Posted: May 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

The term Gothic refers to the Goths, the Germanic tribes that brought about the downfall of the Roman Empire.


National and regional varieties in church architecture abound. Dimensions are mathematically related within a single structure, but not consistent among buildings. Proportions are slender an attenuated. Common shapes are the square and equilateral triangle.


Haraldic devices, the pointed arch, trefoils (three-lobed form), Quatrefoils (four-lobed form), cinquefoils (five-lobed form), grotesques (fantastic figures such as gargoyals or dwarfs), birds, foliage, oak leaves, crockets (stone carved with foliage that mark ranking angles of spires and canopies), and linenfold (resembles folds of fabric). Some geometric shapes, such as lozenges and zigzags.


Public Buildings


Cathedrals, perish churches, and other ecclasiastical structures are most common. Universities, newly formed guilds, prosperous towns build halls and meeting places.

Milan Cathedral

Site Orientation

Most continental cathedrals are in the center of town, surrounded by markets, dwellings, and other secular structures.

Floor Plans

Continue the earlier Latin cross/pilgrimage type composed of nave, side aisles, and radiating chaples in the apse. Have numeros square or rectangular bays forming moduals that can be added or subtracted as needed.

Salisbury Cathedral


Cathedrals and other important buildings are of local stone or brick because transporting was to difficult over long distances.

Structural system

Cathedrals are composed of pointed arches, ribbed vaults, and buttresses, allows walls and ceilings to be less supporting. Vault ceilings, filled in after the ribs are constructed, appear weblike, walls have more space for windows. This system dematerializes the material and opens space, allowing more flow between spaces and larger vistas.



Display considerable variety. Vertical tripartile divisions, marked by buttresses. correspond to the nave and aisles. Sculptures; rose windows; tall, pointed arched windows; or arcades with pinnacles organize in horizontal and vertical areas and bands. Twin towers that may be unequal height crown fronts.

Sens Cathedral


repeat the pointed arch shape. Tracery and stained glass depict biblical scens, the lives of saints, and patrons or rulers in rich colors such as ruby red or dark blue. Rose windows often accent front facades and/or two vertical lights (glass) surmounted by a circular or lobed form. Others include trefoil, quatrefoil, or cinquefoil.


typically have three recessed or projecting portals (doorways) capped with pointed arches and pinnacles. Figural sculptures enhanced with decorative carving, usually geometric, line the jambs, lintels, archivolts (face of the arch), and tympanums. Tall, narrow windows and/or a rose window surmount some portals. Doors are made of wood.


Steeply pitched and covered with copper or slate. Some have wooden roofs. Multiple roofs identify the nave, transept and radiating chapel.

Cologne Cathedral


Public Buildings 


As on exteriors, pointed arches, compound piers, ribbed vaults, tracery, and stained glass.


Local stone, color largely comes from stained glass.


Have three stories, the lower portion is an arcade of panted arches supported by compound piers or columns. Next is the gallery or triforium with shorter arched openings into the nave, clerestory windows are above, despite large areas of glass, Interiors remain dim.

Columns and Capitals

Arcade supports may be single round columns, compound columns, or pier and engaged columns, or dusters of columns. Common capitals are human and animal forms entwined in vines and foliage.


Vaulted with four or more ribs in each bay. Sometimes ribs form fans, stars, or other shapes. The masonry between ribs may be painted blue with gilded stars or other motifs.


Highly saturated green, blue, scarlet, violet, white, brown, and russet.


Firelight, torches, few candles, or lamps.


Dirt, stone, clay, or brick.



Chairs, benches, stools, tables, cupboards, buffets, chests, and beds.


Pine, oak, and walnut are common. Many pieces are painted in bright colors or gilded to highlight turning and carvings. Some stools are iron.


Chairs and thrones are few. Ceremonial and feature turned elements. Typical pieces include X-frame, and choir stall and trestle from stools and benches.

Hall Chair



Trestle tables with unattached tops.


Chests or coffers and boxes are the most common items and the chief storage pieces. The buffet or dresser, and cupboard.


Most are boxlike in form and crudely constructed. Surrounded by lavish draperies, suspended from hooks, cords, or wooden rods.


Cotton, linen, and silk in plain and twill weaves, damask, and velvets. wool is he most common on furnishings. Colors include brown, blue, green, russed, violet, and scarlet.

Crossing the Red Sea, late Gothic

Decorative Arts

Books are the most important form of artistic expression. Illustrations in illuminated manuscripts often portray figures, landscapes, buildings, and furnishings. Most silver made for the state and church is elaborately decorated.


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