Paray-le Monial. Brionnais-Charolais.

Le renouveau des études romanes, IIe colloque scientifique international de Paray-le-Monial (2-3-4 octobre 1998) textes réunis et présentés par Nicolas Reveyron, Michel Rocher et Marie-Thérèse Engel,
Paray-le-Monial 2000

Résumés de communications

Traduction anglaise: Gilles Vallorge

Jean-NoëL Barnoud

A survey of the major sources of the history of the priory

The Benedictine priory of Paray-le-Monial was founded about 973 by Lambert, the Count of Chalon, with the help of Saint Mayeul, the abbot of Cluny. This fact is attested by one of the very few documents available, i.e. the foundation charter included in what is called «the cartulary of Paray-le-Monial».

This paper is an attempt to make a survey of the various documentary sources which enable us to reconstruct the history of the priory of Paray-le-Monial whose church, the basilica dedicated to the Sacred Heart, is now well- known all over the world.

This is not an extensive survey, as not all the documents have been studied yet. But, from the known documents which have been assessed with a critical approach, M. Barnoud tries here to propose various directions for more research into this monument which (as he shows) is still little-known, as it has not been granted yet the scientific reference studies it deserves.

The history of the priory of Paray-le-Monial is gradually building up, from the written sources, and above all concerning the church from the information found during the first archeological excavations of the spring of 1998 (to be completed by the spring of 1999).

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Germaine Lemétayer

The church and the chapels of the priory of Paray-le-Monial between 1650 and 1710 a paradoxical situation.

In the middle of the seventeenth century, the church of the priory of Paray-le-Monial is five centuries old. We must view the seventeenth century church not as the elegant basilica we all know now, but as a group of not very clearly defined buildings in a dilapidated state, and as a broken up estate amid the permanent quarrels of the men.

Now, at the same time, the income of the deanery sent to the abbot, as well as the pensions paid to fewer and fewer monks, are both vast amounts of money. The Reformation of Saint Maur was adopted at the monastery to boost a religious revival.

Germaine Lemétayer tries here to explain these paradoxes, first by identifying the transformations of the church in the seventeenth century in the distribution and functions of its various spaces. Then she tries to find the meaning of these changes by relating them to the evolution of the Order of Cluny (which the priory belonged to), and also to the history of the priory itself, more particularly in the light of its medieval heritage.

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Gilles Rollier

The first results of the excavations in the transept of the basilica: the two priories of Paray-le-Monial.

The rescue excavations carried out before a new floor-heating system was installed in the transept of the basilica have yielded information about the site of the monastic settlement and about the two Cluniac priories.

According to historiography, the first monastery founded by Lambert, the Count of Chalon, is said to have been located on one of the hills above the town of Paray-le-Monial. After the donation of 999, the Cluniac monks are supposed to have moved the monastic site down to the river Bourbince. The likelihood of such a site is usually based, amongst other reasons, on a late chronicle of the events published by Chevalier in his review of the cartulary of the monastery. Nowadays, contrary to this traditional view, a number of archeological elements and a different reading of the cartulary already lead us into thinking that the monastic site could have been near the river from the very beginning.

The discovery of the chevet of a church built before the twelfth century priory seems to be the major find of the present excavations. The sections of masonry left, 0.80 metres thick, allow us to piece together again a large deep chevet with three chapels, and a protruding transept which led to two apsidal chapels. The building must have been timber-roofed, with stone vaults only on the apsidal chapels and on the chapels.

In order not to destroy the first church before building the second one, the «surrounding technique» was used on the new building site.

The «grid clamping» technique was not used here for the foundations. Each pillar is embedded individually in the soil thanks to a mass of masonry in a specific pit. This layout is very different from that of the Abbey of Cluny, as revealed by Anne Baud. So Cluny and Paray-le-Monial could be regarded as two buildings with certainly many similarities, but with often very different techniques used.

