Port-Royal

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
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Port-Royal

Port-Royal (Fr. pôr-rwäyäl´), former abbey of women, c.17 mi (27 km) W of Paris, founded in 1204. It was at first Benedictine, later Cistercian. In 1608 the abbess, Angélique Arnauld (see Arnauld, family), undertook a reform with the counsel of St. Francis de Sales. The nuns became renowned for piety, and their help was sought all over France for the reform of conventual discipline. In 1626 the abbey was moved to Paris because of the unsalubrious climate; the old buildings were now called Port-Royal-des-Champs [in the country], the new foundation Port-Royal-de-Paris. Under the influence of Jean Duvergier de Hauranne, the abbey soon became the prime center of Jansenism (see under Jansen, Cornelis). Port-Royal-des-Champs became a retreat for men, some of whom opened classes there for boys (1638). These, "the little schools," were successful from the start, and many celebrated Frenchmen were educated there. The pedagogy was novel in emphasizing knowledge as a means rather than an end, in using "natural" methods, and in distrusting corporal punishment. The textbooks became famous. The religious tone of the teaching did much to create the Jansenist and antipapal tendencies of 18th-century Roman Catholicism in France. Port-Royal fared as Jansenism did, and persecution became severe toward the end of the 17th cent. Port-Royal-des-Champs was suppressed by papal bull in 1704, and the buildings were razed in 1710. The nuns were expelled from Port-Royal-de-Paris.

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