The Story of Paris
by Thomas Okey
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[Footnote 38: William the Conqueror was also known as William the Builder.]

The people of Paris and of France never forgot the lesson of the dark century of the invasions. A subtle change had been operating. The empire had decomposed into kingdoms; the kingdoms were segregating into lordships. Men in their need were attracted to the few strong and dominant lords whose courage and resource afforded them a rallying point and shelter against disintegrating forces: the poor and defenceless huddled for protection to the seigneurs of strongholds which had withstood the floods of barbarians that were devastating the land. The seeds of feudalism were sown in the long winter of the Norman terror.


The Rise of the Capetian Kings and the Growth of Feudal Paris

From 936 to the coronation of Hugh Capet at Noyon in 987, the Carlovingians exercised a slowly decaying power. The real rulers at Paris were Hugh the Tall and Hugh Capet,[39] grandson and great-grandson of Robert the Strong. They revolutionized the ideal of kingship and founded the line of kings of France which stretches onward through history for a thousand years until the guillotine of the Revolution cut it in twain. It is Hugh Capet whom Dante, following a legend of his time, calls the son of a butcher of Paris, and whom he hears among the weeping souls cleaving to the dust and purging their avarice in the fifth cornice of Purgatory.

[Footnote 39: The surname Capet is said to have originated in the capet or hood of the abbot's mantle which Hugh wore as lay Abbot of St. Martin's, having laid aside the crown after his coronation.]

Their patrimony was a small one—the provinces of the Isle de France, La Brie, La Beauce, Beauvais and Valois; but their sway extended over the land of the Langue d'oil, with its strenuous northern life, le doux royaume de la France, the sweet realm of France, whose head was Paris, cradle of the great French Monarchy and home of art, learning and chivalry. The globe of the earth, symbol of universal empire, gives way to the hand of justice as the emblem of kingship. The Capets were, it is true, at first little more than seigneurs over other seigneurs, some of whom were almost as powerful as they; but that little, the drop of holy chrism by which they were consecrated of the Church, and the support of the French jurists, contained within them a promise and potency of future grandeur. They were the Lord's anointed, supported by the Lord's Vicar on earth: to disobey them was to disobey God: tribal sovereignty was to give way to territorial sovereignty. The people, long forsaken by their emperors, had in their turn forsaken them, in order "not to be at the mercy of all the great ones they surrendered themselves to one of the great ones" and in exchange for protection gave troth and service. Cities, churches and monasteries now assumed a new aspect. Paris had demonstrated the value of a walled city, and during the latter part of the Norman terror, from all parts of North France, monks and nuns and priests had brought their holy relics within it as to a city of refuge. Gone were its lines of villas from Gallo-Roman times extending freely into the country. The ample spaces within gave place to crowded houses and narrow streets held in a rigid ring of walls and moats. The might of the archbishops, bishops and abbots increased: they sat in the councils of kings and dominated the administration of justice; the moral, social and political life of the country centred around them. Armed with the sword and the cross they held almost absolute sway over their little republics, coined money, levied taxes, disposed of small armies and went to the chase in almost regal state.

The advent of the year 1000 was regarded with universal terror in Christendom. A fear, based on a supposed apocalyptic prophecy that the end of the world was at hand, paralysed all political and social life. Churches were too small to contain the immense throngs of fearful penitents: legacies and donations from conscience-stricken worshippers poured wealth into their treasuries. But once the awe-inspiring night of the vernal equinox that began the year 1000 had passed, and the bright March sun rose again on the fair earth, unconsumed by the wrath of God, the old world "seemed to thrill with new life; the earth cast off her outworn garments and clothed herself in a rich and white vesture of new churches." Everywhere in Europe, and especially in Paris and in France, men strove in emulation to build the finest temples to God. The wooden roofs of the Merovingian and Carlovingian basilicas had ill withstood the ravage of war and fire. Stone took the place of wood, the heavy thrust of the roof led to increased mural strength, walls were buttressed, columns thickened. Massive towers of defence, at first round, then polygonal, then square, flanked the west fronts, veritable keeps, where the sacred vessels and relics might be preserved and defended in case of attack. Soon spaces are clamant for decoration and the stone soars into the beauty of Gothic vaulting and tracery.

The growth of Paris is more intimately associated with the Capets than with any of the earlier dynasties, and at no period in its history is the ecclesiastical expansion more marked. Under the long reign of Hugh's son, King Robert the Pious, no less than fourteen monasteries and seven churches were built or rebuilt in or around the city; a new and magnificent palace and hall of Justice, with its royal chapel dedicated to St. Nicholas, rose on the site of the old Roman basilica and palace in the Cite. The king was no less charitable than pious; troops of the poor and afflicted followed him when he went abroad, and he fed a thousand daily at his table. But notwithstanding his munificent piety, he was early made to feel the power of the Church. His union with Queen Bertha, a cousin of the fourth degree, whom he had married a year before his accession, was condemned by the pope as incestuous, and he was summoned to repudiate her. Robert, who loved his wife dearly, resisted the papal authority, and excommunication and interdict followed.[40] Everyone fled from him; only the servants are said to have remained, who purged with fire all the vessels which were contaminated by the guilty couple's touch. The misery of his people at length subdued the king's spirit, and he cast off his faithful and beloved queen.

[Footnote 40: A dramatic representation of the delivery of the papal bull, painted by Jean Paul Laurens, hangs in the museum of the Luxembourg.]

The beautiful and imperious Constance of Aquitaine, her successor, proved a penitential infliction second only in severity to the anathemas of the Church. Troops of vain and frivolous troubadours from her southern home, in all kinds of foreign and fantastic costumes, invaded the court at Paris and shocked the austere piety of the king. He perceived the corrupting influence on the simple manners of the Franks of their licentious songs, lascivious music and dissolute lives, but was powerless to dismiss them. The tyrannous temper of his new consort became the torment of his life. He was forced even to conceal his acts of charity. One day, on returning from prayers, Robert perceived that his lance by the queen's orders had been adorned with richly chased silver. He looked around his palace and was not long in finding a poor, tattered wretch whom he ordered to search for a tool, and the pair locked themselves in a room; the silver was soon stripped from the lance, the king hastily thrust it into the beggar's wallet and bade him escape before the queen discovered the loss. The poor whom he admitted to his table, despite the angry protests of the queen, at times ill repaid his charity. On one occasion a tassel of gold was cut from his robe, and on the thief being discovered the king simply remarked: "Well, perhaps he has greater need of it than I, may God bless its service to him." The very fringe was sometimes stripped from his cloak as he walked abroad, but he never could be induced to punish any of these poor spoilers of his person. It is in King Robert's reign that we read of one of the earliest revolts against the institution of slavery, which was regarded as an integral part of the divine order of things. It was the custom of the Church at Paris to send serfs to the law courts to give evidence for their bishop or prior, or to do battle for them in the event of a judicial duel. The freemen in the eleventh century began to rebel against fighting with a despised serf, and refused the duel, whereupon early in the next century the king and his court decided that the serfs might lawfully testify and fight against freemen, and whoso refused the trial by battle should lose his suit and suffer excommunication. The prelates exchanged serfs, used them as substitutes in times of war, allowed them to marry outside their church or abbey only by special permission and on condition that all children were equally divided between the two proprietors. If a female serf married a freeman he and their children became serfs. Serfs were only permitted to make a will by consent of their master; every favour was paid for and liberty bought at a great price. Merchants even and artizans in towns owed part of their produce to the seigneur. In the eleventh century burgesses as well as serfs and Jews were given to churches, exchanged, sold or left in wills by their seigneurs. The story of mediaeval Paris is the story of the efforts of serf and burgess to win their economic freedom.

The declining years of King Robert were embittered by the impiety of rebellious sons, who were reduced to submission only at the price of a protracted and bloody campaign in Burgundy. The broken-hearted father did not long survive his victory. He died in 1031, and the benisons and lamentations of the poor and lowly winged his spirit to its rest. If we may believe some writers, pious King Robert's memory is enshrined in the hymnology of the Church, which he enriched with some beautiful compositions. He was often seen to enter St. Denis in regal habit to lead the choir at matins, and would sometimes challenge the monks to a singing contest.

In 1053, towards the end of Henry I.'s almost unchronicled reign, an alarming rumour came to Paris. The priests of St. Ermeran at Ratisbon claimed to have possession of the body of St. Denis, which they alleged had been stolen from the abbey in 892 by one Gisalbert. The loss of a province would not have evoked livelier emotion, and Henry at once took measures to convince France and Christendom that the true body was still at St. Denis. Before an immense concourse of bishops, abbots, princes and people, presided over by the king, his brother and the archbishops of Rheims and of Canterbury, the remains of St. Denis and his two companions were solemnly drawn out of the silver coffers in which they had been placed by Dagobert, together with a nail from the cross and part of the crown of thorns, all locked with two keys in a chest richly adorned with gold and precious stones, and preserved in a vault under the high altar. After having been borne in procession they were exposed on the high altar for fifteen days and then restored to their resting-place. The stiff-necked priests of Ratisbon, fortified with a papal bull of 1052, still maintained their claim to the possession of the body, but no diminution was experienced in the devotion either of the French peoples or of strangers of all nations to the relics at St. Denis.

