( Originally Published Early 1900's )
THE Romanesque architects on the Continent, as we have seen, had made great progress in the art of building by the middle of the twelfth century, and had mastered most of the problems which had puzzled their predecessors, so that their architecture throughout Europe—especially in the north and west, had regained much of its lost dignity. But they had not yet arrived at a successful method of roof treatment. The wooden roof was unsatisfactory, and led to destruction by fire of many a substantial building; while the alternative to this, the barrel-vaulting, which had been used in the buildings of the old Romans, was too ponderous. True, the "lids" of solid concrete with which the Romans covered their vast buildings exerted no lateral pressure upon the walls, but their enormous weight required equally massive walls to carry them. When masonry took the place of concrete, the vaults were still more difficult to support, for the arched form of the heavy vault tended to force the walls apart—exerted a lateral thrust, as we say—so that it was necessary, not only to make the walls massive and strong, but also to reduce the span, or width of the vaulted spaces.
It was in their efforts to find a solution to these difficulties that the builders hit upon a new principle which brought about nothing less than a revolution in the art of building—the principle of ribbed vaulting, which, in fact, formed the structural basis of the style of architecture known as Gothic."
The term Gothic is as unfortunate as it is inapt. Gothic architecture is the natural outcome of Romanesque, though the term seems to suggest a break in the progressive character of the art, and has doubtless proved a stumbling-block to many students, by leading them to regard the styles as distinct from, and possibly opposed to, one another. " Gothic " was merely a contemptuous term applied to the style by the classical enthusiasts of the seventeenth century, who looked upon a Goth as a typical barbarian, and who regarded anything non-classical as barbarous; but the name has stuck, as bad names have a habit of doing, and is still in general use to denote the pointed style which developed in the twelfth and flourished in the succeeding centuries. The pointed arch, it should be noted, was in reality incidental to the development of Gothic, though it is usual to consider it the characteristic feature of the style.
In ribbed vaulting, a skeleton vault is formed of ribs carried transversely and diagonally across the nave, so as to form a strong open framework, and to concentrate the weight and pressure of the roof upon the isolated points of support from which the ribs spring, the spaces between the ribs being then filled in with lighter masonry. The advantages of this form of construction are readily seen: the roof became lighter, and could span larger areas; and, as the pressure was concentrated upon certain points, it was necessary only to strengthen the wall at these points, instead of making it thick and massive throughout. But-tresses were introduced for this purpose; and as the wall between the buttresses, relieved from the pressure of the roof, became now of secondary importance—for it was merely a screen to keep out the weather—it could be constructed of light materials, or opened up in the form of windows. With this innovation, then—the application of the principles of concentration of strains and of balanced thrusts—the Early Gothic builders took up the constructive problems just where the Romanesque builders were being baffled by them, and soon added fresh dignity and grandeur to their work.
Let us see to what extent these new principles affected design and construction. The illustration shows the plan of a highly developed Gothic building of simple form, Sainte Chapelle in Paris, built by Louis IX. (1243–1247). The upper chapel here is an unbroken room, t00 feet in length, 33 feet wide, and 60 feet in height, roofed over with a series of groined vaults; springing from slender columns. The thrust of the columns is taken by buttresses—very sturdy, as we see in the plan—and carried up the entire height of the exterior walls. Now note that the massive walls, which would have been necessary to support such a superstructure in Romanesque work, have disappeared. The wall lengths between each vault have, so to speak, been turned round upon their axes, and placed at right angles to their original direction, so as to form a series of buttresses, with abutment sufficient to with-stand the thrust of the groined roof-vaulting. These wall spaces between the buttresses are no longer required for constructive purposes, and can therefore be filled with large windows, des-tined soon, as a natural further development, to become rich with the glories of stained glass.
In a design such as Sainte Chapelle, a Gothic church without aisles, the problem of dealing with the thrusts is presented in its simpler form, as the walls which take the thrusts are external walls.
But when aisles are introduced at the side of the nave, a fresh difficulty arises. The buttresses cannot now be carried vertically down, for they would block up the aisles with their mass. To permit of their being ranged along the external face of the aisle-walls, a new feature is brought into play—the flying buttress, which bridges over the intervening space, and supplies at once the necessary counter-thrust to the roof-vaulting of the nave. As the nave piers and the walls over them are now relieved, by the buttresses, of the more serious part of their bur-den, and have to perform only the simple task of carving the vertical weight, the builders are enabled to make them not only lofty, but slighter and more graceful.
The flying buttress, then, soon became a characteristic feature of Gothic building. True, its necessary presence hampered the exterior design in some respects, but its decorative possibilities were speedily recognized and seized upon. So ornate and ornamental did it become that in many French cathedrals it has the appearance of being a purely decorative feature, placed in its position for no other reason than to delight the eye and to endow the design with grace, and with that suggestion of aspiration—rather than repose—which is inseparably connected with true Gothic:
The Grecian gluts me with its perfect ness, Unanswerable as Euclid—self-contained ;
But, ah ! this other, this that never ends, Still climbing, luring fancy still to climb, Imagination's very self in stone.
