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       The monastic influence
  the network of cluniac sites  
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The Federation of Cluniac Sites was founded in 1994, on the 1000th anniversary of the death of Mayeul, the fourth abbot of Cluny. In 2006 the network has more than 90 members. In 2004, the Federation presented a proposal for a cultural route based on the discovery of the major figures of the Cluniac epic, and on the re-reading of its history. The Federation was recognised as a ‘Major Cultural Route of the Council of Europe’ in May 2005, and the official ceremony took place in Cluny on 16th June 2006.

The Federation of Cluniac Sites works around three main objectives: to unite the sites and create links between them; to develop their Cluniac heritage; and to promote initiatives for educational and cultural activities and to encourage tourism.

building up a network through history

In 909 or 910, William the Pious, Duke of Aquitaine, founded a Benedictine Abbey at Cluny, in Burgundy. Some 250 years later, the Abbey was at the head of around 1400 Cluniac sites in Western Europe: France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, the United Kingdom and Belgium. By dedicating churches as places of prayer, life and exchange, the monks of Cluny launched themselves into a process, which greatly changed the social relations and organisation of the surrounding area. This extraordinary influence was expressed in Cluny in the 11th and 12th centuries through the construction of the largest abbey-church of all time. The Cluniac Order survived for nine centuries before being extinguished by the French Revolution.

Therefore, the objective of the Federation of Cluniac Sites since its creation has been to enable people to understand the legacy inherited by this network, which escheated for almost 200 years. This aim can be achieved by uniting the sites that played a part in the development and influence of the abbey between the 10th and 18th centuries..

Romainmôtier (CH)

interpreting a very diverse heritage

The Cluniac legacy that has survived since the French Revolution is widely dispersed and extremely varied. Identifying it required a major research effort and the creation of a scientific committee, which united researchers, archaeologists and historians. This range of expertise was required in order to give a scientific guarantee to a Cluniac ‘seal of approval’ which unites prestigious monasteries linked to the history of the first abbots, as well as more modest sites. The majority of these are old Cluniac deanships or monasteries that had privileged relationships with Cluny. This diversity of sites is even greater still due to the geographic scale of the Cluniac network, which encompasses a range of landscape and cultural heritages. For centuries, the Cluniac sites have been the subject of extremely varied architectural and artistic influences, from Roman art from the year 1000 to the 18th century architecture. The definition of a Cluniac site, as identified in the statute of the Federation, takes into account this immense variety of sites and statutes. As such ‘any place where there is, or was, a group of buildings that bore witness to a connection (familial, spiritual affinity or juridical) with Cluny at some point in its history…’, may be considered as a Cluniac site.

The unification of this diverse heritage resides in its history and an unearthly and spiritual dimension, including strong welcoming values, which is difficult to develop and explain. The calling of the Federation at the Cluniac sites is, therefore, to offer a European interpretation and to take into account the history of the network at sites, which today have varied statutes and resources. This dimension comes about through collective communication at European and regional levels in order to enable people to understand the different historical sections of this immense heritage.

The development of individual sites, the majority belonging to territorial communities and a few to private estates, is thus carried out by the Federation in the framework of the Charter of Quality, which is defined in the documents for 2006. A model development was carried out at Cluny in direct collaboration with the Centre for National Monuments and the School of Arts and Crafts. This provided the resources for a 3D reconstruction of the Maior Ecclesia, a large church and major monument to Roman art in Cluny, which disappeared at the beginning of the 19th century. An important axis of action of the Federation is the mediation of the sites, as much for the inhabitants as for the tourists that visit them, and even younger generations in the framework of pilot educational projects.

Reconstitution en 3D de la Maior Ecclesia

bringing in tourism and creating routes of discovery

The enormous task of the development and mediation of a rich and diverse heritage necessarily implies a consideration of cultural tourism. Thus, one of the major concerns of the Federation’s founders, and those who have joined the network since 1994, has been the establishment of contacts between researchers, historians and the tourist industry. This will enable the Foundation to introduce tourism to the sites in a coordinated manner, based on scientific principles, therefore allowing each site to be properly explained within the context of European history.