The chief architectural event of Henry's reign at Paris was the rebuilding on a more magnificent scale of the Merovingian church and abbey of St. Martin in the Fields (des Champs), whose blackened walls and desolate lands were eloquent of the Norman terror. The buildings stood outside Paris about a mile beyond the Cite on the great Roman road to the north, where St. Martin on his way to Paris healed a leper. The foundation, which soon grew to be one of the wealthiest in France, included a hostel for poor pilgrims endowed by Philip I. with a mill on the Grand Pont, to which the monks added the revenue from an oven.[41] In the eighteenth century, when the monastery was secularised, the abbot was patron of twenty-nine priories, three vicarates and thirty-five parishes, five of which were in Paris. Some of the old building has been incorporated in the existing Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers. The Gothic Priory chapel, with its fine twelfth-century choir, is used as a machinery-room, and the refectory, one of the most precious and beautiful creations attributed to Pierre de Montereau, is now a library.

[Footnote 41: The possession of an oven was a lucrative monopoly in mediaeval times. The writer has visited a village in South Italy where this curious privilege is still possessed by the parish priest, who levies a small indemnity of a few loaves, made specially of larger size, for each use of the oven.]

Philip I. brought to the indolent habit inherited from his father a depraved and vicious nature. After a regency of eight years he became king at the age of fifteen, and lived to defile his youth and dishonour his manhood by debauchery and adultery, simony and brigandage. Early in his career he followed the evil counsels of his provost Etienne, and purposed the spoliation of the treasury of St. Germain des Pres to pay for his dissolute pleasures. "As the sacrilegious pair," says the chronicler, "drew near the relics, Etienne was smitten with blindness and the terrified Philip fled."

Philip after a reign void of honour or profit to France left his son Louis VI. (the Lusty) a heritage of shame, a kingdom reduced to little more than a baronage over a few comtes, whose cities of Paris, Etampes, Orleans and Sens were isolated from royal jurisdiction by insolent and rebellious vassals. Many of the great seigneurs were but freebooters, living by plunder. The violence and lawlessness of these and other smaller scoundrels, who levied blackmail on merchants and travellers, made commerce almost impossible. Corruption, too, had invaded many of the monasteries and fouled the thrones of bishops, and a dual effort was made by king and Church to remedy the evils of the times. The hierarchy strove to centralise power at Rome that the Church might be purged of wolves in sheep's clothing: the Capetian monarchs to increase their might at Paris in order to subdue insolent and powerful vassals to law and obedience.

In 1097 the Duke of Burgundy learned that Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury was about to pass through his territory with a rich escort on his way to Rome. The usual ambush was laid and the party were held up. As the duke hastened to spoil his victims, crying out—"Where is the archbishop?" he turned and saw Anselm, impassive on his horse, gazing sternly at him. In a moment the savage and lawless duke was transformed to a pallid, stammering wretch with downcast eyes, begging permission to kiss the old man's hand and to offer him a noble escort to safeguard him through his territory. It was the moral influence of prelates such as this and monks such as St. Bernard that enabled the hierarchy to enforce the celibacy of the clergy, to cleanse the bishoprics and abbeys, to wrest the privilege of conferring benefices from lay potentates and feudal seigneurs who bartered them for money, and to make and unmake kings.

The end of the eleventh and the beginning of the twelfth centuries saw the culmination of the power of the reformed orders. All over France, religious houses—the Grande Chartreuse, Fontevrault, Citeaux, Clairvaux—sprang up as if by enchantment. Men and women of all stations and classes flocked to them, a veritable host of the Lord, "adorning the deserts with their holy perfection and solitudes by their purity and righteousness."

St. Bernard, the terror of mothers and of wives, by his austerity, his loving-kindness,[42] his impetuous will and masterful activity, his absolute faith and remorseless logic, his lyric and passionate eloquence, carried all before him and became the dictator of Christendom. He it was who with pitying gesture as of a kind father, his eyes suffused with tender joy, received Dante from the hands of Beatrice in the highest of celestial spheres, and after singing the beautiful hymn to the Virgin, led him to the heaven of heavens, to the very ecstasy and culmination of beatitude in the contemplation and comprehension of the triune God Himself. But religious no less than seculars are subdued by what they work in. Already in the tenth century Richer complained that the monks of his time were beginning to wear rich ornaments and flowing sleeves, and with their tight-fitting garments[43] looked like harlots rather than monks.

[Footnote 42: He was said to be "kind even to Jews."]

[Footnote 43: The indignant scribe is most precise: they walked abroad artatis clunibus et protensis natibus.]

In the polluting atmosphere of Philip's reign matters had grown worse. St. Bernard denounced the royal abbey of St. Denis as "a house of Satan, a den of thieves." "The walls of the churches of Christ were resplendent with colour but His poor were naked and left to perish; their stones were gilded with the money of the needy and wretched to charm the eyes of the rich."

In 1095 the task of cleansing the Abbey of St. Maur des Fosses at Paris seemed so hopeless, that the abbot resigned in despair rather than imperil his soul, and a more resolute reformer was sought. In 1107 the bishop of Paris was commanded by Rome to proceed to the abbey of St. Eloy and extirpate the evils there flourishing, for the nuns, it was reported, had so declined in grace, owing to the proximity of the court and intercourse with the world, that they had lost all sense of shame and lived in open sin, breaking the bonds of common decency. The scandal was so great that the bishop determined to cut them off from the house of the Lord; the abbey was reduced to a priory and given over to the abbot of the now reformed monastery of St. Maur, and its vast lands were parcelled out into several parishes.[44] The rights of the canons of Notre Dame were to be maintained; on St. Eloy's day the abbot of St. Maur was to furnish them with six pigs, two and a half measures of wine and three of fine wheat, and on St. Paul's day with eight sheep, the same quantity of wine, six crowns and one obole. The present Rue de la Cite and the Boulevard du Palais give approximately the east and west boundaries of the suppressed abbey, part of whose site is now occupied by the Prefecture de Police.

[Footnote 44: The reformers always discover the nunneries to be so much more corrupt than the monasteries, but it is a little suspicious that in every case the former are expropriated to the latter. The abbot of St. Maur evidently had some qualms concerning the expropriation of St. Eloy, and wished to restore it to the bishop.]

But the way of the reformer is a hard one. At the Council of Paris, 1074, the abbot of Pontoise was severely ill-treated for supporting, against the majority of the Council, the pope's decrees excluding married clerics from the churches, and the reform of the canons of Notre Dame led to exciting scenes. Bishop Stephen of Senlis was sent in 1128 to introduce the new discipline, but the archdeacons and canons, supported by royal favour, resisted, and Bishop Stephen was stripped of his revenues and hastened back to his metropolitan, the archbishop of Sens. The archbishop laid Paris under interdict and the influence of St. Bernard himself was needed to compose the quarrel.

On Sunday, August 20, 1133, when returning from a visitation to the abbey of Chelles, the abbot and prior of St. Victor[45] at Paris were ambushed and the prior was stabbed. Some years later, in the reign of Louis VII., Pope Eugene III. came to seek refuge in Paris from the troubles excited at Rome by the revolution of Arnold of Brescia, and celebrated mass before the king at the abbey church of St. Genevieve. The canons had stretched a rich, silken carpet before the altar on which the pontiff's knees might rest, and when he retired to the sacristy to disrobe, his officers claimed the carpet, according to usage. The canons and their servants resisted, there was a bout of fisticuffs and sticks, the king intervened, anointed majesty himself was struck, and during the scuffle which ensued the carpet was torn to shreds in a tug-of-war between the claimants. Here was urgent need for reform. The pope decided to introduce the new discipline and appointed a fresh set of canons. The dispossessed canons met them with insults and violence, drowned their voices by howling and other indignities, and only ceased on being threatened with the loss of their eyes and other secular penalties.

[Footnote 45: See note 2, p. 63.]

Louis VI., the noble damoiseau as he is called by the Chronicle of St. Denis, enthroned in 1108, was the pioneer of the great French Monarchy, ever on the move, hewing his way, sword in hand, through his domains, subduing the violence, and burning and razing the castles of his insolent and disobedient vassals. The famous Suger, abbot of St. Denis, was his wise and firm counsellor, who led the Church to make common cause with him and lend her diocesan militia. The king would have the peasant to till, the monk to pray, and the pilgrim and merchant to travel in peace. He was an itinerant regal justiciary, destroying the nests of brigands, purging the land with fire and sword from tyranny and oppression. Wise in council, of magnificent courage in battle, he was the first of the Capetians to associate the cause of the people with that of the monarchy. They loved him as a valiant soldier-king, destroyer and tamer of feudal tyrants, the protector of the Church, the vindicator of the oppressed. He lifted the sceptre of France from the mire and made of it a symbol of firm and just government.

