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    Ch. 9 - The Legendary Windows

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    Chapter 9
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    One's first visit to a great cathedral is like one's first visit to
    the British Museum; the only intelligent idea is to follow the order
    of time, but the museum is a chaos in time, and the cathedral is
    generally all of one and the same time. At Chartres, after finishing
    with the twelfth century, everything is of the thirteenth. To catch
    even an order in time, one must first know what part of the
    thirteenth-century church was oldest. The books say it was the
    choir. After the fire of 1194, the pilgrims used the great crypt as
    a church where services were maintained; but the builders must have
    begun with the central piers and the choir, because the choir was
    the only essential part of the church. Nave and transepts might be
    suppressed, but without a choir the church was useless, and in a
    shrine, such as Chartres, the choir was the whole church. Toward the
    choir, then, the priest or artist looks first; and, since dates are
    useful, the choir must be dated. The same popular enthusiasm, which
    had broken out in 1145, revived in 1195 to help the rebuilding; and
    the work was pressed forward with the same feverish haste, so that
    ten years should have been ample to provide for the choir, if for
    nothing more; and services may have been resumed there as early as
    the year 1206; certainly in 1210. Probably the windows were designed
    and put in hand as soon as the architect gave the measurements, and
    any one who intended to give a window would have been apt to choose
    one of the spaces in the apse, in Mary's own presence, next the

    The first of the choir windows to demand a date is the Belle-
    Verriere, which is commonly classed as early thirteenth-century, and
    may go with the two windows next it, one of which--the so-called
    Zodiac window--bears a singularly interesting inscription: "COMES
    write the tragedy of "King John," we cannot admit ourselves not to
    have read it, and this inscription might be a part of the play. The
    "pagus perticensis" lies a short drive to the west, some fifteen or
    twenty miles on the road to Le Mans, and in history is known as the
    Comte du Perche, although its memory is now preserved chiefly by its
    famous breed of Percheron horses. Probably the horse also dates from
    the crusades, and may have carried Richard Coeur-de-Lion, but in any
    case the count of that day was a vassal of Richard, and one of his
    intimate friends, whose memory is preserved forever by a single line
    in Richard's prison-song:--

    Mes compaignons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,
    Ces dou Caheu et ces dou Percherain.

    In 1194, when Richard Coeur-de-Lion wrote these verses, the Comte du
    Perche was Geoffrey III, who had been a companion of Richard on his
    crusade in 1192, where, according to the Chronicle, "he shewed
    himself but a timid man"; which seems scarcely likely in a companion
    of Richard; but it is not of him that the Chartres window speaks,
    except as the son of Mahaut or Matilda of Champagne who was a sister
    of Alix of Champagne, Queen of France. The Table shows, therefore,
    that Geoffroi's son and successor as the Comte du Perche--Thomas--
    was second cousin of Louis the Lion, known as King Louis VIII of
    France. They were probably of much the same age.

    If this were all, one might carry it in one's head for a while, but
    the relationship which dominates the history of this period was that
    of all these great ruling families with Richard Coeur-de-Lion and
    his brother John, nicknamed Lackland, both of whom in succession
    were the most powerful Frenchmen in France. The Table shows that
    their mother Eleanor of Guienne, the first Queen of Louis VII, bore
    him two daughters, one of whom, Alix, married, about 1164, the Count
    Thibaut of Chartres and Blois, while the other, Mary, married the
    great Count of Champagne. Both of them being half-sisters of Coeur-
    de-Lion and John, their children were nephews or half-nephews,
    indiscriminately, of all the reigning monarchs, and Coeur-de-Lion
    immortalized one of them by a line in his prison-song, as he
    immortalized Le Perche:--

    Je nel di pas de celi de Chartain,
    La mere Loeis.

    "Loeis," therefore, or Count Louis of Chatres, was not only nephew
    of Coeur-de-Lion and John Lackland, but was also, like Count Thomas
    of Le Perche, a second cousin of Louis VIII. Feudally and personally
    he was directly attached to Coeur-de-Lion rather than to Philip

    If society in the twelfth century could follow the effects of these
    relationships, personal and feudal, it was cleverer than society in
    the twentieth; but so much is simple: Louis of France, Thibaut of
    Chartres, and Thomas of Le Perche, were cousins and close friends in
    the year 1215, and all were devoted to the Virgin of Chartres.
    Judging from the character of Louis's future queen, Blanche of
    Castile, their wives were, if possible, more devoted still; and in
    that year Blanche gave birth to Saint Louis, who seems to have been
    the most devoted of all.

    Meanwhile their favourite uncle, Coeur-de-Lion, had died in the year
    1199. Thibaut's great-grandmother, Eleanor of Guienne, died in 1202.
    King John, left to himself, rapidly accumulated enemies innumerable,
    abroad and at home. In 1203, Philip Augustus confiscated all the
    fiefs he held from the French Crown, and in 1204 seized Normandy.
    John sank rapidly from worse to worst, until at last the English
    barons rose and forced him to grant their Magna Carta at Runnimede
    in 1215.

    The year 1215 was, therefore, a year to be remembered at Chartres,
    as at Mont-Saint-Michel; one of the most convenient dates in
    history. Every one is supposed, even now, to know what happened
    then, to give another violent wrench to society, like the Norman
    Conquest in 1066. John turned on the barons and broke them down;
    they sent to

    [Genealogical chart showing the relationships among England,
    Champagne and Chartres and France and La Perche.]

    France for help, and offered the crown of England to young Louis,
    whose father, Philip Augustus, called a council which pledged
    support to Louis. Naturally the Comte du Perche and the Comte de
    Chartres must have pledged their support, among the foremost, to go
    with Louis to England. He was then twenty-nine years old; they were
    probably somewhat younger.

    The Zodiac window, with its inscription, was the immediate result.
    The usual authority that figures in the histories is Roger of
    Wendover, but much the more amusing for our purpose is a garrulous
    Frenchman known as the Menestrel de Rheims who wrote some fifty
    years later. After telling in his delightful thirteenth-century
    French, how the English barons sent hostages to Louis, "et mes sires
    Loueys les fit bien gardeir et honourablement," the Menestrel

    Et assembla granz genz par amours, et par deniers, et par lignage.
    Et fu avec lui li cuens dou Perche, et li cuens de Montfort, et li
    cuens de Chartres, et li cuens de Monbleart, et mes sires Enjorrans
    de Couci, et mout d'autre grant seigneur dont je ne parole mie.

    The Comte de Chartres, therefore, may be supposed to have gone with
    the Comte du Perche, and to have witnessed the disaster at Lincoln
    which took place May 20, 1217, after King John's death:--

    Et li cuens dou Perche faisait l'avantgarde, et courut tout leiz des
    portes; et la garnisons de laienz issi hors et leur coururent sus;
    et i ot asseiz trait et lancie; et chevaus morz et chevaliers
    abatuz, et gent a pie morz et navreiz. Et li cuens dou Perche i fu
    morz par un ribaut qui li leva le pan dou hauberc, et l'ocist d'un
    coutel; et fu desconfite l'avantgarde par la mort le conte. Et quant
    mes sires Loueys le sot, si ot graigneur duel qu'il eust onques, car
    il estoit ses prochains ami de char.

