Both white and black monks recognise their prey, often in the shape of a knight who has squandered their patrimony. These they entice and entertain and show them the life that could be theirs if they renounce everything they have left (and give it to the monks). They separate them from their former companions and then turn them into demons like themselves. Though both sorts are to be feared, the white monks are by far the worse. They wear undyed wool and come to us in sheep’s clothing, though within they are ravening wolves.

Their rule maintains that they must dwell in deserted places and these they find or make. If land they have been given or have bought with their plunder is inhabited they will cause a village to be removed. Living by a rule that does not permit them to have parishioners, they raze the peasants’ cottages to create the waste they wish for. Every other invader has some pity and spares some. These spare no one.

One day Henry II was riding through the streets of London with Dom Reric in a high wind, a group of knights behind. A white monk was making his way along the street and, seeing the royal party bearing down upon him, made great haste to get out of the way. In his haste he tripped over and his habit was blown by the wind over his head.

Being a white monk his vow of chastity had not permitted him the luxury of drawers that any honest man might wear, for fear they drive him to lascivious thoughts, so he showed the king more than he should have.

The king politely pretended not to see but Dom Reric exclaimed: “A curse on this bare-arsed piety!”


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