paris_007The current cathedral is not the first building built on this site.




















paris_012aElements carved dating from the reign of the emperor Tibère (14-37 after J-C) and found under the chorus of the cathedral make it possible to think that the Eastern part of the island of the City already sheltered in Antiquity a place of worship dedicated to Gallic and Roman divinities.

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Paris_000In 1711, the architects of the king, wanting to build in the chorus a vault for the burial of the archbishops, trenched there; one excavated up to five meters, and on March 16, the pickaxe of the workmen met, with two meters of the ground, two old walls applied one to the other, which crossed together all the length of the chorus; one of these walls had one meter and half thickness, the other approximately eighty centimetres; this one appears to have been oldest, because it was there that one found employed, instead of rubble, nine ancient stones, charged of low-reliefs or inscriptions.

paris_300aThese invaluable monuments, cut in a stone similar to the tender stone of Saint-Leu, are placed in the large room of the palate of the Thermal baths, depend on the museum of Cluny, under the name of ``pillar of Nautes''.


paris_062aThe darkness which wraps the beginnings of our history also extends on the origin of Notre-Dame. It is difficult to discover, in the middle of the contradictory accounts which one finds in our former historians, which was the saint or the king who threw the foundations of this church. One meets many fictions, one loses oneself in a crowd of economic situations. Thus, the ones claim that saint Denis posed the first stone of the Notre-Dame church. Is this in the city, is this in the suburbs? it is what they do not decide. Did one give him initially the name of Notre-Dame or that of Saint-Denis of the Step? it is what they are unaware of. However, any door to believe that the intervention of saint Denis in the construction of this church must be completely isolated.
Indeed, Gregoire de Tours teaches us that saint Denis came to Paris when this city was yet only “Lutèce, surrounded of the Seine, located in an island little extended, where one approaches on the two sides by bridges out of wooden,” like known as Julien, in IIIth century, under the impérialat of Dèce.

Paris_00fIn this time, Paris had as pontiffs the Druids; for religious ceremonies, human sacrifices; for faith, the idolatry and the hatred of Christianity. Denis saint and his neophytes could celebrate sacred mysterieies only in undergrounds, in isolated places of the city, called crypts, which one supposes to have been in the site where is the Saint-Germain-des-Prés district: it is thus far from probable that the Gallic ones, which would have sacrificed the Christians on the furnace bridge of the Druids, had tolerated the construction of a catholic church in the enclosure even of the incipient city.


paris_008In which time the Jupiter furnace bridge was reversed? One is unaware of it, but obviously its disappearance coincides with the introduction of Christianity into the city; authentic titles prove that it was replaced by a church as of the end of the IVth century. This primitive church was rebuilt by Childebert Ist with a magnificence which the bishop Fortunatus poet describes. In 1847, the substructions of this splendid basilica to the marble columns were put at the day by excavations undertaken with the Notre Dame de Paris square. The foundations of the church of Childebert, hidden there for ten centuries, had merged with those several Roman houses which one had shaven to widen his site.

paris_575aOne found part of the mosaic in small marble cubes of various colors whose ground of the naves was paved, three marble columns of Aquitaine, which one calls large antique, and a Corinthian white marble capital of merovingian sculpture. The columns and the capital are exposed to the museum of Cluny, which not indicates them on its catalogue like coming from the basilica of Childebert, according to the opinion of Guilhermy, but from the pagan temple which would have preceded this basilica. Most complete of these columns preserved its astragale and its Corinthian capital in the Latin style, characteristic which seems to give reason to the catalogue of Cluny.

paris_578This should not surprise us, indeed, it is not rare to find vestiges of pagan temples to the site of the current churches, the Church having taken the practice of evangelize the populations by preserving the localization of the old places of worship, while modifying the direction of the step of faithful, by christianizing them.



