for a meeting involving laity, but we also find a number of references to gatherings taking place in buildings which also had liturgical functions. The most important of them were the chapter houses.

Within the cloistral range, the chapter house was one of the most significant spaces and was used for a variety of functions central to the life of the community. The building was usually located in the eastern range of the cloister. It was square or rectangular in shape, with benches along the walls, while the central place was reserved for the abbot. The prime purpose of the chapter house was as a gathering place for the community every morning for the meeting known as the chapter. All monks except novices and lay brothers were expected to attend. The meetings had two interlinked purposes of creating a well-functioning community. The first was practical, dealing with the internal matters of the community--assigning tasks, making announcements, correcting mistakes, and punishing offenders. The second had a spiritual function, involving readings from the martyrology for a given day and extracts from the Rule of St Benedict with the abbot's commentaries. Each chapter finished with the commemoration of the deceased members of the community and recitation of De Profundis. The same pattern was followed every day, except on Sunday when additional readings from the statutes of the General Chapter and other Cistercian regulations were added. On the first Sunday of Lent, novices were admitted to the monastery during the chapter meeting. The centrality of this space for the monastic community was heightened by the fact that the chapter houses were traditional resting places for deceased abbots whose tomb slabs covered the floor. (32)

The chapter house was also a space of some fluidity, the status of which changed in relation to the functions performed there. During chapter meetings, for instance, it was out of bounds to any outsiders, but at other times members of the laity might be allowed to enter it. It was a space in which rituals of community were performed and practical aspects of its functioning attended to. The abbatial burials and prayers for the deceased members of the community provided strong reminders of the past of the monastic house and reinforced a sense of continuity.

A very striking example of a meeting in a chapter house that clearly reflected the reasons behind the choice of this venue is recorded in The Chronicle of Melrose. In 1216, Yorkshire barons who rebelled against King John
   fled for protection to the king of Scotland; and when they reached
   his presence they did homage to him, and one and all of them swore
   fealty to him, and gave him security upon the reliques of the
   saints ... in the chapter-house of the monks of Melrose. (33)

It was not only geographical convenience that encouraged the barons to choose Melrose Abbey, which was located on the route from northern England. The community of Melrose still had very strong connections to Yorkshire; many of the monks came from the mother house of Rievaulx Abbey, which was well known to the northern barons. The Yorkshire house maintained regular connections with its Scottish daughter. The collection of relics on which the oath was made must have included St Waltheof's, whose marble shrine was located at the entrance to the chapter house. (34) Waltheof was the second abbot of Melrose, half-brother of Earl Henry, and also a former monk at Rievaulx and a friend of Abbot Ailred of Rievaulx. Before becoming a Cistercian monk Waltheof was prior of the Augustinian priory of Kirkham--founded by the same Walter Espec who was the founder of Rievaulx. (35) These symbolic and personal connections made the abbey a very suitable venue for a meeting, while the space of the chapter house was a powerful reminder of the significance of the oath to all the parties involved in this act. Breaking an oath taken on the relics was believed to bring the vengeance of the offended saint. In this way, the ceremony at Melrose was a continuation of an old tradition typical for the Benedictine context and familiar to the lay participants of the meeting. The location of the shrine at the entrance to the chapter house meant that it was accessible from both the external eastern gallery and from the chapter house itself. It was an arrangement that allowed, if the community wished, some access to the shrine by the guests without their having to enter the chapter house. It also helped to 'radiate' the power of the saint's relics within the cloistral range.

The positive relationships between the monastic houses and lay people were often formalized in the admission of particular supporters of the monastery to a confraternity. The ceremonies of admission into the confraternity usually took place in the chapter house. Confraternities bound 'special friends' of the community to it, and provided commemoration in the form of secure continuity of intercessory prayers. (36) A particularly important function of the confraternity was the assurance of burials within the monastery, although there were no fixed dedicated spaces for such inhumations. Female burials in the Cistercian cemeteries were less common than male interments. Women buried in the Cistercian houses tended to be members of the confraternity or belonged to the patrons' families. (37) While confraternity was a virtual bond between the living and the dead, burials were a material reminder of this arrangement and functioned as a focus of the intercessory activities.

