After visiting Notre Dame a while back I became curious about the economic impacts behind building a cathedral in the middle ages.

The literature and the guides talked about a variety of motivations for building cathedrals

The information provided indicated that an important cathedral with famous relics would draw pilgrims from all over bringing gifts. But, they didn't talk about the economic affects of the cathedral during the middle ages.

It must have been something like building a new sports stadium in a city today.

This article mentions the different kinds of skilled labor needed to build a cathedral, but does not explain the economics. Hiring all those workers must have generated a huge economic impact.

The wiki article on cathedrals talks about the history, finances, functions, and other aspects of the cathedral but there is no mention of economic impact or motivation.

Here is a study on the economic and social impact of England's cathedrals in modern times. Wouldn't those who built the cathedral see similar or even proportionately larger economic growth?

The wiki article on Notre Dame talks about construction, architecture and history but fails to mention the economic impact the cathedral had on the area after it was built. The article does mention that 12 million people visit the cathedral each year currently.

Medieval Cathedrals were the most obvious sign of the wealth of the church in Medieval England. Huge cathedrals were found principally at Canterbury and York, and in major cities such as Lincoln, Worcester, and Chichester. The cost of these buildings was vast – but the money to pay for these huge buildings came from the people via the many payments they had to make to the Roman Catholic Church. https://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/medieval-england/medieval-cathedrals/

A cathedral was a "sign" but it must have been more than just show, there must have been real economic affects.

The possession of the relics of a popular saint was a source of funds to the individual church as the faithful made donations and benefices in the hope that they might receive spiritual aid, a blessing or a healing from the presence of the physical remains of the holy person. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Architecture_of_the_medieval_cathedrals_of_England

Having the body of Saint Thomas at Canterbury affected the economy, at least of the cathedral but it must have affected the area also.

The posthumous veneration of Becket made the cathedral a place of pilgrimage. This brought both the need to expand the cathedral and the wealth that made it possible. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canterbury_Cathedral

Did having the Crown of Thorns in Notre Dame affect the economy of Paris?

How much of an economic driver was Notre Dame to Paris when it was built and how much did economics play into the motivation of those who built it?

  • Of course, then you need to separate the effects of the cathedral from the effects of the strategic location of its place: an island in the middle of the river, making it easily defensible and easier to build a bridge across the river. Might be a little too much opinion based.
    – SJuan76
    Apr 16 '19 at 21:49
  • I was going to write an answer to this based on this document but that's not going to happen today. Hope it helps you though!
    – gktscrk
    Dec 18 '20 at 17:28

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