Bonmont Abbey is a former Cistercian monastery in Chéserex. The abbey was founded between 1110 and 1120. The oldest surviving document mentioning the abbey is a deed of gift from the lords of Divonne and Gingins in 1131.
In 1131, the foundation stone of the abbey church was laid. Construction continued until the end of the 12th century. The church was built during the transition from Romanesque to Gothic architecture and includes elements of both styles. The original architecture was kept simple and sober, according to the strict rules of the Benedictine Order and in accordance with the desires of the Cistercians. However, the simple design of the church and the simplicity of monastic life were quickly replaced by wealth. Numerous donations enlarged the possessions of the abbey and created ties between the monks and the local nobility. The area owned by the abbey stretched from the foot of the Jura to the Côte de Nyon and up to Aubonne. Under the protection of the House of Savoy in the 13th century, Bonmont Abbey was one of the richest monasteries in the Lake Geneva area.
As the worldly wealth of the abbey increased, the strict rules of the Cistercians loosened. From the 14th century the church was decorated in vibrant colors, ocher yellow or black floral motifs, and also paintings, in disregard of the old rule that churches interiors should be covered in white lime plaster only. There was also a significant structural change: in 1488 the humble roof turret was replaced by a massive tower over the transept.
With the conquest of Vaud by Bern and the Reformation the abbey was secularized in 1536. The monastic buildings were converted into agricultural ones or were demolished. The abbey church was converted for practical use: the wood flooring was torn up and used to create a wine warehouse on the ground floor and a granary above in the nave of the church. In the north transept, a cheese factory was established and in the south, a bakery. Just below the chancel arch there was room for a small chapel, which remained in operation. Because the church was put to secular use, it was saved from demolition. In 1761 the interior of the church was completely remodeled.
The old hospital of the abbey remained in operation after the dissolution of the monastery until 1672. It was replaced in 1736 with a castle that housed the bailiwick administrative office. Following the Vaud Revolution in 1798, the abbey buildings became the property of the state, falling into private ownership in 1802. In 1820 the church was dramatically transformed. Two new entrances, one with a pointed arch and the other with a rounded arch, were built into the fifth bay of the southern side of the nave and the second bay of the northern side. Above the bakery a two-story residence was added.
In 1942 the church was declared a National Monument. In 1982 it became the property of the Canton of Vaud, which carried out a thorough restoration that ended in 1995. The Bernese bailiwick castle and the castle grounds are still privately owned.References:
Steinvikholm Castle is an island fortress built between 1525 to 1532 by Norway's last Catholic archbishop, Olav Engelbrektsson. Steinvikholm castle became the most powerful fortification by the time it was built, and it is the largest construction raised in the Norwegian Middle Ages.
The castle occupies about half of the land on the rocky island. The absence of a spring meant that fresh water had to be brought from the mainland. A wooden bridge served as the only way to the island other than boat. Although the castle design was common across Europe in 1525, its medieval design was becoming obsolete because of the improved siege firepower offered by gunpowder and cannons.
The castle was constructed after Olav Engelbrektsson returned from a meeting with the Pope in Rome, presumably in anticipation of impending military-religious conflict. As Archbishop Engelbrektsson's resistance to the encroachment of Danish rule escalated, first with Frederick I of Denmark and his successor Christian III of Denmark, Steinvikholm Castle and Nidarholm Abbey became the Catholic Church's military strongholds in Norway. In April 1537, the Danish-Norwegian Reformation succeeded in driving the archbishop from the castle into exile in Lier in the Netherlands (now in Belgium), where he died on 7 February 1538. At the castle the archbishop left behind St. Olav's shrine and other treasures from Nidaros Cathedral (Trondheim). The original coffin containing St. Olav's body remained at Steinvikholm until it was returned to Nidaros Cathedral in 1564. Since 1568 St. Olav's grave in Nidaros has been unknown.
From the 17th to 19th century, the island was used as a quarry and some of its masonry was sold and removed from the site. This activity was condoned by the Danish-Norwegian authorities as a way of eliminating a monument to the opposition of the Danish–Norwegian Union.
Steinvikholm fort is owned and operated today by The society for the Preservation of Norwegian Ancient Monuments. The island has been the site of the midnight opera which details the life and struggles of the archbishop. The opera is held in August annually. The opera is organized by Steinvikholm Musikkteater since the beginning in 1993.