FEUILLANTS, fu"lyā'n: Roman Catholic congregation taking its name from its place of origin, the Cistercian monastery of Fulium (Feuillans, near Rieux, 25 m. s.w. of Toulouse). It was established as a Reformed body within the Cistercians about 1580 by Jean de la Barrière, a scion of noble family born at St. Céré (60 m. n.e. of Montauban) in 1544; d. 1600. Being appointed abbot in commendam of the monastery by a kinsman who had become a convert to Protestantism, De la Barrière led a life of sensuality until, about 1575, twelve years after his appointment, he resolved to enter the Cistercian order. He was deserted by the majority of the monks, however, on account of the rigidity of his regulations, but those who adhered to him adopted a rule still more severe than the Cistercian system. He secured the sanction of Sixtus V., who permitted him (1589) to establish additional monasteries and nunneries. Henry III. of France requested him to send sixty monks to Paris, and founded for them in 1587 a monastery in the Rue St. Honoré, which in the French Revolution gave the name of Feuillants to the royalist party who met within its walls. The successor of De Barrière enjoyed the title of Vicar-General of the Congregation, and secured complete independence of the Cistercians. In 1595 new rules were approved by the pope, modifying the extreme stringency of De Barrière, which had proved injurious to health. The congregation increased rapidly. In the lifetime of their founder the Feuillants possessed, in addition to the mother house, the monastery at Paris, and two at Rome, one at Bordeaux and several in Piedmont, and in the reign of Henry IV., when they received the right of electing their own general, they had between twenty and thirty monasteries both in France and Italy. For purposes of discipline, Urban VIII. divided the congregation (1630) into the French Congregation de Notre Dame de Feuillans and the Italian Riformati di San Bernardo, each with its own general and general chapter. The congregation flourished until the Revolution, and among its men of note were Charles de St. Paul and Cardinal Bona.
There were also Feuillant nuns. In 1588 De la Barrière established a nunnery at Montesquiou with fifteen sisters, but their cloister proving too small, they occupied a new convent at Toulouse in 1599. A third nunnery was erected at Poitiers in 1617 and a fourth at Paris in 1622. The rule of the nuns was the same as that of the monks, and they likewise were entirely independent of Cistercian control. Their convents were never numerous, however, and none of them survived the French Revolution.