It is in Louis' reign that we have first mention of the Oriflamme (golden flame) of St. Denis, which took the place of St. Martin's cloak as the royal standard of France. The Emperor Henry V. with a formidable army was menacing the land. Louis rallied all his friends to withstand him and went to St. Denis to pray for victory. Pope Eugene and Abbot Suger received Louis, who fell prostrate before the relics. Suger then took from the altar the standard—famed to have been sent by heaven, and formerly carried by the first liege man of the abbey, the Count de Vexin, when the monastery was in danger of attack—and handed it to the king: the pope gave him a pilgrim's wallet. The sacred banner was fashioned of silk in the form of a gonfalon, of the colours of fire and gold, and was suspended at the head of a gilded lance.[46]

[Footnote 46: A modern reproduction may be seen in the church of St. Denis, but the exact shape is doubtful, no less than three different forms being known to antiquarians.]

The strenuous reign of Louis was marked by a great expansion of Paris, which became more than ever the ordinary dwelling-place of the king and the seat of his government. The market which from Roman times had been held at the bifurcation of the northern road near the fields (Champeaux), belonging to St. Denis of the Prison, was extended. William of Champeaux founded the great abbey of St. Victor,[47] famed for its sanctity and learning, where Abelard taught and St. Thomas of Canterbury, whose hair shirt was long preserved there, and St. Bernard lodged. At the urgent prayer of his wife Adelaide, the king built a nunnery at Montmartre, and lavishly endowed it with lands, ovens, the house of Guerri, a Lombard money-changer, some shops and a slaughter-house in Paris, and a small bourg, still known as Bourg la Reine, about five miles south of the city. Certain rights of fishing at Paris, to which Louis VII. added five thousand herrings yearly from the port of Boulogne, were also granted. The churches of Ste. Genevieve la Petite, founded to commemorate the miraculous staying of the plague of the burning sickness (les ardents); of St. Jacques de la Boucherie; and of St. Pierre aux Boeufs, so named from the heads of oxen carved on the portal, were also built.

[Footnote 47: The abbey was suppressed at the time of the Revolution and the site is now occupied by the Halle aux Vins.]


Paris under Philip Augustus and St. Louis

During twenty-eight years of the reign of Louis VII. no heir to the crown was born. At length, on the 22nd of August, 1165, Adelaide of Champagne, his third wife, lay in child-bed and excited crowds thronged the palace in the Cite. The king, "afeared of the number of his daughters and knowing how ardently his people desired a child of the nobler sex," was beside himself with joy when the desire of his heart was held up to him; curious eyes espied the longed-for heir through an aperture of the door and in a moment the good news was spread abroad. There was a sound of clarions and of bells and the city as by enchantment shone with an aureole of light. An English student roused by the uproar and the glare of what seemed like a great conflagration leapt to the window and beheld two old women hurrying by with lighted tapers. He asked the cause. They answered: "God has given us this night a royal heir, by whose hand your king shall suffer shame and ill-hap." This was the birth of Philip le Dieu-donne—Philip sent of Heaven—better known as Philip Augustus. Under him and Louis IX. mediaeval Paris, faithfully reflecting the fortunes of the French Monarchy, attained its highest development.

When Philip Augustus took up the sceptre at fifteen years of age, the little realm of the Isle de France was throttled by a ring of great and practically independent feudatories, and in extent was no larger than half-a-dozen of the eighty-seven departments into which France is now divided. The English king held the mouths of all the great rivers and all the great cities, Rouen, Tours, Bordeaux. In thirty years Philip had burst through to the sea, subdued the Duke of Burgundy and the great counts, wrested the sovereignty of Normandy, Brittany and Maine from the English Crown, won Poitou and Aquitaine, crushed the emperor and his vassals in the memorable battle of Bouvines, and become one of the greatest of European monarchs. The king, who had owed his life to the excellence of his armour,[48] was received in Paris with a frenzy of joy. The whole city came forth to meet him, flowers were strewn in his path, the streets were hung with tapestry, Te Deums sung in all the churches, and for seven days and nights the popular enthusiasm expressed itself in dance, in song and joyous revel. It was the first national event in France. The Count of Flanders was imprisoned in the new fortress of the Louvre, where he lay for thirteen years, with ample leisure to meditate on the fate of rebellious feudatories. "Never after," say the chroniclers, "was war waged on King Philip, but he lived in peace."

[Footnote 48: In the ardour of the fight the king found himself surrounded by the enemy's footmen, was unhorsed, and while they were vainly seeking for a vulnerable spot in his armour some French knights had time to rescue him.]

Two vast undertakings make the name of Philip Augustus memorable in Paris—the beginning of the paving of the city and the building of its girdle of walls and towers. One day as the king stood at the window of his palace, where he was wont to distract himself from the cares of state by watching the Seine flow by, some carts rattled along the muddy road beneath the window and stirred so foul and overpowering an odour that the king almost fell sick. Next day the provost and the sheriffs and chief citizens were summoned before him and ordered to set about paving the city with stone. The work was not however completed until the reign of Charles V., a century and a half later. It was done well and lasted till the sixteenth century, when it was replaced by the miserable cobbles, known as the pavement of the League. Whether the city grew much sweeter is doubtful; certainly Paris in the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was as evil-smelling as ever. Montaigne, in the second half of the sixteenth century, complains that the acrid smell of the mud of Paris weakened the affection he bore to that fair city, and Howell writes in 1620, "the city is always dirty, and by perpetual motion the mud is beaten into a thick, black and unctuous oil that sticks so that no art can wash it off, and besides the indelible stain it leaves, gives so strong a scent that it may be smelt many miles off, if the wind be in one's face as one comes from the fresh air of the country." Horace Walpole in the eighteenth century, called Paris "the beastliest town in the universe."

The great fortified wall of Philip Augustus began at the north-west water-tower, which stood just above the present Pont des Arts, and passed through the quadrangle of the Louvre, where a line on the paving marks its course, to the Porte St. Honore, near the Oratoire. It continued northwards within the line of the present Rue Jean Jacques Rousseau and by the Rue du Jour to the Porte Montmartre, whose site is marked by a tablet on No. 30 Rue Montmartre. Turning eastward by the Painters' Gate (135 Rue St. Denis) and the Porte St. Martin, near the Rue Grenier St. Lazare, the fortification described a curve in a south-easterly direction by the Rue des Francs Bourgeois, where traces of the wall have been found at No. 55, and where part of a tower may be seen at No. 57. The line of the wall continued in the same direction by the Lycee Charlemagne, No. 101 Rue St. Antoine, where stood another gate, to the north-east water-tower, known as the Tour Barbeau, which stood near No. 32 Quai des Celestins. The opposite or southern division began at the south-east water-tower, La Tournelle, and the Gate of St. Bernard on the present Quai de la Tournelle, and went southward just within the Rues des Fosses St. Bernard and Cardinal Lemoine, to the Porte St. Victor, near No. 2 Rue des Ecoles. The wall then turned westward above the Rue Clovis, where at No. 7 one of the largest and best-preserved remains may be seen. It enclosed the abbey of St. Genevieve, continued within the Rue des Fosses St. Jacques, and, between the Porte St. Jacques and the Porte St. Michel doubled outwards to enclose the Parloir aux Bourgeois near the south end of the Rue Victor Cousin. The south-western angle was turned near the end of the Rue Soufflot and the beginning of the Rue Monsieur le Prince. Crossing the Boulevard St. Germain, it then followed within the line of the latter street, and continued within the Rue de l'Ancienne Comedie. In the Cour de Rouen, entered through the Passage du Commerce, No. 61 Rue St. Andre des Arts, an important remnant may be seen with the base of a tower, and where the Rue Mazet cuts the last-named street stood the Porte du Buci. We may now trace the march of the wall and towers within the Rue Mazarine and across the Rue Guenegaud, where in a court behind No. 29 other fragments exist, to the south-west water-tower, the notorious Tour de Nesle[49] whose site is occupied by the east wing of the Institut. The west passage of the Seine was blocked by chains, which were drawn at night from tower to tower and fixed on boats and piles just above the line of the present Pont des Arts. A similar chain blocked the east passage of the river, drawn from the Tour Barbeau to La Tournelle, crossing the islands now known as the Isle St. Louis. The wall was twenty years building and was completed in 1211. It was eight feet thick, pierced by twenty-four gates and fortified by about five hundred towers. Much of the land it enclosed was not built upon; the marais on the north bank were drained and cultivated for market and fruit gardens.

[Footnote 49: Jeanne de Burgogne, queen of Philip le Long, lived at the Hotel de Nesle, and is said to have seduced scholars by night into the tower, had them tied in sacks and flung into the Seine. If we may believe Villon, this was the queen—

"Qui commanda que Buridan Fust jette en ung sac en Seine."

Legend adds that the schoolman, made famous by his thesis, that if an ass were placed equidistant between two bundles of hay of equal attraction he would die of hunger before he could resolve to eat either, was saved by his disciples, who placed a barge, loaded with straw, below the tower to break his fall.]

The moated chateau of the Louvre, another of Philip's great buildings stood outside the wall, on the site of the old Frankish camp or Lower, and commanded the valley route to Paris. It was at once a fortress, a treasury, a palace and a prison. Parts of two wings of the structure are incorporated in the present palace of the Louvre, and the site of the remaining wings, the massive keep and the towers, are marked out on the pavement of the quadrangle.

