an order of monks in the Roman Catholic Church, founded by St. Bruno (q.v.) A.D. 1086. A legend of much later origin tells the following story: At the funeral of a friend of Bruno's in 1082, the dead man raised himself up, saying, "By the just judgment of God I am accused!" This was repeated on the two following days, and had such an effect on Bruno and six more that they immediately retired to the desert of the Chartreuse, and there built the first monastery. This absurd legend found its way into the Roman breviary, but was struck out by order of Pope Urban VIII. After Bruno had governed the first establishment for about six years, Pope Urban II, his former pupil, called him to Rome, and retained him there, although Bruno begged for permission to return to his brethren. The order increased slowly. In 1137 they counted four, in 1151 fourteen, and in 1258 fifty-six houses. In 1170 the order was recognized by the pope. Martin V exempted all the property of the order from tithes. Julius II provided, in 1508, by a bull, that the prior of the Grande Chartreuse, near Grenoble, should always be the general of the whole order, and that a general chapter should meet annually. At the beginning of the 18th century the number of houses was 170, of which 75 belonged to France. Many houses perished in the French Revolution, but some were reestablished after 1815. Their principal establishment, the Grande Chartreuse, was reoccupied in 1816. In England the Carthusians settled in 1180, and had a famous monastery in London, since called, from the Carthusians who settled there, the "Charter-house." The order has given to the Church several saints, three cardinals, and more than seventy archbishops and bishops.
Until 1130 the order had no written statutes. Then the fifth prior of the Chartreuse, Guigo, compiled the Consuetudines Cartusice. Bernard de la Tour collected, in 1258, the resolutions of all general chapters which had been held since 1141. This collection was confirmed by the General Chapter of 1259, and bears the title Statuta antiqua. Another collection, Statuta nova, was added in 1367. A third collection, Tertia compilatio statutorum, dates from the year 1509; a fourth, Nova collectio statutoruem ordinis Cartusiensis, from the year 1581. The characteristic of the statutes of this order is, that it aims, in the first place, at precluding the members from all intercourse with the world, and even, as far as possible, from all intercourse with each other; secondly, at separating the professi from the lay brothers, who occupy in no other order an equally low position, and are divided into three classes, Conversi, Donati; and Redditi; thirdly, at separating every single Carthusian monastery from the whole surrounding region and population; and, lastly, at preventing all connection of the order with other monastic orders and any direct influence on the world or the Church. Thus the whole order, and each individual member, is like a petrifaction from the Middle Ages. The monks wear a hair-cloth shirt, a white cassock, and over it when they go out, a black cloak. They never eat flesh, and on Friday take only bread and water. They are not allowed to go out of their cells except to church, nor to speak to any person, even their own brother, without leave of their superior. Some of the convents are magnificent, especially those of Naples and Pavia, which have a world- wide renown for their ornaments and riches. In 1843 the order had 3 houses in France, 8 in Italy, and 2 in Switzerland.
There are also houses of Carthusian nuns, but the date of their origin is not known. They were always very few in number. Father Helyot, the historian of monachism, knew only of the existence of five, all of which perished by the French Revolution. In 1820 they reestablished their first house near Grenoble, in France, and this is still their only establishment.
A history of the order was commenced by father Masson, general of the order, and vol. 1 published in 1687; but, for unknown reasons, the order forbade the continuance of the work. See also Morstius, Theatrum Chronologicum S. Ordinis Carthusiensis (Taur. 1681); Corbin, Histoire sacree de l'ordre des Chartreux (Paris, 1653, 4to); Helyot (ed. Migne), Diet. des Ordres Relig. 1:872; Fehr, Geschichte der Mönchsorden, 1:78 sq.