The Collapse of the Beauvais Cathedral in 1284: The Conjecture of the Creep Buckling Piers
By Mario Como
Proceedings of the Third International Congress on Construction History (2009)
Abstract: The paper analyzes the failure occurred at the cathedral of Beauvais in the past 1284. The interior vaulting exceeded 48 m in height, making it the tallest cathedral in Europe. The collapse was quite inexplicable and many theories have been debated trying to understand the reasons of the failure. This paper contributes to the discussion and investigates whether the creep buckling of the masonry piers could be considered responsible of the collapse. In this analysis the masonry has no tensile strength and the creep of the mortars is properly taken into account. The study shows that the slenderness of the masonry piers, together with the eccentricities of the axial loads and the mortar’s creep effects, can be considered the real causes of the failure.