paris_022aMore recent excavations made it possible to put at the day of the fragments ancient mosaics, columns and capitals as well as capital of merovingian time  and revealed the bases of an old church with five naves built on the model of the constantinians basilicas  (IVth century).
The first church of Paris, recognized for cathedral per celebrates it Gregoire de Tours, was located under the first current spans of Notre-Dame, but then dedicated to Saint Etienne, the first of the martyrs. The documents present this first cathedral to us like having a narthex with a bell-tower-porch, glaze of wooden carpentries. Us are described his interior like particularly luxurious, as well by decoration as by furniture as it contained.

paris_069Towards the end of the VIth century, the current site of the cathedral was occupied by two distinct buildings: one, the Saint-Etienne, most important, rose at midday; the other, titrated of Sainte-Marie, in the East and towards north. It is in the nave of Saint-Etienne that was assembled, in year 829, celebrates council of Paris. In 857, whereas Paris was devastated by the Norman ones, the Énée bishop could repurchase only Saint-Etienne and let burn Sainte-Marie. This one was not long however in leaving its ruins and was generally indicated under the name of new church, in opposition to that of Saint-Etienne, which was much older. The capetians kings  had taken in affection the church of the Virgin, to which the archdeacon Étienne de Garlande, died in 1142, made make important repairs, and to which the Suger abbot gave a very beautiful stained glass. It was Maurice de Sully, bishop of Paris since 1160 to 1196 and it sixty-twelfth successor of saint Denis, who conceived the project to build a large cathedral on the site of the two churches, by joining together them.

paris_067aAlways it is that at the beginning of the XIIth century, it proved to be essential to renovate this building become decayed. The archdeacon of Paris, Étienne de Garlande made do at the building important work in particular a gate devoted to the Virgin who was re-installed thereafter in the gate saint-Anne of the current cathedral.

paris_072At the beginning of the XIIth there was already, being next to the cathedral in north, a baptistry, Saint-Jean-the-Round, quoted in the texts of the VIth century, as well as vast enclosed reserved for the houses of the canons. Moreover, there was also an episcopal palate, in the east of the island, and an hospital.

paris_088In Paris with the XIIth century, the initiator of the project is without question the bishop Maurice de Sully. Wire of peasants of Sully on the Loire, it did not have personal incomes to finance work, on the other hand it managed remarkably well the ecclesiastical goods assigned to its load (the episcopal mense) and its financial participation was capital. Its successors: Eudes de Sully, but also of the men like Guillaume of Auvergne or Simon Matifas de Buci will have in heart to lead the building site to its completion or to make to the building modifications of scale.

paris_171The bishop was assisted in his task by the chapter, institution which since the IXth century gathers all the canons serving the cathedral. For lack of documents, one does not know if the chapter intervened systematically in the financing of the building site to the XIIth century. On the other hand, with the XIIIth century, this chapter which has part of the episcopal mense and goods clean takes an increasingly significant part in the management of the building site, particularly with regard to the hospital.


paris_183Contrary to certain generally accepted ideas, the king does not intervene in the construction of Notre-Dame of Paris. Even if Louis VII made a gift before his death in 1180, even if the royal characters knelt with the tympanum of the ``carries Rouge'' are traditionally regarded as saint Louis and Marguerite of Provence, letting think that the royalty would have taken part directly in the building site of Notre-Dame, it for what we do not have any document unfortunately, the cathedral cannot be regarded as a royal building site.

paris_199As for the participation of the middle-class men (are middle-class those who live inside the walls of the city), it is of a financial nature and takes the shape of offerings; this practice of the offerings does not make besides the unanimity among the clergy and Pierre the Cantor, senior of the chapter about 1180, the critic highly.

paris_215If the financial participation of the people is quite real, its participation in the building site concerns more of the myth than reality. The design of such an imposing work requires the intervention of specialists and they are specialized and organized trade associations which work on the building site, the tasks of operations being entrusted to men recruited on the spot and paid at the day.

