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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  February 2001

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION February 2001

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Subject:

Crossing the Gates [<Moralized Bibles]

From:

Christopher Crockett <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 26 Feb 2001 17:24:13 MST

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Tom Izbicki <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>Some cities, like Trier, had chapels near their entrances;  but some of the
free-standing crosses might have been in an open space within a gate.

that would work for me.

at Chartres (where else?), things have been knocked around a good bit,
wall-and-gate-wise, but i *believe* that i've come across a reference to 
a chapel (dedicated to St. Michael?) being inside the magnificent 14th(?) c.
city gate in the _basse ville_ known as the "Porte Guillaume", here seen in an
old photograph before this halmark of the town suffered a particularly
senseless act of vandalism during the last Collective Acute Psychotic
Episode:

http://ariadne.org/centrechartraine/ChartresTown/port_guil.jpg

go through this gate and up the hill, baring left, and, just before get 
to the crest, you come to a crossroads where the rue de la Porte 
Guillaume meets the rue de Saint Pere (memory is a bit rusty on these rue
names)--which goes down the south slope of the hill to the ancient Benedictine
abbey of St. Peter.   

now, *there* was once a gate, the "Porte Cendreuse" (burned during the 9th c.
siege??), i think, which was part of a much older set of walls which served
the city before its great expansion in the late 12th and early 13th cc. and
beyond.  

there was, from at least the very early 12th c. (when it is first mentioned, i
believe) a chapel (dedicated to St. Vincent) very near that gate, perhaps
incorporated within it, somehow --the gate is gone, but the much-transformed
chapel, now in private hands, remains.  

that chapel belonged to the Viscount of Chartres, whom i believe, was given,
ex officio, particular responsibilities regarding the defense of the town and,
as a consequence, held considerable property near the 
gates.  perhaps --probably-- *all* of the gates.

near this crossroads/gate/chapel complex there is another street comming into
the intersection, and near that point on that street there was a cross,
called, i believe, the "croix de Beaulieu," for reasons which i've never
understood, Beaulieu (_bello videre_) being on the other side of 
the cathedral, some distance away.

my guess --and it's no more than that-- is that there were chapels in or very
near *every* gate.  certainly no parts of the city were so 
vulnerable and so in need of protection.  certainly statues were frequently to
be seen in niches in gates.    relics, too, might have 
found a natural home there: the _mandylion_ was said to have been discovered
within the walls of a gate in Edessa during a siege...

one has to be careful about chapels and gates, however, as there is, also in
the lower town at Chartres, directly below the looming apse of the cathedral,
a tiny chapel known as "Notre Dame de la Breche."  

but this one was built --perhaps on the site of a previous one-- near the
place in the walls (and the Porte de Dreux) which was temporarily 
breached by Huguenot forces during a nearly-sucessful/disasterous siege 
in the mid-16th c.  

Reminescent of the events of the 9th c. siege of the town by the 
Norsemen under Rollo, when the precious relic of the _chemise_ of the Virgin
was brought to the city gate then threatened (the "Portam Novam" near the NW
corner of the cathedral) and monstrated to the barbarians, 
the relic was again brought to the breach and waved around, probably with much
Hokusing and Pokusing.

with the same result: the defenders rallied and the besiegers were beaten
off.

the tiny chapel of la Breche was built to commemorate the occasion.

and for good reason: Chartres today would be a very different place 
indeed if the Iconoclasts had gotten their busy little hammers on it, if their
other accomplishments in the area give any basis for judging (it is said that
over *500* churches *in that region alone* were sacked during the course of
the Wars "of Religion").

so much for crosses and chapels in my meagre knowledge.  

there may be some discussion of those in Chartres in André Chédeville's
_Chartres et ses compagnes_ (c.1970), a rather uneven book, but one which
thoroughly pillages the sources.

best from here,

christopher


Bruce Brasington wrote:

>...I've run across a gloss in a late twelflth-century canon law manuscript
referring to a cross "in ingressu civitatis". The manuscript 
is of, likely, northern English origins, though the house is uncertain. I
thought that crosses were most frequently at markets and "crossroads"; 
but I'm really ignorant. A cross at the entrance?



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