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(canton of Mortain, Manche)

Collegiate church of Saint-Evroult

    Of the collegiate church founded in 1082 by count Robert who wished to make Mortain a political and religious capital of the southern borders of Normandy, all that remains is a very fine portal in the south wing of the church. Even this was probably just a late embellishment (c. 1140).
The collegiate church was rebuilt between 1216 and 1260 by Philippe Hurepel, count of Mortain and son of king Philippe-Auguste. A French architect, in the service of the count, firstly built the nave and its side aisles, choosing the ground plan of a basilica, one elevation, large pillars, capitals with crockets, like those of the Île-de-France collegiate churches of Mantes or Poissy. A Norman architect built the choir using round and polygonal abacuses, angled bases, and triangular voûtains (crowns) from Coutances or Hambye.
On the south wing there is a remarkable tower, which is extremely vertical, whose upward thrust is underlined by high twin bays. The left tower, which should balance the other, was not completed and the base houses the residence of the beadle.
Originally the church was rib vaulted. The removal of these features in the 16th century also led to the removal of the flying buttresses which supported them on the outside.
The Romanesque portal with its triple reveal is decorated with geometric motifs - saw teeth, chevrons, broken staff motifs - which were common in Normandy. But these descend to the base of the opening and show variations radiating out like a glittering crown.
The portals of Barneville or Cintheaux, which generally use the same ornament, do not attain this level of "baroque" effervescence, restricting themselves to forming part of a traditional structure of small columns, archivolts and a tympanum.

Bernard Beck


- Baylé, Maylis. " Mortain, collégiale Saint-Evroult " in L'Architecture normande au Moyen-Age, t. 2. Edit. Corlet et Presses Universitaires de Caen, 1997
- Erlande-Brandenburg, Alain. " Mortain, collégiale Saint-Evroul " in Dictionnaire des Eglises de France, IVB Normandie, Robert Laffont, 1968