Among these experts, the architects are most important: true men of science, even to the title of ``main lapidaries are allotted to them. ''

Unfortunately, in Notre-Dame, we do not know the names of the first architects of the XIIth and XIIIth centuries. The first name which reached us is that of Jean de Chelles. It increases the northern transept and undertook the construction of the southern transept, but it disappeared in 1258 and it is its successor, Pierre de Montreuil, who continued work. Then came Pierre de Chelles who modified the bedside and its current aspect gave him, and Jean Ravy, who finished the chorus closure.



Ist century the Eastern part of the island of the City already sheltered in Antiquity a place of worship dedicated to Gallic and Roman divinities
IVth Construction of a church by Childebert
VIth Presence of two churches: St Etienne and co. Marie
829 First council of Paris
857 Destruction of co. Marie by the Norman ones
1142 Étienne de Garlande, died in 1142, made make important repairs on St Etienne, the Suger abbot gave a very beautiful stained glass.
1163 Pose first stone of Notre Dame by Louis VII and the pope Alexandre III
1177 End of the construction of the chorus
1182 Dedication of the high altar in front of cardinal papal legate
1182 End of the construction of the nave and the transept
1196 Died of évèque of Paris Maurice de Sully, appointment of its successor, Eudes de Sully
1208 End of the construction and the decoration of the gates of the frontage
1230 Enlarging of the windows of the high part of the nave
1240 End of the construction of the southern tower - abandonment of the project of flêches on the lathes
1250 End of the construction of the northern tower and the gallery connecting the two turns
The 1258 architect Jean de Chelles takes the work management: one owes him the northern frontage of the transept
The 1265 architect Pierre de Montreuil succeeds Jean de Chelles: one owes him the southern frontage of the transept
The 1296 architect Pierre de Chelles succeeds Pierre de Montreuil
The 1318 architect Jean Ravy succeeds Pierre de Chelles: one owes him the vaults in the north of the chorus and propping up them
The 1344 architect Jean Bouteiller, nephew of Jean Ravy, takes his continuation
The 1363 Raymond architect of the temple takes the work management
1430 Crowning of Henri VI king d' Angleterre
1455 Beginning of the lawsuit of rehabilitation of Jeanne d' Arc
1572 Marriage of Henri de Navarre, future Henri IV, with Marguerite de Valois
1638 Birth of Louis XIV. His/her father pronounces a wish then and promises “to rebuild the Large Furnace bridge of the church cathedral of Paris”
1699 Louis XIV entrusts to Robert de Cotte the realization of work to respect the wish of Louis XIII. He will result the destruction from it from jubé, the stalls and the high altar. As for the walls, they will be whitewashed of white.
1730 Installation of the Large organ of François Thierry
1741 Continuation of work for the wish of Louis XIII: Levieil replaces the stained glasses of the chorus by white glass
1771 Soufflot destroys the pier of the central gate which obstructed the processions and prevented the passage of the platform
1783 François-Henri Clicquot undertakes the transformation of the large organ
The 1792 rioters of the revolution cut down the statues of the gallery of the kings and make dismount the flêche - the cathedral is renamed “temple of the Reason” then transformed into warehouse.
1802 Bonaparte restores the worship in the cathedral, consequence of the signature of the legal settlement
1804 Crown of Napoleon 1st in the presence of the pope
1831 Victor Hugo publishes Notre Dame de Paris
The 1843 architects Jean-baptiste Lassus and Eugene Viollet-the-Duke see themselves entrusting the restoration of the cathedral
1857 Died of Jean-baptiste Lassus. Viollet-the-duke takes only the work management
1864 Completion of work of restoration
1868 Restoration of the large organ of Cliquot by Aristide Cavaillé-coll
1871 Of the chairs and the benches are sprinkled with oil and are ignited. The fire is avoided of accuracy.
1970 Cleaning of the frontages
The 1977 heads of the kings of the gallery of the western frontage, decapitated by the revolutionists in 1792, are found in under ground of
            the French Bank of the trade exterior and transported to the museum of Cluny
1988 the architect Bernard Fonquernie takes the work management of restoration which continues 
            still

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