The Abbey of St. Bertin was a Benedictine abbey, but today in ruins (the town's town-hall was built with stone from the abbey in 1834) and open to the public. It was dedicated to its second abbot, Saint Bertin.
The monastery was founded on the banks of the Aa in the 7th century by the bishop of ThĂ©rouanne, who sent the monks Bertin, Momelin and Ebertram from Omer to proselytize among the pagans in the region. The Abbey of St. Bertin soon became one of the most influential monasteries in northern Europe and ranked in importance with Elnon Abbey and the Abbey of St. Vaast. Its library included the codex of Aratea of Leyde, from which two copies were made. The Annals of St Bertin are an important source of the 9th-century history of Francia.
Already in the 9th century the abbey had a priory in Poperinge. A Romanesque church was constructed in the mid-11th century. It was 25m high, with a 48m high tower, and included a large 14th century semi-circular sanctuary with five side-chapels. It served as a model for the church, whose construction was not completed until the beginning of the 16th century.
From the 12th century the abbey had the right of appointing the priest at Lissewege and Ruiselede (1106). William Clito was buried here in 1128. The abbey had a 'refuge-house' in the now-demolished Sint-Lodewijkscollege in Bruges. The abbey had its greatest flourishing from its inception until the 13th century, though it survived until it was shut down at the French Revolution.
In 1830 the commune demanded the demolition of the church, though they spared the tower, which they strengthened with a buttress in the nave (still visible). However, the tower was weakened by bombardment of the town centre in World War II and collapsed in 1947, leading to the abandonment of the site.
The abbey is known for its Latin-written cartulary (Chartularium Sithiense) whose first part is attributed to Folquin (died in 855 in Esquelbeques).References:
Les Invalides is a complex of buildings containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building"s original purpose. The buildings house the Musée de l"Armée, the military museum of the Army of France, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée d"Histoire Contemporaine, as well as the burial site for some of France"s war heroes, notably Napoleon Bonaparte.
Louis XIV initiated the project in 1670, as a home and hospital for aged and unwell soldiers: the name is a shortened form of hôpital des invalides. The architect of Les Invalides was Libéral Bruant. The enlarged project was completed in 1676, the river front measured 196 metres and the complex had fifteen courtyards. Jules Hardouin Mansart assisted the aged Bruant, and the chapel was finished in 1679 to Bruant"s designs after the elder architect"s death.
Shortly after the veterans" chapel was completed, Louis XIV commissioned Mansart to construct a separate private royal chapel referred to as the Église du Dôme from its most striking feature. Inspired by St. Peter"s Basilica in Rome, the original for all Baroque domes, it is one of the triumphs of French Baroque architecture. The domed chapel is centrally placed to dominate the court of honour. It was finished in 1708.
Because of its location and significance, the Invalides served as the scene for several key events in French history. On 14 July 1789 it was stormed by Parisian rioters who seized the cannons and muskets stored in its cellars to use against the Bastille later the same day. Napoleon was entombed under the dome of the Invalides with great ceremony in 1840. In December 1894 the degradation of Captain Alfred Dreyfus was held before the main building, while his subsequent rehabilitation ceremony took place in a courtyard of the complex in 1906.
The building retained its primary function of a retirement home and hospital for military veterans until the early twentieth century. In 1872 the musée d"artillerie (Artillery Museum) was located within the building to be joined by the Historical Museum of the Armies in 1896. The two institutions were merged to form the present musée de l"armée in 1905. At the same time the veterans in residence were dispersed to smaller centres outside Paris. The reason was that the adoption of a mainly conscript army, after 1872, meant a substantial reduction in the numbers of veterans having the twenty or more years of military service formerly required to enter the Hôpital des Invalides. The building accordingly became too large for its original purpose. The modern complex does however still include the facilities detailed below for about a hundred elderly or incapacitated former soldiers.