CATHEDRALS AND CLOISTERS OF THE SOUTH OF FRANCE
CATHEDRALS and CLOISTERS OF THE SOUTH OF FRANCE
ELISE WHITLOCK ROSE
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS FROM ORIGINAL PHOTOGRAPHS
VIDA HUNT FRANCIS
IN TWO VOLUMES
G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS NEW YORK AND LONDON The Knickerbocker Press 1906
Copyright, 1906 by G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS
For years the makers of this book have spent the summer time in wandering about the French country; led here by the fame of some old monument, or there by an incident of history. They have found the real, unspoiled France, often unexplored by any except the French themselves, and practically unknown to foreigners, even to the ubiquitous maker of guide-books. For weeks together they have travelled without meeting an English-speaking person. It is, therefore, not surprising that they were unable to find, in any convenient form in English, a book telling of the Cathedrals of the South which was at once accurate and complete. For the Cathedrals of that country are monuments not only of architecture and its history, but of the history of peoples, the psychology of the christianising and unifying of the barbarian and the Gallo-Roman, and many things besides, epitomised perhaps in the old words, "the struggle between the world, the flesh, and the devil." In French, works on Cathedrals are numerous and exhaustive; but either so voluminous as to be unpractical except for the specialist—as the volumes of Viollet-le-Duc,—or so technical as to make each Cathedral seem one in an endless, monotonous procession, differing from the others only in size, style, and age. This is distinctly unfair to these old churches which have personalities and idiosyncrasies as real as those of individuals. It has been the aim of the makers of this book to introduce, in photograph and in story,—not critically or exhaustively, but suggestively and accurately,—the Cathedral of the Mediterranean provinces as it exists to-day with its peculiar characteristics of architecture and history. They have described only churches which they have seen, they have verified every fact and date where such verification was possible, and have depended on local tradition only where that was all which remained to tell of the past; and they will feel abundantly repaid for travel, research, and patient exploration of towers, crypts, and archives if the leisurely traveller on pleasure bent shall find in these volumes but a hint of the interest and fascination which the glorious architecture, the history, and the unmatched climate of the Southland can awaken.
For unfailing courtesy and untiring interest, for free access to private as well as to ecclesiastical libraries, for permission to photograph and copy, for unbounding hospitality and the retelling of many an old legend, their most grateful thanks are due to the Catholic clergy, from Archbishop to Cure and Vicar. For rare old bits of information, for historical verification, and for infinite pains in accuracy of printed matter, they owe warm thanks to Mrs. Wilbur Rose, to Miss Frances Kyle, and to Mrs. William H. Shelmire, Jr. For criticism and training in the art of photographing they owe no less grateful acknowledgment to Mr. John G. Bullock and Mr. Charles R. Pancoast.
E. W. R.
V. H. F.
PAGE THE SOUTH OF FRANCE
I. THE SOUTH OF FRANCE 3
II. ARCHITECTURE IN PROVENCE, LANGUEDOC, AND GASCONY 29
I. THE CATHEDRALS OF THE SEA 55 Marseilles—Toulon—Frejus—Antibes—Nice
II. CATHEDRALS OF THE HILL-TOWNS 72 Carpentras—Digne—Forcalquier—Vence—Grasse
III. RIVER-SIDE CATHEDRALS 101 Avignon—Vaison—Arles—Entrevaux—Sisteron
IV. CATHEDRALS OF THE VALLEYS 178 Orange—Cavaillon—Apt—Riez—Senez—Aix
I. CATHEDRALS OF THE CITIES 237 Nimes—Montpellier—Beziers—Narbonne—Perpignan— Carcassonne—Castres—Toulouse—Montauban
Page RODEZ Frontispiece "Sheer and straight the pillars rise, ... and arch after arch is lost on the shadows of the narrow vaulting of the side-aisle."
"CARCASSONNE, THE INVULNERABLE" 5
"THE TOWER OF AN EARLY MARITIME CATHEDRAL"—Agde 10
"A NAVE OF THE EARLIER STYLE"—Arles 15
"A NAVE OF THE LATER STYLE"—Rodez 19
"THE DELICATE CHOIR OF SAINT-NAZAIRE"—Carcassonne 23
"A CLOISTER OF THE SOUTH"—Elne 27
"A ROMANESQUE AISLE"—Arles 31
"THE SCULPTURED PORTALS OF SAINT-TROPHIME"—Arles 33
"A GOTHIC AISLE"—Mende 35
"CORRESPONDING DIFFERENCES IN STYLE"—Carcassonne 39
"FORTIFIED GOTHIC BUILT IN BRICK"—Albi 43
"A CHURCH FORTRESS"—Maguelonne 45
"STATELY GOTHIC SPLENDOUR"—Condom 47
ENTREVAUX 52 "People gather around the mail-coach as it makes its daily halt before the drawbridge."
"THE NEW CATHEDRAL"—Marseilles 57
"THE DESECRATION OF THE LITTLE CLOISTER"—Frejus 65
"THE MILITARY OMEN—THE TOWER"—Antibes 70
"THE INTERIOR OF NOTRE-DAME-DU-BOURG"—Digne 77
"THE INTERIOR HAS NEITHER CLERESTORY NOR TRIFORIUM"—Digne 81
"A LARGE SQUARE TOWER SERVED AS A LOOKOUT"—Forcalquier 86
"A SUGGESTIVE VIEW FROM THE SIDE-AISLE"—Forcalquier 87
"THE OLD ROUND ARCH OF THE BISHOP'S PALACE"—Vence 92
"THE LOW, BROAD ARCHES, AND THE GREAT SUPPORTING PILLARS"—Vence 93
"HIGHER THAN THEM ALL STANDS THE CATHEDRAL"—Grasse 97
"THE PONT D'AVIGNON" 99
"THE INTERIOR HAS A SHALLOW, GRACEFULLY BALUSTRADED BALCONY"—Avignon 103
"THE PORCH, SO CLASSIC IN DETAIL"—AVIGNON 107 From an old print
"THE TOWER OF PHILIP THE FAIR"—Villeneuve-les-Avignon 114
"THE GREAT PALACE"—Avignon 119
"ON THE BANKS OF A PLEASANT LITTLE RIVER IS VAISON" 123
"THE RUINED CASTLE OF THE COUNTS OF TOULOUSE"—Vaison 125
"THE WHOLE APSE-END"—Vaison 127
"THE SOUTH WALL, WHICH IS CLEARLY SEEN FROM THE ROAD"—Vaison 129
"TWO BAYS OPEN TO THE GROUND"—Vaison 131
"THE GREAT PIERS AND SMALL FIRM COLUMNS"—Vaison 133
"IN THE MIDST OF THE WEALTH OF ANTIQUE RUINS"—Arles 135
"THE FACADE OF SAINT-TROPHIME"—Arles 137
"RIGHT DETAIL—THE PORTAL"—Arles 141
"LEFT DETAIL—THE PORTAL"—Arles 145
"THROUGH THE CLOISTER ARCHES"—Arles 147
"A NAVE OF GREAT AND SLENDER HEIGHT"—Arles 149
"THE BEAUTY OF THE WHOLE"—Arles 151
"THE GOTHIC WALK"—Cloister—Arles 153
"THIS INTERIOR"—Entrevaux 156
"THE ROMANESQUE WALK"—Cloister—Arles 157
"ONE OF THE THREE SMALL DRAWBRIDGES"—Entrevaux 159
"THE PORTCULLIS"—Entrevaux 160
"A FORT THAT PERCHES ON A SHARP PEAK"—Entrevaux 161
"A TRUE 'PLACE D'ARMES'"—Entrevaux 163
"THE LONG LINE OF WALLS THAT ZIGZAG DOWN THE HILLSIDE"—Entrevaux 165
"THE CHURCH TOWER STOOD OUT AGAINST THE ROCKY PEAK"—Entrevaux 169
"THE CATHEDRAL IS NEAR THE HEAVY ROUND TOWERS OF THE OUTER RAMPARTS"—Sisteron 172
"THE BRIDGE ACROSS THE DURANCE"—Sisteron 173
"ENTRANCES TO TWO NARROW STREETS"—Sisteron 176
"IT WAS A LOW-VAULTED, SOMBRE LITTLE CLOISTER"—Cavaillon 182
"THE CATHEDRAL'S TOWER AND TURRET"—Cavaillon 187
"THE MAIN BODY OF THE CHURCH"—Apt 191
"THE VIRGIN AND SAINT ANNE—BY BENZONI"—Apt 194
"SAINT-MARTIN-DE-BROMES WITH ITS HIGH SLIM TOWER" 197
"THE FORTIFIED MONASTERY OF THE TEMPLARS"—near Greoux 199
"THE TOWER OF NOTRE-DAME-DU-SIEGE"—Riez 201
"NOTHING COULD BE MORE QUAINTLY OLD AND MODEST THAN THE BAPTISTERY"—Riez 202
"BETWEEN THE COLUMNS AN ALTAR HAS BEEN PLACED"—Baptistery, Riez 203
"THE BEAUTIFUL GRANITE COLUMNS"—Riez 207
"THE MAIL-COACH OF SENEZ" 211
"THE OPEN SQUARE"—Senez 213
"THE PALACE OF ITS PRELATES"—Senez 214
"THE CATHEDRAL"—Senez 215
"THE CATHEDRAL"—Senez 218
"TAPESTRIES BEAUTIFY THE CHOIR-WALLS"—Senez 219
"BETWEEN BRANCHES FULL OF APPLE-BLOSSOMS—THE CHURCH AS THE CURE SAW IT"—Senez 221
"THE SOUTH AISLE"—Aix 224
"THE ROMANESQUE PORTAL"—Aix 225
"THE CLOISTER"—Aix 227
"THE CATHEDRAL"—Aix 231
"AN AMPHITHEATRE WHICH RIVALS THE ART OF THE COLISEUM"—Nimes 238
"THE GENERAL EFFECT IS SOMEWHAT THAT OF A PORT-COCHERE"—Montpellier 244
"THE FINEST VIEW IS THAT OF THE APSE"—Montpellier 245
"THE CLOCK TOWER IS VERY SQUARE AND THICK"—Beziers 248
"THE QUAINT AND PRETTY FOUNTAIN"—Beziers 250
"THE DOOR OF THE CLOISTER"—Narbonne 255
"THIS IS A PLACE OF DESERTED SOLITUDE"—Narbonne 257
"THESE FLYING-BUTTRESSES GIVE TO THE EXTERIOR ITS MOST CURIOUS AND BEAUTIFUL EFFECT"—Narbonne 261
"ALL THE OLD BUILDINGS OF THE CITY ARE OF SPANISH ORIGIN"—Perpignan 265
"THE UNFINISHED FACADE"—Perpignan 267
"THE STONY STREET OF THE HILLSIDE"—Carcassonne 269
"THE ANCIENT CROSS"—Carcassonne 272
"OFTEN TOO LITTLE TIME IS SPENT UPON THE NAVE"—Carcassonne 275
"THE CHOIR IS OF THE XIV CENTURY"—Carcassonne 279
"THE FACADE, STRAIGHT AND MASSIVE"—Carcassonne 281
"PERSPECTIVE OF THE ROMANESQUE"—Carcassonne 283
"THE NAVE OF THE XIII CENTURY IS AN AISLE-LESS CHAMBER, LOW AND BROADLY ARCHED"—Toulouse 291
"THE PRESENT CATHEDRAL IS A COMBINATION OF STYLES"—Toulouse 294
LIST OF WORKS CONSULTED.
