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A letter from Robert d'Arbrissel (c.1109)

Translated letter: 

The spirit of pride is evil but the pretence of humility is worse. The spirit of vainglory is evil, but the pretence of holiness is worse. The spirit of envy is evil, but the pretence of charity is worse. The spirit of cupidity is evil, but the pretence of mercy is worse. [The spirit of wrath is evil, but the pretence of patience is worse.](1) The spirit of gluttony is evil, but the pretence of abstinence is worse. The spirit of lust is evil, but the pretence of chastity is worse. Beware, handmaid of Christ, of these evils heard of and known, manifest and simulated. For virtue is a mean between vices. See that you not do anything excessive, for all excess becomes vice.
Do not believe every spirit, nor yield to each. For there are those who counterfeit the word of God, wishing to please men rather than God, who pervert Scripture to their perverse will. They do not judge according to the Gospel and the decretals and the sacred canons, as it is written: do not judge by the appearance, but judge just judgment/justice. And James: if you respect persons, you sin by law, as is written: do not consider the person of the poor man, nor honor the face of the powerful; judge your neighbor justly.
There are others, very simple and careless who, not knowing the power of the words of God which are sometimes said figuratively, sometimes preceptively, dispute about the Gospel and speak against the Gospel saying: the Lord prohibited anger or saying "Racha" (2) and fool, he ordered us to turn the other cheek to one who strikes us, not to contest a judgment, and to give a cloak to one who takes our tunic, and o love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, and to do unto others whatever you want them to do to you. This is the law and the prophets. They claim that it is against the Gospel and the laws and prophets to render justice by corporal punishment or loss of goods or other harsh penalty, not considering that it is written in the law: Do not suffer evildoers and homicides to live. To punish homicides and adulterers, robbers and that kind of evil man is not to commit bloodshed but the law's command. And, as St. Augustine says: What is it to spare these, but to lead many [others] into crime? And again the prophet: God asks from us only that we love justice and act with mercy. For if justice does not precede, peace does not follow. And blessed are those who keep judgment and do justice at all times. And in the Gospel: blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice. And again: Blessed those who suffer persecution for justice.
Take comfort and be strong. Love God with your whole heart and your whole soul and your whole mind, and your neighbor like youself. The whole law and the prophets are in these two commands. St. Augustine says: love and do whatever you wish. Do not be very troubled that you are bound to an unbelieving man. Remember Esther, the holy woman who was bound to the nonbelieving prince Ahasuerus, and did so much for the people of God. And the Apostle [Paul] says: through a believing woman an unbelieving man will be saved. You are married, you can not be unmarried by law. You have no witnesses to give testimony/proof. There is no other way to be separated by ecclesiastical judgment. Your wish was to leave the world and deny yourself and, naked, to follow the naked Christ on the cross. But pray your Lord God that he do not your will but his with you. We read in the Gospel that the son of God, about to sacrifice himself for us, when he prayed to the father before the passion, said: Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Yet not as I wish but as you wish.
Do not be too concerned about changing place and habit. Have God in your heart whether you are in the city or in the court, in an ivory bed or in precious cloths, in the army, in judgment, or at a banquet. Love, and God will be with you. You will dwell with barbarous and uneducated men and it will seem to you that you can do no good there. The doctors, bishops, abbots, and priests and simoniacs, the princes wicked and plunderers, adulterous and incestuous, the people ignorant of the law of God. No one does good, no one speaks good, every one opposes truth. There is no truth, there is no mercy, there is no learning in that land. Lying, adultery, homicide inundate it, and blood touches blood. The earth is infected with blood and contaminated by their works, and they fornicate in their devices. And God is angered with wrath against his people, and abominates his inheritance and delivers them to the hands of the gentiles, that is the impure spirits, and they are dominated by those who hated them.
But do not fear such enemies of Christ. In no way will they harm you unless God permits. If they hate and curse you and revile you, you will be blessed according to the Gospel: blessed are you when men hate and curse and revile you, and cast out your name as evil because of me. Rejoice and exult for your mercy is abundant in heaven. And again: If the world hates you, know that it hated me before you. If you were of the world, the world would love that you were of it, but since you are not of the world, the world hates you. And: if they have called the father Beelzebub, how much more his servants! And elsewhere: And you will be hated by all men for my name and the hair will not perish from your head. In your patience you will possess your souls.
For patience is what is not conquered by passion, not overcome by tribulation. There are many tribulations for the just and the Lord will deliver the just from all of them. The Lord is beside those who are troubled in their heart and he will save those who are humble in spirit. And elsewhere: in my tribulation I called on the Lord and the Lord in his breadth heard me. The Lord is my helper, I shall not fear what man might do to me. The Lord is my helper and I shall despise my enemies.
It is good to trust in the Lord rather then in men. It is good to hope in the Lord rather than in princes. And elsewhere: do not trust in princes nor in the sons of men, in whom there is no salvation, for the salvation of man is empty. And again: call on me in the day of your tribulation, I will pluck you out and you will honor me. Again: you will snatch me from the opposition of the people and set me at the head of the gentiles. And again: I have found tribulation and sorrow and called on the name of the Lord. Again, I called on the Lord when I was troubled, I called and he heard. And elsewhere: tribulation and anguish found me, your command is my meditation.
