Prémontré, Monastery of
PRÉMONTRÉ, MONASTERY OF
From the Latin praemonstratum (the place shown forth), cradle of the Order of Canons Regular of Premontre or premonstratensians (Norbertines), near Coucy, Aisne, former diocese of Laon, now Soissons. The land was given by Bishop Bartholomew of Laon to norbert of xanten, who founded the monastery there (1120–21). The foundation was originally a double cloister. In 1128, Norbert was succeeded by hugh of fosse, an able organizer, and the order grew. The abbots of Prémontré became generals of the order, and annual general chapters were held there. The abbey was ruled by zealous abbots, but on three occasions free elections were interfered with, when Cardinals Francis of Pisa, D'Este (1535–71), and Richelieu (1636–42), were named commendatory abbots. The survival of this crisis and the reform of the order was attributed to Abbot Jean Despruets, freely elected in 1572. The abbey added several large buildings in the 17th and 18th centuries. It had 80 canons when it was suppressed in the French Revolution (1790). The large medieval church and Gothic chapterhouse were demolished, and subsequent attempts (1843, 1856) to rebuild the monastery failed. The bishop of Soissons sold the property, and it became an asylum of the Department of Aisne. The three 18th-century buildings surrounding the court of honor (the praelatura, the provisor's offices and the residence for older confreres) have been preserved as historic monuments while serving as offices for the asylum. The ruins of the first abbey church of St. John the Baptist built by St. Norbert have been incorporated into a wall of the property.
Bibliography: c. l. hugo, S. Ordinis Praemonstratensis annales, 2 v. (Nancy 1734–36) 1:2–58. Gallia Christiana, v.1–13 (Paris 1715–85) 9:642–662. c. taiÉe, Prémontré, 2 v. (Laon 1872–73). l. h. cottineau, Répertoire topobibliographique des abbayes et prieurés, 2 v. (Mâcon 1935–39) 2:2359–61. b. ravary, Prémontré dans la tourmente révolutionnaire (Paris 1955). n. backmund, Monasticon Praemonstratense, 3 v. (Straubling 1949–56) 2:521–530. p. bonnet, Les Constructions de l'Ordre de Premontre en France aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siecles. Bibliotheque de la Societe Francaise d'Archeologie 15 (Paris 1983). m. plouvier, L'Abbaye de Premontre aux XVIIe et XVIIIe Siecles. Histoire d'une Reconstruciton. Bibliotheca Analectorum Praemonstratensium 16 (Louvain 1985).
[a. d. ciferni]