History of Notre Dame de Paris
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Gothic Dreams Contents
Earthlore Explorations Gothic Dreams - Gothic Cathedrals and Churches - Appreciating a Cultural Legacy
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The extinct East Germanic language of the Goths.
2. Gothic art or architecture.

Of or relating to the Goths or their language.
2. Of or relating to the Middle Ages; medieval.
3. Of or relating to an architectural style prevalent in western Europe from the 12th through the 15th century and characterized by pointed arches, rib vaulting, and flying buttresses.
4. Of or relating to painting, sculpture, or other art forms prevalent in northern Europe from the 12th through the 15th century.
5. Of or relating to a style of fiction that emphasizes the grotesque, mysterious, and desolate.
6. Barbarous; crude.

—The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language

Earthlore Explorations Primary Introduction

The function of Earthlore's on-line features is to provide introductory level content presented in a manner that inspires an interest towards deeper study and fuller appreciation of the featured subject.
Supplementing the educational materials within each cultural theme will be reviews, evaluations and direct access to quality resources elsewhere on the Internet and within other media forms off-line.
 Earthlore Architecture: Line art rendering of Medieval English cathedral
 Throughout the earlier half of this millennium, one of the grandest stories in European history was written...primarily in stone.
GothicDuring the middle of the twelfth century, in the region surrounding Paris, several innovative art and craft forms began to coalesce within the renovations of existing church structures. Initially consisting of hybrid elements within earlier buildings, primarily the Romanesque abbeys, the new style soon accentuated its own merits. Before passing from favor, the expression we know today as Gothic Art would dominate European architectural development for the nearly four hundred years.

GothicThe churches and cathedrals of the Gothic era are currently enjoying a renewed interest and reverence. It is a great understatement to say that this was not always true. Throughout the centuries Gothic structures have suffered far more than disinterest and neglect. Periodic turns of popular taste have at times inspired movements for the outright annihilation of these grand structures.

GothicAt perhaps their saddest point in history, during the reign of Napoleon III, the French Gothic structures were threatened with complete extermination by Imperial order. Ironically, this objective was achieved most effectively within the heart of Paris. In the very birth place of Gothic spirit, a great number of fine churches were ravaged or completely demolished by the great grandchildren of their medieval builders.

Earthlore Explorations Gothic Dreams: Oil rendering of the interior of the abbey of Sainte-Denis, ParisGothicAt an earlier point, within the eighteenth century, one of the finest examples of Gothic craft, Saint Nicaise, was destroyed without the slightest compassion. In Cambrai, an entire cathedral was thrown down and laid waste. Such an act against a cultural or historic monument would be hard to imagine today.

GothicThe exact scale of destruction is now impossible to estimate. The only concern during later ages was the complete removal of what were seen as "immense monuments" to primitive "bad taste." Earthlore SymbolismIt would seem that no other period of artistic accomplishment has been so ruthlessly humiliated. Yet the devastation never realized anything near a total obliteration. Today we may still benefit from the profound spiritual, architectural and cultural legacies contained within the structures that arose through the Gothic era.

Ironically, the initial classification of Gothic...

Earthlore Historic Overview: Cathedrale Notre dame de Paris

What most challenges our interaction with Medieval craft works is the path of approach and the stance of comprehension. The world is vastly different than it was when these structures and their attendant arts were created. Where the exterior world has not changed, our inner attitudes toward it have greatly evolved.

Shops on Made in Firenze, Where Art meets Beauty..

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  GothicArchitecture is what we think of most as the expression of the Gothic age. Its first forms arise within the 12th century, seemingly from the very heart of their Romanesque forebears. As the paramount builder of the Middle Age centuries, the church provided this new creative/technical form with its greatest avenue of manifestation. It would not be until the 'Neo-Gothic' era of the nineteenth century that the style would make an expression through secular structures on any broad scale.

