Post-classical history


Universities and cathedrals

The medieval church, in a sense, is still with us. Much of the ritual – from the rite of baptism to the rite of Christian burial – remains virtually unchanged except for being vernacularized. Theological creeds, although with different emphases and nuances, are still recited. An ethic based on the Decalogue and the Sermon on the Mount continues to elicit broad acceptance, if not universal observance. This chapter focuses on two other legacies, which owe their origins largely to the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. One of these lives on wherever there are institutions of higher learning which have been influenced by the western European model. Also, in a very physical sense, contemporary places of Christian worship commonly take their form and texture from churches whose architectural styles were formed in those crucial centuries of the high Middle Ages: when one says ‘church’ today, one usually thinks of a building medieval in origin.


Modern life owes much to ancient Greece, particularly the use of human reason to ask ultimate philosophical questions, yet it is not to the Greeks but to the Middle Ages that we are indebted for the existence of the university. It was a creation of the Middle Ages and had an almost inherent connection with the church. A line of descent can be drawn from the medieval universities at Bologna and Paris to almost every college and university in the western world. A line can be seen reaching from Paris to Oxford to Cambridge to Harvard and another line from Paris to Germany to the United States in the nineteenth century. To be sure, as in any vital institution, changes have occurred, yet the essence of the university as an institution has remained unchanged: the meeting of teachers and students around books. The places to look for its origin are medieval Bologna and Paris.

At Bologna, as at other cities, there were schools where traditional subjects, such as grammar and rhetoric, had long been taught, but at Bologna the study of rhetoric led to the study of the drafting of documents, particularly legal documents. The recent recovery of the texts of Justinian’s law books (see chapter 3) meant that the study of law could go beyond the mere drafting of documents and concentrate on the study of law itself, jurisprudence. Bologna had the great advantage of being at an important crossroads. It had the even greater advantage of having there the foremost lawyer of the day, Irnerius, who in the years from c.1095 to c.1125, in addition to practising law, almost certainly taught students the ancient laws of the Romans. There also was at Bologna – perhaps he came to study with Irnerius – a student who was to become the pre-eminent canon lawyer of the twelfth century, Gratian. There is no convincing evidence that he was a monk, and, in fact, very little is known about his life. Gratian’s work, commonly called theDecretum(Decree), was actually entitled Concordia discordantium canonum (The Concord of Discordant Canons). Its first recension Professor Winroth has dated to 1139 and the second recension, probably by a follower of Gration some decade or more later. Gratian’sDecretum discussed hypothetical cases and the relevant, often discordant, canons, frequently providing his solution (his concord) to the case. It was a supremely successful textbook and was used in schools of canon law for almost a century. To these two towering figures at Bologna there should undoubtedly be added others, but the surviving sources fail us as to their identities. Clearly by the middle of the twelfth century – some would say as early as the 1130s – Bologna had emerged as the centre for legal studies in Europe. To be sure, liberal arts continued to be studied at Bologna, and, eventually, theology and medicine were added. Contemporaries, in time, would give this type of institution the name studium. In the middle of the twelfth century, the fame of Bologna as a centre for the study of law soon attracted students from all over Italy (Cismontane) and also from other countries north of the Alps (Transmontane). It was from the self-organization of students at Bologna that the university was to evolve.

Foreign students at Bologna formed a society principally to protect themselves from local police, who could be harsh, from local landlords, who could be rapacious, and from local booksellers, who could inflate prices. But they also organized themselves, no doubt, for social purposes. These foreign students called their organization by the word universitas, which simply meant a guild or association or society. It was a word in common use at the time: for example, universitas artium was a guild of artisans. Thus organized in their universitas, the foreign students could go beyond self-protection from the townsfolk and companionship. They could and did threaten to boycott their teachers, withhold fees and even to leave Bologna en masse, if their demands were not met. Soon, Italian students formed their own universitas. Before long the two guilds were acting as one and, in effect, took control of the studium. Their threats were far from idle. A number of migrations occurred – to Vicenza (1204), Arezzo (1215), Padua (1222) and, most dramatically, Siena (1321) – and on some migrations the masters joined the students in protest against the commune of Bologna. Yet the students were clearly in control. In the earliest statutes (c.1317), almost certainly codifying long-time practices, the studentuniversitas insisted on getting value for money:

No master is allowed to begin his morning lecture before the bell at St Peter’s finished ringing for the daily Mass.

The master must begin his lecture immediately under penalty of twenty solidi.

He must not continue his lecture after the ringing of the bell for Terce.

The students under penalty of ten solidi must leave at the ringing of the bell.

No master should omit as much as a single paragraph of the law text.

No master should absent himself from Bologna except with the permission of the students, in which case he will deposit the sum of one hundred pounds or an article of equal value to insure that, already having been paid by the students, he would return to complete the course of lectures.

Bologna was a studium without an administration. Students paid fees directly to their teachers. The teachers eventually did organize themselves into their own guild, and, although they had control over admitting students as doctors, theirs was always a subsidiary role. The studium at Bologna was clearly run by the universitas of students.

No roster of early students at Bologna exists, but many, probably the majority, must have been ecclesiastics. Pope Honorius III, in 1219, ruled that no doctors should be made without the consent of the archdeacon of Bologna. Whatever its position before 1219, the studium at Bologna was henceforth an ecclesiastical institution. And at some point – no one knows exactly when – the word universitas replaced the word studium to describe the institution itself. This Bolognese model of the student-controlled university was followed generally in southern European universities such as Montpellier, Naples, Padua, Reggio, Vicenza and Vercelli.

