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"May the Hatchet and the Hammer Never Damage It!": The Fate of the Cathedral of Chartres during the French Revolution

From: The Catholic Historical Review
Volume 92, Number 2, April 2006
pp. 193-214 | 10.1353/cat.2006.0129

Abstract

According to a very dramatic account of Chartres during the French Revolution, the town's Gothic cathedral barely escaped destruction in November 1793 after the local Popular Society lobbied in favor of a proposal to tear it down. An in-depth examination casts some doubt on the veracity of this tale. Some of the sources that may have supported this story have since been destroyed, while the records of the municipal, district, and departmental governments make no mention of any such proposal. Furthermore, the actions of the local government on behalf of the cathedral throughout the Revolution reveal the officials' dedication to preserving its structural stability and sacred character. They could hardly have contemplated destroying a building that they had so painstakingly tried to maintain.