BAYET. Precis de l'Histoire de l'Art.
BOURG. Viviers, ses Monuments et son Histoire.
CHOISY. Histoire de l'Architecture.
COUGNY. L'Art au Moyen Age.
COOK. Old Provence.
CORROYER. L'Architecture romane.
" L'Architecture gothique.
COX. The Crusades.
DARCEL. Le Mouvement archeologique relatif au Moyen Age.
DE LAHONDES. L'Eglise Saint-Etienne, Cathedrale de Toulouse.
DEMPSTER. Maritime Alps.
DUCERE. Bayonne historique et pittoresque.
DURUY. Histoire de France.
FERREE. Articles on French Cathedrals appearing in the "Architectural Record."
GARDERE. Saint-Pierre de Condom et ses Constructeurs.
GOULD. In Troubadour Land.
GUIZOT. Histoire de France.
" Histoire de la Civilisation en France.
HALLAM. The Middle Ages.
HARE. South-eastern France.
" South-western France.
History of Joanna of Naples, Queen of Sicily (published 1824).
HUNNEWELL. Historical Monuments of France.
JAMES. A Little Tour through France.
Le Moyen Age (avec notice par Roger-Miles).
LARNED. Churches and Castles of Mediaeval France.
LASSERRE, L'ABBE. Recherches historiques sur la Ville d'Alet et son ancien Diocese.
LECHEVALLIER CHEVIGNARD. Les Styles francais.
MACGIBBON. The Architecture of Provence and the Riviera.
MARLAVAGNE. Histoire de la Cathedrale de Rodez.
MARTIN. Histoire de France.
MASSON. Louis IX and the XIII Century.
" Francis I and the XVI Century.
MERIMEE. Etudes sur les Arts au Moyen Age.
MICHELET. Histoire de France.
MICHELET AND MASSON. Mediaevalism in France.
Monographie de la Cathedrale d'Albi.
MONTALEMBERT. Les Moines d'Occident.
MILMAN. History of Latin Christianity.
PALUSTRE. L'Architecture de la Renaissance.
PASTOR. Lives of the Popes.
PENNELL. Play in Provence.
QUICHERAT. Melanges d'Archeologie au Moyen Age.
RENAN. Etudes sur la Politique religieuse du Regne de Philippe le Bel.
REVOIL. Architecture romane du Midi de la France.
ROSIERES. Histoire de l'Architecture.
SCHNASSE. Geschichte der bildenden Kuenste. (Volume III, etc.)
SENTETZ. Sainte-Marie d'Auch.
SORBETS. Histoire d'Aire-sur-l'Adour.
SOULIE. Interesting old novels whose scenes are laid in the South of France:—
" "Le Comte de Toulouse."
" "Le Vicomte de Beziers."
" "Le Chateau des Pyrenees," etc.
STEVENSON. Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes.
TAINE. The Ancient Regime.
" Journeys through France.
" Origins of Contemporary France.
" Tour through the Pyrenees.
'Twixt France and Spain.
VIOLLET-LE-DUC. Histoire d'une Cathedrale et d'un Hotel-de-Ville.
Entretiens sur l'Architecture.
Dictionnaire raisonne de l'Architecture francaise du XI^e au XVI^e siecle.
The South of France.
THE SOUTH OF FRANCE.
If it is only by an effort that we appreciate the valour of Columbus in the XV century, his secret doubts, his temerity, how much fainter is our conception of the heroism of the early Mediterranean navigators. Steam has destroyed for us the awful majesty of distance, and we can never realise the immensity of this "great Sea" to the ancients. To Virgil the adventures of the "pious AEneas" were truly heroic. The western shores of the Mediterranean were then the "end of the earth," and even during the first centuries of our own era, he who ventured outside the Straits of Gibraltar tempted either Providence or the Devil and was very properly punished by falling over the edge of the earth into everlasting destruction. "Why," asks a mediaeval text-book of science, "is the sun so red in the evening?" And this convincing answer follows, "Because he looks down upon Hell."
For centuries before the Christian era the South of France, with Spain, lay in the unknown west end of the Sea. Along its eastern shores lay civilisations hoary with age; Carthage, to the South, was moribund; Greece was living on the prestige of her glorious past; while Rome was becoming all-powerful. Legend tells that adventurous Phoenicians and Greeks discovered the French coasts, that Nimes was founded by a Tyrian Hercules, and Marseilles, about 600 B.C., by a Phoenician trader who married a chief's daughter and settled at the mouth of the Rhone. But these early settlements were merely isolated towns, which were not interdependent;—scarcely more than trading posts. It was Rome who took southern Gaul unto herself, and after Roman fashion, built cities and towns and co-ordinated them into well-regulated provinces; and it is with Roman rule that the connected history of Gaul begins.
From the outset we meet one basic fact, so difficult to realise when France is considered as one country, the essential difference between the North and the South. Caesar found in the South a partial Roman civilisation ready for his organisation; and old, flourishing cities, like Narbonne, Aix, and Marseilles. In the North he found the people advanced no further than the tribal stage, and Paris—not even Paris in name—was a collection of mud huts, which, from its strategic position, he elevated into a camp. The two following centuries, the height of Roman dominion in France, accentuated these differences. The North was governed by the Romans, never assimilated nor civilised by them. The South eagerly absorbed all the culture of the Imperial City; her religions and her pleasures, her beautiful Temples and great Amphitheatres, finally her morals and effeminacy, till in the II century of our era, anyone living a life of luxurious gaiety was popularly said to have "set sail for Marseilles." To this day the South boasts that it was a very part of Rome, and Rome was not slow to recognise the claim. Gallic poets celebrated the glory of Augustus, a Gaul was the master of Quintilian, and Antoninus Pius, although born in the Imperial City, was by parentage a native of Nimes.
Not to the rude North, but to this society, so pagan, so pleasure-loving, came the first missionaries of the new Christian faith, to meet in the arenas of Gaul the fate of their fellow-believers in Rome, to hide in subterranean caves and crypts, to endure, to persist, and finally to conquer. In the III and IV centuries many of the great Bishoprics were founded, Avignon, Narbonne, Lyons, Arles, and Saint-Paul-trois Chateaux among others; but these same years brought political changes which seemed to threaten both Church and State.
Roman power was waning. Tribes from across the Rhine were gathering, massing in northern Gaul, and its spirit was antagonistic to the contentment of the rich Mediterranean provinces. The tribes were brave, ruthless, and barbarous. Peace was galling to their uncontrollable restlessness. The Gallo-Romans were artistic, literary, idle, and luxurious. They fell, first to milder but heretical foes; then to the fierce but orthodox Frank; and the story of succeeding years was a chronicle of wars. Like a great swarm of locusts, the Saracens—conquerors from India to Spain—came upon the South. They took Narbonne, Nimes, and even Carcassonne, the Invulnerable. They besieged Toulouse, and almost destroyed Bordeaux. Other cities, perhaps as great as these, were razed to the very earth and even their names are now forgotten. Europe was menaced; the South of France was all but destroyed.
Again the Frank descended; and like a great wind blowing clouds from a stormy sky, Charles Martel swept back the Arabs and saved Christianity. Before 740, he had returned a third time to the South, not as a deliverer, but for pure love of conquest; and by dismantling Nimes, destroying the maritime cities of Maguelonne and Agde, and taking the powerful strongholds of Arles and Marseilles, he paved the way for his great descendant who nominally united "all France."
But Charlemagne's empire fell in pieces; and as Carlovingian had succeeded Merovingian, so in 987 Capetian displaced the weak descendants of the mighty head of the "Holy Roman Empire." The map changed with bewildering frequency; and in these changes, the nobles—more stable than their kings—grew to be the real lords of their several domains. History speaks of France from Clovis to the Revolution as a kingdom; but even later than the First Crusade the kingdom lay somewhere between Paris and Lyons; the Royal Domain, not France as we know it now. The Duchy of Aquitaine, the Duchy of Brittany, Burgundy, the Counties of Toulouse, Provence, Champagne, Normandy, and many smaller possessions, were as proudly separate in spirit as Norway and Sweden, and often as politically distinct as they from Denmark.
In the midst of these times of turmoil the Church had steadily grown. Every change, however fatal to North or South, brought to her new strength. Confronted with cultured paganism in the first centuries, the blood of her martyrs made truly fruitful seed for her victories; and later, facing paganism of another, wilder race, she triumphed more peacefully in the one supreme conversion of Clovis; and the devotion and interest which from that day grew between Church and King, gradually made her the greatest power of the country. After the decline of Roman culture the Church was the one intellectual, almost peaceful, and totally irresistible force. The great lords scorned learning. An Abbot, quaintly voicing the Church's belief, said that "every letter writ on paper is a sword thrust in the devil's side." When there was cessation of war, the occupation of men, from Clovis' time throughout Mediaevalism, was gone. They could not read; they could not write; the joy of hunting was, in time, exhausted. They were restless, lost. The justice meted out by the great lords was, too often, the right of might. But at the Council of Orleans, in 511, a church was declared an inviolable refuge, where the weak should be safe until their case could be calmly and righteously judged. The beneficent care of the Church cannot be overestimated. Between 500 and 700 she had eighty-three councils in Gaul, and scarcely one but brought a reform,—a real amelioration of hardships.
