Strengthened by the rights acquired through the concordat of Boulogne the king of France disposed of the priory at Solesmes as he did the abbey of La Couture in Le Mans: he placed both "in commendam" (the custody of a benfice in the absence of a regular incumbent). Thus deprived of their religious superiors, the monks led an ever more precarious life: the house began to decline in numbers of monks, and the monastic life itself slipped into increasing decadence.
Not all the men who exercised secular authority over the monastery were entirely negligent toward the temporal and spiritual well-being of the house; several sought ways to reform the monastic observance. And there was no better way to do so than to look to the Congregation of St Maurus which, since 1618 presided in France over the reform of most of the Benedictine cloisters. This is precisely what Gabriel de Chaource-Beauregard did when on December 8, 1664, he came to an agreement with the fathers of the Congregation to take on Solesmes. Forty years later, in 1723, the conventual lodgings were being completely rebuilt with the help of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the marquis of Torcy, who was building his new chateau in neighboring Sablé.
On February 13, 1790, in the wake of the French Revolution, the new French constitution outlawed religious vows. By the beginning of 1791, the monks of Solesmes were forced to disperse, to the great regret of the neighboring populace; the municipality lodged a complaint with the District. But, of seven priests, only one returned to his home diocese and the others simply refused to leave the monastery. Dom de Sageon was imprisoned for three years in Le Mans. Dom Cotelle and Dom Morel were first imprisoned in Rennes then deported to Jersey. The others went into hiding. Dom Papion lived in the region, exercising his priestly ministry for a group that had remained faithful to the Catholic Church. Officially, the priory was sold off, but in fact, no new owner ever came forward, and sundry groups of the faithful were able to hold clandestine meetings in the abandoned compound.
On two different occasions (1792 and 1794), villagers saved the monastery's most prized relic, a thorn from what is believed to be the Crown of Thorns retrieved from the Holy Land by Louis IX. It was not until 1850 that this relic was returned to the monastery where it continues to be exposed once a year, on Easter Monday.