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Title: A History of Architecture in All Countries, Volume 2, 3rd ed. - From the Earliest Times to the Present Day
Author: Fergusson, James
Language: English
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                           Transcriber’s Note

When italics were used in the original book, the corresponding text has
been surrounded by _underscores_. Superscripts have been indicated by
preceding the superscripted letters with ^. When more than one character
in a row is superscripted, the letters have been surrounded with {}.
Ditto marks have been replaced by the text they represent. Some
corrections have been made to the printed text. These are listed in a
second transcriber’s note at the end of the text.



                        HISTORY OF ARCHITECTURE

                           IN ALL COUNTRIES,


             BY JAMES FERGUSSON, D.C.L., F.R.S., M.R.A.S.,
                             _&c. &c. &c._

[Illustration: Façade of Church at Tourmanin.]

                       IN FIVE VOLUMES.—VOL. II.

                            _THIRD EDITION._

                   EDITED BY R. PHENÉ SPIERS, F.S.A.,

                     JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET,
                _The right of Translation is reserved._

                       FERGUSSON’S ARCHITECTURE.

 _Third Edition, with 330 Illustrations, 2 vols., medium 8vo_, 31s. 6d.

                     A HISTORY OF THE MODERN STYLES
                            OF ARCHITECTURE.

                  By the late JAMES FERGUSSON, F.R.S.

     A New Edition, Revised and Enlarged. With a Special Account of
                      the Architecture of America.

  By ROBERT KERR, Professor of Architecture at King’s College, London.


                               BY THE SAME.

 _New and Cheaper Edition, with 400 Illustrations, medium 8vo_, 31s. 6d.

                     A HISTORY OF INDIAN AND EASTERN


                          CONTENTS OF VOL. II.


                            BOOK II.—ITALY.


   CHAP.                                                         PAGE

   VII. Circular churches—Towers at Prato and Florence—Porches—     1
     Civic buildings—Town-halls—Venice—Doge’s Palace—Cà d’Oro—

   VIII. SICILY—Population of Sicily—The Saracens—Buildings at     22
     Palermo—Cathedral of Monreale—Cefalu—The Pointed Arch

   IX. GOTHIC ARCHITECTURE IN PALESTINE—Church of Holy             32
     Sepulchre, Jerusalem—Churches at Abû Gosh and Lydda—Mosque
     at Hebron

                           BOOK III.—FRANCE.

   I. Division of subject—Pointed arches—Provence—Churches at      39
     Avignon, Arles, Alet, Fontifroide, Maguelonne, Vienne—
     Circular churches—Towers—Cloisters

   II. AQUITANIA—Churches at Périgueux, Souillac, Angoulême,       64
     Alby, Toulouse, Conques, Tours—Tombs

   III. ANJOU—Cathedral at Angers—Church at Fontevrault—           81
     Poitiers—Angiovine spires

   IV. AUVERGNE—Church at Issoire—Clermont—Fortified Church at     89

   V. BURGUNDY—Church of St. Martin d’Ainay—Cathedral at le        94
     Puy-en-Velay—Abbeys of Tournus and Cluny—Cathedral of
     Autun—Church of St. Menoux

   VI. FRANKISH PROVINCE—Exceptional buildings—Basse Œuvre,       104

   VII. NORMANDY—Triapsal Churches—Churches at Caen—              110
     Intersecting Vaulting—Bayeux

   VIII. FRANKISH ARCHITECTURE—Historical notice—The pointed      120
     arch—Freemasonry—Mediæval architects

   IX. FRENCH GOTHIC CATHEDRALS—Paris—Chartres—Rheims—Amiens—     130
     Other Cathedrals—Later style—St. Ouen’s, Rouen

   X. Gothic details—Pillars—Windows—Circular Windows—Bays—       161
     Construction—Furniture of Churches—Domestic architecture

                     BOOK IV.—BELGIUM AND HOLLAND.

   I. Historical notice—Old Churches—Cathedral of Tournay—        187
     Antwerp—St. Jacques at Liège

   II. Civil Architecture—Belfries—Hall at Ypres—Louvain—         199
     Brussels—Domestic architecture

   III. HOLLAND—Churches—Civil and Domestic Buildings             206

                            BOOK V.—GERMANY.

   I. INTRODUCTORY—Chronology and Historical notice               209

   II. Basilicas—Plan of St. Gall—Church at Reichenau—            213
     Romain-Motier—Granson—Church at Gernrode—Trèves—
     Hildesheim—Cathedrals of Worms and Spires—Churches at
     Cologne—Other Churches and Chapels—Double Churches—Swiss

   III. CIRCULAR CHURCHES—Aix-la-Chapelle—Nymwegen—Fulda—Bonn—    247

   IV. DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE—Lorsch—Palaces on the Wartburg—      255

   V. POINTED STYLE IN GERMANY—History of style—St. Gereon,       264
     Cologne—Churches at Gelnhausen—Marburg—Cologne Cathedral—
     Freiburg—Strasburg—St. Stephen’s, Vienna—Nuremberg—

   VI. Circular Churches—Church Furniture—Civil Architecture—     292
     Town-hall at Brunswick

     in Brandenburg—in Ermeland—Castle at Marienburg

                         BOOK VI.—SCANDINAVIA.

   I. Sweden—Norway—Denmark—Gothland—Round Churches—Wooden        313

                           BOOK VII.—ENGLAND.

   I. INTRODUCTORY                                                335

   II. SAXON ARCHITECTURE                                         341

   III. ENGLISH MEDIÆVAL ARCHITECTURE—Plans of English            345
     Cathedral Churches—Vaults—Pier Arches—Window tracery—
     External Proportions—Diversity of Style—Situation—
     Chapter-Houses—Chapels—Parish Churches—Details—Tombs—Civil
     and Domestic Architecture

   IV. ARCHITECTURE OF SCOTLAND—Affinities of Style—Early         418
     Specimens—Cathedral of Glasgow—Elgin—Melrose—Other

   V. IRELAND—Oratories—Round Towers—Domical Dwellings—Domestic   443
     Architecture—Runic Cross Decoration

                     BOOK VIII.—SPAIN AND PORTUGAL.

   I. SPAIN—INTRODUCTORY                                          460

   II. Romanesque Churches at Naranco, Roda, and Leon—Early       464
     Spanish Gothic: Churches at Santiago, Zamora, Toro, Avila,
     Salamanca, and Tarragona—Middle Pointed style: Churches at
     Toledo, Burgos, Leon, Barcelona, Manresa, Gerona, Seville—
     Late Gothic style: Churches at Segovia, Villena—Moresco
     style: Churches at Toledo, Ilescas, and Saragoza

   III. CIVIL ARCHITECTURE—Monastic Buildings—Municipal           502

   IV. PORTUGAL—Church of Batalha—Alcobaça—Belem                  507


                                BOOK I.


   II. SYRIA AND EGYPT—Mosques at Jerusalem—El Aksah—Dome of      516
     the Rock—Mosque at Damascus—Egypt—Mosques at Cairo—Mosque
     at Kerouan—Other African buildings—Mecca

   III. SPAIN—Introductory Remarks—Mosque at Cordoba—Palace at    542
     Zahra—Churches at Sta. Maria and Cristo de la Luz at
     Toledo—Giralda at Seville—Palace of the Alcazar—The

   IV. TURKEY—Mosques of Mahomet II.—Suleimanie and Ahmedjie      556
     Mosques—Mosques of Sultanas Validé, and of Osman III.—
     Civil and Domestic Architecture—Fountains, &c.

   V. PERSIA—Historical notice—Tombs at Bagdad—Imaret at          567
     Erzeroum—Mosque at Tabreez—Tomb at Sultanieh—Bazaar at
     Ispahan—College of Husein Shah—Palaces and other

                       BOOK II.—ANCIENT AMERICA.

   I. INTRODUCTORY                                                583

   II. CENTRAL AMERICA—Historical notice—Central American         589
     style—Temples—Palaces—Buildings at Palenque—Uxmal, &c.

   III. PERU—Historical notice—Titicaca—Tombs—Walls of Cuzco,     600

                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

   NO.                                                           PAGE

   _Frontispiece._—Portal of the Convent at Belem, near Lisbon.

   _Vignette to Title-page._—Façade of Church at Tourmanin.

   _Frontispiece to Part II._ (continued).—View of Cologne
     Cathedral                                                    xvi

   513. Plan of Baptistery, Parma                                   2

   514. Baptistery at Parma, half Section half Elevation            2

   515. View of the Duomo at Prato                                  3

   516. Torracio at Cremona                                         4

   517. Campanile, Palazzo Scaligeri, Verona                        5

   518. Campanile, S. Andrea, Mantua                                6

   519. Campanile at Florence                                       7

   520. North Porch, Sta. Maria Maggiore, Bergamo                   9

   521. Palace of the Jurisconsults at Cremona                     11

   522. Broletto at Como                                           12

   523. Ornamental Brickwork from the Broletto at Brescia          13

   524. Window from the Cathedral of Monza                         14

   525, 526. Windows from Verona                                   15

   527. Central Part of the Façade of the Doge’s Palace, Venice    16

   528. Palace of Cà d’Oro, Venice                                 18

   529. Angle Window at Venice                                     19

   530. Ponte del Paradiso, Venice                                 20

   531. San Giovanni degli Eremiti, Palermo                        25

   532. Plan of Church at Monreale                                 26

   533. Portion of the Nave, Monreale                              27

   534. Lateral Entrance to Cathedral at Palermo                   28

   535. East End of Cathedral at Palermo                           29

   536. Plan of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem        34

   537. Holy Sepulchre—Plan and Elevation as it existed before
     the fire in 1808                                              35

   538. Plan of Church at Abû Gosh                                 36

   539. Section of East End of same                                36

   540. Section of East End of Church at Lydda                     37

   541. Plan of Apse of Church at Lydda                            37

   542. Plan of Mosque at Hebron                                   38

   543. Diagram of the Architectural Divisions of France           41

   544. Diagram of Vaulting                                        46

   545. Diagram of Dome pendentives                                47

   546. Section of Church at Carcassonne, with the outer aisles
     added in the 14th century                                     48

   547. Porch of Notre Dame de Doms, Avignon                       51

   548. Porch of St. Trophime, Arles                               52

   549. Apse of Church at Alet                                     53

   550. Internal Angle of Apse at Alet                             54

   551. Elevation of half one Bay of the Exterior of St.
     Paul-Trois-Châteaux                                           55

   552. Half bay of Interior of same                               55

   553. Longitudinal and Cross Section of Fontifroide Church       56

   554. Doorway in Church at Maguelonne                            57

   555. Plan of Cathedral, Vienne                                  58

   556. Plan of Church at Planes                                   59

   557. Tower at Puissalicon                                       60

   558. Church at Cruas                                            61

   559. Cloister at Fontifroide                                    62

   560, 561. Capitals in Cloister, Elne                            62

   562. Plan of St. Front, Périgueux                               64

   563. Part of St. Front, Périgueux                               65

   564. Interior of Church at Souillac                             67

   565. Plan of Cathedral at Angoulême                             68

   566. One Bay of Nave, Angoulême                                 68

   567. Plan of Church at Moissac                                  69

   568. Plan of Cathedral at Alby                                  69

   569. Plan of Church of the Cordeliers, at Toulouse              70

   570. Section of Church of the Cordeliers                        71

   571. Angle of Church of the Cordeliers                          71

   572. Plan of St. Sernin, Toulouse                               72

   573. Section of St. Sernin                                      72

   574. Plan of Church at Conques                                  73

   575. Plan of St. Martin at Tours                                74

   576. Plan of Church at Charroux                                 75

   577. Plan of St. Benigne, Dijon                                 75

   578. St. Sernin, Toulouse                                       77

   579. Church at Aillas                                           78

   580. Church at Loupiac                                          78

   581. St. Eloi, Espalion                                         79

   582. Tomb at St. Pierre, Toulouse                               80

   583. Plan of Cathedral at Angers                                82

   584. Plan of St. Trinité, Angers                                82

   585. View of the Interior of Loches                             83

   586. Plan of Church at Fontevrault                              83

   587. View of Chevet at Fontevrault                              84

   588. Elevation of one of the Bays of the Nave at Fontevrault    84

   589. Façade of Church of Notre Dame at Poitiers                 85

   590. Plan of Cathedral at Poitiers                              86

   591. Spire at Cunault                                           87

   592. Plan of Church at Issoire                                  89

   593. Elevation of Church at Issoire                             90

   594. Section of Church at Issoire, looking East                 90

   595. Elevation of Chevet, Notre Dame du Port, Clermont          91

   596. Plan of Chevet of same                                     92

   597. Fortified Church at Royat                                  93

   598. Façade of Church of St. Martin d’Ainay, Lyons              95

   599. Cloister of Cathedral of Le Puy-en-Velay                   96

   600. View of Interior of Abbey at Tournus                       97

   601. Plan of Abbey Church at Cluny                              98

   602. View in Aisle at Autun                                    100

   603. View in Nave at Autun                                     100

   604. Section of Narthex at Vezelay                             101

   605. East End, St. Menoux                                      102

   606. Chevet, St. Menoux                                        103

   607. Plan and Section of Basse Œuvre, Beauvais                 105

   608. External and Internal View of Basse Œuvre                 106

   609. Decoration of St. Généreux                                107

   610. Section of Eastern portion of Church of Montier-en-Der    108

   611. Triapsal Church at Querqueville                           110

   612. Plan of the Church of St. Stephen, Caen                   112

   613. Western Façade of same                                    113

   614. Section of Nave of same                                   114

   615. Diagram of Vaulting of same                               115

   616. Elevation of Compartment of Nave of St. Stephen, Caen     115

   617. Compartment, Abbaye-aux-Dames, Caen                       116

   618. East End of St. Nicolas, Caen                             117

   619. Lower Compartment, Nave, Bayeux                           118

   620. Plan of Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris                    132

   621. Section of Side-aisles, of same                           133

   622. External Elevation of same                                133

   623. Plan of Chartres Cathedral                                134

   624. Plan of Rheims Cathedral                                  135

   625. Plan of Amiens Cathedral                                  135

   626. View of the Façade of the Cathedral at Paris              136

   627. North-west View of the Cathedral at Chartres              138

   628. Buttress at Chartres                                      139

   629. Buttresses at Rheims                                      139

   630. Bay of Nave of Beauvais Cathedral                         142

   631. Doorway, South Transept, Beauvais                         143

   632. Plan of Cathedral at Noyon                                144

   633. Spires of Laon Cathedral                                  145

   634. View of Cathedral at Coutances                            146

   635. Lady Chapel, Auxerre                                      147

   636. Plan of Cathedral at Troyes                               148

   637. Façade of Cathedral at Troyes                             149

   638. Window of Cathedral at Lyons                              150

   639. Plan of Cathedral at Bazas                                150

   640. Plan of Cathedral at Bourges                              151

   641. Section of Cathedral at Bourges                           152

   642. View in the Church of Charité sur Loire                   154

   643. Chevet, Pontigny                                          155

   644. West Front of Ste. Marie de l’Épine                       156

   645. Plan of Church of St. Ouen at Rouen                       157

   646. Church of St. Ouen from the S.E.                          158

   647. Southern Porch of same                                    159

   648. Diagram of plans of Pillars                               162

   649. Window, St. Martin, Paris                                 163

   650. Window in Nave of Cathedral at Chartres                   163

   651. Window in Choir of Cathedral at Chartres                  163

   652. Window at Rheims                                          164

   653. Window at St. Ouen                                        164

   654. Window at Chartres                                        165

   655. West Window, Chartres                                     166

   656. Transept Window, Chartres                                 166

   657. West Window, Rheims                                       166

   658. West Window, Evreux                                       166

   659. West Window, St. Ouen                                     167

   660. Diagram of Vaulting                                       169

   661. Abbey Church, Souvigny                                    170

   662. Diagram of Buttresses                                     172

   663. Flying Buttresses of St. Ouen                             172

   664. Flying Buttress at Amiens                                 173

   665. St. Pierre, Caen                                          176

   666. Lantern, St. Ouen, Rouen                                  177

   667. Corbel                                                    178

   668. Capitals from Rheims                                      178

   669. Rood-Screen from the Madeleine at Troyes                  181

   670. Hôtel de Ville of St. Antonin                             182

   671. House at Cluny                                            183

   672. House at Yrieix                                           184

   673. Portal of the Ducal Palace at Nancy                       185

   674. View of West End of Church at Nivelles                    190

   675. Plan of Cathedral at Tournay                              191

   676. Section of Central Portion of same, looking South         192

   677. West Front of Notre Dame de Maestricht                    192

   678. Spire of the Chapel of St. Sang, Bruges                   193

   679. Window in Church at Villers, near Genappe                 193

   680. Plan of the Cathedral at Antwerp                          195

   681. Plan of St. Jacques, Liège                                197

   682. Belfry at Ghent                                           200

   683. Cloth-hall at Ypres                                       201

   684. Town-hall, Brussels                                       203

   685. Part of the Bishop’s Palace, Liège                        205

   686. Reduction of an original plan of a Monastery at St.
     Gall                                                         215

   687. Plan of Church at Mittelzell, in the island of
     Reichenau                                                    217

   688. Elevation of West End of same                             217

   689. Plan of the Church of Romain-Motier                       218

   690. View of same                                              218

   691. Section of Church at Granson                              219

   692. Plan of Church at Gernrode                                220

   693. View of West End of Church at Gernrode                    220

   694. View of West End of Abbey of Corvey                       221

   695. Plan of original Church at Trèves                         223

   696. Plan of Mediæval Church at Trèves                         223

   697. Western Apse of Church at Trèves                          224

   698. Eastern Apse of Church at Trèves                          224

   699. Internal View of the Church of St. Michael at
     Hildesheim                                                   225

   700. Plan of same                                              225

   701. Plan of Cathedral of Worms                                227

   702. One Bay of Cathedral at Worms                             227

   703. Side Elevation of same                                    228

   704. Plan of the Cathedral at Spires                           229

   705. Western Apse of Cathedral at Mayence                      230

   706. Church at Minden. Cathedral at Paderborn. Church at
     Soest                                                        231

   707. Plan of Sta. Maria in Capitolio, Cologne                  232

   708. Apse of the Apostles’ Church at Cologne                   233

   709. Apse of St. Martin’s Church at Cologne                    234

   710. East End of Church at Bonn                                235

   711. Plan of Church at Laach                                   236

   712. View of Church at Laach                                   236

   713. Church at Sinzig                                          237

   714. Rood Screen at Wechselburg                                238

   715. Crypt at Göllingen                                        238

   716. Façade of Church at Rosheim                               239

   717. Church at Marmoutier                                      240

   718. Section of Church of Schwartz Rheindorf                   241

   719. View of same                                              242

   720. Plan of Chapel at Landsberg                               243

   721. Section of Chapel at Landsberg                            243

   722. View and Plan of the Cathedral at Zurich                  243

   723. Doorway at Basle                                          244

   724. Plan of Church at Aix-la-Chapelle                         248

   725. Church at Nymwegen                                        249

   725a. Plan of Church at Mettlach                               249

   725b. Capital of Triforium of same                             250

   726. Church at Petersberg                                      251

   727. Plan of Church at Fulda                                   251

   728. Plan of Church at Drüggelte                               251

   729. Baptistery at Bonn                                        252

   730. Chapel at Cobern on the Moselle                           253

   731. Porch of Convent at Lorsch                                255

   732. Arcade of the Palace at Gelnhausen                        257

   733. Capital, Gelnhausen                                       257

   734. View of the Palace on the Wartburg                        258

   735. Cloister at Zurich                                        266

   736. Dwelling-house, Cologne                                   261

   737. Windows in back of same                                   262

   738. Windows from Sion Church, Cologne                         262

   739. Windows from St. Quirinus at Neuss                        262

   740. Section of St. Gereon, Cologne                            265

   741. Plan of St. Gereon, Cologne                               265

   742. East End of Church at Gelnhausen                          266

   743. Plan of Church at Marburg                                 267

   744. Section of Church at Marburg                              267

   745. Plan of Church at Altenberg                               268

   746. Plan of Cathedral at Cologne                              269

   747. Western Façade of Cathedral of Cologne                    272

   748. View of Church at Freiburg                                274

   749. Plan of Strasburg Cathedral                               276

   750. West Front of same                                        277

   751. Plan of Ratisbon Cathedral                                280

   752. View of the Spire of St. Stephen’s, Vienna                281

   753. Plan of the Franciscan Church at Salzburg                 283

   754. Plan of St. Lawrence’s Church, Nuremberg                  284

   755. Plan of Church at Kuttenberg, taken above the roof of
     the aisles                                                   284

   756. Section of the Church of same                             285

   757. Plan of Church of St. Victor at Xanten                    287

   758. View of Marien Kirche, Mühlhausen                         289

   759. Plan of Marien Kirche, Mühlhausen                         289

   760. St. Severus Church at Erfurt                              290

   761. Anna Chapel at Heiligenstadt                              292

   762. Sacraments Häuschen, Nuremberg                            293

   763. Doorway of Church at Chemnitz                             294

   764. Schöne Brunnen at Nuremberg                               296

   765. Todtenleuchter, Vienna                                    297

   766. Bay Window from St. Sebald’s Parsonage, Nuremberg         298

   767. Façade of House at Brück-am-Mur                           299

   768. Town-hall at Brunswick                                    300

   769. Plan of Cathedral, Lubeck                                 303

   770. Plan of Marien Kirche, Lubeck                             304

   771. View of same                                              305

   772. Tower in the Kœblinger Strasse, Hanover                   306

   773. Church at Frauenburg                                      307

   774. Church at Santoppen                                       308

   775. Façade of Marien Kirche, Brandenburg                      309

   776. Façade of the Knight-hall in the Castle of Marienburg     310

   777. Plan of Upsala Cathedral                                  314

   778. Apse of Lund Cathedral                                    315

   779. Old Country Church and Belfry                             316

   780. Plan of Cathedral of Trondhjem                            317

   781. View of Cathedral of Trondhjem                            318

   782. Elevation of Domkirche: Roeskilde                         319

   783. Plan of same                                              319

   784. Frue Kirche, Aarhuus                                      319

   785. Church of Kallundborg                                     320

   786. Helge-Anders Church, Wisby                                322

   787. Interior of Church at Gothem                              323

   788. Folö Church, Gothland                                     324

   789. Portal, Sandeo Church, Gothland                           325

   790. Portal, Hoäte Church, Gothland                            326

   791. View of Round Church, Thorsager, Jutland                  327

   792. Section and Ground-plan of same                           328

   793. Round Church of Oester Larsker, Bornholm                  329

   794. View and plan of Hagby Church, Sweden                     330

   795. Läderbro Church and Wapenhus, Gothland                    331

   796. Plan of Church at Hitterdal                               332

   797. View of Church at Hitterdal                               333

   798. Church of Urnes, Norway                                   334

   799. Tower of Earl’s Barton Church                             341

   800. Windows, Earl’s Barton                                    342

   801. Saxon Doorway at Monkwearmouth                            343

   802. Plan of Norwich Cathedral                                 346

   803. Plan of Canterbury Cathedral                              347

   804. Plan of Durham Cathedral                                  348

   805. Plan of Salisbury Cathedral                               349

   806. Plan of Winchester Cathedral                              350

   807. Plan of Ely Cathedral                                     351

   808. Octagon at Ely Cathedral                                  352

   809. Plan of Westminster Abbey                                 354

   810. Nave of Peterborough Cathedral                            357

   811. Nave of Lincoln Cathedral                                 359

   812. Nave of Lichfield Cathedral                               360

   813. Choir of Gloucester Cathedral                             361

   814. Diagrams of Vaulting                                      362

   815. Vault of Cloister, Gloucester                             363

   816. Vault of Aisle at St. George’s, Windsor                   364

   817. Aisle in Henry VII.’s Chapel, Westminster                 364

   818. Retro-choir, Peterborough Cathedral                       365

   819. Choir Arches of Oxford Cathedral                          366

   820. Transformation of the Nave, Winchester Cathedral          368

   821. Choir of Ely Cathedral                                    369

   822. Two Bays of the Nave of Westminster Abbey                 370

   823. One Bay of Cathedral at Exeter                            370

   824. The Five Sisters Window, York                             372

   825. Ely Cathedral, East End                                   373

   826. Lancet Window, Hereford Cathedral                         374

   827. East End of Lincoln Cathedral                             375

   828. North Transept Window, Lincoln                            376

   829. Window in Chapter-house at York, English Geometric
     Tracery                                                      377

   830. Window in St. Anselm’s Chapel, Canterbury                 377

   831. East Window of Carlisle Cathedral                         378

   832. South Transept Window, Lincoln                            378

   833. Perpendicular Tracery, Winchester Cathedral               379

   834. Salisbury Cathedral, from the N.E.                        381

   835. View of Lichfield Cathedral                               382

   836. Lincoln Cathedral                                         383

   837. View of the Angel Tower and Chapter-house, Canterbury     384

   838. West Front of Peterborough Cathedral                      385

   839. Chapter-house, Bristol                                    389

   840. Chapter-house, Salisbury                                  390

   841. Chapter-house, Wells                                      391

   842. Chapter-house, York                                       392

   843. Internal Elevation of St. Stephen’s Chapel, Westminster   394

   844. Plan of Ste. Chapelle, Paris                              395

   845. Plan of St. Stephen’s. Westminster                        395

   846. Interior View of King’s College Chapel, Cambridge         396

   847. Plan of Circular Church at Little Maplestead              398

   848. Spire of Great Leighs Church, Essex                       398

   849. Tower of Little Saxham Church, Suffolk                    398

   850. Roof at Trunch Church                                     400

   851. Roof of Aisle in New Walsingham Church                    400

   852. Plan of Church of Walpole St. Peter’s, Norfolk            401

   853. Staircase at Canterbury Cathedral                         402

   854. Norman Gateway, College Green, Bristol                    403

   855. Capitals, &c., of Doorway leading to the Choir Aisles,
     Lincoln                                                      404

   856. West Doorway, Lichfield Cathedral                         405

   857. Tomb of Bishop Marshall, Exeter Cathedral                 405

   858. The Triple Canopy in Heckington Church, Lincolnshire      406

   859. Prior d’Estria’s Screen, Canterbury Cathedral             406

   860. Doorway of Chapter-house, Rochester Cathedral             407

   861. Tomb of the Black Prince, Canterbury Cathedral            408

   862. Tomb of Edward III. in Westminster Abbey                  409

   863. Tomb of Edward II. in Gloucester Cathedral                410

   864. Tomb of Bishop Redman in Ely Cathedral                    411

   865. Waltham Cross (restored)                                  412

   866. Plan of Westminster Hall                                  414

   867. Section of Westminster Hall                               414

   868. Hall of Palace at Eltham                                  415

   869. Window, Leuchars                                          420

   870. Pier-Arch, Jedburgh                                       421

   871. Arches in Kelso Abbey                                     422

   872. Plan and three Bays of Choir, Kirkwall Cathedral          423

   873. North Side of the Cathedral at Kirkwall                   424

   874. 1. Plan of Glasgow Cathedral. 2. Plan of Crypt, Glasgow
     Cathedral                                                    425

   875. View in Crypt of Glasgow Cathedral                        426

   876. Crypt of Cathedral at Glasgow                             427

   877. Clerestory Window, Glasgow Cathedral                      427

   878. East End of Glasgow Cathedral                             428

   879. East End, Elgin Cathedral                                 429

   880. South Transept, Elgin Cathedral                           430

   881. Ornament of Doorway of same                               430

   882. Plan of Elgin Cathedral                                   431

   883. Aisle in Melrose Abbey                                    432

   884. East Window, Melrose                                      433

   885. Chapel at Roslyn                                          434

   886. Under Chapel, Roslyn                                      434

   887. Stone Roof of Bothwell Church                             435

   888. Exterior of Roof of Bothwell Church                       435

   889, 890. Ornamental Arcades, from Holyrood                    436

   891. Interior of Porch, Dunfermline                            437

   892. Window at Dunkeld                                         438

   893. Doorway, Linlithgow                                       439

   894. Doorway, St. Giles’s, Edinburgh                           440

   895. Doorway, Pluscardine Abbey                                441

   896. Window in Tower, Iona                                     441

   897. Aisle in Trinity College Church, Edinburgh                442

   898. Cloister, Kilconnel Abbey                                 445

   899. Oratory, Innisfallen, Killarney                           447

   900. Cormac’s Chapel, Cashel                                   448

   901. Section of Chapel, Killaloe                               448

   902. St. Kevin’s Kitchen, Glendalough                          449

   903. Doorway in Tower at Um Rasas                              451

   904. Round Tower and Chancel Arch of Fineens Church,
     Clonmacnoise                                                 452

   905. Doorway in Tower, Kildare                                 452

   906. Doorway in Tower, Donoughmore, Meath                      453

   907. Doorway in Tower, Antrim                                  453

   908. Tower, Devenish                                           453

   909. Tower, Kilree, Kilkenny                                   453

   910. Tower, Kinneth, Cork                                      454

   911. Tower, Ardmore                                            454

   912. Floor in Tower, Kinneth                                   455

   913. Doorway, Monasterboice                                    455

   914. Doorway, Kilcullen, Kildare                               455

   915. Windows in Round Towers                                   455

   916. Window, Glendalough                                       455

   917. Oratory of Gallerus                                       457

   918. Tower, Jerpoint Abbey                                     457

   919. House, Galway                                             458

   920. Ballyromney Court, Cork                                   458

   921. Cross at Kells                                            459

   922. View of Church at Naranco                                 465

   923. Plan of Church at Naranco                                 465

   924. Plan of S. Pablo                                          466

   925. Detail of S. Pablo                                        466

   926. Church at Roda                                            466

   927. Panteon of St. Isidoro, Leon                              467

   928. Plan of Santiago di Compostella                           468

   929. Santiago Cathedral. Interior of South Transept, looking
     North-East                                                   469

   930. Interior of S. Isidoro, Leon                              470

   931. Cathedral at Zamora                                       471

   932. Collegiate Church at Toro                                 472

   933. Lérida Old Cathedral. Door of South Porch                 473

   934. San Vincente, Avila. Interior of Western Porch            474

   935. Exterior of Lantern, Salamanca Old Cathedral              475

   936. Section of Cimborio at Salamanca                          476

   937. Plan of St. Milan, Segovia                                476

   938. Tarragona Cathedral. View across Transepts                477

   939. Church of the Templars at Segovia                         478

   940. Plan of Cathedral at Toledo                               479

   941. View in the Choir of the Cathedral at Toledo              480

   942. Plan of Burgos Cathedral                                  481

   943. West Front of Burgos Cathedral                            482

   944. Plan of Leon Cathedral                                    483

   945. Bay of Choir, Leon Cathedral                              484

   946. Compartment of Nave, Burgos Cathedral                     484

   947. Plan of Cathedral at Barcelona                            485

   948. Sta. Maria del Mar, Barcelona                             486

   949. Sta. Maria del Pi, Barcelona                              486

   950. Interior of Collegiate Church, Manresa                    487

   951. Plan of Cathedral at Gerona                               488

   952. Interior of Cathedral at Gerona, looking East             489

   953. Cimborio of Cathedral at Valencia                         490

   954. Plan of Cathedral at Seville                              491

   955. Plan of Cathedral at Segovia                              493

   956. Section of Church at Villena                              493

   957. Plan of Sta. Maria la Bianca                              495

   958. Interior of Sta. Maria la Bianca                          496

   959. Apse of St. Bartolomeo                                    497

   960. Chapel at Humanejos                                       498

   961. Tower at Ilescas                                          499

   962. St. Paul, Saragoza                                        500

   963. Doorway from Valencia                                     501

   964. Cloister of the Huelgas, near Burgos                      502

   965. Cloister, Tarazona                                        503

   966. The Casa Lonja, Valencia                                  504

   967. Castle of Cocos, Castille                                 505

   968. Plan of the Church at Batalha                             508

   969. Portal at Belem                                           510

   970. Plan of the Mosque el-Aksah at Jerusalem                  517

   971. View in the Mosque el-Aksah                               518

   972. Plan of the Dome of the Rock (Mosque of Omar)             520

   973. View in Aisle of same                                     521

   974. Capital in Dome of the Rock                               521

   975. Order of the Dome of the Rock                             522

   976. Plan of Mosque at Damascus                                523

   977. Plan of Mosque of Amru, Old Cairo                         526

   978. Arches in the Mosque of Amru                              527

   979. Mosque of Ibn Tooloon at Cairo                            528

   980. Window in Mosque of same                                  529

   981. Plan of Mosque of Sultan Hassan, Cairo                    531

   982. Section of same                                           532

   983. Plan of Mosque and Tombs of Sultan Berkook, Cairo         533

   984. Section of Mosque of Berkook                              533

   985. Mosque of Kaitbey                                         535

   986. Plan of Great Mosque at Mecca                             537

   987. Plan of Great Mosque of Kerouan                           538

   988. Main Entrance in Court of same                            539

   989. Minaret at Tunis                                          540

   990. Plan of Mosque of Cordoba                                 544

   991. Interior of Sanctuary at Cordoba                          545

   992. Exterior of the Sanctuary, Cordoba                        546

   993. Screen of the Chapel of Villa Viciosa, Mosque of
     Cordoba                                                      547

   994. Church of San Cristo de la Luz, Toledo                    548

   995. The Giralda at Seville                                    550

   996. Plan of the Alhambra, Granada                             552

   997. Plan of Suleimanie Mosque                                 559

   998. Section of Suleimanie Mosque                              560

   999. View of Suleimanie Mosque                                 561

   1000. Plan of Ahmedjie Mosque                                  563

   1001. Plan of Tomb of Zobeidé, Bagdad                          568

   1002. View of Tomb of Zobeidé                                  568

   1003. Tomb of Ezekiel, near Bagdad                             569

   1004. Imaret of Oulou Diami at Erzeroum                        570

   1005. Plan of Mosque of Tabreez                                572

   1006. View of Ruined Mosque at Tabreez                         573

   1007. Tomb of Sultan Khodabendah at Sultanieh                  574

   1008. Section of the Tomb at Sultanieh                         574

   1009. View of the Tomb at Sultanieh                            575

   1010. Plan of Great Mosque at Ispahan                          576

   1011. Madrissa of Sultan Husein at Ispahan                     578

   1012. Throne-room at Teheran                                   579

   1013. Palace at Ispahan                                        580

   1014. Pavilion in the Khan’s Palace at Khiva                   581

   1015. Pyramid of Oajaca, Tehuantepec                           590

   1016. Plan of the Temple at Mitla                              591

   1017. View of the Palace at Mitla                              592

   1018. Elevation of Teocalli at Palenque                        594

   1019. Plan of Temple                                           594

   1020. Elevation of Building at Chunjuju                        596

   1021. Elevation of part of Palace at Zayi                      596

   1022. Plan of Palace at Zayi                                   597

   1023. Casa de las Monjas, Uxmal                                597

   1024. Interior of a Chamber, Uxmal                             598

   1025. Apartment at Chichen Itza                                599

   1026. Diagram of Mexican construction                          599

   1027. Ruined Gateway at Tia Huanacu                            601

   1028. Gateway at Tia Huanacu                                   602

   1029. Tombs at Sillustani                                      603

   1030. Ruins of House of Manco Capac in Cuzco                   604

   1031. House of the Virgins of the Sun                          605

   1032. Peruvian Tombs                                           606

   1033. Elevation of Wall of Tambos                              606

   1034. Sketch Plans of the Walls of Cuzco                       607

   1035. View of Walls of Cuzco                                   607

                                                FRONTISPIECE TO PART II.




  (From Rosengarten.)

                        HISTORY OF ARCHITECTURE.



                                BOOK II.


                              CHAPTER VII.


Circular churches—Towers at Prato and Florence—Porches—Civic buildings—
  Town-halls—Venice—Doge’s palace—Cà d’Oro—Conclusion.

                          CIRCULAR BUILDINGS.

THERE are very few specimens in Italy of circular or polygonal buildings
of any class belonging to the Gothic age. As churches, none are to be
expected. Baptisteries had passed out of fashion. One such building, at
Parma, commenced in 1196, deserves to be quoted, not certainly for its
beauty, but as illustrating those false principles of design shown in
every part of every building of this age in Italy. Externally the
building is an octagon, six storeys in height, the four upper ones being
merely used to conceal a dome, which is covered by a low-pitched wooden
roof. The lowest and the highest storeys are solid, the others are
galleries supported by little ill-shaped columns. It is probable that
this was not the original design of the architect, Antelami. No doubt he
intended to conceal the dome, or at all events to cover it, as was the
universal practice in Italy; but instead of a mere perpendicular wall,
as here used, the external outline should have assumed a conical form,
which might have rendered it as pleasing as it is now awkward. We have
no instance of a circular building carried out by Italian architects
according to their own principles sufficiently far to enable us to judge
what they were capable of in this style, unless perhaps it be the tombs
of the Scaligers at Verona. These take the circular or polygonal form
appropriate to tombs, but are on so small a scale that they might rather
be called crosses than mausolea; and though illustrating all the best
principles of Italian design, and evincing an exuberance of exquisite
ornament, they can hardly be regarded as important objects of high art.
It is only from small buildings like these that we may recover the
principles of this art as practised in Italy. Not being, like the
Northern styles, a progressive national effort, but generally an
individual exertion, if the first architect died during the progress of
a larger building, no one knew exactly how he had intended to finish it,
and its completion was entrusted to the caprice and fancy of some other
man, which he generally indulged, wholly regardless of its incongruity
with the work of his predecessor.

[Illustration: 513. Baptistery, Parma. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 514. Baptistery at Parma, half Section, half Elevation.
Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]


The Italians in the age of pointed architecture were hardly more
successful in their towers than in their other buildings, except that a
tower, from its height, must always be a striking object, and, if both
massive and high, cannot fail to have a certain imposing appearance, of
which no clumsiness on the part of the architect can deprive it. Such
towers as the Asinelli and Garisenda at Bologna possess no more
architectural merit than the chimneys of our factories. Most of those
subsequently erected were better than these, but still the Italians
never caught the true idea of a spire.

Throughout the whole of the Middle Ages they retained their affection
for the original rectangular form, making their towers as broad at the
summit as at the base. With very few exceptions, they are without
buttresses, or any projection on the angles, to aid in giving them even
an appearance of support. In consequence, when a spire was placed on
such an edifice it always fitted awkwardly. The art by which a tower was
prepared for its termination, first by the graduated buttresses at its
base, then by the strongly marked vertical lines of its upper portion,
and above all by the circle of spirelets at the top, out of which the
central spire shot up as an absolute necessity of the composition—this
art, so dear and so familiar to the Northern builders, was never
understood by the Italians. If they, on the contrary, placed an octagon
on their square towers, it looked like an accident for which nothing was
prepared, and the spire was separated from it only by bold horizontal
cornices, instead of by vertical lines, as true taste dictated.

[Illustration: 515. View of the Duomo at Prato. (From Wiebeking.)]

In fact, the Italians seem to have benefited less by the experience or
instruction of their Northern neighbours in tower-building than in any
other feature of the style, and to have retained their old forms in
these after they had abandoned them in other parts of their churches.

The typical tower of its class is the Torracio of Cremona. It is a
monumental tower commenced in 1296 to commemorate a peace made between
Cremona and the neighbouring states after a long and tedious contest for
supremacy. It is not an ecclesiastical edifice, but partakes, therefore,
like those of St. Mark, Venice, and of Modena, more of the character of
a civic belfry than of a church tower, such as those previously
mentioned. It is the highest and largest, and consequently, according to
the usual acceptation of the term the finest, of Italian towers. Its
whole height is 396 ft., about two-thirds of which is a square ungainly
mass, without either design or ornament of any importance. On this is
placed an octagon and spire, which, though in themselves perhaps the
best specimens of their class in Italy, have too little connection
either in design or dimensions with the tower on which they stand.

[Illustration: 516. Torracio at Cremona. (From Gally Knight.)]

The celebrated tower of the Ghirlandina at Modena is, perhaps, one of
the best to enable us to compare these Italian towers with the
Cis-Alpine ones, since it possesses a well-proportioned spire, which is
found in few of the others. From its date it belongs to the second
division of the subject, having been commenced in the 13th and finished
in the 14th century; but, as before remarked, there is no line of
distinction between the round-arched and pointed-arched styles in Italy,
and though this campanile seems to be wholly without any pointed forms,
we may describe it here.

[Illustration: 517. Campanile, Palazzo Scaligeri, Verona. (From

Its whole height is about 315 ft., of which less than 200 are taken up
in the square part—which thus bears a less predominant proportion to the
spire than any other Italian example. It is evidently meant to rival the
famous German spires which had become such favourites in the age in
which it was built; and although it avoids many of the errors into which
the excessive love of decoration and of _tours de force_ led the
Germans, still the result is far from satisfactory. The change from the
square to the octagon is abrupt and unpleasing, and the spire itself
looks too thick for the octagon. Everywhere there is a want of those
buttresses and pinnacles with which the Gothic architects knew so well
how to prepare for a transition of form, and to satisfy the mind that
the composition was not only artistically but mechanically correct. The
Italians never comprehended the aspiring principle of the Gothic styles,
and consequently, though they had far more elegance of taste and used
better details, their works hardly satisfy the mind to a greater extent
than a modern classical church or museum.

The same remarks apply to the towers of Siena, Lucca, Pistoja, and
indeed to all in the North of Italy: all have some pleasing points, but
none are entirely satisfactory. None have sufficient ornament, or
display enough design, to render them satisfactory in detail, nor have
they sufficient mass to enable them to dispense with the evidence of
thought, and to impress by the simple grandeur of their dimensions.

[Illustration: 518. Campanile, S. Andrea, Mantua. (From Street.)]

The towers of Asti (1266) and Siena (rebuilt in 1389) are illustrated in
Woodcuts Nos. 493 and 498. They certainly display but little art. A more
pleasing specimen is the tower (Woodcut No. 515) attached to the Duomo
at Prato (about 1312), which may be considered as a specimen of the very
best class of Italian tower-design of the age, although in fact its only
merit consists in the increase in the size of the openings in every
storey upwards, so as to give a certain degree of lightness to the upper
part. On this side of the Alps the same effect was generally attained by
diminishing the diameter. When a spire is to be added, that is the only
admissible mode; but when the building is to be crowned by a cornice, as
at Prato, the mode there adopted is perhaps preferable.

The tower which is attached to the palace of the Scaligeri at Verona
(Woodcut No. 517) is perhaps as graceful as any other, and as
characteristic of the Italian principles of tower-building. The lower
part is absolutely plain and solid, the upper storey alone being pierced
with one splendid three-light window in each face, with a boldly
projecting cornice over it marking the roof. On this is placed an
octagonal lantern two storeys in height. Had the lower portion of the
lantern been broken by turrets or pinnacles at the angles, the effect
would have been greatly improved. As it is, it seems only a makeshift to
eke out the height of the whole; though the octagon with its boldly
projecting cornice is as graceful as anything of the kind in Italian

The campanile attached to the church of St. Andrea at Mantua (Woodcut
No. 518) is more nearly Gothic both in design and details. Its vertical
lines are strongly marked, and the string-courses and cornices are of
moulded brickwork, which is a pleasing and characteristic feature in the
architecture of Lombardy.

The worst part of this design is the smallness of the octagon and spire,
and the unconnected mode in which they are placed on the roof of the

The typical example of the Italian towers is that erected close to the
Duomo at Florence from designs by Giotto, commenced in 1324, and
considerably advanced, if not nearly finished, at the time of his death,
two years afterwards.

[Illustration: 519. Campanile at Florence. (From Gailhabaud.) Scale 50
ft. to 1 in.]

Though hardly worthy of the praise which has been lavished on it, it is
certainly a very beautiful building. Being covered with ornament from
the base to the summit, it has not that nakedness which is the reproach
of so many others, and the octagonal projections at the angles give it
considerable relief. Besides this, the openings are very pleasingly
graduated. It is virtually solid for about one-third of its height. The
middle division consists of two storeys, each with two windows, while
the upper part is lighted by one bold opening on each face, as at Prato.
All this is good. One great defect of the composition is its
parallelism. The slightest expansion of the base would have given it
great apparent stability, which its height requires. Another fault is
its being divided by too strongly marked horizontal courses into
distinct storeys, instead of one division falling by imperceptible
degrees into the other, as in the Northern towers. It has yet another
defect in common with the Duomo, to which it belongs, namely, the false
character of its ornamentation, which chiefly consists of a veneer of
party-coloured slabs of marble,—beautiful in itself, but objectionable
as not forming a part of the apparent construction.

The tower now rises to a height of 269 ft., and it was intended to have
added a spire of about 90 ft. to this; but unless it had been more
gracefully managed than is usual in Italy, the tower is certainly better
without it. There is nothing to suggest a spire in the part already
executed, nor have we any reason to believe that Giotto understood the
true principles of spire-building better than his contemporaries.


Another feature very characteristic of the Gothic style in Italy is to
be found in the porches attached to the churches. Generally they are
placed on the flanks, and form side-entrances, and in most instances
they were added after the completion of the body of the building, and
consequently seldom accord in style with it. One has already been
illustrated as attached to the church at Asti (Woodcut No. 493); another
(Woodcut No. 501), belonging to the church of Sta. Maria dei Fiori at
Florence, is an integral and beautiful part of the design.

One of the most characteristic specimens of the class in all Italy is
that attached to the northern flank of the church of Sta. Maria Maggiore
at Bergamo (Woodcut No. 520). The principal archway and the doorway
within it are circular in form, although built in the middle of the 14th
century, and are ornamented with trefoils and other details of the age.
Above this are three trefoiled arches, the central one containing an
equestrian statue of a certain Duke Lupus, at whose expense the porch
was probably built, and above these is a little pagoda-like pavilion
containing statues of the Virgin and Child.

The whole design is so unconstructive that it depends more on the iron
ties that are everywhere inserted to hold it together than on any system
of thrusts or counterpoises, which a true Gothic architect would
certainly have supplied.

[Illustration: 520. North Porch, Sta. Maria Maggiore, Bergamo. (From
Street’s ‘Brick and Marble of the Middle Ages.’)]

The two main pillars rest on lions, as is universally the case in these
porches throughout Italy, though rarely found elsewhere.

Like most of these Italian porches, this one will not stand criticism as
a purely architectural object; but its details are so beautiful and its
colours so fascinating that it pleases in spite of all its defects of
design, and is more characteristic of the truly native feeling shown in
the treatment of the pointed style of architecture than the more
ambitious examples which were erected under direct foreign influence.

                            CIVIC BUILDINGS.

The free towns of Italy required civic buildings almost to the same
extent as the contemporary cities in Belgium, though not quite of the
same class. Their commerce, for instance, did not require trade halls,
but no town was without its town-hall, or _palazzo pubblico_, and
belfry. The intrinsic difficulty of the designing of buildings of this
class, as compared with churches, has already been pointed out. It
cannot therefore be expected that the Italians, who failed in the easier
task, should have succeeded in the harder. The town-hall at Siena is
perhaps the best existing example, most of the others having been so
altered that it is difficult to judge of their original effect. This
must be pronounced to be a very poor architectural performance, flat and
unmeaning, and without any lines or style of ornament to group the
windows together into one composition, so that they are mere scattered
openings in the wall.

That at Perugia seems originally to have been better, though now greatly
disfigured. At Florence the Palazzo Vecchio is more of a feudal
fortalice (required, it must be confessed, to keep the turbulent
citizens in order) than the municipal palace of a peaceful community. In
Ferrara and other cities the _palazzo pubblico_ is really and virtually
a fortress and nothing else.

At Piacenza it consists of a range of bold pointed stone arches,
supporting an upper storey of brick, adorned with a range of
circular-headed windows, richly ornamented, and a pleasing specimen of
the mode in which the Italians avoided the difficulty of filling the
upper parts of their windows with tracery (which they never liked) and
at the same time rendered them ornamental externally.

At Padua and Vicenza are two great halls supported on arcades, in
intention like that of Piacenza, but far from possessing its beauty.
That at Padua remains in all its pristine ugliness, as hideous an
erection as any perpetrated in the Middle Ages. The hall is one of the
largest in Europe, measuring 240 ft. in length by 84 in width
(Westminster Hall is 238×67), but wholly without ornament or beauty of
proportion. Externally the arcades that are stuck to its sides do not
relieve its mass, and are not beautiful in themselves. That at Vicenza,
though originally very similar, has been fortunate in having its outside
clothed in one of Palladio’s most successful designs,—perhaps the only
instance in which an addition of that age and style has improved a
building of the Gothic period. Comparing this hall as it stands with
that at Padua, it must be admitted that the Italians were perfectly
correct in abandoning _their_ Gothic for the revived classical style,
the improvement being apparent on the most cursory inspection.

[Illustration: 521. Palace of the Jurisconsults at Cremona. (From

A number of the town-halls or Brolettos in the smaller towns still
remain unaltered, or nearly so, and retain all the peculiarities of
their original design. The Palace of the Jurisconsults at Cremona for
instance (Woodcut No. 521) only requires its lower arcades to be again
opened to present all its original features, which resemble in almost
every respect those of the palazzo at Piacenza above mentioned, except
that the latter has five arches below and six windows above, instead of
two and three as here shown. This building is wholly of brick, like most
other civic buildings in the North of Italy. Sometimes, as at Piacenza,
they are of stone below and brick in the upper storeys. Sometimes,
though rarely, they are entirely faced with party-coloured marbles like
the Broletto at Como (Woodcut No. 522), which, though not extensive, is
a very beautiful specimen of the best form of civic architecture of the
best age in the North of Italy, and standing as it does between the
cathedral on the one hand and its own rude old belfry on the other,
makes up an extremely pleasing group.[1]

[Illustration: 522. Broletto at Como. (From Street.)]

One of the most important buildings of this style is the Great Hospital,
Milan. It was founded in the year 1456, and consequently belongs to an
age when the style was dying out. It still retains more of the pointed
style and of Gothic feeling than could have been found in any city
farther south, or in any one less impregnated, as it were, with German
blood and feeling.

[Illustration: 523. Ornamental Brickwork from the Broletto at Brescia.
(From Street.)]

Almost all the windows in the part originally erected are pointed in
form and divided by mullions. Their principal ornament consists of
garlands of flowers interspersed with busts and masks and figures of
Cupids, which surround the windows, or run along the string-courses. The
whole of these are in terra-cotta, and make up a style of ornamentation
as original as it is beautiful. It is besides purely local, and far
superior to the best copies of Northern details, or to the misapplied
forms of Gothic architecture which are so common in Italy.

There is perhaps nothing in the North of Italy so worthy of admiration
and study, as the way in which moulded bricks of various kinds are used
for decoration, especially in the civic buildings, and also occasionally
in the churches. Sublimity is not perhaps to be attained in brickwork;
the parts are too small; and if splendour is aimed at, it may require
some larger and more costly material to produce the desired effect; but
there is no beauty of detail or of design on a small scale that may not
be obtained by the use of moulded bricks, which are in themselves far
more durable, and, if carefully burnt, retain their sharpness of outline
longer, than most kinds of stone.

The most common way in which the Italians used this material was by
repeating around their openings or along their cornices small copies of
Gothic details, as in this example from a circular window in the
Broletto at Brescia (Woodcut No. 523). Where the details are small and
designed with taste, the effect is almost equal to stone; but where the
details are themselves on a large scale, as is sometimes the case, the
smallness of the materials becomes apparent. Even in this example the
semi-quatrefoils of the principal band are too large for the other
details, though not sufficiently so to be offensive.

[Illustration: 524. Window from the Cathedral of Monza. (From Street.)]

Though not so rich, the effect is almost equally pleasing where the
brick is merely moulded on its edge, without any very direct repetition
of Gothic details, as in the upper part of the window shown in Woodcut
No. 524, from the cathedral of Monza. Where great depth is given so as
to obtain shadow, and long tiles are used for the upper arch, as was
done by the Romans, an appearance of strength and solidity is given to
the construction unsurpassed by that obtained in any other material.

Perhaps the most pleasing application of terra-cotta ornaments is where
bricks of different colours are used so as to produce by variety of
pattern that relief which cannot so well be given by depth of shadow—a
perfectly legitimate mode of ornament when so small a material is used,
and when beauty only, not sublimity, is aimed at.

This is sometimes produced in Italy by introducing stone of a different
colour among the bricks, as in the two examples from Verona (Woodcuts
Nos. 525, 526); and where this mode of ornamentation is carried
throughout the building, the effect is very pleasing. It is difficult,
however, so to proportion the two materials as to produce exactly the
effect aimed at, and seldom that the objection does not present itself
of too much or too little stone being used. The want of shadow in brick
architecture is most felt in the cornices, where sufficient projection
cannot be obtained. The defect might be easily and legitimately got over
by the employment of stone in the upper members of the cornice, but this
expedient seems never to have been resorted to.

[Illustration: 525. Windows from Verona. (From Street.) 526.]

There are few of these brick buildings of the North of Italy which are
not open to just criticism for defects of design or detail, but this may
arise from the circumstance that they all belong to an age when the
Italians were using a style which was not their own, and employing
ornaments of which they understood neither the origin nor the
application. The defects certainly do not appear to be at all inherent
in the material, and, judging from the experience of the Italians, were
we to make the attempt in a proper spirit, we might create with it a
style far surpassing anything we now practise.


The most beautiful specimens of the civil and domestic architecture of
Italy in the Gothic period are probably to be found in Venice, the
richest and most peaceful of Italian cities during the Middle Ages. It
is necessary to speak of the buildings of Venice, or more correctly, of
the Venetian Province, by themselves, since its architecture is quite
distinct both in origin and character from any other found in Northern
Italy. It was not derived from the old Lombard Round Gothic, but from
the richer and more graceful Byzantine. True to its parentage, it
partook in after ages far more of the Southern Saracenic style than of
the Northern Gothic; still it cannot be classed as either Byzantine or
Saracenic, but only as Gothic treated with an Eastern feeling, and
enriched with many details borrowed from Eastern styles.

[Illustration: 527. Central Part of the Façade of the Doge’s Palace,
Venice. (From Cicognara.)]

The largest and most prominent civic example of Venetian Gothic is the
Doge’s Palace (Woodcut No. 527), first built in the commencement of the
9th century, burnt down in 976 and 1106, rebuilt 1116, and restored and
enlarged by Ziani, whose work was gradually pulled down between 1300 and
1424 to make way for the existing Palace (or at least the Gothic portion
of it facing the sea and the Piazzetta). The earliest portion is the
S.E. angle. The S.W. angle was built about 1340, down to the tenth
column (ground storey); the remainder, including the Porta della Carta
(about 1424), was erected by Bartolomeo Bon and his son, the architects
of the Cà d’Oro. Though many people are inclined to consider its general
effect unsatisfactory, an attempt has recently been made to exalt it
above the Parthenon, and all that was great and beautiful in Greece,
Egypt, or Gothic Europe. There are indeed few buildings of which it is
so difficult to judge calmly, situated as it is, attached to the
basilica of St. Mark, facing the beautiful library of Sansovino, and
looking on the one hand into the piazza of St. Mark’s, and on the other
across the water to the churches and palaces that cover the islands. It
is, in fact, the centre of the most beautiful architectural group that
adorns any city of Europe, or of the world—richer than almost any other
building in historical associations, and in a locality hallowed,
especially to an Englishman, by the poetry of Shakespeare. All this
spreads a halo around and over the building, which may furnish ample
excuse for those who blindly praise even its deformities. But the
soberer judgment of the critic must not be led astray by such feelings,
and while giving credit for the picturesque situation of this building
and a certain grandeur in its design, he is compelled wholly to condemn
its execution. The two arcades which constitute the base are, from their
extent and the beauty of their details, as fine as anything of their
class executed during the Middle Ages. There is also a just and pleasing
proportion between the simple solidity of the lower, and the airy—
perhaps slightly fantastic—lightness of the upper of these arcades. Had
what appears to have been the original design been carried out, the
building would rank high with the Alhambra and the palaces of Persia and
India; but in an evil hour, in 1480, it was discovered that larger rooms
were required than had been originally contemplated, and the upper wall,
which was intended to stand on the back wall of the arcades, was brought
forward level with the front overpowering the part below by its
ill-proportioned mass.[2] This upper storey too is far from being
beautiful in itself: the windows in it are not only far too few, but
they are badly spaced, squat, and ungraceful; while the introduction of
smaller windows and circles mars its pretensions to simplicity without
relieving its plainness. Its principal ornaments are two great windows,
one in the centre of each face, which appear to have assumed their
present form after the fire in 1578. These are not graceful objects in
themselves, and having nothing in common with the others, they look too
like insertions to produce an entirely satisfactory effect. The pierced
parapet, too, is poor and flimsy when seen against the sky. Had it
crowned the upper arcade, and been backed by the third storey, it would
have been as pleasing as it is now poor. Had the upper storey been set
back, as was probably originally designed, or had it been placed on the
ground and the arcades over it; had, in short, any arrangement of the
parts been adopted but the one that exists, this might have been a far
more beautiful building than it is. One thing in this palace is worth
remarking before leaving it—that almost all the beauty ascribed to its
upper storey arises from the polychromatic mode of decoration introduced
by disposing pieces of different coloured marbles in diaper patterns.
This is better done here than in Florence; inasmuch as the slabs are
built in, not stuck on. The admiration which it excites is one more
testimony to the fact that when a building is coloured, ninety-nine
people in a hundred are willing to overlook all its faults, and to extol
that as beautiful, which without the adjunct of colour they would have
unanimously agreed in condemning.

[Illustration: 528. Cà d’Oro, Venice. (From Cicognara.)]

A better specimen of the style, because erected as designed, and
remaining nearly as erected, is the Cà d’Oro (Woodcut No. 528),[3] built
in the first years of the 15th century, contemporary with the piazzetta
part of the ducal palace. It has no trace of the high roofs or aspiring
tendencies of the Northern buildings of the same age, no boldly-marked
buttresses in strong vertical lines, but, on the contrary flat sky lines
and horizontal divisions pervade the design, and every part is
ornamented with a fanciful richness far more characteristic of the
luxurious refinement of the East than of the manlier appreciation of the
higher qualities of art which distinguished the contemporary erections
on this side of the Alps.

The blank space between the battlements (which belong to the first
building) and the string-course would seem to have been decorated with a
series of twenty-six cusped arches, forming niches (shown in a mezzotint
drawing dated 1800)[4] and surmounted by an upper string-course
projecting in front of the battlements, thus crowning the building in a
more satisfactory way than at present. The house was built for Signor
Marino Contarini, Procurator of Venice, its original title being the
Palace of Sta. Sophia.

[Illustration: 529. Angle Window at Venice. (From Street.)]

The palaces known as the Foscari and Pisani are very similar in design
to that of Cà d’Oro, though less rich and less happy in the distribution
of the parts; but time has restored to them that colour which was an
inherent part of the older design, and they are so beautiful and so
interesting that it is hard to criticise even their too apparent defects
as works of art. Most of the faults that strike us in the buildings of
Venice arise from the defective knowledge which they betray of
constructive principles. The Venetian architects had not been brought up
in the hard school of practical experience, nor thoroughly grounded in
construction, as the Northern architects were by the necessities of the
large buildings which they erected. On the contrary, they merely adopted
details because they were pretty, and used them so as to be picturesque
in domestic edifices, where convenience was everything, and construction
but a secondary consideration. For instance, the window here shown
(Woodcut No. 529) cannot fail to give the building in which it occurs an
appearance of weakness and insecurity quite inexcusable in spite of its
external picturesqueness or its internal convenience.

[Illustration: 530. Ponte del Paradiso, Venice. (From Street.)]

The same remark applies to the screen (Woodcut No. 530) above the Ponte
del Paradiso, which, though useless and unconstructive to the last
degree, by its picturesque design and elegant details arrests all
travellers. Indeed it is impossible to see it without admiring it,
though, if imitated elsewhere, it could hardly be saved from being

Both these examples are surrounded by a curious dentil moulding which is
found throughout St. Mark’s, and the origin of which must be sought for
in St. Sophia at Constantinople, though it is better known as the
Venetian dentil.

There are, besides these, many smaller palaces and houses of the Gothic
age, all more or less beautiful, and all presenting some detail or some
happy arrangement well worthy of study, and usually more refined and
more beautiful than those of the rude but picturesque dwellings of the
burghers of Bruges or Nuremberg.

The mixed Gothic style which we have been describing appears to have
exerted a considerable effect on the subsequent palatial architecture of
Venice, even after classical details had become generally fashionable.
The arrangement of the façades remained nearly the same down to a very
late period; and even when the so-called return to classical forms took
place, many details of the previous style were here retained, which was
not the case in any other part of Europe.

Domestic work of similar character to that of Venice is found in some of
the Dalmatian towns, and in the Islands of Quarnero. At Ragusa, in
Dalmatia, is a palace built in 1430, according to Mr. Jackson, from the
designs of Master Onofrio Giordani de la Cava, a Neapolitan, but altered
and rebuilt by Michelozzo in 1464, after the fire and explosion in 1462.
The arcade of the ground storey had originally pointed arches, but in
the rebuilding these were replaced by circular arches, some of the
earlier capitals being utilised in the later structure. Drawings are
given in Mr. Jackson’s work. The courtyards of this palace and of the
Sponza in the same town are interesting examples of domestic work.

                             CHAPTER VIII.



Population of Sicily—The Saracens—Buildings at Palermo—Cathedral of
  Monreale Cefalu—The Pointed Arch.

THERE are few chapters of architectural history—at least among the
shorter ones—more interesting, in various ways, than that which treats
of the introduction of the pointed-arched style into Sicily, and its
peculiar development there. The whole history is so easily understood,
the style itself so distinct from any other, and at the same time so
intrinsically beautiful, that it is of all the divisions of the subject
the one best suited for a monograph, and so it seems to have been
considered by many—Hittorff and Zanth,[5] the Duke of Serra di Falco,[6]
and our own Gally Knight,[7] having chosen it for special illustration,
so that in fact there are few European styles of which we have more
complete information. Many of the points of its history are nevertheless
still subjects of controversy, not from any inherent obscurity in the
subject, but because it has been attempted to apply to it the rules and
theories derived from the history of Northern art.

The map of Sicily tells its whole history; its position and form reveal
nearly all that is required to be known of the races that inhabited it,
and of their fate. Situated in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea, of a
nearly regular triangular form, and presenting one side to Greece,
another to Africa, and a third to Italy, the length of these coasts, and
their relative distance from the opposite shores, are nearly correct
indexes of the influence each has had on the civilisation of the island.

In a former chapter[8] it was shown how strong was the influence of
Dorian Greece in Sicily. Almost all the ancient architectural remains
belong to that people. The Carthaginians, who succeeded the Greeks, left
but slight traces of humanising influence; and the rule of the Romans
was that of conquerors, oppressive and destructive of the civilisation
of the people. After the Christian era, a very similar succession of
influences took place. First and most powerful was the Byzantine
element, which forms the groundwork and main ingredient in all that
follows. To this succeeded the Saracenic epoch: bright, brilliant, but
evanescent. In the 11th century the Italian element resumed its sway
under the banner of a few Norman adventurers, and in the guise of a
Norman conquest sacerdotal Rome regained the inheritance of her imperial
predecessor. In the Christian period, however, the elements were far
from being so distinct as in those preceding it, for reasons easily
understood. Every fresh race of masters found the island already
occupied by a very numerous population of extremely various origin. The
new-comers could do no more than add their own forms of art to those
previously in use; the consequence being in every case a mixed style,
containing elements derived from every portion of the inhabitants.

We have no means of knowing the exact form of the Byzantine churches of
Sicily before the Arab invasion. All have either perished or are
undescribed. The Saracenic remains, too, have all disappeared, the
buildings generally supposed to be relics of their rule being now proved
to have been erected by Mahometan workmen for their Christian masters.
With the Norman sway a style arose which goes far to supply all these
deficiencies, being Greek in essence, Roman in form, and Saracenic in
decoration; and these elements mixed in exactly those proportions which
we should expect. Nowhere do we find the square-domed plans of the Greek
Church, nor any form suited to the Greek ritual. These have given place
to the Roman basilica, and to an arrangement adapted to the rites of the
Romish Church; but all the work was performed by Greek artists, and the
Roman outline was filled up and decorated to suit the taste and
conciliate the feelings of the worshippers, who were conquered Greeks or
converted Moors. Their fancy, too—richer and happier than that of the
ruder races of the West—was allowed full play. An Eastern exuberance in
designing details and employing colours is here exhibited, cramped a
little, it must be confessed, by the architectural forms and the ritual
arrangements to which it is applied, but still a ruling and beautifying
principle throughout.

Among all these elements, those who are familiar with architectural
history will hardly look for anything indicative of purely Norman taste
or feelings. A mere handful of military adventurers, they conquered as
soldiers of Rome and for her aggrandisement, and held the fief for her
advantage: they could have brought no arts even if their country had
then possessed any. They were content that their newly-acquired subjects
should erect for them palaces after the beautiful fashion of the
country, and that Roman priests should direct the building of churches
suited to their forms, but built as the Sicilians had been accustomed to
build, and decorated as they could decorate them, better than their
masters and conquerors.

All this, when properly understood, lends an interest to the history of
this little branch of architecture, wholly independent of its artistic
merit; but the art itself is so beautiful and so instructive, from its
being one of the styles where polychromy was universally employed and is
still preserved, that notwithstanding all that has been done, it still
merits more attention.

It is extremely difficult, in a limited space, to give a clear account
of the Sicilian pointed style, owing to the fusion of the three styles
of which it is composed being far from complete or simultaneous over the
whole island, and there being no one edifice in which all three are
mixed in anything like equal proportions. Each division of the island,
in fact, retains a predilection for that style which characterised the
majority of its inhabitants. Thus Messina and the northern coast as far
as Cefalu remained Italian in the main, and the churches there have only
the smallest possible admixture of either Greek or Saracenic work. The
old parts of the Nunziatella at Messina might be found at Pisa, while
the cathedral there and at Cefalu would hardly be out of place in
Apulia, except indeed that Cefalu displays a certain early predilection
for pointed arches, and something of Greek feeling in the decoration of
the choir.

In like manner in Syracuse and the southern angle of the island the
Greek feeling prevails almost to the exclusion of the other two. In
Palermo, on the other hand, and the western parts, the architecture is
so strongly Saracenic that hardly any antiquary has yet been able to
admit the possibility of such buildings as the Cuba and Ziza having been
erected by the Norman kings. There is, however, little or no doubt that
the latter was built by William I. (1154-1169), and the other about the
same time, though by whom is not so clear. Both these buildings were
erected after a century of Norman dominion in the island: still the
Saracenic influence, so predominant in them, need not astonish us, when
we consider the immeasurable superiority of the Saracens in art and
civilisation, not only to their new rulers, but to all the other
inhabitants. It was therefore only natural that they should be employed
to provide for the Norman Counts such buildings as they alone had the
heart to erect and adorn.

A still more remarkable instance of the prevalence of Saracenic ideas is
represented in Woodcut No. 531, being the Church of San Giovanni degli
Eremiti at Palermo. Here we find a building erected beyond all doubt as
late as the year 1132, by King Roger, for the purposes of Christian
worship, which would in no respect, except the form of its tower, be out
of place as a mosque in the streets of Delhi or Cairo. In fact, were we
guided by architectural considerations alone, this church would have
more properly been described under the head of Saracenic than of
Christian architecture.

There are three other churches of Palermo which exhibit the new mixed
style in all its completeness. These are the Martorana (1113-1143), in
which the Byzantine element prevails somewhat to the exclusion of the
other two; the Capella Palatina in the Palace, built in 1132; and the
more magnificent church of Monreale, near Palermo (Woodcut No. 532),
begun in 1174, and certainly the finest and most beautiful of all the
buildings erected by the Normans in this country. This church is 315 ft.
in its extreme length; while the beautiful gem-like Capella of the royal
palace is much smaller, being only 125 ft. long, and consequently
inferior in grandeur, though in the relative proportions of its parts,
and in all other essential points, very similar.

[Illustration: 531. San Giovanni degli Eremiti, Palermo. (From Gally
Knight’s ‘Normans in Sicily.’)]

