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Fontaine-Jean

The abbey of Fontaine-Jean, eighth descendant of Pontigny, was founded by Milon de Courtenay whose grand-daughter married the son of Louis VI le Gros, King of France in 1150. Three of their descendents were Latin emperors of Constantinople. The Cistercian church was the burial place of the house of Courtenay, like Saint-Denis Cathedral in Paris where the French kings are buried. 37 regular abbots and 16 commendatory abbots held office at the abbey.

1) During the period of fervour (1124-1255) 4 abbots were elevated to sainthood, including Guillaume de Donjon.

2) During the period of laxity (1255-1358) 2 abbots were excommunicated!

3) The period of decadence continued until its extinction in 1790.

The abbey was hit hard during the Hundred Years' War and was burned by the Protestants in 1562. Despite the fierceness of the commendatory abbots, it survived the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries thanks to its land and its valuable priors. At the time of Saint Guillaum, 80 monks resided at the abbey; in 1790 there were only 3. The Cistercian church was built in the first third of the XIIIth century; two bays of the north wall of the choir and the right aisle of the left transept remain. The tithe barn, unlisted, has been well-preserved, with two rooms on the ground floor with groined vaults and a beautiful chestnut roof structure in the attic.

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