My research interests revolve around the lives and literary production of the monks of Cluny. The abbey of Cluny, located near Macon in Burgundy, was founded in the early tenth century as –what could be argued to be– a traditionally Carolingian form of monastery. Its life revolved around the cultivation of virtue and spiritual prestige through an unparalleled program of prayers, liturgical celebration and ritualized comportment.

The monastery of Cluny was arguably one of the most prominent and powerful religious institutions from its founding to its dissolution during the French Revolution. Its first abbots were widely accepted as capable leaders in life and powerful saints after their death. By the twelfth century, the abbots of Cluny oversaw a vast network of houses spreading from England to the Holy Land. Under their tutelage, Cluny produced untold monks esteemed for their holiness and often chosen to become bishops and popes. Its abbots were advisers to kings and acted as architects of Church doctrine. The monks of Cluny did not withdraw from the secular world, but sought to engage with it.

I have focused my research on three authors writing within the Cluniac mileu: the twelfth-century abbot of Cluny –Peter the Venerable– and two of his monks –Peter of Poitiers and Richard of Poitiers (also known as Richard of Cluny). Through the writing of these three monks, I seek to explore the world view, the power relationships and the forms of emotion disseminated from Cluny.


  • SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship. Département d’histoire Université Laval, (2004-2006).

  • Ph.D. Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto, (1998-2004).

  • M.A. Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto, (1996-1998).

  • B.A. (honours). Department of History, University of Manitoba, (1992-1996).

Other Publications

  • “Peter the Venerable and Secular Friendships.” Friendship in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Age: Explorations of a Fundamental Ethical Discourse. Eds. Albrecht Classen and Sandidge, Marilyn. Berlin, New York: De Gruyter, 2011, p. 281–308.

  • “Excavating and Renovating Ancient Texts: seventeenth- and eighteenth- century editions of Bernard of Cluny’s Consuetudines and the early- modern monastic project.” From Dead of Night to End of Day. Disciplina Monastica, tom. 4. Turnhout: Brepols, 2005.

  • Scholaris ludens: Developing Games in Teaching History.” Epoiesen: A Journal For Creative Engagement In History And Archaeology. (March, 2018), http://dx.doi.org/10.22215/epoiesen/2018.6

  • “Thoughts on Friendship in the Letters of Peter the Venerable.” Revue Bénédictine 120 (December, 2010).

  • “Tracing the Twelfth-Century Chronica of Richard of Poitiers, monk of Cluny.” Memini: travaux et documents 8-9 (2004/05): 303-50.

Blog Posts


Most of my other time is spent thinking about Peter the Venerable, his monks and their writings. While on sabbatical for the 2019/20 year, I am beginning work on what I am calling The Petrus Project – an attempt to develop on online framework for sharing translations of and collaborating on Peter the Venerable.

Just finished teaching course on digitizing medieval manuscripts – a pilot project in collaboration with the Archives and Research Collection (Carleton University) to digitize its two Iberian liturgical manuscripts and collection of medieval folios. The class website can be found at medievalbook.hcommons.org and the digital archive site can be found at medievalottawa.org.


Marc Philip Saurette

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