Images of Medieval Art and Architecture

The Treasures of Saint Denis
The Abbey of Saint-Denis and its Ancient Treasures

Read 4th February, 1915.

This article by Martin Conway was written in 1915. Many parts of it have been added to or superceded by subsequent research. However, much of this article still vaulable.

Webmaster's note: It has been surprizingly challenging to take a work on pages in a book and make it useable in cyberspace. It will very interesting to see how the process of finding and using information changes as cyperspace evolves.
I have done the following:
Renumbered and changed the footnotes to endnotes, and added hyperlinks to the appropriate place in the text
added section headings to serve as guideposts, since there are no longer physical pages
changed many of the figure numbers to links to appropriate cyber pages containing images and information.

Jane Vadnal


THE authorities relied upon for the following account of the Abbey Church and treasures of St.- Denis are in the first instance the three well-known published volumes:-

Jacques Doublet: Histoire de . . . S.Denys Paris, 1625. 4to.
S. G. Millet:Le Tresor Sacra. . . de Sainct-Denis(4me. éd.). Paris, 1645. I 2mo.
Michel Félibien: Historie de . . . Saint-Denys Paris, 1706. fol.

I shall cite these frequently by the initial letters, D, M, and F.

Besides these books are also such of the inventories of the treasures, made at different dates, as have been preserved. The oldest existing inventory is dated 22 janvier 1504 (1505, n. s.). This has been published in extenso from the manuscript in the Bibliothéque nationale (f. fr. 18766) by Monsieur H. Omont in Mémoires de La Société de l'Histoire de Paris, etc., tome xxviii (Paris, 1902, 8vo), pp. 166-99. I shall cite this as 'Inv. 1505'. Monsieur Omont evidently considers it to be an original and complete document; but a careful comparison of it with the inventory next to be mentioned proves it to be merely an abstract, the omissions in which are important and sometimes misleading. For example, the item no. 199 begins 'joygnant ledict autel'; now the last altar mentioned is 'le grant autel', but the altar intended to be referred to is 'the altar of the relics' or 'of Saint-Denis', which had been mentioned in the complete inventory though passed over in the abstract. There are several other like obscurities due to abbreviation or omission. (1) According to Millet (p. 83) an inventory was made in 1534, whilst Félibien (pp. 460, 464) refers to others of the years 1576, 1581, 1598, and 1634. Of these only the last mentioned exists, actually in three manuscript copies, two in the Bibliothéque nationale (f. fr. 4611 and 18765) and one in the Archives nationales (LL 1327). The example examined by me is the MS. f. fr. 4611, the leaves of which are numbered; I shall refer to this as 'Inv. 1634' followed by the number of the leaf. The corresponding leaf in MS. f. fr. 18765 can be found by adding one to the figure. There is also an inventory made in the year 1739, likewise printed in full by Monsieur Omont in the publication above referred to (pp. 199-212); I shall cite this as 'Inv. 1739'.

It is necessary to say a word or two more about the inventory of 1634. This obviously incorporates in full the complete inventory from which the abstract was made in 1505 which Monsieur Omont printed. The order in which the objects are enumerated is the same, and so for the most part are the actual words employed, but the later document is much fuller and has besides many additions made in the year 1634, describing changes in the condition of particular objects, damage done to them, losses of stones, or actual complete destruction undergone in the intervening 130 years. Hence the inventory of 1634 is the really important document, which deserves to be studied in much more detail than I was able to attain during a short visit to Paris. It catalogues practically every stone of any value in each of the wonderful treasures which belonged to St.-Denis at the beginning of the sixteenth century. The earliest writing to give any account of St.-Denis is an anonymous manuscript in the Bibliothéque nationale, Paris (no. 12710), entitled Descriptio qualiter Karlus Magnus clavum et coronam domini a Constantinopoli Aquisgrani detulerit qualiterque Karlus Kalvus haec ad sanctum Dyonisium retulerit. It was composed and written at St.-Denis before 1100 and probably even before the First Crusade.(2)

Besides these texts there are the five large engravings included by Félibien in his volume. Four of these (pl. III and IV) depict the contents of the four armoires in which the treasure was displayed throughout the eighteenth century. Each object is distinguished by a letter on Félibien's plates, which I shall cite thus, e.g. ' F. pl. iii M.' Other representations of treasures once belonging to St.-Denis have been preserved. Thus there is an engraving of ' L'escriptouere monsr. Sainct Denis' facing p. 23 in the Palaeographia Graeca of Bernard de Montfaucon (Paris, 1708, in- fol.). There are also colored facsimiles of three important lost objects amongst the drawings which belonged to Peiresc and are now in the Cabinet des Estampes; while in the same collection is a most important drawing of 'l'Escrain Charlemaigne'. This and the Peiresc drawings, which will be referred to in their place, have been admirably reproduced in colour in the following work: J. Guibert, Les Dessines du Cabinet Peiresc, etc. Paris, 1910 4to. (3)

Finally, and in some respects most important of all, is the remarkable picture (one of two wings of a late fifteenth-century altar-piece representing incidents in the legend of St. Giles) formerly in the Dudley Collection, on the sale of which collection one wing was purchased by the National Gallery; it will not here concern us. The other, the important wing for us, now belongs to Mrs. Stewart Mackenzie (pl. II). It is curious that no careful study of it has ever been made. The painter's name is not known. He was probably a north-French or south-Netherlandish master, who worked in France, and, like the Maitre de Moulins, shows the influence of Hugo van der Goes. The subject of the wing in question is 'St. Giles saying Mass', and the painter has chosen to show him as officiating in the great church of St.-Denis, with Charles Martel (4) kneeling beside him at the glorious altar of which we shall hereafter have much to say. The picture, therefore, is of extraordinary historical importance, because the altar in question was of great beauty and fame, and this is not only the single representation of it that exists, but is the only record of the aspect of the great Royal Abbey of France in the time of its splendor, as it were photographed in color in actual use, before civil wars, reformations, and revolutions had swept it and so many other wonderful medieval treasures off the face of the earth.

Viollet-le-Duc knew of the existence of this picture, but never saw it, and relied upon an inaccurate drawing of it which is printed in his Dictionnarie de l'Architecture. (5)He states that the altar in question is the Matutinal altar of St. Denis and that the cross above it was Suger's, and he invents a chasse and introduces it under the canopy behind the altar. I shall show that the altar is not the Matutinal altar, whilst others have long ago proved that the cross was not Suger's. St. Louis's chasse, moreover, lay above and not beneath the canopy. If Viollet-le-Duc had put himself to the inconvenience of crossing the Channel to see the picture, which was easily accessible in Lord Dudley's house, it is safe to assert that he would have restored the chevet of the church differently, and that he would not have put the monument of Dagobert together exactly as was done, omitting the deep recess or hollow molding which should divide the sculptured background from the framing archivolt. The head of the figure of Queen Nanthilde would likewise not have needed to be wholly invented by the sculptor Geoffroy-Dechaume in 1862.

Layout of the Church of Saint Denis

Number of altars

Before beginning the detailed description of such of the treasures of St. Denis as survive, or of which representations exist, it will conduce to clearness if we first of all consider the ancient arrangement of the church itself and the place occupied by some of the more important objects. And first let us reply to the question, How many principal altars were there in the axis of the church, and what were their positions ? In the seventeenth century there were only two, as shown in Félibien's plan, and so Viollet-le-Duc restored them; but in the time of Suger and down to the year 1610 there were three, and only one of them, the altar of St. Denis, occupied the position of either of the restored altars. Thus, in 1529, when Cardinal de Bourbon came to take possession of St.-Denis as its Abbot, and was received by the clergy, he 'fit trois stations en entrant dans l'église, la première devant l'autel matutinal, oú reposait le saint Sacrement, la seconde devant le grand autel, et la troisi`me à l'autel de Saint Denis ' (F., p. 383). Doublet says that the Matutinal altar is so called because of the High Masses which was celebrated there immediately after Prime. He says there were four High Masses celebrated every day: the first at the altar of the Martyrs (St.Denis), the second at the Matutinal altar, the third in the Chapel of Our Lady (chanted by the novices, the fourth, the great Mass of the day, at the 'Maistre Autel'. Each of these altars stood within its own enclosure-screens and was the centre of a number of precious objects placed in relation to it. We shall more easily avoid confusion, therefore, if we take each enclosure and its altar in turn and discover how each was decorated and by what treasures it was accompanied, before proceeding to consider the treasures themselves individually in chronological sequence.

Screen and pulpitum

The choir was entered from the nave through a screen, on the 'frontispiece ' of which, says Doublet (p. 286), was the legend of St. Denis 'industrieusement taillez et bien representez' in stone, but at what date he does not say. Above it was one of Suger's crucifixes, a wooden one, between images of the Virgin and St. John, whilst on the gallery of it was planted, likewise by Suger, a pulpitum whence the Gospel was read. This pulpitum was made up out of old materials, which appear formerly to have covered the whole gallery, and consisted of tablets of ivory sculptured with figures (presumably like the ivory throne at Ravenna) mixed with animals made of copper. The whole thing was ruined by the Huguenots at a later date. The pulpit presented to Aix- la-Chapelle Cathedral by the Emperor Heinrich II before 1014 may give some idea as to how these decorative panels were arranged.

Matutinal Altar

Within the choir the central object was the eagle lectern of bronze. It was adorned with figures of the four Evangelists and others. Dagobert captured it at Poitiers and presented it to St.-Denis, and Suger had it gilded. The altar of this part of the building was the Matutinal altar. It was also called the altar of the Trinity and the Choir altar, and in the time of Suger 'l'Autel Saincti.' (6)Its position can be fixed with some accuracy. In Félibien's plan the position (AA) of Charles the Bald's tomb is plainly marked.(7) It is sometimes described as being beneath and sometimes in front of the altar of the Trinity, so that this altar must have stood approximately in a line with the east end of the stalls. Moreover, the altar was attached to the iron screen which here closed the choir, and no doubt was fixed to the two great arcading piers against which the stalls end. Again, we are told (8) that the Matutinal altar was under a heam of wood which was at the east end of the choir and on which at one time stood the gold cross of St. Eloy. The altar itself was built by Suger of black marble and embellished with sculptures in white marble representing the martyrdom of St. Denis. Upon it was an image of the Trinity in silver-gilt, which was destroyed in the time of the Armagnacs in the reign of Charles VII. A silver-gilt retable for the altar on this site had been given by Robert, Abbot of Corbie; Suger preserved it and enriched it with (9). Further, to the old altar, which Suger thus replaced, certain relics had been attached by Charles the Bald. Suger reset these in what appears to have been a portable altar of porphyry, described as framed in a chassis of wood, 'et ce chassis remply d'or fin' and set with gems. This portable altar is later on found in the Treasury. The other fittings and treasures belonging to the altar are enumerated in the inventory of 1505 (nos. 162-84).(10)

Immediately behind and belonging to it was an elaborate structure consisting of a square column of copper-gilt supporting a wooden cross, covered with gold, and a unicorn's (narwhal's) horn 6 1/2 ft. long with a silver crown round it. From this cross, or a jutting bracket, there hung an openwork lantern of silver-gilt, containing a round cup of gold set with stones, and in it a smaller round box, likewise of gold, and set with many stones, which was the ciborium to hold the Host. These gold boxes were stolen in 1610 and the thief never discovered. (11). There hung from the roof down in front of this altar a silver basin, six lamps and a 'nef'. A piece of wall behind this altar supported the chasse of St. Denis of Corinth. It was of copper-gilt garnished with embossed images and capitals of silver-gilt and set with stones, probably a thirteenth-century work. Beside this altar was a wooden chest containing two chalices and patens, a spoon pierced with many holes, described as ' of ancient fashion ', to which we shall recur, two silver basins, a 'byberon' with a lion's head, two silver candlesticks, two censers of silver, a silver pax, some minor implements, and a finely bound MS. of the Gospels.


East of the choir-screen and Trinity altar was an open square space beneath the crossing, and this was given up to the monuments of kings and the opening to the royal vault. We are not concerned with these monuments except in so far as what we learn about them throws light on other matters. Immediately behind the Trinity altar St. Louis was buried in a stone coffin between the graves of his father Louis VIII and Philip Augustus. (12) His body only remained there till l298, when, after his canonization, it was taken up and put into a chasse, but the tomb with the silver effigy upon it remained till the precious metal was stripped off by the Armagnacs or the English in the days of Charles VII. (13) Other tombs in that wretched time were treated in the same fashion, so that the two remaining near this altar were mere anonymous wrecks in 1505.(14) At the east side of the crossing was another iron screen, perhaps led up to by some steps which, however, were farther east than the steps made in 1610 and shown on Félibien's plan, because these are recorded to have partly covered the tomb of the wife of St. Louis.

The High Altar

We thus come to the enclosure which contained the High altar, the 'Maistre Autel' or 'grand autel' as it is sometimes called, the altar of St. Peter and St. Paul, as was its correct designation. We possess numerous descriptions of it, and it is this and no other that is depicted in the picture of the Mass of St. Giles. But that picture proves that its position about the year 1500, doubtless its original position, was directly in a line with or even a little west of the centre of Dagobert's monument, whereas in 1610 it was moved somewhat to the east of it as marked on Félibien's plan, where the restored altar now stands.

It is related (15) that when Pope Stephen II visited France in the year 754 to appeal to Pepin for protection against the Lombards, one day during his stay at St.-Denis kneeling before this altar he had a vision of 'the good shepherd Monseigneur St. Peter, and the master and doctor of the Gentiles Monseigneur St. Paul' and also of St. Denis who was splendidly clad, and of his two fellow saints, and he heard and reported word for word their conversation and even their gestures, but unfortunately the passage is too long to be copied here. The upshot was that the Pope, who had been suffering from illness, was forthwith restored to health and next day consecrated this altar to the honour of the two saints; and thereat he crowned Pepin king and anointed his sons Charlemagne and Carloman. In memory of this very important event, which led to such great future developments as the revival of the Empire of the West and the solid foundation of the temporal power of the Popes, Pepin gave two life-sized figures in gold of St. Peter and St. Paul and two fine porphyry columns for them to stand on, which were placed close to the back angles of the altar ('joignant les deux boutz du derri`re dudict autel', Inv. 1505). If the columns do not appear in the St. Giles picture, though the gold figures had before then been destroyed, it is because they were hidden by the curtain. The altar was of black and white marble and stood on four white marble columns, on one of which were the letters M. P. V. IIII. Dagobert was buried beneath it, (16) though his monument was to the south where St. Louis afterwards reconstructed it, and it is the reconstructed monument that appears in our picture, the prominent standing figure on the left being Queen Nanthilde, Dagobert's second wife, who was buried with or near him.