    Such language would be spoiled by translation. For us it is enough
    to know that the "ribaut" who lifted the "pan," or skirt, of the
    Count's "hauberc" or coat-of-mail, as he sat on his horse refusing
    to surrender to English traitors, and stabbed him from below with a
    knife, may have been an invention of the Menestrel; or the knight
    who pierced with his lance through the visor to the brain, may have
    been an invention of Roger of Wendover; but in either case, Count
    Thomas du Perche lost his life at Lincoln, May 20, 1217, to the
    deepest regret of his cousin Louis the Lion as well as of the Count
    Thibaut of Chartres, whom he charged to put up a window for him in
    honour of the Virgin.

    The window must have been ordered at once, because Count Thibaut,
    "le Jeune ou le Lepreux," died himself within a year, April 22,
    1218, thus giving an exact date for one of the choir windows.
    Probably it was one of the latest, because the earliest to be
    provided would have been certainly those of the central apsidal
    chapel. According to the rule laid down by Viollet-le-Duc, the
    windows in which blue strongly predominates, like the Saint
    Sylvester, are likely to be earlier than those with a prevailing
    tone of red. We must take for granted that some of these great
    legendary windows were in place as early as 1210, because, in
    October of that year, Philip Augustus attended mass here. There are
    some two dozen of these windows in the choir alone, each of which
    may well have represented a year's work in the slow processes of
    that day, and we can hardly suppose that the workshops of 1200 were
    on a scale such as to allow of more than two to have been in hand at
    once. Thirty or forty years later, when the Sainte Chapelle was
    built, the workshops must have been vastly enlarged, but with the
    enlargement, the glass deteriorated. Therefore, if the architecture
    were so far advanced in the year 1200 as to allow of beginning work
    on the glass, in the apse, the year 1225 is none too late to allow
    for its completion in the choir.

    Dates are stupidly annoying;--what we want is not dates but taste;--
    yet we are uncomfortable without them. Except the Perche window,
    none of the lower ones in the choir helps at all; but the clere-
    story is more useful. There they run in pairs, each pair surmounted
    by a rose. The first pair (numbers 27 and 28) next the north
    transept, shows the Virgin of France, supported, according to the
    Abbes Bulteau and Clerval, by the arms of Bishop Reynault de Moucon,
    who was Bishop of Chartres at the time of the great fire in 1194 and
    died in 1217. The window number 28 shows two groups of peasants on
    pilgrimage; below, on his knees, Robert of Berou, as donor:
    Cathedral contains an entry (Bulteau, i, 123): "The 26th February,
    1216, died Robert de Berou, Chancellor, who has given us a window."
    The Cartulary mentions several previous gifts of windows by canons
    or other dignitaries of the Church in the year 1215.

    Next follow, or once followed, a pair of windows (numbers 29 and 30)
    which were removed by the sculptor Bridan, in 1788, in order to
    obtain light for his statuary below. The donor was "DOMINA JOHANNES
    BAPTISTA," who, we are told, was Jeanne de Dammartin; and the window
    was given in memory, or in honour, of her marriage to Ferdinand of
    Castile in 1237. Jeanne was a very great lady, daughter of the Comte
    d'Aumale and Marie de Ponthieu. Her father affianced her in 1235 to
    the King of England, Henry III, and even caused the marriage to be
    celebrated by proxy, but Queen Blanche broke it off, as she had
    forbidden, in 1231, that of Yolande of Britanny. She relented so far
    as to allow Jeanne in 1237 to marry Ferdinand of Castile, who still
    sits on horseback in the next rose: "REX CASTILLAE." He won the
    crown of Castile in 1217 and died in 1252, when Queen Jeanne
    returned to Abbeville and then, at latest, put up this window at
    Chartres in memory of her husband.

    The windows numbers 31 and 32 are the subject of much dispute, but
    whether the donors were Jean de Chatillon or the three children of
    Thibaut le Grand of Champagne, they must equally belong to the later
    series of 1260-70, rather than to the earlier of 1210-20. The same
    thing is or was true of the next pair, numbers 33 and 34, which were
    removed in 1773, but the record says that at the bottom of number 34
    was the figure of Saint Louis's son, Louis of France, who died in
    1260, before his father, who still rides in the rose above.

    Thus the north side of the choir shows a series of windows that
    precisely cover the lifetime of Saint Louis (1215-70). The south
    side begins, next the apse, with windows numbers 35 and 36, which
    belong, according to the Comte d'Armancourt, to the family of
    Montfort, whose ruined castle crowns the hill of Montfort l'Amaury,
    on the road to Paris, some forty kilometres northeast of Chartres.
    Every one is supposed to know the story of Simon de Montfort who was
    killed before Toulouse in 1218. Simon left two sons, Amaury and
    Simon. The sculptor Bridan put an end also to the window of Amaury,
    but in the rose, Amaury, according to the Abbes, still rides on a
    white horse. Amaury's history is well known. He was made Constable
    of France by Queen Blanche in 1231; went on crusade in 1239; was
    captured by the infidels, taken to Babylon, ransomed, and in
    returning to France, died at Otranto in 1241. For that age Amaury
    was but a commonplace person, totally overshadowed by his brother
    Simon, who went to England, married King John's daughter Eleanor,
    and became almost king himself as Earl of Leicester. At your leisure
    you can read Matthew Paris's dramatic account of him and of his
    death at the battle of Evesham, August 5, 1265. He was perhaps the
    last of the very great men of the thirteenth century, excepting
    Saint Louis himself, who lived a few years longer. M. d'Armancourt
    insists that it is the great Earl of Leicester who rides with his
    visor up, in full armour, on a brown horse, in the rose above the
    windows numbers 37 and 38. In any case, the windows would be later
    than 1240.

    The next pair of windows, numbers 39 and 40, also removed in 1788,
    still offer, in their rose, the figure of a member of the Courtenay
    family. Gibbon was so much attracted by the romance of the
    Courtenays as to make an amusing digression on the subject which
    does not concern us or the cathedral except so far as it tells us
    that the Courtenays, like so many other benefactors of Chartres
    Cathedral, belonged to the royal blood. Louis-le-Gros, who died in
    1137, besides his son Louis-le-Jeune, who married Eleanor of Guienne
    in that year, had a younger son, Pierre, whom he married to Isabel
    de Courtenay, and who, like Philip Hurepel, took the title of his
    wife. Pierre had a son, Pierre II, who was a cousin of Philip
    Augustus, and became the hero of the most lurid tragedy of the time.
    Chosen Emperor of Constantinople in 1216, to succeed his brothers-
    in-law Henry and Baldwin, he tried to march across Illyria and
    Macedonia, from Durazzo opposite Brindisi, with a little army of
    five thousand men, and instantly disappeared forever. The Epirotes
    captured him in the summer of 1217, and from that moment nothing is
    known of his fate.

