- Building Information
(Eure-et-Loir, France)
Cathedral of Notre-Dame
Surveyed: 1969, 1972-74, 1980-83, 1992-98, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2011, 2015, 2017
- Locator Map
Chartres (Eure-et-Loir, France) - Cathedral of Notre-Dame
- Disclaimer
The dating found here is based on the work of John James, and is meant on this site to serve as a starting point. James' dating is derived from a system that uses his interpretation of the development of capitals over time as the basis for chronology, among other factors. His goal is to refine the dating to within years rather than decades. I have not fully embraced James' methodology, and will be developing this page from its current state to one which is admittedly more conservative. The relative expenditure values found in the Timeline are also based on James' work, and I believe these to be reasonably reliable. They are intended only to give a sense of the amount of work involved in each decade.

I have added the idea of the "project" as a way of separating work in buildings. In my mind, a "project" is a discrete section of work in a building that resulted from the one-time acquisition of funding. "Projects" are generally separated by at least a decade where no work was being done. It is my view that it would have been unwise to start a "project" that could not be finished and protected from the elements, and as such a "project" usually involved a wing or multiple wings of a building, from floor to roof. Rural churches, which could only secure small amounts of funding at irregular intervals, often were the result of many small projects, while the great churches, which benefitted from relatively consistent funding, may have involved only a few large projects.
- Timeline with Relative Expenditure (if available, in building units)

