Page:Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition, v. 1.djvu/26

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ABB—ABB


a right to demand absolute obedience of their nuns, over whom they exercised discipline, extending even to the power of expulsion, subject, however, to the bishop. As a female an abbess was incapable of performing the spiritual functions of the priesthood belonging to an abbot. She could not ordain, confer the veil, nor excom municate. In the eighth century abbesses were censured for usurping priestly powers by presuming to give the veil to virgins, and to confer benediction and imposition of hands on men. lu England they attended ecclesiastical councils, e.g. that of Becanfield in 694, where they signed

before the presbyters.

By Celtic usage abbesses presided over joint-houses of monks and nuns. This custom accompanied Celtic mon astic missions to France and Spain, and even to Rome itself. At a later period, A.D. 1115, Robert, the founder of Fontevraud, committed the government of the whole order, men as well as women, to a female superior.

Martene asserts that abbesses formerly confessed nuns, but that their undue inquisitiveness rendered it necessary to forbid the practice.

The dress of an English abbess of the 12th century consisted of a long white tunic with close sleeves, and a black overcoat as long as the tunic, with large and loose sleeves, the hood covering the head completely. The abbesses of the 14th and 15th centuries had adopted secular habits, and there was little to distinguish them from their lay sisters.

(e. v.)

ABBEVILLE, a city of France, in the department of the Somme, is situated on the River Somme, 12 miles from its mouth in the English Channel, and 25 miles N.W. of Amiens. It lies in a pleasant and fertile valley, and is built partly on an island, and partly on both sides of the river. The streets are narrow, and the houses are mostly picturesque old structures, built of wood, with many quaint decaying gables and dark archways. The town is strongly fortified on Vauban s system. It has a tribunal and chamber of commerce. The most remarkable edifice is the Church of St Wolfran, which was erected in the time of Louis XII. Although the original design was not completed, enough was built to give a good idea of the splendid structure it was intended to erect. The fagade is a magnificent specimen of the flamboyant Gothic style, and is adorned by rich tracery, while the western front is flanked by two Gothic towers. A cloth manufac tory was established here by Van Robais, a Dutchman, under the patronage of the minister Colbert, as early as 1669 ; and sinee that time Abbeville has continued to be one of the most thriving manufacturing towns in France. Besides black cloths of the best quality, there are produced velvets, cottons, linens, serges, sackings, hosiery, pack thread, jewellery, soap, and glass-wares. It has also establishments for spinning wool, print-works, bleaching- works, tanneries, a paper manufactory, &c. ; and being situated in the centre of a populous district, it has a con siderable trade with the surrounding country. Vessels of from 200 to 300 tons come up to the town at high-water. A.bbeville is a station on the Northern Railway, and is also connected with Paris and Belgium by canals. Fossil remains of gigantic mammalia now extinct, as well as the rude flint weapons of pre-historic man, have been dis covered in the geological deposits of the neighbourhood. A treaty was concluded here in 1259 between Henry III. of England and Louis IX. of France, by which the province of Guienne was ceded to the English. Popula tion, 20,058.

ABBEY, a monastery, or conventual establishment, under the government of an abbot or an abbess. A priory only differed from an abbey in that the superior bore the name of prior instead of abbot. This was the case in all the English conventual cathedrals, e.g., Canter bury, Ely, Norwich, &c., where the archbishop or bishop occupied the abbot s place, the superior of the monastery being termed prior. Other priories were originally off shoots from the larger abbeys, to the abbots of which they continued subordinate ; but in later times the actual dis tinction between abbeys and priories was lost.

Reserving for the article Monasticism the history of the rise and progress of the monastic system, its objects, benefits, evils, its decline and fall, we propose in this article to con fine ourselves to the structural plan and arrangement of conventual establishments, and a description of the various buildings of which these vast piles were composed.

The earliest Christian monastic communities with which we are acquainted consisted of groups of cells or huts collected about a common centre, which was usually the abode of some anchorite celebrated for superior holiness or singular asceticism, but without any attempt at orderly arrangement. The formation of such communities in the East does not date from the introduction of Christianity. The example had been already set by the Essenes in Judea and the Therapeutæ in Egypt, who may be considered the prototypes of the industrial and meditative communities of monks.

In the earliest age of Christian monasticism the ascetics were accustomed to live singly, independent of one another, at no great distance from some village, supporting them selves by the labour of their own hands, and distributing the surplus after the supply of their own scanty wants to the poor. Increasing religious fervour, aided by persecu tion, drove them further and further away from the abodes of men into mountain solitudes or lonely deserts. The deserts of Egypt swarmed with the cells or huts of these anchorites. Antony, who had retired to the Egyptian Thebaid during the persecution of Maximin, A.D. 312, was the most celebrated among them for his austerities, his sanctity, and his power as an exorcist. His fame collected round him a host of followers, emulous of his sanctity. The deeper he withdrew into the wilderness, the more numerous his disciples became. They refused to be sepa rated from him, and built their cells round that of their spiritual father. Thus arose the first monastic community, consisting of anchorites living each in his own little dwell ing, united together under one superior. Antony, as Neander remarks (Church History, vol. iii. p. 316, Clark s Trans.), " without any conscious design of his own, had become the founder of a new mode of living in common, Coenobitism." By degrees order was introduced in the groups of huts. They were arranged in lines like the tents in an encampment, or the houses in a street. From this arrangement these lines of single cells came to be known as Lauræ, Λαῦραι, "streets" or "lanes."

The real founder of cœnobian monasteries in the modern sense was Pachomius, an Egyptian of the beginning of the 4th century. The first comnmnity established by him was at Tabennae, an island of the Nile in Upper Egypt. Eight others were founded in his lifetime, numbering 3000 monks. Within 50 years from his death his societies could reckon 50,000 members. These ccenobia resembled villages, peopled by a hard-working religious community, all of one sex. . The buildings were detached, small, and of the humblest character. Each cell or hut, according to Sozomen (H. E. iii. 14), contained three monks. They took their chief meal in a common refectory at 3 P.M., up to which hour they usually fasted. They ate in silence, with hoods so drawn over their faces that they could see nothing but what was on the table before them. The monks spent all the time, not devoted to religious services or study, in manual labour. Palladius, who visited the Egyptian monasteries

about the close of the 4th century, found among the 300