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Building of the present Gothic cathedral began in the decade beginning 1170. The first two eastern bays of the nave are the oldest part of the church (early twelfth century). The semicircular choir was completed in the second half of the thirteenth century. Its airy lightness and delicate architecture, together with the height of the vaulting, all contribute to this splendid masterpiece of Gothic architecture. The nave was lengthened in the fourteenth century. The west façade was built between the end of the fourteenth century and the early fifteenth century. Finally, the north tower was completed in 1540. The stonework of the cathedral is very fine, especially on the spandrels of the five doors. Inside, the stained glass upper windows of the choir offer a fourteenth century crucifixion to the view of admiring visitors, and at the other end, beneath the great fifteenth century rose window, there is the magnificent seventeenth century organ, built by Valéran de Héman.
On the south side of the choir itself, the tombstone of Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet can be seen. This famous bishop was known as the “Eagle of Meaux”, because he was the confessor of the Sun King and was allowed to preach to him!

French churches, cathedrals, chapels, religious monuments in seine-et-marneANECDOTES:

Odon, the bishop of Tusculum and Papal Legate to France, visited the town of Meaux.
“On the occasion of his visit, the Papal Legate decreed reforms to put an end to the abuses that had developed. He also confirmed rules that had been laid down to restore discipline to the Church in Meaux. One of these rules, for instance, was designed to stop gossiping by the canons in the choir during the Holy Office.
Anyone found guilty of this, to the extent that they could be heard four stalls away, was fined the amount of wages for the hour during which he had committed such an indecent act. Another abuse combated by the Papal Legate related to the celebration of the mass on Holy Innocents Day. On that day the choirboys would clatter into the Cathedral, holding nosegays, and sit in the high chairs of the choir. The Legate held that nothing was more opposed to the majesty of the Holy Office than this, and forbade it”.

1562 June 25
The Huguenots took over the town of Meaux and devastated many edifices, including the Cathedral.
Backed up by Parisian refugees, the Huguenots of the Meaux region called a meeting in the market district and chose a leader, Louis de Meaux, seigneur de la Ramée. They took the keys to the town, put guards at the gates, and then made for the Cathedral. They attacked the sculpted stone decorations and liturgical furniture (it is on this occasion that the tomb of Marie de Champagne, in the choir, was destroyed). Also partly or completely destroyed were the alabaster bas-reliefs around the Cathedral choir, the bas-reliefs of the spandrels and the statues in the niches framing the doors. After these uprisings the monarch decided to demolish part of the Market fortifications, especially the gate that blocked access to the bridge. The Meaux Huguenots were thus deprived of the advantages to gained from these fortifications.

French churches, cathedrals, chapels, religious monuments in seine-et-marne
Religious buildings in Seine-et-Marne: Churches, abbeys, cathedrals, chapels
Religious buildings in Seine-et-Marne: Churches, abbeys, cathedrals, chapels
French churches, cathedrals, chapels, religious monuments in seine-et-marne

1682 February 8th
Solemn entry of Jacques Bénigne Bossuet to take over the See of Meaux Bossuet was 54 when he took possession of the See of Meaux, at the height of his genius and glittering renown. The March 1682 edition of the Mercure Galant reports the arrival of the great prelate in the town as follows:
“As soon as it was known that Monseigneur the Bishop of Meaux was approaching, the countryside filled with an infinite number of the townspeople of both sexes, whose impatience to pay their respects drove them out to greet him. The magnificently dressed officers, the archers with their new livery in the Royal colours, all rode beautiful horses. The trumpets which preceded them mingled their fanfares pleasantly with the rolling of the drums and trilling of the fifes from the companies, and the cries of joy from the people” (translated from the old French).

1839 July
Victor Hugo, on his way to Germany, stopped off to visit the Cathedral of Meaux.
“Three things interested me in Meaux: a delightful little Renaissance gate leaning against an old pulled-down church, on the right as you enter the town; then the Cathedral; and then, behind the Cathedral, a nice old stone house, half fortified, flanked with its two great towers. There was a courtyard. I bravely entered, despite seeing an old lady knitting in the courtyard. She let me carry on. I wanted to examine the very beautiful outside staircase, with its stone steps and wooden structure, which went up the side of the old house supported by two surbased arches and was covered with a roof that had arches like basket handles” (Victor Hugo, Le Rhin).
Useful information.

French churches, cathedrals, chapels, religious monuments in seine-et-marneUseful information:

The Bossuet Museum
This, installed in the former bishop's palace in Meaux, is an exceptional venue which still bears the mark of its illustrious former inhabitants. On the first floor, the Synod room, the bishop's apartments, the chapel and the annexes contain the Fine Art collections of the museum. Painting and sculpture are the two main arts shown in the museum. A superb collection illustrates the evolving styles of painting from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. One room contains all the documents concerning Jacques Bénigne Bossuet, the Bishop of Meaux from 1682 to 1704.

Guided tours
For history lovers, the heritage department organises guided tours of the cathedral city and the Bauve Gallo-Roman site.

Discovery tour
A discovery booklet gives visitors the opportunity to answer amusing questions while going from one place of interest to another.

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