    On the whole, this catastrophe was perhaps the grimmest of all the
    Shakespearean tragedies of the thirteenth century; and one would
    like to think that the Chartres window was a memorial of this
    Pierre, who was a cousin of France and an emperor without empire;
    but M. d'Armancourt insists that the window was given in memory not
    of this Pierre, but of his nephew, another Pierre de Courtenay,
    Seigneur de Conches, who went on crusade with Saint Louis in 1249 to
    Egypt, and died shortly before the defeat and captivity of the King,
    on February 8, 1250. His brother Raoul, Seigneur d'Illiers, who died
    in 1271, is said to be donor of the next window, number 40. The date
    of the Courtenay windows should therefore be no earlier than the
    death of Saint Louis in 1270; yet one would like to know what has
    become of another Courtenay window left by the first Pierre's son-
    in-law, Gaucher or Gaultier of Bar-sur-Seine, who seems to have been
    Vicomte de Chartres, and who, dying before Damietta in 1218, made a
    will leaving to Notre Dame de Chartres thirty silver marks, "de
    quibus fieri debet miles montatus super equum suum." Not only would
    this mounted knight on horseback supply an early date for these
    interesting figures, but would fix also the cost, for a mark
    contained eight ounces of silver, and was worth ten sous, or half a
    livre. We shall presently see that Aucassins gave twenty sous, or a
    livre, for a strong ox, so that the "miles montatus super equum
    suum" in glass was equivalent to fifteen oxen if it were money of
    Paris, which is far from certain.

    This is an economical problem which belongs to experts, but the
    historical value of these early evidences is still something,--
    perhaps still as much as ten sous. All the windows tend to the same
    conclusion. Even the last pair, numbers 41 and 42, offer three
    personal clues which lead to the same result:--the arms of Bouchard
    de Marly who died in 1226, almost at the same time as Louis VIII; a
    certain Colinus or Colin, "de camera Regis," who was alive in 1225;
    and Robert of Beaumont in the rose, who seems to be a Beaumont of Le
    Perche, of whom little or nothing is as yet certainly known. As a
    general rule, there are two series of windows, one figuring the
    companions or followers of Louis VIII (1215-26); the other, friends
    or companions of Saint Louis (1226-70), Queen Blanche uniting both.
    What helps to hold the sequences in a certain order, is that the
    choir was complete, and services regularly resumed there, in 1210,
    while in 1220 the transept and nave were finished and vaulted. For
    the apside windows, therefore, we will assume, subject to
    correction, a date from 1200 to 1225 for their design and
    workmanship; for the transept, 1220 to 1236; and for the nave a
    general tendency to the actual reign of Saint Louis from 1236 to
    1270. Since there is a deal of later glass scattered everywhere
    among the earlier, the margin of error is great; but by keeping the
    reign of Louis VIII and its personages distinct from that of Louis
    IX and his generation, we can be fairly sure of our main facts.
    Meanwhile the Sainte Chapelle in Paris, wholly built and completed
    between 1240 and 1248, offers a standard of comparison for the
    legendary windows.

    The choir of Chartres is as long as the nave, and much broader,
    besides that the apse was planned with seven circular projections
    which greatly increased the window space, so that the guidebook
    reckons thirty-seven windows. A number of these are grisailles, and
    the true amateur of glass considers the grisailles to be as well
    worth study as the legendary windows. They are a decoration which
    has no particular concern with churches, and no distinct religious
    meaning, but, it seems, a religious value which Viollet-le-Duc is at
    some trouble to explain; and, since his explanation is not very
    technical, we can look at it, before looking at the legends:--

    The colouration of the windows had the advantage of throwing on the
    opaque walls a veil, or coloured glazing, of extreme delicacy,
    always assuming that the coloured windows themselves were
    harmoniously toned. Whether their resources did not permit the
    artists to adopt a complete system of coloured glass, or whether
    they wanted to get daylight in purer quality into their interiors,--
    whatever may have been their reasons,--they resorted to this
    beautiful grisaille decoration which is also a colouring harmony
    obtained by the aid of a long experience in the effects of light on
    translucent surfaces. Many of our churches retain grisaille windows
    filling either all, or only a part, of their bays. In the latter
    case, the grisailles are reserved for the side windows which are
    meant to be seen obliquely, and in that case the coloured glass
    fills the bays of the fond, the apsidal openings which are meant to
    be seen in face from a distance. These lateral grisailles are still
    opaque enough to prevent the solar rays which pass through them from
    lighting the coloured windows on the reverse side; yet, at certain
    hours of the day, these solar rays throw a pearly light on the
    coloured windows which gives them indescribable transparence and
    refinement of tones. The lateral windows in the choir of the Auxerre
    Cathedral, half-grisaille, half-coloured, throw on the wholly
    coloured apsidal window, by this means, a glazing the softness of
    which one can hardly conceive. The opaline light which comes through
    these lateral bays, and makes a sort of veil, transparent in the
    extreme, under the lofty vaulting, is crossed by the brilliant tones
    of the windows behind, which give the play of precious stones. The
    solid outlines then seem to waver like objects seen through a sheet
    of clear water. Distances change their values, and take depths in
    which the eye gets lost. With every hour of the day these effects
    are altered, and always with new harmonies which one never tires of
    trying to understand; but the deeper one's study goes, the more
    astounded one becomes before the experience acquired by these
    artists, whose theories on the effects of colour, assuming that they
    had any, are unknown to us and whom the most kindly-disposed among
    us treat as simple children.

    You can read the rest for yourselves. Grisaille is a separate branch
    of colour-decoration which belongs with the whole system of lighting
    and fenetrage, and will have to remain a closed book because the
    feeling and experience which explained it once are lost, and we
    cannot recover either. Such things must have been always felt rather
    than reasoned, like the irregularities in plan of the builders; the
    best work of the best times shows the same subtlety of sense as the
    dog shows in retrieving, or the bee in flying, but which tourists
    have lost. All we can do is to note that the grisailles were
    intended to have values. They were among the refinements of light
    and colour with which the apse of Chartres is so crowded that one
    must be content to feel what one can, and let the rest go.