While the buttress enabled the builder to intro-duce height into his design as one of the chief elements of effect, the pointed arch solved the difficulty of bridging over varying widths at any required height. The Gothic architect could thus give play to his fancy and imagination, little troubled by problems of construction, and unfettered by considerations of precedent.
The Gothic cathedral has been styled " a roof of stone with walls of glass," and not inaptly ; for the walls no longer required to be of massive construction to carry the weight, became little more than screens, either of masonry or of glass, filling in the spaces between the buttresses, to keep out the weather and to give effect to the design ; and no treatment of these spaces could secure so glorious a result as did the introduction of great traceried windows filled with richly colored glass. So beautiful was the painted glass of the period that it at once made its influence felt upon the architecture: the windows were increased in size, and the walls, as far as possible, were illuminated. "Far more important," remarks Fergusson, "than the introduction of the pointed arch was the invention of painted glass, which is really the important formative principle of Gothic architecture ; so much so, that there would be more meaning in the name if it were called the `painted glass style' instead of the pointed-arch style. . We must bear in mind that all windows in all churches erected after the middle of the twelfth century were filled, or were intended to be filled, with painted glass, and that the principal and guiding motive in all the changes subsequently introduced into the architecture of the age was to obtain the greatest possible space and the best localities for its display."
The extensive use of glass soon led to a great development of another feature—window tracery. The nature of the glass required that the window areas which it filled should be divided up into a number of smaller spaces. Thus, although perhaps no feature of Gothic design appears more purely ornamental than the elaborate tracery of the windows, it has, like almost all decorative parts, a constructional raison d'etre, forming, in fact, part of the skeleton of the Gothic frame. The attention given by designers to tracery led it, by gradual stages, from simple beginnings to a period of florid elaboration, so that by this feature, more readily than by any other, it is possible to trace the various periods in the history of Gothic architecture.
FRANCE.—Gothic architecture in France, the country of its birth, may be divided into three periods, of which the approximate dates are:
Early Period (cir. 1160–1270)-
Middle Period (cir. 1270–1370).
Florid or Flamboyant Period (cir. 1370-1550).
The second half of the twelfth century was a period of extraordinary activity with the French cathedral builders. The Church at this time was a strong and popular institution. Many of its cathedrals, built by the careful but unscientific Romanesque builders, were collapsing under the weights of their ponderous vaults, and were in urgent need of renovation. In other parts new structures were required, and with such energy did the bishops, backed up by the people, set to work, that, at the end of the twelfth names—being those of Bayonne, Lisieux, Laon, Tours, Poitiers, Troyes, Chartres, Bourges, and Notre Dame at Paris.
The buildings of this date were marked by simplicity of treatment of the groined vaulting, of the arrangement of parts, and of the detail: the carving was simple and vigorous, the windows long and narrow, and frequently grouped in pairs beneath a pointed arch, the head pierced with a circular light, as in our plate-tracery. The interior division into bays was marked on the exterior by a uniform series of pinnacled flying buttresses. A steep wooden roof, covered with lead or tiles, completed the structure, protecting and allowing space inside for the lofty stone vaulting.
Notre Dame at Paris (1163-1214), one of the earliest, shows a perfectly symmetrical plan with semicircular east end, richly sculptured triple western portals, rose-windows in the chief gables, and most of the characteristic features of the French cathedral of the thirteenth century.
Later in date than Notre Dame was the graceful cathedral of Chartres (1194-1230), the richly decorated northern spire of which, added in the sixteenth century, contrasts in an instructive manner with the simple and beautiful lines of its southern companion. The magnificent windows, each the bright gift of some mechanic guild, Who loved their city, and thought gold well spent To make her beautiful with piety are filled with a glorious setting of stained glass, a lasting memorial of the interest and enthusiasm which all classes displayed in the building of their temple.
In the beautiful cathedral of Amiens (1220-1288), pure Gothic found its highest expression ; "in dignity inferior to Chartres, in sublimity to Beauvais, in decorative splendor to Rheims, and in loveliness of figure-sculpture to Bourges. It has nothing like the artful pointing and molding of the arcades of Salisbury—nothing of the might of Durham. And yet, in all, and more than these, ways, outshone or overpowered, the cathedral of Amiens deserves the name given to it by M. Viollet le Duc—` the Parthenon of Gothic Architecture.' "*
As the type of French Gothic, the cathedral of Amiens is contrasted later with that of Salisbury (p. 139).
Almost invariably the French cathedral plan showed a semicircular or apsidal arrangement of the east end. At Laon and Poitiers we find the square end, so general in England ; but in the typical plan the east end had a series of radiating chapels, forming a chevet—an arrangement already noticed in the Romanesque church of Notre Dame at Clermont, and seen in the illustration of Amiens Cathedral. -
The transepts were not so fully developed as in England: Bourges has none, and Notre Dame at Paris has only rudimentary ones. The main (west) front usually contained a triple portal, and over this ran a frieze of niches filled with royal statues. The superb porches, with elaborately sculptured, deeply recessed archways, enriched with "dedicated shapes of saints and kings," are specially characteristic of French de-sign, and form the richest feature of the exterior. In many examples they project a considerable distance in front of the main wall and are roofed with massive gables. Magnificent examples are found at Bourges, Chartres, Amiens, and, perhaps finest of all, at Rheims; witness the old couplet Clocher de Chartres, nef d'Amiens, Choeur de Beauvais, portail de Rheims which puts before us the popular idea of the four grandest features to be found among the Gothic cathedrals of France.
