Lecture Notes Gothic II

Notes Gothic II

Gothic II Slide 1: Exeter Cathedral is very French but looks English; so could be Canterbury or Westminster Abbey. Lincoln is slightly later and was built over three periods – the west part of the choir, the nave and then the sanctuary. The nave as destroyed by earthquake in 1180 and rebuilt.

Use of gallery rather than triforium, clearstory with passage in front, polychrome shafts, complex vaults, e.g. seven shafts springing from clearstorey to ridge rib. Richness of surface, longitudinal (English cathedrals seem to be very long). Complication of surfaces. All these features are typically English rather than French.

The West Country excels in the elaboration of surface and tracery and ribs. Bundles of shifts almost like a pseudo fan vault. The fan almost hides and certainly sets back the clearstory. Complicated elaborated tracery, cusped trefoils. Triforium passage rather them gallery.

Some major projects initiated by the court at the end of the 13thC include the Eleanor crosses. They were built on the route of Eleanor funeral courtege (Edward’s first wife). (Similar structures were also in France by Louis IX). There were 12 crosses built in Britain, she died in Lincoln and the route when to London. One of the best architects was used – John of Battle. Architectural forms move between small scale and large scale objects. Hardingstone cross. Geddington cross is triangular, upper part open canopy. Ogee arches in dado (the lower arcade). Details of seaweed foliage crawling up, crockets etc.

Ely cathedral Lady Chapel (1320-40) was focused on devotion to the Virgin and there were many women visitors. It is box shaped with large windows, dado decoration consisting of chairs with canopies for the monks. “Nodding ogees” (i.e. they come forward), seaweed foliage and crockets. The upper part was intended for sculpture. Architecture and sculpture are interwoven. It shows great architectural bravado. The Decorated phase of the cathedral began with the foundation of the Lady chapel in 1321, followed a year later by the collapse of the Norman crossing tower. The crossing was rebuilt in the great octagon, often described as a Gothic dome, completed by 1342. Lady Chapel (24 slides) The building was begun in 1321 under the supervision of Alan de Walsingham, the sub-prior, afterwards sacrist. The carving is some of the most elaborate of the period. Alan de Walsingham decided to build a wooden octagon painted to look like stone (like some sort of Baroque trompe l’oeil effect). The structure of wooden beams is hidden. Alan de Walsingham was a goldsmith by trade. The execution was in the hands of a master carpenter.

(Rib vaulting terminology: A vault with a masonry framework of intersecting arches (ribs) supporting cells, used in Gothic and late Norman architecture. A wall rib or wall arch spans between wall and cell vault. A transverse rib spans between two walls to divide a vault into bays. In a quadripartite rib-vault, each bay has two pairs of diagonal ribs dividing the vault into four triangular cells. A sexpartite rib-vault, usually set over paired bays, has an extra pair of ribs springing from between the bays. More elaborate vaults may include ridge-ribs along the crown of a vault or bisecting the bays; tiercerons, extra decorative ribs springing from the corners of a bay; and liernes, short decorative ribs in the crown of a vault, not linked to any springing point. A stellar or star-vault have liernes in star formation. A fan-vault is a form of vault used after c. 1350, made up of halved concave masonry cones decorated with blind tracery.)

Choir of Bristol cathedral influenced the development of Rayonnant architecture in central Europe (Prague). No gallery or clearstories, as the aisles are as high as the nave. This is called a hall church. There are not many hall cathedrals (the style is found in mendicant churches, such as Franciscans and Dominicans). It gives a sense of space. It focuses attention on the elaborate vaulting, lierne ribs and small matchstick interconnecting ribs called tiercerons. Spandrels filled with mouchettes. Lady chapel with half octagon radiating tracery. The anti-room of Barclay chapel has ribs that drop down from the ceiling.

For richness English is unsurpassed, Bristol St. Mary Redcliffe (not a cathedral, a rich merchant area of Bristol sponsored it, dedicated to the cult of the Virgin), ogee arches, nodding ogees creating canopies, exceptional complex surface, would have had sculpture (up to 1538). Gloucester Cathedral 14thC new style, first proper example of perpendicular style (better called rectilinear). First transept then choir. Not a new building. A Romanesque building that was refaced in tracery. (Strasbourg cathedral shows Rayonnant vertical tracery in front of windows).

