Fontevraud Abbey – From abbey to prison

Fontevraud Abbey was founded between 1110 and 1119 and was located in what was then the Angevin Empire. As a monastery, it was home to royal and noble ladies and it became the burial place of Eleanor of Aquitaine, her husband Henry II and their son Richard the Lionheart and the wife of their son John, Isabella of Angoulême. It is also the burial place of Thérèse of France, daughter of Louis XV of France and Marie Leszczyńska, who died at the age of 8.

Their remains were probably destroyed during the French Revolution but their tombs, minus those of Thérèse, have survived the test of time. From 1804 to 1963 Fontevraud Abbey served as a prison.

Amongst its Abbesses Fontevraud Abbey can count Matilda of Anjou, wife of William Adelin, whose death sparked a succession crisis, Eleanor of Brittany, daughter of John II, Duke of Brittany and Beatrice of England, Anne of Orléans, daughter of Charles, Duke of Orléans and Maria of Cleves,

The tomb of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II

The tomb of Isabella of Angouleme and Richard the Lionheart

Fontevraud Abbey is truly a phoenix rising from the ashes.  From over 100 years as a prison to a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was a lot smaller than I expected but not any less magnificent. Some parts also housed art exhibitions and there was an exhibition about the time it was a prison. The area surrounding the tombs is rather empty and was undergoing construction, hopefully, they’ll turn into something beautiful.

Adults : €11
Children (from 8 to 18): : €7,50

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About Moniek 1209 Articles

My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women’s amazing stories.

3 Comments on Fontevraud Abbey – From abbey to prison

  1. I once planned a whole trip to Europe just so we could drive to Fontevraud Abbey so I could see the grave of Eleanor of Aquitaine!!! Henry II and Richard the Lionheart were a wonderful bonus. I still remember the feeling when I saw those graves!!!!

  2. What a bonus. I missed seeing Fontevraud when I went to France and was quite disappointed. I enjoy your newsletters. Thank you Moniek.

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