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French Gothic - Architectural Character

( Originally Published 1921 )



The character and principles of Gothic architecture generally must be borne in mind in considering its developments in any particular country (p. 300). The main idea or prevailing principle of Gothic architecture in northern France was the same as in other parts of Europe, while in the south the strong Roman traditions influenced the new style, which in fact had-not the same scope as in the north, owing td the great building activity of the previous Romanesque period. The vertical and aspiring tendency was accentuated in the north by lofty vaults with high-pitched roofs, western towers, tapering spires, pinnacles, flying buttresses, and tall traceried windows, and all these features show the experimental treatment of thrust and counterthrust described in detail under Gothic architecture in Europe (p. 306). It should be noted that the style started some half-century earlier in France than in England.

The Gothic style or " Style Ogivale," as it is called in France, lasted approximately from A.D. 1150 to A.D. 1500, and is divided by M. de Caumont into : (r) Primaire (twelfth century) or " Gothique a Lancettes," a period distinguished by pointed arches and geometric traceried windows, and the transition from the Romanesque began first in the Ile de France at S. Denis (A.D. 1140), Sens (A.D. 1143), Senlis (A.D. 1150), and Noyon (A.D. 1150). (z) Secondaire (thirteenth century) or " Rayonnant," a period characterised by circular windows with wheel tracery, as at Rheims, Amiens, and Bourges. (3) Tertiare (fourteenth and fifteenth centuries) or " Flamboyant," from the nature of the flame-like or free-flowing window tracery, as at S. Ouen, Rouen, S. Jacques, Dieppe, Albi, and Caudebec Cathedrals.



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