Something of the general organisation of her great power in those rude times deserves more than the usual investigation. Even in its small place in the "Cathedrals and Cloisters of the South of France," it is an interesting bit of Church politics and psychology.
The ecclesiastical tradition of France goes back to the very first years of the Christian era. Lazarus, Mary Magdalene, Martha, and Mary the Mother of James, are only a few of those intimately connected with Christ Himself, who are believed to have come into Gaul; and in their efforts to systematically and surely establish Christianity, to have founded the first French Bishoprics. This is tradition. But even the history of the II century tells of a venerable, martyred Bishop of Lyons, a disciple of that Polycarp who knew Saint John; and in the III century Gaul added no less than fourteen to the Sees she already had. Enthusiastic tradition aside, it is evident that the missionary ardour of the Gallic priests was intense; and the glory of their early victories belongs entirely to a branch of the Church known as "the Secular Clergy."
The other great branch, "the Religious Orders," were of later institution. From the oriental deserts of the Thebaid, where Saint Anthony had early practised the austerities of monkish life, Saint Martin drew his inspiration for the monasticism of the West. But it was not until the last of the IV century that he founded, near Poitiers, the first great monastery in France. The success of this form of pious life, if not altogether edifying, was immediate. Devotional excesses were less common in the temperate climate of France than under the exciting oriental sun, yet that most bizarre of Eastern fanatics, the "Pillar Saint," had at least one disciple in Gaul. He—the good Brother Wulfailich—began the life of sanctity by climbing a column near Treves, and prepared himself to stand on it, barefooted, through winter and summer, till, presumably, angels should bear him triumphantly to heaven. But the West is not the East. And the good Bishops of the neighbourhood drew off, instead of waiting at the pillar, as an exalted emperor had humbly stood beneath that of Saint Simeon Stylites. Far from being awe-struck, they were scandalised; and they forced Wulfailich to descend from his eminence, and destroyed it. This is one of the first Gallic instances of the antagonisms between the "secular" and the "regular" branches of the reverend clergy.
Within the French Church from early times, these two great forces were arrayed, marching toward the same great end,—but never marching together. It is claimed they were, and are, inimical. In theory, in ideal, nothing could be further from truth. They were in fact sometimes unfriendly; and more often than not mutually suspicious. For the great Abbot inevitably lived in a Bishop's See; and with human tempers beneath their churchly garb, Abbot and Bishop could not always agree. Now the Bishop was lord of the clergy, supreme in his diocese; but should he call to account the lowest friar of any monastery, my Lord Abbot replied that he was "answerable only to the Pope," and retired to his vexatious "imperium in imperio."
The beginning of the VI century saw much that was irregular in monastic life. The whole country was either in a state of war or of unrestful expectation of war. Many Abbeys were yet to be established; many merely in process of foundation. Wandering brothers were naturally beset by the dangers and temptations of an unsettled life; and if history may be believed, fell into many irregularities and even shamed their cloth by licentiousness. Into this disorder came the great and holy Benedict, the "learnedly ignorant, the wisely unlearned," the true organiser of Western Monachism. Under his wise "Rules" the Abbey of the VI century was transformed. It became "not only a place of prayer and meditation, but a refuge against barbarism in all its forms. And this home of books and knowledge had departments of all kinds, and its dependencies formed what we would call to-day a 'model farm.' There were to be found examples of activity and industry for the workman, the common tiller of the soil, or the land-owner himself. It was a school," continues Thierry, "not of religion, but of practical knowledge; and when it is considered that there were two hundred and thirty-eight of such schools in Clovis' day, the power of the Orders, though late in coming, will be seen to have grown as great as that of the Bishops."
From these two branches sprang all that is greatest in the ecclesiastical architecture of France. As their strength grew, their respective churches were built, and to-day, as a sign of their dual power, we have the Abbey and the Cathedral.
The Bishop's church had its prototype in the first Christian meeting places in Rome and was planned from two basic ideas,—the part of the Roman house which was devoted to early Christian service, and the growing exigencies of the ritual itself. At the very first of the Christian era, converts met in any room, but these little groups so soon grew to communities that a larger place was needed and the "basilica" of the house became the general and accepted place of worship. The "basilica" was composed of a long hall, sometimes galleried, and a hemicycle; and its general outline was that of a letter T. Into this purely secular building, Christian ceremonials were introduced. The hemicycle became the apse; the gallery, a clerestory; the hall, a central nave. Here the paraphernalia of the new Church were installed. The altar stood in the apse; and between it and the nave, on either side, a pulpit or reading-desk was placed. Bishop and priests sat around the altar, the people in the nave. This disposition of clergy, people, and the furniture of the sacred office is essentially that of the Cathedral of to-day. There were however many amplifications of the first type. The basilica form, T, was enlarged to that of a cross; and increasingly beautiful architectural forms were evolved. Among the first was the tower of the early Italian churches. This single tower was doubled in the French Romanesque, often multiplied again by Gothic builders, and in Byzantine churches, increased to seven and even nine domes. Transepts were added, and as, one by one, the arts came to the knowledge of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, each was pressed into the service of the Cathedral builders. The interior became so beautiful with carvings, windows of marvellously painted glass, rich tapestries and frescoes, that the ritual seemed yearly more impressive and awe-inspiring. The old, squat exterior of early days was forgotten in new height and majesty, and the Cathedral became the dominant building of the city.
Although the country was early christianised, and on the map of Merovingian France nearly all the present Cathedral cities of the Mediterranean were seats of Bishoprics, we cannot now see all the successive steps of the church architecture of the South. The main era of the buildings which have come down to us, is the XI-XIV centuries. Of earlier types and stages little is known, little remains.
In general, Gallic churches are supposed to have been basilican, with all the poverty of the older style. Charlemagne's architects, with San Vitale in mind, gave a slight impetus in the far-away chapel at Aix-la-Chapelle, and Gregory of Tours tells us that Bishop Perpetuus built a "glorious" church at Tours. But his description is meagre. After a few mathematical details, he returns to things closer to his heart,—the Church's atmosphere of holiness, the emblematic radiance of the candle's light, the ecstasy of worshippers who seemed "to breathe the air of Paradise." And Saint Gregory's is the religious, uncritical spirit of his day, whose interest was in ecclesiastical establishment rather than ecclesiastical architecture. Churches there were in numbers; but they were not architectural achievements. Their building was like the planting of the flag; they were new outposts, signs of an advance of the Faith. With this missionary spirit in the Church, with priests still engaged in christianising and monks in establishing themselves on their domains, with a very general ignorance of art, with the absorbing interest of the powerful and great in warfare, and the very great struggle among the poor for existence, architecture before the X century had few students or protectors. France had neither sufficient political peace nor ecclesiastical wealth for elaborate church structures. No head, either of Church or State, had taste and time enough to inaugurate such works.
Many causes have combined to destroy such churches as then existed. If they escaped the rasings and fires of a siege, they were often destroyed by lightning, or decayed by years; and some of the fragments which endured to the XIII century were torn down to make room for more beautiful buildings.
It was the XI and XII centuries which saw the important beginnings of the great Cathedrals of both North and South. These were the years when religion was the dominant idea of the western world,—when everything, even warfare, was pressed into its service. Instead of devastating their own and their neighbour's country, Christian armies were devastating the Holy Land; doing to the Infidel in the name of their religion what he, in the name of his, had formerly done to them. The capture of Jerusalem had triumphantly ended the First Crusade; the Church was everywhere victorious, and the Pope in actual fact the mightiest monarch of the earth. These were the days when Peter the Hermit's cry, "God wills it," aroused the world, and aroused it to the most diverse accomplishments.
One form of this activity was church building; but there were other causes than religion for the general magnificence of the effort. Among these was communal pride, the interesting, half-forgotten motive of much that is great in mediaeval building.
The Mediaevalism of the old writers seems an endless pageant, in which indefinitely gorgeous armies "march up the hill and then march down again;" in newer histories this has disappeared in the long struggle of one class with another; and in neither do we reach the individual, nor see the daily life of the people who are the backbone of a nation. Yet these are the people we must know if we are to have a right conception of the Cathedral's place in the living interest of the Middle Ages. For the Bishop's church was in every sense a popular church. The Abbey was built primarily for its monks, and the Abbey-church for their meditation and worship. The French Cathedral was the people's, it was built by their money, not money from an Abbey-coffer. It did not stand, as the Cathedral of England, majestic and apart, in a scholarly close; it was in the open square of the city; markets and fairs were held about it; the doors to its calm and rest opened directly on the busiest, every-day bustle. It is not a mere architectural relic, as its building was never a mere architectural feat. It is the symbol of a past stage of life, a majestic part of the picture we conjure before our mind's eye, when we consider Mediaevalism.
Such a picture of a city of another country and of the late Middle Ages exists in the drama of Richard Wagner's Meistersinger; and his Nuremberg of the XVI century, with changes of local colour, is the type of all mediaeval towns. General travel was unknown. The activity of the great roads was the march of armies, the roving of marauders, the journeys of venturesome merchants or well-armed knights. Not only roads, but even streets were unsafe at night; and after the sun had set he who had gone about freely and carelessly during the day, remained at home or ventured out with much caution. When armies camped about her walls, the city was doubtless much occupied with outside happenings. But when the camp broke up and war was far away, her shoemaker made his shoes, her goldsmith, fine chains and trinkets, her merchants traded in the market-place. Their interests were in street brawls, romancings, new "privileges," the work or the feast of the day—in a word town-topics. Yet being as other men, the burghers also were awakened by the energy of the age, and instead of wasting it in adventures and wars, their interest took the form of an intense local pride, narrow, but with elements of grandeur, seldom selfish, but civic.
This absence of the personal element is nowhere better illustrated than in Cathedral building. Of all the really great men who planned the Cathedrals of France, almost nothing is known; and by searching, little can be found out. Who can give a dead date, much less a living fact, concerning the life of that Gervais who conceived the great Gothic height of Narbonne? Who can tell even the name of him who planned the sombre, battlemented walls of Agde, or of that great man who first saw in poetic vision the delicate choir of Saint-Nazaire in Carcassonne? Artists have a well-preserved personality,—cathedral-builders, none. Robert of Luzarches who conceived the "Parthenon of all Gothic architecture," and the man who planned stately Sens and the richness of Canterbury, are as unknown to us as the quarries from which the stones of their Cathedrals were cut. It is not the Cathedral built by Robert of Luzarches belonging to Amiens, as it is the Assumption by Rubens belonging to Antwerp. It is scarcely the Cathedral of its patron, Saint Firmin. It is the Cathedral of Amiens.
