Chartres 3: Design of West Façade

The design of the twin towers of Chartres point to an extraordinary understanding of its designers, quite unlike pre or modern understandings of the outer planets and their harmonic ratios. We have already seen a propensity for using the ordinary English foot to indicate days-as-feet within the structure. The Façade hosts what is perhaps the most famous “rose window”, though it was only in later centuries that it would be termed thus, as the cult of the Virgin Mary became more widespread. But this cathedral was strongly dedicated to the Virgin, when built.

The two towers are separated by the same distance as the rose window is above the footings, namely 100 feet, while the façade is 150 feet wide. This has led me to rationalize the façade as being six units across of 25 feet, while the façade appears to end (and the towers begin) 200 feet above the footings.

Interpretation of the western Facade as composed as towers 4 apart, width 6 apart and height 8 units, all of 25 feet. The Rose Window is held within two 3,4,5 triangles within a wall of 2 units square.

That is the façade was therefore designed as a three by four rectangle, the rose window centrally located within a square of side length 50 feet.

In simplest units of 50 feet, 8 by 6 becomes the proportion 4 by 3, with diagonals that are 10 units (that is, 250 feet) where the rose is at the crossings of those diagonals, held between two 3,4,5 triangles.

This first Pythagorean triangle holds all of the ratios of regular musical harmony, having 4/3 (fourth), 5/4 (major third), 6/5 (minor third) between its sides, which multiplied together equal 60 and summed equal 12.

NEXT: to come

Interpreting Chartres
  1. the cosmic coding of its towers in height
  2. the harmony in its towers
  3. design of the west façade

Yet to come: the design of the Rose Window.

Chartres 2: the harmony in its towers

In the previous post, the difference in height of the two towers was seen to have an exoteric and an esoteric meaning. Exoterically, the taller tower is sometimes called the sun tower, probably because the globe at its top (below its cross) is about 365 feet-as-days (hence representing the sun and its year). From this fact, the lower tower was considered lunar , since the lunar year is “not as long” and so less high. However, one must go to the top of the cross on the lower tower to achieve the height of 354.367 feet-as-days (hence representing the moon and its year).

This article presents a deeper meaning, that the difference in the full heights of the two towers represents the musical intervals of the synods of Saturn and Jupiter, relative to the lunar year: cunningly encoded within the full height of the solar tower as the Saturn synod of 378 feet-as-days, which is 16/15 of the lunar year. To have made the taller tower higher, to achieve the Jupiter synod, was impractical so that, instead, Jupiter was symbolized by the lunar year of 12 lunar months while Saturn was 12 “months” of 28 days, the 336-foot high globe of the moon tower, as shown below.

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Chartres 1: the cosmic coding of its towers in height

The lunar crescent atop the “moon” tower’s cross.

Chartres, in north-west France, is a very special version of the Gothic transcept cathedral design. Having burnt down more than once, due to wooden ceilings, its reconstruction over many building seasons and different masonic teams, as funds permitted, would have needed strong organizing ideas to inform the work (as per Master Masons of Chartres by John James).

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