Hear, daughter, and understand when Scripture says: My help is from the Lord who made heaven and earth. Fear God and observe his commands; this is all for man. There is nothing lacking to those who fear God. All human life is temptation on earth and life is a present misery to those who know God. All flesh is grass, all glory is the flower of grass. No matter what precious garments clothe the flesh, it will always be flesh. As it is written: vanity of vanities and all is vanity. And whatever is under the sun is vanity and affliction of the spirit.
For this reason, sister, do not take pride in your prosperity nor be broken by adversity. Keep to the right road. For the road that leads to life is narrow and troubled and few enter by it; but whatever happens to the just man will not grieve him. Hear the Lord saying to his friends: you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sad but your sorrow will turn to joy. It is by tribulation that one enters the kingdom of heaven, from Abel the first just man to this day. For it is written: God scourges every son he receives. And: blessed the man who is chastised by the Lord. And in the Apocalypse: those I love I reprove and discipline. In the flood the Lord saved Noah. In the wandering he guarded Abraham. Among the Palestinians, he protected Isaac. In Mesopotamia, he enriched Jacob. He raised up Joseph who had been sold into Egypt. He had Moses cross through the Red Sea and made Joshuah victor in the promised land. And he freed his faithful David from the persecution of Saul. And Lot was just in sight and hearing among the Sodomites. And he preserved the three boys unharmed in the fire of Babylon. He saved Daniel in the lion's dean and freed spiritually from perpetual damnation all his faithful prophets and apostles and all the just.
Believe, love, hope in the Lord and do good and inhabit the land of your heart and you will be nourished by its riches. Love the Lord and he will give you what your heart asks. Rejoice in tribulations for tribulation brings patience, patience probation, and probation truly hope. Hope however does not confound, for the charity of God is diffused in our hearts through the holy Spirit which is given to us. You will remain for a while among human animals; flee their evil deeds in your heart. Attach your heart to your God and let your conversation always be in heaven. Be careful that you not do your good works for human praise and lose the mercy of God. In the Gospel it is written: when you do [works of] charity, let you left hand not know what the right does. That is, when you do good, which is understood by the right hand, do not do it for human praise, which is understood by the left. And in the same: you, however, when you pray, enter your cell and pray to your father with the door shut. And your Father who sees everything that is hidden will reward you. And again: when you fast, do not be like the sad hypocrites. To give alms and pray and fast are good things if they are done for God; they are of no use if for human praise.
Brief prayer is useful; prayer of the heart rather than of the lips is what God receives. God does not attend to the words but to the heart of the one praying. All the good works of the just are prayer. We can always pray with the heart, not always with the voice. It is written in the Gospel: do not speak much in prayer, like the gentiles who think they will be heard because of their many words. But pray to the Father: our Father who are in heaven. Always keep this, the lord's prayer, in your heart by memory. You who are busy with many matters, make short prayers. In the morning, hear the canonical hours suitably, matins, prime, ters, sext, nones, and in the evening vespers and compline. Hear the hours of the blessed virgin Mary daily. There are many clerics who are hypocrites, and monks and hermits, who pretend to pray at length to be seen by men in order to please men. You, however, removed from all vanity and pretence, observe the truth discretely. For it was written about the Lord Jesus Christ that he spent the night in prayer in the mountains and performed miracles in the cities in the day. To pray in the mountains with the Lord at night is to love God in the affection of the heart. To perform miracles in the day with the Lord in cities is to live for the benefit of others. Love voluntary poverty. Among titles and honors, riches and silks, with your husband and beloved children, and rich relations, sighing with the prophet, say: I am a beggar and poor, you Lord are my help.
From your sin of incest and the sin of your daughter whom you handed over to death, (3) sollicitous and anxious pray and implore God humbly that he free you lest you perish. For you can not be separated by ecclesiastical law. You did what you could, you fled; the Church brought you back. For your daughter, seek her separation any way you can. If not, always have sorrow in your heart for such a detestable deed. Do not reveal your will and counsel to all your servants and friends. Many are friends to you for their own uses, but few are faithful friends and coucillors for God's sake and your soul's. Do not command anything lightly, do not do anything lightly, do all by counsel lest you repent later. Be merciful to all the poor but more to the poorer and mostly to the servants of the faith who left the world for God's sake. Hear the Lord saying: blessed are the merciful for they will receive mercy. And again: be merciful as your Father is merciful, who makes the sun rise over good and bad and rains over just and unjust. And elsewhere scripture says: he distributed, he gave to the poor, his justice will endure world without end. It did not say: he gave to the rich, but he gave to the poor.
Charity/alms frees from death and does not permit men to go into darkness if the alms were acquired in a good way. If however in a bad way, it does not help but harm, as Scripture testifies: to offer sacrifice from what is stolen from the poor is like offering up the son to his father. Keep discretion in all things, in abstinence, in fasts, in vigils, in prayers. Use food and drink and sleep so that you can labor for the good of others not for yourself. I do not say you should nourish your flesh, since who nourishes the flesh nourishes the enemy. But I say do not kill the flesh intemperately, for who kills the flesh, kills its inhabitant. The first man was not seduced by delicious foods but by the fruit of a tree. Esau lost the right of the firstborn by eating lentils, not a chicken. Elias ate flesh and was taken up into heaven. Christ ate fish and drank wine. Food and drink are not the kingdom of God, but grace and peace. Amen.

