Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 432 pages of information about Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres.

These two figures stand in the outer embrasures of the left bay, where they can be best admired, and perhaps this arrangement shows what Perron de Dreux, as he was commonly called, loved most, in his heart of hearts; but elsewhere, even in this porch, he relaxed his severity, and became at times almost gracious to women.  Good judges have, indeed, preferred this porch to the northern one; but, be that as you please, it contains seven hundred and eighty-three figures, large and small, to serve for comparison.  Among these, the female element has its share, though not a conspicuous one; and even the Virgin gets her rights, though not beside her Son.  To see her, you must stand outside in the square and, with a glass, look at the central pignon, or gable, of the porch.  There, just above the point of the arch, you will see Mary on her throne, crowned, wearing her royal robes, and holding the Child on her knees, with the two archangels on either side offering incense.  Pierre de Dreux, or some one else, admitted at last that she was Queen Regent, although evidently not eager to do so; and if you turn your glass up to the gable of the transept itself, above the great rose and the colonnade over it, you can see another and a colossal statue of the Virgin, but standing, with the Child on her left arm.  She seems to be crowned, and to hold the globe in her right hand; but the Abbe Bulteau says it is a flower.  The two archangels are still there.  This figure is thought to have been a part of the finishing decoration added by Philip the Fair in 1304.

In theology, Pierre de Dreux seems to show himself a more learned clerk than his cousins of France, and, as an expression of the meaning the church of Mary should externally display, the Porche de Dreux, if not as personal, is as energetic as the Porche de France, or the western portal.  As we pass into the Cathedral, under the great Christ, on the trumeau, you must stop to look at Pierre himself.  A bridegroom, crowned with flowers on his wedding-day, he kneels in prayer, while two servants distribute bread to the poor.  Below, you see him again, seated with his wife Alix before a table with one loaf, assisting at the meal they give to the poor.  Pierre kneels to God; he and his wife bow before the Virgin and the poor;—­ but not to Queen Blanche!

Now let us enter!—­

CHAPTER VI

THE VIRGIN OF CHARTRES

We must take ten minutes to accustom our eyes to the light, and we had better use them to seek the reason why we come to Chartres rather than to Rheims or Amiens or Bourges, for the cathedral that fills our ideal.  The truth is, there are several reasons; there generally are, for doing the things we like; and after you have studied Chartres to the ground, and got your reasons settled, you will never find an antiquarian to agree with you; the architects will probably listen to you with contempt; and even these excellent priests, whose

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Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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