- FRANCE - PART ONE -

Mont St Michel : Part 2

LINKS to other pages in the FRANCE PART ONE site and to the Colin Day Travelling Days series:

HOME PAGE : FRANCE PART ONE
PARIS HOME PAGE
GIVERNY
ROUEN
NORMANDY (Honfleur and Deauville)
NORMANDY (D Day Beaches and Bayeux)
MONT ST MICHEL
TOURAINE
LOCHES en TOURAINE
ORLEANS
FONTAINEBLEAU
LIST O' LINKS INDEX
GUEST BOOK
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Aubert, as directed bt St Michael, built a small oratory on the top of the rock. A monastery was started in 1017, and constructed with stones from the Brittany mainland hauled up to the rock at low tide. The site very soon became one of the most important destinations for pilgrims in the world; it even competed with Santiago de Compostela in Spain as a place of pilgrimage.

It took six centuries to complete the building. Blanche of Castile, Regent of France directed the building of the cloister in 1211 (pictured on the previous page). A small town developed at the base and both the abbey and the town were later provided with fortified defences. Mont Saint Michel was besieged and taken from the Plantangenets in 1214 during Philippe Auguste's conquest of Normandy.

The site played an increasing role in medieval European pilgrimages both as a destination in itself and as a resting place for those travelling to destinations further south. Poorer pilgrims were quartered in the town; nobles were accommodated in abbey.



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The Scriptorium is also named "Salle des Chevaliers" and is located on the second floor of the Merveille. The hall is divided into four naves of different width by three rows of columns. It is equipped with two large fireplaces and two latrines and was the common room of the monks. By hanging tapestries between columns the monks could create individual 'rooms' where they would copy and illuminatey manuscripts (hence the name, 'Scriptorium') (right)










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St Michael commands Bishop Aubert to found a chapel on the rock subsequently to be named Mont St Michel (left)

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Supplies for the monastery arrived by sea and were hoisted to the storeroom by means of a great wheel (a treadmill operated by 'people power') installed in the central bay.

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The position of the abbey rendered it of the highest strategic importance especially during the wars with England. Both the abbey and the small town that had grown up at the foot of the rock on the land side were enclosed by strong fortifications during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. So impregnable was the rock made in this way that, although frequently attacked by superior forces, it was never captured.







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Sentry rooms and other fortifications are still to be found on the walk via the ramparts back to the town.

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The central tower has recently been restored and crowned with a copper-covered spire surmounted by a gilded statue of St. Michael by M. Frémiet. (left)

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A view of the abbey from the outskirts of the town (right)

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