The Project Gutenberg EBook of Architectural Antiquities of Normandy, by 
John Sell Cotman

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Title: Architectural Antiquities of Normandy

Author: John Sell Cotman

Release Date: October 4, 2009 [EBook #30172]

Language: English

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Coat of arms of the Duchy of Normandy.





An artist, engaged in the illustration of the Architectural Antiquities of England, could scarcely do otherwise than often cast a wistful look towards the opposite shores of Normandy; and such would particularly be the case, if, like Mr. Cotman, to a strong attachment to his profession and the subject, he should chance to add a residence in Norfolk. This portion of the kingdom of the East-Angles, in its language and in its customs, but especially in the remains of its ancient ecclesiastical architecture, abounds in vestiges of its Teutonic colonists. The richly ornamented door-ways of its village churches have, in particular, long been the theme of admiration among antiquaries. Bred up in the midst of these, and warmly partaking in the admiration of them, Mr. Cotman devoted his pencil and his graver to the diffusion of their fame. Common report, aided by the suffrages of the learned, and in some degree by locality, designated them as Saxon: at the same time, when they were compared with what is left in Britain, of workmanship avowedly Norman, the points of dissimilarity appeared trifling or altogether vanished. Was it then to be inferred that, between Norman and Saxon architecture, there was really no difference; and, carrying the inference one step farther, that the hordes of barbarians denominated by these different appellations, although they might not have embarked at the same port, were only cognate tribes of one common origin, if not in reality the same? The solution of the first of these questions, the only one immediately in view, seemed best to be sought in that province of France, where the Norman power had been most permanently established, and where it was therefore reasonably to be expected, that genuine productions of Norman art might, if any where, be found. With this view, Mr. Cotman crossed the channel; and the result of three successive journies, in the years 1817, 1818, and 1820, is here submitted to the public.

Those who find pleasure in inquiries of this description, will join in the regret, that an undertaking like the present was so long delayed. Incalculable had been the advantages, had it but commenced previously [iv] to the period of the French revolution. That fearful storm burst with tremendous violence upon the castles of barons, the palaces of kings, and the temples of religion. Many of the most sumptuous edifices, which had mocked the hand of time, and had been respected amidst the ravages of foreign or domestic warfare, were then swept from the face of the earth. Others, degraded, deserted, neglected, and dilapidated, are at this moment hastening fast to their decay. Yet no small portion of what is valuable has been happily left. The two royal abbeys of Caen, though shorn of much of their former grandeur, are still nearly entire. Château Gaillard, the pride of Richard's lion heart, and the noble castles of Arques and of Falaise, retain sufficient of their ancient magnificence, to testify what they must have been in the days of their splendor: the towns and châteaus, which were the cradles of the Harcourts, Vernons, Tancarvilles, Gurneys, Bruces, Bohuns, Grenvilles, St. Johns, and many others of the most illustrious English families, are still in existence; and, of more modern date, when the British Edwards and Henrys resumed the Norman sceptre, numerous buildings of the highest beauty are every where to be met with. In his researches after these, Mr. Cotman had the advantage of being assisted by the kindness of three of the most distinguished antiquaries of the present day, M. le Prevost, M. Rondeau, and M. de Gerville, but particularly by the last, whose friendly help has likewise extended towards the preparing of the letter-press for many of the articles from the western part of the province. It were ungrateful not to acknowledge the assistance derived from Mr. Cohen, in the same department. The value of his aid, which has been most freely contributed, can be duly appreciated by those alone who have had opportunities of judging of the accuracy and extent of his knowledge.

In the selection of subjects for engraving, attention has been principally paid to two points, excellence in the objects themselves, and certainty as to dates; but the greatest stress has been laid upon the latter. The author of a work which professes to be in any degree didactic, can never impress too strongly upon his mind the value of the Roman precept, “prodesse quàm delectare;” and an artist, accustomed by his habits to the contemplation of the beautiful and the picturesque, requires above all men to be warned on this head. Many of the buildings here represented, might easily have been exchanged for others, more perfect, more elegant, or more ornamented; but it is hoped that they could not have been exchanged for those that would have been more instructive. The main object of the publication has been to exhibit a series of specimens of Norman architecture, as they actually exist in Normandy itself; and, by taking those whose dates are best defined, to enable the antiquary and the amateur of other countries, not only to know the state of this extraordinary people, as to their arts, at the epoch of their greatest glory, but also to compare what is in Normandy with what they find at home. Another volume, devoted to the illustration of the same description of architecture, in the south of France, in Italy, and in Sicily, would fill a hiatus, whose existence has long been regretted. In Germany, Denmark, and Sweden, it is to be feared that little remains; and, thanks to the spirit of English artists and to the patronage of the English public, what is in this country is already in a great measure recorded. To an Englishman, it is hoped it may be a source of venial self-congratulation, that the first publication upon Norman architecture originates in his own island: he will likewise probably not be displeased to find, that this collection of the finest remaining specimens of Norman art upon the continent, contains nothing which he cannot rival, indeed surpass, at home.

But, at the same time that the principal end proposed in this work has been to set before the public those edifices, whether sacred, military, or domestic, which were erected during the age most properly designated as Norman, the æra anterior to the union of the ducal coronet with the crown of France, it has been felt that, in whatever light the publication might be regarded, it would be incomplete without the addition of other buildings of a subsequent period. A farther number of specimens has therefore been admitted, conducting the series through the style of architecture, commonly termed Gothic, down to the time when that style finally disappeared before an Italian model, more or less debased.

In the descriptive portion of these volumes, attention has been almost exclusively directed to two points, the historical and the architectural. On the latter of these, so much has been said under each separate article, that whatever might be added in this place could be little more than repetition; and the history of Normandy, from the establishment of the dukedom to the beginning of the thirteenth [v] century, is so interwoven with that of England, that it has been considered needless here to insert an epitome of it, as had at first been intended. In lieu of this, a Table is subjoined, exhibiting the succession, marriages and progeny of the Norman Princes, copied from Du Moulin; and such Table can scarcely be regarded otherwise than useful, as bringing the whole under the eye in a single point of view: a Chronological Index, it is hoped, may in a great measure answer the same purpose as to architecture. It is only justice, however, to add, that, in this Index, much has necessarily been left to conjecture; and, where it is so, the author naturally expects that others will occasionally differ from him in opinion; especially as no opportunity is afforded him of detailing the grounds whereby he has formed his own. Upon the subject most likely to create doubts and difficulties, the very early date assigned to the employment of the pointed arch, he begs the attention of the reader to those authorities, which, in his judgment, warrant the conclusion he has drawn. If mistaken in this, or in any other point, he will be most thankful for correction; and, in the language of that author, who is, as he long has been and probably always will be, more than any other the object of quotation, he takes leave, with the well-known valedictory lines,

“Vive, vale; si quid novisti rectius istis,
Candidus imperti; si non, his utere mecum.”





In the following list, an Obelisk is affixed to the dates which depend upon conjecture. Those preceded by an Asterisk denote the year of the dedication of the building.

53.Rouen, Crypt in the Church of St. Gervais before † 1000
13.St. Sauveur le Vicomte, Castle before † 1000
69.Lillebonne, Castle † 1000
48.Caen, Chapel in the Castle † 1000
89, 90.Falaise, Castle—Keep of † 1000
83.St. Sanson sur Rille, Church † 1020
67.Anisy, Church † 1030
68.Perriers, Church—Nave of † 1030
97.Cerisy, Abbey Church 1040
95.Mount St. Michael, Abbey Church—Nave of1048
87, 88.St. Lo, Church of the Holy Cross—(some of the sculpture probably of the ninth century) † 1050
1.Arques, Castle † 1050
84.Foullebec, Western door-way of the Church † 1050
70.Briquebec, Castle—(the multangular tower probably of the fourteenth century) † 1050
5-10.St. Georges de Bocherville, Abbey Church 1050
92-94.Coutances, Cathedral * 1056
17.Tamerville, Church † 1060
44-46.Léry, Church † 1060
54.Rouen, Church of St. Paul † 1060
73-75.Lisieux, Church of St. Peter 1060
55, 56.Caen, Church of St. Nicholas 1066
24-33.Ditto, Abbey Church of the Holy Trinity * 1066
82.Montivilliers, Abbey Church—Towers and door-way† 1066
2, 3.Jumieges, Abbey Church * 1067
60, 61.Fontaine-le-Henri, Church † 1070
21-23.Caen, Abbey Church of St. Stephen * 1077
57.Cheux, Church † 1080
98.Oyestraham, Church † 1080
58, 59.Bieville, Church † 1080
* 33.Caen, Tombstone of Queen Matilda 1083
37.Haute Allemagne, Tower of Church † 1100
16.Than, Church † 1100
18.Caen, Tower of the Church of St. Michel de Vaucelles† 1100
12.Grâville, Church 1100
99, 100.Séez, Cathedral * 1126
14.St. Sauveur le Vicomte, Abbey Church † 1130
96.Mount St. Michael, Knights' Hall 1130
39-41.Gournay, Church of St. Hildebert—Interior of the nave, and capitals of columns† 1140
20.Statue of William the Conqueror † 1150
91.Creully, Church † 1150
11.St. Georges de Bocherville, Sculpture in the Chapter House1170
42, 43.Rouen, Chapel of the Hospital of St. Julien† 1190
80, 81.Château Gaillard 1195
51, 52.Rouen Cathedral, West front—Northern Tower1200
47.Colomby, Church † 1200
68.Perriers, Church—Choir † 1230
38.Gournay, Church of St. Hildebert—West front† 1250
4.Jumieges, Entrance to the Knights' Hall † 1280
76.Rouen, Church of St. Ouen 1340
71.Fécamp, Southern entrance of the Church of St. Stephen† 1340
35.Dieppe, Church of St. Jacques—Western front—(the tower probably fifty years earlier)† 1350
72.Eu, Screen in the Church of St. Lawrence † 1360
66.Tréport, Church 1370
19.Caen, South Porch of the Church of St. Michel de Vaucelles† 1380
82.Montivilliers, Abbey Church—Chapter-House1390
36.Dieppe, Eastern end of the Church of St. Jacques† 1400
79.Louviers, South porch of the Church † 1420
85, 86.Tancarville, Castle † 1420
89, 90.Falaise, Castle—Talbot's Tower 1430
34.Dieppe, Castle † 1450
51, 52.Rouen Cathedral, Western front—Southern Tower1485
95.Mount St. Michael, Abbey Church—Choir 1500
78.Rouen, Palace of Justice 1500
77.Ditto, Fountain of the Stone Cross 1500
68.Caen, House in the Rue St. Jean † 1500
62, 63.Fontaine-le-Henri, Château † 1500
49, 50.Rouen Cathedral, Southern Transept 1500
51, 52.Ditto, Western Front—Porch 1509
15.Andelys, Great House † 1530
64.Rouen, House in the Place de la Pucelle † 1540



1.Castle of Arquesto face page 1
2.Abbey Church of Jumieges, West Front 2
3.———— Parts of the Nave3
4.———— Arch on the West Front 3
5.Abbey Church of St. Georges de Bocherville, West Front4
6.—————— General View4
7.—————— West Entrance5
8.—————— South Transept5
9.—————— Sculptured Capitals5
10.—————— Ditto 6
11.—————— Sculptures in the Cloisters6
12.Church of Grâville7
13.Castle of St. Sauveur le Vicomte 8
14.Abbey Church of St. Sauveur le Vicomte 11
15.Great House at Andelys13
16.Church of Than16
17.Church of Tamerville17
18.Tower of the Church of St. Michel de Vaucelles, Caen 18
19.North Porch of Ditto18
20.Statue of William, Duke of Normandy 20
21.} Abbey Church of St. Etienne, Caen, West Front21
23.————— Compartments of the Nave24
24.Abbey Church of the Holy Trinity, Caen 27
25.—————— East End32
26.—————— East End of Interior 32
27.—————— North Side of the Choir 32
28.—————— Arches under the central Tower 33
29.—————— East Side of South Transept 33
30.—————— Interior of the Nave 33
31.—————— South Side of the Nave 34
32.—————— Crypt34
33.—————— Capitals34
*33.Inscription on the Tomb of Queen Matilda 35
34.Castle of Dieppe35
35.Church of St. Jacques, at Dieppe, West Front 38
36.————— East End38
37.Tower of the Church of Haute Allemagne, near Caen39
38.Collegiate Church of St. Hildebert, at Gournay, West Front39
39.——————— View across the Nave41
40.——————— Capitals 42
41.——————— Capitals42
42.Chapel in the Hospital of St. Julien, near Rouen, South Side43
43.——————— Interior 44
44.Church of Léry, near Pont de l'Arche, General View 45
45.————— West Front46
46.————— Interior46
47.Elevation of the Church of Colomby, near Valognes 47
48.Chapel in the Castle at Caen48
49.} Cathedral Church of Notre Dame, of Rouen, South Transept50
51.}—————— West Front51
53.Crypt in the Church of St. Gervais, at Rouen 56
54.Church of St. Paul, at Rouen, East End 57


                                            N. PRINCE OF LOWER DENMARK.                                  
  2nd wife, Poppeia, daughter of Berenger, Count of the Bessin.==Rollo, 1st Duke of Normandy. A.D. 911. ==1st wife, Gisla, daughter of Charles the Simple, King of France. Gourin, killed in Denmark. 
  Sprote, daughter of the Count of Senlis. == William, Longa-Spatha, 2nd Duke of Normandy. A.D. 917.   Gerloc, wife to William, Count of Poitiers.  
  1st wife, Emma, daughter of Hugues le Grand, Duke of France. == Richard I. 3rd Duke of Normandy. A.D. 944. == 2nd wife, Gonnor, originally his concubine.  
  2nd wife, Paphie, or Poppea. == Richard II. called The Good, 4th Duke of Normandy. A.D. 996. == 1st wife, Judith, da. of Geoffrey, Duke of Brittany. Robert, Archbishop of Rouen, Count of Evreux. Mauger, Count of Corbeil. Emma, Queen of England. Havoise, wife of Geoffrey, Duke of Brittany. Matilda, wife of Eudes, Count of Chartres.  
  Mauger, Archbishop of Rouen. William of Arques, Count of Talou.   Richard III. 5th Duke of Normandy. A.D. 1026. Robert, 6th Duke of Normandy. A.D. 1028. == Arlette, daughter of Foubert, citizen of Falaise. William, monk at Fécamp. Alice, wife of Rinaldo, Count of Burgundy.   Eleanor, wife of Baldwin, Count of Flanders. Papie, wife of Guibert of St. Vallery. N. died unmarried.  
  Nicolas, Abbot of St. Ouen: and two daughters, one of them married to Walter of St. Vallery, the other to the Viscount of Bayeux:—all illegitimate.   William the Conqueror, 7th Duke of Normandy, and King of England. A.D. 1035. == Matilda, daughter of Baldwin, Count of Flanders.  
  N. his Mistress. == Robert, Court-Hose, 8th Duke of Normandy. A.D. 1087. == Sibilla, daughter of William, Count of Conversans. Richard, killed in the New Forest. William Rufus, King of England. 1st wife, Matilda, da. of Malcolm, King of Scotland. == Henry I. King of England, and 9th Duke of Normandy. A.D. 1107. == 2nd wife, Adeliza, daughter of the Duke of Louvain. Cecilia. Constance. Alice. Agatha. Adela. == Stephen, Count of Blois.  
Richard, died from a surfeit, in hunting. William, killed in the Crusades. N. wife to Hélie de St. Saen. N. da. of Marquis Renier, and sister to the Queen of France. == William, Count of Flanders. William Adelin, drowned after his marriage. 1st hus. Henry V. Emperor. == Matilda. == 2nd hus. Geoffrey, Count of Anjou, and 11th Duke of Normandy. A.D. 1143. William. Theobald, Earl of Blois.   Henry, Bishop of Winchester. Stephen, King of England. == Matilda of Boulogne.  
  Eleanor, Countess of Poitiers and Duchess of Aquitaine. == Henry Plantagenet, 12th Duke of Normandy. A.D. 1150: Count of Anjou, Touraine, and Maine, and King of England.   Geoffrey, Count of Nantes. William.   Eustace, 10th Duke of Normandy. A.D. 1135.  
  William. Margaret, of France. == Henry the Young, crowned King of England. Richard Cœur-de-Lion, King of England, and 13th Duke of Normandy. A.D. 1189. Geoffrey, Count of Brittany. == Constance, daughter of Conan, Duke of Brittany. John Lackland, King of England, 14th and last Duke of Normandy. A.D. 1199.  
  Arthur, Duke of Brittany, killed by his uncle John.  








Castle of Arques.

Plate 1. Castle of Arques.

The town of Arques, situated in the immediate vicinity of Dieppe, is a spot consecrated by the historical muse, and one upon which a Frenchman always dwells with pleasure, as the place that fixed the sceptre in the hands of the most popular monarch of the nation, Henry IV.

The sovereign, fleeing from the superior forces of the league, here, in the very confines of his kingdom, finally resolved to make his last stand; urged to the measure by the Marshal de Biron, but doubtful in his own mind, whether it would not be the wisest as well as the safest plan, to seek refuge in the friendly ports of England. Reduced to the utmost extremity, “a king without a kingdom, a husband without a wife, and a warrior without money,” he stopped at Arques, in a state bordering upon despair; and yet, when the Count de Belin, who was brought in prisoner shortly before the battle, assured his majesty, that, in two hours, an army of forty thousand men would be upon him, and that he saw no forces there to resist them, the king replied, with that gaity of mind that never forsook him, “You see not all, M. Belin, for you reckon not God, and my just claim, who fight for me.”

Henry's whole army consisted of only three thousand infantry and six hundred cavalry: the hostile forces amounted to more than thirty thousand, commanded by the Duke of Mayenne, one of the ablest leaders of the league, but the Fabius rather than the Marcellus of the party. The occasion, however, needed the sword rather than the buckler: Henry's soldiers fought with the courage of desperation; but every thing seemed lost, when, according to the account given by Sully, the fog, which had been very thick all the morning, cleared suddenly away, and afforded the garrison in the castle of Arques a full view of the enemy's army, against which they discharged four pieces of artillery with such effect, as to kill great numbers of them. Their progress was thus effectually stopped; and the guns from the castle continuing to play upon them, they were soon thrown into disorder, and retreated to their original position.

From this time, the aspect of the king's affairs changed: his well-known laconic epistle to Crillon, “hang thyself, brave Crillon, for we have fought at Arques without thee,” shewed his own sense of the important results that might be expected from the battle. The most important of all was, that he was immediately joined by an auxiliary force of four thousand English and Scotch, sent by Queen Elizabeth to his aid; and that, almost immediately afterwards, another, still more considerable reinforcement, was brought him by the Count of Soissons, Henry of Orleans, Duke of Longueville, D'Aumont, and Biron; so that the Duke of Mayenne was obliged to retreat in his turn, and Henry saw himself within a few days under the walls of the capital; in a situation to dictate terms to his rebellious subjects.

The castle of Arques had on this occasion essentially served the royal cause; but it seems to have been suffered from that time forwards to fall into decay. All mouldering, however, and ruined as it is, its [2] walls and towers may yet for many centuries bid defiance to wind and weather, unless active measures are used for their demolition.

At the revolution the castle became national property, and as such was sold: it has now fallen into the hands of a lady who resides in the neighbouring town.

The present plate, which represents the principal entrance, will serve to convey some idea of the general character of the building, as well as of the immense size of the massy towers, and of the crumbling appearance of their surface. Two piers only remain of the draw-bridge, by which they were approached; and the three successive arches of the gateway are torn into little more than shapeless rents. It would be very difficult to convey, by means of any engraving, an adequate idea of the grand character of the whole ruin, or of its imposing situation. Still more difficult would be the attempt to represent its masonry. The walls have certainly been in most places, and probably in all, covered with a facing of brick, of comparatively modern date; and in some parts this facing still remains, or, where it is torn off, nothing but rubble is visible. In other places they appear to have been constructed of alternate layers of brick and flint, disposed with the same regularity as in Roman buildings; and the thin form of these bricks leads also to the impression that they are of Roman workmanship.

If such a supposition may be allowed to be well founded, the first establishment of a fortress in this situation is probably but little posterior to the Christian æra; and many antiquarians are disposed to believe that such was really the case. At the same time, even allowing the truth of this surmise in its fullest extent, it is most probable that the Roman castle had fallen into ruin and disuse long before the Norman conquest.

Both William of Jumieges and the chronicle of St. Wandrille expressly mention, that William, son to Duke Richard II. received from his nephew, the conqueror, the earldom of Arques, and built a castle there. Other writers ascribe the origin of the fortress to the eighth century, and others to the latter part of the twelfth. Nothing is now left sufficiently perfect to determine the point, nor any thing that can justly be considered decisive of the style of its architecture.

The situation of the castle is very bold: it crowns the extremity of a ridge of chalk hills of considerable height, which commencing to the west of Dieppe, and terminating at this spot, have full command of the valley below. The fosse which surrounds the walls is wide and deep. The outline of the fortress is oval, but not regularly so; and it is varied by towers of uncertain shape, placed at unequal distances. The two entrance towers, and those nearest to them to the north and south, are considerably larger than the rest. One of these larger lateral towers[1] is of a most unusual form. It appears as if the original intention of the architect had been to make it circular; but that, changing his design in the middle of his work, he had attached to it a triangular appendage, probably by way of a bastion. Three others adjoining this are square, and indeed appear to partake as much of the character of buttresses as of towers.

The castle is internally divided into two wards, the first of which, on entering, is every where rough with the remains of foundations: the inner, which is by far the largest, is approached by a square gate-house with high embattled walls, and contains towards its farther end the quadrangular keep, whose shell alone is standing. The walls of this are of great height: in their perfect state they were carefully faced with large square stones, but these are principally torn away. The crypts beneath the castle are spacious, and may still be traversed for a considerable length.


[1] See Account of a Tour in Normandy, I. p. 37, t. 3.



Before the revolution despoiled France of her monastic institutions, the right bank of the Seine, from Rouen to the British Channel, displayed an almost uninterrupted line of establishments of this nature. Within a space of little more than forty miles, were included the abbeys of St. Wandrille, Jumieges, Ducler, and St. Georges de Bocherville.

Abbey Church of Jumieges.

Plate 2. Abbey Church of Jumieges.
West Front.

[3] The most illustrious of these was Jumieges; it occupied a delightful situation in a peninsula, formed by the curvature of the stream, where the convent had existed from the reign of Clovis II. and had, with only a temporary interruption, caused by the invasion of the Normans, maintained, for eleven centuries, an even course of renown; celebrated alike for the beauty of its buildings, the extent of its possessions, and the number and sanctity of its inmates. Philibert, second abbot of Rebais, in the diocese of Meaux, was the founder of this monastery. He migrated hither with only a handfull of monks; but the community increased with such surprising rapidity, that in the time of Alcadrus, his immediate successor, the number was already swelled to nine hundred, and, except upon the occasion just mentioned, this amount never appears to have experienced any sensible diminution.

The monastery of Jumieges reckoned among its abbots men of the most illustrious families of France. In early times, Hugh, the grandson of Charlemagne, held the pastoral staff: it afterwards passed through the hands of Louis d'Amboise, brother to the cardinal, and of different members of the houses of Clermont, Luxembourg, d'Este, and Bourbon.

The abbatial church, as it now stands, (if indeed it does now stand, for in 1818, when drawings were made for these plates, its demolition was proceeding with rapidity,) was chiefly built in the eleventh century, by Robert the Abbot, who was translated from Jumieges to the bishopric of London, and thence to the archiepiscopal throne of Canterbury. The western front (see plate 2) is supposed to be certainly of that period, and all very nearly of the same æra, though the southern tower is known to be somewhat the most modern. The striking difference in the plan of these towers, might justly lead to the inference, that there was also a material difference in their dates, and that they were not both of them part of the original plan; but there do not appear to be any grounds for such a supposition. On the other hand, the contrary seems to be well established; and those who are best acquainted with the productions of Norman architects, will scarcely be surprised at anomalies of this nature.

Jumieges. Parts of the Nave.

Plate 3. Abbey Church of Jumieges.
Parts of the Nave.

The interior of the nave (plate 3) is also a work of the same period, except the lofty pillars that support the cornice, and the symbols of the evangelists that are placed near the windows of the clerestory. These were additions made towards the latter end of the seventeenth century. The pillars were rendered necessary by the bad state of the roof: the symbols were added only by way of ornament. They are of beautiful sculpture, and, as such, have lately been engraved upon a larger scale, in an Account of a Tour in Normandy, in 1818, (II. p. 27) which work also contains a general view of the ruins of Jumieges, and a representation of some ancient trefoil arches that are very remarkable.

Of the square central tower one side only is now remaining. This tower was despoiled of its spire in 1557. The Choir and Lady-Chapel are almost entirely gone. They were of pointed architecture; and it appears that they were erected during some of the latter years of the thirteenth century, or at the commencement of the fourteenth.

In the Lady-Chapel lay the heart of Agnes Sorel, who died at the neighbouring village of Mesnil, on the ninth of February, 1450, while her royal lover, Charles VII. was residing at Jumieges, intent upon the siege of Honfleur. Her body was interred in the collegiate church of Loches in Touraine. Upon her monument at Jumieges was originally placed her effigy, in the act of offering her heart to the Virgin. But this statue was destroyed by the Huguenots, who are said to have been guilty of the most culpable excesses in this monastery. Agnes' tomb remained till the revolution, when it was swept away with all the rest, and, among others, with one of great historical curiosity in the neighbouring church dedicated to St. Peter; for the convent of Jumieges contained two churches, the larger under the invocation of the Holy Virgin, and a smaller by its side, sacred to the chief of the apostles.

The tomb here alluded to was called by the name of le tombeau des Enerves, or de Gemellis; and so much importance was attached to it, that it has even been supposed that the Latin name of Jumieges, Gemeticum, was a corruption from the word gemellis. Upon the monument were figures of two young noblemen, intended, as it is said, to represent twin sons of Clovis and Bathilda, who, for sedition, were punished by being hamstrung and confined in this monastery.

Arch on the West Front.

Plate 4. Abbey of Jumieges.
Arch on the West Front.

The third plate of Jumieges, which is copied from a drawing by Miss Elizabeth Turner, represents a noble arch-way, the entrance to a porch that leads to a gallery adjoining the former cloisters, and known by the name of the Knight's Hall. It is a remarkably fine specimen of a very early pointed arch, still preserving all the ornaments of the semi-circular style, and displaying them in great richness and beauty. [4] There is no authority for the date of this gallery: nor does it appear that any historical record is preserved respecting it. The style of the architecture would lead to the referring of it, without much hesitation, to the latter part of the thirteenth century.



Bocherville. West Front.

Plate 5. Abbey Church of St. Georges de Bocherville.
West Front.

In a work like the present, devoted expressly to the elucidation of the Architectural Antiquities of Normandy, and more particularly intended to illustrate that style of architecture which prevailed during the time when the province was governed by its own Dukes, it has appeared desirable to select one or two objects, and to exhibit them, as far as possible, in their various details.

Under this idea, the abbey church of St. Georges de Bocherville has been taken from the upper division of the province, and that of the Holy Trinity at Caen from the lower. Both of these are noble edifices; both are in nearly the same state in which they were left by the Norman architects; and both of them are buildings whose dates may be cited with positive certainty.

The abbey of St. Georges was situated upon an eminence on the right bank of the Seine, two leagues below Rouen. It owed its origin to Ralph de Tancarville, lord of the village, about the year 1050. A rage for the building and endowing of monastic establishments prevailed at that period throughout Normandy; and this nobleman, who had been the preceptor to Duke William in his youth, and was afterwards his chamberlain, unwilling to be outdone by his compeers in deeds of piety and magnificence, founded this monastery and built the church in honor of the Virgin and St. George. Both the conqueror and his queen assisted the pious labour by endowments to the convent; and Ordericus Vitalis relates how, upon the decease of the monarch, the monks of St. Gervais, at Rouen, where he died, made a solemn procession to the church of St. Georges de Bocherville, there to offer up their prayers for the soul of their departed sovereign.

At the revolution the abbatial church was fortunate enough to become parochial, and it thus escaped the ruin in which nearly the whole of the monastic buildings throughout France were at that time involved. Its previous good fortune in having been so very little exposed to injury or to alteration, is even more to be wondered at.

Bocherville. General view.

Plate 6. Abbey Church of St. Georges de Bocherville.
General view.

The general view of the church, (plate 6) for the drawing of which the author is indebted to Miss Elizabeth Turner, is calculated to convey a faithful idea of the effect of the whole. Whatever is here seen is purely Norman, except the spire; and upon the subject of spires antiquaries are far from being agreed: some regarding them as a comparatively modern invention, while others, on the contrary, believe that the use of them may be traced to a very remote period. The semi-circular east end, with a roof of high pitch, the windows separated by shallow buttresses, or by slender cylindrical pillars, and the grotesque corbel-table, are, all of them, characteristics of the early Norman style: a greater peculiarity of the present building, and one indeed that is found in but few others, lies in the small semi-circular chapels attached to the sides of the transepts.

The west front (plate 5) exhibits a deviation from the general style of the church, in the two towers with which it is flanked. The shape of the arches in these plainly indicates a later æra; but they are early instances of pointed architecture. The grand entrance is displayed upon a larger scale in the seventh plate. The ornaments to this door-way are rich and varied, and there are but few finer portals in Normandy. But in specimens of this description the duchy is far from being able to bear a comparison with England. It would be difficult, perhaps impossible, to assign a satisfactory reason for this circumstance; and yet the fact is so obvious, that it cannot fail to have occurred to every one who has paid any attention to the architecture of the two countries.

In the interior of the church there is scarcely an architectural anomaly to be discovered. The only alterations are those which were rendered necessary by the injuries done to the building in the religious wars, during the sixteenth century; and the repairs on that occasion extended only to a portion of the roof, and of the upper part of the wall on the south side of the nave. As a satisfactory specimen of the character of the whole of the inside, the south transept has been selected for the [5] subject of the eighth plate. In this, however, as well as in the opposite one, there is a peculiarity which requires to be noticed; that, within the church, at the distance of a few feet from the end wall, is placed a column, from which an arch springs on either side, occupying the whole width of the transept, and thus forming an open screen. The screen terminates, above, in a plain flat wall, which is carried to but a very short distance higher than the arches, so as to be nearly on a line with the triforium. The same arrangement exists also in some other churches in Normandy; as in that of the royal abbey of St. Stephen at Caen, in the abbey church at Cerisy, in the abbey church at Fécamp, and in the cathedral at Séez. In the two last mentioned buildings, it is found connected with the pointed architecture. At Cerisy, a church, erected a.d. 1030, by Robert, father to the Conqueror, the screen is surmounted by a row of seventeen semi-circular arches, which rise to about half the height of the columns of the triforium, and form an elegant parapet. It is possible that there may have been originally some decoration of the same kind at St. Georges. At Fécamp, the screen is carried up to the roof by three tiers, each consisting of three arches; and the recess thus made, is still used as a chapel, having an altar at the east end, and, in the centre, an ancient font. Such may have been originally the case at St. Georges; and thus we may account for the small semi-circular additions to the transepts, one of which is visible in the general view of the church. Mr. Cotman, however, suggests another idea, which may have entered into the mind of the architect of St. Georges; that, by means of this screen at the end of the transepts, the aisles of the nave would receive apparent length; from the columns, which form the screen, ranging in a line with those of the outer walls of the church. Among our English ecclesiastical buildings, there are similar screens in the transepts of Winchester cathedral[2], where the portion of the church that remains in its original state, greatly resembles, in its architecture, the church of St. Georges de Bocherville, and is known to have been erected at nearly the same date[3].

Bocherville. West entrance.

Plate 7. Abbey Church of St. Georges de Bocherville.
West entrance.

South Transept.

Plate 8. Abbey Church of St. Georges de Bocherville.
South Transept.

Sculptured Capitals.

Plate 9. Abbey Church of St. Georges de Bocherville.
Sculptured Capitals.

Within the spandrils of the arches, just mentioned, are two highly curious bas-reliefs, figured here in the tenth plate, and marked A and B. They are on square tablets, cut out of the solid stone, in the same manner as the blocks of a stone engraving; the rims being left elevated, so as to form rude frames. One of them represents a prelate, who holds a crozier in his left hand, while the first two fingers of the right are elevated in the action of giving the blessing. Below him are two small heads; but it would be as difficult to conjecture what they are intended to typify, or why they are placed there, as it would be to state the meaning of the artist, in having represented the whole of his vestment as composed of parallel diagonal lines. In the opposite bas-relief, are seen two knights on horseback, in the act of jousting; as rude a piece of sculpture, especially with respect to the size and form of the steeds, as can well be imagined; and yet it possesses a degree of spirit, worthy of a better age. The shields of the riders are oblong; their tilting spears pointless; their conical helmets terminate in a nasal below, like the figures in the Bayeux tapestry. “This coincidence,” as has been observed elsewhere[4], “is interesting, as deciding a point of some moment towards establishing the antiquity of that celebrated relic, by setting it beyond a doubt, that such helmets were used anterior to the conquest; for it is certain, that these basso-relievos are coeval with the building that contains them.”

The nave of the church of St. Georges is, in its height, divided into three compartments: the lowest consists of a row of square, massy piers, varied only by a few small columns attached to their angles, and connected by wide arches, which are generally without any other ornament than plain fluted mouldings; the second compartment, or triforium, is composed of a uniform series of small arches, broken, at intervals, by the truncated columns; which, supporting the groinings of the roof above, terminate abruptly below, nearly upon a level with the capitals of the lowest arches; in the clerestory, the arches are also simple and unornamented; their size nearly intermediate between those of the first and second tiers. It is almost needless to mention, that, in a perfect building, of such a date, the whole of the arches are semi-circular. The same is equally the case in the choir; but this part of the edifice is considerably richer in its architectural decorations; and the noble arch, which separates it from the nave, is surrounded with a broad band [6] of the embattled moulding, inclosing two others of the chevron moulding. A string-course, of unusual size, formed of what is called the cable ornament, goes round the whole interior of the building.

The general effect of the semi-circular east end, shews a striking resemblance between the church of St. Georges and Norwich cathedral; and those who take pleasure in researches of this description, will do well to trace the points of similarity through other parts of the edifices. The two kingdoms can scarcely boast more noble, or more perfect buildings, of the Norman style; and there is the farther advantage, that the difference between the periods of their respective erection is but small. Our English cathedral rose in the early part of the reign of William Rufus, when his follower, Herbert de Losinga, who, not content with having purchased the bishopric for £1900, bought also the abbacy of Winchester for his father, for £1000, was cited before the Pope for this double act of simony, and, with difficulty, retained his mitre, upon the condition of building sundry churches and monasteries. Norwich has, indeed, a superiority in its tower, in regard to which, it may safely be put in competition with any edifice of the same style, in Normandy or in England. For beauty, richness, variety, and purity of ornament, there is nothing like it. On the other hand, Norwich has undergone various alterations, as well in its interior, as its exterior[5], and it has no decoration of the same description comparable with the capitals in the church of St. Georges. These are so curious, that it has been thought right to devote to them the ninth and tenth plates of this work[6]. The capitals near the west end of the church, are comparatively simple: they become considerably more elaborate on advancing towards the choir; and it is most interesting to observe in them, how the Norman architects appear, in some instances, to have been intent upon copying the Roman model, or even adding to it a luxury of ornament, which it never knew, yet still preserving a classical feeling and a style of beauty, of which the proudest ages of architecture need not be ashamed; while, in other cases, the rudeness of the design and execution is such, that it can scarcely be conceived, but that they were executed by a barbarous people, just emerged from their hyperborean woods, and equally strangers to the cultivation of art, and the finer feelings of humanity. And yet, even in some of those of the latter description, attentive observation may lead to traces of classical fables, or representations of the holy mysteries of Christianity. Thus, one of the capitals[7] seems designed to portray the good Shepherd and the Lamb; another[8] appears to allude to the battle between the followers of Æneas and the Harpies. It would not, perhaps, be going too far, to say, that many of the others have reference to the northern mythology, and some of them, probably, to Scandinavian history.

Bocherville. Capitals.

Plate 10. Capitals in the Abbey Church of St. Georges de Bocherville.

Bocherville. Sculpture in the Cloisters.

Plate 11. Abbey Church of St. Georges de Bocherville.
Sculpture in the Cloisters.

In the chapter-house, which stands between the church and the monastic buildings, the capitals are decidedly historical, and exhibit an apparent connection very unusual in similar cases. The eleventh plate contains some of these[9]. Another, and of the greatest curiosity, now lost, has been etched in Mr. Turner's Tour in Normandy, from a drawing by M. Langlois, a very able and indefatigable artist of Rouen. It represents a series of royal minstrels, playing upon different musical instruments. This part of the building is known to have been erected towards the close of the twelfth century, and is consequently an hundred years posterior to the church. It is now extremely dilapidated, and employed as a mill. The capitals here figured, are taken from three arches that formed the western front. The sculpture in the upper line, and in a portion of the second, most probably refers to some of the [7] legends of Norman story: the remainder seems intended to represent the miraculous passage of Jordan and the capture of Jericho, by the Israelites, under the command of Joshua. The detached moulding on the same plate, is copied from the archivolt of one of these arches: the style of its ornament is altogether peculiar. To the pillars that support the same arches, are attached whole-length figures, in high relief, of less than the natural size. Two of them represent females; the third, a man; and one of the former has her hair disposed in long braided tresses, that reach on either side to a girdle. All of them hold labels with inscriptions, which fall down to their feet in front. The braided locks, and the general style of sculpture, shew a resemblance between these statues and those on the portals of the churches of St. Denys and Chartres, as well as those which stood formerly at the entrance of St. Germain des Prés, at Paris, all which are figured by Montfaucon, in his Monumens de la Monarchie Française, and by him referred to the sovereigns of the Merovingian dynasty; but have been believed, by subsequent writers, to be the productions of the eleventh or twelfth century, an opinion which the statues at St. Georges may be considered to confirm.


[2] See Britton's Winchester Cathedral, ground plan and plate 12.

[3] Milner's Winchester, I. p. 194.—Other authors, I am well aware, and those of great weight, have said much with regard to the Saxon work at Winchester; but, though I have examined the building itself, and the various publications respecting it, with some care, I confess I have met with no portion that did not appear to me to be truly Norman.

[4] Turner's Tour in Normandy, II. p. 10.

[5] The complete uniformity of style throughout the church of St. Georges, joined to the absence of all screens or other objects whatever, that might intercept the sight from west to east, produces an effect, not only grand, but altogether deceptive. It is impossible not to admit the superior judgment of the French, in thus keeping their religious edifices free from incumbrances; it is scarcely possible, too, not to feel persuaded, that the Norman church is larger than the English, though their respective dimensions are in reality as follows:

Length of nave200 feet135 feet
  —   —choir 183  92
  —   —transepts180102
Width of the nave with aisles  70  64 ½

[6] In the former of these plates, the capitals, marked Nos. 1, 6, 8, 9, 10, and 12, are taken from the exterior of the east end; Nos. 2, 6, and 7, from the nave; and Nos. 3, 4, and 11, from the door-way. In the latter plate, the exterior of the east end has supplied Nos. 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, and 10; the nave, Nos. 4 and 9; and the door-way, No. 5.

[7] Plate 10, No. 8.

[8] Plate 10, No. 5.

[9] It may be well to remark, that this plate contains five capitals, the extent of each of which may be distinguished by the small crosses above.



Church of Grâville.

Plate 12. Church of Grâville.

The church of Grâville, like that of St. Georges de Bocherville, though now parochial, was, before the revolution, monastic, being attached to the priory of the same name, beautifully situated on an eminence near the mouth of the Seine, at the distance of half a league from Havre de Grâce. The origin of this monastery is referred, in the Neustria Pia[10], to about the year 1100; but nothing is known with certainty respecting it till 1203, when Walter, Archbishop of Rouen, confirmed, by his approbation, the foundation of regular canons established here by William Malet, lord of the village, which is called in the Latin of those times, Girardi Villa, or Geraldi Villa. The modern name of Grâville is supposed to be an abbreviation of these. The canons thus fixed here, had been brought from St. Barbe in Auge, and were endowed by the founder with all the lands he possessed in Normandy and England. By subsequent deeds, one of them dated as late as the end of the fifteenth century, different members of the same family continued their donations to the priory. The last mentioned was Louis Malet, admiral of France, whose name is also to be found among the benefactors to Rouen cathedral, as having given a great bell of six hundred and sixty-six pounds weight, which, previously to the revolution, hung in the central tower.

William Malet, the founder of Grâville, was one of the Norman chieftains who fought under the Conqueror at the battle of Hastings[11]; and he is said to have been selected by his prince, on that occasion, to take charge of the body of Harold, and see it decently interred. Writers, however, are not agreed upon this point: Knighton, on the authority of Giraldus Cambrensis, asserts that, though Harold fell in the battle, he was not slain; but, escaping, retired to a cell near St. John's church, in Chester, and died there an anchoret, as was owned by himself in his last confession, when he lay dying; in memory whereof, they shewed his tomb when Knighton wrote. Rapin, on the other hand, in his History of England observes, that an ancient manuscript in the Cottonian library, relates, “that the king's body was hard to be known, by reason of its being covered with wounds; but that, it was at last discovered by one who had been his mistress, by means of certain private marks, known only to herself; whereupon the duke sent the body to his mother without ransom, though she is said to have offered him its weight in gold.” Nearly the same story is told in the Gesta Gulielmi Ductis[12], written by William, archdeacon of Lisieux, a contemporary author. Ordericus Vitalis[13] mentions William Malet two years afterwards, as commanding the Conqueror's forces in York, when besieged by the Danes [8] and a large body of confederates, under the command of Edgar Atheling and other chieftains; and we find that his son, Robert, received from the same king, the honor of Eye, in Suffolk, together with two hundred and twenty-one lordships in the same county; and many others in Hampshire, Essex, Lincoln, Nottingham, and York. This Robert held the office of great chamberlain of England, in the beginning of the reign of Henry I; but, only in the second year of it, he attached himself to the cause of Robert Curthose, for which he was disinherited and banished. With him appears to have ended the greatness of the family, in England.

The church of Grâville was dedicated to St. Honorina, a virgin martyr, whose relics were preserved there in the times anterior to the Norman invasion; but were then transported to Conflans upon the Marne. Peter de Natalibus, copious as he is in his Hagiology, has no notice of Honorina, whose influence was nevertheless most extraordinary in releasing prisoners from fetters; and whose altars were accordingly hung round with an abundance of chains and instruments of torture. The author of the Neustria Pia, who attests many of her miracles of this description, relates, that her sanctity extended even to the horse which she rode, insomuch, that, when the body of the beast was thrown, after its death, as carrion to the dogs, they all refused to touch it; and the monks, in commemoration of the miracle, employed the skin for a covering to the church door, where it remained till the middle of the seventeenth century.

Except towards the west end, which is in ruins, and has quite lost the portal and towers that flanked it, the church of Grâville still continues tolerably entire: in its style and general outline, but particularly in its central tower and spire, it bears a considerable resemblance to that of St. Georges de Bocherville. Architecturally regarded, however, it is very inferior to that noble edifice; but the end of the north transept, selected for the subject of the present plate, will, in point of interest, scarcely yield to any other building in Normandy. The row of sculptures immediately above the windows, is probably unique: among them is the Sagittary, very distinctly portrayed; and near him, an animal, probably designed for a horse, whose tail ends in a decided fleur-de-lys, while he holds in his mouth what appears intended to represent another. The figure of the Sagittary is also repeated upon one of the capitals of the nave, which are altogether of the same style of art, as the most barbarous at St. Georges, and not less fanciful. The interlaced arches, with flat surfaces, that inclose the windows immediately beneath the sculptures, may be matched by similar rows in the exterior of the abbey church of St. Stephen, at Caen, and on the end of the north transept of Norwich cathedral. It appears likewise, from Mr. Carter's work on Early English Architecture, (plate 23) that others, resembling them, line the lowest story of the east end of Tickencote church, in Rutlandshire. This circumstance is the rather mentioned here, as that able antiquary regards the church as a specimen of true Saxon architecture; whereas it may safely be affirmed, that there is no part of it, as figured by him, but may be exactly paralleled from Normandy. The same may also be said of almost every individual instance that he has produced as illustrations of the style in use among our Saxon progenitors. In Grâville, a series of similar arches is continued along the west side of the north transept; and, judging from the general appearance of the church, it may be believed that it is of a prior date to any of the others just mentioned.

A considerable portion of the monastic buildings is still remaining; but they are comparatively modern.—A lithographic plate of this monastery was published at Paris, by Bourgeois, in 1818.


[10] P. 861.

[11] Bankes' Extinct Peerage, I. p. 126.

[12] Duchesne, Scriptores Normanni, p. 204.

[13] Ibid. p. 512.



The origin of the castle, here figured, is coeval with the establishment of the Normans, in the province which now bears their name. The inventory of the ancient barony of St. Sauveur, shews that, in 912, the year when Charles the Simple ceded Normandy to Rollo, the new duke [9] granted this great lordship, under the common obligations of feudal tenure, to Richard, one of the principal chieftains who had attended him from Norway. In 913, Richard founded in his castle a chapel, which, in the following year, was dedicated to the Holy Trinity, by Herbert, Bishop of Coutances. Many of the descendants of Richard bore the name of Néel; and it was upon the first of those so called, that Duke William Longue Epée conferred the title of viscount, about the year 938. In 998, Richard, the second of that name, established in his castle of St. Sauveur, with the sanction of Hugh, Bishop of Coutances, a collegiate church, consisting of four prebends. At the beginning of the reign of William the Conqueror, Néel de St. Sauveur took up arms against the disputed title of that sovereign, in consequence of which, his lands were confiscated, and he himself compelled to seek an asylum in Brittany. This is supposed to have happened in 1047; but the anger of the offended duke was short-lived; for the very next year, there is an account of William's restoring to Néel the lordship of St. Sauveur, “in consideration of the services he had rendered him.” The same lenity, however, was not shewn with regard to Néel's lordship of Nehou; for this was permanently alienated, and was granted to the family of Riviers, or Redvers, who, some years afterwards, became powerful in England, where they had a grant of the Isle of Wight, in fee, and were created, by Henry I. Earls of Devonshire. The collegiate church, founded in the castle of St. Sauveur during the preceding century, was suppressed in 1048, on account of some umbrage taken by the chieftain at the conduct of the canons; and he established, in their room, a convent of Benedictines, whose successors, removing without the precincts of the fortress, erected the abbey, the subject of the following plate.

Castle of St. Sauveur le Vicomte.

Plate 13. Castle of St. Sauveur le Vicomte.

The name of St. Sauveur is to be found in the list of officers who accompanied the Conqueror to England; and the records of those times also preserve the remembrance of one Néel, who was slain at Cardiff, in 1078. The troops, however, of the Côtentin, were at the conquest, commanded by Robert, Count of Mortain, half-brother to the duke, who, most probably, was indebted to this near degree of relationship for so proud a mark of distinction. The family of Néel did not retain much longer possession of St. Sauveur: the lord of the castle died in 1092, leaving only a daughter, named Lætitia, who married Jourdain Taisson, or Tesson, and brought to him these possessions as her dowry. After the expiration of about a century, a similar event deprived the Taissons of St. Sauveur. Jane, the last of that family, formed an alliance with the Harcourts, and with them the lordship remained till the middle of the fourteenth century, when the domains of Géoffroy d'Harcourt were confiscated for felony, and the castle would have passed into the hands of a new master, had not the successes of our sovereign, Edward III. interfered, and stopped the effects of the confiscation.

History, from this time forward, speaks more decidedly as to the strength of the fortress: at the time of the battle of Poitiers, Géoffroy d'Harcourt maintained himself here, at the head of a numerous garrison, composed of troops from England and Navarre, and, not only bade defiance to the superior force of the French generals, but extended his ravages over the whole of Lower Normandy. The abbey of Lessay, and cathedral of Coutances, particularly suffered from his attacks. To the latter, he had actually laid siege, when a detachment sent against him, by the regent and the states of the kingdom, obliged him to turn his attention homeward; and his forces were defeated, and himself slain. The castle, on this occasion, afforded safe shelter to the fugitives; and, in consequence of Harcourt's death, passing into the hands of the King of England, was, by him, supplied with a garrison of four hundred men, under the command of Jehan Lisle, and was almost immediately afterwards bestowed, by Edward, upon Sir John Chandos, as a reward for his eminent services. The fortifications, under the care of this able captain, underwent a thorough repair in the year 1360; and it is believed that, upon this occasion, the keep was principally, if not altogether, rebuilt; the same broad square tower, which is now standing, and is the principal feature in the ruins. The labor thus bestowed upon St. Sauveur, rendered it one of the principal posts of the duchy. Rymer, by whom it is repeatedly mentioned, expressly states, that our countrymen maintained in it a numerous garrison, who, after the battle of Auray, lorded it without restraint over the neighboring parts, and were guilty of such excesses, that, in 1374, Charles V. then King of France, was induced to send against them a powerful armament, both by sea and land, under Sir John of Vienne, admiral of the kingdom, assisted by all the barons and knights of Brittany and Normandy. St. Sauveur was, at that time, in the hands of Sir Aleyne Boxhull, to whom Edward had given it, [10] after the death of Sir John Chandos; but he, himself, was then in England; and, according to Froissart[15], he had left there as governor a squire, called Carenton, or Katrington, with Sir Thomas Cornet, John de Burgh, and the three brothers Maulevriers, with whom there might be about six score companions, all armed, and ready for defence. This handful of men made a long and obstinate resistance, which, at length, terminated in a truce for six weeks, accompanied with a stipulation, that, unless previously relieved, the fortress should be surrendered upon a certain day of July, 1375. The time came; no relief arrived; and the French took possession of St. Sauveur; though not without many remonstrances on the part of the besieged, who contended, that the treaty of Bruges, which had been signed in the interim by the two sovereigns, and had established a general truce, ought also to have the effect of superseding all partial treaties.

Mention is made, upon this occasion, of a considerable sum of money, which was to be paid to the garrison, upon their evacuating the castle. The fact, though unnoticed by Froissart and Holinshed, could not but have been notorious; for it appears, that John of Vienne assembled the three states of the province at Bayeux, for the purpose of raising the money; and Rymer tells us, that the papal legates were appointed by the respective parties, as depositaries, both of the money and the castle, till all the stipulations should be fulfilled. In this circumstance, we find an explanation of the death of Katrington, on which Holinshed dwells at considerable length, giving a most curious and interesting account of the circumstances attending it[16]. Sir John Anneslie, who had married the niece of Sir John Chandos, and, on that account, claimed the inheritance of St. Sauveur, with the lands appertaining to the castle, charged Katrington with treason, in the matter of the surrender; and, after considerable difficulties, prevailed upon King Richard II in the third year of his reign, to suffer the point to be established by single combat. The event of the contest was considered to make good the charge. According to Holinshed, Katrington, who was a very strong man, while his adversary was much the contrary, was so grievously wounded in the fight, that he died the following day. Dugdale and Fabian, however, state, that he was dragged to Tyburn, and there hanged for his treason.

The King of France, upon recovering possession of St. Sauveur, conferred the lordship upon Bureau de la Riviere, his chamberlain: from him, it passed, in 1392, into the hands of John Charles, Lord of Evry, who still held it in 1417, when our King Henry once more brought it under the sway of the English sceptre. During the succeeding unfortunate reign, this castle shared, in 1450, the fate of all the other British possessions in Normandy; and, like most of the rest, it offered but a feeble resistance to the victorious arms of France. A few days' siege was sufficient to induce its garrison, of two hundred men, to surrender, what the contemporary historians admit to have been one of the finest and strongest places in the duchy. St. Sauveur, from this time, is no longer celebrated in history, as a fortress; nor, indeed, does it even appear to be mentioned as such, except in the Memoirs of Marshal de Matignon, where a demand is stated to have been made for thirty men to garrison it. In all probability, the change produced in the art of warfare, by the introduction of cannon, caused it silently to pass into insignificance, and then gradually to sink into its present wretched state of dilapidation. Towards the close of the seventeenth century, an hospital was established within its walls; and the same still subsists, but in great poverty, in consequence of the funds having been alienated, or lost, during the revolution.

Of the ancient fortifications of the castle, the greater part exists, either entire, or sufficiently so to be traced. The most important of all, the keep, is perfect in its exterior, but has been so completely gutted within, that the original situation of the floors and beams is not to be discovered without difficulty. The two ballia likewise remain: the larger, which defended the keep; the lesser, in the form of a crescent, designed to oppose the approach of an enemy on the side of the town. Towards the north, the small river, the Ouve, formed a natural defence. On the south, are still to be seen two gates, of which, that leading to the dungeon was considerably the stronger. It was defended by the works, commonly employed from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century, for the protection of the entrances to fortresses; and, under it, there yet remain, on either side, freestone seats, designed for the [11] guard, capable of containing from fifteen to twenty persons. The rest of the outworks, which were many, have now disappeared; but people are still living in the town, who remember to have seen the fosses filled with water. At present they are obliterated; and their site is occupied by houses and gardens.

The following is a list of the lords of St. Sauveur, from the year 1450, to the revolution.—Charles VII. when first he wrested the castle from the English, conferred it, together with its extensive domain, upon Andrew de Villequier, and his heirs male; and it remained in this family till 1536, when, from default of such heirs, it reverted to the crown, and was kept in the hands of Francis I. and his successors, till 1572. At that time Charles IX. granted it to Christopher de Bassompierre, from whom it passed to Francis de Bassompierre, Marshal of France. In 1612, it again returned to the throne, then filled by Mary of Medicis, widow of Henry IV. whose son, Louis XIII. alienated it in 1620, to John Phélipeaux de Villesavey, and he held it till 1631. After him, the families of De la Guiche and Géran were, for thirty-eight years, possessors of St. Sauveur. At the expiration of this term, the lordship became once more incorporated in the royal domain, till Louis XIV. in 1698, conferred it upon his natural son, the Count of Toulouse, whose son, Louis Jean Marie de Bourbon, Duc de Penthievre, succeeded to it, by inheritance, in 1727. He shortly after gave it, in part of her portion, to his daughter, who married Louis Philippe Joseph d'Orleans, Duc de Chartres; and it thenceforward continued in the possession of the Orleans family, till the period of the revolution.


[14] The author has to express his acknowledgments, and he begs to do it in the strongest terms, to the kindness of M. de Gerville of Valognes, for very many communications towards the furtherance of this work; but particularly for those relating to the church and abbey of St. Sauveur le Vicomte, which have been so copious, that little has been necessary, but to translate them into English.

[15] Johnes' Translation, octavo edit. IV. p. 268.

[16] Quarto edit. II. p. 726.



Abbey Church of St. Sauveur le Vicomte.

Plate 14. Abbey Church of St. Sauveur le Vicomte.

The remains of the abbey of St. Sauveur le Vicomte, are situated within a very short distance of the castle of the same name, in the department of La Manche, near the western extremity of Normandy, about eighteen miles south of Valognes, and fifty north of Coutances. The addition of the term Vicomte, to the appellation of this domain, may have been owing to a two-fold cause;—to denote the importance of its possessor, and to distinguish the monastery from other religious establishments in the duchy, also dedicated to the Holy Savior, especially from the nunnery of St. Sauveur, at Evreux.

It has been necessary, under the preceding article, briefly to allude to the establishment of this convent, which took its rise from the collegiate church, founded in the year 998, in the castle of St. Sauveur, by Richard Néel, the second viscount; a foundation, which, only fifty years afterwards, was suppressed, and replaced by a society of Benedictines from Jumieges. Changes of this description were by no means unfrequent in those unsettled times: indeed, regarding the character of the chieftains and the clergy, it is rather matter of surprise, that they did not occur more commonly; and greater astonishment may be entertained at the Viscount of St. Sauveur having suffered a body of men, naturally imperious, and necessarily guided by interests different from his own, to remain about a century under his roof, than to find him afterwards removing them to the spot which they subsequently continued to occupy. The original charter, granted by Néel to the monks from Jumieges, is preserved among the documents in the Gallia Christiana. His brother, Roger, is said to have superintended the erection of the new monastery, in which pious task, he was assisted by Lætitia, his niece, sole heiress of Néel, and now married to Jourdain Taisson, who had, in her right, become lord of St. Sauveur. This Jourdain, with his wife, and their three sons, was present at the dedication of the church; so that the building of it may safely be referred to the early part of the twelfth century. M. de Gerville, upon the authority of the Memoirs of the Harcourt Family, states, that some of these latter also assisted in the construction; and yet he is unwilling to admit that any portion of it was erected in the following century, when the Harcourts became possessed of the domain. He contends, that “the whole style of the building indicates a period approaching the year 1100; at which time the struggle existed between the pointed and the semi-circular [12] architecture.” Setting aside the long-contested question concerning the date of the introduction of the pointed arch, I cannot help, for my own part, suspecting, that the Lady-Chapel was a subsequent erection, and, probably, of the æra of the Harcourts. Its narrow trefoil-headed windows above, and the plainer ones below, seem decisively to indicate such a period; and the deep buttresses afford another, not less positive, mark. The lower part of this portion of the church, exhibits an architectural peculiarity deserving of notice: the wall is considerably widest, where it unites with the ground; after which, it gradually decreases in size, by successive tiers, for a few feet upwards, and then it rises perpendicularly.

What remains of the western portal, is of the earlier style. It was entered by a semi-circular arch, bordered by a fillet of the nail-head moulding. In the nave, the lower arches, with the columns and their capitals, as well as the false row of arches in the triforium, are wholly Norman; while the windows of the clerestory and their accompanying ornaments, are as completely gothic. The transepts and the choir shew a similar medley.

The Harcourts, who held St. Sauveur till the middle of the fourteenth century, bestowed much pains upon the preservation of the abbey; but the last of this noble family was scarcely dead, when the convent was exposed to all the calamities of war. It was repeatedly pillaged by the contending parties, and was finally almost destroyed by the orders of King Edward III. who foreseeing, from the unfortunate complexion of affairs, that the French would be likely soon to besiege the castle, was desirous at least to deprive them of the advantage they might derive from having possession of the monastery. The heterogeneous character of the architecture of the church, is attributable to the injuries received on this occasion, and to those inflicted during the wars in the following century. The lower portion of the building, most probably, remained for a considerable length of time in the same ruined and neglected state in which it had been left after the execution of the orders of Edward III.; the clerestory and arches above, were not added till the return of a tranquil æra.

Indeed, it is matter of historical notoriety, that the finances of the monastery were, at this period, in the same state of dilapidation as the walls; insomuch, that Thomas du Bigard, who was elected abbot in 1376, and held the post for fourteen years, lay all that time under a papal interdict for the non-payment of his annats; nor did his successor, Denis Loquet, venture to accept the crozier, till he had made a journey to Avignon, and obtained, from Clement VII. the remission of what was due, as well on the election of his predecessor, as on his own. In 1422, the official of Valognes was charged by the three states of Normandy, assembled at Vernon, with the consent of the Duke of Bedford, to make inquiry into the losses sustained by the abbey. His report upon the subject is a curious historical document, little known, and, unfortunately, nearly twenty feet long. M. de Gerville has kindly supplied the following extracts from it. “Sylvester de la Cervelle, Yvon de Galles, and Bertrand de Glesquin, were, with the admiral, John de Vienne, in command of the army, at the siege of the castle of St. Sauveur, a.d. 1375.—The English had, previously to the siege, destroyed the abbey and the adjacent buildings, lest their enemies should establish themselves there, and annoy them.—The monks of St. Sauveur had, at first, taken refuge in the abbey of the Vow, near Cherbourg, and afterwards in Jersey, where the convent had some property: certain among them had also retired to foreign monasteries, there to seek a subsistence, which their own could no longer afford them.—At their return, the abbot and the clergy found their buildings destroyed; and, at the period of the inquisition, notwithstanding all their efforts and the money they could raise, they were still obliged to celebrate divine service in the refectory.—The monks and abbot, who had sought shelter at Jersey, had been obliged to quit that retreat, because the King of England put their property there under sequestration.—Those who returned first to the monastery, built themselves sheds against a wall, and there made a fire to dress, their victuals, while, for lodging-places, they had recourse to some vaults that were still left.—So great was their poverty, that it is stated by one of the witnesses, in his deposition, that they had not wherewithal to buy peciam mutonis vel aliarum carnium.—Another deposes that, during the siege, the French fired with such violence at one of the towers, that it was destroyed, fueruntque combustæ novæ campanæ, quarum una habebat octo buccellos ad mensuram Sti. Salvatoris.”

After the final expulsion of the English, John Caillot, who was appointed abbot in 1451, “rebuilt,” to use the words of the Gallia Christiana, the monastery destroyed by our countrymen; and the credit [13] must be given him of having endeavoured to make his additions in a style conformable to the original. But the difference in the workmanship is obvious to the eye; and various ornaments have been added, inconsistent with the simplicity of early times.

