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Abbey of Bec

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Title: Abbey of Bec  
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Subject: 1078, 1039, 1063, Pusey House, Oxford, Theobald of Bec, Alveston, Architecture of Normandy, Gilbert Crispin, Glynde, René Massuet
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Abbey of Bec

Bec Abbey (French: Abbaye Notre-Dame du Bec) in Le Bec Hellouin,[1] Normandy, France, once the most influential abbey in the Anglo-Norman kingdom of the twelfth century,[2] is a Benedictine monastic foundation in the Eure département, in the Bec valley midway between the cities of Rouen and Bernay.

Like all abbeys, Bec maintained annals of the house, but uniquely its first abbots also received individual biographies, brought together by the monk of Bec, Milo Crispin. Because of the abbey's cross-Channel influence, these vitae sometimes disclose historical information of more than local importance.

First foundation

The abbey was founded in 1034 by Herluin,[3] a Norman knight who in about 1031 left the court of Gilbert, Count of Brionne, to devote himself to a life of religion: the commune of Le Bec Hellouin preserves his name.[4] One hundred thirty-six monks made their profession while Herluin was in charge.[5]

With the arrival of Lanfranc of Pavia, Bec became a focus of 11th century intellectual life. Lanfranc, who was already famous for his lectures at Avranches, came to teach as prior and master of the monastic school, but left in 1062, to become abbot of St. Stephen's Abbey, Caen, and later Archbishop of Canterbury. He was followed as abbot by Anselm, also later an Archbishop of Canterbury, as was the fifth abbot, Theobald of Bec. Many distinguished ecclesiastics, probably including the future Pope Alexander II and Saint Ivo of Chartres, were educated in the school at Bec.

The life of the founder (Vita Herluini) was written by published at Paris in 1648.

The followers of William the Conqueror supported the abbey, enriching it with extensive properties in England. Bec also owned and managed St Neots Priory as well as a number of other British foundations, including Goldcliff Priory in Monmouthshire founded in 1113 by Robert de Chandos. The village of Tooting Bec, now a London suburb, is so named because the abbey owned the land.

Bec Abbey was damaged during the [1]

Second foundation

In 1948 the site was re-settled as the Abbaye de Notre-Dame du Bec by Olivetan monks led by Dom Grammont, who effected some restorations. The abbey is known for its links with Anglicanism and has been visited by successive archbishops of Canterbury. The abbey library contains the John Graham Bishop deposit of 5,000 works concerning Anglicanism.

In modern day, the Abbey is best known for the pottery the monks produce.

List of abbots

The following is a list of the abbots from 1034 to the end of the eighteenth century.[6][7]

  • 1034–1078: Herluin (or Hellouin)
  • 1078–1093: Anselm (afterwards archbishop of Canterbury)
  • 1093–1124: Guillaume de Montfort-sur-Risle
  • 1124–1136: Boson
  • 1136–1138: Theobald (afterwards archbishop of Canterbury)
  • 1139–1149: Létard
  • 1149–1179: Roger de Bailleul (elected archbishop of Canterbury, but declined the position)
  • 1179–1187: Osbern
  • 1187–1194: Roger II
  • 1195–1197: Gauthier
  • 1197–1198: Hugues de Cauquainvilliers
  • 1198–1211: Guillaume Le Petit
  • 1211–1223: Richard de Saint-Léger alias de Bellevue (afterwards bishop of Évreux)
  • 1223–1247: Henri de Saint-Léger
  • 1247–1265: Robert de Clairbec
  • 1265–1272: Jean de Guineville
  • 1272–1281: Pierre de la Cambe
  • 1281–1304: Ymer de Saint-Ymer
  • 1304–1327: Gilbert de Saint-Étienne
  • 1327–1335: Geoffroy Faé (afterwards Bishop of Évreux)
  • 1335–1351: Jean des Granges
  • 1351–1361: Robert de Rotes alias Couraye
  • 1361–1388: Guillaume de Beuzeville alias Popeline
  • 1388–1391: Estout d’Estouteville
  • 1391–1399: Geoffroy Harenc
  • 1399–1418: Guillaume d’Auvillars
  • 1418–1430: Robert Vallée

See also

Normandy portal


External links

  • (French) Abbaye de Notre-Dame du Bec: official website
  • (French) Le Bec Hellouin: official website
  • (English) gite site with details and photos
  • Template:Sister-inline

Coordinates: 49°13′44″N 0°43′19″E / 49.2288°N 0.7220°E / 49.2288; 0.7220

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