At Paris a studium also emerged, but its circumstances were different from Bologna’s. Several schools had developed in Paris, most notably one at Notre-Dame Cathedral, where in the cathedral precincts masters taught students, which, indeed, also happened at other French cathedrals. But Paris was blessed by a superb location at the crossroads not of a peninsula, like Bologna, but of western Europe north of the Alps. From at least the thirteenth century Paris was Europe’s leading city. It was also blessed by the quality and popularity of masters, like Abelard, who attracted large numbers of students from France itself and from beyond. At some point in the last half of the twelfth century this centre of study evolved into what we today call a university and what contemporaries, as we have seen at Bologna, called a studium. There was no great moment of creation, simply a series of minor changes, which, in sum, changed the school at which Abelard was master in 1118 to a studium before the century’s end. How did this happen? From what survives it is possible to reconstruct, at least in broad terms, what transpired at Paris. It was the chancellor of the cathedral who permitted masters to teach there. He had authority over granting degrees, as we would say. Actually, he granted successful students alicentia docendi (licence of teaching), a teacher’s certification to teach a subject as a master or doctor or professor, which were synonymous terms. The admission of a student to this degree (i.e., level) was attended with a certain amount of ceremony and concluded with the welcoming of the new master by those already masters at Notre-Dame with the consumption of food and drink at the new master’s expense. A sense of the masters forming a group developed, and soon Paris had its universitas, but, unlike Bologna, it was auniversitas of masters, and it ruled the studium. Although in modern times the University of Paris uses the year 1200 as a reference point for anniversary celebrations, the studium pre-dates 1200 by at least several decades. Early in the thirteenth century the mutual obligations of members of the guild were written down, and they read like the obligations of other guilds: they were to wear the garments of their profession (academic robes), attend the funerals of other members and observe a common order in their teaching. The students were subsumed into the universitas of masters, clearly as junior members, and the universitas came to represent both masters and students.

What happened in 1200 was that King Philip Augustus granted the students at Paris exemption from secular jurisdiction because they were clerics or considered clerics. Like so many major moments in the constitutional history of medieval universities, this grant was precipitated by an incident in a tavern. A young German nobleman, then archdeacon of Liège and bishop-elect of that see, was a student at Paris, quite likely of theology. His servant got involved in a tavern brawl. To retaliate students from the German ‘nation’ attacked the tavern-keeper, leaving him near death. The provost of Paris, in charge of public order, led an armed band of Parisians to the residence of the German students. There they slew several students, including the bishop-elect. The universitas was in an uproar, and, fearing they would secede from Paris and take the studium elsewhere, the king condemned the actions of the townsmen. The provost was to be imprisoned for life – in the event, he broke his neck in an escape attempt – and the others, if apprehended, were to receive the same punishment. More importantly, the king issued what is sometimes, but misleadingly, called a charter, as if it were a foundation charter, which it clearly was not. In any case, the University of Paris was not founded: it evolved imperceptibly from the cathedral school during the second half of the twelfth century. The king freed the universitas from secular jurisdiction and affirmed the place of students as clerics under the jurisdiction of the church:

Our provost and our judges shall not lay hands on a student for any offense. They shall not imprison him, unless the student has committed a crime that warrants arrest. In this case, our judge shall arrest him without violence, unless he resists, and shall hand him over to the ecclesiastical judge.

Further, the present provost and future provosts were required to take an oath in the presence of the students to observe these provisions. Thus, the independence of the studium from local secular authorities was assured and its nature as an ecclesiastical institution affirmed. More was to come.

On the eve of Ash Wednesday (Mardi Gras) in 1229, a group of students were celebrating in the suburb of St Marcel, where in a tavern they found wine that was ‘good and sweet’ (optimum … et … suave). When the bill was presented, they felt that the tavern-keeper was trying to take advantage of their condition and had generously padded the bill. Words were spoken, then shouted, and blows were soon struck. Neighbours came to the rescue of the tavern-keeper and inflicted a beating on the students. The latter were not long in seeking revenge. Very early the next morning, the students returned and with them a large number of their fellow students, armed with swords and clubs. Before the neighbourhood was aroused, the students broke into the tavern and committed the outrage of opening the taps on all the wine casks, thus causing a river of the ‘good and sweet’ wine to course out of the tavern and along the narrow street. The neighbours were now aroused, and they alerted the provost, who with a band of supporters attacked the frolicking students, leaving several of them dead. On hearing of this tragedy, the masters instantly suspended lectures. The Lenten season saw no resolution to the matter, and on Easter Monday the masters announced that they would leave Paris for six years, and the majority of masters did leave, some went to the universities by then existing at Oxford and Cambridge in England, others to places in France like Toulouse, Orléans, Rheims and Angers. In 1231, Pope Gregory IX intervened, and a settlement was reached to the great advantage of the studium. The pope gave great praise for Paris, which, even when discounted for rhetorical excess, provides an indication of the high esteem in which Paris was held:

Paris, parent of studies, city of letters, shines brilliantly and, great in masters and students, she gives great hope.

Gregory enjoined the king of France to see that the privileges of the universitas were respected and observed:

We, in view of the needs of the church, hereby will and order that hereafter our dearest son, the illustrious king of France, shall insure that the privileges of the masters and students be acknowledged.

The right to suspend lectures was explicitly stated:

If satisfaction for death or for the mutilation of a limb with respect to any member of your university be refused, you may suspend lectures. And, if any of you be unjustly imprisoned, you may immediately cease lectures.

Moreover, the pope addressed the internal tensions within the studium. The chancellor of Notre-Dame had to swear that he would not grant the licence to unworthy candidates and, in any case, he would take the advice of existing masters at Paris. Here can be seen a major step in the movement of the studium away from the jurisdiction of the cathedral. A physical move away from the cathedral also occurred as the studium moved from the streets around Notre-Dame towards the Petit Pont at the Seine, then over the bridge to the left bank, where it created the Latin Quarter, thereafter the site of the University of Paris. It would be a mistake for us to think of the university as a complex of buildings; it was, rather, a community of masters and students scattered in rented houses where lectures were given with faculty meetings being held in local churches and taverns.

Oxford, it was once said, derived from English masters who left Paris in 1167 in the midst of the Henry II–Becket controversy (see chapter 9). It is true – the date is uncertain but probably after 1169 – that Henry II did prohibit English students from going to Paris without royal permission and threatened beneficed English students abroad with loss of their income if they did not return to England, but this did not lead to the founding of Oxford, although the universitas that developed at Oxford was of the Parisian model. The number of beneficed English students at Paris probably was not large, and, in any case, there is no evidence that those that returned went to Oxford, although perhaps some did. There were other schools in England, notably Hereford, York, Winchester, Lincoln and Northampton. When the last mentioned had difficulty in the early 1190s in guaranteeing the safety of its students, the studium then at Oxford seems to have benefited. Although Oxford did not have a cathedral – it was in Lincoln diocese – nor a major collegiate church, nonetheless it stood advantageously on the River Thames at the border of Wessex and Mercia and at an important crossroads. England’s greatest town, London, would not have its university until the nineteenth century and the great seats of the two archbishops, Canterbury and York, not until the second half of the twentieth century. The origin of a studium at Oxford is shrouded in mist. There may have been a school at the church of St George-in-the-Castle, which evolved into astudium. Even more persuasively, a nucleus of canon lawyers had gathered at Oxford in the last half of the twelfth century to work in the ecclesiastical courts there, and, as at Bologna, they probably attracted students. Whatever its origins, the studium was clearly in place by the mid 1180s, although it was still taking shape. Gerald of Wales (Giraldus Cambrensis) described how he read his recently written Topographia Hibernica (in about 1187) to the masters and students at Oxford, ‘where the clergy in England flourished and excelled’. He reported his visit:

On the first day he received at his lodgings all the scholars of the whole town. On the second day, all the doctors of different faculties and their more notable students. On the third day, the rest of the scholars as well as many knights, townsfolk and burghers.