In arrangement and dimensions the cathedral of Monreale very much
resembles that at Messina, showing the same general influence in both;
but all the details of the Palermitan example betray that admixture of
Greek and Saracenic feeling which is the peculiarity of Sicilian
architecture. There is scarcely a single form or detail in the whole
building which can strictly be called Gothic, or which points to any
connection with Northern arts or races. The plan of this, as of all the
Sicilian churches, is that of a Roman basilica, far more than of a
Gothic church. In none of them was any vault ever either built or
intended. The central is divided from the side-aisles by pillars of a
single stone, generally borrowed from ancient temples, but (in this
instance at least) with capitals of great beauty, suited to their
position and to the load they have to support. The pier-arches are
pointed, but not Gothic, having no successive planes of decoration, but
being merely square masses of masonry of simple but stilted forms. The
windows, too, though pointed, are undivided, and evidently never meant
for painted glass. The roofs of the naves are generally of open framing,
like those of the basilicas, and ornamented in Saracenic taste. The
aisles, the intersection of the transepts and nave, and the first
division of the sanctuary are generally richer, and consequently more
truly Moorish. The apse again is Roman. Taken altogether, it is only the
accident of the pointed arch having been borrowed from the Moors that
has led to the idea of Gothic feeling existing in these edifices. It
does exist at Messina and Cefalu, but in Palermo is almost wholly

[Illustration: 532. Plan of Church at Monreale. (From Hittorff and
Zanth.) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

It is evident that the architectural features in the buildings of which
the cathedral of Monreale is the type, were subordinate, in the eyes of
their builders, to the mosaic decorations which cover every part of the
interior, and are, in fact, the glory and pride of the edifice, by which
alone it is entitled to rank among the finest of Mediæval churches. All
the principal personages of the Bible are represented in the stiff but
grand style of Greek art, sometimes with Greek inscriptions, and
accompanied by scenes illustrating the Old and New Testaments. They are
separated by and intermixed with arabesques and ornaments in colour and
gold, making up a decoration unrivalled in its class by anything—except,
perhaps, St. Mark’s—the Middle Ages have produced. The church at Assisi
is neither so rich nor so splendid. The Certosa is infamous in taste as
compared with this Sicilian cathedral. No specimen of opaque painting of
its class, on this side of the Alps, can compete with it in any way.
Perhaps the painted glass of some of our cathedrals may have surpassed
it, but that is gone. In this respect the mosaic has the advantage. It
is to be regretted that we have no direct means of comparing the effect
of these two modes of decoration. In both the internal architecture was
subordinate to the colour—more so, perhaps, as a general rule, in the
Sicilian examples than in the North. In fact, the architecture was
merely a vehicle for the display of painting in its highest and most
gorgeous forms.

Besides the mosaic pictures which adorn the upper part of the walls of
these Palermitan churches, they possess another kind of decoration
almost equally effective, the whole of the lower part of the walls being
revêted with slabs of marble or porphyry disposed in the most beautiful
patterns. The Martorana depends wholly for its effect on this species of
decoration. In the Capella Palatina, and the church at Monreale, it
occupies the lower part of the walls only, and serves as a base for the
storied decorations above; but whether used separately or in
combination, the result is perfect, and such as is hardly attained in
any other churches in any part of Europe.

[Illustration: 533. Portion of the Nave, Monreale. (From Hittorff and

Externally the Gothic architects had immensely the advantage. They never
allowed their coloured decorations to interfere with their architectural
effects. On the contrary, they so used them as to make the windows
externally as well as internally their most beautiful and attractive

[Illustration: 534. Lateral Entrance to Cathedral at Palermo. (From
Hittorff and Zanth.)]

The cathedral of Palermo, the principal entrance of which is shown in
Woodcut No. 534, is a building of much later date, that which we now see
being principally of the 14th century. Although possessing no dignity of
outline or grace of form, it is more richly ornamented externally with
intersecting arches and mosaic decorations than almost any other church
of its class. It is richer perhaps and better than the cathedral of
Florence, inasmuch as the decorations follow the construction, and are
not—as there—a mere unmeaning panelling that might be applied anywhere.
All this is more apparent in the apse (Woodcut No. 535) than on the
lateral elevation. It converts what would be only a very plain exterior
into a very rich and ornamental composition; not quite suited to
Northern taste, but very effective in the sunny South. Still the effect
of the whole is rather pretty than grand, and as an architectural
display falls far short of the bolder masonic expression of the Northern
Gothic churches.

After these, one of the most important churches of that age in the
island is the cathedral of Cefalu, already alluded to. It was commenced
by King Roger 1131. It is 230 ft. long by 90 ft. wide. The choir and
transepts are vaulted and groined; the nave has a wooden roof; all the
arches are pointed; and with its two western towers it displays more
Gothic feeling than any other church in Sicily.

The cathedral at Messina, though closely resembling that at Monreale in
plan, has been so altered and rebuilt as to retain very little of its
original architecture. The other churches in the island are either small
and insignificant, or, like that at Messina, have been so altered that
their features are obliterated.

[Illustration: 535. East End of Cathedral at Palermo. (From

Besides the Saracenic castles or palaces above mentioned, there are no
important civil buildings of Mediæval style in Sicily. There are two
cloisters—one at Monreale and the other at Cefalu—both in the style
universal in all the countries bordering on the Mediterranean Sea, and
already described in speaking of those of Elne, Fontifroide, Arles, &c.,
as well as those of St. John Lateran at Rome. Their general arrangement
consists of small but elegant pillars of Corinthian design, in pairs,
supporting pointed arches of great beauty of form. In many respects this
is a more beautiful mode of producing a cloistered arcade than the
series of unglazed windows universally adopted in the North. The
Southern method presupposes a wooden or at most a tunnel-vaulted roof,
as at Arles, whereas all our best examples have intersecting vaults of
great beauty, which indeed is the excuse for the windowed arrangement
assumed by them. An intermediate course, like that adopted at Zurich
(Woodcut No. 722), would perhaps best reconcile the difficulty; but this
was only used during the period of transition from one style to the
other. The effect, however, of the cloister at Monreale, with the
fountain in one of its divisions, and a certain air of Eastern elegance
and richness pervading the whole, is not surpassed by any of the
examples on the Continent of its own size, though its dimensions do not
allow it to compete with some of the larger examples of France, and
especially of Spain.

As the employment of the pointed arch so early in Sicily has been much
quoted in the controversy regarding the invention of that feature, it
may be convenient to state here that the pointed arch was used in the
South of France—at Vaison, for instance—at least as early as the 10th
century, but only as a vaulting expedient. During the 11th it was
currently used in the south, and as far north as Burgundy; and in the
12th it was boldly adopted in the north as a vaulting, constructive and
decorative feature, giving rise to the invention of a totally new style
of architectural art.

It is by no means impossible that the pointed arch was used by the Greek
or Pelasgic colonists about Marseilles at a far earlier date, but this
can only have been in arches or domes constructed horizontally. These
may have suggested its use in radiating vaults, but can hardly be said
to have influenced its adoption. Had it not been for the constructive
advantages of pointed arches, the Roman circular form would certainly
have retained its sway. It is possible, however, that the northern
Franks would never have adopted it so completely as they did had they
not become familiar with it either in Sicily or the East. When once they
had so taken it up, they made it their own by employing it only as a
modification of the round-arched forms previously introduced and

In Sicily the case is different; the pointed arch there never was either
a vaulting or constructive expedient—it was simply a mode of eking out,
by its own taller form and by stilting, the limited height of the Roman
pillars, which they found and used so freely. It is the same description
of arch as that used in the construction of the mosque El-Aksah at
Jerusalem in the 8th century; at Cairo in rebuilding that of Amrou in
the 9th or 10th and in El-Azhar and other mosques of that city. As such
it was used currently in Sicily by the Saracens, and in Palermo and
elsewhere became so essential a part of the architecture of the day that
it was employed as a matter of course in the churches; but it was not
introduced by the Normans, nor was it carried by them from Sicily into
France, and, except so far as already stated, it had no influence on the
arts of France. In fact there is no connection, either ethnographically
or architecturally, between the Sicilian pointed arch and the French;
and beyond the accident of the broken centre they have nothing in

Although, therefore, it can hardly again be used as evidence in the
question of the invention of the pointed arch, the architecture of
Sicily deserves a better monography than it has yet been made the
subject of. It must, however, be written by some one intimately familiar
with the Byzantine, Saracenic, and Romanesque styles. To any one so
qualified, Sicily would afford the best field in Europe for tracing the
influence of race and climate on architecture: for nowhere, owing in a
great measure to its insular position, can the facts be more easily
traced, or the results more easily observed.

In one other point of view also the style deserves attention, for from
it alone can we fairly weigh the merit of the two systems of internal
decoration employed during the Middle Ages. By comparing, for instance,
the cathedral at Monreale, with such a building as the Sainte Chapelle
at Paris, we may judge whether polychromy by opaque pictures in mosaic,
or by translucent pictures on glass, is the more beautiful mode of
decorating the interior of a building. The former have undoubtedly the
advantage of durability, and interfere less with the architectural
effect, but for beauty and brilliancy of effect I have little doubt that
the general verdict would be that the latter have at least hitherto been
the most successful mode. On the whole, however, it seems that a higher
and purer class of art may be developed out of opaque painting than can
ever be obtained from transparencies, and if this is so there can be
little doubt as to which we ought now to seek to cultivate. The question
has never yet been fairly discussed; and examples sufficiently
approximating to one another, either in age or style, are so rare that
its determination is not easy. For that very reason it is the more
desirable that we should make the most of those we have, and try if from
them we can settle one of the most important questions which
architectural history has left to be determined with reference to our
future progress in the art.

                              CHAPTER IX.



Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem—Churches at Abû Gosh and Lydda—
  Mosque at Hebron.



    Jerusalem taken by the Crusaders                      A.D. 1099
    Baudouin I.                                                1100
    Baudouin II.                                               1118
    Foulques, Count of Anjou                                   1131
    Saladin retakes Jerusalem                                  1187
    Third Crusade. Richard II.                                 1192
    Frederick II. re-enters Jerusalem                          1229
    Re-taken by Sultan of Damascus                             1239
    Final overthrow of Christians                              1244


IT may at first sight appear strange that any form of architecture in
Syria should be treated as a part of that of Italy, but the
circumstances of the case are so exceptional that there can be little
doubt of the correctness of so doing. Gothic architecture was not a
natural growth in Palestine, but distinctly an importation of the
Crusaders, transplanted by them to a soil where it took no root, and
from which it died out when the fostering care of Western protection was
removed. In this it is only too true a reflex of the movement to which
it owed its origin. The Crusades furnish one of those instances in the
history of the world where the conquerors of a nation have been so
numerous as entirely to supplant, for a time, the native population and
the indigenous institutions of the country. For nearly a century
Jerusalem was subject to kings and barons of a foreign race. The feudal
system was imported entire, with its orders of knighthood, its
“Assises,” and all the concomitant institutions which had grown up with
the feudal system in Western Europe. With them, as a matter of course,
came the hierarchy of the Roman Church, and with it the one style of
architecture which they then knew, or which was appropriate to their
form of worship.

The one point which is not at first sight obvious is, why the Gothic
style in Palestine should be so essentially Italian, with so little
admixture of the styles prevalent on the northern side of the Alps. It
may have been that then, as now, the Italians settled loosely in the
land. We know that the trade of the Levant was at that time in the hands
of Venice and other Italian cities, and it is clear that it was easier
to send to Italy for artists and workmen, than to France and Germany,
and much more likely that an Italian would undertake the erection of
buildings in the East than a Northern architect, whose ideas of
Palestine and its ways must have been extremely indistinct. Be this as
it may, there is little in the Gothic architecture of Palestine either
as regards arrangement or details—except the plan of the church of the
Holy Sepulchre—which would excite attention as singular if found in the
South of Italy or Sicily; and as little that would not seem out of place
if found on our side of the Alps.

                            HOLY SEPULCHRE.

The principal buildings erected by the Crusaders in Palestine were, as
might be expected, the extensive additions made to the church or rather
to the group of churches near the Holy Sepulchre—the deliverance of
which from the hands of the infidels was the object of that wonderful
burst of national enthusiasm.[9]

The buildings on the site have been so repeatedly ruined and rebuilt,
and so little remains now of their original features prior to the
Crusaders’ work, that it is only necessary here to state the generally
accepted belief that the rotunda (A) shown on the upper part of the plan
(Woodcut No. 536) represents the position of the great apse erected by
Constantine, round what he considered to be the sepulchre of Christ
(marked B on plan). The great basilica which is described by
Eusebius,[10] was erected on the east side of this. This and other
buildings were destroyed by Chosroes the Persian in 614, and portions
only (those round the Holy Sepulchre) were restored by Modestus in 629.
In 1010, the mad Khalif Hakem destroyed Modestus’s work, and the
rotunda, as shown in Woodcut, was built by the Emperor Constantine
Monomachus thirty years later.

[Illustration: 536. Plan of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Scale 100
ft. to 1 in.]

When the Crusaders reached Jerusalem, 1099 A.D., the sepulchre appears
to have stood in a court open to the sky,[11] but “covered over lest
rain should fall upon it,” surrounded with an aisle and with five
chapels (C.D.E.F.G.) attached to it. These the Crusaders
incorporated[12] with their additions and alterations, which amounted
almost to a rebuilding of the church. The plan (Woodcut No. 536)
indicates in black those portions found by the Crusaders; in half tone,
those which were built by them, and in outline only the subsequent
additions made before and after the great fire of 1808.[13] Though
entirely at variance with the arrangement of the basilica and
independent tomb-house as adopted by Constantine some seven centuries
earlier, it would seem that the object of the Crusader was to preserve
intact the Rotunda and the Holy Sepulchre. The principal entrance led
into what was virtually the main transept, with the Rotunda on the west
side and the choir and apse on the east. At a later period the space
within the crossing was enclosed for the Greek Church, so that the
Rotunda now appears to be the nave, and it is in that sense that the
church has been so often copied. The plan was commonly employed in the
North of Europe (Woodcuts Nos. 790 to 795), and bloomed into perfection
at Cologne in the church of St. Gereon (Woodcut No. 741). It is also
found at Little Maplestead (Woodcut No. 847), Zara (Woodcut No. 486), in
the churches of the Temple in London, of St. Sepulchre at Cambridge, and
elsewhere. In all these instances it consists of a circular nave leading
to a rectangular choir terminated by an apse. Though primarily
sepulchral in its origin, it is used in all these places without any
reference to its original destination, and had become a recognised form
of Christian church for the ordinary purposes of worship.

Though containing so many objects of interest, the church itself is not
large, measuring 245 ft. long internally, exclusive of the crypt and
chapel of the cross, which being at a much lower level must have formed
a crypt under the nave and aisles of the basilica.

So far as can be judged from the information which remains to us, the
style (before the fire of 1808, after which the Rotunda was entirely
rebuilt) was tolerably homogeneous throughout. The transept, now
converted into a choir, and the apse, which, though commenced in 1103,
were not completed before 1169, show progress in style. All the
constructive arches in this part of the building are pointed—but the
decorative portions still retain the circular form.

[Illustration: 537. Holy Sepulchre—Plan and Elevation as it existed
before the fire in 1808. (From Bernardino Amico.)]

Owing to its situation, and its being so much encumbered by other
buildings, the only part of the exterior which makes any pretension to
architectural magnificence is the Southern double portal, erected
apparently between the years 1140 and 1160. This is a rich and elegant
example of the style of ornamentation prevalent in Sicily and Southern
Italy in the 12th century, but among its most elaborate decoration, are
two rich cornices of classical date, built in unsymmetrically as
string-courses, amongst details belonging to the time of the Crusades.
From their style these cornices undoubtedly belong to the age of
Constantine, and are probably fragments of some ancient buildings. At an
earlier age such fragments would probably have been more extensively
used up; but in the 12th century the architects had acquired confidence
in themselves and their own style, and despised classical arrangements
both in plan and in detail.

The sepulchre itself seems to have been rebuilt, about the year
1555,[14] or at least so thoroughly repaired that it is difficult to say
what its exact original form may have been. Probably it did not differ
materially from that shown in the woodcut, since that resembles the
style of the 12th much more than that of the 16th century.

Although the church of the Holy Sepulchre was, naturally, by far the
greatest work undertaken by the Crusaders, there are some six or seven
other churches in Jerusalem,[15] or its immediate vicinity, which were
erected during the 12th century. The most complete of these at the
present day is that of St. Anne—now in course of thorough repair by the
French Government.

[Illustration: 538. Plan of Church at Abû Gosh. (From De Vogüé.) Scale
50 ft. to 1 in.]

It is a small church, 112 ft. long by 66 ft. wide internally, divided
into three aisles, each terminating in an apse, and covered with
intersecting vaults, showing strongly-marked transverse ribs of the
usual Italian pattern. It has also a small dome on the intersection
between the nave and transept. The windows are small and without
tracery. It is, in fact, a counterpart of the usual Italian church of
the age. The same remarks apply to Ste. Marie la Grande, Ste. Marie
Latine, the Madeleine, and other churches which the Christians built in
their quarter of the town during their occupation, to replace those of
which the Moslems had deprived them.

[Illustration: 539. East End of Church at Abû Gosh. (From De Vogüé.)]

One of the most perfect churches of this age, out of Jerusalem, is that
at Abû Gosh—the ancient Kirjath-Jearim (Woodcuts Nos. 538, 539).
Externally it is a rectangle, 86 ft. by 57 ft., with three apses which
do not appear externally. Under the whole is an extensive crypt. Though
small, it is so complete, and so elegant in all its details, that it
would be difficult to find anywhere a more perfect example of the style.
As it now stands it is very much simpler and plainer than any Northern
example of the same age would be; but it originally depended on painting
for its decoration, and traces of this may still be seen on its
desecrated walls. It is now used as a cattle-shed. The church at Ramleh
is one of the largest, and must originally have been one of the finest,
of these Syrian churches. It is now used as a mosque, and the consequent
alteration of its arrangement, with plaster and whitewash, have done
much to destroy its architectural effect.

[Illustration: 540. East End of Church at Lydda. (From De Vogüé.)]

At Sebaste there is one as large as that at Ramleh—160 ft. by 80 ft.—and
showing a more completely developed Gothic style than those at
Jerusalem. At Lydda there is another very similar in detail to that last
mentioned. Though now only a fragment, it is one of singular elegance,
and shows a purity of detail and arrangement not usual in Northern
churches of that age. De Vogüé is of opinion that both the last-named
churches must have been completed before the year 1187. It is hard,
however, to believe that an Italian Gothic style could have attained
that degree of perfection so early, and if the date assigned is correct,
it is evident that the pointed style was developed earlier in the East
than in the West, a circumstance which, from our knowledge of what had
happened in Armenia and elsewhere, is by no means improbable.

[Illustration: 541. Apse of Church at Lydda. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

The date assigned to these churches is rendered more probable by the
existence of a Gothic building, certainly as advanced as any of those
mentioned, within the enclosure of the mosque at Hebron. If this was a
work of the Crusaders it must have been built before 1187, since the
Christians never had access to the place after their defeat at Tiberias.
If not erected by them, we are forced to assume that the Moslems, after
recovering possession of the sepulchres of the Patriarchs, employed some
Christian renegades or slaves to erect a mosque on the spot, in their
own style of architecture. This is, however, by no means improbable,
since it is the only Christian church (if it be one) in Palestine which
has no apse, though there would have been no difficulty in introducing
three apses in the same manner as at Abû Gosh (Woodcut No. 538) had it
been so desired. It should also be remarked that the three aisles point
southward towards Mecca, and that, except in style, it has all the
appearance of a mosque. Both Christian and Mahometan tradition are
silent as to its erection, so that the determination of the question
must depend on a more careful examination than has yet been possible.
Whichever way it may be decided, it is a curious question. It is either
a Christian building without the arrangement elsewhere universally
indispensable, or it is a Moslem mosque in a Christian style of
architecture. If the former, the complete development of the Italian
pointed style of architecture in the East must be fixed at not less than
half a century anterior to that in the West.


  542. Plan of Mosque at Hebron. Scale 100 ft to 1 in.

  The Gothic portion is shaded black, the Jewish hatched, and the
  Mahometan outlined.

                               BOOK III.


                               CHAPTER I.


Division of subject—Pointed arches—Provence—Churches at Avignon, Arles,
  Alet, Fontifroide, Maguelonne, Vienne—Circular churches—Towers—



   Charlemagne                                           A.D. 768-813
   Rollo, first Duke of Normandy                                  911
   Hugh Capet                                                     987
   William II. of Normandy, or the Conqueror                1055-1086
   Henry I. of France                                            1031
   Philip I., or l’Amoureux                                      1060
   Louis VI., or le Gros                                         1108
   Louis VII., or le Jeune                                       1137
       St. Bernard of Clairvaux                             1091-1153
   Philip II., or l’Auguste                                      1180
   Louis VIII., or the Lion                                      1223
   Louis IX., or the Saint                                       1226
   Philip III., the Hardy                                        1270
   Philip IV., or the Fair                                       1285
   Philip VI. of Valois                                          1328
       Battle of Crecy                                           1346
   John II., the Good                                            1350
   Charles V., the Wise                                          1364
   Charles VI., the Beloved                                      1380
   Charles VII., the Victorious                                  1422
       Joan of Arc                                          1412-1431
   Louis XI.                                                     1461
   Charles VIII.                                                 1483
   Louis XII.                                                    1498
   Francis I.                                                    1515


TO those who do not look beyond the present, France appears to be one of
the most homogeneous of all the countries of Europe—inhabited by a
people speaking one language, professing one religion, governed by the
same laws, and actuated by the same feelings and aspirations; yet it
certainly is not so in reality, and in the Middle Ages the distinctions
between the various races and peoples were strongly marked and capable
of easy definition. Wars, persecutions, and revolutions, have done much
to obliterate these, and the long habit of living under a centralised
despotism has produced a superficial uniformity which hides a great deal
of actual diversity. The process of fusion commenced apparently about
the reign of Louis the Saint (A.D. 1226), and has gone on steadily ever
since. Before his time France was divided into six or eight great
ethnographic provinces which might now be easily mapped out, though
their boundaries frequently differed widely from the political division
of the land.

No systematic attempt has yet been made to construct an ethnographic map
of the country from the architectural remains, though it is easy to see
how it might be done. What is wanted is that some competent archæologist
should do for the ethnography of France what Sir W. Smith did at the end
of the last century for the geology of England. Like that early pioneer
of exact knowledge in his peculiar department, he must be content to
wander from province to province, from village to village, visiting
every church, and examining every architectural remain, comparing one
with another, tracing their affinities, and finally classifying and
mapping the whole. It is probable that the labour of one man would
hardly suffice for this purpose. Monographs would be required to
complete the task, but it is one of such singular interest that it is
hoped it may soon be undertaken.

One of the great difficulties in attempting anything of the sort at
present is the nomenclature. When the science is further advanced, such
names as Silurian, Cambrian, &c., will no doubt be invented, but at
present we must be content with the political name which seems most
nearly to express the ethnographical distribution; though in scarcely a
single instance will these be found strictly correct, all in consequence
being open to adverse criticism. In France it frequently happened that
two or more ethnographic provinces were united under one sceptre—
eventually all were merged into one—and during the various changes that
took place in the Middle Ages, it was only by accident that the
political boundary exactly agreed for any great length of time with the

In Germany, on the contrary, a single race is and was cut up into
numerous political divisions, so that it becomes, from the opposite
cause alone, equally difficult to apply a nomenclature which shall
correctly represent the facts of the case.

In such a work as this it would be manifestly absurd to attempt to
adjust all this with anything like minute accuracy, but the principal
features are so easily recognised that no great confusion can arise in
the application of such names as are usually employed, and it is to be
hoped that before long a better system of nomenclature will be invented
and applied.

We may rest assured of one thing, at all events, which is that the
architectural remains in France are as sufficient for the construction
of an ethnographic map of that country as the rocks are for the
compilation of a geological survey. If the one opens out to the student
an immense expanse of scientific knowledge, the other is hardly of less
interest, though in a less extended field. There are few studies more
pleasing than that of tracing the history of man through his works, and
none bring the former condition of humanity so vividly back to us as
those records which have been built into the walls of their temples or
their palaces by those who were thus unconsciously recording their
feelings for the instruction of their posterity.

[Illustration: 543. Diagram of the Architectural Divisions of

The first thing that strikes the student in examining architecturally
the map of France is the recurrence of the same phenomenon as was
remarked in that of Italy, a division into two nearly equal halves by a
boundary line running east and west. In both countries, to the southward
of this line the land was occupied by a Romanesque people who, though
conquered, were never colonised by the Barbarians to such an extent as
to alter their blood or consequently the ethnographic relations of the
people. North of the line the Goths and Lombards in Italy, and the
Franks in Gaul, settled in such numbers as to influence very
considerably the status of the races, in some instances almost to the
obliteration of their leading characteristics.

In France the boundary line follows the valley of the Loire near its
northern edge till it passes behind Tours; it crosses that river between
that city and Orleans, follows a somewhat devious course to Lyons, and
up the valley of the Rhone to Geneva.

In the Middle Ages the two races were roughly designated as those
speaking the Langue d’oc and the Langue d’œil—somewhat more correctly
those to the south were called Romance,[18] those to the north Frankish;
but the truth is, the distinction is too broad to be now clearly
defined, and we must descend much more into detail before any
satisfactory conclusion can be arrived at.

On the south of the line, one of the most beautiful as well as the best
defined architectural provinces is that I have ventured to designate as
Provence or Provençal. Its limits are very nearly coincident with those
of Gallia Narbonensis, and “Narbonese” would consequently be a more
correct designation, and would be adopted if treating of a classical
style of art. It has, however, the defect of including Toulouse, which
does not belong to the province, and consequently the name affects an
accuracy it does not possess. It may, therefore, be better at present to
adopt the vague name of the “Provence” _par excellence_, especially as
Provençal is a word applied by French authors to literary matters much
in the sense it is here used to define an architectural division. The
whole of the south coast of France from the Alps to the Pyrenees belongs
to this province, and it extends up the valley of the Rhone as far as
Lyons, and is generally bounded by the hills on either side of that

Perhaps the best mode of defining the limits of the Aquitanian province
would be to say that it includes all those towns whose names end with
the Basque article _ac_, consequently indicating the presence at some
former period of a people speaking that language or something very
closely allied to it, or at all events differing from those of the rest
of France. It is only on the eastward that the line seems difficult to
define. There are some towns, such as Barjac, Quissac, Gignac, in the
valley of the Rhone, in situations that would seem to belong to
Provence, and until their churches are examined it is impossible to say
to which they belong. On the south Aquitania is bounded by the Pyrenees,
on the west by the sea, and on the North by a line running nearly
straight from the mouth of the Garonne to Langeac, near to Le

The third is designated that of Anjou, or the Angiovine, from its most
distinguished province. This includes the lower part of the Loire, and
is bounded on the north-east by the Cher. Between it and the sea is a
strip of land, including the Angoumois, Saintonge, and Vendée, which it
is not easy to know where to place. It may belong, so far as we yet
know, to either Aquitania or Anjou, or possibly may deserve a separate
title altogether; but in the map it is annexed for the present to Poitou
or the Angiovine province.

In Brittany the two styles meet, and are so mixed together that it is
impossible to separate them. In that district there is neither pure
Romance nor pure Frankish, but a style partaking of the peculiarities of
each without belonging to either.

Besides these, there is the small and secluded district of Auvergne,
having a style peculiarly its own, which, though certainly belonging to
the southern province, is easily distinguished from any of the
neighbouring styles, and is one of the most pleasing to be found of an
early age in France.

Beyond this to the eastward lies the great Burgundian province, having a
well-defined and well-marked style of its own, influenced by or
influencing all those around it. Its most marked characteristic is what
may be called a mechanical mixture of the classical and mediæval styles
without any real fusion. Essentially and constructively the style is
Gothic, but it retained the use of Corinthian pilasters and classical
details till late in the Middle Ages: Burgundy was also in the Middle
Ages the country of monasticism _par excellence_—a circumstance which
had considerable influence on her forms of art.

Taking, then, a more general view of the southern province, it will be
seen that if a line were drawn from Marseilles to Brest, it would pass
nearly through the middle of it. At the south-eastern extremity of such
a line we should find a style almost purely Romanesque, passing by slow
and equal gradations into a Gothic form at its other terminal.

On turning to the Frankish province the case is somewhat different.
Paris is here the centre, from which everything radiates: and though the
Norman invasion, and other troubles of those times, with the rebuilding
mania of the 13th century, have swept away nearly all traces of the
early buildings, still it is easy to see how the Gothic style arose in
the Isle of France, and how it spread from thence to all the
neighbouring provinces.

In consequence, however, of the loss of its early buildings, and of its
subsequent pre-eminence and supercession of the earlier styles, the
description of its features naturally follows that of the subordinate
provinces, and concludes the history of the mediæval styles in France.

Not to multiply divisions, we may include in the Northern province many
varieties that will afterwards be marked as distinct in maps of French
architecture, especially at the south-east, where the Nivernois and
Bourbonnois, if not deserving of separate honours, at least consist of
such a complete mixture of the Frankish and Burgundian with the Southern
styles, that they cannot strictly be said to belong to any one in
particular, though they partake of all. The Northern, however, is
certainly the predominant element, and with that therefore they should
be classed.

To the westward lies the architectural province of Normandy, one of the
most vigorous offshoots of the Frankish style: and from the power of the
Norman dukes in the 11th and 12th centuries, and the accidental
circumstance of its prosperity in those centuries when the rest of
France was prostrate from their ravages and torn by internal
dissensions, the Romanesque style shows itself here with a vigour and
completeness not found elsewhere. It is, however, evidently only the
Frankish style based remotely on Roman tradition, but which the
Barbarians used with a freedom and boldness which soon converted it into
a purely national form. This soon ripened into the complete Gothic style
of the 13th century, which was so admired that it soon spread over the
whole face of Europe, and became the type of all Gothic architecture.

Alsace is not included in this enumeration, as it certainly belongs
architecturally to Germany. Lorraine too is more German than French, and
if included at all, must be so as an exceptional transitional province.
French Flanders belonged, in the Middle Ages, to the Belgian provinces
behind it, and may therefore also be disregarded at present: but even
after rejecting all these, enough is still left to render it difficult
to remember and follow all the changes in style introduced by these
different races, and which marked not only the artistic but the
political state of France during the Middle Ages, when the six
territorial peers of France, the Counts of Toulouse, Aquitaine,
Normandy, Burgundy, Champagne, and Flanders, represented the six
principal provinces of the kingdom, under their suzerain, the Count or
King of Paris. These very divisions might now be taken to represent the
architectural distinctions, were it not that the pre-eminence of these
great princes belongs to a later epoch than the architectural divisions
which we have pointed out, and which we must now describe somewhat more
at length.

                            POINTED ARCHES.

Before proceeding to describe these various styles in detail, it may add
to the clearness of what follows if the mode in which the pointed arch
was first introduced into Christian architecture is previously
explained. It has already been shown that the pointed arch with
radiating voussoirs was used by the Assyrians as early as the time of
Sargon in the 8th century B.C., and by the Ethiopians as early as that
of Tirhakah. The Etrurians and Pelasgi used the form probably twelve
centuries before the Christian era, but constructed it with horizontal
courses. To come nearer, however, to our own time, the Saracens
certainly adopted it at Cairo in the first century of the Hegira,[19]
and employed it generally if not universally, and never apparently used
a round arch after the erection of the mosque of Ebn Tulûn, A.D. 879.

The Romanesque traditions, however, prevented the Christians from
adopting it in Europe till forced to do it from constructive
necessities; and the mode of its introduction into the early churches in
Provence renders them singularly important in enabling us to arrive at a
correct solution of this much mooted question.[20]

It is hardly worth while discussing whether the form was borrowed from
the East, where it had been used so long before it was known—or at least
before we are aware of its being known—in Europe. It may be that the
Pelasgic Greeks left examples of it in Provence, or that persons trading
to the Levant from Marseilles became familiar with its uses; or it may
be, though very unlikely, that it was really re-invented for the
purposes to which it was applied.

In whatever way it was introduced, it at least seems certain that all
the churches of Provence, from the age of Charlemagne to that of St.
Louis, were vaulted, and have their vaults constructed on the principle
of the pointed arch. It has nevertheless long been a received dogma with
the antiquaries of France, as well as with those of England, that the
pointed arch was first introduced in the 12th century—the first example
being assumed to be the work of Abbot Suger at St. Denis (1144-52), the
result of which is that all who have written on the subject of Provençal
architecture have felt themselves forced to ascribe the age of the
churches in question, or at least of their roofs, a date subsequent to
this period.

The use to which the Provençal architects applied the pointed arch will
be evident from the annexed diagram, the left-hand portion of which is a
section of the roof of one of the churches at Vaison. The object
evidently was to lay the roof or roofing-tiles directly on the vault, as
the Romans had done on their domes, and also, so far as we know, on
those of their thermæ. Had they used a circular vault for this purpose,
it is evident, from the right-hand side of the diagram, that to obtain a
straight-lined roof externally, and the necessary watershed, it would
have been requisite to load the centre of the vault to a most dangerous
extent, as at A; whereas with the pointed arch it only required the
small amount of filling up shown at B, and even that might have been
avoided by a little contrivance if thought necessary. By adopting the
pointed form the weights are so distributed as to ensure stability and
to render the vault self-supporting. It has already been observed that
the Gothic architects everywhere treated their vaults as mere false
ceilings, covering them with a roof of wood—an expedient highly
objectionable in itself, and the cause of the destruction, by fire or
from neglect, of almost all the churches we now find in ruins all over
Europe; whereas, had they adhered either to the Roman or Romance style
of roofing, the constant upholding hand of man would not have been
required to protect their buildings from decay.

[Illustration: 544. Diagram of Vaulting. South of France.]

The one obstacle in the way of the general adoption of this mode of
roofing was the difficulty of applying it to intersecting vaults. The
Romans, it is true, had conquered the difficulty; so had the Byzantine
architects, as we have already seen, displaying the ends of the vaults
as ornaments; and even at St. Mark’s, Venice, this system is adopted,
and with the additional advantage of the pointed arch might have been
carried further. Still it must be confessed that it was not easy—that it
required more skill in construction and a better class of masonry than
was then available to do this efficiently and well. The consequence is,
that all the Romance pointed vaults are simple tunnel-vaults without
intersections, and that the Gothic architects, when they adopted the
form, slurred over the difficulty by hiding the upper sides of their
vaults beneath a temporary wooden roof, which protected them from the
injuries of the weather. This certainly was one of the greatest mistakes
they made: had they carefully profiled and ornamented the exterior of
the stone roofs in the same manner as they ornamented the inside, their
buildings would have been not only much more beautiful, but much more
permanent, and the style would have been saved from the principal
falsity that now deforms it. Even as it is, if we wished intelligently
to adapt the Gothic to our purposes, instead of merely copying it, this
is one of the points to which we ought first to turn our attention.

[Illustration: 545. Fig. 1. Fig. 2. Fig. 3.]

Another circumstance which may be alluded to here, when speaking on this
subject, which led to the adoption of the pointed arch at an early age
in the southern provinces of France, was the use of domes as a roofing
expedient. These, it is true, are not found in Provence, but they are
common in Aquitaine and Anjou—some of them certainly of the 11th
century; and there can be little doubt but that these are not the
earliest, though their predecessors have perished or have not yet been
brought to light.

There is no one who has studied the subject who is not aware how
excellent, as a constructive expedient, the pointed arch is as applied
to intersecting vaults, but it is not so generally understood why it was
equally necessary in the construction of domes. So long as these rested
on drums rising from the ground the circular form sufficed; but when it
became necessary to rest them on pendentives in the angles of square or
octagonal buildings, the case was widely different. The early Byzantine
architects—in Sta. Sophia, for instance—did fit pendentives to circular
arches, but it was with extreme difficulty, and required very great
skill both in setting out and in execution. But the superiority of the
pointed form was perceived at an early date; and the Saracens, who were
trammelled by no traditions, adopted it at once as a doming expedient
and adhered to it as exclusively as the Gothic architects did in the
construction of their vaults—and for the same reason—simply because it
was the best mode of construction.

It is easy to explain why this should be so. In the diagram on the
preceding page, fig. 1 represents the pendentives of a dome resting on
circular arches. At A they become evanescent, and for some distance from
the centre are so weak that it is only by concealed construction that
they can be made to do their work. When the pointed arch is introduced,
as in fig. 2, not only is great freedom obtained in spacing, but the
whole becomes constructively correct; when, as in fig. 3, an octagonal
arrangement is adopted, the whole becomes still more simple and easy,
and very little adjustment is required to fit a dome to an octagon: and
if the angles are again cut off, so as to form a polygon of 16 sides,
all the exigencies of construction are satisfied.

[Illustration: 546. Section of Church at Carcassonne, with the outer
aisles added in the 14th century. No scale.]

At St. Front, Périgueux, at Moissac, and at Loches, we find the pointed
arch, introduced evidently for this purpose, and forming a class of
roofs more like those of mosques in Cairo than any other buildings in
Europe. It is true they now look bare and formal—their decorations
having been originally painted on stucco, which has pealed off; but
still the variety of form and perspective they afford internally, and
the character and truthfulness they give to the roof as seen from
without, are such advantages that we cannot but regret that these two
expedients of stone external roofs and domes were not adopted in Gothic.
Had the great architects of that style in the 13th century carried out
these with their characteristic zeal and earnestness, they might have
left us a style in every respect infinitely more perfect and more
beautiful than the one they invented, and which we are copying so
servilely, instead of trying, with our knowledge and means of
construction, to repair the errors and omissions of our forefathers, and
out of the inheritance they have left us to work out something more
beautiful and more worthy of our greater refinement and more advanced

The practice of the Greeks in respect to their roofs was a curious
contrast to that of the mediæval architects. Their architecture, as
before remarked, being essentially external, while that of the Middle
Ages was internal, they placed the stone of their roofs on the outside,
and took the utmost pains to arrange the covering ornamentally; but they
supported all this on a framework of wood, which in every instance has
perished. It is difficult to say which was the greater mistake of the
two. Both were wrong without doubt. The happy medium seems to be that
which the Romance architects aimed at—a complete homogeneous roof, made
of the most durable materials and ornamented, both externally and
internally; and there can be little doubt but that this is the only
legitimate and really artistic mode of effecting this purpose, and the
one to which attention should now be turned.[21]

This early mode of employing the pointed arch is so little understood
generally that, before leaving this branch of the subject, it may be
well to quote one other example with a perfectly authentic date.

The Church of St. Nazaire at Carcassonne was dedicated by Pope Urban II.
in 1096. It was not then quite complete, but there seems no doubt but
that the nave, as we now find it, was finished by the year 1100. As will
be seen from the annexed section, the side aisles and all the openings
are constructed with round arches; but the difficulty of vaulting the
nave forced on the architects the introduction of the pointed arch. It
is here constructed solid with flat ribs over each pillar, and without
any attempt to pierce it for the introduction of light; and as the west
end is blocked up—fortified in fact—the result is gloomy enough.

This example is also interesting when looked at from another point of
view. If we turn back to Woodcuts Nos. 187 and 188, and compare them
with this section, we shall be able to gauge exactly the changes which
were introduced and the progress that was made, during the 1000 years
that elapsed between the erection of these two buildings. In the plan of
the temple of Diana at Nîmes, we have the same three-aisled arrangement
as at Carcassonne. Their dimensions are not very dissimilar; the nave at
Nîmes is 27 ft. wide, the aisles 7½ ft. in the clear. At Carcassonne
this becomes 25 ft. and 10 ft. respectively. The aisles are in the early
example separated from the nave by screen walls, adorned with pillars
which are mere ornaments. In the later examples the pillars have become
the main support of the roof, the wall being omitted between them.

The roof of the nave in both instances is adorned with flat ribs, one
over each pillar; but at Nîmes the rib is rather wider than the space
between. At Carcassonne the rib occupies only one-fourth of the width of
the bay. One of their most striking differences is, that Nîmes displays
all that megalithic grandeur for which the works of the Romans were so
remarkable; while at Carcassonne the masonry is little better than
rubble. It need hardly be added that the temple displays an elegance of
detail which charms the most fastidious taste, while the decoration of
the church is rude and fantastic, though no doubt picturesque and
appropriate. The last remark must not, however, be understood as a
reproach to Gothic art, for the choir of this very church, and the two
outer arches shown in the Woodcut No. 546, were rebuilt in the year
1331, with an elegance of detail which, in a constructive sense, would
shame the best classical examples. The nave is a tentative example of a
rude age, when men were inventing, or trying to invent, a new style, and
before they quite knew how to set about it. The builders of Carcassonne
had this temple at Nîmes standing, probably much more complete than it
is now, within 120 miles of them, and they were attempting to copy it as
best they could. It is probable, however, they had also other models
besides this one, and certain that this was not the first attempt to
reproduce them. The differences are considerable; but the similarities
are so great that we ought rather to be astonished that ten centuries of
experience and effort had not shown more progress than we find.


There are few chapters in the history of mediæval architecture which it
would be more desirable to have fully and carefully written than that of
the style of Provence from the retirement of the Romans to the accession
of the Franks. This country, from various causes, retained more of its
former civilisation through the dark ages than any other, at least on
this side of the Alps. Such a history, however, is to be desired more in
an archæological than in an architectural point of view; for the
Provençal churches, compared with the true Gothic, though numerous and
elegant, are small, and most of them have undergone such alterations as
to prevent us from judging correctly of their original effect.

Among the Provençal churches, one of the most remarkable is Notre Dame
de Doms, the cathedral at Avignon (Woodcut No. 547). Like all the
others, its dimensions are small, as compared with those in the northern
province, as it is only 200 ft. in length, and the nave about 20 ft. in
width. The side aisles have been so altered and rebuilt, that it is
difficult to say what their plan and dimensions originally may have

[Illustration: 547. Porch of Notre Dame de Doms, Avignon. (From
Laborde’s ‘Monuments de la France.’)]

The most remarkable feature and the least altered is the porch, which is
so purely Romanesque that it might almost be said to be copied from such
examples as the arches on the bridge of Chamas (Woodcut No. 221). It
presents, however, all that attenuation of the horizontal features which
is so characteristic of the Lower Empire, and cannot rank higher than
the Carlovingian era; though it is not quite so easy to determine how
much more modern it may be. The same ornaments are found in the
interior, and being integral parts of the ornamentation of the pointed
roof, have led to various theories to account for this copying of
classical details after the period at which it was assumed that the
pointed arch had been introduced. It has been sufficiently explained
above, how early this was the case as a vaulting expedient in this
quarter; and that difficulty being removed, we may safely ascribe the
whole of the essential parts of this church to a period not long, if at
all, subsequent to the age of Charlemagne.

Next perhaps in importance to this, is the church of St. Trophime at
Arles, the nave of which, with its pointed vault, probably belongs to
the same age, though its porch (Woodcut No. 548), instead of being the
earliest part as in the last instance, is here the most modern, having
been erected in the 11th century, when the church to which it is
attached acquired additional celebrity by the translation of the body of
St. Trophime to a final resting-place within its walls. As it is, it
forms a curious and interesting pendent to the one last quoted, showing
how in the course of two centuries the style had passed from debased
Roman to a purely native form, still retaining a strong tradition of its
origin, but so used and so ornamented that, were we not able to trace
back the steps one by one by which the porch at Avignon led to that of
Arles, we might almost be inclined to doubt the succession.

[Illustration: 548. Porch of St. Trophime, Arles. (From Chapuy,
‘Moyen-Âge Monumental.’)]

The porches at Aix, Cuxa, Coustonges, Prades, Valcabre, Tarascon, and
elsewhere in this province, form a series of singular interest, and of
great beauty of detail mixed with all the rich exuberance of our own
Norman doorways, and follow one another by such easy gradations that the
relative age of each may easily be determined.

The culminating example is that at St. Gilles, near the mouths of the
Rhone, which is by far the most elaborate church of its class, but so
classical in many of its details, that it probably is somewhat earlier
than this one at Arles, which it resembles in many respects, though far
exceeding it in magnificence. It consists of three such porches placed
side by side, and connected together by colonnades—if they may be so
called—and sculpture of the richest class, forming altogether a frontal
decoration unsurpassed except in the northern churches of the 13th
century. Such porches, however, as those of Rheims, Amiens, and
Chartres, surpass even these in elaborate richness and in dimensions,
though it may be questioned if they are really more beautiful in design.

[Illustration: 549. Apse of Church at Alet. (From Taylor and Nodier,
‘Voyages dans l’Ancienne France.’)]

There is another church of the Carlovingian era at Orange, and one at
Nîmes, probably belonging to the 9th or 10th century; both however very
much injured by alterations and repairs. In the now deserted city of
Vaison there are two churches, so classical in their style, that we are
not surprised at M. Laborde,[22] and the French antiquaries in general,
classing them as remains of the classical period. In any other country
on this side of the Alps such an inference would be inevitable; but here
another code of criticism must be applied to them. The oldest, the
chapel of St. Quinide, belongs probably to the 9th or 10th century. It
is small but remarkably elegant and classical in the style of its
architecture. The apse is the most singular as well as the most ancient
part of the church, and is formed in a manner of which no other example
is found anywhere else, so far as I know. Externally it is two sides of
a square, internally a semicircle; at each angle of the exterior and in
each face is a pilaster, fairly imitated from the Corinthian order, and
supporting an entablature that might very well mislead a Northern
antiquary into the error of supposing it was a Pagan temple.

The cathedral, though larger, is more Gothic both in plan and detail,
though not without some classical features, and is entirely free from
the bold rudeness of style we are so accustomed to associate with the
architecture of the 11th century, to which it belongs. Its system of
vaulting has already been explained (Woodcut No. 544), but neither of
these buildings has yet met with the attention they so richly merit from
those who are desirous of tracing the progress of art from the decline
of the pure Roman to the rise of the true Gothic styles.

[Illustration: 550. Internal Angle of Apse at Alet. (From Taylor and

Taking it altogether, perhaps the most elegant specimen of the style is
the ruined—now, I fear, nearly destroyed—church of Alet, which, though
belonging to the 11th century, was singularly classical in its details,
and wonderfully elegant in every part of its design. Of this the apse,
as having undergone no subsequent transformation, was by far the most
interesting, though not the most beautiful, portion. Externally the
upper part was adorned with dwarf Corinthian pilasters, surmounted by a
cornice that would not discredit the buildings of Diocletian at Spalato;
the lower part was ornamented by forms of more mediæval character, but
of scarcely less elegance. In the interior the triumphal arch, as it
would be called in a Roman basilica, is adorned by two Corinthian
pillars, designed with the bold freedom of the age, though retaining the
classical forms in a most unexpected degree.

The rest of the church is as elegant as these parts, though far less
classical, the necessities of vaulting and construction requiring a
different mode of treatment, and a departure from conventional forms,
which the architect does not seem to have considered himself at liberty
to employ in the apse.

[Illustration: 551. Elevation of half one Bay of the Exterior of St.

[Illustration: 552. Half Bay of Interior of St. Paul-Trois-Châteaux.
(From the ‘Archives des Monuments Historiques.’)]

Another singularly elegant specimen of this style is the church of St.
Paul-Trois-Châteaux, near Avignon (Woodcuts Nos. 551, 552). Its details
are so elegant and so classical that it might almost be mistaken for a
building of the Lower Empire anterior to Justinian’s time. Its plan,
however, and the details of its construction, prove that it belongs to a
much more modern date; Viollet le Duc would even bring it down as low as
the 12th century. It hardly seems possible that it should be so modern
as this; but the truth is, the whole history of the Romance style in
this province has still to be written.[23] It has not yet been examined
with the care it deserves by any competent authority, and till it is we
must be content with the knowledge that, in the neighbourhood of the
Bouches du Rhône, there exists a group of churches which, drawing their
inspiration from the classical remains with which the country is
studded, exhibit an elegance of design as exquisite as it is in strange
contrast with the rude vigour—almost vulgarity—which characterised the
works of the Normans in the opposite corner of the land at the same

Passing from the round-arched to the pointed modifications of this
style, the church at Fontifroide, near Narbonne, shows it in its
completeness, perhaps better than any other example. There, not only the
roof is pointed, but all the constructive openings have assumed the same
forms. The windows and doorways, it is true, still retain their circular
heads, and did retain them as long as the native style flourished—the
pointed-headed opening being only introduced by the Franks when they
occupied this country in the time of Simon de Montfort.

[Illustration: 553. Longitudinal and Cross Section of Fontifroide
Church. (From Taylor and Nodier.)]

The section across the nave (Woodcut 553) shows the form of the central
vault, which the longitudinal section shows to be a plain tunnel-vault
unbroken by any intersection throughout the whole length of the nave.
The side aisles are roofed with half vaults, forming abutments to the
central arches—the advantage of this construction being, as before
explained, that the tiles or paving-stones of the roof rest directly on
the vault without the intervention of any carpentry. Internally also the
building displays much elegant simplicity and constructive propriety.
Its chief defect is the darkness of the vault from the absence of a
clerestory, which though tolerable in the bright sunshine of the South,
could not be borne in the more gloomy North. It was to correct this, as
we shall afterwards perceive, that in the North the roof of the aisles
was first raised to the height of that of the central nave, light being
admitted through a gallery. Next the upper roof the aisles was cut away,
with the exception of mere strips or ribs left as flying buttresses.
Lastly, the central vault was cut up by intersections, so as to obtain
space for windows to the very height of the ridge. It was this last
expedient that necessitated the adoption of the pointed-headed window.
It might never have been introduced but for the invention of painted
glass, but this requiring larger openings, compelled the architects to
bring these windows close up to the lines of the constructive vaulting,
and so follow its forms. In the South, however, painted glass never was,
at least in the age of which we are now speaking, a favourite mode of
decoration, and the windows remained so small as never to approach or
interfere in any way with the lines of the vault, and they therefore
retained their national and more beautiful circular-headed termination.
The modes of introducing light are, however, undoubtedly the most
defective part of the arrangements of the Provençal churches, and have
given rise to its being called a “cavern-like Gothic”[24] from the gloom
of their interiors as compared with the glass walls of their Northern
rivals. Still it by no means follows that this was an inherent
characteristic of the style, which could not have been remedied by
further experience; but it is probable that no ingenuity would ever have
enabled this style to display these enormous surfaces of painted glass,
the introduction of which was, if not the only, at least the principal
motive of all those changes which took place in the Frankish provinces.

[Illustration: 554. Doorway in Church at Maguelonne. (From Renouvier,
‘Monuments de Bas Languedoc.’)]

It would be tedious to attempt to describe the numerous churches of the
11th and 12th centuries which are found in every considerable town in
this province: some of them, however, such as Elne, St. Guillem du
Désert, St. Martin de Landres, Vignogoul, Valmagne, Lodève,[25] &c.,
deserve particular attention, as exemplifying this style, not only in
its earlier forms, but after it had passed into a pointed style, though
differing very considerably from that of the North. Among these there is
no church more interesting than the old fortalice-like church of
Maguelonne, which, from its exposed situation, open to the attacks of
Saracenic corsairs as well as Christian robbers, looks more like a
baronial castle than a peaceful church. One of its doorways shows a
curious admixture of classical, Saracenic, and Gothic taste, which could
only be found here; and as it bears a date (1178), it marks an epoch in
the style to which it belongs.

Had it been completed, the church of St. Gilles would perhaps have been
the most splendid of the province. Its portal has already been spoken
of, and is certainly without a rival; and the lower church, which
belongs to the 11th century, is worthy of its magnificence. It was,
however, either never finished, or was subsequently ruined along with
the upper church, which was commenced in the year 1116 by Raymond IV.,
Count of St. Gilles. This too was probably never completed, or, if it
was, it was ruined in the wars with the Huguenots. Even in its present
state, and though wanting the richness of the earlier examples, it
perhaps surpasses them all in the excellence of its masonry, and the
architectural propriety of all its parts.

Besides these, there is an important church at Valence of the 11th
century, which seems to be an almost expiring effort of the
“cavern-like” style. In other respects it resembles the Northern styles
so much as almost to remove it from the Provençal class. This is even
more true of the cathedral at Vienne, which is nevertheless the largest
and finest of the churches of Provence, but which approaches, both in
style and locality, very closely to the Burgundian churches.

[Illustration: 555. Cathedral, Vienne. (From Wiebeking.) Scale 100 ft.
to 1 in.]

Its plan is extremely simple, having no transept and no aisle trending
round the apse, as is the case with most of the Northern churches. It
consists of three aisles, the central one 35 ft. wide between the piers,
the others 14 ft. The buttresses are internal, as was usual in the
South, forming chapels, and making up the whole width externally to 113
ft. by a length over all of 300, so that it covers somewhere about
30,000 sq. ft. This is only half the dimensions of some of the great
Northern cathedrals, but the absence of transepts, and its generally
judicious proportions, make this church look much larger than it really

The west front and the three western bays are of the 16th century; the
next seven are of an early style of pointed architecture, with
semi-Roman pilasters, which will be described in speaking of Burgundian
architecture, and which belong probably to the 11th or beginning of the
12th century. The apse is ascribed to the year 952, but there are no
drawings on which sufficient dependence can be placed to determine the

Besides this, there is another church, St. André le Bas at Vienne,
belonging to the 11th century, whose tower is one of the most pleasing
instances of this kind of composition in the province, and though
evidently a lineal descendant of the Roman and Italian campaniles,
displays an amount of design seldom met with beyond the Alps.

                           CIRCULAR CHURCHES.

The round shape seems never to have been a favourite for sacred
buildings in Provence, and consequently was never worked into the apses
of the churches nor became an important adjunct to them. One of the few
examples found is a small baptistery attached to the cathedral at Aix,
either very ancient or built with ancient materials, and now painfully
modernised. At Riez there is a circular detached baptistery, usually,
like the churches at Vaison, called a pagan temple, but evidently of
Christian origin, though the pillars in the interior seem undoubtedly to
have been borrowed from some more ancient and classical edifice. But the
finest of its class is the church at Rieux, probably of the 11th
century. Internally the vault is supported by 4 piers and 3 pillars,
producing an irregularity far from pleasing, and without any apparent

[Illustration: 556. Plan of Church at Planes. (From Taylor and Nodier.)]

At Planes is another church the plan of which deserves to be quoted, if
not for its merit, at least for its singularity: it is a triangle with
an apse attached to each side, and supporting a circular part
terminating in a plain roof. As a constructive puzzle it is curious, but
it is doubtful how far any legitimate use could be made of such a

There is, so far as I know, only one triapsal church, that of St. Croix
at Mont Majour near Arles. Built as a sepulchral chapel, it is a
singularly gloomy but appropriate erection; but it is too tall and too
bare to rank high as a building even for such a purpose.


Provence is far from being rich in towers, which never seem there to
have been favourite forms of architectural display. That of St. André le
Bas at Vienne has already been alluded to, but this at Puissalicon
(Woodcut No. 557) near Béziers is even more typical of the style, and
standing as it now does in solitary grandeur among the ruins of the
church once attached to it, has a dignity seldom possessed by such
monuments. In style it resembles the towers of Italy more than any found
farther north, but it is not without peculiarities that point to a
different mode of elaborating this peculiar feature from anything found
elsewhere. As a design its principal defect seems to be a want of
lightness in the upper storey. The single circular opening there is a
mistake in a building gradually growing lighter towards its summit.

[Illustration: 557. Tower at Puissalicon. (From Renouvier.)]

These towers were very seldom, if ever, attached symmetrically to the
churches. When height was made an object, it was more frequently
attained by carrying up the dome at the intersection of the choir with
the nave. At Arles this is done by a heavy square tower, gradually
diminishing, but still massive to the top; but in most instances the
square becomes an octagon, and this again passes into a circle, which
terminates the composition. One of the best specimens of this class of
domes, if they may be so called, is the church of Cruas (Woodcut No.
558), where these parts are pleasingly subordinated, and form, with the
apses on which they rest, a very beautiful composition. The defect is
the tiled roofs or offsets at the junction of the various storeys, which
give an appearance of weakness, as if the upper parts could slide, like
the joints of a telescope, one into the other. This could easily be
avoided, and probably was so in the original design. If this were done,
we have here the principle of a more pleasing crowning member at an
intersection than was afterwards used in pointed architecture, and
capable of being applied to domes of any extent.


Nearly all, and certainly all the more important churches of which we
have been speaking, were collegiate, and in such establishments the
cloister forms as important a part as the church itself, and frequently
the more beautiful object of the two. In our own cold wet climate the
cloisters lose much of their appropriateness; still, they always were
used, and always with a pleasing effect; but in the warm sunny South
their charm is increased tenfold. The artists seem to have felt this,
and to have devoted a large share of their attention to these objects—
creating, in fact, a new style of architecture for this special purpose.

[Illustration: 558. Church at Cruas. (From Taylor and Nodier.)]

With us the arcades of a cloister are generally, if not always, a range
of unglazed windows, presenting the same features as those of the
church, which, though beautiful when filled with glass, are somewhat out
of place without that indispensable adjunct. In the South the cloister
is never a window, or anything in the least approaching to it in design,
but a range of small and elegant pillars, sometimes single, sometimes
coupled, generally alternately so, and supporting arches of light and
elegant design, all the features being of a character suited to the
place where they are used, and to that only.

[Illustration: 559. Cloister at Fontifroide. (From Taylor and Nodier.)]


  560. 561.
  Capitals in Cloister, Elne. (From Taylor and Nodier.)

The cloister at Arles has long occupied the attention of travellers and
artists, and perhaps no building, or part of one, in this style has been
so often drawn or so much admired. Two sides of it are of the same age
and in the same style as the porch (Woodcut No. 548), and equally
beautiful. The other two are somewhat later, the columns supporting
pointed instead of round arches. At Aix there is another similar to that
at Arles, and fragments of such colonnades are found in many places.
That of Fontifroide (Woodcut No. 559) is one of the most complete and
perfect, and some of its capitals are treated with a freedom and
boldness, and at the same time with an elegance, not often rivalled
anywhere. They even excel—for the purpose at least—the German capitals
of the same age. Those at Elne are more curious than those of any other
cloister in France, so far as I know—some of them showing so distinct an
imitation of Egyptian work as instantly to strike any one at all
familiar with that style. Yet they are treated with a lightness and
freedom so wholly mediæval as to show that it is possible to copy the
spirit without a servile adherence to the form. Here, as in all the
examples, every capital is different—the artists revelling in freedom
from restraint, and sparing neither time nor pains. We find in these
examples a delicacy of handling and refinement of feeling far more
characteristic of the South than of the ruder North, and must admit that
their architects have in these cloisters produced objects with which
nothing of the kind we have in England can compete.

                              CHAPTER II.



Churches at Périgueux, Souillac, Angoulême, Alby, Toulouse, Conques,

THE moment you pass the hills forming the watershed between the rivers
flowing to the Mediterranean and those which debouch into the Bay of
Biscay, you become aware of having left the style we have just been
describing to enter upon a new architectural province. This province
possesses two distinct and separate styles, very unlike one another both
in character and detail. The first of these is a round arched
tunnel-vaulted Gothic style, more remarkable for the grandeur of its
conceptions than for the success with which those conceptions are
carried out, or for beauty of detail. The second is a pointed-arched,
dome-roofed style peculiar to the province.

[Illustration: 562. Plan of St. Front, Périgueux. (From F. de Verneilh,
‘Architecture Byzantine en France.’) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

The existence of this peculiar form of art in this part of France, where
it is alone found, is quite sufficient to establish the pre-existence in
this province of a race differing from that inhabiting the rest of the
country, though it is not at present easy to determine their origin.
From the prevalence of Basque terminations to the names of the principal
towns in the district, and from the fragments of that people still
existing on its southern frontier, it would appear most likely that they
were the influencing race. If so, their love of domes would be almost
sufficient to establish their claim to a Turanian origin, for though
domes are found, no doubt, farther north, it is in a modified form.
These phenomena are, however, sufficient to induce us to include for the
present in the province of Aquitaine the doubtful districts of the
Angoumois and Vendée, though it is possible that these provinces may
eventually turn out to belong more properly to Anjou.

In describing them, it may be convenient to take the domical style
first, as its history—with one or two exceptional examples in the
neighbouring provinces—begins and ends here. It will, no doubt, be found
beyond the Pyrenees so soon as it is looked for; but in a country whose
architecture has been so imperfectly investigated as has been the case
in Spain, fifty different styles might exist without our being cognizant
of the fact.

[Illustration: 563. Part of St. Front, Périgueux. (From Verneilh.)]

The principal and best preserved example of the domical style of
Aquitaine is the church of St. Front, Périgueux. As will be seen from
the woodcut No. 562, its plan is that of a Greek cross, 182 ft. each way
internally, exclusive of the apse, which is comparatively modern, and of
the ante-church and porch, shaded darker, extending 150 ft. farther
west, which are the remains of an older church, now very much mutilated,
and to which the domical church was added in the 12th century.

Both in plan and dimensions, it will be observed that this church bears
an extraordinary and striking resemblance to that of St. Mark’s, Venice,
illustrated in Book II. The latter church, however, has the angles so
filled up as to reduce it to the more usual Greek form of a square,
while its front and lateral porches are additions of a magnificence to
which the church of St. Front can lay no claim. The five cupolas are of
nearly the same size, and are similarly placed, in both churches; and
the general similarity of arrangement points certainly to an identity of
origin. Both too would seem to be of about the same age, and there is
now some reason to doubt the data on which M. Félix de Verneilh[26]
arrived at the conclusion that the church we now see was erected in the
very beginning of the 11th century. There is, however, one striking
difference—that all the constructive arches in St. Front are pointed,
while those of St. Mark’s are round. The form too of the cupolas
differs; and in St. Front the piers that support the domes, having been
found too weak, have been cased to strengthen them, which gives them an
awkward appearance, from which St. Mark’s is free. The difference that
would strike a traveller most is, that St. Mark’s retains its frescoes
and decorations, while St. Front, like almost all the churches of its
age, presents nothing now but naked bare walls, though there cannot be a
doubt that it was originally painted. This indeed was the legitimate and
appropriate mode of decoration of all the churches of this age, till it
was in a great measure superseded by the invention of painted glass.

The cupolas are at the present day covered with a wooden roof; but their
original appearance is represented with tolerable correctness in the
woodcut No. 563, which, though not so graceful as Eastern domes usually
are, are still a far more picturesque and permanent finishing for a roof
than the wooden structures of the more Northern races. Its present
internal appearance, from the causes above mentioned, is singularly bare
and gloomy, and no doubt utterly unworthy of its pristine splendour.

The tower stands at the intersection between the old and new churches,
and its lower part at least is so classical in its details, that it more
probably belongs to the older Latin church than to the domical one. Its
upper part seems to have been added, and its foundation strengthened, at
the time the eastern part was built.

[Illustration: 564. Interior of Church at Souillac. (From Taylor and

St. Front is perhaps the only existing specimen of a perfect Greek cross
church with cupolas. That of Souillac is a good example of a
modification of a form nearly similar, except that the cupola forming
the eastern branch is here transferred to the western, making it thus a
Latin instead of a Greek cross, which is certainly an improvement, as
the principal space and magnificence is thus concentrated about the high
altar, which is, or should be, the culminating point of effect. An
opinion may be formed of its internal appearance, and indeed of all the
churches of this style, from the view (Woodcut No. 564), which in
reality gives it much more the appearance of the interior of a mosque in
Cairo than of a Christian church of the Middle Ages. The building is not
large, being only 205 ft. in length internally, including the porch, and
110 across the transepts. Its age is not accurately known, but it is
usually placed by antiquaries in the 12th century on account of its
pointed arches.

[Illustration: 565. Plan of Cathedral at Angoulême. (From Verneilh.)
Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 566. One Bay of Nave, Angoulême. (From Verneilh.) No

The cathedral at Angoulême (Woodcut No. 565) is another and still more
extended example of this class, having three domes in the nave; the
façade belonging probably to the 11th, the rest to the 12th century. The
form of these domes, with the arrangement of the side walls, will be
understood from the woodcut No. 566. The method adopted in this church
may be considered as typical of all this class; and, except in the mode
of lighting the upper part, is by no means inferior in architectural
effect to the intersecting vaults of after ages. The transepts here are
shortened internally so as only to give room for two small lateral
chapels; but externally they are made very imposing by the addition of
two towers, one at the end of each. This was another means of solving a
difficulty that everywhere met the mediæval architects, of giving the
greatest dignity to the most holy place. The proper and obvious mode of
doing this was of course to raise a tower or dome at the intersection of
the nave and transepts, but the difficulties of construction involved in
this mode of procedure were such that they seldom were enabled to carry
it out. This can only be said, indeed, to have been fairly accomplished
in England. At Angoulême, as will be observed in the plan, there is no
passage round the altar, nor is the choir separated from the body of the
church. In Italy, and indeed in Germany, this does not seem to have been
considered of importance; but in France, as we shall presently see, it
was regarded as the most indispensable part of the arrangement of the
church, and to meet this exigency the Southern architects were
afterwards obliged to invent a method of isolating the choir, by
carrying a lofty stone railing or screen round it, wholly independent of
any of the constructive parts of the church. This, there is little
doubt, was a mistake, and in every respect a less beautiful arrangement
than that adopted in the North; still, it seems to have been the only
means of meeting the difficulty in the absence of aisles, and in some
instances the richness with which the screen was ornamented, and the
unbroken succession of bassi-relievi and sculptural ornaments, make us
forget that it is only a piece of church furniture, and not an integral
part of the design of the building.

[Illustration: 567. Plan of Church at Moissac. (From Taylor and Nodier.)
Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

One of the earliest examples of this arrangement which has been
preserved is in the church at Moissac, remarkable for its strange
mythical sculpture and rude pointed architecture, both belonging to the
11th century, and as unlike anything to be found in any other part of
France as can well be conceived.

At a later age we find in the cathedral at Alby the same system carried
to its acmé, and still adhered to in all essential parts in spite of the
influence and predominance of the pure Gothic styles, which had then so
generally superseded it. The foundation of the church was laid only in
the year 1282, and it was not so far completed as to admit of its
dedication till 1476. Its choir and fresco decorations were added by the
celebrated Louis d’Amboise, who completed the whole in 1512. As will be
seen from the plan (Woodcut No. 568), the church is one immense unbroken
vaulted hall, 55 ft. in width by 262 in length; or adding the chapels,
the internal width is 82 ft., and the total length upwards of 300 ft.

[Illustration: 568. Plan of Cathedral at Alby. (From Chapuy,
‘Cathédrales Françaises.’) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

As will be observed, the whole of the buttresses are internal, as is
very generally the case in the South; and where painted glass is not
used, and fresco painting is the principal mode of decoration, such a
system has many advantages. The outer walls are scarcely ever seen, and
by this arrangement great internal extent and appearance of gigantic
strength is imparted, while the whole space covered by the building is
available for internal use. But where painted glass is the principal
mode of decoration, as was the case to the north of the Loire, such a
system was evidently inadmissible. Then the walls were internally kept
as flat as possible, so as to allow the windows to be seen in every
direction, and all the mechanical expedients were placed on the outside.
Admirably as the Northern architects managed all this, I cannot help
thinking, if we leave the painted glass out of the question, that the
Southern architects had hit on the more artistic arrangement of the two;
and where, as at Alby, the lower parts of the recesses between the
internal buttresses were occupied by deep windowless chapels, and the
upper lights were almost wholly concealed, the result was an
extraordinary appearance of repose and mysterious gloom. This character,
added to its simplicity and the vastness of its vaults, render Alby one
of the most impressive churches in France, and a most instructive study
to the philosophical inquirer into the principles of effect, as being a
Gothic church built on principles not only dissimilar from, but almost
diametrically opposed to, those which we have been usually accustomed to
consider as indispensable, and as inherent requisites of the style.

[Illustration: 569. Plan of Church of the Cordeliers, at Toulouse. Scale
100 ft. to 1 in.]

The church of the Cordeliers at Toulouse is another remarkable example
of this class, and exhibiting its peculiarities in even a clearer light
than that at Alby. Externally its dimensions in plan are 273 ft. by 87.
Those of King’s College Chapel at Cambridge, which is the building we
possess most resembling it in plan, are 310 ft. by 84. But the nave of
that chapel is only 41 ft. 6 in. clear between the piers, while in the
church of the Cordeliers it is 53 ft., and except the thickness of the
outer wall—about 4 ft.—the whole of the floor-space of the plan is
utilised in the interior. In so far as internal effect is concerned this
is no doubt judicious; but, as may be seen from the view (Woodcut No.
571), the absence of any delineation of the line of buttresses
externally produces a flatness and want of accentuation in the lower
part that is highly objectionable. As will be observed from the section,
the whole of the width of the buttresses is included in the interior on
the one side. On the other it is excluded above the roof of the aisle,
but a gallery (Woodcuts Nos. 570 and 571) joins the buttress at the top,
giving the effect of a cornice and a gallery above. The church is of
brick, and all the peculiarities of the style are here found
exaggerated; but there are few churches on the Continent which contain
so many valuable suggestions for a Protestant place of worship, and no
features that could not easily be improved by judicious handling. It was
built in a country where Protestant feeling existed before the
Reformation, and where consequently architects studied more how they
could accommodate congregations than provide show-places for priests.

[Illustration: 570. Section of Church of the Cordeliers at Toulouse. 50
ft. to 1 in. (From King’s ‘Study Book.’)]

[Illustration: 571. View of Angle of Church of the Cordeliers at
Toulouse. (From King.)]

Besides those which are built wholly according to this plan, there are a
great number of churches in this province which show the influence of
its design in more respects than one, though, having been rebuilt in a
subsequent age, many of the original features are necessarily lost. The
cathedral at Bordeaux is a remarkable example of this, its western
portion being a vast nave without aisles, 60 ft. wide internally, and
nearly 200 ft. in length. Its foundations show that, like that at
Angoulême, it was originally roofed by three great domes; but being
rebuilt in the 13th century, it is now covered by an intersecting vault
of that age, with two storeys of windows, and an immense array of flying
buttresses to support its thrust, all which might have been dispensed
with had the architects retained the original, simpler, and more
beautiful form of roof. The cathedral of Toulouse shows the same
peculiarity of a wide aisleless nave, leading to a choir of the usual
construction adopted in this country in the 13th and 14th centuries; and
many other examples might be quoted where the influence of the earlier
style peers through the Northern Gothic which succeeded and nearly
obliterated it.

                            CHEVET CHURCHES.

The Gothic churches of this province are neither so numerous nor so
remarkable as those of the domical class we have just been describing;
still, there are several examples, far too important to be passed over,
and which will serve besides in enabling us to introduce the new form of
church building which became prevalent in France to the exclusion of all
others, and which characterised the French style in contradistinction to
that of other countries.