Perpendicular becomes the style for England, it has royal connections, cheap.

Edward II (of red-hot poker fame) is buried in Gloucester (mid 14thC) cathedral.

(Note English kings of period were:

  • King Henry III (reigned 1216-1272),
  • King Edward I (reigned 1272-1307),
  • King Edward II (reigned 1307-1327, deposed and murdered in 1327),
  • King Edward III (reigned 1327-1377),
  • King Richard II (reigned 1377-1399, deposed and murdered in 1400).


Tierceron vaults of Gloucester and Tewkesbury Abbey (connected to the family that got Edward II into trouble, “The Lords themselves – the FitzHamons, the De Clares, the Despensers, the Beauchamps and the Clarences – were politically important men in the country and their wealth enabled them to be generous benefactors to the church and monastery which became their own private mausoleum.”).

The next logical step was the fan vault which first appeared in Tewkesbury Abbey (“This chapel was built for Richard Beauchamp by his wife Isabelle de Despenser. It was begun in 1422 and took 16 years to complete.”). It does have fan vaults but were they the first. Kings College, Cambridge is best known but was started in 1446.

French Gothic follows Notre Dame (c.1200). Gallery of the kings, open work tracery at Reims. Typical French High Gothic – three portals, rose windows, kings gallery, open work towers. In England for comparison a typical west facade is Peterborough Cathedral. It is wide and low with three small openings with strange gables above (A|A|A style). The doors are lost in the facade. A sense of width but not height. Buttresses include niches for sculpture. The English conceived the west front as an entrance and a reredos and symbology of niches was from the bible (Holy Jerusalem has many holy niches and canopies). Much more sculptural and broad than France. Gothic was also about content – sculpture and stained glass. Chartres stained glass and Amiens west portal (jamb figures replace previous columns). All would have been polychromed. Visitors would first see the panels of stained glass. They do reduce the light inside. Tracery designed to fit the iconography. Chartres Last Judgement, prophets holding evangelists below (Bernard of Chartres in the 12th century, who wrote, “Nos esse quasi nanos gigantum humeris insidientes. — We are as dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants”)

Early 13thC glass, Trinity Chapel of Canterbury. From ambulatory mimicking St Denis, it contains a series of miracle stories reinforcing the fame of Thomas — Becket (sight restored to blind man by Thomas — Becket). Monk asleep has Thomas — Becket flying over him to warn him. It is visual propaganda, and contemporary events. Gloucester cathedral had a face lift, an entirely new east window, the largest window in Europe. Visual trick as walls slightly move out so edges cannot be seen so window seems to float in space. Three levels, but it contains many panels telling a story.

Furniture, Bishop’s throne in Exeter. Seaweed foliage, crockets, finials. Reredos at Durham (funded by Nevilles, sculptures now destroyed). Users of buildings. Tripartite day porches jams figures at Chartres (1240 on south and north transepts), rose window, flanked by two towers. Side entrance is used by pilgrims (not the west entrance). Voussoirs, jambs, tympanum creates space for teaching pilgrims and pilgrims sometimes slept in porches. Deep porches sheltered them. St Mary Redcliffe had a porch added for the cult of the Virgin. So specific cultural reasons.

Marriages developed in medieval period and often took place in porches in the presence of a priest.

Wells cathedral plan. Look at layout, nave, side aisle, transept. Monastic enclosure sometimes run by a prior not bishops. Monks occupied choir so it became ever more extended. Chapter house kept separate (Salisbury, Westminster Abbey). Shrine, Lady chapel (cult of the Virgin, initially masses on Saturday then every day). Sometimes additional Lady chapels to the east end (the holiest part of the church) was a very English thing to do. Ely plan before collapse of tower in 13thC, long nave. After reconstruction (1430?) the number of bays was doubled to 11. The choir started to the east of the crossing and is now further to the west so it used to be under the octagon. Shrine before altar. Separate Lady chapel to north of cathedral; so women would not have to go through the choir (so women did not disturb the monks). 15th Roger van der Wyden painting shows an accurate view of a church interior. Screen in front of choir with altar. Crucial parts of mass were sounded with a bell as laity could not see the high altar. Uses. Trinity Chapel Canterbury, Cosmati pavements. Miracles of Thomas — Becket, reliquary of the top of his head in separate Corona Chapel. Architecture slightly outside our period.

