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An introduction to the romanesque and gothic sytle of cathedeal in the middle ages

It was mainly a method of building: Gothic characteristics appeared first in architecture. Many of the world's great cathedrals and churches were built in the Gothic style between the 12th and 16th centuries. Gothic cathedrals are tall, their arches soar heavenward, and rays of sunlight pour through high, stained-glass windows and bathe the wood, masonry, and marble.

Walls, columns, entrances, and doors are carved with figures and scenes from the Bible. Not only great cathedrals and abbeys but hundreds of smaller churches were built in the style. The Gothic style became popular throughout Europe. It spread to houses and castles and then to painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts. Although it had a spirit of its own, Gothic architecture was in many ways based on the earlier style known as Romanesque.

Romanesque architecture had preserved much of the style of Roman times. Little by little the plans of Roman public buildings were changed to suit the needs of the Christian religion.

The result of these changes was Romanesque architecture. The people who made Gothic art did not call it by that name. To them the work they did was simply the new fashion--the only possible style that could be used for buildings and objects, paintings and carvings, lettering and goldsmith's work. The term "Gothic" was first used during the Renaissance period, which followed the Middle Ages.

The First International Style since Antiquity

For some time the Gothic style was described as modern, in contrast to the classical Roman, which was called antique. But to provide it with a name of its own, people of the Renaissance took the word "Gothic" from the Goths, the people who had overrun the Roman Empire.

  1. History of Gothic Architecture The History of Gothic architecture evolved over a period of 300 years.
  2. Many Knights had travelled to the Holy Land on Crusades.
  3. When the flying buttress had been added to the ribbed vault and the pointed arch, all the main parts of Gothic architecture were there. As the style evolved, decorative art tended to supercede structural matters.
  4. Tours Cathedral 1170-1547 Saint Gatien's Cathedral in Tours exemplifies the 15th century Flamboyant style of Gothic architecture, although it includes elements of three schools of architecture - Gothic, Romanesque and Renaissance.

Renaissance people thought, quite wrongly, that the Goths had brought this style with them. Backgrounds of the Gothic Three architectural features are typical of the Gothic. These are the pointed arch, the ribbed vault, and the flying buttress.

It is the pointed arch that most clearly makes Gothic building look different from Roman and Romanesque work.

An Introduction to Romanesque Art and Architecture

In the older style the semicircular, round arch was used everywhere. But Gothic architects did not invent the pointed arch. It had been used much earlier in the Near East. It was used by Muslim artists in Asia, Africa, and even in parts of southern Europe. The use of the pointed arch in Europe started very soon after the First Crusade 1099when Jerusalem was captured from the Muslims.

Thousands of crusaders from Western Europe saw buildings and works of art entirely different from those that they were used to. Though they did not believe in the Muslim religion, there was no reason why they should not imitate the art that pleased them. This explains the arrival of the pointed arch in Europe.

The Europeans used the pointed arch in a new way. Medieval buildings were constructed with vaults--ceilings made by continuous arches of heavy columns. Architects of the late Romanesque period had experimented with the ribbed vault, which allowed them to build much higher churches.

The plan of the church was divided into square sections called bays. At each corner a pier large pillar was built. Diagonally from corner pier to corner pier, round arches were built. Because the diagonal of a square is longer than its side, round arches on the sides of a bay would not be as high as the round arches that spanned the bay diagonally. It was found that pointed arches at the sides and round arches at the diagonals would all reach the same height.

This system of building is called ribbed vaulting. The weight of the vaults on the walls tended to force the walls outward. This is called thrust.

Gothic (mid 12th century-16th century)

To support the walls, structures called buttresses were built against the outside of the walls. As ribbed vaulting enabled the construction of higher buildings, it became more difficult to resist the thrust from the arches.

To support the additional weight of a higher building, buttresses had to be taller and to project more and more from the wall. Architects discovered that a fairly low buttress could be used to support the taller walls by means of a sloping arch, reaching up from the buttress and pressing against the outside of a higher wall. This kind of buttress is called a flying buttress.

When the flying buttress had been added to the ribbed vault and the pointed arch, all the main parts of Gothic architecture were there. As far as we know, all three were first used together at Durham Cathedral, in the north of England, about the year 1093. In spite of this, Durham Cathedral was not yet Gothic in style, for round arches were still used in the cathedral.

