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Gothic Architecture by Mind Map: Gothic Architecture
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Gothic Architecture

English Gothic

No 'British Gothic'

Up until now, there had been peaceful relations (for once) between England and Scotland, so there had been harmonious cultural exchange, and for a while, their respective architectures had been quite similar. Malcolm III's English wife (Margaret) had been bringing English culture to Scotland. Then in 1290, there is no heir to the Scottish throne, Edward I of England is called in to make an executive decision, he picks a puppet king, making him essentially the king of Scotland. This triggers the War of Independence between Britain and Scotland for 50 - 60 years, during which there is no building in Sccotland. Once it recommences, Scottish and British architecture are markedly different.

Roche Abbey, South Yorkshire 1247

Transitional Style, Pointed arches/windows (Gothic), Round arches/windows (Romanesque)

Cantebury Cathedral, 1175 - 1185

By William of Sens

Choir very similar to that of Sens Cathedral

Westminster Abbey, begun 1245

Mostly built 1245 - 1272

The most French of English cathedrals


Chapter House, c. 1246, Lots of glass, minimum masonry

Salisbury Cathedral, 1220 - 1258

Early English/ 'First Pointed'


Specific chapel for the Virgin

Purbeck marble (polished limestone)

Simple lancet windows

Quadpartite vaulting

Lincoln Cathedral, early 13th Century

Tieceron vaulting

Two sets of transepts

Extra chapel

Small cloisters

High Gothic

First Phase of English Decorated: Geometric, Geometrical Tracery

Elgin Cathedral, 13th Century

Borrowed Lincoln's order of surface

Only cathedral with two towers

More complex arch sections than the French

More complex plans than the French

Plan of Notre Dame de Paris

Plan of Lincoln church

Ely Cathedral c. 1320 - 1350

Second phase of English Decorative Gothic: Curvolinear

Very complex

Every statue is headless thanks to the Reformation

Gloucester Cathedral 1340 - 1350

Adaptation of Romanesque

Final stage of English Decorative: Perpendicular

Rising verticles

Lierne vaulting, Developed into fan vaulting in other parts of the cathedral, like at King's College, Cambridge, 1516

Henry VII chapel, Westminster Abbey, 1503 - 1509

High Middle Ages architecure

France 12th to early 16th Century

As it goes on, it becomes more flamboyant and loses some of it's coherence and logical structure.

French Gothic is very streamlined

French Gothic is very streamlined

Name = derogatory

Used in the Italian Renaissance to denote primitiviry and barbarianism who couldn't emulate Roman architecture as Romanesque had.

Pointed arch

The pointed arch distributes weight from above more efficiently than a round arch. It also allows for thinner walls and wider spans. It's more flexible as a building element: the arches can be made wider or narrower, whilst still remaining the same height. Many pointed arches can work together to form a groin vault.

Flying buttreses

Uniformed vaulting of any plan shape

Increased height

Elimination of non-load bearing walls

Rib vaulting

These arrived in late Romanesque, and succeed the barrel vault. Again, they are more flexible as a building structure.

Spanish and Portuguese Gothic: Very intricate and decorative.

Need for smaller windows

Italian Gothic = simpler (with the exception of Milan)

Need for smaller windows

Germany and Central Europe: Very inventive, though self-conscious late Gothic.

Begin Gothic when the Renaissance is well under way in Italy.

Three Stages

Early Gothic: 1140 - 1200

High Gothic: 1200 - 1260

Rayonnant: 1260 - 1300

Royal Abbey of St Denis, Paris (Suger's Rebuilding: 1135 - 1144)

Engulfs an original 9th Century Carolingian church. Abbot Suger made additions 1135 - 1144.

Ambulatory 1137 - 1140

First Gothic building

Ribbed vaulting means that the new structure forms new, innovate shapes which were previously impossible.

Abbot Suger

St. Denis --> Pseudo Dionysius

Christian Neo-Platonism, Matter = Bad, Pure Form = Good

St John's Gospel: God is light, Choir: Huge stained glass windows

'Heavenly Jerusalem'

Symbolism in the height: Reaching up to the heavens

Jesse Window

Focal window. The Tree of Jesse is the family tree of the ancestors of Christ, starting with Jesse of Bethlehem.