This sounds suspiciously like nothing less than a substantial scholastic site, in other words, a studium.

The origin of Cambridge can be more clearly defined, although questions still remain. A tragic event or, rather, a series of tragic events at Oxford was the genesis. In 1209 an Oxford student had become involved with a woman of the town, perhaps a prostitute, and, when she died suddenly, the student said it was an accident, but the men of the town did not believe him. Led by the mayor and the burgesses, a crowd of townsmen descended on the student’s residence. They seized several of the students and appealed to King John, then nearby at Woodstock, who gave permission for the students to be executed. The suspendium clericorum (the hanging of the students) proved to be an event of major moment for two universities. The masters at Oxford immediately closed thestudium, and they and their students – one account says there were 3,000, clearly an exaggeration – migrated to other places like Reading, Paris and some to the sleepy fenland town of Cambridge. There at Cambridge a new studium came into being, clearly a daughter of Oxford, and it was soon to have its own statutes and masters teaching the arts, theology, law and medicine. But why Cambridge? The attempts of the ablest modern scholars have not produced evidence of a school already existing there either at a religious house or at a church, a school to which the Oxford men would have attached themselves in 1209. The suggestion is made that some of the migrants were originally from Cambridge. Others suggest that the bishop of Ely, a town only 15 miles from Cambridge, had Oxford graduates in his household and that they invited fleeing masters to come to Cambridge. As attractive as these suggestions may appear, firm evidence is sadly lacking about the reason for the migration to Cambridge.

While the tragic events of 1209 led to the founding of Cambridge, they had their effect at Oxford itself. Except for a few scabs who carried on teaching there, the boycott persisted until 1214, when the king, then papally excommunicated, made his peace with Innocent III. The resolution of the Oxford dispute quickly followed, brokered by the papal legate, to the humiliation of the townsmen and to the growing independence of the universitas from the town. Those men of the town responsible for the outrage on the students were to walk barefoot and cloakless, leading the whole town to where the students were buried, and from there they were to take the bodies to a cemetery for proper Christian burial. For the next 10 years the landlords had to reduce by half the rents charged to students. In addition, the town was to provide a sum of money annually for poor students. The masters were free to return, but the scab-masters were not allowed to teach for the next three years. It was agreed that thereafter, whenever a student was arrested by the town, he would be handed over to the universitas, which would handle the matter. Both Paris and Oxford, as a consequence of the apparent overreaction of their towns to student misdeeds, gained a significant degree of corporate autonomy.

Other universities were to spring up, generally creatures of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. As remarkable as it may seem, Germany had no universities before 1347, when Charles IV, king of Bohemia, established the University of Prague. A francophile, Charles gave the new university a constitution based on Paris. In 1365, the Habsburg duke of Austria, Rudolph IV, established a university at Vienna ‘according to the ordinances and customs observed first in Athens, then at Rome, and later at Paris’. When a university was established at Heidelberg in 1386, both the local ruler and the pope insisted that it be founded on the model of the studium of Paris and that it enjoy the same privileges. By then there was a university at Cracow in Poland and two years later one at Cologne and another at Buda in Hungary. The march was on. To mention only a few: Leuven in the Low Countries (1426), Basel in Switzerland (1459), Uppsala in Sweden (1477) and, in Scotland, St Andrews (1413), Glasgow (1451) and Aberdeen (1494). By the end of the fifteenth century Europe was dotted with up to 80 universities. And there were others existing only on paper: Dublin (1312), Verona (1339) and Geneva (1365). What happened at the medieval universities remains to be seen.

Like the modern university, its medieval ancestor had what we would call an undergraduate level and a postgraduate level. The liberal arts were meant to be studied first and only afterwards theology, law or medicine. Some members of religious orders, in the face of stiff opposition, omitted the arts course and went directly to the postgraduate schools. A word first about the arts course. The seven liberal arts, at least notionally, comprised the arts curriculum: the trivium of grammar, rhetoric and logic and thequadriviumof arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music. In practice, the trivium triumphed over the quadrivium, which received less and less attention. And in the trivium it was logic that triumphed over grammar and rhetoric or, it can be said, that it was Aristotle who triumphed in the arts curriculum. Logic came to mean philosophy, and Aristotle was known simply as The Philosopher. The availability of the works of Aristotle, mostly through the medium of Arabic translations, had a profound influence on the universities. The length of the arts course varied from time to time, but an early statute required five years in the study of the prescribed texts, leading to the students becoming masters, and then two further years as regent masters, when they taught. Some of these masters of arts went on to study in one of the professional faculties, but the temptation to see masters of arts moving en masse into the higher schools must be resisted. At Paris, famous for its school of theology, the number of students in that school was never large, although precise numbers are not easy to come by. The curriculum in theology was a long one, requiring about 12 years of study. By papal decree clerics holding benefices could absent themselves from their benefices for part of their study, hiring a curate with some of their income, the remainder being a type of bursary or scholarship. The

Map 16 Medieval universities

theological student first studied the Bible, after which he became a baccalaureus biblicus (bachelor of the Bible). Then he studied systematic theology, using as a textbook the Sentences of Peter Lombard, which set out theology in four books (about the nature of God; about creation and fall of man; about the Incarnation, Redemption and the virtues; and, finally, about the sacraments and last things), after which he became a baccalaureus sententiarius (bachelor of the Sentences). Finally, he performed a series of academic exercises, leading to his becoming a baccalaureus formatus (a formed or complete bachelor). His course was then complete. He had only some formalities to observe and was then awarded his licence and became a master of theology. By that time he would have been at least 25 years of age. This education provided for a close reading of at least several books of the Old and New Testaments and for a speculative approach to the theological questions raised by the author of the Sentences. This textual study was grounded in Aristotelian philosophy. It was an intellectually rigorous and sophisticated approach to the mater scientiarum (mother of knowledge).