[Illustration: 572. Church of St. Sernin, Toulouse. (From the ‘Archives
des Monuments Historiques.’) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 573. Section of the Church of St. Sernin, Toulouse. Scale
50 ft. to 1 in.]

The typical example of the style in this province is the great church of
St. Saturnin, or St. Sernin, at Toulouse, dedicated in the year 1096.
The church is 375 ft. in length and 217 in width across the transept
externally. It is five-aisled, the nave being 95 ft. in the interior,
though the central aisle is only 25 ft. wide and is further contracted
at the intersection by masses of masonry subsequently added to support
the central tower. It has five apsidal and four transeptal chapels, and
may therefore be considered as possessing a complete chevet; but the
church at Conques (Woodcut No. 574), in the same style and of almost
similar date, illustrates even more perfectly the arrangement of which
we are now speaking.

The nave of St. Sernin, as will be observed (Woodcut No. 573), has
double side-aisles, above the inner one of which runs a grand gallery.
The roof of this gallery—in section the quadrant of a circle—forms an
abutment to the roof of the nave, which is a bold tunnel-vault
ornamented by transverse ribs only. So far the constructive arrangements
are the same as in the transitional church of Fontifroide. Passing from
the nave to the choir, both at Toulouse and at Conques, we come upon a
more extended and complicated arrangement than we have hitherto met
with. It will be recollected that the early Romanesque apse was a simple
large niche, or semi-dome; so we found out in the Lombard style, and
shall find it in the German style when it comes to be described, and
generally even in the neighbouring Provençal style, and always—when
unaltered—in the domical style last described. In the present instance
it will be seen that a semicircular range of columns is substituted for
the wall of the apse, an aisle bent round them, and beyond the aisle
there are always three, five, or even seven chapels opening into it,
which give it a complexity very different from the simple apse of the
Roman basilicas and the other styles we have been describing, and at the
same time a perspective and a play of light and shade which are
unrivalled in any similar invention of the Middle Ages. The _apse_,
properly speaking, is a solid semi-cylinder, surmounted by a semi-dome,
but always solid below, though generally broken by windows above. The
_chevet_, on the contrary, is an apse, always enclosed by an open screen
of columns on the ground-floor, and opening into an aisle, which again
always opens into three or more apsidal chapels. This arrangement is so
peculiarly French, that it may properly be characterised by the above
French word, a name once commonly applied to it, though latterly it has
given way to the more classical, but certainly less suitable, term of
apse. Its origin too is worth inquiring into, and seems to be capable of
easy explanation.

[Illustration: 574. Plan of Church at Conques. (From Taylor and Nodier.)
Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

The uses which the various nations of Christendom made of the circular
form of building left them by the Romans have been more than once
adverted to in this work. The Italians used it almost always standing
alone as a tomb-house or as a baptistery; the Germans converted it into
a western apse, while sometimes, as at Bonn and elsewhere, they timidly
added a porch or nave to it; but the far more frequent practice with the
Germans, and also in England, was to build first the circular church for
its own sake, as in Italy: then the clergy for their own accommodation
added a choir, that they might pray apart from the people.

The French took a different course from all these. They built circular
churches like other nations, apparently in early times at least, which
were intended to stand alone; but in no instance do they appear to have
applied them as naves, nor to have added choirs to them. On the
contrary, the clergy always retained the circular building as the sacred
depository of the tomb or relic, the Holy of Holies, and added a
straight-lined nave for the people. Of this class was evidently the
church which Perpetuus built in the fifth century over the grave at St.
Martin at Tours. There the shrine was surrounded by seventy-nine pillars
arranged in a circular form: the nave was lined by forty-one—twenty on
each side, with one in the centre of the west end as in Germany. When
the church required rebuilding in the 11th century (1014?), the
architect was evidently hampered by finding himself obliged to follow
the outline of the old basilica of Perpetuus, and having to labour on
the same foundation so as not to disturb either the shrine of the saint
or any other place which had become sacred in this, which was the most
celebrated and revered of the churches of Gaul. All this is made clear
in the plan of the new church (Woodcut No. 575). The arrangement of the
circular part and the nave exactly accord with the description of the
old church, only that the latter has been considerably enlarged
according to the fashion of the day. But the juxtaposition of the two
shows how nearly the chevet arrangement was completed at that time.

[Illustration: 575. Plan of St. Martin at Tours. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

Another church, that of Charroux, on the Loire, looks as though it had
been built in direct imitation of the church of Perpetuus. The round
church here retains its pre-eminence over the nave, as was the case in
the older examples, and thus forms an intermediate link between the old
church of St. Martin, which we know only by description, and the more
modern one, of which a plan is given (Woodcut No. 575).

St. Bénigne, Dijon, is another transitional example which may serve to
render this arrangement still more clear. It was erected in the first
year of the 11th century, and was pulled down only at the Revolution;
but before that catastrophe it had been carefully measured and described
in Dom Plancher’s ‘History of Burgundy.’ As seen by him, the foundations
only of the nave were of the original structure, for in the year 1271
one of its towers fell, and so damaged it that the whole of that part of
the church was then rebuilt in the perfect pointed style of the day.
Without entering too much into detail, it will suffice to state that the
part shaded lightly in the woodcut (No. 577) is taken literally from Dom
Plancher’s plan, regarding which there can be no doubt, and the
contemporary descriptions are so full that very little uncertainty can
exist regarding the dimensions and general disposition of the nave.

[Illustration: 576. Church of Charroux. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 577. Plan of St. Benigne, Dijon. (From Dom Plancher’s
‘Histoire de Burgogne.’) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

The bodies of the confessors SS. Urban and Gregory were, it appears,
originally buried in the church of St. John the Baptist, which seems to
have been the name most properly applied to this circular building; they
were afterwards transferred to the crypt below the high altar, in the
rectangular part of the church. Above the lower storey, which retained
its name as a baptistery and burial-place, was the upper church, which
was dedicated to the Virgin Mary; above that was the church of the Holy
Trinity; and on the top of the round towers, on one side the altar of
St. Michael, on the other probably that of Gabriel.

The little church of Neuvy St. Sepulchre, near Bourges, which was
erected between the years 1042 and 1046, presents precisely the same
arrangements as the church of Charroux, though on a smaller scale, there
being only one range of ten pillars in the centre. The ancient nave
having been destroyed, was replaced by a more extended one in the 12th
century, but the old arrangement can easily be traced.

In all these old churches—and they seem to have been very common in
France before the 12th century—the circular part was the most important,
but they have most of them been rebuilt; and where this has been the
case, even when the outline of the circular form was retained, the lines
of the nave were made tangents of the circle, and thus became parts of
one design. All these arrangements were perfect before the church of
Conques (Woodcut No. 574) was erected. There the architect, not being
hampered by any previous building, was allowed free scope for his
design. The plan so produced was never lost sight of by the French, but
was developed into a vast variety of beautiful forms, which we shall
shortly have to examine.

When once this transformation of the round church into the chevet
termination of a basilica was effected, the French adhered to it with
singular constancy. I am not aware of their ever having built a circular
church afterwards which was intended to stand alone; and there are very
few instances of basilicas of any importance without this form of apse.
Some, it is true, have been rebuilt on old foundations, with square
eastern ends, but this is rare and exceptional, the chevet being the
true and typical termination.

The church at Conques and that of Toulouse both show it fully and
beautifully developed, though externally the chapels hardly fit
pleasingly into the general design, and look more as though their
addition were an afterthought. This, however, was soon afterwards
remedied, and the transformation made complete.

The solidity with which these churches were built, and the general
narrowness of their proportions as compared with the domical churches of
the same time and district, enabled the architects occasionally to
attempt some splendid erection on the intersection of the nave and
transepts, which is the spot where height should always be aimed at. The
dome at Cruas, in the Provençal district, has already been described
(Woodcut No. 558). The church at Conques has one as important, though
dissimilar; but the finest is that of St. Sernin at Toulouse (Woodcut
No. 578), which rivals the design of our spires at Salisbury, Norwich,
and elsewhere, but its height being only 230 ft. from the ground, it
cannot be compared with them in that respect. The 3 lower storeys only
are of the age of the church; the 2 upper were added long afterwards,
but were adapted with remarkably good taste. Though differing in design
and detail, their general form and outline is such as to accord most
happily with the older structure on which they are placed; there is
nevertheless a sameness of design in placing so many similar storeys one
over the other, merely diminishing in size, which is not altogether
pleasing. The general effect, however, is good, and for a central object
it is, if not the finest, certainly one of the very best which France

[Illustration: 578. St. Sernin, Toulouse. (From Taylor and Nodier.)]

As in all French styles, the western façades of the Southern churches
are the parts on which the architects lavished their ornaments with the
most unsparing hand. Generally they are flat, and most of them now
terminate squarely, with a flat line of cornice of slight projection.
Beneath this there is generally a range of arches filled with sculpture
or intended to be so—the central one, and that only, being used as a
window. Beneath this is the great portal, on which more ornament is
bestowed than on any other feature of the building. Some of these
gateways in this province, as in Provence, are wondrous examples of
patient labour, as well as models of beauty. They possess more than the
richness of our own contemporary Norman portals, with a degree of
refinement and delicacy which our forefathers did not attain till a much
later age. Some of these church-portals in Aquitaine are comparatively
simple, but even they make up for the want of sculpture by the propriety
of their design and the elegance of their composition.

[Illustration: 579. Church at Aillas.]

[Illustration: 580. Church at Loupiac. (From Leo Drouyn, ‘Architecture
au Moyen-Âge.’)]

The church at Aillas presents a fair specimen, on a small scale, of the
class of design which is peculiar to the façades of Aquitania, though it
is doubtful if the original termination of the gable has not been lost
and replaced by the one shown in the drawing. The façade of Angoulême is
designed on the same plan, though it is much richer. Those of Civray,
Parthenay, and of many others, show the same characteristics. They
appear to have been designed, not to express the form and construction
of the interior, but, like an Egyptian propylon, as a vehicle for a most
extensive series of sculptures exhibiting the whole Bible history.
Sometimes, however, the design is more strictly architectural, as in the
façade of the church at Loupiac, where sculpture is made wholly
subordinate, and the architectural members are so grouped as to form a
pleasing and effective design, not unlike some instances found farther
north and in our own country.

[Illustration: 581. St. Eloi, Espalion. (From Taylor and Nodier.)]

The varieties of these, however, are so endless that it would be in vain
to attempt either to particularise or to describe them. Many of these
arrangements are unusual, though almost always pleasing, as in the
church at Espalion (Woodcut No. 581), where the belfry is erected as a
single wall over the chancel-arch, and groups well with the apsidal
termination, though, as in almost every instance in this country, the
western façade is wanting in sufficient feature and character to balance

Generally speaking, the cloisters and other ecclesiastical adjuncts are
so similar to those of Provence, as given in the last chapter, that a
separate description of them is not needed here. They are all of the
columnar style, supporting small arches on elegant capitals of the most
varied and elaborate designs, evincing that delicate feeling so
prevalent in the south, which prevented any approach to that barbarism
so common farther north whenever the architects attempted anything
beyond the common range of decoration.

The same feeling pervades the tombs, monuments, and domestic
architecture of this part of France, making them all far more worthy of
study in every minute detail than has yet been attempted. The woodcut
(No. 582) represents one small example of a tomb built into a wall
behind the church of St. Pierre at Toulouse. It is one of those graceful
little bits of architecture which meet one at every turn in the pleasant
South, where the people have an innate feeling for art which displays
itself in the smallest as well as in the most important works.

[Illustration: 582. Tomb at St. Pierre, Toulouse. (From Taylor and

                              CHAPTER III.



Cathedral at Angers—Church at Fontevrault—Poitiers—Angiovine spires.

THE architectural province of Anjou cannot perhaps be so distinctly
defined as the two already described. On the north, indeed, it is
separated by the clearest line both from Normandy and from the Frankish
province. But in the south, as before remarked, it is not easy to say,
in the present state of our information, what works belong to Aquitaine
and what to Anjou. Not that there is any want of sufficient marks to
distinguish between the _styles_ themselves, but a large portion of
_examples_ appear to belong to a sort of debateable ground between the
two. This, however, is true only of the buildings on the borders of the
province. The two capitals of Angers and Poitiers are full of examples
peculiar to them alone, and as a rule the same remark applies to all the
principal churches of the province.

The age of the greatest splendour of this province is from the accession
of Foulques Nerra in the year 989 to the death of Henry II. of England,
1190. During these two centuries its prosperity and independent power
rose to a height which it subsequently neither maintained nor ever
regained. Prior to this period the buildings found scattered here and
there are few and insignificant, but during its continuance every town
was enriched by some noble effort of the piety and architectural taste
peculiar to the age. After its conclusion the completion of works
previously commenced was all that was attempted. The rising power of the
northern provinces, and of the English, seems to have given a check to
the prosperity of Anjou, which it never thoroughly recovered; for when
it did to a certain extent again become prosperous and wealthy, it was
under the influence and dominion of the great central Frankish power
which ultimately absorbed into itself all the separate nationalities of
France, and obliterated those provincial distinctions which are so
strikingly prominent in the earlier part of her history.

The plan of St. Maurice (Woodcut No. 583), the cathedral of Angers, may
be considered as a typical example of the Angiovine style, and will
serve to explain in what it differs from the northern and in what it
resembles the southern styles. On comparing it with the plan of
Souillac, and more especially with that of the cathedral at Angoulême,
it will be seen how nearly it resembles them—the great difference being
that, instead of cupolas over each square compartment, it has the
intersecting vault of the northern styles. Its buttresses too are
external, but less in projection than might be generally considered
necessary to support a vault 52 ft. in span. They moreover show a
tendency towards a northern style of construction; but the absence of
free-standing pillars or of aisles, and the general arrangement of the
whole building, are rather southern peculiarities. Externally the façade
has been successively piled up at various times from the 12th century,
when the body of the church was commenced and nearly finished, to the
16th, when it was completed in the style of the Renaissance.

[Illustration: 583. Cathedral at Angers. (From Faultrier, ‘Anjou et ses
Monuments.’) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 584. St. Trinité, Angers. (From Faultrier.) Scale 100 ft.
to 1 in.]

Another church in the same city, of equal interest, though not so large
or important, is that of the Trinité. It consists of one nave without
transepts, 52 ft. wide measuring into the recesses, though it is only 32
ft. wide between the piers. It is roofed with an intersecting vault in
eight compartments, of somewhat northern pattern, but with a strong
tendency towards the domical forms of the Southern style. It possesses,
moreover, a peculiarity rather frequently attempted, viz., that of
trying to attain a greater appearance of length by lowering the vaults
from the entrance towards the altar. Thus, at the entrance the building
is 80 ft. in height, but it gradually sinks to 65 at the eastern end.
This contrivance is a mere trick, and, like all such in architecture, is
a failure.

The details of this church are rich and good throughout, and altogether
the effect of the 7 recesses on each side is pleasing and satisfactory.
Indeed it may be considered as the typical and best example of that
class of churches, of which a later specimen was the cathedral at Alby,
described in the last chapter, and which are so beautiful as to go far
to shake our absolute faith in the dogma that aisles are indispensably
necessary to the proper effect of a Gothic church.

[Illustration: 585. View of the Interior of Loches. (From a Sketch by
the Author.)]

[Illustration: 586. Plan of Church at Fontevrault. (From Verneilh.)
Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

Even more interesting than either of these, in an archæological point of
view, is the little castle chapel at Loches, commenced by Geoffrey Grise
Gonelle, Count of Anjou, in the year 962, and continued by his son,
Foulques Nerra, to whom the nave must be ascribed; while the western
tower is probably the only part now remaining of the older church. The
eastern portion was rebuilt in the 12th century by Thomas Pactius, the
prior, and completed in 1180—the latter part being in the well-known
Norman style of that age. An interesting point in this church is that
the Norman round-arch style is built over and upon the pointed arches of
the nave, which are at least a century older, having been erected
between the years 987 and 1040. It will be seen from the view given of
this chapel that the pointed style here used has nothing in common with
the pointed architecture of the North of France, but is that of the
South, such as we have seen in the churches of Périgueux and Souillac.
It is used here, as there, to support domes. These, however, in this
instance, instead of being circular, are octagonal, and rise externally
in octagonal straight-lined cones of stone-work, giving a very peculiar
but interesting and elegant outline to the building. They also point out
a method by which roofs at least as high as those which afterwards
prevailed could have been obtained in stone if this mode of vaulting had
been persevered in. The church of St. Sergius at Angers has pointed
arches, certainly of an earlier date, but whether so old as this is not
quite certain.

[Illustration: 587. View of Chevet at Fontevrault. (From Faultrier.)]

It has already been suggested that all circular churches were originally
sepulchral, or intended to be so. There can also be little doubt but
that the halves of round churches, which, as explained above, were
adopted as the chevet termination of French basilicas, were also
intended either to symbolise a tomb-house or relic shrine, or actually
to serve as the sepulchres of distinguished personages. This certainly
appears to have been the case in the earlier French examples, and among
these one of the most splendid in this province, indeed, almost the only
one of any real importance, is that of Fontevrault, where repose, or
rather reposed, the remains of two of our Plantagenet kings, Henry II.
and Richard I., with others of their family. As will be seen from the
woodcut (No. 587), it is a mausoleum worthy of them, and a pleasing
example of the style of the age, and though certainly not so peculiarly
Angiovine as the apsidal churches of Angers and Poitiers, has still
distinguishing characteristics which are not found in any other province
of France. The nave is surmounted by four domes, as is usual in this and
the more southern provinces, and it is only in having an aisle trending
round the apse that it differs from the ordinary churches. It may be
seen from the plan (Woodcut No. 586) how awkwardly this is done, and how
ill its narrow dimensions agree with the spaciousness of the nave.

[Illustration: 588. Elevation of one of the Bays of the Nave at
Fontevrault. (From Verneilh.)]

Woodcut No. 588 demonstrates how similar the domes of its nave are to
those of Angoulême, Souillac, and those of the South—this domical
arrangement being, in fact, as characteristic of this age and locality
as the intersecting vault afterwards became of the Northern provinces.

[Illustration: 589. Façade of Church of Notre Dame at Poitiers. (From
Chapuy, ‘Moyen-Âge Monumental.’)]

If the apse or chevet of this church is not so strictly Angiovine as
other examples, the façade of the church of Notre Dame de Poitiers
(shown in Woodcut No. 589) is not open to the same remark, being
strictly local in all its parts. Originally the one window it possessed
was circular; but in the 15th century, as may be seen from the mouldings
then introduced, it was cut down to its present form, no doubt to make
more room for painted glass, which at that age had superseded all other
modes of decoration: whereas in the 12th century, to which the church
belongs, external sculpture and internal mural paintings were the
prevailing modes of architectural expression. It will be observed from
the preceding woodcut that sculpture is used in a profusion of which no
example belonging to a later age exists; and though we cannot help
admiring the larger proportions and broader masses of subsequent
builders, still there is a richness and a graphic power in the exuberant
sculpture of the earlier façades which we miss in after ages, and of
which no mere masonic excellence can ever supply the place.

This, though not the largest, is probably the best and richest church of
its class in this province. The border churches of Parthenay, Civray,
and Ruffec, all show traces of the same style and forms all more or less
richly carried out; but none have the characteristic corner towers, nor
do they retain their pedimented gable so perfect as Notre Dame at

Besides this one there are four churches in Poitiers, all which were
certainly erected in the 11th century, and the greater part of them
still retain unaltered the features of that age. The oldest, St. Hilaire
(A.D. 1049), is remarkable for an irregularity of plan sufficient to
puzzle all the antiquaries of the land, and which is only to be
accounted for on the supposition of its having been built on the
foundation of some earlier church, which it has replaced.

Montierneuf (1066) possesses in its nave a circular-headed tunnel-vault,
ornamented with transverse ribs only, but resting on arches which cut
slightly into it. It has no string-course or plain wall, as is usual in
the South, and in this shows a tendency towards intersecting vaulting,
indicative of an approach to the Northern style.

[Illustration: 590. Plan of Cathedral at Poitiers. (From Coulier’s
‘Histoire de la Cathédrale de Poitiers.’) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

The most remarkable parts of St. Porchaire and St. Radegonde are their
western towers, which are fine specimens of their class, especially that
of the latter, which changes pleasingly into an octagon before
terminating in a short spire. Altogether this church shows that elegance
of feeling the want of which is a chief defect of the contemporary
Norman style.

The cathedral of Poitiers was founded in the year 1161. Its eastern end
belongs to a transitional period, while its western front was not
completed till the pointed Gothic style had reached its utmost
perfection, 200 years later. Its plan, however, probably belongs to the
earlier period, and presents so strong a contrast to the Northern
churches of the same date that it may be quoted here as belonging to the
style which we are describing. The east end is square externally, but
internally it contains 3 shallow niches like those on each side of St.
Trinité at Angers. Its transepts are mere chapels; but its most
remarkable feature is the convergence of its sides towards the east; and
as its vault sinks also towards that end, a false perspective is
attained which certainly at first sight gives the church an appearance
of greater length than it really possesses. The 3 aisles, too, being of
the same height, add to the effect of space; so that, taken as a whole,
this church may be quoted as the best example known of the system of
attaining a certain effect by these means, and is well worthy of study
on this account. It, however, I think, admits of no doubt that the
Northern architects were right in rejecting all these devices, and in
basing their efforts on better understood and more honest principles.

[Illustration: 591. Spire at Cunault. (From Faultrier.)]

It is in this province that, proceeding from the South, spires are first
found in common use. The characteristic of the South is the square
flat-roofed tower or octagonal dome. In Anjou, towers standing by
themselves, and crowned by well-proportioned spires, seem early to have
been introduced, and to have been considered almost essential parts of
church architecture. The representation (Woodcut No. 591) of that
attached to the interesting church of Cunault, on the Loire, is of the
most common type. There is another at Chemillé, almost exactly like it,
and a third on the road between Tours and Loches, besides many others
which but slightly differ from these in detail. They all want the
aspiring lightness afterwards attained in Gothic spires; but their
design and ornaments are good, and their outlines well suited to the
massive edifices to which they are attached.

Most of the conventual buildings attached to the churches in this
province have disappeared, either during the struggle with the
Huguenots, or in the later and more disastrous troubles of the
Revolution, so that there is scarcely a cloister or other similar
edifice to be found in the province. One or two fragments, however,
still exist, such as the Tour d’Évrault.[27] This is a conventual
kitchen, not unlike that at Glastonbury, but of an earlier age, and so
far different from anything else of the kind that it was long mistaken
for a building of a very different class.

Another fragment, though probably not ecclesiastical, is the screen of
arches recently discovered in the hôtel of the Prefecture at Angers. As
a specimen of elaborate exuberance in barbarous ornament it is
unrivalled even in France, but it is much more like the work of the
Normans than anything else found in the neighbourhood. Owing to its
having been so long built up, it still retains traces of the colouring
with which all the internal sculptures of this age were adorned.

The deficiency in ecclesiastical buildings in this province is made up
in a great measure by the extent and preservation of its Feudal remains,
few of the provinces of France having so many and such extensive
fortified castles remaining. Those of Angers and Loches are two of the
finest in France, and there are many others scarcely less magnificent.
Few of them, however, have features strictly architectural; and though
the artist and the poet may luxuriate on their crumbling time-stained
towers and picturesque decay, they hardly belong to such a work as this,
nor afford materials which would advance our knowledge of architecture
as a fine art.

                              CHAPTER IV.



Church at Issoire—Clermont—Fortified Church at Royat.

THE last of the Southern provinces which requires to be distinguished is
that of Auvergne, one of the most beautiful as well as one of the most
complete of the round Gothic styles of France. The country in which it
is found is as distinctly marked out as the style, for no naturalist can
cross the frontier of the territory without at once being struck by the
strange character of its scenery. It is a purely volcanic country, to
which the recently extinguished craters impart a character not found in
any other province of France. Whether its inhabitants are of a different
race from their neighbours has not yet been investigated. At all events,
they retain their original characteristics less changed than any other
people inhabiting the South of France. Their style of architecture is
distinct, and early reached a degree of perfection which no other in
France had then attained; it has, moreover, a greater resemblance than
we have hitherto found in France to the Lombard and Rhenish styles of
architecture. The other styles of Southern France—whatever their
beauties may be—certainly never reached that degree of independent
completeness which enables us to class that of Auvergne among the
perfected styles of Europe.

[Illustration: 592. Church at Issoire. (From Mallay.) Scale 100 ft. to 1

In the department of Puy de Dome there are at least four churches of the
typical form of this style, which have been edited by M. Mallay—those of
Issoire, of N. D. du Port at Clermont, of Orcival, and of St. Nectaire—
which only differ from one another in size, and in the arrangement of
their apsidal chapels. That of Issoire has a square central chapel
inserted, which is wanting at Clermont and Orcival, while St. Nectaire
has only three instead of four apsidal chapels.

The largest of these is that of Issoire, of which a plan is here given,
from which it will be seen that, though small, it is beautifully
arranged. The transepts are just sufficiently developed to give
expression to the exterior, and to separate the nave from the choir,
which are beautifully proportioned to one another.

[Illustration: 593. Elevation of Church at Issoire. (From Mallay.) Scale
50 ft. to 1 in.]

They all possess central towers, raised on a mass of masonry extending
to the whole width of the church, which gives them a breadth of base
found in no other style. The want of this is painfully felt in most of
our own central spires, all of which need something more to stand upon
than the central roof, out of which they seem to grow; but I do not know
that any attempt was ever made to remedy the difficulty anywhere but in
Auvergne. All these churches were intended to have western towers, the
massive foundations for which are found in every example, though there
does not appear to be a single instance in which these exist in a
complete state.

[Illustration: 594. Section of Church at Issoire, looking East. (From
Mallay.) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

The side-aisles are always covered by intersecting vaults, but that of
the nave is invariably a simple tunnel-vault, as in the Southern styles,
ornamented by occasional transverse ribs, and which in the church at
Issoire is slightly pointed.

To support this great vault, a semi-vault is carried over the
side-aisles—as shown in the section—which forms a massive and perfect
abutment to the thrust of the great arch, besides, as before pointed
out, rendering the vault independent of a wooden covering, which, though
in some instances supplied, was certainly not originally intended. The
defect of this arrangement is of course evident, as compared with the
Northern styles, inasmuch as a clerestory was impossible, and the only
effective light that could be admitted was through the side-aisles.
These churches, however, have an approach to a clerestory not found in
that at Fontifroide, before quoted, in having a triforium or range of
arches opening into the gallery, which gave a lightness of character to
the superstructure, and admitted to a certain extent a borrowed light.

[Illustration: 595. Elevation of Chevet, Notre Dame du Port, Clermont.
(From Chapuy.) No scale.]

Externally, the projection of the buttresses is slight, and they are
connected by arches, struck from the same centres as the windows, above
which three small arches relieve and ornament the upper part of the
nave. The central arch of these is pierced with the small window which
lights the upper gallery. Above this is a cornice of more elegance and
of greater projection than is usually found in churches of this age.

The most beautiful and most admired feature of the style is the
arrangement of the chapels of the chevet externally.

In the view given above of St. Sernin, Toulouse (Woodcut No. 578), as in
almost all the churches of that style, it will be observed how awkwardly
these chapels are stuck on, as if they were afterthoughts, and
altogether foreign to the main lines of the building. Here, however, all
the parts are pleasingly subordinated one to the other, and the whole
are so grouped as to form a design equal, if not superior, to the
galleried apses of the German and Lombard churches. The place of these
galleries is here supplied by a mosaic decoration formed with the
different coloured lavas of the extinct volcanoes of the district, which
gives not only a pleasing local character to the style, but is
interesting as the only specimen of external polychromatic decoration
now to be found so far to the north. In effect, this is perhaps hardly
equal to the open galleries of the German churches; but the expense must
have been considerably less, and the variety of the outline of the
chevet arrangement, as compared with the simple apse, gives to these
churches some advantages over the contemporary buildings on the Rhine.
Indeed, as far as external decoration is concerned, it may be questioned
whether the French ever surpassed these; and had they been carried out
on the same scale as those of Amiens and Chartres, they would probably
be thought more beautiful. It is true the flying buttresses and
pinnacles of the pointed style enabled the architects to introduce far
larger windows and gorgeous decorations of painted glass, and so to
improve the internal effect of their churches to an immense extent; but
this was done at the sacrifice of much external simplicity of outline
and propriety of effect, which we cannot but lament could not be
reconciled with the requisite internal arrangements.

[Illustration: 596. Plan of Chevet, Notre Dame du Port, Clermont. (From
Chapuy.) No scale.]

The age of these churches is not very well ascertained. M. Mallay is
inclined to place them principally in the 10th century, though the
pointed form of the vault at Issoire induces him to bring that down to
the 12th century; but we have seen enough to know that such a pointed
form, on the contrary, is more likely to be ancient than the rounded
one, which requires better construction, although in that age it was
thought more beautiful. My own impression is, that they belong generally
to the 11th century, though some were no doubt commenced in the 10th,
and probably continued to the 12th; but their uniformity of style is
such, that not more than one century could have elapsed between the
first and the last. Only one circular church, so far as I know, is found
in the district. It is a sepulchral chapel in the cemetery at Chambon,
small in size, being only 26 ft. wide over all, but elegant in its
proportions, and showing the same style of decoration as the apses of
the larger churches.

[Illustration: 597. Fortified Church at Royat. (From Gailhabaud.)]

Among the exceptional churches of this district, one of the most
interesting is that of Royat, illustrated in Woodcut No. 597, being a
specimen of a fortified church, such as are sometimes, though not
frequently, found in France. That at Maguelonne, quoted above (p. 57),
is another, and there are several others in the South of France; but
none probably either so complete or showing so many castellated features
as this. In its ruined state we lose the western, or possibly the
central tower, which might have somewhat restored its ecclesiastical
character; but even as it is, it is a singularly picturesque and
expressive building, though it speaks more of war and bloodshed than of
peace and goodwill to all men.

                               CHAPTER V.



Church of St. Martin d’Ainay—Cathedral at Le-Puy-en-Velay—Abbeys of
  Tournus and Cluny—Cathedral of Autun—Church of St. Menoux.

THE province of Burgundy was architecturally one of the most important
in France during the Middle Ages, but one the limits of which it is
difficult to define. This is partly owing to the extreme fluctuation of
the political power of the kingdom or dukedom, or whatever it might be,
but more to the presence of two distinct peoples within its limits, the
one or other of which gained the ascendancy at various intervals, and
according as each was in power the architectural boundaries of the
province appear to have changed. In Provence the Roman or Classical
element remained superior down to the time when Paris influenced that
province as it did all the rest of France; but this event did not take
place till very nearly the end of the Gothic period. In Burgundy, on the
other hand, the Classical and Barbarian streams flowed side by side—at
times hardly mingling their waters at all, but at others so amalgamated
as to be undistinguishable, while again in remote corners either style
is occasionally found to start up in almost perfect purity.

It would add very much to the clearness of what follows if we could tell
who the Burgundians were and whence they came: neither of which
questions appears as yet to have received a satisfactory solution. That
they differed in many respects from the other Barbarians who assisted in
overthrowing the Roman Empire will probably be admitted; but in the
present stage of ethnographic knowledge it may seem too daring to assert
that they had Turanian blood in their veins, and were Buddhists in
religion, or belonged to some cognate faith, before they settled on the
banks of the Saône or the Rhone. Yet if this were not so, it appears
impossible to account for the essentially monastic form which
characterised this province during the whole Gothic period.

From the time at least when St. Gall and Columban settled themselves at
Luxeuil till late in the Middle Ages, this country was the first and
principal seat of those great monastic establishments which had so
overwhelming an influence on the faith and forms of those times. We must
go either to India in the flourishing period of Buddhism, or to Thibet
in the present day, to find anything analogous to the monastic
establishments of the 11th century in this district. All these
monasteries have now passed away, and few have left even any remains to
attest their former greatness and magnificence. The great basilica of
Cluny, the noblest church of the 11th century, has been wholly removed
within the present century. Clairvaux was first rebuilt in the style of
the Renaissance, but has been finally swept away within the last few
years. Citeaux perished earlier, and little now remains to attest its
former greatness. Luxeuil is an obscure village. The destruction of the
church of St. Benigne, at Dijon, has already been referred to, and it
would be easy to swell the catalogue of similar consequences of the
great Revolution.

Tournus still remains, and at Vezelay fragments exist. Charlier,
Avallon, Autun, Langres, and Besançon, still possess in their cathedrals
and churches some noble remnants of Burgundian architecture. Besides
these, there are numerous parish churches and smaller edifices which
would easily enable us to make up a history of the style, were they
carefully examined and drawn. The architecture of Burgundy, however, has
not yet been examined with the attention it deserves, and it would
require long and patient personal investigation to elucidate its

[Illustration: 598. Façade of St. Martin d’Ainay. (From a drawing by J.
B. Waring.) No scale.]

The church of St. Martin d’Ainay at Lyons is an early and beautiful
specimen of the style when used without any classical influence; yet
four Roman pillars support the intersection of the nave and transept.
Its western front (Woodcut No. 598) was erected probably in the 10th
century, and is decorated with colours and patterns which are
characteristic of the style. Nor does there seem any reason for doubting
but that the pointed arch of the entrance doorway belongs to the period
to which the church is assigned.

The cathedral of Le-Puy-en-Vélay is another example of the same
style.[28] The east end and the two first bays of the nave belong to the
10th century. The church progressed westward at the rate of two bays in
a century till the last two were completed with the wonderful cavernous
porch under them about the year 1180. The whole length of the church is
215 ft., and its width across the nave is a little over 80. Externally
its most remarkable feature is the façade of the south transept, which
is perhaps the richest and most elaborate specimen of the Ainay style of
decoration existing. On the north side is the cloister, which is a
singularly elegant specimen of the style, but very classical in detail.
The pillars are almost Corinthian in outline (Woodcut No. 599), but the
blunder the Romans made when using pillars with arches has in this case
been avoided. If reference is made to Woodcuts 211 and 213, or to any
others representing the classical form, the difference will be at once
perceived. In both instances the pillars were used merely as ornaments,
but with the Romans they were nothing but useless additions, without
even the pretence of utility. In this cloister they support the arches,
and are veritable parts of the construction. It would be difficult to
find any apter illustration of Pugin’s famous antithesis than these
examples of Roman and Burgundian architecture—the one is constructed
ornament, the other ornamented and ornamental construction—and
notwithstanding its rudeness, the Burgundian example is far more
pleasing than the Roman, and, if used with classical details, this
arrangement might now be introduced into any Italian design with the
most satisfactory effect.

[Illustration: 599. Cloister of Cathedral of Le-Puy-en-Vélay. (From a

The church of St. Bénigne at Dijon, mentioned above, was one of the
oldest in Burgundy, and was probably an excellent type of the style of
that country. But its total destruction and the insufficiency of the
plates published by Dom Plancher[29] preclude anything like a
satisfactory study of it. The abbey church of Tournus (Woodcut No. 600)
is perhaps nearly as old, its antiquity being manifested by the rudeness
both of its design and execution. The nave is separated from the aisles
by plain cylindrical columns without bases, the capitals of which are
united by circular arches at the height of the vaults of the aisle. From
the capitals rise dwarf columns supporting arches thrown across the
nave. From one of these arches to the other is thrown a transverse
tunnel-vault, which thus runs the cross way of the building; being, in
fact, a series of arches like those of a bridge extending the whole
length of the nave. This is, I believe, the only known instance of this
arrangement, and is interesting as contrasting with the longitudinal
tunnel-vaults so common both in this province and in the South.

[Illustration: 600. View of Interior of Abbey at Tournus. (From Taylor
and Nodier.)]

It is a curious instance of an experiment, the object of which was the
getting over those difficulties afterwards removed by the invention of
the intersecting vault. In the meantime this Tournus roof offered some
advantages well worthy of consideration. The first of these was that the
thrust of the vault was wholly longitudinal, so that only the supporting
arches of the transverse vaults required to be abutted. These being low
and in a well-defined direction were easily provided for. Another
advantage was, that it allowed of a large and well-defined clerestory,
which, as we have seen, was impossible with the longitudinal vaults. On
the other hand it might seem to be a fatal objection that the eye
instead of being conducted pleasingly along the vault was continually
interrupted by a series of cross barrel vaults; this objection, however,
is more theoretical than practical, for, owing to the abundant light
which enters through the clerestory windows (not suggested at all in the
woodcut), and the fact that from the west end looking down the nave the
barrel vaults are scarcely seen, the general effect is most pleasing,
and it is singular that so happy a solution of the problem, both
artistically and constructively, should not have been followed, or that
this should be an unique example. The columns in the apse are carried on
a podium 6 ft. high, similar to that found in the Holy Sepulchre, which
was built by the Crusaders, and constitute a pleasing variety to the
ordinary apsidal termination. A crypt of much earlier date exists under
the whole choir, and is specially interesting as showing in its vault
the rough centering on which it was apparently built.

[Illustration: 601. Plan of Abbey Church at Cluny. (From Lorain’s
‘Histoire de l’Abbaye.’) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

In the nave of this church all the arches are circular; in the choir,
which dates early in the 11th century, if not before, and which is
perhaps older than the nave, the great transverse arches are slightly
pointed, and support at the intersection a dome (the pendentives of
which are formed of squinches carried on wall-shafts), which forms the
most beautiful feature in the church. Similar features are found in the
churches of le Puy-en-Vélay, St. Martin d’Ainay at Lyons and elsewhere.

The pride of Burgundy was the great abbey church of Cluny, which, with
its narthex or ante-church, measured 580 ft. in length, or considerably
more than any other church erected in France in any age. Its nave was
throughout 37 ft. 6 in. in width, and it had double side-aisles, making
the total internal width 120 ft., while the whole area covered by it was
upwards of 70,000 sq. ft. But colossal as these dimensions are, they
convey no adequate idea of its magnificence. The style throughout was
solid and grand, and it must have possessed a degree of massive
magnificence which we so frequently miss among the more elegant beauties
of subsequent erections.

The semi-dome of the chevet was supported by eight noble columns,
through which was seen in perspective a circle of five apsidal chapels.
Externally the roof was crowned by five larger and three smaller towers;
and the whole was carried up solidly to a height unrivalled among the
buildings of this age. What added to its interests was, that the church
at least was at the time of its destruction an almost unaltered specimen
of the architecture of the 11th and 12th centuries, having been
commenced in 1089 by St. Hugues, and dedicated in 1131. The narthex or
ante-chapel, though somewhat more modern, was probably completed within
the limits of the 12th century. These dates have been disputed, but
principally on account of the theories prevalent regarding the origin of
the pointed arch. This feature was used here, as it is found elsewhere,
in all the pier arches separating the nave from the aisles—the vaulting
of the aisles having probably been also pointed, while the great vault
of the church is a plain tunnel-vault with transverse ribs on its
surface. That of the narthex is a transverse vault of a later date, but
of singularly clumsy construction. Whether it had a clerestory or not,
is not quite clear from such drawings as we possess; but if not, it
undoubtedly had a double gallery throughout, the upper range of which,
if not both, served to admit light.

We should hardly be able to make out, from the representations we
possess, what the exact ordinance of this church was were it not that
some other contemporary churches in the same style still remain to us.
Among these, one of the most perfect is the cathedral at Autun, formerly
the chapel of the dukes of Burgundy, commenced about the year 1090, and
consecrated 1132. The arrangement of its nave is extremely similar to
that of Cluny, with these differences, that at Autun, the great vault is
slightly pointed, and attached to the piers of the nave are pilasters
instead of three-quarter columns. In the ante-church, however, at Cluny,
the same pilastered arrangement occurs. This is the characteristic of
the true Burgundian style, and so peculiar is it, and so classical, that
some antiquaries have not hesitated to consider it as a bad imitation of
Gothic forms belonging to the 15th or 16th centuries. In fact the fluted
columns or pilasters, their Corinthian capitals, and the whole
arrangements are so eminently classical, as almost to justify the doubt
in those who are not familiar with the history of the southern styles of
France. There can, however, be no doubt as to the age of these examples,
and as little as to the models from which they are copied; for in this
very city of Autun we have two Roman gateways (one of which is
represented in Woodcut No. 218), and there are others at Langres and
elsewhere, which, except in the pointed arch and other constructive
peculiarities, are almost identical with the style of these churches.
Whether from want of familiarity with this style, or from some other
cause, it certainly is not pleasing to our eyes, and we therefore turn
with pleasure to the ruder but more purpose-like inventions of the
purely Gothic architects of the same age.

[Illustration: 602. View in Aisle at Autun. (From Chapuy, ‘Cathédrales

[Illustration: 603. View in Nave at Autun. (From Chapuy.)]

Among these the province affords no more beautiful specimen than the
nave of the church of Vezelay, which possesses all the originality of
the Norman combined with the elegance of the southern styles. In this
specimen the pier arches are wide and low, there is no triforium of any
sort, and the windows are small. The vault is formed by immense
transverse ribs, crossing from pier to pier, and forming square
compartments, each divided by plain intersecting arches, without ribs,
and rising considerably in the centre. This certainly is an improvement
on the vault at Cluny, though it cuts the roof too much up into
divisions. Perhaps its greatest defect is its want of height, being only
60 ft. in the centre, while the total width is 86 ft. from wall to wall.
But the details of the whole are so elegant as in a great measure to
redeem these faults.

[Illustration: 604. Section of Narthex at Vezelay. (From Didron’s
‘Annales Archéologiques.’)]

The narthex, or ante-church, resembles that at Cluny both in its
importance and in being somewhat more modern than the church itself. At
Vezelay (Woodcut No. 604) it dates from the beginning of the 12th
century, while the nave seems wholly to belong to the 11th. It is an
extremely instructive example of the progress of vaulting. It has the
bold transverse ribs, and the plain intersecting vaults, which are here
in accordance with the southern practice, abutted by the arches of the
galleries. In the walls of the galleries are windows large enough to
admit a considerable amount of light. But the vaults are here fast
losing their original purpose. The arch construction supports the solid
external roof over the side-aisles, but the central vault is covered by
a wooden roof, so that the stone vault has become a mere ceiling,
leaving only one easy step towards the completion of the plan of Gothic
roofing. This step was to collect the vaults of the side galleries into
a mass over each pier, and use them as flying buttresses, and to employ
wooden roofs everywhere, wholly independent of the vaults which they

Vezelay is one of the most beautiful of the remaining churches of its
age in Burgundy, notwithstanding that the choir, which is a chevet in
the early pointed style, like those in the northern province, rather
disturbs the harmony of the whole.

Among the remaining churches of this class, the cathedral at Besançon is
one of the few double-apse churches of France, and is, in plan at least,
very much more like those we find on the banks of the Rhine.

The cathedral at Vienne, mentioned above (p. 58), might, from some of
its details, particularly the form of the pier arches, be fairly classed
with this style, showing as it does the fluted pilasters and other
classical adjuncts found here. These peculiarities are common both to
this and the Provençal style, but the boundary between them is by no
means clearly defined.

[Illustration: 605. East End, St. Menoux. (From Allier, ‘L’ancien

On the northern border of the province we find the church of St. Menoux
(Woodcut No. 605), belonging certainly in many of its details to the
style we are now describing. This is most distinctly observable in the
exterior of the apse of the chevet, a feature which is seldom found
unaltered; here it is surrounded by a series of pilasters of rude
classical design, which give to it a peculiar local character.
Internally too, its chevet (Woodcut No. 606) is remarkably elegant,
though less Burgundian in style. It shows to what an extent the stilting
of round arches could be used to overcome the difficulty of combining
arches of different spans, but all requiring to be carried to the same
height. Like all the old churches of the province, it possesses a large
and important narthex, here the oldest part of the church, and a rude
and characteristic specimen of a style of architecture that can hardly
be later than the 10th century.

[Illustration: 606. Chevet, St. Menoux. (From Allier.)]

These few specimens must suffice to define a style which well deserves a
volume to itself, not only on account of its own architectural merit,
but from the enormous influence exercised both by the order itself and
by its monastic founders on the civilisation of Europe in the age to
which it belongs. During the 11th and 12th centuries Cluny was more
important to France than Paris. Its influence on the whole of Europe was
second only to that of Rome—civilising barbarians by its missionaries,
notwithstanding the feudal nobility, and in many ways counteracting the
ferocity of the times.

                              CHAPTER VI.

                           FRANKISH PROVINCE.


Exceptional buildings—Basse Œuvre, Beauvais—Montier-en-Der.


THE architecture of the Northern division of France is certainly the
most interesting subject in the whole history of the Mediæval styles,
inasmuch as it comprehends the origin and progress of that form of
pointed architecture which in the 13th century extended from Paris as a
centre to the remotest corners of Europe, pervading the whole of
Germany, Britain, and even Spain and Italy. In these countries it
generally obliterated their own peculiar styles, and usurped their
places, so that it became the Gothic style _par eminence_, and the only
one ordinarily understood under that name. It has gained this
distinction, not perhaps so much from any inherent merit of its own, as
because it was the only one of all the Mediæval styles which was carried
beyond the simple rudiments of the art, and enjoyed the advantage of
being perfected by a powerful and united people who had advanced beyond
the first elements of civilised society. It is needless now to inquire
whether the other styles might not have been made as perfect, or more
so, had the same amount of talent and of time been bestowed upon them.
All we can say is, that no other style was so carried out, and it is
impossible to attempt it now; the pointed Gothic had therefore the
opportunity which the others were deprived of, and became the prevalent
style in Europe during the Middle Ages. Its history is, therefore, that
to which attention must always be principally directed, and from which
all lessons and all satisfactory reasoning on the subject must be
principally derived.

The great divisions into which the early history of the style naturally
divides itself have already been pointed out. The great central province
I have ventured to call the Frankish. It was there that the true Gothic
pointed style was invented, and thence that it issued in the middle of
the 12th century, first pervading the two great subordinate divisions of
Normandy on the one hand, and Burgundy on the other. In Normandy, before
this time, a warlike race had raised themselves to power, and, with an
inconsistency characteristic of their state of civilisation, devoted to
sacred purposes the wealth they had acquired by rapine and plunder,
covering their province with churches, and perfecting a rude style of
architecture singularly expressive of their bold and energetic

In Burgundy, as we have just seen, both the style and its history
differed considerably from this. From some cause which has not yet been
explained, this country became early the favourite resort of hermits and
of holy men, who founded here those great monastic establishments which
spread their influence not only over France, but over the whole of
Europe, controlling to an immense extent all the relations of European
society in the Middle Ages. The culminating epoch of the architecture of
Normandy and Burgundy was the 11th century. In the 12th the monarchical
sway of the central province was beginning to be felt in them. In the
13th it superseded the local character of both, and gradually fused them
with the whole of France into one great and singularly uniform
architectural province.

                            LATIN STYLE.[30]

[Illustration: 607. Plan and Section of Basse Œuvre, Beauvais. (From
Woillez, ‘Monuments Religieux de Beauvais.’)]

Before proceeding to describe the local forms of architecture in Central
France it is necessary to say a few words regarding a class of buildings
which have not hitherto been mentioned, but which must not be passed
over. These cannot be included in any other style, and are so nearly
devoid of architectural features, properly so called, that they might
have been omitted but for one consideration. They bear so remarkable a
resemblance to the earliest Christian churches of Rome on the one hand,
and to the true Gothic on the other, that we cannot doubt their being
the channel through which the latter was derived from the former. They
are, moreover, the oldest churches in Northern France, which is
sufficient to confirm this view.

The character of this style will be understood from the plan and
internal and external view of one of its typical examples, the Basse
Œuvre at Beauvais (Woodcuts Nos. 607 and 608). It will be seen that this
building consists of a nave and side-aisles, separated from each other
by a range of plain arches resting on piers without either bases or
capitals; on one side the angles are cut off, so as to give a slightly
ornamental character; on the other they are left square. The central
aisle is twice the width, and more than twice the height, of the lateral
aisles, and has a well-defined clerestory; the roof, both of the central
and side aisles, is a flat ceiling of wood. The eastern end has been
destroyed, but judging from other examples, it probably consisted of
three apses, a large one in the centre and a smaller one at the end of
each aisle.

[Illustration: 608. External and Internal View of Basse Œuvre. (From

The similarity of the form of this church to the Roman basilicas will be
evident on referring to the representations of those buildings, more
especially to that of San Vincenzo alle Tre Fontane (Woodcut No. 408),
though the details have nothing in common except in the use of flat
tiles between the cornices of the arches, which is singularly
characteristic of Roman masonry. The points in which this example is
most evidently the source of some of the important peculiarities of the
true Gothic, are the subordination of the side-aisles to the central
one, and the perfectly developed clerestory. These are not found in any
of the styles of France hitherto described.

Eventually, as we shall shortly see, stone became the material used in
the interior ceiling of Gothic vaults, but protected externally by a
wooden roof. This stone vault was not, I believe, attempted in France
before the 11th century. In the meanwhile, wooden-roofed churches, like
that at Beauvais, seem to have been usual and prevalent all over the
North of France, though, as may be supposed, both from the smallness of
their dimensions and the perishable nature of their materials, most of
them, have been either superseded by larger structures, or have been
destroyed by fire or by the accidents of time.

M. Woillez describes five or six as existing still in the diocese of
Beauvais, and varying in age from the 6th or 7th century, which probably
is the date of the Basse Œuvre, to the beginning of the 11th century;
and if other districts were carefully examined, more examples would
probably be found. Normandy must perhaps be excepted, for there the rude
Northmen seem first to have destroyed all the churches, and then to have
rebuilt them with a magnificence they did not previously possess.

Churches of the same class, or others at least extremely similar to
them, as far as we can judge from such representations as have been
published, exist even beyond the Loire. There is one at Savonières in
Anjou, and a still more curious one at St. Généreux in Vienne, not far
from Poitiers, which shows in great perfection a style of decoration by
triangular pediments and a peculiar sort of mosaic in brickwork.

[Illustration: 609. Decoration of St. Généreux. (From Gailhabaud.)]

The same style of decoration is carried out in the old church of St.
Jean at Poitiers, which probably is even older than the Basse Œuvre of
Beauvais. The old church, which now forms the ante-church to St. Front
at Périgueux (Woodcut No. 562), seems also to belong to the same class;
but, if M. Félix de Verneilh’s restoration is to be trusted, it
approaches nearer to a Romanesque style than any other of its class, of
which it may nevertheless possibly be the most southern example.

Perhaps the most interesting example of the style is the nave of the
church of Montier-en-Der, near Vassy, almost due east from Paris. It is
perfectly plain, very like San Vincenzo (Woodcut No. 408), and is a
perfect Romanesque example with a wooden roof; the design for which was
probably brought direct from Rome when this church was erected in this
remote village. What, however, gives it its greatest interest for our
present purpose arises from the fact that the apse or choir was rebuilt
in the 13th century, and we have consequently in immediate juxtaposition
the Romanesque model as it was introduced to the Barbarians, and the
result of their elaboration of it—the germ of the Gothic style and the
full-blown flower.

[Illustration: 610. Section of Eastern portion of Church of
Montier-en-Der. (From the ‘Archives des Monuments,’ &c.)]

As before pointed out (p. 49), the progress was slow in the formation of
a new style during the 1000 years that elapsed between the building of
the Temple of Diana at Nîmes and the Church at Carcassonne; but here,
within the limits of two, or at most three centuries, the progress made
was so rapid as to be startling. The inhabitants of Central France
appear at once to have comprehended the significance of the problem, and
to have worked it out with a steadiness and energy of which it must be
difficult to find another example. The nave of the church is as poor and
as lean as it can well be, but every part of the choir is ornamented,
while nothing is overdone; and there is not one single ornament which is
not appropriate to its place, or which may not fairly be considered as a
part of the ornamented construction of the building. It was an entirely
new style invented on the spot, and complete in all its parts. Some of
its ornaments were afterwards made more elegant, and more might have
been done in this direction; but as here represented the style was
complete, and it is certainly one of the most beautiful creations of the
class which ever emanated from the activity of the human brain. It is
also interesting as being one of the few where every step in the
progress can be traced and every result understood.

What we have now to attempt, is to point out—as clearly as our limits
will admit of—the steps by which the rude architecture of the western
half of the church of Montier-en-Der was converted into the perfected
style of the choir as shown in the woodcut on the previous page.

                              CHAPTER VII.



Triapsal churches—Churches at Caen—Intersecting Vaulting—Bayeux.

WITH one or two slight exceptions, the whole history of the Round-arched
Norman Gothic is comprehended within a period of less than a century. No
building in this style is known to have been even commenced before the
year 1050, and before 1150 the pointed style had superseded it in its
native province. Indeed, practically speaking, all the great and typical
examples are crowded into the last fifty years of the 11th century. This
was a period of great excitement and prosperity with the Northmen, who,
having at last settled themselves in this fertile province, not only
placed their dukes on an equality with any of the powers then existing
in France, but by their conquest of England raised their chief to an
importance and a rank superior to that of any other potentate in Europe
except the German emperors of that day, with whose people they were, in
fact, both by race and policy, more closely allied than they were with
those among whom they had settled.

[Illustration: 611. Triapsal Church, at Querqueville. (From Dawson
Turner’s ‘Normandy.’)]

There are two exceptional churches in Normandy which should not be
passed over in silence: one is a little triapsal oratory at St.
Wandrille; the other a similar but somewhat more important church at
Querqueville, near Cherbourg, on the coast of Brittany. Both are rude
and simple in their outline and ornaments; they are built with that
curious herring-bone or diagonal masonry indicative of great age, and
differing in every essential respect from the works of the Normans when
they came into possession of the province. Indeed, like the transitional
churches last described, these must be considered as the religious
edifices of the inhabitants before that invasion; and if they show any
affinity to any other style, it is to Belgium and Germany we must look
for it rather than anywhere within the boundaries of France.

Amongst the oldest-looking buildings of pure Norman architecture is the
church of Léry, near Pont de l’Arche. It is the only one, so far as is
known, with a simple tunnel-vault, and this is so massive, and rests on
piers of such unusual solidity, as to give it an appearance of immense
antiquity. There is no good reason, however, for believing that it
really is older than the chapel of the Tower of London, which it
resembles in most respects, though the latter is of somewhat lighter

Passing from this we come to a series of at least five important
churches, all erected in the latter half of the 11th century. The first
of these is the church of Jumièges, the western end of which was
principally erected by Robert, afterwards Bishop of London, and finally
Archbishop of Canterbury. Its precise date is not very well known,
though it was probably begun before 1050, and certainly shows a far
ruder and less complete style of architecture than any of the later
churches. It is doubtful whether it was ever intended to throw a vault
over the nave; yet the walls and piers are far more massive than those
of the churches of Caen, or that of Bocherville in its immediate
neighbourhood. This last we know to have been commenced in the year
1050, and completed in 1066. This church still retains in a wonderful
state of completeness all the features of a Norman church of that age—
the only part of which is of a more modern date being the two western
turrets, which are at least a century later.

The next of the series is the well-known Abbaye-aux-Hommes, or St.
Stephen’s, at Caen (Woodcut No. 612), commenced by William the
Conqueror, 1066, in gratitude for his victory at Hastings, and dedicated
eleven years afterwards. Then follow the sister church of the Trinité,
or Abbaye-aux-Dames, commenced in 1083, and the parish church of St.
Nicolas at Caen, begun in the following year. These two last were almost
certainly completed within the limits of the 11th century.

Of all these the finest is St Stephen’s, which is a first-class church,
its extreme length being 364 ft. It was not originally so long, having
terminated with an apse, as shown in the plan, Fig. 1, which was
superseded about a century afterwards by a chevet, as shown, Fig. 2.
This, however, was an innovation—all the round Gothic churches in
Normandy having originally been built with apses, nor do I know of a
single instance of a chevet in the province. This circumstance points
rather to Germany than to the neighbouring districts of France for the
origin of the Norman style—indeed all the arrangements of this church
are more like those of the Rhenish basilicas, that of Spires for
example, than any of those churches we have hitherto found within the
limits of France itself. This is more remarkable at Jumièges than even
here. None of them, however, has two apses, nor are lateral entrances at
all in use; on the contrary, the western end, or that opposite the
altar, is always, as in the true basilica, the principal entrance. In
Normandy we generally find this flanked by two towers, which give it a
dignity and importance not found in any of those styles we have been
examining. These western towers became afterwards in France the most
important features of the external architecture of churches, though it
is by no means clear whence they were derived. They are certainly of
neither Italian nor German derivation, nor do they belong to any of
those styles of the Southern provinces of France which we have been
describing. The churches of Auvergne are those which perhaps show the
nearest approach to them.

[Illustration: Fig. 1. Original Eastern Termination.]


  Fig. 2.

  612. Plan of the Church of St. Stephen, Caen. (From Ramée, ‘Histoire
    de l’Architecture.’) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.

On the whole it appears most probable that the western fronts of the
Norman churches were taken from the façades of Germany, and the towers
added to give dignity to them. As will be seen from the view (Woodcut
No. 613), in St. Stephen’s at Caen the feature is well marked and
defined; for though the spires were apparently added at the same time as
the chevet, the towers which support them evidently belong to the
original design. They may be regarded as the prototype of the façades of
nearly all the Gothic cathedrals of France. These western towers
eventually superseded the attempt made to raise the principal external
feature of the churches on the intersection of the nave with the
transepts as had been done in the South, and they made the western front
the most important part, not only in decoration, but in actual height.
Here and throughout the North of France, with the exception of the
churches at Rouen, the central tower is low and comparatively
insignificant, scarcely even aspiring to group with those of the western

                         INTERSECTING VAULTING.

As there are few churches in France which illustrate so completely the
difficulties of intersecting vaulting, and the struggle of the Mediæval
architects to conquer them, as St. Stephen’s, Caen, it may add to the
clearness of what follows if we pause in our narrative to explain what
these were.

[Illustration: 613. Western Façade of St. Stephen, Caen. (From Pugin and
Britton’s ‘Normandy.’)]

The churches described hitherto possessed simple tunnel-vaults either of
round or pointed forms, or, having no side-aisles, were roofed with
square intersecting vaults of equal dimensions each way. The former plan
was admissible in the bright South, where light was not so much
required: but the latter expedient deprived the churches of several
things which were always felt to be the powerful requisites of an
internal style of architecture. Without the contrast in height between
the central and side aisles, the true effect of the dimensions could not
be obtained. Without the internal pillars no poetry of proportion was
possible, and without an ambulatory, processions lost their meaning. The
compartments of the aisles being square, no difficulty was experienced
as regards them; but the central aisle being both higher and wider, it
became necessary either to ignore every alternate pillar of the aisle,
and to divide the central roof equally into squares, or to adopt some
compromise. This difficulty was not got over till the pointed arch was
introduced; but in the meanwhile it is very instructive to watch the
various attempts that were made to obviate it.

[Illustration: 614. Fig. 1, after Vaulting; Fig. 2, before Vaulting.
Section of Nave of St. Stephen, Caen.]

[Illustration: 615. Diagram of Vaulting.]

[Illustration: 616. Elevation of Compartment of Nave of St. Stephen,
Caen. (From Pugin.)]

There can be little doubt that the Norman architects, with true Gothic
feeling, always intended that their churches should eventually be
vaulted, and prepared them accordingly, though in many instances they
were constructed with wooden roofs, or compromises of some sort. Even at
Jumièges, the alternate piers were made stronger, and the intention
there and in other instances seems to have been to throw a stone arch
across the nave so as to break the flat line of the roof, and give it at
least a certain amount of permanent character. In the Abbaye-aux-Hommes,
Caen, even this does not appear to have been attempted in the first
instance. The vaulting shafts were carried right up and made to support
wooden trusses, as shown on the right hand of the diagram (Woodcut No.
614).[31] The intention, however, may have been to cut these away when
the vault should come to be erected. In England they frequently remain,
but rarely, if ever, in Normandy. The next step was to construct a
quadripartite vault over the nave, and a simple arch supporting its
crown over the intermediate shaft. This was soon seen to be a mistake,
and in fact was only a makeshift. In consequence at Caen a compromise
was adopted, which the Woodcut No. 616 will explain,—a sort of
intermediate vault was introduced springing from the alternate
piers.[32] Mechanically it was right, artistically it was painfully
wrong. It introduced and declared a number of purely constructive
features without artistic arrangement or pleasing lines, and altogether
showed so plainly the mere mechanical structural wants of the roof as to
be most unpleasing. Before, however, they could accomplish even this,
the side-aisles had to be re-vaulted with pointed arches so as to carry
the centre of gravity higher. A half vault was thrown over the gallery
as shown in Fig. 1, on the left side of the Woodcut No. 614, and the
whole upper structure considerably strengthened. When all this was done
they ventured to carry out what was practically, as will be seen from
the plan (Woodcut No. 612), and elevation (Woodcut No. 616), a
quadripartite vault with an intermediate insertion, which insertion was,
however, neither quite a rib, nor quite a compartment of a vault, but
something between the two; and in spite of all the ingenuity bestowed
upon it in Germany, France, and England, in the 11th and beginning of
the 12th centuries, it never produced an entirely satisfactory effect,
until at last the pointed arch came to the rescue. It is easy to see
from the diagram (Woodcut No. 615) how the introduction of the pointed
arch obviated the difficulty. In the first place, supposing the great
vault to remain circular, two segments of the same circle, A B, A C,
carry the intersecting vault nearly to the height of the transverse one,
or it could as easily be carried to the same height as at D. When both
were pointed, as at E and F, it was easy to make their relative heights
anything the architect chose, without either forcing or introducing any
disagreeable curves. By this means the compartments of the vaults of the
central nave were made the same width as those of the side-aisles,
whatever their span might be, and every compartment or bay was a
complete design in itself, without reference to those next to it on
either side.

The arrangement in elevation of the internal compartments of the nave of
this church will be understood from Woodcut No. 616, where it will be
seen that the aisles are low, and above them runs a great gallery, a
feature common in Italy, but rare in Germany. Its introduction may have
arisen either from a desire for increased accommodation, or merely to
obtain height, as it is evident that an arch the whole height of the
side-aisles and gallery would be singularly narrow and awkward. This was
one of those difficulties which were only got over by the introduction
of the pointed arch; but which, whenever attempted in the circular
style, led to very disagreeable and stilted effects. It may, however,
have been suggested by the abutting galleries we find so frequently used
in Southern churches. Be this as it may, the two storeys of the aisles
fill up the height far more pleasingly than could be done by one, and
bring an abutment up to the very springing of the main vault of the

The worst feature in this elevation (Woodcut No. 616) is the clerestory,
where the difficulties of the vaulting introduced a lop-sided
arrangement very destructive of true architectural effect, and only
excusable here from the inherent difficulties of a first attempt.

[Illustration: 617. Compartment, Abbaye-aux-Dames, Caen. (From Pugin.)]

During the twenty or thirty years that elapsed between the building of
St. Stephen’s church and that of the Abbaye-aux-Dames, immense progress
seems to have been made towards the new style, as will be seen from the
annexed elevation of one compartment of the nave of the latter. The
great gallery is omitted, the side-aisles made higher, the piers lighter
and more ornamental. The triforium is a mere passage under the upper
windows, and so managed as not to intercept their light from any part of
the church. Even the vaulting, though in some parts hexapartite, in
others shows a great approach to the quadripartite vaulting of the
subsequent age; this, however, is obtained by bringing down the main
vault to the level of the side vault, and not by raising the side arches
to the level of the central, as was afterwards done. The greatest change
is in the richness and elegance of the details, which show great
progress towards the more ornamental style that soon afterwards came
into use.

[Illustration: 618. East End of St. Nicolas, Caen. (From Dawson Turner’s

The parochial church of St. Nicolas at Caen is naturally plainer than
either of these royal abbeys. It shows considerable progress in
construction, and deserves far more attention than it has hitherto met
with. It is the only church, so far as I know, in Normandy, that retains
the original external covering of its apse. This consists, as shown in
the Woodcut (No. 618), of a high pyramidal roof of stone, following to
the eastward the polygonal form of the apse, and extending one bay
towards the west. From an examination of the central tower, it is clear
that this was not the original pitch of the church roof, which was
nearly as low in all Norman churches as in those of Auvergne. In this
instance the roof over the apse was a sort of semi-spire placed over an
altar, to mark externally the importance of the portion of the church
beneath it. In appearance it is identical with the polygonal cones at
Loches, before mentioned. At Bourges, and elsewhere in France, similar
cones are found over chapels and altars; but in most instances they have
been removed, probably from some defect in construction, or from their
not harmonising with the wooden roofs of the rest of the church. They
were in fact the originals of the spires which afterwards became so much
in vogue, and as such their history would be interesting, if properly
inquired into.

The cathedral of Bayeux, as now standing, is considerably more modern
than either of these; no part now remains of the church of Odo, the
brother of the Conqueror, except the lower portion of the western
towers, and a crypt which is still older. The pier arches of the nave
belong to the first half of the 12th century, the rest of the church to
the rebuilding, which was commenced 1157, after the town had been burnt,
and the cathedral considerably damaged, by the soldiers of Henry I. At
this time the apse was removed to make way for a chevet, which is one of
the most beautiful specimens of early pointed Gothic to be found in
France, and far surpasses its rival in the Abbaye-aux-Hommes at Caen. In
the church at Caen, the alteration was probably made to receive the tomb
of the Conqueror, when that veneration began to be shown to his remains
which was denied to himself when dying. Here, however, the same motive
does not seem to have existed, and it is more probable that the
extension was caused by the immense increase of the priesthood in the
course of the 11th and 12th centuries, requiring a larger choir for
their accommodation. We know from the disposition of the choir, that the
nave originally had a great gallery over the side-aisles, and
consequently a low clerestory. But before it was rebuilt, in the end of
the 12th or beginning of the 13th century, the mania for painted glass
had seized on the French architects, and all architectural propriety was
sacrificed to this mode of decoration. In the present instance we cannot
help contrasting the solid grandeur of the basement with the lean and
attenuated forms of the superstructure, although this attenuation was in
other examples carried to a still greater extent afterwards.

[Illustration: 619. Lower Compartment, Nave, Bayeux. (From Pugin.)]

The diapering of the spandrils of the lower arches (Woodcut No. 619) is
another feature worthy of remark, as illustrating the history of the
style. Before painted glass was introduced, the walls of all churches in
Northern Europe were covered with fresco or distemper paintings, as was
then, and is to the present day, the case in Italy. But when coloured
windows came into use, the comparative dulness of the former mode of
decoration was immediately felt, and the use of colour confined to the
more brilliant transparent material. It was necessary to find a
substitute for the wall painting, and the most obvious expedient was
that of carving on the stone the same patterns which it had been
customary to paint on them. An attempt was made, indeed, to heighten the
effect of this carving by inlaying the lines with coloured mastic or
cement; but the process was soon found to be not only very expensive but
very ineffective, and gave way afterwards to sculptured figures in
traceried panels. These ornaments easily filled up the very small spaces
of wall that were not occupied either by the windows, which were greatly
enlarged, or by the constructive supports of the building. Now, however,
that colour is gone both from the walls and the windows, this diapering
gives a singularly rich and pleasing effect to the architecture of the
lower storey, and, combined with the massiveness and varied richness of
the piers themselves, renders this a nearly unique specimen of a Norman
arcade, and one of the most beautiful that has come down to us.

These examples are, it is hoped, sufficient to make known the general
characteristics of a style which is at the same time of great interest
to the English reader from its proximity to our shores, and from its
influence on our own, although it is comparatively so familiar as to
require less illustration than many others. Besides the examples above
described, many other specimens of Norman architecture might have been
given, filling up the details of the series, from the rude simplicity of
Jumièges to the elaborate richness of the nave of Bayeux, and showing a
rapidity of progress and boldness in treating the subject hardly
surpassed in the succeeding age; but still, with all its developments,
it can only be considered as a first rude attempt to form a style of
architecture which was superseded before its principles began to be
understood, and lost before it had received any of those finishing
touches which form the great element of beauty in all the more perfect

                             CHAPTER VIII.

                         FRANKISH ARCHITECTURE.


Historical notice—The pointed arch—Freemasonry—Mediæval architects.

THE architectural history of the Central or Frankish province is widely
different from that of any of those we have yet examined. At the end of
the 5th century the whole of the North of France was overrun by Clovis
and his Franks, and on his death in 511 his dominions were divided into
four kingdoms, of which Metz, Paris, Soissons, and Orleans, were the
capitals. If we take these cities as centres, and add their districts
together, they correctly represent the limits of the architectural
province we are now entering upon. With various fluctuations, sometimes
one kingdom, sometimes two or even three being absorbed in one, they
were at last united under Pepin in 748, only to make way for the
accession of Charlemagne and his universal empire over the whole Gothic
districts of Europe, with the exception of England and Spain.

With the Merovingian kings we have nothing to do; they have not left one
single building from which to judge of the state of the art during their
ascendency—(they must have been Aryans _pur sang_)—nor can our history
with propriety be said even to begin in France with Charlemagne. His
accession marks the epoch towards which an archæologist may hope to
trace back the incunabula of the style, but as yet no single building
has been found in France which can with certainty be ascribed to his
reign. The nave at Montier-en-Der, the Basse Œuvre at Beauvais, and
other buildings, may approach his age in antiquity, but we must travel
down to the time of Capet (987) ere we find anything that can be
considered as the germ of what followed.