The French buildings are generally on a vaster and more imposing scale than the English cathedrals. There is no Gothic design in England comparable in these respects with the giants at Rheims, Paris, Bourges, Amiens, or Chartres, all of which were in course of erection in the early half of the thirteenth century. In respect of length the cathedrals of France did not differ greatly from the English examples, for the longest (Amiens, 520 feet) is exceeded by the cathedrals at Winchester and Ely; but they surpassed the English in width and area, and especially in boldness and loftiness of the vaulting.
To the First Period belong several monastic buildings, amongst others the picturesque Mont S. Michel, portions of which, however, have been rebuilt later.
Of the buildings of the Second Period the most noteworthy is the unfinished cathedral of Beauvais. The foundation dates from 1225, but the greater portion of the design of this—the loftiest and slenderest of all French cathedrals—was not carried out until the second half of the thirteenth century. In this design the builders carried the Gothic principles to the extreme limit of daring, and in a few years the slender supports collapsed, and the building required to be almost entirely reconstructed. As it now stands, the height from the pavement to the top of the vaulting is not less than 160 feet ! Similar measurements at Ely, a long cathedral of the English type, give less than 75 feet.
Few cathedrals of the Middle Period were completed, except after long delays, for -the enthusiasm had waned. In S. Ouen at Rouen, built between 1320-1350, we have a fine example, with additions of a later date. Limoges (1272) was begun on an extensive scale, but is still incomplete ; Toulouse, begun in the same year, was not completed until the sixteenth century; Narbonne is still unfinished. Yet there was no inconsiderable amount of building carried on, and many additions were made to the earlier designs which have greatly enhanced their beauty and interest. The great rose-windows, as at Rouen, are features of this period.
Profusion of rich detail and florid elaboration of tracery curves marked the Third, or Flamboyant, Period. Such work is seen in the church of S. Maclou at Rouen; finer still in the rich facade which was added to the older cathedral of Rouen at the beginning of the sixteenth century. In each of these examples may be noticed the striking development of elaborate tracery; the gables over the porches are an open network of stone, suggestive of windows without glass. Notable examples of the flamboyant work are the facades of Troyes and of Rheims, the church of S. Jacques at Dieppe, and the Hotel de Ville at Rouen, of the same date as the cathedral front (1500). The florid architecture of the sixteenth century culminated in such fantastic work as the sepulchral church of Brou, in which almost all dignity of composition is frittered away in a dazzling pro-fusion of lacelike carving, marvelous master-pieces of the craftsmen's art
Flemish carvers, Lombard gilders, German masons, smiths from Spain but a decadent form of architecture.
The Gothic spirit in France was not confined to ecclesiastical buildings, but pervaded every branch of secular and domestic architecture. Many " a French town, as Troyes, Provins, or Bourges, retains fine specimens of the later Gothic house: witness the picturesque house of Jacques Coeur at Bourges (1443). The more important buildings were of stone; but in shop-fronts and designs on a smaller scale the half-timbered facade, with its overhanging, steep-pitched gables and fully molded beams and brackets, was more frequently seen. With later domestic buildings details become less distinctly Gothic, but the high gables and steep roofs and other Gothic traditions survived, and, as we shall see, strongly influenced the designs of the French Renaissance builders of the sixteenth and later centuries.
GREAT BRITAIN.—Gothic architecture in Great Britain is usually divided into three periods—Early English, Decorated, and Perpendicular—the duration of which coincided fairly accurately with the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries respectively. We shall, therefore, not be greatly at fault in regarding Early English Gothic as the typical style of the thirteenth century, Decorated of the fourteenth, and Perpendicular of the fifteenth and later centuries. Needless to say, the periods over-lapped one another to some extent, and the style did not suddenly change with the advent of each new centurv. The course of architecture throughout the periods was uninterrupted, as-we shall see by noting the leading characteristics of each:
Early English, or Thirteenth Century.—Long,
narrow, lancet-headed windows; angle-buttresses set squarely ; deeply undercut moldings to the arches; slender, detached columns to doors and windows; circular capitals, with crisp, bulbous foliage; clustered piers; little ornament, except the dog-tooth.
Decorated, or Fourteenth Century.—Greater richness of detail; buttresses enriched with crockets, niches, etc., and often set obliquely at the angles; windows wider and more important, and divided by mullions, the upper part filled in with geometrical or (later) elaborate flowing tracery; moldings shallower and less numerous; carved foliage in the capitals less crisp, with natural forms of oak leaves, etc. ; finely carved figures and bosses; ball-flower ornament.
