chapter  20
12 Pages

The Cathedral of Amiens

WithWhitney S. Stoddard

The Cathedral of Amiens, begun in 1220, is on one hand the climax of the refinements of the High Gothic heritage from the Chartres design (1194) via Soissons (late 1190’s) and Reims (1211) and, on the other hand, the origin of a new kind of Gothic which comes into being in Paris in the late 1230’s and 1240’s. The history of Amiens before the thirteenth century was punctuated by disasters. The Normans destroyed a church in the late ninth or early tenth century. Another cathedral was burned in 1137; and the new one consecrated in 1152 was consumed in the fire of 1218. In contrast to the procedures of construction of the majority of cathedrals, in which the choir was built first, Amiens was constructed from west to east because of the presence of the church of Saint Firmin, which could be used for services.