Permanent Reminders of Lay Presence

Lay-religious interactions often left physical reminders within the space of the monastic precinct. There were two main manifestations of these. Firstly, there were images of the benefactors and patrons--coats of arms and other visual symbols of individuals and kin groups who materially supported the house. Secondly, there were burials, which constituted not only a permanent 'residency' in the monastery, but were usually accompanied by various markers from very simple to most elaborate tombs. Burials were one element of the intercessory 'service' by the monastic community. (38)

The extent of lay burials, their visual 'packaging' and location changed significantly from the early twelfth century, and this is reflected both in the Cistercian regulations (Statuta Generalis) and actual practice. Although the regulations of the Order were intended to prevent a 'mass-encroachment' of lay burials into the space of Cistercian monasteries, as was often the case in the Benedictine houses, they nonetheless provided a means of offering burials to those lay people who were important for the monastic houses. The restrictive nature of the legislation on burials diminished over time. By c. 1147, the abbey's servants were allowed to be buried in the monastic cemetery if they died within the precinct, alongside a limited number of 'friends' and familiars and their wives. In 1179, the General Chapter added founders and anybody else who could not be refused without 'causing a scandal'. The codification of 1202 listed types of people who could be buried in Cistercian houses--founders, their descendants (patrons), and guests, two familiars with their wives, and servants employed by the abbey. Further regulations concerning burials in the monastic cemetery were added in 1217. Any lay person was allowed burial in a Cistercian cemetery as long as they secured a licence from a parish priest.

The evidence of the regulations and practice has led historians to conclude that it was the location of the burials that was a real issue for the Cistercians, not the principle of burials. In 1180, a decision of the General Chapter forbade any secular burials in monastic churches except for kings, queens, and bishops. This was frequently repeated in the Cistercian statutes until 1316. Concern over where lay people were buried was expressed not only by generalized restrictions, but also by numerous punishments which were inflicted, until the end of the 1220s, on abbots who transgressed, primarily in French and German houses. The last case of condemnation of an abbot for permitting a lay burial in the monastic church occurred in 1251. By the mid-thirteenth century entombments within the Cistercian churches appeared to become a part of the accepted tradition, although this was not formalized in the Order's legislation until 1601. (39)

Lay burials can thus be found in a number of locations within the cloistral complex, as well as in the cemeteries outside the cloistral range. These large-scale cemeteries, which accommodated laity of lower standing than those buried in more prominent locations, have only recently been the objects of more systematic study. A number of interesting examples from Cistercian houses in the British Isles reveal that a wide range of social groups was buried in these spaces where location replicated and expressed the social standing of the individuals, thus strengthening the hierarchy of burial spaces within the precincts. Among the Cistercian houses in Yorkshire, Fountains Abbey was probably the largest 'burials provider' offering different options attracting different social strata of benefactors. The wealthiest and most powerful donors of the abbey--several members of the Percy family, William de Stutteville, and Roger de Stapleton, the Sheriff of York, requested burials at Fountains and were buried in the monastic church. There were also numerous requests for burials from the lowest stratum of the abbey's benefactors--peasants, who were buried in the cemetery in the monastic precinct. (40) Although the outdoor cemetery was less 'holy' than the monastic church itself, the individuals interred there also benefited from the prayers and good works of the monks. The intercessory power might have been additionally amplified by further donations specifically aimed at the souls of those buried in the Cistercian monastery. For instance, the chapel in the cemetery at Kolbacz Abbey for which Duke Barnim III (d. 1364) founded a perpetual light on the altar was a resting place for the lay people who not only 'benefited' from being buried in the Cistercian monastery, but also from the pro defunctis masses performed regularly in the chapel. (41)

The widening of the social spectrum of lay burials in Cistercian houses accelerated in the fourteenth century, which also led to the opening of the previously restricted spaces to lay inhumations, especially in the eastern part of the church. (42) Being buried in front of the high altar became a privilege frequently given to--and clearly expected by--the patrons. The greater openness of the Cistercian churches to lay burials was influenced by contemporary developments, expectations of the laity, and the practice of 'competitors', most notably Franciscans and Dominicans, who opened up their churches to lay burials in the late thirteenth century. It has to be stressed however, that Cistercian practice was neither reverting to the older Benedictine tradition nor simply copying the mendicants' 'open door policy' for lay burials in their churches. Above all, by the later Middle Ages, Cistercian lay burial 'policy' was highly regionalized and very individual for each house and its specific social context.

