Beauvais Cathedral

Beauvais, France

The Cathedral of Saint Peter of Beauvais is, in some respects, the most daring achievement of Gothic architecture, and consists only of a transept (16th-century) and choir, with apse and seven polygonal apsidal chapels (13th-century), which are reached by an ambulatory.

A small Romanesque church dating back to the 10th-century, known as the Basse Œuvre, still occupies the site destined for the nave of the Beauvais Cathedral.

Work was begun in 1225 under count-bishop Milo of Nanteuil, with funding of his family, immediately after the third in a series of fires in the old wooden-roofed basilica, which had reconsecrated its altar only three years before the fire; the choir was completed in 1272, in two campaigns, with an interval (1232–38) owing to a funding crisis provoked by a struggle with Louis IX. Under Bishop Guillaume de Grez, an extra 4.9 m was added to the height, to make it the highest-vaulted cathedral in Europe. The vaulting in the interior of the choir reaches 48 m in height, far surpassing the concurrently constructed Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Amiens, with its 42-metre nave.

The work was interrupted in 1284 by the collapse of some of the vaulting of the recently completed choir. This collapse is often seen as a disaster that produced a failure of nerve among the French masons working in Gothic style; modern historians have reservations about this deterministic view.

However, large-scale Gothic design continued, and the choir was rebuilt at the same height, albeit with more columns in the chevet and choir, converting the vaulting from quadripartite vaulting to sexpartite vaulting. The transept was built from 1500 to 1548. In 1573, the fall of a too-ambitious 153-m central tower stopped work again. The tower would have made the church the tallest structure in the world at the time. Afterwards little structural addition was made.

Its façades, especially that on the south, exhibit all the richness of the late Gothic style. The carved wooden doors of both the north and the south portals are masterpieces, respectively, of Gothic and Renaissance workmanship. The church possesses an elaborate astronomical clock in neo-Gothic taste (1866) and tapestries of the 15th and 17th centuries, but its chief artistic treasures are stained glass windows of the 13th, 14th, and 16th centuries, the most beautiful of them from the hand of Renaissance artist Engrand Le Prince, a native of Beauvais. To him also is due some of the stained glass in St-Etienne, the second church of the town, and an interesting example of the transition stage between the Gothic and the Renaissance styles.

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Details

Founded: 1225
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Late Capetians (France)

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Helena Sefcovicova (7 months ago)
Shocked to find out the astronomical clock has been forcibly stopped and is NOT working due to the new priest requesting silence during his mass ! It's a unique mechanical piece of art, 1000 years old that was precise to the second; displaying tides, the night sky and tons of other beautiful things. Egomaniac much ? Absolutely scandalous lack of respect for cultural heritage.
Aubin (7 months ago)
Amazing cathedral and unique clock. New bishop decided to stop the thousand years old clock to have silence during his speeches, now the clock is dead. Congrats.
Immanuel D (7 months ago)
Impressive large Gothic Cathedral, larger than Notre Damme, but with less advertising
adrian adi (10 months ago)
Spectacular architecture . Easy to find. Huge construction.
Graham (G) (12 months ago)
Beauvais what a lovely city. Next time I will come earlier to stay longer.
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