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|Cathedral of Our Lady of Reims|
|French: Notre-Dame de Reims|
Facade, looking northeast
|Location||Place du Cardinal Luçon, 51100
|Denomination||Roman Catholic Church|
|Dedication||Our Lady of Reims|
|Floor area||6,650 square meters|
|Number of towers||2|
|Tower height||81 metres (266 ft)|
|Bells||2 (in south tower)|
|Priest in charge||Jean-Pierre Laurent|
|Official name: Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Former Abbey of Saint-Remi and Palace of Tau, Reims|
|Criteria||i, ii, vi|
|Region||Europe and North America|
|Official name: Cathédrale Notre-Dame|
Reims Cathedral (Our Lady of Reims, French: Notre-Dame de Reims) is a Roman Catholic church in Reims, France, built in the High Gothic style. The cathedral replaced an older church, destroyed by fire in 1211, that was built on the site of the basilica where Clovis I was baptized by Saint Remi, bishop of Reims in 496. That original structure had itself been erected on the site of some Roman baths.
The cathedral, a major tourist destination, receives about one million visitors annually.
According to Flodoard, Saint Nicasius founded the first church on the site of the current cathedral in the early 5th century, probably in 401, on the site of a Gallo-Roman bath. The site is not far from the basilica built by Bishop Betause, where Saint Nicasius would be martyred by beheading either by the Vandals in 401 or by the Huns in 451. The name of this church, St. Mary's, may suggest that the latter of the two dates is the correct one, given that the first church to be named after the Virgin Mary was the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in the 430s. This building, measuring approximately 20 m (66 ft) by 55 m (180 ft), would be where Clovis, King of the Franks, would be baptized by Saint Remigius on Christmas Day some time between 496 and 499. A baptistery was built in the 6th century to the north of the current site to a plan of a square exterior and a circular interior.
That church was rebuilt during the Carolingian period and further extended in the 12th century. On 19 May 1051, King Henry I of France and Anne of Kiev were married in the cathedral. Whilst conducting the Council of Reims in 1131, Pope Innocent II anointed and crowned the future Louis VII in the cathedral.
On May 6, 1210 the cathedral was damaged by fire and reconstruction started shortly after, beginning at the eastern end. Documentary records show the acquisition of land to the west of the site in 1218, suggesting the new cathedral was substantially larger than its predecessors, the lengthening of the nave presumably being an adaptation to afford room for the crowds that attended the coronations. In 1233 a long-running dispute between the cathedral chapter and the townsfolk (regarding issues of taxation and legal jurisdiction) boiled over into open revolt. Several clerics were killed or injured during the resulting violence and the entire cathedral chapter fled the city, leaving it under an interdict (effectively banning all public worship and sacraments). Work on the new cathedral was suspended for three years, only resuming in 1236 after the clergy returned to the city and the interdict was lifted following mediation by the King and the Pope. Construction then continued more slowly. The area from the crossing eastwards was in use by 1241 but the nave was not roofed until 1299 (when the French King lifted the tax on lead used for that purpose). Work on the west facade took place in several phases, which is reflected in the very different styles of some of the sculptures. The upper parts of the facade were completed in the 14th century, but apparently following 13th century designs, giving Reims an unusual unity of style.
Unusually the names of the cathedral's original architects are known. A labyrinth built into floor of the nave at the time of construction or shortly after (similar to examples at Chartres and Amiens) included the names of four master masons (Jean d'Orbais, Jean-Le-Loup, Gaucher de Reims and Bernard de Soissons) and the number of years they worked there, though art historians still disagree over who was responsible for which parts of the building. The labyrinth itself was destroyed in 1779 but its details and inscriptions are known from 18th century drawings. The clear association here between a labyrinth and master masons adds weight to the argument that such patterns were an allusion to the emerging status of the architect (through their association with the mythical artificer Daedalus, who built the Labyrinth of King Minos). The cathedral also contains further evidence of the rising status of the architect in the tomb of Hugues Libergier (d. 1268, architect of the now-destroyed Reims church of St-Nicaise). Not only is he given the honor of an engraved slab; he is shown holding a miniature model of his church (an honor formerly reserved for noble donors) and wearing the academic garb befitting an intellectual.
The towers, 81 m tall (approx. 267 ft), were originally designed to rise 120 m (approximately 394 ft). The south tower holds just two great bells; one of them, named “Charlotte” by Charles, Cardinal of Lorraine in 1570, weighs more than 10,000 kg (about 11 tons).
