Gothic Architecture in England and France

By George Herbert West | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII
THE DECORATED AND FLAMBOYANT STYLES

BY the middle of the thirteenth century French. Gothic art was complete, the problems of its vaulting and construction solved, the windows of its buildings glorious with colour. Yet though the art was complete, hardly one of the buildings was finished; the great enthusiasm of earlier days had died out, funds were hard to get, and it. was only slowly and laboriously that the buildings were brought to their final form.

Nor were things very different in England, though on the whole France was ahead. The French Church had experienced no such set-back as the crushing taxation and Interdict ( 1207-11) of the disastrous reign of John ( 1199-1216) which had stopped all work except in the churches of the Cistercians. The exception accorded to them 'gave them a popularity and influence which the order never lost, and raised it into a more powerful position than that held by the old Benedictines, one which they retained even when, with the coming of the Friars in 1220, the strictly religious and missionary influence of' the regular orders began to decay. Though from 1250 to 1275 buildings of the greatest importance and of surpassing beauty were begun or finished, there are signs of a falling off in the fervent enthusiasm of earlier times and of a coming change in the whole spirit of the art. By 1275 the last great churches, Lichfield ( 1250), Westminster ( 1245), and Exeter ( 1270), had been begun, the three earliest examples of Decorated work.

Then comes a pause which in England lasted fifty years till, with the death of Edward II in 1327, and the acquisition of his remains by Gloucester, the great school of masons connected with that monastery began their extraordinary work, which influenced the whole subsequent history of

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