Morimond Abbey

Morimond Abbey, Champagne-Ardenne (Dép. Haute-Marne) was founded around 1117 as the fourth daughter of Céteaux. In the middle of the 12th century, the monastery was elevated to the fourth Primarabtei of the Cistercian Order because of its numerous daughter foundations in the German and Central European countries.

The up-and-coming monastery already had 12 farms until 1198. Within the monastery walls, however, Morimond remained a constant construction site until the consecration of the second abbey church in 1253. At the end of the 14th century, the abbey was able to expand again and incorporate the possession of Belfays Abbey.

Morimond was plundered several times in 1439 and again until 1678. The 18th century was thus marked by reconstruction, which came to an abrupt end with the French Revolution. In 1791 the monks finally left the monastery.

The cultural landscape created by the monks over the course of more than seven centuries is still recognizable today. The partly preserved monastery forest formed the border zone between the Kingdom of France and the Holy Roman Empire. The forest and the once remote valley of the monk-regulated Flambart River reflect the Cistercian landscape ideal. Many of the Grangia, which shaped the landscape in the Middle Ages, were rebuilt in the 18th century. The farms in the landscapes of the Vége and the Barrois are either still functioning assets today or have been divided into villages. They were surrounded by the mutually complementary economic areas of the monastery in the form of meadows, alternating fields and vineyards.

Since the revolution, crises and agrarian structural change (blue, agricultural progress, decline of rural areas in general) have brought significant changes. As a result, vineyards were abandoned in favour of forest or pastures, meadows were converted by drainage or agricultural policy, the mills with their outdated technology were abandoned and the original parcel structure was replaced by mergers and land clearings.

Text: Christophe Wissenberg