|Watch de video here|
Although the total number of monks who lived in Clairvaux at its peak is unknown, it is certain that 888 passed through the abbey in the first forty years of its existence. This influence was reflected in successive reconstructions of ever more imposing buildings.
Although the architectural changes were permanent, Clairvaux Abbey went through three main stages:
- a first stage corresponding to the construction of the Monasterium vetus, i.e. the first monastery to be built in the Petit Clairvaux enclosure, which was in operation between 1115 and 1135, destroyed in 1812, and whose general state is known only from an 18th century engraving,
- a second stage of construction of a new monastery, begun in 1135 to cope with the influx of monks, in the Grand Clairvaux enclosure. The abbey church, perhaps initially with a flat chevet, was endowed with a large choir with an ambulatory after 1153,
- a third stage which corresponds to a total reconstruction of the monastery throughout the 18th century, with the exception of the abbey church. It is the buildings of this last phase that remain today for the most part.
Text translated and adapted from this source. Illustration early Clairvaux Abbey in 1115, a still from the video.