    Understand, we cannot! nothing proves that the greatest artists who
    ever lived have, in a logical sense, understood! or that omnipotence
    has ever understood! or that the utmost power of expression has ever
    been capable of expressing more than the reaction of one energy on
    another, but not of two on two; and when one sits here, in the
    central axis of this complicated apse, one sees, in mere light
    alone, the reaction of hundreds of energies, although time has left
    only a wreck of what the artist put here. One of the best window
    spaces is wholly filled up by the fourteenth-century doorway to the
    chapel of Saint Piat, and only by looking at the two windows which
    correspond on the north does a curious inquirer get a notion of the
    probable loss. The same chapel more or less blocks the light of
    three other principal windows. The sun, the dust, the acids of
    dripping water, and the other works of time, have in seven hundred
    years corroded or worn away or altered the glass, especially on the
    south side. Windows have been darkened by time and mutilated by
    wilful injury. Scores of the panels are wholly restored, modern
    reproductions or imitations. Even after all this loss, the glass is
    probably the best-preserved, or perhaps the only preserved part of
    the decoration in colour, for we never shall know the colour-
    decoration of the vaults, the walls, the columns, or the floors.
    Only one point is fairly sure;--that on festivals, if not at other
    times, every foot of space was covered in some way or another,
    throughout the apse, with colour; either paint or tapestry or
    embroidery or Byzantine brocades and Oriental stuffs or rugs, lining
    the walls, covering the altars, and hiding the floor. Occasionally
    you happen upon illuminated manuscripts showing the interiors of
    chapels with their colour-decoration; but everything has perished
    here except the glass.

    If one may judge from the glass of later centuries, the first
    impression from the thirteenth-century windows ought to be
    disappointment. You should find them too effeminate, too soft, too
    small, and above all not particularly religious. Indeed, except for
    the nominal subjects of the legends, one sees nothing religious
    about them; the medallions, when studied with the binocle, turn out
    to be less religious than decorative. Saint Michael would not have
    felt at home here, and Saint Bernard would have turned from them
    with disapproval; but when they were put up, Saint Bernard was long
    dead, and Saint Michael had yielded his place to the Virgin. This
    apse is all for her. At its entrance she sat, on either side, in the
    Belle-Verriere or as Our Lady of the Pillar, to receive the secrets
    and the prayers of suppliants who wished to address her directly in
    person; there she bent down to our level, resumed her humanity, and
    felt our griefs and passions. Within, where the cross-lights fell
    through the wide columned space behind the high altar, was her
    withdrawing room, where the decorator and builder thought only of
    pleasing her. The very faults of the architecture and effeminacy of
    taste witness the artists' object. If the glassworkers had thought
    of themselves or of the public or even of the priests, they would
    have strained for effects, strong masses of colour, and striking
    subjects to impress the imagination. Nothing of the sort is even
    suggested. The great, awe-inspiring mosaic figure of the Byzantine
    half-dome was a splendid religious effect, but this artist had in
    his mind an altogether different thought. He was in the Virgin's
    employ; he was decorating her own chamber in her own palace; he
    wanted to please her; and he knew her tastes, even when she did not
    give him her personal orders. To him, a dream would have been an
    order. The salary of the twelfth-century artist was out of all
    relation with the percentage of a twentieth-century decorator. The
    artist of 1200 was probably the last who cared little for the baron,
    not very much for the priest, and nothing for the public, unless he
    happened to be paid by the guild, and then he cared just to the
    extent of his hire, or, if he was himself a priest, not even for
    that. His pay was mostly of a different kind, and was the same as
    that of the peasants who were hauling the stone from the quarry at
    Bercheres while he was firing his ovens. His reward was to come when
    he should be promoted to decorate the Queen of Heaven's palace in
    the New Jerusalem, and he served a mistress who knew better than he
    did what work was good and what was bad, and how to give him his
    right place. Mary's taste was infallible; her knowledge like her
    power had no limits; she knew men's thoughts as well as acts, and
    could not be deceived. Probably, even in our own time, an artist
    might find his imagination considerably stimulated and his work
    powerfully improved if he knew that anything short of his best would
    bring him to the gallows, with or without trial by jury; but in the
    twelfth century the gallows was a trifle; the Queen hardly
    considered it a punishment for an offence to her dignity. The artist
    was vividly aware that Mary disposed of hell.

    All this is written in full, on every stone and window of this apse,
    as legible as the legends to any one who cares to read. The artists
    were doing their best, not to please a swarm of flat-eared peasants
    or slow-witted barons, but to satisfy Mary, the Queen of Heaven, to
    whom the Kings and Queens of France were coming constantly for help,
    and whose absolute power was almost the only restraint recognized by
    Emperor, Pope, and clown. The colour-decoration is hers, and hers
    alone. For her the lights are subdued, the tones softened, the
    subjects selected, the feminine taste preserved. That other great
    ladies interested themselves in the matter, even down to its
    technical refinements, is more than likely; indeed, in the central
    apside chapel, suggesting the Auxerre grisaille that Viollet-le-Duc
    mentioned, is a grisaille which bears the arms of Castile and Queen
    Blanche; further on, three other grisailles bear also the famous
    castles, but this is by no means the strongest proof of feminine
    taste. The difficulty would be rather to find a touch of certainly
    masculine taste in the whole apse.

    Since the central apside chapel is the most important, we can begin
    with the windows there, bearing in mind that the subject of the
    central window was the Life of Christ, dictated by rule or custom.
    On Christ's left hand is the window of Saint Peter; next him is
    Saint Paul. All are much restored; thirty-three of the medallions
    are wholly new. Opposite Saint Peter, at Christ's right hand, is the
    window of Saint Simon and Saint Jude; and next is the grisaille with
    the arms of Castile. If these windows were ordered between 1205 and
    1210, Blanche, who was born in 1187, and married in 1200, would have
    been a young princess of twenty or twenty-five when she gave this
    window in grisaille to regulate and harmonize and soften the
    lighting of the Virgin's boudoir. The central chapel must be taken
    to be the most serious, the most studied, and the oldest of the
    chapels in the church, above the crypt. The windows here should rank
    in importance next to the lancets of the west front which are only
    about sixty years earlier. They show fully that difference.

    Here one must see for one's self. Few artists know much about it,
    and still fewer care for an art which has been quite dead these four
    hundred years. The ruins of Nippur would hardly be more intelligible
    to the ordinary architect of English tradition than these twelfth-
    century efforts of the builders of Chartres. Even the learning of
    Viollet-le-Duc was at fault in dealing with a building so personal
    as this, the history of which is almost wholly lost. This central
    chapel must have been meant to give tone to the apse, and it shows
    with the colour-decoration of a queen's salon, a subject-decoration
    too serious for the amusement of heretics. One sees at a glance that
    the subject-decoration was inspired by church-custom, while colour
    was an experiment and the decorators of this enormous window space
    were at liberty as colourists to please the Countess of Chartres and
    the Princess Blanche and the Duchess of Brittany, without much
    regarding the opinions of the late Bernard of Clairvaux or even
    Augustine of Hippo, since the great ladies of the Court knew better
    than the Saints what would suit the Virgin.

