THE SECULAR AND ITALIAN GOTHIC ARCHITECTURE.
THE great comparative perfection of Gothic painting in the southern Netherlands leads naturally to the mention of the magnificent guild halls and town halls of the same country. The finest secular buildings ever erected in Europe, outside of Italy, are the late Gothic public buildings of Belgium, and once more it is to the commerce and manufactures and resulting great wealth and power of the country that we must turn for an explanation. The constant alliance between the English kings and the Burgundian dukedom during the Franco-English wars was owing to the interests of the wool trade--the raw material being furnished by England and the manufactures by the Netherlands. Among the magnificent examples of this secular Gothic are the great halls of Bruges, Ghent, Brussels, Louvain, and Oudenarde. In France the Palais de Justice (town hall) of Rouen is the finest corresponding example. In England there are some of the best survivals of the old feudal castles and of the medieval houses which are occasionally found in all the older towns of Europe. Picturesque qualities, common sense construction, and bold originality of individual arrangement are as apparent in these domestic buildings as in the churches. The system of exhibiting the beam construction in timbered houses is a common one, showing the constructive sense and frankness of the Gothic.
In secular domestic buildings there is, however, no country which can rival Italy for the fourteenth and