The length of the church was about two hundred French feet.—A list of forty-three abbots is given in the Gallia Christiana;[17] and, from the time of the publication of that work, till the breaking out of the revolution, there were two others, of whom M. de Nicolai was the last.


[17] XI. p. 923.



Great House. Andelys.

Plate 15. Great House.

About forty miles, in a south-westerly direction from Rouen, upon the right bank of the Seine, and on the western frontiers of the ancient duchy of Normandy, stands the town of Great Andelys, so called, not by reason of its own positive magnitude, but to distinguish it from a village of the same name, situated in its immediate vicinity.

In early times, few places could boast to a greater degree than Andelys, “the odor of sanctity.” It was indebted for its celebrity, and, probably also, for its existence, to a nunnery, founded here by St. Clotilda, which, in the seventh century, the time of the venerable Bede, enjoyed the highest reputation. But its fame was short-lived: it fell during the incursions of the Normans, and, unlike most others, seems to have possessed none of the phœnix-power of reviviscence. In its place, arose afterwards, a collegiate church, which M. de Harlay, Archbishop of Rouen, by a formal act, dated 1634, honored with the title of first collegiate church of the diocese. The distinction, thus obtained, was due not only to its antiquity, but to the unusual number of its ecclesiastics, particularly those who composed its chapter.

Though St. Clotilda's convent, however, was destroyed, the inhabitants of Andelys continued to enjoy her especial protection. The church was under her invocation; but her favor was more eminently vouchsafed to an ancient chapel and an adjacent fountain, both of which bore her name. The latter was, from the earliest times, celebrated for its miraculous qualities in the cure of various disorders; and it continues to be so to the present day. St. Clotilda, at the period of the erection of the monastery, turned its waters into wine, for the benefit of the fainting workmen. The clergy of Andelys, in commemoration of the miracle, used annually, before the revolution, upon the return of her festival, to pour large pitchers of wine into the spring. During the revolutionary fervor, St. Clotilda, together with the rest of the Romish hierarchy, lost her credit in France. She is now rapidly recovering it: miracles are again wrought at her shrine; and, in all probability, the time is not far distant, when the belief will be as strong, the processions as splendid, the throng of votaries as great, and the cures as certain, as ever. It is only to be hoped, that the good sense and the superior morality of the age, may prevent the recurrence of those indecent and scandalous scenes, which, we are told by eye-witnesses, were formerly too often practised on the occasion. Human nature must be strangely altered, before the mind of man will cease to prefer the surfeit of superstition, to the wholesome diet of sound religion: no one, but a fool or a rogue, would ever advise it to have recourse to the starvation of infidelity.

At the close of the eleventh century, Andelys appears with some historical notoriety, in the well-known exchange made between Richard Cœur-de-Lion and Walter, Archbishop of Rouen; when the king, desirous, as he states, to prevent the incursions of the enemy into his duchy, purchased of the prelate the town and manor of Andelys, by the cession of the towns of Dieppe, Bouteilles, and Louviers, together with the forest of Aliermont, and the mills of Rouen. The bargain was a hard [14] one; but the erection of Château Gaillard, in the immediate vicinity of Andelys, proved the correctness of the monarch's views. A subsequent treaty,[18] executed in the year 1200, between King John and the same archbishop, confirmed the exchange.

In modern times, Andelys has been celebrated on no other account, than as the birth-place of Poussin and Adrian Turnebus, and as the burial-place of Corneille.

The Great House at Andelys, the subject of the plate, existed in 1818, as it is here represented, shorn, indeed, of much of its ancient splendor, reduced from the residence of a nobleman to a granary, and most probably curtailed of full two-thirds of its size, as retaining apparently little more than that portion of the square which fronted the court-yard, together with a small part of one of its wings. It can now (in 1821) only be spoken of as a building that did exist: last year saw it levelled with the ground. The following description of it is transcribed from Mr. Turner's Tour in Normandy:[19] “Andelys possesses a valuable specimen of ancient domestic architecture. The Great House is a most sumptuous mansion, evidently of the age of Francis I.; but I could gain no account of its former occupants or history. I must again borrow from my friend's vocabulary, and say, that it is built in the ‘Burgundian style.’ In its general outline and character, it resembles the house in the Place de la Pucelle, at Rouen. Its walls, indeed, are not covered with the same profusion of sculpture: yet, perhaps, its simplicity is accompanied by greater elegance.—The windows are disposed in three divisions, formed by slender buttresses, which run up to the roof. They are square-headed, and divided by a mullion and transom.—The portal is in the centre: it is formed by a Tudor arch, enriched with deep mouldings, and surmounted by a lofty ogee, ending with a crocketed pinnacle, which transfixes the cornice immediately above, as well as in the sill of the window, and then unites with the mullion of the latter.—The roof takes a very high pitch.—A figured cornice, upon which it rests, is boldly sculptured with foliage.—The chimneys are ornamented by angular buttresses.—All these portions of the building assimilate more or less to our Gothic architecture of the sixteenth century; but a most magnificent oriel window, which fills the whole of the space between the centre and the left-hand divisions, is a specimen of pointed architecture in its best and purest style. The arches are lofty and acute. Each angle is formed by a double buttress, and the tabernacles affixed to these are filled with statues. The basement of the oriel, which projects from the flat wall of the house, after the fashion of a bartizan, is divided into compartments, studded with medallions, and intermixed with tracery of great variety and beauty. On either side of the bay, there are flying buttresses of elaborate sculpture, spreading along the wall.—As, comparatively speaking, good models of ancient domestic architecture are very rare, I would particularly recommend this at Andelys to the notice of every architect, whom chance may conduct to Normandy.—This building, like too many others of the same class in our own counties of Norfolk and Suffolk, is degraded from its station. The great house is used merely as a granary, though, by a very small expense, it might be put into habitable repair. The stone retains its clear and polished surface; and the massy timbers are undecayed.—The inside corresponds with the exterior, in decorations and grandeur: the chimney pieces are large and elaborate, and there is abundance of sculpture on the ceilings and other parts which admit of ornament.”


[18] Copies of both these instruments are preserved in the Gallia Christiana, XI. Inst. pp. 27 and 30.

[19] II. p. 55.—In a note to this passage, Mr. Turner states an intention, on the part of Mr. Cotman, to devote a second plate to this building, for the purpose of doing more justice to the beauty and elaborate decorations of the oriel window; and it is very much to be desired that such should be the case; but it is feared that the number and importance of other subjects, will prevent the intention from being realized.




Church of Than.

Plate 16. Church of Than.
Elevation and details.

The small village of Than lies about ten miles distant from Caen, in a north-easterly direction, in a valley washed by the diminutive stream, the Meu, a little to the north of the road which leads to Bayeux. Of its “short and simple annals,” few have come to the knowledge of the writer of this article; and for those few, he is wholly indebted to the kindness of M. de Gerville, who, last year, discovered at Mortain the book containing the charters of the abbey of Savigny, many of which make mention of the church of Than. The following is an extract from the most important among them: the deed itself is without a date, but is clearly of the time of Henry I. Its being anterior to 1135, is distinctly proved by the title of Earl of Mortain, which it gives to Stephen of Blois.—“In nomine Ste et individue trinitatis, notum sit universis tam presentibus quam futuris, qd. ego Guillelmus de Sto Claro, concedente Hamone fratre meo et cis, dono et concedo in perpetuam elimosinam ecclie Ste trinitatis de Savigneio et monachis ibidem Deo servientibus totam possessionem de Thaun, quam ego et antecessores mei, sive in terra dominica sive in hominibus sive in quibuslibet aliis rebus, unquam habuimus omnino quietam, ab omni consuetudine absolutam, perpetuo jure ab eadem ecclesia possidendam. Predictam autem donacionem concessit et ab omnib. consuetudinibus absolutam confirmavit Stephanus Comes Moritonii, ad cujus feodum predicta possessio pertinet, &c.”—In addition to the information contained in the above charter, there is only to be added, that Cardinal Le Moine, when dean of Bayeux, at the close of the thirteenth century, founded here a chapel, dedicated to St. John; and that a lord of Than was among the companions of the Conqueror in his descent upon England.

The church has been selected by Mr. Cotman as a specimen of a religious edifice in the true Norman style, unaltered, and also uninjured, except by the loss of the southern aisle; and the removal of this is so far fortunate, as it affords an opportunity of shewing the form and disposition of the columns and arches of the nave, seen, as they are, in the lower part of the left-hand side of the plate, imbedded in the modern wall, which now constitutes the exterior of the building. Subjects like this, however necessary for a work expressly devoted to architectural antiquities, obviously afford no room for picturesque beauty, or for an attempt, on the part of the artist, to produce what is called effect. Horace's line is altogether applicable to them, that

“Ornari res ipsa negat, contenta doceri.”

The great hope to be entertained is, that they may be rendered intelligible; and this, it is trusted, will be effected by means of the following references; though the multitude of parts that it seemed necessary to introduce, may have given rise to an appearance of confusion, which the author could only have avoided, by subjecting his subscribers to the expense of an additional plate.

A.A.A. Elevation of the tower, nave, and chancel.

The roof of the tower is of stone; and the angles are faced with slender cylindrical columns, as in the part below, terminating, in both instances, in little hooks, beneath which, the pillars are banded to the part adjoining. This kind of termination, or, as it might almost be denominated, decoration, is in itself remarkable, and perhaps unique; but it is rendered considerably more interesting, if regarded as the probable origin of the crocket, one of the most distinguished ornaments [16] in the decorated style of pointed architecture. The date of the introduction of the crocket, and the source whence it sprung, have been the subject of many inquiries among antiquaries: neither Mr. Cotman, nor the writer of these remarks, recollects to have seen any other approach to it in Norman buildings; though the towers of many churches in Lower Normandy are capped with stone roofs of similar form, and of undoubted antiquity. Such, in particular, are those of Haute Allemagne, of Basse Allemagne, and of St. Michel de Vaucelles, at Caen: such also is the roof at the east end of the church of St. Nicholas, in the same town; and, in the three last-mentioned specimens, the angles are edged with the same small pillars by way of moulding.

It is farther to be observed of this church, that the windows of the tower are simple, bold, and, for the elegance of their proportions, scarcely to be surpassed by those of any other Norman building; that the capitals of the pillars throughout the church are destitute of sculpture; and that the walls of the clerestory are altogether without buttresses. This last peculiarity is likewise observable in the nave of the church at Tollevast, an edifice of the plainest and earliest architecture. At Than, the clerestory is externally decorated with twenty-nine arches, of which every sixth (reckoning from the westward,) is narrower than the rest, and is pierced with a window. The surface of the blank ones is cut into squares, which are alternately depressed. On the corbels are not only represented grotesque heads, but some of the simplest heraldic charges, as the chief, chief indented, pale, bend, bendlets undy, fess, saltier, crosses of various kinds, chevron, &c. Such ordinaries occasionally occur in similar situations on other Norman religious edifices, but only on the most ancient. They are to be seen at Tollevast, Martinvast, the church of St. Croix at St. Lo, St. Matthieu, and Octeville. At St. Matthieu, they are found in conjunction with other sculptures, fit only for a temple dedicated to Priapus; and at Octeville, with what is probably the earliest representation of the Lord's Supper, that is known to exist from the hand of a Norman artist.

B. Elevation of the west front.

The lower part of the door-way is considerably sunk in the ground.

C. Elevation of the east end.

The irregularity of the architecture of this part of the building requires to be noticed. In the two lower compartments, the southern portion is left quite plain, while the northern is decorated with a double tier of arches, very much resembling those which still exist in the outer wall of the chancel, and which, most probably, were originally continued along the wall of the nave that is now destroyed. The broad shallow buttress which divides the east end into two parts, is not placed in the centre. Here, and indeed throughout the building, each small arch is hewn out of a single block of stone. One of the upper ones in this front, is surmounted with a broad square band, made in the imitation of a drip-stone, composed of quatrefoils, of a form not known to exist in Norman architecture, though of common occurrence in the succeeding style.

D. Portion of the clerestory in the nave.

E. Portion of the clerestory in the chancel.

F. Capital and part of the arch of the western door-way.

G.G.G. String-mouldings.




Church of Tamerville.

Plate 17. Church of Tamerville.

This church is situated at the distance of half a league from the town of Valognes, near the road which leads to Barfleur and La Hougue.

The whole building is ancient, with the exception of the western portal and a chapel to the north of the choir. Its general style of architecture, the columns which support the tower, the buttresses, the corbels, and the small windows of the nave, especially those fronting the north, are all indicative of a production of the early days of Norman rule, and, probably, of the period immediately preceding the descent upon England. This period of comparative peace and tranquillity was a time, when, to use the language of two nearly contemporary historians, “the noblemen of Normandy emulated each other in erecting churches upon their domains: they thus filled their continental territory; and they shortly afterwards did the same in England.”

The steeple represented in the plate is in excellent preservation: it is of beautiful proportions; and, to an architect, is peculiarly interesting for the cylindrical buttress, which runs nearly to the top of the first story on the southern side, and is probably the only instance of the kind known to exist.[20] To an English antiquary, however, it may be allowed to have a claim to greater interest, on account of its general shape and proportions. In these respects it forcibly recalls the round-towered churches of Norfolk and Suffolk, most of them surmounted by octagonal lanterns. Two of the churches of the former county, those at Toft-Monks, and at Bokenham,[21] preserve the octagonal shape down to the ground; but, in both instances, it is in conjunction with early pointed architecture; and the church of Tamerville, it is feared, would not be of itself sufficient, as being an insulated specimen, to justify the assigning of a Norman origin to those just mentioned. No churches with round towers have yet come under the author's knowledge in Normandy; and yet they might certainly have been expected in the duchy, if there be any truth in the tradition which ascribes those in England to the Danes. On the other hand, supposing such report to be altogether void of foundation, it seems quite unaccountable that not one of them probably exists, which does not retain some traces of Norman architecture.

In early times, the barons of this great province seldom, if ever, used a family name. Like the chieftains of the Scottish clans of our own days, they generally adopted for their surname, that of their parish or fief. The fief or manor of Tamerville had, from before the conquest, borne the appellation of Cyfrevast, or Sifrevast, (Sifredi Vassum;) and down to the period of the revolution, the possessors of that fief were patrons of the advowson of the parochial church. One of them, and, probably, the very one who built the church now standing, followed the Conqueror into England, and obtained from him considerable grants in Oxfordshire and in Dorsetshire. In the latter county, the family continued long to flourish. Hutchins states, that the branch of them, established at More-Crichel, bore for their arms, argent, three bars gemels azure; and he quotes the epitaph of one of them, who died in 1581, from which the following is an extract:—

“Intombed here one Cyfrevast does lie,
Whom nature caused by death to yealde his due.
Lord of More-Crichel was he by ——
Three hundred yeares possessed by line and descent.

[18] Another of the same family, named John Cyfrevast, represented Dorsetshire in parliament, during the seventh, sixteenth, and eighteenth years of Edward II.; and Robert Cyfrevast had the same honor in the eighteenth and twentieth years of the following reign. About 1424, the fief of Chiffrevast at Tamerville, passed, by marriage, into the house of Anneville, which had also supplied a companion to the Conqueror; and this family continued to possess it till the moment of the revolution, the epoch of the abolition of all feudal rights.

In the burial-ground at Tamerville, have been found many coffins made of volcanic tuff: similar ones are by no means of unfrequent occurrence throughout the diocese of Coutances; but they are never met with, except in places which were formerly held in particular veneration.


[20] The reader will observe, that this pillar is probably imperfect; for that there seems reason to believe, that it was originally surmounted by a capital, which united with the moulding above.

[21] See Cotman's Architectural Antiquities of Norfolk, plate 37.



Church of St. Michel de Vaucelles.

Plate 18. Tower of the Church of St. Michel de Vaucelles, Caen.

The Abbé De la Rue, in his excellent publication upon the town of Caen,[22] does not furnish the satisfactory information which might have been hoped, relative to the date of the erection of the church of St. Michael, in the suburb of Vaucelles. He contents himself with observing,[23] that it is a work of different æras: that the tower and its supporting pillars belong to a primitive church, of which no account remains; that a part of the nave may be seen, from the circular form of the arches having been obviously altered into pointed, to have belonged to the same church; that the choir was raised and increased during the sixteenth century; that the aisles are partly of the same century, and partly of the preceding; and that the other portion of the nave and the new tower, are productions of our own days.

In all this there is nothing definite; and, unfortunately, our knowledge of Norman architecture is not such as will justify us in attempting to fix precise æras to the different specimens which are left us of it. As far, however, as it may be allowed to judge from corresponding edifices, Mr. Turner seems correct in his opinion, that “the circular-headed arches in the short square tower, and in a small round turret which is attached to it, are early Norman.”[24] He subjoins the observation, that “they are remarkable for their proportions, being as long and as narrow as the lancet-windows of the following æra.” The conical stone-roofed pyramid is, with the exception of its lucarne windows, most probably of the same date. With regard to the porch,[25] the subject of the nineteenth plate, its general resemblance in style to the southern porch of the church of St. Ouen, and its having, like that, its inner archivolt fringed with pendant trefoils, are circumstances that have likewise been pointed out in the work just referred to. Both porches may probably be of nearly the same date, the latter part of the fourteenth, or beginning of the fifteenth century. Caen, but a short time before the revolution, contained another very similar architectural specimen in the western portal of the church of St. Sauveur du Marché,[26] now replaced by an entrance altogether modern. The nave of the church of St. Sauveur was built, according to De la Rue, in the fourteenth century; and it may fairly be inferred, that the portal was also of the same date; but this porch wanted the pendant trefoils, and was altogether less ornamented than that of St. Michael, as the latter was than that at Rouen. Both those at Caen, however, agreed in the wall above the arch rising into a triangular gable covered with waving tracery, a very peculiar, and a very beautiful style of decoration.

Church of St. Michel de Vaucelles.

Plate 19. Church of St. Michel de Vaucelles, Caen.
North Porch.

[19] Vaucelles is at this time the largest of the five parishes that compose the suburbs of Caen. It is separated from the town by the great canal of the Orne, the formation of which has somewhat circumscribed its limits; for these formerly extended into the Rue St. Jean, and included the hospital, called the Hôtel Dieu, as well as that which derives its name from the Conqueror. During the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the presentation to the living of Vaucelles lay alternately between the two royal abbeys of Caen. Queen Matilda, previously to the year 1066, purchased a moiety of the patronage and of the tythes, together with a mill at Montaigu, and gave them to her abbey of the Trinity; and about eleven years afterwards, Ralph, the curate of Vaucelles, the hereditary proprietor of the other half, ceded his share to the abbey of St. Stephen, on condition of being himself received into that monastery. The latter establishment, within less than one hundred and fifty years, obtained the exclusive patronage, upon the consideration of their making the nuns an annual payment of twenty sols, and ninety-six bushels of barley.

In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the parish of Vaucelles was in the hands of lords of its own; among whom, the most conspicuous were the Fitz-Herberts. An illegitimate son of Prince Henry, afterwards Henry I. by a daughter of Robert Corbet, was the origin of this family. To his own name, Herbert, he added that of Fitz-Henry: his sons became Fitz-Herberts; and each of their descendants, in every successive generation, commonly adopted the baptismal appellation of his respective father, by way of a family name; till, towards the close of the thirteenth century, the whole of them agreed upon Fitz-Herbert as a patronymic. Their possessions were extensive in Caen and the neighborhood; and the records of those early times make frequent mention of their riches and liberality. Thus, according to the Abbé De la Rue, from whom these historical particulars are derived, this noble family, still represented in our own country by the Earls of Pembroke, was not only derived from the town of Caen, but had an origin different from what is assigned to it by Dugdale, Collins, and Edmondson.[27] The first of the family noticed in England, appears to have lived in the time of King Stephen. In 1302, Vaucelles seems to have become exempt from all feudal conditions. It was in that year, that Philip le Bel sent William de Gilly to Caen, to liberate his own vassals and those of the lords, and to grant them all the privileges of burghers.

Among the ministers of this parish, was Roger, one of the most distinguished of our British prelates in the time of Norman rule. The tradition relates, that, during the wars for the succession among the Conqueror's sons, Henry, chancing to enter Caen with his small army upon a Sunday, stopped to hear mass at the church of Vaucelles; and that Roger performed the service with such spirit and rapidity, that the officers were unanimous in their wish that he should accompany the army. The invitation was accordingly given, and the priest consented; and he so completely gained the confidence of the prince, by recommending economy as the surest means of carrying his point, that he was soon appointed superintendant of the finances; and, in 1102, was honored with the mitre of Salisbury. At a subsequent period, he was created Chancellor of England; and, during the absence of the king in Normandy, constantly filled the high office of regent of the kingdom. William of Malmesbury, who dwells at much length, and with equal satisfaction, upon his history, states, that many of our noblest edifices arose from his munificence. In this respect, his greatest works were at Salisbury and Malmesbury: the former, long since levelled with the ground; the latter, still lovely and venerable in its ruins, and exhibiting, even in our days, one of the most noble remains of Norman architecture.


[22] Essais Historiques sur la Ville de Caen et son arrondissement. Caen, 1820. In 2 vols. 8vo.

[23] I. p. 279.

[24] Tour in Normandy, II. p. 181.

[25] Over the door-way within this porch is sculptured a figure of St. Michael, in high relief, of apparently the same date as the porch.

[26] Engraved in Ducorel's Tour in Normandy, p. 74.

[27] See Bankes' Extinct Baronage, I. p. 301.




The statue here figured, has been introduced into this work altogether as an historical curiosity; and, though it may seem to be somewhat misplaced in a publication devoted to the elucidation of the Architectural Antiquities of Normandy, it is hoped, that a single deviation, and in favor of such a subject, may not only be deemed admissible, but may also be acceptable to the reader.

At the time when De Bourgueville wrote his Antiquités de la Ville de Caen, near the close of the sixteenth century, this statue was attached to the gate adjoining the church of St. Stephen: it has since been transferred to the wall of the church itself. The worthy old magistrate says of it, that “it represented William the Conqueror on horseback, as if in the act of entering the town, having under the feet of his horse the figure of the body of a young man; while, before him, are kneeling a man and woman, apparently in the act of demanding explanation respecting the death of their son.” He adds, that “it is a remarkable piece of antiquity; but that he can tell nothing more of its history, than is represented by the figures.” From the above account, the only one apparently left us, it is plain how much the statue, or rather group, has suffered in modern times; but at what particular period, or on what occasion, is unknown. It is equally plain, that the supposing of it to be intended to represent the greatest of the dukes who swayed the Norman sceptre, is by no means a fiction of the present day. This circumstance, however, and its age likewise, have of late been much disputed. The leading opinions upon these subjects, have been collected by Mr. Turner,[28] who inclines to think that it is really of the period of Norman dominion, and was actually designed for Duke William. He parallels it with a very similar piece of sculpture from the chapter-house of the abbey of St. Georges de Bocherville,[29] a performance of unquestionable antiquity. His remarks upon the subject are as follows:—“One of the most learned antiquaries of the present time has found a prototype for the supposed figure of the Duke among the sculptures of the Trajan column. But this, with all due deference, is far from a decisive proof that the statue in question was not intended for William. Similar adaptations of the antique model, ‘mutato nomine,’ frequently occur among the works of the artists of the middle ages; and there is at least a possibility that, had the face been left us, we might have traced some attempt at a portrait of the Norman duke. Upon the date of the sculpture, or the style of the workmanship, I dare not venture an opinion. There are antiquaries, I know, (and men well qualified to judge,) who believe it Roman: I have heard it pronounced from high authority, that it is of the eleventh century; others suspect that it is Italian, of the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries; while M. Le Prevost and M. De Gerville maintain most strenuously that it is not anterior to the fifteenth. De Bourgueville certainly calls it ‘une antiquité de grand remarque;’ but we all know that any object which is above an hundred years old, becomes a piece of antiquity in the eye of an uncritical observer; and such was the good magistrate.”

Statue of William Duke of Normandy.

Plate 20. Statue of William, Duke of Normandy.
South side of the Parish Church of St. Etienne at Caen.

The parish of St. Stephen, at Caen, is generally distinguished by the epithet of the old, whence an opinion has commonly prevailed, that its church was one of those founded by St. Regnobert, in the middle of the fourth century; and that the present edifice, if not actually in part the same, is at least raised upon its foundations, and is certainly one of the most ancient in Caen. This belief has been, in a measure, countenanced by De Bourgueville and Huet, relying upon what appears to have been an inaccurate translation from Robert Cenalis[30] But, on the[21] contrary, it appears from the Abbé De la Rue, that the author in question makes no mention whatever of this parish, and that the appellation was first given it by the Conqueror, by way of distinguishing its church from the more sumptuous one erected by himself, and also dedicated to the protomartyr; a circumstance, from which the Abbé justly observes, that nothing more is to be deduced, than that a church existed here anterior to his time; but by no means necessarily of great antiquity. The present building is of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries; a medley of debased Gothic and corrupted Roman.


[28] Tour in Normandy, II. p. 174.

[29] See plate 11, of this work, right-hand figures in the upper line; see also Turner's Tour in Normandy, II. p. 11, with a figure.

[30] Essais Historiques sur Caen, I. p. 225.



Abbey Church of St. Stephen.

Plates 21-22. Abbey Church of St. Etienne, Caen.

The two royal Abbeys of Caen, long the pride of the town, while France, not yet revolutionized, suffered them to exist in their glory, and while her sons felt honored by the monuments of the piety and greatness of their ancestors, are still, in their present state of degradation, among the most interesting edifices which the province or the kingdom can boast The building and the endowment of them are often mentioned with admiration by the monastic historians of Normandy, one of whom, William of Jumieges, gives the following account of their origin.

The marriage of Duke William with Matilda, daughter of Baldwin, Count of Flanders, the son of his father's sister,[31] was within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity, and greatly scandalized the clergy of the duchy. They frequently remonstrated with their sovereign upon the subject, and at length they succeeded so far, that he was induced to dispatch ambassadors to Rome, to consult the Pope upon the steps necessary to be adopted. His Holiness, prudently considering that a divorce would in all probability be followed by war between the Flemings and Normans, determined to have recourse to a more pacific expedient; and consented to grant them absolution, upon condition of their performing penance. The penance enjoined upon the occasion was the erection of two monasteries; one for the religious of either sex.—Gratefully, we are told, did the noble pair accept the proffered terms; and instantly did they apply themselves to the fulfilment of their task.

The abbey, undertaken by the Duke, the subject of these plates, is stated by Huet, and authors in general, to have been completed in 1064, two years prior to the conquest of England:[32] according to Ordericus Vitalis, it was not dedicated till 1077. But upon this latter point authors are not agreed: some say that the dedication took place in 1073; and others, in 1081. However this may be, it seems certain that the foundation-charter was granted subsequently to the year 1066; for in it William takes the title of king, and among his many princely donations are enumerated various properties and privileges in different parts of Britain; decisive proofs that he was at that time in possession of the island, and considered himself firmly fixed upon its throne. The abbey thus raised, was, during the whole of the monarch's life, honored with his especial favor; and at his death, he bequeathed it other lands, together with his sceptre, the crown he wore upon occasions of the highest solemnity, his hand of justice, a cup made of precious stone, his golden candlesticks, and all the royal ornaments which usually appertain to the crown. Still further to manifest his gracious regard, he directed that the abbatial church should be the depository of his mortal remains; and that a foundation, so rich in worldly wealth, might [22] not lack the more precious possessions of sanctity, he bought, as we are told by the early writers,[33] at no small price, a portion of the relics of the proto-martyr, consisting of a part of his arm, which was preserved in the city of Besançon, and a small phial containing some drops of blood, averred to have flowed from the same limb. At a subsequent time, the King added to these a lock of the Saint's hair, together with a portion of the skin of his head, and the stone with which he was killed.[34] The hair was white, and as fresh as if it had only then been severed; and it was kept in a beautiful crystal vessel; so that, to use the words of a contemporary manuscript, “totum fuit pulchrum: capilli albi et pulchri; lapis etiam unde percussus fuit albus; vas pulchrum et album; et aspicientibus rem adeo pulchram magnam faciunt admirationem.”

The first abbot of the convent was Lanfranc, a native of Italy, who had established himself in the neighboring monastery of Bec, where the fame of his talents had acquired him a most extensive celebrity; and the zeal with which he had applied himself to the task of education,[35] had increased it to a degree, of which, in these days, we have little idea. But he held the pastoral staff only a very short time, for he was, as early as the year 1070, translated to the more important post of Archbishop of Canterbury; and it was reserved to his successor, William de Bonne Ame, to have the honor of presiding over the community, at the period when John of Avranches, Archbishop of Rouen, assisted by his suffragan bishops, as well as by Lanfranc himself, with Thomas, his brother metropolitan, and many abbots, and a wonderful throng of people, performed the ceremony of the dedication.[36]

The Conqueror's sons confirmed the various donations made to the abbey by their parent. The eldest of them, Robert, his successor in the dukedom, added the privilege of a fair and a weekly market at Cheux. William Rufus, the second, entered into a negociation with the monks, to re-purchase his father's royal ornaments, in exchange for the parish of Coker, in Somersetshire; but he died before the completion of the treaty; and this was finally carried into effect by Henry I. with one only difference, that Brideton, (now called Burton) in Dorsetshire, was substituted for Coker. It was Henry, according to the Abbé De la Rue,[37] who raised the superb monument over his father's remains; but Ordericus Vitalis expressly attributes the work to William Rufus.[38] Respecting its splendor, all writers are unanimous: the shrine placed upon the mausoleum, was a “mirificum memoriale, quod ex auro et argento et gemmis competentèr splenduit.” The care of building the tomb was committed to a goldsmith at Caen, of the name of Otto, who had received from the Conqueror a grant of land in Essex; and whose descendants, under the name of Fitz-Othon, had the principal direction of the English mint, till the death of Thomas Fitz-Othon, the last of the family, in 1282.

Henry II. in a very long charter, confirmed the various endowments and privileges previously bestowed upon the convent, and added others of his own. From this time forward, it continued to increase in wealth and power. In the year 1250, its revenues, in Normandy, amounted to four thousand livres, a sum equivalent to eighty-two thousand and sixteen livres of the present day. In 1668, when money in France was of about half its present value, the abbot and monks divided an income of sixty-four thousand and four livres: and in 1774, this income had swelled to one hundred and ninety-two thousand livres, notwithstanding the immense losses suffered by the suppression of the alien priories in [23] England. Thus an increase had taken place of nearly one hundred and ten thousand livres, in about five hundred and twenty years. The ecclesiastical patronage of the abbey, at the time of the revolution, extended over twelve churches. Its monks, who were of the order of St. Benedict, continued till the year 1663 to belong to the class of Benedictines, called unreformed; but the Duchess of Longueville, wife of the then abbot, introduced at that period the brethren of the congregation of St. Maur.

The privileges and immunities granted to the convent of St. Stephen, are detailed at considerable length by Du Moustier,[39] who has also carefully collected the particulars of the life of Lanfranc, and has given a catalogue, accompanied with short biographical notices, of the rest of the abbots. By far the greater number of these were men eminent for their rank or talents; and some of them were subsequently promoted to higher dignities. William de Bonne Ame, the second abbot, succeeded John de Bayeux in the metropolitan throne of Rouen; Hugh de Coilly, grandson of King Stephen, after being elected to preside over this monastery, was almost immediately transferred to the archbishopric of York;[40] and Charles de Martigni, abbot of St. Stephen's in the fifteenth century, was successively honored with two episcopal mitres. It was by him that the prelacy was first held in commendam, an example too tempting not to be followed; and the abbey, thus constantly gaining in the dignity of its superiors, as constantly lost in their real value. Seven cardinals, (among whom were the celebrated Cardinals of Richelieu, Mazarine and Fleury,) a natural son of King Henry IV. an archbishop of Lyons, two of Aix, and one of Rouen, were among its most modern abbots. Another of them, John Le Got,[41] was present at the abjuration of Henry IV. in the church of St. Denys, on the twenty-fifth of July, 1593; and by virtue of his office as apostolical prothonotary, subscribed his name to the letter from the bishops to the Pope, declaring that nothing had taken place in the transaction, inconsistent with the reverence due to his holiness. A list of considerable length might also be made from among the monks of the convent, of those who have been ennobled by their talents or dignities.

The monastic buildings appertaining to the Abbey of St. Stephen were begun in 1704, and completed after a period of twenty-two years. They are now attached to the royal College of Caen, to which establishment they were appropriated at the revolution; and, provided as they were with noble gardens, they were an accession of the utmost importance to the institution. But the value of the gift has, within the ten last years, been considerably lessened, by the municipality having robbed the college of the greater part of the gardens, for the purpose of converting them into an open square. The plan of the buildings was furnished by a lay-brother of the Benedictine order, named William De la Tremblaye, who also erected those of the sister Convent of the Trinity, at Caen; and those of the Abbey of St. Denis. During the storms of the revolution, the abbatial church happily suffered but little. Fallen, though it be, from its dignity, and degraded to parochial, it still stands nearly entire. Not indeed as it came from the hands of the Norman architect, but as it was left by the Huguenots in the sixteenth century, when, with the violence which marked the transactions of that æra, doors, windows, floors, wood-work, lead, iron, marble, manuscripts, and books, were given up to indiscriminate destruction: bells were broken, roofs stripped, altars profaned, the very tombs opened; and, as if no point had been gained, so long as aught was suffered to remain, the central tower was undermined, in the hope that its fall would involve the ruin of the whole edifice. And fall, indeed, it did; but happily only carried away with it a portion of the eastern end. From this circumstance, however, have arisen discrepancies of style, for which it would be difficult, without such knowledge, to account. The nave and the transepts are the only pure remains of the original building: the choir and aisles are of pointed architecture, and are, consequently, not of equal antiquity. Even the western front partakes, in a measure, of the same mixture. All, to the top of the towers, is genuine Norman, and of the eleventh century: the spires, with their surrounding turrets, are [24] of a later æra.[42] At the same time it may reasonably be doubted how far the Abbé De la Rue is right in ascribing them to the fourteenth century. To differ from so able an antiquary and so competent a judge in matters of this description, is always hazardous; but the author of this article must, nevertheless, be allowed to hesitate before he gives a full assent. It is known that the choir was enlarged, and the apsis built as it now exists, during the prelacy of Simon de Trevieres, which extended from the year 1316 to 1344; but history is silent as to any other additions made at that period to the church; and the style of the architecture of the spires does certainly appear to be earlier than that of the parts just mentioned. No argument is to be drawn from the general aspect of the building; for such is the great excellence of the Caen stone, and so little has it suffered in an atmosphere untainted by coal smoke, and in a climate probably superior to our own, that all the parts appear to be in equally good preservation, and the whole looks as fresh as if but yesterday hewn from the quarry. An opinion has commonly prevailed, that an epitaph, still visible on the exterior of the apsis, is that of the builder of the church. Facsimiles of it have been given by Ducarel[43] and Gough,[44] the former of whom seems to have no doubt of the fact. Such, however, cannot be the case; the very shape of the characters sufficiently disproves it: they are altogether unlike those used on Queen Matilda's tomb, a relic, whose authenticity was never called in question. The character of the architecture of the chapel affords a still more decisive contradiction. Indeed, after what has already been said, it needs scarcely be added, that the building itself did not exist at the period assigned by Ducarel to the epitaph, which is most probably that of the person who erected the apsis, and made the other alterations in the fourteenth century.

The western front of the church exhibits two different characters: below, all is simple, almost to meanness: the upper part abounds in ornament; and here the good sense of the architect, who added the pinnacles and spires, merits commendation, in having made them correspond so well in their decorations with the towers. The plate sufficiently explains all that is to be said of this part of the building, excepting as to the more minute ornaments of the door-ways, which deserve to be exhibited in detail. The architrave is composed of several bands of the simplest moulding, inclosed within three of a different style; the two outermost being formed of the chevron ornament, with its angles unusually acute; the inner, of the billet moulding. The capitals of the pillars are studded with small heads, placed under the Ionic volute, exhibiting a mixture of classical and barbarous taste, which is likewise to be found at Cérisy, and upon one of the capitals in the abbey church of the Trinity.

Along the exterior of the upper part of the nave, runs a row of twenty-four semi-circular arches, with imposts and bases, and all uniform, except that eight of them are pierced for windows. This portion of the building is entirely without buttresses. Upon the extremity of the north transept are three very shallow buttresses, which rise from the ground to the bottom of the clerestory windows, unbroken by any interruption whatever, but here meet with a string-course, beyond which the two outer ones are continued, unchanged in form and appearance, to the summit of the ends of the gable, while the centre one, though it is raised to an equal height, loses more than half its width, and is also much reduced in depth. Over this latter buttress is a window; and between the buttresses are six others, arranged in a double row. Each [25] pair differs in size from the rest: those nearest the ground are the largest, and those immediately above them the least. The lowest pair on each side is inclosed within a spacious arch, which occupies nearly two-thirds of the gable. Eastward of the transepts is a series of blank intersecting arches, remarkable for their mouldings, which consist of a flat, wide, and very shallow band;[45] and here the mixture of the pointed with the semi-circular architecture commences. This portion of the building altogether resembles the cathedral of Coutances in the disposition of its parts.

Abbey Church of St. Etienne, Caen.

Plate 23. Abbey Church of St. Etienne, Caen.
Elevation of compartment of the Nave.

It would be difficult to describe the interior of the church in clearer or more comprehensive terms, than has been done by Mr. Cohen in Mr. Turner's Tour,[46] from which work the following account is, therefore, extracted.—“Without doubt, the architect was conversant with Roman buildings, though he has Normanized their features, and adapted the lines of the basilica to a barbaric temple. The Coliseum furnished the elevation of the nave;—semi-circular arches surmounted by another tier of equal span, and springing at nearly an equal height from the basis of the supporting pillars. The architraves connecting the lower rows of pillars are distinctly enounced. The arches which rise from them have plain bold mouldings. The piers between each arch are of considerable width. In the centre of each pier is a column, which ascends as usual to the vault. These columns are alternately simple and compound. The latter are square pilasters, each fronted by a cylindrical column, which of course projects farther into the nave than the simple columns; and thus the nave is divided into bays. This system is imitated in the gothic cathedral at Sens. The square pilaster ceases at about four-fifths of its height: then two cylindrical pillars rise from it, so that, from that point, the column becomes clustered. Angular brackets, sculptured with knots, grotesque heads, and foliage, are affixed to the base of these derivative pillars. A bold double-billeted moulding is continued below the clerestory, whose windows adapt themselves to the binary arrangement of the bays. A taller arch is flanked by a smaller one on the right or the left side, as its situation requires. These are supported by short massy pillars: an embattled moulding runs round the windows.—In the choir the arches become pointed, but with Norman mouldings: the apsis is a reconstruction. In that portion of the choir which seems original, there are pointed windows formed by the interlacing of circular arches: these light the gallery.—The effect produced by the perspective of the interior is lofty and palatial. The ancient masonry of the exterior is worthy of notice. The stones are all small, perhaps not exceeding nine or twelve inches: the joints are about three-quarters of an inch.”

To this description, it may be well to add the following particulars concerning the dimensions of the church, taken from the exterior:—

Length from east to west871
Height of western towers145
————with their spires262
nave on the western front, to the point of the gable 98
northern transepts84
Width of ditto42

It may also not be amiss to observe, that the nave is on either side divided into nine compartments, the second and third of which, reckoning from the west, on the south side, form the subject of the twenty-third plate. The rest, though diversified in their ornaments, are uniform in their plan, except only the one on either side, immediately adjoining the entrance: each of these contains a slender shallow arch, not pierced to the transepts, and rising from the pavement nearly to the top of the upper windows. In that part of the church, two peculiarities will not fail to be remarked: the greater width of the arches of the triforium, than that of those below; and the balustrade of quatrefoils, which is continued throughout this portion of the building. Immediately upon entering the church, a doubt involuntarily suggests itself, how far this balustrade may not be an addition of comparatively modern date. But, upon the whole, there seems no reason to consider it so. Precisely the same ornament is found upon the tomb of Berengaria, wife to Richard Cœur-de-Lion, which Mr. Stothard has lately figured, and believes to be coeval with the queen whom it commemorates.

[26]The monument raised to William the Conqueror, in the middle of the choir of this church, was violated and broken to pieces by the Calvinists, and its contents wantonly destroyed, towards the close of the sixteenth century. The account of the outrages then committed are given at length, and with great naïveté, as well as feeling, by De Bourgueville,[47] who was present on the occasion; and they have lately been translated into English,[48] with the addition of some interesting details that accompanied the death and funeral of the monarch. Nearly a hundred years before that time, a cardinal, upon a visit to Caen, had opened the tomb through curiosity. After the tumults caused by the Huguenots had subsided, the monks of the convent, who had gotten possession of one of the thigh-bones that had been preserved by the Viscount of Falaise, re-interred it, and, out of gratitude to their founder, raised, in 1642, a new monument of black marble, at great expense. One side of it bore the original metrical epitaph, composed by Thomas, Archbishop of York, beginning with the following line:—

“Qui rexit rigidos Normannos atque Britannos;”

on the other side, was an inscription[49] commemorative of the circumstances attendant on the tomb; but this second tomb was also taken away in 1742, by virtue of an order from Louis XV. empowering the governor of Caen to remove the monarch's remains into the sanctuary, as interfering, in their original position, with the ceremonies of the church. A flat stone, in front of the high altar, succeeded to the monument; and even this, the democrats of 1793 tore up. It was, however, replaced by General Dugua, while Prefect of Caen, and it still holds its situation.[50] There are no other monuments of any kind in the church.

Extensive buildings were attached to the abbey of St. Stephen; and, among the rest, what was generally supposed to have been a royal palace, and passed commonly under the name of the Palace of the Conqueror. As every thing connected with the abbey was naturally referred by the public to that sovereign, it will not appear surprising that this edifice was so likewise, however little ground there may have been for the appellation. Its having been called a palace, arose probably from the circumstance of the French monarchs always residing in this monastery, during their visits to Caen. The names of St. Louis, of John, of Henry V. and of Francis I. are to be found in the list of those who honored it with their presence. The greater part of the palatial buildings were destroyed by the Huguenots; but portions of them were standing in 1752, when Ducarel made his tour in Normandy; and he has figured them. Among these was the most interesting part of the whole, the great hall, the place in which the States of Normandy used to assemble, as often as they were convened at Caen; and where the Exchequer repeatedly held its sittings, after the recapture of Normandy, by the kings of France, from its ancient dukes. This hall even escaped the fury of revolutionists as well as Calvinists; but it was in the year 1802 altered by General Caffarelli, the then prefect, into rooms for the college; and its superb painted windows were destroyed, together with its pavement of glazed tiles, charged with heraldic bearings. The tiles have long afforded scope for the learning and ingenuity of antiquaries, some of whom have believed them coeval with the Conqueror; while others, who hesitate about going quite so far, have regarded them as bearing the arms of his companions. In the Gallia Christiana, the placing of them is attributed to Robert de Chambray, who is there stated to have been abbot from 1385 to 1393, a fact which the Abbé De la Rue utterly disbelieves. He, however, is of opinion, that the tiles are of nearly the same date, or a little earlier; and he considers them as belonging to the families who had supplied abbots and monks to the convent.


[31] Duchesne, Scriptores Normanni, pp. 277 and 282.

[32] So says Huet, in his Origines de Caen, p. 175, upon the authority of the Chronicle of the Abbey of Bec; and no attempt was made to controvert this fact, till the recent publication of the Abbé De la Rue's Essais Historiques, in which it is attempted to be proved, from various indirect testimonies, that the building could not have been finished till after the year 1070; indeed, that it could not even have been begun at the time fixed by Huet for its completion, inasmuch as the foundation charter, which must be of a date posterior to 1066, uses the following expression.—“Ego Guillelmus, Anglorum Rex, Normannorum et Cœnomanorum princeps, Cœnobium in honorem Dei ac Beatissimi prothomartyris Stephani, intra Burgum, quem vulgari nomine vocant, Cadomum, pro salute animæ meæ, uxoris, filiorum ac parentum meorum, disposui construendum.”

[33] See Neustria Pia, p. 639.

[34] Dom Blanchard, a Benedictine Monk, who left an unpublished history of this monastery, says, “that the Conqueror obtained about the same time from Constantinople, St. Stephen's skull; and that the translation of it into the abbatial church was celebrated by an annual festival on the eighth of October.” The Cathedral of Soissons boasted of the possession of the same relic; and of having also procured it from Constantinople.—“Too much confidence,” it is prudently observed by a catholic writer on this subject, “must not be placed in the authenticity of those relics, which cannot be traced to the date of St. Gregory of Tours, the sixth century!”

[35] Lanfranc, after having for some time directed at Bec the first school ever established in Normandy, upon his translation to Caen, opened another in that town. In the Lives of the Abbots of Bec, written in latin verse, in the twelfth century, by Peter, a monk of the convent of Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives, particular honor is given to Lanfranc on the subject of his school at Caen, which had produced many men eminent for their proficiency in sacred and secular literature, and was at that time flourishing. The Abbé De la Rue gives a long list of them. Essais Historiques, II. p. 70.

[36] Ordericus Vitalis, in Duchesne's Scriptores Normanni, p. 549.

[37] Essais Historiques, II. p. 64.

[38] Duchesne, Scriptores Normanni, p. 663.

[39] Neustria Pia, p. 640.

[40] Gallia Christiana, II. p. 425.

[41] His name is not to be found in the list of abbots given in the Neustria Pia; but the authors of the Gallia Christiana say, (XI. p. 480,) “that he was nominated to the prelacy upon the resignation of the thirty-fourth abbot, Charles d'O, and was confirmed in it by the States of Blois. It is admitted, however, that, notwithstanding his appointment in 1596, his predecessor continued to receive the emoluments of the office, till 1624, and enjoyed a large pension arising from them, till his death, in 1627.”

[42] In speaking of these, the Abbé De la Rue takes occasion to lay down a general rule, (Essais Historiques, II. p. 61) that “on ne trouve ordinairement en Normandie, que des arcades semi-circulaires dans les Xe. XIe. et XIIe. siècles; au contraire, les arcades en pointes des nefs, des fenêtres et des portes des églises, autrement les arcades en ogive, n'ont eu lieu chez nous que dans le XIIIe. siècle et les suivans. On trouve également ces deux styles en Angleterre et aux mêmes époques, et leur différence est une des principales règles qui servent aux antiquaires Anglois, pour discerner les constructions Normandes et Anglo-Normandes, des constructions d'un autre genre.”—But Mr. Turner, in his inquiries respecting the former cathedral of Lisieux, (Tour in Normandy, II. p. 131) appears to have proved that the pointed arch must have had existence at a considerably earlier period in France; and it is expected, that some instances which will be adduced in the sequel of the work, will have the effect of confirming his opinion.

[43] Anglo-Norman Antiquities, p. 57.

[44] Sepulchral Monuments, I. p. 247, t. 30.—The epitaph, which, in the original, is full of contractions, it is supposed by the Abbé De la Rue, should be read as follows:—

“Guillelmus jacet hic, petrarum summus in arte:
Iste novum perfecit opus; det premia Christus.

[45] A similar row of arches is found on the north transept of Norwich Cathedral, between the first and second tier of windows.—See Britton's Norwich Cathedral, plate 10.

[46] II. p. 195.

[47] Antiquités de Caen, p. 171.

[48] Turner's Tour in Normandy, II. p. 203.

[49] See Neustria Pia, p. 656.

[50] The inscription upon it, which details the various events that had befallen the tomb, is given in Turner's Tour in Normandy, II. p. 197.




Holy Trinity, Caen.

Plate 24. Abbey Church of the Holy Trinity, Caen.
West front.

Mention has already been made, under the preceding subject, of the origin of the convent of the Holy Trinity, whose church, though not an equally extensive building as that of the monastery of St. Stephen, is infinitely more rich in its decorations, and has been left almost entirely in its original form. A more perfect example of a Norman abbatial church, is perhaps no where to be found; and, as this edifice had the farther advantage of having been raised at the period when the province was at the acme of its power, of having been erected by an individual of the highest rank, and of having owed its existence to an occasion peculiarly calculated to call forth the exercise of the utmost liberality and splendor, it has been conceived that the object of a work like the present, could not be better answered, than by exhibiting such a building in its fullest details.

With the churches of the Trinity and of St. Georges before him, the reader will best be enabled to judge what Norman architecture really was: no difficulty or doubt can arise as to the history or the date of either; and he may rest satisfied, that whatever has been selected from them, is, as far as human observation can decide, exactly in the state in which it was left by the original builder.

The abbey of the Holy Trinity was founded in 1066, by Matilda of Flanders, wife to William II. Duke of Normandy; and its church was dedicated on the eighteenth of June of the same year, by Maurilius, Archbishop of Rouen, assisted by the bishops and abbots of the province, and in the presence of the duke and duchess, together with their principal barons. The sovereign, upon the same day, presented at the altar his infant daughter, Cecilia, devoting her to the service of God in this monastery, in which she was accordingly educated, and was its first nun and second abbess. History has recorded the name of the first abbess, Matilda, and relates that she was of one of the most noble families of the duchy; but no farther particulars are known respecting her. The foundation-charters of this convent, which bear date in the years 1066 and 1082, are full of donations in every respect princely; and these, not only on the part of the sovereign, but also of his nobles, whose signatures are likewise attached to the instruments. The queen, also, at her decease, left the monastery her crown, sceptre, and ornaments of state;[51] thus setting the example, which was shortly afterwards followed by her royal consort, with regard to the abbey of St. Stephen. Robert, the Conqueror's successor in the dukedom, was not behind-hand with his father in his liberality to the convent of the Trinity. The latter, in his charter, dated 1083, had reserved to himself the right of the fishery of the Orne, together with sundry possessions outside the walls of the town, in the direction of the suburb of Vaugeux. All these were ceded by the new duke to his sister; and out of the various grants, on the part of the father and son, was formed what was denominated the Bourg l'Abbesse, or Barony of St. Giles. Duke Robert did yet more; for, after having distinguished himself at the capture of Jerusalem, and refused the crown of the Holy Land, he [28] brought home with him, on his return to France, and deposited in the abbatial church founded by his mother, the great standard of the Saracens, wrested from them by his valor in the field of Ascalon.

Among the privileges conferred upon the abbey of the Trinity, by the Norman princes, was the right of holding a fair upon Trinity-Sunday and the days that immediately preceded and followed it. The abbess, during these days, was entitled to all the town dues; and, to leave no doubt of her right, she was in the habit of sending some of her officers at vespers time on the Friday, to affix her armorial bearings to every entrance of the town. The same officers also attached their own boxes for the receipt of customs to the gates, in lieu of those of the farmer-general. Water alone could be brought in without payment of toll. As long as the fair lasted, the abbess was likewise treated with military honors; the commandant of the garrison, whatever his rank, was bound to apply to her, in person, for the parole of the day. The Abbé De la Rue, from whose work most of the historical facts concerning this convent are extracted, states, that he has himself seen the Maréchal de Harcourt, while governor of Normandy, wait upon the abbess for the purpose; and he is of opinion, that the custom existed from the very foundation of the monastery.

It will not be matter of surprise, that an establishment, thus gifted and distinguished, should have been tenanted by the children of those who had contributed to the endowment. The names of the daughters and nieces of the chief Norman barons, will be found in the catalogue of the first nuns. Such, however, was at that period the state of society, that even an abbey, so founded, endowed, and occupied, was doomed to afford a remarkable instance of the capricious barbarity of the times. No sooner was the death of the Conqueror known, than the very nobles, who, but a few years previously, had been foremost as benefactors to the convent, assumed the opposite character, and did every thing in their power to despoil, and to destroy it. They had themselves subscribed the following denunciation:—“Si quis verò horum omnium, quæ prædictæ S. Trinitatis ecclesiæ data ostensa sunt, temerariâ præsumptione aliquando, (quod absit) violator effectus, in suâ impudenti obstinatione perstiterit: Noverit ille se anathema factum a Domino, sanctâ ac beatâ fidelium omnium communione privatum Divino judicio, perpetualitèr esse plectendum.”—But no consideration, human or divine, could restrain their rapacity: they pillaged the lands; seized the corn and cattle belonging to the monastery; imprisoned some of the tenants and vassals, and put others to the sword. These, and many other facts, most curiously illustrative of the manners of the age, are to be found in the collection of the charters of the abbey. They prove indisputably, (if such a fact needs proof) that the days of chivalry were far from being days of honesty. But they also shew, what the reader may not be equally prepared to see, that among these plunderers was Henry himself, the Conqueror's youngest son, who did not scruple to lay waste the lands given to the abbey by his mother; and who, as the Abbé de la Rue remarks, had probably, even at that early period, conceived the intention of seizing upon his paternal territory, and might be engaged in the amassing of those pecuniary resources, by the aid of which he ultimately succeeded in his usurpation of the throne.

Among the possessions of the abbey of the Holy Trinity, were several estates[52] and advowsons in England; for the better administration of which, the presence of the abbess was occasionally required on this side of the water. The names of more than one of the holy ladies are on record, who honored our island with their presence. The journal of the tour of the abbess, Georgette du Molley Bacon, states her to have embarked at Caen, on the sixteenth of August, 1570, with fifteen persons in her suite, and to have landed in London, and proceeded to her manor-house at Felsted, in Essex, from which she did not return to Normandy till Trinity-Sunday in the following year.

Hence it may be easily inferred, that the rules of the convent were not of the strictest description. The establishment indeed was, from its origin, under the regulation of the order of St. Benedict, but the nuns, though they lived under the same roof, were not bound by vows: they were accustomed to receive their friends in their own apartments; and many of [29] them had nieces or other relations with them, whom they brought up. The refectory was common; and they ate meat several days in the week. There were also stated times, on which it was allowable for them to take the air in a garden at a short distance from the convent. The abbess herself had her Country-house at Oistreham, where she frequently resided; and upon the occasion of those festivals which are distinguished by public processions, the whole body of the community used to go in procession to each of the different churches of Caen. Sometimes too the abbess attended with a party of her nuns at the performance of any mystery or similar scenical representation. The account of the revenues of the monastery in 1423, shews how Nicole de Rupalley, then abbess, was present at the acting of the Miracle of St. Vincent, and rewarded the performers with a gratuity of ten sols, a sum equivalent, at that time, to ten bushels of wheat.

About the year 1515, an attempt was made by the superior, Isabel of Bourbon, to curtail the indulgences of the sisterhood, by keeping them more closely confined, increasing the number of fast-days, and generally introducing a system of greater rigor. But the nuns remonstrated against the innovation, and had recourse to the Bishop of Bayeux, alledging the injustice of their being called upon to submit themselves to regulations, to which they had not originally subscribed. The prelate, who felt the point to be a delicate one, refused to decide; and the matter ended in an appeal to the Pope, who, finally, allowed the nuns to retire into other convents, where they might enjoy the freedom they claimed.

When, after the capture of Caen by Edward, in 1346, the inhabitants resolved upon fortifying the town anew, the abbeys of St. Stephen and of the Trinity, both of which lay in the suburbs, were excluded from the line of circumvallation; and the consequence was their exposure to insults and pillage. The monks and nuns were therefore obliged to look to their own defence; and, upon King John's coming to Caen, eight years afterwards, they obtained from him letters patent, authorizing them to encircle their convents with walls, towers, and fosses of their own. Hence originated the strange anomaly of a fortress and nunnery within the same precincts. The sisterhood, alarmed at their situation, sold their plate, and even the shrines of their relics, to provide for their safety; and permission was afterwards granted them to levy contributions upon their vassals, for the purpose of expediting and completing the task.—In the reign of Henry VI. during the wane of the British power in France, orders were issued by the monarch for the dismantling of the fort of the Trinity, lest it should be seized by the inhabitants of the neighborhood, who were endeavoring to get possession of Caen. But the abbess resisted the royal edict; and, under an apprehension, lest the attempt to carry it into effect should induce her to open the gates to the insurgents, her resistance was allowed to be effectual.—King Charles repeatedly took up his quarters in this monastery, while his army was laying siege to Caen, in 1450, and mention continues to be made of the fortress till the commencement of the following century; but after that time, it appears to have been suffered to go to ruin.

M. De la Rue rejects, as unfounded, the statement of the Bishop of Avranches, which has obtained general credence, that the spires of the western towers of the abbey were destroyed in 1360, by Charles the Bad, on account of their use for the detecting of the approach of an enemy. His principal argument against the fact is, that the King of Navarre was at that very time at peace with France; and therefore, supposing it to be certain that they were taken down by that prince, he is of opinion, that their demolition must have been ordered to prevent them from serving as landmarks to the English. At the same time, he is evidently inclined to think that the towers were never surmounted by spires at all; and he observes, with much apparent justice, that, if there really were any, and if they were really destroyed at the period alledged, the towers must have been left for a long time in a ruined state, as their present termination is known to be the work of the eighteenth century.

The original charters and title-deeds of the abbey of the Trinity were lost during the revolution. They perished in consequence of the extreme care of the last abbess, who, full of anxiety for their preservation, secured them in trunks, and hid them in the ceiling of the church. But, in those disastrous times, the lead that covered the churches was among the earliest objects of plunder; and the consequence was, that the roof was stripped; the boxes exposed to the rain; the wood and paper wholly destroyed; and the tin cases that held the charters so eaten by rust, that their contents were rendered illegible. It was in this state that they were found by the Abbé De la Rue, who was in possession of the secret, and who, on his return to France, after the cessation of the troubles and the death of the abbess, obtained permission from the prefect for the search to be made.

[30] The church of the abbey of the Trinity had its own peculiar rites; and, till the period of the revolution, the community were in the habit of printing their liturgy annually in latin. A very beautiful quarto volume, containing the ritual, was published at Caen, in 1622, by the order of Laurence de Budos, then abbess. It was probably from pride at a privilege of this nature, and from a confidence in their strength, that the nuns persisted in celebrating the ridiculous, or, it might almost be called, blasphemous Fête des Fous, for a hundred years after the Council of Basle had decreed the suppression of it throughout Christendom. In imitation too of the Boy-Bishops of Bayeux, Salisbury, and other churches, the nuns of the Holy Trinity had their Girl-Abbesses. The ancient rolls of the monastery make mention, under the head of expenses in 1423, of six sols given, by way of offering, on Innocents'-Day, “aux petites Abbesses.” This was the day on which the Girl-Abbess was elected: the superior of the convent resigned to her the abbatial stall and crozier at vespers, as soon as they came to the verse of the Magnificat, beginning “Deposuit potentes de sede;” and the farce was kept up till the same hour the succeeding evening. The Abbé De la Rue, who mentions this fact, observes with justice, that another circumstance, which appears from these accounts, is still more extraordinary;—that, even as late as 1546, the abbess was in the habit of making an annual payment of five sols to the cathedral of Bayeux, for its Boy-Bishop. The entry is in the following terms: “Au petit évêque de Bayeux, pour sa pension, ainsi qu'il est accoutumé, V. sous.” During the early part of the preceding century, the abbot of St. Stephen was also accustomed to pay twenty sols per annum, on the same account; but his payment was probably discontinued immediately after the edict of the Council of Basle, though the ceremony of the Boy-Bishop was not suppressed at Bayeux till 1482. Indeed, only six years before that time, the inventory of the sacristy of the cathedral enumerated, among its other valuables,

“Two mitres for the Boy-Bishop,
The crozier belonging to the Boy-Bishop,
The Boy-Bishop's mittens,
And four small copes of scarlet satin, for the use
of the singing-boys on Innocents'-Day.”

The abbess of Caen, through the medium of her official, exercised spiritual jurisdiction over the parishes of St. Giles, Carpiquet, Oistreham, and St. Aubin-d'Arquenay, by virtue of a privilege granted by the bishops of Bayeux, as well for herself and her nuns, as for the vassals of the several parishes. This privilege, however, extended no farther than to an exemption from certain pecuniary fines, which the diocesans, in the middle ages, exacted from their flocks; and even in this confined acceptation, it was more than once the subject of litigation between the convent and the see. In like manner, the civil and criminal jurisdiction claimed by the abbess over the same parishes, brought her occasionally into disputes with the bailiff and viscount of Caen: her rights were repeatedly called in question, and she was obliged to have recourse to legal tribunals to establish them. The following very extraordinary suit is at once illustrative of the fact, and of the character of the times:—In the year 1480, an infant was eaten up in its cradle, by a bestia porcina, within the precincts of the parish of St. Giles. The abbess' officers seized the delinquent, and instituted a process for its condemnation before the seneschal of the convent. During the time, however, that the question was pending, the king's attorney-general interfered. He summoned the abbess before the high-bailiff, and, maintaining that the crime had been committed within the cognizance of the bailiwick, he claimed the beast, and demanded that its trial should take place before one of the royal tribunals. Debates immediately arose as to the limits of their respective jurisdictions: inquiries were set on foot; memorials and counter-memorials were presented; and the abbess finally succeeded in carrying her point, only by dint of proving that she had, some years previously, burned a young woman in the Place aux Campions, for having murdered a man in the self-same house where the hog devoured the child.

