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In Bec-Hellouin abbey, Italian monks became English archbishops

General view | Roland Brierre / CC-BY-SA
Abbey Benedictine William the Conqueror Bec-Hellouin abbey

Le Bec was founded in 1039 by Hellouin, a Norman lord of Danish origin. Our knight was a little bit tired of battlefields... he decided to retire in his abbey and became the first abbot. Other monks came.

A few years later, the church was finished and consecrated in 1041. But Hellouin had some troubles. His abbey was very poor and not renowned at all... until an Italian monk, Lanfranc, came in the Bec, living here as a hermit for years.

The friar's reputation spread all over the country: immediately the abbey received lands, relics and other precious goods. They had now to extend the abbey.

For this one became one of the most important intellectual centre in France: William the Conqueror asked the well-read monks to come with him in England, in his abbeys!

William gave to Le Bec priories in England in compensation. He also asked Lanfranc to cross the Channel in order to be consecrated archbishop of Canterbury.

Later, another Italian monk, Anselme, also came in Le Bec abbey. He was first abbot, then abbot of St-Etienne of Caen, then archbishop of Canterbury in 1095.

Meanwhile, the powerful Norman abbey was restored and embellished, the church rebuilt in the 14th century.

Ruined by Protestants in the 16th century and during the French Revolution, it needed a big restoration. Nowadays, we can see the 15th century belfry, 178h century buildings, cloister. On the other hand, the abbey church was destroyed in the beginning of the 19th century...

About the the author

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