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Saint-Florent-lès-Saumur, Abbey of

SAINT-FLORENT-LÈS-SAUMUR, ABBEY OF

Former benedictine monastery near Saumur, Maine-et-Loire, France, in the Diocese of Angers. It grew up originally around the tomb of the hermit Florent at Mont-Glonne-sur-Loire (now saint-florent-le-vieil) in the 5th century. A common rule of life was imposed on the hermits; this rule led to regular monastic life in the 8th century. Forced to flee out of fear of the Vikings, the monks traveled as far as Burgundy before they were recalled to the Loire Valley by the Count of Blois, Theobald "Le Tricheur," who installed them in the castle of Saumur in 950. After the castle was taken by the Angevins in 1025, the monks were moved to their final home, now known as Saint-Florent-lès-Saumur. The new abbey church was consecrated in 1041. From this time the monastery extended its endowment throughout western France, and was by no means weaker for the loss of its secular patrons. Its possessions were found in every part of the later Plantagenet empire and it had more than a dozen churches in the Diocese of Paris. These possessions gave rise to the establishment of many priories. The influence of the monastery was therefore more notable outside its own diocese. From the 16th century it was held in commendam (see commendation), but the maurists undertook reform in 1637. It was dissolved in 1790; of all its buildings only the 12th-century porch of the church remains. A great number of its archives survive at Angers.

Bibliography: p. marchegay, Chroniques des églises d'Anjou (Paris 1869). Gallia Christiania 14:620640. h. l. cottineau, Répertoire topobibliographique des abbays et prieurés, 2v. (Mâcon 193539) 2:267779.

[d. j. a. matthew]

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