Among the obligations originally imposed upon this convent, was that of giving a dinner annually, on Trinity Sunday, to such of the inhabitants of the parish of Vaux-sur-Saulles and their domestics, as had resided there a year and a day. The repast was served up within the abbey walls, and in the following manner:—After the guests had washed their hands in a tub of water, they seated themselves on the ground, and a cloth was spread before them. A loaf, of the weight of twenty-one ounces, was [31] then given to each individual, and with it a slice of boiled bacon, six inches square. To this was added a rasher of bacon, fried; and the feast concluded with a basin of bread and milk for every person, all of them having likewise as much beer and cider as they could drink. The dinner, as may naturally be supposed, lasted from three to four hours; and it will also not be difficult to imagine, that the entertaining of such a motley throng on such a day, could not fail to be attended with great annoyance to the nuns, and with various inconveniences. The convent had therefore, from a very early date, endeavored to free themselves from the obligation, by the payment of a sum of money; and, in times of war, the town of Caen had occasionally interposed, and forced the people to accept the composition, from an apprehension, lest the enemy should gain possession of the fort of the Trinity, by introducing themselves into it among the authorized guests. It appears that, in 1429, the abbess purchased an exemption at the price of thirty livres, a sum equivalent to thirty-seven and a half quarters of corn, at a time when wheat sold for two sols the bushel; and twenty-two years subsequently, Charles VII. then King of France, granted his letters patent, abolishing the dinner altogether, upon condition of a like sum being annually paid to the parochial chest.

To the abbey church of the Trinity were attached several chapels, as well without as within its walls: the most remarkable of these was that of St. Thomas, generally known by the name of St. Thomas l'Abattu, in the suburb of St. Giles. It was, in its original state, an hospital, and was called the Hospital of St. Thomas the Martyr in the fields, whence De la Rue infers that it was built in commemoration of Thomas-à-Becket, and was probably erected immediately after his canonization in 1173. Huet, on the contrary, tells us, that it had existed “from time immemorial;” and Ducarel, who has described and figured it,[53] appears to have also regarded it as of very high antiquity. The gradual disappearance of leprosy had caused it to be long since diverted from its original purpose. In 1569, it was pillaged by the Huguenots; and, as no pains were taken to repair the injuries then done, it continued in a state of dilapidation, imperceptibly wasting away, till the period of the revolution, when it was sold, together with the other national property; and even its ruins have now disappeared.

Happily, the abbatial church of the Trinity was at that time more fortunate: it was suffered to continue unappropriated, till, upon the institution of the Legion of Honor, Napoléon applied it to some purposes connected with that body, by whom it was a few years ago ceded for its present object, that of a workhouse for the department. The choir alone is now used as a church: the nave serves for work-rooms; and, to render it the better applicable to this purpose, a floor has been thrown across, which divides it into two stories.

It has been observed in a recent publication,[54] that “a finer specimen of the solid grandeur of Norman architecture, is scarcely to be found any where than in the west front of this church,” (the subject of the twenty-fourth plate.) “The corresponding part of the rival abbey of St. Stephen, is poor when compared to it; and Jumieges and St. Georges equally fail in the comparison. In all these, there is some architectural anomaly: in the Trinity none, excepting indeed the balustrade at the top of the towers; and this is so obviously an addition of modern times, that no one can be misled by it.[55] This balustrade was erected towards the beginning of the seventeenth century, when the oval apertures and scrolls, seen in Ducarel's print,[56] were introduced.”—It may be well to take the present opportunity of making a general observation, that though, in speaking of this and of other churches, the term, west front, may commonly be applied to the part containing the principal entrance; yet that this term must be received with a certain degree of latitude. The Norman religious edifices are far from being equally regular in their position as the English. With a general inclination to the west, they vary to every point of the [32] compass.[57] The church of the abbey of the Trinity fronts the north-west—The architrave of the central door-way is composed of many surfaces of great depth: two-thirds of them are flat and plain, and recede so little, as to afford but small opportunity for light and shade. Its decorations are few and simple, consisting almost wholly of the billet and chevron moulding, the former occupying the exterior, the latter the interior, circles. In the outermost band, the billets form a single row, and take the curve of the arch; the succeeding circle exhibits them with an unusual arrangement, placed compound, and all pointing to the centre of the door. These, with the addition of quatrefoils, and of some grotesque heads, which serve as key-stones to the mouldings over the windows of the triforium, are the only ornaments which this front can boast. The capitals throughout it are of the simplest forms, being in general little more than inverted cones, slightly truncated, for the purpose of making them correspond with the columns below. Some few of them have the addition of small projecting knobs immediately below the angles of the impost; while those in the square towers are formed by a short cylinder, whose diameter exceeds that of the shaft, surmounted by a square block, by way of abacus. The towers and buttresses decrease in size upwards.—An architectural peculiarity deserving of notice in this front, lies in the triangular mouldings, observable in the spandrils of the arches of the clerestory. The same are occasionally, though rarely, found in other buildings of unquestionably Norman origin, as in the church at Falaise, and in Norwich Cathedral[58] in our own country. They are here more particularly noticed, as serving to illustrate what has been considered an anomaly in the architecture of some of the round-towered churches in Norfolk and Suffolk,[59] where the windows are formed with heads of this shape. Antiquaries, unwilling to admit that the flat-sided arch, as it has been called by a perversion of terms, was introduced into England prior to the fourteenth century, have labored to prove that such windows were alterations of that period, contrary to the evidence of every part of the building.

Holy Trinity, Caen.

Plate 25. Abbey Church of the Holy Trinity, Caen.
East End.

The east-end of the choir (plate twenty-five) presents a bold termination, pierced with ten spacious windows, that give light to the choir, each of them encircled with a broad band, composed of the same ornaments as are found in the rest of the exterior of the edifice. This part of the church is divided in its elevation into three compartments, the lower containing a row of small blank arches, while in each of the upper two is a window of an unusual size for a Norman building, but still without mullions or tracery. The windows ore separated by thick cylindrical pillars, which rise from immediately above a row of windows that give light to the crypt. The heads of these windows are level with the surface of the ground; and the wall, in this subterranean part of the building, is considerably thicker than it is above. The balustrade of quatrefoils above appears coeval with the rest, and may be regarded as tending to establish the originality of that in the nave of the abbey church of St. Stephen.[60]

Holy Trinity, Caen. Interior.

Plate 26. Abbey Church of the Holy Trinity at Caen.
East end, interior.

Holy Trinity, Caen. Choir.

Plate 27. Abbey Church of the Holy Trinity at Caen.
North side of the Choir, upper compartment.

The twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh plates shew the interior of the choir, as the thirty-third does the most remarkable of its capitals. This part of the church, in its general arrangement, very much resembles the same portion in St. Georges and in Norwich Cathedral. The second, however, of these buildings, retains the original groinings of the roof, which in our English church have been sacrificed, to make room for large pointed windows; while in the church of the Trinity they have given place to a spacious dome, painted with a representation of the Assumption. In the foreground of this picture, is seen the royal foundress of the abbey; and, according to common tradition, the portrait of a female dressed in the habit of a nun, on the north side of the high altar, is also intended for her. But traditions of this nature are too vague for much reliance to be placed upon them. The altar-piece itself is an Adoration of the Shepherds, not devoid of merit.—The plain arches, with their truncated columns, seen in the upper part of plate 26, near the front on either side, and repeated in the following plate, are those which terminate the flat part of the choir. The wide unvaried extent of blank surface beneath them is attributable to modern masons, who have filled up and covered arches without mercy or discretion, and have pierced the walls anew with plain mean door-ways. The windows are lofty, and of fine proportions. Their glazing is probably of the time of Louis XIV. when the gorgeous splendor of painted glass gave way [33] to the less beautiful and less appropriate ornaments, supplied by the fancy of the plumbers.[61] The narrow passage formed in the thickness of the wall, with its small arches variously decorated, surrounds the whole building; choir, nave, and transepts. In the architectural arrangement of this portion of the edifice, where every large arch of the windows is flanked by two lesser ones of the triforium, the church of the Trinity agrees with the cathedral at Oxford, as figured in Mr. Carter's work on ancient architecture[62] and there treated as a genuine Saxon building, erected by King Ethelred, after the destruction of the monastery by the Danes in 1004. But the capitals of the columns in the two churches bear only a slight resemblance to each other. Those at Oxford[63] are among the most beautiful left us by early architects, consisting chiefly of foliage; and, in one instance, of a very elegant imitation of a coronet. In the abbatial church at Caen, they display the same mixture of Grecian and barbarous taste, the same beauties, the same monstrosities, and the same apparent aim at fabulous or emblematic history, as has been previously remarked at St. Georges. On the angles of one, which contains four storks, arranged in pairs, will be found an obvious representation of the heraldic fleur-de-lys. In that, figured below it on the plate, is a head placed over two lions, commonly believed to be intended for a portrait of the Conqueror.

Holy Trinity, Caen. Arches from the South Transept.

Plate 28. Abbey Church of the Holy Trinity at Caen.
Arches under the central Tower looking from the South Transept.

Holy Trinity, Caen. South Transept.

Plate 29. Abbey Church of the Holy Trinity at Caen.
East side of the South Transept.

The twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth plates are devoted to the transepts: the first of them exhibits two of the arches which support the central tower. Finer specimens of the kind are scarcely to be seen in Normandy; and the decoration of them is very peculiar, consisting altogether of numerous bands of quatrefoils in bas-relief. The sculpture of the capitals is likewise remarkable: that of one of them represents entire rams; while the opposite one has only the heads of the same animal at its angles, accompanied with an ornament, which the writer of this article does not remember to have met with elsewhere. The arch that separates the tower from the nave,[64] rises higher than any of the rest, and is obtusely pointed; but its decorations correspond with those of the others, and it appears to be of the same date.[65] For the purpose of more effectually marking the connection of the twenty-eighth plate with the preceding, it may be well to observe, that the string-course, seen in the former through the first arch and adjoining the base of the truncated column, is the same which, in plate twenty-seven, forms the base-line of the windows. The same string-course in the choir runs immediately below the gallery; but in the transepts, this gallery is upon a different line, being elevated by the interposition of a very beautiful range of small blank arches, between the larger arches below and the windows of the clerestory; and these latter, in conjunction with the small arches, only occupy the same space as the windows of the choir. The southern transept has been here selected for publication, as being the most perfect. Had the opposite one been equally so, it would have been preferable, from the curious character of its capitals, many of which are taken from scripture-history. But these are, unfortunately, much mutilated.

Holy Trinity, Caen. Interior of the Nave.

Plate 30. Abbey Church of the Holy Trinity at Caen.
Interior of the Nave looking west.

In the thirtieth plate is given a general view of the upper half of the interior of the nave, shewing the western extremity, with the three compartments nearest to it on either side; and here, as in the two preceding plates, it is impossible not to regret the existence of the floor, which, by dividing the church into different stories, greatly injures the effect of the whole. Neither in this nor in any other part of the building, are there side-chapels or aisles. The architecture of the nave, in its general arrangement, resembles that of the transepts; except as to the arches of the second row, which are peculiar. Upon an attentive examination too, it will be found that, notwithstanding the apparent uniformity, no two compartments are precisely alike, while the capitals are infinitely varied. This playfulness of ornament is remarkable in a building, whose architect appears, at first view, to [34] have contemplated only grandeur and solidity. At the farther end of the nave, are seen the five windows of the principal front, together with a portion of the great arch of entrance. The remaining part of this arch, as well as of the others of the lower tier, with the pillars that support them, are concealed by the floor. The gallery, it will be remarked, sinks at the western end, as in the choir, and is connected with the sides by a staircase. The roof is only of lath and plaster, painted in imitation of masonry.

Holy Trinity, Caen. Exterior of the Nave.

Plate 31. Abbey Church of the Holy Trinity at Caen.
South side of the Nave, exterior.

The thirty-first plate exhibits three of the eight compartments of the clerestory, on the south side of the nave, as seen externally. The cloisters and conventual buildings hide the whole of the opposite side of the church; and, perfect as is the part here represented, there is nothing to be seen below; for a range of work-shops and of sheds has obstructed the view of the exterior, as effectually as the floor has of the corresponding portion within. The corbel-table, with its monsters of all descriptions, affords a curious specimen of the sculpture of the age. The string-course above it is rich and beautiful. The same is also the case with the decorations of the windows, as well as of the blank arches with which they are flanked, while the intervening flat buttresses, edged by slender cylindrical pilasters, likewise indicate a degree of care and of taste which is very pleasing, and which is the more remarkable, when considered in union with the architecture of the exterior of the contemporary abbey of St. Stephen.

Holy Trinity, Caen. Crypt.

Plate 32. Abbey Church of the Holy Trinity at Caen.

The crypt (plate thirty-two) occupies the space under the choir. The Abbé De la Rue, who terms it “une jolie chapelle,” says that, in the fifteenth century, it was denominated the subterranean chapel of St. Nicholas; but previously to the revolution, had assumed the name of the chapel of the Holy Trinity. It was originally entered by two narrow staircases from the transepts. Its length from east to west is about thirty feet: its width, about twenty-seven. The simple vaulted roof is supported by thirty-two slender columns, sixteen of them half imbedded in the wall, and rising from a stone bench, with which this crypt is surrounded, in the same manner as that of the church of St. Gervais, at Rouen. This chapel was, till lately, paved with highly-polished vitrified bricks, each about two inches square, diversified with very vivid colors, but of a description altogether unlike those in the Conqueror's palace. It is lighted by narrow windows, which widen considerably inwards, the wall being here of great thickness; and, according to all probability, there were originally eleven of them, though the greater part are now closed. One of them was lately filled with bones, and bricked up. Upon the place it occupied is to be seen the following inscription, placed between a couple of vases of antique form:—“Ossemens trouvés dans l'ancien chapitre des dames de la Trinité, et déposés dans ce lieu le IV. Mars, MDCCCXVIII.

Holy Trinity, Caen. Capitals.

Plate 33. Abbey Church of the Holy Trinity at Caen.
Capitals in the Choir.

In the same year, at the time when these drawings were made, no tombs whatever existed in the church of the Trinity. There had formerly been many here; but the revolution had swept them all away.[66] Among the rest were those of the royal foundress, of her daughter Cæcilia, the first abbess, and of two other daughters of English kings, who likewise wore the ducal coronet of Normandy. The most celebrated of all was that of Matilda: according to Ordericus Vitalis, it was of exquisite workmanship, and richly ornamented with gold and precious stones. But the Calvinists demolished it in 1562; and, not content with plundering the monument of all that was valuable, tore open the Queen's coffin, and dispersed her remains. Towards the close of the same century, Anne de Montmorenci, then abbess, caused the royal bones to be collected, and again to be deposited in the original stone coffin; and things continued in this state till the year 1708, when the abbess, Gabrielle Françoise Fronlay de Tessé, raised a second altar-tomb of black marble, a representation of which has been preserved by Ducarel. In addition to this, she inclosed the bones of the princess for greater security in a leaden box, which she laid in the coffin; and these happily escaped violation in 1793, when the revolutionists destroyed the monument, because the arms of Normandy, with which it was ornamented, sinned against the doctrines of the liberty and equality of man. France being once more settled under a monarchical form of government, a fresh search was instituted in March, 1819, by the prefect of the department, in the presence of the bishop of the diocese and Mr. Spencer Smythe, for the discovery of Matilda's remains; and they were found and verified, and re-interred in their original situation.—Another tomb, similar to [35] that which was destroyed at the revolution, is also raised over them. The engraved stone in plate twenty-six, marks the place which it occupies. Upon it is laid the original slab with the epitaph, which, by great good fortune, escaped unhurt from the hands both of democrats and Huguenots; and, as many of the subscribers to this work have expressed a desire that a fac-simile of it should be inserted, as illustrative of the form of the letters, as well as of the manner of writing in use at that period, Mr. Cotman has had a pleasure in meeting their wishes, at the same time, that he has not considered it as sufficiently belonging to the publication, to justify him in making it an object of charge. The inscription, divided into lines, and written in modern characters, is as follows:—

“Egregie pulchri tegit hec structura sepulcri
Moribus insigne germen regale Matildem
Dux Flandrita pater huic extitit Adala mater
Francor gentis Rotberti filia regis
Et soror Henrici regali sede potiti
Regi magnifico Wlllelmo juncta marito
Presentem sedem presente fecit et edem
Tam multis terris quam multis rebus honestis
A se ditatam se procurante dicatam
Hec consolatrix inopum pietatis amatrix
Gazis dispersis pauper sibi dives egenis
Sic infinite petiit consortia vite
In prima mensis post primam luce Novembris.”
Inscription on the tomb of Queen Matilda.

Plate 33*. A fac simile of the inscription upon the tomb of Queen Matilda in the Abbey Church of the Holy Trinity at Caen.


[51] The will of the Queen has been printed by the Abbé De la Rue, (Essais Historiques II. p. 437) from a manuscript in the royal library at Paris; but the writer of the present article is not aware that it has ever yet appeared in any English publication; and he therefore considers it desirable here to reprint it, for the antiquaries of his own country.—“Ego Mathildis Regina do Sanctæ Trinitati Cadomi casulam quam apud Wintoniam [Winchester] operatur uxor Aldereti, et clamidem operatam ex auro quæ est in camera mea ad cappam faciendam, atque de duabus ligaturis meis aureis in quibus cruces sunt, illam quæ emblematibus est insculpta, ad lampadem suspendendam coram Sancto altare, candelabraque maxima quæ fabricantur apud Sanctum Laudum, coronam quoque et sceptrum, calicesque ac vestimentum, atque aliud vestimentum quod operatur in Anglia, et cum omnibus ornamentis equi, atque omnia vasa mea, exceptis illis quæ antea dedero alicubi in vita mea; et Chetehulmum [Quetehou en Cotentin] in Normannia, et duas mansiones in Anglia do Sanctæ Trinitati Cadomi. Hæc omnia concessu domini mei Regis facio.

“Ex cartulario Sanctæ Trin. Bibl. Reg. Paris. nº. 5650.”

[52] The annual income arising from these, is stated by Odon Rigaud, Archbishop of Rouen, in the procés-verbal of his visit to this abbey in 1250, to have amounted to one hundred and sixty pounds sterling; a sum nearly equivalent to eighty thousand livres of the present day.

[53] Anglo-Norman Antiquities, p. 75, t. 7.—In this figure, which represents the south side of the building, a striking resemblance will be observed with the architecture of the church of Than, figured in this work, pl. 16.—Ducarel, in speaking of the pillars in the inside of the chapel, says they are of a peculiar construction, and widely different from all others that have fallen under his consideration; but he has unfortunately furnished no engraving of them, and has even omitted to mention wherein their peculiarity lay.

[54] Turner's Tour in Normandy, II. p. 184.

[55] Still less can any one be so by the alteration of the arches of entrance into modern windows, which Mr. Turner did not think it worth while to mention.

[56] Anglo-Norman Antiquities, plate 5.

[57] See Turner's Tour in Normandy, II. p. 171.

[58] See Britton's Norwich Cathedral, plate 4, F. p. 32.

[59] Hadisco church, figured in Cotman's Architectural Antiquities of Norfolk, plate 38, affords an excellent specimen of these windows.

[60] See plate 23.

[61] See Turner's Tour in Normandy, II. p. 252, under the head of Bayeux Cathedral, the windows of which are remarkable for the complicated patterns of the lead-work.—See also Carter's Ancient Architecture, I. plate 79, p. 54, where this laborious author states himself to have collected nearly all the remains of this description of art in England. He is inclined to refer it to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.—In the second volume of the same work, plate 27, fig. F. 2, is represented one of the borders of the west window of the nave in York Cathedral, which almost exactly resembles one of these at Caen.

[62] I. plate 28, fig. A.

[63] See Britton's Oxford Cathedral, plate 4.

[64] In Mr. Turner's Tour in Normandy, II. p. 186, this arch is, by a lapsus calami, called the eastern, instead of the western.

[65] Mr. Cotman thought that he could discover visible traces of its having been originally semi-circular, and subsequently raised and pointed: and it is certainly most probable that such has been the case.

[66] Drawings of them all are fortunately preserved by the Abbé De la Rue; and it is hoped some French antiquary will be found sufficiently patriotic to cause them to be engraved.



Castle at Dieppe.

Plate 34. Castle at Dieppe.

The anonymous author of the History of Dieppe,[67] published towards the close of the last century, traces the origin of the town as high as the year 809, when Charlemagne visited this part of the coast of his empire, and, observing how much it was exposed to hostile attacks, ordered the construction of a fort upon the beach. The fort was honored with the name of the emperor's daughter, Bertha; and as the protection thus afforded, joined to the advantageous nature of the position, caused the fortress, within a short time, to be surrounded by the cottages of the neighboring fishermen, an establishment insensibly grew up, which acquired the appellation of Bertheville.

But the irruptions of the Normans, towards the close of the same, or the commencement of the succeeding, century, gave a new color to affairs in Neustria: places changed their names with their masters; and, no respect being paid to the emperor or his descendants, Bertheville ceased to be known under any other denomination than that of Dyppe, a Norman word, expressive of the depth of water in its harbor. Under Rollo, we are told that Dieppe became the principal port in the duchy. That politic sovereign was too well versed in nautical affairs, not to be aware of the importance of such a station; and he had the interest of his newly-acquired territory too much at heart, not to labor at the improving of it. It was at Dieppe that he embarked the troops, which he dispatched, in 913, for the assistance of his countrymen, the Danes, in their attempts to conquer England; and the town flourished under his sway, and then laid the foundation for that maritime greatness to which it has subsequently risen.

From this time forward, Dieppe is frequently mentioned in history: William the Conqueror honored it with his presence in 1047, and received in person the homage of its inhabitants, on his return from Arques, when the surrender of that important fortress by his uncle, Telo, put an end [36] to the troubles occasioned by the illegitimacy of his birth. The same monarch, during the preparations for his descent upon Britain, made a particular call on the people of Dieppe, to arm their vessels for the transport of his troops. They obeyed the summons; and they boast that their ships were the first that arrived at the place of rendezvous. No port in Normandy derived equal advantage from the conquest: the intercourse between the sister countries was naturally conducted through this channel; and such continued the case till 1194, when Richard Cœur-de-Lion, defeated under the walls of Arques, was compelled to leave this part of the province a prey to the victorious arms of Philip-Augustus. Upon this occasion, the French monarch appears to have singled out Dieppe as an object of particular vengeance, and he conducted himself towards it with a cruelty for which it would be difficult to assign an adequate reason. Not content with burning the town and its shipping, he transported the inhabitants into the ulterior parts of France, that they might never re-assemble and raise it from its ashes. Brito, at the same time that he glosses over the more flagrant part of the transaction, tells enough to leave no doubt of its truth; and his passage upon the subject deserves attention, particularly as being decisive with regard to the state of Dieppe at that period:

“Haud procul hinc portus famâ celeberrimus atque
Villa potens opibus florebat nomine Deppen.
Hanc primùm Franci sub eodem tempore gazis
Omnibus expoliant, spoliatam denique totam
In cinerem redigunt; et sic ditatus abivit
Cœtus ovans, quòd tot villâ non esse vel urbe
Divitias aut tam pretiosas diceret unquam.”—

In the course of the succeeding year, the treaty of Gaillon restored Dieppe and Arques, with their dependencies, to Richard, who almost immediately afterwards surrendered the former town to Walter, Archbishop of Rouen, as one of the articles of compensation for the injury done to that prelate, by the erection of Château Gaillard upon his territory. Dieppe appears to have recovered itself with surprising rapidity: a new church, under the invocation of St. James, was erected in 1250, that of St. Remi being no longer sufficient for the accommodation of its inhabitants; and these, however cruelly they had been injured by Philip-Augustus, were among the foremost in their demonstrations of loyalty to him as their sovereign, when the cold-blooded tyranny of John had bereft him of the Norman diadem. In one of the first years of the succeeding century, John Baliol, more properly called De Bailleul, a fugitive from Scotland, sought refuge in Dieppe, and finally retired to his paternal domain in the valley of the Yaulne, five leagues distant from the port. The remainder of his days were spent here in the village that bears his name; and the parochial church, which still contains his ashes, was, till lately, ornamented with his tomb, charged with an inscription, reciting the various events of his life.

During the wars of Edward III. the ships from Dieppe took the lead in the great naval engagement in 1337; and their admiral, Béhuchet, so distinguished himself, as to draw down upon him the marked resentment of that prince. He was himself made prisoner and hanged; and a detachment of English and Flemings was dispatched to destroy the harbor. The injuries, however, now sustained, were repaired with the same rapidity as before: Philip shewed himself no less ready to reward services, than his opponent had been to resent offences. His letters patent, bearing date in February, 1345, exempted the inhabitants from the payment of all taxes and dues, for the purpose of enabling them to rebuild their walls.—Dieppe, in 1412, was again attacked by the English, and, on this occasion, both by land and sea; but the inhabitants made a gallant and an effectual resistance.

Their opposition, though unavailing, was not at all less spirited in the following reign, when they were compelled, in common with the rest of France, to acknowledge the power of the fifth Henry. But they again disengaged themselves from the English crown in 1431, after having remained in subjugation to it for eleven years; and the subsequent siege, conducted by Talbot himself in person, in 1442, only added to their military character. During this siege, which was of great length, the English general erected the formidable fortress, known by the name of the Bastille, in the suburb of Pollet. The following year saw the French become in their turn the assailants: Louis II. then dauphin, [37] joined the troops of the Comte de Dunois in Dieppe, and the Bastille fell, after a most murderous attack. It was afterwards levelled with the ground in 1689, though, at a period of one hundred and twenty years after it was originally taken and dismantled, it had again been made a place of strength by the Huguenots, and was still farther fortified under Henry IV. The pious dauphin, who ascribed the capture of this almost impregnable castle to the especial grace of the Virgin Mary, would not quit Dieppe without leaving behind him an equally signal mark of gratitude on his part. He accordingly repaired in person to the church of St. James, there to place the town under her especial protection; and, not content with this, he instituted the Guild of the Assumption, charging the members annually to commemorate the day of their deliverance by a solemn festival.[68]

After this time, Dieppe appears to have been exposed to no farther calamities from warfare, except what it suffered, in common with a great part of France, during the religious troubles, and also excepting the bombardment by the English fleet in 1694. From the earliest rise of Calvinism in France, the inhabitants of Dieppe had distinguished themselves in favor of the reformation; and they were already prepared to go to the utmost lengths in its support, when John Knox, one of the most devoted apostles of the new faith, landed there in 1560, on his way from Scotland to Geneva. The presence of such a man produced the effect which might naturally be expected, of kindling the spark into a flame; and Dieppe continued for two years in open rebellion to the court. The inhabitants, in 1562, alarmed by the capture of Rouen, consented to receive a garrison from our Queen Elizabeth, rather than submit to renounce their creed; but they were obliged, in the course of the same year, to surrender to the royal troops. Notwithstanding all this, the Protestants of Dieppe, through the wisdom and moderation of the governor, escaped unhurt from the massacre of St. Bartholomew. The town was nevertheless one of the first in France to declare, in 1589, for Henry IV. when, pursued by the victorious forces of the league, he sought shelter in these walls, and here collected the handful of troops, with which he almost immediately afterwards gained the important victory of Arques. The same prince also retired hither three years subsequently, and remained ten days in the midst of ses bons Dieppois, as he was in the habit of styling them, to be cured of the wounds received in the battle of Aumale.

Among the various royal personages, with whose presence Dieppe has been honored on different occasions, were Mary of Guise, widow of James V. of Scotland, and mother to the unfortunate princess of the same name, who succeeded her on the Scottish throne. She landed here in 1549, and was immediately joined by Henry II. who was at that time at Rouen. In 1564, Catherine of Médicis came hither, attended by her son, Charles IX. with a view of healing the wounds occasioned by the religious dissentions; and, in 1618, Louis XIII. after holding an assembly of the states of Normandy at the capital of the duchy, repaired to Dieppe, to visit one of the most important sea-ports of his kingdom. The same attention was shewn to the town twenty-nine years subsequently, by Louis XIV. then in his minority, accompanied by the Queen Regent; and, in our own days, it has been equally distinguished by Napoléon.

In this short outline of the principal events connected with the history of Dieppe, no notice has been taken of the honor acquired by its sailors, who have, however, on all occasions, distinguished themselves. They did so particularly in the year 1555, when, unassisted by their king, or by any other part of France, they armed their merchant vessels, and attacked and defeated, and nearly destroyed, the Flemish fleet, consisting of twenty-four sail of ships of war. At all times they have been considered as supplying some of the best men to the French navy, so that the President de Thou pronounced them to be entitled to the highest glory in nautical affairs. They lay claim to the honor of having first planted the standard of Christianity upon the coast of Guinea, where they established a settlement in the fourteenth century; of having been the first who discovered the great river of the Amazons; and also the first who sailed up that of St. Lawrence. Even to the present day, they carry on a considerable traffic in small ornaments made of ivory, a humiliating memento of their connection with Senegal: but all the rest of their commerce is dwindled into the fishery, and a small portion of coasting-trade.

[38]The castle, (the subject of plate thirty-four,) stands upon a steep hill; and, on approaching the town from the sea, has a grand and imposing appearance. Its walls, flanked with towers and bastions, cause it to retain the look of strength, the reality of which has long since departed. The earliest portion of the building is probably a high quadrangular tower, with lofty pointed pannels, in the four walls. Even this, however, cannot have been erected anterior to the year 1443; for it is upon record that the Sieur des Marêts, the first governor of the place, then began to build a castle here, to protect the town from any farther attacks on the part of the English army. The inhabitants, during the reign of Henry IV. obtained permission to add to it a citadel; but the whole was suffered almost immediately afterwards to fell into decay.

Church of St. Jacques at Dieppe.

Plate 35. Church of St. Jacques, at Dieppe.
West front.

Church of St. Jacques at Dieppe.

Plate 36. Church of St. Jacques, at Dieppe.
East end.

The church of St. Jacques, figured in the thirty-fifth and thirty-sixth plates, is the largest, and considerably the most interesting of the two parochial churches of the place. It had the singular good fortune of escaping, together with the castle, nearly uninjured from the bombardment, during the reign of our third William, which laid the town in ashes. It was begun about the year 1260, but was little advanced at the commencement of the following century; nor were its nineteen chapels, the works of the piety of individuals, completed before 1350. The roof of the choir remained imperfect till ninety years afterwards; while that of the transept is as recent as 1628. Thus it is a valuable specimen of the ecclesiastical architecture of successive ages. In the lines of the transepts are traces of the early pointed style, apparently coeval with the church at Eu: the friezes are ornamented with small pierced quatrefoils, as in that building; and the portals, now mutilated, are in the same style.—The nave is of much later date; and the vaulting, though Gothic, is intermixed with Grecian members and scrolls.—The triforium in the choir is filled with elegant perpendicular tracery. The Lady-Chapel is perhaps one of the last specimens of Gothic art, but still very pure, except in some of the smaller members, such as the niches in the tabernacles, which end in scallop-shells, instead of terminating with a groined canopy. The bosses of the groined roof are of the most delicate filagree work, and the vaulting is also ornamented with knots pendant from the ribs.—The pannel-work round the chapel takes circular terminations in each pannel; but filled within with an elegant tracery, terminating with the acanthus.—The windows of the chapel are acutely pointed.—The horizontal mullions, (an unusual feature in French architecture,) are ornamented on the outside with the ovolo. The nave is supported by flying buttresses, each filled with tracery of eight mullions.—The tower at the south angle of the west front is lofty, and in the perpendicular style. In the north aisle of the choir is an elegant screen, which probably incloses a chantry-chapel, and, like the lady-chapel, exhibits a singular mixture of pointed forms, interspersed with Roman members: parts of it resemble the tomb of Bishop Fox, at Winchester.


[67] Mémoires Chronologiques pour servir à l'Histoire de Dieppe et à celle de la Navigation Française, Paris, 1785.—(2 vols. 8vo.)

[68] This festival was attended with ceremonies of the most absurd description, which were continued till the time of the revolution. They are detailed at length in the Histoire de Dieppe I. p. 68; and a brief account has lately been given of them in English, in Turner's Tour in Normandy, I. p. 24.



The village of Haute Allemagne is situated at the distance of about a league to the south of Caen. Mention of it is to be found in the latin charters of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, under the appellation of Alamannia, or Alemannia; and the older historians contend that it derived this name from having been the site of a colony of the Alani, a Scythian tribe, who ravaged a portion of Gaul in the early years of the fifth century, and afterwards, with the consent of the Roman emperors, established themselves in various parts of the country. This opinion, in the judgment of the Abbé De la Rue, receives confirmation from the circumstance of there being another village called Allemagne, in the vicinity of Valence, where it is known that a body of the same people was fixed; and it may perhaps be adduced as a still farther proof of its correctness, that the village of Allemagne, near Caen, formerly embraced a considerably greater extent of country.

Church at Haute Allemagne.

Plate 37. Tower of the Church of Haute Allemagne near Caen.

[39]Allemagne was one of the domains granted by the Conqueror to his abbey of St. Stephen; and in the charter, he states that he cedes it “with its dependencies.” The meaning of this latter term is explained in the subsequent charter from his son Henry, in which four neighboring villages are expressly said to be dependent upon Allemagne. Allemagne was itself also divided into two parishes, the upper and lower.

At present it is only remarkable for its quarries, from which the stones are dug, known in France by the name of Carreaux d'Allemagne, and commonly used for floors to rooms, not only in the province of Normandy, but throughout the whole kingdom. There is also a considerable export of them for the same purpose. It was in these quarries that the fossil crocodile was discovered in 1817; which, as being extraordinarily perfect, and the first specimen ever found with scales, has excited an uncommon degree of interest among naturalists.

Of the history of the parish of Allemagne, nothing is known. The portion of its church here figured, has been selected for engraving, as an instance of a Norman tower of unquestionable antiquity, and in the highest preservation. The pyramidal stone roof, similar to that of the church of St. Michel de Vaucelles, at Caen, appears to be quite in its original state. Even the small lucarne window in it looks coeval with the rest. The row of intersecting arches below is beautiful and peculiar.



St. Hildebert at Gournay.

Plate 38. Collegiate Church of St. Hildebert at Gournay.
West front.

The town of Gournay is generally supposed to rival, in point of antiquity, almost any other in this part of France. Tradition refers its origin to the days of Julius Cæsar, during the latter part of whose government in Gaul, a dangerous conspiracy broke out among the Bellovaci, the Caletes, and the Velliocasses, assisted by the inhabitants of other neighboring districts. This confederacy is supposed to have given rise to Gournay.

The situation of the town is upon the frontiers of the territories of the two first tribes just mentioned, the present inhabitants of the Pays de Caux and of the Beauvaisis, in a marshy spot, subject to frequent inundations from two small rivers, the Epte and the St. Aubin, whose waters flow beneath the walls of the place. Hence, an inference has naturally arisen, that the necessity for communication between people so near in point of position, and yet so effectually separated, first suggested the advantages to be derived from a bridge over the Epte, in a place otherwise impassable; and that the bridge was shortly afterwards followed by a cause-way, which, in its turn, held out inducements to settlers, so that the town imperceptibly grew out of the traffic thus occasioned.

The historical celebrity acquired by Gournay, far exceeds what might have been expected from its size or importance, and has altogether arisen from the power and the high military character of its Norman lords. Rollo, at the time that he parcelled out the lands of his newly-acquired sovereignty, amongst his companions in arms, bestowed Gournay, together with the whole of the Norman division of the Pays de Brai, upon a chieftain of the name of Eudes, to be held as a fief of the duchy, under the usual military tenure; binding him and his successors to furnish to the prince, in times of war, twelve of their vassals, and to arm all their dependents for the defence of the adjacent frontier. Eudes had a son of the name of Hugh; and he it is who is reported to have first directed his attention towards making Gournay a place of strength. The ancient records ascribe to him the erection of a citadel in the immediate vicinity of the church of St. Hildebert, surrounded with a triple wall and double fosse; and farther secured by a tower, which was called after his name, la Tour Hue, and which continued in existence till the beginning of the seventeenth century. Such was the reported strength of this fortress, that Brito, a chronicler, but, it must be remembered, a poetical one, declares that it was able to resist an hostile attack, even without a single soldier within the walls! His whole account of the place, in the time of Philip-Augustus, and of its capture by that monarch, in the sixth book of his Philippiad, is curious and interesting.

[40]A second Hugh de Gournay, born after a lapse of about a century from the death of the son of Eudes, is usually accounted the head of the family, because it is from him that the regular series of their descent is to be traced. He was a man of whose military prowess many instances are recorded: among his other exploits, he is supposed to have been the chieftain, who, carrying his arms into the district of Beauvais, made himself master of the four villages there, which, from their subjection to him, have retained the name of Les Conquêts and which continued for many centuries under the administration of the lords of Gournay. He also attended the Conqueror to England, where he was rewarded for his services by a grant of land which he held from that prince in capite. Upon a former occasion, he had been employed by him in a place of high trust, having been appointed to command, in conjunction with Taillefer, half-brother to the duke, and three other Norman nobles, the fleet sent to the protection of Edward the Confessor, against the claims of Harold. His name is also found in 1059, among the leaders of the Norman army, which defeated the French forces at Couppegueule, near Mortimer. At last, disgusted with earthly affairs, he retired to the abbey of Bec, and there, in the monastic robe, ended a life which had been devoted to pursuits of the most opposite tendency.—This Hugh de Gournay had a son of the name of Girald, who married the sister of William, Earl Warren, and accompanied Robert, Duke of Normandy, to the Holy Land.—The third, and last Hugh de Gournay, grandson of Girald, was in the number of those who followed Richard Cœur-de-Lion in a similar expedition, and was appointed his commissioner to receive the English share of the spoil after the battle of Acre. He was also among the barons who rose against King John. But his attachment to the English cause ultimately lost him his possessions in Normandy; for no sooner was Philip-Augustus master of Gournay, than he declared him a traitor, and banished him from France.

Philip added to the fortifications a new castle, in the direction of Ferrieres. This, however, has been long since destroyed; and indeed the probability is, that the walls and towers of Gournay were neglected and suffered to fall into decay, shortly after the annexation of the duchy to France. There can be little doubt but that the town originally owed its importance, as a fortress, to its position upon the frontiers of France and Normandy; and the consequence would therefore naturally follow, that, as soon as the ducal and regal crowns were united on the same head, it would cease to be maintained as a place of strength.—About a hundred years after the capture of Gournay by Philip-Augustus, Philip the Bold, great grandson of that monarch, bestowed the town and lordship upon his youngest son, Charles of Valois, at whose death it became a part of the dower of his widow, Matilda of Chatillon. Again, in like manner, on the decease of Philip of Valois, in 1350, Gournay was separated from the Crown, and assigned to the widowed queen, Blanche of Navarre. By this princess it was held for forty-eight years, when it once more reverted to the royal domains. But early in the succeeding century, the town fell, together with the rest of France, under the victorious arms of our sovereign Henry V. and upon his demise, it was a third time selected as a portion of the dower of the royal widow, Catherine, daughter of the French monarch, Charles VI. Her death, in 1438, restored it to England: but only to be held for the short term of eleven years, at which time, the reverses sustained by the British troops, occasioned the expulsion of our monarchs from their continental dominions.—From that period to the revolution, the lordship of Gournay, with the title of count, was constantly added by the French kings to the dignities of some one of the principal families of the realm; and in this manner, it successively passed through different branches of the houses of Harcourt, Orléans, Longueville, and Montmorenci.

St. Hildebert, Gournay. North Transept.

Plate 39. Collegiate Church of St. Hildebert at Gournay.
View across the Nave into the North transept.

The church of St. Hildebert,[69] the subject of these plates, was, previously to the revolution, both parochial and collegiate. Its foundation is supposed to be of very high antiquity. There is, however, no proof of the precise period of the establishment of the chapter here. [41] The earliest records upon the subject, bear date in the year 1180, and merely mention it as being then in existence; but, according to tradition, it was first fixed at the neighboring village of Brefmoutier, and was removed to Gournay by Hugh, the last of the Norman counts. The same Hugh is generally reported to have commenced the erection of the present church; but it is sufficiently known with how little accuracy the early historians are wont to express themselves on these subjects. The term, “to rebuild,” often means no more than to repair; so that it is in many cases more safe to judge from the style of a building itself, than from the records preserved to us respecting it. The architecture of the church of St. Hildebert would lead to the supposition, that a considerable portion of it was standing in its present state, at least one hundred years anterior to the time of Hugh; and, even admitting such to have been the case, there is still sufficient discrepancy in the rest of the edifice to account for the well attested circumstance, that, at the close of the thirteenth century, the church yet remained incomplete. The imperfect state of the building did not prevent its receiving the honor of a dedication: this ceremony was performed in one of the last years of the twelfth century, by Walter, Archbishop of Rouen, in person, attended, as commonly happened, by a great concourse of the nobles and clergy of the province; and, in the first year of the following century, Herbert, Archbishop of Canterbury, passed over from England for the express purpose of doing honor by his presence to the translation of the reliques of St. Hildebert. The banishment of Hugh de Gournay and confiscation of his property, which took place shortly after these events, deprived the canons of their liberal and powerful benefactor. Poverty caused the progress of the building to be suspended; and it was only by the aid of repeated indulgences, granted by the popes and archbishops,[70] that it was finally brought to a state of completion. The two western towers are of a considerably more recent period: they were erected in their present state, of wood, roofed with slate, in the middle of the seventeenth century. The timber was supplied by the Duchess of Longueville, whose husband was at that time Count of Gournay; and the rest of the charge was defrayed by the sale of the materials of a ruined chapel, dedicated to St. Julian, and of a small central tower, the only one originally attached to the building.

The church is in the form of a cross; consisting of a nave with aisles, choir, and transepts. The west front (plate thirty-eight) is in the earliest style of pointed architecture, and evidently of the period of the same Hugh de Gournay, by whom the whole edifice is said to be raised. If compared with the same portion of the churches known to have been erected at a similar period in England, the closest resemblance will be traced between them. That of Salisbury cathedral, the most noble instance of the kind in Britain, is later, and infinitely more richly ornamented. But in this at Gournay, the windows are the only portion that have altogether escaped mutilation or alteration. The side portals were evidently, in their original state, fronted with porches, which have now disappeared. Such has likewise been the case with the arches of entrance; and mention has already been made of the posterior date of the tower.

The thirty-ninth plate exhibits a portion of the older part of the interior of the church, and displays a style of architecture considerably prior to the period assigned for its rebuilding; so that no one can well doubt but that, as has been hinted above, though it may be said to owe its existence to Hugh de Gournay, this assertion is to be taken only in a qualified sense. This plate contains the last compartment of the north side of the nave, and also admits a portion of [42] the transept. Flanking the nave, on either hand, is a row of seven columns, supporting six arches. It is scarcely possible for the most casual observer not to be struck, immediately upon entering the building, with the extreme massiveness and solidity of the piers. They are for the most part square, and only varied with a semi-cylindrical shaft attached to each of the four sides. Similar piers are to be found in many of the village churches upon the coasts of Sussex and Surrey, the part of our island which, from its situation nearest to Normandy, is most likely to retain genuine specimens of the earliest and purest Norman architecture. But the most remarkable character attending the piers at Gournay is, that the sculpture upon them, instead of being confined as usual to the capitals of the pillars, is also continued over the flat intermediate surface of the piers, extending to the same depth as the capitals, as if intended, by forming a band round the whole, to connect it more closely in a kind of architectural unity. The pattern, however, in general varies as applied to the flat or circular sides. The arches of the nave of the church are of a shape between what is generally termed the semi-circular and the horse-shoe arch; their centre being somewhat higher than the spring, but not remarkably so. The clerestory windows above are all Norman; and the same is the case with the great arches, originally intended to support the central tower; excepting, indeed, in that to the north, which has evidently undergone an alteration.

St. Hildebert, Gournay. Capitals.

Plate 40. Collegiate Church of St. Hildebert at Gournay.

St. Hildebert, Gournay. Capitals.

Plate 41. Collegiate Church of St. Hildebert at Gournay.

Plates forty and forty-one[71] are devoted to the capitals, the most characteristic feature of the building. A more remarkable or a more interesting set, is not to be seen in any church throughout Normandy. Their character is by no means altogether the same as that of those at St. Georges, or in the abbatial church of the Trinity at Caen. There are indeed monsters among them, but they are of unfrequent occurrence; and, if the expression may be allowed, they are not equally monstrous. Nor are they of a description to appear to bear any reference to mythology, or to history. On the contrary, the sculpture on them is for the most part of great beauty; and the patterns display a fertile, and an elegant, if not a classical, taste on the part of the architects. The greatest peculiarity among them, and one that is believed to be wholly confined to this church, is, that seven or eight of the pillars have, by way of capitals, a narrow projecting rim, carved with undulating lines. So frequent a repetition of the same ornament, and of an ornament so very singular, removes the idea of accident. It has therefore been supposed, that the intention of the sculptor was to exhibit a kind of hieroglyphical representation of water. “Perhaps,” as has been observed elsewhere,[72] “it is the chamber of Sagittarius; or, perhaps, it is a fess-wavy, to which the same signification has been assigned by heralds.—If this interpretation be correct, the symbol is allusive to the ancient situation of the town, built in a marsh, intersected by two streams.”

The aisles of the church are in all parts ancient: their vaulting resembles that of Norwich cathedral, an arch springing from each capital.—Large windows of the decorated English style, and consequently comparatively modern, have been inserted, at the east end of the church, and at the extremity of the south transept; but, in both these parts, sufficient is left to shew the original design of the architect. In the latter, it is evident that there once were, as there still remain in the opposite transept, four semi-circular-headed windows, disposed, to speak in heraldic language, 1, 2, and 1; while, in the former, were seven, placed 1, 2, and 4. Of the four lowest of these, the two outermost gave light to the aisles. Each window was separated from the rest by a shallow undivided Norman buttress, built of squared freestone, and interrupting the herring-bone masonry, which occupies the rest of the east end, to the height of about five feet from the ground.


[69] St. Hildebert is a name of rare occurrence in hagiology. He was bishop of Meaux in the seventh century, but was not honored with a place in the calendar, till about three hundred years after his decease; at which time his reliques were carried to different parts of France, and finally interred at Gournay. The church, on this occasion, changed its patron, an event which commonly happened in those ages, and placed itself under the protection of the new saint, instead of the proto-martyr, to whom it had been originally dedicated.—Peter de Natalibus, in his Catalogus Sanctorum, says, that St. Hildebert ended his life as Archbishop of Tours; and that he died in that city, and was there buried, “ibique jacens in miraculis vivit.” He speaks of him likewise as an elegant scholar, and the author of a work, de contemptu hujus vitæ, written partly in verse, and partly in prose.

[70] Of the last of these, which bears date in 1278, a copy, translated from the Archiepiscopal Archives, is printed in the Concilia Normannica, (II. p. 85,) and is here inserted, not only on account of the information it affords concerning the church, but as a curious specimen of similar compositions:—

Guillelmus de Flavacuria Indulgentias Ecclesiæ Gornacensi concedit anno Christi mcclxxviii.

“Guillelmus permissione divinâ Rotomagensis Archiepiscopus, universis præsentes literas inspecturis, salutem in Domino Jesu Christo. Cum, sicut accepimus, Ecclesia de Gournayo nostræ Diocesis, in qua Corpus B. Hildeverti requiescit, ita graviter sit oppressa, quòd ad sustentationem pauperum Clericorum ibi deservientium, necnon et ad reædificationem dictæ Ecclesiæ propriæ facultates non suppetant nisi fidelium subventionibus adjuvetur, maximè cùm prædicta Ecclesia amiserit redditus quos in Anglia solebat percipere annuatim. Nos de omnipotentis Dei misericordia et B. Mariæ semper Virginis genitricis ejus, beatorum Petri et Pauli, ac beatorum Confessorum Romani et Audoëni, et omnium Sanctorum meritis et intercessione confisi: Omnibus verè pœnitentibus et confessis, qui ad dictam Ecclesiam causâ peregrinationis Dominicâ in qua canitur: Isti sunt dies, et die Sabbathi et die Veneris immediatè præcedentibus accesserint, vel prænominatæ Ecclesiæ manum suam porrexerint, adjutorium dictis diebus vel aliis eleemosynas largiendo, 40 dies de injunctis sibi pœnitentiis misericorditer relaxamus. Datum Gournaii anno Domini 1278, die Veneris ante Festum B. Dionysii.”

[71] The capitals in the former of these plates are all selected from the nave; in the latter, those marked E, H, M, are taken from the columns placed at the intersection of the transepts; and G, I, K, and O, from the choir. L and N represent consols to ribs in the aisles.

[72] Turner's Tour in Normandy, II. p. 44.




Chapel of St. Julien.

Plate 42. Chapel of the Hospital of St. Julien, near Rouen.
South side.

The chapel figured in these plates is all that now remains of a monastery, which, at the period of the revolution, was one of the most magnificent in the vicinity of Rouen. It was then likewise almost altogether new: Farin, in his history of the city, printed in 1731, states that, at the time when he wrote, the monks of the order of the Chartreux, the then occupants of the priory, had just began to rebuild the great cloister, according to a very simple and magnificent design.[73] But the revolutionary commotions levelled the whole with the ground, sparing only the unassuming chapel, which has since served as a wood-house for the neighboring farmer.

The convent itself underwent many changes of owners. It was originally founded in 1183, by Henry II. King of England and Duke of Normandy, as a priory, under the invocation of St. Julien, for the reception of unmarried females of rank, who, having the misfortune to be affected with leprosy, devoted themselves to a religious life. That terrible disease, happily almost unknown except by tradition, in our days, was in those times of so frequent occurrence, that legislative enactments were repeatedly necessary to restrain its ravages. In the history of the councils of the Norman church, allusions to the subject are often to be found. Lepers were forbidden to migrate, even from one lazar-house to another; they were not allowed to set their foot in any city or fortress; and, in the event of their transgressing this order, and being ill-treated in consequence of such disobedience, no redress was to be afforded them. They could take rest in no inn, even for necessary refreshment.[74] By an especial order of the church of Bayeux, no one could give alms to a leper, under pain of excommunication;[75] and the church of Coutances went still further, enjoining them never to appear without a particular kind of cope, by way of distinction, and never to attempt to dispose of the hogs which they were in the habit of fatting, except to such as labored under the same disease. Disobedience to this last order, exposed both buyer and seller to a punishment, which sounds rather strange at this time, being ad boni viri arbitrium.[76] In another case, and nearly at the time of the foundation of the priory of St. Julien, it is upon record, that lepers were charged as engaged in a horrible communion of crime with Jews. The latter were expelled from France in 1321, upon the plea of their having been guilty of administering to the people potions of a poisonous quality; and the lepers were accused of having lent themselves as instruments in aiding and abetting.[77]

In the foundation-charter of the priory of St. Julien, Henry endows it with an annual rental of two hundred livres, for the clothing and maintenance of the nuns; and he gives them, in addition, the meadow of Quevilli, in which parish the convent was situated, together with the privilege of cutting their fire-wood, and feeding their cattle, in the forest there. Hence the monastery was indiscriminately known by the name of Salle du Roi, Salle des Pucelles, Notre Dame du Quevilli, and St. Julien du Parc.

In the year 1366, Charles V. King of France, being then at Rouen, transferred, by his letters patent, the convent of St. Julien, with all its appurtenances, which had by that time considerably increased, to the great hospital of the city, called the Magdalen. The prior of the latter establishment was enjoined to take charge of the nuns, and to visit them daily, for the purpose of recommending the soul of the king to their prayers, in commemoration of the great benefits bestowed by him upon the monastery. Even down to the time of the revolution, this custom was to a certain degree maintained. The priest on duty during the week was bound to pronounce daily, with a loud voice, at the close of the evening [44] service, “Ames dévotes priez pour Charles V. Roi de France, et pour nos autres bienfaiteurs;” and this was followed by the one hundred and twenty-ninth psalm, and an appropriate prayer. The same ceremony was at the same time performed by one of the nuns, among the females.

After the union of the convent of St. Julien to the Magdalen, the superior of the hospital was in the habit of keeping a monk at the priory, as a superintendant over the religious duties of the occupants and temporal possessions of the foundation; and this state of things continued till 1600, when, upon the destruction of the abbey upon Mont Ste Catherine, the friars of the latter establishment obtained from the hospital the cession of the deserted monastery, and occupied it for sixty-seven years. They then also in their turn resigned it, and it fell into the hands of the Carthusians of Gaillon, who, uniting with their brethren of the same order at Rouen, formed a very opulent community, and resided here till the period when all monastic institutions ceased throughout France.

Architecturally considered, the chapel is a building of great interest.[78] A more pure, or more perfect specimen of the Norman æra, is perhaps no where to be found. Without spire or tower, and divided into three parts of unequal length and height, the nave, the choir, and the circular apsis, it resembles one of the meanest of our parish churches in England. In its design, it is externally quite regular, being divided throughout its whole length, into small compartments, by a row of shallow buttresses, which rise from the ground to the eaves of the roof, without any partition into splays. Those on the south side, (see plate forty-two) are all, except the most eastern, still in their primeval state; but a buttress of a subsequent, though not very recent, date, has been built up against almost every one of the original buttresses on the north side, by way of support to the edifice. Each division contains a single narrow circular-headed window; beneath which is a plain moulding, continued uninterruptedly over the buttresses as well as the wall. Another plain moulding runs nearly on a level with the tops of the windows, and takes the same circular form; but it is confined to the spaces between the buttresses. There are no others.—The entrance was by circular-headed doors, at the west end and south side, both of them very plain; but particularly the latter. The few ornaments of the western are as perfect and as sharp, as if the whole were the work of yesterday. This part of the church has, however, been exposed to considerable injury, owing to its having joined the conventual buildings.

Chapel of St. Julien. Interior.

Plate 43. Chapel of the Hospital of St. Julien, near Rouen.
Interior. Choir and part of the Nave.

The interior of the chapel, however degraded from its original purpose, continues, like the exterior, almost perfect; but it is much more rich, uniting to the common ornaments of Norman architecture capitals of great labor. The ceiling is covered with paintings of scriptural subjects, which still remain. This discrepance of style between the outside of the building and the inside, might lead to a suspicion that they had been erected at different times; but there really seems to be no sufficient ground for such an opinion. Those who attempt to decide upon the dates of Norman edifices, judging from the character of their ornaments, or the comparative profusion of their decorations, will do well to reflect, that almost every building contains in itself a medley of what is barbarous and classical, while no two can well vary more in the quantity of their ornaments, than the two abbatial churches of Caen; and yet they were both of them, beyond dispute, productions of the self-same æra.—It deserves remark likewise, that two theories of directly opposite tendency, both of them perhaps equally plausible, have been started upon this point. The partisans of one of these maintain, that the Normans, on their arrival in the more southern parts of Europe, found highly ornamented buildings, and, being themselves altogether ignorant of art, were content with copying what already existed; so that their progress in art was in a retrograde direction, from a classical style, to one comparatively barbarous. On the other hand, it is averred, that these reputed savages really imported with them the kind of architecture now generally known by their name; and, in proportion as they improved in wealth, luxury, and refinement, drew nearer and nearer to the Roman model, either by dint of their own observations, or by the importation of Italian artists. The balance of probability appears at the first glance to incline in favor of the latter of these opinions, as most consonant to the general march of human affairs. Perhaps, however, upon a more attentive consideration, the former may appear nearer to the truth: it is certain, that the style in architecture, which immediately succeeded what is commonly called Norman, is still farther removed from the Roman or the Greek; and it is equally certain, that the Norman itself has different characters in different parts of Europe. That of [45] England varies to a certain degree from what is seen in Normandy: the latter still more so from the German, and the German from that of the south of France; while, in the north of Italy, and in Sicily, it is again found with features unlike those of other countries, and equally unlike those of each other. In all, the discrepancies most probably arise from the styles peculiar to the several nations, previously to the irruptions of the northern hordes. The subject is, at all events, deserving of investigation and reflection.


[73] Vol V. p. 370.

[74] Concilia Normannica, II. p. 72.

[75] Ibidem, p. 239.

[76] Ibidem, p. 545.

[77] Ibidem, I. p. 175.

[78] The greater part of what follows is borrowed from Turner's Tour in Normandy, I. p. 128.



Church of Léry.

Plate 44. Church of Léry, near Pont-de-L'Arche.
General view looking south east.

It is not in the vicinity of Rouen, nor indeed in any portion of the district formerly known under the denomination of Upper Normandy, that the curious traveller must seek for the most interesting remains of early ecclesiastical architecture in the province. The village churches, throughout this portion of the duchy, are for the most part small and insignificant, and of comparatively modern erection; while, in the vicinity of Caen, and indeed in the whole of the departments of Calvados and of La Manche, a large proportion of them are unquestionably referable to the times of Norman dominion, and exhibit some of the purest specimens of real Norman art. The solution of this question must in all probability be sought for in the political state of the province; and no more obvious answer seems to present itself, than is afforded by a reference to the local character of its two great divisions, of which, Upper Normandy, consisting greatly of a border country, exposed to the continual ravages of warfare from its more powerful neighbor, with difficulty preserved such of its public buildings as were defended by the walls of the fortresses; and often gladly compounded for the secure existence of these, by the sacrifice of the harvest, the cottage, and the parochial church.

Yet, even here, some of the ecclesiastical buildings have escaped the hand of time and violence; and among these, few, if any, more completely than that of Léry, a village situated upon the right bank of the Eure, at a distance of about two miles from Pont de l'Arche, and nearly the same from Louviers.

Léry gives its name to the adjoining commune; and it may reasonably be inferred, that it was in former times a place of more importance, than would be imagined from its present appearance. The ingenious and estimable M. Langlois, of Rouen, in a work[79] which he commenced upon the antiquities of Normandy, and in which he has figured the west front of this church, tells us, that but a few years since, Léry could boast of several specimens of domestic architecture of unusual size and embellishment. Of one of these, an engraving has lately been given by M. Willemin, in his exquisite Monumens Inédits de la France. It was known by the name of the Palace of Queen Blanche; and if, by the Blanche in question, is to be understood the Princess of Navarre, consort of Philip VI. who died in 1350, there is nothing in the exterior of the building to prevent its being ascribed to that æra. It was entered by a flat door-way, under a wide, pointed, crocketed arch; the transom-stone enriched with a trefoil-headed moulding; and the whole portal surmounted with a balustrade of quatrefoils. But, unfortunately, nothing more can now be said of the building, than is supplied by the plate in question. It had, in its earlier time, repeatedly suffered from the effects of fire; and a similar calamity completed its ruin, during the month of June, 1814. The lower part of the walls and the gothic portal are all that are left standing, to attest the original size and magnificence of the palace.

The church of Léry is referred by M. Langlois to the æra of the Carlovingian dynasty, a period that extended from the middle of the seventh century, to the concluding years of the tenth. Its claim to so [46] extraordinarily high a degree of antiquity, is founded, in his opinion, upon the resemblance borne by the columns and capitals of the west front, particularly those of the windows, to the same parts in the crypt of the abbey of St. Denis, generally supposed to be the joint work of Pepin and of Charlemagne. But these latter decidedly partake more of the character of the classical model,[80] while every member throughout the whole front of Léry, (see plate forty-five) may find a parallel in other Norman churches; or, if an exception is to be made to so sweeping an assertion, it can only be in favor of the second and largest moulding in the archivolt of the portal, which is very peculiar. The two lateral pointed windows are obviously an introduction of a subsequent period; and a doubt may likewise perhaps be entertained with regard to the buttresses. This front is small indeed, but elegant: it is more richly ornamented than that of the chapel in the castle at Caen;[81] and, though less so than that of the abbey church of St. Georges de Bocherville, yet can it scarcely be said to be inferior in beauty. A recent tourist[82] has remarked, with much apparent probability, that the churches of St. Georges and of Léry may, from the general conformity in the style of both, reasonably be regarded as of nearly the same æra,—the time of the Norman conquest; and he goes on to add that, through these, the English antiquary may be enabled to fix the date to a specimen of ancient architecture in his own country, more splendid than either,—the church of Castle-Rising,[83] in Norfolk, whose west front is so much on the same plan, that it can scarcely have been erected at a very different period.

The church of Léry (see plate forty-four) is built in the form of a cross, having in the centre a short square tower, to which has been attached, in modern times, a wretched wooden spire. This Mr. Cotman has very judiciously omitted, as adding nothing to the interest of the plate, and merely tending to deform what is otherwise seen in nearly the same state in which it left the hands of the original builders. The corbel-table, observable immediately under the top of the tower, and in some parts of the choir and transepts, exhibits the same description of monsters, as in the church of St. Paul at Rouen, of the Holy Trinity at Caen, and other Norman religious buildings.—Two peculiarities attending upon the exterior of the church are, that the east end is flat, and that the transepts are altogether without buttresses.