Suger himself has described for us the splendid decorations of this altar in his day. He relates how there was in front of the altar a very precious altar-frontal of gold (seen above the altar as a retable in our picture (pl. II and X I)), given by Charles the Bald, which alone did not seem to him fine enough to make the altar as splendid as he wished it to be. So he encased it (as Angilbert encased the still existing altar at Milan) with three more golden sides, one with figures in relief of a singular and admirable sort, but all enriched with precious stones, so that about this altar nothing was seen except gold and jewels. It was made to appear still more sumptuous by the golden jeweled table itself and by the precious treasures placed upon it, when Mass was celebrated there on days of solemnity. There were the fine gold candlesticks, weighing twenty marks, enriched with jacinths, emeralds, garnets, and other sorts of gems given by King Louis le Gros; also the great cross of gold made by St. Eloy, Bishop of Noyon, with many other smaller crosses, and above all these was that very precious treasure named 'l'Escrin de Charlemagne' (pl. X), given by his grandson, the Emperor Charles the Bald. All these objects were enriched with so many jewels that they produced an admirable and ravishing effect. If one adds to all this the two great golden images of St. Peter and St. Paul, of the height of a man, which were given by King Pepin and placed on two columns of porphyry at the sides of this altar, it must be admitted that it was altogether resplendent and majestic. So that Abbot Suger said that when he looked at it, with all its fittings, he was so ravished by the sight as to imagine himself not on this earth, but near Paradise; and some inhabitants of Jerusalem, who came to France and saw these rare magnificence of St.-Denis, told him that they surpassed the treasures of the temple of St. Sophia of Constantinople which they had seen.

As for the gold encasement of the altar, that also had disappeared by 1500, except the frontal, which was used as a retable, and two of Suger's panels, hidden in the picture perhaps by the embroidered frontal. Millet (p. 40) relates that there used to be six 'great tables of gold' belonging to St.-Denis, one given by Dagobert, one by Charles the Bald, and four by Suger. Of these, he says only the second remained in his time. The others, as well as Pepin's two gold images, Louis le Gros's candlesticks, the image of the Trinity belonging to the Matutinal altar, Suger's great cross, and many other treasures, were destroyed in the troublous times of Charles Vl and VII-' ravies par les Anglois', he says, though Félibien tells another story.

One other feature shown in our picture connected with the High altar remains to be considered: the four columns surmounted by figures of angels holding candlesticks, which columns support the rods for the curtains enclosing the altar on three sides. They are mentioned (no. 191) in the inventory of 1505, where it is stated that the columns are of latten and the angels of copper-gilt. Evidently they belong to about the time of St. Louis, during whose days so much was done in the way of rebuilding and decorating the church. (17)

The Shrines of Saint Louis

Behind the High altar in our picture rises a metallic vaulted structure which was the platform that supported the chasse of St. Louis. At first sight it seems to be a canopy resting on six columns, but it is important to observe that there are only four, the two arches on either long side being separated by cusps, not by columns. The cusp on the south side can be plainly seen. This structure is thus described in the inventory of 1505 (no. 192): 'Au derrière dudict autel (the High altar) quatre coulompnes de laton de fonte, et sur icelles ung entablement aussi de laton doré d'or de painctre: et sur icelles columpnes et entablement ung coffre de bahu d'ancienne facon, fort caducque, rompu dessus, plus par caducqueté que par force, et dedans icellui le corps de monseigneur saint Loys, roy de France.' The following important passage from the inventory of 1634 (f. 259v), which I could not entirely decipher, was kindly copied out for me by Monsieur J. J. Marquet de Vasselot of the Louvre: ' Au derrière dud. autel quatre colomnes de fonte et dessus icelles un entablement aussy de laitton doré d'or de peintre, garny tout allentour de fleurs de lys placqués; quatre angeles aux quatre coings, tenans chascun un chandellier aussy de laiton, l'un des chandelliers rompu, et estoient au derrière du dit entablement; l'an m IIIe. IIIIx. douze et six [sic] fut cy présent ce tabernacle assis; Charles de France Roy size [sic] le donna, Pierre Rozette le fist et acheva; et a esté par lesd. relligieux dict et déclaré que les susd. quatre colomns de laiton et les quatre angeles furent desmolis lors du couronnement de la royne en six cent dix, et furent vendus pour réparer la demolition qui en avoit esté faicte.

'Dessus le dict entablement un coffre de bahut d'environ deux pieds et demy de long et un pied de large, couvert de cuir bandé de fer et semé de petits clouds, fermant ê clef et scellé sur le bou de la clef d'un scel de cire (fol. 260) et dedans icelluy coffre les ossemens du corps Monsieur St Louis, ledit coffre for ancien et caducque rompu dessus à force plus que par caduceté. Dessus ledt coffre un tapis semé de fleurs de lys.' (18).

St. Louis's much venerated remains had a very chequered history. When he died in Tunis in 1270, the flesh was boiled off his bones in a cauldron of wine and water.(19) The flesh was taken to Monreale in Sicily and there buried, whilst the bones were wrapped in scented silk and brought with the heart to France. On the 22nd of May, 1271, the bones were buried in St.-Denis in a stone coffin behind the altar of the Trinity and adjacent to the tombs of Louis VIII and Philip Augustus. St. Louis had prescribed that his grave should be quite plain, but his son ' luy fit dresser un tombeau magnifique où l'or et l'argent estoient ce qu'il y avoit de moins considéré', says Félibien (p. 249) in his vague fashion. Doublet (p. I 240), whom Félibien despised as a writer, more accurately states that the tomb was covered with silver, which was carried off later on by the English and Armagnacs in the time of Charles VI.

In 1297 St. Louis was canonized, and in the following year, on the twenty-eighth anniversary of his death, his bones were taken up out of their grave and with great ceremony put into a chasse which Millet (p. 76) was mistaken in describing as of gold. This chasse was set behind and above the High altar.

Seven years later, in 1305, the skull of St. Louis, except the jaw-bone, was given to the Sainte Chapelle, at the request of Jeanne d'Evreux, in exchange for a reliquary in the shape of a chapel containing specimens from all the relics in the Sainte Chapelle. The jaw-bone, retained at St.- Denis, was in the fourteenth century set in a special reliquary, of which an engraving is included in Félibien's plates (F. pl. iii c). Later on at different times other fragments of St. Louis's bones were parted with as gifts or in exchange.

In 1368 Charles V gave money to cover the chasse of St. Louis with gold, so that obviously it cannot have been of gold to start with. Apparently what was done, however, was to begin making an entirely new gold chasse. This, according to the inventory of 1634, was made by Juivre Vogette and was not finished until 1392, when Charles VI brought it to St.-Denis and saw the relics moved into it.(20) At the same time the Dukes of Berry, Burgundy, and Touraine gave the jewels they were wearibg to be fastened on to the chasse, whilst the king also gave 1,000 francs to pay for making the tabernacle above described.

The gold chasse only lasted twenty-five years. In 1418, in the evil days of the English wars, the gold was melted down and made into coin for the needs of the government, and the relics remained in the iron-bound box. The fort caduque condition of this box in 1505 has been noted above. Finally Cardinal de Bourbon, who was Abbot of St.-Denis (1529-57), had a new silver-gilt chasse made in 1557 which, after being restored in 1657, lasted till the Revolution and is engraved by Félibien (pl. v A). This chasse stood (I suppose after the choir rearrangement in 1601) on a pillar of wood with a copper base behind the High altar. But in 1633 the royal commissioners thought that 'this position was not decent', so they had the chasse removed into the Treasury, till a more honourable place should be prepared. It seems, however, thenceforward to have remained in the Treasury. It was there at all events in 1739.

The Alterations of 1610

The alterations in the church, made in preparation for the coronation of Marie de Médicis, changed the whole aspect of the Maitre Autel and all that lay eastward of it. Unfortunately Viollet-le-Duc reconstructed the interior as thus changed, not its originally planned by Suger and represented in our picture. The best succinct account of what was done in 1610 is given by Millet (p. 71), who relates how the Matutinal altar 'fut demoly et transporté au lieu où il est maintenant, servant de grand autel, car le grand autel qui estoit pour lors fut aussi demoly et n'a point esté restably depuis; mais les matériaux d'iceluy, qui estoient de marbre, ont esté employez en la fabrique du bel autel des corps saincts, qui est au chevet. Fut aussi ostée la closture de fer qui fermoit le chceur par en haut, et le separoit d'avec cette grande place, qui est soubs le milieu de la grande crois&eqcute;e entre le maistre autel et le mesme choeur, dans laquelle on voit tant de sepultures de Rois anciennes et modernes'. New stone stairs were also made on either side of the Maitre Autel by which to ascend to the chevet.

It is the church thus altered that is represented on Félibien's plan, and was reconstructed by Viollet- le-Duc. It is not difficult to imagine how injurious all these changes must have been to the old church; but they pleased the people who made them. Marie de Médicis was majestically crowned before the new High altar on May 13, 1610. The herald mounted to the gallery of the Jubé, cried aloud 'Largesse' and cast down numbers of silver medals, with the likeness of the queen on one side and on the other a crown and emblems, whilst gold pieces were distributed among the courtiers and ambassadors. Great preparations had been made, and decorations set up for the triumphal entry of the king and queen into Paris. But before this could happen all the glory and rejoicings were turned into sadness by the murder of Henri IV on the day after his queen's coronation. His body in due course was brought to St.-Denis, and there lay till it and the bodies of all the kings were torn from their graves by the mad Revolutionary mob, who likewise destroyed every destructible feature of the great church, so that for years it lay abandoned like a ruin and open to the sky. The history of its restoration can be read in the admirable handbook by MM. Paul Vitry and Gaston Brière, entitled L'Église abbatiale de Saint-Denis et ses Tombeaux. (Paris, 1908).

The inventory of 1634 (f. 260r et seq.) enables us, with the help of other authorities and of our picture, to form an accurate idea of the arrangements that existed behind the Maitre Autel prior to 1610, and they are very important for a proper understanding of our subject. All authorities make frequent reference to a vault existing behind the Maitre Autel and under the pavement in front of the altar of Saint-Denis or of the relics.(21) Doublet (p. 1196) in describing the tomb of Dagobert writes: ' Son corps gist sous le Maistre Autel, qui est dès lors du premier bastiment de l'Église de Sainct Denys, avec le caveau des Saincts Martyrs, vis à vis d'iceluy, o reposoient lcurs saincts et sacrez corps.' Elsewhere (p. 250) he describes it as ' l'ancien caveau oè le Roy Dagobert avoit mis iceux corps saincts'.(22) He also tells us (p. 252) that when Suger had made his great crucifix of gold he set it up 'au lieu et endroit où avoient reposé les corps de S. Denys et de ses compagnons par longues années, afin que la memoire n'en fust perdue, et que l'on honorast tousjours ce sainct lieu'.(23) Finally (p. 286) Doublet, in reference to the crucifix that spoke to Dagobert, says that Suger set it up on ' la cave basse et Chapelle de S. Demetre martyr, derrière le Maistre Autel, où autresfois avoient reposé les corps des Saincts martyrs'. This is the only mention I have anywhere found of a chapel of St. Demetrius. Félibien says nothing about it, and his plan affords no assistance.

The inventory of 1505 (no. 193) likewise describes the Talking Crucifix as being in a vault ' derrière ledict grant autel ', and indicates (no. 194) an armoire as up against the door of the said vault, outside it on the left (' joygnant l'huys de ladicte voute à costé senestre par dehors'). Finally, over the portal of the same vault the inventories of 1505 and 1634 locate (nos. 195-8) the great cross of Suger.

From all this it is clear, I think, that the vault so often referred to is no other than the existing crypt under the chevet, in which are the coffins of Louis WI, Marie Antoinette, and other royal personages. That vault, at the time when our picture was painted, was entered by the door depicted in the middle of its west end and immediately behind the Maitre Autel. At present the entrance to it is at its south-west corner, immediately behind the monument of Dagobert. The only reason for hesitating to accept the evidence of the picture on this point is that it does not show any trace of the cross of Suger, which must have been standing above the entrance when the picture was painted, and ought to appear in it. One must conclude that the artist simply left it out. If he had known how much that cross would interest posterity he would have given himself the needful extra trouble involved in depicting it. Clearly the front wall of the crypt under the chevet stood somewhat farther back, eastward, than now. The ascent to it was made, not by steps corresponding in position to the present stone staircases, but by a steep wooden staircase, which can be perceived in the picture leading up to a wooden door in the wooden screen which enclosed the chevet along its west front. The said door admitted into a kind of wooden porch, and that to the chevet. Before leaving the picture we may finally note how it shows the apse-walls, above the great arcade, to be hung with tapestries, the hanging of the church with such on the occasion of great ceremonials being often mentioned in contemporary descriptions.

The inventories give detailed information, where the picture fails us, as to the arrangements on the upper level within the chevet. Here was the altar called of Saint Denis, or of the Martyrs, or of the Relics. We do not know exactly where it stood because, in 1628, it was entirely rebuilt, partly out of materials taken from the old Maitre Autel, and it was set up in a new position, at the extreme east end of the apse, close against the arcade piers. Suger's altar, however, stood well out away from these piers, for it had the tabernacle covering the chasses of the martyrs behind it and the great ' Cuve de porphyre', which Dagobert gave, behind the tabernacle. The inventory of 1505 (no 227) describes the chapel of St. Eustace as being on the left of the altar of St. Denis. This chapel still exists; it is on the north side of the most westerly part of the chevet. the altar can scarcely have been level with that. Viollet-le-Duc set up his Autel des Reliques in the centre encircled by the apse, and this was no doubt approximately the correct original position. His restoration of the altar and the tabernacle behind it, (24) made in accordance with Doublet's description, is praised by Labarte for its general form; (25) but he adds that the decorative details are all incorrect, as is shown by the minute description of them given in the inventory of 1634 (f. 267v). On the left side of the altar was an armoire, on the right side three armoires in a row, all containing treasures. In front of it was an eagle lectern and a coffer containing a chalice and so forth for use at the altar. When the new altar was made in 1628 the 'Cuve de porphyre' was moved into the chapel of St. Hilaire. Before 1739 it was put into the chapel of Notre-Dame-la-Blanche, where it was used for the blessing of holy water on Easter and Whitsun eves. In 179I it was sent with the throne of Dagobert and other objects to the Cabinet des Médailles; and there it can still be seen on the ground floor just facing a person entering from the street.

As nothing remains, either of the altar of St. Denis, or of the retable given by Pepin, or of the tabernacle behind it and the chasses it contained, it is not necessary for us to consider them here in detail. (26) Suffice it to say that the tabernacle was in the form of a building with central nave and lower aisles, containing chasses under the roofs, and the actual coffins of St. Denis, St. Rusticus, and St. Eleutherius in the basement beneath and extending in part also under the altar. The tabernacle and altar were constructed by Suger; the retable used was one that had been given by Pepin. The altar and reliquaries were consecrated with great ceremony in the presence of royalties, archbishops, bishops, and all the hierarchies, and they existed in splendour to the joy of many generations till the evil days of the Huguenot wars. In 1567 the altar was dreadfully damaged, ' sacrilegé, pillé et desrobé ', says Doublet, only certain movable parts of the front of it having been taken away in time and hidden. But for that caution, he says, nothing would have been left. In 1627 it was decided to make a new altar and reliquary, in place of the old which was entirely taken away. The new altar was set up at the very end of the chevet against a wall, the three chasses being put into a niche contrived in the wall about six feet above the floor and behind the altar.(27) Of course this in turn was utterly destroyed in the Revolution.

