Gothic Architecture in England and France

By George Herbert West | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

OF all the nations of Western Europe which sprang from the ruins of the Roman Empire, the two whose fortunes were most intimately linked together throughout the Middle Ages were England and France. And that which is true of their political and general history is not less true of their art. Although in all branches of art France was usually ahead, she was by no means invariably so, but each country in turn learned from the other and paid back later the lesson which she had received. This is particularly true of architecture. In that mistress art, the relationship between France north of the Loire and south-eastern England was so close that it is not possible really, to understand the different phases presented by the art of either nation without having at least enough general knowledge of that of' the other, to be able to study them side by side. Yet as a rule English mediaeval art is presented to us in the details of its so-called seven periods without any reference to the circumstances of our history, our national idiosyncrasies, or our relations with our neighbour.

In the following pages I have tried, in giving some account of English Gothic, never to forget that, close at hand, there is always running the great stream of that of France, and that the two, like the blue and milk-white waters of the Rhone and the Arve near Geneva, run sometimes separately, sometimes close together in the same bed, where at. one time the transparent flood of the river will almost hide the current of its smaller, colder sister, and at another, at some bend in the channel, the latter alone will appear upon the surface.

As a help towards following the course of the two a list

-xxix-

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