Gothic Arches Versus Romanesque Arches

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Thesis, Argument Outline, and Evidence In the late 12th century the Romanesque period of style morphed into the Gothic period of style. The Romanesque period was characterized by the following: thick walls, barrel/round arches, supporting groin vaults, and thick buttresses (Calkins 1998, 110). The Gothic period was characterized by the following: thin walls, pointed arches, stained glass, and flying buttresses (Icher 1998, 20-30). During the early medieval years, the use of thick walls in building a church or cathedral was not only to create a stable monumental building but to help protect the building during wars or battles. Building thick stone walls also helped protect the building from “incendiarism” which tended to happen frequently when older wooden churches were under attack (Fitchen 1981, 42-6). The seemingly smooth transition between the two periods can easily be seen with the change of using barrel arches to using pointed arches in cathedral architecture. By transitioning from barrel arches to pointed arches, cathedral builders were able to create greater support for cathedral roofs while conserving stone, reducing the sizes of buttresses and walls, and they also created a new meaning to what churches symbolized. The main argument, for the thesis above, is how with the use of pointed arches contributed to the downsizing use of stone in other sections of cathedral construction. The use of barrel arches in the past cathedral construction restricted the height limitations of the cathedral due to the height and width ratio of the barrel archway. But pointed archways increased the spectrum of height and width variations because of the design of the pointed arch itself. The flexibility of the pointed arch can be attributed... ... middle of paper ... ... what cathedrals symbolize. With supporting evidence from the discipline of geometry and examples from cathedrals, such as Saint Denis and the Beauvis Cathedral; the use and development of the pointed arch has forever transformed the architectural landscape of medieval Europe. Works Cited Anderson, William. The Rise of the Gothic. New Hampshire: Salem House Publishers, 1985. Calkins, Robert G. Medieval Architecture in Western Europe: from A.D. 300 to 1500. New York: Oxford University Press, USA, 1998. Fitchen, John. The Construction of Gothic Cathedrals: a Study of Medieval Vault Erection. Phoenix ed. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 1981. Hiscock, Nigel. The Wise Master Builder: Platonic Geometry in Plans of Medieval Abbeys and Cathedrals. Chicago: Ashgate Pub Ltd, 2000. Icher, François. Building the Great Cathedrals. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1998.

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