Original letter: 

Spiritus superbiae malus est, sed simulatio humilitatis pejor est. Spiritus inanis gloriae malus est, sed simulatio sanctitatis pejor. Spiritus invidiae malus est, sed simulatio caritatis pejor. Spiritus cupiditatis malus est, sed simulatio misericordiae pejor. Spiritus gulae malus est, sed simulatio abstinentiae pejor. Spiritus luxuriae malus est, sed simulatio castitatis pejor. Ab his malis auditis et cognitis, manifestis et simulatoriis, ancilla Christi, cave. Virtus enim medium vitiorum est. Vide ne quid nimis facias. Omne quod nimium est in vitium convertitur. Nec credas omni spiritui, nec cedas omni. Sunt enima quidam adulterantes verbum Dei, cupientes placere hominibus, non Deo, qui pervertunt Scripturas ad pravam voluntatem suam; non judicantes secundum Evangelium et decreta et sacros canones, sicut scriptum est: Nolite judicare secundum faciem, sed justum judicium judicate. Et Jacobus: Si personas accipitis, peccatum operamini, redarguti a lege, sicut scriptum est: Non consideres personam pauperis, nec honores vultum potentis; juste judica proximo tuo. Alii vero valde simplices et indiscreti, ignorantes virtutem verborum Dei quae aliquando figurate, aliquando preceptive dicuntur, disputant de Evangelio et contra Evangelium dicentes: Si prohibuit Dominus irasci, dicere Racha et fatue, si percutienti se alteram maxillam praebere praecepit, et omnino contendere in judicio vetuit, et auferenti tunicum pallium reddere jussit, et diligere inimicos et orare pro persequentibus, et quaecunque vultis ut faciant vobis homines, et vos facite illis. Hoc lex et prophetae. Contra Evangelium et leges et prophetas affirmant etiam justiciam facere, sive corporali pena, sive damnis rerum, sive aliqua aspera pena, non considerantes scriptum in lege: Maleficos et homicidas ne patiaris vivere. Punire homicidas et adulteros, raptores et hujusmodi pravos homines non est effusio sanguinis, sed jussio legis. Et, ut ait beatus Augustinus: Quae est ista parcere et multos in discrimen adducere? Et iterum propheta: Non quaerit a nobis aliud Deus nisi ut diligamus judicium et faciamus misericordiam. Si enim justitia non praecedat, pax non sequitur. Et beati qui custodiunt judicium et faciunt justiciam in omni tempore. Et in Evangelios: Beati qui esuriunt et siciunt justiciam. Et idem: Beati qui persecutionem patiuntur propter justitiam. Confortare et esto robusta. Dilige Deum ex toto corde et ex tota anima tua et ex tota mente tua, et proximum tanquam te ipsam. In his duobus mandatis universa lex et prophetae. Beatus Augustinus dicit: dilige et fac quocunque vis. Ne pigeat te multum quod alligata es infideli viro. Memento Hester sanctae mulieris quae alligata fuit Assuero infideli principi, et profuit multum populo Dei. Et Apostolus dicit: Per mulierem fidelem salvabitur infidelis vir. Conjuncta es; non potes disjungi lege. Non habes testes qui probare velint. Aliter ecclesiastico judicio non potes separari. Voluntas tua esset ut mundum relinqueres, et te ipsam abnegares, et nuda nudum Christum in cruce sequereris. Sed ora Dominum Deum tuum ut non tua voluntas sed sua de te fiat. Legimus in Evangelio quod Filius Dei immolandus pro nobis, ante passionem suam, cum orasset ad Patrem, dixit: Pater, si fieri potest, transeat a me calix iste. Verumtamen non sicut ego volo, sed sicut tu. Non sis nimis sollicita de mutatione loci et habitus. In corde Deum habe, sive in civitate, sive in aula, sive in lecto eburneo, sive in veste preciosa, vel in exercitu, vel in judicio, sive in convivio fueris. Dilige, et Deus tecum erit. Inter barbaros homines et incultos moraris, et ut tibi videtur, nullum bonum potes ibi facere. Simonachi sunt doctores, episcopi et abbates et sacerdotes, principes iniqui et raptores, adulteri et incestuosi, populi ignorantes legem Dei. Nullus agit bonum, nullus dicit bonum, omnes contradicunt veritati. Non est veritas, non est misericordia, non est scientia in terra illa. Mendacium et adulterium et homicidium inundaverunt, et sanguis sanguinem tetigit. Et interfecta est terra in sanguine, et contaminata est in operibus eorum, et fornicati sunt in adinventionibus