The Abbaye aux Hommes of Caen ,exteriors !!!

Always nice to visit Caen again ,after a long hiatus ! We used to come often from Versailles, but from the Morbihan we finally made it ! There are wonderful monuments here that will take more than a day, but we are catching up on Caen and will be back, I have a couple older posts ,and now will splits in posts the abbey and the church even if they are a combine entrance, For now hope you enjoy the new post on the Abbaye aux Hommes of Caen ,exteriors !!! I really had a good time here at last !

Caen Abbaye aux Hommes arriv apr23

Caen is the political capital of Normandy and home of the regional council ,while Rouen is the administrative capital; a way to please both in the new administrative realignment of France on joining upper and lower Normandy into one again,Normandie. It is the capital City in dept 14 Calvados

The Abbaye aux Hommes is one of the two great abbeys founded by Guillaume de Normandie, the future conqueror, around 1060, in Caen, which have housed the City/town hall since the 1960s. The abbey offers a very beautiful architectural ensemble built between the 11C and 18C, giving the name of Bourg-l’abbé to the district which surrounds it. The Abbaye aux Hommes is a Benedictine abbey in the diocese of Bayeux, in the ecclesiastical province of Rouen.

Caen Abbaye aux Hommes closeup apr23

William, legitimate son of Robert the Magnificent and Arlette, because officially presented to the barons according to Scandinavian law who recognize him as successor and to the King of France who would become his godfather, must fight during the entire first part of his reign the barons of Normandy, who considered him a bastard, defeated at the Battle of Val-ès-Dunes in 1047. He therefore sought to further establish his authority over Lower Normandy, where the rebellion was strongest. This involves the construction of castles, but also the foundation of abbeys, following a classic pattern in Normandy since the 10C. The Abbaye aux Hommes, like the Abbaye aux Dames, nevertheless has a privileged place in this system. Indeed, of the eighteen abbeys built during the reign of William the Conqueror, only two, those of Caen, were founded directly by the Duke himself, the others being created by local lords and then recognized by the Duke, In choosing to be buried there in 1083 at the Abbaye aux Dames for Mathilde of Flanders and in 1087 at the Abbaye aux Hommes for William the Conqueror; William and Mathilde ensure the long-term attention of the duke-kings not only for the abbey, but also for the city of Caen which, from a large town with an anarchic constitution, became the secondary capital of Normandy. The descendants of Guillaume then reinforce the link of the two abbeys with the ducal and royal dynasty. Thus, exceptionally, Guillaume le Roux deposited the royal insignia (crowns and sceptres) of his parents in the treasury of the two abbeys where they are buried.

Caen abbaye aux hommes back apr23

Around 1063, Guillaume decided to found a Benedictine abbey dedicated to Saint-Étienne in the center of a new district to the west of Caen, Le bourg-l’Abbé, which was located on the grounds of parishes belonging to the cathedral. of Bayeux who cedes them to Queen Mathilde so that the monks of the Abbe aux Hommes are under the spiritual dependence of the Abbess of Caen , On December 25, 1066, William is crowned King of England, Caen is placed between the two halves of the Anglo-Norman state. On September 9, 1087, he died in Saint-Gervais de Rouen and was buried in the Church of Saint-Étienne. (see post), The construction of the Abbaye aux Hommes, entrusted to Lanfranc du Bec, began in 1063. The church was built between 1065 and 1083. The conquest of England, in 1066, by providing additional means, but also the presence of open stone quarries nearby, explain the speed of this construction. It is dedicated at least three times, in 1073, 1077 and 1081. The most solemn dedication takes place on September 13, 1077 in the presence of Guillaume and Lanfranc.

Caen abbaye aux hommes belltower back apr23

In late May 1204, King Philippe Auguste of France occupied Caen. The abbeys of Caen retained their English heritage until the beginning of the 15C, when Henry IV confiscated them to subsidize the resumption of the Hundred Years’ War , The Hundred Years’ War put the abbey in the front line of the fighting. After the capture of Caen by the French in 1346, the monks received the order to fortify the enclosure, Saint-Étienne being outside the fortifications of the city. On September 4, 1414, Henry V seized Caen, On June 11, 1450, King Charles VII of France reoccupied Caen. In 1485, the regime of the commendam was instituted at the Abbaye aux Hommes, a clergyman or a layman held an abbey or a priory in commendam, that is to say by personally collecting the income, and, if he is an ecclesiastic, also exercising a certain jurisdiction without, however, the slightest authority over the internal discipline of the monks. In 1562 and 1563, during the Wars of Religion, the church was looted and then abandoned. The stained glass windows, the organs and the furniture are destroyed. The tomb of William the Conqueror, a magnificent marble mausoleum, surmounted by a recumbent figure, and which was built at the request of his son Guillaume le Roux, King of England, was desecrated in 1562 by Protestants But in 1563, a new intrusion by Protestants caused the monks to flee and the bones were scattered except for a single bone. This bone was replaced in the tomb in 1642 after the restoration of the choir. In 1742, the monks obtained permission from King Louis XV not only to move the tomb into the sanctuary but also to reduce it to a simple vault covered with a tombstone. This left femur would have been found during the opening of a masonry vault located in the choir of the abbey, on August 22, 1983.