The blurring of divisions between the laity and monks at the point of death manifested itself in admissions ad succurrendum, which meant that such a lay person died in the habit of a Cistercian monk, which offered great intercessory powers. Such cases were usually restricted to patrons and benefactors. The Chronicle of Melrose mentions a number of its benefactors who became Cistercian monks on their deathbeds. Patrick, Earl of Dunbar, who was a generous, and at times difficult, benefactor to Melrose became a Cistercian monk on his deathbed in 1232. Abbot Adam of Melrose, who was his kinsman, performed the last rites. We may speculate that the community must have been disappointed that he was not buried in their house, but in the Cistercian nunnery in Eccles (Berwickshire). (43) In other cases, burial in a 'wrong' place was remedied by moving a deceased benefactor for a second interment in the 'correct' monastery. One such situation is mentioned in the Chronicle of Melrose in 1219 when William de Valogne, royal chamberlain and benefactor of Melrose died in the neighbouring Kelso Abbey. (44) His body was moved to Melrose and buried in the chapter house 'contrary to the wishes of the monks of that house', that is, Kelso's. (45) In 1246, the body of Henry de Balliol was moved from the church of St James and buried in the chapter house of Melrose. (46) All these stories indicate that the process leading to being buried in a Cistercian house was far from a one-way application submitted by the laity to the monastic community, but rather a more complex structure of invitations, requests, and direct actions by both parties.

Sometimes the final step to burial in the monastery was preceded by a period of 'retirement' or prolonged hospitality given to the individual in question. Otto I, who died in 1344 at the age of 66, was the first of the dukes of Stettin, patrons of Kolbacz Abbey, to be buried there, noted in the monastic chronicle under the date of 20 December. (47) According to the fairly reliable sixteenth-century account, the Duke spent the last years of his life in the abbey pursuing a life of piety and charity. (48) This was the culmination of a long association with this Cistercian abbey. Duke Otto I was a frequent visitor to Kolbacz Abbey and one of his charters even describes the abbey as his locum familiaritatis. (49) We know almost nothing about where such people resided in the monastic precinct. Have they occupied part of the guesthouse or some building within the inner court? Unfortunately, there is no documentary evidence.

The most desirable monastic spaces for lay burials were the church and the chapter house. These sites were limited to a much narrower group of laity than were the cemeteries. The most important space in the Cistercian monastic church was the east end, which contained the high altar, often with a complex arrangement of chapels with their own altars and the monks' choir. These additional altars appeared in great numbers in thirteenth century when it became common for the monks to be ordained priests. All these locations had a particular 'intercessionary' character. (50) The regular performance of the mass and the presence of relics on the high altars made these sections of the church very desirable for burials. King Alexander II (d. 1249), the patron of Melrose Abbey, was buried there as well as William, Bishop of Glasgow and royal chancellor (d. 1258). (51) The most accessible--to the deceased laity was the western end of the church, especially the Galilee porch and the lay brothers' choir, that is, the spaces furthest away from the liturgical activities. (52) Many large Yorkshire houses show a process of the slow 'creeping' of lay burials, which were largely restricted to the west end in the twelfth century, further into the church, to the transept and choir in the thirteenth century and by the fourteenth century often taking the form of opulent tombs by the high altar. (53) The presence of lay tombs and epitaphs of lay people became a widespread feature of Cistercian houses across northern Europe. By the fourteenth century they were not subject to the Order's restrictions either in terms of their location or the degree of ornamentation. Regional studies have shown that the appearance of lay tombs followed varied stylistic fashions and were not restricted to simple slabs with inscriptions, but included four-dimensional figures and monumental brasses. The visual diversity of these commemorations was paralleled by the great variety of people who were buried in the Cistercian houses. Doberan Abbey in Mecklenburg was the resting place of the local ducal family, nobility, knights, and wealthy burgesses from Hanseatic cities, and these people were all visually commemorated in the monastic church. (54)

