Talk:Basilica of St Denis

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Untitled[edit]

When was the Basilica built? Is the Abbey church a different structure or just another name for the Basilica? Rmhermen 15:59 Aug 19, 2002 (PDT)

*Bassilica is an honourary title given by the Pope. It is also a type of Roman building. Robert Prummel 22:47, 23 July 2006 (UTC)
The article says the abbey itself was built by Dagobert, which means it was built between 628 and 637. But then the list of interees begins with Childebert I (died 558 and buried in the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, according to his article) and Clovis I (died 511, and his article says he was buried at St. Denis). Did the basilica precede the abbey? That doesn't quite make sense for the period. --Michael K. Smith 02:01, 25 February 2006 (UTC)
There was a romanesque church on the site before 637.Robert Prummel 22:47, 23 July 2006 (UTC)

Sometimes people were buried elsewhere and later removed to St. Denis. Maybe they did that with Childebert I and Clovis I. Dvallere (talk) 04:21, 29 March 2008 (UTC)

The structure built by St. Genevieve in 475 was called an oratory which is like a chapel in function. (wiki source)It was built at a pagan burial ground and later became a Christian burial ground. source columbia.edu/projects/paris_map/buildings/stdenis. The source has photos of Merovingian sarcophagi in the crypt dug under the oratory, and Gallo-Roman capitals used to build the chapel. Childebert established it as an abbey - installing monks there. Clovis I was buried at the Abbey church of St. Genevieve - that he built, at first it was named for saints Peter and Paul & then he honored St. Genevieve, making her the abbot (abbess?). Clovis' body was exhumed in the 18th c. and moved to the Basilica St. Denis (wiki source.)D isllwyn (talk) 03:11, 3 June 2013 (UTC)D isllwyn (talk) 03:32, 3 June 2013 (UTC)


There is some evidence that this isn't the first gothic edifice: See entry from discussion page of entry for 'Gothic'.

"It has been argued (most recently by architectural historian Dan Cruickshank in "Britains Best Buildings") that Durham Cathedral, as well as being a superb example of Romanesque architecture, also contains the first evidence of Gothic design.

*Difficult to say, an original thought that will not please the French! what is Cruickshanks evidence? Robert Prummel 22:47, 23 July 2006 (UTC)

The nave contains pointed traverses and pointed arches while flying buttresses are concealed over the aisles - the main elements of Gothic, 20 years before this style was seen elsewhere in Europe."

The royal burrials[edit]

I am not sure if the material that was used to cover the body of Louis XVI is indeed called " Quiklime", meant is the same substance that was used in British prisons, " the shroud of fire" that Oscar Wilde mentions in " Ballad of Reading Goal". Source: Stefan Zweig. Marie Antoinette. It was the quick lime that made it possible to locate their remains. Other headless victims were just interred. Robert Prummel 22:40, 23 July 2006 (UTC)

St.Denis is not in Paris but in Seine Saint Denis.It is the cathedral for that departement----Clive Sweeting

Durham and Saint-Denis[edit]

It has been argued (most recently by architectural historian Dan Cruickshank in "Britain's Best Buildings" for the BBC) that Durham Cathedral, as well as being a superb example of Romanesque architecture, also contains the first evidence of Gothic design. The nave at Durham contains pointed traverses and pointed arches while flying buttresses in the form of quadrant arches are concealed over the aisles - the main elements of Gothic, 20 years before this style was seen elsewhere in Europe.

I just moved this reference from the article. There is a sort of querie above, about the relative significance of Durham and Saint Denis, which I'll attempt to answer. There seems to be a sort of simplistic "either/or" being played out here.

  • No-one, not Dan Cruikshank, not any reputable art historian, ever cited Durham as the first Gothic building. An no-one claims it was built "in the Gothic style". This is the product of fuzzy thing. It isn't "in the Gothic style". Specifically, it has certain engineering features which were to later become standard features in Gothic architecture. Durham is most definitely in the Norman (or Romanesque) "style". The proof that this is not about "style" is the fact that the buttresses are hidden in the aisle roofs. In the "Gothic style" they are a decorative architectural feature, as well as a feature of the engineering.
  • Saint-Denis is said to be "the first Gothic building". This doesn't mean that pointed arches, big glass windows, galleries over the arcade and flying buttresses were all invented at Saint-Denis. They weren't.

