Saint-Vincent abbey in Senlis and Ann of Kiev: a foundation, complicated loves

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Ann at the entrance of the abbey - © / CC-BY-NC-SA Ann at the entrance of the abbey - © / CC-BY-NC-SA
Saint-Vincent abbey in Senlis Abbey Anne of Kiev Augustinian

Anne of Kiev’s foundation in Senlis

Anne of Kiev? Yes! King of France Henri I’s wife! She founded the abbey in 1060, to celebrate their son’s birth, Philippe. Anne, prince of Kiev's daughter, was 27 when the king, 43, married her in 1052.

She was the prettiest lady of her time… They had 4 kids, including Philippe, future king of France. Do you know that the first name Philippe was used for the first time in France for that occasion? Yes, a Greek name, originally...

In short, the queen settled in Senlis with her children. She loved this royal city, and she wanted to raise a monastery here. Where? In a place where already existed a small chapel dedicated to saint Vincent. The perfect place! The foundation took place in 1060, the consecration happened 5 years later.

Meanwhile, the king died. He let a young widow, 35 years old. A still pretty lady… Among the lords who turned up in her Court in Senlis, we found the handsome count of Crépy, Raoul. Love at first sight… Raoul was older than Anne, and he already had a wife. Well… he repudiated her! And he decided to marry Anne…

Err, no, not exactly! Because the gentleman Raoul had pretty boorish manners: he kidnapped Anne in the middle of Senlis forest, while she was having a stroll. Whoa! They went towards Crépy-en-Valois, Raoul’s fief, where a priest quickly married them.

Scandal!! A queen who married a married man, 3 years after her husband’s death?? No way! The count’s ex-wife moaned to the Pope, in Rome! So he excommunicated Raoul, and canceled his marriage with Anne.

And yet the two lovers still lived together… and finally, people forgave them, even Philippe, Anne’s son! Raoul died and let Anne alone. We don’t know where is the queen’s grave: in Russia or in France...

The abbey and the cloister

The church (12th - 13th c.) was altered: from the former building only remains the bell-tower! In the old religious buildings transformed into a school, we can visit the Classical cloister raised in 1660: it seems so austere, isn’t it?

And also!