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Clugny [1]

Congregation of, a congregation of Reformed Benedictine monks, established in 909 at Clugny (now Cluni, a town of France, Department of Saone and Loire, eleven miles north-west of Macon) by Duke William of Aquitania and Berno, abbot of the Benedictine monasteries of Gigny and Baume. William gave to the new convents all the lands, forests, vineyards, mills, slaves, etc., of the domain of Clugny. The convent was to be always open for the poor, needy, and travelers, and to pay a small annual tribute to Rome; it was to be exempt from ducal and episcopal jurisdiction, being subject to the pope and the abbot only. William himself went to Rome to obtain the papal sanction. The convent began with twelve monks, under Berno as its first abbot. Under his successor Odo (q.v.), one of the most influential men of his, time, numerous French convents subordinated themselves to Clugny, thus forming the "Congregation of Clugny," which soon extended from Benevento to the Atlantic Ocean, and embraced the most important convents of Gaul and Italy. Under the administration of his successors Aymard, Maieul (Majolus), and St. Odilo, the congregation steadily extended, many bishops and princes placing their convents under Clugny. A large synod of French bishops at Anse, during the time of Odilo, declared the exemption of Clugny invalid; but under Odilo's successor, St. Hugo (died 1109), the old privilege was recovered. The reputation of Clugny at this time greatly increased in consequence of three monks of the congregation ascending, within a brief space of time, to the papal chair Gregory VII, Urban II, and Pascal II. Hugo, in 1089, began the construction of the basilica of Clugny, which at that time was the largest in the world, and subsequently only a little surpassed by St. Peter's Church at Rome.

Under Hugo the congregation numbered about 10,000 monks. His successor, Pontius de Melgueil, received the right of exercising the functions of a cardinal, and assumed the title of Archiabbas. His ambition having involved him in great difficulties, he resigned, and undertook a pilgrimage to Jerusalem; but a few years after he returned, took forcible possession of Clugny, of which at that time Peter Maurice, of Montboissier, generally called Peter the Venerable, was abbot, and squandered the treasures of the Church. He was arrested and imprisoned at Rome, where he died excommunicated. Under Peter the Venerable, Clugny reached the most brilliant point in its history, more than 2000 convents belonging to the congregation. Soon after it began to de, dine, especially in consequence of the rise of the mendicant orders and of the immense riches of the congregation.

Several abbots endeavored to restore a strict discipline, and abbot Ivo of Vergy, in 126,9, established the College of Clugny in Paris, in order to inspire the monks with greater interest in literary pursuits; but all these efforts led to no permanent improvement. Gradually the abbey fell under the rule of the French kings, and in the 16th century it became a "commend" (q.v.) of the cardinals and prelates of the family of Guise, and was on that account several times devastated during the civil wars in France. Clugny lost many of its convents in consequence of the Reformation, and because foreign governments objected to the continuance of a connection of convents in their countries with a French abbey. In 1627, Cardinal Richelieu made himself abbot of Clugny, and united it with the Congregation of the Maurines. This led to violent dissensions among the monks of Clugny, and the union had after a time to be repealed. The corruption after this time steadily increased, and Clugny, as a monastic institution, was only a wreck, when the French Constituent Assembly, on February 13, 1790, suppressed all the convents. The last abbot of Clugny, Cardinal Dominique de la Rochefoucauld, died in 1800. The property of the convent was confiscated, and the church sold for 100,000 francs to the town, which broke it down. Only a few ruins are left. See Lorain, l'Abbaye de Clugny (Dijon, 1839); Wetzer u. Welte, Kirchen- Lex. 2, 641; Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 2, 759; Hase, Church Hist. p. 226; Neander, Church Hist. 3. 417; 4:249, 263. (See Benedictines).