Clairvaux Abbey 1115

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Map Code: Ax02398

This Cistercian monastery, founded by St Bernard, was located in Ville-sous-la-Ferté in Burgundy. St Bernard had joined the new Cistercian foundation of Cîteaux in 1112 or 1113, and was sent out in 1115 to found Clairvaux. The growth of the Cistercians was phenomenal; by the time Bernard died 68 monasteries were direct foundations from Clairvaux, and the order had spread as far afield as Scotland, Sweden and Sicily. The Cistercians saw themselves as ‘desert monks’, who sought out ‘lonely and wooded’ places, and ended up cultivating them and civilizing them. Clairvaux was a typical Cistercian monastery; the Abbey was situated at the north of the complex, the main dormitories to the west. The abbot’s lodging commanded the entrance to the monastic complex. Gardens, fishponds and sizeable estates, used for grazing and animal husbandry, kept the monastery well-fed and supplied. The church consisted of a vast nave of eleven bays, with two chapels to the north and south of the transept, and a series of radiating chaps surrounding the apse. The cloister, located to the south of the church, was well-lit and sunny.

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