This may in a great measure be owing to the confusion and anarchy that
followed on the death of Charlemagne; and to the weakness of the kings,
the disorganisation of the people, and the ravages of the Northmen and
other barbarians, from which it resulted that no part of France was in a
less satisfactory position for the cultivation of the arts of peace than
that which might have been expected to take the lead in all. Thus, while
the very plunder of the Central province enabled the Normans to erect
and sustain a powerful state on the one side, and to adorn it with
monuments which still excite our admiration, and the organisation of the
monks of Burgundy on the other hand promoted the cultivation of arts of
peace to an extent hardly known before their time in Northern Europe,
Central France remained incapable even of self-defence, and still more
so of raising monuments of permanent splendour.

There must no doubt have been buildings in the Romanesque style in this
province, but they were few and insignificant compared with those we
have been describing, either in the South or in Normandy and Burgundy.
Even in Paris the great church of St. Germain des Prés, the burial-place
of the earlier kings, and apparently the most splendid edifice of the
capital, was not more than 50 ft. in width by 200 in length before the
rebuilding of its chevet in the pointed style, and it possessed no
remarkable features of architectural beauty. St. Geneviève was even
smaller and less magnificent; and if there was a cathedral, it was so
insignificant that it has not been mentioned by any contemporary

Several of the provincial capitals probably possessed cathedrals of some
extent and magnificence. All these, however, were found so unsuited to
the splendid tastes of the 12th and 13th centuries, that they were
pulled down and rebuilt on a more extended scale; and it is only from
little fragmentary portions of village churches that we learn that the
round Gothic style was really at one time prevalent in the province, and
possessed features according to its locality resembling more or less
those of the neighbouring styles. So scanty indeed are such traces, that
it is hardly worth while to recapitulate here the few observations that
might occur on the round Gothic styles as found within the limits of the

This state of affairs continued down to the reign of Louis le Gros,
1108-1136, under whom the monarchy of France began to revive. This
monarch, by his activity and intelligence, restored to a considerable
extent the authority of the central power over the then independent
vassals of the crown. This was carried still further under the reign of
his successor, Louis le Jeune (1137-1179), though perhaps more was owing
to the abilities of the Abbé Suger than to either of these monarchs. He
seems to have been one of those great men who sometimes appear at a
crisis in the history of their country, to guide and restore what
otherwise might be left to blind chance and to perish for want of a
master mind. Under Philip Augustus the country advanced with giant
strides, till under St. Louis it arrived at the summit of its power. For
a century after this it sustained itself by the impulse thus given to
it, and with scarcely an external sign of that weakness which betrayed
itself in the rapidity with which the whole power of the nation crumbled
to pieces under the first rude shock sustained in 1346 at Crecy from the
hand of Edward III.

More than a century of anarchy and confusion followed this great event,
and perhaps the period of the English wars may be considered as the most
disastrous of the whole history of France, as the previous two centuries
had been the most brilliant. When she delivered herself from these
troubles, she was no longer the same. The spirit of the Middle Ages had
passed away. The simple faith and giant energy of the reigns of Philip
Augustus and St. Louis were not to be found under Louis IX. and his
inglorious successors. With the accession of Francis I. a new state of
affairs succeeded, to the total obliteration of all that had gone
before, at least in art.

The improvement of architecture, keeping pace exactly with the improved
political condition of the land, began with Louis le Gros, and continued
till the reign of Philip of Valois (1108 to 1328). It was during the two
centuries comprised within this period that pointed architecture was
invented, which became the style, not only of France, but of all Europe
during the Middle Ages; and is, _par excellence_, the Gothic style of
Europe. The cause of this pre-eminence is to be found partly in the
accident of the superior power of the nation to which the style belonged
at this critical period, but more to the artistic feelings of their
race; and also because the style was found the most fitted to carry out
certain religious forms and decorative principles which were prevalent
at the time, and which will be noted as we proceed.

The style, therefore, with which this chapter is concerned is that which
commenced with the building of the Abbey of St. Denis, by Suger, A.D.
1144,[34] which culminated with the building of the Sainte Chapelle of
Paris by St. Louis, 1244, and which received its greatest amount of
finish at the completion of the choir of St. Ouen at Rouen by Mark
d’Argent, in 1339. There are pointed arches to be found in the Central
province, as well as all over France, before the time of the Abbé Suger;
but they are only the experiments of masons struggling with a
constructive difficulty, and the pointed style continued to be practised
for more than a century and a half after the completion of the choir of
St. Ouen, but no longer in the pure and vigorous style of the earlier
period. Subsequent to this it resembles more the efforts of a national
style to accommodate itself to new tastes and new feelings, and to
maintain itself by ill-suited arrangements against the innovation of a
foreign style which was to supersede it, and the influence of which was
felt long before its definite appearance.

The sources from which the pointed arch was taken have been more than
once alluded to in the preceding pages. It is a subject on which a great
deal more has been said and written than was at all called for by the
real importance of the question. Scarcely anything was done in pointed
architecture which had not already been done in the round-arch styles.
Certainly there is nothing which could not have been done, at least
nearly as well, and many things much better, by adhering to the complete
instead of to the broken arch. The coupling and compounding of piers had
already been carried to great perfection, and the assignment of a
separate function to each staff was already a fixed principle. Vaulting
too was nearly perfect, only that the main vaults were either
hexapartite or six-celled, instead of quadripartite, as they afterwards
became; an improvement certainly, but not one of much importance. Ribbed
vaulting was the greatest improvement which the Mediæval architects made
on the Roman vaults, giving not only additional strength of
construction, but an apparent vigour and expression to the vault, which
is one of the greatest beauties of the style. This system was in
frequent use before the employment of the pointed arch. The different
and successive planes of decoration were also one of the Mediæval
inventions which was carried to greater perfection in the round Gothic
styles than in the pointed. Indeed, it is a fact, that except in window
tracery, and perhaps in pinnacles and flying buttresses, there is not a
single important feature in the pointed style that was not invented and
in general use before its introduction. Even of windows, which are the
important features of the new style, by far the finest are the circular
or wheel windows, which have nothing pointed about them, and which
always fit awkwardly into the pointed compartments in which they are
placed. In smaller windows, too, by far the most beautiful and
constructively appropriate tracery is that where circles are introduced
into the heads of the pointed windows. But, after hundreds of
experiments and expedients had been tried, the difficulty of fitting
these circles into spherical triangles remained, and the unpleasant form
to which their disagreement inevitably gave rise, proved ultimately so
intolerable, that the architects were forced to abandon the beautiful
constructive geometric tracery for the flowing or flamboyant form; and
this last was so ill adapted to stone construction, that the method was
abandoned altogether. These and many other difficulties would have been
avoided, had the architects adhered to the form of the unbroken arch;
but on the other hand it must be confessed that the pointed forms gave a
facility of arrangement which was an irresistible inducement for its
adoption; and especially to the French, who always affected height as
the principal element of architectural effect, it afforded an easy means
for the attainment of this object. Its greatest advantage was the ease
with which any required width could be combined with any required
height. With this power of adaptation the architect was at liberty to
indulge in all the wildness of the most exuberant fancy, hardly
controlled by any constructive necessities of the work he was carrying
out. Whether this was really an advantage or not, is not quite clear. A
tighter rein on the fancy of the designer would certainly have produced
a purer and severer style, though we might have been deprived of some of
those picturesque effects which charm so much in Gothic cathedrals,
especially when their abruptness is softened by time and hallowed by
associations. We must, however, in judging of the style, be careful to
guard ourselves against fettering our judgment by such associations.
There is nothing in all this that might not have been as easily applied
to round as to pointed arches, and indeed it would certainly have been
so applied, had any of the round-arched styles arrived at maturity.

Far more important than the introduction of the pointed arch was the
invention of painted glass, which is really the important formative
principle of Gothic architecture; so much so, that there would be more
meaning in the name, if it were called the “_painted-glass style_,”
instead of the pointed-arch style.

In all the earlier attempts at a pointed style, which have been alluded
to in the preceding pages, the pointed arch was confined to the vaults,
pier arches, and merely constructive parts, while the decorative parts,
especially the windows and doorways, were still round-headed. The
windows were small, and at considerable distances, a very small surface
of openings filled with plain white glass being sufficient to admit all
the light that was required for the purposes of the building, while more
would have destroyed the effect by that garish white light that is now
so offensive in most of our great cathedrals. As soon, however, as
painted glass was introduced, the state of affairs was altered: the
windows were first enlarged to such an extent as was thought possible
without endangering the safety of the painted glass, with the imperfect
means of supporting it then known.[35] All circular plans were
abandoned, and polygonal apses and chapels of the chevet introduced; and
lastly, the windows being made to occupy as nearly as was possible the
whole of each face of these polygonal apses, the lines of the upper part
of the window came internally into such close contact with the lines of
the vault, that it was almost impossible to avoid making them correspond
the one with the other. Thus the windows took the pointed form already
adopted for constructive reasons in the vaults. This became even more
necessary when the fashion was introduced of grouping two or three
simple windows together so as to form one; and when those portions of
wall which separated these windows one from the other had become
attenuated into mullions, and the upper part into tracery, until in fact
the entire wall was taken up by this new species of decoration.

So far as internal architecture is concerned, the invention of painted
glass was perhaps the most beautiful ever made. The painted slabs of the
Assyrian palaces are comparatively poor attempts at the same effect. The
hieroglyphics of the Egyptians were far less splendid and complete; nor
can the painted temples of the Greeks, nor the mosaics and frescoes of
the Italian churches, be compared with the brilliant effect and
party-coloured glories of the windows of a perfect Gothic cathedral,
where the whole history of the Bible was written in the hues of the
rainbow by the earnest hand of faith.

Unfortunately no cathedral retains its painted glass in anything like
such completeness; and so little is the original intention of the
architects understood, that we are content to admire the plain surface
of white glass, and to consider this as the appropriate filling of
traceried windows, just as our fathers thought that whitewash was not
only the purest, but the best mode of decorating a Gothic interior. What
is worse, modern architects, when building Gothic churches, fill their
sides with large openings of this glass, not reflecting that a gallery
of picture-frames without the pictures is after all a sorry exhibition;
but so completely have we lost all real feeling for the art, that its
absurdity does not strike us now.

It will, however, be impossible to understand what follows, unless we
bear in mind that all windows in all churches erected after the middle
of the 12th century were at least intended to be filled with painted
glass, and that the principal and guiding motive in all the changes
subsequently introduced into the architecture of the age was to obtain
the greatest possible space and the best-arranged localities for its


The institution of freemasonry is another matter on which, like the
invention of the pointed arch, a great deal more has been said than the
real importance of the subject at all deserves. Still this subject has
been considered so all-important, that it is impossible to pass it over
here without some reference, if only to explain why so little notice
will be taken of its influence, or of the important names which are
connected with it.

Before the middle of the 12th and beginning of the 13th century, it is
generally admitted that the corporation of freemasons was not
sufficiently organised to have had much influence on art. At that time
it is supposed to have assumed more importance, and to have been the
principal guiding cause in the great change that then took place in
architecture. Those who adopt this view, forget that at that time all
trades and professions were organised in the same manner, and that the
guild of masons differed in no essential particulars from those of the
shoemakers or hatters, the tailors or vintners—all had their masters and
past-masters, their wardens, and other officers, and were recruited from
a body of apprentices, who were forced to undergo years of probationary
servitude before they were admitted to practise their arts.

But though their organisation was the same, the nature of their pursuits
forced one very essential distinction upon the masons, for inasmuch as
all the usual trades were local, and the exercise of them confined to
the locality where the tradesmen resided, the builders were, on the
contrary, forced to go wherever any great work was to be executed.

Thus the shoemakers, tailors, bakers, and others, lived among their
customers, and just in such numbers as were required to supply their
usual recurring wants. It is true the apprentices travelled to learn
their profession and see the world before settling down, but after that
each returned to his native town or village, and then established
himself among his friends or relatives, where he was known by all, and
where he at once took his station without further trouble.

With the mason it was different: his work never came to him, nor could
it be carried on in his own house; he was always forced to go to his
work; and when any great church or building was to be erected in any
town, which was beyond the strength of the ordinary tradesmen of the
place to undertake, masons were sent for, and flocked from all the
neighbouring towns and districts to obtain employment.

At a time when writing was almost unknown among the laity, and not one
mason in a thousand could either read or write, it is evidently
essential that some expedient should be hit upon by which a mason
travelling to his work might claim the assistance and hospitality of his
brother masons on the road, and by means of which he might take his rank
at once, on reaching the lodge, without going through tedious
examinations or giving practical proof of his skill. For this purpose a
set of secret signs was invented, which enabled all masons to recognise
one another as such, and by which also each man could make known his
grade to those of similar rank, without further trouble than a manual
sign, or the utterance of some recognised pass-word. Other trades had
something of the same sort, but it never was necessary for them to carry
it either to the same extent nor to practise it so often as the masons,
they being for the most part resident in the same place and knowing each
other personally. The masons, who thus from circumstances became more
completely organised than other trades, were men skilled in the arts of
hewing and setting stones, acquainted with all recent inventions and
improvements connected with their profession, and capable of carrying
out any work that might be entrusted to them, though they never seem to
have attempted to exercise their calling except under the guidance of
some superior personage, either a bishop or abbot, or an accomplished
layman. In the time of which we are speaking, which was the great age of
Gothic art, there is no instance of a mason of any grade being called
upon to furnish the designs as well as to execute the work.

It may appear strange to us in the 19th century, among whom the great
majority really do not know what true art means, that six centuries ago
eminent men, not specially educated to the profession of architecture,
and qualified only by talent and good taste, should have been capable of
such vast and excellent designs; but a little reflection will show how
easy it is to design when art is in the right path.

If for instance we take a cathedral, any one of a series—let us say of
Paris; when completed, or nearly so, it was easy to see that though an
improvement on those which preceded it, there were many things in its
construction or design which might have been better. The side-aisles
were too low, the gallery too large, the clerestory not sufficiently
spacious for the display of the painted glass, and so on. Let us next
suppose the Bishop of Amiens at that period determined on the erection
of his cathedral. It was easy for him or his master-mason to make these
criticisms, and also to perceive how these mistakes might be avoided;
they could easily see where width might be spared, especially in the
nave, and where a little additional height and a little additional
length would improve the effect of the whole. During the progress of the
Parisian works also some capitals had been designed, or some new form of
piers adopted, which were improvements on preceding examples, and more
confidence and skill would also have been derived from the experience
gained in the construction of arches and vaults. All these of course
would be adopted in the new cathedral; and without making drawings,
guided only by general directions as to the plan and dimensions, the
masons might proceed with the work, and, introducing all the new
improvements as it progressed, they would inevitably produce a better
result than any that preceded it, without any especial skill on the part
either of the master-mason or his employer.

If a third cathedral were to be built after this, it would of course
contain all the improvements made during the progress of the second, and
all the corrections which its results suggested; and thus, while the art
was really progressive, it required neither great individual skill nor
particular aptitude to build such edifices as we find.

In fine arts we have no illustration of this in modern times; but all
our useful arts advance on the same principles, and lead consequently to
the same results. In ship-building, for instance, as mentioned in the
Introduction (page 45), if we take a series of ships, from those in
which Edward III. and his bold warriors crossed the channel to the great
line-of-battle ships now lying at anchor in our harbours, we find a
course of steady and uninterrupted improvement from first to last. Some
new method is tried; if it is found to succeed, it is retained; if it
fails, it is dropped. Thus the general tendency constantly leads to
progress and improvement. And, to continue the comparison a little
further, this progress in the art is not attributable to one or more
eminent naval architects. Great and important discoveries have no doubt
been made by individuals, but in these cases we may generally assume
that, the state of science being ripe for such advances, had the
discovery in question not been made by one man, it soon would have
occurred to some other.

The fact is, that in a useful art like that of ship-building, or in an
art combining use and beauty like that of architecture—that is, when the
latter is a real, living, national art—the progress made is owing, not
to the commanding abilities of particular men, but to the united
influence of the whole public. An intelligent sailor who discusses the
good and bad qualities of a ship, does his part towards the advancement
of the art of ship-building. So in architecture, the merit of any one
admirable building, or of a high state of national art, is not due to
one or to a few master minds, but to the aggregation of experience, the
mass of intellectual exertion, which alone can achieve any practically
great result. Whenever we see any work of man truly worthy of
admiration, we may be quite sure that the credit of it is not due to an
individual, but to thousands working together through a long series of

The pointed Gothic architecture of Germany furnishes a negative
illustration of the view which we have taken of the conditions necessary
for great architectural excellence. There the style was not native, but
introduced from France. French masons were employed, who executed their
work with the utmost precision, and with a perfection of masonic skill
scarcely to be found in France itself. But in all the higher elements of
beauty, the German pointed Gothic cathedrals are immeasurably inferior
to the French. They are no longer the expression of the devotional
feelings of the clergy and people, and are totally devoid of the highest
order of architectural beauty.

The truth of the matter is, that the very pre-eminence of the great
masonic lodges of Germany in the 14th century destroyed the art. When
freemasonry became so powerful as to usurp to itself the designing as
well as the execution of churches and other buildings, there was an end
of true art, though accompanied by the production of some of the most
wonderful specimens of stone-cutting and of constructive skill that were
ever produced. This, however, is “building,” not architecture; and
though it may excite the admiration of the vulgar, it never will touch
the feelings of the true artist or the man of taste.

This decline of true art had nowhere shown itself during the 13th
century, with which we are concerned at present. Then architecture was
truly progressive: every man and every class in the country lent their
aid, each in his own department, and all worked together to produce
those wonderful buildings which still excite our admiration. The masons
performed their part, and it was an important one: but neither to them
nor to their employers, such as the Abbé Suger, Maurice de Sully, Robert
de Lusarches, or Fulbert of Chartres, is the whole merit to be ascribed,
but to all classes of the French nation, carrying on steadily a combined
movement towards a well-defined end.

In the following pages, therefore, it will not be necessary to recur to
the freemasons nor their masters—at least not more than incidentally—
till we come to Germany. Nor will it be necessary to attempt to define
who was the architect of any particular building. The names usually
fixed upon by antiquaries after so much search are merely those of the
master-masons or foremen of the works, who had nothing whatever to do
with the main designs of the buildings. The simple fact that all the
churches of any particular age are so like to one another, both in plan
and detail, and so nearly equal in merit, is alone sufficient to prove
how little the individual had to do with their design, and how much was
due to the age and the progress the style had achieved at that time.
This, too, has always proved to be the case, not only in Europe, but in
every corner of the world, and in every age when architecture has been a
true and living art.

                              CHAPTER IX.

                       FRENCH GOTHIC CATHEDRALS.


Paris—Chartres—Rheims—Amiens—Other Cathedrals—Later Style—St. Ouen’s,

THE great difficulty in attempting to describe the architecture of
France during the glorious period of the 13th century is really the
_embarras de richesse_. There are even now some thirty or forty
cathedrals of the first class in France, all owing their magnificence to
this great age. Some of these, it is true, were commenced even early in
the 12th, and many were not completed till after the 14th century; but
all their principal features, as well as all their more important
beauties, belong to the 13th century, which, as a building epoch, is
perhaps the most brilliant in the whole history of architecture. Not
even the great Pharaonic era in Egypt, the age of Pericles in Greece,
nor the great period of the Roman Empire, will bear comparison with the
13th century in Europe, whether we look to the extent of the buildings
executed, their wonderful variety and constructive elegance, the daring
imagination that conceived them, or the power of poetry and of lofty
religious feelings that is expressed in every feature and in every part
of them.

During the previous age almost all the greater ecclesiastical buildings
were abbeys, or belonged exclusively to monastic establishments—were in
fact the sole property, and built only for the use, of the clergy,
though the laity, it is true, were admitted to them, but only on
sufferance. They had no right to be there, and took no part in the
ceremonies performed. In the 13th century, however, almost all the great
buildings were cathedrals, in the erection of which the laity bore the
greater part of the expense, and shared, in at least an equal degree, in
their property and purposes. In a subsequent age the parochial system
went far to supersede even the cathedral, the people’s church taking
almost entirely the place of the priest’s church, a step which was
subsequently carried to its utmost length by the Reformation. Our
present subject requires us to fix our attention on that stage of this
great movement which gave rise to the building of the principal
cathedrals throughout Europe from the 12th to the 15th century.

The transition from the Romanesque to the true pointed Gothic style in
the centre of France took place with the revival of the national power
under the guidance of the great Abbé Suger, about the year 1144. In
England it hardly appeared till the rebuilding of Canterbury Cathedral,
under the guidance of a French architect, A.D. 1175; and in Germany it
is not found till, at all events, the beginning of the 13th century, and
can hardly be said to have taken firm root in that country till a
century at least after it had been fairly established in France.

The development of particular features will be pointed out as we
proceed; but no attempt will be made to arrange the cathedrals and great
buildings in chronological order. Such an attempt would merely lead to
confusion, as most of them took a century at least to erect—many of them

In France, as in England, there is no one great typical building to
which we can refer as a standard of perfection—no Hypostyle Hall or
Parthenon which combines in itself all the excellences of the style
adopted; and we are forced therefore to cull from a number of examples
materials for the composition, even in imagination, of a perfect whole.
Germany has in this respect been more fortunate, possessing in Cologne
Cathedral an edifice combining all the beauties ever attempted to be
produced in pointed Gothic in that country. But even this is only an
imitation of French cathedrals, erected by persons who admired and
understood the details of the style, but were incapable of appreciating
its higher principles. The great cathedrals of Rheims, Chartres, and
Amiens, are all early examples of the style, and as they were erected
nearly simultaneously, none of their architects were able to profit by
the experience obtained in the others; they are consequently all more or
less experiments in a new and untried style. The principal parts of the
church of St. Ouen at Rouen, on the contrary, are of somewhat too late a
date; and beautiful though it is, masonic perfection was then coming to
be more considered than the expression either of poetry or of power.

Still in Rheims Cathedral we have a building possessing so many of the
perfections and characteristic beauties of the art, that it may almost
serve as a type of the earlier style, as St. Ouen may of the later; and
though we may regret the absence of the intermediate steps, except in
such fragments as the Sainte Chapelle at Paris, still between them we
may obtain a tolerably clear idea of the form to which French art
aspired during its most flourishing age.

To avoid as far as may be possible the tediousness of repetition
necessary if the attempt were made to describe each building separately,
and at the same time not to fall into the confusion that must result
from grouping the whole together, the most expedient mode will perhaps
be, to describe first the four great typical cathedrals of Paris,
Chartres, Rheims, and Amiens, and then to point out briefly the
principal resemblances and differences between these and the other
cathedrals of France.

[Illustration: 620. Plan of Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris. (From
Chapuy, ‘Moyen-Âge Monumental.’) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

Of these four, that of Paris is the oldest; the foundation-stone having
been laid 1163, and the work carried on with such activity by the
bishop, Maurice de Sully, that the high altar was dedicated 1182, the
interior completed 1208, and the west front finished about the year

The history of the cathedral of Chartres (Woodcut No. 623) is not so
easily traced. An important church was erected there by Bishop Fulbert
in the beginning of the 11th century, of which building scarcely
anything now remains but the piers of the western doors and the vast
crypt. In 1115, according to Mr. Street,[36] a west front was commenced
and in 1194 the whole church was destroyed by fire. The new cathedral
was at once commenced, but upon the old foundations. As the old crypt
sustained no damage and it extended the whole length of the church, the
architect was obliged to build on the old lines, and thus we have, as
Mr. Street points out, a variation in the chapels of the chevet which is
extremely original and unlike any other example. The rebuilding was not
completed till the year 1260.

The cathedral of Rheims (Woodcut No. 624) was commenced in the year
1211, immediately after a fire which consumed the preceding building,
and under the auspices of Archbishop Alberic de Humbert,—Robert de Coucy
acting as trustee on the part of the laity. It was so far completed in
all essential parts as to be dedicated in 1241.

Amiens Cathedral (Woodcut No. 625) was commenced in 1220, and completed
in 1257; but being partially destroyed by fire the year afterwards, the
clerestory and all the upper parts of the church were rebuilt. The whole
appears to have been completed, nearly as we now find it, about the year
1272. From this period to the building of the choir of St. Ouen, at
Rouen, 1318-1339, there is a remarkable deficiency of great examples in
France. The intermediate space is very imperfectly filled by the
examples of St. Urbain at Troyes, St. Benigne at Dijon, and a few
others. These are just sufficient to show how exquisite the style then
was, and what we have lost by almost all the cathedrals of France having
been commenced simultaneously, and none being left in which the
experience of their predecessors could be made available.

Though the plans of these cathedrals differ to some extent, their
dimensions are very nearly the same; that at—

                Paris, covering about       64,108 feet.
                Chartres                    68,260 feet.
                Rheims                      67,475 feet.
                Amiens                      71,208 feet.

These dimensions, though inferior to those of Cologne, Milan, Seville,
and some other exceptional buildings, are still as large as those of any
erected in the Middle Ages.

[Illustration: 621. Section of Side Aisles, Cathedral of Paris. (From
Gailhabaud, ‘Architecture.’) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]


 Original  |  Improved
 Design    |  Design

622. External Elevation, Cathedral of Paris. (From Gailhabaud.)]

The cathedral of Paris was designed at a time when the architects had
not obtained that confidence in their own skill which made them
afterwards complete masters of the constructive difficulties of the
design. As shown in the plan (Woodcut No. 620), the points of support
are far more numerous and are placed nearer to one another than is
usually the case; and as may be seen from the section, instead of two
tall storeys, the height is divided into three, and made up, if I may so
express it, of a series of cells built over and beside each, so as to
obtain immense strength with a slight expenditure of materials.

[Illustration: 623. Plan of Chartres Cathedral. (From Chapuy.) Scale 100
ft. to 1 in.]

It must at the same time be confessed that this result was obtained with
a considerable sacrifice of grandeur and simplicity of effect. Even
before the building was completed, the architects seem to have become
aware of these defects; and as is shown in the woodcut (No. 622), the
simple undivided windows of the clerestory were cut down so as to give
them the greatest possible height, and the roof of the upper gallery
made flat to admit of this. Subsequently larger windows were introduced
between the buttresses, with a view to obtaining fewer and larger parts,
and also of course to admit of larger surfaces for painted glass. With
all these improvements the cathedral has not internally the same
grandeur as the other three, though externally there is a very noble
simplicity of outline and appearance of solidity in the whole design.
Internally it still retains, as may be seen from the plan, the
hexapartite arrangement in its vaults over the central aisle, and the
quadripartite in the side-aisles only. This causes the central vault to
overpower those on each side, and makes not only the whole church, but
all parts, look much smaller than would have been the case had the roof
been cut into smaller divisions, as was always subsequently the case.

[Illustration: 624. Plan of Rheims Cathedral. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.
(From Chapuy.)]

[Illustration: 625. Plan of Amiens Cathedral. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

At Chartres most of these defects were avoided; there is there a
simplicity of design and a grandeur of conception seldom surpassed. The
great defect of proportion in that building arises from the circumstance
that the architect included the three aisles of the old church in the
central aisle of the present one. At that time the architects had not
attained that daring perfection of execution which afterwards enabled
them to carry the vaults to so astonishing a height. At Chartres the
proportion of width to height is nearly as 1 to 2, the breadth of the
central nave being nearly 50 ft., and the height only 106. With the
great length of such buildings found in England such proportions were
tolerable, but in the shorter French cathedrals it gives an appearance
of depression which is far from being pleasing; and as the painted glass
has been almost entirely removed from the nave, a cold glare now
pervades the whole, which renders it extremely difficult to form an
opinion of the original effect.

[Illustration: 626. View of the Façade of the Cathedral at Paris. (From

Most of those defects were avoided by the builders of the cathedral at
Rheims, and nothing can exceed the simple beauty and perfection of the
arrangement of the plan, as well as of the general harmony of all the
parts. The proportion, both in width and height, of the side-aisles to
the central nave, and the absence of side chapels and of any subsequent
additions, render the nave one of the most perfect in France. The mode
in which the church expands as you approach the choir, and the general
arrangement of the eastern part,[37] as shown in the plan (Woodcut No.
624), are equally excellent, and are surpassed by no building of the
Middle Ages. The piers are perhaps a little heavy, and their capitals
want simplicity; the triforium is if anything too plain; and at the
present day the effect of light in the church is in one respect
reversed, inasmuch as the clerestory retains its painted glass, which in
the side-aisles has been almost totally destroyed, making the building
appear as though lighted from below—an arrangement highly destructive of
architectural beauty. Notwithstanding all this, it far surpasses those
buildings which preceded it, and is only equalled by Amiens and those
completed afterwards. Their superiority however arose from the
introduction just at the time of their erection of complicated
window-tracery, enabling the builders to dispense almost wholly with
solid walls, and to make their clerestories at least one blaze of
gorgeous colouring. By the improvement in tracery then introduced, they
were able to dispose the glass in the most beautiful forms, and framed
in stone, so as to render it, notwithstanding its extent, still an
integral part of the whole building. In this respect the great height of
the clerestory at Amiens, and its exceeding lightness, give it an
immense advantage over the preceding churches, although this is gained
at the sacrifice, to a certain extent, of the sober and simple majesty
of the earlier examples. There is, nevertheless, so much beauty and so
much poetry in the whole effect that it is scarcely fair to apply the
cold rules of criticism to so fanciful and fascinating a creation.

Externally the same progress is observable in these four cathedrals as
in their interior arrangements. The façade of the cathedral at Paris
(Woodcut No. 626) is simple in its outline, and bold and majestic in all
its parts, and though perhaps a little open to the charge of heaviness,
it is admirably adapted to its situation, and both in design and
proportion fits admirably to the church to which it is attached. The
flanks, too, of the building, as originally designed, must have been
singularly beautiful; for, though sadly disfigured by the insertion of
chapels, which obliterate the buttresses and deprive it of that light
and shade so indispensable to architectural effect, there yet remain a
simplicity of outline, and an elegance in the whole form of the
building, which have not often been excelled in Gothic structures.

The lower part of the façade at Chartres (Woodcut No. 627) is older than
that of Paris, and so plain (it might almost be called rude) as hardly
to admit of comparison with it; but its two spires, of different ages,
are unsurpassed in France. Even in the southern or older of the two,
which was probably finished in the 12th century, we find all the
elements which were so fully developed in Germany and elsewhere in the
following centuries. The change from the square to the octagon, and from
the perpendicular part to the sloping sides of the spire, are managed
with the most perfect art; and were not the effect it produces destroyed
by the elaborate richness of the other spire, it would be considered one
of the most beautiful of its class. The new or northern spire was
erected by Jean Texier between the years 1507 and 1514, and,
notwithstanding the lateness of its date, it must be considered as on
the whole the most beautifully designed spire on the continent of
Europe; and, though not equal in height,[38] certainly far surpassing in
elegance of outline and appropriateness of design those at Strasburg,
Vienna, or even Antwerp. If it has rivals it is that at Friburg, or
those designed for the cathedral at Cologne; but were its details of the
same date, it can hardly be doubted that it would be considered the
finest spire of the three.

[Illustration: 627. North-west View of the Cathedral at Chartres. (From

The transepts at Chartres have more projection than those of Paris, and
were originally designed with two towers to each, and two others were
placed one on each side of the choir; so that the cathedral would have
had eight towers altogether if completed; but none except the western
two have been carried higher than the springing of the roof; and though
they serve to vary the outline, they do not relieve, to the extent they
might have done, the heavy massiveness of the roof. In other respects
the external beauty of the cathedral is somewhat injured by the extreme
heaviness of the flying buttresses, which were deemed necessary to
resist the thrust of the enormous vault of the central nave; and, though
each is in itself a massive and beautiful object, they crowd the
clerestory to an inconvenient extent; the effect of which is also
somewhat injured by the imperfect tracery of the windows, each of which
more resembles separate openings grouped together than one grand and
simple window.

[Illustration: 628. Buttress at Chartres. (From Batissier, ‘Histoire de

[Illustration: 629. Buttresses at Rheims. (From Chapuy.)]

The progress that took place between this building and that at Rheims is
more remarkable on the exterior than even in the interior. The façade of
that church, though small as compared with some others, was perhaps the
most beautiful structure produced during the Middle Ages; and, though it
is difficult to institute a rigorous comparison between things so
dissimilar, there is perhaps no façade either of ancient or of modern
times, that surpasses it in beauty of proportion and details, or in
fitness for the purpose for which it was designed. Nothing can exceed
the majesty of its deeply-recessed triple portals, the beauty of the
rose-window that surmounts them, or the elegance of the gallery that
completes the façade and serves as a basement to the light and graceful
towers that crown the composition. These were designed to carry spires,
no doubt as elegant and appropriate as themselves; but this part of the
design was never completed. The beautiful range of buttresses which
adorn the flanks of the building are also perhaps the most beautiful in
France, and carry the design of the façade back to the transepts. These
are late and less ornate than the western front, but are still
singularly beautiful, though wanting the two towers designed to complete
them. On the intersection of the nave with the transepts there rose at
one time a spire of wood, probably as high as the intended spires of the
western towers, and one still crowns the ridge of the chevet, rising to
half the height above the roof that the central one was intended to
attain. Were these all complete, we should have the beau ideal
externally of a French cathedral, with one central and two western
spires, and four towers at the ends of the transepts. All these perhaps
never were fully completed in any instance, though the rudiments of the
arrangement are found in almost all the principal French cathedrals. In
some, as for instance at Rouen, it was carried out in number, though at
such different periods and of such varied design as to destroy that
unity of effect essential to perfect beauty.

The external effect of Amiens may be taken rather as an example of the
defects of the general design of French cathedrals than as an
illustration of their beauties. The western façade presents the same
general features as those of Paris and Rheims, but the towers are so
small in proportion to the immense building behind as to look mean and
insignificant, while all the parts are so badly put together as to
destroy in a great measure the effect they were designed to produce. The
northern tower is 223 ft. high, the southern 205; both therefore are
higher than those at York, but instead of being appropriate and
beautiful adjuncts to the building they are attached to, they only serve
in this instance to exaggerate the gigantic incubus of a roof, 208 ft.
in height, which overpowers the building it is meant to adorn.

The same is the case with the central spire, which, though higher than
that at Salisbury, being 422 ft. high from the pavement, is reduced from
the same cause to comparative insignificance, and is utterly unequal to
the purpose of relieving the heaviness of outline for which this
cathedral is remarkable. The filling up of the spaces between the
buttresses of the nave with chapels prevents the transepts from having
their full value, and gives an unpleasing fulness and flatness to the
entire design.

All French cathedrals are more or less open to these objections, and are
deficient in consequence of that exquisite variety of outline and play
of light and shade for which the English examples are so remarkable; but
it still remains a question how far the internal loftiness and the glory
of their painted glass compensate for these external defects. The truth
perhaps would be found in a mean between the two extremes, which has not
unfortunately been attained in any one example; and this arises mainly
from the fact that, besides the effect of mass or beauty of outline,
there were many minor considerations of use or beauty that governed the
design. We must consequently look closely at the details, and restore,
in imagination at least, the building in all its completeness, before we
can discover how far the general effect was necessarily sacrificed for
particular purposes.

What painted glass was to the interior of a French cathedral sculpture
was to the exterior. Almost all the arrangements of the façade were
modified mainly to admit of its display to the greatest possible extent.
The three great cavernous porches of the lower part would be ugly and
unmeaning in the highest degree without the sculptures that adorn them.
The galleries above are mere ranges of niches, as unmeaning without
their statues as the great mullioned windows without their “storeyed
panes.” In such lateral porches too, as those for instance at Chartres,
the architecture is wholly subordinate to the sculpture; and in a
perfect cathedral of the 13th century the buttresses, pinnacles, even
the gargoyles, every “coign of vantage,” tells its tale by some image or
representation of some living thing, giving meaning and animation to the
whole. The cathedral thus became an immense collection of sculptures,
containing not only the whole history of the world as then known and
understood, but also of an immense number of objects representing the
arts and sciences of the Middle Ages. Thus the great cathedrals of
Chartres and Rheims even now retain some 5000 figures, scattered about
or grouped together in various parts, beginning with the history of the
creation of the world and all the wondrous incidents of the 1st chapter
of Genesis, and thence continuing the history through the whole of the
Old Testament. In these sculptures the story of the redemption of
mankind is told as set forth in the New Testament, with a distinctness,
and at the same time with an earnestness, almost impossible to surpass.
On the other hand ranges of statues of kings of France and other popular
potentates carry on the thread of profane history to the period of the
erection of the cathedral itself. In addition to these we have
interspersed with them, a whole system of moral philosophy, as
illustrated by the virtues and the vices, each represented by an
appropriate symbol, and the reward or punishment its invariable
accompaniment. In other parts are shown all the arts of peace, every
process of husbandry in its appropriate season, and each manufacture or
handicraft in all its principal forms. Over all these are seen the
heavenly hosts, with saints, angels, and archangels. All this is so
harmoniously contrived and so beautifully expressed, that it becomes a
question even now whether the sculpture of these cathedrals does not
excel the architecture.

In the Middle Ages, when books were rare, and those who could read them
rarer still, this sculpture was certainly most valuable as a means of
popular education; but, as Victor Hugo beautifully expresses it, “Ceci
tuera cela: le livre tuera l’Église.” The printing-press has rendered
all this of little value to the present generation, and it is only
through the eyes of the artist or the antiquary that we can even dimly
appreciate what was actual instruction to the less educated citizens of
the Middle Ages, and the medium through which they learned the history
of the world, or heard the glad tidings of salvation conveyed from God
to man. All this, few, if any, can fully enter into now; but unless it
is felt to at least some extent, it is impossible these wonderful
buildings can ever be appreciated. In the Middle Ages, the sculpture,
the painting, the music of the people were all found in the cathedrals,
and there only. Add to this their ceremonies, their sanctity, especially
that conferred by the relics of saints and martyrs which they contained—
all these things made these buildings all in all to those who erected
and to those who worshipped in them.

[Illustration: 630. Bay of Nave of Beauvais Cathedral. No scale.]

The cathedral of Beauvais is generally mentioned in conjunction with
that of Amiens, and justly so, not only in consequence of its local
proximity, and from its being so near it in date, but also from a
general similarity in style. Beauvais is in fact an exaggeration of
Amiens, and shows defects of design more to be expected in Germany than
in France. It was commenced five years later than Amiens, or in 1225,
and the works were vigorously pursued between the years 1249 and 1267,
though the dedication did not take place till 1272. The architects, in
their rivalry of their great neighbour, seem to have attempted more than
they had skill to perform, for the roof fell in in 1284, and when
rebuilt, additional strength was given by the insertion of another pier
between every two of those in the old design, which served to exaggerate
the apparent height of the pier arches. Emboldened by this, they seem to
have determined to carry the clerestory to the unprecedented height of
150 ft., or about three times the width, measuring from the centre of
one pier to that of the next. It is difficult to say what the effect
might have been had the cathedral been completed with a long nave, an
acute vault, wide pier-spaces and bold massive supports; possibly
however not so sublime as the choir alone is at present, for, owing to
its limited floor area, the eye has only to glance aloft and the
stupendous height and the magnificent construction produce an effect of
splendour and size which is only excelled by that of the great Hall of
Karnac and the interior of St. Sophia.[39] The qualities just quoted of
the choir would seem to have inspired the builders of later generations,
for although the south transept was commenced only in 1500, and the
northern one thirty years later, being finished only in 1537, there is a
simplicity and grandeur in their treatment which places them far ahead
of the contemporary façade of the cathedral of Rouen, built (1509-30) by
Cardinal d’Amboise, which is of a most florid character, and looks like
a piece of rough rockwork encrusted with images and tabernacles, and
ornamented from top to bottom. In 1555 the architects of Beauvais being
seized with the desire of rivalling the dome of St. Peter’s at Rome,
which was then the object of universal admiration, undertook the
construction of a spire on the intersection of the transepts, which they
completed in thirteen years, but which stood only five years from that
time, having fallen down on the day of the Ascension in the year 1573.
This accident so damaged the works under it as to require considerable
reconstruction, which is what we now see. This spire, of which the
original drawings still exist, was 486 ft. in height; and although, as
might be expected from the age in which it was erected, not of the
purest design, must still have been a very noble and beautiful object,
hardly inferior to that of Chartres, which was built only half a century

[Illustration: 631. Doorway, South Transept, Beauvais. (From Chapuy.)]

[Illustration: 632. Plan of Cathedral at Noyon. (From Ramée’s
‘Monographie.’) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

Taken altogether, the cathedral of Beauvais may be considered as an
example of that “vaulting ambition that o’erleaps itself.” Every
principle of Gothic art is here carried to an extreme which tends to
destroy the object with which it was designed, and not only partially
has caused the ruin of the building and practically prevented its
completion, but has run the risk of destroying its artistic effect, so
as to make it an example of what should be avoided rather than of what
should be followed. It has perhaps that want of repose and solidity
which has often been made the reproach of Gothic architecture. And were
it not for the perfection of its masonry and the majesty of its size,
the additional piers which it was found necessary to insert might be
regarded as props applied to prevent its falling, instead of suggesting,
as they do, additional strength and insuring durability. There is one
example in France in which this danger of carrying the principles of
Gothic art to its extreme is painfully evident. The church of St. Urbain
of Troyes, mentioned farther on, p. 155, and the choir of which has just
been restored (1891) and filled with modern stained glass, resembles
more an ephemeral construction in iron and glass, a sort of mediæval
crystal palace, than one in which the solid construction of its masonry
should give repose and a sense of solidity and strength.

[Illustration: 633. Spires of Laon Cathedral. (From Dusomerard.)]

The cathedral of Noyon is an earlier example, and one of the best and
most elegant transition specimens in France, having been commenced about
the year 1137, and completed, as we now see it, in 1167. Here the
circular arch had not entirely disappeared, which was owing to its early
date, and to its situation near the German border, and its connection
with the see of Tournay, with which it was long united. Like the sister
church of that place, it was triapsal, which gave it great elegance of
arrangement. The one defect of this form seems to be, that it does not
lend itself easily to the combination of towers which were then so much
in vogue.

In singular contrast to this is the neighbouring cathedral of Laon, one
of the very few in France which have no chevet. It terminates with a
square east end, like an English church, except that it has there a
great circular window only, instead of the immense wall of glass usually
adopted in this country. In style it more resembles the cathedral of
Paris than any other, though covering less ground and smaller in all its
features. Its great glory is its crowning group of towers. The two
western (with the exception of their spires) and the two at the end of
the northern transept are complete. On the southern side only one has
been carried to its full height, and the central lantern is now crowned
by a low pyramidal roof instead of the tall spire that must once have
adorned it; but even as they now are, the six that remain, whether seen
from the immediate neighbourhood of the building or from the plain
below—for it stands most nobly on the flat top of a high isolated hill—
have a highly picturesque and pleasing effect, and notwithstanding the
rudeness of some of its details, and its deficiency in sculpture, it is
in many respects one of the most interesting of the cathedrals of

[Illustration: 634. View of Cathedral at Coutances. (From ‘Transactions
of Institute of British Architects.’)]

One of the earliest of the complete pointed Gothic churches of France is
that of Coutances (Woodcut No. 634), the whole of which belongs to the
first half of the 13th century, and though poor in sculpture, makes up
for this to some extent by the elegance of its architectural details,
which are unrivalled or nearly so in France.

Externally it possesses two western spires, and one octagonal lantern
over the intersection of the nave and transept, which, both for beauty
of detail and appropriateness, is the best specimen of its class, and
only wants the crowning spire to make this group of towers equal to
anything on this side of the channel.

Notre Dame de Dijon is another example of the same early and elegant
age, but possessing the Burgundian peculiarity of a deeply recessed
porch or narthex, surmounted by a façade of two open galleries, one over
the other, exactly in the manner of the churches of Pisa and Lucca of
the 11th and 12th centuries, of which it may be considered an imitation.
It is, however, as unsatisfactory in pointed Gothic, even with the very
best details, as it is in the pseudo-classical style of Pisa, forming in
either case a remarkably unmeaning mode of decoration.

[Illustration: 635. Lady Chapel, Auxerre. (From Chapuy.)]

The cathedrals of Sens and Auxerre are pure examples of pointed
architecture. The latter (A.D. 1213) internally rivals perhaps even
Coutances. Nothing can be more elegant than the junction of the lady
chapel here with the chevet; for though this is almost always pleasingly
arranged, the design has been unusually successful in this instance. The
two slender shafts, shown in the Woodcut No. 635, just suffice to give
it pre-eminence and dignity, without introducing any feature so large as
to disturb the harmony of the whole.

In the great church of St. Quentin, the five chapels of the chevet have
each two pillars, arranged similarly to these of the lady chapel at
Auxerre; and though the effect is rich and varied, the result is not
quite so happy as in this instance. Taken altogether, however, few
chevets in France are more perfect and beautiful than this almost
unknown example.

The cathedral of Troyes, commenced in 1206, and continued steadily for
more than three centuries, is one of the few in France, designed
originally with five aisles and a range of chapels. The effect, however,
is far from satisfactory. The great width thus given makes the whole
appear low, and the choir wants that expansion and dignity which is so
pleasing at Rheims and Chartres. Still the details and design of the
earlier parts are good and elegant; and the west front (Woodcut No.
637), though belonging wholly to the 16th century, is one of the most
pleasing specimens of flamboyant work in France, being rich without
exuberance, and devoid of the bad taste that sometimes disfigures works
of this class and age.

The cathedral at Soissons is one of the most pleasing of all these
churches. Nothing can surpass the justness of the proportions of the
central and side aisles both in themselves and to one another. Though
the church is not large, and principally of that age—the latter half of
the 13th century—in which the effect depended so much on painted glass,
now destroyed or disarranged, it still deserves a place in the first
rank of French cathedrals.

[Illustration: 636. Plan of Cathedral at Troyes. (From Arnaud, ‘Voyage
dans le Département de l’Aube.’) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

The two cathedrals of Toul and Tours present many points of great
beauty, but their most remarkable features are their western façades,
both of late date, each possessing two towers terminating in octagonal
lanterns, with details verging on the style of the Renaissance, and yet
so Gothic in design and so charmingly executed as almost to induce the
belief, in spite of the fanciful extravagance which it displays, that
the architects were approaching to something new and beautiful when the
mania for classical details overtook them.

The two cathedrals of Limoges and Dijon belong to the latter half of the
13th century, and will consequently when better known fill a gap
painfully felt in the history of the art.

[Illustration: 637. Façade of Cathedral at Troyes. (From Arnaud.)]

It would be tedious to enumerate all the great cathedrals of the
country, or to attempt to describe their peculiarities; but we must not
omit all mention of such as Lisieux, remarkable for its beautiful
façade, and Evreux, for the beauty of many of its parts, though the
whole is too much a patchwork to produce an entirely pleasing effect.
Nevers, too, is remarkable as being one of the only two double-apse
cathedrals in France, Besançon being the other. At Nevers this was owing
to the high altar having been originally at the west, a defect felt to
be intolerable in France in the 16th century, when the church was
rebuilt, when it was done without destroying the old sanctuary.
Bordeaux, already mentioned for its noble nave without aisles, possesses
a chevet worthy of it, and two spires of great beauty at the ends of the
transepts, the only spires so placed, I think, in France. Autun has a
spire on the intersection of the nave with the transepts as beautiful as
anything of the same class elsewhere. The cathedral of Lyons is
interesting, as showing how hard it was for the Southern people of
France to shake off their old style and adopt that of their Northern
neighbours. With much grandeur and elegance of details, it is still so
clumsy in design, that neither the whole nor any of its parts can be
considered as satisfactory. The windows, for instance, as shown in the
woodcut (No. 638), look more like specimens of the so-called carpenter’s
Gothic of modern times than examples of the art of the Middle Ages.

There still remains to be mentioned the cathedral at Rouen. This
remarkable building possesses parts belonging to all ages, and exhibits
most of the beauties, as also, it must be confessed, most of the defects
of each style. It was erected with a total disregard to all rule, yet so
splendid and so picturesque that we are almost driven to the wild
luxuriance of nature to find anything to which we can compare it.
Internally its nave, though rich, is painfully cut up into small parts.
The undivided piers of the choir, on the contrary, are too simple for
their adjuncts. Externally, the transept towers are beautiful in
themselves, but are overpowered by the richness of those of the west
front. The whole of that façade, in spite of the ruin of some of its
most important features, and the intrusion of much modern vulgarity, may
be called a romance in stone, consisting as it does of a profusion of
the most playful fancies. Like most of the cathedrals near our shores,
that of Rouen was designed to have a central spire; this, however, was
not completed till late in the cinque-cento age, and then only in vulgar
woodwork, meant to imitate stone. That being destroyed, an attempt has
lately been made to replace it by still more vulgar iron-work, leaner
and poorer than almost anything else of modern times.

[Illustration: 638. Window of Cathedral at Lyons. (From Peyrée’s ‘Manuel
de l’Architecture.’)]

[Illustration: 639. Plan of Cathedral at Bazas. (From Lamothe.[40])
Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

In the preceding pages, all mention of the cathedrals of Bazas and
Bourges has been purposely omitted, because they belong to a different
type from the above. The first (Woodcut No. 639) is one of the most
perfect specimens of the pure Gothic style in the South of France. Its
noble triple portal, filled with exquisite sculpture, and its extensive
chevet, make it one of the most beautiful of its class. It shows no
trace of a transept,—a peculiarity, as before pointed out, by no means
uncommon in the South. This, though a defect in so far as external
effect is concerned, gives great value to the internal dimensions, the
appearance of length being far greater than when the view is broken by
the intersection of the transept.

[Illustration: 640. Plan of Cathedral at Bourges. (From Girardot,
‘Description de la Cathédrale.’) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

This is still more striking at Bourges, where the cathedral, though one
of the finest and largest in France, covering 73,170 square feet, is
still one of the shortest, being only 405 ft. in extreme length; yet,
owing to the central aisle being wholly unbroken, it appears one of the
longest, as it certainly is one of the most majestic of all. This
cathedral possesses also another Southern peculiarity of more
questionable advantage, in having five aisles in three different
heights. The section (Woodcut No. 640) will explain this. The central
aisle is 117 ft. in height, those next to it 66 ft. high, the two outer
only 28. These last appear to destroy the harmony of the whole, for on
an inspection of the building, the outer aisles do not appear to belong
to the design, but look more like afterthoughts. At Milan, Bologna, and
other places in Italy, where this gradation is common, this mistake is
avoided, and the effect proportionably increased; and except that this
arrangement does not admit of such large window spaces, in other
respects it is not quite clear that, where double aisles are used, it
would not always be better that they should be of different heights.
This arrangement of the aisles was never again fairly tried in France;
but even as it is, the cathedral of Bourges must rank after the four
first mentioned as the finest and most perfect of the remaining edifices
of its class in that country. It is singularly beautiful in its details,
and happy in its main proportions; for owing to the omission of the
transept, the length is exquisitely adapted to the other dimensions. Had
a transept been added, at least 100 ft. of additional length would have
been required to restore the harmony; and though externally it would no
doubt have gained by such an adjunct, this gain would not have been
adequate to the additional expense so incurred.

[Illustration: 641. Section of Cathedral at Bourges. (From Drawings by
F. Penrose, Esq., Architect.) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

The greater part of the western façade of this cathedral is of a later
date than the building itself, and is extended so much beyond the
proportions required for effect as to overpower the rest of the
building, so that it is only from the sides or the eastern end that all
the beauty of this church can be appreciated.

As far as regards size or richness of decoration, the cathedral of
Orleans deserves to rank as one of the very first in France, and is
remarkable as the only first-class Gothic cathedral erected in Europe
since the Middle Ages. The original church on this site having been
destroyed by the Calvinists, the present cathedral was commenced in the
year 1601 by Henry IV. of France, and although the rebuilding proceeded
at first with great vigour, and the work was never wholly discontinued,
it is even now hardly completed.

Considering the age in which it was built, and the contemporary
specimens of so-called Gothic art erected in France and England, it is
wonderful how little of classical admixture has been allowed to creep
into the design of this building, and how closely it adhered to every
essential of the style adopted. In plan, in arrangement, and indeed in
details, it is so correct, that it requires considerable knowledge to
define the difference between this and an older building of the same
class. Still there is a wide difference, which makes itself felt though
not easily described, and consists in the fact that the old cathedrals
were built by men who had a true perception of their art; while the
modern example only bears evidence of a well-learnt lesson distinctly
repeated, but without any real feeling for the subject. This want
betrays itself in an unmeaning repetition of parts, in a deficiency of
depth and richness, and in a general poverty of invention.

                          COLLEGIATE CHURCHES.

It would not be difficult to select out of the collegiate churches of
France as complete a series as of the cathedrals, though of inferior
size. But having already gone through the one class of buildings, we
must confine ourselves to a brief notice of the other. The church of
Charité sur Loire was one of the most picturesque and beautiful in
France. It is now partially ruined, though still retaining enough of its
original features to illustrate clearly the style to which it belongs.
Originally the church was about 350 ft. in length by 90 in breadth. One
tower of the western front, one aisle, and the whole of the choir still
remain, and belong without doubt to the church dedicated in 1106 by Pope
Pascal. The presence of the pointed form in the pier arches and vaults
has induced some to believe that this church belongs to the reign of
Philip Augustus, about a century later, and when the church was restored
after a great fire. Its southern position, however, the circumstance of
its being the earliest daughter church of the abbey of Cluny, and the
whole style of the building, are proofs of its earlier age. All the
decorative parts, and all the external openings, still retain the
circular form as essentially as if the pointed had never been

The most remarkable feature in this church is the exuberance of the
ornament with which all the parts are decorated, so very unlike the
massive rudeness of the contemporary Norman or Northern styles. The
capitals of the pillars, the arches of the triforium, the jambs of the
windows and the cornices, all show a refinement and love of ornament
characteristic of a far more advanced and civilised people than those of
the Northern provinces of France.

Among those who were present at the dedication of this church was the
Abbé Suger, then a gay young man of twenty years of age, who about
thirty years later, in the plenitude of his power, commenced the
building of the abbey of St. Denis, near Paris, the west front of which
was dedicated in the year 1140, and rest of the church built “stupendâ
celeritate,” and dedicated in 1144. Though certainly not the earliest,
St. Denis may be considered as the typical example of the earliest
pointed Gothic in France. It terminated the era of transition, and fixed
the epoch when the Northern pointed style became supreme, to the total
exclusion of the round-arched style that preceded it. The effect of
Suger’s church is now destroyed by a nave of the 14th century—of great
beauty it must be confessed—which is interpolated between the western
front and the choir, both which remain in all essentials as left by him,
and enable us to decide without hesitation on the state of architectural
art at the time of the dedication of the church.

A few years later was commenced the once celebrated abbey of Pontigny,
near Auxerre, probably in 1150, and completed, as we now find it, within
15 or 20 years from that date.

[Illustration: 642. View in the Church of Charité sur Loire. (From a
Sketch by the Author.)]

Externally it displays an almost barn-like simplicity, having no towers
or pinnacles—plain undivided windows, and no ornament of any sort. The
same simplicity reigns in the interior, but the varied form and play of
light and shade here relieve it to a sufficient extent, and make it
altogether, if not one of the most charming examples of its age, at
least one of the most instructive, as showing how much effect can be
obtained by ornamental arrangement with the smallest possible amount of
ornament. In obedience to the rules of the Cistercian order, it neither
had towers nor painted glass, which last circumstance perhaps adds to
its beauty, as we now see it, for the windows being small, admit just
light enough for effect, without the painful glare that now streams
through the large mullioned windows of the cathedral of Auxerre.

To the Englishman, Pontigny should be more than usually interesting, as
it was here that the three most celebrated archbishops of Canterbury—
Becket, Langton, and Edmund—found an asylum when driven by the troubles
of their native land to seek a refuge abroad, and the bones of the
last-named sainted prelate are said still to remain in the _châsse_,
represented in the woodcut, and are now and have been for centuries the
great object of worship here.

[Illustration: 643. Chevet, Pontigny. (From Chaillou des Barres.)]

About a century after the erection of these two early specimens, we have
two others, the dates of which are ascertained, and which exhibit the
pointed style in its greatest degree of perfection. The first, the
Sainte Chapelle in Paris, was commenced in 1241, and dedicated in
1244;[41] the other, the church of St. Urban at Troyes, was begun in
1262, and the choir and transept completed in 1266. Both are only
fragments—choirs to which it was originally intended to add naves of
considerable extent. The proportions of the Sainte Chapelle are in
consequence somewhat too tall and short; but the noble simplicity of its
design, the majesty of its tall windows, and the beauty of all its
details, render it one of the most perfect examples of the style at its
culminating point in the reign of St. Louis. Now that the whole of the
painted glass has been restored, and the walls repainted according to
what may be assumed to have been the original design, we are enabled to
judge of the effect of such a building in the Middle Ages. It may be
that our eyes are not educated up to the mark, or that the restorers
have not quite grasped the ancient design; but the effect as now seen is
certainly not quite satisfactory. The painted glass is glorious, but the
effect would certainly have been more pleasing if all the structural
parts of the architecture had been of one colour. There is no repose
about the interior—nothing to explain the construction. The flat parts
may have been painted as they now are; but surely the shafts and ribs
could only have been treated as stone.

[Illustration: 644. West Front of Ste. Marie de l’Épine. (From

The other was founded by Pope Urban IV., a native of Troyes, and would
have been completed as a large and magnificent church, but for the
opposition of some contumacious nuns, who had sufficient power and
influence even in those days to thwart the designs of the Pope himself.
Its great perfection is the beauty of its details, in which it is
unsurpassed by anything in France or in Germany; its worst defect is a
certain exaggerated temerity of construction, which tends to show how
fast, even when this church was designed, architecture was passing from
the hands of the true artist into those of the mason, whose attempts to
astonish by wonders of construction then and ever afterwards completely
marred the progress of the art which was thought to be thereby promoted.

About seventy years after this we come to the choir of St. Ouen, and to
another beautiful little church, Ste. Marie de l’Épine (Woodcut No.
644), near Châlons sur Marne, commenced apparently about 1329, though
not completed till long afterwards.[42] It is small—a miniature
cathedral in fact—like our St. Mary Redcliffe, which in many respects it
resembles, and is a perfect bijou of its class. One western spire
remains—the other was destroyed to make room for a telegraph—and is not
only beautiful in itself, but interesting as almost the only example of
an open-work spire in France.

The church of St. Ouen, at Rouen, was beyond comparison the most
beautiful and perfect of the abbey edifices of France. This was
commenced by Marc d’Argent in the year 1318, and was carried on
uninterruptedly for twenty-one years, and at his death the choir and
transept were completed, or very nearly so. The English wars interrupted
at this time the progress of this, as of many other buildings, and the
works of the nave were not seemingly resumed till about 1490, and
twenty-five years later the beautiful western front was commenced.

Except that of Limoges, the choir is almost the only perfect building of
its age, and being nearly contemporary with the choir at Cologne (1276
to 1321), affords a means of comparison between the two styles of
Germany and France at that age, entirely to the advantage of the French
example, which, though very much smaller, avoids all the more glaring
faults of the other.

[Illustration: 645. Plan of Church of St. Ouen at Rouen. (From Peyrée’s
‘Manuel.’) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 646. Church of St. Ouen at Rouen, from the S.E. (From

Nothing indeed can exceed the beauty of proportion of this most elegant
church; and except that it wants the depth and earnestness of the
earlier examples, it may be considered as the most beautiful thing of
its kind in Europe. The proportion too of the nave, transepts, and choir
to one another is remarkably happy, and affords a most striking contrast
to the very imperfect proportions of Cologne. Its three towers also
would have formed a perfect group as originally designed, but the
central one was not completed till so late, that its details have lost
the aspiring character of the building on which it stands, and the
western spires, as rebuilt within the last few years, are incongruous
and inappropriate; whereas had the original design been carried out
according to the drawings which still exist, it would have been one of
the most beautiful façades known anywhere. The diagonal position of the
towers met most happily the difficulty of giving breadth to the façade
without placing them beyond the line of the aisles, as is done in the
cathedral of Rouen, and at the same time gave a variety to the
perspective which must have had the most pleasing effect. Had the idea
occurred earlier, few western towers would have been placed otherwise;
but the invention came too late, and within the last few years we have
seen all traces of the arrangement ruthlessly obliterated.

The style of the choir of this church may be fairly judged from the view
of the southern porch (Woodcut No. 647). This has all that perfection of
detail which we are accustomed to admire in Cologne Cathedral, and the
works of the time of our Second Edward, combined with a degree of
lightness and grace peculiar to this church. The woodcut is too small to
show the details of the sculpture in the tympanum above the doors, but
that too is of exquisite beauty, and being placed where it can be so
well seen, and at the same time so perfectly protected, it heightens the
architectural design without in any way seeming to interfere with it.
This is a somewhat rare merit in French portals. In most of them it is
evident that the architect has been controlled in his design in order to
make room for the immense quantity of sculpture which usually crowds
them. On the other hand, the position of the figures is often forced and
constrained, and the bas-reliefs nearly unintelligible, from the
architects having been unable to give the sculptor that unencumbered
space which was requisite for the full development of his ideas.

[Illustration: 647. Southern Porch of St. Ouen at Rouen. (From Chapuy.)]

It would be easy to select numerous examples from the collegiate and
parish churches of France to extend this series. Our limits will not,
however, admit of the mention of more than one other instance. The
sepulchral church of Brou en Bresse was erected between 1511 and 1536,
by Margaret of Austria, daughter of Maximilian, and aunt of Charles V.,
Emperor of Germany. It was therefore nearly contemporary with Henry
VII.’s Chapel at Westminster, and thus affords the means of comparison
between the English and French styles of the day, which is wholly in
favour of our own; both are the most florid specimens of their class in
either country, but at Brou, both externally and internally, all majesty
of form and constructive propriety are lost sight of; and though we
wonder that stone could be cut into such a marvellous variety of
lace-like forms, and are dazzled by the splendour of the whole, it is
with infinite pleasure that we turn from these elaborate specimens of
declining taste to an earlier and purer style. Fascinating as some of
these late buildings undoubtedly are from the richness of decorative
fancy that reigns in every detail, still they can only be regarded as
the productions of the stonemason and carver, and not of the arts of the
architect or sculptor so called.

In the city of Rouen we also find the beautiful church of St. Maclou
(1432-1500), a gorgeous specimen of the later French style, presenting
internally all the attenuation and defects of its age; but in the five
arcades of its beautiful western front it displays one of the richest
and most elegant specimens of flamboyant work in France. It also shows
what the façade of St. Ouen would have been if completed as designed.
This church once possessed a noble central tower and spire, destroyed in
1794. When all this was complete, few churches of its age could have
competed with it.

St. Jacques at Dieppe is another church of the same age, and possessing
the same lace-like beauty of detail and elaborate finish, which charms
in spite of soberer reason, that tells us it is not in stone that such
vagaries should be attempted. Abbeville, St. Riquier, and all the
principal towns throughout that part of France, are rich in specimens of
the late Gothic, of which we are now speaking. These specimens are in
many respects beautiful, but in all that constitutes true and good art
they are inferior to those of the glorious epoch which preceded them.

                               CHAPTER X.


Gothic details—Pillars—Windows—Circular windows—Bays—Vaults—Buttresses—
  Pinnacles—Spires—Decoration—Construction—Furniture of churches—
  Domestic architecture.

ALTHOUGH in the preceding pages, in describing the principal churches of
France, mention has been made of the various changes of detail which
took place from the time of the introduction of the pointed style till
its abandonment in favour of the revived classical, still it seems
necessary to recapitulate the leading changes that were introduced. This
will be most fitly done before we leave the subject of French
architecture, that being on the whole the most complete and harmonious
of all the pointed styles, as well as the earliest.


Of these details, the first that arrests the attention of the inquirer
is the form of the pillars or piers used in the Middle Ages, inasmuch as
it is the feature that bears the most immediate resemblance to the
typical forms of preceding styles. Indeed, the earlier pillars in the
round-arched style were virtually rude imitations of Roman originals,
made so thick and heavy as to bear without apparent stress the whole
weight of the arches they supported, and of the superincumbent wall.
This increase of the weight laid upon the pillars, and consequently in
their strength and heaviness, was the great change introduced into the
art of building in the early round Gothic style. With the same
requirements the classic architects either must have thickened their
pillars immensely, or coupled them in some way. Indeed the Romans, in
such buildings as the Colosseum, placed the pillars in front and a pier
behind, which last was the virtual support of the wall. The Gothic
architects improved on this by adding a pillar, or rather a half pillar,
on each side, to receive the pier arches, and carrying up those behind
and in front to support the springing of the vault or roof, instead of
the useless entablature of the Romans.

By this means the pier became in plan what is represented in figs. 1 and
2 in the diagram (Woodcut No. 648). Sometimes it was varied, as
represented in fig. 3, where the angle-shafts were only used to lighten
the apparent heaviness of the central mass; in other examples both these
modes are combined, as in fig. 4, which not only constructively, but
artistically, is one of the most beautiful combinations which the square
forms are capable of, combining great strength with great lightness of
appearance, and variety of light and shade.

These four forms may be said to be typical in the South, where the style
was derived so directly from the Roman square pier combined with an
attached circular pillar.

In the North the Normans, and generally speaking, all the Frankish
tribes, used the circular pillar in preference to the square pier, and
consequently the variations were as shown in figs. 5, 6, 7, and 8,
which, though forming beautiful combinations, wanted the accentuation
produced by the contrast between the square and round forms.

[Illustration: 648. Diagram of Plans of Pillars.]

The architects after a time seemed to have felt this, and tried to
remedy it by introducing ogee forms and sharp edges, with deep undercut
shadows, thus applying to the pillars those forms which had been
invented for the mouldings of the ribs of the vaults, and for the
tracery of the windows. The expedient was perfectly successful at first,
and, so long as it was practised in moderation, gave rise to some of the
most beautiful forms of pillars to be found in any style. It proved,
however, too tempting an opportunity for the indulgence of every sort of
quirk and quibble; and after passing through the shapes shown in figs. 9
and 10, where the meaning of all the parts is still sufficiently
manifest, it became as complicated as fig. 11, and sometimes even more
cut up, so that all meaning and beauty was lost. It became moreover very
expensive and difficult to execute, so that in later times the
architects reverted, either to circular pillars, or to such a form as
that shown in fig. 12, which was introduced in the 16th century. The
change may have been partly introduced from motives of economy, and also
to some extent from a desire to imitate the flutings of classical
pillars; but from whatever motive it arose, it is singularly unmeaning
and inartistic; and as the capital was at the same time omitted, the
whole pillar took an appearance of cold poverty entirely at variance
with the true spirit of Gothic art. This last change showed, perhaps
more clearly than those introduced into any other feature, how entirely
the art had died away before the classical styles superseded it.


Before painted glass came into use, very small apertures sufficed to
admit the required quantity of light into the churches. These openings
retained their circular-arched heads long after the pointed form
pervaded the vaults and pier arches, because the architects still
thought them the most beautiful; they moreover occupied so small a
portion of the wall spaces that their lines neither came in contact nor
interfered with the constructive lines of the building itself; but when
it was required to enlarge them for the purpose of receiving large
pictures, the retention of the circular form was no longer practicable.

[Illustration: 649. Window, St. Martin, Paris. (From ‘Paris

[Illustration: 650. Window of Nave of Cathedral at Chartres.]

[Illustration: 651. Window in Choir of Cathedral at Chartres.]

The Woodcut No. 622, showing the side elevation of Notre Dame at Paris,
illustrates well three stages of this process as practised in the 12th
and 13th centuries. It exhibits first the large undivided window without
mullions, the glass being supported by strong iron bars; next, that with
one mullion and a circular rose in the head; and lastly, in the lower
storey, a complete traceried window. The transition from the old small
window to the first of these is easily explained, and the Woodcut No.
649, representing one of the windows in St. Martin at Paris, will
explain the transition from the first to the second. Instead of one
large undivided opening, it was often thought more expedient to
introduce two lancets side by side; but as these never filled, nor could
fill, the space of one bay so as to follow its principal lines, it
became usual to introduce a circular window of greater or less size
between their heads. This, with the rude construction of the age,
presented certain difficulties which were obviated by carrying the
masonry of the vault through the wall so as to form a discharging arch.
When once this was done it required only a glance from an experienced
builder to see that if the discharging arch were strong enough, the
whole of the wall between the buttresses might be removed without
endangering the safety of the building. This was accordingly soon done.
The pier between the two lancets became attenuated into a mullion, the
circle lost its independence, and was grouped with them under the
discharging arch, which was carried down each side in boldly splayed
jambs, and the whole became in fact a traceried window.

[Illustration: 652. Window at Rheims.]

[Illustration: 653. Window at St. Ouen.]