Perpendicular, or Fifteenth Century and Later.—Larger windows with numerous mullions, and with vertical tracery carried through to the top of the arch, often intersected by horizontal transomes; almost all wall surfaces panelled, in imitation of the window treatment; doorways frequently finished with a square label over the arch; weak, shallow moldings; octagonal piers; arches, at the later period, flattened at the apex, and struck from four centres; open timber roofs of elaborate construction, with carved figures of angels; more elaborate vaulting; richly ornamented parapets with battlements; Tudor-rose ornament.
There was no Gothic cathedral-building era in England to compare with the early part of the thirteenth century in France. We have seen that the period following the Norman Conquest had been a very active one, and had covered the island with such ecclesiastical buildings as were unrivalled even in France at that time. These grand structures were sufficient for the people's immediate wants. But as the Gothic tide began to make its presence felt, the new features were gradually introduced into new work which was in progress, and, after a period of transition, began to supplant the sturdy Norman details and the round arch; though there was no wholesale pulling down and rebuilding of cathedral churches, such as was witnessed in France. Thus it comes about that the cathedrals of England are less homogeneous than those of France, for, with one or two exceptions, they represent a mixture of styles, and are in reality Norman structures which have been remodeled and enlarged by the Gothic builders.
This fact tended to emphasize a characteristic peculiarity of the English cathedral plan—its remarkable length in proportion to its breadth. The Anglo-Norman builders, probably for constructive reasons, showed a preference for narrow naves; and as it would have been impossible to widen the naves without pulling down the buildings, the subsequent Gothic additions were all in the direction of emphasizing the length rather than the width, so that in several of the English plans we find the proportions of length to breadth as great as 7 to 1. At Salisbury, an entirely Gothic building, the dimensions are 450 feet and 78 feet respectively—almost 6 to 1. The long, narrow naves of the English cathedrals are ill-adapted for a service, or for enabling a congregation to see what was taking place at the altar; but there were compensations, for, as Fergusson points out, "in pictorial effect they surpass everything erected on the Continent, unless with greatly increased dimensions of height or width. Whether, there-fore, it were hit upon by accident or design, its beauty was immediately appreciated, and formed the governing principle in the design of all the English cathedrals. It was a discovery which has added more to the sublimity of effect which characterizes most of our cathedrals than any other principle introduced during the Middle Ages."
The earliest traces of Gothic in England are found in Norman buildings which were in course of erection during the middle of the twelfth century. Pointed arches were introduced at Malmsbury Abbey (1130) and at Kirkstall Abbey (1160), and almost equally early examples of ribbed vaulting are found at Furness Abbey, Worcester Cathedral, and elsewhere. The ideas were no doubt imported from France, but they developed in a different manner, and probably owed much of their development to English architects. It is to Canterbury, however, that we must look for the first application of Gothic on a complete and extensive scale.
Canterbury at this early date had already seen much history. The cathedral had been rebuilt in the tenth century by Odo, but the archbishop appointed by William the Norman, Lanfranc, destroyed the whole of the old building, and rebuilt it on a larger scale in 1070. But, like the old Roman emperors, the abbot-builders of those days had little respect for their predecessors' work, and within twenty years it was again pulled down, and rebuilt by Ernulph. His successor, Conrad, built it on a more extensive scale, including in his design the "glorious choir of Conrad," the finest work that had been executed in England at that date (1110). When this choir was again destroyed—by fire in 1174—the monks commissioned a Frenchman, William of Sens, to superintend the work of restoration. The new choir, designed by him, affords the earliest example of the Gothic style carried out in an important English building and in a complete manner. Four years after the work had been put in hand, William of Sens was killed by a fall from a scaffold, and his place was taken by an English architect, who carried out his predecessor's design with little variation. The new choir, thus completed (1175-1184), bears some resemblance to the cathedral of Sens, and is distinctly French in its plan and details, with an apsidal arrangement of the east end, and a stone vaulted roof.
The difference between the new and the old work—the Gothic of 1175 and the Norman of 1110—is very marked, and may be studied at the point in the arcading where the new abuts against the old. The illustration shows the plain, cushion shaped Nor-man capital at this point, supporting on the one side the sturdy roundarch with its roughly axed zigzag, on the other the Gothic work with its chiselled moldings and carved ornament.
The great progress which the art of building had made between these dates is emphasized by Gervase, a contemporary writer, who was an eye-witness of the progress of the work. "The pillars of the old and new work," he says, "were alike in form; but in the old capitals the work was plain, in the new ones exquisite in sculpture. There the arches and everything else was plain, or sculptured with an axe and not with a chisel; but here, almost throughout is appropriate sculpture. No marble columns were there, but here are innumerable ones. There, there was a ceiling of wood, decorated with excellent painting; but here is a vault, beautifully constructed of stone and light tufa." And all this, he wisely remarks, will be better understood by inspection than by any description.
When Gothic had once been used throughout a design of such importance, it soon became generally adopted. In 1185 Hugh of Burgundy was appointed Bishop of Lincoln, and at once set to work on his cathedral, the east end of which-S. Hugh's choir—he rebuilt in pure Gothic style. But in various parts of the country the Norman round arch continued in use, in conjunction with the pointed arch, until the beginning of the thirteenth century, from which period the commencement of the sway of Gothic in England may be said to date.
