St. Germain des Pres - Medieval Paris
Welcome to Quatr.us Study Guides!

St. Germain des Pres

St. Germain tower
St. Germain des Pres (Paris, 1000 AD)

In 542 AD, the Merovingian king Childebert (Clovis' son) was fighting the Visigoths in Spain when he heard that the people of Saragossa were praying to St. Vincent to save them. Childebert decided not to fight people under the protection of a Christian saint, and the people were so grateful to be saved that their bishop gave Childebert St. Vincent's sacred tunic to take home.

When Childebert got home to Paris, he gave some monks money and land to build a church to keep the tunic in. The monks built a fine abbey, which was just finished when Childebert died in 558. But the Vikings burned down that church. When the Vikings were finally settled down in Normandy, about 1000 AD, the monks built a new church in the Romanesque style, which is the one you see here. They named their new church after St. Germain, who had been the bishop of Paris when the abbey first started. Many Merovingian kings were buried here.

The bell tower draws on the style of earlier Islamic minarets, like the one at Kairouan, getting more complex as it goes up, unlike earlier bell towers from the Carolingian period, which got simpler and smaller as they went up, and were generally located over the crossing of the church, instead of standing separately. (The pointy spire was put up later).

Nave
Nave of St. Germain (1100s AD)

Inside, the church is in the usual basilica form, with a nave and two side aisles. Because this church is Romanesque and not Gothic, it has low arches, small windows, and thick walls to hold up the barrel-vaulted roof.

In the 1000s, the Abbey of St. Germain donated the land that became the University of Paris, where Peter Abelard and later Thomas Aquinas taught.

About 1150 AD, the Pope ordered the apse and the roof of the church to be rebuilt in an early Gothic style, with early flying buttresses in the apse and a four-part groin vaulted roof.

Learn by doing: check out a church with a bell tower near you
More about Romanesque churches

Bibliography and further reading about Romanesque architecture:

Abbaye aux Dames, Caen
Abbayes aux Hommes, Caen
Pisa Cathedral and Baptistry
Florence Baptistry
Romanesque Architecture
Almohad Architecture
Medieval architecture
Medieval Europe
Quatr.us home


Please help other teachers and students find us: link to this page from your class page.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Check out our new ebook: Short and Simple: Ancient Greek Myths! - just out! Twenty-five easy to read, illustrated stories, from Pandora to Medea, Icarus, and the Trojan Horse (you can read these online as samples). Get it this week for just $14.99, five dollars off the regular price of $19.99.
Cite this page
  • Author: K.E. Carr
  • Title:
  • Site Name: Quatr.us Study Guides
  • Publisher: Quatr.us
  • Date Published:
Did you find what you needed? Ask your teacher to link to this page so other people can use it too! Send it in and win a Quatr.us "Great Page!" award!
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Comment on This Article
Quatr.us is loading comments...
(Comments will appear after moderation, if they are kind and helpful. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll try to answer them.)
Cite this page
  • Carr, K.E. . Quatr.us Study Guides, . Web. 28 June, 2017
ADVERTISEMENT