The history of Tourtoirac Abbey is quite difficult to piece together, insomuch as it was an early construction progressively empty of inhabitants, impoverished and too often left in ruins.
Its archives and church records have been lost but what is certain is that the Royal Abbey of St. Pierre-es-Liens was one of the largest monastic establishments in the Perigord.
It was Gui, Viscount of Limoges who was largely responsible for building and endowing Tourtoirac Abbey. In the Charter of 1025, the Benedictine way of life was established under the authority of Abbot Etienne of Uzerche.
Construction had begun in the 11th century in 1003 and continued until the 13th century. By this time 34 monks were living at the Abbey.
Destroyed in 1345 during the Hundred Years War, it was restored during the reign of Louis XI but was sacked again in the Wars of Religion. If in 1465 there were 16 monks remaining, there was no more than one left after the Reformation and St. Pierre-es-Liens of Tourtoirac became an Abbey in name only.
Enter into a Thousand Years of History
Around 1635, there was an attempt to revive the monastery by a reformed Cistercian Order called 'Les Feuillants', but this was abandoned and the monastery remained deserted until the French Revolution. The Revolution proved fatal to the Abbey: the monastery was burned twice, a large part of the church was destroyed notably the Apse and the fortifications were almost entirely razed.
The damage was further aggravated by flooding on the 9th-10th August 1790.
In 1844, it was noted that two chapels were collapsing (the left-hand lateral and the Apse). The work to support the walls took place between1848-49, but in 1894 the request for protection of the church failed, obliging the commune to take over. The works undertaken in 1896 and 1906 only concerned the Nave, which was entirely reconstructed after collapsing. The increased costs of these works caused the abandonment of reconstruction of the Apse (the actual Sacristy).
During the 17th century, to the west of the original Abbey, a new Abbey was built. This new dwelling is today a private house, separated from the Abbey precincts by a wall, which began to collapse as a result of strong winter rains.
Apart from the church, the only remains of the former Abbey are boundary walls, the Priory Chapel and former Chapter House, which thanks to the 1959 excavations by the Abbot De Chadols, were discovered in the cellar of the Presbytery.