Westminster shrine of Edward, tombs of royal family crowding around. A mausoleum and sanctuary. Tomb Edward II and architecture part of the same design. Fourth Lateran Council (1215) meant moment of elevation of host was important, Duccio Maesta created for the cult of the Virgin. Westminster retable (ret-able). Maesta at Duomo Siena is enormous. Need of understand the environment of the setting. England’s rural setting outside town, edge of city (e.g. wells) population small. On the continent often wedged in the middle of town (e.g. Notre Dame), crowded in on all sides. Also the case in Florence, it was completely surrounded by houses on all sides and out of scale. This was often the case in Italy.

Gothic III concerns Central Europe and Italy.

Kings of England

  • Henry III (1216-1272) Introduced glass in many castle halls and other chambers. He was the master of nearly 60 castles during his reign and introduced advance design and improvement for castle gatehouses. Born: Winchester, 1 October 1207, first son of John and Isabella. Married: Eleanor of Provence, 14 January 1236, 9 children. Acceded: 28 October 1216. Crowned: Gloucester Cathedral, 28 October 1216. Died: Palace of Westminster, 16 November 1272.
  • Edward I (1272-1307) “The king who built castles.” His reign marked the climax of castle building in Britain. Mighty stone fortresses were built in Wales, and many more throughout the kingdom were strengthened. Born: Westminster, 17/18 June 1239, son of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence. Married: Eleanor of Castile, Burgos, Spain, October 1254, 16 children. Margaret of France, Canterbury, 8/10 September 1299, three children. Acceded: 20 November 1272. Crowned: Westminster Abbey, 19 August 1274. Died: Burgh-on-Sands, Cumbria, 7 July 1307, aged 68.
  • Edward II (1307-1327) Many improvements were made to the castles during his reign. He was murdered at Berkeley Castle in 1327, by a red hot poker being inserted into a body cavity. Born: Caernarfon Castle, 25 April 1284, fourth son of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile. Married: Isabella of France, Boulogne, France, 25/28 January 1308, 4 children. Acceded: 8 July 1307. Crowned: Westminster Abbey, 24/25 April 1308. Deposed: 25 January 1327. Died: Berkeley Castle, 21 September 1327, aged 43. Murdered.
  • Edward III (1327-1377) The king was in a state of panic over the fear of a French invasion. Great expenditures occurred for strengthening castles and town defences. Many owners of private houses were granted licences to crenellate. Born: Windsor Castle, 13 November 1312, son of Edward II and Isabella of France. Married: Philippa of Hainault, York, 24 January 1328, 13 children. Acceded: 25 January 1327. Crowned: Westminster Abbey, 1 February, 1327 Died: Surrey, 21 June 1377, aged 64. Senile Dementia.
  • Richard II (1377-1399) He reigned in conflict with Parliament. They executed some of his associates in 1388, and he executed some of the opposing barons in 1397. Much too busy executing people to contribute to castle building. Imprisoned in Pontefract Castle, where he died mysteriously. Born: Bordeaux, France, 6 January 1367, son of Edward the Black Prince and Joan of Kent.Married: Ann of Bohemia, Westminster, 14/20/22 January 1382. Isabella of France, France, 4 November, 1396. Acceded: 22 June 1377. Crowned: Westminster Abbey, 16 July 1377. Deposed: 19 August 1399. Died: Pontefract Castle, 6 January or 14 February 1400, aged 33. Imprisoned.
  • Henry IV (1399-1413) A very weak ruler. This led to great turmoil and the creation of robber-barons. Corruption was wide spread. Born: 3 April 1367, son of John of Gaunt and Blanche of Lancaster. Married: Mary de Bohun, 1380/81, 7 children. Joan of Navarre, 7 February, 1403. Acceded: September 1399. Crowned: Westminster Abbey, 13 October 1399. Died: Westminster, London, 20 March 1413, aged 56.

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