The king erected also (1181-1183) two great warehouses at the old market at Champeaux: one for the drapers, the other for the weavers, that the merchants might sell their wares under cover and lock up their goods at night. They were known as les Halles, and the market ever since has borne that name. Here too Philip caused to be burnt at the stake the first heretics[50] executed at Paris, sparing the women and other simple folk who had been misled by the chief sectaries, of whom one, beyond the reach of earthly penalties and buried in the cemetery of les Innocents, was finally excommunicated, his bones exhumed and flung on a dungheap. "Beni soit le Seigneur en toutes choses!" says Pigord the chronicler who tells the story.

[Footnote 50: It should be remembered that heresy was the solvent antisocial force of the age and was regarded with the same feelings of abhorrence as anarchist doctrines and propaganda are regarded by modern statesmen.]

Of the impression that the Paris of Philip Augustus made on a provincial visitor, we were able, fortunately, to give some account. "I am at Paris," writes Guy of Bazoches, about the end of the twelfth century, "in this royal city, where the abundance of nature's gifts not only retains those that dwell there but invites and attracts those who are afar off. Even as the moon surpasses the stars in brightness, so does this city, the seat of royalty, exalt her proud head above all other cities. She is placed in the bosom of a delicious valley, in the centre of a crown of hills, which Ceres and Bacchus enrich with their gifts. The Seine, that proud river which comes from the east, flows there through wide banks and with its two arms surrounds an island which is the head, the heart, and the marrow of the whole city; two suburbs extend to right and left, even the lesser of which would rouse the envy of many another city. These suburbs communicate with the island by two stone bridges; the Grand Pont towards the north in the direction of the English sea, and the Petit Pont which looks towards the Loire. The former bridge, broad, rich, commercial, is the centre of a fervid activity, and innumerable boats surround it laden with merchandise and riches. The Petit Pont belongs to the dialecticians, who pace up and down disputing. In the island adjacent to the king's palace, which dominates the whole town, the palace of philosophy is seen where study reigns alone as sovereign, a citadel of light and immortality."

After Louis VIII.'s brief reign of three years, there rises to the seat of kings at Paris one of the gentlest and noblest of the sons of men, a prince indeed, who, amid all the temptations of absolute power maintained a spotless life, and at death laid down an earthly crown to assume a fairer and an imperishable diadem among the saints in heaven. All that was best in mediaevalism—its desire for peace and order and justice; its fervent piety, its passion to effect unity among Christ's people and to wrest the Holy Land from the pollution of the infidel; its enthusiasm for learning and for the things of the mind; its love of beauty—all are personified in the life of St. Louis.

The young prince was eleven years of age when his father died. During his minority he was nurtured in learning and piety[51] by his mother, Blanche of Castile, whose devotion to her son, and firm and wise regency were a fitting prelude to the reign of a saintly king. Even after he attained his majority, St. Louis always sought his mother's counsel and was ever respectful and submissive to her will. When the news of her death reached him in the Holy Land, he went to his oratory, fell on his knees before the altar, submissive to the will of God, and cried out with tears in his eyes, that he had loved the queen, "his most dear lady and mother, beyond all mortal creatures."

[Footnote 51: She was wont to say to her son—"I would rather see thee die than commit a mortal sin."]

The king's conception of his office was summed up in two words—Gouverner bien. "Fair son," said he one day to Prince Louis, his heir, "I pray thee win the affection of thy people. Verily, I would rather that a Scotchman came from Scotland and ruled the kingdom well and loyally than that thou shouldst govern it ill." Joinville his biographer tells with charming simplicity how the king after hearing mass in the chapel at Vincennes outside Paris was wont to walk in the woods for refreshment and then, sitting at the foot of an old oak tree, whose position is still shown, would listen to the plaints of his poorer people without let of usher or other official and administer justice to them. At other times, clothed in a tunic of camlet, a surcoat of wool (tiretaine) without sleeves, a mantle of black taffety, and a hat with a peacock's plume, he would walk with his Council in the garden of his palace in the Cite, and on the poorer people crowding round him all speaking at once he would cry: "Silence! one at a time," and call for a carpet to be spread on the ground, on which he would sit, surrounded with his councillors, and judge them diligently.

In 1238 St. Louis was profoundly shocked by the news that the crown of thorns was a forfeited pledge at Venice for an unpaid loan advanced by some Venetian merchants to the Emperor Baldwin of Constantinople. He paid the debt,[52] redeemed the pledge, and secured the relic for Paris. The king met his envoys at Sens, and barefooted, himself carried the sacred treasure enclosed in three caskets, one of wood, one of silver and one of gold, to Paris. The procession took eight days to reach the city, and so great were the multitudes who thronged to see it, that a large platform was raised in a field outside the walls, from which several prelates exposed it in turn to the veneration of the people. Thence it was taken to the cathedral of Notre Dame, the king dressed in a simple tunic, and barefoot, still carrying the relic. From the cathedral it was transferred to the royal chapel of St. Nicholas within the precincts of the palace. A year later the Emperor Baldwin was constrained to part with other relics, including a piece of the true cross, the blade of the lance and the sponge of the Passion. To enshrine them and the crown of thorns the chapel of St. Nicholas was demolished and the beautiful Sainte Chapelle built in its place. The upper chapel was dedicated to the relics; the lower to the Blessed Virgin, and on solemn festivals the king would himself expose the relics to the people. St. Louis was zealous in his devotion and for a time attended matins in the new chapel at midnight, until, suffering much headache in consequence, he was persuaded to have the office celebrated in the early morning before prime. His piety, however, was by no means austere: he had all the French gaiety of heart, dearly loved a good story, and was excellent company at table, where he loved to sit conversing with Robert de Sorbon, his chaplain. "It is a bad thing," he said one day to Joinville, "to take another man's goods, because rendre (to restore) is so difficult, that even to pronounce the word makes the tongue sore by reason of the r's in it."

[Footnote 52: By a subtle irony, part of the money was derived from the tribute of the Jews of Paris.]

At another time they were talking of the duties of a layman towards Jews and Infidels. "Let me tell you a story," said St. Louis. "The monks of Cluny once arranged a great conference between some learned clerks and Jews. When the conference opened, an old knight who for love of Christ was given bread and shelter at the monastery, approached the abbot and begged leave to say the first word. The abbot, after some protest against the irregularity, was persuaded to grant permission, and the knight, leaning on his stick, requested that the greatest scholar and rabbi among the Jews might be brought before him. 'Master,' said the knight, 'do you believe that the Blessed Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus and held Him at her breast, and that she is the Virgin Mother of God?' The Jew answered that he believed it not at all. 'Then,' said the knight, 'fool that thou art to have entered God's house and His church, and thou shalt rue it,' Thereupon he lifted his stick, smote the rabbi under the ear and felled him to the ground. The terrified Jews fled, carrying their master with them, and so," said St. Louis, "ended the conference. And I tell you, let none but a great clerk dispute; the business of a layman when he hears the Christian religion defamed is to defend it with his sharp sword and thrust his weapon into the miscreant's body as far as it will go."

St. Louis, however, did not apply the moral in practice. Although severe in exacting tribute from the Jews, he spent much money in converting them and held many of their orphan children at the font; to others he gave pensions, which became a heavy financial burden to himself and his successors. He was stern with blasphemers, whose lips he caused to be branded with a hot iron. "I have heard him say," writes Joinville, "with his own mouth, that he would he were marked with a red-hot iron himself if thereby he could banish all oaths and blasphemy from his kingdom. Full twenty-two years have I been in his company, and never have I heard him swear or blaspheme God or His holy Mother or any Saint, howsoever angry he may have been: and when he would affirm anything, he would say, 'Verily it is so, or verily it is not so,' Before going to bed he would call his children around him and recite the fair deeds and sayings of ancient princes and kings, praying that they would remember them for good ensample; for unjust and wicked princes lost their kingdoms through pride and avarice and rapine." When he was in the east he heard of a Saracen lord of Egypt who caused all the best books of philosophy to be transcribed for the use of young men, and he determined to do the like for the youth of Paris. Five thousand scribes were employed to copy the Scriptures and the writings of the Fathers and classic authors, preserved in various abbeys in France. He had a convenient and safe place built at the treasury of the Sainte Chapelle, where he housed the books, for a church without a library was said to be a fortress without ammunition. Scholars had free access to them, and he himself was wont in his leisure time to shut himself up there for study, reading rather the Holy Fathers than the writings of the best doctors of his own time.

St. Louis was a steadfast friend to the religious orders. On his return from the Holy Land he brought with him six monks from Mount Carmel and established them on the north bank of the Seine, near the present Quai des Celestins; they were subsequently transferred to the University quarter, on a site now occupied by the Marche aux Carmes. The prior of the Grande Chartreuse was also prayed to spare a few brothers to found a house in Paris; four were sent, and the king endowed them with his Chateau de Vauvert, including extensive lands and vineyards. The chateau was reputed to be haunted by evil spirits, and the street leading thither as late as the last century was known as the Rue d'Enfer. St. Louis began a great church for them, and the eight cells, each with its three rooms and garden, were increased to thirty before the end of his reign; in later times the order became one of the richest in Paris and occupied a vast expanse of land to the south of the Luxembourg. The fine series of paintings illustrating the life of St. Bruno, by Lesueur, now in the Louvre, was executed for the smaller cloister of the monastery. The Grands Augustins were established on the south bank of the Seine, near the present Pont Neuf, and the Serfs de la Vierge, known later as the Blancs Manteaux, from their white cloaks, in the Marais. They were subsequently amalgamated with the Guillemites, or the Hermits of St. William, and at No. 14 Rue des Guillemites some remains of their monastery may yet be seen. The church of the Blancs Manteaux, rebuilt in the seventeenth century, also exists in the street of that name.

