The author was a professor at Munich see Fig. As a poet, he made a specialty of translating and reworking Old French and Middle High German poetry. Photograph, date and photographer unknown. Photograph, date, and photographer unknown. In the lecture, Morf commences with an editorializing exordium, setting up a stark contradistinction between his own day and the medieval past. His predilection for the Middle Ages rests upon nostalgia for its allegedly pure and piety-propelled spirit. He contrasts the religion-directed and heroic chivalry of yore with the profit- or greed-driven and capitalist colonialism of his own day.
Shortly after Gaston Paris died, Ezra Pound began to achieve impact through fresh translations and adaptations of troubadour lyric. The nineteenth-century French philologist knew nothing of what would happen in American poetry after his death. In retrospect, his guarded comments about the limited promise of Old Occitan literature for inspiring and enriching its modern counterpart look like very poor and grudging prophecy.
He was not predisposed to believe that medieval literature could contribute much to modernity through adaptations in literature, music, or art. In a final irony, the acknowledgment by Anatole France of his indebtedness to Gaston Paris caused a muddle later. This was another misascription, akin to the one that made Gautier de Coinci wrongly the author of the original poem. Even more, he initiated the broad diffusion of the story by promoting it to a larger public.
His case demonstrates handily that the history of scholarship belongs without equivocation within medievalism. By the same token, the constant reinterpretation intrinsic within medievalism can enhance medieval studies.
A diagram could be made to correlate the apparitions by both time and place with notable incidences of literature about such Marian miracles and Mariophanies. If we take the fiction writer at his word, he read the book to the sound of birdsong while lolling on the grass under an oak. Enter email address: Nobility Newsletter is emailed every Monday and Thursday. Still worse, the immediate effects of the rout only started the woes to follow. Berlin: H. The American man of letters and historian, Henry Adams, who by coincidence was in Paris in July of for the theater, found the early days of the conflict fittingly operatic. God, there are so many things.
Through apparitions, she was present in France as she had not been since the Middle Ages. Thanks to the interplay of literature and architecture that has been a consistent calling card of Gothic revivals for centuries, her buildings held as much importance, especially in the city of Paris, as they had done since the medieval period.
We should talk next about Notre Dame. Not only the initial publication and promotion of the tale by Gaston Paris, but in fact all the early paraphrases, its incarnation as a short story, and the subsequent composition of the opera based on it took place from to Tensions over the role of Catholicism and the clergy within French society had begun to crackle nearly a century earlier with the Revolution of In time, the frictions dissipated or at least were forced to disappear. Controversially, a collective commitment was made to construct a social order that would scrupulously compartmentalize religion and government.
The government took a long step toward this resolution in , by imposing an official divorce upon Church and State. Before then, the two main opposing camps in politics within France were Republicans and monarchists. A major symbol of Republicanism is the female figure of Marianne, who personifies free choice and reason. Church and State in the nineteenth century France were locked in a prolonged contention for the hearts and minds of the people between the reasonable Marianne and the miraculous Virgin Mary.
Onomastically, Mary occupied center stage: in a bit of gender-bending that continues here and there even to this day, devout Catholics in France and elsewhere would intercalate the vernacular form of Mary as an appendage to other personal names for both women and men. Should we parse such names as being in their modest way matronyms? When one of the two women was then in the ascendant, the other may well have been inevitably on the defensive, and in decline. Joan of Arc may have risen in popularity as a middle way of give-and-take between the two extremes.
Amalgamating features of both the other female figures, she embodied religion by being a saint and nation by being a patriot. To seal the deal, she was, like both the others, a virgin maid. The crisis of Church and State, roughly one-half century long, had its formal onset with the Franco-Prussian War.
Committed Catholics could take note that the tumbler is drawn to leave the world and to enter a monastery, while secularists could point out that once there he cannot integrate within the institution. Furthermore, unlike all the choir monks, he achieves special recognition from Mary almost despite his egregious unsuitability.
