Fontgombault Abbey (Abbaye Notre-Dame de Fontgombault) is a Benedictine monastery of the Solesmes Congregation. In 1091 Pierre de l'Étoile founded a Benedictine monastery on the banks of the Creuse River, near the spring or fount of Gombaud. In the 12th and 13th centuries the abbey experienced vigorous growth and established twenty or so priories. In the 15th century the abbots of Fontgombault had numerous ponds excavated, as was also done at the abbeys of Saint-Cyran and Méobecq, thus contributing to fish husbandry in the Brenne region.
The abbey was sacked and laid waste by the Calvinists in 1569, and was not restored until the end of the 17th century, when Dom Andrieu accomplished the task. In 1741 however the Benedictine community, reduced to five members, was replaced by a community of Lazarists, who established a seminary here and used it as a center for missions in the region.
The buildings were partly destroyed during the French Revolution, when the monastery was nationalised and sold off. It was eventually bought back for religious uses by the Trappists in 1849, who succeeded in re-establishing it as a viable community by redeveloping its agriculture and setting up a kirsch distillery.
But in 1905 the Trappists were expelled from France under the Association Laws and the monastery was secularized and sold off for a second time. The purchaser was Louis Bonjean, who set up a button factory in the premises. At his death in 1914 the buildings were put to use as a military hospital for wounded soldiers of the Belgian army, which it remained until 1918. The Trappists who were expelled in 1905 went on to form the Monastery of Our Lady of Jordan, Oregon in the United States.
In 1948 the empty buildings were restored to the site's original purpose when 22 monks from Solesmes Abbey settled it afresh as a Benedictine community. It is now the most populous of Solesmes' foundations, with over a hundred monks, and has in its turn founded another three religious houses in France — Randol Abbey, (1971), Triors Abbey (1984) and Gaussan Priory (1994) — as well as Clear Creek Abbey (elevated from a priory in 2010) in the United States in 1999. Mass is celebrated in Latin using the traditional pre-Vatican II rite as in the 1962 Roman Missal.References:
Château de Falaise is best known as a castle, where William the Conqueror, the son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was born in about 1028. William went on to conquer England and become king and possession of the castle descended through his heirs until the 13th century when it was captured by King Philip II of France. Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840 it has been protected as a monument historique.
The castle (12th–13th century), which overlooks the town from a high crag, was formerly the seat of the Dukes of Normandy. The construction was started on the site of an earlier castle in 1123 by Henry I of England, with the 'large keep' (grand donjon). Later was added the 'small keep' (petit donjon). The tower built in the first quarter of the 12th century contained a hall, chapel, and a room for the lord, but no small rooms for a complicated household arrangement; in this way, it was similar to towers at Corfe, Norwich, and Portchester, all in England. In 1202 Arthur I, Duke of Brittany was King John of England's nephew, was imprisoned in Falaise castle's keep. According to contemporaneous chronicler Ralph of Coggeshall, John ordered two of his servants to mutilate the duke. Hugh de Burgh was in charge of guarding Arthur and refused to let him be mutilated, but to demoralise Arthur's supporters was to announce his death. The circumstances of Arthur's death are unclear, though he probably died in 1203.
In about 1207, after having conquered Normandy, Philip II Augustus ordered the building of a new cylindrical keep. It was later named the Talbot Tower (Tour Talbot) after the English commander responsible for its repair during the Hundred Years' War. It is a tall round tower, similar design to the towers built at Gisors and the medieval Louvre.Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840, Château de Falaise has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
A programme of restoration was carried out between 1870 and 1874. The castle suffered due to bombardment during the Second World War in the battle for the Falaise pocket in 1944, but the three keeps were unscathed.