Within the early years of the century many cathedrals were enlarged in the style, and the period gave England, among others, such works as the magnificent west porch of Ely, the presbytery of Winchester, the choir of Rochester, Fountains Abbey, and the choir of the Temple Church, London. But for the typical church of this date we look to Salisbury (1220-1258), an entirely new foundation, which was designed and built throughout in the Early English, or thirteenth century, style. A comparison of this with the plan of a typical French cathedral of the same date—Amiens (1220–1275) (p. 129)—brings into relief the points of divergence between the English and the French models.
The central tower, rising above the crossing of the nave and transepts, was a leading feature in the English cathedral design, as at Salisbury, where the spire rises to the height of 424 feet, and dominates the whole design. Such an effect was impossible in the French building, for the lofty vaulting and the high-pitched roof gave such height to the structure that any attempt at a dominating feature was rendered futile by reason of the immense mass of the building. The central spire of Amiens appears insignificant, yet in height it is almost equal to that of Salisbury, the loftiest of our spires; while the north and south towers, more than 200 feet high, which would add dignity to an English cathedral, do not rise above the ridge of the roof. The lofty French cathedral, in fact, was designed to be seen from the inside, as Ruskin, in his eulogy of French Gothic, and of Amiens cathedral in particular, admitted: "The outside of a French cathedral, except for its sculpture, is always to be thought of as the wrong side of the stuff, in which you find how the threads go that produce the inside or right-side pattern." In England the designs are less ambitious, but there is no " wrong side" to them; and there is something as essentially English about the mighty pile of Durham, with its three dominating towers, as there is about Wells with its charm and quiet dignity, or Salisbury and its close of red brick and ashlar long and low, With dormers and with oriels lit.
We must not overlook one fact, however, which further helps to explain the emphatic differences between the French and the English Gothic exteriors. The French building was essentially a cathedral church, the seat of the bishop, who rep-resented the active religious life of the community: it was desirable that his seat, his cathedral church, should be placed in the midst of the busy life of the city, just as would be the case with an important civic building. The English building, on the other hand, was in many cases not primarily a cathedral, but an abbey church, attached to a monastery. The monks, to whom the abbey owed its foundation, sought for their habitation a secluded spot, rather than the busy city, so that they might meditate undisturbed in their cloisters, pray in their church, fish perhaps in their stream. As years went on, the old order changed; but the cathedrals of England, in many of their features, have always retained the impress of these earlier days.
The abbey of Westminster (1245-1271), whose originally quiet surroundings have now given place to the bustle of London life, presents a curious blending of the French and English plans. The nave, and deep, square transepts, are as thoroughly English in arrangement and detail as the east end, with its chevet and apsidal chapels, is French. The unusual height of the vaulting— 100 feet—and the consequent development of the flying buttress, are also suggestive of French influence.
Towards the close of the thirteenth century the desire for additional richness and ornamentation brought about a gradual change in the character of the architecture. This was most marked in the treatment of the window openings, which were increased in size and divided into separate lights by mullions, formed in the up-per part into geometrical tracery. These geometrical designs soon gave place to lines of double curvature, or flowing tracery, which the English architects treated with great skill, and which became the characteristic feature of the decorated style during the fourteenth century, culminating magnificently in such works as the west window of York Minster and the east window of Carlisle Cathedral.
Hand in hand with the increasing importance of the window openings we find, as in France, considerable development in the art of decorative glass-staining. In the fifteenth century the majority of the great church windows of England were filled with richly colored stained glass, but the iconoclasts of the seventeenth century did their work only too thoroughly. The glass was too "idolatrous" for the taste of the Puritans, and met with no quarter at their hands. A paragraph from the "Petition of the Weamen of Middlesex," in 1641, which bore 12,000 signatures, helps to explain the extraordinary disappearance of most of the glass from our English churches. "We desire," it says, "that prophane glasse windows whose superstitious paint makes many idolaters may be humbled and dashed in pieces against the ground; for our conscious tels us that they are diabolical and the father of Darkness was the inventor of them, being the chief Patron to damnable pride."
The change from the graceful window forms of the Decorated to the stiff rectangular lines of the Perpendicular period seems almost like a reaction. Gothic builders at the end of the fourteenth century were seized with the desire to emphasize in every possible way the vertical lines of the design, so that the "perpendicular " line became the dominating feature of every detail. The whole wall surface, in-side and out, was divided into a series of rectangular panels, and as the enormous windows occupied the whole space at the east and west ends, as well as the wall spaces between the buttresses, they were treated as a series of glazed panels. The exterior of King Henry VII.'s Chapel at Westminster Abbey is an elaborate example of this method of treatment. Simultaneously with this was developed the beautiful, and essentially English, form of vaulting known as fan-tracery, occurring in the ceilings of King Henry VII.'s Chapel, Westminster; S. George's Chapel, Windsor ; and the chapel of King's College, Cambridge,-
That branching roof Self-poised, and scooped into a thousand cells, Where light and shade repose, where music dwells Lingering - and wandering on as l0th to die.