All these things had been used at other places.

  1. Pointed arches had been used in the arcades of the Romanesque cathedrals of Autun in France and Monreale in Sicily. But pointed arches alone don't make a Gothic building.
  2. Some other buildings, like Durham, had vaulted roofs which had both round and pointed arches in the ribs. This usually happened for structural reasons. Later architects could see good reasons for using pointed arches for every rib. It made it easier to vault spaces of different shapes, while round arches really only worked well over square spaces. Pointed arches also looked good. So in the Gothic period they were used for "style" even when round arches would work fine for structure.
  3. Big windows are a feature of Gothic architecture. But the use of big windows had begun in Norman architecture, particularly in England where the sun was not so bright as in France. The first style of Gothic windows were a plain shape just like a Norman window, but pointed at the top instead of round. Later in the Gothic style, tracery was added.
  • Abbot Suger collected all these new features and put them together in a single building. It might be said that he "invented the Gothic Style", because, prior to this, although the features had existed, no-one had put them together in a single building.
This is why the choir of Saint-Denis is regarded as the first building "in the Gothic style".
Amandajm (talk) 11:02, 24 March 2009 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

Reasons: It is customary to refer to widely-known towns, heritage sites and buildings by their English name, particularly where the use of that name has been long established. In English, we do not hyphen the French saint's names. We do not use Basilique. These two non-English forms make the article harder to find. The building has always been called, in English, the Abbey of Saint Denis, and more recently the Basilica of Saint Denis. I cannot imagine why it was moved to the French name on the English page, but it was inappropriate to do so. I have attempted to move the article myself, but find that there is already a page of that name so I am unable to do it, so have requested move.

Note:Cologne Cathedral, St Peter's Basilica, Florence Cathedral, Chartres Cathedral

Also: The Basilica of Saint Denis is not usually called "Saint Denis Basilica" The title "Cathedral" is usually linked with a place name, eg. Chartres Cathedral, Chichester Cathedral etc, unless in a place where there are two cathedrals in the same town. Then it uses its saints name. St. Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney. Except in a few instances like "St Paul's Cathedral", which everyone knows means London.

However, Basilicas are called not by their town name but by their saint's name. eg The Basilica of St Anthony of Padua, or St Mark's Basilica. The order is traditional and is not the same in each case. So while one speaks of St Peter's Basilica, one does not usually speak of St Denis's Basilica, or Saint Denis Basilica. It's called the "Basilica of Saint Denis". It is also written of as the "Basilica of St Denis".

Either "Basilica of Saint Denis" or "Basilica of St Denis" will do. Amandajm (talk) 12:20, 24 March 2009 (UTC)

Agreed. I'd go with the written-out "Saint" rather than "St" (with or without a period). A lot of instances of the written "St Denis" are abbrevations, which may be appropriate in the body of the article but not as its title. --Atemperman (talk) 17:15, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
I agree that the title should be Basilica of Saint Denis in recognition that this is an English article.Cgoodwin (talk) 01:57, 25 March 2009 (UTC)

Agree + Object: I agree totally with the need for an English language title, and with nom's remarks on the inappropriateness of the earlier move, but don't necessarily agree with the proposed new title.

