[3] MODERN ERA – The Uses of Reims, 1824-1914

Bibliography on the Uses of Reims, 1824-1914 

Balcon–Berry, Sylvie. “Un apport essentiel à la connaissance des vitraux de la cathédrale de Reims, le fonds de l’atelier Simon–Marq,” in Actes du colloque international du 8e centenaire de la cathédrale de Reims, 20–22 octobre 2011, ed. Patrick Demouy, Peter Kurmann, and Dany Sandron (Paris: Presses Universitaires de la Sorbonne, forthcoming).

Balcon-Berry, Sylvie. “Stained Glass and the Chronology of Reims Cathedral,” in Arts of the Medieval Cathedrals: Studies on Architecture, Stained Glass and Sculpture in Honor of Anne Prache, eds. Kathleen Nolan and Dany Sandron (Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate, 2015), 93-106.

Burgess, Ida J., “The Shattered Glass of Reims,” Art and Life 10/6 (1919): 298-302.

Demouy, Patrick, et.al., Reims: La cathédrale (Paris: Zodiaque, 2000), 120ff and 310-15.

Emery, Elizabeth. “The Martyred Cathedral: American Attitudes toward Notre-Dame de Reims during the First World War,” Medieval Art and Architecture after the Middle Ages, ed. Alyce Jordan and Janet T. Marquardt (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholar's Publishing, 2008).

Frachon, Nathalie, “La rose nord du transept de la cathédrale de Reims,” (Mémoire de Maîtrise, Université Paris IV–Sorbonne, 1981–1982).

Le Goff, Jacques. “Reims, City of Coronation,” in: Les Lieux de Mémoire, ed. Pierre Nora (Paris: Gallimard, 1992) (English edition: Columbia University Press, 1998), 239-246.

Lillich, Meredith P., The Gothic Stained Glass of Reims Cathedral (University Park, Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2011).

Marq, Benoît, “Les vitraux: restaurations et créations,” in Reims, La grâce d’une cathédrale, ed. Mgr Thierry Jordan (Strasbourg: Editions La Nuée Bleue, 2010), 255–9. 

“New Stained Glass Window as a Symbol of Franco-German Friendship,” http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/EN/Aussenpolitik/Laender/Aktuelle_Artikel/Frankreich/150511_Reims_Kirchenfenster.html

Simon, Paul. La grande rose de la cathédrale de Reims, étude historique et descriptive, sa reconstruction a l'aide de documents certains, sa restauration (Reims: L. Michaud, 1911), 14–15.

During the period of the Restoration, Charles X was crowned king at Reims (1824), but this was the last coronation to be held at Reims or anywhere else in France. For a small audience, the cathedral’s prestige was preserved, as at Amiens and elsewhere, by the wholesale publication of its charters. It was a time of reconstruction, and the generation of 1820, revising the story of France in order to help support a new vision of nationhood, published new journals, multi-volume publications of documents and institutions while constructing a national history traced to an imagined medieval origin. Otherwise the cathedral receded into the background until 1914, when a firestorm of German shells destroyed the nave along with wounded German prisoners inside. The barrages would continue until the war ended in 1918, with an estimated total of 300 shells falling on the building. The rebuilt cathedral of Reims loomed over the town where Germany signed the instrument of unconditional surrender at the end of World War II. Seventeen years later, in 1962, it was the site for Franco-German reconciliation, staged as a solemn mass attended by de Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer. In July 2013, the fiftieth anniversary of the Élysée Treaty was commemorated by joint visit of Chancellor Angela Merkel and President François Hollande.

Certainly much had happened in between 1824 and 1914 at Reims. Abou-El-Haj had not finished research on this period but we know that restoration of the stained glass had commenced in the eighteenth century, generating new interest in the physical condition of the cathedral that carried it through the Revolution. In 1825, repairs to the damaged sculpture began, yet in some cases with more stylistic bias toward “inspiration” rather than exact copies from the plaster molds. During 1840-50, the kings of the north tower and western gallery of kings were replaced or restored. From 1860-1874, Viollet-le-Duc and others concentrated on structural repairs to the choir and nave. He also initiated a new restoration of the north transept rose window in 1872—it was a version by Nicholas de Rodé from 1581. Towards the end of the century, the south and north towers were begun and in 1908 the western rose window was restored by Paul Simon. 

After 1914, due to the German destruction, the site became a cause célèbre among the American press in the effort to win American entry into WWI and sell war bonds, as well as to encourage the kind of economic generosity demonstrated by the Rockefellers’ underwriting of the building’s reconstruction. Certainly the dramatic demise of the building must have contributed to its mythology and desire among scholars to see it as a joint effort of a pious population. Most recently, a German artist, Imi Knoebel, was commissioned to design windows for the cathedral in ongoing reconciliation for this damage.


  1. How does the excision of the urban struggles of the 1230s in Reims (as examined in Section I) from the official story of the cathedral and in many introductory texts benefit the touristic or scholarly industry? 
  2. What would be lost or gained for the cathedral’s twenty-first century public profile from a nuanced presentation of the monument and the conflicts that abounded in the city during the time of its construction – one that addressed the fact that the cathedral vied for the status of being coronation site and that locals appear to have been hostile to the building project?