The addition of chapels with altars to the presbytery, transept, or lay brothers' choir allowed additional space for lay burials and exclusive commemorations. This was a process which was already visible by the late thirteenth century and which clearly accelerated in the fourteenth century. Such dedicated burial chapels served to strengthen relationships with the prominent benefactors and other supporters, and these were to last over a number of generations. Marienwalde Abbey became the necropolis of the local leading family, the Wedels. Within a few years from the foundation, on 10 July 1305, Hasso Wedel gave the village of Regenthin to Marienwalde Abbey in return for allowing him and his family to be buried in the monastic church, with daily masses to be said at the altar of the Blessed Angels. Being a rather controlling man, the donor retained the right to withdraw the donation if the monastery did not fulfil its part of the bargain, and he also prohibited Marienwalde from establishing a grange on the land given, thus trying to secure not only the fate of his soul, but also to prevent the abbey from gaining economic advantage, which could be detrimental to his long-term family interest. (55) Further generations followed Hasso's choice of burial location and the Wedel family remained as friends of Marianwale Abbey until its suppression in 1539. (56)

The lay burials and the establishment of new chapels often marked the emergence of new important protective figures for the Cistercian houses. For Melrose Abbey, which suffered severely during the wars of independence, a new relationship with the earls of Douglas was strengthened by the establishment of the family necropolis in the monastic church. By the 1370s, the family came to be a leading power in the Borders and the Douglas family became key supporters and protectors of Melrose Abbey. This is clearly reflected in the burial of William, Earl of Douglas, who died in 1384 and was buried in a new chapel dedicated to St Bride in the abbey church. When King David II confirmed Earl William's grants to Melrose, the charter specified the location of the Earl's burial. (57) His son James was buried next to his father in 1388.58 The saintly patroness of the chapel was not chosen accidentally as the principal church of their lordship was dedicated to St Bride. (59) The shift of the family burials from the parish church to a more prestigious Cistercian monastery allowed for the continuation of devotion to this particular saint. It is also a demonstration of the impact of lay people's religiosity on the space of the Cistercian monastic church, which became more accommodating to fulfil their religious expectations.

As described earlier, the chapter house was a space particularly rich in meaning. By being buried there, lay people expressed and established particular closeness to the monastic community and shared the burial space with the abbots customarily interred there. Many chapter houses also boasted shrines of early abbots (as mentioned earlier in relation to Rievaulx and Melrose) recognized as saints, which radiated the intrinsic power of relics. Liturgical and paraliturgical activities in the chapter house had further eschatological benefits for the laity buried there. One of the best examples of the popularity of this location among benefactors and other 'friends' is Melrose, which has twelve documented burials in the chapter house listed in the Chronicle of Melrose between 1215 and 1247. Among them was a woman, Christina Corbet (d. 1241), wife of William of Dunbar and daughter-in-law of Patrick of Dunbar, who were important benefactors of Melrose. Earl Patrick took the Cistercian monastic habit on his deathbed, although he was buried not at Melrose, but in the nunnery church of St Mary of Eccles. (60) Christina's and William's sons, Patrick and Nicholas, also continued a relationship with the abbey. (61) These female burials in the chapter house formed part of a wider relationship between Christina's family and the abbey and were not a gesture directed solely at her. Cistercians were very much preoccupied with preventing female presence not just within the cloistral range, but even within the Inner Court. It was particularly complicated for Cistercian monasteries which were pilgrimage destinations. In 1317, the General Chapter gave Heisterbach Abbey permission to admit women to the monastic church on the feast of its dedication, when the pilgrims could receive indulgences. (62) In any other case, poor women and pilgrims were admitted only as far as the gatehouse. High-status women could not be simply turned away, but their presence beyond the gatehouse, especially overnight, remained very problematic. In a famous case in 1246, when Queen Eleanor, the wife of King Henry III, stayed for three weeks in the monastic infirmary with her son who had fallen ill during the dedication ceremony of Beaulieu Abbey, the prior and cellarer were deposed for having allowed this to happen. (63) It appears that female burials were less controversial than visits by living women, and burials of aristocratic women, who were important supporters of the Cistercian houses or were associated with the key benefactor families, became for many communities of white monks an important element of their commemorative and intercessory role.