The chapter-house, which forms a graceful adjunct to many of England's cathedrals, is another feature peculiar to the architecture of that country. In Norman times this was rectangular in form, as at Bristol (1155); but shortly after this date the circular or polygonal plan, with a central column, came into use. The first to adopt this form was the architect of the chapter-house at Worcester, a building which became the recognized type for later designs at Lincoln (1225), Salisbury, Westminster (1250), and Wells (1300). In each of these a central column gives the necessary support to the vaulting of the roof. At York the central pillar has been dispensed with, and the Gothic ceiling is carried entirely upon the walls of the octagon. The design gains immeasurably by the removal of this defect, and the beautiful work almost justifies the builder's inscription
Ut Rosa flos florum,
Sic Domus ista Domorum.
The ceiling, in the form of a dome, is beautiful in detail, but executed in wood.
Cathedral building did not monopolise the attention of English architects, as it did in France. A most complete record of the progress of Gothic is to be found in the beautiful parish churches. which are scattered over all parts of England. Many of these show a beauty and variety of de-tail equal to the foremost of the cathedrals. All periods are represented, but the churches of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries abound with the finest examples. The typical English Church plan has a nave with side aisles and a clerestory, a long, narrow chancel with square east end, west tower, and south doorway. The most important churches, as those of Boston, Grantham, Coventry, etc., almost rivaled the cathedrals in dimensions, and frequently had a south door enriched with a vaulted porch, with a library or other rooms over it.
Except on a small scale, as in these porches, or in isolated instances, vaulted ceilings were not found in the parish churches. Instead of them we find open timber roofs, treated with remarkable ingenuity, and often with great elaboration. By means of a skilful development of roof-truss the outward thrust of the ceiling against the walls was reduced to a minimum; the roof was thus easily carried and the exterior design was not hampered by structural difficulties. The trusses and brackets were richly molded, and the ceiling spaces treated in a highly decorative manner. Fine examples of these roofs are found in the Perpendicular churches of Norfolk, in the halls of many of the old castles and of the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, notably that of Christ Church, Oxford. Largest and most famous of all is the great roof of Westminster Hall, London 0397), covering a space 239 feet in length by 68 feet in width.
There are few fields of study more full of interest than these old parish churches. Much history, that would otherwise have been lost, may be found written upon the walls by those who have eyes to see it; nor is more than a slight acquaintance with the characteristic features of each period necessary to enable the student to read the history and to assign a date to the construction of the work. In distinguishing the periods, all moldings and ornaments are of very great value.
Moldings of the thirteenth century were seldom decorated with any ornament other than the dogtooth, which took the place of the axed zig-zag of the Normans. The bold, undercut moldings gave strong effects of light and shade, and required little enrichment ; the carved foliage was crisp, bulbous, treated conventionally, and curved boldly outwards, appearing to grow out of the surface. The moldings of the decorated period were less defined, and were seldom undercut; the foliage was naturalistic, representing oak and vine leaves, or seaweed, and the ball - flower supplanted the dog tooth ornament. In Perpendicular work the Tudor-rose, portcullis, and fleur-de-lys appear as ornaments upon richly panelled wall surfaces ; moldings were wide and shallow, and of secondary importance. In Norfolk and Suffolk the panels on the exterior wall surfaces were frequently filled in with flint work. Wooden screens with elaborate tracery shut off the chancel.
In striking contrast to later times is the almost entire absence of municipal buildings throughout the four centuries succeeding the Norman con-quest; "the king, the baron, and the bishop were the estates of the realm ; the people were no-.where," and neither municipalities nor guilds could assert an independent existence.
In addition to the buildings mentioned above, the following are good examples of the respective styles:
Worcester Cathedral Choir.
York Cathedral Transepts.
Ely Cathedral Choir.
St. Saviour's Church, Southwark.
Peterborough Cathedral West Front.
Boxgrove Priory, Sussex.
Ely Cathedral Lady Chapel and Lantern.
York Cathedral Nave.
Merton College Chapel, Oxford.
Tintern Abbey Choir and Transepts.
Ripon Cathedral East End.
Gloucester Cathedral Choir and West Front.
Beauchamp Chapel, Warwick.
Winchester Cathedral West Front. Magdalen College, Oxford.
ITALY.—Gothic architecture, from causes which are not far to seek, never took deep root in Italy. In the first place, the style was utterly unsuited to the brilliant climate of the country. The Italian regarded his church as a cool resort from the eternal glare of the sun ; and the small windows of the basilica, with its grateful gloom, were more to his liking than the "walls of glass" of the style in vogue amongst his neighbors. Again, from the time of the Roman Empire, classical tradition had been very strong throughout the country, and had permeated its architecture. The Italian was familiar with, and justly proud of, the classical forms of Rome, upon which the architecture of Western Europe had been modeled. The works of his ancestors, the Romans, had been marked by breadth, solidity, simplicity of parts, and by emphatic treatment of horizontal lines; it was hardly to be expected that the narrow, lofty aisles, the multiplicity of vertical lines and moldings, and the minuteness of detail of the Gothic builders should find favour with him. Moreover, the scientific principles of Gothic construction did not appeal to him, for the mediaeval Italian was never a constructive designer. He relied for interior effect upon large unbroken wall surfaces, which were decorated with frescoes or mosaics, or veneered with rich and rare marbles.