This work has led to the creation of eight trans-national and trans-regional routes whose themes refer to historical periods and characters whose actions and notoriety are of a European dimension, in order to illustrate the structuring of the current territories of Western Europe based upon the history of the Cluniac order:

Route I: The cradle of the Cluniac era. Regions: Burgundy (Saône & Loire), Rhone-Alps (Loire, Rhône). Country: France. Emblematic figure: Hugues of Semur (saint Hugues), 6th Abbot of Cluny (1049-1109).

Route II: Between Burgundy and Empire, a fertile Cluniac land. Regions: Franche-Comté (Jura), Rhone-Alps (Ain), Cantons of Berne, Neuchâtel and Vaud. Countries: France, Switzerland.

Route III: On the route of Saint Mayeul, the arbiter of Kings. Regions : Rhone-Alps (Rhône, Drôme, Ardèche, Gard, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence). Country: France. Emblematic figure: the 4th Abbot of Cluny, Mayeul (948-994).

Route IV: A Cluniac springtime in Lombardy. Region: Lombardy. Country: Italy. On the route of the Cluny: abbots towards Rome, a bouquet of monasteries.

Route V: In the steps of Saint Ulrich. Region: Baden-Württemberg. Country: Germany. Emblematic Figure: Ulrich (1029-1093), decisive action for the Cluniac influence outside of the Rhineland.

Route VI: The Cluniac Auvergne – Odilon of Mercoeur. Region: Auvergne (Allier, Puy-de-Dôme, Haute-Loire, Cantal). Country: France. Originated in Auvergne (near Lavoûte-Chilhac, where would found a great monastery), the 5th Abbot of Cluny, Odilon (994-1049) amplified the spiritual influence in Europe.

Route VII: Cluny, in the direction of Santiago de Compostela. Regions: Aquitaine (Lot & Garonne), Limousin (Corrèze), Midi-Pyrenees (Lot, Tarn & Garonne), Poitou-Charente (Charente), independent province of Aragon. Countries: France, Spain

Route VIII: Expansion of Cluny in Northwest Europe. Regions: Burgundy (Nièvre, Yonne), Centre (Cher, Indre), Ile-de-France, Shropshire. Countries: England, France

orientations and perspectives

The publication of guides has begun as the first step in putting these routes into place. The first of these, which deals with Trans-juran Burgundy, was presented in 2005. The project's instigators are continuing with the development of this exceptional heritage. The principles and values set out in the charters, conventions and recommendations of the Council of Europe have been carefully applied with special concern for the development of their approach of explanation and raising awareness of religious heritage. This takes into account the spiritual dimensions and questions of intercultural and inter-religious dialogue that may be introduced. The Federation intends to widen its field of action and develop its partnerships in Eastern Europe.

Finally, a system of cooperation has been set up with members of other Cultural Routes, something that comes very naturally due to the diversity of Cluniac heritage and the richness of the Order’s long history, which have contributed greatly to the structuring of the Western European territories with which we are familiar today. Cooperating routes include that of Santiago de Compostela, due to the fact that the Cluniac sites were often essential reception centres for the pilgrims, as well as the Roman art routes.

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 more infos ...
 other web sites
 La Fédération des Sites clunisiens
  The website of the Federation of Cluniac sites
 Clunisiac Sites
  Certification as "Major cultural Route"
 Card Cluniac sites
  in English
 Card Cluniac sites
  in French
 Itinéraires des sites clunisiens
 The Federation of Cluniac sites
  by Michel Gaudard, President. in French
 The Federation of Cluniac Sites
  by Michel Gaudard, President. In English
 The Federation of Cluniac sites
  by Robert de Backer. In French
 The Federation of cluniac sites
  by Robert de Baker. In English
 media library
 Cluniac sites in Europe
 The Cluniac route
  through Burgundy and Jura
 The Cluniac World
 La Lettre clunisienne N°20
 Clunisian Sites
 L'art roman en Bourgogne
 Cluny : pouvoirs de l'an mille


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