chapter  18
6 Pages

The Cathedral of Soissons

WithWhitney S. Stoddard

Soissons is just sixty miles northeast of Paris and thirty-five miles west of Reims. The south transept was begun in 1176 on land donated by Nivelon de Chérizy, who became bishop in 1176. An inscription preserved at Soissons proves that the choir was completed by 1212, for the canons celebrated Mass for the first time on May 13 of that year. The Soissons master, in planning the piers of the cathedral, used as his model the piers of the hemicycle of the choir of Chartres, so he must have either seen them or been familiar with their design. There is also the possibility that the Soissons master was impressed by the single colonnettes or shafts of the south transept, which rise from the pavement up through the gallery and triforium to the springing of the ribs. There are other carry-overs in the Cathedral of Soissons which demonstrate that the Soissons builder knew Chartres intimately.