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The abbey was founded in 1132 by Norbert of Xanten, a follower of Bernard of Clairvaux. The original buildings were destroyed during the French Revolution and the current structures date from 1875. In 1790, during the French Revolution, all religious houses were suppressed and looted; but Orval Abbey was spared due to its location in a remote valley far from major roads or towns. In 1794 General Charles François Dumouriez used it as his headquarters for his unsuccessful invasion attempt through Belgium into Holland (see Battle of Tourcoing). After this event it became famous throughout Europe because Emperor Napoleon himself had paid several visits there while he stayed at nearby Fort de Joux after being exiled on Elba Island following his defeat at Waterloo.