The Oriflamme

Fastened against the two most easterly piers in the chevet were two important relics. One was the pastoral staff of St. Denis. The other was the Oriflamme. 'Against a pillar in the corner, on the left side, a standard of "cendal" (28) very dilapidated, twisted round a staff covered with copper-gilt with a longish iron point at the top end, which the said monks say is the Oriflamme ' ( Inv. 1505, no. 201).

The Oriflamme was, in fact, a red silk flag on a gilt staff; those were the essential colours according to Doublet, who wrote a chapter on it (p. 299). Guillaume Guyart, a poet of the thirteenth century, thus describes it:

L'oriflamme est une bannière
Aucun poi plus forte que quimple,
De cendal roujoyans et simple,
Sans pourctraiture d'autre affaire.

Félibien says that it had the form of an old-fashioned banner or gonfalon, with three points or tails ending in green tassels. Much has been written about this flag, but the central fact in connexion with it seems to be that it was the flag, not of the kings of France, but of St. Denis. A Merovingian king gave Le Vexin to the abbey. By the ninth century it had been enfeoffed to a family of counts, and the Count of the Vexin was called the premier vassal of St. Denis, and as such carried the flag of St. Denis. When the Vexin was reunited to the royal domain under Philip I, the king became a kind of honorary feudatory of St. Denis, and so thenceforward adopted the Oriflamme. It was customary for the king, before going to war, to come in state to the abbey and take the flag from the shrine of the Saints, to whom it was returned with equal ceremony when the war was over. Charlemagne was fabled to have borne it. Philip Augustus certainly took it in 1190. St. Louis fetched it away to both his crusades. King after king carried it to the wars. All through the fourteenth century they fought beneath it. Last of all, Charles VI, after flying it in the Civil wars, whereby it seems to have lost its luck, came to St.-Denis for it on the eve of Agincourt, at which battle the bearer of it was slain. On this occasion we read nothing of any ceremonial return of it to St.-Denis. Its prestige was gone. No king ever bore it to the wars again. The kings of France adopted a new flag, 'la cornette blanche', and the old magic banner passed into oblivion. The last mention of it is in the inventory of 1594. (29)

The contents of the chapels of the chevet

With the contents of the ten chapels round the chevet, each of which contained in a chasse the body of a saint, and of the other chapels in different parts of the edifice we need not be concerned at any length. In Millet's days (p. 81) the chasses remaining were two of copper (St. Hippolyte's and one of an Innocent), the rest of wood painted and gilt, made by the Cardinal of Lorraine to replace the wrecks. Originally, he says inaccurately, all were of silver-gilt except two, and some were enriched with many jewels, but the Huguenots in 1562 and 1567 robbed and destroyed them. The inventory of 1505 (nos. 227 and later) contains a list of the treasures at that time in the chapels. They include four silver-gilt and seven copper-gilt chasses, only one of the latter being said to be enamelled, ten reliquaries (some evidently very fine), nineteen silver chalices and patens, three precious statuettes of the Virgin, and various silver lamps, candelabra, ivory and other pyxes, crucifixes, altar frontals, and other objects, beside several boxes of precious fragments fallen from chasses, and the like. In the chapel of the Abbot were seven mitres, four fine pontifical rings, and three crosiers. Finally (no. 321), in the last chapel in the nave there was a wooden monument ' and on it the figure of a man in armour, the whole very decayed and damaged, but once covered with copper-gilt, enamels, and jewels' -the finest and richest tomb in the church--and beneath it, on the pavement, a long coffer of wood, unnailed and open, containing the bones of Alphonse, Count of Eu, 'fils de Jehan de Basme, roy de Jherusalem et empereur de Constantinoble' -evidently a Limoges monument resembling that of William de Valence in Westminster Abbey. Of enamel work on such tombs splendid fragments remain at St.-Denis, from the tombs of the children of St. Louis. (30) These tombs were originally set up in the choir of the abbey of Royaumont, but have been removed to St.-Denis in recent times. They are examples of the best work of their day. It is evident that the Limoges enamellers were much employed by St. Louis for chasses and other fine objects given by him to the abbey, none of which have survived. The plaques from the tombs of his children may, however, be taken to represent the kind of work of which they were composed. A small Limoges chasse, of copper enameled and gilt, of thirteenth-century date, preserved in the Galerie d'Apollon at the Louvre (31) certainly belonged to St.-Denis, but I cannot identify it in the inventories. It may well enough have come from one of the chapels. Another existing Limoges chasse will be referred to later.

The Treasures of Saint Denis
Earliest Period

The Vase of Cana

Having thus briefly considered the arrangement and contents of the abbey church of St.-Denis in the days of its splendour, let us now turn our attention to some of the individual treasures, whether placed permanently in the church or generally kept in the Treasury. It will be convenient to treat them in their chronological order. The most ancient still existing object, which belonged to St.- Denis, is probably the broken fragment of an alabaster vase preserved in the Cabinet des Médailles. It was already broken when engraved by Félibien,(32) and a further fragment has parted company from it since. The vase was evidently Egyptian, perhaps of Saite days, or even later. It had a slightly tapering body and a flat shoulder with two handles. It is a portion of the upper part that remains with parts of the handles. Neck and base are gone. It was fabled to have been one of the vessels used at Cana for the miracle of turning water into wine. Several so-called Cana vases still exist in ancient ecclesiastical treasuries. There is one of alabaster in Quedlinburg, Cathedral, a wedding present to the Empress Theophanu, wife of Otto II. Its broken-off handle is said to be preserved as a relic at Cologne or Aix-la-Chapelle. There is a porphyry Cana vase in Santa Maria in Porto at Ravenna, and a porphyry fragment at Hildesheim; one of pottery is at Mittelzell in Reichenau. Best of all is an Egyptian vase of grey granite inscribed with the name of Artaxerxes in the Treasury of St. Mark at Venice. This was not the only Cana Vase at Venice, for San Niccolò of the Lido claimed to possess one. There is yet another of alabaster in the Jewish gallery in the Louvre from Port-Royal, and a porphyry example with two masks in relief in Angers Museum (from the cathedral), which King René brought from the convent of St. Paul at Marseilles. These do not exhaust the list, but they are those I have personally come in contact with. All are genuine antiques, and several are of hard stones, probably Egyptian in origin. The alabaster examples are likewise probably Egyptian. (33)

It might have been suspected that the vase of Egyptian porphyry, which Suger set so splendidly with the head and wings of an eagle (pl. WII, fig. 2),would likewise be called a Cana vase, but Suger himself says nothing about it. The hard material and the-finish of the workmanship excited his admiration. This vase in the Galerie d'Apollon at the Louvre always attracts attention. There is something compelling about its aspect and it has been admired from that day to this. It is, however, the setting rather than the vase itself that receives the praise. We could easily make another such porphyry vase, but who now could design for it an eagle's head and wings like Suger`s ? (Editor's Note-Click here for more infromation about Suger's eagle-JV).

Bath of Porphyry

The great 'Cuve de porphyre' (34) now in the Cabinet des Médailles, which Suger placed behind the altar of St. Denis in the chevet of his church, is evidently an antique bath. No doubt it was made in Alexandria in early imperial days. Some wealthy Roman we may believe brought it to Gaul to furnish the bath-room of a stately palace. Thence it appears to have passed into the baptistery at Poitiers, where it was used as a font. St. Martin of Tours is said to have been baptized in it by St. Hilary. When Dagobert captured and looted Poitiers this was one of the fine things he carried away. (35) He presented it to St. Denis and there five centuries later Suger found it. Like all such great porphyry basins it is of very simple form-the size and shape of a modern bath rounded at both ends. Except for two imitation round handles carved on the front, the visible parts of the bath are quite plain. The lip is conveniently moulded for comfort of entry, and that is all; but the workmanship is excellent and the preservation perfect.

Cup of the Ptolemys

Far more important than the foregoing objects, which are rather of manufacture than of art, is the splendid two-handled cantharus of agate, generally known as the 'Coupe des Ptolémées ', now one of the greatest treasures in the Cabinet des Médailles (fig. I).(36) It is engraved by Félibien on a large scale in the fine setting of gold and jewels with which Suger endowed it, but this was stolen and melted down in 1804, only the vase itself being recovered. The vase is so well known that we may deal with it briefly. The surface is covered with figures wrought in high relief representing Bacchic scenes and emblems. Its date may be about the first or even the second century, AD, but some think it Hellenistic. The dating of objects of this class is uncertain, as few. exist for comparison. The Farnese Tazza at Naples is the most splendid, and is probably Alexandrian work of late Hellenistic date. The Gonzaga vase at Brunswick is attributed to the age of Augustus. The beautiful ewer of St. Martin at St. Maurice d'Agaune belongs to about the same period. All these cameo-vases of sardonyx are enriched with figure-decoration. The I Hamilton vase now in the Wyndham-Cook collection, is another splendid example of such work in precious stone, but, except for two satyrs' heads, its embellishment is of foliation. it is doubtfully called Hellenistic. The beautiful Waddesdon vase in the British Museum is likewise decorated with foliation cut in cameo, but it is of later date and has even been set down to the fourth century AD, though, in my opinion, that is at least a century too late. The inscription on the foot of the 'Coupe des Ptolémées ', added by Suger, states that it was presented by Charles III, who has been wrongly assumed to be Charles the Simple. Seeing that Suger himself in his own writings calls Charles the Bald Charles III, and as Charles the Bald gave many treasures of great value to St. Denis, whereas Charles the Simple is not otherwise known to have given any, it is practically certain that Charles the Bald was the donor. (37) How he came by it we shall probably never know, but we may guess that it had belonged previously to Charlemagne. On the occasion of their coronation the queens of France, says Millet (p.110), 'prennent l'ablution en ce calice, aprés la saincte communion'.

Scepter of Dagobert

The golden sceptre (38), called the sceptre of Dagobert, raises questions no longer answerable. Doublet describes it in detail, and Félibien's engraving helps us to picture it. He notes that some antiquaries of his day thought it to have been a consular staff. On the top was a golden group of Ganymede carried by an eagle, each of whose wings was set with four emeralds and a garnet surrounded by eight pearls. This was planted on a globe held by a hand, with likewise a little branch garnished with pearls, enamels, and coral. The hand was at the end of a golden rod, also enameled and set with stones. Probably the summit group and perhaps other parts of this sceptre were antique, but it is unlikely that we shall ever know more about it.

Throne of Dagobert

The bronze throne of Dagobert, on which the kings of France were crowned, was repaired and used for Napoleon and is still in existence-one of the most interesting pieces of furniture that have come to us from antiquity (pl. V, fig. 2`).(39) St. Eloy was said to has e made it, but this is no longer believed. St. Eloy did make two chairs for Dagobert, as his eighth-century biography clearly records, but they appear to have been a pair, and one of them was certainly of gold and set with gems. There is no reason why the chair from St.-Denis in the Cabinet des Medailles must be one of these, though Suger thought it was. Modern archaeologists are of opinion that it is more ancient, and that it is a Roman Curule Chair, of the folding X type, which maintained itself from the days of ancient Egypt down to the sixteenth century. On ivory diptychs of the sixth century consuls are seated in such chairs as this, which brings us down to a date not far removed from Dagobert. Of course it originally had no back-piece and only the lower, narrow member of the arms. Suger added the upper members with foliated scrolls and the back-piece, all finely cast in bronze, and an authoritative example of the kind of bronze casting that was done at St.-Denis in the twelfth century. As for the rough clamps and other coarse mends, they were the work of some common blacksmith, botching the thing together for Napoleon's coronation.

Cup of Solomon

The famous bowl of Chosroes II, Sassanian king of Persia (AD 590-628), is another precious object so well known as to call only for brief mention here (pl. VI). Charles the Bald is said to have given it to St.-Denis. The bowl is of gold; the medallions of crystal, and red and green coloured glass are set in it à jour. The large central medallion is finely cut into a cameo of Chosroes seated on his throne, and it is scarcely necessary to remark that, in the Middle Ages, this was believed to be a likeness of Solomon in all his glory. (40)

Relics of Saint Denis

Five relics were said to have belonged to St. Denis himself-two staves, a ring, a chalice, and an inkstand. (Editor's note: click here for an image -JV) Of the two staves, we have seen that one was attached to a pillar in the chevet behind the altar of the Saint. (41) This was the top end only of his pastoral staff, or, as Millet says, ' le crosson qui n'estoit que de bois, maintenant est couvert d'or, enrichi d'émaux et de pierreries, et de 48 perles orientales'. Félibien's print shows it as a most peculiarly shaped, wide opened crook, with a fleur-de-lis stuck on at the end. The decoration may not date from before the time of Suger, and the fleur-de-lis looks like a yet later addition. Dublin Museum possesses several examples of the staves of Irish saints thus embellished.

The other staff is called the walking-stick of St. Denis.(42) This was quite as elaborately mounted; it was inscribed ' Baculus Beati Dionysii Areopagitae'. Neither of these relics survives, and we can gather little from Félibien's engraving; but the splendidly mounted fragment of the staff of St. Peter in the cathedral of Limburg-on-the-Lahn is an existing example of the way such relics were treated towards the end of the tenth century.(43)

As for St. Denis's inkstand, we can do no more than reproduce the engraving (pl. VII, fig. I) of it inserted by E3. de Montfaucon in his Palaegraphia Graeca (Paris, 1708, p. 23), and add a translation (44) of the description with which he accompanied it. The object itself may have been at least as old as the fifth century of our era.

In the treasury of the monastery of Saint-Denis in France there is an inkstand of the most remote antiquity, for the use, once upon a time, as they think, of Saint Denis, the first bishop of Paris. It is a tablet of ebony, of the shape and size here depicted. From the middle of the lowest, which is also the narrower part of the tablet, there stands out a case constructed with four holes for putting in four reed-pens; since the holes are bigger than would be necessary for putting in quill-pens. At the top, which is broader, the tablet is faced on both sides with silver-plate, about a thumb's breadth, ornamented with birds and other figures. Likewise the top of the case is enclosed with a silver plate, where the four holes are. And in the same way the bottom of the case, which is narrower, is faced with a silver plate ornamented with figures. The four edges of the case are held from top to bottom by four little plates of silver which are smaller and held on by silver nails, as you can see in the engraving. The lower part of the case is covered with blackish leather ornamented with designs. The vessel for the ink is of wood, likewise covered with blackish leather, and edged round the top with a silver plate, and it contains another vessel of bronze for receiving the ink. The original lid of that has long ago perished; but the one now remaining, substituted several centuries ago, is different both in material and shape and is already worn away and damaged by age. On each side of the wooden tablet there are rings for passing a cord or strap through, by which the whole contrivance used to be hung up. On the upper part of the tablet in an unornamented round space there projects a movable ring of brass, made up of four semicircles, from which the ink-vessel is suspended.

