Timeline of art history

Founded in 1150, Gothic architecture has rapidly become an important architectural contribution to our society. It is characterized by the coordination and transformation of similar Romanesque elements. Historically rooted in France, Gothic architecture is dominated by the power of invention of a spiritual gathering. Gothic architecture is linked to the God and the World through its structure and geometry. The architectural style was often more meaningful when used in the building of churches because it was developed from a Christian point of view. The important features of Gothic style buildings were the use of light, and the relationship between the structure and appearance. [Lecture Notes]

Commonly manipulated in the form of Gothic architecture, oversized windows adorned equally open walls [Chapuis, Julien]. The desire to create windows quite large in stature was imitative of the new intellectual and spiritual concepts that presented a rational view of God. Characterized by stained glass, these windows allowed more then ample light to fully penetrate into the cathedrals. The stature of the windows allowed the Gothic building to emitt a certain spirituality. Diffusing the sense of warmth and colour, light which passes through the decorated and colourful glass symbolizes an angelic purity. According to the Platonic metaphysicists of the twelfth century, light was the most decent of all natural phenomena and the least material [lecture]. It is the closest approximations to wholesome form, yet at the same time a spiritual body and a bodiless substance [lecture]. Light is a means to transform the interior of a terrestrial cathedral into the House of God [lecture]. Gothic architecture demonstrated visual attempts to create a setting that was drawn towards light and purity.

Most Gothic architectures are known for their unnatural elevation, assiting in the capture and then staging of the light. One plausible explanation of such grand altitude is the assumption that the higher the building, the closer it is to Heaven and essentially, to God. Therefore, in a religious aspect, the height could be our personal monument to God.

Geometry plays a vital role in Gothic design. The ground plans of the Gothic blueprint are based on the geometrical formulae [Otto G. von Simson]. This is visible in every Gothic layout. Crucial to mathematics, geometry is often suggested as having an anagogical meaning (a mystical interpretation of a word, passage, or text especially scriptural exegesis that detects allusions to heaven or the afterlife).Geometry was often used by architects because of their belief that it was a higher order. This belief stemmed from the bibical idea that God used the compass, a geometrical tool, to create the world. An example of this reference is the frontispiece Moralized Bible, produced in Paris. The piece signifies the scientific approach to the awakening of a whole century that is marked by the growing desire to explore and measure the natural and divine harmonious structure of the universe. The depiction connates the underlying ideas of Gothic architecture and its spiritual foundations. The piece illustrates within the biblical context, the Godhead creating the harmony with the compass. The contemplation of universal harmonies can therefore lead the soul to the experience of God. [Lecture notes]

The middle class society had a great influence on the Gothic style as they wanted churches that could reflect their social status and economic power. This was why most of the buildings of Gothic regal in nature. However, it was not only the citizens who benefited from the construction of the Gothic cathedrals. As well as the architects, pope's and bishop's were paid handsomly.

In conclusion, Gothic architecture is linked to the God and the World by a number of mediums. The structure and geometry of the architecture is vital. The altitudes of Gothic architectures hold importance and symbolize the harmony and closeness to God. The windows adorning the high walls of Gothic styled works, allow God to shine His holy radiance, and emulating power. It was through the means of geometry that God created the World. Even though architecture has evolved to great heights, the importance of Gothic architecture in the society has not withered.


  • Chapuis, Julien. In Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum, 2000.
  • Mattews , R.T. The Western Humanities (3rd ed). California: Mountain view, Mayfield Publishing, 1997.
  • Moore, C.H. Development & Character of Gothic Architecture. New York: Macmillan & Co, 1890.
  • Murray, Stephen. Remove Not the Ancient Landmark: Public Monuments and Moral Values. N/A: Gordon and Breach Publishers, 1996.
  • Simson, O.V. The Gothic Cathedral. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1962.
  • Simson, Otto G.. The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 11, No. 3. New York: Society Of Architectural Historians, 1952.
  • Sullivan, R.E. A Short History of Western Civilization (8th ed). New York: Mc Graw-Hill Inc, 1994.

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