The Social Milieu of the 12th & 13th Centuries
The Long Thirteenth Century
This section deals with three of the main influences on the monastery of Foigny during its heyday, from approximately 1200 to 1250. This period of Foigny's history not only saw the development of the impressive education and theological sophistication we can see in the sermon collection preserved by de Lancy, but also featured a series of abbots who exerted significant influence not only over the local nobility, but also over the Cistercian order and the institutional Church.
The three influences are, in order, the political situation of Laon and its surroundings, the crusades and crusading culture, and the rise of the universities. Foigny's location makes it almost uniquely positioned at the confluence of all of these forces. Its relation to Laon is perhaps an accident of geography, but its location in the north of France placed it in the center of the crusading milieu, for the area served as the heart of France's crusading forces, particularly after the First Crusade (1096-1099). Moreover, the cathedral school at Laon was one of the early centers of non-monastic learning. The Laon cathedral school produced the Glossa ordinaria and was the first home to Peter Abelard, and it continued to serve as an intellectual center into the early thirteenth century.