The word – and variations of it – that is commonly used to describe the medieval university is ‘scholasticism’. Those who taught there are called scholastics (or sometimes the variant ‘schoolmen’). The danger in using the word ‘scholasticism’ is that it can be understood to mean what was taught at the medieval universities, as if that teaching formed a monolith. Anyone who reads the works of the scholastics will quickly realize the great variety of opinions. Debates, sometimes heated, were part of and, indeed, essential to the nature of the medieval university. When used to refer to a body of knowledge, even a differentiated body of knowledge, the word ‘scholasticism’ is being used only in an extended sense. It properly refers not to what was taught but how it was taught, to the form of teaching, to the pedagogy of the medieval university, to which we should now turn.

Two elements comprised the pedagogy of the medieval university, the expositio textuum and the disputatio. At the core of the first of these was the fact that for each subject there was an authority. For example, in philosophy the authority was Aristotle; in mathematics Euclid; in medicine Galen; in Roman law Justinian; in canon law Gratian and, after 1234, the Decretals of Gregory IX; and in theology the Bible. The authority was the source of knowledge, and learning became an exploration of the meaning of the authority. The lecturer read the text and explained it. He did not give an opinion about it, and he did not differ with the authority nor contradict him. He merely exposed the text of the authority as clearly as possible. It was later said that philosophy became not the study of being but the study of Aristotle. That accusation might be credible, were it not for the second element in scholasticism.

The disputation emerged in the twelfth century from problems remaining after the exposition of the text. The master set aside one or two periods each week to discuss unresolved questions, such as the apparent conflict of two texts from the same authority. Soon the master would use these periods to set a question for his students. One student would propose an answer, another would respond and the master would determine (or resolve) the question. These sessions became formalized into the medieval disputation.

The Paris master best known to moderns is Thomas Aquinas. Two series of disputed questions posed by him are known to be extant. His disputations associated with the virtues (book 3 of the Sentences) took place in 1269–72. For example, he asked, ‘Do we possess virtues naturally?’ Arguments pro and con were given by students, each citing authorities and using arguments from reason. Master Thomas responded that ‘there is a difference of opinion’ and determined that virtue is in us naturally only as an aptitude and not as a perfection. And so it went, a give-and-take which went beyond the formal lecture and which gave a richness to the learning process.

In addition, there was the quodlibet (what-you-will) disputation, which was the most popular academic exercise of the medieval university. A master would announce that at a particular time, generally before Easter or Christmas, he would hold aquodlibetdisputation. He was not required to do so, and many masters never did. The disputation was open to all students and masters and to others as well, and the master was prepared to entertain questions from the floor on any subject (quodlibet). Subjects raised often went beyond the terms of academic discussion and could be concerned with current political and ecclesiastical issues such as the suppression of the Knights Templar. To lighten the atmosphere, occasionally frivolous questions might be asked – ‘Whether a drunk can be sobered by drinking oil?’, ‘Whether redheads can be trusted?’, ‘Whether monks have to be fatter than other people?’ In time, the verb quodlibetare came into use and is the direct ancestor of our quibble. These occasional frivolities of the quodlibet aside, the disputation complemented the exposition of the text and produced students who were aware of the accepted opinions and who also had the ability to speculate and to be engaged in intellectual exchange at the highest level. This was medieval scholasticism.

Not many physical remains of medieval universities survive: the churches of St Julien-le-Pauvre and St Séverin at Paris, parts of Merton College at Oxford and Peterhouse at Cambridge but not much else for the period before 1300. What does survive is the institution itself. For medieval physical remains we now turn to actual stone and mortar.


Scattered across western Europe today are churches, almost without number, which were built in the Middle Ages. One estimate suggests that in medieval times there was one church for every 200 people. One can visit villages, for example, in remote parts of France or England and find tiny churches that date from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries, most of them in continuous use since they were built. It was in such simple, often unadorned places that the people of Europe worshipped, where children were baptized, where the feasts of the liturgical year were celebrated, where villagers came on Sundays to Mass and on other days perhaps just to sit in the quiet of a holy place and where obsequies were pronounced over the dead. Yet architecturally the crowning glory of the medieval church must be the great cathedrals, the seats (cathedrae) of bishops in their dioceses. From Sweden and Poland in the East to Spain and Brittany and Ireland in the West there stood in great towns the cathedral, the centre of religious life for a whole region. There were 17 cathedrals in England, 4 in Wales and 11 in Scotland, nearly 100 in France and even more in Italy. They were large buildings, made to accommodate a town’s entire population. The thirteenth-century cathedral at Amiens could accommodate about 2,000 people, which was the population of Amiens. In 1944, when Paris was liberated, General de Gaulle led about 12,000 people into Notre-Dame Cathedral. Frequently sited on prominent hilltops, such as at Laon and Lincoln, the cathedral dominated the landscape. In stone and mortar it was the supreme achievement of the medieval church.

To look for origins one must go back to pre-medieval times, when in the period following the emancipation of the church by Constantine’s edict (313) the church was able to construct places of worship. The historian Eusebius wrote:

There was unspeakable joy as we saw that every place, previously reduced to dust by tyrannical wickedness, was now coming back to life and that churches were rising from their foundations.

(Bk 10, ch. 2)

What the church adopted was the style of the Roman basilica (from βασιλικός, royal), an administrative building, used as a court and place of public assembly. In the beginning some existing basilicas were actually converted for use as churches. The Christians placed a forecourt (atrium) with a central fountain in front of their basilica. The building itself was a rectangle with a semicircular projection (apse) at one end, where the magistrate sat and where now the officiating priest would sit behind an altar; at the other end, through which worshippers would enter, there was usually a vestibule (narthex), but sometimes just a covered portico. Running the length of the basilica were two (sometimes four) rows of columns, which created a wide area in the centre (nave, from navis, ship) and an aisle (sometimes two) to the side of the columns. In the course of time, a room was added to one side near the apse for storing materials needed for liturgical ceremonies, and, soon after that, a corresponding room on the opposite side. Thus, unintentionally these projections (transepts) created a cruciform building. Also, in time, the basilica was built on an east–west axis with the apsidal end facing east towards Jerusalem. The superstructure was three storeys high. At the ground level rising from the floor to the tops of arches which bridged the columns was the arcading. The slender columns were joined to one another by typical Roman round arches, and the arcading supported the relatively light weight of the ceiling. Above each row of columns, from west to east, ran an architrave, perhaps four or five inches wide, which, if one stood at the west end of the nave, drew one’s eyes eastward towards the apse. The architrave separated the arcading from the second storey, the triforium, an area of wall, perhaps five feet or so wide, which was usually decorated, frequently with mosaics. Above the triforum was a storey with clear windows called the clerestory. A wooden roof enclosed the structure.

