Notre-Dame de Paris: She is Rocked by the Waves, but Does Not Sink

img_5116

This time last year, I had the pleasure of witnessing the majesty of Notre-Dame Cathedral for myself–unaware at the time of how startlingly ephemeral this experience would be.

There is a Latin verse from the Middle Ages that goes, Niteris incassum navem submergere Petri / Fluctuat at numquam mergitur illa ratis — “In vain you strive to submerge the ship of Peter / this vessel rocks but is never submerged.” Simplified to Fluctuat nec mergiturShe is rocked by the waves, but does not sink — this motto came to be associated with the city of Paris. From coins, to the coat of arms, the official adoption came at a time during the 19th century when much of the old city was destroyed to make way for new, modern renovations.

And seemingly forever at the epicenter of Paris, the beating heart of Ile de la Cite, stands Notre-Dame Cathedral. This small island is likely where the first building blocks of what would become Paris arose–back when the settlers there were but a small Gallic tribe of ‘Parisii’ embattled with Romans. As the story goes, it was here in the 5th century AD that the patron Saint of Paris, Genevieve, led the city in prayer to save themselves from Attila and his Huns. And later, as the invasions and sieges momentarily cooled–there began the construction of a cathedral that would eventually become Notre-Dame, at the point where all roads in France meet, and where–despite the persistent wars and losses over centuries–it has remained.

“The church of Notre-Dame in Paris is doubtless still a majestic and sublime edifice. But, however beautiful it has remained in growing old, it is difficult to suppress a sigh, to restrain a feeling of indignation at the numberless degradations and mutilations which the hand of time and that of man have inflicted upon this venerable monument…” – Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Ch. 14″

Affectionately known as ‘Our Lady’, Paris saw the beginning of Notre-Dame Cathedral’s construction in the Spring of 1163 AD where both King Louis VII and Pope Alexander III were present for the first stone laying. Maurice de Sully, the Bishop of Paris, was eager to oversee the building of a grand church set in the new style of Gothic–but he would not live to see its completion. It would take another 200 years or so for that day to come.

And since then, Notre-Dame Cathedral has looked upon more than 850 years of history–some good and some bad–all while standing resilient, never sinking. Even before construction was finished, France saw the breakout of The Hundred Year’s War where the Plantagenet kings of England saw the kingdom of France as their rightful claim, having been decedents of Norman kings, when Charles IV of France died without heirs. During the course of this 116 years of conflict, France saw many victories and many defeats against the English crown. One of the famous heroes of these events was Joan of Arc, who bolstered French morale after aiding in the siege of Orleans and ultimately helped lead to France’s inevitable victory in the war. After being captured by the English and summarily executed, Joan of Arc was later beatified in 1909 by Pope Pius X at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris where a statue bearing her likeness resides. There was the French Wars of Religion which led to the riots of the Huguenots in the 16th century, a band of Protestants in opposition to the Catholic Church, who committed iconoclasm upon many of the statues of Notre-Dame. The Black Death swept through Paris repeatedly, coming in waves of plague through the ages, a particularly brutal one occurring between the 16th-17th centuries which likely saw many Parisians finding solace and seeking salvation within the church walls. The long and prosperous reigns of both “The Sun King” Louis XIV and his son Louis XV saw the removal of original stained glass windows in favor of white glass which would bring more light within Notre-Dame along with many other internal altercations more congruent with their period’s style. The iconic spire, which many of us watched helpless and aghast fall to yesterday’s flames, was not even the original–this had been previously removed after having been wind damaged.

img_5113-1

Lighting a candle for my dear Joan.

Notre-Dame Cathedral also bore witness to the French Revolution in the late-18th century and saw itself, along with the monarchy, become a target of the new Republic. It became temporarily the house of the Cult of Reason and was plundered of its treasures and had many of its religious iconography destroyed–statues of biblical kings beheaded by the guillotine like French monarchs. It became nothing more than a beautiful, Gothic warehouse for food until Napoleon Bonaparte liberated and restored it as a church–holding his coronation as Emperor of France there in 1804. But by the time of Victor Hugo, the cathedral was largely in disrepair and rapidly decaying–prompting Hugo to feature this relic of Paris in his novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. The popularity of this book brought with it renewed love and attention, prompting King Louis Philippe to order Notre-Dame’s immediate restoration with the help of renowned architects Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Lassus and Eugene Viollet-le-Duc. They re-created much of the sculptures and glass that had been previously lost and were responsible for the reconstruction of the spire, which will undoubtedly be remade again after yesterday’s tragedy. Notre-Dame Cathedral was also there for both World Wars, the second which saw France fall to Germany in 1940. It was the liberation of Paris in 1944 where Notre-Dame took a few literal bullets for its people.