To this rather verbose description there is little to add. The engraving seems to be accurate, but it is possible that the decoration may have been refined by the engraver. The ornament at the top presents a singular resemblance to that of a gilt bronze brooch of which two examples exist in the Mayence Museum, one of them engraved with runes attributed to the fifth or sixth century. The clamps which hold the cord-rings closely resemble a strap-fastening from Charnay, now in the Musée de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, which is probably of the fifth century, so that that may be the approximate date for 'L'escriptouere monsr sainct Denis' of the 1505 inventory. (45)

Serpentine Paten

In the Galerie d'Apollon is a well-known paten (pl. VII I, fig. I) made of a disc of green serpentine set in a border of gold and gems. (46) Eight golden dolphins were inlaid in the serpentine, whereof one had been already lost in 1634 and another has fallen out since. The inventory of 1634 also notes the stones gone from the setting. Félibien falls into an error in grouping this paten with the chalice of Suger. All the earlier authorities clearly state that it belonged with the ' Coupe des Ptolémées'. It is always considered to have been of Carolingian date, yet I have no doubt but that it was, in fact, made in the East, perhaps at Byzantium, about the time of Justinian. The probability is that both the splendid agate chalice and this paten came together as gifts from some Eastern emperor to Charlemagne or some other king of the Franks. Such gifts were constantly coming from quite early days and are frequently recorded. The chalice most likely belonged to the imperial treasure, which by the sixth century retained almost a monopoly of such objects. Treasures of that kind, if carried off as loot by barbarian chieftains, soon met an untimely end by rough usage. Only in the ancient world were there hands deft enough to preserve them through such troublous times as the fifth to the ninth centuries. Probably it was to Charlemagne himself that both chalice and paten were sent, and Charles the Bald gave both together to the abbey of St.-Denis. The gold dolphins are a common Early Christian decorative feature, descending from an ancient Greek tradition. Constantine the Great gave a gold lamp to St. Peter's, which was adorned with figures of dolphins. A dolphin is engraved on the back of the top stone of the Ecrin de Charlemagne, the other side of which bears a Greek monogram. There is a Byzantine intaglio of a dolphin in the Cabinet des Médailles (no. 340), and instances might be multiplied. The border, moreover, is of early date. There are no pastes but only stones, and these are set in plain, closely-fitting box mounts. The heart-shaped designs are of Eastern form, similar to those on the little gold chalice of Gourdon in the Cabinet des Médailles, which was clearly made by an Eastern craftsman. The arrangement of the red cylindrical stones round the outer edge with a ring of gold between each is paralleled (47) in the Bowl of Chosroes and the golden fibula with three tails found at Nagy Mihçly in Hungary, now in the Hofmuseum at Vienna, a fine example of East Roman work of about the fifth century (pl. VIII, fig. 2). The absence of all filigree and enamel, the plainness of the chatons, the strong design, the lack of exactness in symmetry-all these features point to a date as early as the sixth or even the fifth century, and to the Eastern Empire as the place of manufacture for the St.-Denis paten. (48)

Merovingian Treasures

Golden Spoon

The earliest object of Merovingian make of which we receive a hint, unless the inkstand of St.- Denis be Western, is a gold spoon (49) 'of ancient fashion' pierced with many holes, and used as a strainer over a chalice. We have no representation of the spoon, but its recorded aspect of antiquity suggests that it may have been one of the perforated spoons which were not uncommonly used by Anglo-Saxons and Franks in the sixth and seventh centuries for some unknown purpose, and have been found several times in association with crystal balls. One of silver, set with garnets, was found at Chatham (50), others came from Sarre, Bifrons, Sibertswold, and Stodmarsh, all in Kent; and yet others from Crundale, Hunts., and Chessell Down, I. W.. These are all of the sixth century. Somewhat later is a fine silver example in Prag Museum from Svetec. (51) Germany has yielded one, and four were found in France (Dept. Aisne) by Moreau whereof two are in the Musée de Saint-Germain. A spoon of this character might easily have been given to St.-Denis in the time of Dagobert, and thus survived down to the Revolution A perforated spoon of early date is figured by Rohault de Fleury. (52) Two silver examples are, or were, in the Barberini collection. 'Theophilus, in the eleventh century, describes how such spoons should be made, and that is not the last of them. The St.-Denis spoon, therefore, need not necessarily go back to the time of Dagobert.

St. Eloi

Characteristic works in precious metals of Dagobert's day are those which' were attributed to St. Eloy and artists contemporary with him. It should be remembered that all through the dark ages, approximately from the sixth to the end of the tenth centuries, Orfévrerie was the leading art.(Note- "orfévrerie" generaly means "works made by goldsmith"-JV) As a rule, work in jewelry and the precious metals is a minor art, employing the hands of crafts: men of a rank subordinate to that of artists in architecture, sculpture, or painting. But at the time with which we are dealing, it was not so. Architects, sculptors, and painters were the minor artists; goldsmiths were the great artists. Just as the thirteenth century was the great age of architecture, and the fifteenth and sixteenth of painting, so the period from the seventh to the eleventh century was a great age of Orfévrerie. Some of the leading men of the day were goldsmiths, and such as St. Eloy.

He was born about 588 near Limoges, and received his training in the workshop of Abbon, the local coiner and goldsmith of that city. Having favourably impressed Clotaire II, he was appointed by him head of his Mint, and was made Treasurer by Dagobert. Like other studious or artistic persons of those days, he was impelled to seek a quiet life in a monastery, but he was dragged forth into affairs again in 640 and appointed bishop of Noyon. He was famed as a preacher. He made missionary journeys. He died in 663. Whether living as an official, as a monk, as a bishop, or as a statesman, his main work and interest in life was the designing and making of splendid works of Orfévrerie--chasses, altar-frontals, tombs, chalices, and the like. Just as Rubens might perform the functions of a diplomatist, while remaining always and above everything a painter, so the Bishop of Noyon, while satisfactorily episcopating, remained essentially an artist, and, what is more, the greatest Western artist of his day. Dagobert, of course, had the chief claim on his services and gave to St.-Denis several works by the splendid minister-goldsmith.

Cross of St. Eloy

Principal amongst these by universal repute was the magnificent cross always known as 'the Cross of St. Eloy'. Many descriptions and one painting of it have come down to us (pl. II).(53) Doublet says this cross was of the height of a man. The inventory of 1739 states that it was six feet high or thereabouts. In the midst of the cross was an agate cameo, assuredly antique. At the bottom, under a glass, was a small enameled reliquary containing a piece of the True Cross which may have resembled the early Byzantine Beresford-Hope reliquary in the Victoria and Albert Museum. There were numerous precious stones on it, and all the ground on the front and back of it was inlaid with glass mosaic of various colours (like the chasse at St.-Maurice d Agaune), as we]l as with pieces of mother-of-pearl. The metal of it was gold and silver, except for a certain attached repoussée copper-gilt plaque with the images of St. Denis and two angels which was fastened at the foot of the back of the cross. This cross was made to stand above the High altar, and there it was placed by Dagobert and left by Suger, who describes it as 'illam ammirabilem sancti Eligii crucem'. It was still there in 1505, according to the inventory, in which it is briefly described as ' une grant croix d'or, les bordures d'argent, (54) nommée la croix sainct Eloy ', and it is depicted in this position over the retable of Charles the Bald in the painting of the "Mass of St. Giles".(55) In the days of Doublet and Millet (seventeenth century) the cross of St. Eloy had been moved and was over the place where the Matutinal altar had stood. It was on a great beam painted blue and dotted with gold fleurs-de-lis which Doublet says was 'au bout du Choeur tirant vers le maistre autel', and which Millet describes as 'cette longue pièce de bois azurée et semée de fleurs de lys qui traverse le choeur par le bout des chaires'. In the inventory of 1739 it is stated to be standing 'on the grille of the choir'.

The picture of the Mass of St. Giles, which now belongs to Mrs. Stewart Mackenzie, and was kindly lent by her to the Society for the meeting, enables us to fill out the written descriptions of this cross. It is, however, surprising to find that the cross shown is very far short of ù ft. high or of the height of a man. We are forced to conclude that a stem, hidden behind the retable, accounted for a considerable fraction of the total. It will be observed that the cross is not actually on the top of the retable but just behind it, so that the existence of such a stem is implied. In other respects the description and the picture are in fair, agreement. In the middle of the crossing is a kind of quatrefoil medallion with a cameo head in the centre. The ground is evidently inlaid with flat stones, and the small white cruciform spaces may be filled with mother-of-pearl. At the foot is the little frame that contained the small cross inscribed ' de cruce dni '. There are large jewels at intervals down the front, and there is a string of pearls set all round the inlaid field.

Vase of St. Eloi

St. Eloy made a splendid tomb for St.-Denis and several chasses for the abbey, but these need not detain us, as there is too little known about them. A piece of his handiwork almost came down to our time. This was a jade gondola which he mounted in gold and pastes. It was one of theca small number of the treasures of St.-Denis that escaped the Revolution and was placed in what should have been the security of the Cabinet des Médailles. But in 1804 robbers got at it and some other precious objects, and it has never been seen since. There is indeed in the Cabinet des Médailles a jade gondola (no. 374) which claims to be this one, but is of altogether different forrn.(57) De Linas, by the help of Félibien's engraving and the detailed description in the inventory of 1634, succeeded in making a restoration of it, which is here reproduced (pl. IX, fig. I). It must be admitted to be rather difficult to see in the reconstruction the great beauty which beholders seem to have united to find in the vase itself. It was set and rimmed with gold and adorned with sapphires, garnets, plasmas, and seventy oriental pearls. The nature of the stone puzzled all the old writers, who did not know jade, and this may have had something to do with its prestige. Félibien seems to have been the first to call it jade. Though made by St. Eloy, this gondola was not given to St.- Denis by Dagobert in the seventh century, but by Suger in the twelfth. It had been part of the royal treasure till Louis le Gros pawned it. Ten years later he allowed Suger to redeem it and present it to St.-Denis.(58) Suger describes it thus: ' Quod vas tam pro pretiosi lapidis qualitate quam integra sui quantitate mirificum, inclusorio sancti Eligii opere constat esse ornatum, quod omnium aurificum iudicio pretiosissimum aestimatur.'

Shoulder of John the Baptist

Little need be said about the silver-gilt reliquary of the shoulder of John Baptist, another of Dagobert's gifts to St.-Denis.(59) The engraving shows an obviously Gothic reliquary. (Editor's note: Click here to see image-JV)All the authorities, however, refer to it as an ancient (Byzantine) casket which the Emperor Heraclius sent as a gift to Dagobert. The inventory of 1739 knows enough to describe the style of it as Gothic, and yet continues: 'ledit reliquaire a été donné à l'abbaye par le roy Dagobert.' Millet leaves it doubtful whether it was the reliquary or only the relic that Heraclius sent. Thus we have no account of what the Byzantine reliquary was like, or when and why it was replaced by the one engraved.

Merovingian Eagles

On Félibien's plates(i and ii, our pl. III) there are representations of two eagles with spread wings set with gems. One is attached to the nail-reliquary, the other is an independent ornament and was believed to be the mantle-clasp of Dagobert. The latter is frequently mentioned.(Editor's note- click here for image-JV) (60) Doublet describes it as 'an eagle, very rich, of gold embellished with fine sapphires, rubies, and other jewels'. The inventory of 1739 specially mentions one big sapphire which Millet says was on the stomach of the bird and was one of the finest sapphires ever seen. As for the other eagle attached to the chasse, (Editor's note- click here for image-JV)it may be the silver-gilt eagle set with stones of the inventory of 1505 (no. 38). Millet (p. 125) also refers to a silver-gilt eagle set with stones, 'qui a aussi servy d'agraffe à quelque manteau royal'. Both eagles, he adds, were of about the size of a skylark. It is evident that these eagle-clasps are a later development of the same type as the two bronze-gilt brooches in the Cluny Museum from Valence d'Agen, and the similar gold brooch from Ravenna which belongs to the German Museum at Nuremberg. (61) Authorities are divided in the attribution of them to Byzantine or Gothic craftsmen. It is evident, however, that the type was admired by the rich men of the new peoples, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, and the rest, and that it continued to be made down to the days of Dagobert and perhaps even later.

Bracelets of Queen Nanthilde

The last gift to St.-Denis of the time of Dagobert that calls for brief mention is the pair of bracelets that belonged to his queen Nanthilde. Doublet describes them (p. 245) as 'so rare and exquisite as not to be compared with any other'. Suger attached one of them to the middle of the cross of Charlemagne and the other to the reliquary of the head of St. Denis. They had disappeared before the time of the earliest inventory.

Carolingian Objects

Bracelets and other gifts of Pepin

Another pair of bracelets of great value was given to St.-Denis by Pepin, the next royal donor with whom we have to concern ourselves. These had belonged to Waifar (Doublet calls him Gayfier), Duke of Aquitaine, with whom Pepin waged a war of life and death from 760 to 768. Aquitaine had enjoyed relative tranquillity for many years, so that the arts had been able to flourish there, notably in the city of Limoges, where St. Eloy learnt his craft. In the last year of Pepin's life, 768, he finally overthrew and slew Waifar after utterly devastating his whole country. Pepin took the splendid bracelets from him and caused them to be attached behind the High altar of St.-Denis on the front of the Martyrium, which we discussed at length above.(62) They were called, says Doublet, 'les Pierres Gaifiéres'. Suger took them away from this place (when he moved the bodies of the saints) and fixed them over the arms of the crucifix on the great cross which he set up as aforesaid. Pepin's other important gifts were the above-mentioned gold figures of SS. Peter and Paul on the porphyry columns, and a splendid square retable covered with gold and jewels, which Suger appears to have placed over the altar of St.-Denis in the chevet.(63)

Screen of Charlemagne

A number of precious objects said to have belonged to Charlemagne was included in the list of the treasures of St.-Denis; they were not, however, gifts of the great Emperor, but were presented by Charles the Bald. Finest among them was the famous 'Éscrin de Charlemagne ', of which Félibien has preserved an unsatisfactory representation. (64) Fortunately a good, large-scale, coloured drawing of it exists in the Cabinet des Estampes (pl. X). It has been reproduced by Monsieur J. Guibert in the book above cited, where he shows that the drawing was made after the 30th of September, 1791, and shortly before the destruction of the Écrin in the public mint. In form it was a kind of upright scaffolding, shaped like the facade of a church, and resembling in a general way the arcaded framing which decorates the pages of the Eusebian canons at the beginning of Carlovingian manuscript gospels. The inventory of 1505 says it was of silver-gilt that of 1739 describes it as all of gold, covered with pearls and precious stones. In Félibien's engraving it is shown with a Gothic base, an addition made in the time of Abbot Philippe de Villette (1363-1398), including a sort of long box with crystal windows to display the relics within. On the top of this box is a row of great jewels running all along the foot of the facade. The lower story of it is an arcading of four round arches, from the summit of each of which depends a crown, made of jewels strung together. Higher up is a second arcading with various pendent devices in jewels; whilst within the pediment above are yet more such devices. At the top of all is an antique gem surrounded by eight jewels; this is the small portion that still exists, from which alone we can gain some idea of the character of the whole work. It was enriched with an extra ordinary multitude of precious stones, each being separately described and valued in the inventory of 1634.