Figure 1 Floor plan of Christian basilica

A classic example is the church of St Paul-Without-the-Walls at Rome, built in 386, one of the first with an east–west orientation, although what we see today is not the original but an almost exact replica built after the fire of 1823: a courtyard, narthex, nave, four sets of 20 columns, providing four side aisles, a decorated triforium, a fenestrated clerestory and, at the east end, an apse topped by a semi-dome. In Ravenna the church of S. Apollinare Nuovo, completed by Emperor Justinian in the sixth century, with the more usual two sets of columns and two side aisles, has at the triforium level a mosaic of a procession moving towards the apse. Although the Basilican style continued to be used in Italy – San Clemente in Rome was built in the eleventh century – two new forms of church architecture, uniquely medieval, developed. The Basilican style bequeathed to the Romanesque and Gothic two essential elements: the floor plan and the elevations. These continued to be used in church architecture to modern times.

The designers of the Romanesque church faced two problems. In the first place, wooden roofs were easily combustible. The solution – not totally successful – was stone ceilings, called vaults. Secondly, since many priests wanted to say Mass daily and since at this time each altar could be used for only one Mass a day – like the priest, it had to be fasting – a church with a simple altar would not meet the devotional needs of the times in monastic and cathedral churches, where there were many priests. The answer clearly was additional altars. The resolution of these problems helped to shape the church of the Romanesque period (c.1000–c.1150). The floor plan, still basilican, was adapted to create new spaces for altars at the east end. This was fairly easily accomplished by the use of either a staggered or a radiating plan. The staggered plan, used mostly in monastic churches, extended the area of the nave beyond the transept and added side chapels off that extended area (this area east of the crossing now called the choir), where altars were placed. They were also placed in the transepts and at the east end of each aisle. Their orientation was eastward. The

Plate 13 St Paul’s-Without-the-Walls, Rome. Reproduced by permission of the Courtauld Institute of Art.

radiating plan was to have a more dominant influence. In this plan the side aisles were extended to form a walkway (ambulatory) around the apse, and off the ambulatory radiated chapels that extended as semicircular structures beyond the east wall. The church of St Sernin at Toulouse, begun c.1080, has five chapels radiating off the east end and two off each of its transepts. The church of St Martin in Tours, begun in the late 990s, had a similar system of radiating chapels at the east end. The church known as Cluny III (c.1120) had 15 radiating chapels. At the west end of the Romanesque church the atrium of the basilica was now lost, at least in northern Europe. Creating a stone ceiling (vault) over the nave posed serious engineering problems of support. The sheer weight of the vault required the abandoning of the slender columns of the Christian basilica, since they would simply have crumbled under the weight of the stone vault. They were replaced with massive pillars, placed fairly close together and joined by the traditional round arches. Also, the outer walls were vastly thicker. Since the walls supplied most of the support for the vault, little space could be afforded for windows, which now tended to be small in size and few in number.

Figure 2 Cross-section of Christian basilica

How was the stone vault shaped? The easiest, least complicated way to cover the space with stone was to use a vault resembling a section of a barrel, a semi-cylinder, which ran from one end to the other. The barrel vault at first ran unbroken, but in time arched bands of stone, crossing the nave from pillar to pillar, helped to give more support and, importantly, helped to create the bay, which was to feature in all subsequent church architecture. The bay was formed by four pillars, two on either side of the nave, and the arches connecting them. The space created by the arches AB and CD and the transverse arches AC and BD and their supporting pillars formed the bay ABCD (see Figure 4).

The barrel vault was soon modified. The vault over each bay could be formed separately, which resulted in the groin vault. It was formed by the intersection of two barrel vaults above the bay. (Another way to look at this development is to consider the bay created where the barrel vault of the nave met the barrel vault of the transepts and to say simply that the vaulting of this bay was replicated in every bay in the nave.) No additional arches were required, just the same arches as for the barrel vault, but now the groin allowed the use of much lighter stone, supported by mortar and the curvature of the stones, since the weight fell not evenly along the wall, as in the barrel, but at the four points of the pillars. The shape of the groin vaulting could now allow for more and larger windows. By 1100 the groin vault was covering the naves of many large churches, such as the naves of the church of the Madeleine at Vézelay in Burgundy and the cathedral at Speyer. Within a few decades there emerged from the groin vault a new vaulting that was to give birth to the Gothic.

Figure 3 Internal elevation of Christian basilica

Figure 4 Formation of the bay

The rib vault made use of the bay division and covered the space of the bay by using three sets of arches: (i) two wall (or lateral) arches, AB and CD, (ii) two trans-verse arches, AC and BD, in use since the advent of the barrel vault, and, what was new, (iii) two diagonal vaults, AD and BC (see Figure 7). By creating a skeleton of these six arches the stone mason could then fill in the spaces (the web) with light stones cut to fit, supported by scaffolding till the mortar dried and then, as in the groin vault, by the weight of the bonded stones in the resulting curvature. Where the rib vault was first used continues to interest architectural historians. Whether in Lombardy, Normandy or Norman England – and there is really no reason to think this development could not have occurred independently in different places about the same time – a look at Durham Cathedral should be instructive. Sited at the top of a promontory at the end of a loop of the River Wear, it dominates the area in such a way that Sir Walter Scott, with typical exaggeration, called it ‘half church of God, half castle ‘gainst the Scots’. Save for some thirteenth-century improvements at the far east end, it remains to this day little altered from the time when Benedictine monks built their cathedral-monastery as a shrine to St Cuthbert. A very early, perhaps the earliest, example of high rib vaulting can be seen in the choir, which was begun in 1093 and rib-vaulted by 1104, and rib vaulting covered the nave by 1133. Whatever the truth of the claim of Durham that its choir is the earliest use of rib vaulting, it can be said that the cathedral as a whole was probably the earliest structure completely covered by rib vaulting. Gothic was not far away.

Plate 14 Nave elevation, ruins of Jumièges Abbey. Reproduced by permission of James Austin.