By themselves, lack of Latin and liturgy might suffice to make the entertainer a questionable poster child for the Church. His other chief disqualification would be his seeming indifference to complying with established ecclesiastical customs and hierarchy. Both really and metaphorically, as the tumbler performs his dancing devotions, he looks as unclothed as a man of the cloth can be. After the national indignity of the Franco-Prussian War, many French were not yet ready to adopt a detached or even lightly ironic standpoint on the roots of Catholicism.
On the contrary, the chastening catastrophe of the defeat had consequences in the realm of faith by redirecting the devout toward Mary. For many centuries, Catholics have called upon the Virgin in myriad capacities. The underlying assumption behind these petitions is that God cannot say no to the Mother of God, but this conviction can assume a thousand different forms. At the grass roots, the tendency to pray to Mary has run particularly strong for many centuries, even in preference to Jesus or the Father.
The proclivity arises out of a sense that when help is most needed, she can best provide it. She has the capacity to intercede with Jesus, for the very human reason that a loving and respectful son will never say no to his mother. The relationship of the Virgin, the Church, and the cathedral is intimate and even inextricable. In her guise as mediator, the Mother of God represents the Church. Like her, the clergy too is supposed to mediate between individual Christians and God. The mediation of both Mary and Catholicism takes place in the physical church, the foremost exemplum of which has become the cathedral.
Here we have another reason why so many cathedrals in France are named in honor of Notre Dame, not just the most famous one in the heart of Paris. Within Catholicism, the Marian age is bounded at either extremity by a controversial dogma about the Mother of Christ. The Immaculate Conception became doctrine in , the Assumption of the Virgin in The institution of these creeds had real- life consequences.
For instance, after every parish blessed a statue of the Virgin with the special title of the Immaculate Conception.
When carvings already existed, they were crowned in formal coronation ceremonies. The date for its beginning must be pushed back by nearly twenty- five years to , since the Marian apparitions for which the nation became known started then in Paris.
The revival of devotion to Mary embodied a counterweight to a set of changes that swept not only France but also Europe as a whole: industrialization, secularization, nationalization, and atheism. The modern French movement of mass pilgrimages marks its beginning at the latest in From the establishment of the Third Republic, record-shattering numbers of the faithful undertook communal journeys by train to sites associated with the Mother of God. By , more than one-half million people made the voyage each year to the miraculous spring at Lourdes. The Virgin Mary had revealed herself and the fountainhead only in the uncontroversially modern year of , but the phenomenon of devotion that ensued was viewed as a resumption of medieval Marianism.
As such, from onward the visits of the devout were cast explicitly as peregrinations. The piety of the wayfarers afforded a means of achieving two objectives. One was to do penance for the sins that had resulted in the rout by Prussian forces. The other was to attain relief through the intercession of Mary with her son.
Marianism gave a safety valve for the expression of guilt and even complicity in the collective sins that had prepared the ground for the retribution of the nation. Through worship, the people could make amends that with the blessing of the Virgin would lead to restitution of French success. More broadly, devotion to the Mother of God accompanied misgivings about modernity, and even a turn toward a primitivism associated with the countryside as well as with the Middle Ages.
In the medieval period, the regions that today form the unity of France were stippled with the steeples of cathedrals and churches dedicated in honor of Mary. This is to say nothing of all the Cistercian foundations devoted to her as well see Fig. In sum, France was, and remains, the country of cathedrals par excellence. Her great churches of this sort represent close to three quarters of all such buildings constructed during the Gothic era. As a rule, cathedrals may be made of stone, but for all that they are far from monolithic. Their variety beggars belief. Hand drawn by Maurice Vloberg, no date.
As said above, the vast majority of these edifices, not only the cathedral of Paris, were built in the name of the Mother of God, and accordingly, they are called Notre-Dame. As a result, Gothic cathedrals—especially the French Gothic ones—are equated by an almost automatic and unconscious process with the worship of Mary: in the reception of the jongleur or juggler, pointed arch, spire, and Virgin commingle in so intimate an equation that the relationship among them needs no explanation see Fig.
