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Castle of Vincennes


Description of the castle

2 - Considerations on the evolution heights of walls (part 2)

But although progress of artillery has fire were slow, however, has the end of XIVe century, the armies assiégeantes started to put bombard out of battery. Those, covered by shoulders and gabionnades, did not have to fear much the rare machines laid out with the top of the turns, concentrated their fire on the relatively low courtines, chopped their parapets, destroyed their machicolations, made defense impossible, and besieging it could then proceed by the sap to make breach. The high commands of the turns became useless as soon as the enemy stuck to the foot of the escarpe. About 1400, one thus changed system, one raised the courtines on the level of the turns; built defense was reserved for the brought closer attack, and apart from this defense one raised advanced works on which one put pieces of ordnance out of battery. Those were thus reserved to furnish these low works, wide, beating the countryside, and the fortress was nothing any more but one kind of tiny room only intended for brought closer defense.

We see, indeed, that the castles built at that time almost establish defenses of the courtines on the level of those of the turns, leaving with those only one command a little more raised, for the monitoring of the outside, and that many old women courtines XIIIe and XIVe centuries is raised up to the level of the covered ways of the turns. One completely then renonçait to put parts out of battery on these lathes; the platforms disappeared for a time, and the artillery with fire was employed by defenses only to sweep the approaches.

3 - The vault

Saint Louis was not only king de France who raised holy vaults. The vast castle of Vincennes, started with king Philippe, was completed, from the military point of view, under Charles V His son began, on great proportions, the construction of the Ste Chapelle, in the medium of its enclosure. Charles VI raised the building towards the apse to the higher cornices, in the nave until the births of the archivolts of the windows, and on the frontage to the lower part of the pink. Misfortunes of the end of this reign did not make it possible to continue the building, which remained in suffering during one century. François Ier took again constructions about 1525, they were completed only under Henri II. Both sacraires and the treasure on two annexed floors has the vault were finished has the end of XIVe century or at the beginning of XVe. Two quite distinct times thus contributed to the construction of the Ste Chapelle de Vincennes, and however, at the first access, this monument presents a great unit. The architects of the Rebirth charged to complete it have, as much as it was possible at that time, sought to preserve the ordinance of the unit, the character of the details. II is necessary to examine the sculpture, to recognize the degradations caused with the higher parts of unfinished constructions left during one century, by the rains and the frost, to find the points of two times welding.

They are initially two oratories on double floor having seen on the sanctuary by two small oblique openings. With the continuation, on the right, a staircase leading on the higher floor of the oratory, the terraces and the roofs. On left, the sacristy with its treasure, also with two stages, the treasure having, as in the Ste Chapelle of the Palate, the form, in plan and of rise, of a small vault. A particular staircase led on the first floor of the treasure and the roof.

It is probable that the oratory built by Louis XI between two of the buttresses of the Ste Chapelle of Paris, during second half of XVe century, is an imitation of those of the Ste Chapelle de Vincennes, this provision having appeared more convenient than that adopted by Louis saint, and consisting only of two reinforcements in the thickness of the wall. The king, the queen were thus separate assistants and saw the priest with the furnace bridge without being seen.In Vincennes, a broad platform is carried by a vault above the entry; it occupies all the first span. In Paris, this platform is only one simple gallery of one meter width at most. The statues of the apostles and four angels, behind the furnace bridge, in Vincennes as in Paris, were leaned with the pillars, the height of the support of the windows supported by pendants and surmounted platform. The bearing walls under the mullions were not decorated with blind arcades with Vincennes, but probably furnished formerly with benches out of wooden with tapestries. The windows of the apse preserved only their stained glasses, which are painted, at XVIe century, by Jean Cousin and represent the last Judgement. Among the stained glasses of the Rebirth, those can take the first rank; they are quite made up and of a beautiful execution. The roof of the Ste Chapelle de Vincennes, built out of wood of oak, is combined with a great perfection; it was never surmounted but one extremely small and simple arrow, which does not exist any more. If the Ste Chapelle de Vincennes covers a surface larger than that of Paris, it is far from presenting out of cut such a happy proportion. Under key, the Ste Chapelle of the Palate has a little more twice its width, while that of Vincennes does not have, of the top of the vault to the paving stone, that the nine fifths of its width. On this subject, that it is allowed to us to point out how much one lets oneself involve to propagate the errors easiest to note however, when one speaks about the buildings of the ogival time. It is always wanted that these buildings affect hurled proportions, and that they have heights exaggerated relatively has their base; on the one hand, one rents the architects of these times to have thus accumulated materials on a narrow basis; in addition, they are blamed. However these monuments deserve neither this praise nor this blame; the reports/ratios their height with their width are those which, at all times, one gave to the arched buildings: once and half, twice the width. If they adopt more slender proportions, it is to take days above the collateral ones, when they have some. That of which it is necessary to rent or blame the architects of the Average Age, according to the tastes of each one, it is to have been the merit or the wrong to make appear the interiors of their buildings much higher than they are it really.

Text of Eugène Viollet le Duc

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