[kloo-nee; Fr. kly-nee]
Cluny, former abbey, E France, in the present Saône-et-Loire dept., founded (910) by St. Berno, a Burgundian monk and reformer. Cluny was one of the chief religious and cultural centers of Europe. The third abbey church built on the site, Cluny III (11th cent.), was designed in the mature Romanesque style. As reconstructed by Kenneth J. Conant, Cluny III was a five-aisle basilica with double transepts and five radiating chapels around the apse. Towers marked the major and minor crossings of the nave, the major transept arms, and the western facade. When completed in the 12th cent., Cluny III was the largest church in the world. The abbey was mostly destroyed during the French Revolution.

The town and commune of Cluny or Clugny lies in the modern-day département of Saône-et-Loire in the région of Bourgogne, in east-central France, near Mâcon. Population (1999): 4,376.

The town grew up around the Benedictine Cluny Abbey, founded by Duke William I of Aquitaine in A.D. 910. The monastery became the grandest, most prestigious and best endowed monastic institution in Europe. The height of Cluniac influence was from the second half of the 10th century through the early 12th.

The Cluny library was one of the most important in France and Europe during the Middle Ages. The abbey was sacked by the Huguenots in 1562 and many of the valuable manuscripts were destroyed or removed.

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