When Gothic was introduced, therefore, it was received as a foreign or imported style, which was grafted upon the older forms, with the result that Italian Gothic never divested itself of the influence of Roman traditions. t owed its introduction to the mendicant monks, whose travels brought them into contact with the outer civilization. Many of the earliest and largest churches were built by these monks—Dominicans or Franciscans. . S. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscans, died in 1226, and the church which enshrined his body was one of the most remarkable examples of Italian Gothic, as well as one of the earliest. Although designed by a German architect, the church of S. Francesco at Assisi (1228–1253) shows strong Italian influence in its composition. Internally the architecture is quite subordinate to the decorative paintings, for which the wall spaces were intended, and with which they have been filled. The church is built in two stories: in the lower church the vaulting over the high altar is enriched with frescoes by Giotto ; so small, however, are the window-openings, and so dim the light, that it is not possible to fully appreciate the detail of the paintings, unless it be for an hour or two on the brightest days.
S. Francesco contains the shrine of S. Francis. His followers, the Franciscans, and the Dominican brotherhood (founded 1216), were responsible for many of the earliest and most important Gothic churches, including S. Francesco at Bologna, the Church of the Frari at Venice, S. Anastasia at Verona, S. Maria Novella at Florence, and S. Maria sopra Minerva (1280), the only important Gothic church in Rome.
The most successful examples of the style in Italy are the cathedrals, built upon an imposing scale, and showing, in almost every instance, the peculiarities of the Italian treatment of Gothic: Milan (1385-1418), the largest of all mediaeval churches except Seville ; Siena (1243), Orvieto (1290), Florence (1294), Ferrara, and the church of S. Petronio, Bologna (1390), projected upon a vaster scale than the cathedral of Milan, but never completed. In some of these designs there is little, with the exception of the details, to distinguish them from the earlier Romanesque buildings. At Siena and Orvieto the round arch is freely used, while a striking interior effect is gained by the use of alternate bands of black and white marbles. The facade in each case is a rich composition of colored marbles, with three gables, and a deeply recessed triple porch, enriched, at Orvieto, with gorgeous mosaics. The love of the Italians for color decoration in preference to the brilliancy of stained glass finds expression at Orvieto, where small window-openings are filled with slabs of rich translucent alabaster.
The cathedral of Florence, begun in 1294 by Arnolfo del Cambio, was not completed until the fifteenth century, when the dome was added by Brunelleschi. Here everything is on a colossal scale; but the architect made the mistake of thinking that largeness of parts would invest the whole with dignity and grandeur. The vast nave, which, in a French design of similar importance, would have been subdivided into ten or twelve bays, is here spanned by four great arches, which are left bare, with hardly a molding or a vestige of detail to give scale to the composition. The walls above are bare and colorless, and cannot fail to disappoint. Of the dome we shall speak later, when dealing with the architecture of the Renaissance.
In direct contrast to the Duomo at Florence is the remarkable cathedral at Milan; bewildering in the multiplicity of its parts and the elaboration of its detail. The exterior design is lost in a perfect forest of pinnacles, decorated with rich and intricate tracery,
A mount of marble, a hundred spires!
In the interior a belt of niches, filled with statuary, crowns the nave-piers, in place of the usual capitals. The ceiling is painted in imitation of elaborate fan-tracery.
Milan Cathedral (1385–1418) was one of the latest of the important Gothic buildings erected in Italy, but the style was still regarded as a foreign importation, and had not become, in any sense, a national one. In proof of this we find, within a few miles of Milan, a building contemporary with the cathedral, yet dissimilar in every feature, and showing hardly a trace of Gothic influence. The famous Carthusian monastery, or Certosa, at Pavia, begun in 1396, was built entirely of brick and terra-cotta. Here the vaulting is Gothic, but in other respects the external design, with its picturesquely grouped turrets, round arches, and arcaded galleries, is thoroughly Romanesque in character. The marble facade is a Renaissance addition.
The Italians, as we have seen, were great decorators rather than constructors, and Gothic art found natural expression in small decorative works such as porches and tombs, or in secular monuments. The porch of S. Maria Maggiore at Bergamo is a characteristic specimen of this work— fascinating in its clothing of Gothic detail, yet built up in so unscientific a manner as to rely for security upon a system of iron ties and clamps. And here it may be mentioned that the use of iron tie-rods, which was almost universal in Italy, indicates that the builders did not appreciate the true principles of thrust and counter-thrust, which were the essence of Gothic construction. No doubt this lack of constructive genius hampered them in their more important designs, so that we must look to decorative works, such as the tombs of the Scaligers at Verona, for the purest expression of Gothic feeling. Giotto's campanile, ad-joining the cathedral at Florence, is another beautiful example of Italian decorative Gothic. The smooth wall surfaces are entirely faced with panelling of colored marbles, much of it delicately sculptured in low relief, and the windows are unsurpassed for their exquisite detail and grace; but there is no Gothic back-bone in the design.