- Project A - 1130s - Phase 1 - north A-B, WN-s(a-)
Foundations for north tower, connections to the crypt and entry from narthex, in stairs to about tread 20.
- Project A - 1130s - Phase 2 - north (a)
North tower, room capitals and rib vaults, to tread 45� in stairs
- Project A - 1130s - Phase 3 - north D, WN(a+)
Completes vault in north tower and arches over the external arcade, stairs to tread 67±; some figures may have been carved for future portal
- Project A - 1130s - Phase 4 - portal 1
Phase 1 of the sculpture in which the lower south lintel was carved for a wider door.
- Project A - 1130s - Phase 5 - n tower I (b)
North tower I bases, set out openings and no provision for ribs, stairs to 97±; possible earlier portal scheme begun
- Project A - 1130s - Phase 6 - portal 2
Phase 2 of the sculpture in which the upper southern lintel was carved for a narrower door
- Project A - 1130s - Phase 7 - n tower F (w)
North tower I openings and their capitals, start of domical vault
- Project A - 1130s - Phase 8 - portal F, col-1
Phase 4 of the sculpture: the second lintel on the north with the adjustments for misalignments in the jambs, the north tympanum was meant to have been wider and shorter, jambs A, 15 colonnettes in group 1, four or more column statues and three lintels; sculpture in which the bottom lintel on the north and the lower archivolts on the south were planned for tympani that were to have been narrower and taller; this is the first indication that there were to be three portals, most portal bases were carved, and only those against the north tower installed, but the height of portal not finalised.
- Project A - 1140s - Phase 9 - west G
North tower complete vaults, level I begun; foundations to larger south tower with crypt entry; phase 5 of sculpture: most of the tympani and central archivolts, and the uppermost archivolts in the north, last of the column-figures with the middle historiated capitals; portal erection north plinths and embrasure, dimensions changed, jambs group B, 21 colonnettes group 2, central tympanum
- Project A - 1140s - Phase 10 - portal G, col-2
South 8 courses with openings to south and into narthex
- Project A - 1140s - Phase 11 - west H
South embrasures erected with tower, dimensions changed again and height increase 20cm, south lintel and archivolts, jambs C, colonnettes group 3.
- Project A - 1140s - Phase 12 - crypt entry
Entry into crypt in first bay of choir
- Project A - 1140s - Phase 13 - portal H, col-3
Narthex west wall with interior capitals for vaulted space; entry into south tower and outside doorway on south side
- Project A - 1140s - Phase 14 - west I
Phase 7 of sculpture with drip moulds, portal embrasures completed, lateral tympani reduced in height, lower archivolts reduced and installed, 5 colonnettes group 4, and erection completed.
- Project A - 1140s - Phase 15 - portal I, col-4
North II complete openings with capitals, possibly with cornice; no further masonry on the north tower and wooden roof or spire built at some stage and later destroyed by fire.
- Project A - 1140s - Phase 16 - south J
South tower room vaults begun, complete erection of portal and wall over.
- Project A - 1140s - Phase 17 - south K, narthex (cw)
External arcade with pointed arches and capitals, sills to western triplet windows, completion of vault.
- Project A - 1140s - Phase 18 - south L
South I cornice and bases to openings, and arches and capitals over triplet windows.
- Project A - 1140s - Phase 19 - south II (b)
South I arches over openings with capitals, interior start of vault.
- Project A - 1150s - Phase 20 - south II (w)
South blind external arcade, completion of vault and start of level II with cornice and bases.
- Project A - 1150s - Phase 21 - octagon
Resumption of work after the crusade, completion of level II with arches and capitals over openings.
- Project A - 1150s - Phase 22 - complete spire
Redesigned tower for octagonal plan with same carving team on all upper levels to projecting heads; spire probably completed in the 1160s.
- Project B - 1190s - Phase 23 - portal shafts
Campaigns A-F - foundations all round with west many courses ahead of the crypt; portal shafts carved mainly in 1198.
- Project B - 1190s - Phase 24 - n porch bases
Bronze-E - decorated bases to outer piers of north porch; bas-relief tracery on buttresses between portals; Design porch layout and carved the first Solomonic colummns; all these photos were taken on film in the 1969-70s site visits
- Project B - 1190s - Phase 25 - nave (s)
Ruby-F - sills to nave
- Project B - 1200s - Phase 26 - porch caps in G
Scarlet-G - in all six portals install solomonic shafts carved in earlier years, probably designed the labyrinth under a temporary roof across the nave
- Project B - 1200s - Phase 27 - nave caps in H
Bronze-H - sanctuary windows and temporary roof over nave; 48 nave aisles capitals and arcade arches; largew serrated leaves laid over cone or carefeully arranged symmettrical posies, and tendrils and stubby pruned branches.
- Project B - 1200s - Phase 28 - porch caps in H
Bronze-H - 30 porch capitals, first sculpture installed
- Project B - 1200s - Phase 29 - nave caps in I
Ruby-I - 39 capitals in nave aisles ranging from simple crockets to large pointed leaves and vine leaves; ambulatory external passage
- Project B - 1200s - Phase 30 - porch caps in I
Ruby-I - 17 porch capitals; south porch piers; east passage outside ambulatory chapels;
- Project B - 1200s - Phase 31 - aisle caps in J
Cobalt-J - aisles 61 capitals and nave arcade arches; mostly complex designs, overlapping vines and fronds and exposes less of the cone;
- Project B - 1200s - Phase 32 - porch caps in J
Cobalt-J - 17 porch capitals and panels to south porch piers
- Project B - 1200s - Phase 33 - aisle caps in K
Rose-K - 13 aisle capitals with large areas of folige, often omitting the crockets; nave vaults begun
- Project B - 1200s - Phase 34 - porch caps in K
Rose-K - 7 porch capitals, south porch lintels and vaults set up; north porch piers in place
- Project B - 1200s - Phase 35 - aisle caps in L
Bronze-L - 75 choir aisle capitals and arcade arches; nave aise vaults completed; many of the same carvers as in phase 27, but larger coverage of foliage, and less serrations;
- Project B - 1200s - Phase 36 - porch caps in L
Ruby-M - choir aisles 46 capitals choir aisle vaults begun; often carved with large leaves; triforium begun in nave; major delay in Job portal
- Project B - 1200s - Phase 37 - aisle caps in M
Cobalt-N - south porch completed and aedicules begun; western north porch lintel; 25 ambulatory capitals in same complex manner as in campaign J; inner aisle vaults
- Project B - 1200s - Phase 38 - east caps in N
Cobalt-N - north porch capitals and lintels to east portal on the north; work continued slowly on the porch possibly due to iconographic disputes that held up the works; this display includes all the later carving through to capaign P;
- Project B - 1200s - Phase 39 - nave (t) in O
Bronze-O - work resumes in the north west Job portal; choir vaults completed and trifotium begun y
- Project B - 1200s - Phase 40 - choir (t) in P
Scarlet-P - triforium continues with shafts in the nave
- Project B - 1210s - Phase 41 - choir (t) in Q
Olive-Q - choir triforium
- Project B - 1210s - Phase 42 - nave (c) in R
Ruby-R - nave walkway and clerestory
- Project B - 1210s - Phase 43 - choir (c) S-U
Campaigns S-U; nave clerestory, flyers with capitals to spokes in three campaigns; installs west rose that had been designed by Scarlet in campaign V;
- Project B - 1210s - Phase 44 - choir (c) V-Y
Campaigns V-Y; clerestory roses and vaults in four campaigns
- Project B - 1220s - Phase 45 - nave (cw)
Campaigns Z-c; nave windows and roof cornice in four campaigns
- Project B - 1220s - Phase 46 - choir (rc)
Choir clerestory walls in campaigns d-f and timber roof in three campaigns, vaults left incomplete
- Project B - 1220s - Phase 47 - transepts g-j
Four campaigns in transepts g-j
- Project B - 1230s - Phase 48 - transepts k-r
Eight camaigns in transepts k-r
- Project B - 1240s - Phase 49 - transepts s-w
Transept gables in five small campaigns s-w
- Project C - Later - Phase 50 - choir (v)
Ca. 1252 ex paintwork on bosses completed the choir vaults inserted under older roof
- Primary Sources for Dating
1134, 5 September - CHARTRES
Destruction of town by fire
…by which fully all of the town was consumed, but through the wonderful pity of Jesus Christ, the church of His mother was saved from the flames…

