Abbey of Fontevraud in France, Loire Valley resort (Topic)

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Abbey of Fontevraud in France, Loire Valley resort

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Royal Abbey of Fontevraud – the most famous medieval monastery in France, where Henry II Plantagenet and Richard the Lionheart are buried.

The abbey was built in 1101   Robert d'Arbrissel, a hermit, under the patronage of the Bishop of Poitiers. The reason for the founding is a letter from Bishop Marbod to the hermit, in which d ’ Arbrissel reproached that his followers live without distinction of gender, social status, all together.

The abbey was divided by a fence into two halves – male and female. Monasteries were built on the plots: the monastery of St. Benedict for nursing sisters, the Great Monastery for virgins, the monastery of St. Lazarus for the lepers, the monastery of penitent sinners for all other women, the monastery of Saint John.

A few years later, another 20 monasteries belonging to Fontevraud were founded in France. The management of the abbey passed to Petronilla de Chemilier. Together with her, numerous privileges and benefits, land donations came to the abbey. The order has become one of the most powerful in Europe. By 1189, 123 monasteries located in France, England, Spain belonged to the Order.

The plague that swept across Europe in the second half of the XIV century, the Hundred Years War between England and France undermined the strong positions abbey. The level of piety of the monks declined, the bishops of Poitiers began to interfere in the affairs of the Order. Only towards the end of the 15th century did the Order begin to revive slowly. This is due to Mary of Breton, who carried out the reform of the statute and, moreover, obtained the approval of this reform from the Pope. In the 16th century, the abbey was ruled in turn by representatives of the House of Bourbons: Rene, Louise, Eleanor de Bourbon. Under them, the abbey acquired new wonderful buildings.

In the 17th century, under the abbess Jeanne-Baptiste de Bourbon, the male part of the abbey opposed female power. This period was marked by constant unrest and disturbances. However, it is called the second Golden Age of the Abbey thanks to the efforts of the abbess, who was able to raise the Order.

Since the second half of the 17th century   the abbey again falls into decay: the charter changes, riches are squandered, monasteries subordinate to Fontevraud are closed, the number of novices is reduced. Since 1789, Fontevraud has been declared a national treasure and put up for sale, but there are no buyers. The abbey is gradually destroyed and ravaged by looters.

In 1804, Napoleon turns the abbey into a prison, which becomes the strictest correctional institution in France. After a century and a half, the prison is closed. The Fontevraud Abbey has been handed over to the French Historical Monuments Society, which will organize its total restoration.

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Topic: Abbey of Fontevraud in France, Loire Valley resort.Abbey of Fontevraud in France, Loire Valley resort

Author: Kelly Costine