The civic life of the great towns in Italy is reflected in their municipal buildings. Cities, forming independent principalities, were constantly at war with one another, or with themselves, and the town-hall of necessity partook of the character of a fortress. Elegance was sacrificed to security, and few features were introduced, save the lofty tower and the frowning cornice, each of which fulfilled a definite purpose. In Venice alone, all-powerful, and therefore peaceful, the architect was able to give full play to his fancy, and produced examples of domestic Gothic art unrivalled in any country in Europe. Carrying on an extensive trade with Byzantium and with many Eastern ports, Venice developed a
unique style in which much of the Byzantine grace and richness were blended with the Gothic details of the West, and which found its highest expression in the remarkable Doges' Palace (1354) ad-joining the church of S. Mark, "the centre of the most beautiful architectural group that adorns any city of Europe or of the world." The design, with its double story of arcades and traceried arches, is familiar, from illustrations and photo-graphs, to readers in all parts of the world, and has received added fame from the loving pen of Ruskin, to whom it represented "a model of all perfection. "The front of the Doges' Palace," he writes, "is the purest and most chaste model that I can name (but one) of the fit application of color to public buildings. The sculpture and moldings are all white; but the wall surface is chequered with marble blocks of pale rose, the chequers being in no wise harmonized, or fitted to the forms of the windows; but looking as if the surface had been completed first, and the windows cut out of it... It would be impossible, I believe, to invent a more magnificent arrangement of all that is in building most dignified and most fair."
Many choice examples of Venetian Gothic are found along the banks of the Canal, none more beautiful than the refined and ornate Ca d'Oro, and the Pisani and Foscari Palaces.
In Germany Gothic architecture was borrowed directly from France. Its development was irregular, and the style, with one or two exceptions, produced nothing to equal the fine Romanesque churches of the earlier centuries. For many years after its introduction it was merely grafted upon the Romanesque stem,—a fusion of styles which is seen in Magdeburg Cathedral (be-gun 1210), constructed on the massive lines of the twelfth-century churches, and clothed with the more graceful Gothic details. A little later, in the church of S. Elizabeth at Marburg (1250), we find an essentially German type of building, the "hall-church," in which the clerestory of the nave disappears, and the side aisles are raised to the same height as the nave.
Strasburg Cathedral, designed upon French principles, has a rich facade, and a large rose window in the west gable. The magnificent cathedral at Cologne, finest of all, is an enlarged edition of a French plan, differing little from that of Amiens, but with double aisles to the nave. The work of building this cathedral was carried on very slowly. Begun in 1248, the choir was completed in 1322, and the remaining works, after being proceeded with intermittently, were entirely suspended until the middle of the nineteenth century. The nave, aisle, and transepts were completed, from the original designs, in 1848, and in 1863 the church was complete in all respects, with the exception of the great Western spires, 500 feet high, which were added in 1880. The style is uniform throughout, but the later details lack the vigour of thirteenth-century Gothic. Cologne is the largest of all Gothic cathedrals, with the single exception of Seville.
Fine examples of fifteenth-century Gothic are found among the German town-halls.
BELGIUM, SPAIN, ETC.—In Belgium the most important church of the period was the cathedral at Antwerp 0360), with a remarkable plan, showing three aisles upon each side of the nave, and a total width of 16o feet, equal to one-half the entire length of the building. The florid west front (fifteenth century) is a rich example of the later Flemish treatment. Other cathedrals of interest are found at Brussels, Ghent, Liege, and Louvain, all of which show the influence of France. t was in the municipal buildings, however, that the new style became more thoroughly nationalized. Belgium has some famous examples of trade-halls and town-halls, erected by the burghers during the most prosperous period of their cities' history. The cloth-halls at Ypres and Ghent, and the town-halls of Brussels, Ghent, Bruges, and Lou-vain are notable examples. The rich facades are treated somewhat floridly in the manner of the fifteenth-century Gothic, and are surmounted by a steep roof, broken by several stories of dormer windows. A lofty tower generally forms part of the design.
In Spain the earliest Gothic churches were the cathedrals of Burgos (1220) and Toledo (1227), which both show the influence of the French cathedral at Bourges. At Barcelona and Gerona internal buttresses take the thrust of the vaults, as they do at AN in France. Seville Cathedral (1401-1520), the largest of all mediaeval churches, was built upon the site of a Moorish mosque of similar dimensions, a fact which explains the peculiarity of its plan—a huge rectangle, with square east end, measuring 415 feet by 298 feet, and covering an area of 12,400 feet.
The later works in Spain are marked by great elaboration of detail. Possibly the decorative influence of the Moors (expelled in 1492) contributed to this, and accounted for such profusion of ornament as is found in the sepulchral church of San Juan de los Reyes at Toledo, and in many additions to the churches and cathedrals through-out the country.