In 1676, Hardouin-Mansart undertook construction of the Invalides church. He employed a highly original approach and produced two successive chapels: one was for soldiers, while the purpose of the other remains a mystery, but was perhaps intended to be Louis XIV's burial-place. In front of the church facade, Mansart also had planned for a semi-circular area, marked off by two porticos. Overall, the plan expressed various ideas taken from Saint Peter's in Rome and, in France, from the Val-de-Grace, which combined a centrally planned choir with a lengthened nave, and (so it was said) from the plan for the Bourbon funerary rotunda at Saint-Denis.
The Royal Chapel at Versailles, begun in 1698 by Hardouin-Mansart and completed in 1710 by Robert de Cotte, is interesting for the architect's choice of a deliberately archaic plan. Mansart initially proposed a central plan, but decided in favour of designs inspired by the Sainte Chapelle and the Palatine chapels of the Middle Ages. His plan aimed for distinction through its size and its links to the chateau itself, with its elongated nave and two-level elevation, and with its upper level, the crowning glory, reserved for the king. Moreover, the interior contained a markedly new, raised element: at the level of the upper chapel, the entablature-supporting columns were replaced by square piers that carried low-level arcades and formed a colonnade inspired by Claude Perrault's west facade of the Louvre. This idea for church architecture first appeared prior to 1697, in a project also attributed to Claude Perrault: an antique-styled basilica, with a colonnade beneath the entablature. The design was inspired by Vitruvius in his Fano basilica, a work reproduced by Perrault in an illustration for his translation of Vitruvius.
Any connection between Vitruvius's conception and an analogous earlier experiment - the Protestant Temple at Charenton, designed by Salomon de Brosse - is no doubt fortuitous. In any case, the impact of Vitruvius's work confirms the attraction of the oblong design. In Reformed churches examples of the central plan are found from the outset, whether circular as in Antwerp, or octagonal as in La Rochelle; but after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which led to the destruction of so many Protestant churches in France, Char-enton would serve as a model throughout northern Europe.
The Italian monumental tradition spread northwards in central Europe due to the movements of itinerant teams of stone-masons and decorators from Lombardy and Milan, in search of new building sites. In countries where efforts were being made to restore the Catholic faith, the arts, and particularly
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