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Reconsidering the Tribune in Early Gothic Architecture of Twelfth-Century Northern France

Griggs, Nicole C.

This work reconsiders the tribune, its functional and symbolic importance in Gothic style architecture of twelfth-century France. Three case studies, the cathedrals of Notre-Dame of Noyon and Senlis and the priory church of Saint-Leu at Saint-Leu-d’Esserent, serve as a means to examine the origins, function and medieval conceptions of this enigmatic second story. An analysis of the cathedral fabric, together with the episcopal palace and chapel, in conjunction with an examination of the sociological and political context are undertaken in an effort to start a new dialogue regarding this architectural entity, long neglected in the discourse of Gothic architecture. The outlier in this study is the Cluniac priory of Saint-Leu, constructed with a tribune-like elevation yet lacking a proper tribune; the priory serves as a foil with which to test the assumptions surrounding the cathedral case studies. The careful examination of evidence reveals a nuanced understanding of this architectural entity, undermining the traditional narrative that holds it to be purely a constructional device used by medieval builders in the race for taller, more spacious churches. This new perspective situates the tribune in the broader context of the episcopal complex as an architectural entity physically and symbolically linking the different buildings of the cathedral, episcopal chapel and palace. Finding its roots in royal and imperial architectural complexes of the Byzantine and medieval empires the tribunes of Notre-Dame of Noyon and Senlis express propriety befitting the stature of the bishop and his cathedral, while this second story as a space of devotion confirms its spiritual supremacy. Notably, the use of this architectural form at this time occurs when bishops sought to reassert their authority, following a period of institutional weakness.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Thesis Advisors
Murray, Stephen D.
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 11, 2017
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