We hear many learned disquisitions on the decay of the art of church building. Lack of time in our rushing age, lack of patience, decline of religious zeal, or change in belief, these are some of the popular reasons for this architectural degeneracy. Strange as it may seem none of these have had so powerful an influence as the invention of printing. The first printing-press was made in the middle of the XV century,—after the conception of the great Cathedrals. In an earlier age, when the greatest could neither read nor write and manuscripts even in monasteries were rare, sculpture and carving were the layman's books, and Cathedrals were not only places of worship, they were the people's religious libraries where literature was cut in stone.
In the North, the most unique form of this literature was the drama of the Breton Calvaries, which portrayed one subject and one only,—the "Life and Passion of Christ," taken from Prophecy, Tradition, and the Gospels. Cathedrals, both North and South, used the narrative form. They told story after story; and their makers showed an intimate knowledge of Biblical lore that would do credit to the most ardent theological student. At Nimes, by no means the richest church in carvings, there are besides the Last Judgment and the reward of the Evil and the Righteous,—which even a superficial Christian should know,—many of the stories of the Book of Genesis. At Arles, there is the Dream of Jacob, the Dream of Joseph, the Annunciation, the Nativity, Purification, Massacre of the Innocents, the Flight into Egypt; almost a Bible in stone. In these days of books and haste few would take the trouble to study such sculptured tales. But their importance to the unlettered people of the Middle Ages cannot be overestimated; and the incentive to magnificence of artistic conception was correspondingly great.
The main era of Cathedral building is the same all over France. But with the general date, all arbitrary parallel between North and South abruptly ends. The North began the evolution of the Gothic, a new form indigenous to its soil; the South continued the Romanesque, her evolution of a transplanted style, and long knew no other. She had grown accustomed to give northward,—not to receive; and it was the reign of Saint Louis before she began to assimilate the architectural ideas of the Isle de France and to build in the Gothic style, it was admiration for the newer ideals which led the builders of the South to change such of their plans as were not already carried out, and to try with these foreign and beautiful additions, to give to their churches the most perfect form they could conceive.
And thus, from a web of Fate, in which, as in all destinies, is the spinning of many threads, came the Cathedrals and Cloisters of the South. Are they greater than those of the North? Are they inferior to them? It is best said, "Comparison is idle." Who shall decide between the fir-trees and the olives—between the beautiful order of a northern forest and the strange, astounding luxuriance of the southern tangle? Which is the better choice—the well-told tale of the Cathedrals of the North, with their procession of kingly visitors, or the almost untold story of the Cathedrals of the South, where history is still legend, tradition, romance—the story of fanatic fervour and still more fanatic hate?
ARCHITECTURE IN PROVENCE, LANGUEDOC, AND GASCONY.
No better place can be found than the Mediterranean provinces to consider the origins of the earliest southern style. Here Romanesque Cathedrals arose in the midst of the vast ruins of Imperial antiquity, here they developed strange similarities to foreign styles, domes suggesting the East, Greek motives recalling Byzantium, and details reminiscent of Syria. And here is the battle-field for that great army who decry or who defend Roman influences. Some would have us believe that the Romanesque dome is expatriated from the East; others, that it is naturalised; others, that it is native. The plan of the Romanesque dome differs very much from that of the Byzantine, yet the general conception seems Eastern. If conceivable in the Oriental mind, why not in that of the West? And yet, in spite of some native peculiarities of structure, why should not the general idea have been imported? Who shall decide? In a book such as this, mooted questions which involve such multitudinous detail and such unprovable argument cannot be discussed.
It is unreasonable to doubt, however, that Roman influences dominated the South, herself a product of Roman civilisation; and as in the curious ineradicable tendency of the South toward heresy we more than suspect a subtle infiltration of Greek and Oriental perversions, so in architecture it is logical to infer that Mediterranean traders, Crusaders, and perhaps adventurous architects who may have travelled in their wake, brought rumours of the buildings of the East, which were adopted with original or necessary modifications. Viollet-le-Duc, in summing up this much discussed question, has written that "in the Romanesque art of the West, side by side with persistent Latin traditions, a Byzantine influence is almost always found, evidenced by the introduction of the cupola." In the lamentable absence of records of the majority of Cathedrals, reasonings of origin must be inductive, and more or less imaginative, and have no legitimate place in the scope of a book which aims to describe the existing conditions and proven history of southern Cathedrals.
Quicherat, who has had much to say upon architectural subjects, defines the Romanesque as an art "which has ceased to be Roman, although it has much that is Roman, and that is not yet Gothic, although it already presages the Gothic." This is not a very helpful interpretation. Romanesque, as it exists in France to-day, is generally of earlier building than the Gothic; it is an older and far simpler style. It was not a quick, brilliant outburst, like the Gothic, but a long and slow evolution; and it has therefore deliberation and dignity, not the spontaneity of northern creations; strength, and at times great vigour, but not munificence, not the lavishness of art and wealth and adornment, of which the younger style was prodigal. Few generalisations are flawless, but it may be truly said that Romanesque Cathedrals are lacking in splendour; and it will be found in a large majority of cases that they are also without the impressiveness of great size; that they are almost devoid of shapely windows or stained glass, of notable carvings or richness of decorative detail. Their art is a simple art, a sober art, and in its nearest approach to opulence—the sculptured portals of Saint-Trophime of Arles or Saint-Gilles-de-Languedoc—there is still a reserved rather than an exuberant and uncontrolled display of wealth.
By what simple, superficial sign can this architecture be recognised by those who are to see it for the first time? It exists "everywhere and always" in southern France; but, side by side with the encroachments and additions of other styles, how can it be easily distinguished? Quicherat writes that the principal characteristic of the Romanesque is "la voute," and the great, rounded tunnel of the roofing is a distinction which will be found in no other form. But the easiest of superficial distinctions is the arch-shape, which in portal, window, vaulting or tympanum is round; wherever the arcaded form is used,—always round. With this suggestion of outline, and the universal principles of the style, simplicity and dignity and absence of great ornamentation, the untechnical traveller may distinguish the Romanesque of the South, and if he be akin to the traveller who tells these Cathedral tales, the interest and fascination which the old architecture awakes, will lead him to discover for himself the many differences which are evident between the ascetic strength of the one, and the splendour and brilliance of the other.
The three provinces which compose the South of France are Provence, Languedoc, and Gascony, and of these Provence is, architecturally and historically, the first to claim our interest. During the era of colonisation it was the most thoroughly romanised, and in the early centuries of Christianity the first to fall completely under the systematic organisation of the Church. It has a large group of very old Cathedrals, and is the best study-ground for a general scrutiny and appreciation of that style which the builders of the South assimilated and developed until, as it were, they naturalised it and made it one of the two greatest forms of architectural expression. Provence does not contain the most impressive examples of Romanesque. Two Abbeys of the far Norman North are more finished and harmonious representations of the art, and Languedoc, in the basilica of Saint-Sernin of Toulouse, has a nobler interior than any in the Midi, and many other churches of Languedoc and Gascony are most interesting examples of a style which belonged to them as truly as to Provence.
Yet it is in this province that the Romanesque is best studied. For here the great internecine struggles—both political and religious—of the Middle Ages were not as devastating as in Languedoc and Gascony; Provence was a sunny land, where Sonnets flourished more luxuriantly than did Holy Inquisition. Her churches have therefore been preserved in their original form in greater numbers than those of the two other provinces. They are of all types of Romanesque, all stages of its growth, from the small and simple Cathedrals which were built when ecclesiastical exchequers were not overflowing, to the greater ones which illustrate very advanced and dignified phases of architectural development; and as a whole they exhibit the normal proportion of failure and success in an effort toward an ideal.
Leon Renier, the learned lecturer of the College de France, says: "It is remarkable that the changes, the elaborations, the modifications of the architecture given by Rome to all countries under her domination were conceived in the provinces long before they were reproduced in Italy. Rome gave no longer; she received ... a transfusion of a new blood, more vital and more rich." In Languedoc, the greater number of monuments of this ancient architecture have been destroyed; and those of their outgrowth, the later Romanesque, were so repeatedly mutilated that the Cathedrals of this province present even a greater confusion of originalities, restorations, and additions than those of Provence. To a multitude of dates must be added corresponding differences in style. Each school of architecture naturally considered that it had somewhat of a monopoly of good taste and beauty, or at least that it was an improvement on the manner which preceded it; and it would have been too much to expect, in ages when anachronisms were unrecognised, that churches should have been restored in their consonant, original style. Architects of the Gothic period were unable to resist the temptation of continuing a Romanesque nave with a choir of their own school, and builders of the XVIII century went still further and added a showy Louis XV facade to a modest Romanesque Cathedral. Some churches, built in times of religious storm and stress, show the preoccupation of their patrons or the lack of talent of their constructors; others belong to Bishoprics that were much more lately constituted than the Sees of Provence, and in these cases the new prelate chose a church already begun or completed, and compromised with the demands of episcopal pomp by an addition, usually of different style. The numerous changes, political and religious, of the Mediaevalism of Languedoc, had such considerable and diverse influence on the architecture of the province that it is not possible, as in Provence, to trace an uninterrupted evolution of one style. The Languedocian is generally a later builder than the Provencal; he is bolder. Having the Romanesque and the Gothic as choice, he chose at will and seemingly at random. He had spontaneity, enthusiasm, verve; and when no accepted model pleased his taste, he re-created after his own liking. Languedoc has therefore a delightful quality that is wanting in Provence; and in her greater Cathedrals there is often an originality that is due to genius rather than to eccentricity. There is delicate Gothic at Carcassonne, lofty Gothic at Narbonne, Sainte-Cecile of Albi is fortified Gothic built in brick. The interior of Saint-Sernin of Toulouse is an apotheosis of the austere Romanesque, and Saint-Etienne of Agde is a gratifying type of the Maritime Church of the Midi.