Four floors were used in succession in the priory church. After a first floor of tamped earth, the next one, which is made of 11 cm by 11 cm baked clay tiles, can be dated from the first half of the thirteenth century. This level underwent many alterations because of the graves in it and of the changes in the liturgical arrangements. The fifteenth and seventeenth centuries appear to us as periods of drastic changes, with the construction of the Damas-Digoine Chapel, and the suppressing of the choir-screen on the crossing. In the eighteenth century, after the floor was heightened, it was covered with flagstones, with also important modifications of the liturgical equipment.

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Christian Sapin

Paray-le-Monial and the first eleventh-century chevets in Burgundy.

The recent discovery of part of the first chevet of Paray-le-Monial gives us a chance to reappraise the chevets built in Burgundy and in the neighbouring regions around the year 1000. In this paper, Christian Sapin analyzes the accepted facts about the chevets said to have been built according to the texts and to the archeological evidence before or after that of Cluny II, with a survey of the techniques possibly used, as well as of the hypothetical functions of the various spaces, which made it necessary to develop apsidal chapels or a transept. These elements, which may appear as emblematic of the Cluniac chevet in its gradually spaced out formula, were in fact used in different ways during the tenth and eleventh centuries.

The recent excavations at the chevets of Gigny, Romainmôtier, Saint Clement's of Mâcon, Anzy-le-Duc, Saint Hymetières, and Sainte Bénigne's of Dijon, do not always allow us to confirm a purely typological evolution or an academic classification of these elements. However, these excavations give us fresh data which are indispensable for a better understanding of the choices made by the builders and their patrons. These choices do not necessarily break all links with the Carolingian options.

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Matthias Hamann

The sculpted decorations of the Romanesque basilica of Paray-le-Monial (the towers of the narthex), and their connections with the sculptures of the Romanesque churches of Brionnais.

First of all, from the close observation of the capitals of the Western towers of Paray-le-monial, Matthias Hamann tells us about the various workshops that worked at the priory church. Thanks to indications about the relative chronology of the church, and by observing the close links between the capitals of the ambulatory and those of the Northern tower of the West front, he shows that this tower was erected in the thirties of the twelfth century. Furthermore, the stylistic context suggests that Cluniac models were used by the sculptors for the capitals of Paray. As far as the Southern tower is concerned, all the capitals are linked with another artistic group, that of the Brionnais sculptors.

In a second part, Matthias Hamann makes a synthesis of the achievements of the various sculptors'workshops in Brionnais in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and he shows that there is not one really homogenous style in the region. From the example of Anzy-le-Duc which he chooses as a reference, he clearly shows the differences in artistic hierarchy between these Romanesque churches. As a result, one may then «locate» - from a stylistic point of view - the capitals of Paray-le-Monial, which are very close in style to those of the churches of Western Brionnais, for instance the church of Iguerande (Eastern part), or that of Saint Martin-du-Lac.

You will notice that neither this workshop, nor the one that worked in Saint Laurent-en-Brionnais, Vauban, La Chapelle-sous-Dun, or Châteauneuf (on the lintel), produced real masterpieces but works of a good quality which were made apparently only in a limited area. However, the workshops that worked in Anzy-le-Duc (in the nave), and in Charlieu, the so-called «Le Donjon» workshop, which made the corbels at Anzy-le-Duc, the tympanum at Neuilly-en-Donjon, the sculptures of Melay, Fautrières, Chassenard, (Cluny ?), produced works of a much better quality and in a much wider area.

This combination of a micro-regionalism and of a territorial expansion of the sculpted forms is the most characteristic aspect of sculpture in Brionnais. Though there is not such a thing as «Brionnais sculpture», stricto sensu, this expansion inside the region is particularly interesting. The sculptures of the Western towers of Paray-le-Monial are a good example of this influence.

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Victor Lassalle

A few cistercian type capitals in the church at Para-le-Monial

The sculpted decorations of the church at Paray-le-Monial are generally rather austere, except the portals. Amongst these decorations, one notices a number of capitals whose smooth leaves are arranged in a way which reminds us of the heart-leaves decorations of Antiquity. These heart-leaves, which are widely found in Cistercian buildings, are a surprise here in a Cluniac monastery, and one wonders where they originated from.