In the cathedral at Chartres we have examples of the two extremes of
these transitional windows. In the windows of the aisles of the nave
(Woodcut No. 650) the circle is small and insignificant, and only serves
to join together the two lancets. In the clerestory (Woodcut No. 651),
which is somewhat later, the circle is all important and quite
overpowers the lower part. Here it is in fact a circular window,
supported by a rectilinear substructure. In both these instances the
discharging arch still retains its circular form, and the tracery is
still imperfect, inasmuch as all the openings are only holes of various
forms cut into a flat surface, whereas to make it perfect, it is
necessary that the lines of two contiguous openings should blend
together, being separated by a straight or curved moulded mullion, and
not merely pierced as they are in this instance. This may perhaps be
better illustrated by one of the windows of the side-aisles at Rheims,
where the pointed Gothic window has become complete in all its essential
parts. Even here it will be observed how awkwardly the circle fits into
the spherical triangle of the upper part of the window. Indeed, there is
an insuperable awkwardness in the small triangles necessarily left in
fitting circles into the spaces above the lancets, and beneath the
pointed head of the openings. When four or five lights were used instead
of two, this defect became more apparent; and even in the example from
St. Ouen (Woodcut No. 653). one of the most beautiful in France, the
architect has not been able to obviate the discordance between the
conflicting lines of the circle and spherical triangle. At last, after
two centuries of earnest trial, the builders of those days found
themselves constrained to abandon entirely these beautiful constructive
geometric forms, for tracery of a more manageable nature, and in place
of the circle they invented first a flowing tracery, of which the window
at Chartres (Woodcut No. 654) is an exquisite example; and then having
shaken off the trammels of constructive form, launched at once into all
the vagaries of the flamboyant style. In this style stone tracery was
made to look bent and twisted, as willow wands. Its forms, it must be
confessed, were always graceful, but constructively weak, and frequently
extravagant, showing a complete contrast to the contemporary
perpendicular style followed in England. That failed from the stiffness
of its forms; this from the fantastic pliancy with which so rigid a
material as stone was used. Greatness or grandeur was as impossible in
flamboyant tracery, as grace and beauty were with the perpendicular
style; still for domestic edifices, and for the smaller churches erected
in the 16th century, it must be confessed the flamboyant style has a
charm it is impossible to resist. It is so graceful and so fantastically
brilliant, that it captivates in spite of our soberer reason, lending as
it does an elegance to every edifice where it is found, and finding its
parallel alone among the graceful fancies of the Saracenic architects of
the best age.

[Illustration: 654. Window at Chartres.]

                           CIRCULAR WINDOWS.

By far the most brilliant examples of this class in France are to be
found among the great circular windows with which the west ends and
transepts of the cathedrals were adorned. There is, I believe, no
instance in France of the great straight-mullioned windows of which our
architects were so fond, and even where the east end terminates
squarely, as at Laon, it has a great rose window. There can be little
doubt that the circle, so long as it was wholly adhered to, was the
noblest form architecturally, both externally and internally; but when
the triforium below it was pierced, and the lower angles outside the
circle were filled with tracery, making it into something like our great
windows, the result was a confusion of the two modes, in which the
advantages of neither were preserved.

Of the earlier circular windows, one of the finest is that in the
western front at Chartres (Woodcut No. 655), of imperfect tracery, like
the greater part of that cathedral, but of great size and majesty. Its
diameter is 39 ft. across the openings, and 44 ft. 6 in. across to the
outer mouldings of the circle. Those of the transepts are smaller, being
only 33 ft. across the opening, but show a considerable advance in the
art of tracery, which by the time they were executed was becoming far
better understood.

[Illustration: 655. West Window, Chartres.]

[Illustration: 656. Transept Window, Chartres.]

[Illustration: 657. West Window, Rheims.]

[Illustration: 658. West Window, Evreux.]

If space admitted, it would be easy to select examples to trace the
progress of the invention between these early efforts and the almost
perfect window that adorns the centre of the west front at Rheims
(Woodcut No. 657); and again from this to that at Evreux (Woodcut No.
658). In the latter instance, the geometric forms have given way to the
lace-work of flowing tracery, of which this is a pleasing example. It is
further remarkable in respect that all the parts of the tracery or
mullions are of the same thickness, whereas it is usual in flowing or
flamboyant tracery to introduce a considerable degree of subordination
into the parts, dividing them into greater or smaller ribs, thus
avoiding confusion and giving to the whole a constructive appearance
which it otherwise would not possess. This is very apparent in such a
window as that which adorns the west front of St. Ouen, at Rouen, where
the parts are distinctly subordinated to one another, and have
consequently that strength and character which it is so difficult to
impart. It also exemplifies what was before alluded to, viz., the mode
in which the lower external angles of the circle were filled up, and
also, in a far more pleasing manner than usual, the mode in which the
pierced triforium is made to form part of the decoration. Owing to the
strong transom bar here employed, there is strength enough to support
the superstructure; but as too often is the case, when this is subdued
and kept under, there is a confusion between the circular and upright
parts, which is not pleasing. It is then neither a circular nor an
upright window, but an indeterminate compound of two pleasing members,
in which both suffer materially by juxtaposition.

[Illustration: 659. West Window, St. Ouen. (From Pugin.)]

I believe it is safe to assert, that out of at least a hundred
first-class examples of these circular windows, which still exist in
France, no two are alike. On the contrary, they present the most
striking dissimilarity of design. There is no feature on which the
French architects bestowed more pains, or in which they were more
successful. They are, indeed, the _chefs-d’œuvre_ of their decorative
abilities, and the most pleasing individual features of their greater
churches. At the same time, they completely refute the idea that the
pointed form is at all necessary for the production of beauty in
decorative apertures.


It may be useful here to recapitulate what has been said of the
subdivision of churches into bays, or, as the French call them,
_travées_. The two typical arrangements of these are shown in Woodcuts
Nos. 616 and 617, as existing before the introduction of the pointed
forms. In the first a great gallery runs over the whole of the side
aisle, introduced partly as a constructive expedient to serve the
purpose for which flying buttresses were afterwards employed, partly as
enabling the architect to obtain the required elevation without
extraordinarily tall pillars or wide pier-spaces, both which were beyond
the constructive powers of the earlier builders. These galleries were
also useful as adding to the accommodation of the church, as people were
able thence to see the ceremonies performed below, and to hear the mass
and music as well as from the floor of the church. These advantages were
counterbalanced by the greater dignity and architectural beauty of the
second arrangement (Woodcut No. 617) where the whole height was divided
into that of the side-aisles and of a clerestory, separated from one
another by a triforium gallery, which represented in fact the depth of
the wooden roof requisite to cover the side-aisles. When once this
simple and beautiful arrangement was adopted, it continued with very
little variation throughout the Middle Ages.[43] The proportions
generally used were to make the aisles half the height of the nave. In
other words, the string-course below the triforium divided the height
into two equal parts; the space above that was divided into three, of
which two were allotted to the clerestory, and one to the triforium.[44]
It is true there is perhaps no single instance in which the proportions
here given are exactly preserved, but they sufficiently represent the
general division of the parts, from which the architects only deviated
slightly, sometimes on one side, sometimes on the other, according to
their taste or caprice. The only really important change afterwards
introduced was that of glazing the triforium gallery also, by adopting a
flat roof, or one nearly so, over the side-aisles, as the nave in the
church of St. Ouen at Rouen, or by covering each bay by a pyramidal roof
not seen from the interior, as is shown in the Woodcuts Nos. 621 and
641; the whole walls of the church, with the slight exception of the
spandrils of the great pier-arches, having thus become walls of glass,
the mass of the vault being supported only by the deep and bold
constructive lines of which the framework of the glazed surfaces

In England, we have not, as far as I am aware, any instance of a glazed
triforium, but it is one of the most fascinating features in the later
styles of the French architects, and where it retains its coloured
glass, which is indispensable, produces the most fairy-like effect. It
is however, questionable whether the deep shadow and constructive
propriety of the English practice is not on the whole more satisfactory.
In a structure of glass and iron nothing could be more appropriate than
the French practice; but in a building of stone and wood more solidity
is required to produce an effect which shall be permanently pleasing.


It has already been explained how essential a part of a Gothic church
the vault was, and how completely it was the governing power that gave
form to the art. We have also seen the various steps by which the
architects arrived at the intersecting vault, which became the typical
form in the best age. In France especially the stone vault was retained
throughout as a really essential feature, for though the English were so
successful in the art of constructing ornamental wooden roofs, the
practice never prevailed in France.

[Illustration: 660. Diagram of Vaulting.]

In the best age the arrangement of the French vaults was extremely
simple. The aisles were generally built in square compartments, the
vaults of which were first circumscribed, each by four equal arches
(Woodcut No. 660), of which A A were transverse ribs or _arcs doubleaux_
as the French called them, and were used, as we have seen, in the old
tunnel-vaults. These arches, as springing from the main points of
support, were the principal strengtheners of the vault, and served as
permanent centres for the superstructure. B was called the _formeret_,
and was a rib built into the wall, of the same form as the transverse
ribs, and so called because, being the first constructed, it gave the
form to the vault. Lastly, there were two more ribs springing from angle
to angle, and intersecting one another at C. These were called _ogives_,
from the Latin word _augere_, to strengthen,[45] the chief object of
their employment however being to serve as centering. In Roman vaulting
similar ribs were employed, but the spaces between were subsequently
filled in flush with concrete. In Renaissance and in modern work (such
as in cellar or dock-vaults, for instance), when built in brick, stone
voussoirs are used for the groins, because the brickwork used there
would be liable to be crushed or fall out; here also the stone is flush
with the brickwork, but the Mediæval architects recognised the value of
the rib, not only as a permanent centre, but as suggesting the
appearance as well as the reality of strength.

The roof of the nave was composed of precisely the same parts, only
that, being twice as wide as each compartment was broad, the length of
the transverse ribs and of the intersecting ogives was greater in
proportion to the formerets than in the aisles. Another addition, and
certainly an improvement, was the introduction of ridge-ribs (D D),
marking the point of the vault. These could not of course be used with
circular arches, where there was no centre line for them to mark; and it
probably was from this cause that the French seldom adopted them, having
been accustomed to vaults not requiring them. Another reason was that
all their earlier vaults were more or less domical, or in other words
the point C was higher than the points A or B, though this is more
apparent in hexapartite vaults, or where one compartment of the
nave-vaults takes in two of the aisles, than in quadripartite, like
those now under consideration. Still all French vaults have this
peculiarity more or less, and consequently the longitudinal ridge-rib,
where used, has an up and down broken appearance, which is extremely
disagreeable, and must in a great measure have prevented its adoption.
There is, however, at least one exception to this rule in France, in the
abbey church of Souvigny, represented in the Woodcut No. 661, where this
rib is used with so pleasing an effect that one is surprised it was not
in more general favour.

[Illustration: 661. Abbey Church, Souvigny. (From ‘L’Ancien

These are the only features usually employed by French architects: but
we do sometimes find tiercerons, or secondary ogives, used to strengthen
as well as to ornament the plain faces of the vaults, one or two on each
face, as at E E (in Woodcut No. 660); small ribs or _liernes_, F F, from
_lier_, to bind, were also occasionally used to connect all these at the
centre, where they formed star patterns, and other complicated but
beautiful ornaments of the vault. These last, however, are rare and
exceptional in French vaulting, though they were treated by the English
architects with such success that we wonder they were not more generally
adopted in France. The most probable explanation appears to be that the
French architects depended more on colour than on relief for the effect
of their vaults, while in England colour was sparingly used, its place
being supplied by constructive carving. Whatever may have been the
comparative merits of the two methods when first used, the English
vaults have a great advantage now, inasmuch as the carving remains,
while the paintings of the others have perished, and we have no means
left of judging of their original effect.

One of the most beautiful features of French vaulting, almost entirely
unknown in this country, is the great polygonal vault of the semi-dome
of the chevet, which as an architectural object few will be disinclined
to admit is, with its walls of painted glass and its light constructive
roof, a far more beautiful thing than the plain semi-dome of the
basilican apse, notwithstanding its mosaics. Still, as the French used
it, they never quite surmounted the difficulties of its construction;
and in their excessive desire to do away with all solid wall, and to get
the greatest possible surface for painted glass, they often distorted
these vaults in a very unpleasing manner.

The chevet of Pontigny (Woodcut No. 643) presents a good example of the
early form of vault, which owing to the small size of the windows and
general sobriety of the composition, avoids the defects above alluded
to. Of the later examples there are few, except that of Souvigny,
represented in Woodcut No. 661, where the difficulty has been entirely
conquered by constructing the spandrils with pierced tracery, so that
the vault virtually springs from nearly the same height as the arch of
the windows, and a very slight improvement would have made this not only
constructively, but artistically perfect. This is a solitary specimen,
and one which, though among the most beautiful suggestions of Gothic
art, has found no admirers, or at least no imitators.

Notwithstanding this difficulty of construction, these pierced
semi-domes are not only the best specimens of French vaulting, but are
among the most beautiful inventions of the Middle Ages, and form a finer
termination to the cathedral vista than either the great windows of the
English, or the wonderful rose windows of the French cathedrals.


The employment of buttresses was a constructive expedient that followed
almost indispensably on the use of vaults for the roofing of churches.
It was necessary either to employ enormously thick walls to resist the
thrust, or to support them by some more scientific arrangement of the
materials. The theory of the buttress will be easily understood from the
diagram (Woodcut No. 662), representing seven blocks or masses of
masonry, disposed first so as to form a continuous wall, but which
evidently affords very little resistance to a thrust or push tending to
overturn it from within. The left-hand arrangement is, from the
additional breadth of base in the direction of the thrust, much less
liable to fall outwards, provided the distance of the blocks from one
another is not too great, and the mass of the vault does not press
heavily on the intermediate space. This last difficulty was so much felt
by the earlier French architects that, as we have seen, in the South of
France especially, they used the roof of the side-aisle as a continuous
buttress to resist the thrust of their tunnel-vaults. It was surmounted
also by the introduction of intersecting vaults, inasmuch as by this
expedient all the thrusts were collected together at a point over each
pier, and a resisting mass applied on that one point was sufficient to
give all the stability required. This, and the desire of raising the
lights as high as possible into the roof, were the principal causes that
brought this form of vaulting into general use; still it has not yet
been shown that the continuous vault is not artistically the more
beautiful of the two forms, if not constructively so also.

[Illustration: 662. Diagram of Buttresses.]

There was yet another difficulty to be mastered, which was that the
principal vault to be abutted was that over the nave or central part of
the church, and buttresses of the requisite depth would have filled up
the side-aisles entirely. The difficulty first presented itself in the
building of the basilica of Maxentius (Woodcut No. 203), and was there
got over in something like the manner practically adopted in the Middle
Ages, except that the arch was there carried inside, whereas the Gothic
architects threw the abutting arch across on the outside and above the

[Illustration: 663. Flying Buttress of St. Ouen. (From Batissier,
‘Histoire de l’Art.’)]

Several of the previous woodcuts[46] show the system of flying
buttresses in various stages of advancement. The view of one of those of
the choir of St. Ouen (No. 663) exhibits the system in its greatest
degree of development. Here there are two vertical and two flying
buttresses, forming a system of great lightness, but at the same time of
immense constructive strength, and when used sparingly and with
elegance, as in this instance, constituting an object of great beauty.
The abuse of this expedient, as in the cathedral at Cologne and
elsewhere, went very far to mar the proper effect.

The cathedral at Chartres presents a singular but very beautiful
instance of an earlier form of flying buttress: there the immense span
of the central vault put the architects on their mettle to provide a
sufficient abutment, and they did it by building what was literally an
open wall across the aisle (see Woodcut No. 628), strongly arched, and
the arches connected by short strong pillars radiating with the
voussoirs of the arch. Nothing could well be stronger and more
scientific than this, but the absence of perpendicularity in the pillars
was unpleasing to the eye then as now, and the contrivance was never

[Illustration: 664. Flying Buttress at Amiens. (From Chapuy.)]

A far more pleasing form was that adopted afterwards at Amiens (Woodcut
No. 664) and elsewhere, where a series of small traceried arches stand
on the lower flying buttress, and support the upper, which is
straight-lined. Even here, however, the difficulty is not quite got
over; the unequal height of these connecting arches, and the awkward
angle which the lower supports make with the curvilinear form on which
they rest, deprive them of that constructive propriety which alone
secures a perfectly satisfactory result in architecture. The problem
indeed is one which the French never thoroughly solved, though they
bestowed immense pains upon it. Brilliant as the effect sometimes is of
the immense mass of pinnacles and flying buttresses, they are seldom so
put together as to leave an entirely satisfactory result on the mind of
the spectator. Taken all in all, perhaps the most pleasing example is
that of Rheims (Woodcut No. 629)—those on each side of the nave
especially—where two bold simple arches transmit the pressure from a
bold exquisitely pinnacled buttress to the sides of the clerestory, and
in such a manner as to leave no doubt whatever either as to their
purpose or their sufficiency to accomplish their object.

Notwithstanding the beauty which the French attained in their flying
buttresses, it is still a question whether they did not carry this
feature too far. It must be confessed that there is a tendency in the
abuse of the system to confuse the outlines and to injure the true
architectural effect of the exterior. Internally it no doubt enabled
them to lighten their piers and increase the size of their windows to an
unlimited extent, and to judge fairly we must balance between the gain
to the interior, and the external disadvantages. This we shall be better
able to do when considering the next constructive expedient, which was
that of the introduction of pinnacles.


The use of pinnacles, considered independently of their ornamental
purposes, is evident enough. It is obvious that a wall or pillar which
has to resist the thrust of a vault or any other power exerted
laterally, depends for its stability on its thickness, its solidity, and
generally on its lateral strength. A material consideration, as
affecting this solidity, is that of weight. The most frequent use of
pinnacles by the French was to surmount the piers from which the flying
buttresses sprang. To these piers weight and solidity were thus
imparted, rendering them a sufficiently steady abutment to the flying
arches, which in their turn abutted the central vaults.

It must be understood that these expedients of buttresses and pinnacles
were only employed to support the central roof of the nave. The vaults
of the aisles were so narrow as not to require any elaborate system of
abutments for their support—the ordinary thickness of the walls would
have sufficed for that purpose; but they also had the advantage of the
use of the supports designed for the larger vaults.

As a general rule the English architects never hesitated to weight their
walls so as to apply the resistance directly on the point required, and
not only adorned the roofs of their churches with pinnacles, but raised
towers and lanterns on the intersections on all occasions. The French,
on the other hand, always preferred placing these objects, not _on_
their churches, but rather grouped around them, and springing from the
ground. This, it is true, enabled them to indulge in height and
lightness internally to an extent unknown in England. This extravagance
proved prejudicial to the true effect even of the interior, while
externally the system was very destructive of grace and harmony. A
French cathedral is generally solid and simple, as high as the parapet
of the side-aisles, but above this base the forest of pinnacles and
buttresses that spring from it entirely obscure the clerestory, and
confuse its lines. Above this again the great mass and simple form of
the high steep roof, unbroken by pinnacles or other ornaments, contrasts
unpleasingly with the lightness and confused lines immediately below it.
This inconsistency tends to mar the beauty of French cathedrals, and
even of their churches, though in the smaller buildings the effect is
less glaring owing to the smallness of the parts.


An easy transition leads from pinnacles to spires, the latter being but
the perfect development of the former, and each requiring the assistance
of the other in producing a thoroughly harmonious effect. Still their
uses were widely different, for the spire never was a constructive
expedient, or useful in any way. Indeed, of all architectural features,
it is the one perhaps to which it is least easy to apply any utilitarian

Towers were originally introduced in Christian edifices partly as
bell-towers, partly as symbols of power, and sometimes perhaps as
fortifications, to which may be added the general purpose of ornamenting
the edifices to which they were attached, and giving to them that
dignity which elevation always conveys.

From the tower the spire arose first as a wooden roof, and as height was
one of the great objects to be attained in building the tower, it was
natural to eke this out by giving the roof an exaggerated elevation
beyond what was actually required as a mere protection from the weather.
When once the idea was conceived of rendering it an ornamental feature,
the architects were not long in carrying it out. The first and most
obvious step was that of cutting off the angles, making it an octagon,
and carrying up the angles of the tower by pinnacles, with a view to
softening the transition between the perpendicular and sloping part, and
reducing it again to harmony.

One of the earliest examples in which this transition is successfully
accomplished is in the old spire at Chartres (Woodcut No. 627); the
change from the square to the octagon, and from the tower to the
pyramid, being managed with great felicity. The western spires of St.
Stephen’s abbey at Caen (Woodcut No. 613), though added in the age of
pointed Gothic to towers of an earlier age, are also pleasing specimens.
But perhaps one of the very best in France, for its size and age, is
that of St. Pierre at Caen (Woodcut No. 665), uniting in itself all the
properties of a good design without either poverty or extravagance. The
little lantern of Ste. Marie de l’Épine (Woodcut No. 644), though small,
is as graceful an object as can well be designed; and the new spire at
Chartres (Woodcut No. 627), as before remarked, is, except as regards
the defects inherent in its age, one of the most beautiful in Europe.

This feature is nevertheless, it must be confessed, rarer in France than
might be expected. This is perhaps owing to many spires having been of
wood, to their having been allowed to decay, and to their removal; while
in other instances it is certain that the design of erecting them has
been abandoned in consequence of the tower, when finished, having been
found insufficient to bear their weight.

[Illustration: 665. St. Pierre, Caen. (From Chapuy.)]

The ruined church of St. John at Soissons has two, which are still of
great beauty. At Bayeux are two others, not very beautiful in
themselves, but which group pleasingly with a central lantern of the
Renaissance age.[47] And at Coutances there are two others of the best
age (Woodcut No. 634), which combined with a central octagonal lantern
make one of the most beautiful groups of towers in France. Here the
pitch of the roof is very low, and altogether the external design of the
building is much more in accordance with the canons of art prevalent on
this side of the Channel than with those which found favour in France.

Of the earlier French lanterns, this at Coutances is perhaps the best
specimen to be found: of the latter class there is none finer than that
of St. Ouen (Woodcut No. 666); and had the western towers been completed
in the same character, in accordance with the original design, the
towers of this church would probably be unrivalled. Even alone the
lantern is a very noble architectural feature, and appropriate to its
position, though some of the details mark the lateness of the age in
which it was erected.

[Illustration: 666. Lantern, St. Ouen, Rouen. (From a print by Chapuy.)]

Notwithstanding the beauty of these examples, it must be confessed that
the French architects were not so happy in their designs of spires and
lanterns as they were in many other features.

[Illustration: 667. Corbel. (From Didron, ‘Annales Archéologiques.’)]

[Illustration: 668. Capitals from Rheims.]

It would be in vain to attempt to enumerate all the smaller decorative
features that crowd every part of the Gothic churches of France, many of
which indeed belong more to the department of the sculptor than to that
of the architect, though the two are so intimately interwoven that it is
impossible to draw the line between them. It is, however, to the extreme
care bestowed on these details and their extraordinary elaboration that
the Gothic churches of the best age owe at least half their effect.
There are many churches in Italy of the Gothic and Renaissance ages,
larger and grander in their proportions than some of the best French
examples, but they fail to produce a similar effect because these
details are all—if the expression may be used—machine-made. The same
forms and ornaments are repeated throughout, and too frequently borrowed
from some other place without any evidence of thought or fitness in
their application, and consequently call up no responsive feeling in the
mind of the spectator. On this side of the Alps, in the best age, every
moulding, every detail, exhibits an amount of thought combined with
novelty, and is always so appropriate to the place or use to which it is
applied, that it never fails to produce the most pleasing effect, and to
heighten to a great extent the beauty of the building in which it is
found. The corbel for instance represented in Woodcut No. 667 is as much
a niche for the statue as a bracket to support the ends of the ribs of
the vaults, and is one of the thousand instances which are met with
everywhere in Gothic art of that happy mixture of the arts of the mason,
the carver, and the sculptor, which, when successfully combined, produce
a true artistic effect. These combinations are so numerous and so varied
that it would be hopeless to attempt to classify them, or even to
attempt to illustrate the varieties found in any single cathedral.[48]

The same may be said of the capitals of the pillars, which in all the
best buildings vary with every shaft, and appear to have been executed
after the architect had finished his labours, by artists of a very high
class. In the best age, in France at least, as in the examples from
Rheims, shown in Woodcut No. 668, they would appear to have retained a
reminiscence of a Roman Corinthian order, but to have used it with a
freedom entirely their own.


It has been shown that the exigencies of a Gothic cathedral were a stone
roof, a glass wall, and as great an amount of space on the floor, as
little encumbered with pillars and points of support, as could be
obtained. The two first of these points have been sufficiently insisted
upon in the preceding pages; the last, however, demands a few more
remarks, as the success achieved by the masons in the Middle Ages in
this respect was one of their chief merits, though it was but a
mechanical merit after all, and one in which they hardly surpassed their
masters the Romans. The basilica of Maxentius, for instance, covers a
space of 68,000 sq. ft., or about the average size of a French
cathedral, and the points of support, or in other words the piers and
walls, occupy only 6900 sq. ft., or between a 9th and a 10th part of the
whole area. If we turn to the great cathedral of St. Peter’s at Rome, we
find the points of support occupying more than one-fourth of the whole
area, though built on the model, and almost a copy, of the Roman
basilica. At St. Mary’s at Florence they occupy one-fifth; and in St.
Paul’s, London, and the Pantheon at Paris, the walls and pillars occupy
in the first rather more, in the other rather less, than one-sixth. If
from these we turn to some of the Mediæval examples, we find for
instance at

                   The whole area.   Solid. Ratio.

        Bourges         61,591       11,908 0·181, or between
                                            1-5th and 1-6th.

        Chartres        68,261        8,888 0·130, or 1-8th.

        Paris           64,108        7,852 0·122, or between
                                            1-8th and 1-9th.

        St. Ouen        47,107        4,637 0·090, or between
                                            1-10th and 1-11th.

The figures, however, at Bourges include a heavy and extended porch not
belonging to the original design, which if omitted would reduce the
fractional proportion considerably; and if the unbuilt towers of St.
Ouen were excluded, the proportion of the points of support to the area
would be less than one-twelfth.

Our best English examples show a proportion of rather less than
one-tenth, and though they have not the great height and wide-spreading
vaults of the French cathedrals, their spires and pinnacles externally
perhaps more than counterbalance this. Taken altogether it may generally
be stated that one-tenth is about the proportion in the best Gothic
churches of the best age. When we find it exceed this, it is obvious
that the lightness of the walls and pillars has been carried to excess,
and even in St. Ouen, if there is an error, it is on this side. There
can be no question that to produce a satisfactory effect a church
requires solidity, and apparent as well as real strength; for, without
affecting the extreme massiveness of Egyptian art, with its wonderful
expression of power and durability, there is an opposite extreme far
more prejudicial to true architectural effect in parading, as it were,
mechanical contrivances of construction, so as to gain the utmost
utilitarian effect with the least possible expenditure of means. This
the Egyptians utterly despised and rejected, and heaped mass on mass,
even at the expense of any convenience or use for which the building
might have been designed. The French architects, on the other hand, made
it their study to dispense with every ton of stone they could possibly
lay aside. This system they undoubtedly carried too far, for without
looking at such extreme examples as the choir of Beauvais or St. Ouen,
everywhere in France we find a degree of airy lightness and tenuity of
parts destructive of many of the most important conditions of
architectural excellence.

                         FURNITURE OF CHURCHES.

Little less thought and expense were probably bestowed upon what we may
call the furnishing of Gothic churches than upon the fabrics themselves.
Though the objects included in this denomination were altogether of a
lower class of art, they were still essential parts of the whole design,
and we cannot fairly judge of the buildings themselves without at least
endeavouring to supply their minor arrangements.

It is not easy to do this in France, nor indeed in any part of Europe,
as no one church or chapel displays at the present day all the wealth
and ornament which once belonged to it.

There is scarcely a single church in France with its original altar, the
most sacred and therefore generally the most richly adorned part of the
whole. These have either been plundered by the Huguenots, rebuilt in the
execrable taste of the age of Louis XIV., or destroyed during the

The cathedrals of Amiens and Rouen are among the few which retain their
original stalls; and the enclosure of the choir at Chartres is one of
the most elaborate pieces of ornamental sculpture to be found. That at
Alby has been before alluded to, and fragments of this feature still
exist in many cathedrals.

[Illustration: 669. Rood-Screen from the Madeleine at Troyes. (From
Arnaud, ‘Voyage dans l’Aube.’)]

The Rood-screens, or _Jubés_, which almost all French churches once
possessed, are rarer than even the other parts of these enclosures. A
good example of them is found in the church of the Madeleine at Troyes
(Woodcut No. 669), which gives a favourable idea of the richness of
decoration that was sometimes lavished on these parts. Though late in
age, and aiming at the false mode of construction which was prevalent at
the time of its execution, it displays so much elegance as to disarm
criticism. It makes us too regret the loss of the rood-screens of St.
Ouen’s (of which we can alone judge from drawings) and of the larger
cathedrals; though of these we are able to form some idea by following
out the design of the lateral screens, of which they formed a part.

If to these we add the altars of the minor chapels, with the screens
that divided them from the nave, the tombs of wealthy prelates and
nobles, the organ galleries, with their spiral stairs and richly-carved
instrument cases, and all the numberless treasures of art accumulated by
wealth and piety, we may form some idea of what a Mediæval cathedral
really was, though scarcely one now exists in any part of Europe in an
entire state.

                         DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE.

It is probable that specimens remain sufficient to elucidate in an
archæological point of view the progress of domestic architecture in
France, and thereby to illustrate the early manners and customs of the
people; but these remains are much less magnificent and are less
perfectly preserved than the churches and cathedrals, and have
consequently received comparatively little attention.

Had any of the royal palaces been preserved to our day, or even any of
the greater municipal buildings, the case might have been different. The
former have, however, perished, without an exception; and as regards the
latter, France seems always to have presented a remarkable contrast to
the neighbouring country of Flanders.

[Illustration: 670. Hôtel de Ville de St. Antonin.]

No town in France proper seems to have possessed in the Middle Ages
prior to the end of the 15th century either a municipality or a
town-hall of any note. When necessary to discuss communal business it
was the custom to meet in the open air, or occasionally in the churches
or cloisters. There is one notable exception to this in the town-hall of
St. Antonin, in the department of Tarn and Garonne, which is a
remarkable edifice of the 12th century, and though partially restored
retains still the principal features of its early design (Woodcut 670).
The ground storey, used as a market, consists of a series of pointed
arches, the one on the left being a passage-way through. On the first
floor is a fine room, lighted by three windows, each subdivided by three
shafts. The two piers separating the windows (and which on the inner
wall support segmental arches carrying the wall above) are decorated
with sculpture representing Adam and Eve and Moses. The second storey,
which rises into the roof, is lighted by three double windows. Of later
examples at the end of the 15th and commencement of the 16th centuries
there exist still the town-hall of Compiègne, a beautiful example, with
central tower; and at Saumur, St. Quentin, Orleans, Bruges, and
Beaugency a series of small but interesting buildings, some flamboyant
and others showing early Renaissance influence.

In a work like the present, which is barely sufficient in extent to
admit of all the great typical examples of architectural art being
enumerated, much less described, it is evident that to domestic art a
very subordinate position must be assigned. Perhaps it ought to be
omitted altogether. There are, however, so many beauties in even the
most insignificant productions of the great ages, that it may be
expedient at least to direct attention to the subject, and the three
examples here given may serve to illustrate the forms of the art at the
three great epochs of the French Gothic style.

[Illustration: 671. House at Cluny. (From Gailhabaud.)]

The first (Woodcut No. 671) is from a house at Cluny, and exhibits the
round-arched arcade with its alternate single and coupled columns, which
arrangement was usual at that period, and of which examples are found
all over the South of France and as far north at least as Auxerre.

The second (Woodcut No. 672) represents a house at Yrieix, and shows the
pointed Gothic style in its period of greatest development; and although
the openings are of larger extent than would be convenient in this
climate, they are not more so than would be suitable, while they give,
in the South of France, great lightness and elegance to the façade. The
third example is from the portal of the Ducal Palace at Nancy (Woodcut
No. 673), and is an instance of the form the style took when on the
verge of the Renaissance. It is not without elegance, though somewhat
strange and unmeaning, and, except as regards the balconies, the parts
generally seem designed solely for ornament without any constructive or
utilitarian motive.

[Illustration: 672. House at Yrieix. (From Gailhabaud.)]

One of the most extensive as well as one of the best specimens of French
domestic architecture is the house of Jacques Cœur, at Bourges, now used
as the town-hall. It was built by the wealthy but ill-used banker of
Charles VII., and every part of it shows evidence of careful design and
elaborate execution; it was erected too at an age before the style had
become entirely debased, and as a private residence situated in a town,
and therefore without any attempt at fortification, is the best that
France now possesses.

The château of Meilhan (Cher) is nearly a repetition of the same design,
but at least a hundred years more modern.

Rouen possesses several examples of domestic architecture of a late
date; so does Paris—and among others, the celebrated Hôtel de Cluny. Few
of the great towns are however without fragments of some sort, but
hardly any are of sufficient importance to deserve separate notice or

France is not so rich as either Germany or England in specimens of
castellated architecture. This does not apparently arise from the fact
of no castles having been built during the Middle Ages, but rather from
their having been pulled down to make way for more convenient dwellings
after the accession of Francis I., and even before his time, when they
had ceased to be of any use. Still the châteaux of Pierrefonds and Coucy
are in their own class as fine as anything to be found elsewhere. The
circular keep of the latter castle is perhaps unique, both from its form
and dimensions; but being entirely gutted inside its architectural
features are gone, and it is now difficult to understand how it was
originally arranged, and by what means it was lighted and rendered

[Illustration: 673. Portal of the Ducal Palace at Nancy. (From

Tancarville still retains some of the original features of its
fortifications, as do also the castles of Falaise and Gaillard.

The keeps of Vincennes and Loches are still remarkable for their height,
though they hardly retain any features which can be called strictly
architectural. In the South, the fortified towns of Carcassonne and
Aigues Mortes, and in the North, Fougères, retain as much of their walls
and defences as almost any place in Europe. The former in particular,
both from its situation and the extent of its remains, gives a
singularly favourable and impressive idea of the grave majesty of an
ancient fortalice. But for alterations and desecrations of all sorts,
the palace of the popes at Avignon would be one of the most remarkable
castles in Europe: even now its extent and the massiveness of its walls
and towers are most imposing.

These are all either ruins or fragments; but the castle of Mont St.
Michel, in Normandy, retains nearly all the features of a Mediæval
fortress in sufficient perfection to admit of its being restored, in
imagination at least. The outer walls still remain, encircling the
village, which nestles under the protection of the castle. The church
crowns the whole, and around it are grouped the halls of the knights,
the kitchens and offices, and all the appurtenances of the
establishment, intermingled with fortifications and defensive
precautions that must have made the place nearly impregnable against
such engines of war as existed when it was erected, even irrespective of
its sea-girt position.

                                BOOK IV.

                          BELGIUM AND HOLLAND.

                               CHAPTER I.


Historical Notice—Old Churches—Cathedral of Tournay—Antwerp—St. Jacques
  at Liège.

THE little kingdom of Belgium forms an architectural province as
distinct and in many respects as interesting as any in Europe. Its style
does not, it is true, possess that simplicity combined with grandeur
which characterises the one great united effort of Central France, but
it is more varied and picturesque, and as fully expressive of the
affinities and aspirations of the people.

As we may learn from their language, the dominant race during the Middle
Ages spoke a dialect very closely allied to the pure German, which
proclaimed their affinity to their neighbours on the Rhine; but what
their architecture tells us, though their language does not, is that
there was a very strong infusion of Celtic blood in their veins which
expresses itself in almost every building they erected.

Shortly after the departure of the Romans the German immigrants seem to
have completely overpowered the original Belgæ, and, like true Aryans,
to have divided themselves into a number of separate and independent
municipalities, with no established capital and acknowledging no central
authority. At times these communities did submit themselves to the rule
of Dukes and Counts, but only to a very limited extent; and for
particular purposes they occasionally even sought the protection of some
powerful monarch; but they never relinquished their right of
self-government nor fell under the power of feudal chiefs, or of a
dominant hierarchy, to the same extent as prevailed throughout nearly
the whole of the rest of Europe. This spirit of independence was
sustained throughout the Middle Ages by the immense extension of
commercial industry which the fortunate position of Belgium, combined
with the energy of her inhabitants, enabled her to develope. While the
rest of Europe was engaged in feudal wars and profitless crusades, the
peaceful burghers of the Belgian cities were quietly amassing that
wealth which gave them individually such importance as free citizens of
independent communities, and raised their towns, and eventually their
country, to the state of prosperity it maintained till the destruction
of their liberties by the Spaniards in the 16th century.

These historical circumstances go far to explain the peculiar character
observable in the architectural remains of this country, in which we
find no trace of any combined national effort. Even the epoch of
Charlemagne passed over this province without leaving any impress on the
face of the country, nor are there any buildings that can be said to
have been called into existence by his influence and power. The great
churches of Belgium seem, on the contrary, to have been raised by the
individual exertions of the separate cities in which they are found, on
a scale commensurate with their several requirements. The same
spontaneous impulse gave rise to the town-halls and domestic edifices,
which present so peculiar and fascinating an aspect of picturesque

Even the devastation by the Normans in the 9th and 10th centuries seems
to have passed more lightly over this country than any other in the
North of Europe. They burned and destroyed indeed many of the more
flourishing cities, but they did not occupy them, and when they were
gone the inhabitants returned, rebuilt their habitations, and resumed
their habits of patient self-supporting labour; and when these inroads
ceased there was nothing to stop the onward career of the most
industrious and commercial community then established in Europe.

In a historical point of view the series of buildings is in some
respects even more complete than the wonderful group we have just passed
in review in France. In size, the cathedrals of Belgium are at least
equal to those that have just been described. In general interest, no
cathedral of France exceeds that of Tournay, none in gorgeousness that
of Antwerp; and few surpass even those of Louvain, Mechlin, Mons, Bruges
and Ghent. Notwithstanding their magnificence, however, it must be
confessed that the Belgian cathedrals fail in all the higher requisites
of architectural design when compared with those on the southern border.
This was owing partly to the art never having been in the hands of a
thoroughly organised and educated body of clergy like that of France,
but more to the ethnographic difference of race, which in the first
place prevented centralisation, and also rendered them less keen in
their appreciation of art, and less influenced by its merits. From these
and other causes, their ecclesiastical buildings do not display that
elegance of proportion, and that beauty of well-considered and
appropriate detail, which everywhere please and satisfy the mind in
contemplating the cathedrals of France.

These remarks apply solely to ecclesiastical art. In specimens of the
civil and domestic architecture of the Middle Ages, Belgium surpasses
all the other countries of Europe, on this side of the Alps, put
together. Her town-halls and markets, and the residences of her
burghers, still display a degree of taste and elegance unsurpassed by
anything of the age, and remain to this day the best index of the wealth
and independence of the communities to which they belonged.

All this is of course only what might be expected from what we know of
the ethnographic relations of the people. An Aryan race, loving
independence, cultivating self-government, and steadily following those
courses which lead to material well-being and wealth; and underlying
these a Celtic race, turbulent at times, loving art, appreciating its
beauties, and clothing the municipal requirements with the picturesque
graces of architectural design.

The difference between this country and Central France appears to be
that in the latter country the Celtic element was in excess of the
Aryan, while in Belgium this condition was reversed, and this at least
is precisely what we find expressed in her art.

Of the oldest churches of Belgium, a large proportion are known to us
only by tradition, they having been pulled down to make way for the
larger and more splendid buildings which were demanded by the
continually increasing wealth and population of the cities. Of those
which remain, one of the oldest and most interesting is that of St.
Vincent at Soignies, built in 965 by Bruno, Archbishop of Cologne, and
though probably not quite finished within that century, it still retains
the features of the 10th century more completely than almost any church
in Europe. This church, that of St. Michele at Pavia, and the Minster at
Zurich, constitute a trio very similar to one another in design and in
size, and differing principally in the degree of finish they display,
this being by far the rudest in construction of the three. It possessed
originally a western tower and a central lantern, the upper parts of
both which are modernised. The east end was square, though possessing a
shrine, the tomb of the saint whose name it bears. It may have been
altered, and is built up on the outside so as to render examination

Another church, only slightly more modern, that of St. Gertrude at
Nivelles (Woodcut No. 674), presents the same peculiarity, of having a
square termination towards the east, though it seems originally to have
had an apse at the west end, where the façade was carried up to a
considerable height, and adorned in the centre by a square tower flanked
by a circular one on each side. The latter retain their original form,
though the central tower was rebuilt in the 15th century. This church
was built in the earliest years of the 11th century, and was dedicated
in 1045, the Emperor Henry IV. assisting at the ceremony. It is a
first-class church with two transepts, and remains externally in all
essential particulars as then built. The interior was entirely destroyed
in the middle of the last century, which is a very great loss, although
the new arrangement which has replaced it is in itself remarkably well

[Illustration: 674. View of West End of Church at Nivelles. (From a
sketch by the Author.)]

Passing over some minor examples, we come to the cathedral of Tournay,
to the architect and artist the most interesting of the province. It is
a first-class cathedral, more than 400 ft. in length internally, and
covering with its dependencies an area of 62,525 sq. ft. It consists of
a nave, dedicated in 1066; of a transept, built about the year 1146; the
choir, which formed part of this arrangement, was dedicated in 1213, but
gave place about a century afterwards to that now standing, which was
dedicated in 1338, so that within itself it contains a complete history
of the style; and though there is no doubt considerable incongruity in
the three specimens here brought together, as they are the best of their
respective classes in Belgium, the effect is not unpleasing, and their
arrangement fortunate, inasmuch as, entering by the western door, you
pass first through the massive architecture of the 11th to the bolder
and more expanded features of the 12th century, a fitting vestibule to
the exaggerated forms which prevailed during the 14th. In the woodcut
(No. 676) the three styles are represented as they stand; but it would
require far more elaborate illustration to do justice to the beauty of
the deeply galleried nave, which surpasses any specimen of Norman
architecture, but which is here eclipsed by the two remaining apses of
the transept. These, notwithstanding a certain rudeness of detail, are
certainly the finest productions of their age, and are as magnificent
pieces of architecture as can be conceived. The choir is the least
satisfactory part of the whole; for though displaying a certain beauty
of proportion, and the most undoubted daring of construction, its effect
is frail and weak in the extreme. Still, if the tracery were restored to
the windows, and these filled with painted glass, great part of this
defect might be removed. At the best, the chief merit of this choir is
its clever and daring construction, but even in this the builder
miscalculated his own strength, for it was found necessary to double the
thickness of all the piers after they were first erected. This addition
would have been an improvement if it had been part of the original
design, but as it now is it appears only to betray the weakness which it
was meant to conceal.

[Illustration: 675. Plan of Cathedral at Tournay. Scale 100 ft. to 1

It is by no means clear that originally there were any entrances at the
west front; at least there certainly was no central doorway; and
probably the principal entrances were, as in most German churches, under
lateral porches.

Externally, the west front had neither the flanking towers of the Norman
church, nor the frontispiece usual in Germany, but terminated in a gable
the height of the wooden roof of the nave. The original church was
triapsal, and a large square tower adorned the intersection of the nave
and transept, which was originally surrounded by six tall square towers,
two belonging to each of the apses. Four of these still exist, and with
the remaining part of the central tower form as noble a group as is to
be found in any church of this province. In its triapsal state, its
superior dimensions and the greater height of its towers must have
rendered it a more striking building than even the Apostles’ Church at
Cologne, or indeed any other church of its age.

Besides the churches already described, there are a considerable number
in Belgium belonging to the 11th century, such as St. Bartholomew at
Liège; St. Servin’s, Maestricht; the church at Ruremonde (almost an
exact counterpart of the Apostles’ Church at Cologne), and others of
more or less importance scattered over the country. They almost all
possess the peculiarity of having no entrance in their west fronts, but
have instead a massive screen or frontispiece surmounted by two or three
towers. This was the arrangement of the old church of St. Jacques at
Liège. The church of Notre Dame de Maestricht presents a somewhat
exaggerated example of this description of front (Woodcut No. 677). It
is difficult to explain the origin of this feature, nor have we any
reason to regret its abandonment. There can be no doubt that the proper
place for the principal entrance to a church is the end opposite the
altar, where this screen prevented its being placed.

[Illustration: 676. Section of Central Portion of Church at Tournay,
looking South. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 677. West Front of Notre Dame de Maestricht. (From
Schayes’ ‘Belgium.’)]

Among the smaller antiquities of this age, none are perhaps more
interesting than the little chapel of St. Sang, at Bruges, built by
Thierry of Alsace, on his return from the Holy Land, A.D. 1150; it is a
small double chapel, of a form very common in Germany, but less ornate
than these generally were. At one angle of it are two spires,
represented in Woodcut No. 678; the more slender of these would not
excite remark if found in Cairo or Aleppo, so exactly does it take the
Eastern form; the other, on the contrary, seems to belong to the 16th or
17th century: it is only one, however, of the numerous instances that go
to prove how completely art returned, at the period called the
Renaissance, to the point from which it started some four or five
centuries earlier. It returned with something more of purity of detail
and better construction, but unfortunately without that propriety of
design and grandeur of conception which mark even the rude buildings of
the first _naissance_ of Gothic art.

[Illustration: 678. Spire of the Chapel of St. Sang, Bruges. (From a
Sketch by the Author.)]

[Illustration: 679. Window in Church at Villers, near Genappe. (From a
Sketch by the Author.)]

Belgium is rich in small specimens of transitional architecture, and few
of her more extensive ecclesiastical establishments are without some
features of this class, often of great beauty. Their age has not yet,
however, been determined with anything like precision by the Belgian
antiquaries; but on the whole, it seems that in this, as in most other
respects, this country followed the German much more closely than the
French type, hesitating long before it adopted the pointed arch, and
clinging to circular forms long after it had been employed elsewhere,
oscillating between the two in a manner very puzzling, and rendering
more care necessary in determining dates than in most other parts of
Europe. Besides this, none of the Belgian buildings have yet been edited
in such a manner as to afford materials for the establishment of any
certain rule. Perhaps the most interesting specimen of the transitional
period, and certainly one of the most beautiful ruins in the country, is
the abbey church of Villers, near Genappe, a building 338 ft. in length
by 67 in width, built with all the purity of what we would call the
Early English style, but with a degree of experimental imperfection in
the tracery of which I hardly know an example elsewhere. The
representation given above (Woodcut No. 679) of one of the windows of
the transept will explain this; throughout it the tracery consists of
holes cut into slabs; yet this church is said to have been commenced in
1240, and only finished in 1276. In Germany such a date would be
probable; in France a similar specimen would be assigned to a period
from 70 to 100 years earlier.

Among the many efforts made in Belgium to get rid of the awkwardness of
the pointed form for windows was that in the choir of Notre Dame de la
Chapelle, at Brussels (begun 1216), where the circular tracery is
inserted in a circular-headed window, producing a much more pleasing
effect, both internally and externally, than the pointed form, except
with reference to the vault, with which it is so little in accordance
that the experiment seems to have been abandoned, and no attempt made
afterwards to renew it.

Besides those already mentioned, Belgium possesses about twenty
first-class churches of pointed architecture, all deserving attentive
consideration, some of them being almost unrivalled edifices of their
class. Among the earliest of these is the cathedral of Liège, begun in
1280, exhibiting the style in great purity. It has no western entrance,
but, like St. Croix, St. Jacques, and all the principal churches of this
city, is entered by side porches.

A little later we have the eastern parts of St. Gudule, Brussels (A.D.
1220-1273), and two other very beautiful churches: Notre Dame de Tongres
(1240), and St. Martin, Ypres (1232-70). The latter is perhaps the
purest and best specimen of the Gothic of the 13th century in Flanders;
and of about the same age is the beautiful church of N. D. de Dinant.
These are almost the only important specimens of the contemporary art of
the 13th century which still excite our admiration in all the principal
cities of France. Almost all the great cathedrals in that country belong
to this age, which was also so prolific of great buildings in England.
But Belgium does not seem to have shared to any great extent in the
impulse then given to church architecture. Her buildings are spread
pretty evenly over the whole period from the 10th to the 16th century,
as the steadily growing wealth of the country demanded them, and but
little influenced by the great political oscillations of her neighbours.
In the next century we have N. D. de Huy (1311), the beautiful parish
church at Aerschot (1337), and N. D. de Hal (1341)—small but elegant
places of worship. The two crowning examples, however, of this age are
N. D. of Antwerp (1352-1411), and St. Rombaut, Malines. The choir of
this latter church was dedicated in the year 1366, having been commenced
about the same time as that at Antwerp, but the nave was not erected
till a century afterwards (1456-1464), and the tower was not carried
even to its present height till the 16th century.

Antwerp cathedral is one of the most remarkable churches in Europe,
being 390 ft. long by 170 in width inside the nave, and covering rather
more than 70,000 sq. ft. As will be seen by the plan (Woodcut No. 680),
it is divided into seven aisles, which gives a vast intricacy and
picturesqueness to the perspective; but there is a want of harmony among
the parts, and of subordination and proportion, sadly destructive of
true architectural effect; so that, notwithstanding its size, it looks
much smaller internally than many of the French cathedrals of far
smaller dimensions. If the length of the nave had been divided into ten
bays instead of only six, and the central aisle had been at least 10 ft.
wider, which space could easily have been spared from the outer one, the
apparent size of the church would have been greatly increased; but
besides this, it wants height, and its details show a decadence which
nothing can redeem.

[Illustration: 680. Plan of the Cathedral at Antwerp. Scale 100 ft. to 1

Its magnificent portal, with its one finished tower 406 ft. in height,
was commenced in 1422, but only finished in 1518, and is more in
accordance with the taste of the 16th century than of the original
design. Although from the lateness of its date it is impossible to be
satisfied either with the outline or the detail, it is still so gorgeous
a specimen of art, and towers so nobly over the buildings of the city,
as to extort our admiration, and a man must have very little feeling for
the poetry of art who can stop to criticise it too closely.

The spire at Chartres (Woodcut No. 627) is more elegant in outline, but
the design of its base does not accord with that of the upper part, and
its effect is injured by the great height of the building to which it is
attached. That at Strasburg is very inferior in outline, so is St.
Stephen’s at Vienna, and it is not quite clear that the open-work spires
of Freiburg and Cologne are not mistakes. The base of the Antwerp spire
is perfect in proportion and good in detail; the caprice begins only
when near the top, where it constructively can do no harm, and is much
less offensive than it would be lower down. It cannot perfect, but
taking it altogether it is perhaps the most beautiful thing of its kind
in Europe.

It is a great question if the second spire, were it completed as
originally designed, would add to, or detract from, the beauty of the
composition. An unfinished design is always unpleasing, but, on the
whole, twin spires, without a very prominent central object, do not seem
a pleasing form of design.

The church of St. Rombaut at Malines, though very much smaller than that
at Antwerp, being only 300 ft. in length internally, and, including the
tower, only 385 ft. over all externally, is still a far more
satisfactory church in every respect. Indeed, it is one of the finest of
those which have round pillars in the nave instead of the clustered
columns which give such beauty and such meaning to most of the churches
of this age. It was originally designed to have one western spire,
which, if completed, would have risen to the height of nearly 550
English feet. It was never carried higher than to the commencement of
the spire, 320 ft., and at that height it now remains. Even as it is, it
is one of the noblest erections of the Middle Ages, the immense depth of
its buttresses and the boldness of its outline giving it a character
seldom surpassed.

St. Pierre’s, of Louvain, is a worthy rival of these two; for though
perhaps a century more modern, or nearly so, it seems to have been built
at once on a uniform and well-digested plan, which gives to the whole
building a congruity which goes far to redeem the defects in its
details. The façade, which would have rendered it the noblest building
of the three, has never been completed. It was designed on the true
German principle of a great western screen, surmounted by three spires,
the central one 535 ft. in height, the other two 430 ft. each.[50]

Where sufficient width can be obtained, this seems a legitimate and
pleasing form of composition. Twin towers like those at Cologne or like
those designed for Strasburg and Antwerp, would overpower any church,
and are wanting in variety. Two small towers, with one taller between,
is a more pleasing composition, though equally destructive to the effect
of the building behind. The English plan of three spires, as at
Lichfield, is by far the most pleasing arrangement; but this form the
continental architects never attempted on an extensive scale, and
consequently the single spire, as at Malines or Ulm, is perhaps the most
satisfactory solution of the difficulty. If not that, then the
triple-spired façade designed for Louvain would probably be the best.

Those above enumerated are certainly the finest specimens of Belgian
ecclesiastical art. Almost all the churches erected afterwards, though
some of them very beautiful, are characterised by the elaborate weakness
of their age. Among these may be mentioned St. Gommaire at Lierre,
commenced A.D. 1425, but not completed till nearly a century afterwards;
and St. Jacques at Antwerp, a large and gorgeous church, possessing size
and proportion worthy of the best age, but still unsatisfactory, from
the absence of anything like true art or design pervading it. The same
remarks do not apply to St. Waudru at Mons, 1450-1528, one of the very
best specimens of its age—pleasing in proportion and elegant in detail.
Internally a charming effect of polychromy is produced by the cold blue
colour of the stone, contrasted with the red-brick filling-in of the
vault; this contrast being evidently a part of the original design. By
some singular freak of destiny it has escaped whitewash, so that we have
here one instance at least of a _true_ mode of decoration, and to a
certain extent a very good one. The exterior of this church is also
extremely pleasing for its age. Its tower and spire are unfortunately
among those that we know only from the original drawings, which are
still preserved, and show a very beautiful design.

[Illustration: 681. Plan of St. Jacques, Liège. (From Weale’s
‘Architectural Papers.’) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

Of about the same age (1522-1558) is St. Jacques at Liège (Woodcut No.
681), a church of the second class in point of size, being only 254 ft.
in length internally, by 92 ft. across the nave. At the west end it
still retains the screen of the old church, marked darker on the plan.
The principal entrance is a splendid porch of flamboyant design on the
north. The east end may be said to be a compromise between the French
and German methods, for it is not a true chevet, inasmuch as it has not
the circumscribing aisle, while its circlet of chapels prevents its
being considered as a German apse. Altogether the plan is characteristic
of its locality on the borders of France and Germany, for in it we find
mixed together most of the peculiarities of both countries. For its age
too the details are generally good, but as construction was no longer
the ruling motive, confusion is the result. The most remarkable thing
about the church is, that it is one of the very few churches in Europe
which retain their polychromatic decorations in anything like
completeness, especially on the roof. The paintings, however, are of
late date, bordering on the cinque-cento period; yet the effect
produced, though gorgeous, is remarkably pleasing and beautiful, and is
in itself sufficient to set at rest the question as to the expediency of
painting the vaults of churches, or leaving them plain. My own
conviction is, that all French vaults were once painted to as great an
extent as in this case. Our English architects often probably depended
only on form and carving for effect, but on the Continent it was

Of the remaining churches, St. Bavon’s at Ghent, and St. Martin’s at
Liège, both commenced, as they now stand, in the middle of the 16th
century, are among the most remarkable, and for their age are
wonderfully free from any traces of the Renaissance. At the same age in
France, or even in England, they would have been Italianised to a far
greater extent.

There is scarcely a second-rate town or even a village in Belgium that
does not possess a church of more or less importance of the Gothic age,
or one at all events possessing some fragment or detail worthy of
attentive study. This circumstance is easily explained from the fact
that during the whole of the Mediæval period, from the 10th to the 16th
century, Belgium was rich and prosperous, and since that time till the
present comparatively so poor as to have had neither ambition to destroy
nor power to rebuild. Considering its extent, the country is indubitably
richer in monuments than France, or perhaps than any other country in
Europe; but the architecture is neither so good or satisfactory nor of
so high a class.

                              CHAPTER II.


Civil Architecture—Belfries—Hall at Ypres—Louvain—Brussels—Domestic

WHATEVER opinion we may form as to her ecclesiastical edifices, the real
architectural pre-eminence of Belgium consists in her civil, or rather
her municipal buildings, which surpass those of any other country. None
of these are very old, which is easily accounted for. The rise of
commercial enterprise in Belgium, though early compared with other
European nations, was more recent than the age of military and
ecclesiastical supremacy, and men were consequently obliged to erect
castles to protect their property against robbers, and churches for
their religious wants, before they could think of council-halls or
municipal edifices.

In the 12th century, when the monarchy of France was consolidating
itself, the cities of Belgium were gradually acquiring that wealth and
those rights and privileges which soon placed them among the independent
and most prosperous communities of Europe. One of the earliest
architectural expressions of their newly-acquired independence was the
erection of a belfry. The right of possessing a bell was one of the
first privileges granted in all old charters, not only as a symbol of
power, but as the means of calling the community together, either with
arms in their hands to defend their walls, to repress internal tumults,
for the election of magistrates, or for deliberation on the affairs of
the commonwealth. The tower too in which the bell was hung was a symbol
of power in the Middle Ages, and, whether on the banks of the Scheldt or
the Po, the first care of every enfranchised community was to erect a
“tower of pride” proportionate to their greatness.

The tower moreover was generally the record-office of the city, the
place where the charters and more important deeds were preserved secure
from fire; and in a place sufficiently fortified to protect them in the
event of civic disturbances.

All these uses have passed away, and most of the belfries have either
fallen into neglect or been removed or appropriated to other purposes.
Of those remaining, the oldest seems to be that of Tournay, a fine
tower, though a good deal altered and its effect destroyed by more
modern additions.

The belfry at Ghent was commenced in 1183, but the stone-work was only
completed in 1337. In 1376 a wooden spire was placed upon it, making up
the height to 237 ft. This was taken down in 1855 in order to complete
the tower according to the original design, which, like that of most of
the unfinished buildings of Belgium, has been carefully preserved. It
has since been completed by the addition of an iron spire (375 ft.)
painted to look like stone. The Woodcut No. 682 is a reduction of the
original drawing, which, though not so perfect as some others, gives a
fair idea of what it was intended to be.

[Illustration: 682. Belfry at Ghent. (From the original Drawing.)]

The belfry of Brussels was one of the finest in the country, but after
various misfortunes it fell in 1714, and is only known now by a model
still preserved in the city.

At Ypres and Bruges the belfries form part of the great halls of the
city. Those at Lierre, Nieuport, Alost, Furnes, and other cities, have
been all more or less destroyed by alterations, and are more interesting
to the antiquary than to the architect; moreover, like the cities
themselves, they never could have been of the first class, or remarkable
for any extraordinary magnificence.

The great municipal halls, which are found in all the principal cities
of Belgium, are of three classes:—1. Town-halls—the municipal
senate-houses and courts of justice. 2. Trade-halls or market-houses,
the principal of which were cloth-halls, cloth having been the great
staple manufacture of Belgium during the Middle Ages. And lastly
Guildhalls, or the separate places of assembly of the different guilds
or associated trades of the cities.

[Illustration: 683. Cloth-hall at Ypres.]

As far as existing examples go, it would appear that the trade halls
were the first erected. The cloth-hall at Ypres is by far the most
magnificent and beautiful of these, as also the earliest. The
foundation-stone was laid in 1200 by Baldwin of Constantinople, but it
was not finished till 104 years afterwards. The façade is 440 ft. in
length, and of the simplest possible design, being perfectly straight
and unbroken from end to end. The windows of each storey, all of one
design, are repeated, not only along the whole front, but at each end.
Its height is varied by the noble belfry which rises from its centre,
and by a bold and beautiful pinnacle at each end. The whole is of the
pure architecture of the 13th century, and is one of the most majestic
edifices of its class to be seen anywhere. It might perhaps have been
improved by the greater degree of expression and the bolder shadows
which lines brought down to the ground would have given to it, but as it
is, it is extremely pleasing from its simplicity and the perfect
adaptation of its exterior to its internal arrangements. These consist
of one vast hall on the ground-floor, supported by several ranges of
columns, with long galleries and great halls above it for the use of the
trade to which it was appropriated.

The town-hall at Bruges is perhaps the oldest building erected
especially for that purpose in Belgium, the foundation-stone having been
laid in 1377. It is a small building, being only 88 ft. in front by 65
in depth, and of a singularly pure and elegant design. Its small size
causes it to suffer considerably from its immediate proximity to the
cloth-hall and other trade-halls of the city. These, grouped with the
belfry in their centre, occupy one end of the great Place, and, though
not remarkable for beauty, either of design or detail, still form a most
imposing mass. The belfry is one of the most picturesque towers in the
country. Its original height was 356 ft., which was diminished by about
60 ft. by the removal of the spire in 1741, though it still towers above
all the buildings of the city, and in that flat country is seen far and

The finest of the town-halls of Belgium, built originally as such, is
that of Brussels (Woodcut No. 684), commenced in 1401, and finished in
1455. In dimensions it is inferior to the cloth-hall at Ypres, being
only 264 ft. in length by about 50 in depth, and its details, as may be
supposed from its age, are less pure; but the spire that surmounts its
centre, rising to the height of 374 ft., is unrivalled for beauty of
outline and design by any spire in Belgium, and is entitled to take rank
among the noblest examples of the class in Europe. Notwithstanding its
late age, there is no extravagance, either in design or detail, about
it; but the mode in which the octagon is placed on the square, and the
outline broken and varied by the bold and important pinnacles that group
around it, produce a most pleasing variety, without interfering with the
main constructive lines of the building. The spire, properly so called,
is small, so that its open-work tracery is pleasing and appropriate,
which is more than can be said of some of its German rivals, in which
this mode of ornamentation is quite unsuited to the large scale on which
it is attempted.

Next in importance to this is the well-known and beautiful town-hall at
Louvain (1448-1463), certainly the most elaborately decorated piece of
Gothic architecture in existence. Though perhaps a little overdone in
some parts, the whole is so consistent, and the outline and general
scheme of decoration so good, that little fault can be found with it. In
design it follows very closely the hall at Bruges, but wants the tower,
which gives such dignity to those at Brussels and Ypres.

[Illustration: 684. View of Town-hall, Brussels.]

Towards the end of the same century (1481) the inhabitants of Ghent
determined on the erection of a town-hall, which, had it ever been
finished, would have surpassed all the others in size and richness,
though whether it would have equalled them in beauty is more than
doubtful. After a century of interrupted labour the design was abandoned
before it was more than two-thirds completed, and now that age has
softened down its extravagances, it is a pleasing and perhaps beautiful
building. Nothing, however, can exceed the extent of tormented and
unmeaning ornament that is spread over every part of it, showing great
richness certainly, but frequently degenerating into very bad taste. The
architecture of the hall at Ypres, though only half or one-third as
costly in proportion to its extent, is far nobler and more satisfactory
than this ever could have been. But when erected the day of true art was
past, and its place was sought to be supplied by extent of ornament.

The same remarks apply to the town-hall at Oudenarde, a building
evidently meant as a copy of that at Louvain, but having combined with
it a belfry, in imitation of that at Brussels. The result is certainly
rich and pleasing in general effect; but the details incidental to its
age (1525) have marred the execution, and given to the whole a
clumsiness and a flimsiness that greatly detract from its beauty. Even
the effect of the belfry is spoiled by the temptation to exhibit a
masonic trick, and make it appear as if standing on the two slight
pillars of the porch. It is clever, but apparent stability is as
necessary to true architectural beauty as real stability is to the
dignity of the art.

Among the smaller halls that of Mons is perhaps the most elegant, and is
very similar to that of St. Quentin, which, though now in France, was a
Flemish city at the time of its erection.

In the days of her magnificence Mechlin attempted the erection of a
splendid hall, which was intended to rival those of any of the
neighbouring towns. Civic troubles, however, put a stop to the work
before it was carried so far as to enable us now even to determine what
the original design may have been.

Among minor edifices of the same class may be mentioned the cloth-halls
of Louvain and Ghent, both of the best age, though small; and the
Boucheries or meat-markets of Diest, Ypres, Antwerp, and other towns—the
boatman’s lodge at Ghent and the burgesses’ lodge at Bruges, besides
numerous other scattered memorials of civic magnificence that meet one
everywhere in this great emporium of Mediæval industry.

Of palaces, properly so called, little remains in Belgium, worthy of
notice, unless it be the palace of the Bishop of Liège (Woodcut No.
685), which, as far as size and richness of decoration are concerned,
almost deserves the reputation it has attained. It was, however,
unfortunately commenced at an age (1508) when the Gothic style,
especially in civil buildings, was all but extinct, and it is impossible
to admire its stunted columns and flat arches in such immediate
proximity to the purer works of the preceding centuries.

Of the same age and style was the Exchange at Antwerp (1515). This
building was more pleasing in its details: and, though commenced a few
years later, its simpler and more monumental character seems to have
preserved it from the individual caprices which are apparent in the
palace, and which became the fatal characteristic of all future designs.
Neither of these buildings can, however, be called in strictness Gothic
designs, for the true spirit of that art had perished before they were

[Illustration: 685. Part of the Bishop’s Palace, Liège. No scale.]

Many of the private dwelling-houses in the Flemish cities are
picturesque and elegant, though hardly rising to the grade of specimens
of fine art; but when grouped together in the narrow winding streets, or
along the banks of the canals, the result is so varied and charming that
we are inclined to ascribe to them more intrinsic beauty than they
really possess as individual designs. Most of them are of brick, and the
brick being used undisguisedly, and the buildings depending wholly on
such forms as could be given to that material, they never offend our
taste by shams; and the honest endeavour of the citizens to ornament
their dwellings externally, meets here with the success that must always
follow such an attempt. To exhibit this class of structures adequately
would require far more illustration than is compatible with a work like
the present, and would occupy the space that more properly belongs to
buildings of a larger and more monumental class, and of higher
pretensions to architectural effect, both in their design and the manner
in which it is carried out.

                              CHAPTER III.



Churches—Civil and Domestic Buildings.

THE moment we pass the boundary line which separates Belgium from
Holland, we feel that we have stepped at once into a new architectural
province. At last we have got among a people of pure Aryan or Teutonic
race, without one trace of Turanian or Celtic blood in their veins, and
who consequently carry out their architectural designs with a
matter-of-fact simplicity that is edifying, if not charming. It is not
that the kingdom of Holland is deficient in the possession of Mediæval
churches—far from it—she possesses as many Gothic cathedrals as we do,
and their average dimensions are equal to those which adorn this island;
they belong also to the same age: but the result is wonderfully

The Dutch did not work out any part of the style for themselves; they
attempted no novelties, and did not even give themselves the trouble to
understand perfectly the style they were employing. They were then, as
now, a religious people, and wanted churches, and built them according
to the only pattern then available. No one can say that their churches
were not perfectly adapted to the form of worship then prevalent, and in
dimensions and dignity perfectly suited to the wants of the communities
who erected them. Notwithstanding all this, they are only vast
warehouses of devotion, and are utter failures as works of art.

If any one wishes to perfectly realise the difference between mere
ornamental construction and ornamental construction which is also
ornamented, he cannot do better than study carefully the design of these
Dutch churches. Their dimensions are frequently grand, their proportions
generally pleasing, and the subordination of the parts to each other
often most judicious. On the other hand, the pillars of the pier arches
are almost always round—the vaulting shafts poor, and never carried to a
sufficient resting-place—the windows want mullions and tracery—the
vaults are domed and stilted—the ribs lean—and everything in fact is
pared down as closely to mere utility as is possible in such a style. In
France or in England, in the same age, every stone would have spoken out
and had a meaning; and every detail would not only have been in its
right place, but would have expressed the reason of its being there, and
the purpose to which it was applied.

To the want of artistic feeling, or real knowledge of the style, which
is shown in the designs of the Dutch churches, must be added the
inferiority of the material in which they were carried out. Some are
wholly of brick, and few are entirely of stone, though most of them have
an admixture of the nobler material—and where brick is employed, without
great care and artistic feeling, the result is generally poor and

Judged by their dimensions alone, the churches of Holland ought to be
almost as interesting as those of Belgium, for they are generally large,
with lofty and well-proportioned aisles, and transepts which project
boldly. They have frequently tall and not ungraceful western towers, and
sometimes large windows filled with good tracery, though mostly of a
late age. Notwithstanding all these requisites of a perfect Gothic
church, there is not one of them that must not be considered a failure,
from the causes just mentioned.

These remarks apply especially to the great churches at Haarlem, Leyden,
and Rotterdam, two at Amsterdam, and the two at Delft, the older of
which contains some details worthy of attention. That at Gouda is
remarkable for the beauty of its painted glass, though the architecture
of the church is very unworthy of so brilliant an ornament.

The church at Dort is older than most of these, and has a venerable look
about it that hides many of the faults of its architecture, but it will
not bear examination.

The churches of Utrecht and Bois le Duc are to some extent exceptions to
the general poverty of design which characterises the churches of
Holland. This is owing probably to the situation of these two churches
on the verge of the province, and their proximity to Belgium and
Germany. That at Utrecht consists at the present day of merely two
fragments—a choir and a tower, the nave that joined them having been
destroyed by a storm and never replaced. What remains is good late
German, though it is much disfigured by modern additions. The church at
Bois le Duc is still a large and richly ornamented church, with a good
deal of stone-work about it; but being too large for the decaying town
in which it stands, it has suffered much from neglect, and is now in a
very ruinous condition.

The church at Kampen, on the Zuyder Zee, is better than most others, and
many of the smaller churches on the borders of the province are worthy
of more attention than they have received. There are few abbeys or
monastic buildings of any importance to be found, such establishments
never having been suited to the industrious character of the Dutch

Bad as are the churches of Holland, the town-halls and civic buildings
are even worse. With the single exception of the town-hall at
Middelburg, erected in 1468 by Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, and a
fine example of its kind, there are none, in the whole of the
Netherlands, which can be classed as works of fine art. Even age has
been unable to render them tolerably picturesque; nor are there in the
province any belfries with their picturesque forms, nor any palaces
worthy of note, which belong to the Middle Ages. The older
dwelling-houses are sometimes picturesque and pleasing, but less so than
those of Belgium. Most of them are unpretending specimens of honest
building, the result of which is often satisfactory; and combined, as
they generally are in Dutch towns, with water and trees, and with the
air of neatness and comfort which pervades the whole, we sometimes
scarcely feel inclined to quarrel with the absence of higher elements of
art when so pleasing a result has been produced without them.