Part of the new front and choir.

Mystical significance of light., Adding a more holy light, Huge contrast to Romanesque churches


Things are built for practical reasons first, but meaning is given to them later.

Peter and Paul are the pillars of the church

12 inner columns of the chevet: with disciples/apostles

Outer columns =minor prophets

Rose Window

Trinity of doors

Chatres Cathedral, 1194 - 1220


Medieval interest in geometry and proportion

First of the great High Gothic cathedrals

Triple portal

Like Heavenly Jerusalem from the Book of Revelations Ch. 21

Nave elevation

Results in more open space

Original stained glass

Survived French Revolution. Like the jewelled walls of heavenly Jerusalem.


St Augustine

Made it intellectually possible to justify Gothic stained glass expenses through marrying Platanism with Christianity: Saying that matter is bad; good is an ideal form and that the earth is a mixture of form and matter.

Matter = bad

Ideal form = good

God is beyond our imagination

God = light

Sens Cathedral, begun 1140s

Continuous shaft with alternate rhythms

Through separate vaults.

Notre Dame de Paris, 1163 - 1250

Trying to maximize the light

Old design.

Random section in the East = different

Old design: design changes from East (old section) to West, as they built it, they kept changing the design.

Bourges Cathedral, 1190 - 1275

Incredibly streamlined

Going with French aims.

Very high arcade

Aspiring to heaven: arcades are getting higher and higher.

144 ft high

The Book of Revelations says the walls of Jerusalem are 144 feet high.

Amiens Cathedral, 1270

Still 144 feet, but taller, because their local feet were longer.


Beauvais Cathedral, begun 1225

Highest 144 ft of all. Never finished

La Sainte-Chapelle, 1243 - 1248

Rayonnant style

Very light and rational as a style.

Very tall

Small interior

Makes it seem even taller.

Huge reliquarium

Housing Crown of Thorns. Won from 1204 crusade from Constantinople, sacked for relics. Relics were generally housed away from human eyes, as it was felt that they may defile them.

Very little masonry

Lots of glass

Peak of Gothic achieved

Vendôme, La Trinité, 1350

Flamboyant Gothic

Order dissolves; flamme - like a flame.

Very decorative masonry


Abbeville, St. Gilles

Batalha, Portugal, 1386 - 1517

Very ornamented



Small windows

Due to heat - means a return to a Romanesque gloominess, and basically completely defating the rationale of Gothic. Basically, the same elements are being used (pointed arches, flying buttresses etc.) but as means to different ends.

Burgos Cathedral, begun 1221

Became more ornate as it grew.Banded towers.Crossing completed 1567.

Majorca, Palma Cathedral, begun 1229

Built on the site of a Mosque

Soaring to heaven

Geometric patterns on rose window

Almost like a Moorish pattern.

Florence Cathedral, begun 1296

Italians hated Gothic. It was invented in the dawn of the Renaissance and they saw it as ugly and primitive, hence they never really bothered with it properly.

Few windows

Milan Cathedral, 1380s

Most gothic of Italian churches

Had French and German masons

St Annen, Annaberg, Germanny, begun 1499

Very light

No flying buttresses

Complex vaulting

Decorative purposes.

Inglostadt, Liebfrauenmunder, from 1425

Tablet shaped

Nothing stops the vaults

Exposed vaults in the side chapels

Encrusted like tree trunks, a reference to the idea that Gothic was created by someone walking through a German forest.

Benedikt Reid/Rejt 1450 - 1531, Prague Castle

Vladislaw Hall 1493 - 1502

Largest secular vaulted hall in Europe. Incredibly intricate v aults. Again, going back to the assumption that Gothic was related to intertwined tree branches.

Gothic in Scotland

No Scottish High Gothic: the Wars of Independence interrupted and there ewas very little decorative work in that period. Gothic reaches England and Scotland through monastic orders, especially Cistercian. Similar development until wars of Independenced. Scotland rejects English Perpendicular style, inspired by France.

Holyrood Abbey, 1128

New religious orders from France


St Micheal's, Linlithgow

French flamboyant design in the South Transept

Glasgow Cathedral (early 13th Century)

Remained intact during reformation. Built on a steep cliff, over the site of St. Mungo.

