Redon Abbey (Abbaye Saint-Sauveur de Redon) is a former Benedictine abbey founded in 832 by Saint Conwoïon. Both Count Ricwin of Nantes and Raginarius (Rainer), Bishop of Vannes, refused at first to support the new foundation, and influenced the Emperor Louis the Pious against it. In 834 however the new monastery gained the patronage of Nominoe, princeps and later the first Duke of Brittany, as evidenced by his charter to it, which was witnessed by Bishop Raginarius, who had apparently overcome his initial opposition. After determined intervention on Conwoïon's behalf by both Ermor, Bishop of Aleth, and Felix, Bishop of Quimper, the Emperor Louis consented to recognise the new foundation, on 27 November 834. In a diploma of 850 Charles the Bold, Louis' successor, granted it immunity and confirmed his protection. Conwoïon's relations to Raginarius's successor, Bishop Susannus of Vannes (838-848) were however apparently strained, as Conwoïon denounced him for his mode of life to the pope. It was the next bishop, Courantgern (850-868), who at length abolished the episcopal supervision of the abbey because of Norman raids, which made it too dangerous for monks to travel overland to Vannes for their ordination.
In 863 Salomon, Duke of Brittany, (857-874) gave the abbey an estate at Plélan, where Conwoïon built a church and a monastery, dedicated to Saint Maixent from the wonder-working relics held there of Saint Maxentius of Poitou.
In 867 Conwoïon stepped down from the office of abbot on account of his advanced age, and died a year later, on 5 January 868. His successor was Ritcant (867-871). During his leadership Redon, like the whole region round the mouths of the Loire and the Vilaine, suffered greatly from the attacks of the heathen Normans. In 852 the church escaped destruction only by an apparent miracle: the Normans were sailing up the Loire in two fleets, when they were forced by a storm to take shelter in the abandoned church, where they lit the candles from the altar and some drank the communion wine. Those who drank the wine, became delirious and died, while those who had not drunk it, survived.
The monks of Redon were at last forced by the invasions to withdraw in 921 to Auxerre and in 924 to Poitou, and were not able to return to their own monastery until the end of the 10th century. The abbey reached its height during the late 11th century and the 12th century, when it governed 27 priories and 12 parishes throughout Brittany, and was a popular pilgrimage destination.
Francis I, Duke of Brittany, was particularly fond of Redon and wished to be buried in the abbey. In 1449, as a sign of his favour, he petitioned Pope Eugene IV to have Redon made the seat of a diocese, with the abbot as bishop, and a bull to that effect was issued on 10 June 1449. The neighbouring bishops of Rennes, Vannes and Nantes, whose territories would have been reduced by the creation of the new diocese, protested so much, however, that the Pope reversed his decision and issued another bull suppressing it, on 20 December 1449. Francis I was nevertheless buried in the abbey church after his death on 18 July 1450.
In 1478 the abbey passed into the control of commendatory abbots, among whom was Cardinal Richelieu, from 1622. It was suppressed in 1790 during the French Revolution. In 1839 the property was acquired by the Eudists, who transformed it into a college. It is now a private Catholic school.
Under Conwoïon two churches were built, one dedicated to Christ the Saviour (Sanctus Salvator) and the other to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The former, a Romanesque construction, was dedicated on 28 October 832/833. The altar contained relics of Saint Epetème or Apodème, Bishop of Angers which Conwoïon had acquired by dubious means. Pope Leo IV later made the abbey a gift of the relics of Saint Marcellinus of Angers. From 849 Redon also possessed relics of the Breton Saint Melor.
The monastery consisted of a dormitory, gatehouse, guesthouse, an infirmary and a garden, where Saint Condeloc worked: among other things he dismissed a plague of caterpillars by an appeal to the Holy Trinity. The former chapter house is now a separate chapel.
The crossing tower and parts of the porch are Romanesque, of the 11th century.. The nave, with an octagonal cupola, was extended in the 12th century in the Gothic style, and the transept and the cloister were also added then. The present choir is of the 13th century. A fire in 1780 damaged the nave, and it was rebuilt shorter than it had been previously. This accounts for the separation of the Gothic bell tower, which before the fire was attached to the body of the church. During restorations in 1950 medieval frescoes were revealed. The stained glass is contemporary.
By the time of Conwoïon's death the abbey apparently already possessed an archive of several hundred documents. About 350 manuscripts from this period have been preserved, but it is certain that between 1773 and 1856 an unknown number of items were lost.
The extensive cartulary of Redon Abbey, containing copies of documents from the foundation up to the 12th century, survives, and has been published in two editions. It is a record of great importance for the history of Brittany.References:
The original Cochem Castle, perched prominently on a hill above the Moselle River, served to collect tolls from passing ships. Modern research dates its origins to around 1100. Before its destruction by the French in 1689, the castle had a long and fascinating history. It changed hands numerous times and, like most castles, also changed its form over the centuries.
In 1151 King Konrad III ended a dispute over who should inherit Cochem Castle by laying siege to it and taking possession of it himself. That same year it became an official Imperial Castle (Reichsburg) subject to imperial authority. In 1282 it was Habsburg King Rudolf’s turn, when he conquered the Reichsburg Cochem and took it over. But just 12 years later, in 1294, the newest owner, King Adolf of Nassau pawned the castle, the town of Cochem and the surrounding region in order to finance his coronation. Adolf’s successor, Albrecht I, was unable to redeem the pledge and was forced to grant the castle to the archbishop in nearby Trier and the Electorate of Trier, which then administered the Reichsburg continuously, except for a brief interruption when Trier’s Archbishop Balduin of Luxembourg had to pawn the castle to a countess. But he got it back a year later.
The Electorate of Trier and its nobility became wealthy and powerful in large part due to the income from Cochem Castle and the rights to shipping tolls on the Moselle. Not until 1419 did the castle and its tolls come under the administration of civil bailiffs (Amtsmänner). While under the control of the bishops and electors in Trier from the 14th to the 16th century, the castle was expanded several times.
In 1688 the French invaded the Rhine and Moselle regions of the Palatinate, which included Cochem and its castle. French troops conquered the Reichsburg and then laid waste not only to the castle but also to Cochem and most of the other surrounding towns in a scorched-earth campaign. Between that time and the Congress of Vienna, the Palatinate and Cochem went back and forth between France and Prussia. In 1815 the western Palatinate and Cochem finally became part of Prussia once and for all.
Louis Jacques Ravené (1823-1879) did not live to see the completion of his renovated castle, but it was completed by his son Louis Auguste Ravené (1866-1944). Louis Auguste was only two years old when construction work at the old ruins above Cochem began in 1868, but most of the new castle took shape from 1874 to 1877, based on designs by Berlin architects. After the death of his father in 1879, Louis Auguste supervised the final stages of construction, mostly involving work on the castle’s interior. The castle was finally completed in 1890. Louis Auguste, like his father, a lover of art, filled the castle with an extensive art collection, most of which was lost during the Second World War.
In 1942, during the Nazi years, Ravené was forced to sell the family castle to the Prussian Ministry of Justice, which turned it into a law school run by the Nazi government. Following the end of the war, the castle became the property of the new state of Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate). In 1978 the city of Cochem bought the castle for 664,000 marks.