    The subject of the central window was prescribed by tradition.
    Christ is the Church, and in this church he and his Mother are one;
    therefore the life of Christ is the subject of the central window,
    but the treatment is the Virgin's, as the colours show, and as the
    absence of every influence but hers, including the Crucifixion,
    proves officially. Saint Peter and Saint Paul are in their proper
    place as the two great ministers of the throne who represent the two
    great parties in western religion, the Jewish and the Gentile.
    Opposite them, balancing by their family influence the weight of
    delegated power, are two of Mary's nephews, Simon and Jude; but this
    subject branches off again into matters so personal to Mary that
    Simon and Jude require closer acquaintance. One must study a new
    guidebook--the "Golden Legend," by the blessed James, Bishop of
    Genoa and member of the order of Dominic, who was born at Varazze or
    Voragio in almost the same year that Thomas was born at Aquino, and
    whose "Legenda Aurea," written about the middle of the thirteenth
    century, was more popular history than the Bible itself, and more
    generally consulted as authority. The decorators of the thirteenth
    century got their motives quite outside the Bible, in sources that
    James of Genoa compiled into a volume almost as fascinating as the
    "Fioretti of Saint Francis."

    According to the "Golden Legend" and the tradition accepted in
    Jerusalem by pilgrims and crusaders, Mary's family connection was
    large. It appears that her mother Anne was three times married, and
    by each husband had a daughter Mary, so that there were three Marys,

    Joachim-Anne- Cleophas- -Salome

    Joseph-Mary Alpheus-Mary Mary-Zebedee

    Christ James Joseph Simon Jude James John
    the Minor the the Major the Evangelist
    Apostle Just St. Iago of Compostella

    Simon and Jude were, therefore, nephews of Mary and cousins of
    Christ, whose lives were evidence of the truth not merely of
    Scripture, but specially of the private and family distinction of
    their aunt, the Virgin Mother of Christ. They were selected, rather
    than their brothers, or cousins James and John, for the conspicuous
    honour of standing opposite Peter and Paul, doubtless by reason of
    some merit of their own, but perhaps also because in art the two
    counted as one, and therefore the one window offered two witnesses,
    which allowed the artist to insert a grisaille in place of another
    legendary window to complete the chapel on their right. According to
    Viollet-le-Duc, the grisaille in this position regulates the light
    and so completes the effect.

    If custom prescribed a general rule for the central chapel, it seems
    to have left great freedom in the windows near by. At Chartres the
    curved projection that contains the next two windows was not a
    chapel, but only a window-bay, for the sake of the windows, and, if
    the artists aimed at pleasing the Virgin, they would put their best
    work there. At Bourges in the same relative place are three of the
    best windows in the building:--the Prodigal Son, the New Alliance
    and the Good Samaritan; all of them full of life, story, and colour,
    with little reference to a worship or a saint. At Chartres the
    choice is still more striking, and the windows are also the best in
    the building, after the twelfth-century glass of the west front. The
    first, which comes next to Blanche's grisaille in the central
    chapel, is given to another nephew of Mary and apostle of Christ,
    Saint James the Major, whose life is recorded in the proper Bible
    Dictionaries, with a terminal remark as follows:--

    For legends respecting his death and his connections with Spain, see
    the Roman Breviary, in which the healing of a paralytic and the
    conversion of Hermogenes are attributed to him, and where it is
    asserted that he preached the Gospel in Spain, and that his remains
    were translated to Compostella ... As there is no shadow of
    foundation for any of the legends here referred to, we pass them by
    without further notice. Even Baronius shows himself ashamed of

    If the learned Baronius thought himself required to show shame for
    all the legends that pass as history, he must have suffered cruelly
    during his laborious life, and his sufferings would not have been
    confined to the annals of the Church; but the historical accuracy of
    the glass windows is not our affair, nor are historians especially
    concerned in the events of the Virgin's life, whether recorded or
    legendary. Religion is, or ought to be, a feeling, and the
    thirteenth-century windows are original documents, much more
    historical than any recorded in the Bible, since their inspiration
    is a different thing from their authority. The true life of Saint
    James or Saint Jude or any other of the apostles, did not, in the
    opinion of the ladies in the Court of France, furnish subjects
    agreeable enough to decorate the palace of the Queen of Heaven; and
    that they were right, any one must feel, who compares these two
    windows with subjects of dogma. Saint James, better known as
    Santiago of Compostella, was a compliment to the young Dauphine--
    before Dauphines existed--the Princess Blanche of Castile, whose
    arms, or castles, are on the grisaille window next to it. Perhaps
    she chose him to stand there. Certainly her hand is seen plainly
    enough throughout the church to warrant suspecting it here. As a
    nephew, Saint James was dear to the Virgin, but, as a friend to
    Spain, still more dear to Blanche, and it is not likely that pure
    accident caused three adjacent windows to take a Spanish tone.

    The Saint James in whom the thirteenth century delighted, and whose
    windows one sees at Bourges, Tours, and wherever the scallop-shell
    tells of the pilgrim, belongs not to the Bible but to the "Golden
    Legend." This window was given by the Merchant Tailors whose
    signature appears at the bottom, in the corners, in two pictures
    that paint the tailor's shop of Chartres in the first quarter of the
    thirteenth century. The shop-boy takes cloth from chests for his
    master to show to customers, and to measure off by his ell. The
    story of Saint James begins in the lower panel, where he receives
    his mission from Christ, Above, on the right, he seems to be
    preaching. On the left appears a figure which tells the reason for
    the popularity of the story. It is Almogenes, or in the Latin,
    Hermogenes, a famous magician in great credit among the Pharisees,
    who has the command of demons, as you see, for behind his shoulder,
    standing, a little demon is perched, while he orders his pupil
    Filetus to convert James. Next, James is shown in discussion with a
    group of listeners. Filetus gives him a volume of false doctrine.
    Almogenes then further instructs Filetus. James is led away by a
    rope, curing a paralytic as he goes. He sends his cloak to Filetus
    to drive away the demon. Filetus receives the cloak, and the droll
    little demon departs in tears. Almogenes, losing his temper, sends
    two demons, with horns on their heads and clubs in their hands, to
    reason with James; who sends them back to remonstrate with
    Almogenes. The demons then bind Almogenes and bring him before
    James, who discusses differences with him until Almogenes burns his
    books of magic and prostrates himself before the Saint. Both are
    then brought before Herod, and Almogenes breaks a pretty heathen
    idol, while James goes to prison. A panel comes in here, out of
    place, showing Almogenes enchanting Filetus, and the demon entering
    into possession of him. Then Almogenes is seen being very roughly
    handled by a young Jew, while the bystanders seem to approve. James
    next makes Almogenes throw his books of magic into the sea; both are
    led away to execution, curing the infirm on their way; their heads
    are cut off; and, at the top, God blesses the orb of the world.

    That this window was intended to amuse the Virgin seems quite as
    reasonable an idea as that it should have been made to instruct the
    people, or us. Its humour was as humorous then as now, for the
    French of the thirteenth century loved humour even in churches, as
    their grotesques proclaim. The Saint James window is a tale of
    magic, told with the vivacity of a fabliau; but if its motive of
    amusement seems still a forced idea, we can pass on, at once, to the
    companion window which holds the best position in the church, where,
    in the usual cathedral, one expects to find Saint John or some other
    apostle; or Saint Joseph; or a doctrinal lesson such as that called
    the New Alliance where the Old and New Testaments are united. The
    window which the artists have set up here is regarded as the best of
    the thirteenth-century windows, and is the least religious.

