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5 The English Benedictines in Eighteenth-Century Lorraine

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Chapter Summary

The role of the English colleges and religious communities in Flanders for secondary education is already well known. This essay examines an under-researched example further to the east. From the installation of the English Benedictine monks in Dieulouard in 1608, the monastery housed and ran a school. The Thirty Years War reduced the number of students but the eighteenth century marked a new beginning. The development of the school obliged the monks to erect new buildings and also to face the challenges of maintaining an English environment and identity in a foreign place. These challenges were negotiated with relative success, especially in the eighteenth century. In 1779, a college was created in the monastery of Dieulouard, enabling boys to continue their studies in the same location, without going to Douai. Its students were drawn mainly from England, particularly from Lancaster recusant families. The absence of an important English community in Lorraine helps explain the low number of Jacobite students in Dieulouard. Only half of the students became novices in Dieulouard, Paris, or Douai. The other half returned to England. For some former students, Dieulouard could be considered as the first step of the Grand Tour. Until 1793, Dieulouard contributed to the intellectual and religious training of several generations of English students. The article argues that the school was an important source of income for the monks, but also illustrates that it maintained the link, across the English Channel, between the exiled religious communities and England. Missions established in England by Dieulouard facilitated relations among Catholics families and was important, in this way too, for the maintenance in England of a Catholic identity. The archives of Dieulouard, particularly the personal notebooks written during missions, demonstrate the influence and prestige of the Benedictine in English society, both Catholic and Protestant. To a great extent the history of Dieulouard is that of English recusancy.



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