The Gothic Age


The Gothic Age

As the third year that followed the year on thousand grew near, there
was to be seen over almost all the earth, but especially in Italy and in Gaul, a
great renewal of church buildings; each Christian community was driven by a
spirit of rivalry to have a more glorious church than the others. It was as if
the world had shaken itself, and casting off its old garments, had dressed
itself again in every part in a white robe of churches.

Raoul Glaber, Historia, c.1003

The Gothic Age (c. AD 1130-1530) marked the end to an age of chaos,
primarily caused by the sacking and pillaging of the Vikings. After the great
minds of Western Europe were freed from using their vast knowledge to defend
against invaders or plagues, they now had the time and the resources needed to
design any and everything in this era from bridges to city walls and castles to
cathedrals. This was also a very religious age, with plenty of money being
pumped into the Church, some from the crusades, with all of its included
looting, and a lot more from all of the tithes all of the people who were born
in the population explosion gave faithfully. Another even bigger source of
income for the Church came to it in the shape of power and prestige, when the
power of the church peaked in AD 1277.
Not only was this a good time for the Church, but this was also a very
good time for all of humanity. The standard of living dramatically rose, and
along with it, the population of Western Europe shot up. In 1346, the estimated
population of Europe was fifty-four point four million just before the plague
hit and wiped out more than a third of the population.1 2 This was more than
twice the population of Europeans in the year 950 when it was 22,600,0003 .
While the population was exploding there were so many new cathedrals
built that in the relatively short time period of two hundred and fifty years,
there was more stone quarried to be used in cathedrals (several million tons)
than was quarried during the age of the pyramids in Egypt, where there are
pyramids that are over two hundred and fifty million cubic meters big.4
The Gothic age survived many crusades, a plague that didnąt leave Europe
until the late 18th century, and many other horrible atrocities. Following this
great age, there was a period without the great accomplishments as in this age,
since everyone was just happy using what their forefathers had done. If not for
this age, we would today be without many of our modern conveniences, so I firmly
believe that this age was essential to modern day living.

Body of Knowledge

Gothic Architecture
Anyone who has ever walked into a true Gothic cathedral knows how much
of an impact one can have on a person . The sheer magnificence of it will shut
even the noisiest of tourists up. One can only imagine the impact seeing such a
place would have on a person who has never had the opportunity to see one of the
great wonders of the modern world, such as a skyscraper. The name alone is
enough to bring visions of grandeur, or Las Vegas, a place known for its flashy
style and glitz. Just think what a person who has never seen either one of
these places, or any place anything like it, would think when they saw a choir
with a roof so high a fourteen story building could fit in there* and not even
touch the rafters.5 And Imagine what you would think of a stadium that was so
large it could hold one million people (the largest one today holds a "mere"
forty-two thousand people1). This is what Ameins Cathedral was like when it was
built. The entire town of ten thousand people could fit into it all at the same
time to go to the same mass. It had a floor that was seven thousand, seven
hundred square meters.

New Ideas in the Cathedral that Reflected Christianity
There were many aspects about Gothic cathedrals that reflected the then
modern-day ways of life, such as how a common belief in those times was that the
closer you were to God, the holier you were. The architects would build huge
spires and high ceilings which would make the building look absolutely massive.
Another clever technique of the time was to create picture stories on the
windows with stained glass since the vast majority of