The Cathedral of Saint Stephen of Sens , commonly known as Sens Cathedral, is a Catholic cathedral in Sens in Burgundy, eastern France. It was one of the earliest Gothic buildings in the country and is the largest of the early Gothic churches. It is a national monument of France. The choir was begun in 1140. As was typical in cathedral construction work progressed westwards, building the nave, with the west front completed around 1200. The structure was finally completed in the 16th century. The architecture of its choir influenced, through the architect William of Sens, that of the choir of Canterbury Cathedral.
Sens was a place of considerable importance in the 12th century, seat of the "Primate of Gaul" and superior to the bishopric of Paris. The cathedral church was therefore built on a large scale according to the latest principles. Sens' nave is unusually wide, and the church is larger in overall scale than its contemporaries at Saint Denis, Noyon or Senlis. As is typical with early gothic architecture, the vaulting is sexpartite, surmounting a modest clerestory, with alternating piers and columns between bays. Sens may have been the first church to be completely vaulted in this manner. A gallery opens into the roof space between the aisle arcade and the clerestory. The interior elevation resembles that of Le Mans, but with less massive walls. Flying buttresses were originally employed on the outside, but were replaced with new ones in the thirteenth century. Sens did not initially have transepts; these were only completed between 1490 and 1518 by Martin Chambiges in the Flamboyant Gothic style.
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