The first Cathedral, dedicated to the Virgin Mary was erected in the year 400, on the site of the present edifice, by the Bishop Saint Nicaise who was martyred by the Vandals in 407.

Clovis and his Francs were baptized by Saint Remi in 498.

Of the various alterations and embellishments undertaken by the Archbishops Ebbon, Hincmar, Adalberon and Samson, few traces remain, as everything was destroyed by fire on the 6th May 1210. In 1211, under the auspices of the Archbishop Aubry de Humbert, the Cathedral was recommenced. The work was hardly completed however, when in 1481 fire partially destroyed the building, and final completion was only reached about 1515. Despite the fact that construction had taken 300 years, the Cathedral of Rheims presents remarkable uniformity of style. It is the longest church in France, measuring 149 meters from the exterior, and the initial plan, the author of which is unknown, was faithfully carried out by each successive master architects : Jean d'Orbais, Jean Le Loup, Gaucher de Reims, Bernard de Soissons and Robert de Coucy.

Nearly all the Kings of France from Louis VIII down to Charles X (in 1825) were crowned with great pomp and ceremony, in the Cathedral. Withstanding the centuries, practically untouched by the Revolution, the Cathedral of Rheims was ruthlessly bombarded by the Germans during the First World War. The beautiful oaken framework of the structure was reduced to ashes, the pinnacles and buttresses torn away and dislocated, the greater part of the carving burnt or severely damaged and two thirds of the ancient windows destroyed. During twenty years, the Cathedral of Rheims was restored by Henri Deneux and the inevitable traces of these scars will be remained.



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