Gothic: 10th – 14th Centuries

Reims Cathedral in Reims, France

The Gothic style originated in the Late Middle Ages in France – particularly in the 12th–13th century when advances in engineering and construction techniques permitted increasingly larger buildings inspired by architecture of the Goths of Germany.

The style is characterized by the repeated use of the pointed (Gothic) arch, and tall, slender columns which bent inward at toward the top to form rib vaults over the nave; counterbalancing flying buttresses to help support thinner walls (although the ribs and buttresses main contribution was aesthetic rather than structural) are also characteristic.  All of these features helped to support the roofs over very tall structures while permitting as much natural light as possible – for “God is Light” (John 1:5). Stained-glass windows, including rose windows, provided special interior effects and allowed communication of church feasts, saints and the like; and sometimes, elaborate tracing enhanced the exterior view of the windows.  Churches built in this style are vertical and majestic.  Gothic churches were usually built by hundreds of individual craftsmen imbuing a uniqueness to each component and each church which has been difficult to replicate beyond that period.

Example illustrated: Reims Cathedral in Reims, France

See image with the tall, slender design, external flying buttresses surrounding the apse, and rose window on the north side.

Another example: Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France

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