Church of Léry.

Plate 45. Church of Léry, near Pont-de-L'Arche.
West Front.

Church of Léry.

Plate 46. Church of Léry, near Pont-de-L'Arche.

In the interior (plate forty-six) it is impossible not to be struck with the extraordinary simplicity and solidity of the whole. The only aim of the architect appears to have been to erect an edifice that should last for ever. A double row of pillars and arches separates the nave into three parts of unequal width; and another arch, of greater span, divides it from the chancel. The arches are in every instance devoid of mouldings; the capitals are altogether without ornamental sculpture of any description; and the pillars are even unsupported by bases. Indeed, the pillars are nothing more than rounded piers; and they are not less remarkable for their proportions, than for their simplicity, their diameter being equal to full two-thirds of their height. Hence it is scarcely possible not to entertain the suspicion that the floor may have been raised; but there is nothing in the appearance of the church to justify such an idea. It is scarcely necessary to mention, that the figures of saints placed upon brackets against the spandrils of the arches, are all modern. Their execution is wretched; and its imperfection is rendered but the more apparent, by their having been painted in imitation of living nature. The string-course, which runs immediately above their heads, is placed in a very uncommon situation. It is composed of the nail-head ornament, in itself a sufficient proof of its antiquity; and also, as is observed by Mr. Cotman, of such rarity in Normandy, that he does not recollect to have met with another instance of it.

The windows of the church of Léry were formerly filled with painted glass, representing very curious subjects, taken from the life of St. Louis; but every vestige of the kind has now disappeared. From the church-yard, which stands upon a considerable elevation, immediately above the banks of the Eure, are seen, upon an opposite hill beyond the river, the ruins of the once celebrated convent, known by the name of the Priory of the Two Lovers.


[79] Recueil de quelques vues de sites et Monumens de la France, spécialement de Normandie, et des divers Costumes des Habitans de cette Province.—Of this work, the first number, containing eight plates, appeared in Rouen, in 1816; but, unfortunately, it did not meet with sufficient encouragement to be ever followed by a second.

[80] See Howlett's Plan and Views of the Abbey Royal of St. Denis, plate 6.

[81] See plate 48.

[82] Turner's Tour in Normandy, I. p. 188.

[83] Cotman's Architectural Antiquities of Norfolk, plate 35.




Church of Colomby.

Plate 47. Elevations of the Church of Colomby near Valognes.

The church of Colomby, to use the language of M. de Gerville, is one of the last of the religious edifices built by those powerful barons, whose sway extended equally over Normandy and England. No records, indeed, are left either as to the actual time of its erection, or the name of its founder. With respect, however, to the former, the style of the architecture is sufficiently decisive; and there is as little cause for hesitation in referring its origin to a nobleman allied to the family of the Conqueror.

Baldwin de Brionis, or de Molis, who accompanied that monarch in his expedition against England, and was afterwards married to his niece, was rewarded by him for his services, with the barony of Okehampton, where he resided, as well as with the custody of the county of Devon, and the government of Exeter castle, in fee. The earldom of the same county, together with a grant of the Isle of Wight, was conferred by Henry I. upon the son of Baldwin, Richard de Redvers; and, either in the same or the following generation, this powerful family obtained a still farther accession to its riches and honors, in the possession of Néhou, a considerable portion of the barony of St. Sauveur le Vicomte, which Néel, Viscount of the Cotentin, had forfeited in 1047. The domain of Néhou included a collegiate church; and one of the prebends of this was attached to the second portion of the church of Colomby.

It appears from three inquiries instituted at different times by the bishops of Coutances, with a view to ascertain the value of the livings in their diocese, that, in the years 1255, 1666, and 1737, Colomby was under two separate ministers; one of them nominated by the lord, the other by the abbey of Montbourg.[84]

Almost all the noblemen of the family of Redvers, who, after the conquest of England, commonly assumed the additional name of Vernon, were distinguished by the baptismal appellation of Baldwin, William, or Richard. The first of the Richards laid the foundation of the monastery of Montbourg. He died there in 1107, after having enriched his rising convent with numerous donations, and, among others, with the second portion of Colomby. Baldwin, his son and successor, confirmed the donations: he took arms against King Stephen, and was forced by that monarch to flee from England in 1136; shortly after which time he completed the abbey begun by his father, and caused it to be dedicated in 1152: three years subsequently, he died. A second Richard, who succeeded him in his honors, as Earl of Devonshire and Lord of Néhou, died in 1162; and a third of the same name, in 1184. This last, not content with merely confirming the donations made by his ancestors to Montbourg, materially increased them: he also added to the collegiate church of Néhou, a fifth prebend, which he conferred upon one of the ministers of Colomby; and it was by him, according to the opinion of M. de Gerville, that the church, the subject of the present article, was built.

A few years only elapsed after the decease of this chieftain, before Normandy became re-united to the crown of France; and one of the first acts of Philip-Augustus, who then sat upon the throne, was to register the fiefs of his new province, their several possessors, and the service owed by each. This took place in the year 1207; and Néhou, which was bound to furnish the monarch with five horse-soldiers, was at that time in the possession of Richard of Vernon, a nobleman of whom no notice is to be found in the genealogy of the lords of the Isle of Wight. The register records the fact in the following terms:—“Ric. de Vernon tenet baroniam de Neahou per servicium quimque militum. Guillelmus de Vernon tenet inde duo feoda et dimidium.”—

[48]The church of Colomby is in perfect preservation, unspoiled and undefaced by modern alterations or additions, saving only that of a porch at the western extremity. For simplicity and uniformity it cannot be surpassed; nor can any building be better qualified to afford a specimen of the religious architecture of the times. Though destitute both of transept and aisles, the tower is central: the east end terminates in a flat wall. The columns within are clustered and light; formed of stone, which unites, in an eminent degree, the advantage of great strength with that of yielding easily to the chisel, and which is dug from the quarries of Yvetot, near Valognes. The same quarries also furnished the principal part of the stone employed in the construction of the cathedral of Coutances. The plate exhibits at C. the elevation of the south side of the church; to which have been added, for the more complete understanding of the subject,

A.  The west front.
B.  East end.
D.  South door-way to the chancel.
E.  A single window.


[84] The words used upon this subject in the Inquisition of 1255, made by Jean d'Essey, then bishop of Coutances, are as follows:—“Eccliæ de Colombeo patronus Abbas Montisburgi pro medietate et percipit duas garbas de portione sua. Rector percipit terciam cum altalagio. Gulielmus de Rivers patronus pro alia medietate. Rector percipit omnia.”—The two following inquisitions state in express terms, that the first portion was under the patronage of the lord.



The Castle at Caen was built by William the Conqueror, whose son, Henry I. though commonly reputed its founder, in reality confined himself to raising the walls and adding the keep, which latter was levelled with the ground, by virtue of a decree of the National Convention, dated 6th August, 1793. By the same decree, it was still farther enacted, that the castle itself should be demolished; but the wisdom of the representatives of the sovereign people failed in this, as in many other instances, by not duly appreciating the difficulties attendant upon the execution of their edict: these proved to be so great, that the workmen were compelled to desist, when comparatively but little progress had been made in the work of destruction.

It is expressly stated in the Norman Chronicle, that a castle, though of smaller size, previously existed upon the same spot. In opposition, however, to this assertion, we are told by Robert Wace, that at the time when Henry I. of France, in his expedition against the Conqueror, in 1054, advanced with his army as far as the banks of the Seville, he traversed the town of Caen without resistance: “it being sans chastel, and the Duke not having yet surrounded it with walls.” But may not this apparent contradiction be reconciled, by admitting that the words of the historian are only to be taken in a comparative sense? It is possible, that Wace intended to convey no farther meaning than that the town was not then fortified, as in his time; and such a supposition would cause every difficulty to vanish.

The Castle, as early as the eleventh century, was placed under the superintendance of a constable; and the office was, in 1106, made hereditary in the family of Robert Fitz-Hamon, Lord of Creuly, by whom, and his heirs, it continued to be held till the closing year of the same century. Under the reign of the last of the Norman Dukes, the keep had a governor of its own, distinct from that of the castle; and he was dignified with the title of Constable of the Tower of Caen; but, upon the reduction of the province by Philip-Augustus, Caen itself, together with the castle and its dungeon, was all committed to the charge of a single officer, denominated the Captain. Such also appears to have continued the case, except during the reign of Louis XI. when one Raymond d'Argeau is recorded to have been the Garde particulier du Donjon. The timid policy of a suspicious prince might naturally suggest the idea of greater safety, in not allowing the power over so important a fortress to be vested in any single hand.

Chapel in the castle at Caen.

Plate 48. Chapel in the Castle at Caen.

The Castle at Caen was the place on which the different lordships, attached to the dignity of Viscount of Caen, directly or indirectly, depended. Almost all of them were held upon the condition of some annual contribution, consisting either of arrows, or quivers, or bows, or swords, or cuirasses, or other description of ancient armor. In time of war, the vassals of these different lords were likewise bound to mount [49] guard at the castle; but most of the parishes purchased an exemption from this service, by means of a pecuniary payment. Thus it is upon record that, in the year 1383, the parish of Méry compounded for fifty-six livres annually, and that of Cléville for thirty-two livres ten sols. By the tenure of others among the dependencies of the bailiwick, it was stipulated, according to M. de Bourgueville, that they should supply the castle with provisions, in the event of war.

The sums arising from these various contributions, were employed for the pay and maintenance of the garrison: in 1369, the salary of the governor of Caen was fixed at one thousand livres annually; half of it arising from the revenues of the Viscounty of Caen, the other moiety from those of the Viscounty of Bayeux. The garrison, during the fourteenth century, was limited in time of peace to six esquires and ten crossbow-men. Even during the short period of English power, the governor was allowed for the defence of the place only thirty heavy-armed soldiers and ninety archers, half of their number being mounted. Upon the capture of Caen by Charles VII. in 1450, that monarch left in the castle a garrison amounting to nearly three hundred soldiers; and this number was not reduced below one hundred and forty, upon the conclusion of the peace.

The above particulars, translated almost verbatim from the Abbé De la Rue's recent publication upon Caen,[85] do not place the castle, as a fortress, in the important light which might reasonably have been expected, considering its reputed strength and its great extent. Monstrelet,[86] speaking of it in his own time, says, “it is the strongest in all Normandy, fortified with high and great bulwarks of a very hard stone, situated upon a rock, and containing in extent as much as the whole town of Corbeil.” De Bourgueville[87] enters, as might be expected, more at large into the subject. His description is full and interesting.[88]

A short time previously to the revolution, when Caen was visited by Ducarel,[89] the greater part of the castle was much out of order, having been altogether neglected; but the dungeon had then lately undergone a thorough repair, and was used as a place of confinement for state prisoners, and for such others, as by lettres de cachet, obtained at the joint request of their family, were deprived of their liberty, in order to prevent their incurring the disgrace, after having been exposed to the misfortune, of poverty.

On the subject of its present condition, we learn from Mr. Turner,[90] that, “degraded as it is in its character by modern innovation, it is more deserving of notice as an historical, than as an architectural, relic; but that it still claims to be reckoned as a place of defence, though it retains but few of its original features. The spacious, lofty circular towers, which flanked its ramparts, known by the names of the black, the white, the red, and the grey horse, have been brought down to the level of the platform. The dungeon-tower is destroyed; and all the grandeur of the Norman castle is lost, though the width of its ditches, and the thickness of its walls, still testify its ancient [50] strength.”—The same author proceeds to state, that “there are reasons for supposing that Caen, when first founded, only occupied the site of the present castle; and that, when it became advisable to convert the old town into a fortress, the inhabitants migrated into the valley below.”—He adds, upon the authority of De Bourgueville, that “six thousand infantry could be drawn up in battle array, within the outer ballium; and that so great was the number of houses and of inhabitants, inclosed within the area, that it was thought expedient to build in it a parochial church, dedicated to St. George, besides two chapels.”

One of these chapels has been supposed to be the subject of the present plate; but the high authority of the Abbé De la Rue[91] seems to render such a supposition at least doubtful. Indeed, the reverend author enumerates no fewer than six chapels within the precincts of the castle, without, however, entering upon a description of the remains of any one of them. At the same time, he particularly notices the religious building here figured, evidently regarding it as having served formerly for a parochial church. At present, it is desecrated, and is devoted to the office of a military storehouse. M. De la Rue regards it as being not only the oldest architectural relic in Caen, but as an erection of the tenth century. He founds this opinion upon its construction, destitute of any tower; upon the circular arches of its door and windows; upon its zig-zag mouldings; upon the monsters of its corbel-table; and, above all, upon the peculiarity of its position; the choir being turned to the west, and the front to the east. It was, according to him, in the eleventh century, that the practice, now uniformly adopted, of placing churches in an opposite direction, was first introduced. The irregularity of the early Norman religious edifices, in this latter respect, has already been noticed under a preceding article.[92]


[85] Essais Historiques, II. p. 272.

[86] Chronicles, (Johnes' Translation) III. p. 472.

[87] Recherches et Antiquitez de la Ville de Caen, p. 19.

[88] Indeed, so detailed and curious is this account, that, though rather long, it appears desirable here to insert it.—“Reste à present à descrire la situation de ce superbe chasteau, lequel est apparent et haut eslevé comme une couronne et propugnacle à ceste grande ville, il a esté de tout tems l'un des premiers de ce royaume en beauté, grandeur, et forteresse pour estre assis sur un roc naturel, venteux, non sujet à la mine, ny escalade, accompaigné de son donjon, au mitan duquel est eslevee une tour carree d'une admirable grosseur et hauteur, circuye de fortes murailles, et aux coings quatre grosses et hautes tours rondes à plate forme à plusieurs estages, que l'on a nommees, l'une le cheval blanc, l'autre le cheval noir, la tierce le cheval rouge, et la quatre le cheval grix, lesquelles seruent par aucunes fois pour enfermer les plus insignes voleurs, les fossez de ce donion sont à fonds de cuue comme ceux de ce chasteau d'une epouuantable profondeur, tellement qu'ils ne sont suiets à l'escalade, le belle ou basse court de ce chasteau est de si ample estendue qu'on y peut mettre en ordre de bataille pour combatre cinq ou six mil hommes de pied, et y peut on loger nombre de caualerie pour faire des saillies sur un camp adversaire, les croniques contiennent qu'il y a plusieurs villes en France moindres que ce chasteau, comme Corbeil et Mont Ferant, i'y aiousterai Quarantan en basse Normandie, il y a si bon nombre de maisons et habitans, qu'il contient une eglise parrochiale en son circuit fondee de saint George, et deux chapeles, l'une de saint Gabriel, et l'autre de saint Agnen, son contour contient un bon nombre de carneaux de visieres et de tours, et l'enclos du donion contient aussi nombre de carneaux, et quatre grosses tours sans celle du parmy, il y a encores au de là du donjon une grande terrasse, qu'on appele la Roqueste d'une admirable forteresse de rampars, puis une grande place que l'on appele la garenne à connins, où l'on peut mettre en seureté un bon nombre de bestaux pour la fourniture de viures de ce chasteau durant un siege. Et à la verité les grands seigneurs et chefs de guerre qui ont veu cette place, la remarquent, et tiennent comme inexpugnables, d'autant même qu'elle est fortifiee de rampars de trente ou quarante pieds de largeur, et ne se peut vaincre sans trahison, faute de cœur ou de viures, aussi noz Rois y ont tousiours pourueus de vaillans seigneurs et capitaines.”

[89] Anglo-Norman Antiquities, p. 49.

[90] Tour in Normandy, II. p. 170.

[91] Essais Historiques sur la Ville de Caen, I. p. 83.

[92] See the Description of the Abbey Church of the Holy Trinity, at Caen, p. 30.



Cathedral at Rouen.

Plates 49-50. Cathedral Church of Notre Dame, at Rouen.
South transept from the Place de la Calende.

The merit of first introducing the light of Christianity into that part of France, which has subsequently been known by the different appellations of Westria, Neustria, and Normandy, is commonly attributed to St. Nicaise; whose name is therefore generally permitted to stand at the head of the prelates of the archiepiscopal see of Rouen. St. Nicaise, according to the traditions of the Norman church, lived about the middle of the third century, and was dispatched from Rome, in company with the more illustrious St. Denis, upon an express mission from Pope Clement, to preach the gospel at Rouen, then the capital of the gallic tribe, the Velocasses. But it is admitted on all hands, that he never reached the place of his destination. The many miracles he wrought by the way, consisting principally of the destruction of dragons[93] and conversion of pagan priests, had rendered him obnoxious to Fescenninus, the Roman governor of the province; and the saint was consequently doomed to suffer the pains, not without receiving the palm, of martyrdom.

Cathedral at Rouen.

Plates 51-52. Cathedral Church of Notre Dame, at Rouen.
West front from the Place Notre Dame.

[51]To Nicaise, succeeded St. Mello, a native of England, who, in the performance of his duty, to carry the annual tribute from Britain to the Roman emperor, was converted by the pontiff; and, if credit may be given to the legends recounted by Pommeraye,[94] was, in the presence of the Pope, invested by an angel from heaven with the pastoral staff; and, at the same time, enjoined to take upon himself the spiritual jurisdiction over Rouen and its vicinity. A mission thus constituted, and still farther verified by the gift of miracles, could not fail of the desired end. St. Mello not only succeeded in converting the lower class of the pagans, but he likewise reckoned many of the principal citizens among his disciples; and one of these, of the name of Precordius, ceded to him his house, on the site of which was built the first Christian place of worship known in Rouen. Hence, in the following distich, Ordericus Vitalis, entirely passing over Nicaise, places St. Mello at the head of the line of the Norman prelates:—

“Antistes sanctus Mellonus, in ordine primus,
Excoluit plebem doctrinâ Rothomagensem.”—

Of the duration or history of the church thus erected, nothing is known; but it is certain that, from that time forward, Christianity continued to gain ground in Normandy, and the annals of the see have preserved an uninterrupted catalogue of the bishops. Indeed, the conversion of Constantine, which happened only a few years after the death of St. Mello, necessarily gave a new aspect to the religion of the Roman empire.

Succeeding prelates are stated in general terms to have manifested their zeal, in building new churches, as well as in enlarging and ornamenting that of the capital; and Pommeraye suggests,[95] but only as a matter of great probability, that a second cathedral was raised by Victrice, or some one of his immediate successors, in the fifth century. With an equal, or still stronger degree of probability, it has been inferred that, admitting a new church had been erected, it could not fail to have been destroyed during the incursions of the heathen Normans, whose track throughout Neustria was ever marked by fire and sword, and whose avarice prompted them, no less powerfully than their superstition, to make the religious edifices the principal objects of their vengeance. Prior to the arrival of these barbarians, the archiepiscopal chair had been filled by four prelates, eminent for their sanctity, St. Godard, St. Pretextat, St. Romain, and St. Ouen. The second of these, assassinated before the altar, at the instigation of Fredegond, queen of Chilperic, holds nearly the same place in the martyrology of the Gallican church, as Thomas-à-Becket in that of England. St. Ouen was a prelate who had few rivals in munificence and splendor. Numerous monasteries throughout the province, and, above all, the splendid one that bore his name, testify the greatness of his mind, as well as the extent of his power: his sovereign, Dagobert, honored him with his friendship, and conferred upon him the dignity of chancellor of the realm.

But the fame of St. Ouen, and of all the others, was eclipsed by that of St. Romain, by virtue of whose privilege, as it was generally called, the chapter of the cathedral continued till the revolution annually to exercise the right of delivering a criminal, whatever his offence, except treason, from the hand of the secular power. This singular privilege, according to general tradition, had been earned by the destruction of a dragon, called the Gargouille, which was long the terror of the adjacent country; and in his expedition the saint had been unable to procure himself any other aid than that of a murderer, already under sentence of death. Hence, the prelate has commonly been regarded as little less than the tutelar divinity of the city. Portraits of him, all of them designated by the attendant dragon and criminal, were to be seen on the celebrated windows of stained glass in the church of St. Godard, as well as at the entrance of the town by the porte Bouvreuil, and probably in many other places: a building at the top of the staircase, leading into the cloth-hall, was called his chapel; another chapel is to the present day consecrated to him in the cathedral itself; the northern tower of the same building bears his name; his shrine is still preserved among the choicest treasures of the sacristy; and even the bases of some of the pillars of the nave are carved into a fanciful resemblance of the fabulous Gargouille.

[52]Dom Pommeraye, than whom no author was ever more superstitious and more credulous, at the same time that he terms this privilege one of the most valuable and most noble rights of the church of Rouen,[96] admits that the origin of it is lost in obscurity. He adduces, however, an historical document, to prove its existence during the reign of the Norman Dukes; and, while he candidly states the difference of opinion among learned men on the subject, some of them treating the story as allegorical, others setting it wholly aside, and regarding the privilege merely as a special act of grace conceded to the church, in honor of the Ascension, on the anniversary of which festival it was exercised, he takes care to record his own firm belief in the miracle, and he calls upon all pious Christians to unite with him in supporting its authenticity.

Upon the conversion of Rollo to Christianity, and the consequent erection of Normandy into a distinct dukedom, Rouen, as the metropolis of the new state, necessarily acquired additional importance, and its church additional lustre. Questions have arisen as to the spot where the first church was built, but no doubt is to be entertained of the existence of the cathedral, during the reign of Rollo, on the same site which it occupies at present; for that prince himself was buried in it, as was his son, William Longue-Epée, and their remains continue there till this time[97]. Richard I. the son of William, [53]and his successor on the ducal throne, is expressly stated by Dudo of St. Quintin, to have made great additions, both in length, width, and height, to the “admirable church” (mirabile monasterium) at Rouen, dedicated to the Holy Virgin.[98] The same author says, in terms which admit of no misconstruction, that Robert, the son to this Duke, who was archbishop of Rouen, and by the splendor of his works won to himself the epithet of the magnificent, “completed the church, by the addition of the whole choir, and by the work on the eastern side.”

The church, raised by Robert, was dedicated by Archbishop Maurilius, in 1063; but its term of duration appears to have been unaccountably short; for it is recorded that, after the lapse of less than a century, the clergy of the cathedral directed their attention towards the building of a new one; and that the year 1200 had not arrived before some progress was already made in the execution of their plan. All precise dates, however, connected with this subject, are lost: the various wars that have ravaged this part of France; the numerous sieges to which the city of Rouen itself has been exposed; and the repeated changes of masters it has undergone;—these, with the addition of occasional injuries from fire and pillage, have effectually destroyed the archives of the town and cathedral.

Authors have differed strangely regarding the remains of the church erected by the Norman Dukes. Some of them, and indeed the greater number, assert that no small part of the structure now in existence belonged to the building consecrated by Maurilius: others maintain, that not one stone of this latter has been left upon another. The truth seems to be, that a small portion of the eastern side of the present northern tower, known by the name of the tower of St. Romain, is really of Norman workmanship, but that nothing else throughout the cathedral is so, excepting, possibly, the lateral doorways in the western front. The whole of the tower just mentioned, up to its highest tier of windows, is evidently the most ancient part of the building, and is apparently of the architecture of the latter part of the twelfth century. The church, considered collectively, is so obviously the work of different æras, that there can be little risk in hazarding the assertion, that it has been raised by piece-meal, on various occasions, as may either have been suggested by the piety of potentates and prelates, or may have been required by the state of religion or of the edifice itself.

What is known as to the dates of the building is, that the southern tower was begun in 1485, and completed in 1507; that the first stone of the central portal was laid in 1509; and that the Lady-Chapel, though commenced during some of the earliest years of the fourteenth century, and finished in the middle of the fifteenth, contains work of the year 1538. At this last period, Cardinal Georges d'Amboise restored the roof of the choir, which had been injured in 1514, by the destruction of the spire. The square short central tower was erected a.d. 1200: it replaced one that had been damaged eighty years before, when the original stone spire of the church was struck by lightning. From that time forward, no attempt had been made to rebuild the spire, except with wood, of which material, that now in existence is the second. The first was destroyed by a fire, occasioned by the negligence of plumbers, in the beginning of the sixteenth century; the present suffered material injury from a similar accident, in 1713, and narrowly escaped entire destruction.

The western front of the cathedral, represented in plate fifty-one, offers a tout-ensemble of the most imposing character. The very discrepancy in the different parts, by increasing the variety, adds to the effect of the whole. All, with the exception of the northern tower, is rich, even to exuberance; and the simplicity of this, at the same time that it appears to lay claim to a certain dignity for itself, places in a stronger light the gorgeous splendor of the rest. The opposite tower, the work of the celebrated Cardinal Georges d'Amboise, and formerly the receptacle of the great bell that bore his name, commonly passes by the appellation of the Tour de Beurre. Tradition tells, or, to use the words of Dom Pommeraye, “every body knows” that it obtained this name from its being built with the money raised from the indulgence granted by the Cardinal, William d'Estouteville, to the pious catholics throughout the dioceses of Rouen and Evreux, allowing them to make use of milk and butter during Lent, when oil only could otherwise have been employed by way of sauce to vegetables and fish. The bull [54] issued upon the occasion, by Pope Innocent VIII. is stated to be still in existence.[99] The architecture of this tower may almost be regarded as the perfection of what has been called the decorated English style: it is copiously enriched with pinnacles and statues, and terminates in a beautiful octagonal crown of open stone-work. Its height is two hundred and thirty French feet.[100]

The central portal, for the erection of which the cathedral is likewise indebted to its great benefactor, Georges d'Amboise, projects beautifully and boldly, like a porch, before the rest: every side of it is filled with niches, tier over tier, all crowded with endless figures of saints and martyrs. In the middle of it rises a pyramidal canopy of open stone-work; and upon the wide transom-stone over the door, is sculptured the genealogical tree of Christ, arising from the root of Jesse. The carving over the north entrance is yet more peculiar, and evidently far older. It represents the decapitation of the Baptist, with “Salome dancing in an attitude, which perchance was often assumed by the tombesteres of the elder day; affording, by her position, a graphical comment upon the Anglo-Saxon version of the text, in which it is said, that she tumbled before King Herod.”[101] Four turrets flank the central portal: one of them only is now capped by a spire: the pinnacles of the remaining three were swept away by a storm which traversed Normandy for a considerable extent, on the twenty-fifth of June, 1683, marking its progress with a devastation that is scarcely to be conceived.[102]

The spire of the central tower, however vaunted and admired by the French themselves, looks to an unprejudiced eye mean and shabby; and principally from its being made of wood, which ill accords with the apparent solidity of the rest of the building.

The entrances to the transepts, however inferior in splendor to the grand western front, are still not such as to disgrace it; and, considered attentively as to their sculptured medallions, they are even more curious. The northern one is approached through a passage lined with rows of the meanest houses, formerly the shops of transcribers and calligraphists; and hence the singular gate-way that incloses the court, passes commonly under the name of Le Portail des Libraires. The opposite transept, (see plate forty-nine,) is called Le Portail de la Calende, an appellation borrowed from the Place de la Calende, upon which it opens; and which, though in reality far from spacious, appears altogether so by comparison. On each side of the entrances to both the transepts, is a lofty square tower, “such as are usually seen only in the western front of a cathedral; the upper story perforated by a gigantic window, divided by a single mullion or central pillar, not [55] exceeding one foot in circumference, and nearly sixty feet in height. These windows are entirely open; and the architect never intended they should be glazed. An extraordinary play of light and shade results from this construction.”[103] The rose windows, which are placed as well over the entrances of the transepts, as over the greater one to the west, are no less magnificent in their dimensions, than beautiful in their patterns, and gorgeous in their colors. Much of the stained glass of the cathedral is also very rich.

Mr. Dibdin, in his splendidly-illustrated Tour,[104] remarks with much justice, that “a person, on entering the church by the western door, cannot fail to be struck with the length and loftiness of the nave, and with the lightness of the gallery which runs along the upper part of it, and which is continued also throughout the choir.” He goes on to add, “perhaps the nave is too narrow for its length. The lantern of the central large tower is beautifully light and striking. It is supported by four massive clustered pillars, about forty feet in circumference; but the eye, on looking downwards, is shocked at the tasteless division of the choir from the nave, by what is called a Grecian screen; and the interior of the transepts has also undergone a like tasteless restoration.”

The cathedral at Rouen was the burial-place of many men of eminence and distinction. Rollo and William Longue Epée have already been mentioned as interred here. The church also contained the lion-heart of the first English Richard, and the remains of his elder brother, Henry; together with those of William, son of Geoffrey Plantagenet; of the Regent Duke of Bedford; and of Charles V. of France. The tombs of these, and of various other individuals of high rank, are described at length by Pommeraye; but the outrages of the Calvinists and the democrats, added to the removals occasioned by the alterations made at various times in the building, have now destroyed nearly the whole of them, excepting those raised to the two Cardinals D'Amboise, both of them archbishops of Rouen, and that which commemorates Louis de Brezé, Grand Seneschal of Normandy. These monuments are placed on opposite sides of the Lady-Chapel; the former as conspicuous for its many sumptuous ornaments, as the latter for its chaste simplicity.

The archbishop of Rouen, prior to the revolution, took the title of Primate of Neustria; and his spiritual jurisdiction then extended over six suffragans, the bishops of Bayeux, Avranches, Evreux, Séez, Lisieux, and Coutances. Not many years previously, it had also embraced the Canadian churches, together with the whole of French North-America; but the appointment of a bishop at Quebec, deprived it of its trans-atlantic sway; and the concordat, in the time of Napoléon, reduced the number of the suffragan prelates to four, taking the mitres from Avranches and Lisieux. A still more important alteration has been occasioned by modern times, in the archiepiscopal revenues. It had been customary throughout France, before the recent changes, in speaking of the see of Rouen, to designate it by the epithet, rich; an appellation that would now be wofully misapplied. The archbishop then possessed, in addition to the usual sources of ecclesiastical income, a peculiar privilege, entitled the right of Déport; by virtue of which, he claimed the receipt of the first year's proceeds of every benefice which might become vacant in his diocese, whether by the resignation or death of the incumbent.[105]

A station so enviable as that of archbishop of Rouen, has been at almost all times in the hands of some individual belonging to one of the principal families of the kingdom. Among others, those of Luxembourg, Bourbon, D'Estouteville, D'Amboise, Joyeuse, Harlay, Colbert, and Tressan, have successively held it. To sum up the catalogue, in the words of Pommeraye, “the cathedral has furnished many saints for heaven, one pope for the apostolic chair, and thirteen cardinals to the church; nine of its prelates have belonged to the royal family of France; and many others, eminent for their birth, have been still more so for their own merit, and for the services they have rendered to the catholic church and the state.”


[93] The destroying of dragons, or fiery serpents, or similar monsters, appears to have been the most common of all miracles, in the early ages of Christianity. After the exploits of St. Michael, St. Margaret, and St. George, ecclesiastical history abounds in similar legends. St. Romain, St. Marcel, St. Julian, St. Martial, St. Bertrand, St. Martha, and St. Clement, make but a small proportion of the saints who distinguished themselves by these acts of pious heroism. The dragons of Rouen and of Metz were of sufficient celebrity to acquire the distinct names of the Gargouille, and the Graouilli.—It has been commonly supposed, that these various miracles were allegorical, and intended to typify the confining of rivers within their channels, or the limiting of the incursions of the sea. Other authors have been inclined to account for their prevalence, as having reference to the sun, or to astronomical phænomena; but surely the most simple and satisfactory mode of explaining them, lies in considering the dragon as the emblem of evil, and the various victories gained over dragons, as so many conquests obtained by virtue over vice.—A considerable fund of curious information, on this subject, will be found in the Magasin Encyclopédique for January, 1812, p. 1-24, in a paper by M. Eusèbe Salverte, entitled Légendes du Moyen Age.

[94] Histoire des Archevêques de Rouen, p. 40.

[95] Histoire de la Cathédrale de Rouen, p. 19.

[96] Histoire de la Cathédrale de Rouen, p. 625.

[97] Not, however, in the identical spot in which they were originally deposited: they were at first laid in the immediate vicinity of the high altar, but were, before the close of the eleventh century, removed to the situations they now occupy, in chapels on opposite sides of the upper end of the nave. The following account of their tombs, with the statues and inscriptions, is transcribed from Gilbert's Description Historique de l'Eglise de Notre Dame de Rouen, p. 57:—“Le tombeau de Rollon est placé dans un enfoncement cintré, pratiqué dans le mur de la chapelle; il consiste en un sarcophage de stuc, marbre de Portor, sur lequel se voit la statue couchée de ce prince, dont la tête est appuyée sur un coussin. Rollon est vêtu d'une longue tunique, par-dessus laquelle est un manteau couleur de pourpre, ou espèce de chlamyde attachée à l'épaule droite; il porte sur sa tête une couronne. Cette statue a été un peu mutilée. Au-dessus de l'arcade dans laquelle est le tombeau, on lit l'inscription suivante, gravée en lettres d'or sur un marbre noir:


Au-dessus de cette inscription est une urne en stuc, marbre de Portor. L'archivolte de l'arcade est en stuc blanc veiné de gris, ainsi que le lambris qui décore le pourtour de la chapelle. Tous ces ouvrages sont modernes, à l'exception de la statue du duc Rollon, qui paroit avoir été exécutée dans le treizième siècle.

Dans la chapelle de Saint-Anne, située de l'autre côté de la nef, se voit le tombeau de Guillaume Longue-Epée, fils de Rollon, et second duc de Normandie, mort victime de la plus infâme trahison, dans l'entrevue qu'il eut à Pecquigny, le 18 Décembre, 944, avec Arnoul, comte de Flandres. Le corps du duc Guillaume fut apporté à Rouen et inhumé dans la cathédrale. [Voyez Servin, Hist. de Rouen, tom. I. p. 118 et 119.]

Sur le sarcophage en stuc, marbre de Portor, est placée la statue du duc, vêtu d'une longue tunique, et tenant à la main un sceptre qui a été mutilé. Au-dessus de l'arcade enfoncée, dans laquelle est la sépulture du prince, on lit l'inscription suivante, gravée en lettres d'or sur un marbre noir:


[98] “Rotomagensi namque urbe in honore genetricis Dei ampliavit mirabile monasterium, longitudinis, latitudinisque, atque altitudinis honorificæ exspatiatum incremento.”—Duchesne, Scriptores Normanni, p. 153.

[99] Pommeraye, Histoire de l'Eglise Cathédrale de Rouen, p. 36.

[100] The following are the dimensions of the principal parts of the cathedral, in French measure, copied from Mr. Turner's Tour in Normandy, I. p. 147:—

Length of the interior408
Width of ditto88
Length of nave210
Width of ditto27
Ditto of aisles15
Length of choir110
Width of ditto35-½
Ditto of transept25-½
Length of ditto164
Ditto of Lady-Chapel88
Width of ditto28
Height of spire380
Ditto of towers at the west end230
Ditto of nave84
Ditto of aisles and chapels42
Ditto of interior of central tower152
Depth of chapels10

[101] Turner's Tour in Normandy, I. p. 139.—The mention of this sculpture affords an opportunity of pointing out what appears a singular error on the part of the late M. Millin, in his Voyage dans les Départemens du Midi de la France. He has figured, in the atlas to that work, plate twelve, a bas-relief of the eleventh century, representing the assassination of Count Dalmace, by the hands of his son-in-law, Robert I. Duke of Burgundy; and, in the lower compartment, containing a banquet, he explains one of the figures (I. p. 190) to be the Earl falling from the table; whereas, a comparison with the sculpture at Rouen will scarcely leave a doubt, that it was designed for a dancing-girl, introduced for the amusement of the company.

[102] Pommeraye, Histoire de l'Eglise Cathédrale de Rouen, p. 33.

[103] Turner's Tour in Normandy, I. p. 144.

[104] Bibliographical, Antiquarian, and Picturesque Tour in France and Germany, I. p. 50.

[105] Pommeraye, Histoire des Archevêques de Rouen, p. 22.




It has been inferred, and with much apparent probability, from the silence of Julius Cæsar, that the proud capital of Normandy had either no existence in the time of that general, or was at most only a place of small importance. There have not, however, been wanting, among the historians of Rouen, some, who, jealous, as usual, for the honor of their city, ascribe to it an antiquity beyond the deluge, and trust to the latter half of its classical name, for bearing them out in the assertion, that its foundations were laid by Magus, the son and successor of Samothes, first king of Gaul. Others, more moderate, have contented themselves with the belief, that, although Cæsar does not make mention of Rothomagus, there is still no reason to question its existence before the Christian æra, or to doubt that it was then the chief town of the Velocasses, as Lillebonne was of the neighboring tribe of the Caletes, the inhabitants of the present Pays de Caux. It is at least known with certainty, that, in the division of Gaul, which took place not very long afterwards, into seventeen provinces, Rouen became the metropolis of the Lugdunensis Secunda; and that, from that time forwards, it continued gradually to rise in consequence, till the establishment of Neustria into an independent sovereignty stamped it with the title of the capital of a nation.

At the present time, Rouen can shew scarcely any remains of Roman antiquity: “the wide waste of all-devouring years,” has effaced those vestiges which that powerful people seldom failed to have impressed, wherever their dominion had once been firmly established. The small church of St. Gervais, derives therefore a peculiar interest, as exhibiting proofs, sufficiently decided, though far from important, of a connection with Italy. These proofs rest principally upon the Roman bricks and other débris, some of them rudely sculptured, which have been employed in the construction of the piers of the crypt, and upon the sculpture of the capitals of some columns on the exterior of the apsis.

The church of St. Gervais is situated at a short distance without the walls of Rouen, upon a slight eminence, adjoining the Roman road to Lillebonne, and near a rising ground, commonly called the Mont aux Malades, as having been, in the eleventh century, the site of a monastery, destined for the reception of lepers. According to Farin,[106] the church was originally an abbey, and is expressly recognized as such in a charter of Duke Richard II. dated a.d. 1020; in which, among other donations to his favorite monastery at Fécamp, he enumerates, “item Abbatiam Sancti Gervasii, quæ est juxta civitatem Rothomagum, et quicquid ad ipsam pertinet.” The authors of the Gallia Christiana[107] add that, “at the time when this abbey was conferred upon Fécamp, it was taken from the monks of St. Peter at Chartres.” Two centuries subsequently, St. Gervais appears to have sunk into the rank of a simple priory, under the immediate control of the monks of Fécamp, who assumed the title of its priors. In process of time, the still humbler name and dignity of a parochial church were alone left; but the period at which this last change took place, is not recorded. The abbot of Fécamp continued, however, till the period of the revolution, to exercise spiritual jurisdiction over what was termed the barony of St. Gervais; including not only this single parish; but some others dependent upon it. He nominated to the livings, directed the religious establishments, had entire control over the prisons, and was entitled to all privileges arising from the fair of St. Gervais, which was annually held at Rouen, in the Fauxbourg Cauchoise, on the twentieth of June. It is even on record, that in the year 1400, the abbot ventured upon the bold experiment of forbidding William de Vienne, then archbishop of Rouen, either to carry his cross, or to give his benediction within the precincts of his jurisdiction; but so daring an assumption of power was not to be tolerated, and the matter was accordingly referred to the parliament of Paris, who decided in this instance against the abbot.

Crypt in St. Gervais, Rouen.

Plate 53. Crypt in the Church of St. Gervais at Rouen.

[57]Adjoining to the church of St. Gervais, stood originally one of the palaces of the Norman Dukes and it was to this[108] that William the Conqueror caused himself to be conveyed, when attacked with his mortal illness, after having wantonly reduced the town of Mantes to ashes. Here, too, that mighty monarch breathed his last, and left a sad warning to future conquerors; deserted by his friends and physicians, the moment he was no more; while his menials plundered his property, and his body lay naked and deserted in the hall.

The ducal palace, and the monastic buildings, are now wholly destroyed. Fortunately, however, the church still remains, and preserves some portions of the original structure, more interesting from their features than their extent. The exterior of the apsis is very curious: it is obtusely angular, and faced at the corners with large rude columns, of whose capitals, some are Doric and Corinthian, others as wild as the fancies of the Norman lords of the country. None reach so high as the cornice of the roof; it having been the design of the original architect, that a portion of work should intervene between the summits of the capitals and this member. A capital to the north is remarkable for the eagles carved upon it, as if with some allusion to Roman power.

But the most singular part of this church is the crypt under the apsis, represented in the plate; a room about thirty feet long, by fourteen wide, and sixteen high, of extreme simplicity, and remote antiquity. Round it runs a plain stone bench; and it is divided into two unequal parts by a circular arch, devoid of columns or of any ornament whatever. Here, according to Ordericus Vitalis,[109] was interred the body of St. Mello, the first archbishop of Rouen, and one of the apostles of Neustria; and here his tomb, and that of his successor, Avitien, are shewn to this day, in plain niches, on opposite sides of the wall. St. Mello's remains, however, were not suffered to rest in peace; for, about five hundred and seventy years after his death, which happened in the year 314, they were removed to the castle of Pontoise, lest the canonized corpse should be violated by the heathen Normans. The existence of these tombs, and the antiquity of the crypt, recorded as it is by history, and confirmed by the style of its architecture, have given currency to the tradition, which points it out as the only temple where the primitive Christians of Neustria dared to assemble for the performance of divine service. Many stone coffins have also been discovered in the vicinity of the church. These sarcophagi serve to confirm the general tradition; they are of the simplest form, and apparently as ancient as the crypt; and they were so placed in the ground, that the heads of the corpses were turned to the east, a position denoting that the dead received Christian burial.


[106] Histoire de la Ville de Rouen, v. p. 1.

[107] XI. p. 124. A.

[108] The whole of the remainder of this article is transcribed from Turner's Tour in Normandy, I. p. 125.

[109] Duchesne, Scriptores Normanni, p. 558.



Church of St. Paul at Rouen.

Plate 54. Church of St. Paul, at Rouen.
East End.

Next to the church of St. Gervais, that of St. Paul is the most interesting relic of ancient architecture among the ecclesiastical buildings at Rouen. Indeed, it may be considered as the only other of an early date; the round tower attached to the abbatial church of St. Ouen[110] being altogether inconsiderable, and indebted for its principal interest to its connection with an abbey endowed with such extensive possessions, and gifted with so much reported sanctity.

The foundation of the church of St. Paul is of very remote antiquity: it is said to have been laid by St. Romain, in memory of his great victory over heathenism, when, triumphant, he erected the banner of the cross upon the ashes of the temple of Venus. Impure was the goddess, and most impure were her rites; so that, to use the words of Taillepied, in speaking of this same temple, “là dedans la jeunesse, à bride avallée, souloit se souiller et polluer par ordre luxure et paillardise abominable, ne ayant égard qu'auprès de ce lieu y avoit un repaire de malins esprits qui faisoyent sortir une fumée tant puante et infecte que la mortalité s'en ensuyvoit par après.”

[58]This very remark concerning the infectious vapor, seems decisive as to the feet of the church of St. Paul occupying the site of the pagan fane. It stands without the walls of the town, upon elevated ground, at a very short distance to the right of the barrier below Mont St. Catherine, on the road to Paris, in the immediate vicinity of some mineral springs, strongly impregnated with iron. Prior to the revolution, the church was under the jurisdiction of the monastery of Montivilliers. The abbess had the right of nomination to the vacant benefice; and, till the middle of the seventeenth century, she was in the habit of regarding St. Paul's as a priory, and fixing there a colony of her nuns. But they were all recalled in 1650, and were never afterwards succeeded by a fresh establishment.

Respecting the various changes of the edifice, Farin contents himself with the brief remark, “that it was repeatedly destroyed during the wars, and rebuilt by the liberality of the Norman Dukes.”[111] The eastern part of what is now standing is evidently of Norman time; and, architecturally considered, it is a most curious specimen, being probably the only church in existence which terminates to the east in three semi-circular compartments. Of these, the central division is considerably the most lofty, as well as the most prominent; and the arrangement of the corbel-table, which is carried equally round them all, proves that it must always have been so. The sculpture of this corbel-table is viewed by the Norman antiquaries with peculiar interest: some of the heads, with widely distended jaws, beset with teeth of enormous size, represent wolves; others, with human features and whiskered upper lips, are supposed to be intended for the Saxon foe, who, at the time of the Norman invasion, were induced, we are told, by the smooth faces of their opponents, to entertain the erroneous belief, that the approaching host was but an army of priests. Mr. Cotman, who has observed in similar situations, in many other parts of Normandy, faces equally shadowed with whiskers, has been led to the suspicion, that they were intended in derision of the Saxons.

Internally, the triple circular ending of the church is no longer observable. Both of the lateral divisions are parted off at the extremity, and formed into distinct apartments: the southern is applied to the purpose of a sacristy, while the northern serves merely as a lumber-room. The nave, which is thrice the width of the chancel, and is clearly of a date comparatively modern, is separated from the more eastern portion of the building by a semi-circular arch. The sculpture upon the capitals appears of Roman design: that on one of them, exhibits a row of graceful figures in a pure classical taste, intent upon some action, but so much mutilated, that it would be now no easy task to conjecture the object of the artist. The aisles of the chancel are divided from the central compartment by double arches, a larger and a smaller being united together, all of them semi-circular, and all of the Norman style of architecture. Attached to the eastern end of the church, within the lumber-room just mentioned, stands a piece of Roman sculpture, supposed by M. Le Prevost to have served originally for an altar. Mr. Turner has given a figure of it in his Tour; and he conjectures, that it was of the workmanship of the fourth century; a supposition founded upon the resemblance borne by its ornaments, to those upon the pedestal of the obelisk raised by Theodosius, in the Hippodrome at Constantinople, as represented in the elaborate publication of the late M. Seroux d'Agincourt.[112]


[110] Figured in Turner's Tour in Normandy, I. p. 127.

[111] Histoire de la Ville de Rouen, v. p. 8.

[112] Histoire de la décadence de l'Art, pl. 10, Sculpture, fig. 4-7.





Coat of arms of the Duchy of Normandy.




55.Church of St. Nicholas, at Caen, West Endto face page 59
56.———— East End60
57.Church at Cheux, near Caen, from the North-East 62
58.Church at Bieville, from the North-West 63
59.——Elevations and Details 64
60.Church at Fontaine-le-Henri, near Caen, North Side of Chancel 65
61.——————Elevations 66
62.Château at Fontaine-le-Henri, near Caen67
63.—————— Elevation of central Compartment68
64.House in the Place de la Pucelle, at Rouen69
65.House in the Rue St. Jean, at Caen70
66.Tower of the Church at Tréport, near Caen71
67.Church of Anisy, near Caen73
68.Church of Perriers, near Caen74
69.Castle of Lillebonne75
70.Castle of Briquebec77
71.Church of St. Stephen's, at Fécamp79
72.Screen in the Church of St. Lawrence, at Eu 81
73.} Church of St. Peter, at Lisieux, West Front83
75.—————South Transept 86
76.Abbey Church of St. Ouen, at Rouen87
77.Fountain of the Stone Cross, at Rouen90
78.Palace of Justice, at Rouen91
79.Church of Louviers, South Porch93
80.Château Gaillard, North-East View95
81.——South-West View96
82.Abbey Church of Montivilliers, West End97
83.Church of St. Sanson sur Rille99
84.Church of Foullebec, West Door-way100
85.Castle at Tancarville101
86.Entrance to the Castle at Tancarville103
87.Church of the Holy Cross, at St. Lo, West Door-way104
88.—————Sculpture 106
89.Castle of Falaise, North-West View107
90.——North View109
91.Interior of the Church of Creully110
92.} Cathedral Church of Notre Dame, at Coutances, West Front111
94.——————— Elevation of the Nave 115
95.Mount St. Michael, on the Approach from Pontorson116
96.——Interior of the Knights' Hall 120
97.Abbey Church of Cerisy, Interior of the Choir121
98.Church at Oyestraham, West Front122
99.Cathedral Church of Notre Dame, at Séez, West Front123
100.—————— Elevation of the Nave125


The Figure referred to in the Note, p. 117, is inserted at the beginning of the Preface.—As a Vignette, at the end of the Preface, is introduced a View of the Church of Querqueville, near Cherbourg, a building of unquestionable antiquity, and here figured, as the only instance in Normandy, or possibly in existence, of a church whose transepts, as well as the chancel, terminate in a semi-circular form. In these parts, the walls are formed of herring-bone masonry, which is not the case with the tower or nave, which are more modern. The tower is, however, probably of the Norman æra; and the peculiar masonry which distinguishes the chancel, is still observable for a few feet above its junction with the nave. Its ornaments may be compared with those of St. Peter's church, at Barton-upon-Humber, and Earl's-Barton church, Northamptonshire, both of them figured in the fifth volume of Britton's Architectural Antiquities, and both evidently Norman. The church of Querqueville has no buttresses. Its length, from east to west, is forty-eight feet and six inches; from north to south, forty-three feet and four inches; the width of the nave is nine feet and nine inches.




St. Nicholas, Caen.

Plate 55. Church of St. Nicholas, at Caen.
West end.

The Abbé De la Rue, in his Historical Essays upon Caen, contents himself with remarking, with regard to the church of St. Nicholas, that it is the only specimen of real Norman architecture now left entire in the town; for that the abbatial church of the Holy Trinity, a building of the same period and style, has been so disguised by the alterations made with the view of adapting it to its present purpose, that, considered as a whole, it is no longer to be recognized as a type of the religious edifices of the Normans. Such being the case, it is the more to be lamented that the church here figured, should not only have been degraded from its original application, but should have been appropriated to an object eminently liable to expose it to injury. It is now used as a stable for cavalry; but, fortunately, it has still been suffered to remain entire; and hopes are entertained, that it may yet be one day again employed as a place of worship.

The exterior of the building has not altogether escaped uninjured or unaltered. In the western front, (see plate fifty-five,) both the lateral towers have lost their original terminations, and have been reduced to a level with the roof of the nave. One of them still remains in a state of dilapidation: to the other has been added a square tower, of rather elegant proportions, surmounted by a small crocketed pinnacle, the workmanship probably of the fourteenth century. The rest of this part of the church is as it was first built, except that the great arches of entrance are entirely blocked up. The whole is of extreme simplicity, and vies in that respect with the same portion of the adjoining church of the abbey of St. Stephen; the different members of the two being nearly the same, though disposed in a dissimilar manner.

The central tower of the church of St. Nicholas is square and small, and so low as to admit only a single tier of semi-circular-headed windows, four on each side. It terminates in a ridged roof, and apparently, never was higher; though, as far as may be judged from analogy, a greater elevation was probably designed by the architect. Along the sides of the church, immediately beneath the roof, runs a bold projecting cornice, of antique pattern, formed of numerous horizontal mouldings; and, under this, the corbel-table presents only a row of plain knobs, instead of the monsters commonly found in Norman buildings. The clerestory, throughout both the nave and choir, is filled with narrow arches, alternately pierced for windows, and left blank. All these arches, as well as the windows of the transepts and of the projecting aisles below, are without the accompaniment of pillars or ornaments of any description, excepting a broad flat moulding of the simplest kind, which wholly encircles them. The disposition of the windows in the lower part of the nave, differs from that of those above, in their being separated from each other by shallow buttresses, which hold the place of the blank arches. A plain string-course also is continued the whole length of the church beneath the windows, as in the west front. On the south side is a door, the only one now in use in the church, which is entered by a very noble Norman arch, composed of a great number of cylindrical mouldings, arranged in three broad bands, but without pillars or capitals, and with no other variation than that of size, and of the addition of the billet-moulding to the outer row. The transome-stone of this arch is unquestionably coeval with the arch itself, the sculpture of the masonry being interwoven with it. Attached to the eastern side of both the transepts, is a circular chapel, as in the churches of St. Georges, of St. Taurin at Evreux, of Fécamp, of Cerisy, and in several other ancient religious buildings in Normandy. Nor is England altogether without specimens of the same kind: a similar chapel, now in a ruinous state, [60] and called by Blomefield, “the sexterie or ancient vestry,” is joined to the north transept of Norwich cathedral; and near the eastern extremity of the same church, are four others. But the principal characteristic of those at St. Nicholas', is the extremely high pitch of the stone roof, a peculiarity equally observable in the roof of the choir; and hence the following remarks on the part of Mr. Turner[113]:—“Here we have the exact counterpart of the Irish stone-roofed chapels, the most celebrated of which, that of Cormac in Cashel cathedral, appears, from all the drawings and descriptions I have seen of it, to be altogether a Norman building. Ledwich asserts that ‘this chapel is truly Saxon, and was erected prior to the introduction of the Norman and Gothic styles.’[114] If we agree with him, we only obtain a proof, that there is no essential difference between Norman and Saxon architecture; and this proposition I believe, will soon be universally admitted. We now know what is really Norman; and a little attention to the buildings in the north of Germany, may terminate the long-debated questions relative to Saxon architecture, and the stone-roofed chapels in the sister isle.”

St. Nicholas, Caen.

Plate 56. Church of St. Nicholas, at Caen.
East end.

In the east end of the church of St. Nicholas, (see plate fifty-six,) may be remarked a sensible approximation in point of style, to the same part in the church of the Trinity. The circular apsis is divided into compartments by slender cylindrical pillars; and each intercolumniation is filled by a couple of windows of comparatively large size, placed one above the other, while a row of narrow blank arches occupies the lower part. The head of each of these smaller arches is hewn out of a single stone. The height of the roof, in this part of the church, is so much greater than in the choir, as almost to justify the suspicion that it was no part of the original plan, but was an addition of a subsequent, though certainly not of a remote, æra. Were the line of it continued to the central tower, it would wholly block up and conceal the windows there. The discrepancy observable in the style of its architecture, may also possibly be regarded as enforcing the same opinion. But, indeed, as has already been more than once observed in this work, no inferences drawn from style must be admitted without the utmost hesitation. A very sensible discussion upon this point, as illustrated by the church of St. Nicholas itself, and the two adjoining churches of the Trinity and of St. Stephen, has lately appeared in one of the most popular English periodical publications, from the pen of a writer possessed of the deepest knowledge of the subject, and gifted with the most comprehensive and clearest views[115]. It were an injustice to the readers of this work, not to extract it upon the present occasion. It will supersede the necessity of any labored description of the interior of the building.—

“When a distinct gradation of style is observable, it is natural to conclude, that these architectural varieties, emanating from one prototype, each clearly to be discriminated, yet dying into another by imperceptible shades, were successively developed at certain intervals of time. This reasoning, though it advances upon legitimate premises, may be fallacious, as is proved at Caen, where three coeval churches, probably erected by the same architect, are distinguished by such remarkable modifications of the Norman Romanesque style, that were we not acquainted with the facts, we might well suppose that they marked the progress of architecture during three half centuries.—St. Nicholas, the first of these edifices, was built by the monks of St. Stephen's Abbey some time between the years 1066 and 1083. The original lines are characterized by simplicity and regularity. All the capitals of the columns, embedded in the side walls, are of one order; and the capitals of the pier-columns, which nearly resemble the others, are equally uniform. The east end terminates by an apsis, of which the elevation resembles the exterior of the cathedral of Pisa. Three circular arches, supported by Corinthianizing pilasters, form the western portal. The original cross-vaulting of the side-aisles still remains: it is without groins, and of Roman construction, and the whole interior shews that the architect was endeavoring to recollect the models of the great city.—If we pass from hence to the adjacent abbey church of St. Stephen, erected at the same period, we shall observe that the conception of the architect is more Norman than in the church which we have quitted. The nave is divided into bays by piers, alternating with circular pillars of smaller diameter. The pier consists of a pilaster fronted by a cylindrical column, continuing to about four-fifths of the height of the roof. Two cylindrical columns then rise from it; so that from this point upwards, the pier becomes a clustered column: angular brackets [61] sculptured into knots, grotesque heads, and foliage, are affixed to the bases of the derivative pillars. A bold double-billeted moulding is continued below the clerestory, whose windows adapt themselves to the binary arrangement of the bays of the nave; that is to say, a taller arch is flanked by a smaller one, on its right side, or on its left side, as the situation requires; these are supported by short massy pillars; and an embattled moulding runs round the windows. These features are Norman; but in other portions of the church, the architect Romanises again, as in St. Nicholas. The piers of the aisle-arches are of considerable width: the pillars at each angle are connected by an architrave, distinctly enounced, running along the front of the pier, and interposed between the capitals and the springing of the well-turned semi-circular arch. The triforium is composed of a tier of semi-circular arches, nearly of equal span with those below. The perspective of the building is grand and palatial. In the evening, when it is illuminated only by a few faintly-burning tapers, the effect of the gleams of light, reflected from the returns of the arches and pillars, is particularly fine. Beyond the central arch which supports the tower, all is lost in gloom, except that at the extremity of the choir, the star-light just breaks through the topmost windows above the altar.—In the church of St. Stephen, the leading ideas of the architect were still influenced by the Roman basilica; a third and more fanciful modification is to be observed in the coeval church of the Holy Trinity. Here the piers are narrower; the columns supporting the aisle-arches are consequently brought closer together, and the architrave is less prominent than at St. Stephen's: there the embattled moulding is confined to the clerestory; in the present church, it runs round the principal arches; and, instead of the lofty triforium which there surmounts the side-aisles, the walls which we now describe are threaded by a gallery supported by misproportioned pillars, whose capitals exhibit every possible variety of grotesque invention. The bold archivolts beneath the central tower are chased with the Norman lozenge: they are circular; but the eastern arch, which runs higher than the others, is obtusely pointed, though it is evidently of the same date with its companions.”

The parish of St. Nicholas is placed without the walls of Caen, in that portion of the suburbs known by the name of Le Bourg-l'Abbé, as having been, before the revolution, under the jurisdiction of the abbot of St. Stephen. In the same quarter was also included the parish of St. Ouen, as was a portion of those of St. Stephen and St. Martin. The two last-mentioned churches were ceded, in the earliest period of the history of Caen, by the Chapter of the Cathedral of Bayeux, to Queen Matilda, in exchange for some other preferment, and were by her bestowed upon the nuns of her new convent of the Trinity. But the increasing power of the rival monastery, built by her husband, naturally caused its occupants to turn a wistful eye towards churches so immediately in their vicinity. Disputes succeeded; and the monks of St. Stephen erected the church of St. Nicholas, that their suburb might no longer be without a religious building which depended wholly upon themselves. Peace was at length restored by means of a charter from the Duke, dated in the year 1083, whereby St. Nicholas was recognized as parochial, an equivalent was given to the abbess by the extension of her power in her own quarter of St. Giles, and the respective parishes of St. Stephen and St. Martin were allowed to retain all they possessed in the Bourg-l'Abbé, except five families expressly designated in the charter. These five were transferred to St. Nicholas; and, to secure to the saint a certain increase of votaries hereafter, a proviso was added, enacting that every house which might be built in future, in that suburb, should belong to his parish. Hence, the two other saints retained nothing more than the ground covered by the tenements then standing, sixty-seven in number; and the necessary consequence was, that from that period till the year 1790, when the whole was remodelled, the limits of the several parishes were confused and irregular in the extreme. Not only did adjoining dwellings belong to different parishes, but the line frequently ran between the various apartments of the same house, or even separated the apartment themselves.

The church of St. Nicholas, as indebted for its existence to the monks of the abbey of St. Stephen, continued for some time to receive its pastors from among the brethren of that convent. At a subsequent period, the monks, after they had transferred to substitutes the performance of their religious duties, still endeavored to preserve their supremacy; but they were finally obliged to relinquish it; and the ministers of St. Nicholas enjoyed the same rights as the other clergy of Caen, though the ecclesiastical privileges of the abbot remained inviolate.

[62]To the church of St. Nicholas was attached a guild, in the early lists of whose members were included names of the greatest distinction in the town and neighborhood. St. Nicholas was in remote times an object of especial devotion; and the company incorporated under his patronage, naturally partook of his celebrity. The Abbé De la Rue also states, that it was from within this church, that what were termed the Apostolic decrees, were delivered in the twelfth century. They derived their name from being pronounced by commissioners delegated by the Pope, to decide in matters touching the canon law; and the numerous appeals to the court of Rome, at that period, rendered the necessity for such decisions of frequent occurrence.


[113] Tour in Normandy, II. p. 176.

[114] Antiquities of Ireland, p. 151.

[115] Quarterly Review for June, 1821, p. 120.



Church of Cheux.

Plate 57. Church of Cheux near Caen.
From the North East.

