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Gothic Architecture

Discussion in 'World History' started by Constantine, Aug 23, 2003.

  1. Constantine

    Constantine at least it isnt the sens

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    This is an essay that was done for Gr.10 class about Gothic architecture using the Yorkminster Church in York, Eng. as an example

    Christianity was a major force in the Middle Ages. It was a period of immense faith. Out of this faith came a desire to build magnificent places to venerate and worship God, to create visions of heaven on earth. Out of this faith came the great Gothic Cathedrals that still evoke awe in those who enter. Some of the designers of these great cathedrals believed that they had been divinely inspired, that God had given them a vision of the Celestial City. Even in today’s secular world, entering one of these vast cathedrals can leave one feeling puny and silent.

    Gothic architecture, unlike Romanesque, did not develop in the classical centres of Rome or Greece but in Northern Europe. It was the first true European style. The style of Gothic has no precise founder or date but when Abbot Suger of St- Denis, France, decided to renovate his abbey in 1140, he built what is considered to be the first example of Gothic architecture. The result was immediately praised by almost everyone.

    While Gothic architecture was not the first to use pointed arches, or flying buttresses and ribbed vaults, it was the first use them all in combination that allowed thinner walls and more and bigger windows throughout the structure. This produced a translucent feeling from within the cathedral as light filtered through the shell: “ The glass windows of the Gothic replace the brightly coloured walls of Romanesque architecture; they are structurally and aesthetically not openings in the wall to admit light but transparent walls.”

    Another of the differences between Gothic and the previous ecclesiastical style, Romanesque, is how the worship space is conceived inside the cathedral. The Gothic Cathedral was conceived as a total space and then divided within while Romanesque was more modular and unit was added to unit.

    The early Gothic style was noted for its immense size and height. An example of this is the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

    The new system of buttressing introduced around 1175 reduced the amount of thickness in the walls, allowing high and many beautiful stained glass windows. This allowed the Gothic cathedrals to become light-filled and naturally symbolic of the heavenly. The darker gloomier Romanesque cathedrals relied on manmade statuaries and paintings for religious symbolism.

    As all architectural styles go through various stages or phases in their growth and development, so too did the Gothic style. The first variation was the high Gothic style.

    By the 1200’s, the taste for enormous structures had passed. Improving building and architectural skills allowed designers to create a new elegance without a huge building.

    In England, Gothic architecture began with the building of the Canterbury Choir. Canterbury is one of the more interesting Gothic cathedrals, in England because it combines elements of both the Romanesque and the Gothic styles. For this reason, it is called a “fragment”. The Choir was built in 1174 by a French builder named William of Seas. Note that the date 1179 is only thirty years after the first Gothic cathedral. This is evidence of a fast acceptance and a rapid spread of the style through Europe.

    Another style of Gothic is called “Decorated”. This was primarily an English style. The variation on Gothic is characterized by flowing curves. Examples of this style are York, Exeter and Wells Cathedrals. Decorated preceded or co-existed with a style called perpendicular. This was because of the complex tracery found inside the cathedrals on the walls of the vaults. An example of this style is the chapel at King’s College in Cambridge.

    The Cathedral of York Minster which was the seat of the Archbishop of York, combined several gothic styles. The Nave was the first part to be built in 1291 and is the widest Gothic nave in England. The right key roof bosses are quite beautiful. They portray scenes of the life of Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Nativity, the Resurrection, the Ascension, the Pentecost and the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. The north transept was built during the 13th century and is typical of the early English Gothic style with columns of purbeck stone. The use of purbeck stone also added to the luminous quality of the interior of Gothic cathedrals.

    The chapter house of York Minster, which illustrates the decorated style, was begun in 1260 and completed in 1286. This is where the Dean and Chapter, officials who governed the Cathedral met to discuss issues. It is still in use today.

    In common with other Gothic cathedrals, York Minster’s choir is enclosed by screens. The choir is the traditional place for the service to be sung. The cathedra (throne) of the archbishop is also kept there. The east end of York Minster Cathedral is square ended. This is in keeping with typical English style. This area of the Minster was built in perpendicular Gothic style. The south transept of the Minster was the first part to be rebuilt and is in early Gothic style.

    Gothic Cathedrals include sculpture which differs from the preceding Romanesque style which was dramatic and strong. Gothic sculpture was calm and more humane. This idea also affects the atmosphere in the respective cathedrals. In dark and gloomy Romanesque Cathedrals the builders relied on manmade sculptures and paintings to depict Christ and to convey their religious messages. Gothic cathedrals however were softer, filled with light and calm harmonious decoration creating an entire transcendental atmosphere.

    Most Gothic Sculpture was created to decorate the entrances to the Cathedrals and I think that this allowed artists more freedom because the art was not actually going inside the House of God.

    Gothic Cathedrals are still in use today for a variety of denominations of Christians. Almost all the Cathedrals in Britain that are being used today are Gothic. York Minster has been a site of worship for almost one thousand years. It is still in use for regular Anglican church services and declares its mission as offering: “Christian worship, sacred music and a place to be still amidst the grandeur of carved stone and stained glass.”

    The Middle Ages, which gave birth to Gothic architecture and art, was a time of faith and belief in Roman Catholicism. Virtually everyone in the world where Gothic cathedrals evolved was a devout Christian. The Church was what united and held Europe as well as giving every person something to belong to. Christian scripture and doctrine affected all aspects of life in the Middle Ages. Only the Church could marry you. The Church held enormous power in all countries with each diocese wealthy and holding huge tracts of land.

