medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
From: Jim Bugslag <[log in to unmask]>
>>> The new western block built onto Fulbert's 11th-century church in the
early 12th century included a first-floor chapel, as in the slightly earlier
west block that Abbot Suger had built onto the Carolingian basilica of
>> is this Theory now a Done Deal, somewhere in the literature up with which i
have not kept?
>> the archaeological evidence visible on the interior North and South faces
of the towers seems to me to be inconclusive, at best.
> Hello Christopher,
> Theories, by their very nature, are not Done Deals; they consist of informed
ahhh, yes, that Darwin thing, again.
say, i didn't think you secular types up there in Canaduh believed in any of
that Darwinian drivel.
>And describing the archaeological evidence of the western bay of the
cathedral as "inconclusive" is an understated way (not typical of you!) of
describing a chaotic mess.
i just couldn't think of the appropriate Technical Term : "chaotic mess".
>To my knowledge, although some limited (and, typically for Chartres, rather
casual) archaeological excavation was done in this area around the
beginning of the 20th century
i am inclined to agree (in part) with Jan van der Meulen here and see those
"excavations" as being severely tainted by the prejudiced opinions/"theories"
of both René Merlet and E. Lefevre-Pontalis.
in any event, the publication of their results could certainly be described as
various folks, working from those "findings" have tried to reconstruct what
the "original" placement of the western portals (and the porch in front of it)
might have looked like --assuming that there *were* suchlike structures
Albert Mayeux, i believe it was, did the best job on this.
>, there has never been, except for John James' work, any serious
investigation of the standing structure itself,
well, looking at the stones themselves isn't really the halmark of most
>which is hindered through much of the building by the coating of plaster,
some of it medieval, covering the masonry.
and the masonry remains of some sort of early modren organ loft(?) up there.
here's a sample of the complexity of the stonework on the south side of the
North tower :
the more or less concentric arches of the first level here are, clearly, very
early 12th c. --but the round arch above the left doorway arches is clearly c.
1500, apparently part of the organ loft (built by Jehan de Beauce?).
is the "shadow" on the wall above the doorway arches on the right part of the
same structure?? --it appears not, since the arch there is slightly pointed
and is lower than the one on the left.
and there is a similar shadow on the left side
clearly [sic] there was some sort of "early gothic", 12th c.(?) arched
structure implied by those "shadows", and it is very tempting to see them as
the wall responds of a vaulted porch between the towers, perhaps with a chapel
analogous "stuff" can be seen on the north wall of the (slightly later) South
at the triforium level we can see the openings in the tower which were above
the floor level of the upper chapel between the towers (assuming that there
was such a chapel between the towers)
and there are similar openings on the level below, which might have allowed
access from one tower, straight across the inter-tower chapel, to the other
>The avenue that may turn this "theory" into a "fact" is liturgy, and I am
keenly awaiting Margot Fassler's forthcoming book on the 12th-century liturgy
at Chartres, which may refer to this chapel explicitly, thereby clinching its
though she does happily combine extraordinary expertise in matters both
liturgical and art historical, even Margot's brilliance might not be able to
conclusively solve this problem.
you know the 13th c. Ordinary (and its shorter, 12th c. predecessor) as well
as anyone, and i assume you agree than there is no definitive mention of where
this chapel might have been, eggsactly.
somewhere (in a charter?) i have come across a mention of a chapel dedicated
to St. Michael, presumably somewhere in the West complex, but it is not clear
where this chapel might have been, other than the fact that we may assume that
it was "high".
was it, indeed, in a large upper chapel between the towers --in which case the
view of those windows must have been quite *stunning* and overwhelming-- or
was it in one of the upper rooms of one of the towers?
supporting the latter idea *might* be the apparent existence of some
decorative _charpent_ in the second story room of the South Tower:
this stuff appears to be rather late, however, and may be the result of
"moving" the chapel between the towers, if, indeed, there ever was a chapel
between the towers.
if there was a second story chapel between the towers, was it vaulted, or
"hypaethral" --un"roofed"-- ?
such an "open" structure would have allowed for a clearer view of the west
lancets from the nave of the church, but would have been a bit weird to stand
in, i should think.
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