History Notes

[1] Jacques Hillairet, Dictionnaire Historique des Rues de Paris, 8th ed., 2 vols., (Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1985), vol. 2, p. 451. Some even go so far as to say that the present St. Julien, which was built between 1170 and 1240, is actually the oldest church. According to Hillairet, parts of St. Germain-des-Pres (the bell tower, the bases of two other towers, and the nave minus the vault and choir) date back before 1170, and the church of St. Pierre de Montmartre was built between 1134 and 1170. However, both of these churches stood outside the City of Paris proper at the time they were built, and strictly speaking, do not count. The Cathedral of Notre Dame, begun in 1163, is also excluded from the running because it was not completed until 1330, 90 years after St. Julien.

[2] Gregory of Tours, The History of the Franks, trans. Lewis Thorpe, (London: Penguin Books, 1974), Book VI, Chapter 17, p. 347-348. (An abridged e-text of the 1916 translation by Earnest Brehaut can be found at Paul Hallsall's Internet Medieval Sourcebook website: ©Paul Halsall December 1997).

[3] Ibid., Book IX, Chapter 6, p. 483-487. (An abridged e-text of the 1916 translation by Earnest Brehaut can be found at Paul Hallsall's Internet Medieval Sourcebook website: ©Paul Halsall December 1997). Some sources claim that Gregory visited St. Julien in 587, because Book IX, Chapter 6 begins with the story of a religious imposter who appeared in Tours in 587, but Gregory then recalls a similar incident seven years earlier (in 580), when he encountered another such impostor, first in Tours and later in Paris, during his stay at the hospice of the Basilica of St. Julien the Martyr, where he found the man drunk and asleep before the altar when he went to the basilica to say the night office.

[4] Alban Butler, Butler's Lives of the Saints, complete edition, edited, revised and supplemented by Herbert J. Thurston and Donald Attwater, 3 vols., (Westminster: M.P. Christian Classics, 1988), "Julien of Brioude, Martyr," vol. 1, p. 183.

[5] Raymond Van Dam, Saints and Their Miracles in Late Antique Gaul, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), p. 50.

[6] Hillairet, vol. 2, p. 438, 450. This road is known to have been a major north-south route which crossed the Seine at the Ile de la Cité and continued northward on the Right Bank (present day rue St. Martin). It is believed that this road may have existed before the Roman legions came here in 52 BCE to conquer the Parisii, although no physical or documentary evidence has yet been found to prove it.

[7] Philippe Velay, From Lutetia to Paris: The Island and the Two Banks, trans. Miriam L. Kochan, (Paris: Presses du CNRS, 1992), p. 20-22.

[8] Boinet, Amedée, Les Èglises Parisiennes: Moyen Age et Romanesque, 3 vols., (Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1958), vol. 1, p. 212.

[9] Patrick Périn, Philippe Velay, Laurent Renou, et alii, Collections Merovingiennes, (Paris: Musee Carnavalet, 1985), p. 126, note 4 and p. 133-135. Also Didier Busson, Paris, Carte Archeologique de la Gaule, vol. 75, (Paris: Academie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres, 1998), p. 296, 376-378. The rue Galande (the old Roman road to Lyons and Italy) is immediately south of St. Julien and runs almost parallel to its south aisle. The rue Dante, a modern street which absorbed the southern end of the medieval rue du Fouarre, is a bit further south and runs perpendicular to the rue Galande.

[10] Périn, p. 133-135 and p. 141, notes 17-18.

[11] Hillairet, vol. 2, p. 259-260, 451 and Boinet, vol.. 1, p. 205. The Battle of the Petit Chatelet is the one of the most tragic events of the year-long siege of 885-886. The Normans, under their king Siegfried, sailed 700 longships up the Seine in late November 885 to attack the city. At this time, the Ile de la Cité was the only part of Paris which was protected by a defensive wall, and most of the inhabitants had fled there for safety. Two wooden bridges defended by chatelets (towers) linked the Ile de la Cité to the two banks of the Seine, and these were the target of many attacks because they prevented the Normans from sailing upstream to plunder further inland. On February 6, 886, the Petit Pont, which connected the Ile to the Left Bank, was swept away by a flood, isolating the 12 defenders of the Petit Chatelet, who were cruelly massacred by the Normans.