The centre of the surviving top member is a very fine beryl or aquamarine with an intaglio portrait of Julia, daughter of Titus (fig. 2), one of the best glyptic portraits in the world, signed with the name of the artist, Euodos. It was set face downwards on a foil of gold which caused the head to appear like a relief. It is not unlikely that this gem, which must have belonged to the Roman imperial treasure, was sent to Charlemagne as a gift from the Byzantine court. A confirmation of this supposition is supplied by the uppermost of the surrounding jewels, one side of which is engraved with a dolphin, the other with a Byzantine monogram of the letters A M e X .... . But if the stones are of Byzantine provenance, the setting is Western. Each gem is held by a band of metal soldered within a stout ring of the same, and from the extremity of each springs a little metal stem and calyx(65) holding a fine oriental pearl, pinned through on to it. The workmanship may be called rough, but is highly decorative, and implies for the whole écrin a splendour of effect which is not easily re-created even by an instructed imagination.

Nail Relic

Among the treasures gathered together by Charlemagne and deposited by him at Aix-la-Chapelle were the following- famous relics: part of the Crown of Thorns (including eight thorns), one holy nail, one piece of the cross, the sudarium of Christ, the swaddling clothes of Christ, the Virgin's shift, and the arm of St. Simeon. Charles the Bald is related, in the Descriptio above cited, to have given the first three and 'alia quoque multa' to St.-Denis. The sudarium was deposited at Compiègne. The gift of the nail and crown was recorded on his tomb. Holy nails are not uncommon relics, but whereas there should not be more than four of them at most, upwards of thirty are still preserved at Monza, Rome, Venice, Nuremberg Prague, and so forth. They may have been multiplied, like the key relics of St. Peter's chains, by being copied out of ordinary iron with a little fragment of some master-relic welded into them. (66) Constantine was said to have had two of the true nails. It was related that one of them was wrought into the bit for his horse and the other affixed to his helmet. Both Carpentras and Milan claim to possess the former, while the latter is said to exist within the splendid crown at Monza. Millet states that Charlemagne obtained his nail as a gift from Constantine V. At St.-Denis it had a chequered history. (67) What the original case that contained it was like is not recorded, but it may have been of the form of the beautiful tenth- century nail-reliquary still preserved in the cathedral at Trèves. It was at any rate small, for Charles VI (C. 1397) gave a bigger reliquary in which, on a silver-gilt base, were gold figures of Charlemagne and St. Louis holding the old reliquary, whilst other gold figures kneeling represented himself, his queen, and his eldest son. This, however, did not survive the troublous times, so that in 1642 a new one was made, and this it is that Félibien's print depicts. He likewise tells a capital story about how, in the year 1233, one day when relics were being venerated by the populace and the nail was held out to a poor woman to be kissed, it fell into her lap, and she went off with it, feeling something heavy and hoping it was gold. She hurried home and found only a bit of iron to which she attached no consequence. Meanwhile the loss of the nail had been obserxred. the abbey doors were locked too late and every one was searched, of course with no result. How the relic was recovered is too long a tale to set down here and must be sought in the pages of Félibien.

Cross of Charlemagne

The third important treasure at St.-Denis which belonged to Charlemagne was a famous cross, said to have come out of the emperor's private chapel. There can be no doubt that it was the work of his day or even before, so that the tradition that assigns it to him is quite credible. It was one of the gifts of Charles the Bald. This is not the cross of St. Eloy above referred to and so carefully depicted over the High altar in the painting of the Mass of St. Giles. The inventory of 1534 minutely describes the cross of Charlemagne, and Félibien likewise gives an engraving of it. (68) The inventory of 1505 is very vague about it, but implies that then it was in the Treasury. The manuscript inventory of 1634 is full of detail, and De Linas carefully studied it. Doublet describes it as adorned in the middle by a very fine oriental amethyst hollowed out within like a cup, and enriched with emeralds, sapphires, garnets, and pearls, containing also many holy relics. He also states that Charles the Bald had it set up between his tomb and the Matutinal altar, and that in the midst of it was fastened one of the bracelets of Queen Nanthilde, but here he is only citing the statement of Suger himself. (69) The inventories inform us that this cross was 2 1/2 ft. high, and the arms 2 1/4 ft. in span, and they highly prize the amethyst, which is plainly seen as a large one in Félibien's engraving. De Linas cleverly shows that the ground of Charlemagne's cross was covered with green pastes and garnets set within circular metal cloisons, the green pastes being circular and the garnets filling up the interstices between the circles. This appears to conform closely with what we see as the ground of the cross of St. Eloy. We must therefore conclude that the crosses of Charlemagne and St. Eloy were work of the same school and perhaps even of about the same date.

Cross of Saint Lawrence

Charles the Bald was said to have given another gold cross which Félibien caused to be engraved. (70) The arrangement of the jewels on this cross resembles that on Charlemagne's, but its four ends break out into large fleurs-de-lis, and the whole has a less convincingly early aspect. It was called the Cross of St. Laurence, because the substance of it was made of two bars of the gridiron of his martyrdom. At a late date it was changed into a processional cross by the addition of a socket of silver-gilt to fit it to a staff. It was decorated with cabochon sapphires, garnets (some hollowed out, others pointed), pearls, and enamels. The presence of enamels shows that this cross can scarcely date from the time of Charles the Bald.

Sword of Charlemagne

The monks of St.-Denis believed themselves to possess the royal insignia of Charlemagne, including a crown, sword, spurs, hand of justice, and scepter. Modern critics have decided that all of these objects are of later date, but I am inclined to doubt the attribution of part at any rate of the sword to as late a date as the twelfth century (pl.V, fig. I). Doubtless it has been subjected in the process of time to many restorations and repairs. The blade may be, as is claimed, medieval, and the grip modern, but the pommel finds no corresponding neighbors so far as I can discover amongst objects of the twelfth century. It was therefore with no little pleasure that I met with a different interpretation of it given by Monsieur Dieulafoy in his L'Art antique de la Perse (vol. v, p. 164). He calls attention to the pair of attached wings and the ornament rising above them, and points out how they reproduce in their form, their disposition, their style, and their most minute details the emblematic wings which surmount the tiara of the latest Sassanian kings. The central ornament is a mixed solar and lunar emblem. 'La broderie, les entrelacs formés par les oiseaux, la forme, et surtout la disposition si particulière des ailes, et l'aspect de la garde elle-même, accusent une filiation perse sassanide incontestable.' He does not think the actual workmanship oriental, but holds that it was done in the West by some Western craftsman imitating a Sassanian original of about A.D. 640. With the pommel go necessarily the quillons, so that, if M. Dieulafoy is right, the sword in its original condition may have been made for or belonged to Charlemagne, and may be the sword named 'Joyeuse',(71) as was reputed at St.-Denis. It should be added that the grip of the hilt was remade for the coronation of Napoleon, and the blade is asserted to be of the same modern date. A drawing in the Gagnière Collection shows the whole in its original state. The blue velvet and fleurs-de-lis were added to the scabbard in 1824 for Charles X's coronation. The reset gems may have belonged to the original. The inventory of 1505 includes three other swords. (72 Of these, one was said to have been carried by St. Louis on his first Crusade; another belonged to Charles VII; the third had the name of Archbishop Turpin attached to it. None of them exists at the present day; neither does the sword of Jeanne d'Arc, which Doublet (p. 347) and Millet (p. 134) mention.

Other Objects

The remaining objects at St.-Denis traditionally associated with Charlemagne were all of later date. They included a set of ivory chessmen and chessboard, a crown, spurs, hand of justice, and scepter. We shall deal with them later. It was not Charlemagne himself but his grandson, Charles the Bald, who presented to St.-Denis the various treasures which may have belonged to the great Emperor. He also gave the bowl of Chosroes, the 'Coupe des Ptolémées ', and a so-called unicorn's horn. The tusk of the male narwhal whale, or seaunicorn, generally figured among medieval relics as a unicorn's. Such tusks may be from 6 ft. to 10 ft. in length. The fabulous unicorn, however, was believed to be a native of India. It was depicted with the body of a horse, the tail of a lion, and a long straight horn growing out of the middle of the forehead. It was employed as an emblem of chastity. The belief in the efficacy of these tusks as an antidote to poison lingered on into the seventeenth century, when one of them, brought home from Spitzbergen in 1615, was sent out to India with the merchant fleet next year and offered for sale at a high price to Shah Jehan and others. But the scientific spirit was already abroad and they would not purchase it, because it failed to save the life of a poor fellow who was poisoned for the experiment! The St.-Denis tusk was 6 ft, 7 in. long, and was fabled to have been sent to Charlemagne by 'Aaron, King of Persia', about the year 807. We have seen above how it was fixed over the Matutinal altar in the time of Suger.(73) Doublet states that in his day it was in the Chapel of St. Louis. He writes a whole chapter (xliii) to disprove the statement of some skeptics that no such beast as a unicorn exists. It is full of entertainment. Incidentally he gives a list of unicorn relics known to him. St.-Denis likewise possessed some elephants' teeth, the claw of a griffin, and other curiosities, regarded as semi-relics.

Charles the Bald was also said to have given a copper-gilt lantern set with thirty-five crystals, which disappeared between 1505 and 1739. (74) In 1505 it is simply called a lantern. Doublet says it belonged to Malchus, that it was of a very old-fashioned type, and that the light shone dimly through the crystals. He observes that it shows the mark of St. Peter's sword, Malchus having held up the lantern to defend himself, but the sword glanced off one of the crystals and took away his ear. Both he and Millet say it was called the lantern of Judas. At the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford is a bronze lantern of about the twelfth century, set with twenty-five crystals, which may give some idea of what the other was like.

We cannot delay over most of Charles the Bald's other recorded gifts-his crown, the rich altar- tables, the horn of Roland, a great vase of amber, a large silver bowl plated with gold, seven silver lamps (to burn in memory of certain relations and friends), and seven great silver candelabra- because nothing of special interest is recorded about them and they have utterly vanished. Many of them may have been of later date.(75)

Golden Altar Frontal

One great treasure, however, the great golden altar-frontal-unquestionably, I think, given to St.- Denis by Charles the Bald, and utterly destroyed in the Revolution-is, in part at any rate, depicted with care in the painting of the Mass of St. Giles where it is seen as a retable above the Maitre Autel (pl. XI). The small scale of the picture made it impossible to depict every stone, so that the artist w as constrained to some simplification of the great masses of jewels with which the gold plaques were set, and of which we can read the tale, stone by stone, in the inventory of 1634, or in Doublet's pages. (76) The means thus placed at our disposal enable us to reconstitute the frontal with tolerable accuracy and even to feel something of its splendour and beauty. When it was made it was by no means a unique gift to a church which a powerful king or wealthy bishop delighted to honour. The ninth-century gold altar-casing in the Cathedral at St. Ambrose at Milan is the only surviving contemporary example of this kind of work, but in the great days of Orfévrerie Europe had many such to show. In the nature of things few of them could survive; still it is rather tantalizing to remember that the grandfathers of plenty of people still living might have beheld this frontal of Charles the Bald, and yet that the only representation of it has to be sought in the background of a small painting of the fifteenth century. I have seen it stated that the frontal was originally a triptych, and that it was made into the form in which we see it by Suger. Such was not the case. Suger left it in the main as he found it. Some repair or addition may have been made to the original frame, but nothing more. It is likewise wrongly stated that Suger made a retable of it. This was not so. He continued to use it as a frontal, and added three other sides. (77)

In 1505 it was used as a retable, and so it appears in the picture of the Mass of St. Giles, to which we must now refer. We see that the face of it was an expanse of gold embossed with designs and figures, and richly set with gems The main division is into three panels side by side, each surmounted by a round arch supported on pilasters. There are wonderful masses of jewels in the spandrels. Five-sixths of the central panel are visible and about two-thirds of the left, whilst only the top of the right appears above the head of the officiating priest.

The central panel contains a figure of Christ enthroned, surrounded by a mandorla of a figure-of- eight shape, the upper lobe being much larger than the lower. A similar mandorla is found on a fine ivory, once in the Odiot Collection and now in the Berlin Museum., which presents other features of agreement with our altar-piece, so that there is no doubt but that both came from the same school and were of about the same date. The ivory (Goldschmidt, no. 23) is assigned to the so-called Ada Group; that is to say, it belongs to the group of ivories that resemble a number of manuscripts made for Carlovinogian emperors in some workshop maintained by them. (78) The Christ of the Berlin ivory is beardless, and is blessing after the Greek manner, a sufficient indication of where the influence came from that affected the carver. In the vacant space by either shoulder is a six- winged seraph, and the like is seen on the altar-piece outside the closer fitting mandorla. The central gold-repoussé panel of the binding of St. Emmeran's Gospels at Munich shows (Christ in a similar mandorla surrounded by eight-rayed stars. The repoussé plates in question probably belonged to the original binding of the manuscript when it was given by Charles the Bald in the first instance to St.-Denis, and they may even have been wrought at St.-Denis. The binding was redecorated at Ratisbon after Emperor Arnould had taken it away from St.-Denis and presented it to St. Emmeran's Abbey. (79) A comparison should also be made with the central panel of the frontal of the golden altar in the church of St. Ambrose at Milan.

The painting shows a rich setting of jewels, but it is only when we read the detailed description of the inventory that we realize the wealth of jewels actually employed, far more numerous than the painter could possibly reproduce on the scale of his work. Even at the risk of some prolixity it may be well to set down what is related about a small portion of the work. The cross in the hand of Christ was set with garnets, plasmas, amethysts, and pearls and with a fine aquamarine like an eye. There were twenty-eight garnets in the nimbus as well as three large sapphires, four plasmas, and sixteen very fine pearls; also on the cross of the nimbus were eight garnets, two plasmas, and two knobs set with garnets, also eighteen more pearls. The border of the robe was garnished with twenty-two garnets, thirteen plasmas, and thirteen pearls. The edge of the throne had twelve garnets, seventeen sapphires, nine plasmas, and twenty-nine pearls. On the binding of the book held in the left hand was a great jewel called a 'strin' surrounded by twenty-four pearls, with four sapphires at the corners, four plasmas, two garnets, and the edges set with garnets. On the background around the figure were seven heart-shaped settings of garnets with two larger ones artfully shaped, also twelve crosslets of garnets with a pearl to each, and chalcedonies at each side of the hands. There were likewise an alpha and an omega, each of six plasmas, six garnets, and six pearls. The footstool contained one great and four smaller garnets, two sapphires, eighteen plasmas, and fifteen pearls. The mandorla held two hundred and three pearls, thirteen plasmas, and at the top of it a big hollowed aquamarine and a fine sapphire. Over this was a tablet with a similar aquamarine, surrounded by twenty-two large, rough pearls, sapphires in the four corners, seven plasmas, four garnets, and a fine engraved chrysolite gem, and so forth. It is hardly necessary to continue the enumeration, which, for the whole altar-piece, fills twenty-seven folio pages in the manuscript inventory.

