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Bec Abbey

South side of the abbey, the church and the monks' cells seen from Le Bec.
South side of the abbey, the church and the monks' cells seen from Le Bec.
Bec Abbey () in Le Bec Hellouin,[1] Normandy, France, once the most influential abbeys in the Anglo-Norman kingdom of the twelfth century,[2] is a Benedictine monastic foundation in the Eure d partement, 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 Gilbert Crispin, Abbot of Westminster. Archbishop Lanfranc also wrote a Chronicon Beccense of the life of Herluin, and of the first four abbots, which was 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 Wars of Religion and left a ruin in the French Revolution but the 15th century Tour Saint-Nicolas ("St, Nicholas's Tower") from the medieval monastery is still standing.

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. Image:Abbaye du Bec glise abbatiale.jpg|Abbey church Image:Abbaye du Bec tour S Nicolas closer2.jpg|Close-up of the Tour Saint-Nicolas Image:Abbaye du Bec-Hellouin - Le clo tre.jpg|Cloister Image:Abbaye du Bec - Tour S Nicolas.jpg|West side of the Tour Saint-Nicolas west side, between the ancient pottery to its left and the monks' residential building to its right

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: L tard
  • 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-L ger alias de Bellevue (afterwards bishop of vreux)
  • 1223 1247: Henri de Saint-L ger
  • 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- tienne
  • 1327 1335: Geoffroy Fa (afterwards Bishop of vreux)
  • 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 Vall e

  • 1430 1446: Thomas Frique
  • 1446 1452: Jean de La Motte
  • 1452 1476: Geoffroy d paignes
  • 1476 1484: Jean Boucard
  • 1484 1491: Robert d vreux
  • 1491 1515: Guillaume Gu rin
  • 1515 1515: Jean Ribault
  • 1515 1520: Adrien Gouffier de Boissy (created cardinal in 1515, also bishop of Coutances and the administrator of the see of Albi)
  • 1520 1533: Jean d'Orl ans-Longueville (also archbishop of Toulouse and bishop of Orl ans, created cardinal in 1533)
  • 1534 1543: Jean Le Veneur (also Bishop of Lisieux)
  • 1544 1557: Jacques d'Annebaut (created cardinal in 1544, also Bishop of Lisieux)
  • 1558 1572: Louis de Lorraine (created cardinal in 1553, also successively bishop of Troyes, archbishop of Sens and bishop of Metz)
  • 1572 1591: Claude de Lorraine
  • 1591 1597: Emeric de Vic
  • 1597 1661: Dominique de Vic (also archbishop of Auch)
  • 1761 1764: vacant
  • 1664 1707: Jacques-Nicolas Colbert (also archbishop of Rouen)
  • 1707 1717: Roger de La Rochefoucauld
  • 1717 1771: Louis de Bourbon-Cond
  • 1771 1782: vacant
  • 1782 1790: Yves-Alexandre de Marbeuf (also bishop of Autun, later archbishop of Lyon)

See also

  • List of Benedictine monasteries in France
  • Povington Priory


External links

ast:Abad a de Bec de:Abtei Le Bec eo:Abatejo Bec fr:Abbaye Notre-Dame du Bec gl:Abad a de Bec it:Abbazia di Bec nl:Abdij van Bec pl:Opactwo Notre Dame w Bec ru: - ( )

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