Our Lady of Pamele at Audenarde

Our Lady of Pamele at Audenarde ( 1234-1238), the only church of which the architect's name, Arnoul de Binche, is known. The choir of St. Brice, at Tournai ( 1225) determined the style of the churches of Damme and Audenarde. At Ghent, St. Nicolas ( 1231) might be considered the magnificent Gothic counterpart of the Cathedral of Tournai. In the reconstruction of Our Saviour of Bruges, brick was used for the first time (beginning of the thirteenth century). Tongeren, and Huy, where the rose window, the famous "Rondia," is unique in Belgium, show great purity of style. The choir, transept, and tower (early thirteenth century) of Our Lady of the Chapel at Brussels, because of similar characteristics, may be logically attributed to the architect of the chevet of St. Gudula at Brussels. Our Lady of the Chapel is decorated with realistic sculpture. G. des Marez believes that foreign "ymaigiers," belonging rather to the Rhenish school than the French, were the first builders and decorators of this church. In its soberness, it is one of the most beautiful and moving examples of this period when Romanesque art blended with Gothic.

The choir of the Cathedral of Tournai ( 1234-1255), of an unsurpassed elegance and vigor, is incontestably the masterpiece of an architecture, which, in this instance, rises above local standards. It may be favorably compared with the finest French specimens which preceded it ( Soissons, 1212; Amiens, 1220). The man responsible for its construction, the successor of Bishop Etienne, is Walter de Marvis, whom the Franciscans and Dominicans found a powerful support in their struggle against the regular and secular clergy. If indebtedness is due to the Cistercians for the abbeys of Villers, Orval, and Aulnes, and to the Norbertines for the Park abbey at Louvain, then it is to the Mendicant Orders that indebtedness is due for the churches of Maastricht and Louvain. In spite of their internal strife, both contributed to the expansion of the Burgundian style. The Preaching Friars and the Minorites exercised a salutary influence on the society of merchants and artisans who were thus induced to assume their responsibilities in the community and to take pride in their duties of citizenship.

During the whole course of this century, which ended in the Battle of Groeninghe ( 1302), a triumph of Flemish arms over the French, the economic and social development of the Belgian provinces brought about the construction of admirable market halls, belfries, and town halls. The towers which rise above Belgium belong not only to the churches but also to the public buildings.

In the course of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the splendor of the cities was enhanced by civil monuments. The cloth merchants built their warehouses among their bourgeois dwellings. The first of these "halles" were those of Ypres, destroyed during the First World War then partially restored. The construction was started at the beginning of the thirteenth century and finished in 1304. With the two upper stories extending for a length of more than twenty pointed equilateral arches, to the right and left of the base of the massive tower, this imposing building is a forceful and impressive testimony of the commercial prosperity of the country. Cloth halls were also erected at Bruges, at Mechlin, at Kortrijk, at Dendermonde, and at Brussels, where the cloth hall was so well set up that it attracted admirers from Cologne and other cities.

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