St. Innocents Cemetery, City Maps

City Maps

Truschet & Hoyau, ca. 1550
Innocents-1, S. Inocens
St. Victor, ca. 1552
Innocents-1, 1552

Let us begin with the city map to the left. The map is from 1550 and shows the structure: The cemetery is surrounded by four long walls, and the church itself is placed at one end. The maps that we are going to study are all east oriented with east at the top, as was the norm in the Middle Ages. This means that the church was located along the eastern wall.

The map to the right is from ca. 1552 and shows approximately the same structure, although the cemetery plot here has been made more elongated.

The various monuments in the cemetery cannot be recognized, and it is almost as if the differences between the two maps are greater than the similarities. These bird's-eye prospects are impressive, but one must remember that the artist had neither a hot-air balloon nor a satellite photo. Much of it is pure fantasy.

Merian, 1615
Merian, 1615
Cross
Innocents-3, Cross
Octagonal tower
Innocents-3, Tower

The map to left is by Matthew Merian from 1615. On these pages we know Merian mostly for his copper engravings of Basel's dance of death, but he was very productive and also made maps.

Merian hasn't got the shape quite right: The church yard has been made square with right-angle corners. The houses in the neighboring blocks don't look like those in the previous maps either. On the other hand, it seems that he has included two of the characteristic monuments.

The one is the octagonal tower, Tour Notre Dame des Bois, which I have marked with a red T. The tower was several centuries old, and on the side that's turned away from us in Merian's map there was a statue of stone of the virgin Mary.

The other monument is a bit more uncertain, but judging from the location it would be the Croix Gastine. This cross wasn't moved to the cemetery before 1571(1), which might explain why it's not included on the two previous maps. I have marked it with a red C.

Turgot, 1739
Turgot

All these maps pale when compared to the one published by Turgot in 1739.

Turgot didn't have a hot-air balloon either; it would still be a few years before the brothers Montgolfier were born. What Turgot did have was a title roughly equal to mayor of Paris, which meant that his men could get access to places that normally were closed and didn't have to rely on guesswork.

The work was delegated to a member of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, Louis Bretez. The work lasted two years, 1734-1736, and the finished result was published in 20 sections in 1739.

On this map we again see the tower (T) and the cross (C).

The cemetery looks quite different than it does on Truschet & Hoyau's map from 1550, but this is not as much due to the map being more accurate, as it is to the fact that the entire side along the Rue de la Ferronnerie (right side on the map) was demolished in 1669, the road had been broadened, and houses were built where the ossuaries used to be (see the page on dates).

S. Inocens
Innocents-1 1499: S. Inocens
Turgot
Innocents-1 1499: Turgot
Merian, 1615
Innocents-1 1615: Merian, 1615
1552
Innocents-1 1552: 1552

Further information

Footnotes: (1)

Croix de Gastines . . .: In 1569 the Huguenot Philippe de Gastines was executed along with his son Richard and their in-law for having held a Protestant Last Supper.

Their house was then razed and an eternal edict prohibited ever building a house on that spot again. Instead a tall pyramid was raised with a cross at the top. A relief on the pyramid depicted the triumph of the (Catholic) Eucharist.

The following year saw the end of the Third Religious War. As obliged by the peace treaty, King Charles IX ordered that all property should be restored to the Huguenots and that all anti-Huguenot propaganda should be removed.

The people and the Catholic Church resisted, so it was only after the shedding of blood that the pyramid and the cross was relocated to St. Innocents' cemetery in December 1571.


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