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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 ArnauldArnauld
, French family involved in Jansenism (see under Jansen, Cornelis). The name is also spelled Arnaut or Arnault. The leader was a nun, Marie Angélique de Sainte Madeleine, 1591–1661, abbess from early youth of Port-Royal, a Cistercian house near Paris.
..... Click the link for more information. , 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, CornelisJansen, Cornelis
, 1585–1638, Dutch Roman Catholic theologian. He studied at the Univ. of Louvain and became imbued with the idea of reforming Christian life along the lines of a return to St. Augustine.
..... Click the link for more information. ). 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.
a convent founded near Paris in 1204. In 1625 an abbey was founded in Paris proper by nuns from the original Port-Royal convent and called Port-Royal de Paris. The original institution was then called Port-Royal des Champs. In the 17th century, as a result of the influence of the abbess Angélique Arnauld and her brothers, both places became important centers of French literature and philosophical thought. In the 1630’s they became focal points of Jansenism and attracted enlightened youth for scholarly studies and literary discussions. Men were housed near the main women’s quarters.
Famous philosophers, scholars, and writers, such as B. Pascal and J. Racine, were closely connected with the abbey of Port-Royal des Champs; R. Descartes also had associations with it. Port-Royal and members of its circle took an active part in the bitter struggle against the Jesuits. In 1711, Port-Royal des Champs was destroyed by order of the king. Port-Royal de Paris continued until 1790.