An exemplary library, a reflection of the development of the monasticism and of the first times of the University

The texts which were gathered in the library of Clairvaux are the reflection of the evolution of knowledge throughout the Middle Ages. They illustrate the role that famous monasteries held in the transmission of the texts of the Greco-Latin Antiquity and in spirituality and religious thought. The texts gathered at Clairvaux, relived the quest and the intense debates which animated the intellectual life from the beginning of the XIIth up to the middle of the XIVth century.
At first, the library of Clairvaux was conceived to accompany the spiritual progress of the monks. The abbots made every efforts to collect patrictic and exegetic texts. In that way, Clairvaux was an exemplary monastic center which was used as a model to the other Cistercian establishments. It deeply influenced and renewed the medieval monachism. The library, which already held 350 volumes at the end of the XIIth century, was one of the most important instruments of the influence of the abbey.

In the first half of the XIIIth century, Clairvaux had a strong interest in the intellectual debates of the University. Thanks to the foundation of Saint Bernard’s High School in Paris in 1245, which was recognized as studium by the University in 1256, the abbot Étienne of Lexington allowed Clairvaux to become a full member of the University of Paris. St Bernard’s High School made all the order of Cîteaux benefit from the progress and intellectual innovations of the University (the catalogue of Pierre de Virey is constituted of 144 manuscripts depending from the "libri speculativae theologiae", reflections of the university studies of the years 1230-1330).