The two side panels resembled one another. The lower part was filled by an arcade of three round arches with a saint holding a book in his left hand under each. They had jeweled nimbi and there was a jeweled star over the head of each. There were also twenty-four jeweled crosslets on the background around them (a Carlovingian feature which can be paralleled from the ivory). Above these arches were two angels and between them a pendent crown adorned with three rows of pearls. The jeweled chains from which the crowns seemed to hang, like the crowns of Guarrazar, were held by a hand under the top of the great encompassing arch, and of course these great arches and the pilasters below them were likewise a mass of jewels. Enough has perhaps been said to give the reader some notion of the matchless splendour of this wonderful work, which the French Revolutionists broke up into its component parts of stones and gold. (80)

We shall probably never know the name of the artist who presided over the making of this wonderful work, but the question as to where it was made may not remain unanswerable. It was perhaps in the abbey of St. Denis itself. Labarte (p. 368) points out that a school of goldsmiths of high repute existed in Carlovingian days within the abbey. A letter of Abbot Loup de Ferriéres of the first half of the ninth century expresses his gratitude for the admission to this school of two of his young monks. Carlovingian goldsmiths, in fact, rivaled their contemporaries at Constantinople, so that the Patriarch of Grado, for instance, obtained precious pieces of work for his church both from the Eastern capital and from Carlovingian workshops.

Cameo of Augustus

A charming fragment of jewelry (81) in the Cabinet des Medailles (no. 234) was taken off the reliquary of the head of Saint-Hilaire, made in 1606, where it was fastened below the neck in the middle of the orphrey of the collar of the cope. Of course it came from some much earlier work, the nature of which is not recorded. It consists of a beautifully carved sardonyx cameo of Augustus, of the best Roman days, set in a wreath of jewels, simply but most effectively held together (pl. XII, fig. I). The six large stones, rubies alternating with sapphires, are separated by little groups of irregularly shaped pearls, three in each group. The great stones are held by claws. Few pieces of ancient jewelry exceed this fragment in simple but very subtle charm. Every time I see it in the Cabinet des Médailles it seems to me more beautiful than before. The setting has been so much tampered with that it is difficult to date it. It may be as late as the thirteenth century.

Crystal Ewer

The tenth century is the approximate date of a fine crystal ewer (82) preserved in the Louvre among the treasures of Mussulman art to which it properly belongs (pl. XIII, fig. 2). Charles the Bald is said to have given it to St.-Denis, but it can scarcely have existed in his day. In the British Museum is a crystal reliquary said to have belonged to harles the Bald, but that is absolutely plain work which might have been produced in the ninth century when Egyptian and Syrian craftsmen were perhaps just beginning to tackle the difficult problem of crystal carving. The .St.- Denis ewer is the work of a practiced workman of Fatimite days, living probably in Cairo not earlier than the tenth century, nor much later It retains its g-old lid and the chain attaching it to the handle. It is cut, handle and all, out of a single block of crystal. Three crystal ewers of this type and date are known. The second is in the Treasury of St. Mark at Venice; the third in the Victoria and Albert Museum. At Berlin is the cast of another which vas once at Cologne but is now lost. The date of all these ewers is about the tenth century and they came from one centre. The Venice example is securely dated between the years 975 and 996. Its handle is surmounted by the figure of a recumbent ibex; another such ibex has been partly broken off both from the Louvre and the London specimens. The Arabic inscription, which Millet noticed on the St.-Denis ewer, means ' Peace and content to the donor'. Parroquets and foliation have been laboriously carved with the wheel on the body of the jug in relief. No European artist could have made anything like it at the time or for some centuries after.


The Louvre (83) possesses a magnificent gold Boite d'evangeliaire (pl. XIV), which was in the Treasury of St.-Denis in Doublet's time, who thus (p. 346) describes it: 'Un riche livre en parchemin, couvert d'or à petits rameaux d'or à filets torts, avec plusieurs beaux esmaux d'applique, et images d'argent doré bien industrieusement enlevées de demie bosse, entaillees dedans ledit esmail dapplique. Ce livre enrichy de presmes d'esmeraudes, de saphirs, amatistes, grenats, cassidoines, agathes, aulnisses, et quantité de perles d'Escosse et d'Orient.' The centre of the front is occupied by a repoussé group of the Crucifixion surmounted by a round arch. The sides and spandrils of this arch are later restorations and include some of the Palermo enamel buttons, the like of which are on the sardonyx vase. In the corners of the cover are four splendid translucent enamels of the emblems of the Evangelists. The rest of the area is covered with filigree, jewels, and eight pieces of enamel set like jewels but evidently not made for their present positions. This binding is usually described as French, but merely because no one knows where it was made. Other enamels of the same character as those on this book-cover are the following:

A book-cover in the treasury of Milan Cathedral.
A book-cover in the library at Munich (Cim. 57).
The cross of Velletri.
Enamels on the St. Andrew reliquary at Treves.
The Soltykoff cross in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
A Portatile at Conques (eleventh century).

All these works are of late tenth- or early eleventh-century date. It is claimed that the enamels that adorn them were made in Lorraine, in Burgundy, in Italy, in France, as the case may be. The enamels are all similar, and, except for their subjects, resemble Byzantine work. The only possible conclusion seems to be that they were all made by itinerant Byzantine craftsmen, who had come West and were working for Western patrons and carrying out Western designs. There is no indication of the existence at this time of any settled atelier in western Europe where work of this kind was produced. It appears here and there sporadically, and was produced not at one centre but by one group of craftsmen, wherever any of them happened to be employed. (84)

Treasures of Suger

After Charles the Bald we have to wait a long time, till well into the twelfth century, before we hear of another royal donor of works of art to the abbey, and then the pair of gold candlesticks presented by Louis VI were so small a matter compared with the immense gifts of the great Suger, who in fact had them made respectable according to his ideas by the addition of jewels to them, that we need not delay over them but can turn at once to the work of the great Abbot-Minister himself. He was elected Abbot of St.-Denis in 1122, and retained that office till his death in 1151, that is to say during the reigns of his masters Louis VI and Louis VII. With his great works as a builder we are not now concerned, nor with his influence on the artists of his day in the matter of the subjects treated by them, an influence recently emphasized by Professor E. M&acurc;le in a valuable article in the Revue de l'Art.(85). What concerns us here is merely the group of works in the precious metals which Suger caused to be made and which he presented to St.-Denis. Fortunately he himself wrote an account of his doings to which we have already more than once referred, so that the authenticity of what comes down from him admits of no question. (86)

He relates that, when his rebuilding operations were completed, he took in hand the provision of ornaments for the church. He provided the new and splendid shrine for St. Denis in the chevet; he marked the saint's old resting-place by erecting a high cross over the entrance to the crypt; he added gold sides and back to the High altar-frontal of Charles the Bald; he had Louis VI's candelabra set with gems. Then he took the Matutinal altar in hand. He restored its porphyry table set with relics and jewels and equipped it with a cross ciborium, etc. He remade Charles the Bald's seven silver lamps to hang before it, and he likewise remade his seven silver candelabra. He set up the cross of Charlemagne near by. He remade the choir-stalls and restored the pulpitum the eagle lectern, and Dagobert's throne. He filled the windows with stained glass, much of which was soon copied at Chartres and elsewhere. Finally he presented for use in the church a series of magnificent vases to which we must presently refer in detail.

Cross of Suger

Much of the above work has already received our attention, but a word must be said about the great cross which Suger set up over the entrance to the crypt. This has recently been made the subject of careful study by Prof. E. Mâle in the article in the Revue de l'Art (87) to which reference has already been made, and the reader is referred to it for much interesting detail. This cross on its pillar was about seven metres in height. The cross was covered with gold; the crucifix fastened to it was of gold, and the wounds were rubies. The pillar was square and covered on its four sides with enameled copper plates, seventeen enamels on each face, viz. eight pairs of types and antitypes and one larger subject. These enamels and the other parts of the work were made by Godefroy de Claire of Huy in the Lower Lorraine of those days, and his assistants, in all sometimes five sometimes seven in number. It occupied them for two years, and was finished in the year 1147. At the base of the pillar were seated figures in the round of the four Evangelists writing, with their emblems behind them, whilst at the top of it, on the faces of the square capital, were four half- length figures of the elements. We cannot now behold any part of the original work, but there fortunately exists an interesting replica of the base and capital in the form of the foot of a cross now in St. Omer Museum, which probably belonged to the abbey of St.-Bertin (pl.VII, fig. 2). This small reproduction, 30 cm. in height, was itself likewise made in the workshop of Godefroy de Claire. Its column, however, is short, and only contains one enamel subject on each face. Suger's cross was destroyed in the religious troubles of the sixteenth century.

Other crosses given by Suger

This great cross of Suger was not the only one given by him to St.-Denis. Doublet mentions two others, of which note must be taken, though nothing of either survives. The first (p. 286) was erected on the choir-screen between figures of the Virgin and St. John. This was of wood. It was the great Rood of the Church. The second (p. 288) is more puzzling, because Doublet says that it stood in his day over the High altar, and that it was of g-old and was the cross to which Suger's gold crucifix was attached, so that he seems to imply that it was a part of the great cross made by Godefroy de Claire. Millet (p. 40) again had the same idea. He says that in his day Suger's cross 'est élevée sur le grand autel, au dessus de la table d'or', etc. But he was not quite satisfied about it, for he continues, this cross, 'although very beautiful and all sown with jewels, is nevertheless much diminished from its ancient splendour, and it seems that what one beholds now is only the back of this cross and that the gold crucifix was on the other face, which crucifix, notwithstanding the anathemas of Pope Eugenius, was not spared during the troubles of the league' and so forth-a clear reference therefore to a survival of part at any rate of Suger's great cross. The inventory of 1739 (no. 101) is more particular, and states that this gold cross, placed above the retable of the High altar, was about 6 ft. high, and was adorned with many sapphires, jacinths, and garnets; further that it stood on a foot of gilt-bronze adorned with grapes and ears of corn, from which protruded a kind of cross with leaves from which the ciborium depended. Inscriptions on this cross stated that it was given by Suger. This reference, however, to the suspended ciborium sets us on what is probably the right track.

Suger did in fact set up yet another cross behind the Matutinal altar, of which the inventory of 1505 (no. 162) (88) gives us a detailed, if rather puzzling, description. It was a wooden cross covered with thin gold and standing on a pommel of gilt copper. It had a 'baston' of gilt copper and was adorned with jewels. It stood on a square column and included some figures and so forth. Nothing is said about the attachment of a crucifix to it. Surely this must have been the cross that was set over the new High altar in 1610 when the Matutinal altar was moved from its original position and made up to serve for the High altar. Doublet and Millet were wrong in believing that the cross they described ever formed part of Suger's great cross, which was utterly destroyed at the time of the religious wars. This was one of Suger's crosses, but not the great one.

Additions to the Altar Frontal of Charles the Bald

The High altar possessed the rich gold frontal of Charles the Bald, but its two ends and back were not adorned. Many of the wealthy churches of Europe at this time could boast High altars completely enclosed in gold, like the famous altar still existing in Sant'Ambrogio at Milan. Suger, ambitious that St.-Denis should rival in magnificence even St. Sophia at Constantinople, was not likely to be satisfied with a mere frontal of gold. He accordingly, as has already been stated above, provided for it two ends and a back of similar magnificence, as he himself describes in the passage already quoted. The back did not survive the troubles of the fourteenth century, but, when the inventory of I505 was made, Charles the Bald's frontal was, as we have seen, still existing and used as a retable, while the two end panels of Suger's altar were now joined together and used as a frontal. If we could lift the brocaded frontal in the picture of the Mass of St. Giles we should see them, or at least the locked doors that enclosed them. (89) Each of these ends was covered with an embossed gold plate, evidently made to agree in design with the frontal of Charles the Bald. The design consisted of an arcade of three arches below and a circular medallion above each arch. The roundels contained the Annunciation, Visitation, and Nativity on one end and the Agnus Dei between two censing angels on the other. Under the arcades were the Virgin and Child and two prophets on one end and St. Denis and his two companions on the other with the figure of a king. The roundels and the arcades were set with jewels, and the whole was framed within a border of foliation, gems and enamel. What a pity that the fifteenth-century painter did not show us some of this.

Suger's Vessels

We thus come in due sequence to the precious vessels given by Suger to St.-Denis, whereof a certain number still exist. They include two important chalices with patens, St. Eloy's gondola, Queen Eleanor's vase, an agate ewer, some crystal vessels, and the porphyry vase mounted as an eagle. We have already discussed St. Eloy's gondola and need not return to it. Two beautiful bottles, one of crystal, the other of beryl, are engraved by Felibien (F., ii L), but are not known to exist. (Editor's note-Click here for images-JV)Perhaps they were among the objects not described in detail acquired by Suger from Thibaud, Count of Blois, which he had obtained from Roger, King of Sicily. The beryl vase was faceted all over into a multitude of sharp points, while the other had a design cut on the surface after the manner of the Fatimite crystal vases described above. A 'tasse de voirre cristallin, faict par dehors à poinctes', No. 77 in the inventory of 1505, is stated in the inventory of 1634 (f. I75r) to have been broken to pieces by ' Queen Mary of England' (i. e. Henrietta Maria) when she was visiting the Treasury, but the pieces were saved. (90)

Vase of Eleanor of Aquitaine

Queen Eleanor's vase and the agate ewer both exist in tolerable preservation in the Louvre. Queen Eleanor's vase,(91) the wedding present she gave to her first husband, Louis VII (it will be remembered that she afterwards married Henry II of England), is a very beautiful and unusual- looking object (pl. XV, fig. 2). Her grandfather had received the crystal bowl from one Mitadolus, who may have been an emir of Spain. It is pitted all over with little hollows, like the surface of hone) comb. It may be antique or it may be Fatimite work of the tenth or eleventh century. In any case it was Suger who had it so finely mounted and caused it to be thus inscribed:

Hoc vas sponsa dedit Anor Regi Ludovico,
Mitadolus avo, mihi Rex, Sanctisque Sugerus.

When engraved by Félibien it still retained its cover. Some details, no longer existing, can be supplied from the inventories, which state that the setting is of gold, jewels, and pearls, and specially mention two red jaspers 'on one of which is engraved an idol, and on the other the head of a man'. These were doubtless antique gems. The blue enamel medallions with fleurs-de-lis are a late substitute for some lost jewels.