suis. Et iratus est furore Dominus in populo suo, et abominatus est hereditatem suam et tradidit eos in manus gentium, id est immundorum spirituum, et dominati sunt eorum qui oderunt eos. Tales vero inimicos Christi ne timeas. Nullo modo nocebunt tibi nisi permissi a Deo. Si odio habuerint, et maledixerint te, et exprobraverint, beata eris testante Evangelio: Beati eritis cum vos oderint homines, et maledixerint, et exprobraverint, et ejecerint nomen vestrum, tanquam malum mentientes propter me. Gaudete et exultate quoniam merces vestra copiosa est in coelis. Et item: Si mundus vos odit, scitote quia me priorem vobis odio habuit. Se de hoc mundo essetis, mundus quod suum erat diligeret; sed quia de mundo non estis, mundus odit vos. Et in eodem: Si patrem familias Belzebut vocaverunt, quanto magis domesticos ejus! Et alibi: Et eritis odio omnibus hominibus propter nomen meum, et capillus de capite vestra non peribit. In patientia vestra possidebitis animas vestras. Patientia vera est quae nullo furore vincitur, nulla tribulatione superatur. Multae tribulationes justorum, et de his omnibus liberabit eos Dominus. Juxta est Dominus his qui tribulato sunt corde, et humiles spiritu salvabit. Et alibi: In tribulatione mea invocavi Dominum, et exaudivit me in latitudine Dominus. Dominus mihi adjutor; non timebo quid faciat mihi homo. Dominus mihi adjutor, et ego despiciam inimicos meos. Bonum est confidere in Domino quam confidere in homine. Bonum est sperare in Domino quam sperare in principibus. Et alibi: Nolite confidere in principibus nec in filiis hominum, in quibus non est salus, quia vana salus hominis. Et item: Invoca me in die tribulationis tuae, eruam te et honorificabis me. Itemque: Eripies me de contradictionibus populi, constitues me in caput gentium. Et in eodem: Tribulationem et dolorem inveni, et nomen Domini invocavi. Item: Ad Dominum, cum tribularer, clamavi, et exaudivit. Et alibi: Tribulatio et angustia invenerunt me, mandata tua meditatio mea est. Audi filia, et intende Scripturam dicentem: Auxilium meum a Domino qui fecit coelum et terram. Deum time et mandata ejus observa; hoc est omnis homo. Timentibus Deum nihil deest. Omnis vita humana temptatio est super terram, et intelligentibus Deum vita praesens miseria est.; Omnis caro fenum, omnis gloria ejus flos feni. Quibuslibet preciosis vestribus caro induatur, caro semper erit caro. Sicut scriptum est: Vanitas vanitatum et omnia vanitas. Et quicquid sub sole est, vanitas est et afflictio spiritus. Quapropter, soror, ne extollaris pro prosperis, ne frangaris adversis. Tene rectam viam. Arta quidem est et angusta via quae ducit ad vitam, et pauci ingrediuntur per eam; sed non contristabit justum quicquid ei acciderit. Audi Dominum dicentem amicis suis: Plorabitis et flebitis vos, mundus autem gaudebit. Vos autem contristabimini; sed tristitia vestra vertetur in gaudium. Per tribulationes opportet ire ad regnum coelorum, ab primo justo Abel usque in hodiernum diem. Scriptum est enim: Flagellat Deus omnem filium quem recipit. Et: Beatus homo qui corripitur a Domino. Et in Apocalipsi: Quos amo arguo et castigo. In diluvio servavit Dominus Noe. In peregrinatione Abraham custodivit. Inter Palestinos Isaac protexit. In Mesopotamiam Jacob ditavit. Josep venditum in Egipto sublimavit. Moisen per mare Rubrum transire fecit, et Josue in terra promissionis victorem fecit. Et David fidelem a persecutione Saulis liberavit. Et Loth inter Sodomitas visu et auditu justus fuit. Et tres pueros in igne Babilonio illaesos custodivit. Danielem in lacu leonum salvavit, et fideles suos prophetas omnes et apostolos et universos justos spiritualiter a perpetua damnatione liberavit. Crede, dilige, spera in Domino et fac bonitatem, et inhabita terram cordi tui, et pasceris in divitiis ejus. Delectare in Domino, et dabit tibi petitiones cordis tui. Gaude in tribulationibus quoniam tribulatio pacienciam operatur, paciencia probationem, probatio vero spem. Spes autem non confundit; quia caritas Dei difusa est in cordibus nostris per Spiritum sanctum qui datus est nobis. Inter animales homines ad tempus moraris; opera eorum mala