This Cathedral of the Sea is a fitting example of a peculiar type of architecture which exists also in Provence,—a succession of fortress-churches that extend along the Mediterranean from Spain to Italy like the peaks of a mountain chain. Nothing can better illustrate the continuous warrings and raidings in the South of France than these strange churches, and their many fortified counterparts inland, in both Languedoc and Gascony. Castles and walled towns were not sufficient to protect the Southerner from invasions and incursions; his churches and Cathedrals, even to the XIV century, were strongholds, more suitable for men-at-arms than for priests, and seemingly dedicated to some war-god rather than to the gentle Virgin Mother and the Martyr-Saints under whose protection they nominally dwelt.
Although most interesting, the military church of the interior is seldom the Bishop's church. The maritime church on the contrary is nearly always a Cathedral, with strangely curious legends and episodes. The French coast of the Mediterranean was the scene of continuous pillage. Huns, Normans, Moors, Saracens, unknown pirates and free-booters of all nationalities found it very lucrative and convenient to descend on a sea-board town, and escape as they had come, easily, their boats loaded with booty. "As late as the XII century," writes Barr Ferree, "buccaneers gained a livelihood by preying on the peaceful and unoffending inhabitants of the villages and cities. The Cathedrals, as the most important buildings and the most conspicuous, were strongly fortified, both to protect their contents and to serve as strongholds for the citizens in case of need. In these churches, therefore, architecture assumed its most utilitarian form and buildings are real fortifications, with battlemented walls, strong and heavy towers, and small windows, and are provided with the other devices of Romanesque architecture of a purely military type."
"Time has dealt hardly with them. The kingly power, being entrenched in Paris, developed from the Isle de France. The wealth that once enriched the fertile lands of the South moved northwards, and the great commercial cities of the North became the most important centres of activity. Then the southern towns began to decline," and the buildings which remain to represent most perfectly the "Church-Fortress" are not those of Provence, which are "patched" and "restored," but those of Languedoc, Agde, and Maguelonne, and Elne of the near-by country of Rousillon.
Gascony, the last of the southern provinces and the farthest from Rome, had great prosperity under Imperial dominion. Many patricians emigrated there, roads were built, commerce flourished, and as in Provence and Languedoc, towns grew into large and well-established cities. Christianity made a comparatively early conquest of the province; and at the beginning of the IV century, eleven suffragan Bishoprics had been established under the Archbishopric of Eauze. Gascony has many old Cathedral cities, and has had many ancient Cathedrals; but after the fall of the Roman Empire in the V century, a series of wars began which destroyed not only the Christian architecture, but almost every trace of Roman wealth and culture. Little towers remain, supposed shrines of Mercury, protector of commerce and travel; pieces of statues are found; but the Temples, the Amphitheatres, the Forums, have disappeared, and even more completely, the rude Christian churches of that early period.
Although the province has no Mediterranean coast and could not be molested by the marauders of that busy sea, it lay directly upon the route of armies between France and Spain; and it is no "gasconading" to say that it was for centuries one of the greatest battle-fields of the South. Vandals, Visigoths, Franks, Saracens, Normans,—Gascons against Carlovingians, North against South, all had burned, raided, and destroyed Gascony before the XI century. It is not surprising, then, that there are found fewer traces of antiquity here than in Provence and Languedoc. Even the few names of decimated cities which survived, designated towns on new sites. Eauze, formerly on the Gelise, lay long in ruins, and was finally re-built a kilometre inland. Lectoure and Auch had long since retired from the river Gers and taken refuge on the hills of their present situations, while other cities fell into complete ruin and forgetfulness.
The year 1000, which followed these events, was that of the predicted and expected end of the world. The extravagances of Christians at that time are well known, the gifts of all property that were made to the Church, the abandonment of worldly pursuits, the terrors of many, the anxiety of the calmest, the emotional excesses which led people to live in trees that they might be near to heaven when the "great trump" should sound,—"Mundi fine appropinquante." But the trumpet did not sound, and Raoul Glaber, a monk of the XI century, writes that all over Italy and the Gaul of his day there was great haste to restore and re-build churches, a general rivalry between towns and between countries, as to which could build most remarkably. "This activity," says Quicherat, "may show a desire to renew alliance with the Creator." It certainly proves that the generation of the year 1000 had fresh and new architectural ideas.
This was the period of recuperation and re-building for Gascony. The monks of the VIII, IX, and X centuries had devoted themselves with zeal and success to the cultivation of the soil. They had acquired fertile fields, and desiring peace, they had placed themselves in positions where their strength would defend them when their holy calling was not respected. These monasteries were places of refuge and soon gave their name and their protection to the towns and villages which began to cluster about them. Except the declining settlements of Roman days, Gascony had few towns in the X century; and many of her most important cities of to-day owe their foundation, their existence, and their prosperity to these Benedictine monasteries. Eauze regained its life after the establishment of a convent, and in the XI, XII, and XIII centuries, the Abbots of Citeaux, Bishops, and even lords of the laity, occupied themselves in the creation of new cities. Many of the towns of mediaeval creation possessed broad municipal and commercial privileges, they grew to the importance of "communes" and Bishoprics, and some even styled themselves "Republics."
Although these were times of much re-building, restoring, and carrying out of older plans of ecclesiastical architecture, the XI and XII centuries were none the less filled with innumerable private wars, and in 1167 began the bloody and persistent struggle with England. The city of Aire was at one time reduced to twelve inhabitants, and the horrors of the mediaeval siege were more than once repeated. In these wars, Cathedrals, as well as towns and their inhabitants, were scarred and wounded. Hardly had these dissensions ended in 1494, when the Wars of Religion commenced under Charles IX, and Gascony was again one of the most terrible fields of battle. Here the demoniac enthusiasm of both sides exceeded even the terrible exhibitions of Languedoc. The royal family of Navarre was openly Protestant and contributed more than any others to the military organisations of their Faith. Jeanne d'Albret, in 1566, wishing to repay intolerance with intolerance, forbade religious processions and church funerals in Navarre. The people rose, and the next year the Queen was forced to grant toleration to both religions. Later the King of France entered the field and sent an army against the Bearnaise Huguenots, Jeanne, in reprisal, called to her aid Montmorency; and with a thoroughness born of pious zeal and hatred, each army began to burn and kill. All monasteries, all churches, were looted by the Protestants; all cities taken by Montluc, head of the Catholics, were sacked. Tarbes was devastated by the one, Rabestans by the other, and the Cathedral of Pamiers was ruined. With the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew, in 1572, the struggle began again, and the League flourished in all its malign enthusiasm. "Such disorder as was introduced," says a writer of the period, "such pillage, has never been seen since war began. Officers, soldiers, followers, and volunteers were so overburdened with booty as to be incommoded thereby. And after this brigandage, the peasants hereabouts [Bigorre] abandoned their very farms from lack of cattle, and the greater number went into Spain."
During long centuries of such religious and political devastation the architectural energy of Gascony was expended in replacing churches which had been destroyed, and were again to be destroyed or injured. It would be unfair to expect of this province the great magnificence which its brave, cheerful, and extravagant little people believe it "once possessed," or to look, amid such unrest, for the calm growth of any architectural style. It is a country of few Cathedrals, of curious churches built for war and prayer, and of such occasional outbursts of magnificence as is seen in the Romanesque portal of Saint-Pierre of Moissac and in the stately Gothic splendour of the Cathedrals at Condom and at Bayonne. It is a country where Cathedrals are surrounded by the most beautiful of landscapes, and where each has some legend or story of the English, the League, of the Black Prince, or the Lion-hearted, of Henry IV, still adored, or of Simon de Montfort, still execrated, where the towns are truly historic and the mountains truly grand.
THE CATHEDRALS OF THE SEA.
Perhaps a Phoenician settlement, certainly a Carthaginian mart, later a Grecian city, and in the final years of the pagan era possessed by the Romans, no city of France has had more diverse influences of antique civilisation than Marseilles, none responded more proudly to its ancient opportunities; and not only was it commercially wealthy and renowned, but so rich in schools that it was called "another, a new Athens." It was also the port of an adventurous people, who founded Nice, Antibes, la Ciotat, and Agde, and explored a part of Africa and Northern Europe; and at the fall of the Roman Empire it became, by very virtue of its riches and safe harbour, the envy and the prey of a succession of barbaric and "infidel" invaders. In the Middle Ages it had all the vicissitudes of wars and sieges to which a great city could be subjected. It had a Viscount, and from very early days, a Bishop; it was at one time part of the Kingdom of Arles; and later it recognised the suzerainty of the Counts of Provence. When these lords were warring or crusading, it took advantage of their absence or their troubles and governed itself through its Consuls; became a Provencal Republic after the type of the Italian cities and other towns of the Mediterranean country; treated with the Italian Republics on terms of perfect equality; and although finally annexed to France by the wily Louis of the Madonnas, its people were continually haunted by memories of their former independence, and not only struggled for municipal rights and liberties, but took sides for or against the most powerful monarchs of continental history as if they had been a resourceful country rather than a city. It succored the League, defied Henry IV and Richelieu; and treating Kings in trouble as cavalierly as declining Counts, Marseilles tried at the death of Henry III to secede from France and recover its autonomy under a Consul, Charles de Cazaulx. Promptly defeated, it still continued to think independently, and struggle, as best it might, for freedom of administration; and although from the time of Pompey to that of Louis XIV it has had an ineradicable tendency to stand against the government, it has survived the results of all its contumacies, its plagues, wars, and sieges, and the destructiveness of its phase of the Revolution, when it had a Terror of its own. Notwithstanding modern rivals in the Mediterranean, Marseilles is to-day one of the largest and most prosperous of French cities. Built in amphitheatre around the bay, it is beautiful in general view, its streets bustle with commercial activity, and its vast docks swarm with workmen. The storms of the past have gone over Marseilles as the storms of nature over its sea, have been as passionate, and have left as little trace. Instead of Temples, Forum, and Arena, there are the Palais de Longchamps, the Palais de Justice, and the Christian Arch of Triumph. Instead of the muddy and unhealthy alley-ways of Mediaevalism, there are broad streets and wide boulevards, and in spite of its antiquity Marseilles is a city of to-day, in monuments, aspect, spirit, and even in class distinction. "Here," writes Edmond About, "are only two categories of people, those who have made a fortune and those who are trying to make one, and the principal inhabitants are parvenus in the most honourable sense of the word."
