In the Middle Ages, Cordouan was a religious site. A charter from the Abbey of Cluny from 1088 states that Abbé Étienne de Saint-Rigauld and Prior Ermenaud settled on the island to withdraw from the world. The inhabitants of the surrounding lands, in search of spiritual solace, began to visit them. But access to the island was too dangerous, and the monks felt responsible for the resulting shipwrecks. They left Cordouan and settled on the Pointe de Grave. In 1092, "Etienne, abbot and hermit of the island of Cordouan," was one of those who witnessed the founding of the Saint Nicolas priory at Royan. The priory belonged to the Grande-Sauve Abbey, and was created as a Clunisian retreat. Although there is no record of this, the monks were supposedly tasked with ringing a bell and lighting a fire whenever there was danger for sailors. After 1360, when Guyenne was ruled by the English crown, Edward the Black Prince ordered the construction of a seamark – a tower atop which a fire could be lit – as well as a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary. To finance the tower and the life of the hermits who manned it, a small fee was collected from passing ships, as evidenced by a receipt issued in 1409 by Gaspardus de Lasparre, hermit of "Notre-Dame de Cordouan". In 1472, the Cordouan hermits asked for the toll to be increased, stating that the tower had been the wish of Pope Gregory IX, in order to maintain a beacon to guide ships. This proves the existence of a signal fire at Cordouan starting in the 1230s.