The earliest mention which occurs of Cheux, a small country town, about nine miles to the west of Caen, is to be found in the charter, granted about the year 1077, by the Conqueror, for the foundation of his abbey of St. Stephen. The king, in this instrument, after a pious proem, reciting that he has been led to the holy task by the expectation of obtaining remission for his sins and a hundred-fold reward in heaven, places, as the very first of the gifts destined for the endowment of the rising monastery, the town of Cheux. He also expressly designates Cheux, and the four places immediately following, as villas juris mei, thereby meaning, as M. de Gerville justly remarks, to draw a distinction between those donations which came immediately from himself, and those which originated with any of his subjects, and stood in need of nothing more than a ratification on his part. Another remark may, perhaps, not impertinently be made upon this part of the charter, as curiously illustrative of the manners of the times as to the nature of feudal tenures, and the mode of recruiting the army. In the very next paragraph, a distinction is drawn between the rights of two different classes of men, the coloni and conditionarii, the latter being explained by the words of the charter itself, to mean free men (“liberos homines.”) The Duke assigns to the abbey, the towns themselves, together with their inhabitants, mills, waters, meadows, pastures, and woods; and also with all the revenues and customs derivable from them, as they have been enjoyed by himself, or any of his predecessors. He likewise expressly stipulates, that such of the people of Cheux and Rotz, as do not hold frank-tenements, (“qui francam terram non tenent,”) should be exclusively devoted to the service of the church and the monks, so as not to be subject to any call arising from military expeditions, or other cause, unless the Prince himself should personally, or by letter, direct the abbot to send them. Even in the latter case, he binds himself to summon each by name, and never to call them out, except the province should be invaded by a foreign foe; nor on any account to require their services beyond the limits of the duchy.

At the same time that the Conqueror's children confirmed all the donations made by their father to the abbey of St. Stephen, Robert, his successor upon the ducal throne, added the privilege of an annual fair at Cheux, and a weekly market: the latter was held upon a Sunday, during the twelfth century, but was afterwards, by an order from King John, changed to a Tuesday. Upon the accession of Henry II. to the dukedom, another charter of great length was granted in favor of the royal abbey; and in this, Cheux is again mentioned. The King not only follows the example of his predecessors, in renouncing all right to it, but he gives his royal assent, in the following terms, to two purchases which had been made in it:—“Concedo emptionem, quam fecit Willelmus Abbas, Joanni, filii Conani, Canonico Bajocensi, scilicet, totam terram suam de Ceusio, quæ est de feudo S. Stephani; 23 libr. annual; et emptionem quam fecit Willelmus Abbas, a Radulpho, fratre Vitalis, scilicet, sex acras terræ, quam tenebat in feodu de prædicto sancto in Ceusio, pro quibus faciebat serraturas portarum Ceusii, pro C. solid. census.”

From that time to the revolution, Cheux continued to be one of the principal domains of the abbot of St. Stephen. According to the territorial division of ancient France, it formed a part of what was [63] termed the Election of Caen, and was included in the archdeaconry of Bayeux, and the deanery of Fontenay. The revolution, introducing a new arrangement, together with a new set of terms, has placed it in the arrondissement of Caen, and in the canton of Tilly.

The church is a fine specimen of Norman architecture; remarkable as to its plan, in having the choir of considerably greater width than the nave. The portion east of the tower is composed of three distinct parts, unequal in size, the central being the narrowest, as is strikingly the case in the church at Great Yarmouth; but all of the same height, and each of the lateral ones exactly equalling in its width the length of the transept to which it is attached; and thus, also, the choir and transepts, taken collectively, form nearly a square, except that, to the end of the middle compartment, is attached a circular apsis, of an unusually small size; and, seen from the inside of the church, this disproportion becomes even more conspicuous: the great thickness of the wall necessarily subtracting much from the space. It even strikes the eye as being less than it really is, from being subdivided into a number of small arches; which, with the vaulted roof, lighted by the extremely narrow windows below, and the larger ones above, give this end of the church a very peculiar appearance.



Church of Bieville.

Plate 58. Church of Bieville near Caen.
From the North West.

It is only when considered as a curious relic of ancient ecclesiastical architecture, that the church of Bieville can lay claim to any attention whatever. History, even in its lowest department, topography, is altogether silent with regard both, to the building and the parish, except so far as to record that the church was among the dependencies of the royal abbey of St. Stephen, at Caen; though even in this character, it does not appear till the middle of the fourteenth century, when it is mentioned in one of the registers of the diocese of Bayeux. Its situation is about four miles north of Caen.

Taken as a whole, the church of Bieville has probably no parallel in Normandy or in England. The upper story of the tower alone is of a subsequent æra, and that, the earliest style of pointed architecture: all the rest of the structure is purely Norman, and of extreme simplicity. The church of St. Peter, at Northampton, said to have been erected by Simon de St. Liz, during the reign of William the Conqueror, is encircled at the height of the clerestory by a row of small arches, similar in their proportions and decorations to those at Bieville; but they are there continued in an uninterrupted line round the building, while at Bieville they occupy only a comparatively small portion of it. In the nave of this latter church, they are disposed regularly in triplets, the central one only pierced for a window, and each three separated by a flat Norman buttress.

The western front, represented in plate fifty-eight, is divided by plain string-courses into three stories of irregular height: the basement contains only the door, which is entered by a richly-ornamented arch, (see plate fifty-nine, fig. B.) surmounted by a broad drip-stone, decorated with quatrefoils, and terminating at each end in a human head of classical character. The lowest moulding of this arch is considerably more flattened than the upper, a peculiarity that is likewise observable in the interior arch to the great door-way at Castle-Acre Priory, in Norfolk.[116] In the second story are six arches, supported by eight pillars, with capitals and bases of ordinary character: even these, contiguous as they stand, are divided into two equal sets, by the intervention of a flat space in the centre, so narrow, as to wear the appearance of a pilaster. Here, too, as in the nave, the central arch of each compartment is alone pierced for a window.—The upper story has only a single window, precisely resembling those below, but flanked on each side by a circular one, similar to that in the front of the neighboring chapel of the Délivrande:[117] or, if a comparison be sought among Norman edifices in England, to those in the tower of Norwich cathedral;[118] in the same part of the church of St. James, at Bury St. Edmunds;[119] [64]and in the east end of the church of the Hospital of St. Cross.[120] In point of general character, the western front of the church of Bieville may not unaptly be compared with that of the chapel of the Délivrande, or of the hospital of St. Leonard, at Stamford, as figured by Carter.[121] The tower of the church at Bieville is well calculated to serve as a specimen of the towers of the village churches, comprized in a circuit of twenty miles round Caen. Among others, those of Soumont, Ifs, Soulangy, Potigny, and the Lower Allemagne, to the south, and of Lyons, Oyestraham, and several more, to the north, greatly resemble it.

Church of Bieville.

Plate 59. Church of Bieville near Caen.
Elevation and Details.

Plate fifty-nine, as being altogether architectural, will best be understood by a set of regular references to the different subjects it embraces.

A. Door-way on the north side of the nave, remarkable for its lintel or transom-stone in the figure of a pediment, from which the arch rises, encircled with a single, wide, plain, flat moulding. There is a similar instance in the church of Martinvast, near Cherbourg; but the pediment there assumes a form more decidedly conical.[122] Transom-stones occur frequently in Normandy, and are variously sculptured; from the rude cross, either alone or encompassed with the cable-moulding, to the elaborate representations of the crucified Saviour, or other subjects from holy writ. Profane subjects, which are of so frequent occurrence on transom-stones in England, are very seldom found in the duchy: the writer of the present article never recollects to have met with any; and Mr. Cotman's more extensive researches have brought him acquainted only with a single instance, a centaur, in the act of discharging his arrow at a stag, in the church of Urville, near Valognes.

B. Great western entrance, (already described.)

C. First compartment of the nave from the west, showing the structure and disposition of the arches, and the very flat buttresses with a double projection, the first only equalling that of the corbels. The square-headed door is modern. Several of the sculptures on the corbels are close imitations of those upon the church of the Holy Trinity, at Caen.

D. and E. Portions of other compartments of the nave, to obtain a complete idea of which, it is only necessary to produce the dotted lines below, to the same length as that at C; the parts and their disposition being precisely the same, with the exception of the door.

F. Elevation of the choir, which is divided into two equal portions by a flat buttress, flanked on each side by a slender cylindrical column. Of these parts, one is quite plain, except only the corbel-table and ornamented frieze below. The other has two arches, recently blocked up, similar to those of the nave, but with a richer exterior moulding. The door below these has the same peculiarity, in the drip-stone rising from sculptured heads, as in the western entrance. The frieze beneath the corbels very much resembles that in the same situation in the church of the Holy Trinity, (see plate thirty-one,) and is likewise continued over the buttresses, as well as along the receding part between.


[116] Figured in Britton's Architectural Antiquities, III. pl. 2.

[117] Figured in Turner's Tour in Normandy, II. p. 295.

[118] Britton's Norwich Cathedral, p. 33, pl. 6.

[119] Britton's Architectural Antiquities, III. p. 80.

[120] Antiquarian and Topographical Cabinet, V.

[121] Ancient Architecture, pl. 24.—In the description of this building, page 33, Mr. Carter speaks of it as being of Saxon origin; and, in the chronological table attached to his work, he classes it in the third of the four æras into which he divides his specimens of Saxon architecture.

[122] A still more remarkable example occurs in Essington church, Gloucestershire, figured by Carter, in his Ancient Architecture, pl. XV. fig. X. The transom-stone is there formed of part of an octagon, rising from an horizontal torus moulding, which finishes in a spiral direction round two heads. A lion and a griffin fill the space within.




Church of Fontaine-le-Henri.

Plate 60. Church of Fontaine-le-Henri near Caen.
North side of the Chancel.

The parish of Fontaine-le-Henri lies about eight miles north of Caen, immediately adjoining Than, whose church has already been figured in this work. The register of the livings appertaining to the diocese of Bayeux, made about the year 1350, and commonly known by the name of the livre pelut, (liber pelutus, or the parchment book,) contains only the following brief notice of it:—“Ecclesia de Fontibus Henrici lx Libras.—Dnus dicte ville.—Archidiaconatus de Cadomo.—Decanatus de Dovra.” In the Gallia Christiana, and other similar works, no mention whatever is made of this parish.

According to the modern division of France, Fontaine-le-Henri is included in the canton of Creüilly: the name of the village, to whose deanery it formerly appertained, cannot fail to strike the ear of an Englishman, as being the same with that of the celebrated harbor in his own island, the common landing-place from Calais. But the English Dover, from having been originally a Roman station, is generally supposed to have derived its appellation from the Romans; and Darell, in his History of the castle, published by Grose,[123] gives it as his opinion that, among the ancient Britons, it was called Rupecester, but, on the Roman invasion, got the new name of Dofris, Dobris, or Doris, “in consequence of the filling or damming up of the harbor;” “Doafer,” as he observes a few pages before, “signifying, in the language of those times, a harbor shut up, or of difficult access.” A still higher authority, the learned Bishop Huet,[124] classes the word, Douvres, among those whose origin is to be sought in the ancient language of Gaul, and proposes two derivations: one from Dufyrrha, a rising ground; the other from Dvvr, the term for water. Thus, without giving any opinion of his own, he leaves the matter to his reader, with a “utrum horum mavis elige.”

The Norman village of Douvres is celebrated upon more than one account: it was the birth-place of Thomas of Dover, almoner to the Conqueror, and by him created archbishop of York in 1070; of Sampson of Dover, his brother, made bishop of Worcester in 1097; and of a second Thomas of Dover, nephew to the first of the name, who, in 1109, had the singular honor of being elected at once to the episcopal throne of London, and the archiepiscopal throne of York; the latter of which he accepted. His brother, Richard, wore at the same time the mitre of Bayeux.—Douvres was the principal place of one of the seven baronies, which formed the episcopal manse of the bishops of Bayeux. During the thirteenth, and the two following centuries, it was also selected for their country-seat. Within its limits stands the chapel of the Délivrande,[125] said to have been founded by St. Regnobert, the second bishop of the diocese, and still held in the highest repute for its sanctity.

Of the church of Fontaine-le-Henri, the architecture is decidedly Norman, and is distinguished by a bold and noble style, resembling in its general character, as well as in its individual features, the abbatial churches of St. George, and of the Trinity. Hence, though no record is left of the actual founder, there is little room for doubt as to the æra of the foundation. It may be observed on this occasion, that in Normandy, as in England, it very seldom happens that information is to be obtained on these particulars, when the same individual united in his person the characters of lord of the village and patron of the living. It was only where benefices were in the hands of religious houses, that events so generally unimportant as the building and repairing of village churches, were considered deserving of being recorded.

With regard to the various proprietors of Fontaine-le-Henri, much information is to be gleaned from Laroque's History of the House of Harcourt. The laborious author, after having completed his general [66] account of the Norman nobility, in a single folio volume, devoted four others to the genealogy and fortunes of this one illustrious family. From him it appears that, during the period when Normandy was under the sway of its own Dukes, the parish of Fontaine-le-Henri was in the hands of the family of Tilly, one of whom is to be found among the companions of the Conqueror, in his descent upon England. Early in the thirteenth century, during the reign of King John, they held the lordship of Fontaine-le-Henri conjointly with the castellany of Tilly. Mention of them occurs repeatedly in the Ecclesiastical History of Ordericus Vitalis, as well as in the annals of the abbeys of St. Stephen and of Ardennes, near Caen; and it was from the baptismal name of Henry, commonly borne by that branch of them, who were possessors of Fontaine, that the parish took its present distinctive appellation; a distinction not a little needed, considering that there are fifteen other places in Normandy, called by the general name of Fontaine. John de Tilly, the last of the male line of the family, who were lords of Fontaine-le-Henri, died about the year 1380: he was succeeded in the inheritance by his sister, Jane, who, in 1382, married Philip D'Harcourt, and thus added the property to the immense domains of the Harcourts.

The first of the plates appropriated to this building, embraces only a portion of the western compartment of the south side of the chancel, drawn in rapid perspective, the view being taken from immediately beneath the corbel-table, for the sake of embracing the soffit of the arches, and the projecting mouldings. Here, as at Bieville, the lintel or transom-stone of the arch of entrance[126] assumes the form of a pediment, but rests upon the jambs of the door-way, on a level with the capitals. To the instances of a similar formation, adduced under the preceding article, should be added the very remarkable one at Pen church, in Somersetshire, figured in the Antiquarian and Topographical Cabinet. On the lintel is sculptured the Lamb bearing the Cross, enclosed within a circle, flanked on either side by a nondescript animal; the whole supported by two crowned heads placed in niches in the jambs.

Church of Fontaine-le-Henri.

Plate 61. Church of Fontaine-le-Henri near Caen.
Elevations of the East end of the South side of the Chancel.

The following is a description of the different parts of plate sixty-one:[127]

A. East end of the chancel.—The central buttress, flanked, like the two lateral ones, with cylindrical pillars, divides this portion of the church into two equal portions. The general appearance of these buttresses, and the circumstance of their being supported upon a fillet and plinth, would almost warrant the calling of them pilasters; and those upon the northern side of the chancel,

Figure B, assume that [67] character even more decidedly, having no projection beyond the cornice, which they support as an entablature.—It will be remarked, that the whole building is raised upon a plinth of a bold character; and Mr. Cotman justly observes, that the chancel may be regarded as a model for beautiful proportions and exquisite finishing. As respecting Norman buttresses, he is of opinion, that the edifices of highest antiquity will be found to be altogether without any; and that they were first added merely by way of ornament, to break the monotonous appearance of a long uninterrupted space of level wall. Indeed, the Norman walls, commonly from six to ten feet in thickness, could scarcely require any additional strength from extrinsic objects; and least of all, could they receive it from a projection of not more than the same number of inches. Even where buttress has been added to buttress, as in the north side of the chapel of the hospital of St. Julien, near Rouen,[128] and in some other instances, it may almost be questioned, if support was the only circumstance contemplated by the architect. The double buttresses at St. Julien's, could scarcely fail to be coeval with the building, as appears from the string-course being continued in an unbroken line over them, a fact that was omitted to be noticed in the description of the chapel.


[123] History of Dover Castle, p. 8.

[124] Origines de Caen, p. 315.

[125] See Turner's Tour in Normandy, II. p. 295; where this chapel is described and figured.

[126] Mr. Cotman observes, that much might be said in connection with this door-way, upon the subject of the decorations of the semi-circular-headed arches in Normandy and in England. But, confining himself to heads of the peculiar grotesque character, sculptured upon the arch at Fontaine-le-Henri, he remarks, that such, though far from being very uncommon in Britain, are of extremely rare occurrence in the duchy; insomuch, that he can recal no other specimens of them, than those upon a large arch which separates the nave from the chancel, in the church of Berigny, near St. Lo, and upon another on the south side of the church of Bracheville près le Grand. The heads, in this last instance, are precisely like those at Iffley church, in Oxfordshire, (see Britton's Chronological and Historical Illustrations of Ancient Architectures;) but they are confined to the archivolt alone, while, at Iffley, they are disposed in a double row, and form broad bands, that encircle the pillars as well as the top of the arch. In England are the following instances, most of them figured in the works of Britton and Carter:—

[127] In the title of this plate, it is unfortunately stated to represent the East end of the south side of the chancel, instead of the East end and the north side of the chancel.

[128] See p. 44.






Château at Fontaine-le-Henri.

Plate 62. Château at Fontaine-le-Henri, near Caen.

It neither falls within the scope of this work to attempt any thing in the form of a dissertation upon the ancient domestic architecture of Normandy, nor, supposing such an object to be desirable, would the present state of the duchy afford materials for the purpose. The lover of researches into architectural antiquity no sooner directs his attention to that branch of his subject, which, as tending to elucidate the habits of his forefathers, would be peculiarly interesting, than he finds an insuperable obstacle opposed to his progress. The zeal of churchmen and the pride of barons, have preserved us many noble relics of ecclesiastical and castellated buildings; but the private residence of the more humble individual has, in no portion of the globe, been able to secure to itself any thing approaching to a durable existence. What was raised for comfort alone, was not in itself designed for perpetuity; and the varying tastes of successive occupants, the changes of fashions, or, what operate even more powerfully than all, the changes of fortune, have conspired to subject this portion of human labor, in an eminent degree, to that mutability which is the general lot of human undertakings. In early times, also, the state of society operated powerfully towards the production of the same destructive effect. When even the monarch could no otherwise provide for the safety of his palace, than by encircling it with the fortifications of the castle, a life of continual alarm afforded his subjects no encouragement for the cultivation of the arts of peace. Society knew no other classes than the lord and his vassals: the former, enthroned in military state; the latter, too poor to raise his aim beyond the necessaries of life; or, where riches existed, too depressed by servitude to dare to let them appear. Hence, during the prevalence of the feudal system, very little, if any thing, more is known of domestic architecture, than is to be collected from the rude illuminations of missals, or the unsatisfactory descriptions of chroniclers. The monuments themselves have disappeared from the face of the earth; or, if any instances can be adduced, tending to disprove so comprehensive an assertion, they are few in number, and worthless in quality. The utmost to be hoped for are such mutilated remains, as Winwal-House, in Norfolk, lately figured by Mr. Britton, in [68] his Chronological and Historical Illustrations of the Ancient Architecture of Great-Britain; remains that are calculated to excite no other emotions than regret, and to awaken, without being by any means able to satisfy, curiosity.—Nor indeed have Mr. Cotman's extensive researches enabled him to meet with any of this description, all poor as they are, within the limits of Normandy.

At the same time it has appeared right, conformably with the plan that has been adopted in this work, as to ecclesiastical edifices, to lay before the reader some specimens of the domestic architecture of the duchy, which, though far removed from Norman times, are almost equally so from our own days. Even these are rapidly disappearing; it is more than possible, that the three subjects here selected for publication may, in the course of a few years, be recorded only in these plates. One of them is already levelled with the ground;[129] while the more interesting house in the Place de la Pucelle, at Rouen, though it has been suffered to continue in existence, has been so much injured in its exterior, and is degraded to so mean a purpose, that its demolition would at no time be matter for surprise.—Specimens, like these, are curious in the history of the arts: they shew the progress which architecture had made in Normandy, at one of the most interesting epochs in French history; they also shew its relative state, as respectively applied to civil and religious purposes. And, if they be all three productions of nearly the same æra, they are sufficiently characterised each from the other, by marks of distinction.

“A history of the civil and domestic architecture of the middle ages, is yet a desideratum; and unless this task is soon accomplished in England, the opportunity will be lost for ever.” The very sensible author, from whom this sentence is quoted, goes on to say, “The halls of Elizabeth's days are almost worn out. The mansions of the time of Charles I. are falling apace, and in every quarter of a century a class must disappear, by the conjoined operations of repair and decay. The towns of England perhaps afford the worst and poorest specimens of the dwelling houses: the best and richest are found in the Netherlands. We can hardly qualify this assertion by recollecting the magnificent range of palaces which bordered the Strand, in the reign of Henry VIII. Our own dwelling-houses are usually composed of timber frames filled in with plaster. Troyes, in Champagne, is built entirely in this fashion, every street is the perfect ‘counterfeit’ of old Cheapside. Beauvais is built in the same manner, but the houses are profusely varied with carving, and a good artist might employ himself there for a twelvemonth. Many of the ancient houses at Caen are of chesnut timber. The Abbé De la Rue supposes that they were built by the English, after the place was taken by Henry V. in 1417. His ‘bombards’ destroyed a great part of the town during the siege; and after he had regained possession, he granted the sites of the demolished tenements to his English subjects. In choosing this material, they may have been guided partly by choice, as being a domestic fashion, and partly by necessity; for the use of stone was restricted by Henry, to the building and repairing of ‘eglises, chasteaulx, et forteresses.’ The king, by letters-patent, declared that the ‘quarries of white stone’ were to remain to him and his heirs for ever: this monopoly proves the value in which the Caen stone was held.”

Château at Fontaine-le-Henri.

Plate 63. Château of Fontaine-le-Henri, near Caen.
Elevation of Central Compartment.

Some account has already been given, under the preceding article, of the changes of proprietors which the domain of Fontaine-le-Henri underwent, during the reigns of the Norman Dukes, and down to the conclusion of the fourteenth century. The estate then passed into the possession of the Harcourts, in whose hands it continued a considerable length of time: it has since been subject to various owners, and has now finally become the property of the Viscount de Canisy. The Château (see plates sixty-two and sixty-three) is a noble building, and a very characteristic specimen of the residences of the French noblesse, during [69] the latter part of the fifteenth century, at which period there is no doubt of its having been erected, although no records whatever are left upon the subject. Fontaine-le-Henri was then still in the possession of the family of Harcourt, whose fortune and consequence might naturally be expected to give rise to a similar building.—As compared with the mansions of the English nobility, the château at Fontaine-le-Henri may be advantageously viewed in conjunction with Longleat, in Wiltshire,[130] the noble seat of the Marquess of Bath. The erection of the latter was not commenced till the year 1567, thus leaving an interval of at least half a century between them; a period, probably, much the same as may be presumed from other documents to have intervened between the introduction of the Italian style of architecture in France and in England. Longleat was built by John of Padua, who is stated by Mr. Britton, “to have been an architect of some note at the time; as is evinced by his being termed Devizor of his Majesty's buildings, and by the grant made him by Henry VIII. and renewed in the third year of Edward VI.” Fontaine-le-Henri was also the production of trans-alpine architects. Both of them bear decided marks of the nation to which they owe their origin; but in the English mansion, the Italian features are most decidedly enounced; while, in the French, they are strikingly modified by the peculiarities of their adopted country.

The central compartment (plate sixty-three) has been selected by Mr. Cotman for publication, as being the portion of the structure which is in the purest taste. This also most resembles Longleat. But it is on the other hand by far the least ornamented. The rest of the front of the building is covered with the richest profusion of medallions, scrolls, friezes, canopies, statues, and arabesques, in bas-relief, worked with extraordinary care, and of great beauty. Their style is that of the Loggie of Raphael; or, to compare them with another Norman subject of the same æra, of the sculptures upon the mausoleum raised to the Cardinal d'Amboise, in Rouen cathedral: indeed, for delicacy of workmanship, they may almost compete with the ornaments upon this far-famed monument.[131]

House at Rouen.

Plate 64. House in the Place de la Pucelle, at Rouen.

For the drawing of the second of the houses here figured, that in the Place de la Pucelle, at Rouen, (see plate sixty-four,) Mr. Cotman has to acknowledge himself indebted to the pencil of Miss Mary Turner. Rouen abounds in buildings, whose fronts are ornamented in a somewhat similar manner, but none among them will bear a comparison with this for the sumptuousness of its decorations.[132] In another and more important point of view, the house in question stands still more decidedly unrivalled; for a wing of it, which is not shewn in the present plate, exhibits a series of representations, illustrative of different events connected with the chivalrous meeting in the field of cloth of gold. These figures have been already engraved: they were first published by Montfaucon; then copied by Ducarel; and, very recently, two of them have again appeared in the publications of Mr. Dibdin[133] and Mr. Turner.[134] The latter of these gentlemen has been copious in his description of this building; and the following account of it is borrowed nearly verbatim from his pages:—

“In the square which has acquired an ill-omened celebrity by the barbarous execution of the Maid of Arc, stands a house within a court, now occupied as a school for girls, of the same æra as the Palais de Justice, and in the same Burgundian style, but far richer in its sculptures. The entire front is divided into compartments by slender and lengthened buttresses and pilasters. The intervening spaces are filled with basso relievos, evidently executed at one period, though by different masters. A banquet beneath a window in the first floor, is in a good cinque-cento style. Others of the basso-relievos represent the labors of the field and the vineyard; rich and fanciful in their costume, but rather wooden in their design: the salamander, the emblem of Francis I. appears several times amongst the ornaments, and very conspicuously. I believe there is not a single square foot of this extraordinary building, which has not been sculptured.—On the north side extends a spacious gallery. Here the architecture is rather in [70] Holbein's manner: foliaged and swelling pilasters, like antique candelabra, bound the arched windows. Beneath, is the well-known series of bas-reliefs, executed on marble tablets, representing the interview between Francis I. of France, and Henry VIII. of England, in the Champ du Drap d'or, between Guisnes and Ardres. They were first discovered by the venerable father Montfaucon, who engraved them in his Monumens de la Monarchie Française; but to the greater part of our antiquaries at home, they are, perhaps, more commonly known by the miserable copies inserted in Ducarel's work, who has borrowed most of his plates from the Benedictine.—These sculptures are much mutilated, and so obscured by smoke and dirt, that the details cannot be understood without great difficulty. The corresponding tablets above the windows are even in a worse condition; and they appear to have been almost unintelligible in the time of Montfaucon, who conjectures that they were allegorical, and probably intended to represent the triumph of religion. Each tablet contains a triumphal car, drawn by different animals—one by elephants, another by lions, and so on, and crowded with mythological figures and attributes.—A friend of mine, who examined them this summer, tells me, that he thinks the subjects are either taken from the triumphs of Petrarch, or imitated from the triumphs introduced in the Polifilo. Graphic representations of allegories are susceptible of so many variations, that an artist, embodying the ideas of the poet, might produce a representation bearing a close resemblance to the mythological processions of the ‘mystic dream.’—The interior of the house has been modernized: so that a beam covered with small carvings is the only remaining object of curiosity. On the top, a bunch of leaden thistles has been a sad puzzle to antiquaries, who would fain find some connection between the building and Scotland; but neither record nor tradition throw any light upon their researches. Montfaucon, copying from a manuscript written by the Abbé Noel, says, ‘I have more than once been told, that Francis I. on his way through Rouen, lodged at this house; and it is most probable, that the bas-reliefs in question were made upon some of these occasions, to gratify the king by the representation of a festival, in which he particularly delighted.’ The gallery-sculptures are very fine, and the upper tier is much in the style of Jean Goujon. It is not generally known that Goujon re-drew the embellishments of Beroald de Verville's translation of the Polifilo; and that these, beautiful as they are in the Aldine edition, acquired new graces from the French artist—I have remarked, that the allegorical tablets appear to coincide with the designs of the Polifilo: a more accurate examination might, perhaps, prove the fact; and then little doubt would remain. The building is much dilapidated; and, unless speedily repaired, these basso-relievos, which would adorn any museum, will utterly perish. In spite of neglect and degradations, the aspect of the mansion is still such that, as my friend observed, one would expect to see a fair and stately matron standing in the porch, attired in velvet, waiting to receive her lord.”

House at Caen.

Plate 65. House in the rue St. Jean, at Caen.

To the house at Caen[135] (figured in plate sixty-five) are attached no historical mementos; nor is any record preserved as to its founder or possessor. It is not even honored by the slightest mention in the Abbé De la Rue's recent publication, or in those of De Bourgueville or Huet. In all probability it owes its existence to some wealthy citizen, during the reigns of Charles VIII. or Louis XII. as “it was principally at that period, that the practice prevailed in France, of ornamenting the fronts of the houses with medallions. The custom died away under Francis I.”[136]—According to this theory, the houses at Caen and at Fontaine-le-Henri may be placed in exactly the same æra, and about forty years anterior to that at Rouen.

Caen can show another remarkable instance of domestic architecture, a castellated building, which, it has been remarked, might easily mislead the studious antiquary. This building, commonly known by the name of the Château de la Gendarmerie, but more properly called the Château de Calix, is generally believed by the inhabitants of the town to have been erected for the purpose of commanding the river, while it flowed in its ancient, but now deserted, bed. According, however, to the Abbé De la Rue, no fortification of any description ever existed in the same place; but the structure, however martial in its appearance, was in its character altogether pacific, and was built during some of the latest [71] years of the fifteenth, or earliest of the sixteenth, century, by Girard de Nollent, then owner of the property.[137] Two statues, apparently intended to represent heathen divinities, but now absurdly called Gendarmes, frown over its battlements, which, like those of the adjacent wall, and like the face of the principal tower, are still charged with medallions, though the ebullition of revolutionary enthusiasm has destroyed the arms of the Nollents.

Previously to dismissing this subject, it may be worth while to remark, that the ogee canopy, surmounting the window placed between the two medallions in the house in the Rue St. Jean, at Caen, is nearly a fac-simile of that which is still seen over the door that led to what was once the great hall in the Conqueror's palace, adjoining the abbey of St. Stephen. The resemblance between them is so great, that it would be difficult to believe that they are of very different dates. But the palace was unquestionably the production of more than one æra; and in the scarcity of materials for the forming of a correct opinion upon the subject, it is impossible to say, whether the door in question may not have been inserted some time after its erection, or even whether the ornamental part may not have been added to it at a period subsequent to its formation.


[129] The house at Caen, is that which is here alluded to.—It has already been mentioned, that the Great House at Andelys has suffered the same fate. Since the account of that circumstance was written, the author of the present article has been favored with the following extract from a letter from Lord Compton, dated in August last:—“The noble grande maison d'Andelys, is now, alas, no more! We made a détour by a horrible road, for the purpose of visiting it; but great was our mortification to find only a small piece of unornamented wall, the sole vestige which the barbarians had left standing; and that is now probably destroyed—and ‘green grass grows where Troy-town stood.’ I need hardly say, that I derived a great deal of pleasure from a three-days' stay at Rouen; after which we made an excursion to St. Georges de Bocherville and Jumieges, and were highly interested and pleased by both.—Oh! that the Vandals would leave the abbey of Jumieges, even in its present state of dilapidation! In a few years, with the mellowing tints of time, and the ornament of a little ivy and vegetation, it would be one of the most picturesque and beautiful ruins in Europe; but, alas! it is in vain to hope it. Cotman's representations of Jumieges and Andelys will now be doubly valuable.”

[130] Figured and described in Britton's Architectural Antiquities, II. p. 105.

[131] See Turner's Tour in Normandy, I. p. 157.

[132] One of the most curious buildings of this description, the ancient abbey of St. Amand, was not only rich to the greatest degree of profusion in its decorations, but derived a peculiar interest from their being almost wholly carved in wood. This building is now nearly destroyed; but, fortunately, some of its principal features are recorded in four of the plates of M. de Jolimont's Monumens de la Normandie.

[133] Bibliographical, Antiquarian, and Picturesque Tour through France, &c. I. p. 101.

[134] Tour in Normandy, I. p. 200.

[135] On the front of the new house, which has lately been erected upon the spot that was occupied by this, have been fastened the two medallions here represented: these alone were saved from the general destruction.

[136] Turner's Tour in Normandy, II. p. 170.

[137] Essais Historiques sur la Ville de Caen, I. p. 310.



Church of Tréport.

Plate 66. Tower of the Church of Tréport, near Caen.

Tréport is an insignificant fishing-town, situated at the mouth of the small river, the Bresle, near the western extremity of Normandy. But, however unimportant its present state, most writers agree in regarding it as venerable for antiquity, assigning to it an existence coeval with the days of Julius Cæsar. That illustrious general speaks of a harbor, opening into the British Channel, under the denomination of Ulterior Portus; and by this name he is supposed to have intended to designate Tréport. The modern Latin historians of France apply the title without scruple: it is even so used in the charter for the foundation of the abbey, dated in the middle of the eleventh century. The very sensible author of the Description of Upper Normandy, is, however, of opinion, that such application is not warranted; and, after discussing the subject at some length, he inclines to think it more probable that Tréport may have been termed by the Romans, Citerior Portus; though he candidly admits that he finds no mention of a place so called among their writers.[138] The modern name of the town he derives from the Celtic word, Treiz; or, as it is sometimes spelt, Traiz, Trais, or Treaz; a word still in use in Lower Brittany, to signify “the passage of an arm of the sea, or of a river towards its mouth.”

According to the same author, there is no reason to believe that Tréport was a place of note, either during the period of the dominion of the Gauls, or of the Romans. From the beginning of the twelfth century, however, it has excited, at different times, a greater or less degree of interest. Various attempts have been made to raise it into commercial importance; and, sunk as it is at present, “it once could boast rows of handsome, well-built streets, a considerable number of inhabitants, and as many as a hundred vessels, fishing-boats included, belonging to the port.”—Henry I. one of the earliest Counts of Eu, turned in 1101, the course of the Bresle, so as to bring it more immediately under the walls of Tréport: it was he also who dug the first harbor. Another of the same line of Counts, Charles of Artois, repaired this harbor in 1475, and undertook the greater work of cutting a navigable canal as far as Eu. The task, however, was suspended long before its completion; but the vestiges still remain, and even to the present day pass under the name of the Canal d'Artois. In 1154, a fresh attempt was made, and by a far greater man, to raise the prosperity of Tréport. Henry, Duke of Guise, caused a basin to be formed here, capable of containing ships of three hundred tons burthen; and added to it a jetty, defended by strong palisades. The whole was shortly after swept away; nor did better [72] success attend the labors of the celebrated Vauban, who, admiring the situation of the town, undertook, after a lapse of one hundred and thirty-four years, to repair the works of the Duke of Guise.

But the sea is not the only enemy with which Tréport has had to contend: its misfortunes have also been in great measure attributable to its defenceless state, situated as it is, in the immediate vicinity of England. The British fleet effected a landing in 1330, and destroyed the town with fire and the sword. In the course of the succeeding year, they returned with the same design; and again in 1413; on which last occasion, not content with burning Tréport itself, they likewise set fire to many neighboring villages. The religious wars during the following century were the source of almost equal calamities; but neither the sea nor warfare have inflicted such fatal wounds upon Tréport, as causes emanating immediately from the prosperity of France. Its proximity to the flourishing harbor of Dieppe, has naturally diverted its trade to that quarter: the restoration of Calais to the French monarchy, caused it a yet more irreparable injury; for, previously to that time, Tréport was the principal place in the channel, for the baking of biscuit, and for the landing and curing of the herrings caught by the fishermen of France in the German Ocean.

Tréport was one of the first French towns that afforded a residence for the Knights Templars. A colony of them established themselves here in 1141. In the middle of the preceding century, its abbey of Benedictines, dedicated to the Archangel Michael, had been founded by Robert, Earl of Eu. The foundation-charter is preserved, both in the Neustria Pia and Gallia Christiana; and a very curious document it is, as illustrative of the manners of the times. Robert appears in it in the light of a most liberal, and a most wealthy, benefactor. Not the least extraordinary of his donations, is the permission which he bestows upon the monks, of “getting whatever they can in the towns of Eu and of Tréport:” immediately after this, succeed particular grants relative to sturgeons and grampuses, fish that are now of extremely rare occurrence in the channel, but which would scarcely have there been noticed, had not the case in those times been far different; and had they not also been held in high estimation.[139]

Just one hundred years subsequently to the foundation of the monastery, John, Count of Eu, confirmed to it whatever donations it had previously received; in doing which, he makes use of this singular expression, “that he places them all with his own hands upon the altar.” His piety, however, appears to have been but short-lived. A few years only elapsed before the same nobleman was guilty of flagrant sacrilege in the very abbey that he had sworn to protect. His crime and his penitence are together recorded in an instrument printed in the Neustria Pia.[140]

What is further known relative to the convent, is little and unimportant. The most remarkable circumstance, is the extreme poverty to which the monks were reduced in 1384; when, on being called upon to pay the sum of forty-six shillings and eight-pence, they pleaded their utter inability, and presented to the king the following piteous remonstrance:—“Cette Abbaïe, étant frontiere de l'Anglois, n'aïant ni château ni défense, a été arse et mise en un si chetif point, qu'il y a [73] peu de lieux où nous puissions habiter, si ce n'est ès demeurans des anciens edifices, et ès vieilles masures.......... Notre grande Eglise est arse depuis trente ans, et une autre petite Eglise qu'avions depuis refaite, à grand meschief est ruinée et chue jusqu'en terre, avec la closture et tout le dortoir ars, ensemble nos biens et nos lits.... De plus sommes endettez en Cour de Rome pour les finances dez Abbez qu'avons eus en brief temps; et devons encore à plusieurs persones de grosses sommes de deniers que n'avons pu, et ne pouvons encore acquitter; dont c'est pitié.... finalement pour païer 10 livres sur les 56 livres demandées par le Receveur, avons engagé nos Calices sans les pouvoir retirer.”


[138] Description de la Haute Normandie, I. p. 13.

[139] The whole of the passage is curious.—“Item in Ulteriori Portu et in Auco oppido; decimam denariorum de Vice-comitatibus, et in utrâque villâ quicquid abbas et monachi acquirere poterunt. Quod si homines Abbatis piscem, qui vocatur Turium, capiunt, totus erit S. Michaelis: crassus piscis si captus fuerit, ala una et medietas caudæ erit monachis.”—From this passage, it is plain what importance was attached to the crassus piscis, under which denomination were probably included the porpesse, the dolphin, and all kinds of cetaceous animals, as well as the grampus. Ducange, with his usual ability and learning, has brought together a considerable quantity of curious matter upon the subject, under the word, Craspiscis. From him it appears that, in the year 1271, the question was argued before the Norman parliament, to whom such fish belonged, in the event of its being thrown upon the shore; and the decision was in the following words.—“Quod consuetudo generalis est in Normanniâ, quod, quando talis piscis invenitur in littore maris, nec Baro, nec Miles, nec alius, qui a Rege teneat, talem piscem habet, si valeat ultra 50 libras, nisi per cartam eum habeat.”—See also Turner's Tour in Normandy, II. p. 21, respecting the existence of a whale-fishery near Jumieges, upon the authority of the writer of the Gesta Sancti Philiberti.

[140] P. 589.—“Notum sit universis Ecclesiæ Dei filiis, quod ego Joannes, Comes Auci, pro stipendio militum et servientium, quos tenui per guerram Regis, invadiavi maximam partem et optimam Thesauri Ecclesiæ S. Michaëlis de Ulterior-Portu, duos videlicet Textus prætiosos, et duo Thuribula prætiosa, unum calicem argenteum, et optimè deauratum; cappas caras viginti quatuor: casulam peratam et bonam: Præterea, tot et tantis gravaminibus præfatam Ecclesiam tam sæpè gravavi, quàm vices gravaminum numerare non possem: quare pro multis pauca, pro magnis parua, rependens, concedo, et in perpetuum do prædictæ Ecclesiæ, avenam et frumentum de Verleio, quæ pertinet ad Forestagium. Diligenter autem hæredes exoro, ne Ecclesias terræ suæ gravent, sed honorent et protegant. Et si quid eis pro salute animæ meæ et parentum meorum dedi, vel pro ablatis reddidi, in pace stabiliter tenere faciant: recordantes, quod ipsi morituri sunt: Sicut prædecessores nostri mortui sunt.”



Church of Anisy.

Plate 67. Church of Anisy, near Caen.

The present plate has been introduced into this work, with the view of exhibiting a Norman village church of unquestionable antiquity, having its walls, on either side, built of a coarse dark stone, fashioned like Roman bricks, and disposed in a zig-zag, or, as it is more commonly termed, a herring-bone direction. A similar disposition of the masonry is observable in a portion of the church of Perriers, the subject of the following plate: it is still more conspicuous at the neighboring church of St. Matthieu, already mentioned in this work.[141] The old church of St. Croix, at St. Lo, and the lower part of the east end of the church of St. Hildebert, at Gournai, exhibit the same peculiarity, which, according to Mr. Turner, likewise exists in portions of the outer walls of the castle at Arques, as well as in the keep of the castle at Falaise.[142] These various instances, all of them taken from structures which are beyond a doubt of Norman origin, will remove any hesitation as to the Normans having practised this mode of building. Still farther confirmation will be found in the English castles of Tamworth and Colchester, both of the same early æra:[143] the stones, in the latter, are disposed precisely as here figured: in the former, horizontal strata regularly alternate with the inclined, as if in imitation of various Roman remains.[144] And, indeed, that they were really constructed with such an intention, appears highly probable; as, according to Sir Henry Englefield, whose authority is unquestionable, the same style of masonry is seen at Silchester, which is most certainly a pure Roman relic: it is even stated, that the old walls of the city of Rome were so built.[145]

Abstracted from the peculiarity just noticed, there is little in the church of Anisy to excite interest. A flat moulding, not less wide than a buttress, and surmounted by a narrow string-course of the plainest character, is continued round the whole nave, and divides it into two stories of equal height; while four Norman buttresses, on either side, separate it into three compartments. In the original state of the church, the windows were confined to the upper portion alone, and alternated with the buttresses: they rose from the string-course, narrow, circular-headed, surrounded with squared freestone, and having no other ornament than a slender cylindrical moulding above. In succeeding times, either the want of a sufficient quantity of light, or a desire for improvement, led to the introduction of larger cinquefoil-headed windows, occupying equal portions of the upper and lower stories. Throughout the whole of this part of the church, the apertures made by the scaffolding are left; and, what is remarkable, are edged with freestone.

[74]The corbels are grotesque; and the subjects of some indecent.—In the west front there is nothing remarkable: the door-way and window above are of the most common character of Norman architecture: neither in this part of the church, nor in the chancel, is the herring-bone masonry continued; nor does the horizontal moulding extend over either of them.


[141] P. 16.

[142] Tour in Normandy, I. p. 37.

[143] It is hoped, that this assertion is not too bold.—The accounts of Tamworth castle, as a building, are indeed particularly unsatisfactory: neither Leland, in his Itinerary, nor Shaw, in his History of Staffordshire, throw any light upon the æra of its construction. Yet, even from the wretched plate given in the latter work, the castle, all altered as it is, appears to preserve somewhat of the character of its Norman origin; while the fact of its having belonged to the powerful family of Marmion, immediately after the conquest, adds historical probability to the opinion. With regard to Colchester, no one who has seen it will feel hesitation on the subject, although the quantity of Roman bricks visible in every part, very naturally lead to the conclusion, that it was raised upon the ruins of a far earlier edifice.

[144] Carter's Ancient Architecture, p. 36, pl. 42, fig. E.

[145] Strutt's Manners and Customs of the Anglo-Saxons, &c. I. p. 28.



Church of Perriers.

Plate 68. Church of Perriers, near Caen.

The upper half of this plate exhibits a north-west view of the church of Perriers: the lower represents it in the opposite direction. From both it will be observed, that the different parts of the building are the productions of two different æras, the nave having been erected during the prevalence of the semi-circular architecture, while the chancel exhibits a specimen of probably the very earliest period of the pointed style. In reference to the preceding plate, it is not uninteresting to remark, that the herring-bone masonry is, in this instance, altogether confined to the more early portion of the structure, the whole of which is composed of it, with the exception of the buttresses.

The great western door-way to the church of Perriers is very peculiar. Mr. Cotman regards it as the only instance, in the duchy, of a real Norman building having its principal entrance square-headed. Its massive lintel, shaped, as at Bieville, into a pediment, and surmounted by an arch, which is rather the segment of an ellipsis than of a circle, is likewise remarkable. But the very large arch on the northern side of the nave, adjoining the west end, is by far the most striking architectural feature of the building. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to assign any satisfactory reason for its existence. Its situation precludes the idea of its having been placed there by way of support to the tower: its size forbids the supposition, that it ever served as an entrance. Had there been an aisle or chapel beyond, it certainly might have been the medium of their communication with the main building; but the buttress contiguous to it, proves that the wall in which it is inserted, was the outer wall of the church. As it is, it appears a perfect anomaly, and must remain as a crux for the ingenuity of future antiquaries.

The similar arch, now blocked up, at the western extremity of the chancel, places it almost beyond a doubt that the church had a central tower. The windows of the chancel far exceed, in point of length and narrowness, any others that have yet appeared in this work. They are wholly destitute of mouldings or decoration of any description; but, like those at Anisy, are edged with freestone, as are the apertures left by the scaffolding, which in this building are disposed with unusual regularity, as if with the intention of their being ornamental. This introduction of white smooth stone, assorts ill with the dull reddish-brown mass all around it, and produces a glaring and disagreeable effect. The indented cornice is similar to that observed by Mr. Turner upon the gate-tower, leading to the monastery of the Holy Trinity, at Caen.[146]


[146] Tour in Normandy, II. p. 183.




Castle of Lillebonne.

Plate 69. Castle of Lillebonne.

Julius Cæsar, the principal source of information respecting ancient Gaul, at the same time that he mentions the Caletes, the inhabitants of the modern Pays de Caux, is altogether silent with regard to the principal city of their territory. From Ptolemy, however, and the Itinerary of Antoninus, it appears, that such city was called Juliobona;[147] and, notwithstanding the attempts of Cluvier and Adrien de Valois to establish Dieppe as the site of this Caletian metropolis,[148] the learned of the present day seem unanimously agreed to fix it at Lillebonne; and there are but few who are not also of opinion, that the present French name is a corruption of the ancient Roman one. Some Latin writers of the twelfth century make mention of Insula Bona; and the word, Lillebonne, spelt, as it not uncommonly is, L'Ilebonne, might be regarded as originating from that appellation, of which, indeed, it is a literal translation. But the point is not worth arguing: it is equally possible, that Insula Bona may be no other than Lillebonne latinized.

Leaving all discussions of this kind, and equally passing by the attempts which have been made to derive the name of Lillebonne from Celtic roots,[149] it is at least certain, that the place was a Roman settlement; and the undoubted fact of no fewer than five Roman roads branching from it, to different parts of the country,[150] justifies the inference, that it was likewise a settlement of some importance. The subterraneous passages and foundations of ancient buildings, scattered over a wide extent of ground, attest a place of no small size. The remains of a theatre,[151] added to abundance of vases, cinerary urns, sepulchral lamps, and coins and medals, both of the upper and lower empire, which have been from time to time dug up here, prove it to have been occupied by the Romans during a considerable period. But no records remain, either of its greatness or overthrow. It fell, in all probability, in consequence of the irruptions of the northern hordes, and was swept away, like other neighboring towns,

“Unknown their arts, and lost their chroniclers.”

In the midst of the general destruction, it is possible that some remains of the city may have been left, that attracted the notice of the new lords of the country: or, possibly, their choice was fixed by the lovely situation of Lillebonne, in a valley upon the eastern bank of the Seine, not far from the mouth of that majestic stream. While Normandy was ruled by its own princes, Lillebonne was the seat of a ducal palace; and tradition, whose accuracy in this instance there is no reason to impugn, teaches that the actual remains of such palace are to be seen in the building here figured. It even goes farther, and maintains that this hall is the very spot in which William assembled his barons, for the [76] purpose of hearing their counsel, and marshalling their forces, preparatory to his descent upon England.[152] His actual residence at Lillebonne at various times is clear, from a number of charters which bear date from this place. In one of these, granted in the year 1074, for the sake of establishing[153] harmony between the Abbot of St. Wandrille and the Count of Evreux, the sovereign styles himself gloriosus rex Anglorum and he dates it a Castro Julio-Bona. At another time, in consequence of a dispute respecting the succession to the abbacy of St. Evroul, Ordericus Vitalis relates, that one of the rival competitors repaired to the Duke, “who was then holding his court at Lillebonne” and who, incensed at the interference of the Pope on the occasion, exhibited a strong trait of his natural character, by swearing, that if any monk belonging to his territory, should dare to calumniate him abroad, he would hang him by his cowl upon the highest tree in the neighboring wood.[154] This happened in the year 1063: in 1080, there was held here, by order of the same prince, a provincial synod, which passes in the annals of the Norman churches, under the name of the Concilium Julio-Bonense. Its canons are preserved, and are reported at length by Bessin, “with the intention,” as he remarks, “of enabling posterity to judge of the character of the laws in Normandy, during the reign of Duke William.”[155]

Lillebonne is at present a poor small country town, whose inhabitants carry on an inconsiderable trade in tanning, and in the manufacturing of cotton. The ruins of the castle, however, are far from unimportant. Not only is the whole plan of the structure still distinctly to be traced; but there remain, in addition to the great hall, here figured, extensive portions of other buildings, some of which are altered into a modern farm-house. A noble circular tower, surrounded by a deep moat, and approached by a draw-bridge, appears at first view to be the great character of the ruin; but it is obviously an addition of a subsequent period, and, indeed, of a time considerably posterior to the hall. The pointed arches of its windows, and the elegant bosses of its ceiling, denote an æra when the arts had arrived at a high state of perfection.—Of the date, or cause of the decay of the castle, nothing is recorded.

The hall has the appearance of having been erected by Italian architects. Its features are distinctly Roman; and it may be regarded as holding, in this respect, the same place among the castellated buildings of Normandy, as the church of St. Stephen, at Caen, occupies among the ecclesiastical. The broken cornice at the top of the walls, is a decided imitation of that upon the tomb of Cæcilia Metella, the arch of Constantine, and the colosseum at Rome; and the windows may be likened to those of Mæcenas' villa at Tivoli, in which there is the same arrangement of arch within arch. But the Norman architect has introduced a peculiarity, scarcely to be paralleled, in the transom, which, placed upon a line with the capitals, divides each window into two unequal parts, and at once supports, and is supported by, the central pillar, that subdivides the lower moiety.

The Church at Lillebonne is also an object deserving of observation, especially in the principal entrance: the great arch is flanked by two square massy projections, in the form of buttresses, each of them faced by a row of small cylindrical pillars in high relief, broken towards the centre, to give place for canopied saints, and ending at the top in ornaments, apparently intended to convey the idea of a series of antique candelabra.


[147] Ordericus Vitalis, on the other hand, says, but he is borne out by no classical authority, that Lillebonne occupies the site of an old Belgic town, called Caletus which was destroyed by Julius Cæsar; who built on its foundation a new one, and named it Julio-bona, after himself. The passage, which is curious, is as follows:—“Antiqua urbs fuit, quæ Caletus ab incolis dicta est. Hanc (ut in antiquis Romanorum legitur gestis) Caius Julius Cæsar obsedit, et pro nimia bellatorum obstinatione intus acerrimè repugnantium subvertit. Deinde postquam hostes ibidem ad libitum compressit, considerata opportunitate loci, præsidium Romanorum providè constituit, et a nomine suo Juliam-bonam (quam barbari nunc corrupto nomine Ille-bonam nuncupant) appellavit.”—Duchesne, Scriptores Normanni, p. 554.

[148] These authors were led to this opinion by the difficulty of reconciling the distances, as stated by Antoninus, between Julio-bona and the adjacent towns, with the actual distance of the same places from the modern Lillebonne.

[149] See Description de la Haute Normandie, I. p. 6, where it is suggested, that the word, L'Ilebonne, may be derived from the two Celtic words, Ile, signifying a current of water, and Bonne, which denotes the termination of any thing. The towns of Bonne, upon the Rhine, and of Libourne, are supposed to have taken their names from these words.

[150] Noel, Essais sur le Département de la Seine Inférieure, II. p. 126.

[151] Figured in the Voyages Pittoresques et Romantiques dans l'Ancienne France, par Nodier, Taylor, et De Cailleux.—In the section of this publication, comprising Normandy, the authors have devoted nine plates to the illustration of Lillebonne.

[152] In the Gallia Christiana, XI. p. 31, it is said on this subject, in speaking of Maurilius, archbishop of Rouen, that “adfuit Juliobonensibus Comitiis pro expeditione Anglicana, in 1066.”

[153] See Neustria Pia, p. 168.

[154] Duchesne, Scriptores Normanni, p. 488.

[155] Concilia Normannica, I. p. 67.




Castle of Briquebec.

Plate 70. Castle of Briquebec, near Valognes.

Briquebec is an extensive parish, situated about seven miles to the south of Valognes, with a population of four thousand five hundred inhabitants, a weekly market on Mondays, and several considerable fairs. Its castle claims an antiquity, nearly, if not altogether, coeval with the days of Rollo. When that Duke, on gaining peaceable possession of Normandy, parcelled out the land among his companions in arms, the portion that included Briquebec was one of the most considerable. The lord of Briquebec held in the Norman exchequer the third place among the barons of the Cotentin, the present department of La Manche.[157] His services and his rank, to which may probably also be added, his relationship to Rollo, entitled him to this proud distinction.

After the assassination of William Longue Epée, second Duke of Normandy, in 942, Amlech, or, as he is sometimes called, Lancelot, of Briquebec, was appointed one of the council of regency, during the minority of the young prince, Richard, the son to the deceased, and heir to the throne. In this capacity he was also one of those deputed to receive Louis d'Outremer, King of France, at Rouen.—Amlech had a son, named Turstin of Bastenburg, and he left two sons, one of whom, William, was lord of Briquebec.—The other, Hugh, commonly called the bearded, was the head of the family of Montfort, which produced the famous Count, Pierre, slain at the battle of Evesham, while commanding the barons in revolt against Henry III.—The line of the lords of Briquebec was continued in the posterity of William, whose son, of the same name, attended the Conqueror into England. Seven of his descendants successively bore the name of Robert Bertrand, and successively possessed the barony of Briquebec. The last died in the middle of the fourteenth century, leaving his extensive domains, including this castle, to his eldest daughter, Jane, with whom it passed in marriage to William Paisnel, baron of Hambye.[158]

The name of Paisnel will be found, as well as that of Bertrand, in the roll of chieftains engaged in the conquest of England. Duke William recompensed the services of Ralph Paisnel, his companion in arms, with various domains in different counties of his newly-acquired kingdom, and particularly in Yorkshire, Buckinghamshire, and Somersetshire. His descendants, who were numerous in Great Britain, possessed, among other distinguished lordships, those of Huntley and of Dudley.—In the Cotentin, their family was equally extensive and powerful. William, son of Jane Bertrand and of William Paisnel, succeeded his parents as lord of Briquebec and of Hambye.—He, in his turn, was followed by another William, who, by a marriage with his cousin, daughter of Oliver Paisnel, lord of Moyon, united that great barony to a property, which was previously immense. Upon the death of William, without children, Fulk Paisnel, his brother, became his heir; and, as he likewise died [78] childless, the fortune devolved upon a younger brother, Nicholas. This Nicholas, who was previously lord of Chanteleu, married Jane de la Champagne, baroness of Gaie, and left an only daughter, by whose marriage with Louis d'Estouteville, in 1413, the baronies of Gaie, Moyon, Hambye, and Briquebec, passed at once from the family of Paisnel.

Briquebec, at the same time that it thus again changed masters, was still possessed by a descendant of one of those powerful barons, who had shared in the glory of the conquest of England.—Robert de Huteville, one of the Conqueror's companions in arms, had received from that sovereign a princely recompense, particularly in the county of York. But after the death of William Rufus, he espoused the party of the eldest brother, against Henry I. and was taken prisoner at the battle of Tinchbray, when his property was confiscated, and given to Néel d'Aubigny.—The name of his son, Robert, is to be found among the Yorkshire barons, who defeated the Scotch army at North Allerton; and it again occurs in the twentieth year of the reign of Henry II. at the battle of Alnwick, where he made the King of Scotland prisoner.

To return to the possessor of Briquebec, who was destined to afford a striking example of the mutability of fortune—scarcely had he become by his marriage the most powerful lord in the Cotentin, or possibly in Normandy, when Henry V. of England, invaded the duchy, gained the battle of Agincourt, and shortly afterwards made himself master of the whole province, except Mount St. Michael. In this trying emergency, Louis d'Estouteville remained faithful to his sovereign, and was, consequently, deprived of his possessions.

Henry immediately bestowed Hambye and Briquebec upon one of his favorite generals, William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk,[159] who, in 1427, still continued lord of Briquebec, in which capacity he confirmed to the abbey of Cherbourg, a rent of fifty sols, that had been given by his predecessor, Robert Bertrand, in 1329. The act of confirmation yet exists: it is dated in the year just mentioned; two years after which, the Earl of Suffolk, who had always previously been victorious, experienced a reverse of fortune, and was made prisoner at Gageau, together with his brothers, Alexander and John de la Pole. The consequence was, that he was compelled to sell his lands in the Cotentin to pay his ransom.

They were purchased by Sir Bertyn Entwyssle, a knight of the county of Lancaster, who, in the archives of the castle of Briquebec, dated about the year 1440, is styled Admiral of England; as his brother, Henry Entwyssle, in the same documents, bears the title of the King of England's Lieutenant-General in Normandy. In the hands of this nobleman, Briquebec continued, till the battle of Formigny compelled the British to evacuate Normandy. Sir Bertyn afterwards took part with Henry VI. against the Duke of York, and was slain at the battle of St. Albans, in 1455.

Upon the restoration of the province to the crown of France, the family of D'Estouteville were replaced in the lordship of Briquebec. They had deserved eminently well of the French King, for whom Louis D'Estouteville had continued to hold possession of Mount St. Michael, the only fortress that offered an availing resistance to the English.

[79]In succeeding times, Briquebec and Hambye passed, by different marriages, into the families of Bourbon St. Pol, and of Orleans Longueville; but at the close of the sixteenth century, Mary of Orleans, Duchess of Nemours, sold this property to Jaques Gougon de Matignon, Marshal of France.—The descendants of the marshal continued lords of Briquebec till the revolution. It had shortly before that event fallen into the hands of a female, the only survivor of that family, and she had married the eldest son of the Duke de Montmorency. But the revolution swept away the whole of their fortune. A few detached fragments of the property, which had not been alienated, have recently been restored to them: the rest has long since been sold, including the castle, the only habitable part of which now serves for an ale-house. All the remainder is hastening fast to decay.

The walls of the castle inclose a considerable space of ground; and, at the time when they were perfect, they comprised eight towers, of different sizes and forms, including the multangular keep, the principal feature of the plate. This tower, which is a hundred French feet in height, is still nearly perfect. The sides towards the west and south-west, from which Mr. Cotman has made his drawing, are entirely so.—In an architectural point of view, Briquebec offers specimens of the workmanship of many different epochs.—The case is widely different between fortresses and churches: the latter, whatever the date of their construction, commonly exhibit a certain degree of unity in their plan: in castles, on the other hand, the means provided for defence have usually had reference to those employed in attack. Both the one and the other are found to vary ad infinitum, according to time and localities. Briquebec shews some traces of the architecture of the eleventh century, but many more of the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth. The chapel, the magazines, the stables, and the present dwelling-house, were the parts last built. Of these, the two first have been for some years destroyed: the others are in a state of extreme neglect; and, neither in the dwelling-house, nor in the apartments over the great gate, does there now remain any thing curious.


[156] For the whole of this article, the author has to express his acknowledgments to his friend, M. de Gerville, from whose manuscript it is almost verbatim translated.

[157] Masseville, Histoire de Normandie, III. p. 46.

[158] While one branch of the Bertrand family continued in possession of the barony of Briquebec, another branch established itself in Northumberland, where it received from the Conqueror many manors. Under the reign of Henry I. William Bertrand, or, as he is called by Tanner, Bertram, founded the priory of Brinkburn. Roger, one of his descendants, was conspicuous among the barons who revolted against King John; at the death of which prince, he espoused the party of Henry III.; but his son, Roger, took arms against this latter monarch, and was made prisoner at Northampton. A third Roger succeeded him, and was the last baron of Brinkburn.—Richard Bertram, who lived under Henry II. had a son called Robert, baron of Bothal, whose son Richard joined the confederate barons against King John. A descendant of his, of the name of Robert, lived under Edward III. and enjoyed the title of Lord Bothal, and was sheriff of Northumberland, and governor of Newcastle. He was present at the battle of Durham, where he made William Douglas prisoner. His only daughter, the heiress to his property, married Sir Robert Ogle; and thus the family of Bertram became extinct both in France and England nearly at the same time.