The location of the burials was important not only as a one-off decision on where to place deceased patrons and benefactors, but also as a solution to the problem of what to do with the graves and tombs in the process of rebuilding monastic churches. A decision to shift a location or to erect a new tomb was made not only on aesthetic grounds but was also a demonstration that the community was maintaining its promise of commemoration, especially if there was no continuity of the founder's descendants who would have insisted on the continuation of the commemoration. This can be illustrated by the movements of the grave of Kolbacz Abbey's founder. Warcislaw died in 1196, a year after the death of the first Abbot Everard, when the monastic church at Kolbacz was still a provisional wooden structure. (64) The second location of the tumba principum--usually equated with the founder's resting place--was in the choir of the lay brothers, as recorded in 1307 in the monastic chronicle. (65) It is likely that not only did the burial change its location but the tomb also acquired a new appearance with the architectural developments of the monastic church. The trend for locating aristocratic burials in the Cistercian choir of the lay brothers in front of the cross-altar came to prominence by 1300. (66) The information about Warcislaw's tomb appeared in the entry concerning the completion of the vaulting of the west end of the church, installation of the altar in the choir of the lay brothers, and installation of the crucifix over the arcade. The new location of the founder's tomb was part of the fashionable architectural programme, and was also a commitment to the commemoration of the founder even if his descendants did not play any further role in Kolbacz.

The other forms of visual presence of the patrons in the monastic spaces --images--mentioned at the beginning of this section, were also placed in liturgically important locations. In Marienwalde Abbey, the sculptural heads of columns supporting the entrance to the chapter house depict Abbot Herman of Kolbacz from where the community of Marienwalde originated and one of the founders, Margrave Otto IV. (67) Such visual commemoration of the patrons and benefactors separate from the burials gained popularity in the Cistercian houses from the late thirteenth century and became fairly common in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Many Cistercian houses became foundations aimed at preserving the memoria of the patrons and even fulfilled the role of 'Hausklosters'. (68) This provided a highly individualized, prestigious commemoration and was often linked to financial involvement in a re-building programme funding such things as stained glass, altar pieces, or dedicated chapels. (69)

The later Middle Ages was a period when the Cistercian order had to adjust itself to the changing world not only in its political and economic aspects, but also in the growth of lay religiosity and changing expectations of lay benefactors. Intercessory functions, which were always an important aspect of the Cistercian life, came into greater prominence in association with lay burials, which entered previously restricted areas such as the chapter house and east end of the church. The eschatological value of the interments was not initially linked to the visibility or splendour of the tomb, but such aspects became prominent by the fourteenth century. The combination of these social and spiritual factors was most apparent in the family burial chapels, which benefactors of the Cistercian houses established as more permanent signs of their connection with the monasteries.

The appealing combination of exclusivity, high status, and intercessory power made the spaces of the Cistercian houses very attractive to the living, too. The presence of patrons, benefactors, and other friends of the monasteries within the precinct was linked to the significance of hospitality, which was at the core of the monastic ethos. Unlike their fellow Benedictine monasteries, Cistercian houses had a layout which prevented unrestricted movement of the laity to the most significant spaces of the monastic church, chapter house, and the cloister. Lay people were occasionally permitted to access those locations because of particular activities there--meeting, negotiation, and grant-giving. For the religious houses, allowing lay access to these particular spaces gave donation ceremonies the power to ensure that lay people honoured their promises, thereby strengthening bonds with their patrons and benefactors.

(1) Megan Cassidy-Welch, Monastic Spaces and their Meanings: Thirteenth-Century English Cistercian Monasteries (Turnhout: Brepols, 2001), pp. 2-12.

(2) A very good study of the changes in the form and function of cloistral buildings throughout the history of a single institution is Peter Fergusson, Stuart Harrison, and Glyn Coppack, Rievaulx Abbey: Community, Architecture, Memory (New Haven: Yale, 2000). For discussion of the changes in the living conditions and greater role of academic study in the Cistercian houses and their impact on the shape of buildings see: David N. Bell, 'Chambers, Cells and Cubicles: The Cistercian General Chapter and the Development of the Private Room', in Perspectives for an Architecture of Solitude: Essays on Cistercians, Art and Architecture in Honour of Peter Fergusson, ed. Terryl Kinder (Turnhout: Brepols, 2004), pp. 187-98.

(3) Terryl Kinder, Cistercian Europe: Architecture of Contemplation (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 2002), pp. 368-70; Jackie Hall, 'English Cistercian Gatehouse Chapels', Cteaux: Commentarii Cistercienses, 52 (2001), p. 63.

(4) Kinder, Cistercian Europe (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 2002), p. 367.

(5) Jerzy Augustyniak, 'Funkcje obronne zalozen klasztornych na przykladzie opactwa cysterskiego w Sulejowie', in Klasztor w spoleczenstwie sredniowiecznym i nowozytnym, eds Marek Derwich and Anna Pobog-Lenartowicz (Opole: LARHCOR 1996), pp. 372-74.