In the nineteenth century, the age of Mary was felt nowhere more strongly and triumphantly than in France. Now its confidence was proven well founded in sightings of the Virgin, the boosted visibility of Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, and in other images as well. Even after the separation of Church and State, Marianism did very well in the land of Marianne.
A subbranch of ethnobotany as applied to Christianity particularly in the Middle Ages is the language and history of Christian symbolism called iconography. In this form of symbolic expression, the lily has often accompanied representations of the Annunciation. It began life as a religious symbol of purity, and like the blossom itself, the emblem was connected with the Mother of God.
In the twelfth century, statues of the Virgin were clothed in mantles embellished with lilies. In Western art, many Madonnas wear a blue garment, especially when they depict the Mother of God with the Christ Child in arms or nearby. This shade may have become traditional for the Virgin in the West under Byzantine influence. In French heraldry, the same bluish tint has served for the skylike background against which golden fleurs-de-lis are set in the coat of arms that was used for centuries by the French monarchy. Even long after the demise of the royal house, the device retains power.
To this day, three golden fleurs-de-lis on an escutcheon of blue, surmounted by a gold crown that itself is topped by further fleurs-de-lis, remain a symbol of France. Talk about gilding the lily, and about good as gold! Illustration, badge depicting the ca. Published in Arthur Black Madonna and child. In the medieval period, the symbolism was employed first by the Church.
The blazons and tokens of churches dedicated to the Mother of God incorporated the fleur-de-lis motif see Fig. The design depicts the Black Virgin of this pilgrimage site, who is crowned, backed by a nimbus, and holding a scepter topped by a fleur-de-lis, with the babe on her left knee. The keepsakes resemble plaques at Our Lady of Le Puy-en-Velay to commemorate the Virgin and Child, which likewise feature the crown and scepter with this floral grace note.
The fleur-de-lis as a device of royalty befitted Mary in her role as queen of heaven. Similarly, gold goes well with the meaning of Marian majesty. An engraving produced in see Fig. Below her sits a blazon of three fleurs-de-lis itself surmounted by a crown, against a field of additional fleurs-de-lis. The illustration could not be more fleur-de- licious—or should we say fleur-de-lightful?
From the symbolic language of medieval Christian art, the flower and perhaps also the blueness of the Virgin were appropriated by the Capetian kings of France r. It was to invoke her holiness and to establish their authorization through it that French kings began to employ the fleur- de-lis heraldically. In addition, they connected their special cultivation of Mary with courtliness. Further, they brought out parallels between the ministry of the Mother of God and their own status as rulers anointed by Christ. Like her, they had the capacity to dispense mercy and to heal.
The Marian lily of the Virgin and the royal one of the Capetians were thus closely related. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many forces in France connived to make the stylized lily a rallying point, sometimes for religion, often for royalism, but beyond all else for the quintessence of Frenchness. After Gaston Paris and Anatole France had plied their pens, Jules Massenet took up his baton to project the story of the jongleur into the s. In doing so, he knew well how to toe a line between conservative Catholics and devout secularists.
In a canvas from , a quarter century later, the English painter Glyn Warren Philpot portrayed the juggler kneeling upon a rug patterned with fleurs-de-lis. The symbol has remained soldered to our tale. How could it be otherwise? The story originated in France, is most often set there, and has at its center a miracle performed by the Virgin Mary in response to veneration shown to a Madonna in a great church dedicated in her honor. Yet the French connection does not mean that the fleur-de-lis has not proven to be attractive in other countries, both within Europe and especially in a large one across the Atlantic.
So too a later German verse translation of the medieval tale from by Tatiana von Metternich is covered in a pattern of gold fleurs-de-lis against a blue background see Fig. The cloth cover bears fleurs-de-lis, embellished with extra shoots, which alternate with other stylized blooms see Fig. It depicts a single candle, surrounded by the tackle preferred by this sort of performer.