Earthlore Explorations Gothic Dreams: Watercolor rendering of Durham cathedral, EnglandGothicContrary to popular perception, Gothic style refers to more than cathedral structures. The label applies to art, sculpture, glass works, decorative pieces and illuminated manuscripts from the mid 12th through the early 16th century.

GothicThe label of 'Gothic' was coined in Italy, during the Renaissance, as a derogatory reference to the art and architecture of the these earlier centuries. The denigration was a comparison to the earlier Goth barbarians. With the passing centuries, Gothic became more clearly associated with the closing era of the medieval age. In time, the demarcation point would solidify around the distinctive style which followed the Romanesque era. There remains a great degree of argumentative definition to this day, as a blending of the two styles can be found at many sites. One prominent example is Canterbury in England, which was reconstructed after a great fire, yet retained several earlier elements.

Gothic Dreams ContentsGothicThe accepted Gothic period spans some four hundred years, from the twelfth century through the early decades of the sixteenth. This fact alone argues against a consistent method and style. Today, we communicate through miracles such as the one which carries this information. We take for granted the ability to exchange ideas and collaborate on projects across the world. During the Gothic age communication of craft and style was limited by the physical travel of small guilds of craftsmen. Over time, original ideas imported from earlier sites evolved into new forms which reflected refined technique and regional influence.

"Why did they build these colossals..." Earthlore Explorations Gothic Dreams - Medieval builder

F o u n d a t i o n   S t o n e s   o f   L e a r n i n g
Foundation Stone: Rose Windows Foundation Stone: Thomas BecketFoundation Stone: Romanesque Architecture


'Must know' Terms

Apse : Particular to the East end of Cathedrals, the Apse is a semicircular form serving as a culmination. The Apse, generally domed, will often form the Altar. The term is derived from the Medieval Latin: absis or apsis.

Cathedral Components

Unique Features

Tympanum : The vertical space between the arch and the lintel of a doorway. This location was often considered the premier site on a structure for sculpture, and so contained significant scenes such as the Last Judgment or Christ enthroned.

Structural Design

Decoration & Motif

Crockets : A distinctive Gothic motif formed of floral and leaf ornamentation. Primarily used on spire and pinnacle sculpture.

Expression of Craft

Art Periods & Styles

Rayonnant style : The Radiant style, originating during the reign of Louis the Fourteenth in France, sometimes referred to as the Court style or 'the style of the French.' The name which carried through the ages refers to the patterning of the windows which allowed for such radiant lighting.

  GothicThe distinctions between French, English, Italian, German and Spanish Gothic are defined by more than mere geography. Over time, a dedicated study will reveal the variety of distinctions. The sincere student will soon enough 'pierce the veil' and come within the treasure house of artistic and spiritual intent contained in unique forms at each and every structure. These treasures still beckon powerfully to those of yearning mind and spirit. Their legacy challenges personal experience and innovative interpretation.

Earthlore Explorations Gothic Dreams: Oil of Regensburg Cathedral, GermanyGothicThat the grand Gothic cathedrals of the Medieval period portray a manifestation of brilliant architectural skill, is self evident. Often lost to us today, due to the distraction of the fantastic, is the gesture of intent. Within the broad view of architectural history, this aspect is evidenced with outstanding success by the medieval builders. Within their time, Gothic churches and cathedrals were far more than sheltering houses of worship.

E-mail Newsletter: The RoseGothicGracefully incorporated into functional works of stone and glass are centuries of spiritual and moral understanding. Each site served as a vitalizing temple of initiation into the deep rooted mysteries of Christianity. From within these richly symbolic foundations, a sense of meaning and continuity emanated into the surrounding communities.

History of Notre Dame de ParisGothicWhile today, religious services are still held within most medieval churches and cathedrals, their role within society is greatly diminished. Modern architectural accomplishments are funded by leaders of business not spirit. Our skylines are now dominated by temples of commerce, against which, even the grandest of cathedrals is overshadowed. For the most part, we find ourselves drawn to the strangeness of the Gothics, standing out, as they do, in sharp contrast to the structures of later ages.