Several observations should be made before we look at Gothic. In the first place, it needs to be said that Romanesque church architecture should be seen not merely as a prelude to Gothic: it can stand on its own. The massive size of the pillars and limitations of fenestration produced what is seen today as a fairly dark interior. In the medieval period the interior would have been colourfully decorated or, at the least,

Figure 5 Floor plan of St Sernin, Toulouse

whitewashed. Often thought of as French, the Romanesque, in fact, was truly an international style. Parts of Roskilde Cathedral in Denmark (by 1088) and Lund Cathedral in Sweden (by 1146) are in the Romanesque style. On Orkney, the archipelago of islands north of Scotland, at its principal town, Kirkwall (‘church bay’), one finds a Romanesque cathedral dedicated to the Norse earl-saint, Magnus, a remarkable structure of red sandstone. At Santiago de Compostela a Romanesque cathedral with a nave more than 300 feet long was consecrated in 1211; a Baroque façade was added to the west front in the eighteenth century. The cathedral at Pisa has classical Romanesque elevation but is covered by a wooden ceiling. And so it went throughout western Europe, the widespread use of the Romanesque style but often with local variations.

Figure 6 Vaults: barrel, groin, rib

Figure 7 Formation of the rib vault

The Gothic style was many things which the Romanesque was not. It gives the impression of openness and light. It came into use first in the mid twelfth century and by the second quarter of the thirteenth century had replaced Romanesque for new church construction almost everywhere and remained the style for churches of every size for the rest of the Middle Ages and, in many places, to modern times. To say that Gothic is characterized by the pointed arch and the height of its elevation is merely to describe two of its most obvious elements, but Gothic architecture is a harmonious ensemble of many things. Henry Adams famously compared the rough, heavy masculinity of the Romanesque to the graceful, delicate femininity of the Gothic. Another observer has called it ‘perhaps the most creative achievement in the history of Western architecture’. A history professor at Vienna proclaimed that ‘the Gothic church is a vision of paradise, the heavenly Jerusalem’. And others similarly. Yet still others have taken a different view. For example, Vasari (d. 1574) said it was ‘a malediction of pinnacles’. Here we are on the ground of subjective taste, which the historian should feel quaking under his feet and move on.

Plate 15 Durham Cathedral. Reproduced by permission of Durham Cathedral.

The floor plans of most Gothic cathedrals reveal three modifications from earlier styles. The choir, the area east of the crossing of nave and transepts, is greatly extended. At Notre-Dame in Paris the choir is almost half the length of the cathedral. This meant in practice that the laity were further and further removed from the altar; in some churches this separation was further emphasized by the building of a stone screen at the entrance to the choir. Radiating chapels continue to define the east end, as they did in Romanesque churches. Still, the floor plan even with these modifications remains the basilican floor plan, which had been in use since the fourth century. The same three elevations, first used in the Christian basilica, continued to be used in the Gothic.

In examining the Gothic elevations, there can be no question about the significance of the rib vault in its development. Without the rib vault there would not be Gothic as we know it. The ribs provided the framework for the fairly light stone and allowed the bays to be rectangular and the nave to be much taller. The three sets of arches in the early rib vaulting were round arches. If they covered a square, which in the early stages they did, then the wall arches and the transverse arches were of equal size, whereas the diagonal arch, the hypotenuse of a right triangle, was obviously longer. The diagonal arches could reach to a point higher than the crowns of the other arches, thus producing a conical effect. To raise the level of these other arches to the level of the diagonals was accomplished by making these wall and transverse arches pointed in shape. The pointed arch was known before the Gothic but now it was made an integral part of the new style. It was formed not by two straight lines meeting at an angle but by two portions of a circle meeting at an angle. This form of the pointed or broken arch provided a more vertical thrust for the weight of the vault than did the Romanesque. In time, even the diagonal arches might occasionally, although rarely, become pointed. The result consequent upon the use of rib vaulting and pointed arches was greater verticality. Virtually all that was needed to support these increasingly taller structures was buttressing at the outer wall at the exterior points corresponding to the interior pillars. Walls between the buttresses were scarcely needed for support and, hence, could be opened up to allow light to flood the side aisle. The higher the building meant the higher the clerestory and the more window space in the clerestory to bring light to the nave. Of course, higher clerestories required higher buttressing at the point of stress, and this need gave rise to the flying buttress. The external buttress was raised from the level of the side aisle roof to about the level of the nave roof and from it, extended shafts of masonry to the clerestory wall. Neither the rib vault, the pointed arch nor the flying buttress was designed for ornamental or aesthetic purposes. In their beginnings, they were clearly functional or constructional: the rib vault to allow the easy assembly of the stone web, the pointed arch to allow more verticality and the flying buttress to hold the clerestory wall from collapsing outward under the weight of the stone vault. Decoration came later: sculptured programmes in the portals and elsewhere, gargoyles spitting out rainwater from their spouts, stained-glass windows and pinnacles, often by the score, although the latter were also functional. The different periods of Gothic were but variations on the same basic theme.

Gothic emerged in the middle of the twelfth century in the region of France around Paris, the Île-de-France. The earliest known example of Gothic was at the abbey church of St Denis, then just outside Paris. Abbot Suger, a close adviser to the French king, undertook the gradual replacement of the Carolingian church, a shrine to the national saint, a place long associated with the monarchy. Construction of the west façade began in 1137 and what was produced became the standard design for the façades of great Gothic churches: three great portals, which were highly decorated and separated by columns and colonnettes, themselves usually with sculpted figures, and, above the central portal, a wheel (rose) window, the whole arrangement framed by towers at each end. Yet it was at the east end, the choir, which was consecrated in 1144, that were first realized those features which are considered the essential characteristics of Gothic. The columns supporting the rib vaults of the ambulatory were slender and the windows in the shallow, radiating chapels produced a richness of light. The impression was one of space and lightness. Time – and the French Revolution – destroyed much of Suger’s achievement, particularly in the upper elevations, but the ground floor remains with its forest of thin columns in its double ambulatory. Others followed Suger’s example.

Cathedrals in the new style were soon begun at other places in the Île-de-France. At Sens a cathedral was being built at about the same time as St Denis and may have been under construction when Abelard had his famous confrontation with St Bernard in 1141. In its construction additional buttressing was required for the high clerestory walls of the nave, and here, at Sens, was born the flying buttress. Construction began at Noyon (c.1150), Senlis (c.1153), at Paris (c.1163) and at Laon (c.1160). Notre-Dame of Paris had a completed choir in 1182 and a completed nave before 1200. The often photographed flying buttresses that support the walls of the choir were added somewhat later. Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, the nineteenth-century architect, saved the cathedral from possible ruin and, in restoring it, effected changes from the original. The cathedrals in the new style were developing a more delicate appearance and were reaching higher and higher. Notre-Dame of Paris reached about 115 feet. At Rheims the cathedral rose to 125 feet, at Amiens to 140 feet and at Beauvais to 158 feet before the roof of the choir collapsed.

