Queen Ermengarde and the Abbey of St Edward, Balmerino
International Medieval Congress at the University of Leeds, Session: Cîteaux–Commentarii Cistercienses, July 9 (2007)
On the feast day of St Lucy the Virgin – 13 December 1229 – Dom Alan the Abbott and a group of Cistercian monks left Melrose Abbey, and headed for Balmerino in Northern Fife, in the Scottish east midlands. According to the chronicle of the founding house, the new abbey ‘was made by King Alexander [II] and his mother’. Melrose, a daughter house of Rievaulx, was by then, nearly a century old, and by Scottish standards, was a large and prosperous monastery. King Alexander likely had a special affection for Melrose; he was buried there after his death on distant Kerrera in 1249. Balmerino was the first daughter-house of Melrose – and the first royal Cistercian foundation – in some sixty-five years. Indeed it was the first new royal foundation of any order since the Tironensian Arbroath in 1178.
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