[12] Maurice Druon, History of Paris from Caesar to St. Louis, transl. Humphrey Hare,(London: Hart-Davis, 1969), p.52-57. Druon mentions four major Norman attacks on Paris, in 845, 856, 861, and the great siege of 885-86. Another source, Thomas Okey, Paris and Its Story, (London: J. M. Dent and Co., 1904), p.36-44, lists additional raids in 852, 858, 876, 884, and 887. A timeline in La Naissance de Paris, texte de Michel Fleury, (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1997), p. 164-165, mentions still more attacks, including one in 857 during which the Normans burned all the churches except the episcopal palace, St. Germain des Prés, and St. Denis.

[13] Boinet, vol. 1, p. 205. The exact date of this charter is apparently unknown, although various sources give the date as 1031, 1021, 1045 and 1050. (Henri I reigned from 1031-1060). However, all the sources agree that in this document the church was still known as St. Julien the Martyr.

[14] Armand Le Brun, L'Église St.-Julien-le-Pauvre d'aprè les Historiens et des Documents Inédits Tirés des Archives de l'Assistance Publique, (Paris: En vente à l'église, 1889), p. 10, 68. According to Dom Michel Felibien, Histoire de Paris, 1795, excerpts of which Le Brun includes in his "Notes et Pieces Justificatives", De Vitry gave his half of St. Julien to Longpont Abbey to fulfill a vow he had made during an illness he suffered in the Holy Land. Monteler donated his half to the Abbey a short time later, and in the document formalizing Monteler's donation, the church is first associated with St. Julien the Confessor, Bishop of LeMans, in addition to its earlier patron St. Julien the Martyr of Brioude. The Confessor is sometimes referred to as St. Julien the Poor because he is said to have impoverished himself by almsgiving, so it is possible that the name St. Julien "le Pauvre" may refer to him.

[15] Boinet, vol. 1, p. 206.

[16] Hillairet, vol. 2, p. 438, 440. Prior to the 13th century, the street was known as the grand-rue de la Petit Pont. The name rue St. Jacques des Prêcheurs makes reference to the Couvent des Jacobins, a monastery of Dominican preaching friars founded in 1218, which had a chapel and a hospice dedicated to St. James not far down the road from St. Julien. The Priory of St. Julien and the Couvent des Jacobins were just two of the many religious houses built along the pilgrimage road. The Compostela pilgrimage was the most popular pilgrimage in Europe during the 11th century, and the Cluniac Order (to which the Priory of St. Julien belonged) was one of its most enthusiastic promoters. In 1806, the street was given its current name, the rue St. Jacques, from the rue Galande to the Boulevard de Port Royal.

[17] Hillairet, vol. 2, p. 452.

[18] Butler, vol. 1, p. 314-316. Medieval travelers and pilgrims often invoked the name of St. Julien for aid in finding good lodging for the night. A 13th-century poem called "Les Monstiers (or Moustiers) de Paris" refers to the church specifically as "St. Julien which shelters Christians". Another document from 1325 mentions "saint Julien le Povre" in regard to sheltering and protecting travelers. (Le Brun, p. 9). (An e-text for "Les Monstiers de Paris" is also available online on La Liste Comme Principe Poétique website under this url:

[19] Boinet, vol. 1, p. 205. The building at 42 rue Galande is now a movie theater, Studio Galande, known for its showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Boinet states that the 14th century relief is the oldest ensign in Paris, and while many believe that it was originally located on the old Gothic portal of St. Julien and moved here after the original west front was torn down in 1651, the building on the rue Galande where the relief is located today was already known in 1380 as "the house where above is the ensign of Saint Julien".

[20] Robert Cole, A Traveler's History of Paris, second edition, (New York: Interlink Books, 1998), p. 43-45.

[21] Hillairet, vol. 1, p. 541. The street was first opened in 1202, right around the time the University received its charter, and its close connection with the University is evident from the different names it was known by over the years. Originally it was called the rue des Ecoliers (Street of the Scholars), then the rue des Ecoles (Street of the Schools). It did not acquire the name rue du Fouarre until around 1300, after the bundles of straw ("fouarre") the students sat on while listening to lectures given out of doors.

[22] Le Brun, p. 69.

[23] Hillairet, vol.1, p. 541. However, Boinet, (p. 206-207) opines that despite Dante's reference to the "Street of Straw" in the Paradiso, it is far from certain that the poet ever came to Paris, let alone studied at the University.

[24] Le Brun, p. 13-14.

[25] Felix and Louis Lazar, Dictionnaire Administratif et Historique des Rues et des Monuments de Paris (1855), reprint edition, (Paris: Maissonneuve et la Rose, 1994), p.455, and Le Brun, p. 14, 70, 87.