In 1217 the first of the Dominicans were seen at Paris. On the 12th of September seven preaching friars, among whom were Laurence the Englishman and a brother of St. Dominic, established themselves in a house near the parvis of Notre Dame. In 1218 the University gave them a home opposite the church of St. Etienne des Grez (St. Stephen of the Greeks), in the Rue St. Jacques, and in the following year, when St. Dominic came to Paris, the brothers had increased to thirty. The saint himself drew up the plans of their monastery and always cherished a particular affection for the Paris house. Their church was opened in 1220, and being dedicated to St. Jacques, the Dominicans were known as Jacobins all over France. St. Louis endowed them with a school; they soon became one of the most powerful and opulent of the religious orders, and their church, a burial-place for kings and princes. The Friars Minor soon followed. St. Francis himself, in his deep affection for France, had determined to go to Paris and found a house of his order, but being dissuaded by his friend, Cardinal Ugolin, sent in 1216 a few of his disciples. These early friars, true poverelli di Dio, would accept no endowment of house or money, and supporting themselves by their hands, carried their splendid devotion among the poor, the outcast, and the lepers of Paris. In 1230 the Cordeliers, as they were called,[53] accepted the loan of a house near the walls in the south-western part of the city; St. Louis built them a church, and left them at his death part of his library and a large sum of money.[54] They too soon became rich and powerful and their church one of the largest and most magnificent in Paris. St. Bonaventure and Duns Scotus taught at their school of theology; their monastery in the sixteenth century was the finest and most spacious in Paris, with cells for a hundred friars and a vast refectory, which still exists. St. Louis founded the hospital known as the Quinze-Vingts (15 + 20) for three hundred poor knights whose eyes had been put out by the Saracens. Subsequently it became a night shelter for a like number of blind beggars whither they might repair after their long quest in the streets of Paris. St. Louis at his death left them an annual rente of thirty livres parisis that every inmate might have a good mess of pottage daily, and Philip le Bel ordered a fleur-de-lys to be embroidered on their dress that they might be known as the king's poor folk. The buildings, now transferred to the Rue de Charenton, originally covered a vast area of ground between the Palais Royal and the Louvre, and were sold in 1779 to a syndicate of speculators by Cardinal de Rohan of diamond-necklace[55] notoriety; an act of jobbery which brought his Eminence a handsome commission. The Quinze-Vingts were privileged to place collecting-boxes and to beg inside the churches. Since, however, the differences in the relative opulence of churches was great, the right to beg in certain of the richer ones was put up to auction every year, and those who promised to pay the highest premium to the funds of the hospital were adjudicated the privilege of begging there. This curious arrangement was in full vigour until the latter half of the eighteenth century, when the foundation was removed. Twelve blind brothers and twelve seeing brothers—husbands of blind women who were lodged there on condition that they served as leaders through the streets—had a share in the management of the institution. Luxury seems to have sometimes invaded the hostel, for in 1579 a royal degree forbade the sale of wine to the brethren and denounced the blasphemy with which their conversation was often tainted. In 1631 they were forbidden to use stuffs other than serge or cloth for their garments, or to use velvet for ornament.

[Footnote 53: On account of the cord they wore round their habit.]

[Footnote 54: St. Louis loved the Franciscans, and in the Fioretti a beautiful story is told how the king, in the guise of a pilgrim, visiting Brother Giles at Perugia, knelt with the good friar in an embrace of fervent affection for a great space of time in silence. They parted without speaking a word, marvellously comforted.]

[Footnote 55: The innocence of Marie Antoinette in this scandalous affair has been clearly established. See L'affaire du Collier, by M. Funck Brentano. Paris, 1903.]

The establishment of the abbeys of St. Antoine, of the Friars of the Holy Cross, and of the Sisters of St. Bega or Beguines, were also due to the king's piety, and the whole city was surrounded with religious houses. "Even as a scribe," says an old writer, "who hath written his book illuminates it with gold and silver, so did the king illumine his kingdom with the great quantity of the houses of God that he built."

St. Louis was, however, firm in his resistance to ecclesiastical arbitrariness. The prelates complained to him on one occasion that Christianity was going to the dogs, because no one feared their excommunications, and prayed that he would order his sergeants to lend the secular arm to enforce their authority. "Yes," answered the king, "if you will give me the particulars of each case that I may judge if your sentence be just." That, they objected, appertained to the ecclesiastical courts, but St. Louis was inflexible, and they remained unsatisfied.

Many were St. Louis' benefactions to the great hospital of Paris, the Hotel Dieu. Rules, dating from 1217, for the treatment of the sick poor were elaborated in his reign with admirable forethought. The sick, after confession and communion, were to be put to bed and treated as if they were the masters of the house. They were to be daily served with food before the nursing friars and sisters, and all that they desired was to be freely given if it could be obtained and were not prejudicial to their recovery. If the sickness were dangerous the patient was to be set apart and to be tended with especial solicitude. The sick were never to be left unguarded and even to be kept seven days after they were healed, lest they should suffer a relapse. The friars and sisters were to eat twice a day: the sick whenever they had need. A nurse who struck a patient was excommunicated. Viollet le Duc was of opinion that in many respects the Hotel Dieu in the Middle Ages was superior to our modern hospitals. Among many details denoting the tender forethought of the administrator, we may note that in the ward for the grievously sick and infirm the beds were made lower, and 60 cottes of white fur and 300 felt boots were provided to keep the poor patients warm when they were moved from their beds to the chambres aisees. In later times, lax management and the decline of piety which came with the religious and political changes of the Renaissance made reform urgent, and in 1505 the Parlement appointed a committee of eight bourgeois clercs to control the receipts. The buildings were much increased in 1636, but were never large enough, and in 1655 the priory of St. Julien was united to the hospital. "As many as 6000 patients," says Felibien, writing in 1725, "have been counted there at one time, five or six in one bed." No limitations of age or sex or station or religion or country were set. Everybody was received, and in Felibien's time the upkeep amounted to 500,000 livres per annum. The old Hotel Dieu was situated to the south of Notre Dame, and stood there until rebuilt on its present site in 1878.

St. Louis sought diligently over all the land for the grand sage homme who would prove an honest and fearless judge, punishing the wicked without regard to rank or riches; and what he exacted of his officers he practised himself. He punished his own brother, the Count of Artois, for having forced a sale of land on an unwilling man, and ordered him to make restitution. The Sire de Coucy, one of the most powerful of his barons, was summoned to Paris and in spite of his bravado, arrested, imprisoned in the Louvre and sentenced to death, for having hanged three young fellows for poaching. The sale of the provostship of Paris was abolished and a man of integrity, Etienne Boileau, appointed with adequate emoluments. So completely was this once venal office rehabilitated, that no seigneur regarded the post as beneath him. Boileau was wont to sleep in his clothes on a camp bed in the Chatelet to be in readiness at any hour, and often St. Louis would be seen sitting beside the provost on the judgment seat, watching over the administration of justice. The judicial duel in civil cases was forbidden; the Royal Watch instituted to police the streets of Paris; the charters of the hundred crafts of Paris were confirmed and many privileges granted to the great trade guilds.

In 1270 St. Louis put on a second time the crusader's badge, "the dear remembrance of his dying Lord," and met his death in the ill-fated expedition to Tunis. So feeble was the king when he left Paris, that Joinville carried him from the Hotel of the Count of Auxerre to the Cordeliers, where the old friends and fellow-warriors in the Holy Land parted for ever. When stricken with the plague the dying monarch was laid on a couch strewn with ashes. He called his son, the Count of Alencon to him, gave wise and touching counsel, and, after holy communion, recited the seven penitential psalms: having invoked "Monseigneurs St. James and St. Denis and Madame St. Genevieve," he crossed his hands on his heart, gazed towards heaven and rendered his soul to his Creator. Piteuse chouse est et digne de pleurer le trepassement de ce saint prince, says Joinville, to whom the story was told by the king's son—"A piteous thing it is and worthy of tears the passing away of this holy prince."

The bones of the dead king, from which the flesh[56] had been removed by boiling, were sent for burial to St. Denis, which he had chosen for the place of his sepulture. Joinville,[57] his friend and companion, from whose priceless memoirs we have chiefly drawn, ends his story thus:—"I make known to all readers of this little book that the things which I say I have seen and heard of the king are true, and steadfastly shall they believe them. And the other things of which I testify but by hearsay, take them in a good sense if it please you, praying God that by the prayers of Monseigneur St. Louis it may please Him to give us those things that He knoweth to be necessary as well for our bodies as for our souls. Amen."

[Footnote 56: It was buried in the church of Monreale at Palermo.]