    The subject is nothing less than the "Chanson de Roland" in pictures
    of coloured glass, set in a border worth comparing at leisure with
    the twelfth-century borders of the western lancets. Even at
    Chartres, the artists could not risk displeasing the Virgin and the
    Church by following a wholly profane work like the "Chanson" itself,
    and Roland had no place in religion. He could be introduced only
    through Charlemagne, who had almost as little right there as he. The
    twelfth century had made persistent efforts to get Charlemagne into
    the Church, and the Church had made very little effort to keep him
    out; yet by the year 1200, Charlemagne had not been sainted except
    by the anti-Pope Pascal III in 1165, although there was a popular
    belief, supported in Spain by the necessary documents, that Pope
    Calixtus II in 1122 had declared the so-called Chronicle of
    Archbishop Turpin to be authentic. The Bishop of Chartres in 1200
    was very much too enlightened a prelate to accept the Chronicle or
    Turpin or Charlemagne himself, still less Roland and Thierry, as
    authentic in sanctity; but if the young and beautiful Dauphine of
    France, and her cousins of Chartres, and their artists, warmly
    believed that the Virgin would be pleased by the story of
    Charlemagne and Roland, the Bishop might have let them have their
    way in spite of the irregularity. That the window was an
    irregularity, is plain; that it has always been immensely admired,
    is certain; and that Bishop Renaud must have given his assent to it,
    is not to be denied.

    The most elaborate account of this window can be found in Male's
    "Art Religieux" (pp. 444-50). Its feeling or motive is quite another
    matter, as it is with the statuary on the north porch. The Furriers
    or Fur Merchants paid for the Charlemagne window, and their
    signature stands at the bottom, where a merchant shows a fur-lined
    cloak to his customer. That Mary was personally interested in furs,
    no authority seems to affirm, but that Blanche and Isabel and every
    lady of the Court, as well as every king and every count, in that
    day, took keen interest in the subject, is proved by the prices they
    paid, and the quantities they wore. Not even the Merchant Tailors
    had a better standing at Court than the Furriers, which may account
    for their standing so near the Virgin. Whatever the cause, the
    Furriers were allowed to put their signature here, side by side with
    the Tailors, and next to the Princess Blanche. Their gift warranted
    it. Above the signature, in the first panel, the Emperor Constantine
    is seen, asleep, in Constantinople, on an elaborate bed, while an
    angel is giving him the order to seek aid from Charlemagne against
    the Saracens. Charlemagne appears, in full armour of the year 1200,
    on horseback. Then Charlemagne, sainted, wearing his halo, converses
    with two bishops on the subject of a crusade for the rescue of
    Constantine. In the next scene, he arrives at the gates of
    Constantinople where Constantine receives him. The fifth picture is
    most interesting; Charlemagne has advanced with his knights and
    attacks the Saracens; the Franks wear coats-of-mail, and carry long,
    pointed shields; the infidels carry round shields; Charlemagne,
    wearing a crown, strikes off with one blow of his sword the head of
    a Saracen emir; but the battle is desperate; the chargers are at
    full gallop, and a Saracen is striking at Charlemagne with his
    battle-axe. After the victory has been won, the Emperor Constantine
    rewards Charlemagne by the priceless gift of three chasses or
    reliquaries, containing a piece of the true Cross; the Suaire or
    grave-cloth of the Saviour; and a tunic of the Virgin. Charlemagne
    then returns to France, and in the next medallion presents the three
    chasses and the crown of the Saracen king to the church at Aix,
    which to a French audience meant the Abbey of Saint-Denis. This
    scene closes the first volume of the story.

    The second part opens on Charlemagne, seated between two persons,
    looking up to heaven at the Milky Way, called then the Way of Saint
    James, which directs him to the grave of Saint James in Spain. Saint
    James himself appears to Charlemagne in a dream, and orders him to
    redeem the tomb from the infidels. Then Charlemagne sets out, with
    Archbishop Turpin of Rheims and knights. In presence of his army he
    dismounts and implores the aid of God. Then he arrives before
    Pampeluna and transfixes with his lance the Saracen chief as he
    flies into the city. Mounted, he directs workmen to construct a
    church in honour of Saint James; a little cloud figures the hand of
    God. Next is shown the miracle of the lances; stuck in the ground at
    night, they are found in the morning to have burst into foliage,
    prefiguring martyrdom. Two thousand people perish in battle. Then
    begins the story of Roland which the artists and donors are so eager
    to tell, knowing, as they do, that what has so deeply interested men
    and women on earth, must interest Mary who loves them. You see
    Archbishop Turpin celebrating mass when an angel appears, to warn
    him of Roland's fate. Then Roland himself, also wearing a halo, is
    introduced, in the act of killing the giant Ferragus. The combat of
    Roland and Ferragus is at the top, out of sequence, as often happens
    in the legendary windows. Charlemagne and his army are seen marching
    homeward through the Pyrenees, while Roland winds his horn and
    splits the rock without being able to break Durendal. Thierry,
    likewise sainted, brings water to Roland in a helmet. At last
    Thierry announces Roland's death. At the top, on either side of
    Roland and Ferragus, is an angel with incense.

    The execution of this window is said to be superb. Of the colour,
    and its relations with that of the Saint James, one needs time and
    long acquaintance to learn the value. In the feeling, compared with
    that of the twelfth century, one needs no time in order to see a
    change. These two windows are as French and as modern as a picture
    of Lancret; they are pure art, as simply decorative as the
    decorations of the Grand Opera. The thirteenth century knew more
    about religion and decoration than the twentieth century will ever
    learn. The windows were neither symbolic nor mystical, nor more
    religious than they pretended to be. That they are more intelligent
    or more costly or more effective is nothing to the purpose, so long
    as one grants that the combat of Roland and Ferragus, or Roland
    winding his olifant, or Charlemagne cutting off heads and
    transfixing Moors, were subjects never intended to teach religion or
    instruct the ignorant, but to please the Queen of Heaven as they
    pleased the queens of earth with a roman, not in verse but in
    colour, as near as possible to decorative perfection. Instinctively
    one looks to the corresponding bay, opposite, to see what the
    artists could have done to balance these two great efforts of their
    art; but the bay opposite is now occupied by the entrance to Saint
    Piat's chapel and one does not know what changes may have been made
    in the fourteenth century to rearrange the glass; yet, even as it
    now stands, the Sylvester window which corresponds to the
    Charlemagne is, as glass, the strongest in the whole cathedral. In
    the next chapel, on our left, come the martyrs, with Saint Stephen,
    the first martyr, in the middle window. Naturally the subject is
    more serious, but the colour is not differently treated. A step
    further, and you see the artists returning to their lighter
    subjects. The stories of Saint Julian and Saint Thomas are more
    amusing than the plots of half the thirteenth-century romances, and
    not very much more religious. The subject of Saint Thomas is a
    pendant to that of Saint James, for Saint Thomas was a great
    traveller and an architect, who carried Mary's worship to India as
    Saint James carried it to Spain. Here is the amusement of many days
    in studying the stories, the colour and the execution of these
    windows, with the help of the "Monographs" of Chartres and Bourges
    or the "Golden Legend" and occasional visits to Le Mans, Tours,
    Clermont Ferrand, and other cathedrals; but, in passing, one has to
    note that the window of Saint Thomas was given by France, and bears
    the royal arms, perhaps for Philip Augustus the King; while the
    window of Saint Julian was given by the Carpenters and Coopers. One
    feels no need to explain how it happens that the taste of the royal
    family, and of their tailors, furriers, carpenters, and coopers,
    should fit so marvellously, one with another, and with that of the
    Virgin; but one can compare with theirs the taste of the Stone-
    workers opposite, in the window of Saint Sylvester and Saint
    Melchiades, whose blues almost kill the Charlemagne itself, and of
    the Tanners in that of Saint Thomas of Canterbury; or, in the last
    chapel on the south side, with that of the Shoemakers in the window
    to Saint Martin, attributed for some reason to a certain Clemens
    vitrearius Carnutensis, whose name is on a window in the cathedral
    of Rouen. The name tells nothing, even if the identity could be
    proved. Clement the glassmaker may have worked on his own account,
    or for others; the glass differs only in refinements of taste or
    perhaps of cost. Nicolas Lescine, the canon, or Geoffroi Chardonnel,
    may have been less rich than the Bakers, and even the Furriers may
    have not had the revenues of the King; but some controlling hand has
    given more or less identical taste to all.

