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  1. The Royal Abbey of Our Lady of Fontevraud or Fontevrault (in French: abbaye de Fontevraud) was a monastery in the village of Fontevraud-l'Abbaye, near Chinon, in the former French duchy of Anjou. It was founded in 1101 by the itinerant preacher Robert of Arbrissel. The foundation flourished and became the center of a new monastic Order, the Order of Fontevraud.

    • 1101
    • suppressed
  2. Abbey of Fontevrault. THEABBEY OF FONTEVRAULT. The Tombs. Fontevrault was the burial place of the Plantagenet dynasty who ruled In England and large parts of France from 1154 to 1485. At one time there were fifteen Plantagenet tombs- only four remain. Tombs of Henry II, King of England (reigned 1154-89) and His wife Eleanor of Aquitaine.

    • Character of The Order
    • The Rule
    • History of The Order
    • The Abbey Buildings
    • English Houses
    • Modern Development

    The monastery of Fontevrault was founded by Blessed Robert d'Arbrissel about the end of 1100 and is situated in a wooded valley on the confines of Anjou, Tours, and Poitou, about two and a half miles south of the Loire, at a short distance west of its union with the Vienne. It was a "double" monastery, containing separate convents for both monks and nuns. The government was in the hands of the abbess. This arrangement was said to be based upon the text of St. John (xix, 27), "Behold thy Mother", but want of capacity among the brethren who surrounded the founder would seem to be the most natural explanation. To have placed the fortunes of the rising institute in feeble hands might have compromised its existence, while amongst the nuns he found womenendowed with high qualities and in every way fitted for government. Certainly the long series of able abbesses of Fontevrault is in some measure a justification of the founder's provision. Fontevrault was the earliest of the three orders w...

    It appears certain from the biography of Blessed Robert, which is known as the "Vita Andreæ", that the Rule was written down during the founder's lifetime, probably in 1116 or 1117. This original Rule dealt with four points: silence, good works, food, and clothing, and contained the injunction that the abbess should never be chosen from among those who had been brought up at Fontevrault, but that she should be one who had had experience of the world (de conversis sororibus). This latter injunction was observed only in the case of the first two abbesses and was abrogated by Innocent III in 1201. We have three versions of the Fontevrist Rule (P.L., CLXII, 1079 sqq.), but it is clear that none of these is the original, though it is probable that the second version is a fragment or possibly a selection with additions by the first abbess, Petronilla (for the argument see Walter, op. cit. infra, pp. 65-74). This Rule was merely a supplement to the Rule of St. Benedict and there were no im...

    At the death of Robert d'Arbrissel, in 1117, there are said to have been at Fontevrault alone 3000 nuns, and in 1150 even 5000: the order was approved by Paschal II in 1112. The first abbess, Petronilla of Chemillé (1115-1149), was succeeded by Matilda of Anjou, who ruled for five years. She was the daughter of Fulk, King of Jerusalem, and widow of William, the eldest son of Henry I, of England. The prosperity of the abbey continued under the next two abbesses, but by the end of the twelfth century, owing to the state of the country and the English wars, the nuns were reduced to gaining their livelihood by manual work. The situation was aggravated by internal dissensions which lasted a hundred years, and prosperity did not return till the beginning of the fourteenth century, under the rule of Eleanor of Brittany, grand-daughter of Henry III of England, who had taken the veil at the Fontevrist priory of Amesbury, in Wiltshire. The next abbess was Isabel of Valois, great-grandchild of...

    The Abbey of Fontevrault was in four parts: the Grand Moustier, or convent of the nuns, the hospital and lazaretto of Saint-Lazare, the Madeleine for penitent women, and, some distance apart, the monastery of St-Jean de l'Habit for the monks, destroyed at the Revolution. The most notable buildings were naturally those belonging to the nuns with the great minster dedicated to Our Lady. This was consecrated by Pope Callistus II, in 1119, but the church was probably rebuilt in the second half of the same century. It is a magnificent specimen of late Romanesque and consists of an aisleless nave vaulted with six shallow cupolas, transepts, and an apsidal chancel with side chapels. In 1804 the abbey became a central house of detention for 15,000 prisoners, and the nave of the church was cut up into four stories forming dormitories and refectories for the convicts, while the choir and transepts were walled up and used as their chapel. Five of the six cupolas were destroyed, but the nave ha...

    These were the Priories of Amesbury, in Wiltshire, and Nuneaton, in Warwickshire, and the Cell of Westwood, in Worcestershire, with six nuns. Amesbury had been an abbey, but on account of their evil lives the nuns were dispersed by royal orders and the monastery given to Fontevrault in 1177. The community was recruited from the highest ranks of society and in the thirteenth century numbered among its members several princesses of the royal house, among them Queen Eleanor of Provence, widow of Henry III. A survey of the English houses was taken in 1256, when there were 77 choir nuns, 7 chaplains and 16 conversi at Amesbury, and 86 nuns at Nuneaton. In the fourteenth century the officials were appointed by the Abbess of Fontevrault, but the bonds uniting the English nunneries to the mother-house were gradually loosened until from alien they became denizen, that is to say, practically independent. In the last days some of the Prioresses of Amesbury seem to have resumed the ancient abba...

    In 1803 Madame Rose, a Fontevrist nun, opened a school at Chemillé, the home of the first abbess, and three years later was enabled to buy a house and start community life; only temporary vows were taken, and the constitutions were approved by the Bishop of Angers. A few years later the habit of Fontevrault was resumed. Twelve more Fontrevists joined the community, and the ancient Rule was kept as far as possible. In 1847 permission was granted by the government to remove the relics of Blessed Robert from Fontevrault to Chemillé, and by 1849 there were three houses of the revived congregation: Chemillé in the Diocese of Angers; Boulor in the Diocese of Auch; and Brioude in the Diocese of Puy. In this year a general chapter was held, in which certain modifications of the Rule were agreed upon: the many fasts were found ill adapted to the work of teaching; the houses were made subject to the ordinary; and the superioress elected only for three years. There are no Fontevrist monks.

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  4. Fontevraud Abbey is similar in arrangement to Angouleme Cathedral in Aquitaine, with a long aisleless nave and transepts with chapels, together forming a Latin cross in plan. Resources. GreatBuildings Resources. Amazon Books. Sources on Fontevrault Abbey. Roger H. Clark and Michael Pause. Precedents in Architecture.

  5. Abstract. This article examines the religious and architectural history of the Royal Abbey of. Fontevrault, in the French province of Anjou, investigating the active and deliberate role. women played in shaping the physical and symbolic space of this female monastic.

    • Gabrielle Esperdy
    • 3/17/2018 1:22:30 PM
    • 2005
    • 1
    • History
    • Features
    • Miscellaneous
    • Notes and Bibliography
    • External Links

    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 . 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. In the early years the Plantagenets were great benefactors of the abbey and while Isabella d'Anjou was abbess, Henry II...

    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.

    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.

    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
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