(6) Anthony Goodman, 'Religion and Warfare in the Anglo-Scottish Marches', in Medieval Frontier Societies, eds Robert Bartlett and Angus MacKay (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), pp. 245-66 (p. 258).

(7) 'Annalen des Klosters Colbatz', in Pommersches Urkundenbuch, ed. Roger Prumers, 11 vols (Stettin, 1877), I (2), pp. 474-93 (p. 490); James Curle, 'Melrose: the Precinct Wall of the Monastery', History of the Berwickshire Naturalist Club, 29 (1935), pt. 1, pp. 29-50 (p. 31).

(8) 'Anno domini M. CCC. XLIX. in profesto beatorum martirum Crispini et Crispiani murus in Colbaz est perfectus per girum temporibus domini nostril Barnimi illustris principis sub domino abate Gozwino', in 'Annalen des Klosters Colbatz', p. 490.

(9) Christine Kratzke, Das ZisterzienserklosterDargun in Mecklenburg-Vorpomern. Studien zur Bau- und Kunstgeschichte (Petersberg: Michael Imhof Verlag, 2003), p. 224.

(10) Peter Fergusson, 'Notes on Early Cistercian Gatehouses in the North of England', in Medieval Architecture and its Intellectual Context: Studies in Honour of Peter Kidson, eds Eric Fernie and Paul Crossley (London: Hambledon Press, 1990), pp. 47-59 (pp. 52, 55).

(11) Daniele Choisselet and Placide Vernet, eds, Les Ecclesiastica Officia Cisterciens du XlIeme Siecle (Reiningue: La Documentation Cistercienne, 1989).

(12) The Rule of St Benedict, Ch. 53; 'Instituta Generalis Capituli apud Cistercium', in Narrative and Legislative Texts, clause I, p. 454; Ecclesiastica Officia, Chs 87, 120.

(13) Williams, 'Layfolk Within Cistercian Precincts', Monastic Studies, ed. Judith Loades, 2 vols (Bangor: Headstart History, 1991), II, pp. 87-117; Berger, Die Geschichte der Gastfreundschaft im Hochmittelalterlichen Monchtum: Die Cistercienser (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1999); Kerr, 'Cistercian Hospitality in the Later Middle Ages', Monasteries and Society in the Later Middle Ages, eds Janet Burton and Karen Stober (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2008), pp. 25-39; and Kerr, Monastic Hospitality: The Benedictines in England, c. 1070-c. 1250 (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2007).

(14) The Ecclesiastica Officia, a Cistercian collection of 'usages', regulated all matters of the internal working of the monastery included also an extensive section on the hospitality. In addition, many rulings of the Chapter General deal with particular aspects of contacts with the patrons, benefactors, their burials, hospitality and their influence on the monastic community.

(15) Kerr, Monastic Hospitality, pp. 167-69; Kinder, Cistercian Europe, pp. 167-75.

(16) Shiela Bonde and Clark Maines, 'Ne aliquis extraneus claustrum intret: Entry and Access at the Augustinian Abbey of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes, Soissons', in Perspectives for an Architecture of Solitude, pp. 177-79. The Cistercian rules of guest reception are given in Choisselet and Vernet, Les Ecclesiastica Officia Cisterciens du XlIeme Siecle, Ch. 87, pp. 246-48.

(17) Julie Kerr, 'The Symbolic Significance of Hospitality', in Self-Representation of Medieval Religious Communities: The British Isles in Context, Vita Regularis, 40, eds Anne Muller and Karen Stober (Berlin: Lit, 2009), pp. 125-42 (p. 130).

(18) Kerr, Monastic Hospitality, p. 90.

(19) Teresa Swiercz, 'Tradycja i nowatorstwo zalozenia cysterskiego w Bierzwniku', in Cystersi w spoleczenstwie Europy Srodkowej. Materially z konferencji naukowej odbytej w klasztorze oo. Cystersow w Krakowie Mogile z okazji 900 rocznicy powstania Zakonu Ojcow Cystersow. Poznan-Krakow-Mogila 5-10 paidziernika 1998, eds Andrzej Marek Wyrwa and Jozef Dobosz (Poznan: Wydawnictwo Poznanskie, 2000), pp. 467-89 (p. 467).

(20) The life of Ailred of Rievaulx by Walter Daniel, ed. and trans. Maurice Powicke (London: Nelson, 1951), p. 73.

