Sens Cathedral (French: Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Sens) is a Catholic
cathedral in Sens, Bourgogne, eastern France. It was one of the earliest
Gothic buildings in the country, and the largest of the early Gothic
churches. The choir was begun in 1140. As was typical in cathedral
construction work progressed westwards, building the nave, with the west
front completed around 1200. The structure was finally completed in the
16th century. The architecture of its choir influenced, through the
architect William of Sens, that of the choir of Canterbury Cathedral.
Sens was a place of considerable importance in the 12th century, seat of
the "Primate of Gaul" and superior to the bishopric of Paris. The
cathedral church was therefore built on a large scale according to the
latest principles. Sens' nave is unusually wide, and the church is
larger in overall scale than its contemporaries at Saint Denis, Noyon or
Senlis. As is typical with early gothic architecture, the vaulting is
sexpartite, surmounting a modest clerestory, with alternating piers and
columns between bays. Sens may have been the first church to be
completely vaulted in this manner. A gallery opens into the roof space
between the aisle arcade and the clerestory. The interior elevation
resembles that of Le Mans, but with less massive walls. Flying
buttresses were originally employed on the outside, but were replaced
with new ones in the thirteenth century. Sens did not initially have
transepts; these were only completed in the late 13th and early 14th
centuries in the late Gothic rayonnant style.
The building is noted more for its solidity than beauty of
proportion or richness of ornamentation. The west front is pierced by
three portals; that in the middle has good sculptures, representing the
Parable of the Ten Virgins and the story of St Stephen. The right-hand
portal contains twenty-two statuettes of the prophets, which have
suffered considerable damage. Above this portal rises the stone tower,
decorated with armorial bearings and with statues representing the
principal benefactors of the church. The bells in the campanile by which
the tower is surmounted enjoyed immense reputation in the Middle Ages;
the two which still remain, La Savinienne and La Potentienne, weigh
respectively 15.3 tons and 13.8 tons. The left portal is adorned with
two bas-reliefs, Liberality and Avarice, as well as with the story of
John the Baptist. The portal on the north side of the cathedral is one
of the finest examples of French 16th-century sculpture; that on the
south side is surmounted by magnificent stained-glass windows. Other
windows of the 12th to the 16th century are preserved, some of them
representing the legend of Thomas Becket of Canterbury.
Among the interior features are the
tomb of Louis, Dauphin of France (son of Louis XV) and his consort,
Marie-Josèphe of Saxony, one of the works of Guillaume Coustou the
Younger, and bas-reliefs representing scenes from the life of Cardinal
Antoine Duprat, chancellor of France and archbishop of Sens from 1525 to
1535. The mausoleum from which they came was destroyed in the French
The cathedral treasury, one of the
richest in antiquities in France, contains a fragment of the true cross
presented by Charlemagne, and the vestments of Thomas Becket. The
treasury is now kept at a museum.
NOTRE-DAME OF LAON
Notre-Dame of Laon
Notre-Dame of Laon
Laon Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Laon) is one of the most
important examples of the Gothic architecture of the 12th and 13th
centuries, earlier than the cathedrals of Sens and Notre Dame of Paris
and ranking with them in importance. It is located in Laon, Picardy,
France, and is the seat of the Bishop of Laon. It has been listed among
the Monuments Historiques since 1840.
The current cathedral is built on the site of an earlier edifice
commenced under the episcopacy of Gerfrid (774 - 800). That Carolingian
cathedral was consecrated on 6 September 800 in the presence of the
The Carolingian building was replaced
under Bishop Élinand (1052–1095). The present new building was
inaugurated with the second coronation of the future King Philip I. This
cathedral was torched during the Easter Insurrection on 25 April 1112.
During the revolt Laon's unpopular Bishop Waldric (in French Gaudry) was
killed, despite taking the precaution of hiding in a barrel in the
cellar of the episcopal palace. The cathedral was not destroyed,
however, and after a repair programme lasting two years it was
rededicated in 1114 under Bishop Barthélemy de Jur.
The present Laon Cathedral dates from
the 12th and early 13th centuries, an early example of the Gothic style
that originated in Northern France. The former cathedral was burned out
and damaged during the communal insurrection in 1112, occasioned by the
revocation of the commune's charter. The present reconstruction began
with a choir in about 1160 and was finished as far as the east side of
the transept by 1174. In a second campaign, which started about 1180,
the nave was built, and completed after 1205. Then the choir was
replaced by the greatly lengthened present choir in 1215.
The building is cruciform, and the
choir terminates in a straight wall instead of in an apse. Of the seven
planned towers flanking the façades, only five are complete to the
height of the base of the spires, two at the west front, with life-size
figures of oxen beneath the arcades of their upper portion, two more,
one at each end of the transept, and a square central crossing tower
that forms a lantern illuminating the crossing.