[Footnote 57: Joinville was a brave and tender knight; he tells us that before starting to join the crusaders at Marseilles he called all his friends and household before him, and declared that if he had wronged any one of them reparation should be made. After a severe penance he was assoiled, and as he set forth, durst not turn back his eyes lest his heart should be melted at leaving his fair chateau of Joinville and his two children whom he loved so dearly.]

King Louis was tall of stature, with a spare and graceful figure; his face was of angelic sweetness, with eyes as of a dove, and crowned with abundant fair hair. As he grew older he became somewhat bald and held himself slightly bent. "Never," says Joinville, when describing a charge led by the king, which turned the tide of battle, "saw I so fair an armed man. He seemed to sit head and shoulders above all his knights; his helmet of gold was most fair to see, and a sword of Allemain was in his hand. Four times I saw him put his body in danger of death to save hurt to his people."


Art and Learning at Paris

Two epoch-making developments—the creation of Gothic architecture and the rise of the University of Paris—synchronise with the period covered by the reigns of Philip Augustus and St. Louis, and may now fitly be considered.

The memory of the Norman terror had long passed from men's minds. The Isle de France had been purged of robber lords, and with peace and security, wealth and population had increased. The existing churches were becoming too small for the faithful and new and fairer temples replaced the old: the massive square towers, the heavy walls and thick pillars of the Norman builders, blossomed into grace and light and beauty. Already in the beginning of the twelfth century the church of St. Denis was in urgent need of extension. On festival days so great were the crowds pressing to view the relics, that many people had been trodden under foot, and Abbot Suger determined to build a larger and nobler church. Great was the enthusiasm of the people as the new temple rose. Noble and burgess, freeman and serf, harnessed themselves like beasts of burden to the ropes and drew the stone from the quarry. A profound silence reigned, broken only by the murmur of those who confessed their sins when a halt was made. A trumpet sounded, banners were unfurled, and the silent host resumed its way. Arrived at the building the whole multitude burst forth into a song of praise. All would lend their aid in raising the new house of God and of His holy martyrs, and the burial-place of their kings. In 1161 Maurice de Sully, a peasant's son, who had risen to become bishop of Paris, determined to erect a great minster adequate to the demands of his time. The old churches of Notre Dame and of St. Stephen[58] and many houses were demolished, and a new street, called of Notre Dame, was made. Sully devoted the greater part of his life and private resources to the work. The king, the pope, seigneurs, guilds of merchants and private persons, vied with each other in making gifts. Two years were spent in digging the foundations of the new Notre Dame, and in 1163 Pope Alexander III. is said to have laid the first stone. In 1182, the choir being finished, the papal legate, Henri de Chateaux-Marcay, consecrated the high altar, and in 1185 the Patriarch of Jerusalem celebrated mass in the choir. At Sully's death, in 1196, the walls of the nave were erect and partly roofed, and the old prelate left a hundred livres for a covering of lead. The transepts and nave were completed in 1235.

[Footnote 58: The relics were transferred to a new church of St. Stephen (St. Etienne du Mont), built by the abbot of St. Genevieve as a parish church for his servants and tenants.]

In 1240 an ingenious and sacrilegious thief, climbing to the roof to haul up the silver candlesticks from the altar by a noose in a rope, set fire to the altar cloth, and the choir was seriously injured. Sully's work had been Romanesque, and choir and apse were now rebuilt in the new style, to harmonise with the remainder of the church. By the end of the thirteenth century the chapels round the apse and in the nave, the Porte Rouge and the south portal were added, and the great temple was at length completed. The choir of St. Germain des Pres and the exquisite little church of St. Julien le Pauvre were rebuilt at the end of the twelfth century, and the beautiful refectory of St. Martin des Champs was created about 1220. But the culmination of Gothic art is reached in the wondrous sanctuary that St. Louis built for the crown of thorns, "the most precious piece of Gothic," says Ruskin, "in Northern Europe." Michelet saw a whole world of religion and poetry—tears of piety, mystic ecstasy, the mysteries of divine love—expressed in the marvellous little church, in the fragile and precious paintings of its windows.[59] The work was completed in three years, and has been so admirably restored by Viollet le Duc that the visitor may gaze to-day on this pure and peerless gem almost as St. Louis left it, for the gorgeous interior faithfully reproduces the mediaeval colour and gold. During the Revolution it was used as a granary and then as a club. It narrowly escaped destruction, and men now living can remember seeing the old notices on the porch of the lower chapel—Propriete nationale a vendre. All that remains of the relics has long been transferred to the treasury of Notre Dame. The old Quinze-Vingts, the Chartreux, the Cordeliers, St. Croix de la Bretonnerie, St. Catherine, the Blancs Manteaux, the Mathurins and other masterpieces of the Gothic builders have all disappeared.

[Footnote 59: The early glass-workers were particularly fond of their beautiful red. "Wine of the colour of the windows of the Sainte Chapelle," was a popular locution of the time.]

Gothic architecture was eminently a product of the Isle de France. "France not only led," says Mr. Lethaby, "but invented. In a very true sense what we call Gothic is Frenchness of the France which had its centre in Paris." The thirteenth century rivals the finest period of Greek art for purity, simplicity, nobility and accurate science of construction. Imagination was chastened by knowledge, but not systematised into rigid rules. Each master solved his problem in his own way, and the result was a charm, a variety, and a fertility of invention, never surpassed in the history of art. Early French sculpture is a direct descendant of Greek art, which made its way into Gaul by the Phoenician trade route, and the Merovingian Franks were always in touch with the Eastern Mediterranean, and with the stream of early Byzantine[60] art. French artists achieved a perfection in the representation of the human form which anticipated by a generation the work of the Pisani in Italy, for the early thirteenth-century statues on the west front of Chartres Cathedral are carved with a naturalness and grace which the Italian masters never surpassed, and the marvellously mature and beautiful silver-gilt figure of a king, in high relief, found in 1902 immured in an old house at Bourges and exhibited in 1904 among the Primitifs Francais at the Louvre, was wrought more than a century before the birth of Donatello. Some fragments of the old sculptures that adorned St. Denis and other twelfth and thirteenth-century churches may still be found in the museums of Paris. The influence of the French architects, as Emile Bertaux has demonstrated in the first volume of his Art dans l'Italie Meridionale, extended far beyond the limits of France, and is clearly traceable in the fine hunting-palace, erected for Frederic II. in the thirteenth century, at Castello del Monte, near Andria, in Apulia. But of the names of those who created these wonderful productions few are known; the great masterpieces of the thirteenth century are mostly anonymous. Jean de Chelles, one of the masons of Notre Dame, has left his name on the south portal and the date, Feb. 12, 1257, on which it was begun, "in honour of the holy Mother of Christ." He was followed by Pierre de Montereau, "master of the works of the church of Blessed Mary at Paris," whose name thus appears in a deed of sale dated 1265. The Sainte Chapelle is commonly attributed to Pierre de Montereau, but the attribution is a mere guess.

[Footnote 60: The researches of Professor Strzygowski of Gratz, and other authorities in the field of Byzantine and Eastern archaeology, tend to prove the dominant importance of the Christian East in the development of early ecclesiastical architecture and the subordinate influence of Roman models.]

Nor did the love of beauty during this marvellous age express itself solely in architecture. If we were asked to specify one trait which more than any other characterises the "dark ages" and differentiates them from modern times, we should be tempted to say, love of brightness and colour. Within and without, the temples of God were resplendent with silver and gold, with purple and crimson and blue; the saintly figures and solemn legends on their porches, the capitals, the columns, the groins of the vaultings, the very crest of the roof, were lustrous with colour and gold. Each window was a complex of jewelled splendour; the pillars and walls were painted or draped with lovely tapestries and gorgeous banners: the shrines and altars glittered like Aaron's breastplate, with precious stones—jasper and sardius and chalcedony, sapphire and emerald, chrysolite and beryl, topaz and amethyst and pearl. The Church illuminated her sacred books with exquisite painting, bound them with precious fabrics, and clasped them with silver and gold; the robes of her priests and ministrants were rich with embroideries. "People," said William Morris, "have long since ceased to take in impressions through their eyes," indeed so insensible, so atrophied to colour have the eyes of moderns grown amid their drab surroundings, that the aspect of a building wherein skilful hands have in some small degree essayed to realise the splendour of the past dazes the beholder; a sense of pain rather than of delight possesses him and he averts his gaze.

Nor were the churches of those early times anything more than an exquisite expression of what men were surrounded by in their daily lives and avocations. The houses[61] and oratories of noble and burgess were rich with ivories exquisitely carved, with sculptures and paintings, tapestry and enamels: the very utensils of common domestic use were beautiful. Men did not prate of art: they wrought in love and simplicity. The very word art, as denoting a product of human activity different from the ordinary daily tasks of men, was unknown. If painting was an art, even so was carpentry. A mason was an artist: so was a shoemaker. Astronomy and grammar were arts: so was spinning. Apothecaries and lawyers were artists: so was a tailor. Dante[62] uses the word artista as denoting a workman or craftsman, and when he wishes to emphasise the degeneracy of the citizens of his time as compared with those of the old Florentine race, he does so by saying that in those days their blood ran pure even nell' ultimo artista (in the commonest workman). Let us be careful how we speak of these ages as "dark"; at least there were "retrievements out of the night." Already before the tenth century the basilica of St. Germain des Pres was known as St. Germain le dore (the golden), from its glowing refulgence, and St. Bernard as we have seen, declaimed against the resplendent colour and gold in the churches of his time. Never since the age of Pericles has so great an effusion of beauty descended on the earth as during the wondrous thirteenth century in the Isle de France and especially in Paris.[63]

[Footnote 61: Brunetto Latini, in the thirteenth century contrasted the high towers and grim stone walls of the fortress-palaces of the Italian nobles with the large, spacious and painted houses of the French, their rooms adorned pour avoir joie et delit and surrounded with orchards and gardens.]