Suger's Ewer

Suger's ewer (pl. XIII, fig. 1), which is in the Louvre, was for holding the sacramental wine.(92) It consists of an antique sardonyx jug and handle cut out of one piece of stone and mounted for Suger. A rather similar, but unmounted antique jug, called the Vase of Mithridates, is likewise in the Louvre, and there are others in the Venice treasury and elsewhere. The date of all of them is uncertain. Such precious vessels were made from Hellenistic times down, and continued to be made in Sassanian Persia and in Constantinople, but few of them have any feature that can give a chronological clue. The setting of Suger's ewer has an oriental aspect. It is of silver-gilt. As Suger had the following couplet inscribed upon it:

Dum libare Deo gemmis debemus et auro,

there can be little doubt that the mounting was actually done at St.-Denis.

Chalice of Suger

The chalice of Suger (pl. XVI, fig. I) is one of the tantalizing treasures which survived the perils of the Revolution only to fall a victim to robbers in 1804. Marion de Mersan (93) states that it and two other objects of value were smuggled over to England within a plaster bust of the Laocoon and sold to Mr. Townley, who is supposed to have bequeathed it or them to the British Museum. Unfortunately the story seems to be untrue, and the objects in question have vanished. By great good luck, however, Suger's chalice attracted the attention of that remarkable antiquary Peiresc of Aix-en-Provence. He had a careful coloured drawing (pl. XVI, fig. I) made of it in I633, which still exists in the Cabinet des Estampes and has been reproduced in facsimile in Monsieur Guibert's book. (94) Félibien, as above noted, made the mistake of associating with this chalice the early Byzantine paten already described. Suger was delighted with this cup and has left a description of it: he says that it was made of the same material as his ewer: 'Comparavimus etiam praefati altaris officiis sardio et onice, quo uno usque adeo sardii rubor a nigredine onichini proprietatem variando discriminat, ut altera in alteram proprietatem usurpare inniti aestimetur. (95) The agate cup was evidently made of a beautiful stone. It was fluted externally. The lip was framed in a broad silver- gilt rim carrying twelve large stones separated from one another by pairs of pearls in a manner characteristic of all the settings made for Suger. The cup stood on a massive silver-gilt knob supported by a wide spreading base. Knob and lip were held together by two handles, round the outside of which pearls and jewels were set as in the case of several Byzantine chalices of about the same date preserved in the Treasury of St. Mark at Venice. Round the lowest part of the stem is a series of medallions, five in number, 'garnis de cinq demies images de demie bosse et entre iceux ronds six grenats (which the drawing omits), et au dessous desdits ronds ioignant cinq peridos' (D., p. 345).

Mounting for the Cup of Ptolemys

In order to give to the 'Coupe des Ptolémées' a form acceptable as a chalice Suger had a stem and base made for it. These were melted down by the thieves of 1804, but Felibien's engravings and an independent drawing preserve a record of its character. Their general effect is similar though they disagree in details. (96) The mounting was evidently similar in style to others made for the same abbot. The following dedication was inscribed on the base:

Hoc vas Christe tibi . . . mente dicavit
Tertius in Francos . . . regmine Karlus.

Chalice, paten, and burettes

The chalice, paten, and burettes which were said to have belonged to St. Denis himself have all disappeared, but Peiresc obtained a good coloured drawing of the chalice (pl. XVI, fig. 3), which Monsieur Guibert has reproduced. (97) The chalice itself was sold by auction in Messidor of the year VI and has not since been heard of. It is hardly likely that the crystal bowl and knob have ceased to exist. The former was evidently of Fatimite workmanship of the tenth or eleventh century. It was adorned with foliation cut no doubt with the wheel. The silver-gilt setting is clearly of about the twelfth century and made in western Europe, but not by the St.-Denis artists. Broad bands of decorated silver set with gems form both the lip and the base of the actual bowl, and these are united by four narrow bands of metal, apparently plain, and firmly attached to them, but not hinged at the ends, as was the Byzantine fashion. The two handles are similarly attached above and below. The decoration seems to have been more delicate than that done by St.-Denis workmen. Some cut stones are employed as well as numerous cabochons of various colours.

The Louvre possesses another crystal chalice, with a stem and foot of the same substance, preserved among the treasures of Mussulman art. The foot has, carved on its surface, a series of bouquetins evidently of Fatimite workmanship, whilst a simple arabesque design of curved lines covering the bowl need not necessarily have been engraved in the East. Monsieur Migeon (98) attributes the foot to the tenth century, and the cup and mount uniting them to an unestimated later date. He also says that this chalice belonged to St.-Denis, but as he appears to have confused it with Queen Eleanor's vase this statement may be an error. I cannot elsewhere find any record of this chalice among St.-Denis treasures.

Reference has already been made to the porphyry vase mounted in silver-gilt as an eagle (pl. XVI I, fig. 2).(99) The mount is a work of genius and speaks for itself. It bears an inscription in raised letters round the neck of the vase:

Includi gemmis lapis iste meretur et auro;
Marmor erat, sed in his marmore carior est.

The supports on which it stands are formed by the tail and two feet of the bird, each of the latter grasping a round-topped lump. Similar supports of birds' feet and tails are depicted, as Monsieur Guibert has pointed out, (100) beneath another object depicted in a coloured drawing in the Peiresc collection (pl. IX, fig. 2) where Suger's eagle also finds place. It is impossible not to conclude that both mounts were made by Suger's goldsmiths. This lost object seems to have been an antique vase cut out of agate or some other precious substance. It is rather low and wide in form, having a bird's head at each end, one with a ring in its beak, and with a lion's head carved in relief on the middle of one side. Peiresc's artist, Daniel Rabel, must have come across it somewhere and drawn it for his employer, but no record of it has been found. Even if it was not the property of St.-Denis it was probably mounted in the abbey workshop in Suger s time.

Agate Phial

The invaluable Peiresc (101) has likewise preserved for us the likeness of yet another beautiful little object which passed from centuries of repose in the Treasury of St.-Denis to the fatal auction of 'Messidor an VI', and has not since been recorded, though it also can scarcely have passed out of existence. It is a slender agate phial, to which has been added a delicate rim and a gracefully proportioned foot, both in silver-gilt and set with little stones. The setting is not in the style of Suger's goldsmiths, but appears to be of thirteenth-century date, so far as the drawing enables the formation of an opinion (pl. XVI, fig. 2).

The Regalia


The ceremony of the coronation of the kings of France took place at Reims; the custody of the coronation insignia belonged to the abbey of St.-Denis and was a privilege Jealously prized. (103) These included the crown, scepter, hand of Justice, sword, spurs, camisole, mantle and clasp, tunic, dalmatic, and shoes. Of course this privilege was a custom of slow growth. It seems to have begun with the deposit of the crown only. The oldest crown that the abbey claimed to possess was Charlemagne's, which is described as a closed imperial crown. This, of course, Was merely a legendary attribution. A considerable number of early crowns still exist, most of them belonging to the wonderful find of Visigothic crowns at Guarrazar, one being at Madrid and the others in the Cluny Museum. These crowns had evidently been dedicated in a church. If some of them were merely votive crowns, others appear to have been made for use; but all alike w ere adapted for suspension over altars. Monza still retains the crown given by Theodelinde, whilst the crown of Agilulf was only melted down in 1804 and We possess an engraving of it. There is also the ninth- century so-called Iron crown at Monza, which may give us some idea of what Charlemagne's crown may haxe been like. The Iron crown probably belonged to Berengar and was made to be worn. It consists of six curved gold plates hinged together, and the only use of the hinging must have been to enable the circlet to fit a human head. The iron ring is,I think, obviously an addition, made to hold the plates rigidly in a circular form when the crown was dedicated to be hung over an altar and no longer needed to be flexible. The gold crown, in fact, was the original thing and the iron ring was a purely- subordinate feature added later for practical purposes. It was only afterwards that the idea occurred to some genius, who observed the iron ring and not the necessity for it, that the gold and jeweled crown was a mere decoration and setting for the iron ring, which therefore he concluded must have been an exceedingly precious relic, ergo one of the crucifixion nails. A little consideration will show that if the iron ring had been the original feature, no one would have made a decoration for it out of hinged plates, for the hinges would have been both a useless and even a troublesome feature. Nothing, in fact, is less like a decorative addition to a ring of iron than these gold and jewelled plates, which obviously were intended for no such purpose. The iron ring exists to support them, not they to decorate it.

The 'Escrin de Charlemagne' shows a number of jeweled representations of pendant crowns as one of its decorative features. Other pendant crowns are shown on the altar-frontal of Charles the Bald, and they are a very common contemporary decorative feature in Carlovingian and earlier manuscript illustrations and other works of art. From these and many other statements derived from ancient documents we can conclude that the dedication of royal crowns in churches w as customary from a very early time, and as St.-Denis was closely connected with the kings of France from the time of Dagobert onward, it is not surprising that the abbey should have received the custody of the crowns of many kings till the custom grew to be a right.

The golden tenth-century statue of St. Foy at Conques wears a fine jeweled crown divided into many segments and obviously representing a hinged band. It is, moreover, closed above by four wide ribs with a fleur-de-lis between each pair; but we cannot safely argue from this that contemporary royal crowns in western Europe were of that form. In any case it differs widely from the St.-Denis crowns.

Four notable jeweled crowns of the eleventh century still exist; the imperial crown of Conrad II at Vienna, a crown of the Empress Gisela on the head of a Virgin at Essen, the Empress Kunigunde's crown at Munich, and a gold crown on the head of the Oswald reliquary at Hildesheim. The imperial crown of Conrad (later fabled to have been Charlemagne's) is arched over from front to back with a fine decorate(l piece which springs from a splendid vertical cross over the brow. The Wide circlet of the crown is of eight hinged plates. The Gisela crown is surmounted by four fleurs- de-lis, and the circlet is in one piece. The crown of St. Kunigunde is of four segments, which may once have been hinged but are now rigid. The crown of St. Oswald, which, like that of the Essen virgin, may have been made from the first to be used on the reliquary only, is likewise rigid, but the design of it naturally falls within eight segments. Thus in the eleventh century we meet with crowns approximating in form to those of St.-Denis. The crowns worn by the figures of kings on the twelfth century chasse of Charlemagne in the cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle closely resemble the Gisela crown at Essen, and their design shows memory of hinges, whilst the crown worn by the image of Charlemagne is closed above by four slender ribs surmounted by a little cross but no orb. r conclude therefore that the oldest of the St.-Denis crowns is not likely to have been made long, if at all, before the twelfth century. I have avoided adding the evidence of miniatures because we can seldom be sure whether a painter is recording fact or fancy.

Félibien states (p. 275) that, at least down to the fourteenth century, it remained the custom at St. Denis to suspend the crowns before the altar on solemn feast-days. It is curious that Suger makes no reference to this usage, but he may have taken it as a matter of course.(103) For each of the later kings of France two crowns were made, one of gold, the other of silver-gilt, but the usages connected with these do not fall within the scope of my present subject, nor do those connected with funeral crowns, of which St.-Denis seems to have received a considerable number.

For the reasons given above, and notwithstanding all traditions to the contrary, it is safe to assert that none of the seven crowns recorded in the inventory of 1505 as in the custody of the abbey (104) was of earlier date than the twelfth century, perhaps none earlier than the thirteenth. Only three of them were important; The fuller inventory of 1634 names them. They were the crown of Charlemagne (no. 1), the crown of St. Louis (no. 2), and La Sainte Couronne (no. 205). The first and second are summarily depicted in the engravings in Félibien, whilst the third appears on the head of the Emperor in the picture of the Mass of St.Giles. (105) This third crown, La Sainte Couronne, had ceased to exist before Doublet, Millet, and Félibien wrote, and before the inventory of I739, by all of whom the other two crowns are mentioned. Doublet, however, describes an important crown which at first sight does not seem to be mentioned in the early inventories. He says (p. 367):

This crown of Charles the Bald, therefore, was in existence when the inventory of 1505 was made, and like La Sainte Couronne had ceased to exist before Doublet wrote. It was obviously the most important crown in the custody of the abbey, and could not have been overlooked by the inventorists. It seems to follow that the crown called Charles the Bald's and La Sainte Couronne were one and the same. The following is the brief description of La Sainte Couronne from the inventory of 1505 (no. 205): 'Une couronne, nommée la sainte Couronne, à quatre fleurons, les deux couvers par derriere d'argent doré pour les renforcer, garnis sur le tour d'icelle, au milieu de devant, d'un gros ballay cabochon rond, perse au long, pesant deux cens quatre vingtz douze carratz, et soubz iceluy en son chaton ung sendal, et dedans le sendal des espines et dez cheveulz de Notre Seigneur.' The same is described at much greater length in the inventory of I 634.

It seems curious that Doublet should not mention the important relics of the hair of our Lord and the thorns of his crown included under the great gem in his crown of Charles the Bald, if that were identical with La Sainte Couronne; moreover, what makes matters worse is that he and all the later writers do mention these identical relics as included in the crown of St. Louis. One of two conclusions seems certain: either that both crowns contained similar relics, or that when La Sainte Couronne was destroyed the relics were saved and transferred to the crown of St. Louis. The inventory of I634 would no doubt tell us if both crowns contained similar relics, for it supplies a very minute description of all three, describing the crown of Charlemagne in I6 folio pages, the crown of St. Louis in I2, and La Sainte Couronne in II. Unfortunately when the,, manuscript was in my hands I did not know of this difficulty, and there being little time at my disposal, I did not make the necessary examination of this part of the text.

St. Louis, as is well known, became possessed of the relic called the Crown


1. Vide. p 111 below.

2. See the text in G. Rauschen, Legende Karls d. Gr., Leipzig, 1890, and Neue Untersuchunger über die Descriptio' etc., in Hist. Jahrb. der Görres-Gesellschaft, vol. w, M&uum;nchen, 1894, p. 257.

3. A vague and almost valueless account of some of the treasures is given by Thomas Platter the younger of Basle, who visited St.-Denis in 1599. It is included in his Description de Paris, printed in the Mémoires de la Société historiqu1 de Paris (vol. xxiii, 1896, p. 218).

1 F., p. 555. 2 D., p. 1240.

4. The following is the account of the incident taken out of Caxton's edition of the Golden Legend: ' King Charles heard speak of the renown of him (St. Giles) and implored him that he might see him. And he received him much honorably, and he prayed him to pray for him, among other things because he had done a sin so foul & villainous that he durst not be shriven thereof to him, nor to any other. And on the Sunday after, as Saint Giles said mass and prayed for the King, the Angel of our Lord appeared to him and laid upon the altar a cedule wherein the sin of the King was written by order, and that it was pardoned him by the prayers of Saint Giles, so that he were thereof repentant and abstained him from doing it any more.'

5. Article ' Autel', vol. ii, p. 26.

6. D., p. 24, A.

7. Platter, in 1599, says that the bronze tomb of Charles the Bald was in the middle of the choir those of Clodomir, Charles Martel, and a son of Dagobert were to the right, those of Hugues Capet and Othon to the left. These were of white marble. He noted eleven other royal tombs farther back.

