Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Beauvais is a city and commune of northern France, préfecture (capital) of the Oise département. Population (1999): city: 57,355 (beauvaisiens); city and suburbs: 59,003; urban area (in French: aire urbaine): 100,733. It lies about 90 kilometers north of Paris.
Beauvais was known to the Romans as Caesaromagnus (though the post-Renaissance Latin rendering is Bellovacum) and took its present name from the Belgic tribe of the Bellovaci, whose capital it was. In the 9th century it became a countship, which about 1013 passed to the bishops of Beauvais, who became peers of France from the twelfth century. At the coronations of kings the Bishop of Beauvais wore the royal mantle and went, with the bishop of Langres, to raise the king from his throne to present him to the people.
In 1346 the town had to defend itself against the English, who again besieged it in 1433. The siege which it suffered in 1472 at the hands of the duke of Burgundy was rendered famous by the heroism of the women, under the leadership of Jeanne Hachette, whose memory is still celebrated by a procession on the 14th of October (the feast of Ste Angadrème), in which the women take precedence of the men.
Beauvais lies at the foot of wooded hills on the left bank of the Thérain at its confluence with the Avelon . Its ancient ramparts have been destroyed, and it is now surrounded by boulevards, outside which run branches of the Thérain. In addition, there are spacious promenades in the north-east of the town.
Cathédrale de Saint-Pierre
Its cathedral of St Pierre, in some respects the most daring achievement of Gothic architecture, consists only of a transept and choir with apse and seven apse-chapels. The vaulting in the interior exceeds 150 ft. in height.
The small Romanesque church of the 10th century known as the Basse Oeuvre occupies the site destined for the nave. Begun in 1247, under Bishop Guillaume de Grez, an extra 16 feet were added to the height, to make it the tallest cathedral in Europe: the work was interrupted in 1284 by the collapse of the vaulting of the choir, a disaster that produced a temporary failure of nerve among the masons working in Gothic style. In 1573 the fall of a too-ambitious central tower stopped work again, after which little addition was made. The transept was built from 1500 to 1548.
Its façades, especially that on the south, exhibit all the richness of the late Gothic style. The carved wooden doors of both the north and the south portals are masterpieces respectively of Gothic and Renaissance workmanship. The church possesses an elaborate astronomical clock (1866) and tapestries of the 15th and 17th centuries; but its chief artistic treasures are stained glass windows of the 13th, 14th and 16th centuries, the most beautiful of them from the hand of the Renaissance artist, Engrand Le Prince , a native of Beauvais. To him also is due some of the stained glass in St. Etienne, the second church of the town, and an intetesting example of the transition stage between the Romanesque and Gothic styles.
During the Middle Ages, on January 14, the Feast of Asses was celebrated in the Beauvais Cathedral, in commemoration of the Flight into Egypt.
Bishops of Beauvais
The early bishops of Beauvais are largely legendary, but a document records that the bishop who occupied the see from 632 to 660 was the thirteenth incumbent. The see, near Paris and the centers of power, was a desirable one. The most famous bishops of Beauvais are Odo of Beauvais (860-881) involved in a battle of prerogatives that was a foretaste of the Investiture Controversy; Gui (1063-85), who founded the great Beauvais school of theology at St. Quentin of Beauvais; Pierre Cauchon (1420-32), whose name is compromised in the condemnation of Joan of Arc; Jean Juvenal des Ursins (1433-44), the chronicler of Charles VI; Cardinal Odet de Chatillon (1535-62), nephew of Coligny, who turned Protestant at the Reformation; Francois-Joseph de la Rochefoucauld (1772-92), who died in the Carmelite prison in 1792; and François Hyacinthe Jean Feutrier (1825-30), minister of ecclesiastical affairs in the Martignac cabinet.
In the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville and in the old streets near the cathedral there are several houses dating from the 12th to the 16th centuries. The hotel de ville, close to which stands the statue of Jeanne Hachette, was built in 1752. The episcopal palace, now used as a court-house, was built in the 16th century, partly upon the Gallo-Roman fortifications.
The industry of Beauvais comprises, besides the state manufacture of tapestry, which dates from 1664, the manufacture of various kinds of cotton and woollen goods, brushes, toys, boots and shoes, and bricks and tiles. Market-gardening flourishes in the vicinity and an extensive trade is carried on in grain and wine.
The town is the seat of a bishop, a prefect and a court of assizes; it has tribunals of first instance and of commerce, together with a chamber of commerce, a branch of the Bank of France, a higher ecclesiastical seminary, a lycée and training colleges.
- Catholic Encyclopedia: Diocese of Beauvais
- "Why did Beauvais cathedral fall/" Theories on the collapse of Beauvais cathedralCities in France
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