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Cluny Abbey Facts

Living the life of a monk may not sound like the most exciting thing in the world, but exploring monasteries can be pretty cool. They’re a doorway into another time and place.

A place where clothes were plain, rooms were bare and most of your time was spent in prayer.

Pretty different to today, right?! Find out what it was all about in one of Europe’s most famous monasteries, Cluny Abbey.

We’ve got 11 seriously interesting Cluny Abbey Facts for you! Ok, let’s go.

Cluny Abbey Facts for Kids

  • Cluny Abbey is a former Benedictine monastery in Cluny, Saône-et-Loire, France. Benedictine is a Catholic religious order of independent monastic communities that observe the Rule of Saint Benedict, a Christian saint and a patron saint of Europe.
  • The abbey was constructed in the Romanesque style. The Romanesque architectural style existed in medieval Europe between the 6th and 11th centuries and often featured semi-circular arches.
  • It was founded by William I, Duke of Aquitaine in 910. He created lots of monastic communities but Cluny was the most important.
  • In 1790 during the French Revolution, the abbey was invaded and mostly destroyed. Only a small part of the abbey survived.
  • In 1806, French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte used some material from the ruined abbey to build a horse-breeding center.
  • Cluny Abbey had the largest church in the world until St. Peter’s Basilica was built in the 17th century. St. Peter’s Basilica is located in the Vatican in Rome, where the Pope lives.
  • The Benedictine order was men only until the 11th century when women were allowed to join.
  • We’re not sure how many of them were women, but in the 12th century, Cluny Abbey had at least 10,000 monks! It was considered to be a ‘monastic empire’.
  • Monks traditionally led very basic lives, but the monks at Cluny Abbey were different. They used items of solid gold and silver with gems for religious services. And instead of eating porridge and broth, the monks at Cluny Abbey enjoyed wine, cheese and roasted chicken. Cluny Abbey monks spent most of their time in prayer and did not have to do physical labor.
  • Cluny Abbey was different to other Benedictine monasteries because it established “houses” containing other monks that reported to Cluny. The Cluniac houses were directly under the supervision of the Abbot of Cluny, so they were priories, not abbeys.
  • The Cluny monks also had an impressive townhouse in Paris they could stay in when outside the abbey. Started in 1334, the “Hotel de Cluny” is still a wonderful example of medieval architecture in Paris, despite being rebuilt in 1485-1500.

 

 

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Facts for Kids video

Question: In what style was the abbey constructed?
Answer: Romanesque.

Question: When was it founded?
Answer: 910.

Question: When were women allowed to join the Benedictine monks?
Answer: 11th century.

Question: What did Cluny monks spend most of their time doing?
Answer: Praying.

Question: What was the name of the Cluny monks’ townhouse in Paris?
Answer: Hotel de Cluny.