"In the most honourable sense of the word," the Cathedral of Marseilles is also typical of the city, "parvenue." Its first stone was placed by Prince Louis Napoleon in 1852, and as the modern has overgrown the classic and mediaeval greatness of Marseilles, so the new "Majeure" has eclipsed, if it has not yet entirely replaced, the old Cathedral; and except the stern Abbey-church of Saint-Victor, an almost solitary relic of true mediaeval greatness, it is the finest church of the city.
The new Cathedral and the old stand side by side; the one strong and whole, the other partly torn down, scarred and maimed as a veteran who has survived many wars. Even in its ruin, it is an interesting type of the maritime Provencal church, but so pitiably overshadowed by its successor that the charm of its situation is quite lost, and few will linger to study its three small naves, the defaced fresco of the dome, or even the little chapel of Saint-Lazare, all white marble and carving and small statues, scarcely more than a shallow niche in the wall, but daintily proportioned, and a charming creation of the Renaissance. Fewer still of those who pause to study what remains of the old "Majeure," will stay to reconstruct it as it used to be, and realise that it had its day of glory no less real than that of the new church which replaces it. In its stead, Saint-Martin's, and Saint-Cannat's sometimes called "the Preachers," have been temporarily used for the Bishop's services. But now that the greater church, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, has been practically completed, it has assumed, once and for all, the greater rank, and a Cathedral of Marseilles still stands on its terrace in full view of the sea. Tradition has it that a Temple of Baal once stood on this site and later, a Temple to Diana; that Lazarus came in the I century, converted the pagan Marseillais and built a Christian Cathedral here. A more critical tradition says that Saint Victor first came as missionary, Bishop, and builder. All these vague memories of conversion, more or less accurate, all the legends of an humble and struggling Christianity, seem buried by this huge modern mass. It is not a church struggling and militant, but the Church Established and Triumphant. It is a vast building over four hundred and fifty feet long, preceded by two domed towers. Its transepts are surmounted at the crossing by a huge dome whose circumference is nearly two hundred feet, a smaller one over each transept arm, and others above the apsidal chapels. The exterior is built with alternate layers of green Florentine stone and the white stone of Fontvieille; and the style of the church, variously called French Romanesque, Byzantine, and Neo-Byzantine, is very oriental in its general effect.
An arcade between the two towers forms a porch, the entrance to the interior whose central nave stretches out in great spaciousness. The lateral naves, in contrast, are exceedingly narrow and have high galleries supported by large monolithic columns. These naves are prolonged into an ambulatory, each of whose chapels, in consonance with the Cathedral's colossal proportions, is as large as many a church. The building stone of the interior is grey and pink, with white marble used decoratively for capitals and bases; and these combinations of tints which would seem almost too delicate, too effeminate, for so large a building, are made rich and effective by their very mass, the gigantic sizes which the plan exacts. All that artistic conception could produce has been added to complete an interior that is entirely oriental in its luxury of ornamentation, half-oriental in style, and without that sober majesty which is an inherent characteristic of the most elaborate styles native to Western Christianity. Under the gilded dome is a rich baldaquined High Altar, and through the whole church there is a magnificence of mosaics, of mural paintings, and of stained glass that is sumptuous. Mosaics line the arches of the nave and the pendentives, and form the flooring; and in the midst of this richness of colour the grey pillars rise, one after the other in long, shadowy perspective, like the trees of a stately grove.
In planning this new Provencal Cathedral its architects did not attempt to reproduce, either exactly or in greater perfection, any maritime type which its situation on the Mediterranean might have suggested, nor were they inspired by any of the models of the native style; and perhaps, to the captious mind, its most serious defect is that its building has destroyed not only an actual portion of the old Majeure, but an historic interest which might well have been preserved by a wise restoration or an harmonious re-building. And yet, with the large Palace of the Archbishop on the Port de la Joliette near-by, the statue of a devoted and loving Bishop in the open square, and the majestic Cathedral of Sainte-Marie-Majeure itself, the episcopacy of Marseilles has all the outward and visible signs of strength and glory and power.
Toulon, although a foundation of the Romans, owes its rank to-day to Henry IV, to Richelieu, and to Louis XIV's busy architect, Vauban. It is the "Gibraltar of France," a bright, bustling, modern city. Sainte-Marie-Majeure, one of its oldest ecclesiastical names, is a title which belonged to churches of both the XI and XII centuries; but in the feats of architectural gymnastics to which their remains have been subjected, and in the wars and vicissitudes of Provence, these buildings have long since disappeared.
A few stones still exist of the XI century structure, void of form or architectural significance, and the ancient name of Sainte-Marie-Majeure now protects a Cathedral built in the most depressing style of the industrious Philistines of the XVII and XVIII centuries. It is not a Provencal nor a truly "maritime" church, it is not a fortress nor a defence, nor a work of any architectural beauty. It has blatancy, size, pretension,—a profusion of rich incongruities; and although religiously interesting from its chapels and shrines, it is architecturally obtrusive and monstrous.
The vagaries of the architects who began in 1634 to construct the present edifice, are well illustrated in the changes of plan to which they subjected this unfortunate church. The length became the breadth, the isolated chapel of the Virgin, part of the main building; the choir, another chapel; and the High Altar was removed from the eastern to the northern end, where a new choir had been built for its reception. This confusion of plan was carried out with logical confusion of style and detail. The facade has Corinthian columns of the XVII century; the nave is said to be "transition Gothic," the choir is decorated with mural paintings, and the High Altar, a work of Revoil, adds to the banalities of the XVII and XVIII centuries a rich incongruity of which the XIX has no reason to be proud. The whole interior is so full of naves of unequal length, and radiating chapels, of arches of differing forms, tastes, and styles, that it defies concise description and is unworthy of serious consideration. Provence has modest Cathedrals of small architectural significance, but except Sainte-Reparate of Nice, it has none so chaotic and commonplace as Sainte-Marie-Majeure of Toulon.
Frejus, which claims to be "the oldest city in France," was one of the numerous trading ports of the Phoenician, and later, during the period of her civic grandeur, an arsenal of the Roman navy. Her most interesting ruins are the Coliseum, the Theatre, the old Citadel, and the Aqueduct, suggestions of a really great city of the long-gone past. Frejus lost prestige with the decadence of the Empire, and after a destruction by the Saracens in the X century, Nature gave the blow which finally crushed her when the sea retreated a mile, and her old Roman light-house was left to overlook merely a long stretch of barren, sandy land. Owing to this stranded, inland position, she has escaped both the dignity of a modern sea-port and the prostitution of a Rivieran resort, and is a little dead city, the seat of an ancient Provencal "Cathedral of the Sea." This Cathedral is largely free from XVII and XVIII century disfigurements; and the pity is that having escaped this, a French church's imminent peril, it should have become so built around that the character of the exterior is almost lost. The facade is severely plain, an uninteresting re-building of 1823, but the carved wood of its portals is beautiful. The towers, as in other maritime Cathedrals of Provence, recall the perils and dangers of their days; and these towers of Frejus, although none the less practically defensive, have a more churchly appearance than those of Antibes, Grasse, and Vence. Over the vestibuled entrance rises the western tower. Its heavy, rectangular base is the support of a super-structure which was replaced in the XVI century by one more in keeping with conventional ecclesiastical models. Then the windows of the base, whose rounded arches are still traceable, were walled in; and the new octagonal stage with high windows of its own was completed by a tile-covered spire. The more interesting tower is that which surmounts the apse. This was the lookout, facing the sea, the really vital defence of the church. Its upper room was a storage place for arms and ammunition, and on the side which faces the city was open, with a broad, pointed arch. Above, the tower ends in machiolated battlements and presents a very strong and stern front seaward, perhaps no stronger, but more artistic and grim than towers of other Provencal Cathedrals.
The entrance of the church is curiously complicated. To the left is the little baptistery; directly before one, a narrow stairway which leads to the Cloister; and on the right, a low-arched vestibule which opens into the nave of the Cathedral. The interior of Saint-Etienne is dark and somewhat gloomy, but that is an inherent trait of a fortress-church, for every added inch of window-opening brought an ell of danger. The nave is unusually low and broad, and its buttressed piers are of immense weight, ending severely in a plain, moulded band. On these great piers rest the cross-vaults of the roof and the broad arches of the wall. The north aisle, disproportionately narrow, is a later addition. Behind the altar is a true Provencal apse, shallow and rectangular, and beyond its rounded roof opens the smaller half-dome. Architecturally, this is an interesting interior; but the traveller who has not time to spend in musings will fail to see it in its original intention;—cold, severely plain, heavy, with perhaps too many arch-lines, but sober and simple. A futile wooden wainscot now surrounds the church and breaks its wall space, liberal coats of whitewash conceal the building material, and taking from the church the severity of its stone, give it an appearance of poor deprecatory bareness.
Near the entrance of the Cathedral is its most ancient portion, the baptistery, formerly a building apart, but now an integral part of the church itself. It is perhaps the most interesting Christian monument in Frejus, a reminder of those early centuries when, in France as in Italy, the little baptistery was the popular form of Christian architectural expression. Here it has the very usual octagonal shape; the arches are upheld by grayish columns of granite with capitals of white marble, and in the centre stands the font. Between the columns are small recesses, alternately rectangular and semi-domed, and above all, is a modern dome and lantern. Structurally interesting, and reminiscent of the stately baptistery of Aix, the effect of this little chamber, like the church's interior, is marred by the whitewashes from whose industrious brushes nothing but the grayish columns have escaped. And here again, the traveller who would see the builders' work, free from the disfigurements of time, must pause and imagine.
Yet even imagination seems powerless before the desecration of the little Cloister. Charming it must have been to have entered its quiet walks, with their slender columns of white marble, to have seen the quaint old well in the little, sun-lit close. Now, between the slender columns, boards have been placed which shut out light and sun. The traveller sat down on an old wheel-barrow, waiting till he could see in the dim and misty light. All around him was forgetfulness of the Cloister's holy uses; signs of desecration and neglect. One end of the cloister-walk was a thoroughfare, where the wheel-barrow had worn its weary way; and even in the deserted corners there was the dust and dirt of a work-a-day world. The beautiful little capitals of the slender columns rose from among the boards, clipped and worn; above, he dimly saw the curious wooden ceiling which would seem to have taken the place of the usual stone vaulting; through chinks of the plank-wall he caught glimpses of a little close; and at length, having seen the most melancholy of "Cathedrals of the Sea," in its disguise of whitewash, decay, and misuse, he went his way.
