Vocabulary

 

Ambulatory : Aisle or walkway which leads around the church, often separating the choir from apses or chapels.

 

Anagogic : Spiritual or mystical interpretation of a word or passage, especially in a sacred text, in contrast to a literal or moral sense.

 

Antiquisant : In the style of Antiquity.

 

Apse : Projecting part of a church having a polygonal or semicircular termination, usually behind the choir.

 

Archivolt : Curved part of an arch over a door or window; often decorated with sculptures.

 

Bay : Opening in a wall.

 

Buttress : Projecting mass of masonry, used for resisting the outward thrust of an arch.

 

Calepinage : Making notes in a notebook or calepin.

 

Canon : Clergyman belonging to the chapter or the staff of a cathedral or collegiate church.

 

Canopy : Miniature roof above a niche or effigy.

 

Cantor : Minor cleric whose office was to intone the Psalms in a community of monks or canons.

 

Chamberlain : Officer in charge of managing the household of a sovereign or other nobleman.

 

Chambranle : Border or frame around a door or large window.

 

Chamfer : Bevelled edge.

 

Chancellor In the Middle Ages, an officer in the service of the King or Prince, Bishop or Pope, charged with the writing of official documents. Because he held the seal of his master, he was an important intellectual figure at the heart of power.

 

Chapter : Assembly of canons, responsible for delivering the service and managing the daily business and holdings of the cathedral.

 

Chevet : Extreme end of the chancel or choir in a church.

 

Choir : Area of the church between the transept and main apse. It is the area where the service is sung and clergy may stand, and where the main or high altar is located.

 

Christophoros : (Greek, meaning " who carries Christ") The prophets who announced the incarnation of Christ: Simeon, John the Baptist, Isaiah, Moses, Abraham and Aaron.

 

Constable : Household officer in charge of the royal stables during the Merovingian and Carolingian dynasties. His functions later increased in importance, and he became commander of the army in the absence of the King or Prince.

 

Console: Ornamental bracket used to support a cornice, usually in a curved form.

 

Crocket : Projecting knob decorated with foliage designs.

 

Dean : Head of the chapter of a collegiate church or cathedral.

 

Deneux (Henri, 1874-1969) : French architect who directed the reconstruction work on the Reims Cathedral from 1919 to his retirement in 1938. The reconstitution of the roof in reinforced concrete was one of his most spectacular contributions to the edifice.

 

Diocese : Territorial jurisdiction of a bishop.

 

Diplome : Official document produced by the Merovingian or Carolingian Chancery.

 

Dripstone : Moulding over the head of a doorway or archway designed to throw off rain.

 

Dowelling : Fastening with dowels.

 

Ecolâtre: Canon in charge of a cathedral or collegiate school.

 

Embrasure : Opening in a thick wall for a portal or window, especially one with angled sides, so that the opening is larger on one side than the other; often decorated with statue-columns.

 

Encoignure : Angle formed by the junction of two walls.

 

Fabrique : Assembly charged with the management of the edifice and its assets. In Reims this group was under the authority of the Chapter until the Revolution.

 

Flashing : Thin continuous pieces of impervious material installed to prevent the passage of water into a structure from an angle or joint.

 

Flodoard (v. 893-966) : Canon of Reims; author of several literary works (the Annales, recorded from 919 to 966, The Triumphs of Christ, from 925 to 937, and History of the Church of Reims, written between 948 and 952).

 

Flying buttress : Masonry arch extending off the outside of a building, often along the length of the nave of a cathedral, which transfers the thrust of the roof outwards and down to a pier.

 

Franc-sergent : Locally, servant attached to a Canon; honorary title granting certain immunities (from income taxes or other duties).

 

Frontispiece: Principal front of a building.

 

Gable : Triangular portion of a wall between the edges of a sloping roof, from the level of the cornice or eaves to the ridge of the roof.

 

Gablet : Small gable, or gable-shaped canopy, formed over a tabernacle, niche, etc.

 

Galilee : Porch or waiting room, usually at the west end of a church.

 

Gouge : Chisel whose blade edge is curved in cross section.

 

Goutterot wall : Upper exterior part of a wall, near a gutter.

 

Gradine chisel : Chisel with toothed cutting edges.

 

Gratte-fond: Long-stemmed scraping tool used to reach a recessed area.

 

Grégoire de Tours (538-594) Bishop of Tours; author of Histories, more commonly called History of the Francs. Important source of information on the Merovingian period, his work had a strong influence on historiography until the modern era.

 

Grisaille: Decorative painting in monotones of grey or brown.

 

Hand of Justice : Symbol of the King's royal power to dispense justice.

 

High Altar : Principal altar of a church, situated in the choir or sanctuary.

 

Hincmar (v. 806-882) Archbishop of Reims from 845 to his death. Author of numerous treatises in which he defended the principal of the Divine Right of Kings, at the same time pronouncing himself in favor of the subordination of royalty to the Church.

 

Holy Flask : Vial containing a sacred oil used during the coronation of French Kings. Legend said that it was brought from heaven by a dove for the baptism of Clovis.

 

Hotel-Dieu : ("Hostel of God") Hospital and shelter under a bishop's authority.

 

Hypocaust : Underground furnace used to heat thermal baths and chambers.

 

Jube : Or Rood Screen : Wooden or stone screen separating the choir of the church where the clergy sits from the nave where the congregation sits.

 

Keystone : Central or topmost stone of an arch.

 

Lancet arch : Arch that is narrow and pointed like the head of a spear.