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Marie Maussion

Medieval man and his quest for salvation, as seen in the priory of Paray-le-Monial

This paper tries to explain the way of life in Romanesque times, the way of life of the men who took part in, or were the witnesses of the building of the priory church of Paray-le-Monial. The idea is to outline their essentialist mentality. Strong permanent mutual exchanges between the sacred and the prophane are to be found in all the aspects of medieval society: in life itself regarded as a long pilgrimage, or in the funeral rites which were supposed to make death more friendly, or in the eschatological representations. This permanent quest for salvation was nearly an obsession in the Middle Ages.

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Anne Carcel

The Cistercian world in Forez

On 21st March 1098, some monks from the Abbey of Molesmes came to the forest of Cîteaux under their leader Abbot Robert to establish a new monastery and live there under the strict observance of the rule of Saint Benedict. Thus began the Order of Cîteaux whose spiritual significance will be so important all over the world.

The three Cistercian abbeys in Forez, those of La Bénisson-Dieu, Valbenoîte, and Bonlieu, were built during the great period of monastic foundations by the Order of Cîteaux, according to the wishes of Bernard de Fontaine, who later became Saint Bernard. La Bénisson-Dieu was founded in 1138 by twelve monks from Clairvaux (Aube), who were led by Albéric, a companion of Saint Bernard's. It was built in Northern Forez, in the small valley of the Teyssonne, on the outermost bounds of Burgundy, where the powerful Benedictine Abbey of Cluny had already been present for a long time through its abbeys of Charlieu and of Ambierle. Hence a number of conflicts between the black Benedictine (Cluniac) monks and the white Cistercian monks.

Valbenoîte - «the blessed vale» - was joined to the Cistercian abbey of Bonnevaux (Ain). It was founded in 1184 in Southern Forez, in the valley of the Furan which was isolated then from the borough of Saint Etienne de Furan (later to become the town of Saint Etienne). As for Bonlieu, it was founded in 1190 by nuns affiliated to the abbey of Bellecombe (Haute Loire), who settled in the plain of Forez near the river Lignon, the river celebrated by Honoré d'Urfé in his pastoral novel «L'Astrée».

A number of written testimonies reveal to us the birth of these abbeys, then how they grew thanks to the funding of the powerful neighbouring noblemen, or the monks' lives inside and outside the monasteries lives of work and prayer. These monasteries bear the marks of their periods of greatness as well as of the upheavals of history, which both explain the state they have reached us in. The abbey-churches are the only buildings remaining, apart from the eighteenth century monastic buildings at Valbenoîte. They remain, in spite of the devastation of hard times, as testimonies of this Cistercian art where aesthetics and spirituality are closely linked in a perfect blend with the beauty of the sites, which are still preserved in La Bénisson-Dieu and in Bonlieu - with the primitive purity of a late twelfth-century architecture at the abbey-church of La Bénisson-Dieu, where what matters most is both the asceticism of the shapes and the symbolism of light, - and at Valbenoîte with the epitome of the Cistercian decorations of the origins in the sculptures of its capitals which show a fine blend of simplicity and elegance, - or in Bonlieu which presents to us the sobriety and originality of a fourteenth century brick building.

The richness of these monuments also lies in the fact that they reveal to us the evolution of the Cistercian spirit in art: not only in these three churches of course, but a particularly obvious evolution at the abbey-church of La Bénisson-Dieu, which houses artistic creations from the twelfth to the seventeenth centuries.

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François Jal

Saint Rigaud Abbey and Brionnais, from 1050 to 1180

The Département Archives of Saône-et-Loire own more than 2 500 written documents about Saint Rigaud Abbey, under the classification marks H 142 to H 176. So one may trace back the history of this monastery now destroyed. The dates chosen by François Jal in this symposium correspond to the formation of Saint Rigaud (1050), and to the near extinction of the Le Blancs (1180), the Viscounts of M con, who were the patrons of the monastery. The history of Saint Rigaud appears then as a good example of the evolution of Brionnais society between the years 1050 to 1180.

