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Three photos: the sign in front of the Tufts European Center in Talloires, the gate in front of the Priory, the Embarcadero in Talloires

The Priory, founded in 1018 and consecrated in 1031, has played a pivotal role in the history of Talloires. Religion first came to the shores of Lake Annecy in the 9th century. In 866, King Lothair II, great-grandson of Charlemagne, gave Talloires to his wife Thiberge. She founded the first religious community, the beginnings of the future monastery.

Documentation of the monastery’s history began early in the 11th century. In the Charter of 1018, Queen Ermengarde, wife of King Rudolphe III of Bourgogne, gave Talloires and its surrounding lands to the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Martin in Savigny near Lyon. Germain, the first Prior of Talloires, was sent by the abbey shortly thereafter to manage the donated site. Under Germain, the monastic community erected a magnificent church, which stood in front of the present-day Priory.  

During the Middle Ages, Talloires was a village governed by the law of the Prior. At the top of the feudal hierarchy, the monastery quickly acquired both wealth and territory. The Prior was the principal landowner in a village whose agricultural activity depended upon vineyards and the production of wine. The revenue from the vineyards and various taxes was used by the monastic community to establish several hospices and a school. In addition, the monks stood at the Porte de l’Aumone, which today exists as a small platform outside the front wall surrounding the Priory, to distribute provisions to religious pilgrims and to those in need.

The 14th century witnessed a transfer of monastic power. A line of lay Priors, sons chosen from among the region’s aristocratic families, succeeded the religious line. Thus began a period of decadence for the monastery of Talloires. In 1674, the monastery’s independence from Savigny was established by Pope Clement VII. An addition was added in 1681 to house the monks; it now serves as the Hotel de l’Abbaye.

The French Revolution reached Talloires in July 1792 and put an end to an already-decadent religious order. Angry mobs destroyed the church, its vast treasures, and the historic records kept by the monks. For many years that followed, the Priory lay empty and abandoned. Although the original uses of the rooms are difficult to determine due to a lack of historical documentation, the Priory today reflects the various historical and architectural influences of its past.