Gothic Dreams is a place for developing...

Musae Cultural Resources

Official Cathedral
Sites On-line

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Notre dame de



Saint Patrick's
Cathedral, Dublin

United Kingdom




United States

National Cathedral

Saint John
the Divine

The sites listed above are only a sampling of cathedrals and abbeys with material available on-line.
If you are interested in learning about similar resources as well as a broad range of quality cultural content, ask to receive updates about the Musae directory.

  GothicSad or not, this is our age, and the works of earlier centuries remain an integrated part of it. Those who study these masterworks of spirit and craft will often agree that they were not constructed solely for the benefit of medieval searchers. They were also intended to transmit legacies of spiritual knowledge forward through the centuries. A feat deserving of our respect, considering the turmoil of these past six hundred years.

Earthlore Explorations Gothic Dreams: Pastel rendering of Mont Sainte-MichelGothicThis cultural legacy thus stands as vibrant testament to the moral integrity and spiritual dedication of its creators! Even a brief look at these works reveals clear evidence of skilled craft and dedicated intent. Considering the degree of effort invested, it becomes clear that there are few, if any accidents within their construction.

GothicTo those drawn into a study of their many wonders, their is much to discover. Through our efforts we seek a clearer understanding of their origins and a sense of what role they inhabit within future cultural development. Immersity Arts - Rosarium Sophia

GothicIntegral to these objectives is a well structured path of approach that serves explorers from a contemporary perspective. We will seek to establish what sense of relevancy medieval art and faith possess at the dawn of the twenty first century. As an ongoing work scheduled to evolve for many years to come, we invite and welcome your participation!

Gothic If you would like to receive information regarding updates to this and associated sites, simply provide your e-mail address: @elore

Gothic For more extensive information, progress of cultural projects and relevant news we publish a periodic report called The Rose, which is freely distributed via e-mail, for the asking.

    Earthlore Explorations Content Directory - The Harbor of Journeys

Development & Production Credits
Theme Editor :   Nicole Blackford   —   Primary Text :   Rhey Cedron
Art Direction :   Thierry Alberto   —   Art Research :   Malcolm Hurrell
Principal Photography :   Rhey Cedron
Structural Design :  Mark Nelson   —   Research Assistant :  Walter McCrae
Support Production :  Henry Craig,  Joan Flandrin, Clara Kelly


Cathedral Heart  Dictionnaire raisonné de l'architecture française du XIe au XVIe siècle,
          E. Viollet-le-Duc, Paris  (1858-68)
Cathedral Heart  Mont Saint-Michel and Chartres,   Henry Adams  (1904)
Cathedral Heart  Gothic Painting,  J. Dupont & C. Gnudi, Skira  (1954)
Cathedral Heart  The Gothic Cathedral,  Otto von Simson, Pantheon, NY  (1956)
Cathedral Heart  The Gothic,  Paul Frankl , Princeton U. Press  (1960)
Cathedral Heart  The Cathedral Builders,  Jean Gimpel, Grove Press, NY  (1961)
Cathedral Heart  Gothic Architecture Robert Branner, G. Braziller, NY  (1961)
Cathedral Heart  High Gothic,  Hans Jantzen ,  Pantheon, NY  (1962)
Cathedral Heart  Medieval Art I, II, III  Georges Duby, Skira, Geneva  (1966-67)
Cathedral Heart  The Medieval Architect,  J. H. Harvey,  London  (1972)
Cathedral Heart  The Age of the Cathedrals,  Art and Society 980-1420,
         Georges Duby, London  (1981)
Cathedral Heart  French Gothic Architecture of the 12th and 13th Centuries,
         J. Bony ,  Berkeley  (1983)
Cathedral Heart  The Gothic Cathedral,  C. Wilson ,  Thames & Hudson  (1990)
Cathedral Heart  The Art of Gothic,  Könemann Verlagsgesellschaft mbH,  (1999)

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