Pontigny Abbey

Daughter monasteries

19 monasteries, see article list

The former Cistercian Abbey of Pontigny is located in the small town Pontigny, about 21 km north-east of Auxerre, 15 km north of Chablis, in Yonne in the Burgundy region of France.


It is one of four primary abbeys were founded by Citeaux from. The towerless Gothic monastery stands on formerly impassable swamp and was built in 1114 with 12 monks under Abbot Hugh of Macon. Was pontigny mother monastery for Europe 43 daughter abbeys, including in the Middle Ages in France, the immediate daughter -ups monastery Bourras, Monastery Cadouin, Monastery Fontaine Jean, Monastery Jouy, Monastery of Saint- Sulpice, Monastery Quincy, Abbey of Chaalis, Monastery Les Roches, Monastery Cercamp, Monastery Trizay, monastery, l' Estrée, monastery, l' Étoile, Monastery of Notre- Dame-de- Ré, Dalon monastery, convent and monastery Valence and Le Pin in what was then Hungary (now Romania) of the monastery Igris.

The monastery is situated between Fontenay and Sens alone in the landscape Pontigny - right on the highway. Pontigny is the " second daughter of Citeaux ", the founding monastery of the Cistercians. It was founded in 1114, is therefore - as Abbey - four years older than the Fontenay Abbey. Here, however, is only the church. It is the largest preserved Cistercian abbey with 108 meters long and 25 meters wide and was built by 1140-1170. It is striking that the choir of the church is provided with a buttress, which will be actually used only in the Gothic style. This choir has actually increased from 1185-1212 and this one has contemporary Gothic agent used.

Pontigny still has a porch that is suspected in Fontenay than originally belonging.

Pontigny will be especially so do not forget, because the church is inside completely painted white, white as the garments of the Cistercians, and except a wooden chancel screen and choir stalls contains almost nothing of jewelry. The space exudes accordingly from a pleasant coolness, what pilgrims feel to be beneficial if they make here in Burgundy station.

The two-story wall elevation is very simple, as it corresponds to the habits of the Cistercians. As pillars of the nave act not even pillar, but rectangle templates with half-columns or services, which are collected at half height on consoles, a typical invention of the Cistercians, whose meaning is not entirely clear. It is often the theory has been represented that have to do with the fact that the pews can be moved closer to the wall, but probably not generally true.

Because this interception of services on such templates was also performed in the nave to the places where there were no chairs. Rather, the aim of this measure - according to the old Burgundian tradition - the wall character of the pillar are emphasized and at the same time the reduction of the structure forms as it required the ascetic ideal - but in this respect is no more than a compromise solution, and probably more than a badge to values.

The nave has a ribbed vault, the aisles groin vault. Klaus Bussmann writes in his guide: " The Cistercian Order has grasped the new opportunities of ribs on pointed arches very quickly, they integrated into the austerity and simplicity of his architecture system and develop a type of building it - as in the oldest surviving form is in Pontigny before us - which rapidly throughout Europe spread thanks to the tight organization of the Order [ ... ] and the easy handling of the system, which waived the technically complicated outline solutions and static experiments the wall dissolution of the Ile- de -France in favor of a solid, strong structure the wall, which corresponded to the Burgundian tradition and the construction Itten foreign countries came to meet: a two-storey elevation of arcade zone and clerestory with large simple lancet windows, a vigorous through education of the individual bays with square transverse arches and half-columns templates often do not extend down to the floor, but on consoles be intercepted. " ( Klaus Bussmann. Burgundy Cologne 1977, p 189)

You have the builder, who carried out the later choir extension that so clearly looks like inside gothic, concede that he has done it, thereby not disturbing the outer overall impression of the church, even though he has to put a handle and a ring of chapels. Maybe still continued to have a bad conscience for non-compliance of the bernhardi African rule.

Throughout history, the church sanctuary was frequently, including on 30 November 1164 to November 1166 for Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was on the run from England due to a conflict with Henry II, he left the monastery after he had massive pressure on the Cistercians.

The theologian Stephen Langton held here from about 1207 to 1213, until the resistance of the English King John Lackland against his appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury subsided and he was able to enter the country to England to perform his duties.

1240 was also Edmund Rich of Abingdon property.

In the French Revolution the monastery was dissolved and destroyed parts of it.

1909, came into the possession of Paul Desjardins, who subsequently from 1910 to 1914 and then from 1922 to 1939 French and international intellectuals in the " decades of Pontigny " gathered annually. For example, was attended by Antoine de Saint- Exupéry, Jean -Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, TS Eliot, Thomas Mann, Heinrich Mann.

See also: Territorialprälatur the Mission de France in Pontigny


In addition to the religious duties and the wine played a major role. The monks of Pontigny put on one of the first vineyards in the region, which formed the foundation for the famous wine of Chablis. They led in the area also the Chardonnay, the. Most important white grape variety until today of Chablis, and anchored the wine as a central part of agriculture

In the monastery beige sat personalities

  • Adela of Champagne, (* 1145, † June 4, 1206 Pontigny ), Queen of France
  • Edmund Rich, (* 1180 in Abingdon / England; † November 16, 1240 in Soissy, France), Archbishop of Canterbury, Pontigny.
  • Paul Desjardins (* November 22, 1859 Paris, † March 10, 1940 Pontigny )

Way of St. James

The monastery is a starting point on one of the routes of the Camino to Santiago de Compostela.