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Consecration of Chartres Cathedral (1260)

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Mr. P

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Consecration of Chartres Cathedral (1260)

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Consecration of Chartres Cathedral (1260)From: Freethought Almanac Rants - Ronald B. MeyerQuote:It was on this date, October 17, 1260, that one of the finest examples of high Gothic art, Chartres Cathedral in northern France, was consecrated under King (Saint) Louis and Pope Alexander IV. It is known officially as the "Cathedral of Our Lady in Chartres," (French: Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Chartres) Although there would be additions after 1260, the original 13th century structure, begun in 1145 and resumed after a fire in 1194, was completed over a 26-year period.Surely, the Chartres Cathedral is an example of the quality of art inspired by religious faith? Such a romantic notion of the Middle Ages, as often taught in high school history classes, would be true if it could be demonstrated from history that periods of undisturbed religious faith coincided with periods of great art. Even a casual observer of the period would note that of course there was great religious art in the medieval era because the Roman Catholic Church was very wealthy and therefore employed the most talented artists!The Gothic style we see in the Chartres Cathedral was developed very slowly during two centuries from the Romanesque in north-central France. Far from a product of faith, Gothic art arose at a time when the bishoprics and abbeys were woefully corrupt. Its technical advances were developed along utilitarian, not sectarian, lines.If faith built the cathedrals, whose faith would that be? Certainly not the many workers, for their hands only moved the materials. It must have started with the architects, but what do we really know about them? For example, the architect of the beautiful Speyer Cathedral in Germany was the Bishop of Osnabruck. He took religious orders only for the title and revenues and was described by contemporaries as "sensual and worldly." The architect at Chartres was Beranger, but little is known of his religious faith, or if he had any at all. Even the names of other architects at other cathedrals are totally unknown.The cathedral at Chartres. In fact, the Chartres Cathedral was constructed as a tourist trap: its very purpose was to attract pilgrims to patronize local merchants and fill church coffers with cash. Civic authorities candidly crowed that they just wanted to outshine, if not outspend, other cities. Was this religious passion, or the desire for donations?But, then, the general piety and sobriety of the Age of Cathedrals are always overstated in popular histories. The period coincides with the notorious Age of Chivalry, one of the most egregiously licentious in European history. It is not often pointed out that the cathedrals (notably Chartres and Rheims) were used in the week after Christmas for the "Feast of Fools" and for blasphemous and indecent parodies of the Mass
MadArchitect

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Re: Consecration of Chartres Cathedral (1260)

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But, then, the general piety and sobriety of the Age of Cathedrals are always overstated in popular histories.Sobriety, maybe not, but the argument against piety doesn't really make sense. After all, if there weren't pilgrims eager to travel halfway across Europe to make their donations at a foreign shrine, there'd be no economic impetus to build cathedrals, right? If the author of this piece wants to build an argument about the corruption and materiality of the clergy, he's won a point. The argument that piety played no place in the design and construction of the cathedrals is still a bit unsubstantiated. But to say that it wasn't a period of genuine religious piety ignores the facts -- if the cathedrals weren't built by pious believers, they were built for a far larger population of the pious.
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