[159] The instrument, which is curious, is still in existence, and is as follows:—“Henricus dei gracia rex Francie et Anglie et dnus hybernie oibus ad quos psentes littere puenerint salutem. Sciatis qd de gracia nostra speciali et ob grata et laudabilia obsequia nobis per carissimum consanguineum nostrum Guillelmum, Comitem de Suffolk, huc usque mirabiliter impensa dedimus et concessimus eidem comiti castra et dominia de Hambye et de Briquebec cum ptinenciis suis una cum oibus feodis, aliis hereditatibus et possessionibus quibuscumque quas tenuit fouques Paisnel chevalier defunctus intra ducatum meum Normannie habendis et tenendis prefato comiti et heredibus suis masculis de corpore suo nascentibus ad valorem 3500 scutorum per annum, cum omnibus dignitatibus, libertatibus, franchesiis, juribus, donationibus, reversionibus, forisfacturis, etallis, proficiis, commoditatibus et emolumentis quibuscumq. ad pdicta castra et dominia vel altera eorum seu ad feoda hereditates et possessiones predictas aliqualiter ptinentibus seu spectantibus intra ducatum nostrum Normannie adeo plene perfecte et integre et eodem modo sicut pdictus fouques vel aliquis alius tenebat et possidebat per homagium nobis et heredibus nostris faciendum et reddendo unum scutum de Armis Sci Georgii ad festum suum apud castrum nostrum de Cherbourg, singulis annis in perpetuum reservata tamen nobis et heredib. nostris alta et summa justicia et omni alio jure quod ad nos poterit pertinere proviso semper qd idem comes et heredes sui predicti sex homines ad arma et 12 sagittarios ad equitandum nobiscum seu heredibus nostris vel locum tenente nostro durante presenti guerra qui ad sumptus suos servire tenebuntur funtaque presenti guerra hujus modi et servicia in parte debita faciet et supportabit, et ulterius de uberiori gracia dedimus et concessimus...... in cujus rei testimonium has litteras nostras fieri fecimus patentes.—Teste meipso apd civitatem nram de Bayeux, XIII. die Martii, anno regni nri quinto.

L. S. Per ipsum regem STORGEON.”



Church of St. Stephen, at Fécamp.

Plate 71. Church of St. Stephen, at Fécamp.
Southern entrance.

Fécamp, like many other towns in Normandy, has fallen from its original greatness to a state of extreme poverty. The sun of its prosperity has set, to rise no more. Neglect immediately followed upon the removal of the ducal throne to England: the annexation of Normandy to the crown of France, completed the ruin of the town; and the great change in the habits of mankind, from warlike to commercial, leaves no hopes for the restoration of the importance of a place, whose situation holds out no advantages for trade. Hence, Fécamp at present appears desolate and decayed; and, though the official account of the population of France still allows the number of its inhabitants to amount to seven thousand, the great quantity of deserted houses, calculated to amount to more than a third of all those in the town, impress the beholder with a strong feeling of depopulation and ruin.[160]

But, in the earliest periods of French history, long before the foundation of the Norman throne, Fécamp was honored as a regal residence. The palace is said to have been rebuilt by William Longue-Epée, with extraordinary magnificence. That prince took great pleasure in the chace; and he and his immediate successors frequently lived here. He also selected the castle as a place of retirement for his duchess, during her pregnancy with Richard. His choice, in this respect, was probably not altogether guided by his partiality for the place; but, threatened at that time with a dangerous war, he was desirous of fixing his wife and infant heir in a situation, whence they might, in case of necessity, be with ease removed to the friendly shores of England.—Richard, born at Fécamp, preserved through life an attachment to the town, and omitted no opportunity of benefiting it. He rebuilt, [80] endowed, and enriched the abbatial church at vast expense; and he finally ordered it to be the resting-place for his bones, which, however, he would not permit to be interred in any spot whatever within the structure, but, with his dying breath, expressly enjoined his son to deposit them on the outside, immediately beneath the eaves, in order that, to use the words put by the monastic historians into his mouth upon the occasion, “stillantium guttarum sacro tecto diffluens infusio abluat jacentis ossa, quæ omnium peccatorum tabe fœdavit et maculavit negligens et neglecta vita mea.”—A curious question might be raised, whether the monarch, in this injunction, was solely impressed with the feeling of his own unworthiness, or whether he had also in view, the mystic doctrine of the efficacy of water towards the ablution of sins.

Richard II. and the succeeding dukes, appear to have regarded Fécamp with an equally friendly eye; till, in process of time, the increasing splendor of its monastery altogether eclipsed the waning honors of the town; and Henry II. of England, finally sealed its downfall, by making a regular donation of the town to the abbey, from which period till the revolution, the latter was every thing, the former nothing.

“Fécamp,” as it is remarked by Nodier, “was to the Dukes of Normandy, what the pyramids were to the Egyptian monarchs,—a city of tombs: Richard II. rested there by the side of Richard I. and, near him, his brother Robert, his wife Judith, and his son William.”[161]—The list might be lengthened by the addition of many other scarcely less noble names.

“The abbey of Fécamp is said to have been founded in the year 664 or 666, for a community of nuns, by Waning, the count or governor of the Pays de Caux, a nobleman who had already contributed to the endowment of the monastery of St. Wandrille. St. Ouen, Bishop of Rouen, dedicated the church in the presence of King Clotaire; and so rapidly did the fame of the sanctity of the abbey extend, that the number of its inmates amounted, in a very short period, to more than three hundred. The arrival, however, of the Normans, under Hastings, in 841, caused the dispersion of the nuns; and the same story is related of the few who remained at Fécamp, as of many others under similar circumstances, that they voluntarily cut off their noses and their lips, rather than be an object of attraction to their conquerors. The abbey, in return for their heroism, was levelled with the ground; and it did not rise from its ashes till the year 988, when the piety of Duke Richard I. built the church anew, under the auspices of his son, Robert, archbishop of Rouen. Departing, however, from the original foundation, he established therein a chapter of regular canons, who soon proved so irregular in their conduct, that within ten years they were doomed to give way to a body of Benedictine monks, headed by an abbot, named William, from a convent at Dijon. From his time the monastery continued to increase in splendor. Three suffragan abbeys, that of Notre Dame at Bernay, of St. Taurin at Evreux, and of Ste. Berthe de Blangi, in the diocese of Boullogne, owned the superior power of the abbot of Fécamp, and supplied the three mitres, which he proudly bore on his abbatial shield. Kings and princes, in former ages, frequently paid the abbey the homage of their worship and their gifts; and, in a more recent period, Casimir of Poland, after his voluntary abdication of the throne, selected it as the spot in which he sought for repose, when wearied with the cares of royalty. The English possessions of Fécamp do not appear to have been large; but, according to the author of the History of Alien Priories, the abbot presented to one hundred and thirty benefices, some in the diocese of Rouen, others in those of Bayeux, Lisieux, Coutances, Chartres, and Beauvais; and it enjoyed so many estates, that its income was said to be forty thousand crowns per annum.”[162]

The work, from which this account of the abbey of Fécamp has been extracted, also contains some details relative to a few of the principal miracles connected with the convent, and relative to the precious blood, to the possession of which Fécamp was indebted for no small portion of its celebrity. But the reader must be referred for all these to the Neustria Pia, where he will find them recorded at great length. The author of that most curious volume, appears to have treated no subject more entirely con amore than Fécamp; and if the more enlightened progeny of the present day incline, in the plentitude of [81] their wisdom, to “think their fathers fools” for listening to such tales, let it at least be recollected, that even these tales, with all their absurdity, are most interesting documents of the progress of the human mind; and, above all, let it never be forgotten, that books of this description contain a mass of materials for the elucidation of the manners and customs of the age, which would in vain be sought for in any other quarter.

The abbatial church of Fécamp is still standing uninjured, and is a work of various ages. Some circular chapels attached to the sides of the choir, are probably remains of the building erected by Duke Richard: the rest is all of the pointed style of architecture; and the earliest part is scarcely anterior to the end of the twelfth century.—The church of St. Stephen, selected here for publication, is undeserving of notice, except for its southern portal, which is an elegant specimen of what is called by Mr. Rickman, the decorated English architecture.


[160] Turner's Tour in Normandy, I. p. 60.

[161] Voyages Pittoresques et Romantiques dans l'Ancienne France, I. p. 110.—Seven plates in this work are devoted to the illustration of the religious buildings at Fécamp.

[162] Turner's Tour in Normandy, I. p. 62.



Church of St. Lawrence, at Eu.

Plate 72. Screen in the Church of St. Lawrence, at Eu.

The town of Eu has, by some writers, been supposed to have been the capital of the Gallic tribe mentioned in Cæsar's Commentaries, under the name of the Essui; but a conjecture of this description, founded altogether upon the similarity of the name, and unsupported by any collateral testimony, must be allowed to be at best only problematical; and ancient geography presents so wide a field for the display of ingenuity and learning, that it is in no department of science more necessary to be upon the guard against plausible theories.—There are others who contend for the Teutonic origin of the town, and refer to etymology with equal zeal, and with greater plausibility. The word Eu, otherwise spelt Ou or Au signifies a meadow, in Saxon; and the same name was likewise originally applied to the river Bresle,[163] which washes the walls of Eu, within a distance of two miles from its confluence with the ocean at Tréport.[164]

The first mention that occurs of Eu in history, is in the pages of Flodoard, according to whom, the town was in existence in the year 925; but, whether the Roman or the Saxon derivation of its name be preferred, in either case etymology would fairly allow the inference, that its foundation was considerably more ancient. During the reign of Louis XI. Eu obtained a melancholy celebrity: a report was circulated in the summer of 1475, that it was the intention of the English to make a descent upon the coast of France, and to establish themselves there for the winter. At the same time, this town was confidently mentioned as the place where they proposed to fix their quarters. To deprive them of such an advantage, the French monarch had recourse to a measure which could only be justified by the most urgent necessity: he ordered the Maréchal de Gamaches to enter the place with four hundred soldiers, on the eighteenth of July, and to set fire to the houses of the citizens, [82] together with the castle. His commands were executed; and the whole was reduced to a heap of ashes, with the exception of the churches. The neighboring towns of Dieppe, St. Valeri, and Abbeville, profited from the misfortunes of Eu, which has never recovered its prosperity, notwithstanding the various privileges subsequently granted to it.—The present population consists of about three thousand four hundred inhabitants, whose only trade is a trifling manufactory of lace.

From as early a period as the year 1102, the title of Count was bestowed by Richard I. Duke of Normandy, upon the lords of Eu, who, in 1458, received the additional dignity of Comtes et Pairs; probably as some recompense for the misery inflicted upon the place three years before. In the number of these counts, was the celebrated Duc de Guise, commonly known by the name of Le Balafré. His monument of black and white marble, in the church of the Jesuits at Eu, was executed by Genoese artists; as was that of his wife, the Duchess of Cleves. Both of them have long been subjects of admiration.[165] The last of the line of counts of Eu, was the Duc de Penthièvre, a nobleman of the most estimable character: the title was his at the breaking out of the revolution; and it is not a little to his honor, that a writer of the most decidedly republican principles could be found, in the midst of that stormy period, to bear the following testimony in his favor:—“Né au milieu d'une cour, oú la corruption et les vices avoient pris le nom de la sagesse et des vertus, il dédaigna leurs délices funestes; il repoussa l'air empesté de Versailles; supérieur à leurs prestiges, il oublia sa naissance; il prouva enfin, par de longues années consacrées à faire le bien, qu'il étoit digne d'être né simple citoyen.[166]”—The castle, the residence of the counts, is now converted into a military hospital.

The abbey of Eu is said to have been founded in 1002,[167] by William, first count of the place, natural son of Richard Sans-peur, Duke of Normandy. It was at its origin dedicated to the Virgin; but, after a lapse of somewhat more than two hundred years, was placed under the invocation of St. Lawrence, archbishop of Dublin. That prelate had, in the year 1181, crossed into Normandy, with the view of restoring a friendly understanding between the King of Ireland, his brother, and the King of England; and, at the moment of his approaching Eu, and beholding the lofty towers of the abbey, he is said to have exclaimed in strains of pious fervor, “Hæc requies mea in seculum seculi: hic habitabo, quoniam elegi eam.” Having accomplished the object of his mission, he died shortly after at the convent, and was there interred; and the fame of his sanctity attracting crowds of devotees to his tomb, he was canonized by a papal bull, dated the 11th of December, 1218, since which time the monastery has borne his name.

The church of St. Lawrence, though no longer abbatial, has been suffered to exist; even before the revolution, it served at once as the church to the convent and to the first parish of Eu. The screen here figured, a beautiful specimen of the decorated English architecture, is placed at the entrance of one of the chapels. Another chapel contains a Holy Sepulchre, said to be superior, in point of the execution of the figures, to any other in France. In the south transept is a spirally-banded column of extraordinary elegance. The church stands upon the foundations of an earlier building, erected at the close of the twelfth century, and destroyed by lightning in 1426. According to the [83] records of the monastery, it was either wholly, or in great measure, rebuilt by John de Vallier, the twenty-fourth abbot, in 1464.[168]—The following description of the building is borrowed from the journal of a very able friend of the writer of this article, who visited Eu in September, 1819:—“The abbey church of Eu is plain and massy on the outside of the nave and transepts. The east end of the choir is highly enriched with flying buttresses, &c. The windows of the nave are lancet-headed, and very tall: on the outside is a circular arch, which may be a restoration. The west window has been in three lancet divisions, which have been filled up with more modern tracery. The nave is singularly elegant: the triforium, or rather the upper tier of arches, is new in design, and most extraordinary. In the choir, the triforium is composed of tracery. The north transept is something like Winchester, only the arches are pointed: there are two arches. This arrangement is probably general; as I saw it at Troyes and other places. In a side-chapel is an entombment: the figures as large as life, or nearly so, and richly painted; quite perfect. Inscriptions on the hems of the garments. The culs de lampe are of the most elegant reticulated work. In the north transept is a circular window filled with late tracery. No towers at the west end. East end, a polygon, as usual.—This church, which is well worthy of an attentive study, is quite distinct in character from the churches in the east of France: it has no marigold window; no row of niches over the portal; no massed door-way; so that the general outline of the front agrees wholly with the earliest pointed style. But the exterior is more chaste than any thing we have in England; and its architectural unity is better preserved. On the other hand, its parts are less elaborate.”


[163] Description de la Haute Normandie, I. p. 45.

[164] “Le païs d'Auge a tiré son nom de ses prairies. Au, Avv, Avve, et Ou, en Allemand, signifient un Pré.... Aventin est mon témoin dans son explication des noms Allemans. La ville d'Eu, située dans des prairies, a tiré son nom de la même origine. Elle est nommée dans les vieux Ecrivains, Auga, Augam, et Aucum; et dans les auteurs Anglois Ou, d'où est formé le nom d'Eu. De cette même origine vient le nom d'Au, qu'on a depuis écrit et prononcé O, et que portent plusieurs Seigneuries de Normandie et d'ailleurs, et qui est le même que celui d'Ou. Ou est une Comté qui a appartenue à ce Robert, que Robert du Mont qualifie Comte d'Ou. Ces mots d'Eu, d'Au, et d'Ou, se trouvent encore dans la composition de plusieurs noms de terres et de Seigneuries. Eu, dans le nom d'Eucourt, d'Eumesnil, et d'Eulande, terre dans le païs d'Auge, entre le Mare-Aupoix et Angerville, et ce nom est le même, sans aucune différence, que celui d'Oelande, isle de la mer Baltique, du domaine de la couronne de Suede. Les Suedois et les Danois prononcent Oelande ce que nous prononçons Eulande. Au dans Aubeuf, Aubose, Aumesnil, Aumont, Auvillers. Ou dans Ouville. Pour Auge on a dit Alge en quelques lieux; et c'est de là que vient le nom d'une terre au païs de Bray, qui ne consiste presque qu'en prairies. Le même nom d'Auge, que portent quelques familles, montre assez qu'il a été appellatif. Mais la chartre de confirmation de la fondation de l'Abbaye de St. Etienne, donnée par Henry II. Roy d'Angleterre, le montre incontestablement par ces paroles, “cum sylvâ et algiâ et cum terris”.”—Huet, Origines de Caen, p. 294.

[165] The church of St. Lawrence likewise contained the monuments of several distinguished personages, as appears by the following extract from the Description de la Haute Normandie, I. p. 72.—“Là sont inhumez Jean d'Artois, Comte d'Eu, fils de Robert d'Artois, Comte de Beaumont le Roger, et de Jean de Valois, mort le 6 Avril, 1386: Isabelle de Melun, son epouse: Isabelle d'Artois, leur fille, dans la chapelle de Saint Denys, sous une belle table de marbre noir, qui sert de table d'autel: Charles d'Artois, Comte d'Eu, sous l'autel de la chapelle de Saint Laurent: Jeanne de Saveuse, sa premiere femme: Helène de Melun, sa seconde femme, dans la chapelle de Saint Antoine, dite aujourd'hui de Saint Crepin: le Cœur de Catherine de Cleves, Comtesse d'Eu, au bas du Sanctuaire, sous une magnifique colonne de marbre noir: N.... de Bourbon, dit le Duc d'Aumale, fils de Louis-Auguste de Bourbon, legitimé de France, Duc de Maine, mort le 8 Septembre, 1708: enfin Philippe d'Artois, Comte d'Eu, et Connétable de France, mort selon son epitaphe à Micalice en Turquie, c'est-à-dire Nicopoli, le 16 Juin, 1397. Le Mausolée de celui-ci, qui est de marbre, est enfermé dans une espece de Cage de fer, dont les barreaux n'empêchent point qu'on ne puisse en approcher et y porter la main. Le Prince y est representé armé, mais sans casque et sans gantelets, pour marquer, dit-on, qu'il est mort à la guerre, mais non dans le combat: il a deux petits chiens à ses pieds, pour signifier, ajoute-t-on, qu'il est mort dans son lit: enfin la grille qui l'environne represente, dit-on encore, qu'il est mort en prison. Le monument, selon l'Ecrivain de qui j'emprunte ces conjectures, n'a coûté que 100 livres.”

[166] Noel, Essais sur le Département de la Seine Inférieure, I. p. 84.

[167] Neustria Pia, p. 694.

[168] Neustria Pia, p. 700.



St. Peter at Lisieux.

Plates 73-74. Church of St. Peter at Lisieux.

The effects produced by the French revolution upon the religious state of the country, were scarcely less important than upon the political. In both cases, the nation hurried, with the blindest fury, from extreme to extreme; in both, they followed phantoms of ideal perfection through an unexampled series of excesses and sufferings; in both, they rested at length from exhaustion much more than from conviction; and, happily for mankind and for themselves, they finally attained in both nearly the same end, reverting indeed to their original constitutions, but tempering them with a most seasonable mixture of civil and ecclesiastical liberty. The concordat effected for the church, what the charter did for the state. The former of these was one of the master-pieces of Napoléon's policy, and was likewise one of the earliest acts of his power. It was established in the year 1801, while France yet retained the name of a republic, and the ambition of its ruler had not ventured to grasp, at more than the consular dignity. By this instrument, the whole ecclesiastical constitution was changed; and not only was all the power placed in the hands of the chief of the state, but the provinces and dioceses were entirely remodelled; and, instead of twenty-three archbishoprics and one hundred and thirty-four bishoprics, the number of the former, notwithstanding the vast extension of the French territory, was reduced to ten, and that of the latter to fifty.

The archbishop of Rouen was one of those who suffered least upon the occasion. His dignity was curtailed only by the suppression of two of his suffragans, the bishops of Avranches and of Lisieux.[169] [84]The church, here figured, then resigned the mitre, which it had conferred from the middle of the sixth century, upon an illustrious, though not an uninterrupted, line of prelates. It is admitted, in the annals of the cathedral, that either the see must have been vacant for the space of four hundred years, or at least that the names of those who filled it during that period, are lost. Ordericus Vitalis, who resided fifty-six years in the diocese, and has collected, in the sixth book of his Ecclesiastical History, whatever was to be found in his time, relative to its early state, acknowledges the chasm, and accounts for it by the following general remarks.—“Piratæ de Daniâ egressi sunt, in Neustriam venerunt, et christianæ fidei divinique cultûs penitùs ignari, super fidelem populum immanitèr debacchati sunt. Antiquorum scripta cum basilicis et ædibus incendio deperierunt, quæ fervida juniorum studia, quamvis insatiabilitèr sitiant, recuperare nequiverunt. Nonnulla verò, quæ per diligentiam priscorum manibus barbarorum solertèr erepta sunt, damnabili subsequentium negligentiâ interierunt.”

The city of Lisieux represents the capital of the Gallic tribe, mentioned by Cæsar, and other almost contemporary writers, under the name of Lexovii; and it is supposed by modern geographers, that the territory occupied by these latter, was nearly co-extensive with the late bishopric of Lisieux. On this subject it has been observed, that “it is to be remarked, that the bounds of the ancient bishoprics of France were usually conterminal with the Roman provinces and prefectures.”[170] Neomagus or Noviomagus Lexoviorum, the capital of the Lexovii, had always been supposed to have occupied the site of the present town, till some excavations made in the year 1770, for the purpose of forming a chaussée between Lisieux and Caen, proved the ancient and the modern city to have been placed at the distance of about three quarters of a mile from each other. Extensive ruins of buildings, situated in a field, called Les Tourettes, were then brought to light; and among them were dug up various specimens of ancient art. The researches of more modern times, principally conducted by M. Louis Dubois, a very able antiquary of Lisieux, have materially added to the number as well as the value of these discoveries; and the quantity of Roman coins and medals that have rewarded his researches, would have left little doubt as to the real site of Neomagus, even if the circumstance had not within a very few years been established almost beyond a question, by the detection of a Roman amphitheatre in a state of great perfection.

Tradition, which there is in this instance no reason to impugn, relates that the Gallo-Roman capital disappeared during the incursions of the Saxons, about the middle of the fourth century. In farther confirmation of such opinion, it is to be observed, that none of the medals dug up within the ruins, or in their vicinity, bear a later date than the reign of Constantine; and that, though the city is recorded in the Itinerary of Antoninus, no mention of it is to be found in the curious chart, known by the name of the Tabula Peutingeriana, formed under the reign of Theodosius the Great; so that it then appears to have been completely swept away and forgotten.

Modern Lisieux is supposed to have risen at no distant period of time after the destruction of Neomagus. In the writings of the monkish historians, it is indifferently called Lexovium, Lexobium, Luxovium, Lixovium, and Lizovium, names obviously borrowed from the classical appellation of the tribe, as the French word Lisieux is clearly derived from them. In the early portion of Norman history, Lisieux is mentioned as having felt the vengeance of these invaders, during one of their predatory excursions from the Bessin, about the year 877. It was shortly afterwards sacked by Rollo himself, when that [85] conqueror, elated with the capture of Bayeux, was on his march to take possession of the capital of Neustria. But the territory of Lisieux was still the last part of the duchy which owned Rollo as its lord: it was not ceded to him by Charles the Simple, till 923, at which time he had for eleven years been the undisputed sovereign of the rest of Normandy.

Neither under the Norman dukes, nor at a subsequent period, does Lisieux appear to have taken any prominent part in political transactions. Its central situation, by securing it against the attacks of the French in former times, and more recently of the English, also prevented it from obtaining that historical celebrity, which, from its size and opulence, it could scarcely have failed to have otherwise gained. The principal events connected with it, upon record, are the following:—It was the focus of the civil war in 1101, when Ralph Flambart, bishop of Durham, escaping from the prison to which he had been committed by his sovereign, fled hither, and raised the standard of rebellion against Henry, in favor of his brother.—In 1136, Lisieux was attacked by the forces of Anjou, under the command of Geoffrey Plantagenet, husband of the Empress Maude, joined by those of William, Duke of Poitiers; and the garrison, composed of Bretons, seeing no hope of resistance or of rescue, burned the town.—Thirty-three years subsequently, the city was honored by being selected by Thomas-à-Becket, as the place of his retirement during his temporary disgrace. Arnulf, then bishop of Lisieux, had labored diligently, though ineffectually, to restore amity between the sovereign and the prelate, espousing, indeed, decidedly the cause of the latter, but at the same time never forfeiting the friendship of the former, for whom, after the murder of Becket, he wrote a letter of excuse to the supreme pontiff, in the joint names of all the bishops of England.—Lisieux, in 1213, passed from under the dominion of the Norman dukes, to the sway of the French monarch. It opened its gates to Philip-Augustus, immediately after the fall of Caen and Bayeux; and its surrender was accompanied with that of Coutances and Séez, all of them without a blow, as the king's poetical chronicler, Brito, relates in the following lines:—

“Cumque diocesibus tribus illi tres sine bello
Sese sponte suâ præclari nominis urbes
Subjiciunt, Sagium, Constantia, Lexoviumque.”

In subsequent times, Lisieux suffered severely, when taken by the English army under Henry V. in 1417. Its recapture by Charles VII. thirty-two years afterwards, was unstained by bloodshed.

A great part of the preceding account of Lisieux has been borrowed from Mr. Turner's Tour in Normandy: what follows, relative to the church here figured, will be entirely so:—“The cathedral, now the parish church of St. Peter, derived one advantage from the revolution. Another church, dedicated to St. Germain, which had previously stood immediately before it, so as almost to block up the approach, was taken down, and the west front of the cathedral was made to open upon a spacious square.—Solid, simple grandeur are the characters of this front, which, notwithstanding some slight anomalies, is, upon the whole, a noble specimen of early pointed architecture.—It consists of three equal compartments, the lateral ones rising into short square towers of similar height. The southern tower is surmounted by a lofty stone spire, probably of a date posterior to the part below. The spire of the opposite tower fell in 1553, at which time much injury was done to the building, and particularly to the central door-way, which, even to the present day, has never been repaired.—Contrary to the usual elevation of French cathedrals, the great window over the principal entrance is not circular, but pointed: it is divided into three compartments by broad mullions, enriched with many mouldings. The compartments end in acute pointed arches. In the north tower, the whole of the space from the basement story is occupied by only two tiers of windows. Each tier contains two windows, extremely narrow, considering their height; and yet, narrow as they are, each of them is parted by a circular mullion or central pillar. You will better understand how high they must be, when told that, in the southern tower, the space of the upper row is divided into three distinct tiers; and still the windows do not appear disproportionately short. They also are double, and the interior arches are pointed; but the arches, within which they are placed, are circular. In this circumstance lies the principal anomaly in the front of the [86] cathedral; but there is no appearance of any disparity in point of dates; for the circular arches are supported on the same slender mullions, with rude foliaged capitals, of great projection, which are the most distinguishing characteristics of this style of architecture.

“The date of the building establishes the fact of the pointed arch being in use, not only as an occasional variation, but in the entire construction of churches upon a grand scale, as early as the eleventh century.—Sammarthanus tells us that Bishop Herbert, who died in 1049, began to build this church, but did not live to see it completed; and Ordericus Vitalis expressly adds, that Hugh, the successor to Herbert, upon his death-bed, in 1077, while retracing his past life, made use of these words:—‘Ecclesiam Sancti Petri, principis apostolorum, quam venerabilis Herbertus, prædecessor meus, cœpit, perfeci, studiosè adornavi, honorificè dedicavi, et cultoribus necessariisque divino servitio vasis aliisque apparatibus copiosè ditavi.’—Language of this kind appears too explicit to leave room for ambiguity, but an opinion has still prevailed, founded probably upon the style of the architecture, that the cathedral was not finished till near the expiration of the thirteenth century. Admitting, however, such to be the fact, I do not see how it will materially help those who favor the opinion; for the building is far from being, as commonly happens in great churches, a medley of incongruous parts; but it is upon one fixed plan; and, as it was begun, so it was ended.—The exterior of the extremity of the south transept (see plate seventy-five,) is a still more complete example of the early pointed style than the west front; this style, which was the most chaste, and, if I may be allowed to use the expression, the most severe of all, scarcely any where displays itself to greater advantage. The central window is composed of five lancet divisions, supported upon slender pillars: massy buttresses of several splays bound it on either side.

St. Peter at Lisieux.

Plate 75. Church of St. Peter at Lisieux.
South Transept.

“The same character of uniformity extends over the interior of the building. On each side of the nave is a side-aisle; and, beyond the aisles, chapels. The pillars of the nave are cylindrical, solid, and plain. Their bases end with foliage at each corner, and foliage is also sculptured upon the capitals. The arches which they support are acute.—The triforium is similar in plan to the part below; but the capitals of the columns are considerably more enriched, with an obvious imitation of the antique model, and every arch encircles two smaller ones. In the clerestory the windows are modern.—The transepts appear the oldest parts of the cathedral, as is not unfrequently the case; whether they were really built before the rest, or that, from being less used in the services of the church, they were less commonly the objects of subsequent alterations. They are large; and each of them has an aisle on the eastern side. The architecture of the choir resembles that of the nave, except that the five pillars, which form the apsis, are slender, and the intervening arches more narrow and more acute.—The Lady-Chapel, which is long and narrow, was built towards the middle of the fifteenth century, by Peter Cauchon, thirty-sixth bishop of Lisieux, who, for his steady attachment to the Anglo-Norman cause, was translated to this see, in 1429, when Beauvais, of which he had previously been bishop, fell into the hands of the French. He was selected, in 1431, for the invidious office of presiding at the trial of the Maid of Orleans. Repentance followed; and, as an atonement for his unrighteous conduct, according to Ducarel, he erected this chapel, and therein founded a high mass to the Holy Virgin, which was duly sung by the choristers; in order, as is expressed in his endowment-charter, to expiate the false judgment which he pronounced.[171]—The two windows by the side of the altar in this chapel have been painted of a crimson color, to add to the effect produced upon entering the church; and, seen as they are, through the long perspective of the nave and the distant arches of the choir, the glowing tint is by no means unpleasing.—The central tower is open within the church to a considerable height: it is supported by four arches of unusual boldness, above which runs a row of small arches, of the same character as the rest of the building; and still higher, on each side, are two lancet-windows.—The vaulting of the roof is very plain, with bosses slightly pendant and carved.

“At the extremity of the north transept is an ancient stone sarcophagus, so built into the wall, that it appears to have been incorporated with the edifice, at the period when it was raised. The character of the heads, the crowns, and the disposition of the foliage, may be considered [87] as indicating that it is a production, at least of the Carlovingian period, if it be not indeed of earlier date. I believe it is traditionally supposed to have been the tomb of a saint, perhaps St. Candidus; but I am not quite certain whether I am accurate in the recollection of the name.—Above are two armed statues, probably of the twelfth or thirteenth centuries. These have been engraved by Willemin, in his useful work, Les Monumens Français, under the title of Two Armed Warriors, in the Nave of the Cathedral, at Lisieux; and both are there figured as if in all respects perfect, and with a great many details which do not exist, and never could have existed; though at the same time the draftsman has omitted the animals at the feet of the statues, one of which is yet nearly entire.—This may be reckoned among the innumerable proofs of the total disregard of accuracy which pervades the work of French antiquaries. A French designer never scruples to sacrifice correctness to what he considers effect.—Willemin describes the monuments as being in the nave of the church. I suspect that he has availed himself of the unpublished collection of Gaignat, in this and many other instances. It is evident that, originally, the statues were recumbent; but I cannot ascertain when their position was changed.—No other tombs now exist in the cathedral: the brazen monument raised to Hannuier, an Englishman, the marble that commemorated the bishop, William d'Estouteville; founder of the Collège de Lisieux at Paris, that of Peter Cauchon in the Lady-Chapel, and all the rest, were destroyed during the revolution.”


[169] The following account of the bishopric of Lisieux, is extracted from the Gallia Christiana, XI. p. 762, to enable the reader to form an opinion of its extent and importance.—“Ecclesia hæc cæteris Neustriæ episcopatibus facultatibus haud impar, patronum agnoscit S. Petrum Apostolorum principem. Episcopus, qui et episcopus est capituli, comes est et civitatis. Hunc comitatum septem componunt baroniæ, de Nonanto in Bajocassino, de Thibervilla, de Glos et Courthona, de Gaceio, de Touqua, de Canapvilla et de Bonnavilla la Louvet, omnes in diœcesi. Episcopus præterea conservator est privilegiorum academiæ Cadomensis. Dignitates omnes et præbendas ecclesiæ Lexoviensis confert, excepto decano qui eligitur a capitulo, nec a quoquam confirmatur. Præter decanum, capitulum octo constat dignitatibus, cantore, qui residere tenetur, thesaurario, capicerio, magistro scholarum et quatuor archidiaconis; 1. de Lievino cui subsunt quatuor decanatus rurales, Moyaux, Cormeilles, Bernai, et Orbec, in quibus 139 parochiæ, rectoriæ vero seu curæ 148; 2. de Algia, cui subsunt tres decanatus, Mesnil-Mauger, Beuvron et Beaumont, in quibus 128 parochiæ, rectoriæ vero 137; 3. de Ponte Audomaro, cui subsunt tres decanatus, Touques, Honfleur, et Pontaudemer, in quibus 89 parochiæ, rectoriæ 93; 4. denique de Gaceio, cui subsunt quatuor decanatus, Gacey, Livarot, Montreul, et Vimontier, in quibus 111 parochiæ, et 117 rectoriæ. Post dignitates sunt 31 præbendæ integræ cum duabus semipræbendis, e quibus undecim antiquæ fundationis, quas qui tenent barones vocantur. Sunt et aliæ sex præbendæ Volantes dictæ, quæ quotidianis non gaudent distributionibus. Sunt adhuc in eadem ecclesia 4 vicarii, quorum tres revocabiles, et 30 capellani, quorum septem episcopus, et 23 instituit capitulum. Præter parochias supra memoratas, sunt et aliæ undecim in urbe et baleuca Lexoviensi, rectoriæ duodecim: quatuor in exemtione de Nonanto prope Bajocas, quarum sex rectores, et quinque in exemtione S. Candidi senioris in urbe et diœcesi Rotomagensi, quarum unam, scilicet S. Candidi senioris collegiatam simul et parochialem administrant quatuor canonici, qui alternis vicibus parochialia obeunt munia; decanatus enim annexus est episcopo Lexoviensi qui jurisdictionem exercet in quinque illas ecclesias. Tota denique diœcesis Lexoviensis 487 parochias continet, rectorias 520.”

[170] Turner's Tour in Normandy, II. p. 139.

[171] Anglo-Norman Antiquities, p. 47.



St. Ouen, at Rouen.

Plate 76. Abbey Church of St. Ouen, at Rouen.
North East View.

The beauty of the church of St. Ouen has been a frequent theme of admiration among the lovers of ancient ecclesiastical architecture. The excellencies of the building have been denied by none, while some have gone so far as to consider it as the very perfection of that style, which has generally, however improperly, obtained the name of Gothic. A recent English traveller, whose attention was expressly directed to the different departments of the arts, bears the following testimony in its favor: “Beyond all comparison, the finest specimen of Gothic architecture which we have met with in France, is Saint Ouen, the secondary church at Rouen. Contrasted with Salisbury cathedral, it is small; but it does not, I think, yield to that or any other structure I have ever seen, in elegance, lightness, or graceful uniformity.”[172]

Previously to the suppression of monasteries in France, the church of St. Ouen made part of the abbey of the same name, one of the most celebrated and most ancient in Normandy. It is now a parochial church, and is happily in nearly a perfect state, having suffered comparatively but little from the mad folly of the Calvinists of the sixteenth century, or the democrats of the eighteenth; though every studied insult was offered to it by the former, and in the fury of the revolution it was despoiled and desecrated—degraded at one time to a manufactory for the forging of arms, and at another to a magazine for forage.—Different accounts are given of the foundation of the convent: some writers contend for its having taken place as early as the last year of the fourth century, and having been the work of the piety of Saint Victrice, then bishop of Rouen; others, and these the greater number, are content with tracing it from the reign of Clothair. Those who adopt the latter opinion are again divided, as to whether that prince himself was the actual founder, or only ratified by his royal sanction what was really the establishment of Archbishop Flavius. In either case, however, they agree in dating the origin of the abbey from the year 535.

[88]An historian, who lived as early as the middle of the tenth century, speaks of the original church of St. Ouen, as an edifice deserving of admiration:—“.....miro opere, quadris lapidibus, manu Gothicâ,.... olim nobilitèr constructa.”[173]—The abbey was at first placed under the invocation of the Holy Apostles generally: it was afterwards dedicated to St. Peter alone; but, from the year 692, it has owned no other patron than St. Ouen,[174] whose body was three years before interred in the church, which he had protected with his especial favor while living, and which derived still greater benefits from him after his death, owing to the concourse of pilgrims attracted by the miracles that were wrought at his tomb.

Upon the irruption of the Normans in the ninth century, this abbey shared the common fate of the Neustrian convents; and, like the rest, it rose from its ashes with greater magnificence, after the conversion of these barbarians to Christianity. Nicholas, the fourth abbot of the convent, son of Duke Richard II. and of Judith of Brittany, is said by Ordericus Vitalis to have commenced “a new church of wonderful size and elegance.” But though he presided over the fraternity nearly sixty years, he did not live to see the building finished: the bringing of the task to perfection was reserved for William Balot, the next but one to him in the succession; and even he died in the very year of the dedication, which did not take place till 1126.

This church, which it had cost eighty years to build, was suffered to exist but a short time after its completion: only ten years had elapsed from its dedication, when it fell a prey to a conflagration, which was at the same time destructive to the greater part of the city: another church, built shortly after, and chiefly by the munificence of Richard Cœur-de-Lion, shared the same fate in 1248. But even these repeated disasters in no wise abated the spirit of the monks: they had retired with the wreck of their property to one of their estates near Rouen, and there, by economy on their own part, and liberality on that of others, they soon found themselves in a state to undertake the erection of a fourth convent, of greater extent than any of the former, and to inclose it with high walls.

The honor of laying the first stone of the new church, the same that is now standing, is attributed to one of the most celebrated of the abbots, John Roussel, more commonly known by the name of Marcdargent.[175][89] He had been elected to the prelacy in 1303; and, fifteen years afterwards, he commenced the structure. He presided over the monastery thirty-seven years, and was buried in the Lady-Chapel of the church, which he had completed as far westward as the transepts. The pomp with which his funeral was conducted, is recorded at length in the Neustria Pia; and the same work has also preserved the following inscription, engraved upon his coffin, which describes, with great precision, the progress made by him in the building:—


The remaining parts of the church were not finished till the beginning of the sixteenth century, when it was brought to its present state by the thirty-fourth abbot, Anthony Bohier, who, in the annals of the convent, bears the character of having been “a magnificent restorer and repairer of ancient monasteries.” Admirable as is the structure, the original design of the architect was never completed. The western front remains imperfect; and this is the more to be regretted, as that part is naturally the first that meets the eye of the stranger, who thus receives an unfavorable impression, which it is afterwards difficult wholly to banish. The intention was, that the portal should have been flanked by magnificent towers, ending in a combination of open arches and tracery, corresponding with the outline and fashion of the central tower. An engraving, though a wretched one, of this intended front, is given in Pommeraye's History of the Abbey, from a sketch preserved among the records of the convent.

The view of this church, etched by Mr. Cotman, is copied from a drawing made by Miss Elizabeth Turner. It represents the building, as seen from a seat in the gardens formerly belonging to the monastery, but now open to the public; and it is well calculated to convey a general idea of the character of the exterior of the building, including the central tower, which is wholly composed of open arches and tracery, and terminates, like the south tower of the cathedral, with an octangular crown of fleurs-de-lys. The plate also exhibits a portion of a circular chapel, now commonly known by the name of la Chambre des Clercs, the only remaining part of the church built by William Balot, in the beginning of the twelfth century. This chapel, the south porch, the central tower, and a specimen of ancient sculpture in the church, have been engraved by Mr. Turner, in his Tour in Normandy. The two first, of the same subjects, together with the western front, a general view of the church from the south, the curious bas-relief over the southern entrance, and a representation of the interior, have since been lithographized in M. Jolimont's Monumens de la Normandie. Considerable pains have been devoted in both these works, to the description and the history of the building; and to them the reader must be referred, who is unwilling to engage with the ponderous folio of Pommeraye.


[172] Milton's Letters on the Fine Arts, written from Paris in the year 1815. p. 183.

[173] Jolimont, from whom this quotation is borrowed, states, that it is to be found in the chronicle of an author of the name of Fridegode; and he proceeds with the following observations:—“The expression appears remarkable, as warranting the inference, that the style of architecture, which Fridegode calls Gothic, was in use in France as early as the commencement of the sixth century, the time assigned by him for the building of the first church of St. Ouen. But it is equally to be inferred, from the manner in which he notices it, that this style was not then common; and his subjoining, that it was made of square stones, (in opposition, most probably, to rubble) serves to point out that such an edifice was an extraordinary building for Rouen at that period. This idea receives confirmation, from the reflection, that the materials for forming the city were originally supplied out of the forests that inclosed it; so that, not only the houses of individuals, but the public edifices, were merely of wood. St. Gregory of Tours, speaking, in his fifth book, of a church at Rouen, dedicated to St. Martin, uses the following expression:—‘Quæ super muros civitatis ligneis tabulis fabricata est.’—Indeed, the few stone-buildings then at Rouen, were almost exclusively devoted to the purposes of fortification, and were of flint or sand-stone, rather than of free-stone. Every thing too tends to prove that architecture was then in its infancy in the capital of Neustria; or, if it ever had been more advanced there, which could have been only under the Roman sway, that it had retrograded into a barbarous state.—Moreover, the Gothic style, mentioned by Fridegode, was no other than a degeneration of the Roman, or, more properly, of the Lombardic architecture, distinguished by the circular arch, by insulated columns, by a paucity of ornaments, and by a general massiveness. It is by no means to be confounded with the style which has since passed under the same name, a style introduced about the beginning of the twelfth century, immediately after the crusades, with its ogee forms, slender clustered columns, and every portion of the building characterized by extreme lightness, yet still loaded with a profusion of crowded ornaments. If, however, this Lombardic style was practised as early as the fifth or sixth century, in a town so backward in the science of architecture as Rouen, what date is to be assigned for its introduction into other parts of France, where the knowledge of the fine arts disappeared for a much shorter period?—It must be left to the decision of antiquaries, whom this passage in Fridegode seems to have escaped, to determine how far the foregoing observations are just, and may serve to throw light upon the history of the style of architecture called Gothic, the origin of which in France has always been attended with great obscurity.”

[174] St. Ouen was born a.d. 600, at the village of Sanci, near Soissons. He was of a noble family, and was educated in the abbey of St. Médar, at Soissons, whence he was removed, at an early age, to the court of Clothair II. At the court, he contracted an intimate friendship with St. Eloi; and, under Dagobert, became the favorite of the monarch, as well as his chancellor and minister of state. During the whole of his life, his strong turn to religion rendered him a warm patron of monastic establishments; and, among others, he founded the celebrated abbey of Rebais en Brie. He was still young when he renounced the world, embraced the ecclesiastical state, and devoted himself to the preaching of the gospel; shortly after which, at the request of the inhabitants of Rouen, he was appointed to succeed St. Romain, as their pastor. His consecration took place in 646, and was performed in the church of the monastery of St. Peter, since-called St. Ouen. It was also at his own particular desire, that he was there interred. His name occurs among those of the prelates who were present at the council of Châlons, in 650; he was likewise entrusted by the king with various important negociations; and, after an earthly career, passed, according to his historians, in the practice of every civil and apostolic virtue, he died at Clichy, near Paris, in the year 689.

[175] The following extract from the Neustria Pia, p. 35, bears witness at once to the merits of the abbot, and the light in which the building was regarded throughout France.—“Hic Abbatiam reperit bonis omnibus sufficienter munitam, pecunia et commeatu haud indigentem: quam et ipse sapienter ac religiosè gubernavit, locupletavit, et vehementer adauxit; tum possessionibus et redditibus, tum ædificiis ac reparationibus: Basilicam iliam admirabili structura compositam, totiusque Galliæ speciosissimam, construere cœpit, anno 1318, die festo S. Urbani; quam continuavit ad ann. usque 1339, in festo Apostolorum SS. Petri et Pauli: quo in opere expendit 63036 libras argenti, et quinque solidos Turonensis: (quæ nunc haud posset compleri ædificio pro 663036 libris, etiam aureis) quorum omnium tesserem vetera hujusce domus inclytæ monimenta nunc usque accuratè continent. De hujusmodi celeberrima æde, sic quidam neotericus verè locutus est. Nunc est S. Audoeni: cujus mirabilis structura, hodieque dubium relinquit, si alia per Galliam splendidior et elegantior: Monasterium est tota quidem Europa, celeberrimum, sed Patroni sui sanctitate magis æstimandum. cui alii adstipulantur. Et hoc, consilio et auxilio D. Caroli, Comitis Valesii: cui operi Carolus Valesius VI. Rex ann. 1380, dono dedit tria millia librarum ad instantiam Burgundiæ Ducis, sui patruelis.”




Fountain of the Stone Cross at Rouen.

Plate 77. Fountain of the Stone Cross at Rouen.

Rouen has long boasted a pre-eminence over the greater part of the cities of France, with respect to its public fountains. The chalk hills, with which it is surrounded, furnish an abundant supply of excellent springs; and the waters of these, led into different parts of the town, contribute in no less a degree to the embellishment of the city, than to the comfort of the inhabitants. The form of some, and the ornaments of others, are well deserving of attention, notwithstanding the injuries that have inevitably occurred from time, or the more cruel ones that have been caused by wanton mutilation. It is upon historical record, that there were several fountains at Rouen, as early as the twelfth century, but their number, which now exceeds thirty, received its principal increase towards the beginning of the sixteenth century; and it was then also that the idea seems first to have been conceived of making, what was originally designed only for convenience, subservient to beauty. For this new supply of ornamental fountains, Rouen is indebted to its great benefactor, the Cardinal Georges d'Amboise, who, uniting the Norman archiepiscopal mitre to the office of prime minister, under Louis XII. was no less able than he was willing, to render the most essential services to the seat of his spiritual jurisdiction. It was under the auspices of this archbishop, that the fountain here figured, one of the earliest of that period, was erected. He caused it to be built in the year 1500. The spot which it occupies, is the cross-way formed by the union of the streets, called St. Vivien, St. Hilaire, and Coqueraumont, a spot which, previously to the reign of St. Louis, was not included within the walls of the town, and which, even at the distance of one hundred years after that time, had not begun to be inhabited.

So ancient is the practice of placing stone crosses at the junction of roads in the vicinity of cities, that it would be difficult to assign any probable time for the erection of that which was replaced by the fountain that still bears its name. The waters of this fountain have their origin in a spring, which flows at the foot of a hill near the village of St. Léger, at some distance from Rouen. The execution of the structure unites a happy mixture of boldness in outline, and delicacy in details: its pyramidal form is graceful. It consists of three stories, gradually diminishing in height and diameter as they rise, and terminating in a cross, whose clumsy shape only renders the destruction of that which it replaces the more to be regretted. The form is octagon throughout; and upon every compartment in each of the stories, is carved, at a short distance from its base, a narrow cinquefoil-headed arch, surmounted by a triangular crocketed canopy. But the crockets and finials have been in most instances destroyed. The water issues from four pipes in the basement. Each of the arches of the lower tier serves as a tabernacle for a wooden statue of a Madonna, or saint, of wretched execution, a poor substitute for those that occupied the same niches previously to the troubles of 1792, at which time the religious character of the fountain marked it out as an object of popular vengeance. It was suffered to continue in its mutilated and degraded state, from that period till the year 1816, when the inhabitants of this part of the town undertook to restore it at their own expense. Their labors have hitherto proceeded no farther than filling the niches afresh with images, and doing such repairs as were absolutely necessary to keep the whole structure from falling into ruin. Even by this, however, they have secured themselves the good will of the archbishop, who consecrated the fountain with great pomp anew, on the 24th of August, 1816.

The resemblance between the Fountain of the Stone Cross, at Rouen, and the monumental crosses erected in England by King Edward I. to perpetuate the memory of his consort, Eleanor of Castillo, will not fail to strike the British antiquary. It is more than probable, that the idea of the former was borrowed from the latter, to which, however, it is very inferior in point of richness of ornaments, or beauty of execution.


[176] It is right to observe, that the accounts here given of this and the following article, are little more than a translation, in the second instance materially abridged, of what is published upon the same subjects, in Jolimont, Monumens de la Normandie.




Palace of Justice, at Rouen.

Plate 78. Palace of Justice, at Rouen.

The building here figured was, from its foundation, devoted to the purpose of the administration of justice; and, notwithstanding the many mutilations to which it has at different times been exposed, it still remains an interesting, and, in the city of Rouen, almost a unique specimen of the sumptuous architectural taste of the age in which it was erected.

Down to as late a period as the year 1499, there existed in Normandy no stationary court of judicature; but the execution of the laws was confided to an ambulatory tribunal, established, according to the chroniclers, by Rollo himself, and known by the name of the Exchequer. The sittings of this Norman exchequer were commonly held twice a year, in spring and autumn, after the manner of the ancient parliaments of the French kings; the places of session depending upon the pleasure of the sovereign, or being determined in general, like the English Aula Regia, by his presence. The inconveniences attendant upon such a mode of administering justice, became of course the more heavily felt, in proportion as the country increased in population and civilization. Accordingly, the states-general of the province, assembled in the last year of the fifteenth century, under the presidency of the Cardinal d'Amboise, petitioned Louis XII. who was then upon the throne, to appoint in the metropolis of the duchy a permanent judicature, in the same manner as had been previously done in others of the principal cities of the realm. The king was graciously pleased to accede to their request; and, by the words of the royal edict, not only was the exchequer rendered permanent in the good city of Rouen, but permission was also granted to the members to hold their sittings in the great hall of the castle, till such time as a suitable place should be prepared for their reception.

It was on this occasion that the Palace of Justice was built; a piece of ground was selected for the purpose, that had been known by the name of the Jews' Close, from the time when Philip-Augustus expelled the children of Israel from France; and the foundations of the new structure were laid within a few months after the obtaining of the royal sanction. The progress, however, of the work, was not commensurate, in point of rapidity, with the haste with which it was undertaken; even in 1506 the labors were not brought to a conclusion, though, in that year, the exchequer was installed by the king in person, with great pomp, in the new palace. The sitting will long be memorable in the Norman annals, not only as being the first, but as having been selected by the sovereign, as an opportunity for bestowing various important favors upon the city and duchy.

The palace, in its present state, is composed of three distinct buildings, erected at different times, and forming collectively three sides of a parallelogram, whose fourth side is merely a wall. The court thus enclosed is spacious. One of these buildings, the front in the plate, goes by the name of the Salle des Procureurs. Its erection was six years anterior to that of the right-hand building, more properly called the Palace of Justice; and the object in raising it was, according to the edict of the bailiff upon the occasion, to serve as an exchange to the merchants, and put a stop to the impious practice of assembling, even upon feast-days, in the cathedral, for purposes of business. At a subsequent time, this hall was added to the Palace of Justice, and there was then built to it a chapel, now destroyed, in which mass was regularly celebrated twice a year,—upon the anniversary of the feast of St. Martin, the day of the meeting of parliament, and upon Ascension-Day. The service on the first of these days, went by the name of la messe rouge, because the members always attended in their scarlet robes: on the second, and more important occasion, it was called la messe de la fierte, being performed in commemoration of the deliverance of the prisoner, by virtue of the privilege of St. Romain.[177]—The exterior of the Salle des Procureurs is comparatively simple: the most highly decorated part of it is the gable, [92] which is flanked by two octangular turrets, ornamented with crocketed pinnacles and flying buttresses. Within, it consists of a noble hall, one hundred and sixty French feet in length, and fifty in width, with a coved roof of timber, plain and bold, and destitute either of the open tie-beams and arches, or the knot-work and cross-timber that usually adorn the old English roofs. Below the hall is a prison.

The southern building, erected exclusively for the sittings of the exchequer, is far more sumptuous in its decorations, both without and within. The lucarne windows may even vie with those in the house in the Place de la Pucelle.[178] Those below them find almost exact counterparts in the château at Fontaine-le-Henri, also figured in this work.[179] To use the language of the French critics, this front, which is more than two hundred feet in width, “est decorée de tout ce que l'architecture de ce temps-là présente de plus délicat et de plus riche.” The oriel or tower of enriched workmanship, which, by projecting into the court, breaks the uniformity of the elevation, is perhaps the part that more than any other merits such encomium. But it is only half the front that has been allowed to continue in its original state: the other half has been degraded by alterations, or stripped of its ornaments.—The room in which the parliament formerly met, and which is now employed for the trial of criminal causes, still remains comparatively uninjured. Its ceiling of oak, nearly as black as ebony, divided into numerous compartments, and covered with a profusion of carving and of gilt ornaments, not only affords a gorgeous example of the taste of the time, but immediately strikes the stranger as well suited to the dignity of the purpose to which the apartment was appropriated. But the open-work bosses of this ceiling are gone, as are the doors enriched with sculpture, and the ancient chimney, and the escutcheons charged with sacred devices, and the great painting, by which, before the revolution, witnesses were made to swear.[180]

The building that fronts the Salle des Procureurs, and forms the third side of the court, was not erected till after the year 1700. Its front is an imitation of the Ionic order, a style which harmonizes so ill with the rest of the quadrangle, as to produce an unfavorable effect An accident which happened to the wood-work of the upper part of this front, on the 1st of April, 1812, unfortunately involved the destruction of a painting held in the highest estimation; the representation of Jupiter hurling his thunderbolts at Vice, executed by Jouvenet, upon the ceiling of an apartment called la seconde Chambre des Enquêtes. Jouvenet, who commonly passes under the name of the Michelagnolo of France, was born at Rouen, in 1664; and, in conjunction with Fontenelle and the great Corneille, forms the triumvirate, of which the city has most reason to feel proud. The painting in the Palace of Justice was regarded as one of the happiest efforts of his pencil, and was not the less remarkable for having been executed with his left hand, after a paralytic stroke had deprived him of the use of the other.


[177] See p. 51.

[178] See plate 64.

[179] Plate 63.

[180] Upon this subject Mr. Turner is in error: it appears, from his Tour in Normandy, I. p. 193, that he was informed that the painting, now actually over the judges' bench, is the same by which it was originally customary to take the oath; but M. Jolimont, who is, unquestionably, better authority, states the contrary in the following note:—“Le tableau, sur lequel on faisait jurer les témoins, et qui avait près de douze pieds d'élévation, consistait en trois portions ou bandes horizontales réunies dans un grand cadre sculpté à la manière du temps. La première, et la plus élevée, présentait quatre écussons aux armes de France, parsemés de fleurs de lis d'or; celle du milieu offrait, sous cinq arcades en ogives avec fleurons, un Christ entre la Vierge et saint Jean, et les quatre Evangelistes; au-dessous, un Moyse, et les tables de la loi: il existait encore au moment de la révolution; on l'a remplacé, au mois de janvier 1816, par un autre, d'environ quatre pieds de hauteur, donné (dit l'inscription moderne mise au bas) par Louis XII à l'Echiquier, lorsqu'il l'établit au palais. Ce second tableau, recueilli pendant la révolution par les soins de M. Gouel, graveur, et dont il a bien voulu faire hommage à la Cour royale (voir, à ce sujet, le Journal de Rouen, du 30 janvier 1816), est composé de deux parties: l'une renferme un Christ entre saint Jean et la Vierge; l'autre, en forme de couronnement, présente deux figures à mi-corps, avec des légendes; mais ces deux parties hétérogènes ne sont que deux fragmens ajustés ensemble. Le premier, qui représente le Christ, est évidemment la portion qui remplissait une des cinq arcades du grand tableau dont nous venons de parler, et l'autre est une partie seulement du tableau donné par Louis XII, et qui orna, pendant plus de deux siècles, le manteau de la belle cheminée de la chambre du Conseil que nous citons ci-après. Les deux figures, aujourd'hui mutilées, étaient en pied, et représentaient le Roi Louis XII et le Cardinal d'Amboise, avec ces mots écrits sur des bandelettes, que les deux personnages semblent s'adresser: Pontifices, agite: Magistrats, agissez;—et vos Reges, dicite justa: et vous Rois, soyez justes. Ces fragmens de deux tableaux différens, réunis, avec assez d'art, et qui paraissent être seuls échappés à la destruction, sont encore fort curieux, et l'on doit savoir gré à M. Gouel de leur conservation, et de la générosité avec laquelle il les a rendus à leur destination primitive.”




Church of Louviers.

Plate 79. Church of Louviers.
South Porch.

Louviers is one of the most considerable of the numerous manufacturing towns which surround Rouen in every direction, depending altogether for their prosperity upon the state of commerce in the provincial capital. Its population consists of about seven thousand inhabitants. Its position is beautiful, in a small island formed by the Eure, which divides, in the immediate vicinity of the town, into two streams, flowing through a valley of the most luxuriant fertility, enclosed by hills covered for the greater part with extensive forests.

The name of Louviers, in Latin Locoveris, occurs upon more than one occasion, in the early Norman chronicles; and the town, though never fortified, has obtained a considerable degree of historical celebrity. When Richard Cœur-de-Lion, escaped from his captivity in the east, hastened to punish the perfidy with which he had been on all sides assailed during his absence, and Normandy became the theatre of a most bloody warfare, Louviers had the honor of being selected as the place in which these differences were composed. The treaty signed upon this occasion, in 1195, prescribed new bounds to the duchy; and the old historians, who always delight in consecrating the recital of any memorable event by a mixture of the marvellous, tell how, at the moment when the kings were engaged in the conference which led to this treaty, a serpent of enormous size darted from the foot of the tree beneath which they were standing, and approached them with marks of great fury, hissing violently at both, as if in the act to attack them. The monarchs, who were alone, instantly laid their hands upon their swords; and the armies, who stood at a short distance on either side arranged in battle array, alarmed at such hostile demonstrations, had well nigh joined in a fresh combat.—Only the following year, Louviers was one of the towns ceded by Richard to Walter, archbishop of Rouen, by way of compensation for the infringement of the rights of the see, of which he had been guilty in the erection of Château Gaillard. The possession of Louviers was peculiarly acceptable to the prelate, as being in the immediate vicinity of the village of Pinterville, where the archbishops of Rouen then had their country seat: they continued to occupy the same till the reign of St. Louis, when that monarch conferred upon them the castle of Gaillon, which they held till the revolution.

Louviers was taken in 1345, by the English army under King Edward III. then on his march for Paris, after the battle of Caen; and Froissart, in relating the circumstance, takes occasion to mention the importance of the place, stating that the town was then a great one, and “the chief town of all Normandy for drapery and riches, and full of merchandize. But, not being closed, the hostile army soon entered it.” He goes on to add, not much to the credit of the invading host, that “they overran, and spoiled and robbed without mercy; and that they won there great riches.”—In 1360, Louviers was once more chosen as the spot where peace was signed: the treaty that had been concluded at Bretigny, was confirmed at Paris by the Regent, and was finally ratified by the Black Prince in this town.—During the subsequent wars, under Henry V. and VI. Louviers is repeatedly mentioned; but principally for opposing a resistance of twenty-six days to the English in 1418.—In the time of the league, it distinguished itself most unfortunately by its devoted attachment to the Catholic cause; in consequence of which, it was pillaged by the royalists shortly after the battle of Ivry.[181]

94The church of Louviers is an imposing structure: though materially injured, and reduced to no more than a nave with its four aisles, it is still a spacious and handsome building. The great western door is closed, and the front defaced: the eastern end is likewise altogether modern. The central tower is handsome, though square and short. Two windows, very similar to those of the tower of St. Romain, in Rouen cathedral, light it on either side; and saints, placed under canopies, ornament the angles behind the buttresses. A second tower, to the west, is surmounted with a truncated cone. The south porch,[182] here figured, is the great feature of the exterior; and, for beauty and elegance in the formation or disposition of its parts, it may safely be put in competition with any similar portion of an ecclesiastical building, either in Normandy or in England. Yet, even here, the saints have been torn from their pedestals by the wanton violence of Calvinists or of democrats.

Internally, the church is a fine specimen of the pointed architecture of the thirteenth century;[183] but, to use the words of Mr. Turner, from whose Tour[184] a great part of the preceding description has been borrowed, “the whole is so concealed and degraded by ornaments in the worst of taste, and by painted saints in the most tawdry dresses, that the effect is disgusting.” In the windows of the church there still remains a considerable quantity of painted glass; and a bas-relief on the right of the choir is well deserving of attention. It is placed under a niche, which in all probability was originally filled with a statue of St. Hubert; as the sculpture pourtrays a well-known legend, recorded in his history—the miraculous stag with a cross between his antlers, seen by the hunter-knight.—The foliage at the base of the niche is executed with particular elegance and skill.

In the town of Louviers is an old house, said to have belonged to the Knights Templars. Its gable, pierced with numerous windows, generally in the form of flatly pointed arches, each of them containing a couple of arches with trefoil-heads, has given currency to the tale of its original destination. It was figured some time since by M. Langlois, in a work commenced to illustrate the Antiquities of Normandy, but of which the first number only appeared; and it has recently been lithographized by M. Nodier. But, from the style of its architecture, it does not appear to have been erected anterior to the fourteenth century, however confidently it is referred by M. Langlois to the twelfth or thirteenth.