(21) Rievaulx Abbey, p. 62.

(22) Kinder, Cistercian Europe, pp. 355-59.

(23) There is a significant literature on the theory and practice of medieval donations to the religious houses. For a good overview of recent studies see Arnoud-Jan A. Bijsterveld, 'The Medieval Gift as Agent of Social Bonding and Power. Afterword: the Study of Gift Giving since the 1990s', in his Do ut des: Gift Giving, Memoria, and Conflict Management in the Low Countries (Hilversum: Verloren, 2007), pp. 17-50.

(24) For a standard format of the donation ceremony see Bijsterveld, 'A Glove on the Altar: Profane Symbols and Sacred Rituals', in his Gift Giving, pp. 63-82 (p. 67).

(25) Pommersches Urkundenbuch, I, no. 398.

(26) Pommersches Urkundenbuch, I, no. 204.

(27) Kinder, Cistercian Europe, p. 167.

(28) Rievaulx Abbey, pp. 56-57.

(29) Hugh M. Thomas, Vassals, Heiresses, Crusaders and Thugs: The Gentry of Angevin Yorkshire, 1154-1216 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), p. 24.

(30) John C. Atkinson, ed., Cartularium abbathice deRievalle, Surtees Society, 83 (Durham: Andrews, 1889), no. 75. I discuss this case, in a different context in: Emilia Jamroziak, 'Making and Breaking the Bonds: Yorkshire Cistercians and their Neighbours', in Perspectives for an Architecture, p. 65.

(31) Kerr, Monastic Hospitality, p. 11.

(32) Kinder, Cistercian Europe, pp. 245-68.

(33) The Chronicle of Melrose, trans. Joseph Stevenson (Lampeter: Llanerch Press, 1991), p. 44.

(34) The Chronicle of Melrose, pp. 16-17.

(35) Brian P. McGuire, Brother and Lover: Aelred of Rievaulx (New York: Crossroad, 1994), p. 77; Emilia Jamroziak, Rievaulx Abbey and its Social Context 1132-1300: Memory, Locality, and Networks (Turnhout: Brepols, 2005), pp. 147-48.

(36) For more information on monastic confraternities see: Arnold Angenendt, 'How was a Confraternity Made? The Evidence of Charters', in The Durham Liber Vitae and its Context, eds David Rollason and others (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2004), pp. 207-19; Arnoud-Jan Bijsterveld, 'Looking for Common Ground: From Monastic fraternitas to Lay Confraternity in the Southern Low Countries in the Tenth to Twelfth Centuries', in Religious andLaity in Northern Europe 1000-1400: Interaction, Negotiation and Power, eds Emilia Jamroziak and Janet Burton (Turnhout: Brepols, 2006), pp. 287-314.

(37) Roberta Gilchrist and Barney Sloane, Requiem: The Medieval Monastic Cemetery in Britain (London: Museum of London Archaeological Service, 2005), pp. 64-65.

(38) Christine Kratzke, 'Bestatten--Gedanken--Reprasentieren. Mittelalterliche Sepulkraldenkmaler in Zisterzen', Citeaux: Commentarii Cistercienses, 56 (2005), 9-25 (p. 23).

(39) Jackie Hall, 'The Legislative Background to the Burial of Laity and Other Patrons in Cistercian Abbeys', Citeaux: Commentarii Cistercienses, 56 (2005), 364-69; Jackie Hall, Shelagh Sneddon, and Nadine Sohr, 'Table of Legislation Concerning the Burial of Laity and other Patrons in Cistercian Abbeys', Citeaux: Commentarii Cistercienses, 56 (2005), 373-418.

(40) Joan Wardrop, Fountains Abbey and its Benefactors 1132-1300 (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1987), pp. 263-76.

(41) Pommersches Urkundenbuch, XI, no. 6109.

(42) Gilchrist and Sloane, Requiem: The Medieval Monastic Cemetery, pp. 56, 60.

(43) The Chronicle of Melrose, p. 60.

(44) Liber de Melros, nos 102, 101, 168, 113, 115, 174, 176, 255, 366.

(45) The Chronicle of Melrose, p. 54.

(46) The Chronicle of Melrose, p. 86.

(47) Pommersches Urkundenbuch, I (2), p. 490.

(48) Thomas Kantzow, Chronik von Pommern in hochdeutscher Mundart, 2 vols, ed. Georg Gaebel (Stettin, 1898), II, p. 197.

