How did the builders attach the statue on the top of the Mont Saint Michel ?

Lifting machines

The golden statue of the archangel that dominates the abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel, was unhooked and hoisted in 2018, for its restoration.

This is the first time, since its last restoration in 1987, that the archangel of 520 kg which culminates at 156 m above the sea, was unhooked.

Cathedrals are usually more than 50 m high. To carry the stones and beams and statues, the medieval builders would have been happy to use internal combustion engines or electric power. They had to make do with their own strength.

In the period from the end of the 14th century to the first half of the 16th century, a cultural renaissance embraced all areas of human knowledge, including mechanical engineering and working techniques in general.

Construction machines, used in military construction and mining, are still equivalent to those developed in antiquity and perfected in the Middle Ages with the introduction of fundamental mechanical devices such as the crank or the steering axle.

From the 1480s, the Sienese artist-engineer Francesco di Giorgio worked on his Treatise on Architecture, taking Vitruvius’ work as a model, and, like Vitruvius, he left a lot of room for construction machinery. The machines of the Sienese school of engineering – led by Mariano di Jacopo il Taccola – circulated widely at the time and remained a source of inspiration for the engineers of later centuries.

The drawings of machines made in the 15th century have nothing in common with our modern technical drawings: there is no quantitative information necessary for the construction of the machine. They are in fact more like “portraits” representing machines as curious objects or as emblems of a prince’s military power. However, this artistic and symbolic aspect does not detract from the technical and scientific value of these drawings

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