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Abbey of Saint-Étienne - Caen, France
Posted by: Groundspeak Charter Member neoc1
N 49° 10.868 W 000° 22.234
30U E 691615 N 5450920
Quick Description: Abbey of Saint-Étienne, a.k.a. Abbaye aux Hommes, is located near the present day center of the city Esplanade Jean-Marie Louvel, Caen, Normandy, France.
Location: Normandie, France
Date Posted: 3/18/2019 5:07:29 AM
Waymark Code: WM1080N
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Alfouine
Views: 3

Long Description:

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The Norman Romanesque style Abbey of Saint-Etienne (Saint Stephen) also known as the Abbaye aux Hommes (Men's Abbey) is a former Benedictine monastery in the city of Caen in the Normandy district of France.

Construction of the abbey, using local stone, began in 1066. In 1120, the ribbed vaulting of the church was constructed. The first such use of this architectural feature in France. In 1166, a early forerunner of Gothic architecture was added: the chevet, a semicircular east end of a church, featuring flying buttresses and rosette windows. Nine additional towers and spires were added in the 13th century.

During the French Revolution it ceased to function as a Benedictine abbey and functioned as a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey was the home of the Lycée Malherbe, a prestigious high school. During the World War II invasion of Normandy the church was used as a hospital and a refuge from bombings.

The origin of this abbey and the nearby companion Abbaye aux Dames (Ladies' Abbey) has a fascinating history. William I, the Duke of Normandy, later William the Conqueror, wished to marry Matilda of Flanders, the daughter of Count Baldwin V of Flanders, to enhance his claim to the throne of Normandy. A marriage was arranged in 1049, but at the Council of Rheims, Pope Leo IX issued an edit forbidding the marriage on the grounds of consanguinity as Matilda was a distant cousin of William I. Despite the edict, William and Matilda were married about the year 1050. In 1059, Lanfranc, the prior of Bec Abbey, negotiated and arrangement with Pope Nicholas II. The marriage would be granted the sanction of the Pope in Rome only after William and Matilda agreed to build two churches in Caen - the Abbaye aux Hommes and the nearby Abbaye aux Dames.
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