The taper burns before a Gothic niche where a nimbate Madonna and Child bivouac. The image in turn stands against a backcloth that is imprinted with the characteristic floral motif. The expression is immediately understandable. Yet when pushed, it deconstructs itself. Roses, like lilies, have been a popular religious symbol of Mary, and roses, not lilies, grow on thorny stalks.
Engraving, Porter Royalty Trust. Wiesbaden, Germany: Modul, Photograph, Instead, we should have sought out a global navigation system for wayfinding within France. Within a few years after the end of World War II, and decades after the Franco-Prussian War, the religious sought again to raise the spirits of their fellow Frenchmen by bringing home the French connection with the Mother of God—or the Marian connection with France. In emphasizing the Marianism of their country, they looked back to the favoritism that the Virgin had shown to their nation repeatedly during the nineteenth century.
A card printed by the Benedictines of Bayeux see Fig. A second commemorates a showing in La Salette, in the French Alps, in The full secret of this showing was published only in The third star rests on the spot of the vision of Lourdes in Finally, a fourth signals Pontmain, where Mary showed herself in Out of hundreds upon hundreds of sightings that have been documented worldwide, these from the nineteenth century in France are four of only seven that have won approbation from the local bishops after investigation by diocesan commissions.
Each of these episodes involved visionaries who were children and peasants. All will recur in this book. The French event in and the two Belgian episodes in and relate loosely but significantly to the reception of the medieval tale about the tumbler. The apparitions in France helped to lay the foundation for a powerful emphasis on the veneration of the Virgin within the whole Catholic Church.
The dates when the nineteenth-century events either took place or were made public all fell within his papacy. More broadly, the promulgation of the doctrine gave rise to similar experiences in other countries throughout the world. Marian visions came thick and fast in France both during and immediately after the war in , , and Believers sought solace for their fear, humiliation, grief, and anxiety. They yearned for reassurance. Beyond consolation, they sought insight into the future.
We should not forget too that sightings of the Mother of God played a major role in the long process of canonization that rendered many visionaries into saints. Sainthood is an exceedingly rare distinction for even the most pious individuals, and in nineteenth-century France, undergoing an apparition of the Virgin was a promising first step on track toward becoming a holy woman. Put bluntly, Mary made saints. In the medieval French poem, the beneficiary of the miracle remains rigorously and resolutely anonymous, is not even necessarily aware of the corporeal comfort that is extended to him, dies partly of his devotion rather than receives healing from it, and is portrayed as being not a holy man to be sainted but a sinner to be redeemed.
She must engage in a do-or-die, toe-to-toe or is it toe-to-hoof? Furthermore, we are not given to believe or hope that others would benefit from miracles to be performed on behalf of the tumbler. He is no saint—but he is exemplary. These devout travelers were allied with the forces in French society committed to deliverance rather than enlightenment.
Often the phenomena that motivated them centered upon messages spoken or otherwise enunciated by Mary. At the first location in , the communication took place in patois spoken to shepherd children, while at the second, in , it was conveyed to an illiterate fourteen-year- old daughter of impecunious millers. Yet the foremost example would be the three-hour manifestation to peasant youths that occurred on January 17, , in Pontmain. The vision happened in the last-ditch stages of the Franco-Prussian War. The advancing German army rumbled so near to the village that the teeth-rattling boom of cannons in the distance came within earshot.
Two brothers, aged twelve and ten, were immersed in odd jobs in the family barn with their father. When a female neighbor dropped by, the elder sibling took a break to check on the weather see Fig.
While studying the sky, he noticed a portent. Suspended in the heavens was an image of a lady in a long robe. Her raiment was indigo blue and studded with golden stars, like the ceiling of some churches. To complete the effect, she wore a black veil under a gold crown. Although this showing of the Virgin was invisible to the two adults who were present, the younger boy also witnessed it. A succession of other villagers came to the scene but the Mother of God could be seen only by the youths.
Simultaneously, the image went through a gauntlet of last-minute changes—and nearly doubled its original size. A total of five young people detected the lady, whereas grownups could not see her. After the apparition, the German front line halted just short of a nearby town. Eleven days later, the army accepted the armistice without ever invading Pontmain. The cessation of the invasion was taken as a miracle. The lesson drawn, as it had been for centuries, was that prayers to Mary can bring peace.
