HEIGHT AND LIGHT The Great Cathedrals of the Middle Ages
The Romanesque Era The Lead-Up to the Gothic Age
Aerial view of the Abbey of Conques Built 1050-1100
. . . . to see relics like this one Pilgrims traveled to churches
Reliquary of Sainte Foy
Nave of the church of Sainte Foy
The Last Judgment was a typical subject matter for portals in the Romanesque era
The Age of the Great Cathedrals Chartres Cathedral Thirteenth Century
Chartres Cathedral Cathedrals towered over cities of the Middle Ages
The plan of Romanesque and Gothic churches often resembles that of a cross. The basic parts are nave, transept and apse. Chartres’ Plan, Its Basic Layout:
The Flying Buttress: A Great Innovation of The Gothic Cathedral The flying buttress allowed the stone walls of a cathedral to be eliminated and replaced by stained glass windows that let in “ lux nova,” what Abbot Suger called “new light.” Flying buttresses absorb the pressure of the weight of a cathedral’s masonry
Chartres’ nave: a worshiper would feel insignificant in this building that reminded him that God has ultimate power (and the way to reach God, of course, was through the church)
Chartres’ nave arcade, triforium and clerestory windows
Churches were illuminated by beautiful stained glass windows
One of the most famous stained glass windows from Chartres: Notre-Dame de la Belle-Verrière The Church was dedicated to Mary. It is said to even have a relic that belonged to her: part of her mantle
The rose window was a typical feature of cathedral facades and interiors
This is the north rose window from Chartres, made c. 1235
It features the Virgin Mary in a roundel in the center, surrounded by four doves that symbolize the Holy Ghost and angels with censers and candlesticks.
Beyond is a circle of diamond-shaped panels showing seated, crowned figures – the kings of Judea in chronological order.
The outermost circle shows standing figures of prophets wearing “Jews’ caps” and holding scrolls.
In small quatrefoils are fleur-de-lis, which represent the French monarchy. Thus the window links the royal family of Christ with French royalty
Gold castles on a red background also link the French monarchy with the Virgin Mother
The link between the French monarchy and Mary is also present because King Louis VII and Queen Blanche of Castile donated the rose window to the church
The jamb figures below were created a generation after the ones on the left. How have the sculptures changed over the course of the Gothic period? Jamb figures looked like they were part of a column
The two towers of the west front of Chartres are of different periods. Can you tell which one is earlier and which one is later?
The Canterbury Cathedral, exterior choir and ambulatory, interior nave and choir, and tomb
WHAT EFFECT DID ALL THIS CATHEDRAL BUILDING HAVE ON THE JEWS? NOT SUCH A ROSY PICTURE:
The Strasbourg Cathedral, Strasbourg, France Built 1190-1439
Left: Ecclesia Portal Right: Synagoga Portal
Again, but in glass: Ecclesia and Synagoga Stained glass in the Elizabeth Church, Marburg, Germany
LEFT: Anti-Semitism - Pope Gregory orders the Talmud to be burned A.D. 1239 after a disputation. Panel - Pedro Berruguete, 15th century. Note the non-heretical book floating above the fire RIGHT: In this 14th Century Catalan wall-painting a Jew is shown wearing the customary yellow circle which all Jews were forced by law to wear sewn on their outdoor clothing.