About Cluny and the Abbey

Cluny is a commune in the Saône-et-Loire department in the region of Bourgogne in eastern France. It is 20 km north west of Mâcon.


Cluny was a large Roman centre which at the end of the dark ages became one of the most revered and important sites in Christendom. The medieval town grew up around the Benedictine Cluny Abbey, which was founded in 910 by William I, Count of Auvergne, who installed Abbot Berno and placed the abbey under the immediate authority of Pope Sergius III. The abbey and its constellation of dependencies soon came to exemplify the kind of religious life that was at the heart of 11th century piety.

The Benedictine order was a keystone to the stability that European society achieved in the 11th century, and partly owing to the stricter adherence to a reformed Benedictine rule, Cluny became the acknowledged leader of western monasticism from the later 10th century. A sequence of highly competent abbots of Cluny were statesmen on an international stage. The monastery of Cluny itself became the grandest, most prestigious and best endowed monastic institution in Europe. The height of Cluniac influence was from the second half of the 10th century through the early 12th. The abbey was sacked and partly destroyed in 1790 during the French Revolution, and was sold for its stone 20 years later. Only the south transept remains - excavations are ongoing.

Over 1200 Cluniac Christian establishments existed throughout Europe many in the UK including the Abbeys of Lewes Sussex and Bermondsey London.

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