Gothic Architecture Building “Fortresses of God” in the height of the European Middle Ages
A New Way to Serve God • During the Middle Ages, men were told by Church leaders that they could earn their salvation by doing good works. • Salvation was serious business at this time and men would spend their entire lives preparing for the next life. • These factors led to the explosion of building of cathedrals in the Middle Ages.
Beautiful Gothic Cathedrals • High ceilings, pointed arches, stained glass windows, and flying buttresses, all are characteristics of Gothic architecture. • The ribbed vault, shown here, where arches join for strength, made it possible to lift the ceiling higher with thinner walls.
Religious Art of the Middle Ages depicted devotion… • This altar piece is done in the Byzantine Style and is two dimensional and unrealistic. There is a lack of depth and realism. • These works of art were usually done on wood and gilded to make them more beautiful.
Famous Chartres Cathedral • Perhaps the most famous Gothic cathedral is in Chartres, France. • Burned shortly after completion, the second cathedral was built in 25 years because everyone in the town worked on it. • Famous for its stained glass windows, the church holds many other treasures.
Stained Glass “storybooks” • The Becket window depicts the martyr, Thomas a Becket who was killed by the soldiers of Henry II of England. • Becket became a saint shortly after his death at Canterbury.
The Robe of the Mary • The robe of Mary, mother of Jesus, is one of Chartres’ most important treasures. Another is the hundreds of life size marble statues that depict Bible stories.
Tombs within churches… • Many Gothic churches contain the tombs of important people from the area around the church. • This funeral brass is in honor of Sir Robert de Bures, a knight who died in 1302.
Strange Memorials… • This German saint worked with women who had no one to protect them. Her corpse was decorated with gold and jewels and then placed in a glass casket so people would be able to view her remains.
Bible Stories in Stone… • This stone statue depicts one scene from the life of Christ. • There are hundreds of these statues in the Cathedral at Chartres.
Gothic Cathedrals were created for God and Man • Some of the statues were not religious. This one depicts a woman of the town who was contributing to the building project like all the other people of Chartres. • Women, too, had to “earn salvation.”
An Age of Faith passes… • Hundreds of glorious Gothic Cathedrals were created during the Middle Ages. • Men would begin a project, work on it all their lives, only to have the work finished by sons and grandsons. • Gothic Cathedrals gave way to Renaissance Cathedrals, built in a different style for different reasons, but few things are more beautiful than the great cathedrals of the Age of Faith.