Notwithstanding all this, it might be well worth while to give one or
two examples of the plans and illustrations of some of the churches in
Holland in a work like the present, not so much for their own sake, as
for comparison with other buildings; but the materials do not exist. The
Dutch have shown the same indifference to the conservation of their
Mediæval monuments which their forefathers exhibited in their erection,
and not one has been edited in modern times in such a manner as to admit
of being quoted.[51] The history of this variety remains for the present
to be written, but fortunately it is one of the least important of its

                                BOOK V.


                               CHAPTER I.



Chronology and Historical Notice.


 Charlemagne (Karl der Grosze)                              768 to 814
 Conrad I. of Franconia                                            911
 Henry the Fowler                 Saxon                            919
 Otho I.                          Saxon                            936
 Otho II.                         Saxon                            973
 Otho III.                        Saxon                            983
 Henry II.                                                        1002
 Conrad II.                       Franconian                      1024
 Henry III.                       Franconian                      1039
 Henry IV.                        Franconian                      1056
 Henry V.                         Franconian                      1106
 Lothaire III. of Saxony                                          1125
 Conrad III.                      Hohenstaufen                    1138
 Frederick I., Barbarossa         Hohenstaufen                    1152
 Henry VI.                        Hohenstaufen                    1190
 Otho IV., the Guelph             Hohenstaufen                    1198
 Frederick II.                    Hohenstaufen                    1215
 William of Holland               Swabia                          1247
 Period of Anarchy                Swabia                          1256
 Richard of Cornwall              Swabia                          1257
 Alphonso of Castile              Swabia                          1258
 Rudolph of Hapsburg                                              1273
 Adolph of Nassau                                                 1292
 Albert of Austria                                                1298
 Louis of Bavaria                                                 1314
 Charles of Luxemburg                                             1347
 Wenceslaus of Bohemia                                            1378
 Rupert of the Palatinate                                         1400
 Sigismund of Hungary                                             1410
 Frederick III.                   Hapsburg                        1440
 Maximilian I.                    Hapsburg                        1493
 Charles V.                       Hapsburg                1519 to 1556

AS might be expected from the known difference of race, the history of
architecture in Germany differs in the most marked degree from that of
France; and instead of a number of distinct nationalities being
gradually absorbed into one great central despotism, and their
individuality obliterated, as happened in that country, we find Germany
commencing as a great uniting power under Charlemagne and the Othos, but
with a strong tendency to disintegration from first to last. Had the
Germans been as pure Aryans as they are sometimes supposed to be, they
might under certain circumstances have resolved themselves into an
aggregation of village communities under one paramount protector. The
presence of a Celtic dominion on their western frontier, always greedy
for territory, and always prepared to fight either for its acquisition,
or for anything else, prevented such a catastrophe as this. But the
tendency in those parts of Germany where the blood was purest was
towards every city becoming an independent community, every trade an
independent guild, and every lordship a little kingdom in so far as
independence was concerned. All this, however, was the natural tendency
of the race, and by no means involved the cutting up of the country into
separate architectural provinces. Had the country indeed been divided
into 1000 or 1500 separate principalities and free cities, instead of
one-tenth of that number, the uniformity would have been greater than it
is, and from the Alps to the Baltic we should have had only one style,
as was very nearly being the case during the Middle Ages. The greatest
difference that strikes the observer at first sight, is the change of
style between the buildings on the banks of the Rhine and those on the
shores of the Baltic. This, however, is more superficial than real, and
arose from the fact of no stone being found on the sandy plains of
Prussia. The inhabitants of Northern Germany were forced to use brick,
and that only, and consequently employed forms which were different from
those used in stone countries, but varying from them constructively more
than essentially. There may nevertheless be a certain infusion of
Wendish blood in Northern Germany, which may to some extent have
influenced the style, but it is not easy to trace or isolate it.

On the eastern boundary of the province a well-marked ethnographic
distinction may easily be detected. In Bohemia and Moravia a strong
infusion of Sclavonic feeling does tincture the art, but not to its
advantage. In these countries there are some very grand Gothic
buildings; but they are wild and ill-understood as Gothic designs, and
by no means satisfy the judgment of any one who is familiar with the
best examples in France or England. In Siebenbürgen,[52] as might be
expected, the style is still more abnormal, but it would take more
trouble and more illustration to describe it than its importance
deserves; for, except the cathedral at Karlsburg, it does not possess
any building of great architectural magnificence. Its general
characteristic is that it is more Italian than German, though not the
less interesting for that very reason.

The history of Gothic architecture in Germany began practically with
Charlemagne and ended with Charles V. There may be some buildings
erected before the date of the first-named king, but, if so, they are
small and unimportant, and indeed it seems probable that the edifices
left by the Romans sufficed for the early wants of the people. Some of
these, like the church at Trèves, were built for Christian purposes;
while others may have been in wood and have perished. Be that as it may,
however, from the time of Charlemagne we can trace the history of the
style with tolerable distinctness. A considerable impulse was given to
it under the Othos (936-1002), and under the Hohenstaufens (1138-1268)
the old round-arched style reached its culminating point of perfection.
If any style deserves the name of German it is this, as it was
elaborated in the valley of the Rhine, with very little assistance from
any other nation beyond the hints obtained from the close connection
that then existed between the Germans and the inhabitants of the valley
of the Po.

With the house of Hapsburg (1273) a change came over the spirit of the
country. What Germany did in the 18th century was only a repetition of
what she had done in the 13th. At the later epoch she abandoned her
native literature, almost her mother tongue—to speak French and to copy
French fashions, as at the earlier epoch she forsook her own noble style
of art to adopt the French pointed Gothic. Had she thoroughly understood
and appreciated the French style, it might have been as well; but it was
foreign to her tastes, she had never worked it out from the beginning,
and it soon in consequence became exaggerated, and finally degenerated
into a display of tricks and _tours de force_.

By a strange perversion of historical evidence, the Germans at one time
attempted to appropriate to themselves the credit of the invention of
the pointed style, calling it in consequence German architecture. The
fact being that the pointed style was not only invented but perfected in
France long before the Germans thought of introducing it; and when they
adopted it, they did so without understanding it, and fell far short of
the perfection to which it was carried by the French in all the edifices
which they erected in the age of its greatest development in their own

On the other hand, the Germans may fairly claim the invention of the
particular style which prevailed throughout Lombardy and Germany of
which we are now speaking. This style, it is true, never was fully
developed, and never reached that perfection of finish and completeness
which the pointed style attained. Notwithstanding this, it contained as
noble elements as the other, and was capable of as successful
cultivation, and had its simpler forms and grander dimensions been
elaborated with the same care and taste, Europe might have possessed a
higher style of Mediæval architecture than she has yet seen. The task,
however, was abandoned before it was half completed, and it is only too
probable now that it can never be resumed.

A complete history of this style, worthy of its importance, is still a
desideratum which it is to be hoped the zeal and industry of German
architects will ere long supply, and vindicate their national art from
the neglect it now lies under, by illustrating as it deserves one of the
most interesting chapters in the history of architecture.[53] Already
German writers seem to be aware that the age of the Hohenstaufens was
not only the most exclusively national, but also the most brilliant
period of their history. Its annals have engaged the pens of their best
historians, and its poetry has been rescued from obscurity and commented
upon with characteristic fulness. Every phase of their civilisation has
been fully illustrated, except one—that one being their architecture,
which is, however, the noblest and the most living record of what they
did or aspired to do, that could be left for their posterity to study.
So distinctly is it their own, that, were it necessary to find for it a
separate name, the style of the Hohenstaufens would be that which would
most correctly describe it.

The leading characteristics of the German style are the double apsidal
arrangement of plan, the multiplication of small circular or octagonal
towers, combined with polygonal domes, at the intersections of the
transepts with the nave, and the extended use of galleries under the
eaves of the roofs both of the apses and of the straight sides. The most
ornamental parts are the doorways and the capitals of the columns. The
latter surpass in beauty and in richness anything of their kind executed
during the Middle Ages, and, though sometimes rude in execution, they
equal in design any capitals ever invented. These only required the
experience and refinement of another century of labour to qualify them
to compete successfully with any parts of the pointed style of
architecture which they borrowed from the French, and which in the
course of time entirely superseded their own native style.

                              CHAPTER II.



Plan of St. Gall—Church at Mittelzell in island of Reichenau—
  Romain-Motier— Granson—Church at Gernrode—Trèves—Hildesheim—Cathedrals
  of Worms and Spires—Churches at Cologne—Other churches and chapels—
  Double churches—Swiss churches.

                               ST. GALL.

AS just mentioned, the history of Gothic architecture in Germany
commences practically with Charlemagne; and, by a fortunate accident, we
are able to begin our account of it by quoting from a contemporary
illustration of the greatest interest and importance. In the library of
the monastery of St. Gall, in Switzerland, a manuscript plan of a great
monastic establishment was found by Mabillon in the 17th century, and
published by him in the second volume of the ‘Annals of the Benedictine
Order.’ The name of the author is not known; but, from some dedicatory
verses on the back, it appears certain that it was sent to Gospertus,
who was abbot of the monastery, in the beginning of the 9th century, and
who in fact rebuilt the church and part of the monastic buildings
between the years 820 and 830. Mabillon conjectures that the plan was
prepared by Eginwald, the friend of Charlemagne, and who was also the
director of his buildings. It is by no means improbable that this may
have been the case, though it does not seem possible to prove it.

It is a matter of extreme difficulty to decide how far this plan was
followed in the erection of either the church or monastery of St. Gall
at this remote period, for everything there has been altered at
subsequent times; nor is it very important to enquire. The plan does not
pretend to represent any particular establishment, but is a “projet” of
what was then considered a perfect monastery. In this respect it
resembles the plans of fortified towns which are engraved in our books
of fortification representing the systems of Vauban, Coehorn,
Montalembert, &c., and which, though applicable _mutatis mutandis_ to
every place, have never literally been carried out in any one. It is in
fact an illustration of the Benedictine system, as applicable to Germany
in the ninth century, in its completed and most perfect form, and on
this account is far more interesting to us than if it had been merely a
plan of any particular monastery.

The plan itself is on four sheets of parchment sewn together, and is so
large (2 ft. 7 in. by 3 ft. 7 in.) that only a small portion of it can
be reproduced here, and that on a reduced scale.

The whole group of buildings was apparently meant to occupy a space of
about 450 ft. by 300. On the north side of the church was situated the
abbot’s lodging (B), with a covered way into the church, and an arcade
on either face; his kitchen and offices being detached, and situated to
the eastward. To the westward of this was the public school (C), and
still farther in the same direction the hospitium or guest-house (D D),
with accommodation attached to it for the horses and servants of

Beyond the abbot’s house to the eastward was the dispensary (E), and
beyond that again the residence of the doctor (F), with his garden for
medical herbs and simples at the extreme corner of the monastery.

To the eastward of the great church was situated another small
double-apse church (G G), divided into two by a wall across the centre.

On either side of this church was a cloister, surrounded by apartments:
that on the north was the infirmary, next to the doctor’s residence, and
to it the western portion of the chapel was attached. The other was the
school and residence of the novices. Beyond these was the orchard (H),
which was also the cemetery of the monks; and still farther to the
southward were situated the kitchen-garden, the poultry-yard, the
granaries, mills, bakehouses, and other offices. These last are not
shown in the woodcut, for want of space.

On the south side of the church was situated the great cloister (I), and
further to the south of this was the refectory (J), with a detached
kitchen (K), which also opened into the great wine-cellar (L); and
opposite to this was the dormitory (M), with its various dependent

To the westward was another hospitium (N), apparently for an inferior
class of guests; and to the southward and westward (O O) were placed the
stables for horses, cattle, sheep, and all the animals required for so
large an establishment, the whole arranged with as much skill and care
as can be found in the best modern farms.

[Illustration: 686. Reduction of an Original Plan of a Monastery at St.

The principal point of interest is the church, which was designed to be
200 ft. long from east to west and 80 ft. in width, divided into three
aisles by two rows of columns; the centre aisle being 40, the outer each
20 ft. in width. It has two apses; the principal one towards the east
(A) has a vaulted crypt, in which is a confessio, meant to contain the
relics of the patron saint, St. Gall. In front of this is a choir,
arranged very much on the model of that of S. Clemente at Rome, before
described.[54] The western apse, on the same level as the floor of the
church, was to be dedicated to St. Paul, and the eastern one to St.
Peter. Between the two choirs is the font, and the altar of St. John the
Baptist, and on each side are a range of altars dedicated to various
saints. Behind both apses are open spaces or paradises (R R) (parvise),
that to the west is surrounded by an open semicircular porch, by which
the public were to gain access to the church; and on either side of
this, but detached, are two circular towers (P P), each with an altar on
its summit, one dedicated to the archangel Michael, the other to
Gabriel: these were to be reached by circular stairs or inclined planes.
No mention is made of bells, and the text would seem to intimate rather
that the towers were designed for watch-towers or observatories. The
similarity of their position and form to that of the Irish round towers
is most remarkable; but whether this was in compliment to the Irish
saint to whom the monastery owed its origin, or whether we must look to
Ravenna for the type, are questions not easily determined at the present
date, for we know far too little as yet of the archæology of the age to
speak with certainty on any such questions. It is by no means improbable
that the meaning and origin of these and of the Irish towers were the
same; but whether it was a form exclusively belonging to a Celtic or
Irish race, or common to all churches of that age, is what we cannot now
decide from the imperfect data at our command.

On either side of the east end of the church is an apartment, where the
transept is usually found; that on the south is the vestry (S); on the
north is the library (T), and attached to the church on the same side is
the schoolmaster’s house (U), and beyond that the porter’s (V).

All the living apartments have stoves in the angles, but the dormitory
has a most scientific arrangement for heating; the furnace is at (X),
and the smoke is conveyed away by a detached shaft at (Y), between which
there must have been some arrangement of flues beneath the floor for
heating the sleeping-apartment of the monks.

Were it not that the evidence is so incontrovertible, we should feel
little inclined to fancy that the monasteries of this dark age showed
such refinement and such completeness as is here evidenced; for at no
period of their history can anything more perfect be found. In the
church especially, the two apses, the number of altars, the crypt and
its accompaniments, the sacristy, the library, &c., many of which things
have generally been considered as the invention of subsequent ages, are
marked out distinctly and clearly, as well-understood and usual
arrangements of ecclesiastical edifices. This plan in fact refutes at
once all the arguments regarding the dates of churches which have been
founded on the supposed era of the introduction of these accessories.

By another fortunate coincidence there is a church still standing at
Mittelzell, on the island of Reichenau, in the lake of Constance, within
thirty miles of St. Gall, which certainly belongs to this date, and is
unaltered in nearly all its principal features. It was finished, or at
least dedicated, in the year 816, and therefore this event took place
just before the rebuilding of St. Gall commenced.[55]

[Illustration: 687. Plan of Church at Mittelzell. Scale 100 ft. to 1

[Illustration: 688. Elevation of West End of Church at Mittelzell. Scale
50 ft. to 1 in.]

As will be seen from the plan (Woodcut No. 687) the dimensions of the
two churches are nearly the same; on the St. Gall plan they are written
200 ft. by 80. This church is 230 by 83 English feet, but the
eastern[56] apse has been rebuilt on a more extended scale, and if we
restore its original circular forms, we bring its dimensions so nearly
to those of the St. Gall plan that, if its author used what we now know
as French feet, the dimensions of the two may be considered as
identical. The pier-arches of the nave are plain, and the whole
arrangement is not unlike that of the nave of Montier-en-Der (Woodcut
No. 610). One of the most remarkable peculiarities of the Reichenau
church is the door behind the altar in the western apse, and the great
window looking into it, with double stairs which lead up to it, as
though the bishop’s throne was placed there above the heads of all. The
two principal entrances were, as shown in Woodcut No. 688, on each side
of the western apse, and the whole of the elevation—in so far as it is
preserved—retains the original design. Although retaining the wooden
roof, and never apparently intended to be vaulted, this church is purely
Romanesque in all its details. There is not a classical feature about
it, and we are rather startled to find a Barbarian style so complete at
so early an age, and so far removed from anything that could with
propriety be called debased Roman.[57]

[Illustration: 689. Plan of the Church at Romain-Motier. (From
Blavignac.[58]) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

There are other churches in this neighbourhood scarcely less ancient in
date than this one at Mittelzell, and almost as interesting in their
arrangement. Among these may be mentioned that of Romain-Motier, the
body of which certainly remains as it was when consecrated in the year
753. The narthex, which is in two storeys, may be a century or two
later, and the porch and east end are of the pointed style of the 12th
or 13th century. The vaulting of the nave also can hardly be coeval with
the original building.

[Illustration: 690. View of the Church of Romain-Motier. (From

From other examples in the neighbourhood, we may safely infer that it
originally terminated eastward in one or three apses. Supposing these to
be restored, we have a church of about 150 ft. in length by 55 in width
across the nave, with transepts, a tower at the intersection, and nearly
all the arrangements found at a much later age, and with scarcely any
more reminiscence of the early Christian style than is observable at

The external mode of decoration is very much that of the two churches of
San Apollinare at Ravenna, but is carried one step further, inasmuch as
in the upper storey of the nave each compartment is divided into two
arches, the centre one carried on a corbel; in the tower there are three
such little arches in each bay, and in the narthex five. This design
afterwards became in Germany and Italy[59] the favourite string-course

The church of Granson, on the borders of the lake of Neufchatel, though
much smaller, is scarcely less interesting. It belongs to the
Carlovingian era, and like many churches of that age, has borrowed its
pillars and many of its ornaments from earlier monuments. Its most
remarkable peculiarity is the vault of the nave, which shows how timidly
at that early period the architects undertook to vault even the
narrowest spans, the whole nave with its side-aisles being only 30 ft.
wide. It is the earliest specimen we possess of a mode of vaulting which
subsequently became very common in the South of France, and which, as
has been pointed out above, led to most of the forms of vaulting
afterwards introduced.

[Illustration: 691. Section of Church at Granson. (From Blavignac.)]

The church of Notre Dame de Neufchatel, part of which is as old as from
927 to 954, presents also forms of beauty and interest. The same may be
said of the tower of the cathedral of Sion, which is of the same age,
and of parts also of the cathedral of Geneva.

The church at Payerne is very similar in size and in all its
arrangements to that of Romain-Motier; but being two centuries more
modern, the transition is complete, and it shows all the peculiarities
of a round-arched Gothic style as completely as San Michele at Pavia, or
any other church of the same age.

If there are any examples of basilican churches in Germany as old as
these Swiss examples, they have not yet been described, nor their age
satisfactorily ascertained. The oldest known example, so far as I am
aware, is the old Dom at Ratisbon,[60] originally apparently about 45
ft. by 22 in the clear. It was surrounded internally by eleven niches,
and vaulted. It also possessed the peculiarly German arrangement of
having no entrance at the west end, and has a deep gallery occupying
about one-fourth of the church. The lateral entrance is unfortunately
gone, so that there is very little ornamental architecture about the
place by which its age could be determined; and as no record remains of
its foundation, we can only conjecture that it may belong to some time
slightly subsequent to the Carlovingian era.[61]

[Illustration: 692. Plan of the Church at Gernrode. (From

Boisserée places in this age the original cathedrals of Fulda and
Cologne, both which he assumes to have been double-apse basilicas, but
apparently without any sufficient data. There is no doubt that the
cathedral at the latter place, burnt in 1248, was a double-apse church;
but if it was anything like his restoration it could not have been
erected earlier than the 11th or 12th century, and must have replaced an
older building, which, for anything we know, may have been circular, as
probably as rectangular; and such would likewise appear to have been the
case at Fulda,[63] though there is as little to reason upon there as at

[Illustration: 693. View of West End of Church at Gernrode. (From

There can be little doubt that the church of St. Justinus, built by
Archbishop Otgar, 826-847 A.D., at Höchst (between Mayence and
Frankfort) is of the Carlovingian period, as also parts of the church of
St. Castor at Coblenz, and the churches at Michælstadt and Seligenstadt,
the two last erected by Eginwald, the biographer of Charlemagne.

The most important building of the tenth century is the crypt of the
Abbey of Quedlinburg, erected by Matilda, consort of Henry I., in 936
A.D. It consists of three aisles, covered with parallel barrel vaults
supported upon alternating piers and columns, and is the first
appearance of this favourite form of support in German basilicas. The
dimensions of this building are 23 feet 8 inches × 22 feet 7 inches, and
32 feet 2 inches to the crown of vault.

The caps and bases take a distinctive form, leading from the debased
Roman to the Romanesque, the further development of which can be seen in
the choir of the abbey church at Essen, erected shortly after 947 A.D.

Leaving these, we must come down to the end of the 10th or beginning of
the 11th century for examples of the class we are now speaking of. Of
these, one of the most perfect and interesting is the church at
Gernrode, in the Hartz, founded A.D. 960, when probably the eastern part
(not the extended choir) was commenced, and the whole building may be
assumed to have been erected within a century after that date. From the
plan (Woodcut No. 692) it will be seen how singularly like it is to the
St. Gall example, except that it appears to have been originally about
50 ft., or one-fourth, less in length. The western circular towers,
instead of being detached, are here joined to the building. Piers too
are introduced internally, alternating with pillars; and altogether the
church shows just such an advance on the St. Gall plan as we might
expect a century or so to produce. It exemplifies most satisfactorily
the original form of these churches.

[Illustration: 694. View of West End of Abbey of Corvey.]

It possesses what is rare in this country—a bold triforium gallery, and
externally that strange frontispiece, forming the connecting gallery of
the two towers, which is so distinguishing a characteristic of German
churches. A still bolder example of this gallery remains in the façade
of the once famous abbey of Corvey, on the eastern frontier of
Westphalia (Woodcut No. 694), where we find the feature developed to its
fullest extent, so that it must originally have entirely hidden the
church placed behind it, as it did afterwards at Strasbourg and in many
other examples.

At Gernrode, as at Mittelzell, the roof was originally intended to have
been of wood, the crypts under the two apses being alone vaulted. Indeed
at that age the German architects hardly felt themselves skilled enough
to undertake a stone roof of any great extent. The old Dom at Ratisbon
is only 22 ft. in width, and that they could accomplish, but not
apparently one like Gernrode, where the span was twice that in extent.

If the church at Gernrode is a satisfactory specimen of a complete
German design carried out in its integrity, the cathedral at Trèves is
both more interesting as well as instructive from a very different
cause. It is one of those aggregated buildings of all ages and styles
which let us into the secrets of the art, and contain a whole history
within themselves; and as the dates of the successive building eras can
be ascertained with very tolerable accuracy, it may be as well to
describe it next in the series, to explain how and when the various
changes took place.

As is well known, the original cathedral at Trèves was built by the
pious Helena, mother of Constantine, and seems, like the contemporary
church at Jerusalem, to have consisted of two distinct edifices, one
rectangular, the other circular. The original circular building was
pulled down in the 13th century, to make way for the present Liebfrauen
church erected on its site, and most probably of the same dimensions. Of
the other, or square building, enough still remains encased in the walls
of the present basilica to enable us to determine its size and plan with
very tolerable accuracy. The plan of it in the woodcut (No. 696) is
taken from Schmidt’s most valuable work on the Antiquities of Trèves.
The atrium has been added by myself, because it was an almost universal
feature in churches of the date in which this was erected, and because
there is every reason to believe that the present church occupied as
nearly as possible the exact site of the older one, and is of the same
dimensions. The circular church is restored from the Roman examples of
the same age (Woodcuts 227, and 422 to 436). From their relative
positions it will be seen how indispensable the atrium must have been.

[Illustration: 695. Plan of Original Church at Trèves.[64] Scale 100 ft.
to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 696. Plan of Mediæval Church at Trèves. (From Schmidt,
‘Baudenkmale von Trier.’) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

This Romanesque church seems to have remained pretty much in its
original state till the beginning of the 11th century, when the
Archbishop Poppo found it so ruinous from age, that it required to be
almost entirely rebuilt. He first encased the pillars of the Romans in
masonry, making them into piers. He then took in and roofed over the
atrium, and added an apse at the western end, thus converting it into a
German church of the approved model, so that from this time forward the
buildings took the form shown in the Woodcut No. 692. No very important
works seem to have been undertaken from the beginning of the 11th till
the middle of the 12th century, when Bishop Hillin is said to have
undertaken the repair or rebuilding of the eastern apse: he did not
proceed beyond the foundation; but the work was taken up and completed
by Bishop John, who held the see from 1190 to 1212. These two apses,
therefore, one an example of the beginning of the German round-arched
style, the other representing the same near its close, show clearly the
progress which had been made in the interval.

[Illustration: 697. Western Apse of Church at Trèves. (From Schmidt.)
Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 698. Eastern Apse of Church at Trèves. (From Schmidt.)
Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

The first of these apses (Woodcut No. 697) is perhaps somewhat ruder
than we might reasonably expect, though this may in part be accounted
for by its remote provincial situation. The round towers too are
subordinate to the square ones, in a manner more congenial to French
than to German taste. But the principal defect is in the apsidal
gallery, which is rude and tasteless as compared with other specimens,
which we are apparently justified in considering as contemporary. Before
the later or eastern apse was erected the gallery had almost run into
the opposite extreme of minute littleness, and the polygonal form and
projecting buttresses of pointed architecture were beginning to
supersede the simpler outlines of the parent style, of which these two
specimens form as it were the Alpha and the Omega. Between them the
examples and varieties are so numerous, that there really is an
_embarras de richesse_ in selecting those most appropriate for

[Illustration: 699. Internal View of the Church of St. Michael, at
Hildesheim. (From Möller.)]

[Illustration: 700. Plan of Church of St. Michael at Hildesheim.]

The church of St. Michael at Hildesheim, erected by Bishop Bernward in
the first years of the 11th century, is among the earliest and most
interesting of those remaining in sufficient purity to enable us to
judge correctly of their original appearance. The plan (Woodcut No. 700)
consists of nave and aisles, an eastern and western transept both
projecting beyond the aisles, and flanked by octagonal towers with
staircases in them. The west choir, of one bay and apse, is flanked by
two vestries, with a low aisle round the apse, and entered only from it.
At the east end there were originally a central and two side apses,[65]
but in the 12th century the central apse was replaced by one of equal
length to that at the west end. All these apses have long ago
disappeared. The entrances are as usual on each side of the nave, and
none at the west end. Though the proportions appear short with reference
to the breadth, considerable additional effect is given by the screens
that shut off both arms of the eastern transept so as not to allow the
perspective effect to be broken. Hence the continuous view of the
central aisle, being six times as long as it is broad, gives the
appearance of far greater length to the church than could be supposed
possible from its lineal dimensions. But the great beauty here is the
elegance both in proportion and detail of the pier-arches, which
separate the nave from the aisles; the proportion of the pillars is
excellent, their capitals rich and beautiful, and every third pillar
being replaced by a pier gives a variety and apparent stability which is
extremely pleasing.

The church at Limburg, near Dürkheim, in the Bavarian Rhenish
Palatinate, erected by the Emperor Conrad (A.D. 1024-39), is a similar
though rather a larger church than that at Hildesheim, and possesses a
peculiarity somewhat new in Germany, of a handsome western porch and
entrance, with a choir with a square termination, instead of with an
apse as was usual. Another fine church, with a plan of the same form, is
the Benedictine abbey church at Echternach, dedicated to St. Willibrord
(a Northumbrian missionary monk). It was consecrated in 1031. The
extreme dimensions are 265 ft. by 72 ft.

The three great typical buildings of this epoch are the Rhenish
cathedrals of Mayence, Worms, and Spires. The first was commenced in the
10th century, and still possesses parts belonging to that age. The
present edifice at Worms belongs principally to the church dedicated
there in 1110. The age of the third and most important of these three
cathedrals is still a matter of controversy, and one, I fear, that will
not be settled without difficulty; for the church has been so frequently
damaged by fire and war, and lately by ill-judged restorations, that it
is not easy to ascertain what portions of it are old and what new. Still
I cannot help feeling convinced that the plan, and probably a great part
at least of the present structure, may belong to the original building
of Conrad, commenced in 1030, and which was dedicated by his grandson
Henry IV., thirty-one years afterwards.

Except the eastern apse, which is as usual flanked by two round towers,
the whole of the exterior of Mayence has been so completely rebuilt,
that little can now be said about it. The plan presents nothing
remarkable, except that it is evident, from its solidity and
arrangement, that it was intended from the commencement to be a vaulted
building; while of its details only one doorway remains which can with
certainty be said to belong to the original foundation.[66] It is
remarkable principally for the classicality of its details, and if its
age is correctly ascertained (the end of the 10th century), it would go
far to confirm the date usually assigned to the portal at Lorsch,
namely, the late Carlovingian period.

At Worms, the only part now remaining of the edifice dedicated in 1110
is the eastern end. The western apse cannot be older than the year 1200,
the intermediate parts having been erected between those dates. The
original plan is probably nearly unchanged, and is a fine specimen of
its class. The eastern apse is a curious compromise between the two
modes of finishing that were in use at that period, being square
externally, and circular in the interior. Internally the vaulting
throughout is simple and judicious, without any straining after effects
like those which puzzled the Norman architects in the same age (see
_ante_, p. 114), and the alternate clustered piers and large size of the
windows give to the whole a variety and lightness not usual in churches
of that date. Nothing can well be simpler or nobler than the design
externally. The four circular towers and the two domes break the
sky-line pleasingly, and the ornamentation throughout is good and
appropriate. Among the best of its details are the pilaster-like
buttresses which ornament its flanks; one of these is shown on a larger
scale (Woodcut No. 702). They display the true feeling of Romanesque
art: one moulding on each side running round the windows, while the
central group forms a pilaster running up to the cornice.

[Illustration: 701. Plan of Cathedral of Worms. (From Geier and Görz.)
Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 702. One Bay of Cathedral at Worms. (From Geier and

If the design has a defect, it is the want of dignity in the lateral
entrances, and from these moreover being placed unsymmetrically on the
flanks. The fact of these being lateral arose from the double-apse
arrangement; but there seems no reason why they should not have been
central, and been covered by a porch to give them dignity. Whether right
or wrong, this position of the entrances is typical of German church
architecture, and is found in all ages.

[Illustration: 703. Side Elevation of Worms Cathedral. (From

Although the cathedral of Spires cannot boast of the elegance and finish
of that of Worms, it is perhaps, taken as a whole, the finest specimen
in Europe of a bold and simple building conceived, if the expression may
be used, in a truly Doric spirit. Its general dimensions are 435 ft. in
length by 125 in width; and taken with its adjuncts, it covers about
57,000 square feet, so that though of sufficient dimensions, it is by no
means one of the largest cathedrals of its class. It is built so
solidly, that the supporting masses occupy nearly a fifth of the area,
and like the other great building of Conrad’s, the church of Limburg,
this possesses, what is so rare in Germany, a narthex or porch,[67] and
its principal entrance faces the altar. Its great merit is the daring
boldness and simplicity of its nave, which is 45 ft. wide between the
piers, and 105 ft. high to the centre of the vault, dimensions never
attained in England, though they are equalled or surpassed in some of
the French cathedrals. There is a simple grandeur about the parts of
this building which gives a value to the dimensions unknown in later
times, and it may be questioned if there is any other Mediæval church
which impresses the spectator more by its appearance of size than this.

[Illustration: 704. Plan of the Cathedral at Spires. (From Geier and
Görz.) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

Externally, too, the body of the church has no ornament but its small
window openings, and the gallery that runs round under all its roofs.
But the bold square towers (certainly of the 12th century) and the
central dome group pleasingly together, and, rising so far above the low
roofs of the half-depopulated town at its feet, impress the spectator
with awe and admiration at the boldness of the design and the grandeur
with which it has been carried out. Taken altogether, this noble
building proves that the German architects at that time had actually
produced a great and original style, and that had they persevered they
must have succeeded in perfecting it, but they abandoned their task
before it was half completed.

The western apse of the cathedral at Mayence is the most modern part of
these three great cathedrals, and perhaps the only example in Germany
where a triapsal arrangement has been attempted with polygonal instead
of circular forms. In this instance, as shown in Woodcut No. 705, the
three apses, each forming three sides of an octagon, are combined
together so as to form a singularly spacious and elegant choir, both
externally and internally as beautiful as anything of its kind in
Germany. Its style is so nearly identical with that of the eastern apse
of the cathedral at Trèves (Woodcut No. 698), that there can be no doubt
but that, like it, it belongs to the beginning of the 13th century. At
this time more variety and angularity were coming into use, suggested no
doubt by the greater convenience which flat surfaces presented for
inserting larger windows than could conveniently be used with the older
curved outlines; for now that painted glass had come into general use,
large openings had become indispensable for its display. Notwithstanding
this advantage, and the great beauty of the other forms often adopted,
none of them compensate for the external effect of the circular lines of
the older buildings.

[Illustration: 705. Western Apse of Cathedral at Mayence.]

Proceeding northwards, we find in the churches of Westphalia a fine
series of examples which are comparatively but little known. Among the
more important of these we may mention Münster, with its fine and
impressive nave, Soest, Paderborn, Lippstadt, Osnabrück, Hildesheim,
Hameln, Hersfeld, Brunswick, Quedlinburg, Goslar, Gelnhausen, etc. They
are very numerous, and many of them are sufficiently large for
architectural effect; but in the earlier Romanesque work they are
somewhat heavy, and in the age of the pointed Gothic style there is a
tendency to attenuation which is the reverse of pleasing. In some of the
early churches there is considerable refinement, as may be seen in the
narthex porch of the cathedral of Soest (Woodcut No. 706); and in the
Schloss Kirche at Quedlinburg there is a profusion of sculpture in the
capitals, some of which show considerable Byzantine influence.

A good deal of the heaviness of the northern churches internally may no
doubt be traced to the circumstance that the earlier examples depended
almost wholly on colour for their ornament, and the painting having
disappeared, the plain stone or plaster surfaces remain—their flatness
being made only the more prominent by the whitewash that now covers
them. Notwithstanding these defects, so many of these churches remain in
a state so nearly unaltered at the present day, that much information
might be gleaned from a study of their peculiarities. The three
examples, for instance, given in Woodcut No. 706, illustrate very
completely the progress of German spire-growth. The first, that of
Minden, is a very early example of the façade screen so popular
throughout Germany in the Middle Ages. The central example, from the
cathedral at Paderborn, belonging to the middle of the 11th century,
shows one of the earliest attempts at a spire-like roof to a tower, four
gables being used instead of the two which were generally employed. The
third illustration, from Soest, about A.D. 1200, shows the transition
complete. The four gables are still there, but do not extend to the
angles, nor do they form the principal roof. The corners are cut off, so
as to suggest an octagon, and a second roof has grown up to the form of
a spire, entirely eclipsing that suggested by the gables. In this
instance also the tower has become a specimen of a complete design, and,
though the narthex or porch has somewhat the appearance of being stuck
on, the upper part of the tower is of considerable elegance.


  Church at Minden. Cathedral at Paderborn. Church at Soest.

  706. From ‘Mitteralterliche Kunst in Westphalen,’ von W. Lübke.

The same process of spire-growth can be traced to some extent both in
England and in France, but on the whole it is by no means clear that the
spire, properly so called, is not an importation from the banks of the
Rhine. Height in the roof appears always to have been considered a
beauty by German architects, and it seems to have been applied to towers
earlier in Germany than in other countries.

Far more important than these, and surpassing them infinitely in beauty,
is the group of churches which adorns the city of Cologne, the virtual
capital, or at least the principal city, of Germany at the time of their
erection. The old cathedral has perished and made way for the celebrated
structure that now occupies its place. As just remarked, if it was like
the restoration proposed by Boisserée, it resembled Worms, and must have
belonged to the 12th century; but it does not seem that there are
sufficient data for determining this question.

[Illustration: 707. Sta. Maria in Capitolio, Cologne. (From Boisserée’s
‘Nieder Rhein.’) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

Of the remaining churches three may be selected as types of the German
round-arched style as it existed on the eve of the introduction of the
French pointed style into Germany.

[Illustration: 708. Apse of the Apostles’ Church at Cologne. (From

Of these, Sta. Maria in Capitolio (Woodcut No. 707) is apparently the
oldest. It was originally erected by Plectrudis, wife of Pepin
Heristall, in the year 700, but of that church nothing now remains. The
nave was rebuilt apparently in the 11th century, and the choir, with its
three noble apses, in the 12th, and perhaps even as late as the 13th
century. In plan these apses are more spacious than those of the
Apostles’ Church or of that of St. Martin (Woodcuts 708 and 709), this
church alone having a broad aisle running round each, a feature which
gives great breadth and variety to the perspective, but the apse of the
Church of the Apostles (erected A.D. 1035) is far more beautiful
externally. This latter building is perhaps, taken altogether, the most
pleasing example of its class, externally at least. The whole design of
the east end is quite complete, as we now see it, and is perfectly well
balanced in all its parts. St. Martin’s, on the other hand (Woodcut No.
709), has more of the aspiring tendencies of the pointed style, and,
though very elegant, its apsidal gallery is too small, and the whole
design somewhat wire-drawn, while there is a solidity and repose about
the design of the Apostles’ Church, and a perfect harmony among the
parts, which we miss in the more modern example. These three churches,
taken together, suffice probably to illustrate sufficiently the nature
and capabilities of the style which we are describing. The triapsal
arrangement possesses in a remarkable degree the architectural propriety
of terminating nobly the interior to which it is applied. As the
worshipper advances up the nave, the three apses open gradually upon
him, and form a noble and appropriate climax without the effect being
destroyed by something less magnificent beyond. But their most pleasing
effect is external, where the three simple circular lines combine
gracefully together, and form an elegant basement for any central dome
or tower. Compared with the confused buttresses and pinnacles of the
apses of the French pointed churches, it must certainly be admitted that
the German designs are far nobler, as possessing more architectural
propriety and more of the elements of true and simple beauty. The
churches which possess this feature are small, it is true, and therefore
it is hardly fair to compare them with such imposing edifices as the
great and overpoweringly magnificent cathedral of the same town; but
among buildings on their own scale they are as yet unrivalled. As these
churches now stand, their effect is to some extent marred by the
circumstance of their naves neither being sufficient in extent nor so
ornamental as to support effectually the varied outline and rich
decoration of the apse. Generally these are of a different age and of a
less ornate style, so that the complete effect of a well-balanced
composition is wanting; but this does not suffice to destroy the great
beauties these churches undoubtedly possess.

[Illustration: 709. Apse of St. Martin’s Church at Cologne. (From
Boisserée.) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

In so far as beauty of design in this style is concerned, perhaps the
church at Bonn ought to be quoted next after those of Cologne. It is
only the east end, however, that belongs properly to their style of
architecture, the nave and central tower were not completed till the
13th century; but the eastern apse and its two flanking towers are in
themselves as noble as the triapsal arrangement of the Apostles’ Church,
but would require even a bolder nave and loftier west end to balance
them than the more modest arrangement of that building. As it is, the
effect of the church as a whole is destroyed by the comparative meanness
of these parts.

[Illustration: 710. East End of Church at Bonn. (From Rosengarten.)]

[Illustration: 711. Plan of Church at Laach. (From Geier and Görz.)]

As is the case with almost all Mediæval buildings, the greater number of
churches of this age have been erected at different periods of time, and
the designs altered as the work proceeded, to suit the taste of the day.
This circumstance makes them particularly interesting to the
architectural historian, though the artist and architect must always
regret the incompleteness and want of harmony which this produces. An
exception to this rule is found in the beautiful abbey church at Laach,
erected between the years 1093 and 1156, therefore rather early in the
style. Its dimensions are small, only 215 ft. internally by 62; but this
is compensated for by its completeness. It is one of the few churches
that still possess the western paradise or parvise, as shown in the
remarkable ancient plan found at St. Gall. The western apse is applied
to its proper use of a tomb-house, and on each side of it, as at
Mittelzell, are the principal entrances. Externally this church has two
central and four lateral towers, two of the latter being square, and two
circular. It is impossible to fancy anything more picturesquely pleasing
than this group of towers of various heights and shapes, or a church
producing a more striking effect with such diminutive dimensions as this
one possesses, the highest point being only 140 ft. from the
ground-line. No church, however, of the pointed Gothic style has its
sky-line so pleasingly broken, while the cornices and eaves still retain
all the unbroken simplicity of classic examples, showing how easily the
two forms might have been combined by following the path here indicated.
This church, the Liebfrauen Kirche at Halberstadt, and the Abbey of
Maulbronn[68] in Wurtemburg, the most perfect Cistercian abbey existing,
are perhaps the finest and most typical buildings in this style, and
sufficient to characterise the form of architecture in vogue in Germany
in the great Hohenstaufen period (1138-1284), and in the century
immediately preceding the accession to power of that house; but they are
not nearly all the really important buildings which during the epoch of
true German greatness were erected in almost every considerable city of
the empire. In Cologne itself there is the church of St. Gereon, the
nave of which, with its crypt, belongs to the 11th century, the apse to
the 12th, and the decagonal domed part to the 13th. This is a most
interesting specimen of transition architecture, and as such will be
mentioned hereafter. So is the church of St. Cunibert, dedicated in
1248, and hardly more advanced in style than the abbey of St. Denis near
Paris, built at least a century earlier. The churches of St. George and
of Sion in the same city afford interesting examples of the style; but
even more important, however, than these are the noble church at
Andernach, the remains of the abbey church of Heisterbach, and that of
St. Quirinus in Neuss. In the same neighbourhood the little church of
Sinzig is a pleasing specimen of the age when the Germans had laid aside
the bold simplicity of their earlier forms to adopt the more elegant and
sparkling contours of pointed architecture. A little farther up the
Rhine the church of St. Castor at Coblentz agreeably exemplifies the
later work (1157-1208), its apse being one of the widest and boldest of
its class, though deficient in height, and the style may be said to have
reached its zenith in the cathedrals of Limburg on the Lahn and Bamberg.

[Illustration: 712. View of Church at Laach. (From Geier and Görz.)]

[Illustration: 713. Church at Sinzig. (From Boisserée.)]

[Illustration: 714. Rood-Screen at Wechselburg. (From Puttrich.)]

The neighbourhood of Trèves has also some excellent specimens of
Romanesque work, among which may be mentioned the abbey of Echternach,
the church of St. Mathias, and the interesting and elegant church of

[Illustration: 715. Crypt at Göllingen. (From Puttrich.)]

In Saxony there are many beautiful though no very extensive examples of
the German style. Among these the two ruined abbeys of Paulinzelle and
Bürgelin, neither of them vaulted churches, are remarkable for the
simple elegance of their forms and details, showing how graceful the
style was becoming before the pointed arch was introduced. The church at
Wechselburg is also interesting, though somewhat gloomy, and retains a
rood-screen of the 12th century (Woodcut No. 714), which is a rare and
pleasing example of its class. The church at Hechlingen also deserves
mention, and the fragment of the abbey at Göllingen is a pleasing
instance of the pure Italian class of design sometimes found in Germany
at this age. Its crypt, too (Woodcut No. 715), affords an example of
vaulting of great elegance and lightness, obtained by introducing the
horse-shoe arch, or an arch more than half a circle in extent, which
takes off the appearance of great pressure upon the capital of the
pillar, and gives the vault that height and lightness which were
afterwards sought for and obtained by the introduction of the pointed
arch. It is still a question whether this was not the more pleasing
expedient of the two. There was one objection to the use of this
horse-shoe shape, that considerable difficulty arose in using arches of
different spans in the same roof, which with pointed arches became
perfectly easy.

[Illustration: 716. Façade of the Church at Rosheim. (From Chapuy.)]

Another example, of more Lombardic design however, is found in the
church of Rosheim in Alsace, the façade of which (Woodcut No. 716)
belongs as much to Verona as to this side of the Alps. Its interior is
of pleasing design, though bolder and more massive than the exterior
would lead us to expect.

The façade of the church of Marmoutier in the same province, and of the
cathedral of Gebweiler, are two examples—very similar to one another—of
a compromise between the purely German and purely Italian styles of
design. The small openings in the former look almost like those of a
southern clime, but in its present locality give to the church an
appearance of gloom by no means usual. Still it has the merit of
vigorous and purpose-like character.

[Illustration: 717. Church at Marmoutier (Maarmünster). (From Chapuy.)]

At Bamberg the church of St. Jacob is well worthy of attention, and the
Scotch church at Ratisbon is one of the best specimens in Germany of a
simple basilica without transepts or towers. Its principal entrance is a
bold and elegant piece of design, covered with grotesque figures whose
meaning it is difficult to understand. Had it been placed at the end of
the church, it might have formed the basis of a magnificent façade; but
stuck unsymmetrically on one side—as is so usual in Germany—it loses
half its effect, and can only be considered as a detached piece of
ornamentation, which is here—as it generally is—fatal to its effect as
an architectural composition.

                            DOUBLE CHURCHES.

Before leaving ecclesiastical buildings, it is necessary to allude to a
class of double churches and double chapels. Of the former the typical
example is the church of Schwartz Rheindorf, erected by Arnold von Wied,
Archbishop of Cologne, on his return from Constantinople in 1148, and
dedicated in the year 1151. It is in itself a pleasing specimen of the
style, irrespective of its peculiarity. It is, however, simply a church
in two storeys, and was originally built as a mausoleum, and in the form
of a Greek cross without a tower at the intersection. After the death of
the Archbishop, his sister Hedwig (Abbess of Essen) extended the nave
two bays towards the west in order to form a junction with a nunnery
which she had built on the west side. It is probable that the Byzantine
plan first carried out exercised much influence on the churches at
Cologne and the Rhine generally. At first sight, the lower church looks
like an extensive crypt, but this does not seem to have been its purpose
so much as to afford an increase of accommodation, to enable two
congregations to hear the same service at the same time, there being
always in the centre of the floor of the upper church an opening
sufficient for those above to hear the service, and for some of them at
least to see the altar below. In castle chapels, where this method is
most common, the upper storey seems to have been occupied by the
noblesse, the lower by their retainers, which makes the arrangement
intelligible enough.[69]

[Illustration: 718. Section of Church of Schwartz Rheindorf. Scale 50
ft. to 1 in.]

The church at Schwartz Rheindorf is not large, being only 112 ft. long,
over all, by 53 ft. wide across the transepts; and the two western bays
appear to have been added afterwards. The walls of the lower storey are
built of sufficient thickness to admit of a gallery being carried all
round the church externally on the level of the floor of the upper
church. This gives it a very peculiar but pleasing character; and as the
details are good and appropriately designed, it is altogether as
characteristic and as original a design as can well be found of the
purely German style of its age.

[Illustration: 719. View of the Church of Schwartz Rheindorf. (From

In the castle at Nuremberg there is an old double chapel of this sort,
but it does not appear in this instance that there was an opening
between the two; if it existed, it has been stopped up. There is another
at Eger, and two are described by Puttrich in his beautiful work on
Saxony: one of these, the chapel at Landsberg near Halle, is given in
plan and section in Woodcuts Nos. 720 and 721; and though small, being
only 40 ft. by 28 internally, presents some beautiful combinations, and
the details are finished with a degree of elegance not generally found
in larger edifices; the other, that at Freiburg on the Unstrutt,
measuring 21 ft. by 28, is altogether the best of the class, from the
beauty of its capitals and the finish of every part of it. It belongs in
time to the very end of the 12th, or rather perhaps to the 13th century,
and from the form of its vaults and the foliation of their principal
ribs, one is almost inclined to ascribe to it a later period; for it
would be by no means wonderful if in a gem like this the lords of the
castle should revert to their old German style instead of adopting
foreign innovations. The windows are of pointed Gothic, and do not
appear like insertions. Other examples exist at Goslar, where, however,
there is no opening between lower and upper chapel; at Coburg, Lohra,
Steinfurt in Westphalia, and Vianden in Luxemburg.

[Illustration: 720. Plan of Chapel at Landsberg. (From Puttrich.)]

[Illustration: 721. Section of Chapel at Landsberg. (From Puttrich.)]

[Illustration: 722. View and Plan of the Cathedral at Zurich. (From
Voselin.) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

Returning again to Switzerland, with which this chapter began, we find
several interesting buildings in that country during the whole
round-arched Gothic period, many combining the boldness of the Northern
examples with a certain amount of Southern elegance of feeling in the
details, which together make a very charming combination. Among these,
none are more remarkable than the cathedral at Zurich (Woodcut No. 722).
Its date is not correctly known; for though it seems that a church was
founded here in the time of Otho the Great, it is very uncertain whether
any part of that building is incorporated in the present edifice, the
bulk of which is evidently of the 11th or 12th century. The arrangement
and details of the nave are so absolutely identical with those of San
Michele at Pavia, that both must certainly belong to the same epoch. But
in this church we meet with several German peculiarities to which
attention cannot be too frequently drawn by those who would characterise
correctly the peculiarities of German Gothic.

[Illustration: 723. Doorway at Basle. (From Chapuy.)]

The first of these is the absence of any entrance in the west front.
Where there is an apse at either end, as is frequently the case in the
German churches, the cause is perfectly intelligible; but the cathedral
of Zurich has not, and never had, an apse at the west end, nor is it
easy to suggest any motive for so unusual an arrangement, unless it is
that the prevalence of the plan of two apses had rendered it more usual
to enter churches in Germany at the side, and it was consequently
adopted even where the true motive was wanting. In an architectural
point of view, it certainly is a mistake, and destroys half the effect
of the church, both internally and externally; but it was very common in
Germany before they learnt from the French to make a more artistic
arrangement of the several parts.

Another peculiarity is the distinct preparation for two towers at the
west end, as proved by the two great piers, evidently intended to
support their inner angles. Frequently in Germany the whole west end was
carried up to a considerable height above the roof of the nave, and
either two or three small spires were placed on this frontal screen.
This, however, does not appear to have been the case here; for though
the two towers that now adorn it are modern, the intention seems
originally to have been the same. Had they been intended to flank the
portal, and give dignity to the principal entrance, their motive would
have been clear; but where no portal was intended, it is curious that
the Germans should so universally have used them, while the Italians,
whose portals were almost as universally on their west fronts, should
hardly ever have resorted to this arrangement.

The east end, as will be observed, is square, an arrangement not unusual
in Switzerland, though nearly unknown in the Gothic churches of Italy
and Germany. The lateral chapels have apses, especially the southern
one, which I believe to be either the oldest part of the cathedral, or
to have been built on the foundations of that of Otho the Great.

The most beautiful and interesting parts of this church are the northern
doorway and the cloisters, both of nearly the same age, their date
certainly extending some way at least into the 12th century. As
specimens of the sculpture of their age, they are almost unrivalled, and
strike even the traveller coming from Italy as superior to any of the
contemporary sculpture of that country.

One of the doorways of the cathedral of Basle (Woodcut No. 723) is in
the same style, and perhaps even more elegant than that of Zurich. Both
in the simplicity of its form and in the appropriateness of its details
it is quite equal to anything to be found in Italy of the 11th or 12th
century. Its one defect, as compared with Northern examples, is the want
of richness in the archivolts that surmount the doorway. But, on the
other hand, nothing can exceed the elegance of the shafts on either
side, the niches of the buttresses, or of the cornice which surmounts
the whole composition.

These details of the Swiss buildings are well worthy of the most
attentive consideration, inasmuch as they equal those of Provence or the
North of Italy in elegance of feeling and design, while they are free
from the classical trammels which so frequently mar their
appropriateness in those provinces. In Switzerland they are as original
as in Northern Germany, and as picturesque, while they are free from the
grotesqueness that so frequently mars the beauty of even the best
examples in that country.

                              CHAPTER III.

                           CIRCULAR CHURCHES.



IF we are fortunate in having the St. Gall plan and Reichenau cathedral
with which to begin our history of the basilican-formed churches in
Germany, we are equally lucky in having in the Dom at Aix-la-Chapelle an
authentic example of a circular church of the same age. As Emperor of
the Romans, Charlemagne seems to have felt it necessary that he should
have a tomb which should rival that of Augustus or Hadrian, while, as he
was a Christian, it should follow the form of that of Constantine, or
the most approved model of the circular church, which was that which had
been elaborated not very long before at Ravenna. Though its design may
have been influenced by Romano-Byzantine examples to some extent, the
general arrangement of the building, and its details exhibit an
originality which is very remarkable. The mode in which the internal
octagon is converted into a polygon of sixteen sides, the arrangement of
the vaults in both storeys, and the whole design, are so purely
Romanesque in form, that it must be far from being the first example of
its style. It is, however, the oldest we possess, as well as the most
interesting. It was built by the greatest man of his age, and more
emperors have been crowned and more important events have happened
beneath its venerable vaults than have been witnessed within the walls
of any existing church in Christendom. Notwithstanding the doubts that
have been thrown lately on the fact, I feel convinced that we now
possess the church of Charlemagne in all essential respects as he left
it.[70] The great difficulty in fixing its age appears to arise from the
circumstance that most of its architectural ornaments have been painted
or executed in mosaic, instead of being carved, and time and whitewash
have so obliterated these, that the remaining skeleton—it is little
else—seems ruder and clumsier than might be expected.

As will be seen from the annexed plan, the church is externally a
polygon of sixteen sides, and is about 105 ft. in diameter; internally
eight compound piers support a dome 47 ft. 6 in. in diameter. The height
is almost exactly equal to the external diameter of the building.
Internally this height is divided into four storeys; the two lower,
running over the side-aisles, are covered with bold intersecting vaults.
The third gallery was vaulted with rampant conical vaults, and above
that are eight windows giving light to the central dome.


  Half Plan Gallery Floor.

  Half Plan Lower Storey.

  724. Plan of the Church at Aix-la-Chapelle. (From J. von Nolten.)
    Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.

To the west was a bold tower-like building, flanked, as is usual in this
style, by two circular towers containing staircases. To the east was a
semicircular niche containing the altar, which was removed in 1353, when
the present choir was built to replace it.

There is a tradition that Otho III. rebuilt this minster, though it is
more probable that he built for himself a tomb-house behind the altar of
that of his illustrious predecessor, where his bones were laid, and
where his tomb till lately stood at the spot marked X in the centre of
the new choir. What the architect seems to have done in the 14th century
was to throw the two buildings into one, retaining the outline of Otho’s
tomb-house, which may still be detected in the unusual form shown in the
plan of the new building.

The tradition is that this building is a copy of the church of San
Vitale at Ravenna, and on comparing its plan with that represented in
Woodcut No. 429, it must be admitted that there is a considerable
resemblance. But there is a bold originality in the German edifice, and
a purpose in its design, that would lead us rather to consider it as one
of a long series of similar buildings which there is every reason to
believe existed in Germany in that age. At the same time the design of
this one was no doubt considerably influenced by the knowledge of the
Romano-Byzantine examples of its class which its builders had acquired
at Rome and Ravenna. Its being designed by its founder for his tomb is
quite sufficient to account for its circular plan—that, as has been
frequently remarked, being the form always adopted for this purpose. It
may be considered to have been also a baptistery—the coronation of kings
in those days being regarded as a re-baptism on the entrance of the king
upon a new sphere of life. It was in fact a ceremonial church, as
distinct in its uses as in its form from the basilica, which in Italy
usually accompanied the circular church; but whether it did so or not in
this instance can only be ascertained when the spot and its annals are
far more carefully examined than has hitherto been the case.

[Illustration: 725. Church at Nymwegen. (From Schayes.) No scale.]

[Illustration: 725_a_. The Thurm, Mettlach.]

[Illustration: 725_b_. Column of Triforium, Mettlach.]

The circular churches at Nymwegen in Brabant and at Mettlach near Trèves
are even less known than this one; the former was apparently built in
imitation of Aix-la-Chapelle, and by the same monarch. From the
half-section, half-elevation (Woodcut No. 725),[71] it will be seen that
it is extremely similar to the one just described, both in plan and
elevation, but evidently of a somewhat more modern date. It wants the
façade which usually adorned churches of that age; but it seems so
unaltered from its original arrangement that it is well worthy of more
attention than it has hitherto received. The example at Mettlach
(Woodcut No. 725_a_), near Trèves, and known as the Thurm, was built by
Lioffinus, a British monk, 987-990. It is octagonal in plan, with a
triforium gallery, the arches of which are carried on richly carved
cubical capitals (Woodcut No. 725_b_). The building is 32 ft. in
diameter and 61 ft. high, there being a third storey above the triforium

The same design as that of Nymwegen was repeated in the choir of the
nuns in the abbey church of Essen (c. 950 A.D.), where, however, there
is a double range of columns in the upper gallery.

Of the church of Otho the Great at Magdeburg we know nothing but from a
model in stone, about 12 ft. in diameter, still existing in the present
cathedral, and containing sitting effigies of Otho and his English
Edith, who were buried in the original edifice. The model unfortunately
was made in the 13th century, when the original was burnt down; and as
the artists in that day were singularly bad copyists, we cannot depend
much on the resemblance. It appears, however, to have been a polygon of
sixteen sides externally, like the two just mentioned; and if it is
correct to assume, as was generally the case, that the choir of the
present cathedral is built on the foundation of the older church, its
dimensions must have been nearly similar, or only slightly inferior to
those of either of the two last-mentioned churches. The details of the
model belong to the age in which it was made, and not to that of the
church it was meant to represent.

At Ottmarsheim, in Alsace, is another example which, both in design and
dimensions, is a direct copy of the church at Aix-la-Chapelle. The only
difference in plan is that it remains an octagon externally as well as
internally, and that the gallery arches, instead of being filled with a
screen of classical pillars borrowed from Italy, are ornamented with
shafts supporting eight arches designed for the place. There is no
tradition which tells us who built this church, nor for what purpose it
was erected. It is older than that at Nymwegen, but is certainly a copy
of Charlemagne’s church, and apparently not very much more modern.

At the Petersberg, near Halle, is a curious compound example shown in
the Woodcut No. 726. It is a ruin, but interesting as showing another
form of circular church, differing from those described above, more
essentially German in design, and less influenced by classical and
Romanesque forms than they were. It never was or could have been
vaulted, and it possesses that singular flat tower-like frontispiece so
characteristic of the German style, which is found in no other country,
and whose origin is still to be traced.

At Fulda there is a circular church of a more complicated plan than
this, though it is in fact only an extension of the same design. The
circular part or choir is in this instance adorned with eight
free-standing pillars of very classical proportions and design, very
similar to those of Hildesheim (Woodcut No. 699). There is a small
transeptal entrance on one side of the circle, and apparently a vestry
to correspond on the other. It is altogether one of the most perfect
buildings of its class, either in Germany or France, in so far at least
as its plan is concerned. Its date is probably the beginning of the 11th
century, but it stands on a circular crypt of still more ancient

[Illustration: 726. Church at Petersberg. (From Puttrich.)]

[Illustration: 727. Plan of Church at Fulda. (From Puttrich.) Scale 50
ft. to 1 in.]

At Drüggelte, near Soest, there is a small circular church which
deserves notice for the singularity of its plan. Externally it is a
polygon of twelve sides. Internally it has four circular piers in the
centre, two very large and strong, two more slender, and around them a
circle of twelve columns of very attenuated form. As is usual in German
churches, the door and apse are not placed symmetrically as regards each
other. Its dimensions are small, being only 35 ft. across internally.
The German architects are not quite agreed as to its date; generally it
is said that its founder brought the plan from the Holy Land, and built
it here early in the 12th century in imitation of the Rotunda which the
Crusaders found on their arrival in Jerusalem.

[Illustration: 728. Plan of Church at Drüggelte. (From Kugler.) Scale 50
ft. to 1 in.]

Though it is anticipating to some extent the order of the dates of the
buildings of Germany, it may be as well to complete here the subject of
the circular churches of that country; for after the beginning of the
11th century they ceased to be used except in rare and isolated
instances. At that date all the barbarian tribes had been converted, and
the baptism of infants was a far less important ceremony than the
admission of adults into the bosom of the Church, and one not requiring
a separate edifice for its celebration, and tombs had long since ceased
to be objects of ambition among a purely Aryan race. At the same time
the immense increase of the ecclesiastical orders, and liturgical forms
then established, rendered the circular form of church inconvenient and
inapplicable to the wants of the age. The basilica, on the other hand,
was equally sacred with the baptistery, and soon came to be considered
equally applicable to the entombment of emperors and to other similar

The circular church called the Baptistery at Bonn (Woodcut No. 729),
which was removed only a few years ago, was one of the most interesting
specimens of this class of monuments in the age to which it belongs. No
record of its erection has been preserved, but its style is evidently of
the 11th century. Excepting that the straight or rectangular part is
here used as a porch, instead of being inserted between the apse and the
round church to form a choir, the building is almost identical with St.
Tomaso in Limine, and other Lombard churches of the same age. Both
externally and internally it is certainly a pleasing and elegant form of
church, though little adapted either for the accommodation of a large
congregation or to the ceremonies of the Mediæval Church.

[Illustration: 729. Baptistery at Bonn. (From Boisserée’s ‘Nieder

There is another small edifice called a Baptistery at Ratisbon, built in
the last years of the 12th century, which shows this form passing
rapidly away, and changing into the rectangular. It is in reality a
square with apses on three sides, and vaulted with an octagonal dome. As
we have just seen, the same arrangement forms the principal as well as
the most pleasing characteristic of the Cologne churches, where on a
larger scale it shows capabilities which we cannot but regret were never
carried to their legitimate termination. The present is a singularly
pleasing specimen of the class, though very small, and wanting the nave,
the addition of which gives such value to the triapsal form at Cologne,
and shows how gracefully its lines inevitably group together. On the
spot it is still called the Baptistery; but the correct tradition, I
believe, is that it was built for the tomb-house of the bishop to whom
it owes its erection.

[Illustration: 730. The Matthias Chapel at Cobern on the Moselle. (From
Wiebeking.) No scale.]

One more specimen will serve to illustrate nearly all the known forms of
this class. It is a little chapel at Cobern on the Moselle (Woodcut No.
730), hexagonal in plan, with an apse, placed most unsymmetrically with
reference to the entrance—so at least we should consider it; but the
Germans seem always to have been of opinion that a side entrance was
preferable to one opposite the principal point of interest. The details
of this chapel are remarkably elegant, and its external form is a very
favourable specimen of the German style just before it was superseded in
the beginning of the 13th century by the French pointed style.

There is, besides these, a circular chapel of uncertain date at
Altenfurt near Nuremberg, and there are many others at Prague and in
various parts of Germany, but none remarkable either for their
historical or for their artistic importance. This form went out of use
before the style we are describing reached its acmé; and it had not
therefore a fair chance of receiving that elaboration which was
necessary for the development of its capabilities.

A little farther on we shall have occasion again to take up the subject
of circular churches when speaking of those of Scandinavia, where the
circular form prevailed to a great extent in the early ages of
Christianity in that country; never, however, as a baptistery or a
tomb-house, but always as a kirk. It was afterwards introduced by the
Danes into Norfolk and Suffolk, but there still farther modified,
becoming only a western round tower, instead of a circular nave.

                              CHAPTER IV.

                         DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE.


Lorsch—Palaces on the Wartburg and at Gelnhausen—Houses—Windows.

AS might be expected, the remains of domestic architecture are few and
insignificant as compared with those of the great monumental churches,
which in that age were the buildings _par excellence_ on which the
wealth, the talent and the energy of the nation were so profusely

[Illustration: 731. Porch of Convent at Lorsch. (From Möller’s
‘Denkmäler,’ &c.) No scale.]

The earliest building which has been brought to light is certainly the
portal of the Convent at Lorsch, near Mannheim. It is now used as a
store and has been a good deal defaced; but sufficient remains, not only
to show its form, but the character of its details. These are so
classical as to justify us in calling the building Romanesque; and if it
were not that we have buildings—such for instance as St.
Paul-Trois-Châteaux (Woodcut No. 551), which may date in the 10th and
11th century—we might be inclined to assert most confidently that the
date of this building must approximate nearly to the time of the
departure of the Romans. On the other hand, the purely classical details
of such buildings as those found in Provence must render us cautious in
judging of the age of any erection at that early time, from the style
alone. No church in Germany is so classical in its details as this, but
it will not do to rely on these alone for evidence of date; for a
hundred churches may have been built for one portal like this, and
though ecclesiastical forms had become sacred, an architect may have
felt himself justified in resorting to any amount of Paganism in a
semi-secular building. On the whole there seems little doubt but that
this porch formed part of the monastic building dedicated in the
presence of Charlemagne in 774. It may, however, have been erected by an
Italian architect, and consequently be more classical in its details
than if the product of some purely Teutonic artist.

Its dimensions are inconsiderable, being only 31 ft. by 24. It has three
arches in each face, and above them a series of pilasters supporting
straight-lined arches—if the expression may be used. These are
interesting, as the same form is currently used in our Saxon
architecture, but never with such purely classical details as here. It
is, in fact, only the elegance of these that gives interest to this

Nothing now remains of the palaces which Charlemagne built at Ingelheim,
or at Aix-la-Chapelle, nor of the residences of many of his successors,
till we come to the period of the Hohenstaufens. Of their palaces at
Gelnhausen (1170 A.D.) and on the Wartburg (1140-1190 A.D.) enough
remains to tell us at least in what style and with what degree of taste
they were erected, and the remains of the contemporary castle of
Muenzenburg complete, as far as we can ever now expect it to be
completed, our knowledge of the subject.

One of the earliest palaces still existing is that of the Imperial
Palace at Goslar, founded by Henry III. It has suffered much from
restorations, but probably retains its original plan, the chief feature
of which is an immense hall on the upper storey measuring 181 ft. long
by 52 ft. wide. Another example with similar hall of less size is found
in the Palace of Dankwarderode, in Brunswick, 1150-70. Of the same date
is the Palace of Eger, to which Frederic Barbarossa added a chapel in
two storeys, similar to the double chapel of Landsberg, both of which
are referred to on page 243.

Besides these a considerable number of ecclesiastical cloistered
edifices still remain, and some important dwelling-houses in Cologne and
elsewhere; but on the whole our knowledge is somewhat meagre,—a
circumstance that is much to be lamented, as, from what we do find, we
cannot fail to form a high idea of the state of the domestic building
arts at that period.

What remains of the once splendid palace of Barbarossa at Gelnhausen
consists first of a chapel very similar to those described in the last
chapter; it is architecturally a double chapel, except that the lower
storey was used as the hall of entrance to the palace, and not for
divine service. To the left of this were the principal apartments of the
palace, presenting a façade of about 112 ft. in length, and probably
half as high. Along the front ran a corridor about 10 ft. deep, a
precaution apparently necessary to keep out rain before glass came to be
generally used. Behind this there seem to have been three rooms on each
floor; the largest, or throne-room, being about 50 ft. square. The
principal architectural features of what remains are the open arcades of
the façade, one of which is represented in the last woodcut (No. 732).
For elegance of proportion and beauty of detail they are unsurpassed by
anything of the age, and certainly give a very high idea of the degree
of excellence to which architecture and the decorative arts had then
been carried, and, as will be observed, they are purely Romanesque in
detail, without any trace of the classicality of Lorsch.

[Illustration: 732. Arcade of the Palace at Gelnhausen. (From Möller.)]

[Illustration: 733. Capital, Gelnhausen. (From Möller, ‘Denkmäler.’)]

The castle on the Wartburg is historically the most important edifice of
its class in Germany, and its size and state of preservation render it
remarkable in an artistic point of view. It was in one of its halls that
the celebrated contest was held between the six most eminent poets of
Germany in the year 1206, which, though it nearly ended fatally to one
of them at least, shows how much importance was attached to the
profession of literature at even that early period. Here the sainted
Elizabeth of Hungary lived with her cruel brother-in-law; here she
practised those virtues and endured those misfortunes that render her
name so dear and so familiar to all the races of Germany; and it was in
this castle that Luther found shelter after leaving the Diet at Worms,
and where he resided under the name of Ritter George, till happier times
enabled him to resume his labours abroad.

[Illustration: 734. View of the Palace on the Wartburg. (From

The principal building in the castle where these events took place
closely resembles that at Gelnhausen, except that it is larger, being
130 ft. in length by 50 in width. It is three storeys in height, without
counting the basement, which is added to the height at one end by the
slope of the ground.

All along the front of every storey is an open corridor leading to the
inner rooms, the dimensions of which cannot now be easily ascertained,
owing to the castle having been always inhabited, and altered in modern
times to suit the convenience and wants of its recent occupiers. In its
details it has hardly the elegance of Gelnhausen, but its general
appearance is solid and imposing, the whole effect being obtained by the
grouping of the openings, in which respect it resembles the older
palaces at Venice more than any other buildings of the class. It has not
perhaps their minute elegance, but it far surpasses them in grandeur and
in all the elements of true architectural magnificence. It has been
recently restored, apparently with considerable judgment, and it well
deserves the pains bestowed upon it as one of the best illustrations of
its style still existing in Europe.

The extensive ruins of the castle on the Münzenberg, which, like those
of Gelnhausen and Wartburg, belongs to the 13th century, though less
important, is hardly less elegant than either. It derives a peculiar
species of picturesqueness from being built principally of the prismatic
basalt of the neighbourhood, the crystals being used in their natural
form, and where these were not available, the stones have been
rusticated with a boldness that gives great value to the more ornamental
parts, in themselves objects of considerable beauty.

None of these castles have much pretension to interest or magnificence
as fortifications,—a circumstance which gives an idea of more peaceful
times and more settled security than we could quite expect in that age,
especially as we find in the period of the pointed style so many and
such splendid fortifications crowning every eminence along the banks of
the Rhine, and indeed in every corner of the land. These last may, in
some instances, have been rebuildings of castles of this date, but I am
not aware of any having been ascertained to be so.