Afterward, the visionaries were subjected to a sort of sculptural lineup. In this process, the local church authorities flashed them mugshots of Madonnas and asked them to identify those that most and least closely resembled the woman they had perceived in their celestial visions. Some of the photographs, together with the notes of the interviewers, survive in the ecclesiastical dossier.
In the aftermath, Pontmain became a major regional pilgrimage site. Soon a sanctuary was constructed, which eventually got the stamp of approval for elevation to a basilica. Saint-Augustin, after Clusters take shape at specific times in response to the stresses of war and its aftermath, political crisis, economic slowdown and collapse, outbreaks of disease, or combinations of the preceding. In the protracted rainy day that ensued immediately upon the Franco-Prussian War, other appearances of the Virgin reportedly took place in France.
These events were regarded by contemporaries as being related to each other. A special category is formed by Mariophanies in Alsace in the s. The border zone, which was annexed by the new German empire after the French had been trounced, experienced a surge of visions that tapered off after a clampdown in March The only Marian apparition in France that gained any sort of traction with the ecclesiastical authorities after Pontmain happened in Pellevoisin. There a woman in her early thirties was miraculously healed after seeing the Virgin in the bedroom of her house fifteen times over nearly three months see Fig.
Sightings of Mary have been mapped to show their geography. A diagram could be made to correlate the apparitions by both time and place with notable incidences of literature about such Marian miracles and Mariophanies. In turn, the coincidence of sightings and related literature could help to explain spikes in the reception of the tumbler story. Many uncontrived and often lackluster reworkings of the tale date from the early s, when appearances of the Virgin abounded or rebounded in Europe. The Mariolatry had inevitable consequences for reading and writing—and accordingly for profits, since at the time publication was big business.
For example, Henri Lasserre was among the first to report effervescently on the apparitions and miracles of the Virgin in Lourdes see Fig. In , this French Catholic went so far as to ascribe to the water there a cure for blindness. Following many subsequent pilgrimages there, the same journalist and writer wrote voluminously, although not to universal delight or acceptance, on Notre Dame of Lourdes.
He focused especially on her showings and healings. The editions totaled millions of copies see Fig. As a cultural phenomenon, Lourdes seized the imaginations of intellectuals for decades to come. Visionaries, doubly disadvantaged in socioeconomic class and gender for being peasants and girls, set the great Church in motion.
Their little Lourdes community enlarged explosively and reported miracle after miracle that occurred as pilgrims flooded in. In one sense, the trek there was a thoroughly modern phenomenon. It resulted from all the resources of nineteenth-century marketing, and it relied on a consummately unmedieval mode of transportation. In the decade leading up to , more than , pilgrims wended their way to the town by rail. Yet despite the slick promotion and chugging trains, the pilgrimage had aspects that were felt by contemporaries to be redolent of the Middle Ages.
Longuet, late nineteenth century. Engraving on wood by Henri Brauer, Although today his name lies in oblivion, who knows what hopes may have been nurtured in the thirteenth century for further miracles to take place or for pilgrims to arrive and share in the favor he enjoyed from the Virgin? Interestingly, apparitions comparable to those in Lourdes were experienced in Germany at roughly the same time. The foremost German case was visions of Mary claimed by three eight-year-old girls from Marpingen in July of Despite recursive efforts on their behalf over three quarters of a century, the visionaries in the Saarland failed to nail down the support of the Church.
In sum, Marpingen had no high-level ecclesiastical backing and faced active opposition inside Prussia. Nonetheless, the town seemed likely at times to become a German Lourdes. Yet kudos was not to be the case. His evidence-based observations made him bent on probing the dependence of human beings upon manifestations of the miraculous.