That part of the southern coast of France called the Riviera seems now only to evoke visions of the most beautiful banality; of a life more artificial than the stage—which at least aims to present reality—transplanted to a scene of such incomparable loveliness that Nature herself adds a new and exquisite sumptuousness to the luxury of civilisation. The Riviera means a land of many follies and every vice;—each folly so delicious, each vice so regal, they seem to be sought and desired of all men. Where else can be seen in such careless magnificence Dukes of Russia with their polish of manner and their veiled insolence; Englishmen correct and blase; Americans a bit vociferous and truly amused; great ladies of all ages and manners; adventurers high and low; and the beautiful, sparkling women of no name, bravely dressed and barbarously jewelled? Such is the Riviera of to-day; the life imposed upon it by hordes of foreign idlers in a land whose warmth and luxuriance may have lent itself but too easily to the vicious and frivolous pleasures for which they have made it notorious, but a land which has no native history that is effeminate, nor any so unworthy as its exotic present. "The Riviera" may be Nice, Beaulieu, and their like, but the Provencal Mediterranean and its neighbouring territory have been the fatherland of warriors in real mail and of princes of real power, of the Emperor Pertinax of pagan times, of those who fought successfully against Mahmoud and Tergament, and of many Knights of Malta, long the "Forlorn Hope" of Christendom.
Discreetly hidden from vulgar eyes that delight in the architecture of the modern caravanserai, are the ruins of these older days—Amphitheatres, Fountains, Temples, and Aqueducts of the Romans; the Castles, Abbeys, and Cathedrals of mediaeval times. Here are the larger number, if not the most interesting, of those curious churches of the sea, which protected the French townsman of the Mediterranean coast from the rapacity of sea-rovers and pirates, and many more orthodox enemies of the Middle Ages.
From the great beauty of its situation, the small city of Antibes is at once a type of the old regime and of the new. Lying on the sea, with a background of snow-capped mountains, it has not entirely escaped the fate of Nice; neither has it yet lost all its old Provencal characteristics. It is a pathetic compromise between the quaint reality of the old and the blatancy of the new. The little parish church is of the very far past, having lost its Cathedral rank over six hundred years ago to Sainte-Marie in Grasse, a town scarcely younger than its own. It is the type of the church of this coast, with its unpretentious smallness, its strength, and its disfiguring restorations; and it is, especially in comparison with Vence and Grasse, of small architectural interest. The facade, and the double archway which connects the church and the tower, are of the unfortunate XVIII century, the older exterior is monotonous, and the interior, an unpleasing confusion of forms.
The real interest of the little Cathedral is its ancient military strength, neither very grand nor very imposing, but very real to the enemy who hundreds of years ago hurled himself against the hard, plain stones. From this view-point, the mannered facade and the inharmonious interior matter but little. Toward the foe, whose sail might have arisen on the horizon at any moment, the protecting church presented the heavy rounded walls and safely narrowed windows of its three apses, and behind them the military omen of the severe, rectangular tower. High in every one of its four sides, seaward and landward, was a window, from which many a watcher must have looked and strained anxious eyes. This is the significance of the little sea-side Cathedral, this the story its tower suggests. And now when the sea is sailed by peaceful ships, and the Cathedral only a place of pious worship, the tower with its gaping windows is the only salient reminder of the ancient dignity of the church; the reminder to an indifferent generation of the days when Antibes fulfilled to Christians the promise of her old, pagan name, Antipolis, "sentinel" of the perilous sea.
The situation of its Cathedral reveals a Nice of which but little is written, the city of a people who live in the service of those whose showy, new villas and hotels stretch along the promenades and lie dotted on the hills in the Nice of "all the world." Besides this exotic city, there is "the Nice of the Nicois," a small district of dark, crowded streets that are too full of the sordid struggles of competing work-people to be truly picturesque. Here, in the XVI century, when the Citadel of Nice was enlarged and the Cathedral of Sainte-Marie-de-l'Assomption destroyed, the Church of Sainte-Reparate was re-built, and succeeded to the episcopal rank. Standing on a little open square, surrounded by small shops and the poor homes of trades-folk, it seems in every sense a church of the people. Here the native Nicois, gay, industrious, mercurial, and dispossessed of his town, may feel truly at home. Finished in the most exuberant rococo style, it is an edifice from which all architectural or religious inspiration is conspicuously absent. It is a revel of luxurious bad taste; a Cathedral in Provence, a Cathedral by the Sea, but neither Provencal nor Maritime,—rather a product of that Italian taste which has so profoundly vitiated both the morals and the architecture of all the Riviera.
CATHEDRALS OF THE HILL-TOWNS.
Carpentras is a busy provincial town, the terminus of three diminutive railroads and of many little, lumbering, dust-covered stages. It stands high on a hill, and from the boulevards, dusty promenades under luxuriant shade-trees, which circle the town as its walls formerly did, there is an extended view over the pretty hills and valleys of the neighbouring country. At one end of the town the Hospital rises, an immense, bare, and imposing edifice of the XVIII century, built by a Trappist Bishop; and at the other is the Orange Gate, the last tower of the old fortifications. Between these historic buildings and the encircling boulevards are the narrow streets and irregular, uninteresting buildings of the city itself. It is strange indeed that so isolated a place, which seems only a big, bustling country-town, should have been of importance in the Middle Ages, and that bits of its stirring history must have caused all orthodox Europe to thrill with horror. Stranger still would be the forgetfulness of modern writers, by whom Carpentras is seldom mentioned, were it not that the city's real history is that of the Church political, a story of strange manners and happenings, rather than a step in the vital evolution towards our own time.
In the Middle Ages Carpentras was an episcopal city, the capital of the County Venaissin, governed by wealthy, powerful, and ambitious Bishops, who took no small interest in worldly aggrandisement. Passing by gift to the Papacy, after the sudden death of Clement V it was selected as the place of the Conclave which was to elect his successor. The members were assembled in the great episcopal Palace, when Bertrand de Goth, a nephew of the dead Pope, claiming to be an ally of the French prelates against the Italians in the Conclave, arrived from a successful looting of the papal treasury at Montreux to pillage in Carpentras. He and his mercenaries massacred the citizens and burned the Cathedral. The episcopal Palace caught fire, and their Eminences—in danger of their lives—were forced to squeeze their sacred persons through a hole which their followers made in the Palace wall and fly northward.
This unfortunate raid left Carpentras with many ruins and a demolished Cathedral, deserted by those in whose cause she had unwittingly suffered. The new Pontiff was safely elected in Lyons, and upon his return to the papal seat of Avignon he administered Carpentras by a "rector," and it continued as it had been before, the political capital of the County. During the reigns of succeeding Popes it was apparently undisturbed by dangerous honours, until the accession of the Anti-Pope, Benedict XIII. So great was this prelate's delight in the city that he reserved to himself the minor title of her Bishop, re-built her walls, and was the first patron of the present and very orthodox Cathedral, Saint-Siffrein. By a curious destiny, the church had this false prelate not only as its first patron, but as its first active supporter; and in 1404 he sent Artaud, Archbishop of Arles, in his name, to lay its first stone.
Wars and rumours of wars soon possessed the province. Benedict fled, and through unrest and lack of money the work of Cathedral building was greatly hindered. In the meantime the ruins of the former Cathedral seem to have been gradually disintegrating, and in 1829 the last of its Cloister was destroyed, to be replaced by prison cells; and now only the choir dome and a suggestion of the nave exist, partly forming the present sacristy. From these meagre remains and from writings of the time, it may be fairly inferred that Saint-Pierre was a Cathedral of the type of Avignon and Cavaillon and the old Marseillaise Church of La Majeure, and that, architecturally considered, it was a far more important structure than Saint-Siffrein. With this depressing knowledge in mind the traveller was confronted with a sight as depressing—the present Cathedral itself.
Fortunately, churches of a period antedating the XVII century are seldom so uninteresting. Nothing more meagre nor dreary can be conceived than the facade with its three, poor, characterless portals. They open on a large vaulted hall, with chapels in its six bays and a small and narrow choir. The principal charm of the interior is negative; its dim misty light, by concealing a mass of tasteless decorations and the poverty and bareness of the whole architectural scheme, gives to the generous height and size of the room an atmosphere of subdued and mysterious spaciousness. The south door is the one bit of this Gothic which passes the commonplace. Set in a poor, plain wall, the portal has a graceful symmetry of design; and its few carved details, probably limited by the artistic power of its builder, are so simple and chaste that they do not inevitably suggest poverty of conception. The tympanum holds an exotic detail, a defaced and insignificant fresco of the Coronation of the Virgin; and on the pier which divides the door-way stands a very charming statue of Our Lady of Snows, blessing those who enter beneath her outstretched hands.
This simple portal, and indeed the whole church, is a significant example of Provencal Gothic, a style so foreign to the genius of the province that it could produce only feeble and attenuated examples of the art. Compared with its northern prototypes, it is surprisingly tentative; and awkward, unaccustomed hands seem to have built it after most primitive conceptions.
Well outside the Alpine city of Digne, and almost surrounded by graves, stands a small and ancient church which is seldom opened except for the celebration of Masses for the Dead. Coffin-rests stand always before the altar, and enough chairs for the few that mourn. There are old candlesticks for the tapers of the church's poor, and hidden in the shadows of the doors, a few broken crosses that once marked graves, placed, tenderly perhaps, above those who were alive some years ago and who now rest forgotten; on battered wood, one can still read a baby's age, an old man's record, and the letters R. I. P.
In this strange, melancholy destiny of Notre-Dame-du-Bourg there seems to be a peculiar fitness. The mutability of time, forgetfulness, and at length neglect, which death suggests, are brought to mind by this old church. Once the Cathedral of Digne, but no longer Cathedral, it stands almost alone in spite of its honours and its venerable age. After the desecration by the Huguenots, its episcopal birthright was given to a younger and a larger church; the city has moved away and clusters about its new Cathedral, Saint-Jerome; and Notre-Dame-du-Bourg is no longer on a busy street, but near the dusty high-road, amid the quiet of the country and the hills.
Parts of its crypt and tower may antedate 900, but the church itself was re-built in the XII and XIII centuries. The course of time has brought none of the incongruities which have ruined many churches by the so-called restorations of the last three hundred years, and although its simple Romanesque is sadly unrepaired, it is a delight to come into the solitude and find an unspoiled example of this stanch old style.
