This is the final post in my advent calendar. Thank you to everyone who has read them along the way, commented, shared and most importantly enjoyed them. Have a great Christmas and holiday season
The Abbaye-aux-Hommes was founded by William the Conqueror. It was a Benedictine abbey and dedicated to Saint Steven. The church of Saint-Etienne was consecrated in 1077. The majority dates to the 11th century but the choir was redesigned in the 13th century to reflect the then contemporary gothic style. The majority of the church is built in the romanesque style. The monastic buildings were erected in the 11th century but they were destroyed in the first war of religion (1562-63) the first of the wars fought between the Roman Catholics and the Huguenots. They were rebuilt in the 18th century.
The church is also the burial place of William the Conqueror. His marble tomb can be seen in the photo above.
William married Matilda of Flanders in 1053 despite the fact that the Pope had banned the marriage due to consanguinity, they were distant cousins. They fought the Papal ban for nearly a decade and when it was finally lifted both of them built abbeys in Caen as a sign of gratitude. Matilda’s abbey was the Abbaye-aux-Dames which was the subject of yesterday’s post. Matilda is also buried in the abbey she founded.
The French Revolution forced the closure of the monastery and the monks were removed. In 1802 the abbey church becme the parish church and in 1804 the monastic buildings became a boy’s school.
In WWII in 1944 the high school provided refuge for the residents of Caen during bombing and survived intact. The monastic buildings are now home to the local council.
Site visit 2015
Abbaye-aux-Hommes information booklet.
The photos are all mine.