The Monastic Church of St. Denis, Paris - The Leader in the Gothic Style Most historians agree that the Choir of St. Denis was the first architectural experiment in the major features of the Gothic style. It laid the groundwork for all of the Gothic Cathedrals to follow. The design principals were conceived by the Abbot Suger, doing research on the mystical qualities of light.
All of the following were firstused together in an integrated plan at St. Denis:
To understand the original style, one must look at the eastern-most area with the radiating chapels seen here. See the ribs and the unique shape of the vaults. Also note the long stain glass windows beyond the arcade.
In the plan, it is easy to see the unusual shape of the choir vaults. This is only allowed if they use pointed arches. In between each exterior buttress (seen here as heavy black piers jutting out at the top), were the long stain glass windows—a first!
Here we see a close up of the ribs. A beautiful geometric design on their own.
***All of these are seen to their fullest in the 13th century completed section, seen here.
We see the glow of colored light and the mystical, spiritual effect Abbot Suger was searching for. The wall is opened up and at a minimum, allowing the light to shine through. It has often been compared to modern skeletal frame construction. Of course heavy pier buttressing and flying buttresses are needed on the outside to achieve this effect..
The Starz Mini-Series “Pillars of the Earth” Following are a series of questions about the Mini-series or the book, “Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett. You may answer them on the class Discussion Board under Gothic. You may get more information on this series by going to this web site: http://www.starz.com/originals/ThePillarsOfTheEarth
Some of the Main Characters Bartholomew, Earle of Shirring, Aliena, his daughter. Jack and Bishop Waleren. Prior Phillip, Head of Kingsbridge Monastery Tom, Master Builder Aliena, Former Nobility, Princess of Shirring Jack, Tom’s stepson, sculptor & apprentice.
Question 1 Earlier in the Series, the roof of the cathedral collapses. Why did this happen?
Question 2 Why was it so important for a church to have a relic or a reliquary? How does it relate not only to spiritual functions, but for social and economic ones as well?
Question 3 In the Mini-Series, “Pillars of the Earth”, Jack goes to France and to St. Denis and is in awe of its beauty and its height. He asks Abbot Sugerhow they could build vaults with such height. What is the answer he is given?
Question 4 In the final episode, Jack finds a major problem with the cathedral vaults. What is the problem, and what important new device does he invent to solve it?
Question 5 Throughout the series the church in Kingsbridge is referred to as a Cathedral. Why is this incorrect?
Question 6 Comment on the interrelationships and rivalries between the following different groups of people, all of which are necessary to building a church: The Clergy: Including the higher echelon, such as Bishops and Archbishops, and the lower monks and priors. The Nobility: The Lords and Earls and family. The Knights. The Merchant Class. The Builders and Craftsmen. The Common People.