Vézelay Abbey was a Benedictine and Cluniac monastery in Vézelay in the Yonne department in northern Burgundy, France. The Benedictine abbey church, now the Basilica of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine , with its complicated program of imagery in sculpted capitals and portals, is one of the outstanding masterpieces of Burgundian Romanesque art and architecture. Sacked by the Huguenots in 1569, the building suffered neglect in the 17th and the 18th centuries and some further damage during the period of the French Revolution.
The Benedictine abbey of Vézelay was founded, as many abbeys were, on land that had been a late Roman villa, of Vercellus . The villa had passed into the hands of the Carolingians and devolved to a Carolingian count, Girart, of Roussillon. The two convents he founded there were looted and dispersed by Moorish raiding parties in the 8th century, and a hilltop convent was burnt by Norman raiders. In the 9th century, the abbey was refounded under the guidance of Badilo, who became an affiliate of the reformed Benedictine order of Cluny. Vézelay also stood at the beginning of one of the four major routes through France for pilgrims going to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, in the north-western corner of Spain.
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