    What one can least explain is the reason why some windows, that
    should be here, are elsewhere. In most churches, one finds in the
    choir a window of doctrine, such as the so-called New Alliance, but
    here the New Alliance is banished to the nave. Besides the costly
    Charlemagne and Saint James windows in the apse, the Furriers and
    Drapers gave several others, and one of these seems particularly
    suited to serve as companion to Saint Thomas, Saint James, and Saint
    Julian, so that it is best taken with these while comparing them. It
    is in the nave, the third window from the new tower, in the north
    aisle,--the window of Saint Eustace. The story and treatment and
    beauty of the work would have warranted making it a pendant to
    Almogenes, in the bay now serving as the door to Saint Piat's
    chapel, which should have been the most effective of all the
    positions in the church for a legendary story. Saint Eustace, whose
    name was Placidas, commanded the guards of the Emperor Trajan. One
    day he went out hunting with huntsmen and hounds, as the legend in
    the lower panel of the window begins; a pretty picture of a stag
    hunt about the year 1200; followed by one still prettier, where the
    stag, after leaping upon a rock, has turned, and shows a crucifix
    between his horns, the stag on one side balancing the horse on the
    other, while Placidas on his knees yields to the miracle of Christ.
    Then Placidas is baptized as Eustace; and in the centre, you see him
    with his wife and two children--another charming composition--
    leaving the city. Four small panels in the corners are said to
    contain the signatures of the Drapers and Furriers. Above, the story
    of adventure goes on, showing Eustace bargaining with a shipmaster
    for his passage; his embarcation with wife and children, and their
    arrival at some shore, where the two children have landed, and the
    master drives Eustace after them while he detains the wife. Four
    small panels here have not been identified, but the legend was no
    doubt familiar to the Middle Ages, and they knew how Eustace and the
    children came to a river, where you can see a pink lion carrying off
    one child, while a wolf, which has seized the other, is attacked by
    shepherds and dogs. The children are rescued, and the wife
    reappears, on her knees before her lord, telling of her escape from
    the shipmaster, while the children stand behind; and then the
    reunited family, restored to the Emperor's favour, is seen feasting
    and happy. At last Eustace refuses to offer a sacrifice to a
    graceful antique idol, and is then shut up, with all his family, in
    a brazen bull; a fire is kindled beneath it; and, from above, a hand
    confers the crown of martyrdom.

    Another subject, which should have been placed in the apse, stands
    in a singular isolation which has struck many of the students in
    this branch of church learning. At Sens, Saint Eustace is in the
    choir, and by his side is the Prodigal Son. At Bourges also the
    Prodigal Son is in the choir. At Chartres, he is banished to the
    north transept, where you will find him in the window next the nave,
    almost as though he were in disgrace; yet the glass is said to be
    very fine, among the best in the church, while the story is told
    with rather more vivacity than usual; and as far as colour and
    execution go, the window has an air of age and quality higher than
    the average. At the bottom you see the signature of the corporation
    of Butchers. The window at Bourges was given by the Tanners. The
    story begins with the picture showing the younger son asking the
    father for his share of the inheritance, which he receives in the
    next panel, and proceeds, on horseback, to spend, as one cannot help
    suspecting, at Paris, in the Latin Quarter, where he is seen
    arriving, welcomed by two ladies. No one has offered to explain why
    Chartres should consider two ladies theologically more correct than
    one; or why Sens should fix on three, or why Bourges should require
    six. Perhaps this was left to the artist's fancy; but, before
    quitting the twelfth century, we shall see that the usual young man
    who took his share of patrimony and went up to study in the Latin
    Quarter, found two schools of scholastic teaching, one called
    Realism, the other Nominalism, each of which in turn the Church had
    been obliged to condemn. Meanwhile the Prodigal Son is seen feasting
    with them, and is crowned with flowers, like a new Abelard, singing
    his songs to Heloise, until his religious capital is exhausted, and
    he is dragged out of bed, to be driven naked from the house with
    sticks, in this also I resembling Abelard. At Bourges he is gently
    turned out; at Sens he is dragged away by three devils. Then he
    seeks service, and is seen knocking acorns from boughs, to feed his
    employer's swine; but, among the thousands of young men who must
    have come here directly from the schools, nine in every ten said
    that he was teaching letters to his employer's children or lecturing
    to the students of the Latin Quarter. At last he decides to return
    to his father,--possibly the Archbishop of Paris or the Abbot of
    Saint-Denis,--who receives him with open arms, and gives him a new
    robe, which to the ribald student would mean a church living--an
    abbey, perhaps Saint Gildas-de-Rhuys in Brittany, or elsewhere. The
    fatted calf is killed, the feast is begun, and the elder son, whom
    the malicious student would name Bernard, appears in order to make
    protest. Above, God, on His throne, blesses the globe of the world.

    The original symbol of the Prodigal Son was a rather different form
    of prodigality. According to the Church interpretation, the Father
    had two sons; the older was the people of the Jews; the younger, the
    Gentiles. The Father divided his substance between them, giving to
    the older the divine law, to the younger, the law of nature. The
    younger went off and dissipated his substance, as one must believe,
    on Aristotle; but repented and returned when the Father sacrificed
    the victim--Christ--as the symbol of reunion. That the Synagogue
    also accepts the sacrifice is not so clear; but the Church clung to
    the idea of converting the Synagogue as a necessary proof of
    Christ's divine character. Not until about the time when this window
    may have been made, did the new Church, under the influence of Saint
    Dominic, abandon the Jews and turn in despair to the Gentiles alone.

