World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article
 

Fontevrault


Fontevraud Abbey or Fontevrault Abbey (in French: abbaye de Fontevraud) is a religious building hosting a cultural centre since 1975, the Centre Culturel de l'Ouest, in the village of Fontevraud-l'Abbaye, near Chinon, in Anjou, France. It was founded by the itinerant reforming preacher Robert of Arbrissel, who had just created a new order, the Order of Fontevrault. The first permanent structures were built between 1110 and 1119.[1]

It is situated in the Loire Valley, an UNESCO World Heritage Site between Chalonnes-sur-Loire and Sully-sur-Loire, and is within the Loire-Anjou-Touraine French regional natural park (Parc naturel régional Loire-Anjou-Touraine).

History


Philippa of Toulouse persuaded her husband William IX, Duke of Aquitaine to grant Robert of Abrissel land in Northern Poitou to establish a religious community dedicated to the Virgin Mary.[2] The abbey was founded in 1100 and became a double monastery, with both monks and nuns on the same site. An international success, the order established several "Fontevrist" abbeys set up in England. Robert of Arbrissel declared that the leader of the order should always be a woman and appointed Petronille de Chemillé as the first abbess. She was succeeded by Matilda of Anjou, the aunt of Henry II of England. This was the start of a position that attracted many rich and noble abbesses over the years, including members of the French Bourbon royal family. It also became a refuge for battered women and penitent prostitutes, and housed a leper hospital and a home for aged religious.[3]

In the early years the Plantagenets were great benefactors of the abbey and while Isabella d'Anjou was abbess, Henry II's widow Eleanor of Aquitaine became a nun there.[4] Louise de Bourbon left her crest on many of the alterations she made during her term of office.


During the French Revolution, the order was dissolved. The last abbess, Madame d'Antin, died in poverty in Paris. On 17 August 1792, a Revolutionary decree ordered evacuation of all monasteries, to be completed by 1 October 1792. The abbey later became a prison from 1804 to 1963, in which year it was given to the French Ministry of Culture.[5] This city prison in Fontevraud, planned to hold 1,000 prisoners, required major changes, including new barracks in addition to the transformation of monastic buildings into dormitories, workshops, and common areas. Prisoners–men, women and children–began arriving in 1814. Eventually, it held some 2,000 prisoners, earning the prison the "toughest in France after Clairvaux." Political prisoners experienced the harshest conditions: some French Resistance prisoners were shot there under the Vichy Government. Following closure of the prison came major restoration, an opening to the public in 1985, and completion of the abbey church's restoration in 2006 under architect Lucien Magne.[6]

Architecture

Church

Cloister

Chapter house

Features

The abbey was originally the site of the graves of King Henry II of England, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, their son King Richard I of England, their daughter Joan, their grandson Raymond VII of Toulouse, and Isabella of Angoulême, wife of Henry and Eleanor's son King John. However, there is no remaining corporal presence of Henry, Eleanor, Richard, or the others on the site. Their remains were possibly destroyed during the French Revolution.

Henriette Louise de Bourbon, granddaughter of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan, grew up here. Princess Thérèse of France, daughter of Louis XV, is also buried there.

Miscellaneous


Jean Genet described the experiences of a thirty-year-old prisoner at Fontevrault in his semi-autobiographical novel, Miracle de la rose, although there is no evidence that Genet was ever imprisoned there himself.

Notes and bibliography

  • Melot, Michel (1971) L'abbaye de Fontevrault. Paris: Jacques Lanore
  • Pohu, J. (1961) L'abbaye royale de Fontevrault. Fontevraud: l'abbé Pohu
  • Pohu, J. (197-?) The royal abbey of Fontevraud. Fontevraud: l'abbé Pohu

External links

  • Official site in French
  • Official site in English
  • Map of the Loire Valley UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Val de Loire
  • Catholic Encyclopedia article
  • Royal Abbey of Fontevraud and the famous Gisants (painted tomb effigies) of Eleanor of Aquitaine, King Henry II and King Richard I
  • Hotel Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud

Coordinates: 47°10′53″N 0°03′06″E / 47.18139°N 0.05167°E / 47.18139; 0.05167

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.