The First Gothic Within a very few years, probably between 1132 and 1144, a new church was built at the abbey of St. This church is the first existing example of the Gothic style. It was a royal abbey, where the kings of France were buried in tombs that can still be seen. At that time the abbey was ruled by a great abbot named Suger, who was greatly interested in art of every kind. Suger wanted to make his church the finest and the most beautifully decorated in the Christian world.

Painting + Sculpture + Architecture

Although Abbot Suger was a monk dedicated to a life of holiness, he did not believe that God's house should look bare and poor. Suger was fond of people--from the king to the beggar--and wanted them all to come to the services at his church. He insisted on rebuilding the much older St.

  1. People were depicted more realistically during the Gothic period than during the Romanesque.
  2. Known at first as the "French Style", it was later christened "Gothic".
  3. So it was that Gothic art slowly passed away.
  4. These early Gothic buildings still looked Romanesque in many ways. Later the artists painted studies of real life.
  5. Around the middle of the 12th century, a new artistic sensibility with new architectural principles began spreading from the cathedrals of northern France. Its architecture has undergone only minor changes since the early 13th century, while most of its sublime stained glass dates back to between 1205 and 1240.

Denis Church, which was small and old-fashioned. Suger would not let any difficulty stand in his way. He arranged for the stone to be quarried--dug from the ground. He needed long wooden beams for the roof but was told such great timbers were not to be had; so he went out himself and searched in the forests until he found trees big enough to supply the beams he wanted. In the end he succeeded in getting the church built. The Spread of Gothic King Louis liked what he saw, and his approval must have been one of the chief reasons for the rapid spread of the new fashion in building.

Within five years after the dedication of St. Denis, an addition was made to the old west front of the cathedral of Chartres, about 50 miles 80 kilometers from Paris. The work must have been done by the same artists who had worked for Abbot Suger. One of them even signed his name, Rogerus, behind one of the carved statues at Chartres.

He was probably the chief of the masons, or stonecutters.

Today we would call him the architect of the cathedral. He is the earliest Gothic architect whose name we know. Within a few years great churches in the new style were being built all over northeastern France.

In Paris the Cathedral of Notre Dame was begun in 1163. It was completed around 1250. During the second half of the 12th century, the abbey at Pontoise and the abbeys of St. Martin-des-Champs, in Paris, and St.

These early Gothic buildings still looked Romanesque in many ways. It was not until near the year 1200 that Gothic architecture became completely different from Romanesque. The pure Gothic can be seen in France at Bourges Cathedral, begun about 1192, and in England at Lincoln Cathedral, built from 1192 to 1350. Slender piers pillars and buttresses were used, and great windows were decorated with stained glass to color the light as it poured into the churches. The International Gothic By the 13th century the Gothic was the only style of building throughout northwestern Europe.

The designs of vaulting, buttresses, and windows first produced by Gothic architects were imitated by other artists. The pointed arch is found again and again as a frame for paintings and ivory carvings. It is stamped on book covers and worked in metal for caskets and shrines. As time went on, the details of Gothic style developed and changed, first in the greater buildings and later in the smaller works of art. The earliest Gothic windows had been narrow, but with a pointed instead of a round top.

Then they became so large that it was necessary to put stone supports inside them to hold the glass firmly. These supports formed smaller pointed arches, circles, cloverleafs, and more complicated shapes. The stone patternwork inside each window is known as tracery.

Reims Cathedral was the church where the coronations of French kings took place. It was this important royal connection that gave the new window tracery of Reims its great prestige.

While Reims Cathedral was being built it was visited by many architects.

Impressed by the beauty of the new Gothic tracery, they made sketches of it. Among these architects was Villard de Honnecourt, whose sketchbook can still be seen in the National Library in Paris. Honnecourt thought that the Reims windows were the most beautiful he had seen anywhere--and he had traveled across Europe through Switzerland and Germany and as far as Hungary.

Other architects at the time were making sketches too, and the idea of tracery spread to many distant places. He used tracery for the windows of Westminster Abbey, which he designed in 1245.

Here the kings of England were to be crowned and buried. The new fashion was approved by the English king and was quickly adopted across the country. In France traceried windows like those at Reims were called the style rayonnant "radiant style". This term was used to describe a style of decorative art that was based on tracery.