The commune started to develop on an island encircled by a sweep of the river Dronne next to the Benedictine Abbey of Brantôme, which was founded in 769 by Charlemagne; according to legend he donated relics of Saint Sicarius (Sicaire), one of the infants in the Massacre of the Innocents. Those relics attracted pilgrims to the abbey, who also brought a certain affluence to Brantôme, but in spite of St. Sicaire's protection, the abbey was laid waste in 848 and in 857 by Viking rovers who had advanced along the Dordogne and Isle rivers to the Dronne. The abbey was rebuilt towards the end of the tenth century and again in 1465 and in 1480 after the end of the Hundred Years' War. Its Romanesque bell-tower is a competitor for the title "oldest in France" and developed a high reputation. Here Bertrand du Guesclin, battling the English Angevins, apprised that he had been made Constable of France by Charles V. Pierre de Mareuil, abbot from 1538–56, built a right-angled bridge, the Pont Coudé, over the river, which connected the elegant Renaissance abbot's lodging he built for himself with its garden, which lay on the opposite bank. He was succeeded by his nephew, Pierre de Bourdeille (abbot from 1558–1614), a soldier and writer better known by his title as Abbé Brantôme, whose diplomacy saved the abbey and its commune from the Huguenot forces of Gaspard de Coligny on two occasions in 1569 during the Wars of Religion. At the French Revolution, the abbey was secularised as a bien national, the last seven monks pensioned and its rich library dispersed.