8. M., p. 7I

9. D., pp. 245, 1247; F, p. 174.

10. More fully in the Inv. 1634, pp. 220-33.

11. F., p. 428.

12. F. 555.

13. D., p. 1240.

14. Inv. 1505, nos. 185, 186, where there is a mistake. St. Louis was not buried ' devant ' (where lay Charles the Bald) but ' derri`re ' the Matutinal altar.

15. D., p. 182.

16. D., p. 1196, 'Son corps gist sous le Maistre Autel, qui est dés lors du premier bastiment de l'eglise.'

l7. In this connexion a remark of Rohault de Fleury (La Messe, ii, p. 38) may be cited: ' Lorsqu'on renonca aux ciboria en France leur souvenir fut conservé par quatre colonnes placées aux angles de l'autel sans couronnement, mais reliées par des tringles pour les rideaux.'

18. It is evident that the bulk of this passage is copied from a much older inventory, the passage about the changes made in 1610 alone referring to later conditions. It will be observed that the passage in the 1505 inventory is an inaccurate abbreviation of the original as embodied in the inventory of 1634.

19. Félibien, p. 247. This was a way they had in thosr days. Our Henry V's body was likewise dismembered and boiled, and only the bones and, I believe, the heart brought to Westminster Abbey. So at least Félibien states.

20. F., p, 305. He gives the date 1393, but the MS. inventory says 1392.

21 Thus Inv. 1634, f. 260r, begins the paragraph corresponding to Item 193 in the printed Inv. 1505 thus: 'Soubs une voulte ayant entrée derrière ledict grant autel, ung crucifix,' etc. Inv. 1634 f. 261r (corresponding to Item 1952 Inv. 1505), says: ' Dessus la dicte voulte dessus le pavement devant l'autel des corps saints . . . au dessus de la porte de la dicte voulte un pilier,' etc., i. e. the great cross of Suger. Again, Inv. 1634, f. 267v, continues ' au dessus de la voulte devant declarée', the altar of St. Denis (which Inv. 1505 omits), so that the vault was under the altar of St. Denis and therefore under the chevet.

22. On the history of the burying-place of St. Denis, and on the chasse or tomb made for his bones by St. Eloy, see G. Bapst in Revue archéol., viii (1886), p.306.

23. Rigord, a monk of St.-Denis, in his biography of Philip Augustus, refers to the raising of the bones of St. Denis on the 9th of June, 1053 before which time they had lain ' reclusa in alia cryptula auro et gemmis extrinsecus decorata in qua duabus seris etiam Christi Domini clavus et corona simul asservabantur'. See Mabillon, Ann. ord. S. Bened., iv, Paris, 1707, p. 538.It has, however, been suspected that the above statement may be a later addition to support the authenticity of the Nail and Thorn relics.

24. Dict. de l'Architecture, T. ii, p. 25.

25. Arts industriels, T. i, p. 412 note

26. The full description is in Doublet, pp. 248, 289.

27. F., p. 447

28. 'Cendal ' was a silk fabric.

29. F., p. 335.

30. See plates in V.-le-Duc's Dict. du Mobilier, t. ii, p. 220.

31. See the Catalogue of Orfévrerie, etc., in the Galerie d'Apollon in the Louvre by Monsieur J. J. Marquet de Vasselot, no. 64.

32. F., pl. i R; D., p. 347; M., p. 112. F.'s engraving shows it upside down.

33. For a list of so-called Cana vases and remarks on them see F. de Mély in Monuments et Mémoiries (Piot), vol. x. The Reichenau vase is mentioned early in the tenth century, and is the first to be recorded. Many Cana vases were merely ' Vases de la Cene ', i. e. Byzantine chalices inscribed with the formula for the benediction of wine. According to the legend six vases were used for the miracle.

34. Inv. 1505, no. 221; Inv. 1634, f 320; Inv 1739, no 107; M., p. 64.

35. Thomas Platter records having seen at St.-Denis in 1599: 'une cuvette en jaspe dans laquelle le roi Dagobert se serait lave et qui sert maintenant pour l'eau bénite; sur les bords ont été sculptées des tetes de dieux paiens.' I can find no other mention of this vessel.

36. Inv. 1505 no. 69; Inv. 1636, f. 169r; Inv. 1739, no. 70; D., p. 342; M., p. 109; F., pl. iii F and pl. vi. E. Babelon, Cat. des Cameés, p. 201.

37. Suger, referring to Charles the Bald's tomb, writes: ' Karolus imperator tertius qui eidem altari subiacet gloriose sepultus ', loc. cit., p. 202.

38. Inv. 1505, no. 87; Inv. 1634, f. 176v; Inv. 1739, no. 92;F.,pl. ii Q; D.,p. 368.

39. At St. Denis it was also used daily by the celebrant at Mass at the High altar.

40. Inv. 1505,no. 76 ; Inv. 1634,f. 174r ;Inv. 1739, no 76 ; D , p. 342 ;M, p. 128 ; F, pl. iv M.

41. Inv. 1505, no. 202; Inv. 1739, no. 63; F., pl. iii z ; M., p. 99.

42. Inv. 1505, no. 53; Inv. 1634, f. 163v; D. p.346 ; M., p. 100.

43. E. Aus'm Weerth:Das Siegeskreuze, etc. Bonn, 1866, with coloured plate.

44. For which I have to thank Prof. R. S. Conway, of Manchester University.

45. Inv. 1505, no. 52; Inv. 1634, f. 163v. According to the latter the silver mountings were gilt.

46. Inv. 1505,no. 69; Inv. 1634, f. 169r;Inv. 1739, no. 57; F., pl. iii R.

47. The well-known gold plaque from Siberia, which is in the Hermitage and represents an eagle with displayed wings and raised tail, may have had rows of such stones along the tail where only the grooves and rings remain. It is attributed to about the third to fifth century A. D.-probably fifth.

48. I follow Riegl in attributing the finest work of this kind not to barbarian but to imperial artificers.

49. Inv. 1505,no.175;Inv. 1634,f. 23Iv;Inv 1739, no. 105.

50. Nema, p. 2; Akermann pl. 33, and V.C.H. Kent.

51. Baron de Baye, in Bull. Mon., 1907, who cites the examples that follow.

52. La Messe, iv, pl. 339, but this is not of barbarian make.

53. Inv. 1505,no. 189;Inv. 1634, f. 252r;Inv. 1739, no. 100. A long description is printed in Labarte, t. i, p. 247. The earliest mention of it is by the eighth- century author of the Gesta Dagoberti; cited by Labarte, who already records that St. Eloy was its maker, so that the attribution of it to him is much more than a mere tradition.

54. Possibly the silver border is the obviously Gothic addition seen in the picture.

55. Inv. 1505, no. 15: ' Une grant croix d'or garnie de plusieurs pierres et perles ', was the rather similar cross of Charlemagne. It was valued at 2,705 écus 8 sols, the cross of St. Eloy at 2,291 écus; so that the cross of Charlemagne was the more valuable of the two.

56. D.,pp. 288, 333;M., pp. 40, 71;F., p. 174..

57. Babelon's Cat. des Camées, no. 374. See De Linas, Saint Éloi, p. 60.

58. Inv. 1505, no. 74;Inv. 1634, f. 172v; Inv. 1739,no. 87 bis; F., p. 175 and pl. iv cc;D., p. 344;M., p. 131.

59. Inv. 1505, no. 22;Inv. 1634,f. l44V ;Inv. 1739, no. 21;F., pl. ii E ;D., pp. 172,335 ;M, p. 94.

60. Inv. 1505,no. 31 ;Inv. 1634, f. 150v ; Inv. 1739, no. 33 ; F., pl. ii R;D., pp. 173,348;M., p. 125.

61. They are generally assigned to the fifth century.

62. D., pp. 239,1202.

63. D.,p. 289; Viollet-le-Duc, Dict Arch. ii p. 23.

64. Inv. 1505,no. 4. ;Inv. 1634, f. 21 v; Inv. 1739, no. 67; D., p. 335; M., p 101; F, pl. ix c.

65. According to Molinier these pearl-settings point to the fourteenth- century restoration, when the box was added at the foot.

66. An admirable essay on nail relics is included in an article by C. de Linas in Le Bessroi; vol. iii (1866-70), p.32. It contains special reference to the St.-Denis nail.

67. Inv. 1505, nos. 21,203; Inv. 1631, ff. 143r, 291v ; Inv. 1739, no. 3 ;F., p.228, pl. iv D ;M., p. 86.

68. Inv . 1505, no, 15;Inv. 1634, f. 87r; Inv. 1739, no. 66 ; F, p. 174 and pl. iv B;D., pp. 245,335;M., p. 88; De Linas, St. Eloi, p. 67.

69. Loc. clt., p. 203: 'Crucem etiam mirabilem quantitatis suae, quae superposita est inter altare et tumulum eiusdem Karoli, in cuius medio fama retinuit confixum nobilissimum monile Nantildis reginae uxoris Dagoberti regis ecclesiae fundatoris, aliud vero in frontem saneti Dionysii (tamen huic minori nullum aequipollere peritissimi artifices testantur) erigi fecimus, maxime ob reverentiam sanctissimae boiae ferreae, quae, in carecre Glaucini sacratissimo collo beati Dionysii innexa, cultum et venerationem tam a nobis quam ab omnibus promeruit.'

70. Inv. 1505,no. 16.;Inv. 1634, f. 93v;Inv. 1739, no. 18; F., pl. ii B; D.,p. 335;M., p. 88.

71. Nos. 111, 112, 113, 114.

72. Inv. 1505, no. 111;Inv. 1739, 110. 80;D., pp. 347, 371;M., p. 126;F., pl. iv R; Galerie d'Apollon, Cat., no. 16.

73. Originally it was placed among the candles over the altar of the Trinity.

74. Inv. 1505,no. 209;D., pp. 320, 324; M., p. 134.

75. See D., p. 1258, for a list of Charles the Bald's reputed gifts to St.-Denis.

76. Inv. 1505,no. 188;Inv. 1634, f. 239r; Inv. 1739, no. 103; D., p. 330; Labarte} p. 369

77. Suger,loc. cit., p. 196: 'Principale igitur beati Dionysii altare, cui tantum anterior a Karolo Calvo imperatore tertio speciosa et preciosa habebatur, quis eidem ad monasticum propositum oblati fuimus, ornatum iri acceleravimus, et utrique lateri aureas apponendo tabulas, quartum etiam preciosiorem, ut totum circumquaque altare appareret aureum, attollendo circumcingi fecimus.' The frame or border containing enamel must have been added by Suger.

78. Another, somewhat later, ivory of the same school, which is in the Victoria and Albert Museum (Graeven, no. 63), has a similar type of mandorla with symbols of the Evangelists in the corners like the Berlin ivory. Christ in a similar mandorla with Evangelists' symbols in the angles occupies one of the four corners of a Carlovingian ivory belonging to a binding now in Cluny Museum (Michel, fig. 4 46). Here the ground of the mandorla is covered with six-rayed stars, much as the crosslets must have been dotted about on the retable.

79. See reproductions of the ivories and Munich binding with some notes on them by the present writer in the Burlington Magazine, March, 1915.

80. The golden altar-frontal in Cluny Museum, which the Emperor Heinrich II presented to Basle Cathedral, is a later development of the same arcaded type as the frontal of Charles the Bald.

81. Probably Inv. 1505, no. 34 ;Inv. 1614, f. 155v ; Inv. 1739, no. 17 ; D , p. 339 M p. 103; F pl. II A, pp. 430,538.

82. F., pl. iv G;D., pp. 332,1258;M., p. 128. The entries in the inventory of 1505 are too vague to admit of identification.See also G. Migeon Manuel d'art musulman, p. 373. It was fabled to have come from Solomon's temple.

83. Galerie d Apollon, Cat. no. 13.

84. Other manuscripts and book-covers in the Bibliotheque Nationale which once belonged to St.-Denis are the following:

fonds lat. 2630, St. Hilary on the Trinity. MS. of the seventh century.

fonds lat. 256, Gospels. MS. of the seventh century.

fonds lat. 7899, Terence. MS. of the ninth-tenth centuries.

fonds lat. 2, The Bible of Charles the Bald.

fonds lat. 9387; Gospels of the ninth century. Binding of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

fonds lat. 9436, Missal of the eleventh century. Binding, one side eleventh-twelfth centuries, the other fifteenth century.

85. February, 1914.

86. See Oeuvres de Suger, ed. Lecoy de la Marche; Paris, 1867.

87. February, 1914, p. 93; D., p. 251; Inv. 1505, nos. 195-8; Inv. 1634, ff. 26r -267v.

88. Inv. 1634, f. 220r.

89. Inv. 1505, no. 187; Inv. 1634, f. 234v.

90. Henrietta Maria was married to Charles I in I625.

91. Inv. 1505, no. 75, ; Inv. 1634, f. 173r ; Inv. 1739, no. 85 ; F. pl iv z ; D. p 344 ; M. p 130 ; Labarte, Arts indus., i, p. 410, pl. 32 (coloured plate); Galerie d'Apollon, Cat. no. 21.

92. Inv. 1505, no. 27 ; Inv. 1634, f. 148v; Inv. 1739, no. 69 ; F., pl. iv E ; D., p. 343 ; M., p. 129 ; Galerie d'Apollon, Cat. no. 19.

93. Hist. du Cab. des M;eacute;dailles, p. 166.

94. Loc. cit., pl. iii, p. 27.

95. Inv. 1505, no. 71;Inv. 1634, f. 170v; Inv. 1739, no. 57; D., pp. 247, 345;M., p.109;F. pl. iii R.

96. R. de Fleury (La Messe, iv, pl. 296) attempted to harmonize them.

97. Loc. cit., pl. vii, p. 27. Inv. 1505, no. 62 ; Inv. 1634, f. 166r ; Inv. 1739, no. 58 ; D., p. 346 ; M., p 99; F., pl. iii s.

98. Manuel d'art musulman, ii, p 374, fig. 323.

99. Inv. 1505, no. 28; Inv. 1634, f. 149r; Inv. 1739, no. 89; D., p. 343; M., p. 129; F, pl iv EE.

100. Loc. cit, p. 52, pl. x, xi.

101. Guibert, loc. cit., pl. viii; F., pl. iii N; Inv. 1505, no. 70; Inv. 1634, f. 170v; Inv. 1739, no. 53

102. Doublet, p. 366.

l03. On crowns for suspension, see references in the index of Labarte's Arts industriels.

104. Nos. 1, 2, 92, 93, 104, 129, and 205.

105. The crown of Charlemagne: Inv. 1505, no. 1; Inv. 1634, f. 2r; Inv. 1739, no. 72; D., p. 367; M., p. 122; F., pl. iv H; Labarte, Arts indus., i, p. 366.

The crown of St. Louis: Inv. 1505, no. 2; Inv. 1634, f. 10r; Inv. 1739, no.55; D., p. 367; M., p. 122; F., pl. iii P.

La Sainte Couronne: Inv. 1505, no. 205; Inv. 1634, f. 293v. I have sometimes suspected that this crown was intended in some of the references to the crown of Charlemagne.