fuge corde. Sursum cor suspende ad Deum tuum, et conversatio tua in coelis sit semper. Attende ne opera tua bona propter humanam laudem facias, ne perdas mercedem Dei. In Evangelio scriptum est: Cum facis elemosinam, nesciat sinistra tua quid faciat dextera tua. Id est, cum bonum feceris, quod intelligitur per dexteram, non intentione humanae laudis facias, quod intelligitur per sinistram. Et in eodem: Tu autem, cum oraveris, intra in cubiculum et clauso ostio ora Patrem tuum. Et Pater tuus qui videt in abscondito reddet tibi. Et iterum: Cum jejunatis, nolite fieri, sicut hipocritae, tristes. Dare elemosinam et orare et jejunare, bona quidem sunt haec si pro Deo fiunt, si pro humana laude nichil positiunt. Oratio brevis utilis est; oratio cordis, non labiorum est accepta Deo. Non attendit Deus ad verba, sed ad cor deprecantis. Omnia opera bona justi, oratio est. Semper corde orare possumus, non semper voce. Scriptum est in Evangelio: Nolite multum loqui in oratione, sicut etnici qui putant exaudiri in multiloquio suo. Sed orate Patrem: Pater noster qui es in coelis. Hanc orationem dominicam in corde tuo semper memoriter retine. Tu vero occupata multis negotiis, breves orationes fac. Mane canonicas horas competenter audi, matutinas, primam, tertiam, sextam, nonam, et sero vesperas et completorium. Horas sanctae Mariae virginis cotidie audi. Clerici sunt multi hipocritae, monachi et heremitae, ut placeant hominibus, longas orationes simulant, ut videantur ab hominibus. Tu vero, remota omni vanitate et simulatione, veritatem tene discrete. Scriptum est de Domino Jesu Christo, quia in montibus erat pernoctans in oratione, et in urbibus faciebat miracula in die. In montibus orare est cum Domino in nocte, in affectu cordis Deum diligere. Facere miracula in die cum Domino in urbibus, ad utilitatem proximorum vivere. Paupertatem voluntariam dilige. inter dignitates et honores, inter divitias et sericos pannos, inter virum et pueros dilectos, et parentes divites, suspirans cum propheta, dic: Ego autem mendica sum et pauper, Dominus sollicitus es mei. De peccato tuo incestus et de peccato filiae tuae quam morti tradidisti, sollicita et anxia ora Deum humiliter et supliciter ut te liberet ne pereas. Per legem enim ecclesiasticam non potes disjungi. Quod potuisti fecisti, fugisti; Ecclesia te reduxit. De filia quibuscunque modis quere separationem. Sin autem, dolorem in corde semper habeas de tam detestabili facto. Voluntatem tuam et consilium tuum non omnibus familiaribus tuis et amicis manifestes. Multi amici sunt tibi propter commodum suum, sed pauci fideles amici et consiliarii propter Deum, et propter animam tuam. Nichil leviter ordines, nichil leviter agas, omnia consilio fac ne te peniteat post. Misericors esto pauperibus omnibus, sed tamen magis pauperioribus et maxime domesticis fidei, his qui propter Deum mundum reliquerunt. Audi Dominum dicentem: Beati misericordes, quoniam ipsi misericordiam consequentur. Et iterum: Estote misericordes sicut et Pater vester misericors est, qui solem suum oriri facit super bonos et malos, et pluit super justos et injustos. Et alibi dicit scriptura: Dispersit, dedit pauperibus, justicia ejus manet in seculum seculi. Non dixit: Dedit divitibus, sed dedit pauperibus. Helemosina liberat a morte et non sinit hominem ire in tenebras, si ex bono aquisita fuerit. Si autem ex malo, non juvat, sed nocet, teste Scriptura; Qui ofert sacrificium ex rapina pauperum, tanquam qui victimat in conspectu patris filium. Discretionem tene in omnibus, in abstinentia, in jejuniis, in vigiliis, in orationibus. Utere cibo, et potu, et somno, tantum ut possis sufferre laborem propter utilitatem aliorum, non propter te. Non dico ut nutrias carnem tuam, quia qui nutrit carnem, nutrit hostem. Sed dico ne intemperanter occidas carnem, quia qui occidit carnem, occidit civem. Non est seductus primus per delectabiles cibos, sed per fructum arboris. Esau per esum lenticulae perdidit primogenita, non per esum gallinae. Helias comedit carnem, et raptus est in coelum. Christus comedit piscem, et bibit vinum. Esca et potus non est regnum Dei, sed gratia et pax. Amen.