(49) Pommersches Urkundenbuch, V, no. 3133.

(50) Cassidy-Welch, Monastic Spaces, pp. 88-91.

(51) The Chronicle of Melrose, p. 108.

(52) Cassidy-Welch, Monastic Spaces, p. 233.

(53) Jamroziak, Rievaulx Abbey, pp. 50-51; Cassidy-Welch, Monastic Spaces, pp. 232-37.

(54) Christine Kratzke, 'Mittelalterliche Sepulkraldenkmaler in den Klostern der Zisterzienser und Zisterzienserinnen in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Typenspektrum, Mikroarchitektur und Memorialfunktion', Citeaux: Commentarii Cistercienses, 56 (2005), 257-321.

(55) A. F. Riedel, ed., Codex Diplomaticus Brandenburgensis, 32 vols (Berlin, 1860), XIX, pp. 446-47; Christian Gahlbeck, Zisterzienser und Zisterzienserinnen in der Neumark (Berlin: Arno Spitz, 2002), pp. 799, 979.

(56) Grzegorz Brzustowicz, 'Rycerze i cystersi. Przyczynek do badan genealogicznych sredniowiecznej Nowej Marchii (na podstawie osob wystcpujacych w dokumentach opactwa cysterskiego w Bierzwniku od XIII do XVI wieku), czcsc 2', Zeszyty Bierzwnickie, 4 (2002), 23-44 (pp. 32-33).

(57) Cosmo Innes, ed., Liber de Melros, 2 vols (Edinburgh, 1837), I, no. 490.

(58) Richard Fawcett and Richard Oram, Melrose Abbey (Stroud: Tempus, 2004), pp. 42-43.

(59) Michael Brown, The Black Douglases: War and Lordship in Late Medieval Scotland 1300-1455 (East Linton: Tuckwell Press, 1998), p. 183.

(60) The Chronicle of Melrose, p. 177.

(61) Grants of Earl Patrick of Dunbar: Liber de Melros, I, nos 48, 77, 101, 102, 104, 120; grants of Earl William: Liber de Melros, I, no. 329 and frequent witness: nos 212, 213, 230, 232, 235, 236, 237, 268, 312, 341, 342; Patrick Corbet issued several confirmations: Liber de Melros, I, nos 329, 365, 431; his brother Nicholas as a witness: Liber de Melros, I, nos 235, 236, 237, 242, 301, 310, 312, 330, 331, 333, 342; and donor: Liber de Melros,, I, no 337.

(62) Ferdinand Schmitz, ed., Urkunden der Abtei Heisterbach, Urkundenbucher der Geistlichen Stiftungen des Niederrheins, 2 (Bonn, 1908), no. 238, p. 316.

(63) H. R. Luard, ed., Annales Monastici, Rolls Series, 36 (London, 1864), II, p. 337.

(64) Pommersches Urkundenbuch, I (2), p. 491; Zdzislaw Radacki, 'Dzieje architektury w Kolbaczu', in Kolbacz: przeszlosc i terainiejszosc, ed. Lucyna Turek-Kwiatkowska (Szczecin: Krajowa Agencja Wydawnicza, 1979), pp. 71-84 (p. 72).

(65) Pommersches Urkundenbuch, I (2), p. 492.

(66) Matthias Untermann, Forma Ordinis: die mittelalterliche Baukunst der Zisterzienser (Munchen: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2001), p. 80.

(67) Teresa Swierszcz, 'Warsztat rzezby ceramicznej w Bierzwniku (Marienwalde)--warsztat rzezby ceramicznej', Zeszyty Bierzwnickie, 4 (2002), 45-66 (p. 59).

(68) Untermann, Forma Ordinis, pp. 74-75.

(69) Helen Zakin, 'Stained Glass Panels from Mariawald Abbey in the Cleveland Museum of Art', in Perspectives for an Architecture of Solitude, pp. 261-67.

Emilia Jamroziak

School of History

University of Leeds
COPYRIGHT 2010 Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2010 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Jamroziak, Emilia
Geographic Code:4E
Date:Jul 1, 2010
Previous Article:Clausura districta: conceiving space and community for Dominican nuns in the thirteenth century.
Next Article:Making the margins in the thirteenth century: suburban space and religious reform between the low countries and the county of champagne.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters