The Doors of the Chapel and the Keys to the Palace of Louis IX considers two virtually unknown sculpted portals located in the second bay on the north side of the Sainte-Chapelle, the monumental reliquary chapel built by Louis IX in the royal palace of Paris between 1239 and 1248. Examining archaeological and archival documentation concerning these portals, Meredith Cohen provides important new insights about the initial design and function of the Sainte-Chapelle, its attendant structures, and the royal palace. After charting the history of the Chevesserie, the building to which the portals issued, Cohen proposes a relative chronology for the other structures in the palace attributed to Louis IX, arguing that construction of the Sainte-Chapelle generated major changes, which defined the palace as symbol of the royal state starting in the thirteenth century. This article contributes to the research in medieval architecture that views great monuments as part of highly complex historical topographies.
Alittle-known engraving by Nicolas Ransonnette, published in Jérôme Morand's 1790 Histoire de la Sainte-Chapelle, offers an intriguing view of the Sainte-Chapelle of Paris as it looked on the eve of the Revolution, prior to the royal chapel's liquidation and the sweeping nineteenth-century restoration that erased so much of its material history (Figure 1).1 Sunlight pours into both upper and lower levels of the structure, dramatically illuminating the many richly decorated furnishings, sacred objects, and altars therein. Inside, people in eighteenth-century finery pray while others admire the chapel's treasures. Easily overlooked among all of the detail are two rectangular doors on the left of the image in the dado.2 Those unassuming doors correspond to two unknown medieval portals still extant on the exterior of the chapel, which I shall call the lateral portals (Figures 2 and 3).
Given the renown of the Sainte-Chapelle, a magnificent royal reliquary chapel built between 1239 and 1248 that welcomes more than a million visitors annually and has inspired scholars for centuries, it is striking that these portals have passed completely unnoticed in the building's historiography. After all, they are not mere piercings in the wall as in other parts of the chapel (Figure 4). While less grand than the sculpted portals of the chapel's west façade (Figure 5), they nevertheless bear dignified double-roll low-arch moldings and sculpted embrasures decorated with en délit colonnettes, shafts, and fine foliate capitals.
Granted, the lateral portals are nearly impossible to see, as much of the exterior north face of the Sainte-Chapelle is obscured by the eighteenth-century Galerie de la Sainte-Chapelle.3 On the interior of the chapel, the door frames pictured in Ransonnette's engraving were erased when, in the nineteenth century, the chapel's restorers removed all extraneous, incomplete, or redundant parts that compromised the integrity of their newly designated monument historique.4
Once out of sight, soon out of mind: neither the restorers nor more recent architectural historians have mentioned these portals in their analyses of the Sainte-Chapelle.5 In fact, the portals are absent in every published plan of the site. Even Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc's iconic plans of the Sainte-Chapelle offer no indication of the portals or the now-lost structure to which they issued, although the plans represent the multifunctional treasury known as the Trésor des Chartes, also lost to time (Figure 6).6
Nineteenth-century structural rationalists such as Viollet-le-Duc had little concern for extraneous appendages, preferring to focus on the “great church” as a singular, unified entity.7 This was, after all, the time when even Notre-Dame of Paris was refashioned with a large forecourt and broad vistas at the expense of its subsidiary structures. Twentieth-century modernism followed suit with its reverence for the self-contained unit: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's soaring towers, Constantin Brancusi's birds, Piet Mondrian's grids. Modern scholars of the Middle Ages, such as Robert Branner, who have written extensively on the Sainte-Chapelle, have similarly felt little need to address its messy idiosyncrasies.8 At the end of the twentieth century, the turn from a formalist art history to one focused on context and the habitus further distanced the gaze from the object itself, and the lateral portals remained in the dust.
In recent years, however, studies of material culture have given rise to a discourse that instills new value in these types of forgotten objects. Scholars such as Alfred Gell have drawn attention to the long lives of objects, and particularly to the notion that the functions and meanings of objects change over time in relation to new uses and practices.9 Similarly, objects that have lost their common functions—and this would include the lateral portals—have been theorized recently as “things.” Bill Brown explains that “the story of objects asserting themselves as things, then, is the story of a changed relation to the human subject and thus the story of how the thing really names less an object than a particular subject–object relation.”10 Building from this idea, the well-known anthology The Social Life of Things, edited by Arjun Appadurai, explores how some things participate in broader social lives as beholders of value created by social exchange.11
While these new perspectives argue for a broad range of uses and meanings concerning such objects, they tend to privilege the objects' later histories. The originating or common functions of things have been less of a concern, although these functions are always implicit. Indeed, while the very existence of the lateral portals raises questions about how they could have been overlooked for so long, the portals also trouble our constructed history of the Sainte-Chapelle, since they cannot be explained within it.
In exploring these unknowns, I have found that toward the end of the ancien régime, the lateral portals connected the Sainte-Chapelle to an independent residential presbytery, which was located within a cluster of small structures nestled by the chapel and illustrated in a 1630 drawing of the palace courtyard (known as the Cour du Mai) by Étienne Martellange (Figure 7).12 This structure was known as the Chevesserie, from the French term meaning literally the space related to the chevet, or head of the chapel, thus having to do with administration, including management of the chapel furnishings and altars, usually the purview of wardens. Essential for the proper functioning of a sanctuary, such structures were not uncommon; even Notre-Dame of Paris had a residential chevesserie that dated as far back as the early fourteenth century.13
The question is, then, did the Sainte-Chapelle's Chevesserie also exist in the Middle Ages? If the early documentation associated with the Sainte-Chapelle suggests that this office was indeed born with the chapel itself, it is more difficult to explain the disjunction between the chapel's elegant lateral portals and the modest structure to which they led in the seventeenth century.14 While the lateral portals indicate an intention to put some sort of equally august building in the space issuing from them, the plan was apparently abandoned early on in the chapel's history. In other words, the mismatched articulated portals and unexceptional Chevesserie indicate changes in plan involving the surrounding buildings that were built to service the Sainte-Chapelle, including clerical residences, the multipurpose structure called the Trésor des Chartes, and the gallery known as the Galerie des Merciers linking the chapel to the great hall, or Salle du Roi (called the Grand'Salle after 1300) (Figure 8).15
A closer look at the Chevesserie and its relationship to these buildings yields new insight into the architectural evolution of the Palais de la Cité during the reign of Louis IX (1226–70), the time when it became the French monarchy's primary residential and administrative center.16 The changes to the palace resulting from the construction of the Sainte-Chapelle and its attendant structures suggest that there was in fact no comprehensive plan at the outset of the chapel's construction. Rather, the insertion of the Sainte-Chapelle seems to have initiated a domino effect of new building and rebuilding that refashioned the palace as the stately center of the royal kingdom, a development that is usually attributed to, but was actually only completed under, Philip the Fair (r. 1285–1314).17 In other words, with the construction of the Sainte-Chapelle and the alterations to the palace this building engendered, Louis IX played a greater role in shaping the architectural and institutional complex of the Palais de la Cité than history has ascribed to him.
Dating the Lateral Portals
Before delving into these broader subjects, it is first necessary to address the issue of the authenticity or date of the lateral portals themselves.18 My analysis suggests that on the whole they are contemporary with the thirteenth-century structure.19 At both levels, the size and style of the portals' articulation and sculpture match those of the interior. Both exterior doors rise to just below the level of the dado capitals on the interior of the chapel, so as not to disturb the rhythmic run of the dado arcade down the chapel's nave. The lower lateral portal's capitals are the same height (23 centimeters) and have the same type of sculpture as those of the interior of the lower chapel dado, such as sculpted leaves placed vertically and close to the basket with simple crockets that reach to the corners of the abacus (Figures 9 and 10). In addition, the lower lateral portal's colonnettes are the same diameter as the lower chapel's dado shafts (15 centimeters).
The upper lateral portal's capitals are also the same size as the upper chapel's interior dado capitals (27 centimeters from astragal to abacus). With loose sprigs of leaves artfully arranged around the basket, the upper lateral portal's sculpted capitals also resemble those on the interior of the upper chapel (Figures 11 and 12). Moreover, the upper portal's colonnettes are the same height as the upper chapel's interior dado shafts (1.4 meters). Their bases, containing two tori separated by a deep scotia forming a diagonal profile, are similar to those in the rest of the chapel.
The general plan of the lateral portals, with their splayed embrasures, colonnettes, and thin coursed shafts, surmounted by a series of foliate capitals, parallels that of many Parisian portals from the second third of the thirteenth century, such as as the Lady Chapel of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Saint-Pierre-aux-Boeufs, and Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois.20 However, the wall closing the doorway of the upper chapel's lateral portal dates to a later period and will be discussed below. Nevertheless, because of the manifold similarities, the portals appear to be coeval with the thirteenth-century structure of the chapel. By extension, this would suggest that early on in the chapel's history, a building was intended for the location of their issue.
The building that did eventually appear in that location on the north side of the Sainte-Chapelle was identified in two plans from the eighteenth century, the first a tax plan from 1700 called the Terrier du Roi, and the second a drawing made in 1783 after a fire in the palace in 1776, in which it is specifically labeled chevesserie.21 It is impossible to ascertain the date of the building in the Martellange drawing mentioned above (see Figure 7), although its facture in 1630 serves as a terminus ante quem. However, an examination of the early history and function of the Chevesserie offers information as to how it also became a residential presbytery and why a more substantial building was never built in its place.
Concerning these questions, Jean Guerout's meticulous and thorough study still holds as the most useful reference for the history and plan of the Palais de la Cité up to 1417.22 However, Guerout was not aware of the lateral portals, and so he inferred from the documentary material that the building next to the Sainte-Chapelle housed the Audience du Sceau (Audience of the Seal), an office that came into existence in the thirteenth century whose function was to authenticate royal documents with a wax seal.23 Guerout reasoned that the documents receiving the royal seal required parchment, and accounting for the parchment was the purview of the Sainte-Chapelle's master chaplain.24 Even if one allowed for the existence of this office prior to its official appearance on a document from 1261, it is hard to explain why the Audience du Sceau would require direct passage to the Sainte-Chapelle.25 Given that the earliest account to which Guerout refers, dated to 1285, also details objects obtained for the chapel's chevesserie, such as wicks and wax, a reparation for an angel on the cross, and incense, it may be understood that the master chaplain oversaw purchases for both offices at that time.26 The Terrier du Roi from 1700 sites the Audience in a structure separate from but next to the Chevesserie (Figure 13).27 The other plan, from 1783, does not provide a location for the Audience (Figures 14 and 15).
Clearly those in charge of the chevesserie, the wardens, needed both a storage space for the stocks of candles, incense, wine, and other things they required for the daily cycles of liturgy and easy access to the chapel to be able to assess what was needed for each service. Abbé Morand, the chaplain of the Sainte-Chapelle who wrote the Histoire in 1790, remarks that the chapel's foundation generated funding for the chefcerie, and that, in his time, the office received seven thousand pounds annually.28 Indeed, the first foundation for the Sainte-Chapelle from 1246 provided money and established two wardens to oversee these functions, although it did not specifically name the office.29 The second foundation, from 1248, increased the number of wardens to three, and each one was given a clerk. In addition, the chapel's funding was augmented, and concrete directives were given concerning the provisions to be obtained for the chapel (e.g., silver candelabra of five pounds each). Notably, both documents indicate that the wardens were always to sleep in the chapel, accompanied by the master chaplains in rotation, to guard the relics inside it.30 The presence of the wardens and their residence, while not exactly within the chapel but directly attached to it, endured until the end of the ancien régime.
That the wardens who serviced the Sainte-Chapelle also lived in the Chevesserie at an early date may be understood within the broader development of the Palais de la Cité. Over the course of the thirteenth century, as the king resided at the Cité with greater frequency and for longer periods, the palace became increasingly diversified. By midcentury, the king already had a large entourage of courtiers and administrators as well as servants within the hôtel du roi, or royal household.31 The historian Élisabeth Lalou has estimated that in this period approximately 150 people serviced the king's household, with that number rising to 300 if one includes those who worked for the queen and the royal children.32
During Louis's long reign, these members of the hôtel du roi were given a right to housing within the palace.33 By 1317, the king's chamberlain, sommelier, barber, shoemaker, and ushers, as well as the queen's valet and painter, all lived along the eastern wall of the Palais de la Cité.34 In 1323, residences for the king's painter, carpenter, and plumber were also built within the palace of Paris.35 Even the gardener and the zookeeper lived within the palace in 1329.36 Indeed, by the early fourteenth century, the place was populated not only with numerous providers of services but also with their workshops.37
During this same period, the royal chaplains, including those assigned to the Sainte-Chapelle, ascended to the level of court officer and were similarly given residences in the palace.38 The Sainte-Chapelle's first foundation, from 1246, established seventeen positions for the chapel: five principal chaplains, each of whom oversaw a subchaplain and a clerk, and two wardens.39 The next foundation from only two years later increased the number of personnel to twenty-one. The positions created for the Sainte-Chapelle constituted a substantial increase compared to the single chaplain who serviced the Saint-Nicolas chapel, which preceded the Sainte-Chapelle. And all of these people now had the right to housing within the palace, room that had to be found or made for them. Notably, both foundations instructed that “all of the principal chaplains, and the wardens, present as well as future, will swear that in the aforesaid chapel they will keep residency in good faith.”40 Although this has been understood as referring to the chaplains' positions at the chapel, the Latin residentia has been defined by some authorities as locational rather than vocational.41
William of Saint-Pathus, the thirteenth-century confessor to Louis's queen, Margaret of Provence, informs on this in writing that Louis built a “sufficient” number of houses (three) for his chaplains “next to the chapel.”42 The confessor also notes that the Mendicants who were invited to be the celebrants at the chapel on its special occasions were accommodated in one ample house situated “next to the palace.”43 William of Saint-Pathus thus refers to clerical housing in not one but two different locations in the Palais de la Cité.
A variety of evidence supports William's assertion that multiple locations for clerical housing existed within the palace. However, because the written evidence postdates William's testimony, it must be remembered that the number of personnel in the Sainte-Chapelle's foundation also expanded over the years, and the numbers and locations of their residences were augmented. By the fifteenth century, no fewer than thirty-four clergy serviced the Sainte-Chapelle.44
These clergy lived all over the palace, but mostly on the south side (Figure 16). Documents from the second third of the fourteenth century locate a few clerical residences in the south, by the Gallo-Roman rampart.45 Houses recorded as under construction in 1323 and 1325 may also have been in this area.46 There, one of the chaplains is recorded as living near what was known as the Galilee Well by 1348, as accounts show reimbursement for masonry, carpentry, and roofing expenses for repairs to the house attached to that prebend in the palace.47 In 1488, the king relocated Artus d'Aunoy, another chaplain, to a new house on the southern side of the palace.48 The Saint-Victor plan of Paris from 1550 shows modest houses with gardens in this vicinity as well as a wall (Figure 17).
Some of the chaplains also lived next to the chapel of Saint Michel, which was located on the southeastern side of the palace wall along the Rue de la Barillerie. In 1315, the treasurer received a new house between this location and the southern extent of the palace walls.49 In 1318, a chaplain by the name of Aubri resided next to this house. He and another chaplain paid for reparations on their houses in that location in 1329.50
Chaplains also had residences on the northeastern side of the palace: one is recorded as living underneath the Grand8Salle's meat kitchen in 1318.51 Another was located in this northeastern corner until 1488, first in a house wedged between the stairs of the Grand'Salle and structures bordering the street, and then between two small towers above the southern gate of the palace.52 However, by 1630, all but one of the chaplains (the eighth principal chaplain) had accommodations in the south side of the palace (4 in Figure 16).53
While the chaplains resided all around the palace and mostly on the south side, the wardens lived in the Chevesserie.54 Remember that both of the Sainte-Chapelle's foundations stated that the wardens must sleep in the chapel to guard the relics. Although we cannot know without new evidence exactly when the Chevesserie was built, the 1783 plan provides tantalizing details about its design and later inhabitants (Figure 18).55 It clarifies that the structure had three levels, corresponding more or less to Martellange's drawing. On the ground floor (the lower floor in the plan), the space in the second bay that linked to the lower chapel lateral portal (misleadingly not shown) is unidentified.56 The second floor (the upper floor in the plan) had a narrow terrace next to the upper lateral portal (also not shown) that led to a hallway around which several rooms were arrayed. The largest of these rooms was labeled explicitly chevesserie. The room across the hall was identified as the “lodging of Abbé Paris,” and beside it, in the third room, there was an office. Accessed by narrow stairs, the third floor, which comprised a reception room and a bedroom, was occupied by a certain Abbé Tisset; these third-level rooms are identified (but not illustrated) on the plan of the upper floor.
Both Abbés Paris and Tisset were wardens of the Sainte-Chapelle on the eve of the Revolution. Pierre Tisset appears in the records as a warden-clerk (marguillier-clerc) and appears in chapel documents with the title chefcier for twenty-three years, from 1760 through to 1783, after which he occupied a more prestigious post as perpetual chaplain, until he departed at the chapel's dispersal in 1789.57 Nicolas Edme Paris was in charge of the bells and the sacristy of the lower chapel, and he lived in the Chevesserie for some time before 1783, remaining until 1791, as per the chapel inventories.58 While Abbé Tisset moved out of the Chevesserie after his promotion in 1783, Abbé Paris continued to live there, even after his old lodging was torn down and a new one was built within the Galerie de la Sainte-Chapelle.
Further proving this site as a location for clerical residences, in a letter to the king dated 21 February 1777, the chaplains expressed great concern about the demolishment necessary for the reconstruction of the area after the fire of 1776, writing that “the officers of [the] Sainte-Chapelle are menaced by the reconstruction of the burned palace, to see a part of their housing destroyed.”59 Despite their protests, both the Chevesserie and the Trésor des Chartes to the east of it were demolished to make way for the Galerie de la Sainte-Chapelle, which was complete by 1786. Documents from that year, certified by the architects Desmaisons and Antoine, indicate that “the domicile of Abbé Paris, which touches on one side the Trésor, communicates on the other side with the nave itself of the Sainte-Chapelle through two oak doors, to the left of the Cour du Mai.”60 The accompanying plans show that the doors of Abbé Paris's new residential quarters in the Galerie opened on the ground level from the chapel into a passage and a structure that contained an antechamber, a kitchen, a bedroom, and an office (Figure 19). But in this group of documents, there are no images or descriptions of any upstairs living quarters, suggesting that Abbé Tisset's residence had been suppressed in the new building.61
This would date the closure of the upper lateral portal's doorway to that period, while the lower chapel's lateral portal and door were restored and maintained for Abbé Paris's new living quarters in the Galerie.62 However, even when the closure happened, the frame remained in situ on the interior of the Sainte-Chapelle, as per the Ransonnette image of 1790 (see Figure 1), until the nineteenth-century restorers removed it and filled the empty space by completing the dado with a new shaft, base, and bench; the suture of the completed bench on the inside of the chapel is visible today. The restorers also replaced the corbel with a new capital, inserted into the tympanum (see Figure 2).
Although the specific designation of the space next to the lateral portals as a chevesserie derives from the eighteenth century, the thirteenth-century foundations that directed the wardens to sleep in the chapel and the existence of other clerical residences in the palace support the possibility of this space's long-standing function as a residential presbytery. In contrast to the other clerical residences, there is no evidence that either the chevesserie or the wardens ever moved from one place to another. This new understanding of this space helps to explain the order of construction and the topography of the other buildings Louis built in the palace, which, in turn, illuminate the change of plan for the lateral portals of the Sainte-Chapelle and why a more permanent chevesserie was never built.
The Chevesserie and the Palace
Apart from the dates circumscribing the construction of the Sainte-Chapelle itself (ca. 1239–48), the relative chronology of the other structures Louis built in the palace is completely unknown. While the king is credited with the first chaplains' residences, the Trésor des Chartes, the Galerie des Merciers, and two structures on the northern side of the palace—a building known as Salle sur l'Eau and the tower called Tour Bonbec—no documents inform as to when any of these were built over the course of his long reign. However, examination of their locations in relation to the Sainte-Chapelle and the Chevesserie offers some possibilities for understanding the broader development of Louis's palace.
The plan of the site suggests that the (planned or then-extant) Chevesserie conditioned the design of the other buildings around it. Very close by—indeed, just a few meters east of the Chevesserie—stood the Trésor des Chartes (5 in Figure 16).63 Destroyed at the same time as the Chevesserie in 1783, the Trésor des Chartes ran parallel to the turning bays of the Sainte-Chapelle, with its west façade standing in line with the chapel's transitional bay buttress and its small polygonal apse projecting slightly beyond that of the Sainte-Chapelle. At 10.7 meters in length and with a width of 7.15 meters, the entire Trésor occupied only about a third of the length of its magnificent neighbor; its height, estimated at 25 meters to the vault keystones, also deferred to the chapel's monumental stature.64
Curiously, both the Trésor and the Chevesserie group blocked the view of the north side of the Sainte-Chapelle from the main palace entrance in the Cour du Mai (see Figure 7). Why were these buildings situated in that location? This arrangement may have prioritized the no longer extant ceremonial staircase on the south side of the Sainte-Chapelle, which facilitated direct access to the upper chapel and set up an exterior circuit for processions that terminated in the Galerie des Merciers and Salle du Roi/Grand'Salle.65 At the same time, the eastern position and diminutive size of the Trésor are architectural constraints, indicating that either the Chevesserie preceded the Trésor or another building was planned for the Chevesserie's location but was never constructed.66
Aspects of the Trésor's design and function help us to distinguish this building from the Chevesserie. The Trésor des Chartes had three levels; according to Morand (who described it after its demolition but would have known the building when it was still extant), the (first) ground level and second floor served as sacristies for the chapel, with the second-floor sacristy called the Revestiaire, while the third, upper level housed Louis IX's library (from 1254) and the archives, the actual Trésor des Chartes, by which name the entire building was later known.67 This last level apparently had a separate entryway from the courtyard by means of a spiral staircase built onto the buttress of the Sainte-Chapelle. On the interior, this upper level was lined with armoires under every window, and an altar stood in the middle of the apse. The Revestiaire, or vestry, on the second level, was divided into three rooms: the vestry sacristy room, the Trésor des Reliques (where the relics not displayed in the chapel were located), and a third room known as the Gîte, a space where the chaplain who guarded the relics in rotation (and not the wardens who were always present), as stipulated in the Sainte-Chapelle's foundation, spent the night.68 Three chapels were founded in the Revestiaire.69 The existence of the Gîte in the Trésor for the principal chaplains reinforces the understanding that the more modest Chevesserie served as residence for the lower-ranking wardens.
However, as is the case regarding many buildings from this period, the date of the Trésor's construction is unknown: neither the chapel's foundation documents nor any other documents from the royal chancery during Louis's reign mention the Trésor specifically. Geoffrey of Beaulieu, the king's contemporary and first hagiographer, wrote that it was built after the Sainte-Chapelle was completed, although he could have been referring only to the library of the Trésor, which was established in 1254.70 Iconographic evidence suggests that it was constructed in tandem with the Sainte-Chapelle; drawings by Thomas de Froideau and others consistently indicate that the stringcourse separating the upper and lower levels of the chapel also continued around the Trésor des Chartes (Figure 20). In addition to the stringcourse, apparently the Trésor's stair turret was built into the fabric of the chapel's buttress.71 Given that a door and a passageway (but no portals) were built to provide access between the Trésor and chapel, and that such modifications were complicated, it is likely that the Trésor was also built sometime during the chapel's construction, although for an unknown reason it was conceived separately from, and placed east of, the (planned or then-extant) Chevesserie.