This period corresponds to the golden age of Saint Rigaud. When studying the history of the monastery, François Jal considers the questions of the immunity of the monastery, of how the abbey was built, and, most of all, of the relationship between that monastery and the Order of Cluny. Life in a religious community depended then mainly on the management of incomes from property. In the archives we can find numerous elements about the estate of the mother abbey, the forest of Avaize, as well as about the estate of the priory of Saint Cyr-de-Crozan. When reviewing the documents, one has to appraise the value and ability of the men who worked for and were linked to the monastery.

Moreover, the abbot of Saint Rigaud was at the head of a monastic network of eight homes of various sizes, with various statuses, which shows that this «brotherhood» was organized in a specific way for specific purposes.

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Hannelore Durix

The origin of the rural parishes in Brionnais and Charolais.

The parish network in Brionnais and in Southern Charolais did not change much between the twelfth century and the French Revolution, and can still be found, in many ways, in the network of the communes (= the post-revolutionary non-religious basic administrative units) which took the place of the parishes after the French Revolution.

When looking for information about the first parishes in the area, one soon notices that the strong widespread presence of the Order of Cluny in this area of Southern Burgundy is both a very rich source of documents, and a drawback. It is a very rich source of documents thanks to the cartularies of Cluny and those of the priories of Paray-le-Monial and Marcigny, amongst others. But it is also a real constraint which makes it difficult to grasp the situation before the presence of the Cluniac monks in the area.

This paper deals with the direct and indirect contributions of the Order of Cluny to the creation of the parish network in Brionnais and in Southern Burgundy. It will also try and explain how the parishes were created in the area before the Cluniac expansion.

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Élisabeth Jacquier

The castle of Semur-en-Brionnais and the castle network in Southern Burgundy in the 11th and 12th centuries.

The castle of Semur-en-Brionnais is one of the very few medieval fortifications left in Burgubdy with still sizeable remains, like the castles of Berzé-le-Chatel and of Brancion.

From the university research she started in 1983 about the medieval castles of Southern Burgundy, Elisabeth Jacquier locates the castle of Semur in the castle network of the 11th and 10th centuries. She also tells us about its historical and architectural evolution.

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Masuyo Tokita-Darling

The Portal Sculpture of Perrecy-les-Forges, Brionnais Sources and Innovation

The former Benedictine church of Perrecy-les-Forges preserves a handsome twelfth-century Romanesque porch. Visitors today are impressed by the austere ashlar stonework, beautiful foliated capitals, richly carved bases, and the solemn sculptural ensemble of the nave portal. The porch is virtually intact, and exhibits a rare unity of architecture and sculpture. Though the church of Perrecy was a priory of St. Benoît-sur-Loire, Fleury, the porch and its integral portal sculptors were executed by local masons and sculptors who were active in southern Burgundy.

This current study concerns unusual characteristics of the sculptural ensemble of the Perrecy portal in light of the architectural context. Here the conventional theme of Christ in Majesty for the tympanum is conjoined with an Passion cycle for the lintel with its unusual extensions. Particularly intriguing is, first, the innovative cyclic introduction of Passion narratives that is not only unique in Burgundy but is also a precursor for Romanesque France, and, second, the pasticular emphasis on the episodes during the night of Arrest. This paper proposes that the initial portal configuration of Perrecy was modified to introduce the present lintel. The paper further investigates whether the unique presentation of the Perrecy Passion cycle relates to the various functions of the Romanesque porch that is often found in Benedictine monasteries.

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Jean Reiche

The sculpted decorations at Gourdon and Mont-Saint-Vincent. The methods of analysis and a few results.

