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School of Divinity
Aspects of the High Middle Ages

New College

Expansion of the Cistercians in Europe

House of Cîteaux

Map showing the House of Cīteaux

The Cistercian Order was founded in 1098 by monks who wanted to turn to a more strict interpretation of the Rule of St Benedict. Citeaux in Burgundy is the Mother-House of all the Cistercian abbeys.

Daughter houses of Cîteaux

Map showing the daughter houses of Cīteaux

The first daughter houses of Citeaux were: La Ferté [1113], Pontigny [1114], Morimond [1115] and Clairvaux [1115]. They are known as the four elder daughter houses of the Cistercian order and hold a special place in its history.

As the order grew each new abbey was founded as a daughter house and took its place in this chain of relationships. For example in Britain and Ireland a “family tree” can be constructed beginning with the foundation of  Rievaulx [1132], Fountains Abbey [1132], Mellifont [1142] and Whitland [1144] all as daughters of Clairvaux. Rievaulx had its own daughter house Melrose [1136/42] and from Melrose both Newbattle and Kinloss were founded. The tree continues with other foundation too complex to map here.

NB the first Cistercian House in Britain was founded by the Bishop of Winchester  in 1128 at Waverley as a daughter of Citieaux itself. It had thirteen daughter houses.


Daughter houses of daughter houses of Cîteaux

Map showing the spread of the daughter houses of daughter houses of Cīteaux

This map is intended to give an impression of continued monastic expansion in the twelfth century. At the height of Cistercian expansion in 1151 there were more than 330 houses.