****source**** which of following? Abbé Clerval, Translationes Sancti Aniani, in Analecta Bollantiana, vii, 335. Sancti Fulberti Carnotensis episcopi epistolae in Migne, Patrologia latina, vol. 141, E ??? Merlet and Clerval, Un Manuscrit Chartrain du XI siecle, 57, 84-5.
Cathedral under construction
At Chartres [the men] have begun humbly to pull teams and carriages to the work of the church being constructed,…

Roberti Abbatis de Monte, Appendice ad Sigbertum, in Recueil des historiens des Gaules et de la France, xiv, 319, note (a).
Two western towers under construction.
In this year our ancestors came together at Chartres, to drag with their own shoulders wagons filled with stone and wood, grain and other materials, to the work site of the church, whose towers were then being made;…

Roberti Abbatis de Monte, Appendice ad Sigbertum, in Recueil des historiens des Gaules et de la France, xiv, 318-319.
1150 ca. and 1155 - CHARTRES
Obits mention only one tower under construction
January 9 - …Hemelin,…precentor,…60 of these sous to the tower. February 1 - …Gosclin,…left £100 to the work of the tower. October 31 - …Ernaud,…left 100 sous to the work of the tower.

E. de Lepinois and L. Merlet, "Cartulaire de Notre-Dame de Chartres",1963, iii, 17, 33 and 205.
1194, 9 or 10 June - CHARTRES
The fire.
…the church at Chartres had been devastated by an extraordinary and lamentable fire making it necessary later, after the walls had been broken up and demolished and leveled to the ground, to repair the foundations and then erect a new church…And was rebuilt for the first three years from funds from the clergy and bishop…at the end of the three year period when all the finances suddenly gave out, so that the supervisors had no wages for the workmen, the Mother of God created these miracles so that a new and beautiful church could be made…

"Miracula B. Marie Virginis in Carnotensi ecclesia facta......", compiled about 1210, now bound in Vatican MS Regina 339, fols. 55-69.
1204/1205 - CHARTRES
Donation of the head of St Anne by Louis, Count of Chartres and Blois
April 15 - …also the head of Saint Anne, mother of the Blessed Virgin Mother of God, acquired in Constantinople and brought here to the holy church to be with the precious cloak.