[Footnote 62: Par. XVI. 51.]

[Footnote 63: Another delusion of moderns is that there was an absence of personal cleanliness in those ages. In the census of the inhabitants of Paris, who in 1292 were subject to the Taille, there are inscribed the names of no less than twenty-six proprietors of public hot baths, a larger proportion to population than exists to-day, and Dr. Gasquet has described in his English Monastic Life the admirable provisions for personal cleanliness made in mediaeval monasteries.]

We pass from the enthusiasm of art to that of learning. From earliest times, schools, free to the poor, had been attached to every great abbey and cathedral in France. At the end of the eleventh century four were eminent at Paris: the schools of St. Denis, where the young princes and nobles were educated; of the Parvis Notre Dame, for the training of young clercs,[64] the famous Scola Parisiaca, referred to by Abelard; of St. Genevieve; and of St. Victor, founded by William of Champeaux, one of the most successful masters of Notre Dame. The fame of this teacher drew multitudes of young men from the provinces to Paris, among whom there came, about 1100, Peter Abelard, scion of a noble family of Nantes. By his wit, erudition and dialectical sublety he soon eclipsed his master's fame and was appointed to a chair of philosophy in the school of Notre Dame. William, jealous of his young rival, compassed his dismissal, and after teaching for a while at Melun, Abelard returned to Paris and opened a school on Mont St. Genevieve, whither crowds of students followed him. So great was the fame of this brilliant lecturer and daring thinker that his school was filled with eager listeners from all countries of Europe, even from Rome herself.

[Footnote 64: Hence the name of clerc applied to any student, even if a layman.]

Abelard was proud and ambitious, and the highest prizes of an ecclesiastical and scholastic career seemed within his grasp. But Fulbert, canon of Notre Dame, had a niece, accomplished and passing fair, Heloise by name, who was an enthusiastic admirer of the great teacher. It was proposed that Abelard should enter the canon's house as her tutor, and Fulbert's avarice made the proposition an acceptable one. Abelard, like Arnault Daniel, was a good craftsman in his mother tongue, a facile master of versi d'amore, which he would sing with a voice wondrously sweet and supple. Now Abelard was thirty-eight years of age: Heloise seventeen. Amor al cor gentil ratto s'apprende,[65] and Minerva was not the only goddess who presided over their meetings. For a time Fulbert was blind, but scandal cleared his eyes and Abelard was expelled from the house; Heloise followed and took refuge with her lover's sister in Brittany, where a child, Astrolabe, was born. Peacemakers soon intervened and a secret marriage was arranged, which took place early one morning at Paris, Fulbert being present. But the lovers continued to meet; scandal was again busy and Fulbert published the marriage. Heloise, that the master's advancement in the Church might not be impeded, gave the lie to her uncle and fled to the nuns of Argenteuil. Fulbert now plotted a dastardly revenge. By his orders Abelard was surprised in his bed, and the mutilation which, according to Eusebius, Origen performed on himself, was violently inflicted on the great teacher. All ecclesiastical preferment was thus rendered canonically impossible; Abelard became the talk of Paris, and in bitter humiliation retired to the abbey of St. Denis. Before he made his vows, however, he required of Heloise that she should take the veil. The heart-broken creature reproached him for his disloyalty, and repeating the lines which Lucan puts into the mouth of Cornelia weeping for Pompey's death, burst into tears and consented to take the veil.

[Footnote 65: "Love is quickly caught in gentle heart."—Inf. V. 100.]

A savage punishment was inflicted by the ecclesiastical courts on Fulbert's ruffians, who were made to suffer the lex talionis and the loss of their eyes: the canon's property was confiscated. The great master, although forbidden to open a school at St. Denis, was importuned by crowds of young men not to let his talents waste, and soon a country house near by was filled with so great a company of scholars that food could not be found for them. But enemies were vigilant and relentless, and he had shocked the timid by doubting the truth of the legend that Dionysius the Areopagite had come to France.

In 1124 certain of Abelard's writings on the Trinity were condemned, and he took refuge at Nogent-sur-Seine, near Troyes, under the patronage of the Count of Champagne. He retired to a hermitage of thatch and reeds, the famous Paraclete, but even there students flocked to him, and young nobles were glad to live on coarse bread and lie on straw, that they might taste of wisdom, the bread of the angels. Again his enemies set upon him; he surrendered the Paraclete to Heloise and a small sisterhood, and accepted the abbotship of St. Gildes in his own Brittany. A decade passed, and again he was seen in Paris. His enemies now determined to silence him, and St. Bernard, the dictator of Christendom, denounced his writings. Abelard appealed for a hearing, and the two champions met in St. Stephen's church at Sens before the king, the hierarchy and a brilliant and expectant audience; the ever-victorious knight-errant of disputation, stood forth, eager for the fray, but St. Bernard simply rose and read out seventeen propositions from his opponent's works, which he declared to be heretical. Abelard in disgust left the lists, and was condemned unheard to perpetual silence. The pope, to whom he appealed, confirmed the sentence, and the weary soldier of the mind, old and heart-broken, retired to Cluny; he gave up the struggle, was reconciled to his opponents, and died absolved by the pope near Chalons in 1142. His ashes were sent to Heloise, and twenty years later she was laid beside him at the Paraclete. A well-known path, worn by generations of unhappy lovers, leads to a monument in Pere-la-Chaise Cemetery at Paris which marks the last resting-place of Abelard and Heloise, whose remains were transferred there in 1817.

It is commonly believed that Abelard's school on Mont St. Genevieve was the origin of the Latin Quarter in Paris, but the migration to the south had probably begun before Abelard came, and was rather due to the overcrowding of the episcopal schools. Teachers and scholars began to swarm to the new quarter over the bridge where quiet, purer air and better accommodation were found. Ordinances of Bishop Gilbert, 1116, and Stephen, 1124, transcribed by Felibien, make this clear. So disturbed were the canons by the numbers of students in the cloister, that externes were to be no longer admitted, nor other schools allowed on the north side where the canons lodged. The growing importance of the new schools, which tended to the advantage of the abbey of St. Genevieve, soon alarmed the bishops, and the theologians were ordered to lecture only between the two bridges (the Petit and Grand Ponts.) But it was Abelard's brilliant career that attracted like a lodestar the youth of Europe to Paris, and made that city the "oven where the intellectual bread of the world was baked." Providence, it was said, had given Empire to Germany, Priestcraft to Italy, Learning to France. What a constellation of great names glows in the spiritual firmament of mediaeval Paris: William of Champeaux, Peter Lombard, Maurice de Sully, Pierre de Chartreux, Abelard, Gilbert[66] l'Universel, Adrian IV., St. Thomas of Canterbury, and his biographer John of Salisbury. Small wonder that the youth of the twelfth century sought the springs of learning at Paris!

[Footnote 66: Afterwards bishop of London.]

There was no discipline or college life among the earliest students. Each master, having obtained his license from the bishop's chancellor, rented a room at his own cost, and taught what he knew—even, it was sometimes complained, what he did not know. We read of one Adam du Petit Pont, who, in the twelfth century, expounded Aristotle in the back-room of a house on the bridge amid the cackle of cocks and hens, and whose clientele had many a vituperative contest with the fish-fags of the neighbourhood. The students grouped themselves according to nationalities, and with their masters held meetings in any available cloister, refectory, or church. When funds were needed, a general levy was made and any balance that remained was spent in a festive gathering in the nearest tavern. The aggregation of thousands of young men, some of whom were cosmopolitan vagabonds, gave rise to many evils. Complaints are frequent among the citizens of the depredations and immoralities of riotous clercs, who lived by their wits or by their nimble fingers, or by reciting or singing licentious ballads:—the paouvres escolliers, whose miserable estate, temptations, debauchery, ignoble pleasures, remorse and degradation have been so pathetically sung by Francois Villon, master of arts, poet, bohemian, burglar and homicide. The richer scholars often indulged in excesses, and of the vast majority who were poor, some died of hunger. It was the spectacle of half-starving clercs begging for bread that evoked the compassion of pious founders of colleges, which originally were simply hostels for needy scholars. On the return of Louis VII. from a pilgrimage to Becket's shrine, his brother Robert founded about 1180 the church of St. Thomas of Canterbury and a hostel for fifteen students, who, in 1217, were endowed with a chapel of their own, dedicated to St. Nicholas, and were then known as the poor scholars of St. Nicholas.[67] In 1171 a London merchant (Jocius de Londonne), passing through Paris on his return from the Holy Land, touched by the sight of some starving students begging their bread, founded a hostel for eighteen poor scholars at the Hotel Dieu, who in return for lodging and maintenance were to perform the last Christian rites to the friendless dead. This, known as the college of the Dix-huit, was afterwards absorbed in the Sorbonne. In 1200 Etienne Belot and his wife, burgesses of Paris, founded a hostel for thirteen poor scholars who were known as the bons enfants. In all, some dozen colleges were in being when St. Louis came to the throne. In 1253, St. Louis' almoner, Robert of Cerbon or Sorbon, a poor Picardy village, founded[68] a modest college of theology, and obtained from Blanche of Castile a small house above the palace of the Thermae where he was able to maintain a few poor students of theology. Friends came to his aid and soon sixteen were accommodated, to whom others, able to maintain themselves, were added. In 1269 a papal bull confirmed the establishment of the pauvres maistres estudiants in the faculty of theology at Paris. Even when enriched by later founders it was still called la pauvre Sorbonne. By the renown of their erudition the doctors of the Sorbonne became the great court of appeal in the Middle Ages in matters of theology, and the Sorbonne synonymous with the university. Some of the hostels were on a larger scale. The college of Cardinal Lemoine, founded in 1302 by the papal legate, housed sixty students in arts and forty in theology. Most were paying residents, but a number of bursaries were provided for those whose incomes were below a certain amount. Each boursier was given daily two loaves of white bread of twelve ounces, "the common weight in the windows of Paris bakers."

