Primarily concerned with the production and reception of Late Gothic architecture in Normandy, this study of the parish church of Notre-Dame de Louviers illustrates how a confluence of new social values, economic prosperity, and urban rituals gave rise to the extravagant displays of technical virtuosity and sophisticated ornament typical of ecclesiastical architecture at the turn of the sixteenth century.
The first chapter provides a detailed chronology of construction based on a thorough analysis of documentary sources and the physical fabric of the church. The early Gothic campaigns of the thirteenth century are reviewed before focusing on the Late Gothic expansions. This investigation reveals that a change in architect occurred at a pivotal moment during the construction of the celebrated south façade. After defining the relationship between Louviers, cardinal Georges I d’Amboise, and Roulland Le Roux, chapter two argues that the transformational design of the new south façade and projecting porch elevated the parish church into a class of monuments more befitting of its location on the “hypergothic highway”—an episcopal and royal route that linked Louviers to Rouen and Gaillon. Situating the church in this broader architectural and geographic context confirms that the new architecture of Louviers reinforced early sixteenth-century ideals of prestige and authority that helped construct a visual argument of power promoting the French king and Georges I d’Amboise. Chapter three demonstrates how the transformation of Notre-Dame de Louviers played a crucial role in the social, spatial, and ritual experience of the town. The organization of urban space surrounding the church, tensions between the municipal government and craft guilds, performative aspects of public religious celebrations, and impact of royal entries are highlighted. The fourth and final chapter surveys the various ways that re-presentations of Louviers in stained glass, cityscapes, and maps carried meaning and suggests that these images were capable of crossing time and space much more effectively than the building’s physical fabric. In some cases, the memory of the church outlived its physical reality.