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According to a legend, the archangel Michael appeared in to Aubert of Avranches , the bishop of Avranches , and instructed him to build a church on the rocky islet.
This marked the beginning of a brief period of Breton possession of the Mont. In fact, these lands and Mont Saint-Michel were never really included in the duchy of Brittany and remained independent bishoprics from the newly created Breton archbishopric of Dol.
When Rollo confirmed Franco as archbishop of Rouen , these traditional dependences of the Rouen archbishopric were retained in it.
The mount gained strategic significance again in when William I Longsword annexed the Cotentin Peninsula from the weakened Duchy of Brittany.
This made the mount definitively part of Normandy , and is depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry , which commemorates the Norman conquest of England.
Harold Godwinson is pictured on the tapestry rescuing two Norman knights from the quicksand in the tidal flats during a battle with Conan II, Duke of Brittany.
Norman ducal patronage financed the spectacular Norman architecture of the abbey in subsequent centuries. In the monastery of Mont Saint-Michel gave its support to William the Conqueror in his claim to the throne of England.
The English initially besieged the Mont in —24, and then again in —34 with English forces under the command of Thomas de Scales, 7th Baron Scales.
Two wrought-iron bombards that Scales abandoned when he gave up his siege are still on site. They are known as les Michelettes.
When Louis XI of France founded the Order of Saint Michael in , he intended that the abbey church of Mont Saint-Michel become the chapel for the Order, but because of its great distance from Paris, his intention could never be realised.
The wealth and influence of the abbey extended to many daughter foundations, including St. However, its popularity and prestige as a centre of pilgrimage waned with the Reformation , and by the time of the French Revolution there were scarcely any monks in residence.
The abbey was closed and converted into a prison, initially to hold clerical opponents of the republican regime. High-profile political prisoners followed, but by , influential figures—including Victor Hugo —had launched a campaign to restore what was seen as a national architectural treasure.
The prison was finally closed in , and the mount was declared a historic monument in Mont Saint-Michel and its bay were added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in , and it was listed with criteria such as cultural, historical, and architectural significance, as well as human-created and natural beauty.
He designed the Romanesque church of the abbey, daringly placing the transept crossing at the top of the mount. Many underground crypts and chapels had to be built to compensate for this weight; these formed the basis for the supportive upward structure that can be seen today.
Today Mont Saint-Michel is seen as a building of Romanesque architecture. After having set fire to the village and having massacred the population, he was obliged to beat a retreat under the powerful walls of the abbey.
Unfortunately, the fire which he himself lit extended to the buildings, and the roofs fell prey to the flames. Horrified by the cruelty and the exactions of his Breton ally, Philip Augustus offered Abbot Jordan a grant for the construction of a new Gothic architectural set which included the addition of the refectory and cloister.
Mont Saint-Michel has also been the subject of traditional jealousy from the Bretons. Bretons claim that since the Couesnon River marks the traditional boundary between Normandy and Brittany , it is only because the river has altered its course over the centuries that the mount is on the Norman side of the border.
Up to 20, people [ citation needed ] visit the city during the summer months. Among the 43 inhabitants as of [update] , 5 were monks and 7 nuns.
Since 24 June , following the appeal addressed to them in by Bishop Jacques Fihey, Bishop of Coutances and Avranches  , a community of monks and nuns of the Monastic Fraternities of Jerusalem , sent from the mother-house of St-Gervais-et-St-Protais in Paris, have been living as a community on Mont Saint-Michel.
They replaced the Benedictine monks who returned to the Mount in They are tenants of the centre for national monuments and are not involved in the management of the abbey.
The community has seven sisters and four brothers. They live the mission that the Church has entrusted to them in their own charism of being "in the heart of the world" to be "in the heart of God".
Their life revolves around prayer, work and fraternal life. In this way, the building keeps its original purpose as a place of prayer and singing the glory of God.
The presence of the community attracts many visitors and pilgrims who come to join in the various liturgical celebrations.
In , the community undertook the renovation of a house on the Mount, the Logis Saint-Abraham, which is used as a guest house for pilgrims on retreat.
Le Mont-Saint-Michel has long "belonged" to some families who shared the businesses in the town, and succeeded to the village administration.
Tourism is the main and even almost unique source of income of the commune. There are about fifty shops for 3 million tourists, while only 25 people sleep every night on the Mount monks included , except in hotels.
Nowadays, the main institutions of the city are shared by:. Edit Read in another language Mont-Saint-Michel. For other uses, see Mont Saint Michel disambiguation.
The center of the commune the mount itself of Le Mont-Saint-Michel seen from the new bridge. Location of Le Mont-Saint-Michel.
Formation Edit Now a rocky tidal island , the Mont occupied dry land in prehistoric times. Mont Saint Michel Abbey.
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No double counting—residents of multiple communes e. Since , as for any city with fewer than 10, inhabitants, censuses are every five years, in years ending in 1 and 6 for this city,  other counts are from annual population surveys.
Nowadays, the main institutions of the city are shared by: Mont Saint-Michel in popular culture. Retrieved 9 August