img_5115

And yet, Notre-Dame Cathedral has remained through all of these events, housing treasures such as the Crown of Thorns, a piece of the True Cross, and a nail from the crucifixion. Relics from St. Denis, St. Genevieve, and the tunic of St. Louis. All irreplaceable and at least the Crown of Thorns and St. Louis’ tunic confirmed to be saved from yesterday’s fire. The Rose Windows, breathtaking feats of stained glass from the 13th century are remarkably said to have been saved from complete destruction along with the Great Pipe Organ. Though the catastrophe of the fire has yet to be fully assessed, there is some solace to be found in that Notre-Dame Cathedral is still standing and the people of Paris and the world with it.

img_5109

I, too, watched in anguish yesterday as the fire ate away at the cathedral–scared of what could have possibly been the complete destruction of a monument of world heritage and history, and dismayed at how helpless I felt in those moments. I’m not naive enough to think that anything lasts forever and it can certainly not be the case with history–but I am relieved that the greatest tragedy has been averted and that is in forgetting Notre-Dame Cathedral existed at all. So many things in history have been inexplicably lost to us forever, both in physical wonder like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon or the Colossus of Rhodes, or in lack of memory such as to the contents of the Library of Alexandria–but Notre-Dame will not be forgotten and certainly not after today. Watching the world stand up and cherish what this cathedral means to the arresting spirit of humanity and our desire to build on beauty, or the solidarity of Parisians as they came together to sing hours worth of hymns and to aid in the saving of artworks and relics from inside, the motto of Paris chimes particularly loud today while the bells of Notre-Dame Cathedral take their momentary rest:

 

She is rocked by the waves, but she does not sink.

 

 

 

To donate to the reconstruction of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, follow this link: https://don.fondation-patrimoine.org/SauvonsNotreDame/~mon-don?_cv=1

Advertisements

Best History Things of 2018

Kylian Mbappe of France celebrates with the World Cup trophy following the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final between France and Croatia at Luzhniki Stadium on July 15, 2018 in Moscow, Russia

Favorite historical photo of the year is my bae Mbappe’ with the France World Cup win!

Happy New Year, dear Histastrophe followers! I wanted to take the time before aggressively drowning the rest of my night away in whiskey and Yahtzee to give you my personal favorites of History Things from this past year. Sure, this is just my opinion alone, but I think you’ll find that I have great taste regardless and that you’ll be fairly familiar with some of the below or, if not, will go out and make it so! Without further ado–the Best History Things of 2018:

Book: Circe by Madeline Miller

Image result for circe book cover

Madeline Miller has been making a name for herself over the years by writing beautiful narrative works on Ancient/Classical Greece history particularly ground in mythology! Circe follows the tale of the famous witch who became entangled with Odysseus in The Odyssey and intertwines many other well known Greek Mythological tales into the story. It’s wonderfully written and fun to read–you’ll catch yourself guessing or picking up on all of the little Greek Mythology references!

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child–not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power–the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

With unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language and page-turning suspense, Circe is a triumph of storytelling, an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss, as well as a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man’s world. – Summary from the Publisher Little, Brown and Company

 

Video Game: Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey

This one is a no brainer, but Ubisoft has since shifted their action series into full on Open World/RPG experiences with extensive world maps and quests which have kept me busy for a few months now with no end in sight. AC: Odyssey follows Kassandra on a quest to learn more about her family and topple a mysterious influence over the Hellenic world while navigating the war torn political and military landscapes of The Peloponnesian War. Along the way, you’ll run into famous Classical Greek figures like Socrates, Pericles, and Herodotus. Yes, please.

 

TV Show: The Assassination of Gianni Versace

A disturbing and yet intriguing mini-series, Ryan Murphy follows up with another American Crime Story focusing on the string of murders perpetrated by Andrew Cunanan in the mid-to-late 90’s which ultimately ended in the cold blooded murder of famous Fashion Designer Gianni Versace. The series mostly follows the life and crimes of Cunanan with an intoxicatingly twisted portrayal by Darren Criss, which he won an Emmy for this year.

 

Movie: The Favourite

Watch. This. Movie. Director Yargos Lanthimos isn’t everybody’s cup of tea–The Lobster and Killing of A Sacred Deer being divisive among many circles despite being personally loved by me. But The Favourite is compelling enough to be pleasing to almost anyone as long as they don’t have any problems watching three ladies on-screen connive and manipulate one another in depraved, sexual and political games. Set in the court of England’s Queen Anne with the feuding Sarah Churchill (Yes, that family of Churchill) and Abigail Masham, the script is packed with witticisms and the anachronisms are clever–yet, in case you’re having too much fun laughing at the absurdities showcased in the film, Yargos is quick to slap the audience with a much needed reality check when appropriate.