During the Hundred Years' War the cathedral and city were under siege by the English from 1359 to 1360, but the siege failed. In 1380, Reims cathedral would be center of Charles VI's coronation and eight years later Charles would call a council at Reims in 1388 to take personal rule from the control of his uncles. After Henry V, King of England, defeated Charles VI's army at Agincourt, Reims along with most of northern France fell to the English. The English would hold Reims and the Cathedral until 1429 when it was liberated by Joan of Arc which allowed the Dauphin Charles to be crowned king on 17 July 1429. Following the death of Francis I of France, Henry II was crowned King of France on 25 July 1547 in Reims cathedral.
In 1875, the French National Assembly voted to allocate £80,000 for repairs of the façade and balustrades. The façade is the finest portion of the building, and one of the great masterpieces of the Middle Ages.
On the outbreak of the First World War, the cathedral was commissioned as a hospital, and troops and arms were removed from its immediate vicinity. German shellfire during the opening engagements on 20 September 1914 burned, damaged and destroyed important parts of the cathedral. Scaffolding around the north tower caught fire, spreading the blaze to all parts of the carpentry superstructure. The lead of the roofs melted and poured through the stone gargoyles, destroying in turn the bishop's palace. Images of the cathedral in ruins were shown during the war by the indignant French, accusing the Germans of the deliberate destruction of buildings rich in national and cultural heritage.
Restoration work began in 1919, under the direction of architect Henri Deneux, a native of Reims; the cathedral was fully reopened in 1938, thanks in part to financial support from the Rockefellers, but work has been steadily going on since.
The three portals are laden with statues and statuettes; among European cathedrals, only Chartres has more sculpted figures. The central portal, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, is surmounted by a rose window framed in an arch itself decorated with statuary, in place of the usual sculptured tympanum. The "gallery of the kings" above shows the baptism of Clovis in the centre flanked by statues of his successors.
The facades of the transepts are also decorated with sculptures. That on the North has statues of bishops of Reims, a representation of the Last Judgment and a figure of Jesus (le Beau Dieu), while that on the south side has a modern rose window with the prophets and apostles. Fire destroyed the roof and the spires in 1481: of the four towers that flanked the transepts, nothing remains above the height of the roof. Above the choir rises an elegant lead-covered timber bell tower that is 18 m (about 59 feet) tall, reconstructed in the 15th century and in the 1920s. The total exterior length is 149.17 meters and its surface area is 6,650 square meters.
The interior of the cathedral is 138.75 m (about 455 ft) long, 30 m (approx. 98 feet) wide in the nave, and 38 m (about 125 feet) high in the centre. It comprises a nave with aisles, transepts with aisles, a choir with double aisles, and an apse with ambulatory and radiating chapels. It has interesting stained glass ranging from the 13th to the 20th century. The rose window over the main portal and the gallery beneath are of rare magnificence.
The cathedral possesses fine tapestries. Of these the most important series is that presented by Robert de Lenoncourt, archbishop under François I (1515-1547), representing the life of the Virgin. They are now to be seen in the former bishop's palace, the Palace of Tau. The north transept contains a fine organ in a flamboyant Gothic case. The choir clock is ornamented with curious mechanical figures. Marc Chagall designed the stained glass installed in 1974 in the axis of the apse.
The treasury, kept in the Palace of Tau, includes many precious objects, among which is the Sainte Ampoule, or holy flask, the successor of the ancient one that contained the oil with which French kings were anointed, which was broken during the French Revolution, a fragment of which the present Ampoule contains.
In 2011, the city of Reims celebrated the cathedral's 800th anniversary. The celebrations ran from May 6 to October 23. Concerts, street performances, exhibitions, conferences, and a series of evening light shows highlighted the cathedral and its 800th anniversary. In addition, six new stained glass windows designed by Imi Knoebel, a German artist, were inaugurated on June 25, 2011. The six windows cover an area of 128m² and are positioned on both sides of the Chagall windows in the apse of the cathedral.
The Cathedral of Reims, by Domenico Quaglio
Rose windows, west end
Axial chapel stained glass windows designed by Marc Chagall, 1974
Architectural details depicting Horse Chestnut tree leaves
- List of cathedrals in France
- List of highest church naves
- Roman Catholic Marian churches
- The Green Cathedral
- Coronation of the French monarch
- In 1955 Georges Saupique made a copy of "Le Couronnement de la Vierge" which can be seen above the cathedral entrance and with Louis Leygue copied many of the other sculptures on the cathedral facade. He also executed a statue of St Thomas for the north tower.