[181] Sully, in his Memoirs, I. p. 254, (English translation) gives the following account of its capture:—“The King succeeded better at Louviers: this town kept a priest in its pay; who, from the top of a belfry, which he never left, played the part of a spy with great exactness. If he saw but a single person in the field, he rung a certain bell, and hung out at the same side a great flag. We did not despair of being able to corrupt his fidelity, which two hundred crowns, and a promise of a benefice worth three thousand livres a year, effected. There remained only to gain some of the garrison; the Sieur du Rollet took this upon himself, and succeeded. He addressed himself to a corporal and two soldiers, who easily prevailed upon the rest of the garrison to trust the guard of one of the gates to them only. Every thing being thus arranged, the King presented himself before Louviers, at twelve o'clock in the night. No one rung the bell, nor was there the least motion in the garrison. Du Rollet entered, and opened the gate, through which the King passed, without the smallest resistance, into the centre of the town. Fontaine Martel made some ineffectual efforts to draw the garrison together: as for the citizens, they were employed in concealing their wives and daughters. The town, whose chief riches consisted in its magazines of linen and leather, was wholly pillaged: I had a gentleman with me, called Beaugrard, a native of Louviers, who was of great use to us in discovering where these sort of goods were concealed, and a prodigious quantity of them was amassed together. The produce of my share amounted to three thousand livres. The King consigned to Du Rollet the government of Louviers.”

[182] Mr. Cotman very much regrets that it was not in his power to do this porch the justice it deserved, in consequence of the continual interruptions to which he was exposed from the lower class of the inhabitants.

[183] M. Nodier, in his Voyages Pittoresques et Romantiques, has figured the interior of this church, the erection of which he refers (p. 18) to the time of the first crusades; but a comparison of the building with others of that æra, would scarcely warrant such a conclusion.

[184] Vol. II. p. 287.




Château Gaillard.

Plate 80. Château Gaillard.
North East View.

On the building of Château Gaillard, the following account is given by Masseville, in his History of Normandy:[185]—“In the year 1196, a few months after the treaty of Louviers had been concluded between Philip-Augustus and Richard Cœur-de-Lion, the Norman Duke, considering how frequently inroads had been made into his territories, by the way of Andelys, resolved to strengthen himself by means of a formidable barrier in that quarter. With this view, he built a fortress upon an island in the Seine, opposite the village of Lesser Andelys; and, at the same time, erected upon the brow of the rock that overhung the river, a castle of the greatest possible strength, without, however, reflecting how far these works were likely to affect the rights, or to diminish the revenues, of the see of Rouen, to whom the ground belonged. But Walter, who then wore the archiepiscopal mitre, was by no means of a character patiently to submit to an invasion of his privileges. He complained loudly during the progress of the works, menaced the artificers, and even the prince himself, with the vengeance of the church; and, finally, finding his threats and his remonstrances equally disregarded, had recourse to the bold measure of laying the whole of Normandy under a spiritual interdict. The king, alarmed at so decisive a step, appealed to the papal see, and sent the bishops of Durham and of Lisieux, as his ambassadors to Rome. The archbishop also repaired thither to plead his own cause; and the affair was finally compromised by an exchange, in virtue of which, the castles were allowed to stand, and the secular seigniory of Andelys was ceded to the duke, who, in return for this acquisition, and to obtain his reconciliation to the church, gave up to the primate the towns and lordships of Dieppe and Louviers, the land and forest of Alihermont, the land and lordship of Bouteilles, and the mills of Rouen.”—The contract was considered of so much importance, that the archbishop of Canterbury, together with several other English prelates, as well as almost all those of Normandy, and many of the principal abbots and noblemen of the province, were summoned to sanction the execution of it by their presence. Such were the benefits it was supposed to bestow upon the church, that it has passed in ecclesiastical history, under the significant appellation of the celebris permutatio.

But the king also congratulated himself, and not without reason, upon having opposed an impregnable barrier to the inroads of his more powerful, and scarcely less active, neighbor. He delighted in Château Gaillard, the very name of which is said to have had its origin in proud mockery and defiance; and he himself, in his public acts, designated it his “beautiful castle of the rock.” Many of his charters bear date from this fortress; so that, though only begun three years before the death of the monarch, it is plain that it was already habitable in his life-time. It may likewise safely be inferred, that it was then quite finished; for his dastardly successor, engaged either in distant wars, or in intrigues at home, from the moment of his mounting the throne, had bestowed no thought upon the strengthening of his hereditary continental dominions, till he found himself, in the year 1202, attacked by Philip-Augustus at the head of an overwhelming army, while his own subjects were but little disposed to assist a prince, whose hands were reeking with his nephew's blood.

It was at this time that Château Gaillard supported the siege which will render its name for ever memorable in history. Long, and curious, and interesting details of the occurrences connected with the capture of the castle, are given by Father Daniel: Du Moulin also briefly enumerates a few of the many stratagems to which the French king was obliged to have recourse. But those who delight in narratives of this kind, or who desire to obtain full information relative to the attacks and defence, combined with a lively picture of the strength of the fortress, must be referred to Brito, the poetical chronicler of the exploits of Philip-Augustus. The whole of the seventh book of the Philippiad of that author, containing no fewer than eight hundred and forty-one lines, are devoted to this single subject; so eventful was the history of the [96] siege, and so great the importance attached to the capture of the place. The fall of Château Gaillard was almost immediately followed by the total subversion of the power of the Norman Dukes; but, as to the fortress itself, though its situation was no longer such as to give it importance, Brito expressly states, that Philip bestowed great pains upon the restoring of its damaged works, and upon augmenting its strength by the addition of new ones:—

“Rex ita Gaillardo per prælia multa potitus,
Cuncta reædificat vel ab ipso diruta, vel quæ
Improbus appositis destruxerat ignibus hostis,
In triplo meliùs et fortiùs intùs et extrà,
Antea quàm fuerint muros et cætera firmans.”

Fortunately for France, the subsequent state of the kingdom rendered precautions of this description unnecessary; Château Gaillard appears no more in history as a formidable fortress, except upon the occasion of the occupation of the Gallic throne by Henry V. and of the expulsion of his successor. In the former case, the castle did not surrender to the English army, till after a vigorous resistance of sixteen months;[186] and even then its garrison, though composed of only one hundred and twenty men, would not have yielded, had not the ropes of their water-buckets been worn out and destroyed: in the latter instance, it was one of the last of the strong holds of Normandy that held out for the successors of its ancient dukes; and the siege of six weeks, sustained by a dispirited army, was scarcely less honorable to its defenders, than the far longer resistance opposed on former occasions.

Even after the final re-union of the duchy, Château Gaillard was neither purposely destroyed, nor suffered to fall through neglect into decay, like the greater number of the Norman fortresses. During the religious wars, it still continued to be a military post, as well as a royal palace; and it was honored with the residence of Henry IV. whose father, Anthony of Bourbon, died here in 1562. Its importance ceased in the following reign. The inhabitants of the adjacent country petitioned the King to give orders that the castle should be dismantled. They dreaded, lest its towers should serve as an asylum to some of the numerous bands of marauders, by whom France was then infested. It was consequently undermined, and reduced to its present state of ruin.

If the name of this castle is to be found at other times, in “the historian's ample page,” it is only in the comparatively unimportant character of a place of safe confinement for state prisoners, or, on one occasion, as a temporary residence for a fugitive monarch. In the latter capacity, it opened its gates to David Bruce, in 1331, when the Scottish prince, received by Philip de Valois, with all the honours due to an exiled sovereign, had this palace assigned him as a regal residence, and was permitted to maintain here, for a while, the pageantry of a court. As a prison, Château Gaillard was frequently employed: it was in particular distinguished with an unenviable preference in one of the most disgraceful æras of the history of France. Margaret of Burgundy, the Queen of Louis X. and Blanche, the consort of his brother, Charles le Bel, were both of them confined here, after having been tried and convicted of adultery; together with Jane, another princess of the house of Burgundy, the wife to Philip, brother to Louis and Charles. Margaret was shortly after murdered in this castle; when Louis, intent upon a fresh marriage with the princess Clementia of Hungary, found an obstacle to his wishes in the protracted existence of his former queen.

Château Gaillard.

Plate 81. Château Gaillard.
South West View.

Of the extent, the magnificence, the commanding situation, or the imposing appearance of Château Gaillard, it is almost equally difficult to convey an adequate idea by the pencil or by the pen. “The faithful eye” can alone give satisfaction upon such subjects. Mr. Turner's account of the present state of the ruin, has the merit of being the most copious that has yet appeared; and the following extract from it shall therefore conclude this article:—“Our expectations respecting Château Gaillard were more than answered. Considered as to its dimensions and its situation, it is by far the finest castellated ruin I ever saw. Conway, indeed, has more beauty; but Château Gaillard is [97] infinitely superior in dignity. Its ruins crown the summit of a lofty rock, abruptly rising from the very edge of the Seine, whose sinuous course here shapes the adjoining land into a narrow peninsula. The chalky cliffs on each side of the castle are broken into hills of romantic form, which add to the impressive wildness of the scene. Towards the river, the steepness of the cliff renders the fortress unassailable: a double fosse of great depth, defended by a strong wall, originally afforded almost equal protection on the opposite side.

“The circular keep is of extraordinary strength, and in its construction differs wholly from any of our English dungeon-towers. It may be described as a cylinder, placed upon a truncated cone. The massy perpendicular buttresses, which are ranged round the upper wall, whence they project considerably, lose themselves at their bases in the cone from which they arise. The building, therefore, appears to be divided into two stories. The wall of the second story is upwards of twelve feet in thickness. The base of the conical portion is perhaps twice as thick. It seldom happens that the military buildings of the middle ages have such a talus or slope, on the exterior face, agreeing with the principles of modern fortification; and it is difficult to guess why the architect of Château Gaillard thought fit to vary from the established model of his age. The masonry is regular and good. The pointed windows are evidently insertions of a period long subsequent to the original erection.

“The inner ballium is surrounded by a high circular wall, which consists of an uninterrupted line of bastions, some semi-circular and others square. The whole of this part of the castle remains nearly perfect. There are also traces of extensive foundations in various directions, and of great out-works. Château Gaillard was, in fact, a citadel, supported by numerous smaller fortresses, all of them communicating with the strong central hold, and disposed so as to secure every defensible post in the neighborhood. The wall of the outer ballium, which was built of a compact white and grey stone, is in most places standing, though in ruins. The original facing only remains in those parts which are too elevated to admit of its being removed with ease.—Beneath the castle, the cliff is excavated into a series of subterraneous caverns, not intended for mere passages or vaults, as at Arques and in most other places, but forming spacious crypts supported by pillars roughly hewn out of the living rock, and still retaining every mark of the workman's chisel.

“The keep cannot be ascended without difficulty. We ventured to scale it; and we were fully repaid for our labor by the prospect which we gained. The Seine, full of green willowy islands, flows beneath the rock in large lazy windings: the peninsula below is flat, fertile, and well wooded: on the opposite shores, the fantastic chalky cliffs rise boldly, crowned with dark forests.”


[185] Vol. II. p. 113.

[186] So says Monstrelet; and he has generally been followed; but, according to Masseville, (Histoire de Normandie, IV. p. 84) the Norman Chronicle limits the duration of the siege to only seven months.



Church of Montivilliers.

Plate 82. Abbey Church of Montivilliers.
West End.

Montivilliers is a town of about four thousand inhabitants, situated in a beautiful valley upon a small stream, called the Lezarde, near the western extremity of the Pays de Caux, within the distance of six leagues from Fécamp, and two from Havre de Grace. Its fortifications, now in ruins, were erected near the close of the fourteenth century, till which time it was altogether defenceless; but the state of France, just recovered from one English invasion and threatened with another, turned the thoughts of the government towards the securing of all vulnerable points on the northern frontier; and the trade of the place, though at present trifling, was at that period far otherwise. The cloths of Montivilliers were then considered to rival those of Flanders; and the preservation of the manufacture was regarded of so much consequence, that sundry regulations respecting it are to be found in the royal ordinances. The two circular towers of one of the gates now standing, afford a good specimen of the military architecture of the time.

Montivilliers is called in Latin, Monasterium villare; and in old French, Monstier Vieil: the present name of the town is obviously a corruption of these; and the same fact also denotes that the place derived its importance, if not its existence, from the monastery. Among [98] the Norman historians, the foundation of Montivilliers is referred to the seventh century; during the latter half of which, St. Philibert, abbot of Jumieges, built a convent here for a community of nuns. The monastery was richly endowed; but no records are left of its history previously to the incursions of the Normans, under whose hands it at first suffered the same destruction as the other religious houses in Neustria, and afterwards rose, like them, from its ashes, with increased splendor and opulence. The immediate successors of Rollo rebuilt the abbey, but without restoring it to its original destination. Richard II. conferred it, with all its dependencies, upon the more favored monks of Fécamp; and, in the donation, he makes use of the strong expression, “ut ex eo facerent quicquid vellent, tamquam ex proprio alodo.” The union of the two establishments was, however, but short lived: either under the same prince, or, as some authors say, under his son Robert, Montivilliers once more resumed a state of independence, and became once more the retreat of holy virgins. The duke was moved to this step by the solicitation of his aunt Beatrice, who retired hither, and took the veil, and presided over the sisterhood; and the monastery of St. Taurin at Evreux was, on this occasion, ceded to Fécamp, in exchange for Montivilliers. A portion of the charter is preserved in the Neustria Pia; and, according to this work, the instrument was subsequently ratified by the signatures of William the Conqueror, and of Philip le Bel. At different times, various papal bulls were issued, for the purpose of placing the abbey of Montivilliers under the especial protection of the holy see, and of granting it sundry privileges and immunities. These are also recorded in the same publication. One of them, originating in a dispute between the archbishop of Rouen and the abbess of Montivilliers, is but little to the credit of either party. It represents the lady-abbess as by no means free from irregularities in the performance of her office; it charges one of her nuns with dissolute life; and it arraigns the primate himself of being the cause, if not the immediate instrument, of scandal:—“Siquidem, ex parte abbatissæ fuit propositum et probatum, quòd quidam, qui cum eodem archiepiscopo et suis prædecessoribus venerant ad monasterium memoratum, turpia quædam et illicita commiserunt contra honestatem observantiæ regularis, in scandalum plurimorum: volumus et mandamus, ut, cùm archiepiscopus Rothomagensis ad monasterium ipsum, causâ visitationis, accesserit, ab ingressu claustri aliarumque domorum, in quibus habitant moniales, familiam suam talitèr studeat coercere, quòd de cætero similia non contingant. Ipse quoque archiepiscopus, ejusdem monasterii claustrum vel capitulum intraturus, non nisi cum moderatâ societate accedat, quæ vitâ et moribus sit honesta; ut per officium visitationis ejusdem, non dissolutionis vel scandali, sed ædificationis potiùs materia ministretur.”—The instrument, which is of considerable length, goes on to accuse the prelate of affording protection to some refractory nuns, and enjoins him never to suffer his clergy to frequent the abbey upon any pretext, or upon any occasion.

The church of Montivilliers, represented in the present plate, is the same as before the revolution belonged to the abbey. The portion to the north is the chapter-house, and is the work of the fourteenth century. The greater part of the rest of the building, though altered in some places, may safely be referred to the eleventh; at which time it is upon record, that Elizabeth, who succeeded Beatrice as abbess, nearly, if not altogether, rebuilt the whole. At subsequent periods, the church underwent many considerable repairs and alterations. A sum of seven hundred florins was expended upon it in 1370, the proceeds of a fine imposed upon the town, for some injuries done to the nuns; and Toussaints Varrin, archbishop of Thessalonica, dedicated the edifice, in 1513, under the invocation of the Holy Virgin. Five years subsequently, the abbess, Jane Mustel, repaired the ceiling and painted windows, and made the stalls in the choir.[187]—The exterior of the Lady-Chapel affords a fine example of early pointed architecture; its lofty narrow windows are separated by slender cylindrical pillars, as in the church of the Holy Trinity, at Caen. The embattled ornament round the southern door of the western front, is far from commonly seen in such situations. In the interior of the nave, the same massive semi-circular architecture prevails as in the towers; but it is mixed with some peculiarities that will scarcely be found elsewhere, particularly a flat band in the form of a pilaster, enriched with losenges, which is attached to the front of one of the columns, and is continued over the roof, and again down the pillar on the opposite side. Mr. Turner noticed a small gallery, or pulpit, of elegant filigree stone-work, at the west end, near the roof;[188] and, upon the authority of the well-known antiquary, John Carter,[99] he supposed it most probably intended to receive a band of singers on high festivals. But some corresponding erections in England would make it seem more likely that this gallery communicated with the apartments of the superior, and was placed here for the purpose of affording her the means of paying her devotions in private, when, either from the weather, or any other cause, she might not wish to occupy her throne in the choir.

Mr. Turner has also remarked upon the capitals of the columns at Montivilliers, which are very peculiar. Some of them are obvious imitations of the antique pattern, and of great beauty. Others are as rude and wild as any of those already figured in this work, from the churches of St. Georges or Gournay. The mysteries of Christianity, and the fables and allegories of heathenism, the latter, as well in its most refined as its most barbarous forms, occur in endless variety in almost every part of the edifice. One of the capitals contains a representation of the fabulous Sphynx, with her tail ending in a fleur-de-lys: upon another, is sculptured a figure of Christ in the act of destroying the Dragon, by thrusting the end of a crosier into its mouth. Two others, figured in the Tour in Normandy, exhibit a group of Centaurs, and the allegorical psychostasia: the remarks of the author of that publication, upon the latter of these, shall close the present article:—“In this you observe an angel weighing the good works of the deceased against his evil deeds; and, as the former are far exceeding the avoirdupois upon which Satan is to found his claim, he is endeavoring most unfairly to depress the scale with his two-pronged fork.—This allegory is of frequent occurrence in the monkish legends.—The saint, who was aware of the frauds of the fiend, resolved to hold the balance himself.—He began by throwing in a pilgrimage to a miraculous virgin.—The devil pulled out an assignation with some fair mortal Madonna, who had ceased to be immaculate.—The saint laid in the scale the sackcloth and ashes of the penitent of Lenten-time.—Satan answered the deposit by the vizard and leafy robe of the masker of the carnival. Thus did they still continue equally interchanging the sorrows of godliness with the sweets of sin; and still the saint was distressed beyond compare, by observing that the scale of the wicked thing (wise men call him the correcting principle,) always seemed the heaviest. Almost did he despair of his client's salvation, when he luckily saw eight little jetty black claws just hooking and clenching over the rim of the golden basin. The claws at once betrayed the craft of the cloven foot. Old Nick had put a little cunning young devil under the balance, who, following the dictates of his senior, kept clinging to the scale, and swaying it down with all his might and main. The saint sent the imp to his proper place in a moment; and instantly the burthen of transgression was seen to kick the beam.—Painters and sculptors also often introduced this ancient allegory of the balance of good and evil, in their representations of the last judgment: it was even employed by Lucas Kranach.”


[187] Description de la Haute Normandie, II. p. 108.

[188] Tour in Normandy, I. p. 69.



Church of St. Sanson sur Rille.

Plate 83. Church of St. Sanson sur Rille.
Remains of & capitals.

Normandy, throughout the whole of its extent, can scarcely boast a lovelier stream than the Rille. Originating in the southern part of the duchy, this little river advances in a northerly direction, rolling its sparkling waters in rapid course, through a valley of the most brilliant verdure, till they mingle with the British Channel, at a very short distance from the west of the mouth of the Seine. The Rille, in every part of its current, is varied by an infinity of islands, formed by the division of its waters. Hence its principal beauty, and hence also considerable benefit for the purpose of manufacture; but the same circumstance is fatal to the more important objects of commerce; for it is in a great measure owing to this multiplicity of channels, that the river is navigable to only a very short way above Pont Audemer; a distance scarcely exceeding ten miles from its confluence with the ocean.

The small village of St. Sanson is situated upon the right bank of the Rille, within a league of its mouth. Its church, the same most probably as is figured in this plate, is enumerated among the possessions [100] confirmed to the Benedictine monastery of St. Martin, at Troarn, by a bull of Pope Innocent III. dated in the year 1210. In after-times, the presentation to the living was in the hands of the bishops of Dol, in Brittany, who likewise continued till the revolution to be both temporal and spiritual lords of the parish, in right, as they alledged, of the ancient barony of St. Sanson, which was annexed to their see.[189] Other writers asserted, that the bishops held their authority here, as successors to the superiors of an abbey, founded upon this spot in the middle of the sixth century, by Childebert I. in favor of St. Sanson, then bishop of Dol. But the monastery fell during the earliest incursions of the Normans, and never rose again. Old traditions state it to have been called in French, Pentale; and in Latin, Monasterium Pentaliense: a corruption, as it is supposed, of Pœnitentiale. A neighboring chapel, under the invocation of Notre Dame de Pentale, gives color to the report.

Of the church of St. Sanson, nothing more is now left than is exhibited in the plate: the remains consist only of the chancel, and the arch which separated it from the nave. But even these, inconsiderable as they appear, have been judged deserving of a place among the more remarkable of the architectural antiquities of Normandy: the peculiar character of the capitals, and the small size of the whole, have entitled them to this distinction. Upon regarding the arch, it is scarcely possible but to be struck with the impression, that, though in its present state its height is barely sufficient to allow of a man walking upright through it, there must originally have been an inner member, which has now disappeared. The capitals differ materially from any others ever seen by Mr. Cotman in Normandy; but Mr. Joseph Woods, whose authority is unquestionable, says that similar ones are to be found in the Temple of Bacchus, at Teos. There are also several, which in shape resemble these at St. Sanson, in the very remarkable church of St. Vitalis, at Ravenna,[190] and in the cloisters of the monastery of St. Scolastica,[191] at Subiaco: the latter also exhibit a certain degree of similarity in the sculpture.


[189] Description de la Haute Normandie, II. p. 777.

[190] Seroux d'Agincourt, Histoire de la Décadence de l'Art. Architecture, t. 23. f. 7, 8; and t. 69. f. 14.

[191] Ibid. t. 29. f. 3, 4.



Church of Foullebec.

Plate 84. Church of Foullebec.
West Door-way.

The church of Foullebec, a small village situated upon the Rille, nearly opposite to St. Sanson, is a building of Norman times; but the only portion of it particularly calculated to recommend it to attention, is the arch figured in this plate. This arch exhibits two peculiarities, which it would be difficult, if not impossible, to parallel in Normandy; the ornamented shafts of the pillars, and the extraordinary width of the southern capital, which is more than double that of the column below. The same was also, in all probability, the case with the capital, now destroyed, on the opposite side of the door-way; and as it is plain that there never was a second pillar, either on the one side or the other, the only satisfactory mode of accounting for this singularity, is upon the supposition, that it was the original intention of the architect to have placed such, but that circumstances occurred which induced him to leave his design unfinished.—Ornamented shafts of columns, however unfrequently found in Normandy, are far from being of very uncommon occurrence in the specimens that are left of genuine Norman art in Great-Britain. Mr. Carter, in his elaborate work upon ancient English architecture, has collected a variety of similar enrichments in his thirty-third plate; and some of them extremely beautiful. Several others are to be found in the more splendid volumes of Mr. Britton.—The sculpture upon the archivolt is also deserving of observation: upon one of the central stones, is represented the bannered lamb; upon the other, a figure, probably intended for a representation of our Savior entering Jerusalem upon an ass. The heads on either side are of an unusual character.

[101]The church at Foullebec, as well in its nave as chancel, is externally divided by plain Norman buttresses into a series of regular compartments, each containing a single circular-headed window. In the nave are four; in the chancel only two. The tower is square and low: it is placed at the west end, which is only pierced for the door-way, and is otherwise quite plain, except a buttress at each corner. Internally, the only object to be noticed is an ancient cylindrical font; its sides sculptured with semi-circular arches, and a narrow moulding round the rim.



Castle at Tancarville.

Plate 85. Castle at Tancarville.

M. Nodier, who, in his Voyages Pittoresques, has devoted six plates to the illustration of the noble ruins of the castle at Tancarville, remarks with great justice, that, magnificent as the building must have been, “it is one that recals but few historical recollections.” At the same time he gives the following quotation from the old Norman Chronicle:—“During the reign of King Philip le Bel, after the knight of the green lion had conquered the King of Arragon, a great dissention arose between two powerful barons in Normandy, the Lord of Harecourt and the Chamberlain of Tancarville. The cause of their strife was a mill, of which the Dwarf of Harecourt, assisted by forty of his people in arms, had taken forcible possession, mistreating the vassals of the Chamberlain. The latter, incensed at the outrage, summoned his friends and attendants; and, having collected them to the number of two hundred, marched upon Lillebonne, where the Lord of Harecourt and the Dwarf, his brother, were at that time residing. Many and bitter were the reproaches uttered on either side; and severe was the contest that followed; for the Lord of Harecourt issued from the barriers with all his forces, and they defended themselves valiantly; and several lives were lost. The king, on receiving the tidings, was greatly discomforted, and bade the Sieur Enguerrand de Marigni summon the offending parties to appear before him. It chanced most untowardly, that they met as they were travelling towards the court; and the Lord of Harecourt attacked the Chamberlain, and with his gauntlet put out his left eye, and then returned to his own people. No sooner was he of Tancarville healed, than he repaired to the royal presence, and defied the Lord of Harecourt to single combat. The pledge was accepted by M. Charles de Valois, brother of the king, on behalf of his friend. On the other hand, M. Enguerrand de Marigny, privy counsellor of the monarch, maintained that Harecourt had been guilty of treason. This was denied by M. Charles, to whom Enguerrand in consequence gave the lie; and the former took the affront so cruelly to heart, that Enguerrand, brave man as he was, was afterwards hanged in consequence of it. When the conditions of battle were arranged, the Lord of Harecourt came into the field with his armor emblazoned with fleurs-de-lys; and the combatants fought with the utmost valor, till the Kings of England and of Navarre, who were present, besought the monarch of France to stay the fight; for that it would be great pity that two so valiant chiefs should fall by each other's hand. Upon this, the king cried ‘Ho!’ and both parties were satisfied; and peace was made between them by the foreign sovereigns, in the year 1300.”

The same circumstance is related, though with some trifling variations in the details, by Masseville, in his History of Normandy, a work of which almost every volume bears frequent testimony to the greatness of the house of Tancarville. This family enjoyed the hereditary dignity of chamberlain to the Norman dukes; but at what period it was conferred upon them, is lost in the obscurity of early history. Ralph de Tancarville, who founded the abbey of St. Georges de Bocherville, about the year 1050,[192] is styled in the Neustria Pia, under the account[102] of that monastry, as “Tancardi-Villæ Toparcha, præfectus hæreditarius cubiculo Guillelmi secundi.” In 1066, the name of the Count of Tancarville[193] is enumerated among those who attended the Conqueror into England. The chamberlain of Tancarville is recorded both by Ordericus Vitalis and Masseville, in the list of Norman knights that distinguished themselves in the wars of Philip-Augustus. William of Tancarville, the same chieftain, probably, or his immediate predecessor, had previously suffered himself to be seduced by the arts of Eleanor, queen of Henry II. to join in the conspiracy of the sons of that monarch, against their father: he subsequently signalized his valor, when the banners of the lion-hearted Richard were unfurled upon the plains of Palestine. In 1197, Ralph of Tancarville was one of the witnesses to the treaty of exchange, already more than once mentioned in this work, made between the sovereign and the archbishop of Rouen, in consequence of the building of Château Gaillard; and when, eight years afterwards, Philip, having become undisputed master of Normandy, conciliated the favor of the clergy by important concessions, the signature and seal of the chamberlain of Tancarville were attached to the instrument.—The task were easy, by multiplying quotations from Masseville and the early chroniclers, to extend to a great length the instances in which the noblemen of the house of Tancarville acted a prominent part in Norman history. It will be sufficient, upon the present occasion, to adduce two circumstances, as indisputable proofs of their importance. The name of Tancarville is found among the seventy-two members of the nobility, who, in the beginning of the fourteenth century, were summoned to the Norman exchequer; and, in the same century, in the year 1320, after Philip VI. upon his accession to the throne of France, had received at Amiens the homage of Edward III. for the dukedom of Aquitaine and earldom of Ponthieu, the Count of Tancarville was selected for the important office of ambassador to England, in conjunction with the Duke of Bourbon and the Earl of Harcourt, to obtain from the monarch some explanations that were considered indispensable for the dignity of the crown of France. As late as the year 1451, the Lord of Tancarville appears as one of the generals of the French forces, which, under the command of the Count of Longueville, finally succeeded in expelling the English from Normandy. From that time forward, Masseville makes no mention of the family. Respecting the castle, he is altogether silent, except upon the occasion of its capture by the French in 1435, and its surrender to them again in 1449.

It may have been observed in the preceding brief enumeration of a few principal facts connected with the family of Tancarville, that the Lords of that house have, on more than one occasion, been designated as Counts: the author of the Description de la Haute Normandie, however, expressly states that this property was not raised into an earldom till the reign of King John of France, who ennobled it with that dignity in 1351; at which time it was composed of all the fiefs, castellanies, baronies, and other lands of every description, in the duchy of Normandy, occupied by John de Melun, and Jane Crepin his wife. From the house of Melun, this same earldom passed into that of Harcourt, by the union of Jane of Melun with William of Harcourt—their daughter, who inherited the property, afterwards carried it in dower to John, Count of Dunois and of Longueville. In the year 1505, when Louis XII. added to the earls of Longueville the higher honor of the dukedom, Tancarville was comprised among the dependencies of the new dignity; and when, shortly afterwards, the duchy of Longueville escheated to the crown, the earldom of Tancarville, remaining united to Longueville, shared the same fate. Mary of Orleans, duchess of Nemours and Estouteville, having become possessed of Tancarville, sold it in September, 1706, to Anthony Crozat, the king's secretary; and, at the same time, the monarch conferred all the rights and privileges attached to the domain, upon Louis de la Tour d'Auvergne, Count of Evreux. Twelve years subsequently, the king, by his letters patent, separated Tancarville from Longueville, and ordered that the Lords of Tancarville should thenceforth be summoned to the parliament at Rouen.

The title of Earl of Tankerville is at the present day to be found in the English peerage. It is borne by a descendant of Charles Bennet, second Lord of Ossulston, upon whom it was conferred by George I. in 1714, after he had married the daughter and heiress of Ford, Lord Grey [103] of Wark, Earl of Tankerville. One of the family of this Lord Grey, Sir John Grey, Knight, Captain of Maunt, in Normandy, had originally been rewarded with the title by King Henry V. for his eminent services in the French wars. But his grandson, Richard, Earl of Tankerville, was attainted in the thirty-eighth year of the succeeding reign; and the title remained dormant till re-granted by King William III. to Ford, Lord Grey, just mentioned, who was lineally descended from the brother of the first earl.

Entrance to the Castle at Tancarville.

Plate 86. Entrance to the Castle at Tancarville.

Different opinions have prevailed with respect to the origin of the name of Tancarville. Ordericus Vitalis calls it Tanchardi Villa: M. de Valois, in his Notitia Galliæ, is disposed to claim for it the more imposing appellation of Tancredi Villa. The point will in all probability never be settled: it is more to be regretted, that no account is to be found of the building of the castle, whose lofty towers still frown in the pride of old baronial grandeur, from the summit of a steep cliff upon the right bank of the Seine, which here, so near its mouth, rather assumes the character of an estuary than a river. The wide extent of the ruins sufficiently bespeaks the importance of its former possessors: at present, nothing can be more forlorn and desolate. Mr. Dibdin, who visited the remains in 1819, has traced the following animated sketch of their present appearance with his lively pencil; and Mr. Lewis, who accompanied him, has enriched his splendid Tour with a lovely view of the buildings and surrounding scenery:—

“We ascended to the castle: the day grew soft, and bright, and exhilarating.... but, alas; for the changes and chances of this transitory world. Where was the warder? He had ceased to blow his horn for many a long year. Where was the harp of the minstrel? It had perished two centuries ago, with the hand that had struck its chords. Where was the attendant guard?—or pursuivants?—or men at arms? They have been swept from human existence, like the leaves of the old limes and beech trees, by which the lower part of the building was surrounded. The moat was dry; the rampart was a ruin:—the rank grass grew within the area.... nor can I tell you how many vast relics of halls, banqueting rooms, and bed rooms, with all the magnificent appurtenances of old castellated architecture, struck the eager eye with mixed melancholy and surprise! The singular half-circular, and half-square, corner towers, hanging over the ever-restless wave, interested us exceedingly. The guide shewed us where the prisoners used to be kept—in a dungeon, apparently impervious to every glimmer of day-light, and every breath of air. I cannot pretend to say at what period even the oldest part of the castle of Montmorenci[194] was built: but I saw nothing that seemed to be more ancient than the latter end of the fifteenth century. Perhaps the greater portion may be of the beginning of the sixteenth; but, amidst unroofed rooms, I could not help admiring the painted borders, chiefly of a red color, which run along the upper part of the walls, or wainscots—giving indication not only of a good, but of a splendid, taste. Did I tell you that this sort of ornament was to be seen in some part of the eastern end of the abbey of Jumieges? Here, indeed, they afforded evidence—an evidence mingled with melancholy sensations on conviction—of the probable state of magnificence which once reigned throughout the castle. Between the corner towers, upon that part which runs immediately parallel with the Seine, there is a noble terrace, now converted into garden ground, which commands an immediate and extensive view of the embouchure of the river. It is the property of a speculator residing at Havre. Parallel with this terrace, runs the more modernised part of the castle, which the last residing owner inhabited. It may have been built about fifty years ago, and is—or rather the remains of it are—quite in the modern style of domestic architecture. The rooms are large, lofty, and commodious;—yet nothing but the shells of them remain. The revolutionary patriots completely gutted them of every useful and every valuable piece of furniture; and even the bare walls are beginning to grow damp, and threaten immediate decay. I made several memoranda upon the spot, which have been unluckily, and I fear irretrievably, misplaced; so that, of this once vast, and yet commanding and interesting edifice, I regret that I am compelled to send you so short and so meagre an account. Farewell—a long and perhaps perpetual farewell—to the Castle of Montmorenci!”


[192] According to Masseville, (Histoire de Normandie, II. p. 192,) this abbey was not founded till the year 1114; but such a statement is irreconcileable with the fact of the dead body of the Conqueror having been carried there in 1087; and, moreover, both the Gallia Christiana and Neustria Pia expressly state that it was in 1114 that William, fifth son of the founder, and himself also hereditary chamberlain of Normandy, removed from St. Georges the canons established there by his father, and replaced them with monks from St. Evroul.

[193] So called by Masseville, I. p. 205.

[194] Mr. Dibdin uniformly calls this castle, the Castle of Montmorenci; but on no occasion does he state his authority for so doing; the author of these remarks never heard it so styled in Normandy, nor can he find it mentioned under that name by Nodier, or any other author. If, as appears probable, the people of the neighborhood are in the habit of so designating it, the probability is, that the modern part (see plate eighty-five) was erected at a period when Tancarville belonged to some member of the noble family of Montmorenci.





Church of the Holy Cross at St. Lo.

Plate 87. Church of the Holy Cross at St. Lo.
Western Entrance.

The town of St. Lo is said to owe its origin to the Emperor Charlemagne, and to have been founded by him in the fifth year of the ninth century. It is situated in the western part of Normandy, upon the small river, Vire, about five leagues to the east of Coutances; and at this time it contains nearly seven thousand inhabitants. Old chroniclers relate that the name originally given to the place was Ste Croix; but that, soon after its foundation, it exchanged that appellation for the present, upon being selected as the spot to be honored with the reception of the relics of St. Lo, or, as he is called in Latin, St. Laudus, who was the fifth bishop of Coutances, and presided over that see the greater part of the sixth century. Of the merits of the saint, the miracles he performed both living and dead, and the various places that have, at different times, received his mortal remains, a copious account is given by M. Rouault, in his History of the Bishops of Coutances. It is sufficient, in the present instance, to state, that, upon the translation of the body of St. Lo to the spot now dignified with his name, a magnificent church was built under his invocation; and the town was encompassed with fortifications of great strength, to defend it against the inroads of the Normans. These heathen plunderers had at this time just begun their ravages in Neustria, when, notwithstanding its new walls, St. Lo was soon obliged, in common with the rest of the province, to submit to their sway; and they emptied upon the Christian city the full phials of pagan wrath, by burning it to the ground.

In subsequent, and probably not distant, times, St. Lo was again converted into a place of defence; and mention of it as such repeatedly occurs in the various unquiet periods of French history. Even at the present day, when fortifications in that part of the kingdom have long been neglected, there remain sufficient vestiges of them at St. Lo, to convey the most imposing idea of their original strength, aided as they must have been, by their situation upon the summit of a lofty and inaccessible rock.—St. Lo was one of the last towns in Lower Normandy that opened their gates to the victorious arms of the Empress Maude: it remained unshaken in its allegiance till 1142, only two years before the death of the English monarch.—In the third year of the following century, it surrendered without bloodshed to Philip-Augustus, then on his march towards the capture of Mount St. Michael; nor does it appear to have offered more than a trifling resistance to Edward III. by whom it was taken in 1346. Froissart, upon that occasion, gives the following details relative to the English army, as well as to the state of the town and its capture:—“The King of England and Prince of Wales had, in their battalion, about three thousand men at arms, six thousand archers, and ten thousand infantry, without counting those that were under the marshals; and they marched in the manner I have before mentioned, burning and destroying the country, but without breaking their line of battle. They did not turn towards Coutances, but advanced to St. Lo, in Coutantin, which, in those days, was a very rich and commercial town, and worth three such towns as Coutances. In the town of St. Lo was much drapery, and many wealthy inhabitants; among them you might count eight or nine score that were engaged in commerce. When the King of England was come near the town, he encamped: he would not lodge in it for fear of fire. He sent, therefore, his advanced guard forward, who soon conquered it at a trifling loss, and completely plundered it. No one can imagine the quantity of riches they found in it, nor the number of bales of cloth. If there had been any purchasers, they might have bought them at a cheap rate.”

In 1379, when the English arms, during the minority of the second Richard, obtained in France an ephemeral superiority, St. Lo was the only town in the Côtentin, except Carentan, which the French monarch considered of sufficient strength to justify him in entrusting it with a garrison.—It was taken by the English, under Henry V. in 1418; and was again restored to the French, by capitulation, thirty-one years [105] subsequently.—In the beginning of the following tumultuous reign, St. Lo and Valognes were appointed as the places of residence for Clarence and Warwick, and the other leaders of the Lancastrian party; after their short-lived success, in favor of the deposed Henry, had been followed by their own utter defeat, and the final discomfiture of their hopes.

During the religious wars of the sixteenth century, St. Lo was once more so unfortunate as to act a prominent part. Early in the troubles, it distinguished itself by a decided devotion to the cause of Protestantism; and, though often obliged, by the current of affairs, to yield a reluctant submission to the opposite party, it continued throughout the whole of the struggle, unshaken in its attachment to the Huguenots. Hence, when finally summoned to surrender to the Catholics, in 1574, it rather chose to expose itself to all the miseries of a siege, as well as to the still greater one of being taken by assault; and the severity of its sufferings is recorded by the historians of the conquering party, who themselves admit, that “it was sacked with a horrible carnage.”[195] Its Protestant places of worship were not, however, finally rased, till 1685, the period of the revocation of the edict of Nantes.

St. Lo was the seat of an abbey of Augustine friars, said to have been founded in the middle of the twelfth century, and to have been of such celebrity, that, according to Quercetanus, the bishops of Coutances were contented for a time to be styled bishops of St. Lo.[196]The principal church in the place, that of Notre Dame, greatly resembles the cathedral of Coutances, of which it is even said to be a copy. It was not begun to be built till the period of English rule in Normandy, during the fifteenth century. The older, or clock-tower, was erected in 1430: the opposite tower and western entrance, in 1464. Other parts of it were not completed till the following century; and the northern spire is a work of as late a period as 1685.

The very ancient church of Ste Croix, (the subject of these plates,) was connected with the abbey, of which little now remains. There is a tradition in the town, that it was once a temple of Ceres; and such traditions, however uncritical or even absurd, deserve to be noticed, as generally originating in a confused knowledge of the remote date of the building to which they are attached. In the opinion of M. de Gerville, a portion, at least, of the church, belongs to the edifice raised by Charlemagne, in 805. The actual erection of such an edifice, and its dedication to the holy cross, are facts distinctly stated in the Neustria Pia: its identity with the present church does not appear to be doubted, either by Du Monstier, or the Abbé de Billy, the historian of St. Lo. At the same time, neither the one nor the other of these writers was ignorant of the positive assertion in the Gesta Normannorum, that, under those successful invaders—“Sancti Laudi castrum, interfectis habitatoribus, terræ æquatum est.” But, in opposition to this, M. de Gerville contends that, either this strong assertion is to be received with a certain degree of latitude, or that, by the word castrum, is to be understood only the citadel; so that, while that was destroyed, the domestic and religious edifices were suffered to escape. He even thinks that the parts of the building ascribable to the period of the Carlovingian dynasty, may be distinguished by a practised eye, from the reparations of the eleventh century. He traces them especially in the western front, in its door-way, (plate eighty-seven) and in some herring-bone masonry, observable over a narrow circular-headed window towards the south. But he founds his opinion still more upon the bas-relief, representing the Deity attended by angels, (plate eighty-eight, fig. B.) now built into the wall at the end of the nave, on the south side. The character of the sculpture and the form of the letters appear to him to be almost decisive. With regard to the latter, he observes;—“it is well known that the Roman characters were restored by Charlemagne, especially after he had been proclaimed emperor. This fact is sufficiently attested by [106] the various monuments still left us of his time, as well as by the coins which were struck in the latter part of his reign, and during that of Louis le Débonnaire. Elegance and simplicity in the shape of the letters, characterized the writing of this epoch; and the latter, at least, of these qualities, is eminently to be found in the inscription at St. Lo. On the other hand, correct orthography was not equally one of the excellencies of the age.”

Holy Cross at St. Lo. Sculpture.

Plate 88. Church of the Holy Cross at St. Lo.

Pursuing the subject yet farther, M. de Gerville gives it as his opinion, that the different epochs in the architecture, commonly designated as Norman, may be determined with some degree of precision; and he thinks he can trace, in several churches of the vicinity, an evident imitation of this at St. Lo; while he regards the superior antiquity of the latter decisively established by the sculpture over the western entrance; by the medallion of the Deity, already noticed; and by several of the capitals of the interior; particularly those that have reference to the legends of St. Eloy, (plate eighty-eight, fig. F.) and St. Hubert, (fig. D.), both at that period quite recent; and two of the others, (fig C. and E.) in the latter of which, the devil is roasting unfortunate sinners, while the former, exhibiting the psychostasia, affords a graphic illustration of two lines of the well-known hymn of the Roman Catholic church:—

“Statera facta corporis,
Prædamque tulit Tartari.”

In the western front of the church of Ste Croix have been inserted, above the door-way, three windows of the earliest pointed style. The whole of the sculpture over the architraves of the arch, is, both in its design and execution, curious. The knotted serpents, terminating at either end in heads of devils; the two men tugging at rings, attached to a chain twisted round the neck of a decapitated demon, whom, two dogs are baying; and the structure of the chain itself, are all peculiar; and scarcely less so is the medallion below.[197]—The church ends at the east with a large circular arch, which is now closed, and has always been so since the memory of man; but probably, at some former time, it led into a chancel or sanctuary. There is a south transept, which terminates in a similar arch: the arches of the nave, which are likewise circular, are each of them surrounded with a double architrave of the zig-zag moulding: the capitals to the pillars supporting these arches, Mr. Cotman considers as being for the greater part of the best class of Norman sculpture. He has selected for engraving those that are most rude: the others commonly exhibit broad interlaced bands, foliage, and fruits. The abaci, too, though they are in general plain, are in some instances enriched with similar sculpture, as in the churches of Grâville, of Cerisy, and of the Holy Trinity at Caen. In the clerestory, over every arch below, were originally two smaller semi-circular-headed arches; but these are now closed, and their place is occupied by a single, narrow, pointed window, that opens into a large recess. The corbels without, (plate eighty-eight, fig. A.) may bear a comparison, in point of singularity, with those of any other Norman church. The [107] sacred emblem of the Christian faith, the wimpled nun, the whiskered Saxon, and the wolf, the scourge of Neustria, are found among them, side by side with the Atlas and Cyclops of heathen mythology; and, as if the legends of Rome and Greece could not furnish sufficient subjects for the sculptor's chisel, he appears to have extended his researches into the more remote regions, bordering upon the Nile, and thence to have imported a rude imitation of the Egyptian head, and one still more rude, of the mystic Scarabæus.


[195] St. Lo was then commanded by M. Colombieres, who was so resolute in the cause, that, rather than surrender, he placed himself in the middle of the breach, with his two young sons, on either side of him, each holding a javelin in his hand, and then awaited the attack, exhorting his children to perish bravely, rather than be left to infidels and apostates. The Catholic army was headed by M. de Matignon, who had, on a former occasion, distinguished himself by his lenity towards the inhabitants of the place. The lordship of St. Lo, with the title of a barony, continued in his family as late as the year 1722, when Masseville published his History of Normandy.

[196] For the following details, and indeed the greater part of the remainder of this article, the author has to express his obligations to M. de Gerville, whose kind assistance, throughout the whole of the work, cannot be too often, or too distinctly, acknowledged.

[197] The bas-relief upon this medallion represents the most impressive of the miracles connected with the history of St. Lo, and one that was performed at the very moment when he was about to enter upon the duties of his episcopacy, to which, by a manifest interposition of the Deity, he had been elected at the early age of twelve years. Rouault, in his Abrégé de la Vie des Evêques de Coutances, p. 81, gives the following details respecting it; and his account, which is curious, is here inserted, as adding probability to the opinion of M. de Gerville, that this medallion at least belonged to the original structure, whatever may be thought of the rest of the church.—“Comme l'élection et la consécration de S. Lo avoient été miraculeuses, Dieu fit voir par des signes qui n'étoient pas moins surprenants que tout s'étoit fait selon sa volonté: car à la première entrée que le jeune Prélat fit dans son Eglise, la divine Puissance voulut prouver à St. Gildard, aux autres Prélats qui étoient encore presents, et à toute l'Eglise de Coûtances, que tout ce qu'ils avoient fait lui étoit très-agréable. Ce qui fut confirmé par un Miracle des plus éclatans dans la personne d'une Femme aveugle née, qui s'étant faite conduire à la porte de la Cathédrale, y attendoit le nouvel Evêque, dans l'esperance de recevoir la vüe par son intercession. En effet, lorsqu'elle apprit qu'il approchoit, elle le conjura à haute voix de lui faire voir la lumiere. Le Saint frappé d'une telle demande en rougit, et crut que c'étoit tenter Dieu que d'attendre de lui des Miracles. Mais cette pauvre femme ne cessant de crier comme l'Aveugle de l'Evangile, le Saint poussa un profond soupir, et ayant plus d'égard à la foi de la suppliante qu'à son propre mérite, il invoqua le secours du saint Esprit, fit avec confiance le signe de la croix sur les yeux de l'Aveugle, et au même instant la vüe lui fut renduë à la grande admiration de tous les assistans, qui bénirent et remerciérent Dieu de leur avoir donné un Pasteur qui prouvoit sa vocation par un si grand Miracle, en reconnoissance duquel on éleva au même lieu deux Statuës, l'une de Saint Lo, et l'autre de la femme guérie, telles qu'on les voit encore aujourd'hui au Portail de l'Eglise, où on a aussi conservé fort soigneusement la Pierre sur laquelle étoit Saint Lo lorsqu'il opera ce Miracle. C'est encore sur elle que les Seigneurs Evêques de Coûtances s'arrêtent à leur premiere entrée, pour faire les sermens et promesses accoutumées en pareille Céremonie, et qu'ils y reçoivent les complimens et applaudissemens de la Ville, pour conserver la mémoire d'un si grand Miracle.”



Castle of Falaise.

Plate 89. Castle of Falaise.
North West View.

Whoever can take pleasure in the wildest extravagancies of absurd fiction, displayed in theories destitute of even the slender basis of tradition, yet raised with plausibility, connected with ingenuity, and supported by learning, may find abundant gratification in the early history of Falaise. The town, as stated in a manuscript gazetteer of Normandy, written in the seventeenth century, was not only among the most ancient in Gaul, but was founded by one of the grandsons of Noah. According to another yet more grave authority, its antiquity soars still higher, and mounts to the period of the deluge itself. It so far exceeds that of the Roman empire, that, long before the building of the immortal city, colonies were sent from Falaise into Italy, where they were known by the Aborigines, under the names of Falisci, or Falerii. A third writer, M. Langevin, author of the Recherches Historiques sur Falaise, assures his readers that Falaise was, from time immemorial, a station consecrated to religion; and, in a dissertation full of the most recondite information relative to the worship of Belenus and Abrasax, Isis and Felé, he so connects and intermingles the rites of those deities with the place and its vicinity, that he can scarcely be said to do it less honor than his predecessors.

To turn from historians of this sanguine complexion to those of a more sober temperament, there will appear no reason for believing that the town of Falaise had existence prior to the incursions of the Saxons, or the establishment of the Normans, in Neustria. No mention of it whatever is to be found previous to the latter of these times; and its very name, obviously derived from the German word for a rock, fels, whence the French subsequently borrowed their appellation for cliffs, falaise, seems decisive as to the foundation of the town by some people of Teutonic origin. It is at the same time altogether characteristic of its situation.

That Falaise was built by the Saxons, may probably, with justice, be inferred from the fact of its being casually mentioned during the reign of Rollo, as one of the places through which he passed in the year 912, while visiting the different parts of his duchy. The town cannot but have been of importance in the time of his son, William Longue-Epée; as that prince is stated to have received great assistance from the inhabitants of Falaise, and the district of the Hiémois, when engaged in a war with the people of Brittany. It is more than possible that the fortifications were added, and the castle erected, by one or the other of these sovereigns.[198] Their immediate successor, Richard Sans-Peur, is stated to have made considerable additions to the works of the place, which, in the early part of the following century, under Richard III. the fifth of the Norman dukes, was unquestionably one of the strongest holds of the province. Not long afterwards, Falaise rose into new importance, as the residence of Robert, father to the Conqueror, and the birth-place of that sovereign himself, to whom it rendered acceptable [108] service during his youth, upon the occasion of the formidable conspiracy of the Norman barons, headed by Guy de Bourgogne, in 1046. The prince, then at Valognes, escaped with difficulty from the poniards of the assassins to Falaise, where he was received with open arms. Falaise was at that time the capital of the Hiémois. In the reign of Henry II. of England, the castle was used as a state prison, and was selected as the place of confinement of Robert, Earl of Leicester, when taken prisoner in 1173, commanding the French forces in England. At a subsequent, but not far distant period, Brito, the poetical chronicler of the deeds of Philip-Augustus, in speaking of the final subjection of Normandy to that king, mentions the town of Falaise and its capture, in the following verses:—

“Vicus erat scabrâ circumdatus undique rupe,
Ipsius asperitate loci Falæsa vocatus,
Normannæ in medio regionis, cujus in altâ
Turres rupe sedent et mœnia, sic ut ad illam
Jactus nemo putet aliquos contingere posse.
Hunc rex innumeris circumdedit undique signis,
Perque dies septem varia instrumenta parabat,
Mœnibus ut fractis villâ potiatur et arcâ:
Verùm burgenses et præcipue Lupicarus,
Cui patriæ curam dederat rex Anglicus omnem,
Elegere magis illæsum reddere castrum,
Omni re salvâ cum libertatis honore,
Quàm belli tentare vices et denique vinci.”

The foregoing was the fourth of the nine sieges that have rendered the name of Falaise memorable in Norman history. The first of them had taken place in 1027, when Falaise presumed to shelter Robert, the father of the Conqueror, during his rebellion against his brother, Duke Richard III. In point of importance, none of the sieges were equal to those of 1417 and 1589. Upon the former of those occasions, Henry V. flushed by the success that had unremittingly attended his arms, since his glorious victory at Agincourt, led his troops in person against the town, which he expected would fall an easy prey. But it resisted an incessant bombardment for three months, and did not finally surrender, till the fortifications had sustained such essential injuries, that the repairing of them by the besieged, at their own charge, was made one of the leading articles of the capitulation. It was upon this occasion, that the lofty circular tower, one of the principal objects in both these plates, was added to the castle. Tradition ascribes its erection to the celebrated English general, Talbot, then governor of the town; and, even to the present day, it bears his name.[199]

The last siege of Falaise, that of December, 1589, was occasioned by the devoted adherence of the inhabitants to the League, and their consequent refusal to recognize Henry IV. as their sovereign, on account of his attachment to the Protestant faith. In defence of their creed, they had already sustained one siege in the month of July of the same year; and, headed by the Count de Brissac, governor of the castle, had repulsed the royal troops under the command of the Duke de Montpensier. But the new sovereign was not a man to be trifled with; and when Brissac, upon being summoned to surrender, replied, according to the words of De Thou, “religione se prohiberi; sumpto quippe Dominici corporis sacramento, fidem suis obligâsse de deditione se prorsùs non acturum;” the king is reported, by the same noble historian, to have returned in answer, “se menses ad totidem dies contracturum, intra quos illum, sed magno suo cum damno, religione soluturus esset.” The garrison, notwithstanding these threats, did not relax in their opposition, and the town was finally taken by assault, the frost enabling the assailants to cross the moat. On this, the Count de Brissac retired to the castle, which he surrendered about a month afterwards.

Falaise appears in the religious annals of Normandy, as the seat of an abbey, founded in 1127, and first occupied by regular canons of the order of St. Augustine, and placed under the invocation of St. Michael, the Archangel; but shortly afterwards transferred to the Præmonstratensian friars, and dedicated to St. John the Baptist. The monastery is said to have taken its rise from an hospital, established [109] by a wealthy inhabitant, in consequence of a beggar having died of cold and hunger in his barn. A bull from Pope Sextus IV. dated in 1475, conferred upon the abbots the privilege of wearing the mitre, ring, and pontifical insignia, together with various other honorary distinctions. The revolution deprived Falaise of its abbey and eight churches. It now retains only four; two within the walls, and two in the suburbs. Its population is estimated at about ten thousand inhabitants.

Castle of Falaise.

Plate 90. Castle of Falaise.
North View.

The castle of Falaise is with justice regarded by Mr. Turner, as one of the proudest relics of Norman antiquity. The following description of it, as more copious than any other that has yet appeared, is transcribed verbatim from the Tour[200] of that author:—“It is situated on a very bold and lofty rock, broken into singular and fantastic masses, and covered with luxurious vegetation. The keep which towers above it is of excellent masonry: the stones are accurately squared, and put together with great neatness, and the joints are small; and the arches are turned clearly and distinctly, with the key-stone or wedge accurately placed in all of them. Some parts of the wall, towards the interior ballium, are not built of squared freestone; but of the dark stone of the country, disposed in a zig-zag, or, as it is more commonly called, in a herring-bone direction, with a great deal of mortar in the interstices: the buttresses, or rather piers, are of small projection, but great width. The upper story, destroyed about forty years since, was of a different style of architecture. According to an old print,[201] it terminated with a large battlement, and bartizan towers at the angles. This dungeon was formerly divided into several apartments, in one of the lower of which was found, about half a century ago, a very ancient tomb, of good workmanship, ornamented with a sphynx at each end, but bearing no inscription whatever. Common report ascribed the coffin to Talbot, who was for many years governor of the castle; and at length an individual engraved upon it an epitaph to his honor: but the fraud was discovered, and the sarcophagus put aside, as of no account. The second, or principal, story of the keep, now forms a single square room, about fifty feet wide, lighted by circular-headed windows, each divided into two by a short and massy central pillar, whose capital is altogether Norman. On one of the capitals is sculptured a child leading a lamb,[202] a representation, as it is foolishly said, of the Conqueror, whom tradition alledges to have been born in the apartment to which this window belonged: another pillar has an elegant capital, composed of interlaced bands.—Connected with the dungeon by a stone staircase is a small apartment, very much dilapidated, but still retaining a portion of its original facing of Caen stone. It was from the window of this apartment, as the story commonly goes, that Duke Robert first saw the beautiful Arlette, drawing water from the streamlet below, and was enamoured of her charms, and took her to his bed.—According to another version of the tale, the earliest interview between the prince and his fair mistress, took place as Robert was returning from the chace, with his mind full of anger against the inhabitants of Falaise, for having presumed to kill the deer which he had commanded should be preserved for his royal pastime. In this offence the curriers of the town had borne the principal share, and they were therefore principally marked out for punishment. But, fortunately for them, Arlette, the daughter of one Verpray, the most culpable of the number, met the offended Duke while riding through the street, and with her beauty so fascinated him, that she not only obtained the pardon of her father and his associates, but became his mistress, and continued so as long as he lived. From her, if we may give credence to the old chroniclers, is derived our English word, harlot. The fruit of their union was William the Conqueror, whose illegitimate birth, and the low extraction of his mother, served on more than one occasion as a pretext for conspiracies against his throne, and were frequently the subject of personal mortification to himself.—The walls in this part of the castle are from eight to nine feet thick. A portion of them has been hollowed out, so as to form a couple of small rooms. The old door-way of the keep is at the angle; the returns are reeded, ending in a square impost; the arch above is destroyed.—Talbot's tower, thus called from having been built by that general, in 1430 and the two subsequent years, is connected with the keep by means of a long passage with lancet windows, that widen greatly [110] inwards. It is more than one hundred feet high, and is a beautiful piece of masonry, as perfect, apparently, as on the day when it was erected, and as firm as the rock on which it stands. This tower is ascended by a staircase concealed within the substance of the walls, whose thickness is full fifteen feet towards the base, and does not decrease more than three feet near the summit. Another aperture in them serves for a well, which thus communicates with every apartment in the tower. Most of the arches in this tower have circular heads: the windows are square.—The walls and towers which encircle the keep are of much later date; the principal gate-way is pointed. Immediately on entering, is seen the very ancient chapel, dedicated to St. Priscus, or, as he is called in French, St. Prix. The east end with three circular-headed windows, retains its original lines: the masonry is firm and good. Fantastic corbels surround the summit of the lateral walls. Within, a semi-circular arch resting upon short pillars with sculptured capitals, divides the choir from the nave. In other respects the building has been much altered. Henry V. repaired it in 1418, and it has been since dilapidated and restored. A pile of buildings beyond, wholly modern in the exterior, is now inhabited as a seminary, or college. There are some circular arches within, which shew that these buildings belonged to the original structure.—Altogether the castle is a noble ruin. Though the keep is destitute of the enrichments of Norwich or Castle-Rising, it possesses an impressive character of strength, which is much increased by the extraordinary freshness of the masonry. The fosses of the castle are planted with lofty trees, which shade and intermingle with the towers and ramparts; and on every side they groupe themselves with picturesque beauty. It is said that the municipality intend to restore Talbot's tower and the keep, by replacing the demolished battlements; but I should hope that no other repairs may take place, except such as may be necessary for the preservation of the edifice; and I do not think it needs any, except the insertion of clamps in the central columns of two of the windows, which are much shattered.”


[198] At the same time that no record whatever has been preserved relative to the date of the building of the castle at Falaise, the Norman chroniclers have carefully recorded the æras of the erection of the other castles in the neighborhood. That of Domfront, according to them, was built a.d. 1011 and 1014, by the Counts of Alençon; that of Caen, by William the Conqueror, but much increased by his son, Henry I.; that of Vignats, a league and a half from Falaise, about the year 1096, during the dukedom of Robert, by Robert of Montgomery, Count of Alençon, and Viscount of Hiêmes and of Falaise; and that of Argentan, by Henry I. King of England, by way of protection against his son-in-law, Geoffrey Plantagenet.—Recherches Historiques sur Falaise, p. 22.

[199] According to Langevin, p. 30, Talbot likewise added to the castle, some noble apartments, ornamented with paintings, which also passed under his name, and of which some portions were still standing a few years ago.

[200] Vol. II. p. 266.

[201] This print has lately been copied into Mr. Dibdin's Tour, vol. II. p. 11.

[202] Mr. Turner appears to be in error with regard to this capital: Mr. Cotman, who examined it more attentively, found the child to be holding two animals in a leash; and he supposes them to be greyhounds, comparing them with a very similar piece of sculpture upon one of the capitals in the bishop's palace, in the castle at Durham, erected by the Conqueror.—See Carter's Ancient Architecture, I. pl. 17, fig. P.



Interior of the Church of Creully.

Plate 91. Interior of the Church of Creully.