 

Liberal Arts : Seven subjects comprising the basis of antique and medieval studies. These subjects were divided into the arts of the trivium (grammar, rhetoric, logic) and the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy).

 

Lintel : Horizontal structural element spanning an opening, as between the uprights of a door or window or between two columns.

 

Mass or bulk of the facade : For the Reims Cathedral, it includes the totality of the first span of the nave along with the towers.

 

Metropolitan : Archbishop at the head of an ecclesiastical province.

 

Nebulization : Dispersion of a liquid in a fine spray.

 

Nave: Central part of a church, extending from the transepts to the principal entrances.

 

Oculus (pl. oculi): Round window, usually small.

 

Offeratory: Eucharist offering of bread and wine to God before they are consecrated.

 

Ordo (pl. ordines) : Liturgical calendar of the Church, containing a listing of feasts to celebrate and prayers to recite.

 

Parvis : An enclosed courtyard or space at the entrance to a cathedral, sometimes surrounded by porticoes or colonnades.

 

Peer : Title held by the great vessels of the French Crown, then by the lords of established peerage lands. There were twelve peers: six ecclesiastical and six secular.

 

Photogrammetry : Process of determining geometric properties of objects from photographic images.

 

Pinnacle : Small, decorative spire.

 

Prayer Labyrinth : Polychrome stone paving in the floor of a church, symbolising the path of Christ to Calvary. Believers followed the path on their knees to gain indulgences. In the medieval spirit the labyrinth served to glorify the work of the architects, in reference to the mythological story of Daedalus and the Minotaur (Ovid, Metamorphoses).

 

Provost : Secular or ecclesiastical officer charged with managing the property for his master (king, prince, abbey, chapter).

 

Radiating Chapels : Series of chapels arranged around and opening onto the ambulatory of a cathedral.

 

Rayonnant style : French architectural style between High Gothic and Flamboyant Gothic (c. 1240-1350); characterized by the boldness of its openings, its luminosity and the complexity and geometric purity of its tracery.

 

Regalia: Ensemble of objects used in the coronation ceremonies of the Kings of France (ring, crown, spurs, sceptre, hand of justice and sword). These objects were conserved at the Abbey of Saint-Denis near Paris.

 

Remois: Belonging to or specific to the city or cathedral of Reims

 

Ring : Ring that was part of the Regalia presented to the King during the coronation ceremony.

 

Robertiens : Family of Carolingian nobility, whose name comes from the first name of most of its members. The ascension of one of this family, Hugues Capet, to the throne in 987 gave rise to the Capetian branch.

 

Rose window : Large, circular window with tracery and stained glass; frequently used in the façades of Gothic churches.

 

Ruiniform : Having the appearance of ruins; showing the effects of erosion.

 

Sceptre : Baton or staff borne by a sovereign as an emblem of the King's supreme power.

 

Span : Spread or extant between two principal supports, such as pillars or columns.

 

Spandrel : Triangular section of masonry between the curve of an arch and the enclosing right angle.

 

Species : Bread and wine used in the Eucharist.

 

Suffragan : Diocesan bishop subordinate to an archbishop of an ecclesiastical province.

 

Tas-de-charge : Lower courses of ribs of a Gothic vault, which are laid horizontally and bonded into the wall. They generally rise about one-third of the height of the vault, and as they project forwards they decrease the span to be vaulted over.

 

Thaumaturgist : Performer of miracles.

 

Tracery : Stonework used to support the glass in a stained glass window.

 

Transept : Cross aisles of a church, projecting at right angles from the nave or choir, giving the shape of a Latin cross.

 

Treasurer : Dignitary in charge of the treasury of a collegiate or cathedral in a community of Canons. In Reims, the house of the Treasurer (now the Office of Tourism) is one of the last vestiges of the Canonical Quarter.

 

Triforium : Gallery or open space at the second floor level of a church, often forming a rich interior arcade.

 

Trumeau : Stone pillar or column supporting the tympanum of a portal at its center.

 

Tympanum : Triangular space between an arch and the horizontal bar of a portal or window (lintel), often decorated with sculpture.

 

Valens and Gratian : Roman emperors from the fourth century.

 

Veni Creator Hymn meaning "Come Holy Spirit Creator" written in the ninth century by Rabanus Maurus. It is sung in Gregorian Chant at occasions such as the dedication of churches and other solemn events, and commemorates the feast of Pentecost. During the Middle Ages and under the Ancient Regime, it was also sung at coronation ceremonies and before going into battle.

 

Villard de Honnecourt : Master-builder of the 13th century from the Cambrai region, known for his portfolio of architectural sketches and plans. He arrived at the building site of the Reims Cathedral around 1220, and made numerous drawings and comments concerning the radiating chapels, windows, flying buttresses, nave and pillars.

 

Viollet-le-Duc (Eugène, 1814-1879) : French architect, theorist and restorer. Member of the Commission of Historic Monuments from 1846, Inspector General of Diocesien edifices from 1853 to 1874. He directed the restoration of numerous monuments, on which he often combined historical fact with creative modification. He published his theories in his Dictionary of French Architecture from the 11th to 16th Century, and Entretiens sur l'architecture (Discourses on Architecture).

 

Voussoir : Wedge-shaped stone used in the construction of an arch.

 

Westwork : Monumental, west-facing entrance section of a Carolingian church.

 

1 Massif de façade : Mass or bulk of the façade
2 Nave
3 Transept
4 Choir
5 Span
6 Ambulatory