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French Cistercian Abbey Pages



Fontfroide Abbey in Languedoc in South West France was founded in 1093 as a Benedictine Abbey, and joined the Cistercians in 1145.  It achieved an early link with the grizzly realities of the medieval world when the murder of one of its monks (and legate to Pope Innocent III), Pierre Castelnau, led to the Albigensian Crusade.   


The Popes did not forget the staunch loyalty shown to the Papal cause by Fontfroide, and much wealth came its way - to wit  25 granges and over 20,000 animals.  An ex-Abbot of Fontfroide became Pope in 1334 - Benedict XII aka Jacques Fournier (1280 - 1334 - 1342 (62)) took over at a time when the monastic orders were falling apart and amongst other things he had a reform of the Cistercian Order enacted. 


The abbey suffered commendatory abbots from 1476, though in the later 1500s a formal system was instituted for ensuring that the abbot did not plunder all the income, so that there was enough left to "support the living standards" of the by then 7 monks.  The monks don't seem to have suffered much - as their numbers declined, so their standard of living climbed - by the 1700s one abbey cook was receiving more pay than the abbey's total donations to the "shameful poor".  


The monastery buildings  (including chapter house and cloisters from the 1100s) and the abbey were saved in the aftermath of the late 1700s  French revolution because the City of Narbonne turned them into a hospice.  Later in the 1900s the cloisters narrowly escaped the clutches of an American millionaire who planned to relocate them to New York, and now it is a privately (French) owned 'museum'.  



Lots more photos to review  .....



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