Hôtel-Dieu de Paris
HÔTEL-DIEU DE PARIS
Hospital located near Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. Having grown out of an early monastery that was transformed into a hospice for the poor in the 9th century, the Hôtel-Dieu was a dependency of the cathedral chapter of Notre Dame by 1006. It was called the Hôpital Notre Dame at that time, but during the 12th century it became known as the Maison-Dieu de Paris—the modern name of Hôtel-Dieu being a late medieval term. From the middle of the 12th century—when it seems to have begun accepting the sick of Paris rather than the poor—the Hôtel-Dieu was continually enriched by donations. During the 13th century the kings expanded the hospital on the land lying along the Seine between the cathedral and the Petit Pont: the hospital consisted of three large Gothic halls divided by rows of pillars. Vaults (the famous "cagnards") protected the building against floods. The oldest known rule for the hospital dates from this time (1217) and is attributed to the canon Stephen. It required a sick person to confess and receive Communion before being admitted; he was then brought to a bed and from then on the lay brothers and sisters serving the hospital were to treat him as master of the house. During the late 13th century, religious replaced the lay brothers and sisters. In 1352 King John the Good granted the Hôtel-Dieu the right to levy a tax on all seafood and other produce brought into Paris. At the same time the guilds were to provide the meals for the hospital on stated days. Louis XI provided a new building for the sick. Because of certain abuses, the Parlement of Paris in 1505 deprived the cathedral canons of the temporal administration of the hospital and entrusted it to eight townsmen. At the same time the Parlement requested the chapter to reform the religious men and women who staffed the hospital, but it was only under Prioress Geneviève (Soeur du Saint Nom de Jesus) Bouquet (d.1665) that the discipline of the hospital's augus tinian nuns (the male branch of the community having disappeared) was fully restored. Meanwhile, in an effort to relieve the shortage of beds and to isolate the plague victims, Francis I founded the Hôpital de la Charité. In 1530 the generosity of Cardinal A. Duprat provided for the building of the Salle du Légat. Under henry iv, when the hospital had 500 beds, the buildings were reinforced and the St. Thomas and St. Louis halls were remodeled: a several-storied structure replaced the ogival naves. Beginning
in 1626 the Pont-au-Double was built and surmounted by the Rosary House connecting the later St. Jacques and St. Charles halls, built along the left bank of the Seine. In 1634 St. vincent de paul doubled the hospital's religious staff by introducing the Ladies of Charity. Despite the founding of the Hôpital Sainte-Anne for contagious cases and the Hôpital General, the old Hôtel-Dieu proved inadequate. In 1709, for example, some 6,000 patients were admitted while the hospital had been planned for only 2,000. During the night of Dec. 30–31, 1772, fire destroyed almost all the buildings along the right bank. In the new hospital, Louis XVI prescribed facilities for 3,000 patients, with a single bed for each, and with halls segregated according to sex and particular illnesses. During the French Revolution (1791) the hospitals of Paris were entrusted to a commission of five members, and the Hôtel-Dieu became the Grand Hospice d'Humanité. Rebuilt at the beginning of the 19th century and reserved for serious illnesses exclusively, the Hôtel-Dieu proved again to be too small. It was demolished under the Second Empire and rebuilt (1868–78), not at its previous location, but along the northern side of Notre-Dame Square, and the principal façade of the three buildings, which altogether occupy an area of about 5 acres, faces on the square itself. The Augustinian nuns who were expelled from the Hôtel-Dieu in 1907 went to the hospital of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, which was also in Paris.
Bibliography: f. dissard, La Réforme des hôpitaux et maladreries au XVIIe siècle (Paris 1938). p. vallery-radot, Nos hôpitaux parisiens, v.2: Un siècle d'histoire hospitalière… (Paris 1949). h. legier-desgranges, Hospitaliers d'autrefois (Paris 1952). e. wickersheimer, Les Édifices hospitaliers à travers les âges (Paris 1953). p. parent, Vieux hôpitaux parisiens (Paris 1943).