The Romanesque shows forth its great solidity in the exterior of its churches, and nowhere more than in Digne's deserted Cathedral. Flat buttresses line the walls, the transepts are square and plain, and on either side the facade wall is upheld by a formidable support. This severity of line is not greatly modified by the deep recesses of a few windows; nor is the tower—which lost its spire three hundred years ago—of less sober construction, less solidly built. Below the overhanging eaves of a miserable roof and the curious line of the nave vault which projects through the wall, is a round window with a frame of massive rolls and hollows; and below this again, under a narrow sloping covering, is the deep arch of the Cathedral's porch. This, in its prime, must have been the church's ornamental glory. Beneath the outer arch, which is continued to the buttresses by half-arches, are the great roll-mouldings that twist backward to a plain tympanum. Capitals still support these massive curves of stone, but the niches in which the columns formerly stood are empty, and grinning lions, lying on the ground, no longer support the larger columns of the plain arch. All stands in solemn decay.
The traveller entered a battered, brass-nailed door and saw before him the stretch of a single, empty nave, a choir beneath whose lower vault are three small windows, and on either side the archways which he knew must lead to narrow transepts. In the south side, plain, rounded windows give a glimmering light, and over each projects an arch, the modest decoration of the walls. Far above rises the tunnel-vault, whose sheer height is grandly dignified; the arches rest on roughly carved capitals, and the outer rectangle of the piers is displaced for half a column. The rehearsal of these most simple details seems but the writing of "the letter which killeth," and not the portrayal of the spirit that seems to live within these walls. Details which seem so poorly few when read, are nobly so when seen. This small old church has a true religious stateliness, and it seemed as if a priest should bring the Sanctuary-light which says, "The Lord is in His holy temple."
Saint-Jerome was built between 1490 and 1500, a hundred years before its episcopal elevation, and forms a most complete antithesis to Notre-Dame-du-Bourg which it supplanted in 1591. Where Notre-Dame is small, Saint-Jerome is large, where the old church is simple, the newer one is either pretentious or sumptuous, and where the one is Romanesque, the other is Gothic.
The present Cathedral stands on the heights of the city; and from one side or another its clean, straight walls can be seen in all their large angularity and absence of architectural significance. Towers rise conventionally above the facade; and a big broad flight of white stone steps leads to three modern portals that have been built in an economical imitation of the sculptured richness of the XIII century.
The interior, also Gothic, has neither clerestory nor triforium, and its naves are covered by a vaulting which springs broadly from the round, supporting piers. The conception is not noble, it has no simplicity, and no more of spiritual suggestion than a Madonna of Titian; but the space of the nave is so largely generous and the new polychrome so richly toned that the church has majesty of space and harmony, deep lights and subdued colourings; it is large and sumptuous with the munificence of a Veronese canvas, a singular and most curious contrast to the cold severity of its outer walls.
Before the High Altar of this Church lies buried one whose spirit suggests the Christ, a Bishop, yet a simple priest, whose life deserves more words than does the whole of Saint-Jerome, once his Cathedral-church. He was a Cure of Brignoles, one of those keen, yet simple-hearted and hard-working priests who often bless Provencal towns. He had no great ambitions, no patronage, no ties except a far-off brother who was an upstart general of that most upstart Emperor, Napoleon. One day while the priest was pottering in his little garden,—as Provencal Cures love to dig and work,—a letter was handed him, marked "thirty sous of postage due." He was outraged. His shining old soutane fell from the folds in which he had prudently tucked it, he shrugged his shoulders and protested,—"A great expense indeed for a trivial purpose. Where should he find another thirty sous for his poor? He never wrote letters. Therefore by no argument of any school of logic could he be compelled to receive them. Obviously this was not for him." The unexpected letter was one for which his brother had asked and which Napoleon had signed, a decree which made him Bishop.
Long afterwards this simple, saintly prelate saved a man from crime, and history relates that this same man died at Waterloo as a good and faithful soldier fighting for the fatherland. His benefactor, that loyal servant of Christ and His Church, soon followed him in death, and unlike many a Saint whom this earth forgets his memory lives on, not only in the little city of the snow-clad Alps, but in the hearts of those who read of his good deeds. For Monseigneur Miollis of Digne is truly Monseigneur Bienvenu of "Les Miserables," and only the soldier of Waterloo was glorified in Jean Valjean.
If it is difficult to picture sleepy, stately Aix as one of the most brilliant centres of mediaeval Europe, and the garrisoned castle of Tarascon filled with the gay courtiers and fair ladies of King Rene's Court, it will be almost impossible to walk in the smaller Provencal "cities," and see in imagination the cavalcades of mailed soldiers who clattered through the streets on their way to the castle of some near-by hill-top, my lord proudly distinguishable by his mount or the length of his plume, a delicate Countess languishing between the curtains of her litter, or a more sprightly one who rode her palfrey and smiled on the staring townsfolk. It is almost impossible to conceive that the four daughters of Raymond Berenger, a Queen of the Romans, of France, of Naples, and of England, were brought up in the castle of the little hillside hamlet of Saint-Maime Dauphin. Provence is quiet, rural, provincial; a land of markets, busy country inns, and farms; not of modern greatness nor of modern renown. Its children are a fine and busy race, no less strong and fine than in the land's more stirring times, but they live their years of greatness in other, "more progressive" parts of France, and the Provencal genius, which remains very native to the soil, is broadly known to fame as "French." Like some rich old wine hidden in the cellars of the few, Provence lies safely ensconced behind Avignon and Arles, and only the epicures of history penetrate her hills.
Her mediaeval ruins seem to belong to a past almost as dead and ghostly as her Roman days, and to realise her Middle Ages, one must leave the busy people in the town below, climb one of the hills, and sitting beside the crumbling walls of some great tower or castle, watch the hot sun setting behind the low mountains and lighting in a glow the bare walls of some other ruined stronghold on a neighbouring height. The shadows creep into the valleys, the rocks grow grey and cold, and the clusters of trees beside them become darkly mysterious. Then far beneath a white thread seems to appear, beginning at the valley's entrance and twisting along its length until it disappears behind another hill. This is the road; and by the time the eye has followed its long course, daylight has grown fainter. Then Provence takes on a long-lost splendour. To those who care to see, cavalcades of soldiers or of hunters come home along the road, castles become whole and frowning, the dying sun casts its light through their gaping window-holes, as light of nightly revels used to shine, and a phantom Mediaevalism appears.
One of the powerful families of the country, the Counts of Forcalquier, sprang from the House of Berenger in the XI century, and a hundred and fifty years later, grown too great, were crushed by the haughty parent house. More than one hill of Eastern Provence has borne their tall watchtowers, more than one village owed them allegiance, and a large town in the hills was their capital and bore their name. And yet not a ruined tower that overlooks the Provencal mountains, not a village, gate, or castle—Manosque or old Saint-Maime,—but speaks more vividly of the old Counts than does Forcalquier, formerly their city, now a mere country town which has lost prestige with its increasing isolation, many of its inhabitants by plagues and wars, and almost all of its picturesque Mediaevalism through the destructiveness of sieges.
Long before this day of contented stagnancy, in 1061, when Forcalquier, fortified, growing, and important, claimed many honours, Bishop Gerard Caprerius of Sisteron had given the city a Provost and a Chapter, and created the Church of Saint-Mary, co-cathedral with that of Notre-Dame of Sisteron. Not contented with this honour, Forcalquier demanded and received a Bishopric of her own. Her hill was then crowned by a Citadel, her Cathedral stood near-by, her walls were intact. Now the Citadel is replaced by a peaceful pilgrims' chapel, the walls are gone, Saint-Mary, ruined in the siege of 1486, is recalled only by a few weed-covered stumps and bits of wall, and its title was given to Notre-Dame in the lower part of the town.
No Cathedral is a sadder example of architectural failure than Notre-Dame of Forcalquier because it has so many of the beginnings of real beauty and dignity, so many parts of real worthiness that have been unfortunately combined in a confused and discordant whole. If, of all little cities of Provence, Forcalquier is one of the least unique and least holding, its Cathedral is also one of the least satisfying. It is not beautiful in situation nor in its own essential harmony, and the fine but tantalising perspectives of its interior may be found again in happier churches.
The exterior shows to a superlative degree that general tendency of Provencal exteriors to be without definite or logical proportions. A large, square tower, heavier than that of Grasse, served as a lookout, a tall, thin little turret served as a belfry. In the facade there is a Gothic portal which notwithstanding its entire mediocrity is the chief adornment of the outer walls. They are irregular and uncouth to a degree and their only interesting features are at the eastern end. Here the smaller, older apses on either side betray the church's early origin. The central apse, evidently of the same dimensions as the Romanesque one originally designed, was re-built in severe, rudimentary Gothic. Looking at this shallow apse alone, and following its plain lines until they meet those of the big tower, there is a straight simplicity that is almost fine,—but this is one mere detail in a large and barren whole, and the Cathedral-seeker turns to the nearest entrance.
The first glimpse of the interior is so relieving that one is not quick to notice its lack of architectural unity. The few windows give a soft light, and the brown of the stone has a mellowness that is both rich and reposeful. If the Cathedral could have been finished in the style of the first bays of the nave, it would have been a nobly dignified example of the Romanesque. Could it have been re-built in the slender Gothic of the last bay, it would have been an exquisite example of Provencal Gothic. Rather largely planned, its old form of tunnel vaulting and the fine curve of its nave arches and heavy piers are in violent contrast to the Gothic bay, with its pointed arch, its clustered columns and carved capitals, which, even with the shallow choir and its long, slim windows, is too slight a portion of the Cathedral to have independence or real beauty. From its ritualistic position, it is the culminating point of the church, and its discord with the Romanesque is unpleasantly insistent. The side aisles, which were built in the XVII century, are low, agreeable walks ending in the chapels of the smaller apses. They are neither very regular nor very significant; but they give the church pleasant size and perspectives, and by avoiding the unduly large and shining modern chandeliers which hang between the nave arches, one gets from these side aisles the suggestive views which show only too well what true and good architectural ideas were brought to confusion in the re-building, the additions, and the restorations of the centuries. In painting, anachronisms may be quaint or even amusing; but in architecture, they are either grotesque or tragic, and in a church of such fine suggestiveness as Notre-Dame at Forcalquier, one is haunted by lingering regrets for what might and should have been.