Cloisters of Saint John Lateran, Rome. Source:

Sunday, 18 October 2015

The Gradual Of Eleanor Of Brittany (Graduel D'Alienor De Bretagne). Mass: Orbis Factor. Kyrie Eleison.

Text and Illustrations from Wikipedia - the free encyclopaedia,
unless otherwise stated.

English: Fontevraud Abbey, whose Liturgical Psalmody and Hymns were used
in the construction of the Gradual of Eleanor of Brittany
(Graduel D' Alienor De Bretagne). It was here, in 1290,
that Eleanor of Brittany took her Vows.
Français: Abbatiale de Fontevraud.
Photo: 14 May 2010.
Author: Aurore Defferriere.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Mediaeval Chant of
The Gradual of Eleanor of Brittany
"Kyrie Eleison"
from the Mass "Orbis Factor".
Performers: Ensemble Organum.
Director: Marcel Peres.
Available on YouTube at

Detail of The Gradual of Eleanor of Brittany.
Illustration from The Mediaeval Collection of Selected Manuscript Paintings bulletin,
April 1972, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, United States of America.

The Gradual of Eleanor of Brittany (Français: Graduel D'Alienor De Bretagne) is an Illuminated Manuscript containing the Psalmody and Hymns of The Liturgical Year as used by The Religious Order of Fontevraud Abbey, near Chinon, in Anjou, France.

Fontevraud Abbey was Founded by the itinerant reforming Preacher, Robert of Arbrissel, who had just created a new Order, The Order of Fontevrault [Editor: Alternate name for Fontevraud.]. The first permanent structures were built between 1110 and 1119.

Eleanor of Brittany (1275 - 16 May 1342 ), daughter of John II of Brittany and Beatrice of England, was the sixteenth Abbess of the Double Fontevriste Priory at Amesbury, England. On her death, she bequeathed to Fontevraud Abbey The Gradual of Eleanor of Brittany. [Editor: Fontevriste is the adjectival name taken from Fontevraud.]

Amesbury Abbey, England,
site of the Double Fontevriste Priory,
where Eleanor of Brittany was Abbess from 1304-1342.
Photo: 5 July 2010.
Source: originally posted to Flickr as Amesbury Abbey.
Author: Matthew Black.
(Wikimedia Commons)

In 1281, aged 7 years old, she entered the Convent of Ambresburg (Amesbury), a Double Fontevriste Priory, which was Founded in 1177, close to Stonehenge, by Audeburge Hautes-Bruyeres, third Abbess of The Order of Fontevrault. (Buried in this Convent was another Eleanor of Brittany (1185-1241), a prisoner there until the death of her uncle, King John of England, and also of her cousin, King Henry III of England).

The Gradual had been given to Eleanor, the daughter of John II of Brittany, on her arrival at the Abbey of Fontevraud, in 1290 . There, she took her Vows. In 1304, she became the sixteenth Abbess of the Double Fontevriste Priory at Amesbury, England. She died on 16 May 1342, bequeathing her Gradual, which carried her Coat-of-Arms, to Fontevraud Abbey.

The Gradual was made in Paris in 1250, before Eleanor was born. It was possibly made in the studio of Nicolas Lombard, perhaps for Eleanor's parents, John II of Brittany and Beatrice of England (the second daughter of King Henry III of England). It would have been entrusted to their daughter in 1290, when she arrived at Fontevraud Abbey to take her Vows.

The Gradual is currently in the Public Library of Limoges, France. The Public cannot see it, but it is possible to browse online.

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