Why the Trésor was not built on the site of the Chevesserie and onto the lateral portals of the Sainte-Chapelle remains uncertain, but it is possible the designers placed it to the east so that it would be close to the main altar, where the relics were displayed. In any case, it appears that the Trésor obviated the necessity for a separate and permanent Chevesserie, as it served some of the same functions.
Another structure in the palace affected by the Chevesserie/Trésor group on the north side of the chapel is the Galerie des Merciers (6 in Figure 16), which provided passage from the upper porch of the Sainte-Chapelle to and from the Salle du Roi/Grand'Salle (8 in Figure 16).72 First constructed perhaps as early as the reign of Robert II (996–1031), it is inferred to have been rebuilt sometime during the reign of Louis IX, based on stylistic evidence as well as the fact that Louis's grandson, Philip the Fair, added a black marble landing (perron) to a staircase known as the Grands Degrés (7 in Figure 16), which descended from the Galerie to the great courtyard called the Cour du Mai.73 Often the entire staircase is attributed to Philip, and it is unknown whether Philip also built the canopy over the staircase that appears in some of the images of the palace or more of the gallery itself.
A closer examination of the Galerie des Merciers suggests that its construction postdated the Sainte-Chapelle. The 1783 plan of the palace's upper level shows two portals built into the structure of the Galerie: one at the location of the Grands Degrés and another on the southwestern end of the Galerie by the Sainte-Chapelle (see Figure 15). Both portals had trumeaux, and thus, being wide openings, would have allowed for the processions that we know took place as part of the Sainte-Chapelle's liturgy. François-Nicolas Martinet's drawing of the upper chapel porch illustrates the tracery of the Galerie's southern portal and gives a glimpse of the Chevesserie behind it (Figure 21). The tracery design suggests construction during the thirteenth century, but several other features indicate the building postdated the Sainte-Chapelle. First, the portal issuing from the Galerie to the Grands Degrés is not centered along the length of the Galerie; instead, it is centered between the Grand'Salle and the Chevesserie/Trésor group, indicating that those structures pushed its position on the Galerie to the north. Second, on its southeastern end, the Galerie had a spiral staircase that also allowed for passage to the Chevesserie. Finally, the southern side of the Galerie was not built directly onto the Sainte-Chapelle but responded to it. These elements suggest that the Galerie was conceived and constructed after the chapel, but not long after.
It may also be observed that the 1783 plan reveals that the portal issuing from the Galerie des Merciers to the Grands Degrés was part of the original structure, as it stands in the place where a buttress would otherwise have been required (see Figures 14 and 15). An illustration by Thiéry made in 1777, after the fire of 1776, shows that the upper level of the Galerie des Merciers had cross-rib vaults, which rely on their responding buttresses (Figure 22). Such a structural element could not have been removed after construction of the vaults for the portal and the staircase descending from it; it would have to have been extant from the beginning. Thus a ceremonial staircase existed before Philip the Fair renovated the Galerie by adding a new landing to the Grands Degrés; in other words, it was part of Louis IX's improvements to the palace.74
The chronology I propose runs like this: First, the Sainte-Chapelle was built, and during the course of its construction, plans for a more important or permanent building extending from the lateral portals were abandoned, probably when the Trésor des Chartes was conceived and/or shifted to the east, to make it easier to service the altar (see Figure 16). With the initiation of the Trésor, additional chaplains' residences were then built to the south, fulfilling the need for additional clerical residences and broadening the southern extent of the Palais de la Cité. The Chevesserie, a simple structure, as depicted in Martellange's 1630 drawing (see Figure 7), may have existed prior to the chapel, although it could also have been erected in the thirteenth century specifically to provide a residence for the wardens.75 In any case, the Galerie des Merciers, which responded to the Sainte-Chapelle and its attendant structures, including the Chevesserie, was (re)built after these initial changes to the chapel's plan. The arrangement suggests a lack of foresight or an unusual flexibility in planning for the group of structures engendered by the Sainte-Chapelle.
