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Beaulieu-lès-Loches: stories about Foulques Nerra's grave and a slaughter

The church | BRUNNER Emmanuel / CC-BY-SA
Hundred Years War Homicide Massacre Abbot church Foulques Nerra Beaulieu-lès-Loches church

Foulques the bloodthirsty

Beaulieu was just a small village, Bellus Locus (“nice place”), but Foulques Nerra, the terrible count of Anjou, chose it to raise a Benedictine abbey in 1007.

Aaah, Foulques the bloodthirsty… he already made several pilgrimages in Jerusalem.

He was a sinner, so he made lots of religious foundations… When he founded Beaulieu, it was after Hugues de Beauvais' murder. Do you remember?

Constance, king Robert the Pious’ wife, Foulques’ niece, hated Hugues: he spent too much time with her husband, she couldn’t stand it any more…

Jealous, she asked her uncle Foulques to kill the boor. In one second, this one sent his henchmen to kill Hugues in front of the king’s eyes…

Foulques confessed his sin to the pope: this one said he had to raise an abbey to save his dark soul. And voilà: Beaulieu was born!

Foulques dedicated the church to the Holy Trinity to Archangels, to Cherubs and Seraphs (whoa) and to the Holy Sepulchre, a souvenir from Jerusalem.

Besides, the tradition says that one of the abbey’s stone came from this city! Foulques himself brought it back, he took it from Jesus’ grave with his teeth...

Foulques’ grave

Foulques Nerra died in Metz after an umpteenth pilgrimage: he wanted to rest in his Beaulieu abbey.

Well, it would be done in 1040. But the grave disappeared during the French Revolution…

In 1870, they exhumed his bones from the supposed grave and they authenticated them.

No doubt, those belonged to Foulques! Here we go again in 2007, new exhumation: but there, with brand new scientific technique, they revealed that wasn’t Foulques’ body!

The bones belonged to a common canon… So, we still don’t know where the exact location of the count’s grave is!

English damages in Beaulieu

What a mess in Beaulieu, during the Hundred Years War… in 1412, Thomas of Lancaster, duke of Clarence, king of England Henri IV’s son, arrived in Beaulieu.

He saw a plundered and desert place: there wasn’t a soul about! “Damned, what happened?”, said the English, his eyes wide open.

Hey, you can imagine, people had just ran away! Only left monks in their semi fortified abbey, who tried (in vain) to fight.

Everything, as usual, ended in a blood bath… Even the abbot was kidnapped and sent in England! They set him free after years and years…

Anyway, our abbey was completely destroyed after this English raid…

The visit of the abbot church

From the 11th century church, the high Romanesque bell-tower (60 metres) and a wall from the nave (12th c.) are still standing.

Don’t miss in the city of Beaulieu the Prior’s house (14th c.) on the place du Général-Leclerc, which used to be included in the abbey.

About the the author

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