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Amiens Cathedral

Amiens Cathedral - France - Gothic Architecture - Medieval History - Middle Ages History - Medieval France - Medieval Europe - ChurchFive archteypical Gothic medieval cathedrals still exist in France today, one of which is Amiens Cathedral, located in Amiens, the major city of Picardy, in the Somme River valley just north of Paris. The other four cathedrals include Bourges, Chatres, Rheims, and Soissons. Amiens contains a choir with ambulatory, seven chapels, an aisled transept and nave, with the vaults of the nave stretching to 139 feet in height, making it one of the heighest vaults of any Gothic structure.

In 1220, a fire destroyed a Romanesque cathedral at the site of Amiens, and so a new, greater Gothic cathedral was constructed in its place. As customary of many building projects in its day, Amiens Cathedral was built over several decades: the nave from 1220 to 1235; the lower story of the transept, choir, and radiating chapels from 1235 to 1240; and the upper parts of the choir from 1240 to 1280.

Amiens has an elaborately decorated west facade, puncuated by double towers and three recessed arched portals with a gallery below a circular rose window in the center. The interior has a light and airy feel, made possible by the sophisticated Rayonnant-style construction, the height of the flanking aisles and open arcades, and the large windows of the triforium and clerestory.

The cathedral at Amiens hosted the marriage of Charles VI to Isabella of Bavaria in 1385.

Additional Reading:

Robert Branner, St. Louis and the Court Style in Gothic Architecture (London: A. Zwemmer, 1965); Hans Jantzen, High Gothic: The Classic Cathedrals of Chartres, Reims and Amiens (New York: Pantheon, 1962); Stephen Murray, Notre-Dame, Cathedral of Amiens: The Power of Change in Gothic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996); Susie Nash, Between France and Flanders: Manuscript Illumination in Amiens (London: The British Library, 1999).


Amiens Cathedral. (2009). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved January 05, 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online:

English, Edward D. “Amiens Cathedral.” Encyclopedia of the Medieval World, vol. 1. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2005. Ancient and Medieval History Online. Facts On File, Inc.
ItemID=WE49&iPin=EMW0068&SingleRecord=True (accessed January 5, 2009).

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