He recognized the unstoppable importance of faith in both the miracles themselves and pilgrimage to the place where they occurred. Furthermore, he seemed in his way astir at the mass candlelit processions that took place in the municipality. For all that, he was not moved to place any credence in the wonders himself. A few years after his visit, Zola brought out Lourdes In this novel on the town of Bernadette Soubirous, the writer delves into the motivations behind the belief of the sickly in miracles. In his skepticism, he envisaged reliance upon supernatural intervention as forming the opposite pole to science.
To him, apparitions resulted from hysteria rather than God. Thus, the novelist formulated his own equivalent to the relationship between the Virgin and the dynamo that Henry Adams constructed a decade later. The strongest refutation to the French author from the faithful came not in writing, but in the human traffic there on the fiftieth anniversary of the apparitions. In , one and a half million believers voted with their feet by making the journey to the shrine. If pilgrimage had been an electoral process, this one would have been a landslide. A dozen years after Zola, the novelist Joris-Karl Huysmans also traveled to the site.
After visiting in , he harnessed naturalism to describe its supernaturalism, and in he published Les foules de Lourdes The crowds of Lourdes. Huysmans was out to praise the Virgin and the visionary of Lourdes, not to blame them, but in Marianism passions often run strong. Menard et Cie, The Reactionary Revolution In the late nineteenth century the status of the hegemonic religion in French society fell into dispute and sometimes even into disrepute.
Culture then and there was riven between those who favored and those who rejected the intervention of the Catholic Church in the state. The staunchest exponents of the religion were commonly anti- Republican monarchists, while the most stouthearted advocates of Republicanism just as frequently tended toward intolerant anti-Catholicism or at least anticlericalism.
Each extreme in the debate seized the Middle Ages as its own. The tumbler could be put forward as a spokesperson for both extremes in the polemics. A late expression of this religious renewal is a verse play labeled by its author on the title page explicitly as a mystery. It builds upon the Marianism of the movement, but at the same time rests in part upon medieval ground. This devout Catholic was also the author of a much-admired praise poem to the Virgin. His ties to the Mother of God had been tight since Christmas Day, , at the latest, when the French symbolist poet and playwright underwent a conversion while listening to a choir sing Vespers.
Claudel sketched out the gist of the drama in , but reworked it repeatedly over decades until the end of his life. He set the play geographically in Champagne, and chronologically in a fifteenth century that he intended to evoke the Middle Ages. His stage directions in call for medievalesque garb. In an interview less than a decade later, the writer avowed that he had taken the piece even further into the Middle Ages.
The work delves into the rivalry between two daughters who are diametrically opposed in character. One is committed to Christian values, the other to the world. The drama elaborates themes of sacrifice and saintliness. To give particulars, it tells how the elder of the sisters, Violaine, contracts leprosy, leaves behind her betrothed, and retires to a hermitage. When their daughter is born sightless, or dies soon after birth, the mother calls upon her saintly sibling to reenter the world and either heal the infant or restore her to life.
Yet the malleability of his story is one essence of its consummate artistry. The tale is multivalent. That is, it has an openness or porosity to multiple interpretations. Whatever we choose to call the quality, it stood the narrative in good stead with both extremes in French society. Confirming the value of such a retreat, it proclaimed the power of pure and uncomplicated belief to reward its possessor with transcendence. It even concluded with the ascension to heaven of its hallowed hero. At the same time, the character in question has led most of his life in the world and possesses none of the punditry in liturgy or Latin that full-fledged or fully tonsured monasticism requires.
Rather, he is a layman from a given stretch within the Middle Ages. Often now styled the long twelfth century, this time had come to be regarded by the nineteenth century as a special period in which the populace was extricated from the dominance of monks. Among those liberated, the tumbler could have been viewed as a lay artist who had devised his own, unique means of retaining the freedom of the commune, but within the confines of the cloister. He was a medieval primitive, natural and naturalistic, down to his near nakedness.
Even so, the lodestone is ultimately less the white-robed monks in the choir than a gymnast stripped to his lowest layer of clothing in a crypt, not necessarily the holiest of precincts. Could the tale, like many Marian miracle tales, subtly interrogate or even challenge authoritative hierarchies? Whether the story is taken as favoring the top-down ecclesiastical system, being neutral to it, or subverting it, the events take place within a church. If at the turn of the century France immersed itself nearly obsessively in things medieval, it pitched itself into none with more fervor than into the Gothic cathedral.