[Footnote 67: The two churches still existed in the eighteenth century and stood on the site of the southern Cours Visconti and Lefuel of the present Louvre.]

[Footnote 68: The actual originator was, however, the queen's physician, Robert de Douai, who left a sum of money which formed the nucleus of the foundation.]

In 1304, Jeanne of Navarre, wife of Philip the Fair, left her mansion near the Tour de Nesle and 2000 livres annually to found the college of Navarre for seventy poor scholars, twenty in grammar, thirty in philosophy, and twenty in theology. The first were allowed four sous weekly; the second, six; the third, eight. If any were possessed of annual incomes respectively of thirty, forty and sixty livres, they ceased to hold bursaries. The maintenance fund seems, however, to have been mismanaged, for we soon read of the scholars of the college walking the streets of Paris every morning crying—"Bread, bread, good people, for the poor scholars of Madame of Navarre!"

Some forty colleges were in existence by the end of the fourteenth century and had increased to fifty by the end of the fifteenth; in the seventeenth, Evelyn gives their number as sixty-five. In Felibien's time some had disappeared, for in his map (1725) forty-four colleges only are marked. Nearly the whole of these colleges clustered around the slopes of Mont St. Genevieve, which at length became that Christian Athens that Charlemagne dreamt of. Each college had its own rules. Generally students were required to attend matins (in summer at 3 a.m., winter at 4), mass, vespers and compline. When the curfew of Notre Dame sounded, they retired to their dormitories. Leave to sleep out was granted only in very exceptional cases. Tennis was allowed, cards and dice were forbidden. The college of Montaigu, founded in 1314 by Archbishop Gilles de Montaigu, housed eighty-two poor scholars in memory of the twelve apostles and seventy disciples. There the rod was never spared to the faineant; the discipline so severe, that the college became the terror of the youth of Paris, and fathers were wont to sober their libertine sons by threatening to make capetes[69] of them. This was the College de Pouillerye denounced by Rabelais and notorious to students as the College des Haricots, because they were fed there chiefly on beans. Erasmus was a poor boursier there, disgusted at its mean fare and squalor, and Calvin, known as the "accusative," from his austere piety. Desmoulins, the inaugurator of the Revolution, and St. Just, its fiery and immaculate apostle, sat on its benches. To obtain admission to the college of Cluny (1269) the scholar must pass an entrance examination. He then spent two years at logic, three at metaphysics, two in Biblical studies; he held weekly disputations and preached every fortnight in French; he was interrogated every evening by the president on his studies during the day. If students evinced no aptitude for learning they were dismissed; if only moderate progress were made, the secular duties of the college devolved upon them. It was the foundation of these colleges which organised themselves, about 1200, into powerful corporations of masters and scholars (universitates magistrorum et scholiarum) that gave the university its definite character.

[Footnote 69: The Montaigu scholars were called capetes from their peculiar cape fermee, or cloak, such as Masters of Arts used to wear. The Bibliotheque Ste. Genevieve occupies the site of the college.]

When the term "university" first came into use is unknown. It is met with in the statutes (1215) which, among other matters, define the limits of age for teaching. A master in the arts must not lecture under twenty-one; of theology under thirty-five. Every master must undergo an examination as to qualification and moral fitness at the Episcopal Chancellor's Court. Early in the twelfth century the four faculties of Law, Medicine, Arts and Theology were formed and the national groups reduced to four: French, Picards, Normans and English. Each group elected its own officers, and in 1245 at latest the Quatre Nations were meeting in the church of St. Julien le Pauvre to choose a common head or rector, who soon superseded the chancellor as head of the university. The rectors in process of time exercised almost sovereign authority in the Latin Quarter; they ruled a population of ten thousand masters and students, who were exempt from civic jurisdiction. In 1200 some German students ill-treated an innkeeper who had insulted their servant. The provost of Paris and some armed citizens attacked the students' houses and blood was shed, whereupon the masters of the schools complained to the king, who was fierce in his anger, and ordered the provost and his accomplices to be cast into prison, their houses demolished and vines uprooted. The provost was given the choice of imprisonment for life or the ordeal by water. Then followed a series of ordinances which abolished secular jurisdiction over the students and made them subject to ecclesiastical courts alone.

In the reign of Philip le Bel a provost of Paris dared to hang a scholar. The rector immediately closed all classes until reparation was made, and on the Feast of the Nativity of the Virgin the cures of Paris assembled and went in procession, bearing a cross and holy water to the provost's house, against which each cast a stone, crying, in a loud voice—"Make honourable reparation, thou cursed Satan, to thy mother Holy Church, whose privileges thou hast injured, or suffer the fate of Dathan and Abiram." The king dismissed his provost, caused ample compensation to be made, and the schools were reopened.

The famous Petit Pre aux Clercs (Clerks' Meadow) was the theatre of many a fight with the powerful abbots of St. Germain des Pres.[70] From earliest times the students had been wont to take the air in the meadow, which lay between the monastery and the river, and soon claimed the privilege as an acquired right. In 1192 the inhabitants of the monastic suburb resented their insolence, and a free fight ensued, in which several scholars were wounded and one was killed. The rector inculpated the abbot, and each appealed to Rome, with what result is unknown. After nearly a century of strained relations and minor troubles, Abbot Gerard in 1278 had walls and other buildings erected on the way to the meadow: the scholars met in force and demolished them. The abbot, who was equal to the occasion, rang his bells, called his vassals to arms and sent a force to seize the gates of the city that gave on the suburb, to prevent reinforcements reaching the scholars; his retainers then attacked the rioters, killed several and wounded many. The rector complained to the papal legate and threatened to close the schools if reparation were not made and justice done within fifteen days, whereupon the legate ordered the provost of the monastery to be expelled for five years. The royal council forced the abbot to exile ten of his vassals, to endow two chantries for the repose of the souls of slain clercs and compensate their fathers by fines of two hundred and four hundred livres respectively, and to pay the rector two hundred livres to be distributed among poor scholars. In 1345 another bloody fight took place between the monks and the scholars over the right to fish there.

[Footnote 70: There were two Pres, the Petit Pre roughly represented by the area now enclosed by the Rues de Seine, Jacob and Bonaparte; and the Grand Pre which extended nearly to the Champ de Mars. A narrow stream, the Petite Seine, divided them.]

Many circumstances contributed to make Paris the capital of the intellectual world in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. France has ever been the home of great enthusiasms and has not feared to "follow where airy voices lead." The conception and enforcement of a Truce of God (Treve de Dieu) whereby all acts of hostility in private or public wars ceased during certain days of the week or on church festivals; the noble ideal of Christian chivalry; the first crusade—all had their origin in France. The crusaders carried the prestige of the French name and diffused the French idiom over Europe. It was a French monk preaching in France who gave voice to the general enthusiasm; a French pope approved his impassioned oration; a French shout "Dieu le veut" became the crusader's war-cry. The conquest of the Holy Land was organised by the French, its first Christian king was a French knight, its laws were indited in French, and to this day every Christian in the East is a Frank whatever tongue he may speak. The French jurists were famed for their supreme excellence all over Western Europe. In the thirteenth century Brunette Latini wrote his most famous work, the Livres dou Tresor, in French, because it was la parleure plus delitable, il plus commune a toutes gens ("the most delightful of languages and the most common to all peoples"). Martin da Canale composed his story of Venice in French for the same reason, and Marco Polo dictated his travels in French in a Genoese prison. When St. Francis was sending the brothers to establish the order in distant lands, he himself chose France, but was dissuaded by his friend, Cardinal Ugolin. "When inebriated with love and compassion for Christ," says the writer of the Speculum, "and overflowing with sweetest melody of the Spirit, ofttimes would he find utterance in the French tongue; the strains of the divine whisperings which his ear had caught he would express in a French song of joyous exultation, and making the gestures of one playing a viol, he would sing in French of our Lord Jesus Christ."

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