Asnières Abbey

Cizay-la-Madeleine, France

Bernard de Tiron (died in 1117) established a Benedictine priory in Asnières, which was later elevated to an abbey in 1129.

The abbey thrived during the Middle Ages. In 1133, Giraud II Berlai presented valuable gifts to Asnières for the construction of a new church intended for the burial of the lords of Montreuil. Thanks to this generosity and advancements in art, a new style of architecture emerged, known as Angevin Gothic or Plantagenet style. In 1137, Giraud compensated the monks of Saint-Nicolas who then remembered their rights and attempted to assert them.

The decline of the abbey began with the Wars of Religion (1562-1569). Montreuil-Bellay served as a stronghold and arsenal for both sides in turn. The abbey was plundered in 1569 by the Huguenots: 30 monks were massacred, the roofs, including the bell tower, were set on fire, and the cloister, refectory, and dormitory disappeared. It was partially restored with Abbot Verdier in 1635. The abbey remained separate from religious reforms and refused to align with new congregations. In 1650, only 6 monks remained. In 1746, the abbey had only two monks left and was then attached by concordat to the Jesuit College in La Flèche.

In 1790, it was sold as national property to Joseph de la Selle d'Echuilly. He built a residence that burned shortly after completion. He then sold the property in parcels, which were dedicated to agriculture. The church was converted into a fodder shed. In 1857, the nave was demolished to retrieve the stones. In 1901, the ruins were acquired by Mr. Chappée and Mr. de la Brière, who rehabilitated the monument. Excavations and exhumations were carried out in 1902. The building was classified as a historical monument on February 10, 1909. In 1950, Mr. Chappé donated it to the Maine-et-Loire department.

Since 2014, the Abbey of Asnières has been privately owned, purchased by the politician Alain Suguenot and his wife. It remains open for visits.

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