    The old symbolism belonged to the fourth and fifth centuries, and,
    as told by the Jesuit fathers Martin and Cahier in their "Monograph"
    of Bourges, it should have pleased the Virgin who was particularly
    loved by the young, and habitually showed her attachment to them. At
    Bourges the window stands next the central chapel of the apse, where
    at Chartres is the entrance to Saint Piat's chapel; but Bourges did
    not belong to Notre Dame, nor did Sens. The story of the prodigal
    sons of these years from 1200 to 1230 lends the window a little
    personal interest that the Prodigal Son of Saint Luke's Gospel could
    hardly have had even to thirteenth-century penitents. Neither the
    Church nor the Crown loved prodigal sons. So far from killing fatted
    calves for them, the bishops in 1209 burned no less than ten in
    Paris for too great intimacy with Arab and Jew disciples of
    Aristotle. The position of the Bishop of Chartres between the
    schools had been always awkward. As for Blanche of Castile, her
    first son, afterwards Saint Louis, was born in 1215; and after that
    time no Prodigal Son was likely to be welcomed in any society which
    she frequented. For her, above all other women on earth or in
    heaven, prodigal sons felt most antipathy, until, in 1229, the
    quarrel became so violent that she turned her police on them and
    beat a number to death in the streets. They retaliated without
    regard for loyalty or decency, being far from model youth and prone
    to relapses from virtue, even when forgiven and beneficed.

    The Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven, showed no prejudice against
    prodigal sons, or even prodigal daughters. She would hardly, of her
    own accord, have ordered such persons out of her apse, when Saint
    Stephen at Bourges and Sens showed no such puritanism; yet the
    Chartres window is put away in the north transept. Even there it
    still stands opposite the Virgin of the Pillar, on the women's and
    Queen Blanche's side of the church, and in an excellent position,
    better seen from the choir than some of the windows in the choir
    itself, because the late summer sun shines full upon it, and carries
    its colours far into the apse. This may have been one of the many
    instances of tastes in the Virgin which were almost too imperial for
    her official court. Omniscient as Mary was, she knew no difference
    between the Blanches of Castile and the students of the Latin
    Quarter. She was rather fond of prodigals, and gentle toward the
    ladies who consumed the prodigal's substance. She admitted Mary
    Magdalen and Mary the Gipsy to her society. She fretted little about
    Aristotle so long as the prodigal adored her, and naturally the
    prodigal adored her almost to the exclusion of the Trinity. She
    always cared less for her dignity than was to be wished. Especially
    in the nave and on the porch, among the peasants, she liked to
    appear as one of themselves; she insisted on lying in bed, in a
    stable, with the cows and asses about her, and her baby in a cradle
    by the bedside, as though she had suffered like other women, though
    the Church insisted she had not. Her husband, Saint Joseph, was
    notoriously uncomfortable in her Court, and always preferred to get
    as near to the door as he could. The choir at Chartres, on the
    contrary, was aristocratic; every window there had a court quality,
    even down to the contemporary Thomas a'Becket, the fashionable
    martyr of good society. Theology was put into the transepts or still
    further away in the nave where the window of the New Alliance elbows
    the Prodigal Son. Even to Blanche of Castile, Mary was neither a
    philanthropist nor theologist nor merely a mother,--she was an
    absolute Empress, and whatever she said was obeyed, but sometimes
    she seems to have willed an order that worried some of her most
    powerful servants.

    Mary chose to put her Prodigal into the transept, and one would like
    to know the reason. Was it a concession to the Bishop or the Queen?
    Or was it to please the common people that these familiar picture-
    books, with their popular interest, like the Good Samaritan and the
    Prodigal Son, were put on the walls of the great public hall? This
    can hardly be, since the people would surely have preferred the
    Charlemagne and Saint James to any other. We shall never know; but
    sitting here in the subdued afternoon light of the apse, one goes on
    for hours reading the open volumes of colour, and listening to the
    steady discussion by the architects, artists, priests, princes, and
    princesses of the thirteenth century about the arrangements of this
    apse. However strong-willed they might be, each in turn whether
    priest, or noble, or glassworker, would have certainly appealed to
    the Virgin and one can imagine the architect still beside us, in the
    growing dusk of evening, mentally praying, as he looked at the work
    of a finished day: "Lady Virgin, show me what you like best! The
    central chapel is correct, I know. The Lady Blanche's grisaille
    veils the rather strong blue tone nicely, and I am confident it will
    suit you. The Charlemagne window seems to me very successful, but
    the Bishop feels not at all easy about it, and I should never have
    dared put it here if the Lady Blanche had not insisted on a Spanish
    bay. To balance at once both the subjects and the colour, we have
    tried the Stephen window in the next chapel, with more red; but if
    Saint Stephen is not good enough to satisfy you, we have tried again
    with Saint Julian, whose story is really worth telling you as we
    tell it; and with him we have put Saint Thomas because you loved him
    and gave him your girdle. I do not myself care so very much for
    Saint Thomas of Canterbury opposite, though the Count is wild about
    it, and the Bishop wants it; but the Sylvester is stupendous in the
    morning sun. What troubles me most is the first right-hand bay. The
    princesses would not have let me put the Prodigal Son there, even if
    it were made for the place. I've nothing else good enough to balance
    the Charlemagne unless it be the Eustace. Gracious Lady, what ought
    I to do? Forgive me my blunders, my stupidity, my wretched want of
    taste and feeling! I love and adore you! All that I am, I am for
    you! If I cannot please you, I care not for Heaven! but without your
    help, I am lost!"

    Upon my word, you may sit here forever imagining such appeals, and
    the endless discussions and criticisms that were heard every day,
    under these vaults, seven hundred years ago. That the Virgin
    answered the questions is my firm belief, just as it is my
    conviction that she did not answer them elsewhere. One sees her
    personal presence on every side. Any one can feel it who will only
    consent to feel like a child. Sitting here any Sunday afternoon,
    while the voices of the children of the maitrise are chanting in the
    choir,--your mind held in the grasp of the strong lines and shadows
    of the architecture; your eyes flooded with the autumn tones of the
    glass; your ears drowned with the purity of the voices; one sense
    reacting upon another until sensation reaches the limit of its
    range,--you, or any other lost soul, could, if you cared to look and
    listen, feel a sense beyond the human ready to reveal a sense divine
    that would make that world once more intelligible, and would bring
    the Virgin to life again, in all the depths of feeling which she
    shows here,--in lines, vaults, chapels, colours, legends, chants,--
    more eloquent than the prayer-book, and more beautiful than the
    autumn sunlight; and any one willing to try could feel it like the
    child, reading new thought without end into the art he has studied a
    hundred times; but what is still more convincing, he could, at will,
    in an instant, shatter the whole art by calling into it a single
    motive of his own.
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