The churches of Gourdon and Mont-Saint-Vincent, only five kilometres from each other, have a special place among the Romanesque churches of Charolais. They are both former priory-churches and are remarkable not only because of their architectural features (a transverse vault in the nave of Mont-Saint-Vincent, a blind triforium with a groined vault in Gourdon), but also because of the richness of their sculpted decorations: 98 capitals in Gourdon, 36 capitals and a tympanum in Mont-Saint-Vincent.

This current study is derived from Jean Reiche's Ph. D. thesis for the University of Bonn (Germany). He has tried to systematize these very varied kinds of sculptures: indeed, though the sculptures of Gourdon (except a few of them) all come from the same workshop, in Mont-Saint-Vincent, on the contrary, one notices work by three different workshops, the first one of which had many similar ways of sculpting as that of Gourdon. So far, art historians have usually said that these capitals belong to the «Brionnais» decorations (a very clumsy and unclear expression !) or «von Lucken» decorations, which is only true for part of the decorations. The stylistic similarities one sometimes finds, for instance with Bois-Sainte-Marie, Toulon-sur-Arroux, Sainte Radegonde, Commagny, Anzy-le-Duc, or Tournus to only mention a few, are extremely varied.

This paper does not aim at a complete architectural and sculptural presentation of the two monuments. Jean Reiche simply explains the methodology used to study the sculpture and the masonry (layout, statistical methods, other ways of comparing the sculptures), and presents some of the results obtained, about the relationship between the various workshops in Southern Burgundy at the beginning of the twelfth century, and about how work was organised.

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Laurence Blondaux

The paintings in the church of Burnand

Saint Nizier's church in Burnand was originally a Romanesque building whose architecture was modified later several times. Thus a vestry was added beside the chevet, then suppressed ; the walls of the nave were rebuilt ; the crossing was modified to bear the bell-tower. Nevertheless, several elements allow us to date the construction of this church back to the late eleventh century, or early twelfth century. Its wall decorations inside were modified according to the prevailing taste of the various periods. Nowadays, after their restauration, when looking at these painted decorations, we notice a juxtaposition and, - on the semi-dome, a superposition - of two polychromies. The Romanesque fresco was «renovated» in the fifteenth century, with a painting on whitewash on the same theme but treated more extensively. The semi-dome shows Christ in Majesty together with the instruments of the Passion in the mandorla, and the symbols of the four evangelists round it. The procession of the Apostles unfolds before our eyes in the apse. Laurence Blondaux has chosen to study more particularly the first painted decorations, ans she demonstrates how they were linked with the first Romanesque art.

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Juliette Rollier-Hanselmann

The iconography, the style and the technique of the wall paintings in the church of Our Lady of Gourdon

1. A study of the Romanesque polychromies of the ancient St. John the Baptist's Church in Toulon-sur-Arroux (exhibition board); a series of surface trial borings about the paintings, ordered by F. Didier, the Architect in Chief of the Historic Monuments, made it possible to discover polychromies of the Romanesque period on the greater part of the sculptures of the false triforium in the St. John the Baptist's Church. Many capitals, as well as a few pillars, have retained nearly intact original colours.

Juliette Rollier-Hanselmann presents drawings of the interior elevation by Pierre Reynaud, the architect associated with F.Didier. She has coloured them with watercolours. She also presents a few watercolours of the most beautiful polychromies, as well as a few photographs (taken by Anne Rigaud, the restorer).

2. The iconography, style and technique of the wall paintings in the Church of Our Lady of Gourdon: after various series of restorations ordered by Mme J. Kagan, an Inspector of the Historical Monuments, a close study of the painting technique used, as well as the analyses of the pigments, were made possible. The iconographic study now allows us to understand better the organisation and the function of the choir decorations. It is also possible to find out where the artists came from, by making comparisons with some paintings from the South-West of France.

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Walter Berry

Romanesque architecture in South-West Burgundy: an experience of its own.

Until recently, the South-West of Burgundy was regarded as artistically inexistent in the Middle Ages, with the exception of Paray-le-Monial and Perrecy-les-Forges, of course. But this outlook has changed very recently, and we now realize that during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the religious architecture of this region underwent many faster and deeper transformations than at any other period of the history of architecture. Whether one-nave churches, or three-nave churches, the churches built during Romanesque times in this area (most of them date from the years 1075 to 1135), generally tend to become more elaborate. Their plans become more complex, and their decorations richer.

