History

History Remiremont

DISCOVER THE TOWN

Background

« The inhabitants of Remiremont have the precious opportunity to be able to track their history throughout fourteen centuries. This history includes the monastery built in the early VIIth century in the isolation of the Vosges Mountains, the most prestigious collegiate of noble lady Canonesses in Europe created in the XVIIIthcentury), and up to the present-day town. Abbesses and canonesses, “The Noble Ladies of Remiremont”, left their glorious footprints all over the town, that the locals managed to preserve while modernizing the town. Therefore, Remiremont is nowadays an attractive and dynamic gateway to the Hautes-Vosges (the mountainous part of the Vosges). »

The History of Remiremont...

…is about a religious community of women initially devoted to prayer and meditation, which later turned into a noble Chapter. The Lorraine region has had four similar institutions, but the remarkable Saint Pierre Chapter in Remiremont was by far the most prestigious due to its age, richness and high-quality recruitment.

Saint-Mont

It all started in 620 with the erection on the Saint-Mont, mountainous summit overviewing the Moselle Valley, of the first female monastery in Lorraine. A noble from Austrasia, Romaric, and a preacher-monk disciple of St Columbanus, Amé, founded it. After obeying the Rule of St. Columbanus, the nuns adopted the more flexible rule of St Benedict (more flexible) two centuries later, and settled in the valley.

The creation of Remiremont

In 818 the lady monastery left the Saint-Mont because of its major development and of the hard living conditions on the mountain. The growing urban area, settled on the left bank of the Moselle sheltered from the floods, kept the name of its holy Founder, Romarici Mons (Romaric’s mount) which later became « Remiremont ».

Throughout the centuries, the shopping and craft industries expanded, which resulted in the development of a dynamic market town on the doorsteps of the abbey.

A rich and powerful abbey

The high property value of Remiremont Abbey has contributed to its power and prestige. In the Middle Ages, its estate was the largest in the whole region. It was an enclave in the Duke of Lorraine’s lands.The abbey was a dependency of the Holy See for the spiritual power and of the Emperor for the temporal power. But as both were far away, the real leader of the abbey was the abbess and she was raised to the status of “Imperial Princess”. The Benedicte Rule was abandoned and life became more flexible and pleasant as the community became secular. This bears witness to the social background of its members, as they come from the upper nobility (the canonesses had to give proof of 200 years of noble lineage, with no misalliance).

The Chapter was a kind of educational home in the XVIIIth century intended for high-ranking noble young girls coming from Lorraine, France, Franche Comté, Alsace and the Holy Roman Empire. The secularization (reinforced in the XIVth century) made it possible to take no vows, nor religion profession, so the Ladies had some leeway. Indeed, after completing the religious services and duties, they lived in the comfort of their own private homes.

In 1789, the Revolution is under way, and nothing can stop it: abolition of Privileges and of Feudal Rights voted by the Assembly, then a decree issued on Feb. 13th 1790 that suppressed monasteries. Consequently, the Chapter became illegal and the Canonesses had to leave. On December 7th 1790, the seals were affixed on the Abbey Church.

Post-revolution Remiremont

Without the Canonesses, Remiremont became a buoyant administrative, commercial and tourist place on the doorsteps of the Hautes-Vosges.

Guided tour of the historical centre of Remiremont

Come and discover the history of the most prestigious Chapter of Noble Ladies in Europe… Remiremont is presenting you its Romanic XI c. Chapels, the XIII c. Abbey Church, the Houses of the Canonesses and the XVIII c. Abbey Palace. Enjoy our unique and extraordinary history of women who depended directly on the Emperor for temporal affairs and on the Pope for religious affairs ...
Visits from Monday to Friday, after prior booking. Special group and school rates. 

Bibliographic guidance

Several hundreds of books deal with the history of Remiremont. To start with, we advise you to consult :

  • « Remiremont, l’abbaye et la ville », actes des Journées d’Etudes Vosgiennes, 1980.
  • « Remiremont, histoire de la ville et de son abbaye », by la Société d’Histoire Locale de Remiremont, 1985.
  • « Les chanoinesses de Remiremont », by Françoise Boquillon, 2000.
  • « Remiremont, l’abbatiale Saint-Pierre », by Mireille-Bénédicte Bouvet and Pierre Heili, Itinéraire du patrimoine, 2003.