- The last coronation was that of Charles X on 29 May 1825.
- UNESCO: Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Former Abbey of Saint-Rémi and Palace of Tau, Reims
- Monument historique: Cathédrale Notre-Dame
- Reims Cathedral page on culture.fr.
- Lambert 1959, p. 241.
- Bourassé 1872, p. 45.
- Demouy 1995, pp. 11.
- Demouy 1995, p. 10.
- Demouy 1995, pp. 11-12.
- Demouy 2011, p. 9.
- Bordonove 1988, p. 97.
- Megan McLaughlin, Sex, Gender, and Episcopal Authority in an Age of Reform, 1000-1122, (Cambridge University Press, 2010), 56.
- I. S. Robinson, The Papacy, 1073-1198: Continuity and Innovation, (Cambridge University Press, 1996), 22, 135.
- Elizabeth A. R. Brown, "Franks, Burgundians, and Aquitanians" and the Royal Coronation Ceremony in France, (The American Philosophical Society, 1992), 43.
- Historical Aspects of the Reconstruction of Reims Cathedral, 1210-1241, Robert Branner, Speculum, Vol. 36, No. 1 (Jan., 1961), 23.
- For detailed chronology of rebuilding see P. Frankl / P. Crossley, Gothic Architecture, Yale University Press, 2001 (Revised Ed.), p.322 notes 10-14.
- "Artistic Integration Inside the Cathedrals, Social Consensus Outside?" in Artistic Integration in Early Gothic Churches, ed. K. Brush, P. Draper, V. Raguin, University of Toronto Press, 1995, pp. 214-35
- Historical Aspects of the Reconstruction of Reims Cathedral, 1210-1241, Robert Branner, Speculum, 36.
- R. Branner: "The Labyrinth of Reims Cathedral" in Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol.21, 1962, pp.18–25
- William Chester Jordan, Unceasing Strife, Unending Fear: Jacques de Therines and the Freedom of the Church in the Age of the Last Capetians, (Princeton University Press, 2005), 69.
- Prestwich, Michael (1999), Armies and Warfare in the Middle Ages: The English Experience, Yale University Press, p. 301.
- Jonathan Sumption, The Hundred Years War: Divided Houses, Vol. III, (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009), 397.
- Jonathan Sumption, The Hundred Years War: Divided Houses, Vol. III, 665-666.
- Antonio Santosuosso, Barbarians, Marauders, and Infidels, (MJF Books, 2004), 245-246.
- A Global Chronology of Conflict: From the Ancient World to the Modern Middle East, ed. Spencer C. Tucker, (ABC-CLIO, 2010), 333, 335.
- André Thevet, Portraits from the French Renaissance and the Wars of Religion, transl. Edward Benson, ed. Roger Schlesinger, (Truman State University Press, 2010), 24-25.
- Legg, Joanna. "WW1 Battlefields of the Western Front". www.greatwar.co.uk. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
English language references
French language references
- Bordonove, Georges (1988). Clovis et les Mérovingiens [Clovis and the Merovingians]. Pygmalion. ISBN 2857042825.
- Bourassé, Jean-Jacques (1872). Les plus belles cathédrales de France [The most beautiful cathedrals in France]. A. Mame et fils. Retrieved 25 April 2009.
- Demouy, Patrick (March 1995). Notre-Dame de Reims : Sanctuaire de la monarchie sacrée [Our Lady of Reims: Sanctuary of the sacred monarchy]. CNRS Éditions. ISBN 2-271-05258-0.
- Demouy, Patrick (May 2011). Genèse d'une cathédrale royale [Genesis of a Royal Cathedral] (Special 800th anniversary of Reims Cathedral ed.). Historia.
- Lambert, Élie (1959). "La cathédrale de Reims et les cathédrales qui l'ont précédée sur le même emplacement" [The Cathedral of Reims and the cathedrals which preceded it on the same site]. Comptes-rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres. 103. doi:10.3406/crai.1959.11054. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims.|
- "Cathédrale Notre-Dame". culture.gouv.fr. Monument historique. 29 March 1993.
- Reims Cathedral on French cultural website (culture.fr)
- Reims Cathedral at the archINFORM database.
- Photographs of Reims at kunsthistorie.com
- 360 degrees panoramas
- Poems by Florence Earle Coates: "Rheims", "The Smile of Reims"