In England, fire destroyed much of the east end of the Romanesque Canterbury Cathedral in 1174. An eye-witness, Gervase of Canterbury, described how the fire started in nearby cottages, and, unnoticed, sparks landed on the cathedral roof, fell between the leaden plates and ignited the wooden rafters beneath:

The three cottages, where the fire had begun, were destroyed and, the general excitement having ended, the townspeople started to go to their homes. Little did they know that the interior of the cathedral was being consumed by fire. But beams and supports were burning, and the flames reached the roof, where the lead began to melt. With the roof now opened, raging winds fanned the flames. The townspeople, turning, saw their cathedral engulfed in flames and shouted, ‘Look, look. The cathedral is on fire’.

Reluctantly the monks of Christ Church, advised by the master mason William of Sens, agreed to rebuild the choir. After four years, the same chronicler relates,

While William was using machinery to turn the great vault, the beams beneath his feet suddenly broke and he fell fifty feet to the ground, timber and stones falling with him.

Plate 16 Ambulatory, church of St Denis, Paris. Reproduced by permission of the Courtauld Institute of Art.

In 1184, the east end, which contained the shrine of the recently martyred Thomas Becket was completed by an English master mason, who replaced the injured Frenchman. Both master masons used the Gothic style, and the Canterbury chronicler compared the new (Gothic) with the old (Romanesque):

The pillars of both the old and the new are similar in style but different in height: the new longer by nearly twelve feet. The old capitals were plain, whereas the new are sculptured exquisitely. The old ambulatory of the choir had 22 pillars; now there are 28. The old arches, as all else, were plain and cut roughly with an axe; the new with a chisel. There were no marble columns in the old, but now they are numerous beyond numbering. The old ambulatory around the choir had plain vaults; the new has ribbed arches and a keystone … The new building is higher than the old.

Plate 17 Nave, Laon Cathedral. Reproduced by permission of the Courtauld Institute of Art.

The nave seen by Chaucer’s pilgrims and by modern visitors was built in the fourteenth century, and the central tower, Bell Harry, was constructed only in the very late fifteenth century.

Plate 18 Flying buttresses, Le Mans Cathedral. Reproduced by permission of the Courtauld Institute of Art.

Meanwhile, in France nature and man were combining to produce what some art historians consider the crown of medieval artistic genius, Chartres Cathedral. When the earliest church was built at Chartres no one knows, yet the church built there in 743 replaced an earlier church. In 858 fire badly damaged the new church, and it was replaced by a structure that remained till 1020, when it, in turn, fell to fire. In the ninth century, according to a later legend, the Frankish king Charles the Bald gave to Chartres a relic which was to make Chartres the principal pilgrimage place of France: the tunic said to have been worn by the Virgin, when she gave birth to the Christ child. The fire of 1020 enabled a new cathedral to be constructed in the Romanesque style; it was consecrated in 1037. About 1145 two towers, joined by three entrances (the Royal Portal), were built west of the Romanesque church, and the area between this structure and the Romanesque church was covered, thus effecting an extension of the old church. The new portals gave gifted sculptors the opportunity to produce some of the most admired cut stone anywhere. The colonnettes became elongated figures of Old Testament men and women. The tympanums above the doors depict three stages in Christian history. Over the right (south) door is the Virgin enthroned, her lap serving as a throne for her son, the lintels below depicting events in the Nativity cycle. Over the left (north) door is Christ ending his earthly life by ascending into heaven and beneath are lintels with angels giving their message to the apostles. And in the tympanum above the central door is Christ in heavenly majesty, surrounded by the figures of the four evangelists, and in the lintel below are the twelve apostles, flanked at the ends by two figures, probably Elijah and Enoch.

Disaster struck at Chartres once again. On the night of 9–10 July 1194 the Romanesque cathedral was destroyed by fire, leaving the new west façade and its windows remarkably undamaged. A new Gothic church was built behind the west façade. Above the level of the lancet windows the wall of the façade was raised considerably higher to provide space for a wheel (rose) window. The work was essentially completed by 1220. The large amount of wall space in the new Gothic church invited large windows and stained glass, for which Chartres has become famous. The red and the blue glass – one writer calls the latter ‘supernatural blue’ – created a fusion of these colours in the spaces of the nave, choir and aisles. Gifts of windows came from beyond the local community, for the construction of the new pilgrimage church – the tunic, in the crypt, survived the fire – became a national undertaking. Windows were given by the aristocratic houses of the Île-de-France; the much admired windows of the north transept were donated by Queen Blanche, mother of the king-saint Louis IX, and the windows of the south transept by the duke of Brittany. Yet many of the windows were dedicated to local members of the merchant and artisan guilds, who donated them. A vivid account tells how the townsmen, including nobles and burgesses, hauled carts laden with stones up the steep precipice to the site where the towers were being built. The temptation to reduce this symbolic gesture to hysterical pentecostalism would not seem to do justice to the true religious emotion which, at least in part, accounts for the astonishing fact that between 1180 and 1270, 80 cathedrals and 500 abbey churches were built in France alone.

The Gothic-building movement spread through the western world from Dublin in the west, where two Gothic cathedrals were built, to Gdansk and Cracow in the east and from Trondheim and Uppsala in Scandinavia to Seville and Milan in the southern peninsulas, everywhere with a local stamp, yet everywhere essentially Gothic. And, when Europeans came to the New World and built churches, they tended to do so in the Gothic mode, adapted to local materials and climate. It had become close to being a universal style.

Medieval cathedrals: a select list

This list presents the author’s suggestion of some representative cathedrals which were built in the medieval period and which would reward further study.


Amiens. Gothic. Built between c.1220 and c.1280. Considered by many the ultimate Gothic.

Beauvais. Gothic. Choir begun in 1225; its roof collapsed in 1284. Choir rebuilt. Transepts added in the early sixteenth century.

Bourges. Gothic. Built largely in two campaigns (1195–1214; 1225–55). Elegantly tall interior columns and rich stained glass. Façade considered a masterpiece.

Chartres. Gothic. West façade of mid-twelfth century. Most of remainder 1194–1220 (see pp. 233–34).