In the past, this kind of development was explained by geological factors, economic progress, and the growth of the population. Nowadays, a number of reasons may be added, which can be said to be purely ecclesiastical: from the influences of the Gregorian Reformation and the Peace of God, to the particular liturgical needs due to the Carolingian monastic practices, which we do not always understand now. However, the most significant element in this regional context seems to be the link between these developments and the structural transformation which took place at that period in the local seigniorial society, as well as the effect it had on the local reactions to the reformation movement in the Church and in the ecclesiastical buildings.

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Pierre Durix

The priory of Paray-le-Monial and the Romanesque churches of Brionnais in the nineteenth century: Destruction and reconstruction.

The general public often views Romanesque churches as static buildings, as though they had gone through centuries without changing. This is totally wrong. When reviewing the Romanesque churches and chapels of Brionnais as they are now, one can assert that none of them is now in its primitive state. Each of these buildings has been worn away by time, like the human face bearing at the end the marks of a long existence.

The same can be observed about the twenty-eight Romanesque churches and chapels of Brionnais. How many alterations they have endured since they were built in the eleventh and twelfth centuries ! The most disastrous period was that of the Wars of Religion in the sixteenth century, with their numerous plunders ans arsons. During the French Revolution, there was rather little destruction, as though the revolution hesitated to damage this local heritage. After these times of unrest and of war, the most turbulent period of all was no doubt the nineteenth century, a period of economic, and above all of demographic growth, when the rural communities reached a demographic peak that will never be exceeded later.

At that time the old churches of Brionnais, which had been built in Romanesque times, were often in a dilapidated state, and in any case were too small to accomodate the growing congregations. As a result, the middle of the nineteenth century saw the beginning of the destruction and reconstruction of churches and chapels on a large scale: many a building was demolished then to give way to a new, bigger, better-lit building. That was the time when the massive nineteenth-century rural churches would shoot up, very often in a Neo-Romanesque style, with their high bell-towers dominating the hills of Brionnais, to symbolize again the power of the Church. About twenty churches disappeared then totally, with their sculpted decorations.

This paper analyzes and tries to explain the history of this vast movement of dismantling and reorganization of the religious buildings (churches, chapels, and presbyteries).

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Anne Baud

The building site of the third abbey-church of Cluny: A model, or a prototype?

In the late eleventh century, the building site of the third abbey-church of Cluny corresponds to the implementation of a major project advocated by Abbot Hugues of Semur. The perfect mastery of the building procedures was clearly due to the previous architectural experience gathered during the construction of Tournus, La Charité-sur-Loire, and Saint Etienne of Nevers... But the exceptional height of the vaults is the sign of new architectural choices, or at least of audacious architectural adaptations. The building site of the third abbey-church found answers to the problems of vaulting and of light. It may be regarded as one of the successful outcomes of contemporary research. Later, as we will see, Vézelay will propose a totally different solution to similar problems.

The priory-church of Paray-le-Monial has often been said to be the «little sister» of Cluny. This is not true at all. Of course, the structure of the various levels the arcades, the blind arcatures, and the high windows as well as the decorations inspired by Antiquity, are clearly a copy of Hugues of Semur's church in Cluny. However, the general height of the vaults: 22 m. in Paray, instead of 30 m. in Cluny, does not need the same architectonic answers. Like at Autun, or at Our Lady of Beaune. So the third abbey-church of Cluny was in no way at the head of a new «school» of architectural thought. But, through a style of decoration inspired by Antiquity, it offered an aesthetic model which corresponded mostly to desires of the Church and of Rome.

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Mireille Vacca-Goutouli

Reading the traces of cuttings: the know-how of the stone-cutters and the response of the stone material.

