- "Church and State, Soul and Body, God and Man, are all one at Mont Saint Michel, and the business of all is to fight, each in his own way, or to stand guard for each other."
– Henry Adams
Mont St. Michel is a potentially powerful, but niche wonder, and the only method of stable Relic generation unless Yerevan is in the game. On paper, Mont St. Michel combined with the Reliquaries belief is a sound strategy, but it has two major problems:
- You have to pick Reliquaries as your Follower belief, yet have no way to gain Relics reliably until the late Medieval Era.
- The Enlightenment civic is unlocked in the late Renaissance Era, only one era afterward, effectively halving any Religious Tourism effects. This means the power of Relics doesn't sustain for long, and you cannot reverse this unless you have Cristo Redentor, which is unlocked in the Modern Era.
There are two civilizations that have extra bonuses for Relics: the Kongolese and the Polish (courtesy of Jadwiga). Kongo, however, cannot produce Apostles reliably due to Mvemba a Nzinga's leader ability, so the only civilization that can somewhat synergistically utilize this wonder is Poland.
If you find yourself in possession of many Temples and St. Basil's Cathedral (as can happen when playing Russia, for example), you may want to build Mont St. Michel simply to help fill the overwhelming number of empty Relic slots. Even without the Reliquaries belief, gaining a Relic for one Apostle's death outweighs the increased cost of purchasing your next Apostle, meaning that losing an Apostle in theological combat can be changed from a Faith drain to a Faith gain. The loss of Religious Pressure each time an Apostle dies, however, will impede your progress toward a Religious Victory, so remember to pick up Monastic Isolation if you're aiming for this kind of victory.
Mont St. Michel can also help a civilization pivot from a heavy investment in a Religious Victory to a Cultural Victory: if winning a Religious Victory is becoming impractical, building this wonder in the face of a large loss of Apostles can turn a devastating loss of resources into a net gain, while also helping you make a transition to another victory strategy.
Perched on a rocky islet between Normandy and Brittany in the midst of sandbanks washed over by ocean tides, Mont St. Michel is a Gothic-style Benedictine abbey dedicated to the archangel Micheal built between the 11th and 16th centuries. Besides St. Aubert's skull, the Mont also was repository for bits of St. Petroc and St. Olaf and other holy relics. The place did have a practical purpose; its high walls, turrets and position made it of strategic worth … and many a French king stationed a small garrison (all that was needed) there. At low tide, it was readily accessible to pilgrims eager to give up a coin or two to be blessed; at high tide, the incoming sea would strand or drown any attacking force. The Mont would remain unconquered throughout the Hundred Years' War and beyond. Its position also made it ideal to incarcerate unrepentant traitors and other sinners; Louis XI turned the Mont into a prison, a role it served through the rest of the Ancien Régime. Now, it's still an abbey hosting a religious community, as well as a highly touristic visited place.