The west front, with three porches, the centre one surmounted by a fine
rose window of 1210, ranks next to that of Notre Dame de Paris in the
purity of its Gothic style. Because of the use of white stone in the
interior, however, the luminosity is remarkably greater than at
Notre-Dame. The cathedral has stained glass of the 13th century and a
chancel screen of the 18th century. Although the cathedral suffered some
damage during the French Revolution and the Franco-Prussian War of 1870,
it escaped both World Wars unharmed.
Notre-Dame de Laon, Aisne, Picardie, France. Les trois portails de la
Sens Cathedral, interior looking toward choir: begun ca. 1145-63
Sens Cathedral, Nave in four tiers, with clerestories and triforium
under sexpartite vaulting
Lyon Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Lyon) is a Roman
Catholic cathedral in Lyon, France, the seat of the Archbishop of Lyon.
It was founded by Saint Pothinus and Saint Irenaeus, the first two
bishops of Lyon. The cathedral is also known as a "Primatiale" because
in 1079 the Pope granted to the archbishop of Lyon the title of Primate
of All the Gauls with the legal supremacy over the principal archbishops
of the kingdom.
Begun in the twelfth century on the ruins of a 6th century
church, it was completed in 1476. The building is 80 metres long
(internally), 20 metres wide at the choir, and 32.5 metres high in the
nave. The cathedral organ was built by Daublaine and Callinet and was
installed in 1841 at the end of the apse and had 15 stops. It was
rebuilt in 1875 by Merklin-Schütze and given 30 stops, three keyboards
of 54 notes and pedals for 27.
Noteworthy are the two crosses to right
and left of the altar, preserved since the council of 1274 as a symbol
of the union of the churches, and the Bourbon chapel, built by the
Cardinal de Bourbon and his brother Pierre de Bourbon, son-in-law of
Louis XI, a masterpiece of 15th century sculpture.
The cathedral also has an astronomical
clock from the 14th century.
Until the construction of the Basilica
of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, it was the pre-eminent church in Lyon.
Image of Cathedral Saint Jean Baptiste, Lyon
Interior of Cathedrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Lyon
Toul Cathedral (Cathédrale
Saint-Étienne de Toul) is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Toul, Lorraine,
France, and a fine example of Gothic architecture.
It was formerly the seat of the Diocese
of Toul, created in 365 and merged in 1824 with the Diocese of Nancy
which in 1777 had been formed from the Diocese of Toul. Since 1824 the
diocese has been known as the Diocese of Nancy-Toul.
Bourges Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Bourges) is a Roman
Catholic cathedral, dedicated to Saint Stephen, located in Bourges,
France. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Bourges.
The site occupied by the present
cathedral, in what was once the northeastern corner of the Gallo-Roman
walled city, has been the site of the city's main church at least since
Carolingian times and probably since the foundation of the bishopric in
the 3rd century. The present Cathedral was built as a replacement for a
mid 11th century structure, traces of which survive in the crypt. The
date when construction began is unknown, although a document of 1195
recording expenditure on rebuilding works suggests that construction was
already underway by that date. The fact that the east end protrudes
beyond the line of the Gallo-Roman walls and that royal permission to
demolish those walls was only granted in 1183 shows that work on the
foundations cannot have started before that date. The main phase of
construction is therefore roughly contemporaneous with Chartres
Cathedral (begun 1194), some 200 km to the northwest. As with most
Early- and High-Gothic cathedrals, the identity of the architect or
master-mason is unknown. The choir was in use (though not necessarily
complete) by 1214 and the nave was finished by 1255. The building was
finally consecrated in 1324. Most of the west façade was finished by
1270, though work on the towers proceeded more slowly, partly due to the
unfavourable rock strata beneath the site. Structural problems with the
South tower led to the building of the adjoining buttress tower in the
mid-14th century. The North tower was completed around the end of the
15th century but collapsed in 1506, destroying the Northern portion of
the facade in the process. The North tower and its portal were
subsequently rebuilt in a more contemporary style.
Important figures in the life of the
cathedral during the 13th century include William of Donjeon who was
Archbishop from 1200 until his death in 1209 (and was canonised by the
Pope in 1218 as St William of Bourges) as well as his grandson, Philip
Berruyer (archbishop 1236-61), who oversaw the later stages of
Following the destruction of much of
the Ducal Palace and its chapel during the revolution, the tomb effigy
of Duke Jean de Berry was relocated to the Cathedral's crypt, along with
some stained glass panels showing standing prophets, which were designed
for the chapel by André Beauneveu.
Generally the cathedral suffered far
less than some of its peers during the French Wars of Religion and in
the Revolution. Its location meant it was also relatively safe from the
ravages of both World Wars.
Interior of Bourges Cathedral