Souvigny, Abbey of
SOUVIGNY, ABBEY OF
Former Cluniac priory, burial place of the dukes of Bourbon, located at Souvigny. Founded in the tenth century by the then obscure feudal lord of the Bourbonnais, the monastery became a center of pilgrimage after the burial there of two famous abbots of Cluny, St. majolus (d. 994) and St. odilo (d. 1049). The dukes of Bourbon alternately protected and attacked Souvigny. In the 13th century Robert, the youngest son of louis ix, married the heiress of Bourbon; from this marriage henry iv derived his claim to the French throne in 1589. From the time of Duke Louis II (d. 1410) the family was buried there. In the 15th century the prior, Dom Chollet, restored the church by constructing a beautiful flamboyant Gothic nave on the sturdy Romanesque basilica. The tombs of Duke Charles and Duchess Agnes, sculptured by Jacques Morel (d. 1459?), are found in the new chapel. In the 16th century commendatory abbots collected the revenues but made no contribution to the development of Souvigny, which suffered also from internal decay. In the 17th century, however, the prior Nicolas des Mesgrigny renewed the spirit of the monastery and contributed to its history by collecting documents which form the Thesaurus silviniacensis, an incomplete but precious corpus for the history of the monastery. Souvigny was suppressed in 1791; two years later the Terror destroyed the house and the artistic accumulation of nine centuries.
Bibliography: s. marcaille, Antiquitez du prioré (sic) de Souvigny (Moulins 1610). Thesaurus silviniacensis, ed. n. de mesgrigny (1652). Gallia Christiana, v.1–13 (Paris 1715–85),v.14–16 (Paris 1856–65) 2:377–380. a. allier, L'Ancien Bourbonnais, 2 v. (Moulins 1833–38); ed. m. fazy in 4 v. (1934–38). a. bruel, ed., Recueil des chartes de l'abbaye de Cluny, 6 v. (Paris 1876–1903). n. de nicolay, Générale description du Bourbonnais, ed. a. vayssiÈre, 2 V. (Moulins 1889). g. de valous, Le Temporel et la situation financière des établissements de l'ordre de Cluny du XII e au XIV e siècle (Paris 1935). l. cÔte, Contributions à l'histoire du prieuré clunisien de Souvigny (Moulins 1942); Moines, sires, et ducs (1965).