There is no want of specimens of conventual buildings and cloisters in
Germany of this age; but every one is singularly deficient both in
design as a whole and in the elegance of its parts. The beautiful
arcades of the palaces we have just been describing nowhere reappear in
conventual buildings. Why this should be so it is difficult to
understand, but such certainly is the fact. The most elegant that is
known to exist is probably the cloister to the cathedral at Zurich. It
is nearly square, from 60 to 70 ft. each way. Every side is divided into
five bays by piers supporting bold semicircular arches, and these are
again subdivided into three smaller arches supported by two slender
pillars. The arrangement will be understood from the woodcut (No. 735).
This cloister is superior in design to many in France and elsewhere of
the same age; its great beauty consists in the details of the capitals
and string-courses, which are all different, most of them with figures
singularly well executed, but many merely with conventional foliage, not
unlike the honeysuckle of the Greeks, and not unworthy of the comparison
as far as the mere design is concerned, though the execution is rude.
The same is the case with the sculptures of the portal; for though they
display even less classical feeling, they show an exuberance of fancy
and a boldness of handling which we miss entirely in the succeeding
ages, when the art yielded to make way for mere architectural mouldings,
as if the two could not exist together. The example of Greece forbids us
to believe that such is necessarily the case, but in the Middle Ages it
certainly was, that as the one advanced nearer to perfection, the other
declined in almost an equal degree.

[Illustration: 735. Cloister at Zurich. (From Chapuy, ‘Moyen-Âge

The best collection of examples of German cloisters is found in
Boisserée’s ‘Nieder Rhein.’ But neither those of St. Gereon nor of the
Apostles, nor St. Pantaleone at Cologne, merit attention as works of
art, though they are certainly curious as historical monuments; and the
lateral galleries of Sta. Maria in the Capitol are even inferior in
design; their resemblance, however, to the style of Ravenna gives them
some value archæologically. The same remarks apply to the cloisters at
Heisterbach, and even to the more elegant transitional buildings at
Altenberg. Almost all these examples, nevertheless, possess some elegant
capitals and some parts worthy of study; but they are badly put together
and badly used, so that the pleasing effect of a cloistered court and
conventual buildings is here almost entirely lost. The cause of this is
hard to explain, when we see so much beauty of design in the buildings
to which they are generally accompaniments.

There are several dwelling-houses in Cologne and elsewhere which show
how early German town-residences assumed the tall gabled fronts which
they retained to a very late period through all the changes which took
place in the details with which they were carried out. In the
illustration (Woodcut No. 736) there is little ornament, but the forms
of the windows and the general disposition of the parts are pleasing,
and the general effect produced certainly satisfactory. The size of the
lower windows is remarkable for the age, and the details are pure, and
are executed with a degree of lightness which we are far from
considering as a general characteristic of so early a style.

[Illustration: 736. Dwelling-house, Cologne. (From Boisserée.)]

The windows at the back of the house illustrated in Woodcut No. 736, are
so large, that were it not for the unmistakable character of those in
front, and of some of its details, we might be inclined to suspect that
it belonged to a much more modern age. As shown in the Woodcut No. 737,
the details are as light and elegant as anything domestic in
architecture of the pointed style.

There are several minor peculiarities which perhaps it might be more
regular to mention here, but which it will be more convenient to allude
to when speaking of the pointed style. One, however, cannot thus be
passed over—and that is the form which windows in churches and cloisters
were beginning to assume just before the period when the transition to
the pointed style took place.

[Illustration: 737. Windows in Dwelling-house, Cologne.]

[Illustration: 738. Windows from Sion Church, Cologne. (From

[Illustration: 739. Windows from St. Quirinus at Neuss. (From

Up to that period the Germans showed no tendency to adopt window
tracery, in the sense in which it was afterwards understood, nor to
divide their windows into compartments by mullions. I do not even know
of an instance in any church of the windows being so grouped together as
to suggest such an expedient. All their older windows, on the contrary,
are simple round-headed openings, with the jambs more or less ornamented
by nook-shafts and other such expedients. At the end of the 12th and
beginning of the 13th century they seem to have desired to render the
openings more ornamental, probably because tracery had to a certain
extent been adopted in France and the Netherlands at that period. They
did this first by foiling circles and semicircles; the former a
pleasing, the latter a very unpleasing, form of window, but not so bad
as the three-quarter windows—if I may so call them—used in the church of
Sion at Cologne (Woodcut No. 738) and elsewhere: these, however, are
hardly so objectionable as the fantastic shapes they sometimes assumed,
as in the examples (Woodcut No. 739), taken from St. Quirinus at Neuss.
Many others might be quoted, the forms of which are constructively bad
without being redeemed by an elegance of outline that sometimes enables
us to overlook their other faults. The more fantastic of these, it is
true, were seldom glazed, but were mere openings in towers or into
roofs. These windows are also generally found in transition specimens,
in which men try experiments before settling down to a new course of
design. Notwithstanding this, they are very objectionable, and are the
one thing that shakes that confidence which might otherwise be felt in
the power of the old German style to have perfected itself without
foreign aid.

                               CHAPTER V.

                       POINTED STYLE IN GERMANY.


History of style—St. Gereon, Cologne—Churches at Gelnhausen—Marburg—
  Cologne Cathedral—Freiburg—Strasburg—St. Stephen’s, Vienna—Nuremberg—

IT is scarcely necessary to repeat—what has been already perhaps
sufficiently insisted upon—that the Germans borrowed their pointed style
from the French at a period when it had attained its highest degree of
perfection in the latter country. At all events, we have already seen
that the pointed style was commonly used in France in the first half of
the 12th century, and that it was nearly perfect in all essential parts
before the year 1200; whereas, though there may be here and there a
solitary instance of a pointed arch in Germany (though I know of none)
before the last-named date, there is certainly no church or building
erected in the pointed Gothic style the date of which is anterior to the
first years of the 13th century. Even then it was timidly and
reluctantly adopted, and not at first as a new style, but rather as a
modification to be employed in conjunction with old forms.

This is very apparent in the polygonal part of the church of St. Gereon
at Cologne (Woodcuts Nos. 740 and 741), commenced in the first year of
the 13th century, and vaulted about the year 1212.[73] The plan of the
building is eminently German, being in fact a circular nave, as
contradistinguished from the French chevet, and is a fine bold attempt
at a domical building, of which it is among the last examples. In plan
it is an irregular decagon, 55 ft. wide over all, north and south, and
66 ft. in the direction of the axis of the church. Notwithstanding the
use of the pointed arch, the details of the building are as unlike the
contemporary style of France as is the plan; and are, in fact, nearly a
century behind French examples in the employment of all those expedients
which give character and meaning to the true pointed style.

Another church in the same city, St Cunibert, is a still more striking
example of this. Commenced in the first decade of the 13th century, and
dedicated in 1248, the very year in which it is said the
foundation-stones of the cathedral were laid, it still retains nearly
all the features of the old German style, and though pointed arches are
introduced, and even tracery to a limited extent, it is still very far
removed from being what can be considered an example of the new style.

[Illustration: 740. Section of St. Gereon, Cologne. (From Boisserée,
‘Nieder Rhein.’) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 741. Plan of St. Gereon, Cologne. (From Boisserée.) Scale
50 ft. to 1 in.]

More advanced than either of these is the choir of the cathedral of
Magdeburg, said to have been commenced in 1208, and dedicated in 1254.
This was built, as before mentioned, to supply the place of the old
circular sepulchral church of Otho and his English queen Edith. Hence it
naturally took the French chevet form, of which it is, probably, the
earliest example in Germany, and which it copies rudely and imperfectly
in its details. It possesses the polygonal plan, the graduated
buttresses, the decorative shafts, and other peculiarities of the French
style, and, if found in that country, would be classed as of about the
same age as St. Denis. The upper part of the choir and the nave are of
very much later date, and will be mentioned hereafter.

[Illustration: 742. East End of Church at Gelnhausen. No scale.]

A more interesting example of transition than this is the church at
Gelnhausen, unfortunately not of well-known date, but apparently built
in the middle of the 13th century, though the choir, it is said, was not
finished till 1370. Its interest lies in its originality, for though the
pointed arch is adopted, it is in a manner very different from that
followed by the French, and as if the architects were determined to
retain a style of their own. In general design its outline is very like
that of the church at Sinzig (Woodcut No. 713). In it attempts are even
made to copy its apsidal galleries, but their purpose is misunderstood,
and pillars are placed in front of windows,—a blunder afterwards
carried, at Strasburg and else where, to a far more fatal extent. Taken
altogether, the style here exhibited is light and graceful; but it
neither has the stability of the old round-arched Gothic, nor the
capabilities of the French pointed style. The Liebfrauen church attached
to the cathedral at Trèves is another of the anomalous churches of this
age (1227 to 1243): its plan has already been given (Woodcut No. 696),
and was probably suggested by the form of the old circular building
which it supplanted. Perhaps from its proximity to France it shows a
more complete Gothic style than either of those already mentioned; still
the circular arch continually recurs in doorways and windows, and
altogether the uses of the pointed forms and the general arrangement of
parts and details cannot be said to be well understood. There is,
however, a novelty, truly German in its plan and a simplicity about its
arrangement, which make it the most pleasing specimen of the age, and
standing on the foundation of the old church of Sta. Helena, and grouped
with the Dom or cathedral, it yields in interest to few churches in

From these we may pass at once to two churches of well-authenticated
date, and slightly French in style. The first, that of St. Elizabeth at
Marburg, whose name has been already mentioned (p. 258) as adding
interest and sanctity to the old castle on the Wartburg. Four years
after her death she was canonised, and in the same year, 1235, the
foundation was laid of this beautiful church, which was completed and
dedicated forty-eight years afterwards, viz., in 1283.

[Illustration: 743. Plan of the Church at Marburg. (From Möller’s
‘Denkmäler.’) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 744. Section of Church at Marburg. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

It is a small church, being only 208 ft. in length by 69 in width
internally, and though the details are all of good early French style,
it still exhibits several _Germanisms_, being triapsal in plan, and the
three aisles being of the same height. The latter must be considered as
a serious defect, for besides the absence of contrast, either the narrow
side-aisles appear too tall or the central one too low. This has also
caused the defect of two storeys of windows being placed throughout in
one height of wall, and without even a gallery to give meaning to such
an arrangement. No French architect ever fell into such a mistake, and
it shows how little the builders who could not avoid such a solecism
understood the spirit of the style they were copying. The west front
with its two spires is somewhat later in date, but of elegant design,
and is pleasingly proportioned to the body of the church, which is
rarely the case in Germany.

[Illustration: 745. Plan of Church at Altenberg. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

The other church is that at Altenberg, not far from Cologne, on the
opposite side of the river Rhine. The foundation-stone was laid in 1255,
and the chapels round the choir completed within a few years of that
time, but the works were then interrupted, and the greater part of the
church not built till the succeeding century. Like all the early
churches of the Cistercian Order it is without towers, and is extremely
simple in its outline and decorations. It is, in fact, almost a copy of
the abbey of Pontigny (Woodcut No. 643), which was built fully a century
earlier, and though it does show some advance in style in the
introduction of tracery into the windows and more variety of outline
externally, it is remarkable how little progress it evinces in the older
parts. In the subsequent erection there are some noble windows filled
with tracery of the very best class, which render this church the best
counterpart Germany can produce of our Tintern Abbey, which it resembles
in many respects. Indeed, taken altogether, this is perhaps the most
satisfactory church of its age and style in Germany, and in the erection
of which the fewest faults have been committed. It was rescued from ruin
by Frederick William IV. of Prussia, but its extensive conventual
buildings have been destroyed by fire.

These examples bring us to the great typical cathedral of Germany, that
of Cologne, which is certainly one of the noblest temples ever erected
by man in honour of his Creator. In this respect Germany has been more
fortunate than either France or England; for though in the number of
edifices in the pointed style and in beauty of design these countries
are far superior, Germany alone possesses one pre-eminent example in
which all the beauties of its style are united.

[Illustration: 746. Plan of Cathedral at Cologne. (From Boisserée.[74])
Scale 100 French ft. to 1 in.]

Generally speaking, it is assumed that the building we now see is that
commenced by Conrad von Hochstetten in the year 1248, but more recent
researches have proved that what he did was to rebuild or restore the
double-apse cathedral of earlier date. The examples just quoted,
however, were no other proof available, are sufficient to show that the
Gothic style was hardly then introduced into Germany, and but very
little understood when practised. It seems that the present building was
begun about the year 1270-1275, and that the choir was completed in all
essentials as we now find it by the year 1322.[75] Had the nave been
completed at the same rate of progress, it would have shown a wide
deviation of style, and the western front, instead of being erected
according to the beautiful design preserved to us, would have been
covered with stump tracery, and other vagaries of the late German
school, all of which are even now observable in the part of the
north-west tower actually erected. As the church is now complete
according to the original design, one of its principal beauties is the
uniformity of style that reigns throughout, contrasting strongly as it
does with the greater number of Northern cathedrals, whose erection
spreads over centuries. In dimensions it is the largest cathedral of
Northern Europe; its extreme length being 468, its extreme breadth 275,
and its superficies 91,464 ft., which is 20,000 ft. more than are
covered by Amiens, and one-fourth more than Amiens was originally
designed to cover. On comparing the eastern halves of these two from the
centre of the intersection of the transept, it will be found that
Cologne is an exact copy of the French cathedral, not only in general
arrangement, but also in dimensions, the only difference being a few
feet of extra length in the choir at Cologne, which is more than made up
at Amiens by the projection of the Lady Chapel. The nave, too, at
Cologne is one bay less in length. On the other hand, the German
building exceeds the French by one additional bay in each transept, the
two extra aisles in the nave, and the enormous substructures of the
western towers. All these are decided faults of design into which no
French architect would have fallen.

Looking at Cologne in any light, no one can fail to perceive that its
principal defect is its relative shortness. If this was unavoidable at
least the transept should have been omitted altogether, as at Bourges,
or kept within the line of the walls, as at Paris, Rheims, and
elsewhere. It is true, our long low English cathedrals require bold
projecting transepts to relieve their monotony; but at Cologne their
projection detracts both internally and externally from the requisite
appearance of length. Indeed, this seems to have been suspected at the
time, as the façades of the transepts were the least finished parts of
the building when it was left, and the modern restorers would have done
well if they had profited by the hesitation of their predecessors, and
omitted an expensive and detrimental addition.

Another defect before alluded to is the double aisles of the nave. It is
true these are found at Paris, but they were an early experiment. At
Bourges the fault is avoided by the aisles being of different heights;
but in none of the best examples, such as Rheims, Chartres, or Amiens,
would the architects have been guilty of dispersing their effects or
destroying their perspectives as is done at Cologne, and now that the
whole of the interior is finished these defects of proportion are become
more apparent than they were before. The clear width of the nave is 41
ft. 6 inches between the piers, its height 155 ft., or nearly four times
the width—a proportion altogether intolerable in architecture. And this
defect is made even more apparent here by the aisles being together
equal in width to the nave, while they are only 60 ft. in height.
Besides the defect of artistic disproportion, this exaggerated height of
the interior has the further disadvantage of dwarfing to a painful
extent the human beings who frequent it. Even the gorgeous ceremonial of
the Catholic Church and their most crowded processions lose all their
effect by comparison with the building in which they are performed. Were
a regiment of Life Guards on horseback to ride down the central aisle at
Cologne, they would be converted into pigmies by the 148 ft. of height
above them. Lateral spaciousness has not the same dwarfing effect; when
all are standing on the same floor, distance does not diminish in a
building more than in the open air, and with that effect we are
familiar, but great height in a room is unusual, and in proportion as it
affects the mind with awe or astonishment does it diminish the
appearance of those objects with which we are familiar. Perhaps,
however, the most striking defect of the internal design is the want of
repose or subordination of parts: 50 pillars practically identical in
design, and spaced nearly equally over the floor, and beyond them
everywhere a wall of glass. If the four central piers had been wider
spaced, or of double the section they now are, or had there been any
plain wall or any lateral chapels anywhere, it would have been better.
Notwithstanding all these defects, it is a glorious temple; but so
mathematically perfect, that not one little corner is left for poetry,
and it is consequently felt to be infinitely less interesting than many
buildings of far less pretensions.

Externally the proportions are as mistaken, if not more so than those of
the interior; the mass and enormous height of the western towers
(actually greater than the whole length of the building), now that they
are completed, have given to the whole cathedral a look of shortness
which nothing can redeem. With such a ground-plan a true architect would
have reduced their mass one-half, and their height by one-third at

Besides its great size, the cathedral of Cologne has the advantage of
having been designed at exactly the best age; while, as before remarked,
the cathedrals of Rheims and Paris were a little too early, St. Ouen’s
too late. The choir of Cologne, which we have seen to be of almost
identical dimensions with that of Amiens, excels its French rival
internally by its glazed triforium, the exquisite tracery of the
windows, the general beauty of the details, and a slightly better
proportion between the height of the aisles and clerestory. But this
advantage is lost externally by the forest of exaggerated pinnacles
which crowd round the upper part of the building, not only in singular
discord with the plainness of the lower storey, but hiding and confusing
the perspective of the clerestory, in a manner as objectionable in a
constructive point of view as it is to the eye of an artist. Decorated
construction is, no doubt, the great secret of true architecture; but
like other good things, this may be overdone. One-half of the abutting
means here employed might have been dispensed with, and the other half
disposed so simply as to do the work without the confusion produced.
When we turn to the interior to see what the vault is, which this mass
of abutments is provided to support, we find it with all the defects of
French vaulting—the ribs few and weak, the ridge undulating, the
surfaces twisted, and the general effect poor and feeble as compared
with the gorgeous walls that support it. Very judicious painting might
remedy this to some extent; but as it now stands the effect is most

[Illustration: 747. Western Façade of Cathedral of Cologne. (From

The noblest as well as the most original part of the design of this
cathedral is the western façade (Woodcut No. 747). As now completed, it
rises to the height of 510 ft. This front, considered as an independent
feature, without reference to its position, is a very grand conception.
It equals in magnificence those designed for Strasburg and Louvain, and
surpasses both in purity and elegance, though it is very questionable if
the open work of the spires is not carried to far too great an extent,
and even the lower part designed far too much by rule. M. Boisserée
says, “the square and the triangle here reign supreme;” and this is
certainly the case: every part is designed with the scale and the
compasses, and with a mathematical precision perfectly astonishing: but
we miss all the fanciful beauty of the more irregular French and English
examples. The storeyed porches of Rheims, Chartres, and Wells comprise
far more poetry within their limited dimensions than is spread over the
whole surface of this gigantic frontispiece. Cologne is a noble
conception of a mason, but these were the works of artists in the
highest sense of the word.

It is certainly to be regretted that there is no contemporary French
example to compare with Cologne, so that we might have been enabled to
bring this to a clearer test than words can do. St. Ouen’s comes nearest
to it in age and style, but it is so very much smaller as hardly to
admit of comparison; for though the length of the two churches is nearly
identical, the one covers 91,000 square feet, the other little more than
half that, or only 47,000. Yet so judicious is the disposition of the
smaller church, and so exquisite its proportions, that notwithstanding
the late age of its nave, and the inappropriateness of its modern front,
it is internally a more beautiful and almost as imposing a church as
that of Cologne, and externally a far more pleasing study as a work of
art. Had Marc d’Argent commenced his building at the same time as the
builder of Cologne, and seen it completed, or had he left his design for
it prior to 1322, even with its smaller dimensions, it would have been
by far the nobler work of art of the two. These, however, are after all
but vain speculations. We find in Cologne the finest specimen of masonry
attempted in the Middle Ages; and notwithstanding its defects, we now
see in the completed design a really beautiful and noble building,
worthy of its builders and of the religion to which it is dedicated.

At Freiburg, in the Breisgau, there is a contemporary example, commenced
in 1283, and finished in 1330. This fine spire is identical in style
with the Cologne examples, and perhaps on the whole even better,
certainly purer and simpler both in outline and detail, though it is not
clear that the richer ornament of Cologne would not be more in
accordance with this description of lace-work.

[Illustration: 748. View of the Church at Freiburg. (From Möller’s

The total height of the spire at Freiburg is 385 ft. from the ground,
and is divided into three parts. The lower portion is a square, plain
and simple in its details, with bold prominent buttresses, and
containing a very handsome porch. The second is an octagon of elegant
design, with four triangular pinnacles or spirelets at the angles, which
break most happily the change of outline, and out of this rises,
somewhat abruptly, the spire, 155 ft. in height. An English architect
would have placed eight bolder pinnacles at its base; a French one would
have used a gallery, or taken some means to prevent the cone from merely
resting on the octagon. This junction between the two is poor and badly
managed; but after all, the question is, whether the open spire is not a
mistake, which even the beauty of detail found here cannot altogether
redeem. It is not sufficient to say it is wrong, because a spire is and
ought to be a roof, and this is not. It is true a spire was originally a
roof, and still retains the place of one, and should consequently
suggest the idea; but this is not absolutely indispensable; and if the
tower be insufficient to support the apparent weight of a solid spire,
or for any such reason, the deviation would be excusable, but such is
not the case here, nor at Cologne.

Indeed, it seems that the whole is only another exemplification of the
ruling idea of the German masons, an excessive love of _tours de force_,
and an inordinate desire to do clever things in stone, which soon led
them into all the vagaries of their after Gothic; here it is
comparatively inoffensive, though I still feel convinced that if
one-half the openings of the tracery were filled up, or only a central
trefoil or quatrefoil left open in each division, the effect would be
far more pleasing and satisfactory.

In the spires that flank the transepts, the open work is wholly
unobjectionable, owing to the smallness of the scale; but in the main
and principal feature of the building the case is very different:
dignity and majesty are there required; and the flimsiness, as it might
almost be called, of the open work, goes far to destroy this.

The nave of this church is a fair specimen of the German Gothic of the
age, being contemporary with the spire, or perhaps of a little earlier
date; but the want of the triforium internally, and the consequent heavy
mass of plain wall over the pier-arches, give it a poor and weak
appearance. The choir, a work of the 15th century, runs into all the
extravagance of the later German style; its only merits being its size
and lightness.

Of the other open-work spires of Germany, one of the most beautiful is
that of Thann in Alsace, in which the octagonal part is so light that
anything more solid than the tracery that forms the spires would seem to
crush it.

Besides these, there is a pleasing example at Esslingen; another
attached to the cathedral at Meissen, in favour of which nothing can be
said; and those adorning the two towers of the façade of the cathedral
of Berne, which, because they are so small relatively to the towers they
surmount, and are in fact mere ornaments, are pleasing and graceful
terminations to the front.

Next in rank to Cologne among German cathedrals is that at Strasburg. It
is, however, so much smaller as hardly to admit of a fair comparison,
covering, even with its subsidiary adjuncts, little more than 60,000
square ft. The whole of the eastern part of this church belongs to an
older basilica, built in the 11th and 12th centuries, and is by no means
remarkable either for its beauty or its size, besides being so
overpowered by the nave, which has been added to it, as to render its
appearance somewhat insignificant. The nave and the western front are
the glory and the boast of Alsace, and possess in a remarkable degree
all the beauties and defects of the German style.

[Illustration: 749. Plan of Strasburg Cathedral. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

It is not known when the nave was commenced, but probably in the early
half of the 13th century, and it seems to have been finished about the
year 1275, a date which, if authentic, is in itself quite sufficient to
settle the controversy as to whether any part of Cologne is of an
earlier age, everything we see in Strasburg being of an older style than
anything in that church.

[Illustration: 750. West Front of Cathedral at Strasburg.]

Be this as it may, the details are pure and beautiful, and the design of
singular boldness. The central aisle is 55 ft. wide from centre to
centre of the piers, and the side aisles 33 ft. wide, while the
corresponding dimensions at Cologne are only 49 ft. and 25 ft.
respectively. Notwithstanding this, the vault at Strasburg is only 101
ft. in height against 155 ft. at Cologne. The consequence is, that
measured from centre to centre the central aisle at Cologne is more than
three times as high as it is wide, while at Strasburg it is less than
twice. The whole width of the more northern example is practically equal
to the height—at Strasburg it is one-fifth less; but the one having only
three aisles, while the other has five, makes all these discrepancies
still more apparent. Had the architect at Cologne, instead of
introducing an external aisle, only increased the dimensions of
Strasburg by one-fifth, retaining all its proportions, he would both
externally and internally have produced the noblest building of the
Middle Ages. As it is, the smaller nave of Strasburg is infinitely
superior in proportion and apparent dimensions to that of the larger

This comparative lowness of the nave at Strasburg is greatly in its
favour, as the length, which is only 250 ft., is made the most of, and
the shortness of the cathedral is not perceived.

It does not appear that Erwin von Steinbach had anything to do with this
part of the structure, beyond repairing the vault when damaged by fire
in 1298, at which time he also introduced some new features of no great
importance, but sufficient in some degree to confuse the chronology.
What he really did, was to commence the western façade, of which he laid
the foundation in 1277, and superintended the erection till his death,
41 years afterwards, when he was succeeded by his sons, who carried it
up to the platform in 1365.

The Germans, however, wishing to find a name to place in their Walhalla,
and mistaking entirely the system on which buildings were carried out in
the Middle Ages, had tried to exalt Erwin into a genius of the highest
order, ascribing to him not only the nave, but also the design of the
spire as it now stands. If he had anything to do with the former, he
must have been promoted at a singularly early age to the rank of
master-mason, and have been a most wonderfully old man at the time of
his death; and if he designed the spire, he must have had a strangely
prophetic spirit to foresee forms and details that were not invented
till a century after his death! The fact is, Erwin did no more than
every master-mason of his age could do. There is no novelty or invention
in his design, and only those mistakes and errors which all Germans fell
into when working in pointed Gothic. In the first place, the façade is
much too large for the church, which it crushes and hides; and instead
of using the resources of his art to conceal this defect, he made the
vault of the ante-chapel equal in height to that of Cologne, the result
being that the centre of the great western rose-window is just as high
as the apex of the vault of the nave. It is true it can be seen in
perspective from the floor of the church, but the arrangement appears to
have been expressly designed to make the church look low and out of

The spiral staircases at the angles of the spire are marvels of
workmanship, and the whole is well calculated to excite the wonder of
the vulgar, though it must be condemned by the man of taste as very
inferior in every respect to the purer designs of an earlier age.

It is not known whether the original design comprised two towers, like
those of the great French cathedrals, or was intended to terminate with
a flat screen-like façade. Probably the latter was the case, as mass,
and not proportion, seems to have been this architect’s idea of

The spire that now crowns this front, rising to a height of 468 ft. from
the ground, was not finished till 1439, and betrays all the faults of
its age. The octagonal part is tall and weak in outline, the spire
ungraceful in form and covered with an unmeaning and constructively
useless system of tracery.

Besides the fault of proportion for which the design of Erwin is clearly
blamable, all his work betrays the want of artistic feeling which is
characteristic of the German mason. Every detail of the lower part of
the front is wire-drawn and attenuated. The defect of putting a second
line of unsymmetrical tracery in front of windows, the first trace of
which was remarked upon in speaking of Gelnhausen, is here carried to a
painful extent. The long stone bars which protect and hide the windows
are admirable specimens of masonry, but they are no more beauties than
those which protect our kitchen windows in modern times. The spreading
the tracery of the windows over the neighbouring walls, so as to make it
look large and uniform, is another solecism found both here and at
Cologne, utterly unworthy of the art, and not found in, I believe, a
single instance in France and England, where the style was so much
better understood than in Germany.

Altogether the façade of the cathedral at Strasburg is imposing from its
mass, and fascinating from its richness; but there is no building in
either France or England where such great advantages have been thrown
away in so reckless a manner and by so unintelligent a hand.

The cathedral at Ratisbon is a far more satisfactory specimen of German
art than that of Strasburg. It is a small building, only 272 ft. in
length, and 114 in breadth internally, and covering about 32,000 sq. ft.
It was commenced in the year 1275; the works were continued for more
than two centuries, and at last abandoned before the completion of the

As will be seen from the plan (Woodcut No. 751), it is much more German
than French in its arrangements, having three apses instead of a chevet.
The side-aisles are wide in proportion to the central one, the transept
subdued, and altogether it is more like the old round-arched Gothic
basilica than the French church. It has two storeys of windows in the
apse, as at Marburg, where the arrangement is unmeaning and offensive,
while here the nave has side-aisles and a clerestory: thus the upper
windows of the apse are a continuation of the clerestory windows of the
nave, and the effect is not unpleasing. The details of this church are
singularly pleasing and elegant throughout, and produce on the whole a
harmony not commonly met with in German churches of this age and style.

[Illustration: 751. Plan of Ratisbon Cathedral. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

If size were any real test of beauty, the cathedral at Ulm ought to be
one of the finest in Germany, being just twice as large as that at
Ratisbon, covering 63,800 sq. ft. So far also as constructive merit is
concerned, it is perhaps the best; for though I have no plan I can quite
rely upon, I believe that not more than one-fifteenth of the area is
occupied by the supports; nor is this church surpassed by many in sharp
and clever mechanical execution of the details. With all this it would
be difficult to find a colder and more unimpressive design than is here
carried out; both internally and externally, it is the work of a very
clever mason, but of a singularly bad artist. The freemasons had, when
it was founded (1377), got possession of the art in Germany; and here
they carried their system to its acmé, and with a result which every one
with the smallest appreciation of art can perceive at once. It is said
that, in the original design, the outer range of pillars, dividing the
side-aisle into two, was to have been omitted, which would have made it
even worse than it is. Its one western tower, now that it is completed,
is perhaps more beautiful than that at Strasburg; and, besides, being
actually higher (529 ft.), appears taller from standing alone. Its form,
too, is more pleasing; and, though its details are far more suited for
execution in cast iron than in stone, rivals, and perhaps even
surpasses, those at Antwerp or Mechlin.

[Illustration: 752. View of the Spire of St. Stephen’s, Vienna. (From
‘Chiesi Principali d’Europa.’)]

St. Stephen’s of Vienna (Woodcut No. 752), ranks fourth or fifth among
the great churches of Germany, both for size and richness of decoration.
Its length, internally, is 337 ft., its width 115, and it covers about
52,000 square ft. It is situated too near the eastern edge of the
province for us to expect anything very pure or perfect as an example of
Gothic art, and it certainly sins against every canon that a purist
would enact. The three aisles are nearly equal in width and height,—
there is no clerestory—no triforium. There are two very tall windows in
each bay. The pillars are covered with sculpture, more remarkable for
its richness than its appropriateness, and the tracery of the vaults is
very defective. Yet, with all these faults, and many more, no one with a
trace of poetry in his composition can stand under the great cavernous
western porch and not feel that he has before him one of the most
beautiful and impressive buildings in Europe. A good deal of this may be
owing to the colour. The time-stain in the nave is untouched, the
painted glass perfect, and the whole has a venerable look, now too rare.
The choir is being smartened up, and its poetry is gone. Meanwhile, no
building can stand in more absolute contrast with the cathedral at
Cologne than this one at Vienna. The former fails because it is so
coldly perfect that it interests no one; this impresses, though
offending against all rules, because it was designed by a poet. We feel
as if the Rhenish architect would certainly have been Senior Wrangler at
Cambridge had he tried, but that his Danubian brother was fit to be
Laureate at any court in Germany.

It is the same with the exterior. The one great roof running over the
three aisles, and covering all up like an extinguisher, ought to be
abominable, but it gives a character to the whole that one would be
sorry to miss, and is not out of harmony with the exceptional character
of the whole building. The great glory of this church consists in its
two spires, one of which is finished, the other only carried up to about
one-third of its intended height. Their position is unfortunate, as they
are placed where the transepts should be, so that they neither form a
façade nor dignify the sanctuary; they occupy, in fact, the position of
the lateral entrances which the Germans were so fond of, and are the
principal portals of the building. In itself, however, the finished
spire is the richest, and, excepting that at Freiburg, perhaps the most
beautiful of all those in Germany. Its total height, exclusive of the
eagle, is 441 ft., rising from a base about 64 ft. square, gradually
sloping from the ground to the summit, where it forms a cone of the
unprecedently small angle of little more than 9 degrees. The transition
from the square base to an octagonal cone is so gradual and so concealed
by ornament, that it is difficult to say where the tower ends and the
spire begins. This gives a confusion and weakness to the design by no
means pleasing. Indeed the whole may be taken as an exemplification of
all the German principles of design carried to excess, rather than as a
perfect example of what such an object should be. It deserves to be
remarked that there is no open work in the spire, though, from its own
tenuity and the richness of the tower, there is no example where it
would have been less objectionable.

Had the architects of Eastern Germany continued to practise the style a
little longer before the introduction of the Renaissance art, it is
probable they would have gone further from the French forms than they
did even in St. Stephen’s. Among the novelties they did employ, one of
the most remarkable was the invention of flat-roofed choirs. The plan of
the Franciscan church at Salzburg (Woodcut No. 753) will explain what is
meant by this.[77] The nave of the church is a very beautiful example of
the round-arched style, so pure and elegant in its details as to betray
its proximity to Italy, and without a trace of pointed architecture,
though dating as late as 1230-1260. In the year 1470 it was determined
to rebuild the choir. In France this would have been effected by an
extended range of chapels round a chevet; in England by several bays
added to the length. In Germany they did better: they placed five
slender piers on the floor: these, though 70 ft. in height, are less
than 4 ft. in diameter, yet they appear sufficient for the task they
have to perform, while their slenderness prevents them from interrupting
the view in any direction. From these rose a vault, extending on the
same level from wall to wall with a tree-like growth, from each of these
pillars—without any exertion or constructive difficulty; the choir thus
forms a hall 66 ft. wide by 160 in length, exclusive of the side-chapels
which surround it in two storeys. A dome in that position might have
been more sublime; but passing through the confined vestibule of the
nave the expansion into the light and airy choir produces one of the
most magical effects to be found in any church in Europe. The details of
the vault, as is only too usual at that age, are not constructively
correct; but if this design had been carried out with English
fan-tracery nothing could well be more beautiful. In plan and dimensions
this choir very nearly resembles Henry VII.’s Chapel at Westminster; but
in design the German surpasses the English example to a greater extent
than it falls short of it in beauty of detail.

[Illustration: 753. Plan of the Franciscan Church at Salzburg.]

St. Lawrence’s Church at Nuremberg is a larger and better known example
of the same class of design. It was commenced in 1275, and finished
after 202 years’ labour. The style of this church is consequently much
more uniform; and though not large, being only 300 ft. long by 100 in
width, its proportions are so good that it is a very beautiful and
impressive example of the style. It is a little too late in its details,
but beautiful in its arrangements. The view, standing by the pulpit and
looking towards the east, is as poetic as that of St. Stephen’s, and as
spacious as at Salzburg. The two rows of windows round the apse are a
defect that might easily have been avoided, but which the beauty of the
painted glass goes far to redeem.

Externally, the western front, though on a small scale, only 250 ft. in
height, is better proportioned and more pleasing in its detail than
almost any other double-spire façade in Germany that can be named. The
real defect of the exterior is the overwhelming roof of the nave and the
want of external buttresses, which, with bold pinnacles, would have gone
far to correct its heaviness.

[Illustration: 754. Plan of St. Lawrence’s Church, Nuremberg.]

St. Sebald’s Church at Nuremberg seems originally to have been a chevet
turned the wrong way, to the eastern end of which a choir of somewhat
exaggerated dimensions was added at a later age (1303-1377). This choir
was not only placed unsymmetrically as regards the axis of the older
part, but also as regards its own parts. It is, however, lofty and airy,
with the same arrangement as to vaulting as the two last examples, but,
being lighted by a single row of tall windows, it avoids the defect of
the two-storeyed arrangement. These windows are 50 ft. high, and barely
8 ft. in width, which is far too narrow in proportion. Their mullions
are nearly 40 ft. in height; and, though triumphs of German masonic
skill, are most unpleasing features of architectural design.

[Illustration: 755. Plan of the Church at Kuttenberg, taken above the
roof of the aisles. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

When the Germans had once mastered this invention in vaulting they
applied it wherever an opportunity presented itself, and in one instance
at least, to a five-aisled basilica. It is true the church of St.
Barbara at Kuttenberg,[78] in Bohemia, is only a fragment, but it is a
very remarkable one. The building was apparently commenced about the
year 1358, and completed, as far as we now see it, in 1548. Its
dimensions are smaller than those of Cologne, being only 126 ft. across
its five aisles instead of 150; but its great peculiarity is that the
roof of the first aisle next the central one on each side is converted
into a great gallery, as shown in the section (Woodcut No. 756), and the
vault carried flat above the three. To a certain extent this prevents
the clerestory windows from being so easily seen from all parts of the
floor of the church, but when seen it is at a better angle; and,
altogether, a play of light and shade and a poetry of effect is
introduced which more than compensates for this. The double apse may be
the most characteristic feature of German Mediæval churches, but this
seems to be the highest and most poetic of their inventions.

[Illustration: 756. Section of the Church of St. Barbara, Kuttenberg.
Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

The church of St. Veit at Prague is very similar to that at Kuttenberg.
It was commenced about the year 1346, and, like it, was meant to imitate
and rival Cologne. Its proportions, however, are better, being only 105
ft. high, internally, with a width of 130 ft., but its details, as might
be expected from its date, are very far inferior to those of its
northern rival. Like Kuttenberg, it is now only a choir—a fragment of
what was intended; and it neither possesses the poetry of its Bohemian
rival, nor the perfect masonry of Cologne, and perhaps more resembles
Beauvais than any other church of its age.

In Bavaria there are several churches erected later in the style, which,
in spite of many defects of detail, are still very imposing edifices.
The cathedral at Munich is a well-known example of this style, but a
better specimen is the St. Martin’s church at Landshut (1404). As in
almost all these examples, the three aisles are the same height, and
outside are covered by one gigantic roof. Internally this gives great
spaciousness, but externally the exaggerated height of the windows and
the size of the roof are great defects. The most beautiful feature at
Landshut is the spire, which rises to the height of 425 ft., and is as
gracefully and appropriately designed as any other which has been
completed in Germany of its age. Though not so rich as St. Stephen’s at
Vienna, it has not its confusion of outline, and it also avoids the
somewhat ambiguous beauties of the open-work spires so frequent in this

In adopting the pointed-arched style, the Germans generally abandoned
their favourite double-apse arrangement; and though they seldom adopted
the whole of the chevet, preferring their own simple apse to it, it
seems to have been only, or at least generally, where an old round
Gothic double-apse church existed previously, that this arrangement was
continued after the commencement of the 13th century. Naumburg, the nave
of which was commenced about the year 1200, is an instance of this. This
was no doubt inserted between two older apses, both of which were
rebuilt at a later age, forming two very beautiful and extensive choirs.
The whole makes a very pleasing and interesting church, though there
certainly is an architectural incongruity in entering by the side, and
the double-apse arrangement is unfamiliar and nearly unintelligible to
us at the present time.

A still better example is the cathedral at Bamberg, which, judging from
its date, ought to be in the complete pointed style. Though its east end
dates from 1220, and the west 1257, it is still so completely
transitional, and the pointed form so timidly used, that in France it
would certainly be said that there was a mistake of at least a century
in these dates. It is nevertheless a very fine church; and its four
elegant towers flanking the two apses give it a local and at the same
time a dignified character which we often miss in the imitations of
French churches, too common at this age. At Naumburg unfortunately only
three towers exist, the fourth never having been erected, which
considerably mars the effect when comparing it with the more complete
edifice at Bamberg.

Augsburg is another example of this class; although of good age, the
rebuilding having commenced in 1366, it is one of the ugliest and
worst-designed buildings in Germany, with nothing but its size to redeem
it. It is peculiar in having a chevet at one end and an apse at the

The principles of the French schools of art seem to have prevailed to a
much greater extent in the North of Germany, and we have in consequence
several churches of more pleasing design than those last mentioned.
Among these is the cathedral at Halberstadt, a simple but beautiful
church, not remarkable for any very striking peculiarities, but
extremely satisfactory in general effect. The great church, too, at
Xanten may be quoted as another very favourable specimen, though far
more essentially German in its arrangement. The western front is older
than the rest, and is German, wholly without French influence. It has no
central entrance, but has two bold massive towers. The church behind
these is of the latter part of the 13th and the 14th centuries. It is
generally good in detail and proportion, but is arranged, as seen in the
plan, in a manner wholly different from the French method, though in a
form common in all parts of Germany. The polygonal form is retained both
for the apse and for the chapels, but without adopting the chevet with
its surrounding aisle, nor the absolute seclusion of the choir as a
priestly island round which the laity might circulate, but within whose
sacred precincts they were not permitted to enter. It is observable that
in those districts where chevets are most frequent, generally speaking,
the Catholic religion has had the firmest hold. On the other hand, where
the people had declined to adopt that arrangement, it was a sign that
they were ripe for the Reformation, which accordingly they embraced as
soon as the standard of rebellion was raised.

[Illustration: 757. Plan of Church of St. Victor at Xanten. Scale 100
ft. to 1 in.]

In the South of Germany we have already had occasion to remark on the
tendency to raise the side-aisles to the same height as the central one,
which eventually became the rule in the great brick churches of Munich
and other parts of Bavaria, the piers or pillars becoming mere posts
supporting what was practically a horizontal roof. In the north the
tendency seems to have been the other way—to exaggerate the clerestory
at the expense of the aisles. A notable example of this is found in the
nave at Magdeburg, where the side-aisles are practically little more
than one-third of the whole height of the church; and there being no
triforium, the clerestory windows rest apparently on the vault of the
side-aisle. This has now no doubt a disagreeable effect, but when filled
with painted glass the case must have been different, and the effect of
this immense screen of brilliant colours must have been most beautiful.

A better example of this arrangement is found in the cathedral at Metz,
where, from its proximity to France, the whole style was better
understood, and the details are consequently more perfect. Externally,
it must be confessed, the immense height of the clerestory gives to the
church a wire-drawn appearance, very destructive of architectural
beauty; but internally, partly from the effect of perspective and partly
from the brilliancy of such glass as remains, criticism is disarmed. The
result, however contrary to the rules of art, is most fascinating; and
at all events, though an error, it is in a far more pleasing direction
than that of the southern architects.

These may perhaps be considered the great and typical examples of the
pointed style as applied to church architecture in Germany; but besides
these there are numerous examples scattered all over the country, many
of which, as being less directly under French influence, display an
originality of design, and sometimes a beauty, not to be found in the
larger examples.

Among these is the Cathedral of St. George at Limburg on the Lahn. This
building belongs to the early part of the 13th century, and exhibits the
transitional style in its greatest purity, and with less admixture of
foreign taste than is to be found in almost any subsequent examples.
Though measuring only about 180 ft. by 75, it has, from its crown of
towers and general design, a more imposing appearance externally than
many buildings of far larger dimensions. The interior is also singularly

The church of St. Emmeran at Ratisbon, a square building of about the
same age and style, is chiefly remarkable for the extensive series of
galleries which surround the whole of the interior, being in fact the
application of the system of double chapels (see p. 241) to a parish
church; not that vaulted galleries are at all rare in Germany, but that
generally speaking they are insertions; though here they seem part of
the original design.

At Schulpforta in Saxony there is a very elegant church of the best age,
and both in design and detail very different from anything else in
Germany. Its immense relative length gives it a perspective rarely found
in this country, where squareness is a much more common characteristic.

At Oppenheim, in the Bavarian Rhenish Palatinate, is a church the choir
of which is a simple and pleasing German apse with elongated windows.
The nave, four bays in length, is an elaborate specimen of German
ornamentation in its utmost extravagance, and, considering its age, in
singularly bad taste, at least the lower part. The clerestory is
unobjectionable, but the tracery of the windows and walls of the
side-aisles shows how ingeniously it was possible to misapply even the
beautiful details of the early part of the 14th century. In St. Werner’s
Chapel, Bacharach, on the Rhine, this is avoided, and, as far as can be
judged from the fragment that remains, it must, if it ever was
completed, have been one of the best specimens of German art in that
part of the country. The nave of the cathedral at Meissen, though marked
by many of the faults of German design, is still a beautiful example of
well-understood detail.

[Illustration: 758. View of Maria Kirche at Mühlhausen. (From Puttrich,

[Illustration: 759. Plan of Maria Kirche at Mühlhausen. Scale 100 ft. to
1 in.]

As a purely German design nothing can surpass the Maria Kirche at
Mühlhausen (Woodcut No. 759). The nave is nearly square, 87 ft. by 105,
and is divided into five aisles by four rows of pillars supporting the
vaults, all at the same level. To the west is a triple frontispiece, and
to the east (Woodcut No. 759) the three apses, which form so favourite
an arrangement with the Germans. Externally its attenuation is painful
to one accustomed to the more sober work of French architects; but this
fault is here not carried to anything like the excess found in other
churches. Internally the effect is certainly pleasing, and altogether
there are perhaps few better specimens of purely German design in
pointed architecture. The church of St. Blasius, in the same town, is
far from being so good an example of the style.

The cathedral at Erfurt is a highly ornamented building, but though
possessing beautiful details in parts, yet it shows the slenderness of
construction which is so frequent a fault in German Gothic buildings.
The church of St. Severus in the same town resembles that at Mühlhausen,
but possesses so characteristic a group of three spires[79] over what we
would consider the transept—or just in front of the apse—that it is
illustrated (Woodcut No. 760). It certainly looks like a direct lineal
descendant from the old Roman basilican apse grown into Gothic tallness.
Though common in Germany, placed either here or at the west front, I do
not know of any single example of such an arrangement either in France
or England.

[Illustration: 760. St. Severus Church at Erfurt. (From Puttrich,

To the same class of square churches with slightly projecting chancels
belongs the Frauen Kirche at Nuremberg, one of the most ornate of its
kind, and possessing also in its triangularly formed porch another
peculiarity found only in Germany. The principal entrances to the
cathedrals of Ratisbon and Erfurt are of this description—the latter
being the richest and boldest porch of the kind.

One of the best known examples of the daring degree of attenuation to
which the Germans delighted to carry their works is the choir (Woodcut
No. 724) added in 1353 and 1413 to the old circular church of
Charlemagne at Aix-la-Chapelle. As we now see it, the effect is
certainly unpleasing; but if these tall windows were filled with painted
glass, and the walls and vaults coloured also, the effect would be
widely different. Perhaps it might then be even called beautiful; but
with scarcely a single exception all those churches are now deprived of
this most indispensable part of their architecture, and, instead of
being the principal part of the design, the windows are now only long
slits in the masonry, giving an appearance of weakness without adding to
the beauty or richness of the ornament.

The same remarks apply to the Nicholai Kirche at Zerbst, and the Petri
Kirche at Gorlitz, both splendid specimens of this late exaggerated
class of German art. By colour they might be restored, but as seen now
in the full glare of the cold daylight they want almost every requisite
of true art, and neither their size nor their constructive skill
suffices to redeem them from the reproach.

                              CHAPTER VI.


Circular Churches—Church Furniture—Civil Architecture.

                           CIRCULAR CHURCHES.

IN adopting the pointed style, the Germans almost wholly abandoned their
old favourite circular form; the Liebfrauen Church at Trèves (Woodcut
No. 695) being almost the only really important example of a church in
the style approaching to a rotunda. Chapter-houses are as rare in
Germany as in France, and those that are found are not generally
circular in either country. There is a baptistery attached to the
cathedral at Meissen, and one or two other insignificant examples
elsewhere; but the most pleasing object of this class is the Anna
Chapel, attached to the principal church at Heiligenstadt. It is said
that it always was dedicated to the sainted mother of the Virgin, but it
would require more than tradition to prove that it was not originally
designed as a baptistery or a tomb-house. Be this as it may, it is one
of the most pleasing specimens of its class anywhere to be found, and so
elegant as to make us regret the rarity of such structures.

[Illustration: 761. Anna Chapel at Heiligenstadt. (From Puttrich,

                           CHURCH FURNITURE.

The churches of Germany are not generally rich in architectural
furniture. Few rood-lofts are found spanning from pillar to pillar of
the choir like that at the Madeleine of Troyes (Woodcut No. 669); and
though some of the screens that separate the choirs of the churches are
rich, they are seldom of good design. The two at Naumburg are perhaps as
good as any of their class in Germany. Generally they were used as the
_lectorium_—virtually the pulpit—of the churches. In most instances,
however, the detached pulpit in the nave was substituted for these, and
there are numerous examples of richly-carved pulpits, but none of
beautiful design. In most instances they are overloaded with ornament,
and many of them disfigured with quirks and quibbles, and all the
vagaries of later German art.

The fonts are seldom good or deserving of attention, and the original
altars have almost all been removed, either from having fallen to decay,
or to make way for some more favourite arrangement of modern times.

The “Sacraments Häuschen” (the receptacle for the sacred elements of the
Communion) is a peculiar article of furniture frequently found in German
churches, and in some of those of Belgium, though very rare in France
and unknown in England, but on which the German artists seem to have
lavished more pains than on almost any other article of church
decoration. Those in St. Lawrence’s Church at Nuremberg and at Ulm are
perhaps the most extraordinary pieces of elaborate architecture ever
executed in stone, and have always been looked on by the Germans as
chefs-d’œuvre of art. Had they been able, they would have delighted in
introducing the same extravagances into external art: fortunately the
elements forced them to confine them to their interiors. Nothing,
however, can show more clearly what was the tendency of their art, and
to what they aspired, than these singular erections, which,
notwithstanding their absurdity, considering their materials, must
excite our wonder, like the concentric balls of the Chinese. To some
extent also they claim our admiration for the lightness and the elegance
of their structure. Simplicity is not the characteristic of the German
mind. A difficulty conquered is what it glories in, and patient toil is
not a means only, but an end, and its expression often excites in
Germany more admiration than either loftier or purer art.

[Illustration: 762. Sacraments Häuschen at Nuremberg. (From Chapuy.)]

[Illustration: 763. Doorway of Church at Chemnitz.]

It can scarcely be doubted but that much of the extravagance which we
find in later German architecture arose from the reaction of the
glass-painters on the builders. When first painted glass was extensively
introduced, the figures were grouped or separated by architectural
details, such as niches or canopies, copied literally from the stone
ornaments of the building itself. Before long, however, the painter, in
Germany at least, spurned at being tied down to copy such mechanical and
constructive exigencies; he attenuated his columns, bent and twisted his
pinnacles, drew out his canopies, and soon invented for himself an
architecture bearing the same relation to the stone Gothic around him
that the architecture shown on the paintings of Pompeii bears to the
temples and buildings from which it is derived. In Germany, painters and
builders alike were striving after lightness, but in this the painter
was enabled by his material easily to outstrip the mason. The
essentially stone character of architecture was soon lost sight of. With
the painter, the finials, the crockets, and the foliage of the capitals
again became copies of leaves, instead of the conventional
representations of nature which they are and must be in all true art.
Like Sir James Hall in modern times, the speculative mind in Germany was
not long, when advanced thus far, in suggesting a vegetable theory for
the whole art. All these steps are easily to be traced in the sequence
of German painted glass still preserved to us. The more extravagant and
intricate the design, the more it was admired by the Germans. It was,
therefore, only natural that the masons should strive after the same
standard, and should try to realise in stone the ideas which the
painters had so successfully started on the plain surface of the glass.
The difficulty of the task was an incentive. Almost all the absurdities
of the later styles may be traced more or less to this source, and were
it worth while, or were this the place, it would be easy to trace the
gradual decay of true art from this cause. One example, taken from the
church at Chemnitz (Woodcut No. 763), must suffice, where what was
usual, perhaps admissible, in glass, is represented in stone as
literally as is conceivable. When art came to this, its revival was
impossible among a people with whom such absurdities could be admired,
as their frequency proves to have been the case. What a fall does all
this show in that people who invented the old Round-Gothic style of the
Rhenish and Lombard churches, which still excite our admiration, as much
from the simple majesty of their details as from the imposing grandeur
of their whole design!

                          CIVIL ARCHITECTURE.

If the Germans failed in adapting the pointed style of architecture to
the simple forms and purposes of ecclesiastical buildings, they were
still less likely to be successful when dealing with the more
complicated arrangements of civil buildings. It is seldom difficult to
impart a certain amount of architectural character and magnificence to a
single hall, especially when the dimensions are considerable, the
materials good, and a certain amount of decoration admitted; but in
grouping together as a whole a number of small apartments, to be applied
to various uses, it requires great judgment to ensure that every part
shall express its own purpose, and good taste to prevent the whole
degenerating into a mere collection of disjointed fragments. These
qualities the Germans of that age did not possess. Moreover, there seems
to have been singularly little demand for civil edifices in the 13th and
14th centuries. It is probable that the free cities were not organised
to the same extent as in Belgium, or had not the same amount of
manufacturing industry that gave rise to the erection of the great halls
in that country; for, with the exception of the Kauf Haus at Mayence, no
example has come down to our days that can be said to be remarkable for
architectural design. Even this no longer exists, having been pulled
down in 1812. It was but a small building, 125 ft. in length by 92 in
width at one end, and 75 at the other. It was built in the best time of
German pointed architecture, and was a pleasing specimen of its class.
At Cologne there is a sort of Guildhall, the Gürzenich, and a tower-like
fragment of a town-hall, both built in the best age of architecture; and
in some of the other Rhenish towns there are fragments of art more or
less beautiful according to the age of their details, but none that will
bear comparison with the Belgian edifices of the same class.

Some of the castles in which the feudal aristocracy of the day resided
are certainly fine and picturesque buildings, but they are seldom
remarkable for architectural beauty either of design or detail. The same
remarks apply to the domestic residences. Many of the old high-gabled
houses in the streets are most elaborately ornamented, and produce
picturesque combinations in themselves and with one another; but as
works of art, few have any claims to notice, and neither in form nor
detail are they worthy of admiration.

[Illustration: 764. Schöne Brunnen at Nuremberg. (From Chapuy.)]

Among more miscellaneous monuments may be named the weigh-tower at
Andernach, with its immense crane, showing how any object may be made
architectural if designed with taste. The Schöne Brunnen, or “Beautiful
Fountains,” in the market-place at Nuremberg, is one of the most
unexceptionable pieces of German design in existence. It much resembles
the contemporary crosses erected by our Edward I. to the memory of his
beloved queen Eleanor, but it is larger and taller, the sculpture
better, and better disposed, and the whole design perhaps unrivalled
among monuments of its class. The lightness of the upper part and the
breadth of the basin at its base give an appearance of stability which
contributes greatly to its effect.

Scarcely less elegant than this is the cross or “Todtenleuchter,”
Lanterne des Morts, in the cemetery of Kloster Neuberg, near Vienna. Its
height is about 30 ft.; the date engraved upon it is 1381. There is a
small door at a height of about 5 ft. from the ground, and near the
summit a chamber with six glazed windows, in which the light was

[Illustration: 765. Todtenleuchter at Kloster Neuberg.]

In France, some ten or twelve of these lanterns have recently been
brought to light and described. In Germany about as many, besides
numberless little niches in which lamps were placed in churches, showing
a prevalence in Christian countries of a custom which now only prevails
among Mahomedans, of placing lights at night in the tombs of saints or
of relatives, so long as their memory is preserved. Perhaps, however,
the greatest point of interest attached to their investigation arises
from the light these foreign examples may be expected to throw on the
origin of the Round Towers in Ireland. Their form is not unlike this at
Kloster Neuberg. Their destination seems the same, though the dimensions
of the Irish towers are greatly in excess of any similar monuments found
on the continent of Europe.[80]

[Illustration: 766. Bay Window from St. Sebald’s Parsonage, Nuremberg.]

In the town of Nuremberg are several houses presenting very elegant
specimens of art in their details, though few that now at least afford
examples of complete designs worthy of attention. The two parsonages or
residences attached to the churches of St. Sebald and St. Lawrence are
among the best. The bay window (Woodcut No. 766) from the façade of the
former is as pleasing a feature as is to be found of its class in any
part of Germany.

A more characteristic specimen, however, is to be seen at Brück on the
Mur, in Styria, where there still exists a large house, the front of
which is ornamented with a verandah in several bays, one of which is
represented in the annexed woodcut No. 767. It is in two storeys, the
upper containing twice the number of openings of the lower. The whole
design is singularly elegant, but betrays the lateness of the date
(1505) in every detail; and, more than this, exhibits those peculiarly
German features which are so characteristic of the later Gothic in that
country. In the lower storey, for instance, the ogee arch instead of
being filled up with a decorative piece of construction, is made
circular by a plain piece of stone, which completes the construction but
violates the decoration. Above this we have a balustrade in stone,
imitating wood in a manner the Germans were so fond of, but which is
certainly wrong in principle, as it is in taste; but notwithstanding
these defects, we cannot but regret that more examples of the same class
have not come down to our time.

[Illustration: 767. Façade of House at Brück-am-Mur.]

The town-hall at Brunswick (Woodcut No. 768) is one of the most
picturesque and characteristic of these buildings, and perhaps also the
most artistic. It is difficult, however, to reconcile our feelings to
the light arch supporting the tracery of the upper part of the upper
gallery. If the four mullions had been brought down, they would not have
impeded either light or air to an appreciable extent, and if more space
had been wanted for addressing people in the platz, the omission of the
central mullion would have sufficed. Notwithstanding this, it is a
picturesque and appropriate building, more so than any other known out
of the Flandrian province. The fountain, too, on the right hand of the
cut, is a pleasing specimen of its class; a little heavier at the base
than quite comports with the style, though that is a fault quite on the
right side.

[Illustration: 768. Town-hall at Brunswick. (From Rosengarten.)]

It is true that in all countries the specimens of domestic art are, from
obvious causes, more liable to alteration and destruction than works of
a more monumental class. Making every allowance for this, Germany still
seems more deficient than its neighbouring countries in domestic
architecture in the pointed style, and one can hardly escape the
conviction that this form was never thoroughly adopted by the people of
this country, and that it therefore, never having had much hold on their
feelings or taste, died out early, leaving only some wonderful specimens
of masonic skill in the more monumental buildings, but very few
evidences of true art or of sound knowledge of the true principles of
architectural effect.

                              CHAPTER VII.

                           NORTHERN GERMANY.

                          (BALTIC PROVINCES.)

                          BRICK ARCHITECTURE.


Churches at Lubeck—in Brandenburg—in Ermenland—Castle at Marienburg.

ALONG the whole of the southern shores of the Baltic extends a vast
series of sandy plains, now composing the greater part of the kingdom of
Prussia, with Hanover and Mecklenburg and the duchies of Brandenburg and
Brunswick. This district was to a considerable extent cultivated during
the Middle Ages, and contained several cities of great commercial and
political importance, which still retain many of their ecclesiastical
and civil buildings.

These plains are almost wholly destitute of any stone suitable for
building purposes, and brick has alone been employed in the erection not
only of their houses, but of their churches and most monumental
buildings. This circumstance has induced such a variation in the
character of the architecture as to justify the Baltic provinces being
treated separately. The differences which are apparent may also be owing
to some extent to ethnographic differences of race, though it is not
easy to say how much may be owing to this cause. In early Christian
times the whole province was inhabited by the Wends, a race of Sclavonic
stock; they have been superseded by the Teutonic races and their
language has disappeared, but their blood must still remain, and a
knowledge of this fact would at once account to an ethnologist for the
absence of art. A Teutonic race, based on a Celtic substratum, would
have wrought beauty out of bricks, and the constructive difficulties
would not have prevented the development of the art. But a Teutonic
formation overlying a Sclavonic base is about as unfortunate a
combination for architectural development as can well be conceived.
This, added to the deficiency of stone as a building material, will more
than suffice to account for the special treatment we meet with on the
southern shores of the Baltic.

[Illustration: 769. Plan of Cathedral, Lubeck. (From Schlösser and
Tischbein, ‘Denkmäle Lubeck.’) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

It is true that in the hands of a refined and art-loving people like the
inhabitants of the north of Italy, brick architecture may be made to
possess a considerable amount of beauty. Burnt clay may be moulded into
shapes as elegant, and as artistic as can be carved in stone; and the
various colours which it is easy to impart to bricks may be used to form
mosaics of the most beautiful patterns; but to carry out all this with
success requires a genuine love of art, and an energy in the prosecution
of it, which will not easily be satisfied. Without this the facilities
of brick architecture are such that it can be executed by the commonest
workman, and is best done in the least artistic forms. While this is the
case, it requires a very strong feeling for art to induce anyone to
bestow thought where it is not needed, and to interrupt construction to
seek for forms of beauty. In brick architecture, the best walls are
those with the fewest breaks and projections, so that if relief and
shadow are to be obtained, they must be added for their own sake; and
more than this, walls may be built so thin that they must always appear
weak as compared with stone walls, and depth of relief becomes almost

Another defect is, that a brick building almost inevitably suggests a
plaster finishing internally; and every one knows how easy it is to
repeat by casting the same ornaments over and over again, and to apply
such ornaments anywhere and in any way without the least reference to
construction or propriety.

All these temptations may of course be avoided. They were so at Granada
by the Saracens, who loved art for its own sake. They were to a
considerable extent avoided in the valley of the Po, though by a people
far less essentially art-loving than the Moors. But it will easily be
supposed that this taste and perception of beauty exerted less influence
in the valley of the Elbe. There the public buildings were raised as
simply as the necessities of construction would allow, and ornaments
were applied only to the extent absolutely requisite to save them from
absolute plainness. Thus the churches represent in size the wealth and
population of the cities, and were built in the style of Gothic
architecture which prevailed at the time of their erection; but it is in
vain to look in them for any of the beauties of the stone Gothic
buildings of the same period, though the variety which they gave to
their moulded brickwork, and the dexterity with which they treated it,
imparted a character to it which is not without its interest.

[Illustration: 770. Plan of Marien Kirche, Lubeck. Scale 100 ft. to 1

The principal group of churches in the district is found at Lubeck,
which was perhaps, in the Middle Ages, the wealthiest town on the shores
of the Baltic. The largest of these is the Dom Kirche or Cathedral
(Woodcut No. 769), a building 427 ft. long over all. The nave is 120 ft.
wide externally. The vaults of the three aisles spring from the same
height, the central one being 70 ft. high, those of the side-aisles a
little less. This, with the wide spacing of the piers, gives a poor and
bare look to the interior. The choir is better, showing a certain amount
of variety about the chevet; but even this is leaner than in any stone
building, and displays all the poverty so characteristic of the style.

The Marien Kirche is a more favourable specimen of its class, though not
so large. It is of a somewhat earlier age, and is built more in
accordance with the principles of Gothic design. The central aisle is
130 ft. high; the side-aisles only half as much. This allows space for a
very splendid clerestory, which, if filled with stained glass, would
redeem the flatness of the mouldings and the general poverty of the
architecture of the interior.

[Illustration: 771. View of Marien Kirche, Lubeck. (From Schlösser and

The church of St. Catherine is smaller than either of these, though of
about the same age as that last mentioned, and of as good a design. It
possesses the somewhat curious peculiarity of having a double choir one
above the other like that of St. Gereon at Cologne (Woodcut No. 740),
but more complete and extensive than in that example. The whole of the
lower choir is vaulted over, and a second, at a height of 20 ft., forms
an upper choir over its whole extent.

There are several smaller churches in Lubeck, none of which show any
peculiarities not found in the larger. The same faults which
characterise the interior of these churches are also found in the
exterior. The Marien Kirche (Woodcut No. 771) is the best of them in
this respect, but though its outline is good, it is far from being a
pleasing specimen of architecture. Its two western towers are of the
form typical in Lubeck. They are just 400 English ft. in height, and
with these dimensions ought to be imposing objects, but they certainly
are not so, being in fact as bad specimens as could be of Gothic towers.

As usual in Germany, there is no door at the west end of any of these
churches, and the principal entrances are in all cases lateral; one of
those attached to the cathedral is an elaborate and beautiful piece of
stone architecture, but it is the only one apparently that is at all

Some of the rood-screens are covered with carving, and the tabernacles,
or receptacles for the holy elements, are, as in most parts of Germany,
elaborately ornamented. They are nearly of the same age and of the same
style as those at Nuremberg, one of which is represented in Woodcut No.

Dantzic possesses several large churches very similar, both in style and
arrangement, to those of Lubeck. The principal of these is the
cathedral, or Marien Kirche, commenced in its present form in 1343, and
completed in the year 1502. It is 316 ft. long and 105 in width, with a
transept extending to 206 ft. The whole area of the church is about
42,000 sq. ft., so that though not among the largest, it may still be
considered as a first-class church; and, being of a good age, it is as
effective in design as any of the brick churches of the province. It has
one tower at the west end 230 ft. in height.

[Illustration: 772. Tower in the Kœblinger Strasse, Hanover.]

The church of St. Catherine is in part older than the cathedral, having
been founded in 1185, though it was to a great extent rebuilt at a
subsequent period. Its dimensions as it now stands are 210 ft. long, and
120 ft. wide over all. Neither it nor any of the other churches of the
town seem to have any remarkable feature of design or construction
worthy of being alluded to.

Other churches of less importance but of similar style are found in the
Marien Kirche and St. Nicolas at Stralsund; in the Marien Kirche at
Stargard, which has its west front richly ornamented with moulded-brick
tracery; in the churches of Wismar, in the Marien Kirche at Prenzlau,
where the west gable is the most elaborate in North Germany, and in
other churches in Neu-Brandenburg, Anclam, and other towns.

The form of church tower found in Lüneberg, and indeed generally in the
district, is a modification of that at Paderborn (Woodcut No. 706), and
is well exemplified by that in the Kœblinger Strasse at Hanover (Woodcut
No. 772). It is an honest and purpose-like piece of architecture, but
without much pretension to beauty of design.

[Illustration: 773. Church at Frauenburg. (From Quast, ‘Denkmäler der
Baukunst in Ermeland.’)]

Further east in Ermeland, as Eastern Prussia used to be called, there
are many brick buildings, which from their picturesqueness and the
appropriateness of their form half disarm the critic. Among these, for
instance, such a church as that of Frauenburg (Woodcut No. 773), with
its light graceful spires and its brick tracery in its gables, is an
object, if not of grandeur, at least of considerable beauty in itself,
and in this instance is grouped with so many others as to form a more
picturesque combination than is usually to be met with on the shores of
the Baltic. The church itself is 300 ft. long by 80 in width, and has
three aisles in the nave, of equal height but unequal width. Its worst
defect is in the plainness and bulk of the octagonal piers which support
the vault.

The next illustration, of the church at Santoppen (Woodcut No. 774) is
of a type infinitely more common in Ermeland. In Quast’s work[81] are
some dozen churches varying only slightly from this in design, but in
many the western tower is more like a many-storeyed warehouse than a
building designed either for ornament or any church-like use. They all,
however, possess some character and charm from their novelty, being very
unlike anything found elsewhere.

[Illustration: 774. View of Church at Santoppen. (From Quast.)]

The Marien Church at Brandenburg (Woodcut No. 775) exhibits this style
carried to an excess which renders it almost bizarre. The lower part is
unobjectionable, the ornament around the doors and under the windows
being appropriate and well placed; but the windows themselves are too
plain even in this style, and above this the ornament is neither
constructive nor elegant. The building might be either a dwelling or a
civil building, or anything else, as well as a church, and it is
difficult to find on what principle the design is varied or arranged. In
true Art the motive is apparent at a glance, and should always be so.

At Hamburg, fires, and the improvements consequent on modern activity
and prosperity, have nearly obliterated all the more important buildings
which at one time adorned that city.

[Illustration: 775. Façade of Marien Kirche, Brandenburg. (From

At Königsberg, at the opposite extremity of the district, there seems to
be little that is remarkable, except a cathedral, possessing an enormous
façade of brickwork, adorned with blank arches, but without the smallest
pretensions to beauty, either internally or externally.

                            CIVIL BUILDINGS.

[Illustration: 776. Façade of the Knight-hall in the Castle of
Marienburg. (From Rosengarten.)]

The most remarkable among the civil buildings of the province is the
castle at Marienburg, which was for nearly a century and a half the
residence of the masters of the once powerful knights of the Teutonic
order. The Alte Schloss was built in 1276, the middle castle in 1309; so
that it belongs to the best age of Gothic art: and, being half palace,
half castle, ought to possess both dignity and grandeur. It betrays,
however, in every part the faults of brick architecture in this
province, and though curious, is certainly not beautiful. All the
windows are square-headed, though filled with tracery, and the vaultings
of the principal apartments are without grace in themselves, and do not
fit the lines of the openings; even the boldly projecting
machicolations, which in stone architecture give generally such dignity
to castellated buildings, here fail in producing that effect, from the
tenuity of the parts and the weakness of their apparent supports.

The town-hall at Lubeck is imposing from its size, and singular from the
attempt to gain height and grandeur by carrying up the main wall of the
building high above the roof, and where no utilitarian purpose can be
suggested for it. Indeed there are few towns in the province that do not
possess some large civic buildings, but in all instances these are less
artistic than the churches themselves; and, though imposing from their
mass and interesting from their age, they are hardly worthy of notice as
examples of architectural art.

The town of Lüneburg retains not only its public buildings, but its
street architecture, nearly as left from the Middle Ages; and its quaint
gables and strange towers and spires give it a character that is
picturesque and interesting, but cannot be said to be beautiful.