Historical context: 

The countess asked to retire to Robert's monastery at Fontevrault, hoping to dissolve her marriage for consanguinity, but the church refused her request. DePetigny suggests that she may have been motivated as much by her dissatisfaction with the cruder life in Brittany compared to her native Anjou, a view Robert seems to corroborate, though he also considers her marriage incest, as he does her daughter's. When Ermengard's request to have the marriage rescinded was denied, Robert advised her to return to her husband and duties, and attempted to console her with a regime of prayer and spiritual advice which is directed at a life in the world. The marriage of Ermengard's daughter Hedwig was to Baldwin, son of count Robert II of Flanders, whose consanguinity was vouched for by Ives of Chartres in a letter (ep.211) cited by dePetigny. Robert seems to encourage Ermengard to work discretely to have that marriage annulled.

Scholarly notes: 

(1) This phrase occurs in the French translation but not in the Latin text — it seems more likely that it was accidentally omitted from the Latin in this edition than that it was gratuitously added to the translation, particularly since an earlier phrase in the Latin was left out of the translation. (2) Christ says "whoever says to his brother, Raca, shall be answerable to the Sanhedrin" (Mt. 5:22); the term is obscure but has been taken to mean empty-headed, numbskull. (3) It is not clear if Robert means spiritual death because of the sin involved in a marriage within forbidden degrees, or physical death because of Baldwin's reputation for violence, as dePetigny thinks, p.219-20.

Manuscript source: 

MSS of abbey de la Trinité, bibliothèque municipale de Vendôme, #44

Printed source: 

J. de Petigny "Lettre Inédite de Robert d'Arbrissel a la comtesse Ermengarde," Bibliothèqie de l'école des chartes, 15 (1853-4), 209-35