Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud

Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud Aerial View

Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud also known as a Fontevraud Abbey or Fontevrault Abbey is situated near village of Fontevraud-l'Abbaye in Maine- et- Loire department of France. This Roman Catholic Monastery was found by Robert of Arbrissel (c. 1045–1116) in the years 1110- 1119. He also started an Order of Fontevrault around this time. Although he usually addressed under the title of "Blessed" he was never canonized due conflicting views of his life and alleged extreme ascetic life style.


Location: Maine- et- Loire Map

Tel. 02- 41 51 71 41

Constructed: 1101

Open: daily

Closed: Jan 1, Nov 1, Nov 11, Dec 25


History of Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud

The beginning of Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud monastery started in the yearly 12th century when Duchess Philippa of Toulouse convinced her husband William IX, Duke of Aquitaine to grant portion of their lands to the future Abbey Fontevraud. This monastery was unique in the sense that both monks and nuns used to live here. In fact the head of the abbey was an abbess, a woman who governed lives of both men and women. The first head of the monastery was Pétronille de Chemillé who accepted her power from the founder, Robert of Arbissel. The tradition continued through all of its history. Many of women from royal families came here to live their lives in prayer and peace. Additionally several of the members of French royalty and nobility were also buried here. These names include Richard I the Lionheart, Isabella of Angoulême, Henry II and many others.


After the French Revolution in 1792 the monastery was dissolved. The last abbess of the Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud, Madame d'Antin, survived angry mobs, but was forced out of her home. She died in poverty several years later on the street in Paris. In 1804 Napoleon Bonaparte ordered the abbey to be turned into prison. Over 2000 men, women and children were held here. Cramped quarters and violent criminals made living conditions here unbearable. The things worsened after the Nazi army stormed into France and established puppet Vichy Government in Paris. Prison in the former abbey became full with political prisoners who participated in the French Resistance. Many of them were executed within walls of the Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud. Only in 1963 it was turned over to the French Ministry of Culture and restoration began.