Stephen Harding
When Alberic died in 1109, it was quite natural for Prior Stephen to be chosen as his successor. The future of the New Monastery was still not very bright. Then in 1112 or perhaps 1113, Bernard of Fontaines arrived on the scene with thirty of his illustrious relatives and friends, seeking admission to the novitiate of Citeaux. It was the beginning of a floodtide. Soon the first band of founders went forth from Citeaux to start another community dedicated to the same ideals. Others followed. Bernard led the third band to a "bitter valley" which he and his monks changed into a valley of light, Clairvaux.
Each year the heads of the monasteries founded from Citeaux would return to the motherhouse to take part in a formal meeting with the monks of that house. As their number increased, the monks of the local community took less part in this meeting, and it developed into a gathering or chapter of abbots whose concern was to keep their pristine ideal fully alive in all the houses. Stephen, the Englishman, set about composing a charter which would give form to structures that would assist the abbots in doing this. His first Charter of Charity received papal sanction in 1119. At the chapter of 1123 the assembled abbots formally approved the Charter and committed themselves to it, relinquishing some of their autonomy for the benefits of federation. The chapter of abbots and regular visitation of each monastery by the abbot of the house from which it was founded gave the local abbot the support he needed to fulfill his charge faithfully and lead his community in the ways of Blessed Benedict. This ratification of the Charter of Charity formally gave birth to the Cistercian Order.