Lower story for tomb

Simple lancet windows

Wooden vaults

Melrose Abbey, post 1385

Paid by Richard II as an apology for sacking

By John Morow, Closer to French flamboyant work, Worked everywhere in Scotland, Scotland fought for France in wars

Gothic Art, by Michael Camille

Gothic as 'a new vision of space'

Cathedral architecgture is showing how the church could control and manpulate space on earth

Gothic as a break with tradition: originally called 'opus francigenum' (French Style/New Style'

Intricate exteriors to entice people to enter: 'advertisments in stone'

Focus was usually the West Front

Like the Heavenly Jerusalem described in teh vision of the Apoocalypse in Revelation 21

'walls great and high'

'pure gold, like unto glass' --> Camille: 'crystaline appearance'

Huge contrast to small, dark homes of most people: showing the church's power and wealth, awed them.

Not everyone liked them. Peter the Chanter (d. 1117), canon at Notre Dame de Paris critized this excess as being like the Tower of Babel.

England: Cathedrals more isolated from civilization e.g. Salisbury

More urban in France and Germany

Wells Cathdral, 1230 - 1250

Unlike French Gothic

Focus on depth of portals

On screen-like canopies with 257 statues

'Gothic architecture has to be seen as part of this ever-changing spatial performance of the liturgy'

Cult of the Virgin = one of the greatest incentives in cathedral building

Her body = church From where the connection between God and humanity originated

Rheims Cathedral

sculptural elements of the East end show that this is the most sacred and important part of the church

13th Century Gothic we see huge buildings

St. Urbain, Troyes, begun 1260, small cathedral, exterior is composed so that all the elements seem deatched, Camille: shows imagination, 'capacity to build castles in the air', so light: no glass in certain parts of the tracery; just air, Rayonnant Gothic 1260 - 1300

Gothic architecture was planned as they went along, on site

Sculptures were very often endorsed in a canopy (3D version of the pointed arch)

Connatations of security

The frame was the locus: 'allowed the viewers to position themselves in relation to the representation within' Figure is elevated to a divine level.

Only gargoyles were ever without canopies: their exterior isolation, draine pipes: an 'ungodly ejection from the church'.

Canopies, alongisde crocketed finials and sharply pointed pinnacles were the image of Holy Jerusalem.

'Gothic was the creation of a complete space, a total enviornment'.

Suger: "Some strange region of the universe which neither exists entirely in the slime of the earth non entirely in th epurity of heaven."

Light was very important: removal of gallery + flying buttresses = larger clerestory windows

Chartres is very gloomy; filtered, jewel-colored light - 'a vision of that other would "garnished with all manner of precious stones"' (Revelation 21)

Rose windows = Virgin Mary

Latin: many words for light

lumen = light multiplied spacially

lux = light from luminous bodies

splendour = reflected light

lux nova = Suger's choir windows

Gothic art = metaphysics of light

Pseudo-Dionysius - 5th Century, revival during the 12th Century, Suger was eager to link with St Denis, Christian mystic: God = an "incomprehensible and inaccessible light"

Light quality changed over the years, Chartres is very dark and mysterious, "This latter glass makes the walls of the church seem not so much garnished with a mosaic of precious stones as disappearing altogether in diaphanous radiance.", 13th Century allowed for more light to enter, People becoming more partial to materials such as crystals and diamonds, meanwhile, perspective philosophers were looking at refraction of light through the eye

1300 - silver staining in stained glass develops, white = important

Giotto: instead of transporting viewers to a heavenly realm, he's bringing them down to earth, Fresco: Italian's main way of defining space - Arena Chapel = coherent, painted narrative

Canterbury Cathedral, Pilgrims would literally move down from the dark of the crypts in to the light of the Trinity chapel (1220) where the relics of Thomas Beckett were displayed: v. bright with stained glass windows, each one representing his miracles.', 'New spatial experience'

Louis IX: Sainte-Chapelle, Essentially a huge reliquarium, So much light through windows reflecting off of gilded statues, 'chromatic brilliance of Gothic' lost from most buildings due to austerity of later century's tastes, Like being ain a huge gemstone