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How the Catholoc Church Influenced the Chartres Cathedral Essay

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Chartres Cathedral; Chartres, France (“Mary Central”)


Thesis: The Chartres Cathedral is an example of an artistic response to the rise of power and influence of the Catholic Church throughout Europe and beyond, also reflected in the literature and philosophy of that time.

Bishop Fulbert, the re-creator of the Cathedral of Chartres, was born in 960 and died in 1028. He was born in Aquitaine or Poitou to humble parents and served as both a master and a chancellor before he became the bishop of Chartres, where he worked mostly with King Robert II the Pious of France. (Zier, 240.) In the subjects that Fulbert was familiar with, like astronomy and medicine, he learned through works that had recently been translated from the Arabic (which was originally translated from the Greeks and used by Muslims in Arabic language). (Zier, 240.) Because of the survival of the Sancta Camisa and the cathedral through lightning and fires, Bishop Fulbert took this is a sign from Mary herself, and the French people donated money in order for it to be rebuilt in 1194 to 1260, along with volunteering to haul stone for building – all because of Mary's “wish.” (Hayes.) “To finance his ambitious scheme, Fulbert requested funds from King Robert II 'the Pious,' the second of the Capetian monarchs. As the chronicle records, the bishop also swore to give over his personal income to the reconstruction of the church.” (Ball, 17.) Bishop Fulbert was educated at Reims under Gerbert and Pope Sylvester II. He was made chancellor of the Cathedral of Chartres in 990, working in the school. He had been a brilliant teacher at Chartres before he became bishop in 1007. (Ball, 106.) Fulbert's cathedral school did not teach in an undisciplined way – pupils learn...


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... the Old Testament and the Virgin Mary as precursors or preparations for Christ. Statues of the Cathedral show narrative scenes of the Old Testament. “The use of color within the stained glass is also important. By using contrasting color, the images of the saints and other subjects in the Biblical oriented glass windows stand out against paler, less pronounced backgrounds.” (Melton.) “Stained glass served a myriad of purposes...the light that flowed into the cathedral through the various shades of colored glass inspired, invoked, and educated the masses that attended the service.” (Melton.) “The Cathedral, like a fortress, overlooks and controls the town...it seems to draw the town upward, as if to extend into the clouds its bridges, its mills, its tree-lined boulevard, its fortified gateway, and its churches...” (Branner, 115.)

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