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

By John Harvey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
VIII
National Gothic

THE Gothic civilization of western Europe in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries was international. The dissimilarities between the various countries of Europe were mainly due to the varying extent to which they had acquired the new spirit, and forsaken the outlook of the Romanesque age. Owing to the near-monopoly of higher education possessed by Paris, the demands of art patrons tended to be standardized, wherever the patrons happened to find themselves. At first, lay craftsmen from France: Normans, Angevins, Picards, and Frenchmen in the strict sense, were imported by other countries to carry out work for which their home craftsmen were unfitted. But this stage began to pass away in England by the middle of the twelfth century, though it continued sporadically elsewhere until the fourteenth. From the mid-thirteenth century, Germany was becoming artistically independent, and so was Spain. Central and eastern Europe began to borrow from Germany rather than from France; so did the area of Germanic colonization towards the head of the Baltic. Scandinavia and Scotland were ready to accept help from France, Flanders, or Germany until the end of the Middle Ages.

At the centre of affairs, and speaking geographically that includes France, England, Flanders, Germany, and northern Spain, the international era was passing away by 1300. Vernacular languages had emerged, first Provengal, then French, then English, then Italian, German and Spanish. The idea of separate nations, each with its own government within a distinct ring-fence, and each marked by its own language, had displaced the theoretical comity of Christendom under the rule of the Pope and using the Latin tongue. Some nations became organized much earlier than others. The first to reach unity was England, and England remained until nearly the end of the Gothic age the sole example of a self-supporting as well as self-contained structure. France, though self-supporting culturally, only achieved union about 1500. Christian Spain became united at about the same date, but never succeeded in absorbing Portugal. Throughout the Middle Ages the Peninsula (apart from the Moslem South) must be considered as the three separate states, Castile, Aragon, and Portugal. Italy likewise was threefold: the Imperial North; the Papal centre; and the Angevin and Aragonese South, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies of a later age.

Hungary, surrounded by mountains as England by the sea, soon developed a self-contained structure. But its changes of dynasty and fluctuating political boundaries tended to make it dependent upon French, German and Italian artists. By the fifteenth century, as we have seen, its lodges of masons were under the jurisdiction of the Master at St. Stephen's, Vienna, and he under the final control of Strassburg. From Alsace in the west to the Carpathians, and from Trent in the south up to Linköping in Sweden, German masters were supreme in the later Gothic age, and they also carried out important work in Spain. Within this Germanic area, influenced by it, but to a considerable degree independent, were the Slavonic Kingdoms of Bohemia and Poland. Thus, apart from the minor local styles, we may count for the latter part of the Gothic age seven ,main regions, divided into not less than eighteen nations or provinces.* This excludes Italy

____________________
*
Britain: England; Ireland; Scotland; France: Northern; Midi; Spain: Aragon; Castile; Portugal; Flanders: Belgium; Holland; Germany: Central; North-Eastern with the Baltic settlements; South-Eastern with Hungary; Slavonic Kingdoms: Bohemia; Poland with Lithuania; Scandinavia: Denmark; Norway; Sweden.

-91-

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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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