The Gothic World, 1100-1600: A Survey of Architecture and Art

By John Harvey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
VII
Spatial Gothic

IN describing the geographical features of Gothic Europe, I have stressed the opposition between the French Royal Domain on the one hand, and the surrounding fiefs and the Empire on the other. The growing power of the French Kings provoked enmity on the part of those who saw their own power and independence lessened. For two centuries from the opening of the Gothic period royal France was in constant danger of encirclement. Most formidable of the surrounding opponents was the King of England, and during those two hundred years the whole of the marriage alliances of the English Royal House tended to link it to the other powers on the perimeter of France. Thus Henry I's daughter married the Emperor Henry V of Germany; Henry II, though he refused the offer of the Empire, married a daughter to Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony; John's daughter, Isabella, was the wife of Frederick II, and his second son, Richard, became King of the Romans. The second marriage of the Empress Matilda to Geoffrey Plantagenet not only brought the throne of England to the House of Anjou, but formed a direct link with Jerusalem, whose King was Geoffrey's father Fulk. Henry II himself married the heiress of Aquitaine, and thus came to control more of geographical France than the French King did; daughters married into the houses of Castile and Toulouse. John's two sons both married daughters of Raymond Berenger IV of Provence, whose uncle and cousins were Kings of Aragon and Counts of Barcelona. Edward I was to marry a princess of Castile, and his brother Edmund of Lancaster, the widow of Henry III of Navarre.

The political significance of this great area surrounding the French Royal Domain was enormously strengthened by the fact that it contained the territory of the first literary vernacular of Europe: Provençal.* Almost the whole of France south of the Loire as far east as Savoy, and Catalonia beyond the Pyrenees, formed one great linguistic province. Long before the emergence of northern French, English and Italian as the languages of important cultures, the Langue d'Oc had been the vehicle of a great poetic tradition. Both the trouvères of northern France, and the minnesinger of Germany learnt their craft from the troubadours of greater Provence. Thus the formation of the Angevin Empire by the marriage of Henry of Anjou and Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1152 had implications that went far beyond the political sphere.

Henry was already Duke of Normandy, and in two more years was to become King of England. Angers, Poitiers and London became the three capitals of a realm nearly a thousand miles long, from the Cheviots to the Pyrenees. London was the centre of a firmly established Anglo-Norman tradition of building; Angers and Poitiers now became the sources of a new form of art. At Angers Cathedral, begun in 1149, the outer walls of the earlier church were retained, the arcades swept away, heavy external buttresses added, and an enormous vault built in a single span. Romanesque aisleless naves, some of them covered with a series of domes, had been a normal type in southern France, and at first their Gothic counterparts had "domical" vaults rising at the centre. These domed vaults were to reappear in late Gothic in the Baltic, Spain and America. The example of Angers was almost immediately followed at Bordeaux, and later at Toulouse,

____________________
Old English literature was still earlier, but was broken by the Conquest.

-83-

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The Gothic World, 1100-1600: A Survey of Architecture and Art
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vi
  • The Illustrations x
  • Acknowledgments xii
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter I the Production of Gothic Art 12
  • Chapter II - The Design of Gothic Art 25
  • Chapter III Gothic Designers 39
  • Chapter IV Gothic Geography 53
  • Chapter V - Cathedral Gothic 59
  • Chapter VI Gothic in the British Isles 72
  • Chapter VII Spatial Gothic 83
  • Chapter VIII National Gothic 91
  • Chapter IX the Gothic Age 130
  • A Short Bibliography 133
  • Abbreviations Used in the Notes 137
  • Notes to the Text 138
  • Index 147
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