On July 6, 1663, the monks of the abbey signed a treaty with the Congregation of Saint-Maur; initial repair work was carried out and on October 10, the monks of Saint-Maur moved into the abbey. The Maurists straighten the abbey spiritually, by restoring religious discipline, and materially by rebuilding the conventual buildings which were falling into ruin. Renovation work began in 1704, but was interrupted for lack of resources in 1706 before resuming in 1710. In 1727, the monks had the land to the east of the abbey filled in to create a French-style garden on the large esplanade thus formed. A new abbey dwelling was built from 1755 to 1759 in the Clos de la Pépinière, a plot between the 14C rampart and the wall separating the enclosure from the rue de l’abbatiale. The work was finally completed in 1764. In 1755, an agreement was made between the abbey and the city of Caen with a view to creating a new street through the gardens of the abbey between the Place des Petites-Boucheries and a new octagonal square, laid out on the site of the old fortifications of the city and on which comes out the rue Écuyère. The southern part of this new axis, called rue Saint-Benoît (now rue Guillaume-le-Conquérant), was subdivided by the monks of Saint-Étienne. The monks’ pavilion was completed in 1758 and the abbey gardens were extended to the new square. Despite these works, the community was on the eve of the French revolution in an excellent financial situation. On March 26, 1789, the assembly of the nobility of the Bailliage of Caen met in the abbey. On November 2, 1790, the monks were expelled from the abbey under the law of February 13-19, 1790. On December 6, 1790, the city decided to buy the abbaye aux hommes in the name of the hospital of the poor (hôtel dieu) ; but the building is finally allocated to different administrations, On October 12, 1800, the Academy of Caen, renamed “lycée de Caen”, is installed in the premises of the abbey. Following the entry into force in 1802 of the Concordat of 1801, Catholic worship was reestablished in the former abbey, but the latter became a parish church and the religious did not return to the abbey.

Only the former abbey dwelling of the Benedictines, built in the 1750s, was transformed from 1810 into a Visitandine monastery in order to accommodate the nuns expelled during the French revolution from their former convent transformed into barracks (now Quartier Lorge). They fitted out and enlarged the existing buildings and erected a first temporary chapel in 1812, followed by a second church, itself replaced by the present building built between 1890 and 1892. The sisters also laid out a large garden in the south of the enclosure. Finally, the prefectural administration left the abbey in 1806 in order to set up the Imperial High School (current Lycée Malherbe), founded on July 20, 1804. In 1841, an elementary primary school was added. The abbey has been transformed over the years to accommodate the students. In 1842, the guest wing was completed while the old 15C abbey dwelling was demolished; only an escutcheon bearing the coat of arms of Charles I of Martigny, bishop of Castres and first commendatory abbot of the abbey, located in the north gallery of the cloister, recalls the memory of this building built in 1490. In the 1880s, the monks’ cells were knocked down to make way for communal sleeping quarters. In 1810, part of the gardens of the abbey were amputated in order to create a square linking Place Fontette to La Prairie; the esplanade was then planted with chestnut trees and a gate was installed to separate the promenade for high school students from the newly created public space, called Place du Parc (now Place Guillouard) and embellished in 1882 with a statue from Place de la Republic. Two new buildings were also built in the gardens: the “class corridor” (currently occupied by the civil status service) built from 1828 to 1830 and the “Little high school” (currently occupied by the municipal police services ). it is indeed decided to build “on the Place du Parc, at the corner of the garden, a small high school for the use of children; the building was inaugurated in 1885.

During the Battle of Caen, (WWII) the school was transformed into a passive defense reception center The ensemble formed by the old abbey, the courthouse and the Visitation monastery, which became the most important of the five reception centers , The former abbey also serves as a complementary hospital to the main hospital at Bon-Sauveur; On July 9, 1944 Anglo-Canadian troops entered Caen; Allied officials go to the abbey where the prefect has transferred his offices. On July 10, after being invested by the Vichy government and officially handing over power to the new prefect, the Caen resistance fighters hoisted the tricolor flag on a lamp post in the Place Monseigneur-des-Hameaux and sang the Marseillaise, thus symbolically marking the liberation of the left bank of the Orne. After WWII, the decision was made to build a new high school. The vacated premises were to be occupied by the Museum of Fine Arts in Caen and the newly created Museum of Normandy Eventually, the two museums were set up within the grounds of the Château de Caen and it is the municipal administration that now occupies the abbey since the opening of the new Lycée Malherbe in 1961. In 1964, the French gardens of the Jean-Marie Louvel esplanade were redesigned according to plans from the 18th century On January 16, 1965, the first meeting of the city council takes place in the chapter house.

The Esplanade Jean-Marie Louvel , (where we parked on hôtel de ville parking) .On this large esplanade, French-style gardens were laid out, made up of flowerbeds, groves and labyrinths. In the 1750s, this garden was enlarged When the abbey was transformed into a high school, the garden underwent profound transformations, During WWII, red crosses were placed in the park to signal to bombers the medical island set up in high school. A temporary cemetery is also dug in the park. In the 1960s, the esplanade, named Jean-Marie Louvel in honor of a former mayor of Caen, was restored according to the original plans of the 18C and once again became a formal garden. It took its current form in the 1990s after the construction of the car park under Place Louis Guillouard.

The city of Caen on the Abbaye aux Hommes

The Caen tourist office: on the Abbaye aux Hommes:

A site on the Abbeys of Normandy on the abbaye aux Hommes of Caen :

There you go folks, a wonderful awesome City to spend more time for sure we will be back, This is wonderful Caen, with beautiful architecture, nice history and many things to do and see ; a must to stop. Again, hope you have enjoy the Abbaye aux Hommes of Caen,exteriors !!! as I

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all !!!

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