Guibert of Nogent: Brooding on God

Guibert of Nogent was a French abbot who found it difficult to adapt to the 12th-century Renaissance. Yet his writings are among the first works to examine man’s inner life, says Charles Freeman.

Every age has its pessimists preoccupied with a golden age that is just within living memory. So here is Guibert, abbot of the monastery at Nogent-sous-Courcy in northern France, joining the list:

To see in that time down to our day, modesty and decency among the ranks of virgins has steadily declined, and the restraint married women ought to possess has not only appeared to evaporate, but it has vanished altogether ... the way they dress is completely different from the simplicity of old: sleeves spread wide open, their tunics worn tight, curled toes on shoes from Cordoba ... every woman thinks she has reached the height of misery if she lacks a reputation among young lovers ... In this, and similar ways, this modern age is corrupted and corrupts, since it contaminates many with diseased ideas, and the infection spreads to others still, for its foulness propagates without end.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.