Another marvel at the Cathédrale Notre Dame in Saint-Omer is its precise astronomical clock, working since 1558 with all of its original parts! It marks the hours, days, months, zodiac signs and the rising and setting of both the sun and the moon, as well as the position of the sun in relation to the earth. Only 25 of the clock's pieces actually move.
The clock is mounted above the baroque-period royal entry on the north transept of the Cathedral. It was through this portal that Louis XIV triumphantly entered the Cathedral in April 1677 after important battles in the wars with Holland, winning Saint-Omer, Cassel, Bailleul and Ypres. (Ypres was eventually reattached by treaty to Flanders in 1713.)
Wearing a turban topped with feathers, an automated figurine dressed in a military officer's costume of the Ancien Régime strikes the hours on a bell.
un horloge astronomique: an astronomical clock
un jacquemart or jaquemart: an automated figurine in wood or metal which strikes or sounds the hours of a clock
©2012 P.B. Lecron