  1. Firstly this building is also a cathedral, and the rank of cathedral takes precedence over that of a basilica, so the more correct option would be Saint-Denis Cathedral. The form of the name then reflects that of the town: cf Saint-Flour Cathedral, Saint-Malo Cathedral, Saint-Omer Cathedral etc. (and all also in line with Cologne Cathedral, Florence Cathedral, Chartres Cathedral etc as above).HeartofaDog (talk) 01:45, 25 March 2009 (UTC)
  2. On the other hand... a quick google search, bearing in mind all its limitations, shows 649 hits for Saint-Denis Cathedral, but 5,620 for Basilica of Saint Denis, so common usage clearly goes with the basilica. HOWEVER, Basilica of Saint Denis = 5,620 hits, but Saint Denis Basilica = 13,000 hits, which again is a significant difference. Bringing the Naming Conventions for Buildings Named after People into it (yes, we do have some), it rather looks as if the article should be at St. Denis' Basilica HeartofaDog (talk) 16:52, 25 March 2009 (UTC)
  3. But finally... the most important thing is to get this article back to a stable name in English. So although the nom really should give some sort of back-up for her opinion - and the deafening silence of the last few days presumably implies that she is not going to - the forms she suggests are clearly very commonly used, and an argument about whether this is the MOST commonly-used name is not productive - google hits can be massaged indefinitely to say almost anything. In short, I'm happy to go with either Basilica of St Denis or Basilica of St. Denis (personal preference for including the stop, but I don't insist) - but given the long-standing Naming Conventions for Buildings Named after People, I think 'Basilica of Saint Denis' should be avoided. HeartofaDog (talk) 14:57, 28 March 2009 (UTC)


Comment on the "Naming conventions for buildings named after people"-

  • Almost no major cathedral or basilica uses a period after the "St" on their website. We take the lead from St Peter's Basilica and St Paul's Cathedral]].
People who set up conventions on wiki often do it in ignorance of the usual practice. We get, for example Lists and Wiki Commons categories that refer to "Cathedrals in Country Name". The English convention among writers and art historians for the last 200 years has been "Cathedrals of Country Name" eg "Cathedrals of England", "Cathedrals of France" and so on.
  • I'm happy to with "Basilica of St Denis", or "Basilica of St Denis". I am not happy to go with "St Denis' Basilica".
  • If we use "Cathedral" The it must be "Cathedral of Saint Denis" ie. the place not the person. However, the French seem to refer to it as a basilica rather than as a cathedral, so I think we should respect that. Amandajm (talk) 00:31, 29 March 2009 (UTC)
Done Amandajm (talk) 00:37, 29 March 2009 (UTC)

Dont know if this belongs in article =[edit]

This drove me crazy trying to figure out which 3 kings are NOT buried there. (as opposed to were not buried originally and moved). It appears to me that vague touristy comments were "snagged" from other articles on the web, and no one bothered to find out this information :)

The answers (sources cited, to avoid OR issue)

Philip I - Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire (Wikipedia source) Louis XI - Basilica Notre Dame de Cléry (Wikipedia Source) Charles VIII - Basilica Notre Dame de Clery (Had to google for this one) www.nndb.com/people/856/000093577/

Otherwise, indeed every French Monarch from Hugh Capet (d 996) - Louis XVIII (except Napoleon I) is buried there in some fashion. Post Louis XVIII none (Charles X, Louis Philippe, Napoleon III) are. --64.142.36.76 (talk) 06:37, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

I would concur with the above posts! It is strange that the Wiki article concering Hugh(s) Capet, states that his remains were interred at this place, yet the article does not mention him at all. 96.19.156.227 (talk) 22:01, 20 August 2011 (UTC)Ronald L. Hughes


As re the three kings it is means - I think - three kings from the 10th c. forward. In addition to that Charlemagne is buried at Aachen. I like the article, which covers a lot of ground! 1) One thing that could be clarified is in the section on the Carolingian church, the legend of Christ and the leper is about the consecration of Dagobert's church, one hundred years earlier. I am not sure which ar the original documents, but they are quoted in a few sources I looked at: one is Leprosy in Medieval England, by Carol Rawcliffe, p. 112, where it says 'he ordered the leper to announce to King Dagobert and the bishops' .. 2)There is a question about bodies being buried elsewhere and moved later and yes that is the case with Clovis. He was buried in the Church of St. Genevieve - a church which he built and later named after her, and made it a Benedictine abbey. The church was destroyed early on (8th or 9th c) His body was exhumed and moved to the Basilica St. Denis but not until the 18th c. This is a wikipedia source.D isllwyn (talk) 02:55, 3 June 2013 (UTC)

I'm glad that I'm not the only one who, immediately upon reading "all but three," wanted to know which three! PurpleChez (talk) 19:59, 9 September 2013 (UTC)