Port Royal, the name of two Cistercian monasteries widely celebrated as the nurseries of Jansenism in France. The parent house, Port Royal des Champs, was situated at Che-vreuse, near Versailles, and Port Royal de Paris was situated in the faubourg St. Jacques, where is at present the hospital of La Ma-ternite. Port Royal des Champs was founded in 1204 by Matthieu de Montmorency, lord of Marli, and his wife, Mathilde de Garlande, on a fief called Porrois, and later Port du Roi, whence the name of Port Royal. The Ber-nardine or Cistercian nuns to whom it was given elected their own abbess, and were allowed in 1223 by Pope Honorius III. to receive into the community ladies wishing to find an asylum there without being bound by religious vows. The abbey became also a boarding school for the daughters of the nobility. It possessed great wealth, and had fallen away from its primitive austerity when in 1605 Marie Jacqueline Angelique Arnauld, known in history as Mere Marie Angelique de Ste. Madeleine, became abbess, and a few years afterward undertook a thorough reform of the sisterhood.
Her success in this caused her to be sent to the monastery of Maubuisson, where she soon effected a similar change; and on returning to her former charge she was followed by 30 of the nuns of Maubuisson. Noble novices flocked in from every side, and the community began to look out for a new abode. A change was, moreover, rendered necessary by the marshy nature of the surrounding country. Mme. Catherine Arnauld, mother of the abbess, thereupon purchased the spacious hotel de Clagny or Clugny in the faubourg St. Jacques, and on May 28, 1625, a portion of the community removed thither, the others following soon afterward. Mme. Arnauld had given another daughter, Agnes, while yet a child, to Port Royal, who governed the abbey while Mere Marie Angelique was reforming Maubuisson. In 1626 Mme. Arnauld herself and her remaining daughters became members of the Parisian community, together with five of her grandchildren, daughters of Robert Arnauld. In 1630 a rule was established that the abbess of Port Royal de Paris should be elected every three years, and from this time Mere Marie Angelique and Mere Agnes discharged the office alternately, the institution being meanwhile filled by women of the highest distinction.
In 1633, the increase of the community having necessitated the erection of a new edifice adjoining the old hotel, the sisters removed thither. - The lands around Port Royal des Champs were meanwhile drained, the old abbey buildings were repaired, and a new construction was begun on a neighboring hill. About 1626 a community of pious and learned men took up their abode near the abbey in a farm house called Les Granges, and in 1627, after the departure of the last nuns, these gentlemen occupied the abbey buildings, which then passed under the immediate jurisdiction of the archbishop of Paris. Among the " recluses (solitaires) of Port Royal" were the grammarian Claude Lancelot; three nephews of Marie Angelique, Antoine Le Maistre, Simon Sericourt, and Isaac de Sacy, the translator of the Bible; two of her brothers, Robert, called Arnauld d'Andilly, and Antoine Arnauld, the latter known as the "great Arnauld;" Pierre Nicole, Lenain de Tillemont, and later Blaise Pascal and Nicolas Fontaine. Of these the greater number were either pupils or penitents of the celebrated Duvergier de Hauranne, commonly called the abbe de Saint Cyran. Both he and Jansenius were living together in Paris at the time that Mere Marie Angelique was busy in perfecting her reforms.
She came at first under the influence of St. Francis of Sales, who encouraged her to persevere in restoring the purity of religious discipline, and was next attracted to Duvergier (afterward made abbot of Saint Oyran) by his ascetic life, and swayed by his inflexible temper. He acquired a like ascendancy over her father, Antoine Arnauld (died in 1619), and over his other children, all of whom with their mother became attached to Port Royal and adopted the opinions of Jansenius, or rather of Duvergier, who was the superior intellect and from whom the other had learned. The nuns in Paris, with their numerous and powerful connections, and the recluses at Chevreuse together with their scholars, and the noble or wealthy families to which these belonged, were thus leavened with the new doctrines, and became its apostles. The recluses of Port Royal were brought together by the same ascetic tendency, the desire of living up to a common ideal of Christian perfection, and of laboring to withstand the pervading social corruption by establishing thoroughly Christian schools and publishing the most powerful works in refutation of the prevailing errors. Both Duvergier and Jansenius considered the Jesuit colleges and the Jesuit theology as the bane of the church.
Their followers of Port Royal, acting on this conviction, bent all their efforts toward organizing a system of education in every way antagonistic to that of the society of Jesus. These efforts had been crowned with no inconsiderable success, when the enormous increase of the community of Port Royal de Paris forced Mere Marie Angelique in 1647 to return to Port Royal des Champs with a large body of nuns. They took possession of the abbey, the recluses retiring to Les Granges with their scholars. The neighboring marshes were now drained, and the abode of Port Royal des Champs was as salubrious as it had been once unhealthy. The nuns opened a female seminary in the abbey, which was soon filled by the daughters of the nobility. At this period, too, Mere Marie Angelique and Mere Agnes began to receive powerful aid from their niece, Mere Angelique de St. Jean. From Les Grangesproceeded those educational works, still unsurpassed in our day, the Port Royal Greek and Latin grammars, known as Nouvelle methode pour apprendre la languegrecque,Noutelle methode pour apprendre la langue latine, Jardin des racines grecques, Grammaire gene-rale etraisonnee, Elemens de geometrie, and La logique, ou Vart de penser.