E. de Lepinois and L. Merlet, "Cartulaire de Notre-Dame de Chartres",1963, iii, 89.
Robert of Berou gives money for glass
…that also donated the glass window in the choir near the stalls in which he himself can be seen depicted.

E. de Lepinois and L. Merlet, "Cartulaire de Notre-Dame de Chartres",1963, ii, 52.
1215 or earlier - CHARTRES
Gift of pier by Robert of Blevia, location unknown
February 18 - Robert of Blevia,…treasurer,…for one pillar £25.

E. de Lepinois and L. Merlet, "Cartulaire de Notre-Dame de Chartres",1963, iii, 45-46.
1218/24 - CHARTRES
Completion of the vaults in a valedictory poem by le Breton to Philippe Auguste, Entitled "Gesta Philippi Augusti Guillelmi Armorici Libere"
It happened that not long after this, The Virgin Mother of God, who teaches by word and deed That she is the mistress of Chartres, Desiring that the church which she called her very own Be restored specificaloly for Him with more praiseworthy adornment Provided Vulcan with a singular opportunity And allowed him to rage at will against it, Sp there might occur a salutary burning off of the malady Under whichthis house of the Lord lay prostrate, And this destruction might furnish an excuse for the succeeding structure Next to which none in the world gleams so brilliantly this day. Springing up anew, now finished in its entirety of cut stone Beneath elegant vaults, It fears no harm from fire 'till judgement day; And salvation from that fire appears to many Through whose aid the renewed work was brought about.

"Oeuvres de Rigord et de Guillaume le Breton, Historiens de Philippe-Auguste", ed. H. François Delabord, Paris, 1882, 196. Translation from Branner, 96-97. On p.48 Delabord reasons that the poem must be dated between 4 July 1218 and 4 July 1224. Jan van der Meulen, "Recent literature on the chronology of Chartres cathedral", The Art Bulletin, xlix 1967, 152-172 [153 note 14]. Deremble Manhes, "Guillaume le Breton et la chronologie de Notre-Dame de Chartres," Notre-Dame de Chartres, lxxvi 1988, 11-16 argues for a date before 1217.
Concerning the new choir stalls
The Rights of the Cantor over the Stalls of the Church of Chartres …in the choir of our church are exceptionally formed, newly arranged stalls…

E. de Lepinois and L. Merlet, "Cartulaire de Notre-Dame de Chartres",1963, ii, 95-96.
1224, May 26 - CHARTRES
Transfer of money changers from south porch to cloisters
…the stalls of the moneychangers which are by custom in the porch, be set up in the cloister to the south, between the steps of the church and the main tower, so that all the dues from the stalls and from the house in which they have been set up and the moneychangers themselves might belong to the Chapter, and that whoever should be elected to the deanship might not lay claim to them…

E. de Lepinois and L. Merlet, "Cartulaire de Notre-Dame de Chartres",1963, ii, 103.
Undated - CHARTRES
Several donations to the fabric
February 17 - …Simon of Berou…left £50 and eight gold rings for the work of this church. March 27 - …Thierry of Corbeil,…left £30 for the fabric of the church. September 30 - …Jean, sacrist, who had endowed this church with glass, and dedicated 100 sous for the work of the church. December 16 - …Aimery of Feuillet,…left £30 for the construction of the church.

E. de Lepinois and L. Merlet, "Cartulaire de Notre-Dame de Chartres",1963, iii, 44, 73, 188 and 222.