Note: I had a really hard time picking a fave for Historical movie of 2018, there has been a lot of great movies that have come out this year. Other contenders are Vice, Operation Finale, Mary Queen of Scots, First Man, Colette, Outlaw King, BlacKKKlansmen, and Green Book to name a small few.

 

Podcast: You Must Remember This

Image result for you must remember this podcast

Though this podcast debuted by Slate in 2014, everyone is looking for a podcast recommendation, right? Host and writer Karina Longworth delves into Hollywood and Film History of the Silver Screen Era with some modern takes and comparisons with today’s world. Narrated and told as if you were gossiping together at an Oscar’s Viewing Party, listen to this if you want to get the dish on all of the scandals and drama of Hollywood’s past.

http://www.youmustrememberthispodcast.com/

 

News: 8-Year Old Girl Pulls Sword From Lake of King Arthur’s Excalibur

Saga Vanecek standing in lake Vidöstern in Tånnö, southern Sweden

ALL HAIL QUEEN SAGA!

 

Histastrophe Post: The Nose Goes: When Octavian Meets Alexander the Great

My most popular and visited post of this year goes to When Octavian Meets Alexander the Great. Apparently, folks are super interested in both the whereabouts and fate of Alexander’s corpse in 2018!

The Nose Goes: When Octavian Meets Alexander the Great

It starts like any whimsical joke, so Octavian meets Alexander the Great. And, naturally, the end of it is marked with a well-placed punch. Not least of all, the humor in it accented by the fact that Alexander is, well, super dead. To bring us back to this moment in time, Octavian who is soon…

And with that, thank god 2018 is over. Happy New Year!

Levitating Caesar, a Wild Honeymoon, and a Whole Lotta Death

This week on History Around the Web, find out how Elizabeth Bennet afforded all those books, how King’s used a bit of magic to wow their subjects, and how ancient people built things (without the help of extra terrestrials, okay):

phelps-honeymoon-22-adapt-885-1

Vintage Pictures From a Dramatic, Five-Year Honeymoon Around the World

One imagines Eleanor and Harris Phelps must have traveled with a great deal of luggage. Things tend to pile up during half a decade of world travel: clothes, toiletries, visas, curios … and, in their case, more than a thousand souvenir photographs.

Continue reading

An Ancient Decapitation, Great Flood, & Greek Double Standards

This week on History Around the Web: a U.K. library experienced some wrath of nature and Twitter Historians were as hilarious about it as you’d expect, Pompeii continues to surprise with some well-preserved macabre, and more!

Continue reading

Harry Potter and the Arthurian Shipwreck Grave (Also, Hitler was a Vegetarian)

This week’s History Around the Web brings us some Boy Who Lived mixed with King Arthur, Anne Frank’s newly discovered ‘naughty’ pages, Royal Wedding humor, and more!

King Arthur Harry Potter

Harry Potter, the Arthurian Romance | JSTOR Daily

Twenty years after the U.S. publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the “Boy Who Lived” shows no sign of dying, with a record-smashing Broadway show, new editions of all seven novels, and a traveling museum exhibit (the most successful of all time at the British Library).

Continue reading

History Around the Web: Megan ‘Faux’ Archaeology & Brawling Greek Gods

History is happening every day and new things are constantly being discovered or, as is the case with this blog, revisited. I’ve stated as a goal when starting Histastrophe! years ago that not only did I want to focus on learning more about history myself, but that I wanted to find an audience that I could discuss my passion for when it came to things long dead and gone. I’ve been trying to think of ways to better engage my visitors and what better way than to provide a weekly curation of the goings on in the history world?

Every week I want to give an internet round-up of the discussions, discoveries, controversies, or hilarity that is happening in the world of history (or that have piqued my attention!). I feel as if we few with a love of the past are sometimes living on the fringe as far as interests and hobbies go, but if doing this can help keep us all engaged and up-to-date with current History things, I feel like it’d be worth it.

So, for those of you who’ve finished watching Royal Wedding highlight reels and have had their fill of scones, here’s what else has been happening in the world of History:

Continue reading

Nefertiti versus Nefertari

anne-baxter

Guess who I’m supposed to be…

Here at Histastrophe!, I make it a personal goal to arm my readers with random factoids they might have the pleasure of one day ‘Well, actually…” utilizing in everyday conversations to exert their historical dominance. Life is too short to go through in ignorance, after all. And while I’ve covered myths and misconceptions before, sometimes a common knowledge mix-up is nothing more than just a bit of confusion in differentiation. History certainly didn’t make it easy on us, especially with the insistence on naming all those damn kings Louis, for example.  Here’s looking a heavy side-eye at you, Kate & William

First up, two completely different famous Egyptian queens who ruled a Dynasty apart and have, unfortunately, similar monikers. Here’s how to tell the difference!

Continue reading