[26] Le Brun, p. 69-70. Le Brun's plan of the enclosure of St. Julien during the 14th century shows the church completely surrounded by closely-built houses. The western entrance of the church was accessed by two narrow passageways, one originating in the rue Galande and one in the rue St. Julien le Pauvre. This is borne out by a photograph of the west front of St. Julien taken by Eugène Atget around 1898 which shows the remains of two of these structures still standing in front of the church with a small passage leading between them to the west entrance. The photograph is owned by the Getty Museum and can be found in the exhibition catalog Eugène Atget: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum, In Focus, (Los Angeles: the Museum, 2000), p. 15, and also on the Getty Museum website, ©2000. The same photograph can be found on the Bibliothèque Nationale's Gallica website by searching their catalogue for images by Atget.

[27] Boinet, vol. 1, p. 206-207.

[28] Hillairet, vol. 2, p. 451. Mismanagement or misappropriation of funds seems to have played a part in the deterioration of St. Julien. According to Le Brun, p. 15-16, E. Thiboust de Berry, who served as Prior from 1612-1643, was removed from his office and afterwards sued by his successor, Pierre Meliand, for allowing the church to fall to pieces. Meliand finally won the suit, but the amount of money he was awarded was not enough to restore the church to its original state, which sealed the fate of the Gothic portal.

[29] Boinet, vol. 1, p. 207.

[30] Hillairet, vol. 1, p. 249, vol. 2, p. 147-148, 236. According to Hillairet, a three-story annex (the Salle St. Charles) was erected between 1602 and 1606 on the Left Bank along the Rue de la Bucherie, occupying the area where the Quai de Montebello exists today. It was connected to the Hôtel Dieu in 1626 by a bridge called the Pont au Double upon which another multi-story hospital ward (the Salle Rosaire) was constructed. A second connecting bridge (the Pont St. Charles) went up in 1651, and not long afterwards, a second large annex (the Salle St. Antoine) extended the complex all the way to the Petit Chatelet. When the Quai de Montebello was built in 1840, the hospital lost some ward space as a result, but made up for it by constructing yet another annex on the south side of the rue de la Bucherie which was connected to the first by a passage above the street. Both annexes were demolished by 1909. (vol. 1, p. 247.).

[31] Le Brun, p. 21-24. There were apparently some difficulties with the Parish of St. Severin in regard to religious services at St. Julien. The curé of St. Severin appointed a chaplain for St. Julien, but would not allow him to say mass or conduct services there without the permission of the Archbishop of Paris.

[32] Didier Busson, Paris, Carte Archeologique de la Gaule, vol. 75, (Paris: Academie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres, 1998), p. 374.

[33] Le Brun, p. 26. St. Julien was relatively fortunate. Many other churches were looted, vandalized, and even razed to the ground by overzealous revolutionaries.

[34] Maurice Dumolin and George Outardel, Paris et la Seine, Églises de France: Repertoire Historique et Archeologique par Department, (Paris: Letouzey et Ané, 1936), p. 40.

[35] Boinet, p. 207. The Augustinian Sisters have a history almost as long and as interesting as St. Julien's. According to History and Trends of Professional Nursing by Grace L. Delougherty, (St. Louis: C. V. Mosby Co., 1977), p. 13-14, they were originally a group of volunteers who nursed the sick at the hospice of St. Christophe, founded on the Ile de la Cité by Bishop Landry around 650. This hospice eventually became the Hôtel Dieu, and around 1250, Pope Innocent IV organized the volunteer nursing staff into a strict religious order under the rule of St. Augustine. J. Daoust, in the article "Hôtel-Dieu de Paris," from The New Catholic Encyclopedia, (Palatine, Ill.: Jack Heraty & Associates, 1967, 1981 printing), vol. 7, p. 173, tells us that the White Sisters served at the hospital until they were expelled in 1907, after which they went to another Paris hospital, Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours.

[36] Hillairet, vol. 1, p. 249.

[37] Ibid., vol. 2, p. 236.

[38] Jetta S. Wolff, The Story of the Paris Churches, (New York: Brentano's Publishing, 1918), p. 132.

[39] Le Brun, p. 28.

[40] Hillairet, vol. 1, p. 148, 247.

[41] Leonard Pitt, Walks Through Lost Paris: A Journey Into the Heart of Historic Paris (Berkeley, CA : Counterpoint : Distributed by Publishers Group West, 2006), p. 56.

St. Julien History Sources St. Julien Home

Unless otherwise credited the photos and other content on these webpages are Copyright © the author and may not be reproduced without permission.

St. Julien le Pauvre St. Julien le Pauvre
Webmaster: A. Snow
This site last updated 10/12/2011.