A study of the kinds of stones used at Paray-le-Monial for the construction of the basilica shows the massive use of a relatively hard, heterogenous material belonging to the secondary era, of the Bajocian age, with flints. Another, softer and more homogenous material was also used to widen the choice of materials available for the construction of the monument: a greystone of a strong golden yellow colour which, as can be noticed, was used almost exclusively when building the adjacent priory. The stone analysis also showed the presence of numerous masons'marks, some of which are to be found both on the inside as well as on the outside elevations.

The different kinds of materials used in appropriate architectural levels, the stone-cutters'marks, and the response of the material when used, all this information is very useful to set up a data base towards the definition of a chronology of the different stages of the building site of the church of Paray-le-Monial.

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Nicolas Reveyron

The opus quadratum in the definition of a monumental Romanesque aesthetics.

After the scraping of its walls, done in our times, the basilica in Paray-le-Monial shows in its elevations a double kind of fitting of the stones: square rag-stones for the wall surfaces, and ashlar (opus quadratum) for the architectural limbs (pillars, arches, etc...). This distribution of the fittings of the stones could be seen as the sign of a not totally self-assured architecture, of a construction with not enough funding, or of a lack of mastery of the know-how about ashlar or about the production of a strong enough iron.

No doubt these reasons are true to some extent. In the nineteenth century, the history of medieval architecture was «built» - so to say - on the assumption of a constant improvement of the techniques and of a constant enrichment of the materials, thus following an evolution which had already been described by Vitruvius: the wooden buildings gave way to ashlar buildings, which gave way in turn to monumental reconstructions with a fine fitting.

But this tendency to view «Dark» times as times when the buildings were made thus «for lack of anything better» has led research to a double dead end: On one hand, there did exist an art of constructing with ashlar, which was self-assured technically, and which defined a very mature kind of architecture. On the other hand, building with opus quadratum was not limited to an improvement of the facings of the walls, but also corresponded to an aesthetic aim in which the references to Antiquity were really significant.

So the question of the opus quadratum has to be studied again in the light of the geological and cultural data. We also have to try and understand to what extent this kind of fitting is at the root of a new architectural age. The examples from Burgundy, more precisely the ones from Paray-le-Monial and from Brionnais, speak for themselves.

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Hermann Wirth

Measuring the present dimensions of the priory-church of Paray-le-Monial, and the consequences on research about the history of the construction.

The gaps in dates that there still are nowadays, which are due more or less to varying hypotheses about the dates of construction of the building, caused the decision by the C.E.P. of a scientific research to establish an inventory for a dimensional documentation about the whole of the formerly Cluniac priory-church. The documentary information had not been renewed over about the last 150 years. These measurements were made in three stages, from 1994. They gave us a chance to find out fresh archeological information about the soil, and about the construction of the building. This kind of information is very useful for the indispensable data needed for a proper knowledge of the construction of Paray II (between 1000 and 1100), to differentiate it from Paray I (between 970 and 1000), leaving apart the primitive church. It was also a chance to bring more light into the badly-known history of Paray III (1090 1100). To finish with, it was also a chance to deliver «the secret of the Romanesque buildings» (A. Kottmann, 1971).

By doing this, we also confirmed already known data, such as the parallax visible to the naked eye between the present church and the previous one, or data about the development of the nave which were mentionned in the plans of 1841, but which, strangely enough, no one had attempted to explain so far, and who were totally ignored in the later plans. Other points were made more precise, such as the deterioration in geometrical exactness from the very act of constructing, and also the growing neglect in the construction from East to West. The dimensional measurements of the transverse section, which were made properly for the first time, bring fresh information about the layout of the construction. (A «secret opening» into the Gothic chapel was also discovered in the Southern transept). The numerous data yielded by the present measurements, the systematic study of the aesthetics and technical structure of all the capitals, the masons'marks on the visible sides of the stones, all now enable us to make many new assertions about the history of the construction, particularly the situation of «Paray III», in comparison with «Cluny III». But these assertions will remain hypotheses until the archeological excavations bring us new information.

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