On these masterpieces labored conjointly Lancelot, Arnauld, Nicole, and De Sacy. Other important works on moral philosophy and theology were also produced, which have preserved their reputation even to the present day. Nor were the nuns without their share in these theological and literary contests. Mere Marie Angelique wrote the first history of the persecution suffered by the nuns; Mere Agnes is the author, among other works, of L'Image de la re-ligieuse parfaite et imparfaite; and their niece Mere Angelique de St. Jean composed Memoirespour servir a l'histoire de Port-Royal. - The labors'of either sex were not confined to the class room, the cloister, or the study; they made of their domain at Chevreuse a model farm, and encouraged the peasants to improve their methods of tillage as well as their manners. During the civil wars of the Fronde and subsequent seasons of distress they displayed the most unbounded charity and hospitality toward the suffering populations. Port Royal became, in the words of a contemporary historian, "a Noah's ark amid the deluge of distress." Its walls protected the fleeing peasants from a lawless soldiery; its vast courts were more than once filled with the flocks of the fugitives; in the church were stored their grain and other movables; the sick and in-firm were lodged in the outhouses, and the able-bodied lay down wherever they found room. - The mode of life in Port Royal was distinguished for austerity.
The inmates rose at 3 o'clock in the morning, and after the common morning prayer kissed the ground, as a sign of their self-humiliation before God. Then they read, kneeling, a chapter from the Gospels and one from the Epistles, and concluded with another prayer., Two hours in the morning and two in the afternoon were devoted to manual labor in the gardens adjoining the convent, and they observed with great strictness the season of Lent. This period was also one of continual conflict with the Jesuits. The book of Jansenius entitled Mars Gallicus, published in Holland about 1634, was a violent attack on the French government and people, and led to the elevation of the author to the bishopric of Ypres. The warm friendship subsisting between him and Duvergier, and the avowed support given to the theological opinions of both at Port Royal, awakened the suspicions of Cardinal Richelieu, who in 1638 subjected Port Royal and Duvergier to a judicial inquiry, ending in Duvergier's imprisonment. The suspicions of the government were confirmed by the appearance in 1640 of Jansenius's most celebrated work, Augustinus, twice reprinted in France, in 1641 and 1643, and received with undisguised enthusiasm by the Port Royalists. Jansenism was thenceforward identified with the name of the abbey, and the government became its declared opponent.
The war between Port Royal and the society of Jesus raged without intermission from that time. After the death of Richelieu (1642) Duvergier regained his liberty, but soon died (1643), prophesying that for the contest against the Jesuits he would leave 20 disciples stronger than himself. In the same year Dr. Antoine Arnauld, by his treatise De la frequente communion, charging the Jesuits with admitting people of the world without due preparation to the Lord's supper, first formally impeached the moral teaching of the society. Its members in France were supported by the government, as well as by the majority in the Sorbonne, while Port Royal was supported by the parliament and not a few illustrious personages, among whom was the duchess de Longueville, who established herself in the vicinity of the convent. The recluses remained the leaders and the centre of the opposition to the papal efforts for the suppression of Jansenism, and the nuns persistently refused to subscribe to the condemnatory decrees, except once, in 1668, when their friends had secured a kind of compromise.
Singularly enough, it was the bold defence of the rights of the popes on the part of two Jan-senist bishops against the despotic caprices of Louis XIV. which led to the scattering of the community, the heads of whom, Arnauld and Nicole, had to flee from France. In 1664 the nuns of Port Royal de Paris were dispersed by the military, some of them being confined in various convents of the capital, and the others taken under escort to Port Royal des Champs, and kept prisoners there till 1669. Throughout all this period of trial the inhabitants of the surrounding country remained devotedly attached to their benefactors. In 1669 the two convents were made independent of each other, the king reserving to himself the right of nominating the abbess of the Parisian house, which numbered only ten nuns and received one third of the common property. Port Royal des Champs, with 80 nuns, retained the other two thirds with the faculty of electing its superior. The former community, composed only of such as had subscribed the formulas condemnatory of Jansenism, were allowed to recruit their numbers as before, and became the decided opponents of their sisters at Chevreuse. These were forbidden to receive novices, and Port Royal des Champs was suppressed by a bull of Pope Clement XI. in 1708, its property was transferred to the sisterhood of Paris, the inmates were dispersed in various convents, and the buildings were levelled to the ground (1709). But the teaching of Port Royal had obtained too many adherents among the governing classes in church and state to be extinguished by decrees or overthrown by the hand of the leveller.
It lived on in France, Holland, Germany, in the north of Italy and the kingdom of Naples, in Spain, and particularly in Portugal, till, in connection with the Old Catholic movement, the disciples of Jansenius and Duvergier de Hauranne have again become conspicuous since 1870. In 1711 the bodies of Le Maistre, Arnauld, Pascal, and Racine, which reposed in the monastery church, were exhumed and transported to Paris. The Parisian community was suppressed in 1790; the establishment received then the name of Port Libre, was converted into a hospital in 1795, and in 1814 became the lying-in asylum of La Maternite. Among the illustrious pupils of the school of Port Royal were the poet Racine, the brothers Bignon, and Achille de Harlay. Boileau, though not a pupil, was one of its firmest supporters. - The best histories of this establishment are: Fontaine, Memoires pour servir d l'histoire de Port-Royal (2 vols., Cologne, 1736); Racine, Histoire abregee de Port-Royal (Paris, 1742); Besoigne, Histoire de Port-Royal (6 vols., 1752); Dom Clement, Histoire de Port-Royal (10 vols., 1755-'7); Gregoire, Les mines de Port-Royal (1801); Reuchlin, Geschichte von Port-Royal (2 vols., Hamburg, 1839-'44); Sainte-Beuve, Port-Royal (5 vols., Paris, 1840-'60; 3d ed., 6 vols., 1867); and Beard, "Port Royal, a Contribution to the History of Religion and Literature in France " (2 vols., London, 1861).