Creully, whose church has been here selected for publication, as a favorable specimen of genuine Norman architecture, is a small market-town of the diocese of Bayeux, situated about six miles to the east of the city of that name, and fifteen miles north-west of Caen. It is an ancient barony, having been honored with that distinction by Henry I. in favor of his natural son, the Earl of Glocester, many of whose descendants, according to Masseville, were still living in Normandy in the eighteenth century, and bore the name of Creully. The same author makes mention of the Lords of Creully, on more than one occasion, in the course of his Norman history.—They are to be found in the list of the barons that accompanied Duke Robert to the Holy Land, in 1099; and when the Genoese, in 1390, called upon the King of France for succours against the infidels of the coast of Barbary, and the pious monarch sent an army to their relief, under the command of the Duke of Bourbon, the name of the Seigneur de Creully stands prominent among those who embarked upon that unfortunate expedition. Again, in 1302, the Baron of Creully held the fifth place among the nine lords from the bailiwick of Caen, who were summoned to sit in the Norman exchequer.

From the days of the Earl of Glocester to the breaking out of the French revolution, the barony of Creully continued to be held by different noble families. In the early part of the eighteenth century, when Masseville published his work, it was in the hands of the heirs of M. de Seigneley-Colbert, who likewise possessed other considerable domains in Normandy. The last that had the title was a member of the family of Montmorenci.—His emigration caused the estate to be confiscated, and sold as national property; but the baronial castle is now standing, and displays, in two of its towers, and in a chimney of unusual form, a [111] portion of its ancient character. The rest of the building is modernized into a spruce, comfortable residence, which, in 1818, was occupied by an English general of the name of Hodgson.[203]

The writer of this article has met with no records connected with the church of Creully.—Externally, it is wholly modernized; but within, the nave, side-aisles, and choir, are all purely Norman, except at the extremities. The piers are very massy; the arches wide and low; the capitals covered with rude, but remarkable sculpture, which is varied on every pillar; and the walls are of extraordinary thickness.


[203] Turner's Tour in Normandy, II. p. 264.



Cathedral Church of Notre Dame, at Coutances.

Plates 92-93. Cathedral Church of Notre Dame, at Coutances.
West Front.

The diocese of Coutances, embracing the north-western portion of Celtic Gaul, appears to have been the last part of the country that was visited by the light of Christianity; but its historians boast that the tardy approach of the rays of gospel-truth has been more than compensated by their subsequent brilliancy; for that in no other of the Norman dioceses has the sun of revelation blazed with equal splendor, or given birth to fruits of equal excellence. Thus, according to Rouault,[204] as early as the fifth century, and during the whole of the two following, and a portion of the eighth, the Côtentin was so celebrated, by reason of the great number of saints, who were either natives of the country, or had retired thither as to a place of safe retreat, that it was regarded as being honored with the divine favor, beyond any other district in France. No fewer than fifteen holy men, enshrined in the Roman calendar, are said to have resided there at or near the same period; and, while their lustre irradiated the episcopal mitre, its beams extended to the remote fastnesses of the desert of Scycy, near Granville, then celebrated for the sanctity of its hermits. At a time not long subsequent, St. Algeronde and Theodoric, both of them bishops of Coutances, and the martyrs, Leo, Philip, and Gervais, three natives of Carentan, became principal instruments towards the conversion of the heathen Normans. History also records, that it was in the house of St. Clair, one of the protectors of this diocese, that the treaty was finally concluded, in conformity with which, the chief of the infidels was, with his followers, admitted within the pale of the church.

The foundation of the see of Coutances is commonly supposed to have taken place about the middle of the fifth century, during the latter years of the papacy of Celestine I. and of the reign of Pharamond, in France. The see lays claim to the proud distinction of having enriched the beatified calendar with the names of at least fifteen of its bishops; of having added one to the list of the successors of St. Peter; of having supplied six cardinals to the holy college; and of having produced an equal number of martyrs. And if to this catalogue, already great, be joined the many anchorites of Scycy and of Nanteuil, who have been promoted to the episcopal dignity, a whole legend, to use the words of a pious author, may be filled with the lives and the miracles of the holy men of Coutances.

In turning from the ecclesiastical to the secular annals of the diocese, the barons of the Côtentin scarcely occupy a less distinguished place. The histories of the Crusades, in particular, abound with their exploits. Hauteville, near Coutances, boasts to have given birth and title to Tancred, of immortal memory; who, either himself, or by his descendants, founded the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily, and reigned over almost the whole of Italy; while, with their victorious forces, they exterminated the Saracens, protected the holy see, supported the Cretans in the east, and carried their conquering arms to the utmost confines of the Greek empire. To them, also, the chivalrous institution of the Golden Fleece owes its origin; and so extraordinary were their exploits, that they might pass for fabulous, had they occurred in a more remote age, and did not the concurring testimony of historians unite to stamp them with the seal of truth.

[112]According to the ecclesiastical division of France before the revolution, the diocese of Coutances was bounded to the south by that of Avranches, and to the east by that of Bayeux, while, in the two remaining divisions, its limits were circumscribed by the ocean.[205] At present, it includes the whole department of La Manche; the suppression of the bishopric of Avranches having added considerably to its extent.—In Roman Gaul, Coutances was included in the province called the Lugdunensis secunda: but, on the subject of the foundation or early history of the city, authors are, as commonly happens, much at variance, ascribing to it, according to their fancies or their prejudices, very different degrees of antiquity. Those who are most disposed to do it honor in this respect, contend that it was the capital of the tribe mentioned by Cæsar, in his Commentaries, under the name of Unelli; and called by Pliny, Venelli; and by Ptolemy, Veneli. They are guided in this opinion exclusively by locality. Others, with a greater appearance of probability, at least as far as any reliance may be placed upon etymology, maintain that Coutances had no existence before the days of the Emperor, Constantius Chlorus, father to Constantine the Great. There have also not been wanting writers who have referred its origin to Constantine himself, or who have maintained that it was indebted for its name to its constant and vigorous opposition to the Roman power. The second of these opinions appears to have obtained general credence in the time of Ordericus Vitalis, who, in speaking of Constantius, expressly says, “Hic in Neustriâ civitatem condidit, quam a nomine suo Constantiam nominavit.” Ammianus Marcellinus adds strength to the same belief, when he calls Coutances, Constantia castra. It is probable that the city was in reality the seat of the Emperor's camp, at the time when he was about to lead his forces into Britain.

Of the future progress of the town, and the steps by which it rose to its present eminence, no account whatever is left. History, so profuse in details respecting many other places in Normandy, far inferior in size and in distinction, has done little more with regard to the capital of the Côtentin, than record the bare facts,—that it was pillaged by the Normans in 888; was sold by Duke Robert to his brother, Henry I. in 1087; was taken by the Count of Anjou, in the twelfth year of the following century; was, thirty years subsequently, surrendered to the Empress Maude; was wrested from John, by Philip-Augustus, in 1202; in 1418, opened its gates to the victorious arms of Henry V.; and, after remaining for thirty-one years in the hands of the English, was finally re-united to the crown of France. In 1465, Coutances lost its military character: its walls were then destroyed, and the fortifications rased, by order of Louis XI. as a punishment upon the inhabitants for their conduct, in aiding the treasonable attempt of Charles, the brother of the monarch, to obtain forcible possession of the dukedom of Normandy.[206] Not long subsequently, Francis I. gladdened the city with the royal presence, on his return from his pilgrimage to Mont St. Michel, in 1487; and his grandson, Henry III. bestowed upon it the distinction of being the capital of the bailiwick; soon after which, it suffered severely during the religious wars, especially when it fell into the power of the Calvinists, in 1562. Those merciless religionists pillaged it with an unsparing hand, even consigning a portion of it to the flames: they sacked the churches, and carried off the prelate, whom they forced to accompany them upon an ass, with his face turned to its tail.

Of the bishops of Coutances, it will be sufficient here to mention three—Richard de Longueuil, who was nominated in 1455, one of the four commissioners to revise the process of the Maid of Arc, and declared her [113] innocent; Nicholas de Briroy, who, at the end of the following century, obtained from the Pope, Paul V. in return for his extensive charities, the enviable title of Father of the Poor; and Geoffrey de Montbray, a prelate honored with the especial favor of the Conqueror, to whom he frequently rendered the most essential service, as well in arms as in peace. He it was, who performed mass in the Norman camp, preparatory to the battle of Hastings, and who preached at the coronation of the monarch, from whom he is said, by Ordericus Vitalis, to have received no fewer than two hundred and eighty manors in England.

The present population of Coutances amounts to between eight and nine thousand inhabitants. The remains of the noble aqueduct in the neighborhood, though commonly ascribed to the times of Roman power, are said to be with more justice referable to a nobleman of the family of Haye-Paisnel, and to have been erected in the thirteenth century. The principal feature and great ornament of the city is its noble cathedral, which, regarded as a whole, may, in the opinion of M. de Gerville, challenge a comparison with any other in France. Its architecture, according to the same able antiquary, affords a satisfactory proof that the pointed arch was really used in France, full half a century before the epoch generally assigned to its introduction. Upon this latter subject, there has already been an opportunity of speaking in the present work, while treating of the Church of Lisieux; and the opinion there stated by Mr. Turner, must be allowed to derive the strongest confirmation from the cathedral of Coutances. The point is one that has frequently exercised the ingenuity of architects, and of the learned: the concluding portion, therefore, of this article, will be principally devoted to that subject.[207]

It was, in the twelfth century, according to Mr. Whittington, that “the pointed arch began to shew itself in the edifices of France and the neighboring countries;” and, having originated in the east, naturally followed this direction in its course towards England. On the other hand, the sentiments of another, at least equally learned, author, the reverend Dr. Milner, have been given on more than one occasion, that the architecture, commonly denominated Gothic, really commenced in England, but did not appear till after the year 1130; the pointed arches in the church of St. Cross, erected by Henry of Blois, bishop of Winchester, and brother of King Stephen, being probably the earliest specimen of the kind that is any where to be found. M. de Gerville combats this latter opinion, by adducing the churches of Mortain and of Coutances; the first of them, like St. Cross, an example of the mixed style, its upper arches being semi-circular, its lower pointed; the other, wholly of the latter description. The church of Mortain was founded in 1082, and must have been sufficiently finished for the performance of divine worship, within nine years after that period; as it is expressly recorded that Geoffrey de Montbray, bishop of Coutances, who died in 1093, was present at the ceremony of the consecration. With regard to the cathedral of Coutances, there is fortunately in existence a highly-curious document, written by an eye-witness to the building of the church, and printed in the Gallia Christiana[208] from the black book or chartulary of the diocese, which was compiled by order of John d'Essey, who wore the mitre in the middle of the thirteenth century. The memoir commences by reciting a portion of the hardships undergone by the see of Coutances, in common with other parts of the north of France, from the Norman invasion; and then tells how Herbert II. who succeeded to the episcopal throne in 1020, expelled, as useless and illiterate, the canons in possession of the church of Coutances, and took the whole of the ecclesiastical revenues into his own hands, because “sibi minùs urbani minùsque faceti videbantur!” It goes on to state, that his successor, Robert, far from restoring what had been seized under so extraordinary a plea, alienated the property by parcelling it out among his kindred; but that, notwithstanding this, a beginning was made in his time towards the erection of the church, which was founded by the Countess Gonora, widow of Duke Richard II. with the aid of contributions from various quarters.[209]

[114]To Robert, in the year of our Lord, 1048, succeeded the celebrated Geoffrey de Montbray, who finally completed the great work commenced by his predecessor. The first stone of the cathedral had been laid in 1030; the dedication took place in 1056, and was performed in the presence of the Duke himself, the archbishop, his suffragans, and a large proportion of the Norman nobility. Some English barons likewise crossed the sea to attend upon the occasion. The vigor of Geoffrey's character was never more strikingly exemplified, than in connection with this fabric.[210] In the earliest years of his prelacy, he undertook a voyage to Apulia, for the express purpose of obtaining from Robert Guischard, and his companions in arms, pecuniary assistance towards the building; and, during the whole course of a long life, he appears to have been unremitting in his endeavors to add whatever might contribute to its dignity, its splendour, and its utility.[211] The following lines, traced by his dying hand, well mark the man himself, and the temper of the age, and the prevalence of the ruling passion:—“Gaufridus, misericordia Dei, Constantiensis episcopus, omnibus sub christiana regeneratione degentibus, tam clericis quam laïcis, salutem, prosperitatem et pacem. Constantiensem ecclesiam quam hucusque licet indigne tenueram, tamen miserante Deo, populo meæ pravitatis augmentum et honorare studui, et extrema...... eam amplius factis adjuvare nequeo verbis quantum tutari et defensare cupio. Quicumque igitur qui sub christiana professione vocatus, præfatam ecclesiam honorare, consolari et defensare voluerit, auctoritate Domini nostri Jesu Christi ejusque sanctissimæ genetricis, in apostolica nostraque confirmatione benedictus, ab eodem Domino nostro Jesu Christo omnium bonorum retributore mercedem recipiat in futuro, et anima ejus inter choros angelorum et archangelorum, apostolorum et martyrum, confessorum et virginum requiem possideat in paradiso. Quod si aliquis irreverens et contumeliosus, avaritiæ vel cupiditatis stimulis agitatus, eam de terris suis, sive legibus et consuetudinibus, sive ornamentis absque justa et necessaria eidem ecclesiæ ratione et clericorum assensione, minorari et decurtare præsumpserit, ab his omnibus suprascriptis ordinibus maledictus, et perpetuæ damnationis anathemate circumseptus, priusquam vita decedat terribilissimi divini examinis judicio prosequente, omnibus in commune tanti sacrilegii violator appareat, et in perpetuum cum Juda traditore, et Herode, Pilato et Caipha, cunctisque sanctæ ecclesiæ adversariis ignem æternum possideat, semperque cum diabolo et angelis ejus crucietur, nec ullam in secula seculorum misericordiæ scintillam mereatur, nisi priusquam anima illa tenebrosa de corpore exierit resipuerit, et ad satisfactionem venerit. Fiat, amen.”

And the clergy were not wanting in their endeavors to do honor to the memory of so noble a benefactor. As the Roman historians and the Mantuan bard concur in attesting the various prodigies that foretold the [115] approaching end of Julius Cæsar, so the monkish chroniclers relate that earth and sky united in presaging the death of Geoffrey; and, though they could not succeed in obtaining for his name admission into the calendar, they would allow of no doubt as to his reception into heaven; the details of which were communicated in a vision to one of the monks of Cerisy.—“There appeared to me,” said the monk, “a palace of transcendent magnificence, in which a queen was seated, of more than earthly beauty, surrounded by a numerous court; and, while each in his turn was making his obeisance, suddenly a messenger arrived, exclaiming aloud, ‘Madam, Geoffrey, bishop of Coutances, is here, and is at this moment mounting the steps of the palace.’ No sooner were the tidings heard, than she descended from her seat to meet the prelate; and, having welcomed him with a most gracious salutation, caused her attendants to disrobe him of his cope and boots, and then, taking the veil from her own head, wiped the wounds upon his body, and, leading him by the hand, conducted him to her room of state, and placed him near to herself upon the throne.” The decease of the prelate, which took place on the following day, left no doubt as to the interpretation or the inspiration of the vision.

Of the identity of the church built by Geoffrey with that now standing, it is impossible to entertain a reasonable doubt. The details, and they are many, contained in the document above quoted, all correspond with the present building. A still more decisive proof is afforded by the silence of succeeding historians, who could never have passed unnoticed so important a fact as the rebuilding of a cathedral, the repairs of which they have recorded on various occasions. The principal of these took place during the prelacy of Sylvester de la Corvelle, and were occasioned by the wars of Edward III. in the course of which, the edifice incurred the most imminent danger, and would probably have been destroyed in 1356, had not the timely arrival of the French troops caused the invading army to raise the siege of the city. A battering ram, used upon that occasion, was still shewed in Coutances, in the beginning of the last century. The king of France bestowed upon the chapter, in 1372, a sum of six hundred livres, in gold, for the express purpose of repairing the church, “bellis attritâ et imminutâ.” At that time the Lady-Chapel was added; the great windows were inserted in the aisles; the exterior part of the choir towards the palace was built; and a portion of the work of the western front, between the towers, was repaired, and probably altered. This last has in particular tended to mislead the antiquary;—but to sum up the account, in the words of M. de Gerville,—“En y regardant plus attentivement, un antiquaire exercé facilement démêlera l'ancienne partie de l'édifice, qui est encore de beaucoup la plus considérable. Cette ancienne partie offre un modèle bien caractérisé de fenêtres en lancettes. C'est surtout aux deux tours occidentales qu'on en voit des plus étroites. Celles de la tour, ou lanterne, sont géminées. Ces lancettes, que les antiquaires Anglois rapportent au regne de Henry II. se montrent ici dans un édifice antérieur à ce prince de prés d'un siècle; et, ce qui est encore plus surprénant, elles y sont sans aucun mélange d'architecture Romane ou Saxonne.”[212]

Cathedral Church of Notre Dame, at Coutances.

Plate 94. Cathedral Church of Notre Dame, at Coutances.
Elevation of the Nave.

[116]In the interior of the building, (plate ninety-four) the same uniformity of style prevails as in the exterior; and if, in conjunction with the cathedral of Coutances, be considered that of Lisieux, a contemporary building, and so much alike in character, that it may reasonably be doubted if they were not the production of the same architect, it will scarcely be assuming too much, to say that the date of the introduction of the pointed architecture in France, may safely be placed as early as the middle of the eleventh century.


[204] Abrégé de l'Histoire des Evêques de Coutances, p. 48.

[205] At that time, its length was twenty-five leagues, and its width ten, without comprising the islands of Guernsey and Jersey, over which it still held a titular sway. In it were included the district of the Côtentin; the city of Coutances; the towns of St. Lo, Granville, Carentan, Vallognes, and Cherbourg; twenty-four smaller market towns; four archdeaconries; twenty-two rural deaneries; ten abbeys; twenty-four other convents; and five hundred and fifty parishes. The chapter consisted of twenty-six canons and eight dignitaries.

[206] The following are the words of Robertus Cenalis upon this subject:—“Carolo, Ludovici XI. germano, quorundam procerum principumque suggestione ducatum Normanniæ non precario, sed vi impense ambiente, cum via sibi per posticum episcopalis domus aperta esset, rex idcirco indignatus incolis qui a fide defecerant, cavit decreto suo in pœnam criminis, quod funditus a solo everterentur civitatis mœnia, quæ nulla vel pretii, vel precum sollicitatione restitui potuerunt.”—Cenalis then proceeds to say,—“Habet in templi sui meditullio merito suspiciendum spectaculum miræ architecturæ contextum, e cujus abside si quis lapillum dejecerit, nunquam a puncto designato ultra citrave dimovebitur instar laternæ vitreæ in sublime erectum: vitream arcem merito dixeris, opus sane venustum et elegans. Urbem præterea insigniter ornat aquæductus ad milliaris semissem, ingenti impensa et opera arcuatim suppositis fornicibus longo ductu protensus, cujus artificii ope civitas alluitur et rigatur. Denique si mœnibus conclusa foret, quis vetet civitatem illam Constantinopolim Neustriæ maritimæ appellari!”—Gallia Christiana, p. 863.

[207] In the following part of the description of the church of Coutances, considerable use has been made of a manuscript dissertation, kindly communicated by M. de Gerville to the author, who only laments that the limits of this publication would not allow him to insert it entire.

[208] Among the Instrumenta Ecclesiæ Constantiensis, p. 218.

[209] “Hujus tamen temporibus incœpta et ex parte constructa est Constantiensis ecclesia, fundante et coadjuvante Gonorra comitissa, auxiliantibus etiam canonicis, reditibus medietatis altaris ad tempus operi concessis, cooperantibus quoque baronibus et parochianis fidelibus, quod usque hodie contestantur aliquot ipsorum nomina insculpta lapidibus in ecclesiæ arcubus.”—Gallia Christiana, Inst. p. 218.

[210] “Anno igitur Dominicæ Incarnationis, MXLVIII. duodecim tantum diebus ipsius anni restantibus, id est IV idus Aprilis, indictione II, venerandus Gaufridus post Robertum Constantiensis episcopus Rotomagi consecratur, nobilium baronum prosapia ortus, statura procerus, vultu decorus, prudentia consilioque providus, quanquam sæpissime curialibus negotiis regiisque obsecundationibus irretitus, tamen ad ædificationem et incrementum ecclesiæ suæ omni nisu et voluntate per noctem erat et per diem, qui ut eandem ecclesiam celebrem gloriosamque restitueret, in Apuliam et Calabriam adire Robertum cognomine Guischardum parochianum suum, aliosque barones consanguineos suos, et alumnos, et notos peregre profectus, multum in auro, et argento, et gemmis, et palliis variisque divitiarum donariis acquisivit, tresque asportavit phialas plenas puro opobalsamo, aliaque pretiosissima quibus postea præfatam ecclesiam intus et extus locupletavit, majoremque crucifixum largis sumtibus et tempore longo construxit. Cum autem non haberet in civitate, sive in suburbio tantum possessionis ecclesia, ubi maneret episcopus, vel proprius equus ejus posset stabulari, sed neque propriam domum, nisi quoddam appendicium humile, quod pendebat de parietibus ecclesiæ, ipse prudentia sua et probitate valentiorem medietatem civitatis, suburbii, et telonei, et vectigalis, cum molendinis et multa Grimoldi viaca a Guillelmo invictissimo duce Normannorum, postea quoque glorioso rege Anglorum trecentis libris comparavit et acquietavit. Postea vero episcopalem aulam et reliquas officinas construxit, virgultum et vineam non modicam plantavit, capitium navis ecclesiæ cum area, et hinc inde duo majora capitia nobiliora et ampliora construxit. Duas turres posteriores a fundamentis, tertiamque supra chorum opere spectabili sublimavit, in quibus classicum consonans et pretiosum imposuit, et hæc omnia plumbo cooperuit.”—Gallia Christiana, Inst. p. 218.

[211] The instrument, above quoted, abounds in examples of this spirit. Among the rest, after detailing at length various estates which he had purchased or obtained as presents for the enriching of his church, it proceeds to say,—“Cæterum ornamenta ecclesiastica et ustencilia, calices, cruces, capsas, phylacteria, candelabra, thuribula, bacinos, siculam et ampullas aurea contulit et argentea, casulas quoque, dalmaticas, tunicas, planetas, albas, cappas mirifici operis, necnon dorsalia serica et lanea, cortinas et tapeta, sed et bibliothecas, passionales, omeliares, missales aureis litteris duos sufficientesque et competentes libros subrogavit: super hæc omnia pretiosum famosumque clerum, quo nihil pretiosius in ecclesia et utilius in officium et servitium divini cultus delegavit, septemque canonicos quos episcopus Hugo Rotomagi in ecclesia S. Laudi irregulariter constituerat, apostolica auctoritate ecclesiæ matri revocavit, itemque duos alios adjecit. Cantorem quoque, et succentorem, et rectorem scholarum, et custodes ecclesiæ, clericos quoque præbendarios, aurifabros, fabrumque ferrarium, carpentarios et magistrum cœmentarium in opus ecclesiæ constituit. O virum prudentem et domui suæ bene præsidentem, qui de vivis et electis lapidibus domum suam composuit, et mirabilibus columnis eam sustentavit!”—Gallia Christiana, Inst. p. 219.

[212] The following remarks upon the architecture of the cathedral of Coutances, transcribed from the journal of a most able friend of the author's, cannot fail to be acceptable to the reader:—“The cathedral is most singular in its aspect. It is pointed throughout, except the circular arches in the vaulting over the side-chapels, and one or two segments of circles which form the door-ways, within the porches on the north and south sides. It is really a difficult task to come at any conclusion respecting the æra of the building, from an inspection of it. If it is of the Norman age, then the pointed style arose at once from a transfusion of Arabian or Tartarian architecture. The whole is of a piece, complete in conception and execution; and there are no intersecting arches from which a pointed arch may have arisen. The circles in the spandrils are in the same oriental style as at Bayeux. The peculiarities of the cathedral are—the side-porches close behind the towers; the screens of mullioned tracery, which divide the side-chapels; and the excessive height of the choir, which, having no triforium, has only a balustrade just before the clerestory windows. The centre tower is wonderfully fine in the exterior: it is apparently an expansion of the plain Norman lantern, as at Caen; but most airy and graceful. There is a double aisle round the ambit and altars are placed in the bays, as if they were distinct chapels, for which purpose they were originally intended; but the line continues unbroken. The perspective of these aisles, and also of the choir, seen from the Lady-Chapel, is very fine. The round pillars of the choir are double, as at Canterbury and Senlis. The apsis is half a duodecagon. The pointed windows above are in two lancet divisions, surmounted by a trefoil; but the dividing masonry is not a mullion: it is the unperforated part of the wall. This perhaps is arabesque. There is a second arch within, which is really divided by a mullion or small pillar. A curious leaf projects above. Some of the painted glass is in the oldest style: dispersed patterns in a black outline, on a grey ground. In a side-chapel are painted tiles, brown and yellow as usual, displaying knots and armorial bearings. In the same chapel are fresco paintings: many more are on the east side of the wall that divides the last choir-aisle from the south transept. They represent St. Michael and the Devil, the Deity between angels, &c. In all of them, the outline is formed by a thick black line.”



Mount St. Michael.

Plate 95. Mount St. Michael.
On the approach from Pontorson.

Religion, history, poetry, and painting, have all united in giving celebrity to St. Michael's Mount. The extraordinary sanctity of its monastery, the striking peculiarities of its form and situation, and the importance acquired by the many sieges it supported, or the almost endless pilgrimages it received, have so endeared it to the man of taste and the philosopher, that scarcely a spot is to be found in Europe, more generally known, or more universally interesting.

The legendary mist with which St. Michael's Mount is now densely involved, has continued, from a period of remote antiquity, to float around its summit. Tradition delights in relating how, in times prior to the Christian æra, it was devoted to the worship of the great luminary of heaven, under his Gallic name of Belenus,[213] a title probably derived from the Hebrew Baal, and the Assyrian Belus. The same tradition recounts how, at a more recent epoch, it reared its majestic head, embosomed in a spacious tract of woods and thickets, while the hermits who had fixed themselves upon its summits, received their daily bread from the charity of the priest of the neighboring parish of Beauvoir; an ass spontaneously undertaking the office of conveying it to them, till on the road he fell a prey to a wolf, who was then constrained by Providence to devote himself to the same pious labor.

At length, about the year 709, it was decreed that the rock should at once change its designation and its patron. To the clouds of Paganism, succeeded the sun of Christianity; and the original heathen appellation, Tumba, was replaced by one of the most elevated names of holy writ. St. Michael, “the chief of the angels and of the host of heaven, the protector of the Hebrew synagogue of yore, as now of the Catholic church, the conqueror of the old serpent, and the leader of souls to heaven,” condescended to be worshipped here upon the western coast, as on Mount Garganus in the east, and with this view appeared to St. Aubert, then bishop of Avranches, commanding him to erect a church to his honor upon the mount. Another legend relates, how there had previously existed upon the same spot, a religious edifice, which had passed under the name of the Monasterium ad duas Tumbas, being equally appropriated to the adjoining rock of Tombeleine. However this may have been, it is admitted on all sides that a church was built, and that the hill knew thenceforth no other name than that of St. Michael's Mount; though Aubert, tardy in his belief, had refused to obey the injunction, till it had been repeated three several times, upon the last of which, the archangel touched the head of the saint, and left imprinted in his skull the marks of his fingers, which the author, here quoted, relates that he himself saw, to his great delight, in the years 1612 and 1641.

To the miraculous vision, succeeded other occurrences of similar import. A tethered bull pointed out the spot where the holy edifice should be erected, and at the same time circumscribed its limits; a rock, that opposed the progress of the workmen, and was immoveable by human art, [117] spontaneously withdrew at the touch of an infant's foot; and the earth opening, on being struck with St. Aubert's staff, gave birth to a spring of water, at once of the utmost use to the inhabitants, and gifted with the most sanative powers. At about the same period also, the sea ingulphed the neighboring forests,[214] insulating the rock; so that three messengers, who had been dispatched to Mount Garganus, thence to bring a portion of red cloth, the gift of St. Michael, together with a fragment of the stone on which he himself had sate, found on their return the aspect of things so changed, that “they thought they must have entered into a new world.”

History, from this period, assumes a character of comparative authenticity. The Norman conquest threatened for awhile the extinction of Christianity: the baptism of Rollo, rekindling its dying embers, made them blaze forth with a light and warmth unknown before. The duke himself, on the fourth day after he had presented himself at the holy font, endowed the monastery of St. Michael, then styled “ecclesiam in periculo maris supra montem positam.”—No further mention occurs of the convent, during the reign of this monarch, or of his son, William Longue-Epée; but their immediate successor, Richard I. amply atoned for any neglect on their part. He built, according to Dudo of St. Quentin, a church of wondrous size, together with spacious buildings, for a body of monks of the Benedictine order, whom he established there in 988, displacing the regular canons, whose irregular lives had been the subject of much scandal. This munificence on the part of Richard, has even caused him to be regarded by some writers as the founder of the convent.—His son and successor, of the same name, selected St. Michael's Mount, as the favored spot, where, in the beginning of his reign, he received the hand of the fair Judith, sister to Geoffrey, one of the principal counts of Brittany. An opportunity was almost immediately afterwards afforded him of testifying at once his liberality and his devotion, as well as his love; for, on the first year of the eleventh century, the church, which had then been completed only five years, was burned to the ground. The prince, however, appears to have been somewhat tardy on the occasion; no attempt was made towards replacing the loss, till Hildebert II. succeeded as abbot. During his prelacy, in 1022, the foundations of a new church were laid, upon a still more extensive scale.—Twenty-six years more were suffered to elapse, and the abbatial mitre had adorned the brows of four successive abbots, when Ralph de Beaumont witnessed the completion of the work.

The church then built is expressly stated by the authors of the Gallia Christiana, to be the same as was in existence at the time of the publication of that work;[215] and M. de Gerville confirms their remark by his own personal observation, at least as far as relates to the nave. This indeed has been shortened of late; but he is persuaded, that whatever still remains is really of the architecture of the days of Duke Richard.—Robert, the following duke, repaired to St. Michael's Mount, to superintend his forces, upon the occasion of the revolt of Alain, Count of Dol; and it was hither, also, that the archbishop of Rouen brought the humbled count, to make his peace with his offended sovereign.—At the period of the conquest, the monks of St. Michael furnished six transports towards that eventful expedition; and when, after the death of William, the dominion over the mount passed by purchase from Robert to Henry, they distinguished themselves by their attachment to their new sovereign, who here supported a siege on the part of his two elder brothers, and was finally driven to surrender only by famine. The elder of these brothers, at an advanced period of his life, re-visited the church in a far different guise; and, to discharge his vows to the archangel for his safe return from the crusade, prostrated himself before the shrine which he had erst assaulted with the fury of his arms.—The year 1158 was, almost above every other, memorable in the history of St. Michael's Mount. Henry Plantagenet, who, two years before, had there received the homage of his subjects of Brittany, then returned in pilgrim weeds, accompanied by Louis VII. whose repudiated wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, he had married; and the two [118] monarchs, attended by a numerous throng of secular nobility, as well as by several cardinals, archbishops, and bishops, kneeled in amity at the holy altar.

During the reign of the ill-starred John, St. Michael's Mount passed, in common with the rest of Normandy, under the sceptre of France, and suffered severely upon the occasion. Guy of Thouars, then in alliance with Philip-Augustus, advanced against it at the head of an army of Britons; and, experiencing on the part of the inhabitants but a feeble resistance, set fire to the palisades, the principal defence of the place. The flames communicated to the houses; and the church also fell a prey to them. To use the words of Brito,

“vis ignea sursùm
Scandit, et ecclesiæ decus omne, locumque sacratum,
Resque monasterii cremat insatiabilis omnes.”

Philip lamented the injury, and did all in his power to repair it; but, considering that one great source of the misfortunes of the holy place had sprung from the impiety of the Anglo-Norman monarchs, in placing their trust in ramparts made by human hands, rather than in the protection of the archangel, he levelled with the ground the few works of defence that remained.[216] His pious successor, the sainted Louis, was far from entertaining a similar feeling. On the other hand, when his devotion led him to the shrine of St. Michael, after returning from his unfortunate expedition to Damietta, the chronicles expressly state, that he placed, with his own hand, a considerable sum of money upon the altar, for the purpose of repairing the fortifications. And it appears probable that, at a period not very distant, the money thus expended stood the crown of France in good stead; for, during the war at the beginning of the fifteenth century, St. Michael's Mount was the only place that successfully resisted the English arms. The siege it supported upon that occasion, is one of the few brilliant events that give lustre to a period of French history, generally dark and gloomy. Two cannon, of prodigious size, constructed for the discharge of stone balls, above a foot in diameter, testify to the present moment the heroic defence of the garrison, and the defeat of the assailants.

At a subsequent period of French history, during the times when party, under the mask of pious zeal, deluged the kingdom with blood, and virtuous men of every creed joined in the lamentation, that “tantum Religio potuit suadere malorum,” the Huguenots made many and most brave and memorable, though vain, attempts to render themselves masters of St. Michael's Mount. From that time forward, the rock has been suffered to continue in tranquillity, though still retaining its character as a fortification. Its designation of late has been a departmental prison: during the reign of terror, it was applied to the disgraceful purpose of serving as a receptacle for three hundred ecclesiastics, whose age or infirmities would not allow of their being transported; and who, with cruel mockery, were incarcerated within the walls, long gladdened with [119] the comforts, dignified with the pomp, and sanctified with the holiness of religion. Prisoners of importance, especially those charged with crimes against the state, were chiefly confined here before the revolution, when the iron cage, and the vaults, known by the ominous names of the Oubliettes, or the In Pace, gave the mount a melancholy notoriety.

In this short outline of the history of St. Michael's Mount, mention has been repeatedly made of French sovereigns who have proceeded thither in pilgrimage. The task were long to enumerate all those princes and monarchs who distinguished it with this mark of their veneration. But there is one other instance too important in its consequences to be passed over in silence. Louis XI. after having expelled the rebellious Britons from Normandy in 1463, not content with paying his devotions to the archangel at his shrine, and bestowing upon the monks a donation of six hundred crowns of gold, sent them the image of St. Michael, together with the golden chain that he had himself worn upon his neck; and directed that the three escalop shells, formerly borne upon the abbatial shield, should be enriched by the addition of four others, and three lilies. Nor satisfied with this, he, six years afterwards, still further testified his devotion, by various privileges granted to the community, and by the institution of the noble military order of St. Michael,[217] whose collar was composed of silver escalop shells, while the medal bore a representation of the archangel trampling upon the dragon, with the legend, “Immensi tremor oceani.”—Even in this enlightened age, the concourse of pilgrims to the mount is by no means at an end: they are still to be seen repairing to the church; and, if the female Druids have ceased for many a century to sell to the sailors their enchanted arrows, of power to still the angry ocean, when hurled into its waves by a maiden hand, the Pythonesses of the present day find a no less plentiful source of emolument in their chaplets, and rosaries, and crosses, and medals, of St. Michael. The annals of the world abound in details of the changes of form and feature which superstition has assumed in different ages; but it is humiliating to human nature to reflect, that the conquests obtained by philosophy over her great adversary, are in reality very small. Superstition, like the fabled Proteus, appears under an endless variety of forms; but she is also, like the god, still one and the same.

The list of abbots of St. Michael's Mount, contains names of the highest consequence in France: the Cardinal d'Estouteville, and the still more illustrious Cardinal de Joyeuse, Henry of Lorraine, son of the Duke de Guise, and Charles Maurice, of the noble family of Broglio, have, in times comparatively modern, presided over the community. The privileges and honorary distinctions attached to the office, were also considerable. The names of the superiors of the monastery stand recorded on various occasions, as men selected for important trusts; and they were formally empowered, by a bull of Pope Clement VII. dated from Avignon, to bestow the benediction, even in the church of Avranches, and in the presence of the bishop or the metropolitan himself, and to wear the mitre, and all other episcopal insignia. The powers and immunities of the convent were likewise extensive and important. Its annual income was estimated by the author of the Alien Priories, in the middle of the last century, at forty thousand livres; but it is at the same time stated in that work, that, at an earlier period, it was far more considerable. Among the transmarine possessions of the abbey, was its namesake in Cornwall, which was annexed to it by Robert, Earl of Moreton and Cornwall, before the year 1085, and was also renowned for its sanctity at a very remote epoch. The coincidence in form and situation between the two is most remarkable.

St. Michael's Mount, in Normandy, is situated near the extremity of the province, towards Brittany; to the south of Granville, the south-west of Avranches, and the north of Pontorson and Dol. It is a conical mass of granite, which, from a base of about one-fourth of a league in circumference, towers to the height of above four hundred feet, [120] including the buildings that crown its summit. It stands insulated and alone, except the neighboring rock of Tombeleine, in the midst of a dreary level of white sand, that presents a surface of more than twelve square leagues, extending on all sides, almost as far as the eye can reach, and unvaried, unless where it is intersected with branches of different rivers. The whole of this space is at high water entirely covered with the sea, while the receding tide leaves it bare; yet still so, that it is difficult and dangerous to traverse it without a guide. The base of the mount is surrounded with high thick walls, flanked with semi-circular towers all machicolated, and bastions. Towards the west and north, its sides present only steep, black, bare, pointed rocks: the portions that lie in an opposite direction, incline in a comparatively easy slope, and are covered with houses that follow in successive lines, leaving but a scanty space for some small gardens, in which the vine, the fig-tree, and the almond, flourish in great luxuriance. The walls of the castellated abbey impend, and jut out in bold decided masses; and the whole is crowned by the florid choir of the abbey church. The architects of the latter time seemed to have wished to adapt this glorious building to its site. All its divisions of parts, windows, and pinnacles, are narrower and more lofty than usual; and the projections are bolder, so as to be distinctly visible from below. The stranger is admitted to the mount by a gate, of the time of Louis XII. or Francis I. He proceeds along the walls, which continue leading upwards; and, traversing desolate towers, and staircases above staircases, hanging on the sides of the rock, all forlorn, grassy, and mouldering, he is conducted to the gate of the abbey. The outside of the first gate-way has round towers: the second has a pointed arch. One pile of buildings has a row of small arches round the top. The present population of the town amounts to about two hundred and fifty inhabitants, who derive their chief support from the fishery.

Of the church itself, a view is given in the Bayeux tapestry; rude indeed, but curious, as coeval.—The following is a short chronological summary of the principal events connected with the building:—

In 1103, the roof fell in, and involved in its ruins a portion of the dormitory.

Ten years afterwards, on the twenty-third of April, 1113, the lightning set fire to the abbey, which was wholly consumed, except the crypt and the great columns of the nave, and some other parts of the church. Roger, then abbot, repaired the injury, rebuilding the refectory and the dormitory, and the splendid apartment, called the Knights' Hall.

Mount St. Michael. Knights' Hall.

Plate 96. Mount St. Michael.
Interior of the Knights' Hall.

Bernard, who was abbot from 1135 to 1140, rebuilt the north part of the church, and erected the tower between the nave and the choir.

Of the works done at the beginning of the thirteenth century, in consequence of the injuries received by the church during the wars of Philip-Augustus, no particulars are preserved. It is only said in general terms, that they were considerable.

Richard Turstin, abbot in 1275, began buildings upon an extensive scale, between the extremity of the cloisters and the barracks.

On the thirteenth of July, 1300, the lightning again struck the church, and great part of it was burned, and the bells melted, and many houses in the town reduced to ashes.

The chapel of St. John the Evangelist was added by John De la Porte, the twenty-seventh abbot, who died in 1334.

In 1350, a fresh injury was sustained from a tempest; but so great was the zeal employed in repairing it, that the monastery is said to have been, a very short time subsequently, in a better state than it had almost ever been before: it raised its head, however, above these misfortunes, only to experience new ones, and from the same source, in 1370. The damage was then greater, but was soon repaired; and the chapel of St. Catherine was erected. This happened during the prelacy of Geoffrey de Servin. Peter le Roy, the following abbot, is ranked among the greatest benefactors to the convent: no one contributed more to the diffusion of its fame, or the increase of learning within its precincts; but he does not appear to have done any thing to its buildings. His successor, Robert Jolivet, surrounded the mount with the walls and towers that now remain, with the view of defending it against the English, whom he afterwards joined.

In 1421, the whole roof of the choir fell in. The foundations of the new choir, the remains of which are now standing, were laid by the Cardinal d'Estouteville, in 1452; and he continued the work till his death, which [121] happened thirty years afterwards. During his prelacy, the chapels of the choir were completed, and roofed with lead; and the choir and the columns that surround the high altar, were raised to the height of the chapels.

In 1509, another accident arose from lightning: the steeple, and the bells, and the wood-work of the nave, were destroyed; but the damage was soon repaired by William de Lamps, then abbot, who also built the abbatial palace and alms-house, and raised the part of the church that was unfinished, as high as the second tier of windows.—The choir was completed under the prelacy of his brother, John de Lamps, who was next but one to him in the succession, and wore the mitre from 1513 to 1523.

From that time forward, till the period of the revolution, the abbacy of St. Michael's Mount was held in commendam; and the abbots, regardless of a charge in which they did not feel themselves personally concerned, ceased to bestow care or expense upon the buildings. Some of them even refused to do the necessary repairs; and more than one instance is on record, where they resisted the decrees of the Norman parliament to that effect.

From the preceding details, it will easily be imagined, that the church upon St. Michael's Mount can scarcely fail to present a medley of different kinds of architecture. Two, however, predominate: in the choir, which was finished at the beginning of the sixteenth century, all is pointed and lofty: the naves and transepts are Norman. Beneath are crypts, which extend under every part of the church, supported upon short columns with capitals of foliage, &c. the arches mostly ribbed, and circular.

The shortening of the nave has destroyed the western front. The cloister, according to the observations of a friend of the author, is strangely moresque in its appearance. The position of the pillars in it he regards as quite unique.

The Knights' Hall, (see plate ninety-six,) is an arched chamber, ninety-eight feet in length, by sixty-eight in width, noble and church-like in its aspect. Its groined stone roof rests upon eighteen cylindrical columns, with bases and capitals; the latter, in very high relief, of beautiful design and delicate execution.


[213] It may be allowed, that this idea receives a certain degree of confirmation from the present name of the neighboring rock, Tombeleine, the natural derivation of which appears to be Tumba Beleni.

[214] The tradition of the mount speaks of the monster that haunted the drowned forest; and when the author's friend, Mr. Cohen, visited St. Michael's Mount in 1819, his guide, Jacques Du Pont, referred to the subject, and called the beast “a monster of a Turk that ate the Christians.” The figure represented on the wrapper of this work, was pointed out as a figure of the identical monster. It was formerly on the outside of the wall in a niche; it is now just within the gate. “There,” said Jacques, “look at his teeth and his claws; how savage he is.”—The tradition is certain; but the image is nothing more than a griffin grasping a shield charged with an armorial bearing; its date 15..

[215] a.d. 1759.

[216] Of old, says Brito, the place

...... “satis angelicis gaudebat tutus haberi
Præsidiis, nullo dispendia tempore passus;
At simul ædificans muros ibi cura Johannis
Prætulit humanas vires cœlestibus armis,
Quemque tuebatur cœlesti milite Christus,
Munivit sacrum humano munimine montem,
Ex tunc causa loco pereundi inventa sacrato.”

The author goes on to add, that the king

...... “ne fiat eis deinceps injuria talis,
Præcipit ut pereat munitio toto Johannis;
Et sua militiæ cœlesti castra resignans,
Humanis bonus excubiis locra sacra resignat,
Largifluâque manu monachos juvat in renovando
Sarta tecta, libros, et cætera quæ furor ignis
Solverat in cinerem, quæ nobiliore paratu
Quàm priùs extiterant jam restaurata videmus.”
Phillip. lib. 8, l. 114.

[217] In the preamble of the statutes of this order, the monarch expresses himself in the following terms—“Nous, à la gloire de Dieu, notre créateur Tout-puissant, et revérence de glorieuse Vierge Marie, et en l'honneur de Monseigneur St.-Michel Archange, premier Chevalier, qui pour la querelle de Dieu, d'estoc et de taille, se battit contre l'ennemi dangereux de l'humain lignage, et du Ciel le trébucha, et qui en son lieu et oratoire appellé Mont-St. Michel a toujours particulièrement gardé, préservé et défendu, sans être pris, subjugué, ni mis ès mains des anciens ennemis de notre royaume, et afin que tous bons et nobles courages soient excités et plus particulièrement émus à toutes vertueuses œuvres; le 1er. jour d'Août de l'an 1469 avons créé, institué et ordonné, et par ces présentes créons, constituons et ordonnons un Ordre de fraternité ou amiable compagnie de certain nombre de Chevaliers, jusqu'à trente six, lequel nous voulons être nommé l'Ordre de Saint-Michel.”



Abbey Church of Cerisy.

Plate 97. Abbey Church of Cerisy.
Interior of the Choir.

Cerisy, a small market-town, upon the road leading from Bayeux to St. Lo, and equally distant about four leagues from each of those places, is wholly indebted to its abbey for the celebrity it has enjoyed. In the secular history of the duchy, its name occurs upon only two occasions. The lord of Cerisy is enumerated among the companions in arms of Robert, son of the Conqueror, in his expedition to the Holy Land, in 1009; and the abbot of Cerisy was one of the twenty-one ecclesiastics from the bailiwick of Caen, cited by Philip le Bel to the Norman exchequer, in the beginning of the fourteenth century.

The convent, which was at all times of the Benedictine order, is said to have been founded as early as the year 560. It was under the invocation of St. Vigor, ninth bishop of Bayeux; and, according to some authors, was established by that saint himself. Du Monstier, in the Neustria Pia, recites the history of its origin at great length: how the prelate, moved by the entreaties of a rich man, of the name of Volusian, destroyed, by virtue of the sign of the cross, a monstrous serpent that ravaged the country; and how Volusian, in gratitude, ceded to him the domain of Cerisy, upon which he immediately erected a monastery, and endowed it with the revenues of the property. The annals of the convent being lost, what is recorded of its history is very short. After the general destruction of religious establishments by the Saxons and Normans, that of Cerisy appears to have been left in its ruins far longer than most others. No hand is said to have been lifted towards its restoration, till the reign of Robert, father of the Conqueror. By him the monastic writers all agree that a beginning was made towards the rebuilding of this monastery; and one of them, William of Jumieges, adds, that his care of it suffered no diminution from time or distance; for that, during his wars in the Holy Land, when the patriarch of [122] Jerusalem rewarded his pious zeal with a present of some precious relics, he immediately directed them to be here deposited. His more illustrious successor, in one of the first years of his reign, completed and richly endowed the convent begun by his father, whose remains he commanded should be brought from Palestine, for the express purpose of their being interred at Cerisy. But they were allowed to proceed no further than Apulia. In the Neustria Pia is preserved a charter of King Charles VI. dated 1398, in which the various donations conferred upon the abbey of Cerisy, by the Norman Dukes, Robert, William, and Henry, are enumerated and confirmed. Its annual income, in the middle of the eighteenth century, was estimated by De Masseville at twenty thousand livres. The only property it appears ever to have possessed in England, was a priory of Benedictine monks at West Shirburne, in Hampshire.

Architecturally considered, the church of Cerisy is an interesting relic of Norman workmanship. The certainty of its date, not far removed from the year 1032, and the comparatively few alterations it has undergone, render it one of those landmarks, by the aid of which the observer of the present day can alone attain to any certainty in his inquiries into ancient art. And yet, in the portion here selected for engraving, the upper row of windows is of an æra posterior to the rest; and the great arch in front has evidently changed its semi-circular form for a pointed one. Its height is unusual and impressive. Both taken collectively and in its parts, the church bears a strong resemblance to that nearly coeval at St. Georges; like which, it is now appropriated to parochial purposes, and is still of great size,[218] though the whole of the portion originally parochial, and which extended one hundred and twenty-four feet beyond what remains of the nave, has been recently pulled down. The principal front of the building, which faced the north, its position being north and south, has been consequently destroyed. The style of the edifice is characterized by a noble and severe simplicity: the capitals of the columns are, indeed, enriched with sculptured foliage or animals, or occasionally with small heads placed in the middle of a surface otherwise plain; but elsewhere the decorations are very sparingly distributed. They are confined to the chevron and billet mouldings; the latter the most ancient and most rare among the Norman ornaments. Both the transepts are parted off, as at St. Georges, by screens near the extremities: these screens at Cerisy are surmounted by an elegant parapet of semi-circular arches, a singular and very beautiful addition.


[218] The following are the dimensions of the church, according to Mr. Cotman.

Length of the nave98
Ditto of choir64
Ditto of transepts and intervening part of the nave118
Width of nave73
Ditto of transepts31
Ditto of choir, without the side-chapels28
Height of nave70

Before the demolition of the western extremity, the nave was two hundred and twenty-six feet long, and the total length of the building two hundred and ninety feet.



Church of Oyestraham.

Plate 98. Church of Oyestraham.
West Front.

Oyestraham, or, as it is more commonly written, Estreham, is a village situated upon the left bank of the Orne, near its confluence with the channel. Its name, derived from the Saxon,[219] seems to point it out as a settlement made by those daring invaders: its church, one of the first [123] objects that presents itself to the English traveller, on his entering France in the direction of Caen, is well calculated to impress him with a forcible idea of the magnificence of the Norman lords of the duchy. That it was built in the time of their sway, is a fact which cannot be doubted; but, in an architectural point of view, it is so full of anomalies, that opinions would be likely to vary considerably with regard to the actual date of its erection. And here, unfortunately, no records remain to guide the judgment. In the western front, indeed! (the subject of the plate) the whole is of the semi-circular style, and uniform. The upper tier of arches will find a parallel in the towers of the abbey of Jumieges, built during the reign of the Conqueror; and most of the other members and decorations are of frequent occurrence in erections of the same æra. A peculiarity is alone observable in the smaller arches of the second row, in which the artist has indulged himself in what may be termed an architectural conceit, lengthening, to a very disproportionate degree, and almost in the moorish fashion, the part above the capital, in order that the whole might range in a line with the larger arch in the centre. The truncated appearance of the wall on either side, leads to the obvious inference, that either this front had originally towers, like the church of St. Nicholas, at Caen, or that it was intended there should have been such. A central tower now alone remains, of square form, with massive buttresses of unusual size, projecting towards the south. This tower, as well as the portion of the church to the east of it, exhibits the Norman and Gothic architecture mixed in a very uncommon manner. Of three rows of arches, the lowest and highest belong to the latter style; the central one only to the former. In the nave, all is Norman, excepting only two lancet windows of the upper tier, placed near the west end, on the south side, and excepting also the flying buttresses that extend from between the windows of the clerestory to the projecting aisles below. Within the choir, the trefoil-headed arch takes, in some instances, the place of the pointed in the lower row, which is wholly blank; and the capitals of the pillars, according to Mr. Cotman, shew an extraordinary playfulness of design. The arches above them are pierced for windows. Both the semi-circular ones of the second tier, and the pointed ones above, are extremely narrow, seen from without, but widen greatly within; the wall being of more than ordinary thickness. The piers of the nave are six feet five inches in diameter, while the intervening spaces scarcely exceed ten feet.


[219] On this subject, see Huet, Origines de Caen, p. 299.—“Estreham est le nom d'un bourg situé à l'embouchure de l'Orne, et d'un autre dans le Bessin. Mr. Bochart le faisoit, venir d'Easter, Déesse des anciens Saxons. Et comme il avoit entrepris de rapporter les anciennes origines à la langue et à la doctrine des Phéniciens il prétendoit que cette Easter étoit la même qu'Astarté. Ses sacrifices se faisoient au commencement du printems; et de la vient que les Saxons appellerent Easter le mois auquel se célebre la Pâque. Skinnerus ne s'éloigne pas beaucoup de ce sentiment dans son Etymologique de la langue Angloise. Mr. Valois tire le nom d'Estreham du Latin Strata, et de l'Allemand Hamum, pour marquer une Demeure bâtie sur un chemin public, ou au bout d'un chemin public, comme si le bourg d'Estreham étoit sur un grand chemin, ou au bout d'un chemin public: et qu'il ne fût pas sur une extrêmité de terre qui ne mene à rien, ayant la mer d'un côté, et l'embouchure de la riviere d'Orne de l'autre: ou comme si tous les villages du monde ne pouvoient pas être censez terminer des grand chemins. Mais ces opinions sont détruites par l'ancienne orthographe du nom d'Estreham, qui est constamment écrit dans les vieux Titres, et par Mr. de Bras, Oistreham, pour Westerham, c'est-à-dire, Village Occidental: car il se trouve placé à l'West de l'embouchure de l'Orne.”



Church of Notre Dame, at Séez.

Plate 99. Cathedral Church of Notre Dame, at Séez.
West Front.

The city of Séez, though dignified by being the seat of a bishopric, is in itself small and unimportant, its population not exceeding five thousand five hundred inhabitants. Of the early history of either the town or the diocese, little is known with certainty; and authors have scarcely felt it worth their while to exercise their ingenuity, or to display their learning, upon a subject ill calculated to add dignity to their researches. Those who have entered upon the inquiry, have given it as their opinion, that the Civitas Sagiorum, mentioned in the earliest Notitia Galliæ, as the fifth in rank among the cities of the province, Lugdunensis Secunda, was no other than the modern Séez; and, carrying their conjecture one step farther, they have inferred from locality, that the Sagii, otherwise called Saii, must have been the Sesuvii of Cæsar's Commentaries. Hence, in more modern Latinity, Séez has generally acquired the name of Sagium; though Ordericus Vitalis occasionally calls it Salarium, and Magno, Saius. In some maps it is likewise styled Saxia, whence an idea has arisen that it owed its origin to the Saxons; and that the words, Saii and Sagii, were in reality nothing more than a corruption of Saxones or Sassones.

The favorers of this opinion have brought Séez within the limits of the Otlingua Saxonia, a district in Normandy, whose situation and extent has been the subject of much literary controversy. The learned Huet, alluding to this very point,[220] observes, with great justice, that “it is more easy to tell what is not, than what is; and that, though the [124] limits of bishoprics serve in general to mark the divisions of the ancient Gallic tribes, yet length of time has introduced many alterations. Able men,” he adds, “have been of opinion, that Hiesmes was originally an episcopal see, and that its diocese was afterwards dismembered into three archdeaconries; one of them fixed at Séez, a second at Lisieux, and a third at Bayeux.” Such, however, he says, is not his own belief; but he thinks that Hiesmes was originally the seat of the bishopric of Séez. A report to the same effect will be found in the Concilia Normannica; and it is adopted by Rouault,[221] who argues in its favor; first, that Séez was too insignificant, at the time of the preaching of the gospel in Neustria, to be dignified with the presence of a bishop; the apostles and earliest popes having directed that bishops should only be appointed to considerable towns: and, secondly, that Hiesmes was really then a place of importance, and probably continued so till the nineteenth year of the reign of King Henry I. of England, when that prince destroyed it, as a punishment upon the inhabitants for their revolt.

Ecclesiastical history refers the establishment of the bishopric of Séez to the fourth or fifth century. The earliest, however, of the prelates, of whom any certain mention is to be found, is Litaredus, whose name appears, under the title of Oximensis Episcopus, subscribed to the council of Orleans in 511. Azo, who succeeded to the mitre in one of the last years of the tenth century, erected the first cathedral that is upon record at Séez. William of Jumieges relates of him, that he destroyed the walls of the city, and with their stones built a church in honor of St. Gervais, the martyr, “ubi sedes episcopalis longo post tempore fuerat.” The same author tells that, in consequence of this church having been turned into a place of refuge by some rebels, about fifty years afterwards, Ivo, the third from Azo upon the episcopal throne, set fire to the adjoining houses for the purpose of dislodging them, and the church fell a victim to the flames. The act, though unintentional, brought upon the prelate a severe reprimand from the pope; and Ivo, to repair his fault, undertook a journey to his relatives and friends in Apulia and Constantinople, whence he returned, loaded with rich presents, by the aid of which he undertook the erection of a new church upon so large a scale, that “his successors, Robert, Gerard, and Serlo, were unable to complete it in fifty years.” The cathedral then raised is said to be the same as is now standing; and, according to what has already been recorded of the cathedrals of Lisieux and Coutances, there is nothing in its architecture to discredit such an opinion. The first stone was laid about the year 1053: the dedication took place in 1126. Godfrey, archbishop of Rouen, performed the ceremony in the presence of Henry, then duke, who, at the same time, endowed the church with an annual income of ten pounds.

The diocese of Séez is surrounded by those of Lisieux, Evreux, Mans, and Bayeux. According to De Masseville,[222] it extended, before the revolution, twenty-five leagues in length, and from eight to ten in width, comprising the districts of le Houme, les Marches, and a part of le Perche. The towns of Séez, Alençon, Argentan, Falaise, Hiesmes, Mortagne, and Bellême, together with several smaller towns, and five hundred villages, were also included in its limits; as were five archdeaconries, six rural deaneries, and many abbeys and other religious houses. The episcopal revenue was estimated at only ten thousand livres. The late concordat, by reducing the number of the Norman dioceses, has of course added to the extent of those that remained.

Seven of the early bishops of Séez are inscribed among the saints of the Roman calendar: in later times, no names appear of greater eminence than those of Frogerius and John de Bertaut. The first of these prelates was much in the confidence of Henry II. to whom he rendered acceptable service in his unfortunate disputes with Thomas-à-Becket. He was not only one of the very few bishops who then preserved their fidelity to their sovereign inviolate, but he undertook a mission to the French king, for the purpose of remonstrating upon the favorable reception given to the primate, on which occasion he received the following memorable answer:—“Tell your master, that if he cannot submit to the abolition of the ordinances, which he designates as the customs of his ancestors, because he thinks it would compromise the dignity of his crown, although, as it is reported, they are but little conformable to [125] the will of God, still less can I consent to sacrifice a right that has always been enjoyed by the kings of France. I mean the right of giving shelter to all persons in affliction, but principally to those who are exiled for justice sake, and of affording them, during their persecution, all manner of protection and assistance.”—John de Bertaut lived in the beginning of the seventeenth century: he was principal almoner to Mary de Medicis, and was afterwards in high favor with Henry IV. to whose conversion he is said to have mainly contributed. He likewise distinguished himself as a poet.—A third bishop of Séez, Serlo, already mentioned, was a man of such commanding eloquence, that, when he had the honor of preaching before Henry I. and his court, at Carentan, in 1106, he declaimed with so much effect against the effeminate custom of wearing long beards and long hair, that the sovereign declared himself a convert, and the bishop, “extractis e manticâ forcipibus, primo regem tum cæteros optimates attondit.”[223]

Church of Notre Dame, at Séez.

Plate 100. Cathedral Church of Notre Dame, at Séez.
Elevation of the Nave.

The church of Séez may be compared in its architecture with those of Coutances and of Lisieux: they are unlike, indeed, but by no means different. The points of resemblance exceed those of a contrary description.

“facies non omnibus una,
Nec diversa tamen, qualem decet esse sororum.”

Severe simplicity characterizes Lisieux: Coutances is distinguished by elegance, abounding in decoration: Séez, at the same time that it unites the excellencies of both, can rival neither in those which are peculiarly its own. On the first view of the church, its mean and insignificant western tower strikes the spectator with an unfavorable impression, which, on a nearer approach, the mutilated and encumbered state of the western front is by no means calculated to remove. And yet this western front, all degraded as it is, cannot fail to derive importance from the great depth of the central door-way, which is no less than forty-seven feet,[224] a projection exceeding that of the galilee of Peterborough cathedral. It is in the interior that the beauty of the church of Séez is conspicuous. The noble lofty arches below; the moresque ornament, like those at Bayeux and at Coutances, in the spandrils; the double lancet arches of the triforium placed in triplets; and the larger pointed arches above, arranged two or three together, and encircled with arches of the Norman form, though not of the Norman style;—all these beauties, added to the enrichments of the sculptured walls and windows of the aisles, render the cathedral, if not the first of Norman religious buildings, at least in the number of those of the first class,

“Extremi primorum, extremis usque priores.”


[220] Origines de Caen, p. 5.

[221] Abrégé de la Vie des Evêques de Coutances, p. 40.

[222] Etat Géographique de Normandie, p. 304.

[223] Gallia Christiana, XI. p. 684.

[224] The following are the dimensions of the other parts of the building.

Length of nave (including a space of sixty-four feet under the towers) 218
Ditto of choir57
Ditto of aisle behind the choir14
Ditto of Lady-Chapel25
Ditto of each transept39
Width of nave and choir, including aisles72
Ditto of Lady-Chapel20
Ditto of transepts30
Height of nave and choir80
Ditto of north-west spire232
Ditto of south-west ditto210







Transcriber's Note

Original spelling, even where inconsistent, and punctuation have been preserved. Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note. Except for those in the "Genealogy of the Norman Dukes", every occurrence of A. D. (Anno Domini) has been standardised to a.d. Typographical errors corrected in the text (in brackets the original):

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Architectural Antiquities of Normandy, by 
John Sell Cotman


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