    Beauty and artistic creativity in the medieval time derived from a transcendental vision of the divine. This indicates how heavily Christian beliefs influenced Middle Ages art. Further, artistic endeavors including the designing and building of the Gothic cathedrals were financed by the Church. The cathedrals were the centre of the Church’s power in each diocese.

    The Gothic cathedral was designed as a symbol or image. In the Middle Ages most people could not read or write. Thus symbols meant much more in those days than now. The Cathedral represented the power of the Almighty. The beautiful interior was believed to recreate the beauty of God and the Heavenly City of the book of Revelations.

    Unlike earlier ecclesiastical buildings, the gothic cathedral form itself was intended to represent the supernatural reality of the Christian religion. This gigantic building, towering over the countryside, filled with light and in the structural form of a huge cross, was God on earth. Worshipping in one of those gigantic edifices must have been a truly uplifting experience. Imagine a poor illiterate farmer approaching a town with a cathedral towering over the small surrounding buildings. Such a view must have immediately solidified his faith in the power of his religion.

    When Canterbury was finished and dedicated in 1130, a contemporary described it as “the most splendid of them since the Temple of Solomon”. This shows how much of an effect the cathedral had on the people of that time and how important the building was in their religion. To compare the cathedral to the almost mythical temple in the ancient city of Jerusalem truly reflects the magnificence of these cathedrals. The people chanted “Awesome is this place” as part of the dedication service. Awe of the almighty God of their religion was the feeling evoked in the original worshippers, the intention of the designers and continues to be the feeling evoked in even the secular visitors of today.

    The people of the time considered the architectural perfection and symmetry of a gothic cathedral to be divinely inspired and symbols of the kingdom of heaven on earth. The designer’s vision of mathematical harmony embodied in the form and design of a gothic cathedral was founded in a mystical vision of harmony reflecting God’s divine order in the universe.

    The Cathedral was a symbol of the Kingdom of Heaven and as a sanctuary from everyday life. In a time when the supernatural was a part of everyday life the designers were able to create a form which embodied the supernatural perfection of Heaven on earth and evoked the awe of the almighty in those who entered it.
     
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  2. Constantine

    Constantine at least it isnt the sens

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    Sources


    Bibliography

    1. Bloxam, Mathew Holbeche, The principles of Gothic Ecclesiastical Architecture, (London,:George Belland Sons,1882)
    2. Bond, Francis, Gothic Architecture in England, an Analysis of the Origin,
    3. Frankl, Paul, Gothic Architecture.
    4. Harrison,F, The Painted Glass of York, (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
    5. Simson, Otto von, The Gothic Cathedral, ((London:Bollingen), 1944.

    Internet Sources

    1. Britannica.com, Gothic Art
    2. Worldbook.com Gothic Architecture
    3. York Minster.com, Online Tour and History
     
  3. Constantine

    Constantine at least it isnt the sens

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  4. Knight-Dragon

    Knight-Dragon Unhidden Dragon Retired Moderator

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    Good one, and unusual as well. I'll have to read it later. :thumbsup:
     
  5. Constantine

    Constantine at least it isnt the sens

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    any more feedback?
     
  6. screenfly

    screenfly Chieftain

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    Hi all,
    I've bought this English red sandstone church windowframe years ago as I was emediatly struck by its beauty,but the seller couldnt date it nor tell me where it was from, i thought the shapes were a bit neo romantic but after visiting England I recognised some perpendullar style in it while visiting many of the great churches England has,so it could be way older and in fact I think it could be gothic,
    is there anybody here on the forums to get me some feedback on the pics I attached?
    would be great! :)
    thnx for responding and greetings
     

    Attached Files:

  7. innonimatu

    innonimatu Warlord

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    Sorry to disappoint you but to really be gothic it'd have to be from the Middle Ages, and it would be in limestone or other long-lasting stone. While I don't know british styles it's clear from your photo that what you have is either clay (seems clay to me) or sandstone as you say. So it should be relatively recent. My guess it that whomever made it was inspired by the neo-gothic revival of the 19th century.

    But it's a guess, I may very well be wrong!
     
  8. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    Gothic architecture is cool :)

    There is also byzantine-gothic, particularly in Venice. St. Mark.



    Afterall Venice was a byz protectorate, before it turned to murderous scum :shake:
     
  9. LouisPhilippe

    LouisPhilippe Chieftain

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    Saint-Séverin Church in Paris, France has Gothic architecture.

     
  10. Zkribbler

    Zkribbler Warlord

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    In the opening post you say, "The Middle Ages, which gave birth to Gothic architecture and art, was a time of faith and belief in Roman Catholicism. Virtually everyone in the world where Gothic cathedrals evolved was a devout Christian."

    You are equating Catholic and Christian. At this time, Christianity had split into at least Catholic, Orthodox, and Coptic.

    I've always thought it ironic that today's "Goths" are dark and brooding while Gothic architecture is soaring and lets in lots of light.
     
  11. karleyy7

    karleyy7 Chieftain

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    I adore architecture! This is my specialty, profession and passion. I just specialized in the Gothic style, but now I am studying a new branch. I went to Russia, to St. Petersburg, specifically to see their churches and cathedrals! Very unusual and beautiful culture. I took a private tour https://petersburg.expert/blog/church-of-the-savior-on-spilled-blood-history-photos-tickets/ !
    So if anyone studies religious architecture, then I think you will be interested in=)
     
  12. AnthonyBoscia

    AnthonyBoscia Chieftain

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    That's amazing. I can't wait to purchase a ticket! Which civ games was your favorite?
     

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