The only area where strategic planning about the palace appears to have occurred concerns the Salle sur l'Eau and the Tour Bonbec, although little is known about these buildings (9 and 10 in Figure 16). In terms of function, Guerout suggests that they served either as spaces for solemn ceremonies, such as oaths of fealty, or as rooms for ecclesiastical or lay meetings; equally, they might have had some purpose related to their riverside siting, such as to receive and store goods, as they were close to palace workshops.76 Concerning their date of construction, Guerout attributes both to Louis IX based on two graphic sources and fourteenth-century references to a royal Salle sur l'Eau on the north extremity of the Île de la Cité, beyond the palace walls.77 The style of the extant tower indicates a thirteenth-century date, and neither Philip the Bold nor Philip the Fair is known to have constructed either the tower or the Salle sur l'Eau. Given that Louis was most concerned with charitable donations supporting architectural foundations in greater Paris and France after his return from his first crusade, major work on the Palais de la Cité may have slowed or even stopped after 1254.78 The Tour Bonbec and the Salle sur l'Eau could have been built even before the Sainte-Chapelle went up. While these two buildings seem to have no necessary connection to the royal chapel and its satellites on the southern side of the Palais de la Cité, they enlarged the surface area to the north of the palace, just as the new chaplains' quarters extended the palace beyond its walls on the south side, seemingly forming a coherent project to expand the palace. The appropriation of this surface area asserted the palace's importance on the west end of the Île de la Cité in Paris, perhaps in response to the impressive and large episcopal complex of Notre-Dame on the east side of the island.79
That Louis may have initiated the construction of a larger, more impressive royal residence resonates with the phase of his kingship prior to his departure for crusade, one in which he asserted stronger claims about royal power and authority through the very emblem of the palace. One might also question whether Louis had envisioned the reconstruction of the Salle du Roi during his reign. After all, the building dated to the tenth century, and it appears to have had only a modest renovation during the reign of Philip Augustus, so it probably truly needed an overhaul, particularly after the re/construction of the other buildings in the Cour du Mai.80 In any case, renovation of the Salle du Roi was not effected under Louis IX but was completed by his grandson, Philip the Fair, who not only expanded it into the Grand'Salle but also embellished the Galerie des Merciers with the Grands Degrés. Through these architectural projects (and others), Philip the Fair unified his reign with that of his newly canonized grandfather while also extending the locus of sacral kingship from the Sainte-Chapelle to the whole of the Palais de la Cité.81
I have pursued throughout this article the object life of the lateral portals of the Sainte-Chapelle, considering the evidence from the longue durée of that life throughout the ancien régime to illuminate the portals' function as framed pathways to what became the Chevesserie, the planned or real presence of which played a determining role in the topography of the Palais de la Cité. My conclusion builds from a variety of lithic, graphic, and written evidence examined in relation to solid terminus ante quems and deductive reasoning based on the absence of other evidence concerning the Chevesserie from the chapel's foundation until the eighteenth century.
At the same time, and more broadly, this study is situated in a growing area of research in medieval architecture that views great monuments as deeply integrated with their complex historical topographies.82 Rarely was a great church built in isolation from other subsidiary structures such as baptisteries, cloisters, and hospitals, some of which were linked directly to them.83 Knowledge of the lateral portals, and the lost Chevesserie to which they once issued, significantly extends our knowledge of the Sainte-Chapelle's function and pivotal role within the greater Palais de la Cité. At the same time, as overlooked things, the lateral portals serve as a powerful and permanent reminder of the limitations of history.