The Priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs was an influential monastery established in what is now the city of Paris. Its surviving buildings are considered treasures of Medieval architecture in the city.
The oldest known structure on the site was a chapel dedicated to St. Martin of Tours, founded during the Merovingian dynasty, which appears in a text of 710. At a date which remains unknown, a community of monks became established there around the chapel. The abbey they founded was pillaged and destroyed by Norman invaders during the late 10th century.
In 1060, King Henry I of France chose to rebuild the complex of the former abbey, intending it then to be a priory of canons regular. At that era, it still remained outside the walls of the city, thus its designation as des champs (in the fields). In 1079 the priory was given to St. Hugh of Cluny and became a Benedictine community, which developed into one of the major houses of the Congregation of Cluny, The priory soon gained major landholdings throughout the region, becoming second in importance only to the Royal Abbey of St-Denis.
The priory church was completed in 1135, having a choir section with a double ambulatory, topped by a simple ribbed arch. The nave was completed during the 13th century, as was the refectory of the priory. The later two are attributed to Pierre de Montreuil. These are the only surviving portions of the monastic complex today.
The priory maintained a major presence in the religious and social life of Paris. It became the site of the last officially sanctioned trial by combat in France in 1386, when both the king and the Parliament of Paris authorized such a contest between the knights Jean de Carrouges and Jacques Le Gris, when the former charged the latter with raping his wife.
Over time, the priory fell subject to the system of commendatory abbots and became the property of a number of titular priors. The famous Cardinal Richelieu can be counted among their number.
The priory was suppressed in 1790 under the new laws of the French Revolution, and the buildings were used as a prison. The monastic walls and dormitories was soon torn down.
The surviving structures of the priory became the home of the Museum of Arts and Crafts, which opened there in 1802. The original Foucault Pendulum was housed there from 1855 until it was irreparably damaged in 2010.References:
The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.
According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.
In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.
The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.
The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.
In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.
The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.