Cluny Abbey is a former Benedictine monastery in Cluny, Saône-et-Loire, France. It was dedicated to St Peter; the abbey was constructed in the Romanesque architectural style, with three churches built in succession from the 4th to the early 12th centuries. The earliest basilica was the world's largest church until the St. Peter's Basilica construction began in Rome. Cluny was founded by Duke William I of Aquitaine in 910, he nominated Berno as the first abbot of Cluny, subject only to Pope Sergius III. The abbey was notable for its stricter adherence to the Rule of St. Benedict, whereby Cluny became acknowledged as the leader of western monasticism; the establishment of the Benedictine Order was a keystone to the stability of European society, achieved in the 11th century. In 1790 during the French Revolution, the abbey was sacked and destroyed, with only a small part surviving. Starting around 1334, the Abbots of Cluny maintained a townhouse in Paris known as the Hôtel de Cluny, a public museum since 1843.
Apart from the name, it no longer possesses anything connected with Cluny. In 910, William I, Duke of Aquitaine "the Pious", Count of Auvergne, founded the Benedictine Abbey of Cluny on a modest scale, as the motherhouse of the Congregation of Cluny; the deed of gift included vineyards, meadows, waters, serfs and uncultivated lands. Hospitality was to be given to the poor and pilgrims, it was stipulated that the monastery would be free from local authorities, lay or ecclesiastical, subject only to the Pope, with the proviso that he could not seize the property, divide or give it to someone else or appoint an abbot without the consent of the monks. William placed Cluny under the protection of saints Peter and Paul, with a curse on anyone who should violate the charter. With the Pope across the Alps in Italy, this meant the monastery was independent. In donating his hunting preserve in the forests of Burgundy, William released Cluny Abbey from all future obligation to him and his family other than prayer.
Contemporary patrons retained a proprietary interest and expected to install their kinsmen as abbots. William appears to have made this arrangement with Berno, the first abbot, to free the new monastery from such secular entanglements and initiate the Cluniac Reforms; the appropriate deeds made all assets of the added Abby sacred, to take them was to commit sacrilege. Soon, Cluny began to receive bequests from around Europe – from the Holy Roman Empire to the Spanish kingdoms from southern England to Italy, it became a powerful monastic congregation that owned and operated the network of monasteries and priories, under the authority of the central abbey at Cluny. It was a original and successful system, The Abbots of Cluny became leaders on the international stage and the monastery of Cluny was considered the grandest, most prestigious and best-endowed monastic institution in Europe; the height of Cluniac influence was from the second half of the 10th century through the early 12th. The first women members were admitted to the Order during the 11th century.
The reforms introduced at Cluny were in some measure traceable to the influence of Benedict of Aniane, who had put forward his new ideas at the first great meeting of the abbots of the order held at Aachen in 817. Berno had adopted Benedict's interpretation of the Rule at Baume Abbey. Cluny was not known for the severity of its discipline or its asceticism, but the abbots of Cluny supported the revival of the papacy and the reforms of Pope Gregory VII; the Cluniac establishment found itself identified with the Papacy. In the early 12th century, the order lost momentum under poor government, it was subsequently revitalized under Abbot Peter the Venerable, who brought lax priories back into line and returned to stricter discipline. Cluny reached its apogee of power and influence under Peter, as its monks became bishops and cardinals throughout France and the Holy Roman Empire, but by the time Peter died and more austere orders such as the Cistercians were generating the next wave of ecclesiastical reform.
Outside monastic structures, the rise of English and French nationalism created a climate unfavourable to the existence of monasteries autocratically ruled by a head residing in Burgundy. The Papal Schism of 1378 to 1409 further divided loyalties: France recognizing a pope at Avignon and England one at Rome, interfered with the relations between Cluny and its dependent houses. Under the strain, some English houses, such as Lenton Priory, were naturalized and no longer regarded as alien priories, weakening the Cluniac structure. By the time of the French Revolution, the monks were so identified with the Ancien Régime that the order was suppressed in France in 1790 and the monastery at Cluny totally demolished in 1810, it was sold and used as a quarry until 1823. Today, little more than one of the original eight towers remains of the whole monastery. Modern excavations of the Abbey began in 1927 under the direction of Kenneth John Conant, American architectural historian of Harvard University, continued until 1950.
The Abbey of Cluny differed in three ways from other Benedictine houses and confederations: organisational structure. Cluny developed a centralized form of government foreign to Benedictine tradition. While most Benedictine monasteries remained autonomous and associated with each other only informally, Cluny created a large, federated order in which the administrators of subsidiary
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Catherine Horwood is an English journalist and social historian who writes extensively on horticulture, garden design and, in fashion, the history of dress. She is the authorised biographer of the British plantswoman, garden designer and author, Beth Chatto. Horwood has contributed to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and to BBC Radio 4 programmes on social history, she is married to emeritus Professor Patrick Barwise. Horwood has written for English Garden, Gardens Illustrated and Good Housekeeping magazine, becoming Good Housekeeping's features editor. Horwood completed a Master of Arts ) degree in Women's History, a PhD on Interwar Middle Class dress codes at Royal Holloway, University of London, she was an Honorary Research Fellow at University of London and has been awarded fellowships at the Yale Center for British Art, the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens at San Marino, CA. Horwood is the author of four books on horticulture, garden design and the social history of women in horticulture, two books on fashion history.
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