This passion for the Middle Ages knew no boundaries between Catholic and anticlerical. The great church was too much a keystone in French culture to become the preserve of the religious; secularists also claimed the buildings as theirs. To a goodly degree, at the end of the nineteenth century the nation made this sort of edifice the cynosure of its cultural aspirations and anxieties. The Gothic revival was tied up with churches and even more intimately with cathedrals in this style.
You were all at once carried back to those times when a fraternity of cenobites, after having meditated in the woods of their monasteries, met to prostrate themselves before the altar and to chant the praises of the Lord, amid the tranquility and the silence of the night.
But let us take heed. He does not even use the word cathedral in this passage. Our thoughts turn to the Gothic steeples and spires because of undeclared assumptions that warrant being made overt. Yet neither the noun cathedral nor church figures in the medieval French text. From a nonscholarly vantage point, readers from the nineteenth century and later were reasonable in following their instincts by reading a cathedral-like structure into the story.
The tale was set in the Middle Ages, and the setting of the principal action was a place of worship. In the eyes of many, the archetypal medieval churches were Gothic cathedrals. Houses of God may be subsumed under two main categories. On the one hand, we find parish churches, and on the other, the so-called greater churches, which encompass cathedrals, monastic churches, and collegiate churches.
Buildings in this second category, as the name would presuppose, tend to be larger in size and more complicated in structure. Thus, the common conflation of large monastic church and cathedrals makes sense. Then again, from a scholarly perspective, the term cathedral has a precise meaning, excluding many places of worship that have been called by this name. In this technical sense, a cathedral does not have to be towering or stupendous, while conversely, a church that looms loftily overhead is not automatically a cathedral.
In fact, many parish churches outstrip many cathedrals in height. Furthermore, a cathedral does not have to be Gothic in architecture. It can be in Romanesque, classical, or any other mode. In other words, on its exterior or interior, it does not have to contain monuments and architecture that typify the Christian Middle Ages. The sole prerequisite of a cathedral is that it be the officially designated episcopal church of a diocese. That is to say, the structure must contain the chair of a bishop. This item of furniture, located behind the main altar, is known from a Greek word that was transliterated as the Latin cathedra.
Only in the sixteenth century did the adjective for the church where this furnishing was placed become a substantive. At the same time, the place in which the throne stood came to be called a see, from the Latin word for seat. In this sense, the noun signifies the locus of authority—the bully pulpit—that pertains to a bishop or archbishop.
Simultaneously, a cathedral church became a cathedral, plain and simple. Thus, the cathedral as we know it was born. From the episcopal seat derives the expression ex cathedra to describe a pronouncement made by the pope of the Catholic Church. When the Roman pontiff delivers an announcement in his capacity as the bishop of Rome, he has the full weight of his seat behind or under him. Especially in a Gallic context, the Gothic cathedral held sway throughout the nineteenth century. To a striking degree, structures in this style were felt to define France.
The Enlightenment trailed off with questionable results, to judge by the French Revolution. This article offers a new interpretation of "la haulte dame de Paris" in Pantagruel. The text instead if placed in the context of the 16th century presents an intelligently curious woman, perfectly conscious of the partiality of the laws concerning feminine "virtue", and demonstrating an acute perspicacity which permits her to cut short Panurge's subterfuges. Panurge, on the other hand, appears rather pitiful: his dazzling verbal skills cannot hide a failing sexuality; his mischievous and clownish attitude imperfectly conceals a caustic aggressivity.
If his linguistic acrobatics make us smile, it is a smile of indulgence for this word-juggler who is systematically beaten at his own game. Nevertheless, neither we, nor "le Seigneur de la ville", nor Pantagruel, nor the women surrounding the lady, nor the passers-by, can be, as were so many critics and for such a long time, "transported with delighted laughter" W.
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