The Augustinian priory here was founded in 1080, on land donated by the Alquier noble family of Béziers. A new church was consecrated in 1115. Numerous relics were collected by the abbey and it served as cemetery to the nobility of the region. The lands owned by the priory extended to 75 villages. Pope Innocent III in the context of the crusade against the Cathars exempted the priory from control by the bishops of Béziers, making it subject only to the Holy See in spiritual matters. In secular terms, the abbey pledged allegiance to Louis IX of France in 1268.
In the 14th century the priory began to decline, as a result of the Black Plague and the turmoils of the Hundred Year's War, and the number of monks halved, from 80 in the 13th century to 40 by 1384. The monastery was pillaged during the wars of religion, in 1539, and again in 1563. By 1605, the monastic community was moribund, reduced to seven or eight monks. In 1671, it was attached to Sainte-Geneviève abbey in Paris.
The medieval buildings were torn down and the estate was rebuilt from ground in the mid-18th century under prior Pas de Beaulieu, except for the church building, which was modified but retains its 12th century romanesque core structure. After the French revolution, the monastery was dissolved and the property nationalised, in 1791 sold to an advocate, Marc Antoine Thomas Mérigeaux, who bought it on behalf of a Prince de Conti who offered it to his mistress, Madame de Brimont.
From this point, the former monastery became known as Château de Cassan or Cassan castle. It changed hands several times during the 19th and 20th centuries, eventually passing to the French state, housing administrative offices, but in 1995 sold again to a private party, and in 2002 to a real estate holding.References:
The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.
The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.
Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.
The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.
Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.
The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.
During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.
In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.