Laon. Perhaps best example of early Gothic; begun in the 1160s. Uncluttered, simple, with graceful proportions.

Paris, Notre-Dame. Gothic. Mostly 1163–c.1196. West towers by 1250.

Rheims. Gothic. Thirteenth century. Bombarded in two wars, its walls and foundation remained. Successfully restored. ‘Like delicate lace’.


Canterbury. Gothic. Choir by 1184. Nave fourteenth century (see pp. 230–33).

Durham. Norman (i.e., Romanesque). Begun in 1093. Vaulted by c.1130. Dr Johnson admired its ‘rocky solidarity and indeterminate duration’.

Ely. Norman (i.e., Romanesque) nave completed in 1106. Gothic choir by 1251, but rebuilt in the fourteenth century after collapse of central tower, which was replaced by octagonal lantern tower.

Lincoln. Gothic (some Norman features in west façade). Thirteenth century. Two sets of transepts.

Salisbury. Gothic. Built in one campaign, 1220–66. Homogeneity of style: a snapshot of early English Gothic. Several paintings of the exterior by Constable.


Cologne. Gothic. Built over six centuries (the thirteenth to the nineteenth) and restored after the Second World War. Largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe.

Magdeburg. Gothic. Thirteenth century. Early example of German use of French Gothic.

Mainz. Romanesque. Consecrated in 1009. Used by the French as an abattoir and stable in 1792 and by the allies as a target in the Second World War. Restored.

Speyer. Romanesque. Mostly eleventh century; nave extended and Baroque decoration added c.1700.

Worms. The Kaiserdom. Romanesque. Begun c.1000, not completed till the thirteenth century. Dome at the crossing.


Florence. Italian Gothic. Begun in 1296. Brunelleschi’s dome not completed till 1461. Façade nineteenth century.

Lucca. Typical Italian mixture of styles. Fourteenth century. Impressive façade. Marble interior.

Milan. Gothic. Begun in 1386; essentially completed by 1416, yet remained a work in progress for some time. A forest of nineteenth-century pinnacles.

Pisa. Italian Romanesque. Begun in 1063. Wooden ceiling. White marble.

Siena. Italian Gothic. Begun in 1316, but work was halted at the Black Death (1348) and never restarted. A choir and transepts.


Burgos. Gothic. 1221–30, but dome not completed till 1568. Towers, pinnacles and statues.

Compostela. Romanesque. Begun in 1075 and consecrated in 1211. Eighteenth-century Baroque façade added.

Seville. Gothic. Fifteenth century. Largest Gothic church anywhere.

Toledo. Gothic. Begun in 1227 on the site of Muslim mosque.

Further reading

For the universities an introductory book based on lectures given in 1923 can still be read with profit: Charles Homer Haskins, The Rise of Universities (New York, 1923, and frequently reprinted). The classic is the second edition of Hastings Rashdall, The Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages (F.M. Powicke and A.B. Emden, eds; 3 vols; Oxford, 1936), which requires close attention by the reader to the editors’ notes. More recent works include Helene Wieruszowski, The Medieval University (Princeton, 1966); A.B. Cobban, The Medieval Universities: Their Development and Organization (London, 1975); R.W. Southern, Scholastic Humanism and the Unification of Europe (2 vols; Oxford, 1995–2001), who prefers a later date for the studium at Bologna than the one given here. For medieval philosophy the standard works are Etienne Gilson, A History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages (New York, 1954) and Armand A. Maurer, Medieval Philosophy (2nd edn; Toronto, 1982). For canon law an invaluable introduction to the subject is James A. Brundage, Medieval Canon Law (London, 1995). An introduction to the study of Roman Law is Peter Stein, Roman Law in European History (Cambridge, 1999), and a comprehensive summary is O.F. Robinson et al.,European Legal History (2nd edn; London, 1994). For theology see Jaroslav Pelikan, The Growth of Medieval Theology (vol. 3 of The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine; Chicago and London, 1978). Readers will find helpful William J. Courtenay,Teaching Careers at the University of Paris in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries (Notre Dame, IN, 1988). Oxford is well served by vols 1–2 of The History of the University of Oxford (gen. ed. T.H. Aston; Oxford, 1984, 1993) as is Cambridge by Damian Leader, A History of the University of Cambridge, vol. 1, The University to 1546 (Cambridge, 1988). The disputation of Thomas Aquinas on virtues can be found in his Disputed Questions on Virtue (tr. Ralph McInerny; South Bend, IN, 1998). In addition, relevant articles appear in the journal History of Universies. For a rich collection of papers on quodlibet disputations see Christopher Schabel, ed., Theological Quodlibeta in the Middle Ages (2 vols; Leiden and Boston, 2006–7).

Good introductions to Romanesque and Gothic can be found in Spiro Kostof, A History of Architecture: Settings and Rituals (2nd edn; New York, 1995) and in Robert G. Calkins, Medieval Architecture in Western Europe: From A.D. 300–1500 (Oxford and New York, 1998). A valuable survey is Roger Stalley, Early Medieval Architecture (Oxford, 1999). Paul Crossley’s revision of Paul Frankl, Gothic Architecture (New Haven, 2000), can be consulted with much profit. A general book which describes the construction issues (Chapters 3 and 4) and provides photographs of 28 cathedrals is William W. Clark’s, Medieval Cathedrals (Westport, CT, 2006). Also, the reader will find instructive the very generously illustrated book by Anne Prache, Cathedrals of Europe(Ithaca, NY, 1999). Further on the cathedral is the enthusiastic introduction by Robert A. Scott, which has a slight slant towards English cathedrals: The Gothic Enterprise: A Guide to Understanding the Medieval Cathedral (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, 2003). For Abbot Suger see Lindy Grant, Abbot Suger of St-Denis: Church and State in Early Twelfth-Century France (London, 1998). Gervase of Canterbury’s chronicle awaits an English translation. A valuable book is Jean Bony, French Gothic Architecture of the 12th and 13th Centuries (Berkeley, 1983). For an explanation of the engineering problems involved in constructing medieval churches see Robert Mark, Experiments in Gothic Structure (Cambridge, MA, 1982), which uses computerized models. On structural issues there is Lynn T. Courtenay, ed., The Engineering of Medieval Cathedrals (Aldershot, Hants., 1997). Readers interested in sculpture will find that Paul Williamson, Gothic Sculpture, 1140–1300 (New Haven, 1995), provides a helpful summary.

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