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After a drama, soldier and writer Pierre de Bourdeille became abbot of Brantôme

The abbey | Monster1000 / CC-BY-SA
Abbey Benedictine Brantôme Brantôme abbey

Taste of ashes

1558. Pierre strolled in the quiet alleys of Brantôme abbey. Gravely. Sad-looking... The king had just appointed him abbot of the famous and prestigious abbey, few days ago. But this promotion had a taste of ashes. A taste of death. The death of his brother Jean.

Pierre de Bourdeille was a special abbot: a commendatory abbot, abbé commendataire in French, which is a lay abbot, appointed among the king’s favourites and the best noblemen. They never came in their abbeys but received the income! A rule created in the 16th century, with lots of abuses...

A popular soldier

In short. Pierre, for his part, was a soldier and a writer above all else! He was nicknamed Brantôme and wrote the famous Vie des hommes et des femmes galantes which deals with the private life of the upper crust he saw frequently in the court. He was really popular.

He was a courtier, a gentleman from the nobility of Périgord, always in search of adventures. So, he went to war, far from his home. Well, it would not set the world on fire: he made no glorious feats, no great victories! So he came back home a little piqued.

The brother's death

And here we are: he was only 20 years old when king of France Henri II appointed him abbot of Brantôme abbey. Not only because he was popular. But because his brother Jean, the brave captain Bourdeille, had just died at war.

It happened during siege of Chartres in 1568: he died of a violent arquebus blow in the head. And the king wanted to compensate Pierre for his loss... by entrusting him the abbey’s management.

The best abbot

Despite the sorrow, Pierre was the best abbot. Until 1614, the year he died, he did everything to protect his abbey and made her richer. Even in those time of wars of religion!

Protestants led by admiral de Coligny turned up in Brantôme, but didn’t touch the abbey: the tradition says Pierre quietly opened them the door and treated them nicely. They were well-oiled after that, and forget why they came here...

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!