The town-halls of Tangermünde, Rostock, and Stralsund, have façades of
similar style to that of Lubeck. In all these cases as a rule these
façades are mere decorative screens, which, like the churches in Italy,
rise high above the roofs of the main building. The Rathhaus at
Stralsund is surmounted by six lofty gables with large circular openings
in them open to the sky, so that there is no attempt at concealment, the
fact probably being that, proud of their dexterity in the moulding of
the brickwork, and repetition being easy and inexpensive, they were not
content with the small elevation which the height of their buildings
gave them. In this respect the Rathhaus at Hanover is an exception, and
here the decorative features are confined to the gables of the principal
hall and the lofty dormer windows—to deep friezes or bands of
boldly-modelled terra-cotta work—enriched plate tracery in the windows
of the great hall, and (in contrast to the simple brickwork of the two
lower storeys) to elaborate detail in their gables and dormer windows,
which are divided up by vertical buttresses placed anglewise, composed
of five or six semicircular shafts grouped together, and in alternate
bands of yellow and green glazed bricks. The effect of these bright
colours must have been somewhat startling when the buildings were new,
but, in the unrestored portions, their brilliance has been toned down by
time, and their effect is now harmonious and agreeable.

The most interesting series of structures in the Baltic provinces are
the gateways of their towns, which are not only extremely picturesque
objects both in outline and colour, but display great fertility of
invention and variety in form. Among the more important may be noticed
the Holstein Thor and Burg Thor of Lubeck; the two gates at Stendal, and
the four gates of Neu-Brandenburg.

As the examples just enumerated are types of the best buildings which
exist in the province, they are sufficient to characterise the style,
and at the same time to show how much can be done even with the
restriction imposed by the absence of stone. As many of the towns were
populous and wealthy during the Middle Ages, they of course had large
and commodious churches; and although they are wanting in those high
qualities which we find in the French cathedrals, their size and the
excellence of their vaulting render them well worthy of study.

In addition to the buildings above referred to, in many of their towns,
such as Anclam, Lubeck, Dantzic, and others, will be found fine examples
of the pointed style of Hanseatic architecture.

                                BOOK VI.

                               CHAPTER I.



Sweden—Norway—Denmark—Gothland—Round Churches—Wooden Churches.

NO one who has listened to all that was said and written in Germany
before the late war about “Schleswig-Holstein Stamm verwandt,” can very
well doubt that when he passes the Eyder going northward, he will enter
on a new architectural province. He must, however, be singularly
deficient in ethnographical knowledge if he expects to find anything
either original or beautiful in a country inhabited by races of such
purely Aryan stock. If there is any Finnish or Lap blood in the veins of
the Swedes or Danes it must have dried up very early, for no trace of
its effect can be detected in any of their architectural utterances;
unless, indeed, we should ascribe to it that peculiar fondness for
circular forms which is so characteristic of their early churches, and
which may have been derived from the circular mounds and stone circles
which were in use in Sweden till the end of the 10th century. The
country in fact was only converted to Christianity in the reign of Olof
Sköt Konung—1001 to 1026; and then, and for a long time afterwards, was
too poor and too thinly inhabited to require any architectural
buildings, and when these came to be erected the dominant race was one
that never showed any real sympathy for the art in any part of the


The largest and most important monument in the province is the Cathedral
of Upsala, (Woodcut No. 777) measuring 370 ft. by 330 ft., though it can
hardly be quoted as an example of Scandinavian art; for when the Swedes,
in the end of the 13th century (1287), determined on the erection of a
cathedral worthy of their country, they employed a Frenchman of the name
of Étienne Bonnueill, to furnish them with a design, and to superintend
its erection. This he did till his death, though how far the work was
advanced at that time there is now no means of knowing. The church is
only 330 ft. in extreme length by 145 in width, with two western towers,
and the principal portal between them. The whole is of brick, except the
doorways, the gable of north transept, the interior columns, and some
smaller ornamental details. The building was in progress during 200
years,[82] and after Bonnueill’s death the French principles of detail
were departed from; and, in addition to this, the upper parts of western
towers were rebuilt during the last century, and other disfigurements
have taken place, so that the building would hardly be deemed worthy of
a visit farther south, and is only remarkable here from the meanness of
its rivals.

[Illustration: 777. Plan of Upsala Cathedral.]

The church at Linköping (1260-1500) ranks next in importance to that of
Upsala. It has, however no western towers or other ornaments externally,
but otherwise it far surpasses the latter in interest and the beauty of
its details. It is said to have been founded in 1150, and the oldest
portions are the transept and crossing of the choir, where the arches
are semicircular resting on piers with angle shafts and half-cylindrical
columns. Early in the 12th century the nave was continued, the work,
according to Mr. Perry, having spread over a long period, as at the west
end of the nave the work is as late or later than any of the work at
Upsala. The wall arcading in the north and south aisles is bold in
design, nobly moulded and carved. The choir, with its three eastern
chapels, was commenced late in the 13th or early in the 14th century,
but not completed till 1499.

The cathedral at Lund is both older and better than either of these. It
was commenced apparently about the year 1072, and consecrated in 1145 by
Archbishop Eskill, who had presided over its construction, and to whom
may be attributed its purely German character, as he had been brought up
in Hildesheim. The church has been magnificently restored, but
unfortunately at too early a date to have preserved much of its
historical features.

[Illustration: 778. Apse of Lund Cathedral. From a drawing by Mr.
Tavenor Perry.]

The church of St. Nicholas at Orebro is chiefly interesting on account
of its strong resemblance to English work. The fine south porch bears a
strong likeness to the now destroyed porch of St. Mary Overie, published
in Mr. Dollman’s work,[83] and is not dissimilar to the porch of the
north transept of Westminster Abbey.

There are other churches in Sweden, at Westeräs, Stregnäs, and Abo in
Finland, all large[84]—viz., about 300 ft. east and west by 100 to 120
in width,—and founded in the 12th and 13th centuries; but, like the nave
at Lund, they have been altered and improved so frequently during the
last 600 years, that very little remains of the original design:
whatever that may have been, in their present state they are hardly
worthy of mention.

Perhaps the most pleasing objects in Sweden are the country churches,
with their tall wooden spires and detached belfries. If these do not
possess much architectural beauty, they at all events are real
purposelike erections, expressing what they are intended for in the
simplest manner, and with their accompaniments always making up a
pleasing group.

[Illustration: 779. Old Country Church and Belfry. (From Marryat, ‘One
Year in Sweden.’)]


The Norwegians are more fortunate than either the Danes or Swedes in
possessing at Trondhjem a national cathedral of great beauty and
interest, even in its present ruined state.

Its history is easily made out from a comparison of local traditions
with the style of the building itself. Between the years 1016 and 1030
St. Olaf built a church on the spot where now stands St. Clement’s
church, the detached building on the north, shown in plan at A (Woodcut
No. 780). He was buried a little to the south of his own church, where
the high altar of the cathedral is now situated. Between the years 1036
and 1047, Magnus the Good raised a small wooden chapel over St. Olaf’s
grave; and soon afterwards Harald Haardraade built a stone church,
dedicated to Our Lady, immediately to the westward of this, at B. This
group of three churches stood in this state during the troubled period
that ensued. With the return of peace in 1160, Archbishop Eysteen
commenced the great transept C C to the westward of the Lady Chapel, and
probably completed it about the year 1183. At that time either he or his
successor rebuilt the church of St. Clement as we now find it. During
the next sixty or seventy years the whole of the eastern part of the
cathedral was rebuilt, the tomb-house or shrine being joined on to the
apse of the Lady Church, as was explained in speaking of the origin of
the French chevet (p. 73). In 1248 Archbishop Sigurd commenced the nave,
but whether it was ever completed or not is by no means certain. In 1328
the church was damaged by fire, and it must have been after this
accident that the internal range of columns in the circular part was
rebuilt in the style of our earlier Edwards.

Thus completed, the church was one of the largest in Scandinavia, being
350 ft. long internally; the choir 64, and the nave 84 ft. wide. But its
great merit lies more in its details than in its dimensions. Nothing can
exceed the richness with which the billet-moulding is used in the great
transept. Its employment here is so vigorous and so artistic, that it
might almost be suspected that this was its native place, and that it
was derived from some wooden architecture usual in this country before
being translated into stone.

The greatest glory of the place is the tomb-house at the east end.
Externally this presents a bold style of architecture resembling the
early English.[85] Internally it is a dome 30 ft. in diameter, supported
on a range of columns disposed octagonally, and all the details
correspond with those of the best period of decorated architecture.

[Illustration: 780. Plan of Cathedral of Trondhjem. Scale 100 ft. to 1

As will be observed from the plan (Woodcut No. 780), the architect had
considerable difficulty with all these rebuildings to bring the old and
new parts to fit well together, and in consequence the walls are seldom
straight or parallel with one another, and, what is most unusual, the
choir expands towards the east. This is not, however, carried to such an
extent as to be a blemish, and with a double range of columns down the
centre would hardly be perceived, or if perceived, the effect would be
rather pleasing than otherwise.

Had the western front been completed, it would have been one of the most
beautiful anywhere to be found, not only from its extent (120 ft.), but
also from the richness and beauty of its details, belonging to the very
best period of art—about the year 1300. In design and detail it
resembles very much the beautiful façade of Wells Cathedral. Like the
rest of the cathedral, it is now in a very ruinous state, and, as will
be seen by the view (Woodcut No. 781), the whole is so deformed
externally by modern additions, that its original effect can only be
judged of by a careful examination of its details.

[Illustration: 781. View of Cathedral of Trondhjem.[86]]


The most interesting church in Denmark is that at Roeskilde, in Jutland,
which is now the burial-place of the kings, and the principal cathedral
of the country. The original church was founded in the year 1081, and
was then apparently circular, and of the same dimensions as the east end
of the present edifice. This latter was commenced after the middle of
the 12th century, and does not seem to have been completed as we now see
it till towards the end of the 13th. The east end is probably one-half
of the old round church rebuilt, the required enlargement of space
having been obtained by a considerable extension of length towards the

[Illustration: 782. Elevation of Domkirche Roeskilde. (From Steen
Friis.) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 783. Plan of Church at Roeskilde. (From Steen Friis.)
Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 784. Frue Kirche, Aarhuus. (From Marryat’s ‘Jutland and
the Danish Isles.’)]

Its general dimensions, as shown in the plan (Woodcut No. 783), are 265
ft. long by 75 in breadth internally. The whole area is only about
24,000 sq. ft., and consequently not more than half that of most English

From the elevation (Woodcut No. 784), it appears simple and elegant in
its design, and contains the germ of much that is found afterwards in
the churches of the neighbourhood, especially in the range of small
gables along the side of the aisles, marking externally each bay of the
nave.[87] This arrangement is almost universal in the North of Germany,
but seldom, if ever, found in France or England.

[Illustration: 785. Church of Kallundborg. (From Marryat’s ‘Jutland and
the Danish Isles.’)]

At Aarus is a somewhat similar church, commenced about the year 1200,
but rather larger, being 300 ft. in length by 80 in breadth. In its
present state, however, it is only a very ugly and uninteresting brick
building in an indifferent state of repair.[88] The Frue Kirke, in the
same town, is a far more pleasing specimen of art, and is a fine example
of the style prevalent on the southern shores of the Baltic, from which
province the design is evidently borrowed. Like every specimen of honest
art, it is pleasing; but neither its form nor arrangement will bear any
very close analysis.

The cathedral at Ribe, on the northern limits of Schleswig, with an apse
something like that of Lund Cathedral, but of slightly more modern date,
and wanting the gallery under the roof, and the Cathedral of Viborg,
rebuilt between 1130 and 1170, and said to be one of the finest
specimens of Continental Norman, also deserve mention.

Sometimes, we get a touch of originality even in this province, as in
the church of Kallundborg (Woodcut No. 785), built in the form of a
cross, with one square tower in the centre, and four octagonal towers,
one at the end of each of the arms of the cross transept. Was it a
caprice? or is it borrowed from any other form? Except in the Kremlin at
Moscow, I do not know where to look for any such type, and even then the
likeness is very remote. A larger octagon in the centre, with four
square towers around it, must have been a happier arrangement, and, if
properly subordinated, have formed a picturesque group. In this example
the church itself is lost sight of, and the towers are not remarkable
for beauty.


The island of Gothland, though politically attached to Sweden, deserves
to be treated as a little province of its own in an architectural view,
inasmuch as it possesses a group of churches within its limits as
interesting as any in the North of Europe; and peculiar, if not
exceptional in design. Their existence is owing to the fact, that during
the 11th and 12th centuries a great portion of the Eastern trade which
had previously been carried on through Egypt or Constantinople was
diverted to a northern line of communication, owing principally to the
disturbed state of the East, which preceded and in fact gave rise to the
Crusades. At this time a very considerable trade passed through Russia,
and centred in Novogorod. From that place it passed down the Baltic to
Gothland, which was chosen apparently for the security of its island
position, and its capital, Wisby, one of the Hanse towns, became the
great emporium of the West. After two centuries of prosperity, it was
gradually superseded by the rise of other Hanseatic towns on the
mainland, and a final blow was struck by Valdemar of Denmark, who took
the town by storm in 1361. Since then it has gradually become
depopulated. The consequence has been that, no additional accommodation
being required, the old churches have remained unaltered; many also have
entirely disappeared, the materials having been used for other buildings
and for converting into lime; so that in Wisby, the capital, only eleven
remain of the eighteen or twenty churches she formerly possessed, and
the only reminiscence of the locality of those destroyed consists in the
streets and houses to which they have bequeathed their names.

[Illustration: 786. Helge-Anders Church. (From a drawing by Mr. Axel

[Illustration: 787. Interior of Church at Gothem. (From R. I. B. A.

The cathedral church of St. Mary was originally founded about the year
1100, burnt down in 1175, and rebuilt as we now find it about 1225. Like
all the others it is small, being only 171 ft. 6 in. long by 99 ft. in
width. It is the only church now used for divine service, the remainder
being in ruins.

One of the most remarkable churches in Wisby is that of the Helge-Anders
(church of the Holy Ghost), founded originally, it is said, in 1046.[89]
This, however, must refer to an earlier church, for the actual
building[90] belongs to the transitional period both in its construction
and in its details; it cannot, therefore, according to Mr. Haig, “have
been erected earlier than at the beginning of the 13th century,” and
this may apply only to the chancel, the north wall of which seems to
indicate an earlier date than the rest of the building—in all
probability about 1250 would be the date of the church, generally
speaking. The nave is an octagon of about 48 by 45 ft., somewhat
irregular in its setting out and owing to want of space was built in two
storeys, both of which are vaulted, the vaults being carried by four
octagonal piers on ground floor and circular piers on second floor in
the vault of the lower storey there is an opening in the centre about 7
ft. in diameter, which is said to have been formerly filled with an iron
grating. The chancel (which is square externally and internally, having
a small apse and two small vestries) opens into both lower and upper
church by semicircular arches, and thus serves for both. There was a
third storey in the roof with stone gables on the east face of the
octagon; the roof is gone, but it may have terminated as that of the
church of Kallundborg (Woodcut No. 785).

[Illustration: 788. Folö Church, Gothland. (From Marryat’s ‘One Year in

The church most like this in Germany is perhaps that at Schwartz
Rheindorf (Woodcuts Nos. 718 and 719). It also resembles the chapel at
Landsberg (Woodcut No. 720); but the most extended and indeed the
typical example of a church of this class is St. Gereon’s at Cologne
(Woodcuts Nos. 740 and 741).

The churches of St. Lars and St. Drotheus, the so-called sister churches
(probably from the resemblance of their plans), belong probably to the
11th century, but the pointed work in them is evidently of a later
period. About the same date, 1097, is given for St. Nicholas, the church
of a Dominican convent, but the whole has been remodelled at a later
period, the main arches of the nave rebuilt, and probably the whole
church revaulted in the 13th century, at which period also the octagonal
chancel was built.

[Illustration: 789. Portal, Sandeo Church, Gothland. (From Marryat’s
‘One Year in Sweden.’)]

The church of St. Katharine, belonging to the Franciscans or Grey
Friars, was also wholly remodelled in the pointed period. It is said to
have been founded in 1225. The choir, with its polygonal apse, was built
in 1376-1391, and the piers and arches of the nave were rebuilt about
the year 1400, the church being reconsecrated in 1412.

One peculiarity found in some of the churches of Gothland is the
bisection of the nave by two or more arcades carried on columns and
placed in the centre of the church, the easternmost arch being supported
by a corbel built in above the keystone of the chancel arch.[91] One of
these churches, St. Göran, or St. George, outside the walls of Wisby,
consists of a nave of three bays divided by a central arcade (the
western pier being square, the eastern circular), and a chancel of two
square bays. A second example is found at Gothem, about twenty miles
east of Wisby. Here the eastern portion of the nave, only consisting of
two bays, is bisected; the western portion was probably intended to
carry a tower, the walls being much thicker than the rest of the church.
The arches thrown across the western part of the nave under the tower
are semicircular and carried on twin columns; the column in the centre
of the nave is circular, much loftier than the twin columns, and carries
pointed arches (Woodcut No. 787). The great height of these arches
allows of their being carried on a corbel above the chancel arch instead
of its forming, as at Folö, the keystone of the chancel arch. In this
latter church the nave is also divided by three arches carried on
circular columns which diminish in diameter as they rise, but not to the
extent as shown in Marryat’s work[92] (Woodcut No. 788). A fourth
example is given in Major Heales’ work,[93] in which the arched ribs of
the vault are carried on a clustered capital carved with foliage of
early English type, the pier or column being circular.

[Illustration: 790. Portal, Hoäte Church, Gothland. (From Marryat’s ‘One
Year in Sweden.’)]

The portals of the churches at Sandeo (Woodcut No. 789) and Hoäte
(Woodcut No. 790), dating probably from the middle of the 14th century,
and two other examples at Stänga and Garde (about 30 miles from Wisby),
are interesting on account of the singular blind cuspings round the
inner order, a treatment which seems peculiar to the Gothland style.
They are singularly elegant specimens of the art, and worthy of being
quoted if for that reason alone.

Another peculiarity seems to be that the Gothland churches are all small
buildings, like the Greek churches. There does not appear to have been
any metropolitan basilica, or any great conventual establishment, but an
immense number of detached cells and chapels scattered in groups all
over the island, with very few that could contain a congregation of any

                            ROUND CHURCHES.

[Illustration: 791. Round Church, Thorsager. (From Marryat’s ‘Jutland
and the Danish Isles.’)]

To the archæologist the Round Churches form the most interesting group
in the Scandinavian province, though to the architect they can hardly be
deemed of much importance. They are, however, so remarkable that many
theories have been formed to account for their peculiarities. The most
general opinion seems to be that the circular form was adopted for
defensive purposes; and this seems to be borne out by the description
given in Major Heales’ work, who, referring to the four examples in
Bornholm (which are of the same type as others in the Scandinavian
provinces), states, pp. 26 and 29: “Each consists of a circular nave, a
chancel, and an apse.” The dimensions are always moderate; the internal
diameter of the naves being, Olska, 34 ft. 2 ins., Nyska, 35 ft. 4 ins.,
Nylarska, 38 ft. 2 ins., and Oester Larsker, 42 ft. 3 ins. (Woodcut No.
793) “In two cases even the chancel wall are convex in plan, so that
their ground plan is formed without a single straight line.” The nave is
covered with a vault carried on a central pier (except in the case of
the Oester Larsker, where there are six piers, the space in the centre
being open to an upper storey). The second storey is similarly vaulted,
and the central pier rises to carry the roof timbers of the third or
upper storey. “The walls of the nave vary in thickness from 5 to 6 ft.”—
“beyond a small doorway and a few loopholes measurable by inches there
are no external openings except in the upper storey, which consists of a
gallery formed in the thickness of the wall and lighted by loopholes
arranged not to correspond with the openings by which the gallery is
entered from the central chamber.” The approach to this upper chamber as
well as to that of the first floor is by narrow, steep, and crooked
staircases in the thickness of the wall, which could be easily defended,
at all events for a time, the assumption being that the church might be
attacked by freebooters coming by sea whose onslaught would not be of
long duration.

[Illustration: 792. Section and Ground-plan of Round Church, Thorsager.
(From Marryat’s ‘Jutland and the Danish Isles.’)]

The circular form of church would seem to have been much more common in
Northern Europe in the early centuries of the Christian faith than
afterwards. In the richer and more populous South they were superseded,
as has above been pointed out, by basilicas of more extended dimensions,
into which they were frequently absorbed. In the poorer North they have
sufficed for the scant population and remained unchanged.

[Illustration: 793. Round Church of Oester Larsker, Bornholm. (From
Marryat’s ‘Jutland and the Danish Isles.’)]

Mr. Marryat enumerates eight examples in Denmark,[94] and there are at
least as many, if not more, in Sweden. All are of Teutonic type—naves
with small apses—as contradistinguished from the French or Celtic form,
where the circular part became the choir to which the nave was added

[Illustration: 794. View and Plan of Hagby Church, Sweden. (From
Marryat’s ‘One Year in Sweden.’)]

That at Thorsager, in Jutland, though not one of the oldest, may be
taken as a type of its class, and its arrangement and appearance will be
understood from the preceding view, section, and plan (Woodcuts Nos. 791
and 792). The building is not large; the diameter of the circle
internally being only 40 ft., and the floor encumbered by four great
pillars; the total length over all is 90 ft. Originally it seems to have
been intended as a two-storey church, the vault being omitted over the
central compartment, as was the case in the Helge-Anders Church at Wisby
(Woodcut No. 786). The whole design is certainly pleasing and
picturesque, though there is a little awkwardness in the way the various
parts are fitted together.

The round Church at Oester Larsker, in Bornholm (Woodcut No. 793), is of
exactly the same type as that at Thorsager, but older, and having more
the appearance of being fortified than the other; there being a range of
small openings immediately under the roof.

In Sweden there are some examples of round churches, the most typical
being that at Hagby (Woodcut No. 794); though it is not so picturesque
as the two last quoted, it differs in reality very little from them,
showing a permanence and consistency of type throughout the whole
province where they are found.

[Illustration: 795. Läderbro Church and Wapenhus, Gothland. (From
Marryat’s ‘One Year in Sweden.’)]

So great a favourite was this circular or octagonal form of nave,
however, that it clung to the soil long after its meaning was lost, and
we find it stretched into a tall octagonal spire in Läderbro Church, but
still serving as a nave to a small choir, the foundation of which is
said to date as far back as 1086. The octagon as we now see it certainly
belongs to the 13th or 14th century. Something of the same feeling may
have led to the peculiar arrangement of Kallundborg Church (Woodcut No.
785). There four octagonal naves lead to as many choirs joined together
in the centre. If we had more knowledge, perhaps we could trace the
affiliation of all these forms, and complete a little genealogy of the

                            WOODEN CHURCHES.

Curious as these circular edifices certainly are, there is a group of
wooden churches still existing in Norway which are as peculiar to the
province and as interesting to the antiquary at least, if not to the
architect, as anything found within its limits. They are not large, and,
as might be expected from the nature of the materials with which they
are constructed, they are fast disappearing, and in a few years not many
probably will remain; but if we may judge from such accounts as we have,
they were at one time numerous, and indeed appear to have been the usual
and common form of church in that country. Everywhere we read of the
wooden churches of Saxon and Norman times in our country, and of the
contemporary periods on the Continent; but these have almost all been
either destroyed by fire or pulled down to make way for more solid and
durable erections. That at Little Greenstead in Essex is almost the only
specimen now remaining in this country.

The largest of those now to be found in Norway is that of Hitterdal. It
is 84 ft. long by 57 across. Its plan is that usual in churches of the
age, except that it has a gallery all round on the outside. Its external
appearance (Woodcut No. 797) is very remarkable, and very unlike
anything of stone architecture. It is more like a Chinese pagoda, or
some strange creation of the South Sea islanders, than the sober
production of the same people who built the bold and massive round
Gothic edifices of the same age.

Another of these churches, that at Burgund, is smaller, but even more
fantastic in its design, and with strange carved pinnacles at its
angles, which give it a very Chinese aspect.

[Illustration: 796. Plan of Church at Hitterdal.]

That at Urnes is both more sober and better than either of these, but
much smaller, being only 24 ft. wide by 65 ft. from east to west. As may
be seen from the view (Woodcut No. 798), it still retains a good deal of
the Runic carving that once probably adorned all the panels of the
exterior, as well as the various parts of the roof. As these decayed
they seem to have been replaced by plain timbers, which of course
detract very much from the original appearance.

All the doorways and principal openings are carved with the same
elaborate ornaments, representing entwined dragons fighting and biting
each other, intermixed occasionally with foliage and figures.

This style of carving is found on crosses and tombstones, not only in
Scandinavia, but in Scotland and Ireland. It is only known to exist in
its original form on wood in these singular churches.

[Illustration: 797. View of Church at Hitterdal. (From Dahl’s ‘Holtz
Baukunst in Norwegen.’)]

There can be no doubt about the age of these curious edifices, for not
only does this dragon-tracery fix them to the 11th or 12th century, but
the capitals of the pillars and general character of the mouldings
exactly correspond with the details of our own Norman architecture, so
far as the difference of materials permits.

With the circular churches, and those at Wisby, these wooden churches
certainly add a curious and interesting chapter to the history of
Christian architecture at the early period to which they belong, and are
well deserving more attention than they have received.

When our knowledge of the examples is more complete, we may perhaps be
able to trace some curious analogies from even so frail a style of
architecture as that of wood. Something very like these Norwegian
churches is found in various parts of Russia. The mosques and other
buildings erected in Cashmere and Thibet of the Deodar pinewood are
curiously like them. The same forms are found in China and Burmah, and
much of the stone architecture of these countries is derived directly
from such a wooden architecture as this. It may perhaps only be, that
wherever men of cognate race strive to attain a given well-defined
object with the same materials, they arrive inevitably at similar
results. If this should prove to be the case, such a uniformity of
style, arising without intercommunication among people so differently
situated, would be quite as curious and instructive as if we could trace
the steps by which the invention was carried from land to land, and
could show that the similarity was produced by one nation adopting it
from another, which all research has hitherto tended to prove was in
reality the case.

[Illustration: 798. Church of Urnes, Norway.]

                               BOOK VII.

                               CHAPTER I.



IT is perhaps not too much to assert that during the Middle Ages
Architecture was practised in England with even greater success than
among any of the contemporary nations. In beauty of detail and elegance
of proportion the English cathedrals generally surpass their Continental
rivals. It is only in dimensions and mechanical construction that they
are sometimes inferior. So lovingly did the people of this country
adhere to the Art, that the Gothic forms clung to the soil long after
they had been superseded on the Continent by the classical Renaissance;
and the English returned to their old love long before other nations had
got over their contempt for the rude barbarism of their ancestors. It is
now more than a century since Horace Walpole conceived the idea of
reproducing the beauties of York Minster and Westminster Abbey in a lath
and plaster villa at Strawberry Hill. The attempt, as we now know, was
ridiculous enough; but the result on the Arts of the country most
important. From that day to this, Gothic villas, Gothic lodges, and
Gothic churches have been the fashion—at first timidly, and wonderfully
misunderstood, but now the rage, and with an almost perfect power of
imitation. The result of this revived feeling for Mediæval art which
interests us most in this place is, that every Gothic building in the
country has been carefully examined and its peculiarities noticed. All
the more important examples have been drawn and published, their dates
and histories ascertained as far as possible, and the whole subject
rendered complete and intelligible. The only difficulty that remains is,
that the works in which the illustrations of English art are contained
range over 70 or 80 years—the early ones published before the subject
was properly understood; and that they are in all shapes and sizes, from
the most ponderous folios to the most diminutive of duodecimos. Their
number too is legion, and they therefore often go over the same ground.
The one book that now seems wanted to complete the series of
publications on the subject, is a clear and concise, but complete
narrative of the rise and progress of the style, with just a sufficient
amount of illustration to render it intelligible. Two volumes in 8vo, of
500 pages each, might suffice for the distillation of all that is
contained in the 1001 volumes above alluded to: and with 1000
illustrations, if well selected, the forms and peculiarities of the
style might be rendered sufficiently clear. But less would certainly not

Under these circumstances, it will be easily understood that nothing of
the sort can be attempted in this work. With only one-tenth of the
requisite space available, and less than that proportion of
illustration, all that can be proposed is to sketch the great leading
features of the subject, to estimate the value of the practice of the
English architects as compared with those on the Continent, and to point
out the differences which arose between their methods and ours, in
consequence of either the local or social peculiarities of the various

This compression is hardly to be regretted in the present instance,
since any one may with very little trouble master the main features of
the history in some of the many popular works which have been published
on the subject, and all have access to the buildings themselves. It need
hardly be added, that these are far better and truer exponents of the
feelings and aspirations of those who erected them than all the books
that ever were written. Unless a man learns to read the lessons these
stone books so vividly convey, by an earnest personal investigation of
the monuments themselves, of one style at least, he will hardly ever be
able to understand the subject; but for the purpose of such a study, the
English Mediæval architecture is perhaps the most complete and perfect.
Nowhere else can all the gradations of change be so easily traced; and
in no other style was there so little interference from extraneous
causes. Throughout, the English sought only to erect the building then
most suitable to its destination, with the best materials available for
the purpose; and the result is therefore generally more satisfactory and
more harmonious than in other countries where the architects were more
trammelled by precedents, or more influenced by local peculiarities.


                           Years’        Name
                          duration.    of style.

 Departure of     }   400  }     {
 Romans           }        }     {
                           }     {
 Arthur           { 480 to } 300 { Megalithic.—Stone
                  {   542  }     {   Rude Monuments.
 To establishment }        }     {
 of Heptarchy     }   700  }     {

 To Conquest                 366 { Early round-arched,
                                 {   or Saxon Style.

 William I.           1066 }     {
 William II.          1087 }     {
 Henry I.             1100 } 109 { Round-arched style,
 Stephen              1135 }     {   Norman.
 Henry II.            1154 }     {

 Henry II.            1175 }     {
 Richard I.           1189 } 97  { Early pointed Lancet,
 John                 1199 }     {   or Plantagenet style.
 Henry III.           1216 }     {

 Edward I.            1272 }     { Perfected pointed
 Edward II.           1307 } 105 {   Decorated, or
 Edward III.          1326 }     {   Edwardian style.
 Richard II.          1377 }     {

 Henry IV.            1329 }     {
 Henry V.             1412 } 156 {
 Henry VI.            1422 }     { Late pointed Perpendicular,
 Edward IV.           1460 }     {   or Lancastrian style.
 Edward V.            1483 }     {
 Richard III.         1483 }     {

 Henry VII.           1485 }     {
 Henry VIII.          1509 }     { Fan-vaulted Transitional,
 Edward VI.           1546 } 117 {   or Tudor
 Mary                 1553 }     {   style.
 Elizabeth            1557 }     {
 To                   1602 }     {

After the departure of the Romans, the various tribes that inhabited the
island were left so feebly organised, and so unequally balanced, that
they could find no better occupation for their time than that of cutting
each other’s throats; in which they were afterwards so ably seconded by
the Saxons and Danes, that it is in vain to look for any development of
the arts of peace among them. They were equal to the erection of a
Stonehenge or an Avebury in honour of those who fell in the struggles
against their foreign invaders; but beyond this their architectural
aspirations do not seem to have reached.

With the establishment of the Heptarchy, and more especially after
Alfred’s glorious reign, we might expect something better. The country
was then converted to Christianity. Churches were wanted; and there were
Italian priests to be found who could tell the inhabitants what was
being done at Rome and elsewhere on the Continent. But against this we
have the knowledge that the dominant race was Saxon or Danish—Aryan _pur
sang_—and art had consequently no place in their affections. Their
churches were probably small and rude, just sufficient for their
purposes, and no more; and designed, like railway stations, to last only
till necessity compel an enlargement. Most probably, too, the greater
number were built of wood; and for the true Saxon style we ought perhaps
to look to the Norwegian wooden churches—described in the last book—as
types of the style, rather than to the towers erected, probably, as
additions to the original wooden churches. Of these towers, many still
remain in our island; but in almost every case the wooden nave has been
superseded by one of stone and generally in the pointed-arch style of

With the Norman Conquest a new state of things was inaugurated. Great
tracts of country and great part of the wealth of the conquered races
escheated to the Conqueror, and in the division of the spoil the clergy
seem in some cases to have been even more fortunate than the laity. But
however this may have been, it will be easily understood that a French
hierarchy vowed to celibacy would be able to find no better way of
employing their easily acquired wealth than in the display of
architectural magnificence. During the century which succeeded the
Conquest, the Saxon cathedrals, with scarcely an exception, were swept
away to make room for nobler buildings designed by foreign architects,
and all the larger abbey churches were likewise rebuilt. All this was
done with such grandeur of conception, and so just an appreciation of
the true principles of architectural effect, that even now the Norman
nave, in spite of its rudeness, is frequently a more impressive specimen
of art than the more polished productions of the succeeding centuries.

The impulse once so nobly given, the good work proceeded steadily but
rapidly. During the three centuries which succeeded the Conquest, all
the artistic intellect of the nation seems to have been concentrated on
this one art. Poetry hardly existed, and Painting and Sculpture were
only employed as the handmaids of architecture. But year by year new and
improved forms of construction were invented and universally adopted.
New mouldings, and new applications of carvings and foliage, were
introduced; and painting on opaque substances and even on glass was
carried to an astonishing degree of perfection. All this was done
without borrowing and without extraneous aid, but by steadily
progressing to a well-understood object with a definite aim. It is true
that occasionally, as at Westminster Abbey, we detect the influence of
French arrangements; but even there the design is carried on in so
essentially English a manner, with details so purely English, as to make
us feel even more strongly how essentially native the style had become.

The Ethnic combination, which led to the marvellous perfection of Gothic
art during the Edwardian period, was as fortunate as can well be
conceived. It was a Celtic hierarchy and aristocracy steadied by a Saxon
people; with the substratum of an earlier Celtic race, held in absolute
subjection by the Saxons, but rising again, at least partially, to the
surface, under the Norman domination. It was something like what
happened in Athens when a Dorian race was superimposed on one of
Pelasgic origin; and, although the conditions were here reversed, and
the field far more limited, the result was still most successful. Within
the limits of a century, the French had jumped from the tentative
example of St. Denis (1144) to the perfection of the Sainte Chapelle
(1244). Our St. Stephen’s Chapel was not finished till a century
afterwards; but while the French hardly ever went beyond their great
13th century effort, in the 16th century we were building the Royal
Chapels at Windsor, Westminster, and Cambridge.

The French wars and the wars of the Roses seem to have altered the
original state of affairs to a very considerable extent. The Norman
nobility were decimated—almost, indeed destroyed—and another stratum of
society came gradually to the surface, but this time certainly not
Celtic. On the walls of the churches of the Lancastrian period we read—
faintly, it must be confessed—the great Saxon motto, “The greatest
possible amount of accommodation at the least possible expenditure of
money and thought.” During this period, too, the cathedral and
conventual hierarchies were yielding before the development of the
parochial system. It may be wrong to assert that the Reformation began
as early as 1400, but it is true that the seeds were then sown, which
afterwards ripened into the explosion of the Commonwealth. Some very
grand churches were no doubt erected during the Lancastrian period, and
some beautiful additions made to existing edifices; but they were hard
and mechanical as compared with that which preceded them. They were the
work of accomplished masons, not wrought out with the feelings of
educated gentlemen; and, though we may admire, we cannot quite adore
even the best and noblest productions of their age.

Under the Tudors the style went out in a blaze of glory. Nothing can be
more gorgeous and fascinating than the three Royal Chapels, and the
other contemporary fan-roofed buildings; but they are like the fabled
dying hues of the dolphin—bright and brilliant, but unnatural and
fleeting. It was the last spasmodic effort of an expiring style, and
soon passed away.

After the reformation was complete there was no longer any want of new
churches, and the great incentive of making a house worthy of the
service of God was taken away; so that during Elizabeth’s reign,
architecture was almost wholly occupied in providing new and more
extensive mansions for the nobility and landed gentry. Spacious rooms,
well-lighted galleries, comfortable chambers, and good accommodation for
servants were the demands of the time, with sufficient stateliness, but
at the least possible outlay. Comfort and economy are the inherent
antitheses of architectural effect; and then, as now, brought the art
down from its exalted pedestal almost to the level of a mere useful art.
But the Bodleian Library and other buildings in our Universities show
that the art lingered even in the 17th century, and that men still
looked upon mullions and pinnacles as objects on which a little money
might be advantageously spent. But it was no longer the old art: of
course there are exceptions, but that was struck down on the battlefield
of Towton in 1461, only to be partially galvanised into life at
Bosworth, twenty-four years afterwards.

Although Gothic architecture continued to be employed in the
Universities and in remote corners of the land long after it had ceased
to be practised abroad, it must not therefore be assumed that the people
of England generally regarded it with admiration. To them it was the
symbol of a superstition from whose influence they gloried in escaping,
or the emblem of a feudal tyranny from which they were just emerging
into partial freedom. During Elizabeth’s reign the struggle was hardly
over; the wounds of the combatants were still fresh and bleeding, the
anger of the contest had by no means subsided, and they looked with hate
and abhorrence on whatever recalled the stern realities of the past. We
can now afford to look on the Middle Ages with far different feelings;
our wounds have long since been healed, and hardly a scar remains. Time
has thrown its veil of poetry over what was then a mere prosaic matter
of fact, hiding those features which were once so repulsive, and
softening much which even now it is impossible to forget. They shrunk
from what they felt as a reality; we cherish it because it has faded
into a dream.

Bearing in mind the prevalence of these feelings, we should not be
surprised that so soon as classical art was presented to them the people
rushed to it with avidity. The world was then ringing with praise of the
newly disseminated poetry of Virgil, the eloquence of Cicero, and the
glorious narratives of Livy. A new light was dawning, and the cry arose
on all sides, “Away with the Middle Ages, with their superstition and
their tyranny. Roman greatness, Roman literature, and Roman art are to
regenerate the world!” We are now convinced that the Classical
Renaissance was not successful; but is it quite clear that a Mediæval
revival will not prove even a greater and more disastrous mistake?

Be this as it may, in the whole range of artistic history it would be
difficult to find any single monograph that might be made so complete in
itself, or all the details of which are so well known, as that of
Mediæval art in England. We know its birth and parentage; we can follow
it through youth to the bloom of manhood. We can admire it in the staid
maturity of its power, and in the expiring efforts of its failing
strength; and we know the cause of its decay and death. To those who are
able to grasp it, no story can be more interesting; while to those who
desire to understand what architecture really is, how it can be
cultivated so as to insure success, and by what agencies it is sure to
decay and finally to die, no subject is capable of being more
instructively treated.

                              CHAPTER II.

                          SAXON ARCHITECTURE.

SO few and indistinct are the traces of architectural art in England
before the Norman Conquest, that for a long time it was a moot point
among antiquaries whether or not any such thing existed as true Saxon
architecture. The question may now be considered as settled in the
affirmative. In his last edition, Rickman enumerates twenty churches in
which fragments are found which certainly belong to the pre-Norman
period, though no complete example can be pointed to as illustrating the
style then prevalent. Since Rickman’s death ten to fifteen more
specimens have been discovered. Generally they are towers or crypts, as
St. Winifred’s at Ripon, or the pillars of a chancel-arch, as at
Reculver. Sometimes it is a doorway, at others only a piece of rude
walling. On a review of the whole, it is evident that architecture in
England was certainly ruder and less developed than that on the
Continent at the same age; both were, of course, based on the Roman art
which preceded them; but, owing probably to our insular position, the
attempted reproduction of Roman work was of so barbaric a character as
to have suggested at first a wooden origin for some of the features. Mr.
G.G. Scott, however, in his essay on the history of ‘English Church
Architecture’ (1871), says: “What we term Saxon architecture is in
reality but an English version of the contemporary art of Italy with
which the Roman missionaries and their successors were well acquainted,
and which they endeavoured with imperfect success to naturalize here.”
On this subject Mr. Scott says, p. 42: “There is no feature more
characteristic of Saxon architecture than the use of rude pilaster
strips. The imitation of the mode of bonding of such pilasters, in the
construction of groins, and in the jambs of doorways and other openings,
constitutes what is known as ‘long and short work.’ This has sometimes
been supposed to be a tradition of wooden construction. It is certainly
nothing of the kind. It represents simply the manner in which a classic
pilaster is ordinarily constructed as distinguished from the mediæval
method of forming a quoin.” It should be observed also that the method
of placing upright posts of timber at intervals for the sake of economy
in filling in between, with brick-nogging or forming plaster surfaces or
battens, is a much later type of construction; the earliest timber
church in existence (and it is doubtful if that was built before Norman
times), viz., Greensted Church, Essex, is constructed of huge balks of
timber placed side by side, and is entirely unlike the disposition of
the upright bands of stone found in Saxon work. Triangular heads to
doorways and windows are found in St. Jean of Poitiers, in St. Front at
Périgueux, and elsewhere in France, “where the scientific mode of the
construction and the perfection of the details, forbid us to attribute
it to the habit of building in wood.” The baluster shafts also, Mr.
Scott suggests, were copied from Roman balusters. The projecting
hood-mould over doorway and window openings, which is not an independent
ring of masonry as in Norman and Gothic work, is copied from the outer
moulding of the Roman archivolt. In fact, as Mr. Scott observes, p. 43:
“Our ruder Saxon churches exhibit, in however crude a form, the
principles of a style distinctly arcuated—a style, that is, of which the
typical forms are determined by scientific masonry. However rude and
even barbarous in execution they may be, they are not rightly termed
even debased Roman.” “They exhibit a purely arcuated style, true in its
science, however imperfect in its art.”

[Illustration: 799. Tower of Earl’s Barton Church. (From Britton’s
‘Architectural Antiquities.’)]

[Illustration: 800. Windows, Earl’s Barton. (From Britton.)]

[Illustration: 801. Saxon Doorway at Monkwearmouth. (From a

Although interesting to English antiquaries, the specimens of Saxon art
are so insignificant as hardly to deserve much notice in a universal
history of the art, and one or two examples will suffice to explain the
peculiarities of the style. The tower of Earl’s Barton in
Northamptonshire contains in itself more undoubted Saxon characteristics
than any other specimen yet described: its angles, as shown in Woodcut
No. 799, are constructed with that peculiar form of quoin known as “long
and short,” while its faces are ornamented by long pilaster-like slips
connected by semicircular arches or more frequently by straight-lined
cross-bracing which might be regarded as wooden in its character were it
not for the through bond stones which mark their junction. The windows
(Woodcut No. 800) are formed by gouty balusters, looking very much as if
they were turned in a lathe, and the whole arrangements bear out that
character. Even more characteristic of the style than this, is the
doorway under the tower of the church at Monkwearmouth in Durham
(Woodcut No. 801). There seems no doubt but that it is part of the
church which Benedict Biscop erected there in the 7th century. According
to the chronicles, when he was enabled by the liberality of King Ecgfrid
to found a monastery there, he went, in 674, to Gaul to procure masons
who could erect it in the “Roman manner” that is, in imitation of the
basilicas in Rome. The twined serpents with birds’ beaks, on the right
doorpost, are, as we know from manuscripts of that age, singularly
characteristic of the style, but not, so far as I know, found elsewhere
engraved in stone on a church door. Though quaint and interesting to the
antiquary, it must be confessed there is not much grace or beauty in any
feature of the style, or even an approach to grandeur of dimensions in
any example which has been spared to the present day.

Had any great conventual church or cathedral survived we might perhaps
be forced to modify this opinion:[95] but the only one of which we know
anything is that which was erected at Canterbury by Archbishop Odo in
the years 940-960, to replace the older church of St. Augustine.[96]
Even this, however, we only know from the description of Edmer, the
singer, who saw it before it was destroyed by fire in 1067. Like the
German churches of that age, it seems to have had two apses. The
principal one, towards the east, was appropriated to the clergy; while
the western one belonged to the laity, or, as we should now say, was
devoted to parochial purposes.

Its walls and structure probably resembled the nave of Montier-en-Der
(Woodcut No. 610), or the Basse Œuvre at Beauvais (Woodcut No. 608)—
plain piers supporting round arches below, and small circular-headed
windows in a plain wall above.

Outside the original church of St. Augustine to the eastward—at what
distance we unfortunately are not told—Cuthbert, the second archbishop,
about the year 750 erected a second church, “as a baptistery, and in
order that it might serve as the burying-place of future
archbishops;”[97] thus combining the two rites in a ceremonial church
apart from the basilica, exactly as was done in Italy during the
Romanesque age. It is by no means improbable that the eastern
termination of the present cathedral known as Becket’s Crown stands on
the site of this old baptistery, and retains its dimensions; but it is
difficult to prove this, so completely have all the features of the
church been altered by subsequent rebuildings.

From what we know of Saxon MSS. and other indications, it would seem
that painting was a favourite mode of decoration among the Saxons; and
if so, their interiors may have been more successful as works of art
than their external architecture would lead us to expect. But as no
specimen of Saxon painted mural decoration has come down to our time, it
is hardly safe to assume much with regard to this.

                              CHAPTER III.


AN entirely new state of affairs was inaugurated in 1066 by the Norman
Conquest of England. A new aristocracy, new laws, and a new language
infused new life and energy into every department of the State, and an
age of unwonted activity and brilliancy superseded the lethargic misrule
of the Saxon period.

In nothing was this more manifestly evident than in architecture.
Instead of a barbaric and debased style, a real lithic art was
introduced and adopted at once, on a scale of magnificence but little
known even in France at that time. Almost all our great cathedrals were
either rebuilt, or at least remodelled, at that time, and great monastic
institutions were founded all over the country, demanding churches and
buildings on a scale undreamt-of before that time. The impulse thus
given lasted for nearly five centuries, till the Saxon element in the
population again came to the surface at the Reformation; but during that
long period it continued without break or drawback, and forms a style
complete and perfect in itself,—imported, it is true, in the first
instance, but taking root in the soil, and with little aid from abroad
growing into a thoroughly vigorous and acclimatised style. So completely
is this the case, and so steady and uninterrupted was its progress, that
it is impossible to separate its various stages one from another, but it
is proposed to treat it as one style and in one chapter in the following
pages. In a larger work it might be necessary to divide it into parts,
but within our limits it will certainly be found more convenient, as it
certainly is more logical, to treat it as a whole.


[Illustration: 802. Plan of Norwich Cathedral. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

The most remarkable and universal peculiarity in the arrangement of
English churches, when compared with those on the Continent, is their
extraordinary length in proportion to their breadth. In this respect
they seem to stand alone when compared with any buildings existing in
other parts of the world. The ancients affected a double square; in
other words, their temples were generally twice as long as they were
broad. In the Middle Ages, on the Continent, this proportion was
generally doubled. Practically the internal width was multiplied by 4
for the length. This at least seems to have been the proportion
generally aimed at, though of course it was often modified by
circumstances. In England the larger churches generally reached the
proportion of 6 times their width for their length. Most of our
cathedrals have been so altered and modified by subsequent additions
that it is difficult now to trace their original arrangements; but
Norwich exists in plan almost exactly as originally erected (A.D.
1096-1135), as will be seen from the plan (Woodcut No. 802). The nave to
the west of the intersection is more than 4 times its width (70 × 295).
The rectangular part of the choir is more than a square, and with the
apse and its aisle, exclusive of the chapels, makes altogether a length
of 410 ft. internally, or nearly 6 squares. At Peterborough and Ely the
proportion seems to have been as 5 to 1 to the centre of the apse; but
if there was a circumscribing aisle or chapel, the longer proportion
would obtain. At Canterbury and Winchester, and generally in the
south-eastern cathedrals, as built more immediately under French
influence, the original proportion was somewhat shorter; but so
impressed were the English architects with the feeling that length was
the true mode of giving effect, that eventually the two cathedrals last
named surpassed it. Canterbury (Woodcut No. 803) attained an internal
length of 518 ft. while the width of the nave is only 72, or as 7 to 1.
At Winchester (Woodcut No. 806) these dimensions are 525 and 82, or
something less than 7 to 1, owing to the greater width of the nave.

[Illustration: 803. Plan of Canterbury Cathedral. Scale 100 ft. to 1

It is extremely difficult to assign a satisfactory reason for this
peculiarity of English plans. It arises so suddenly, however, in the
English churches of the Norman age that it must have pre-existed in
those of the Saxons; though why they should have adopted it is by no
means clear. If these churches had wooden roofs, which was almost
certainly the case, their naves might easily have been wider, and it can
hardly have arisen from any æsthetic motive. As we now judge them, these
early naves were badly proportioned for hearing an address from the
bishop or prior, and as ill adapted for a multitude to see what was
passing at the altar; but for pictorial effect they surpass everything
erected on the Continent, unless with greatly increased dimensions of
height or width. Whether, therefore, it were hit upon by accident or by
design, its beauty was immediately appreciated, and formed the governing
principle in the design of all the English cathedrals. It was a
discovery which has added more to the sublimity of effect which
characterises most of our cathedrals than any other principle introduced
during the Middle Ages.

All the cathedrals above enumerated, indeed most of those which were
designed by Norman prelates during the first half-century after the
Conquest, were erected on very nearly the same plan as that at Norwich.
Durham (1095-1133) was the first to show any marked deviation from the
type[98] (Woodcut No. 804). The nave and choir became nearly
proportioned to one another, and for the first time we see a distinct
determination from the first that the building should be vaulted. All
this involved an amount of design and contrivance which entirely
emancipated us from the Continental type, and may be considered as
laying the foundation of the English style.

In addition to what was doing at Durham there prevailed an extraordinary
activity in church-building in the North of England during the whole of
the 12th century, owing to the erection of the great abbeys whose
gigantic fossils still adorn every main valley in Yorkshire. As this
part of the country was more remote from foreign influence than the
South, the style developed itself there with a vigour and originality
not found elsewhere; but its effect was appreciated, and when Lincoln
was rebuilt, about the year 1200, the English style was perfected in all
essential parts. This is even more remarkably shown, however, at
Salisbury, commenced in 1220 and completed in 1258, with the exception
of the spire, which does not appear to have formed part of the original

[Illustration: 804. Plan of Durham Cathedral. (From Billings.) Scale 100
ft. to 1 in.]

In this church we have a plan not only extremely beautiful, but
perfectly original. There is scarcely a trace of French or foreign
influence; everything is the result of the native elaboration during the
previous century and a half. The internal dimensions, according to
Britton, are 450 ft. by 78—a little under the English standard, but
sufficiently long for effect. The apsidal arrangement, so universal in
Norman cathedrals, has disappeared never to return, except in
Westminster Abbey (1245-1269), and in some readjustments, as at
Tewkesbury; and the square eastern termination may henceforth be
considered as established in this country—the early symbol of that
independence which eventually led to the Reformation.

Once the Salisbury plan came to be considered the true English type, the
Norman cathedrals were gradually modified to assimilate their
arrangements to it. The nave and transept of Winchester were already too
extensive to admit of a second transept, but the choir was rebuilt on
the new model; and when afterwards the nave was remodelled by William of
Wykeham it became one of the most beautiful, as it continued to be the
longest, of English cathedrals (556 feet, over all).

[Illustration: 805. Plan of Salisbury Cathedral. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

About the same time Ely had a choir and presbytery added to it in lieu
of the old Norman choir, which raised it to the very first rank among
English churches;[99] and when, in 1322, by a fortunate accident the old
Norman tower fell, the intersection was rebuilt in a manner that
rendered it exceptionally pre-eminent among its rivals. There is perhaps
no feature in the whole range of Gothic architecture either here or on
the Continent more beautiful than the octagon of Ely (Woodcut No. 808),
as rebuilt by Alan of Walsingham, the sacrist at the time the tower
fell. He, and he alone of all northern architects, seems to have
conceived the idea of abolishing what was in fact the bathos of the
style—the narrow tall opening of the central tower, which, though
possessing exaggerated height, gave neither space nor dignity internally
to the central feature of the design. On the other hand, the necessity
of stronger supports to carry the tower frequently contracted still more
the one spot where, according to architectural propriety, an extended
area was of vital importance to the due harmony of the design.

[Illustration: 806. Plan of Winchester Cathedral. (From Britton.) Scale
100 ft. to 1 in.]

In the present instance the architect took for the base of his design
the whole width of the nave and aisles, constructing in it an octagon,
the sides of which are respectively 25 and 30 ft., and the diameter 65
ft. in one direction east and west, and 70 ft. transversely. By this
arrangement a central area was obtained more than three times the extent
of that originally existing, and, more than this, a propriety and poetry
of design which are not to be found elsewhere. All this too was carried
out with the exquisite details of the best age of English Gothic, and
the effect in consequence is surpassingly beautiful. Unfortunately,
either for want of funds, or of confidence in their ability to execute
it, the vault, like that of York, is only in wood, though, from the
immense strength of the supports, and their arrangement, it is evident
that a stone vault was originally intended. The very careless—one might
almost say ugly—way in which the lantern was finished externally, shows
unmistakably that it was not intended to last long in its present form.
Be that as it may, this octagon is in reality the only true Gothic dome
in existence; and the wonder is, that being once suggested, any
cathedral was ever afterwards erected without it. Its dimensions ought
not to have alarmed those who had access to the domes of the Byzantines
or Italians. Its beauty ought to have struck them as it does us. Perhaps
the true explanation lies in the fact that it was invented late in the
style. New cathedrals or great churches were very rarely commenced after
the death of Edward the Third; and when they were, it was more often by
intelligent masons, than by educated gentlemen, that they were designed.

[Illustration: 807. Plan of Ely Cathedral. (From Dugdale.) Scale 100 ft.
to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 808. Octagon at Ely Cathedral. (From Murray’s ‘Cathedral

After this, very little novelty was introduced into the design of
English cathedrals. York, however, was almost entirely rebuilt in the
form towards which the architects were tending during the whole of the
Middle Ages, and it may consequently be considered as the type at which
they were aiming, though hardly the one to which we can give the most
unqualified praise. The nave was erected between the years 1291 and
1331, the choir between 1361 and 1405; the length internally is 486 ft.;
the width of the choir, 100 ft.; of the nave, 106 ft.; both these last
were, unfortunately, dimensions which the architects did not feel
themselves equal to grappling with in stone, so that the roof, like the
lantern at Ely, was constructed of wood, in imitation of a stone vault,
and remains so to this day.

Owing to the great width attempted for the nave, York has not the usual
proportion of length affected by other English cathedrals, and loses in
effect accordingly. Its great peculiarity is the simplicity and
squareness of its plan, so unlike what is found anywhere abroad. The
church is divided into two equal parts; one devoted to the laity, one to
the clergy. There are no apsidal or other chapels. Three altars stood
against the eastern wall, and it may be 3 or 4 in the transept. Beyond
this nothing. There is none of that wealth of private chapels which
distinguishes Continental cathedrals and churches, or even Canterbury,
the most foreign of our English examples. The worship even at that early
period was designed to be massive and congregational, not frittered away
in private devotion or scattered services, and marks a departure from
Continental practices well worthy the attention of those who desire to
trace the gradual development of the feelings of a people as expressed
in their architecture, and the architecture only.

The abbey church at Westminster is exceptional among English examples,
and is certainly, in so far at least as the east end is concerned, an
adaptation of a French design. The nave, however, is essentially English
in plan and detail, and one of the most beautiful examples of its class
to be found anywhere. So, too, are the wide-spreading transepts; but
eastward of these the form is decidedly that of a French cathedral.
Henry VII.’s Chapel now stands over the space formerly occupied by the
Lady Chapel; but before it was pulled down the circlet of apsidal
chapels[100] was as completely and as essentially French as any to be
found in the country where that feature was invented. In the choir,
however, the architects betrayed their want of familiarity with the form
of termination they had selected. The angle at which the three bays of
the apse meet is far from pleasing, and there is a want of preparation
for the transition, which tends to detract from the perfection of what
would otherwise be a very beautiful design.[101]

As the choir was sepulchral, to accommodate the shrine of the Confessor,
the design was appropriate, and its introduction in this instance cannot
be regretted; but on the whole, there is nothing in the church of
Westminster to make us wish that this feature had become more common on
this side of the Channel.

[Illustration: 809. Plan of Westminster Abbey. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

Notwithstanding the beauty of the result, it may still be considered as
open to discussion whether the English architects were always correct in
adhering to length in preference to height as the modulus of their
designs. When, however, we reflect how immensely the difficulties of
constructing a stone roof are increased by every addition to the width
or height of the vault, we cannot but acknowledge their wisdom in
stopping at that point where sufficient spaciousness was attained,
without increasing constructive difficulties. Nowhere in English
cathedrals are we offended by mechanical _tours de force_. Everywhere
there is sufficient solidity for security, and a consequent feeling of
repose most conducive to true architectural effect.

It may also be remarked that the strain of turning the head upwards
detracts considerably from the pleasure of contemplating tall interiors,
while the eye likes to dwell on long-drawn vistas which can be explored
in a natural position. But, perhaps, the greatest advantage of moderate
dimensions in section is that they do not dwarf either the worshippers
or the furniture of the church. Everything in an English cathedral is in
just proportion, which is certainly not the case in many Continental
examples; and there is variety and a play of light and shade in the long
aisles of our churches which is wholly wanting in French and German

Another point on which a difference of opinion may fairly exist, is
whether the square termination of our cathedrals is or is not more
beautiful than the apsidal arrangements so universal abroad.

When, as at Salisbury, or Wells, or Exeter, there is a screen of open
arches below the east window, it may safely be asserted that a polygonal
termination would have been more pleasing; but when, as at York, or
Gloucester, or Carlisle, the whole eastern wall is a screen of painted
glass, divided by mullions and tracery of most exquisite design,
judgment will probably go the other way. Such a window as that at York,
33 ft. in width by 80 ft. in height, is a marvellous creation, which few
architectural developments in any part of the world can rival or even
approach. On the whole, perhaps, the true answer to the question, is
that, where a number of smaller chapels are wanted, the chevet form is
the best and most artistic termination for a church; where these are not
required, the square form is the most beautiful, because it is the most
appropriate, and, like everything appropriate, capable of being made
beautiful in the hands of a true artist.


Whatever opinion may be formed as to the proportions of English
cathedrals, or the arrangement of their plans, there can be no dispute
as to the superiority of their vaults over those of all their
Continental rivals. The reasons for this are various, and not very
recondite. The most obvious is the facility of construction which arose
from the moderation just pointed out in the section of our churches.

The English always worked within their strength, instead of going to the
very verge of it, like the French; and they thus obtained the power of
subordinating constructive necessities to architectural beauty. Thus the
English architects never attempted a vault of any magnitude till they
were sufficiently skilled in construction to do it with facility. In a
former chapter it has been pointed out how various and painful were the
steps by which the French arrived at their system of vaulting—first by
pointed tunnel-vaults and a system of domes, then by a combination of
quadripartite and hexapartite intersecting vaults, of every conceivable
form and variety, but always with a tendency to domical webs, and to the
union of all pre-existing systems. This experimentalising, added to the
great height of their roofs, and the slenderness of their clerestories,
never left them sufficiently free to admit of their studying æsthetic
effects in this part of the construction.

A second reason was, that for 150 years after the Conquest, our
architects were content with wooden roofs for their naves. One of the
earliest vaults we possess is that at Durham, commenced by Prior
Melsonby, 1233. Long before that time the French architects had been
trying all those expedients detailed at pp. 113, 114, and had thus
succeeded in vaulting their central aisles a century before we attempted
it. In doing so, however, their eyes got accustomed to mechanical
deformities which we never tolerated, and they were afterwards quite
satisfied if the vault would stand, without caring much whether its form
were beautiful or not.

A third cause of the perfection of English vaults arose from the
constant use of ornamental wooden roofs throughout the Middle Ages. The
typical example of this form now remaining to us is that of Westminster
Hall. But St. Stephen’s Royal Chapel had one of the same class, and
there is reason to believe that they were much more common than is
usually supposed.[102] All these were elaborately framed and richly
carved and ornamented, often more beautiful than a stone vault, and
quite as costly; and it seems impossible that a people who were familiar
with this exquisite mode of roofing could be content with the lean
twisted vaults of the Continental architects. The English alone
succeeded in constructing ornamental wooden roofs, and, as a corollary,
alone appreciated the value of a vault constructed on truly artistic
principles and richly ornamented. Their eyes being accustomed to the
depth and boldness of timber construction could never tolerate the thin
weak lines of the French ogive, just sufficient for strength, but sadly
deficient in expression and in play of light and shade.

Although it is, perhaps, safe to assert that there is not, and never
was, a Saxon vaulted church in existence; and that, during the purely
Norman period, though the side-aisles of great churches were generally
vaulted, the central aisle was always ceiled with wood; yet, from a
study of their plans, we are led to conclude that their architects
always intended that they should, or at least might, be ornamented with
stone roofs.

[Illustration: 810. Nave of Peterborough Cathedral.[103] (Cath. Hb.)]

In the first place the area of their piers is enormous, and such as
could never have been intended to support wooden roofs. Even making
every allowance for the badness of the masonry, one-tenth of the
sectional area would have sufficed, and not more was employed
cotemporaneously in Germany when it was intended to use wooden roofs.
There is also generally some variation in the design of the alternate
piers, as if a hexapartite arrangement were contemplated. But the
evidence is not conclusive, for the vaulting shafts are usually similar,
and in all instances run from the ground through the clerestory, and
terminate with the copings of the wall, so that, in their present form,
they could only be meant to support the main timber of the roof. It may
be that it was intended to cut them away down to the string-course of
the clerestory, as was actually done at Norwich in 1446, when the nave
was vaulted; but at present we must be satisfied with the evidence that
the architects were content with such roofs as that of Peterborough
(Woodcut No. 810), which is the oldest and finest we possess. It is very
beautiful, but certainly not the class of roof these massive piers were
designed to support.

Though we may hesitate with regard to the intention of the builders of
Norwich, Ely, or Peterborough, there can be no doubt, from the alternate
piers and pillars, that when Durham (Woodcut No. 804) was commenced it
was intended that the nave should be covered by a great hexapartite
vault. Before, however, the intention could be carried out, the art of
vaulting had been so far perfected that that very clumsy expedient was
abandoned; and, by the introduction of a bracket in the nave, and
afterwards of a vaulting shaft in the choir, a vault of the usual
quadrilateral form was successfully carried out between the years 1233
and 1284.

It is probably to St. Hugh of Lincoln that we owe the first perfect
vault in England. Coming from Burgundy he must have been familiar with
the great vaults which had been constructed in his country long before
the year 1200, when he encouraged his new followers to undertake one not
necessarily in the Burgundian style, but in that form with which they
were conversant from their practice in erecting smaller side-vaults. He
built and roofed the choir of Lincoln, immediately after which
(1209-1235) the nave (Woodcut No. 811) was undertaken by Hugh of Wells,
and its roof may be taken as a type of the first perfected form of
English vaulting. It is very simple and beautiful; but it cannot be
denied—and this is felt still more at Exeter—that the great inverted
pyramidal blocks of the roof are too heavy for the light pier and
pierced walls which support them. Another defect is, that the lines of
the clerestory windows do not accord with the lines of the “severeys” of
the vault. This defect was remedied at Lichfield, but nowhere else,
until the invention of the four-centred arch and of fan-tracery. At
Lichfield (Woodcut No. 812) the triangular form of the clerestory
windows afforded a perfect solution of the difficulty, and gave a
stability and propriety to the whole arrangement that never was
surpassed, and never might have been relinquished had not their fatal
fondness for painted glass forced the architects in this, as in other
instances, to forego constructive propriety for indulgence in that
fascinating mode of decoration.

[Illustration: 811. Nave of Lincoln Cathedral. (Cath. Hb.)]

Beautiful as these simple early roofs were felt to be, the great mass of
the “severeys,” or inverted pyramids, formed a very obvious defect. It
was, however, easily remedied when once perceived. The earliest example
of its successful removal is probably in the roof of the choir at
Gloucester (1337-1377) (Woodcut No. 813). In this instance the roof is
almost a tunnel-vault with the window spaces cutting into it, so as to
leave nearly one-third of the space unbroken; and, as the whole is
covered with rich and appropriate tracery, the effect is highly
pleasing. The same principle was afterwards carried to its utmost
perfection in the roof of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor. In that case a
flat band was introduced as a separate constructive compartment in the
centre, supported by the severeys, and as the roof is ornamented with
ribbings of the most exquisite design, it forms perhaps the most
beautiful vault ever designed by a Gothic architect.

[Illustration: 812. Nave of Lichfield Cathedral. (Cath. Hb.)]

The great invention of the English architects in vaulting is the form
usually known as fan-tracery. It is so beautiful in itself, and so
exclusively English, that it may, perhaps, be worth while to retrace the
steps by which it was arrived at. This may lead to a little repetition,
but the stone vault is so essentially the governing modulus of the style
that its principles cannot be made too clear.

[Illustration: 813. Choir of Gloucester Cathedral. (Cath. Hb.)]

The original form of the intersecting vault is that of two halves of a
hollow-sided square pyramid placed opposite one another in an inverted
position.[104] One half of such a vault is shown at A and A A (Woodcut
No. 814, fig. 1). The English seem early to have tired of the endless
repetition of these forms, and, after trying every mode of concealing
their sameness by covering them with tracery, they hit on the happy
expedient of cutting off their angles, as shown at B and B B. This left
a flat square space in the centre, which would have been awkward in the
central vault, though in a side-aisle it was easily got over, and its
flatness concealed by ornament. Arrived at this stage it was easy to see
that by again dividing each face into two, as at C, fig. 1, the
principal original lines were restored, and the central space could be
subdivided by constructive lines to any extent required. By this process
the square pyramid had become a polygonal cone of 24 sides, which was
practically so near a circle that it was impossible to resist the
suggestion of making it one, which was accordingly done, as shown at D
and D D, fig. 1.

[Illustration: 814. Diagrams of Vaulting.]

So far all was easy, but the fact of the flat central space resting on
the four cones was still felt to be a defect, as indeed is apparent in
such a vault as that of the cloisters at Gloucester (Woodcut No. 815),
where a segment is used nearly equal to an equilateral spherical
triangle. In this case they did not dare to employ a constructive
decoration, but covered the space with circles so as to confuse and
deceive the eye. At Windsor (Woodcut No. 816) the defect was obviated by
using a low four-centred arch invented for the purpose, so that the
outer tangent of the concoid was nearly flat, and the principal
transverse rib was carried to the centre without being broken—as the
others might have been had that mode of decoration been deemed
expedient. This may be considered the perfection of this kind of
vaulting, and is perhaps the most beautiful method ever invented. At
Westminster (as shown in Woodcut No. 817) the difficulty was got over by
reversing the curve by the introduction of pendants. This was a clever
expedient, and produced a startling effect, but is so evidently a _tour
de force_ that the result is never quite satisfactory; though on a small
scale perfectly admissible.

These devices all answered perfectly so long as the space to be roofed
was square, or nearly so; but when this mode of vaulting came to be
applied to the bays of the central nave, which were twice as long in one
direction as in the other, the difficulties seemed insuperable. By
cutting off the angle as in the former instance (as at B, fig. 2,
Woodcut No. 814), you may get either a small diamond-shaped space in the
centre or a square, but in both cases the pyramid becomes very awkward;
and by carrying on the system as before, you never arrive at a circle,
but at an elliptical section as shown at D, fig. 2 (Woodcut No. 814).

[Illustration: 815. Vault of Cloister, Gloucester.]

The builders of King’s College Chapel strove to obviate the difficulty
by continuing the conoid to the centre, and then cutting off what was
redundant at the sides, as in E, fig. 2, or, as shown in the view of the
interior (Woodcut No. 846) further on.

The richness of the ornaments, and the loftiness and elegance of the
whole, lead us to overlook these defects at Cambridge, but nothing can
be less constructive or less pleasing that the abruptness of the
intersections so obtained. In the central aisle of Henry VII.’s Chapel
it was avoided by a bold series of pendants, supported by internal
flying buttresses, producing a surprising degree of complexity, and such
an exhibition of mechanical dexterity as never fails to astonish, and
generally to please; though it must be confessed that it is at best a
mere piece of ingenuity very unworthy of English art. By far the most
satisfactory of these roofs is that at Windsor, where a broad flat band
is introduced in the centre of the roof, throughout the whole length of
the chapel. This is ornamented by panelling of the most exquisite
design, and relieved by pendants of slight projection, the whole being
in such good taste as to make it one of the richest and probably the
most beautiful vault ever constructed. It has not the loftiness of that
at Cambridge, being only 52 ft. high, instead of 78, nor is it of the
same extent, and consequently it does not so immediately strike
observers, but on examination it is far more satisfactory.

[Illustration: 816. Vault of Aisle at St. George’s, Windsor.]

[Illustration: 817. Aisle in Henry VII.’s Chapel, Westminster.]

[Illustration: 818. Retro-choir, Peterborough Cathedral. (Cath. Hb.)]

The truth of the matter seems to be that, after all their experience,
the architects had got back to precisely the point from which they
started, namely, the necessity of a square space for the erection of a
satisfactory intersecting vault. The Romans saw this, and never swerved
from it. The side-aisles of all cathedrals and all cloisters adhered to
it throughout; and, when it was departed from in the wider central
aisles, it always led to an awkwardness that was hardly ever
successfully conquered. In some instances, as in the retro-choir at
Peterborough (1438-1528), two windows are boldly but awkwardly included
in one bay (Woodcut No. 818), and the compartments are so nearly square
that the difficulty is not very apparent, but it is sufficient to injure
considerably the effect of what would otherwise be a very beautiful

In Henry VII.’s Chapel the difficulty was palliated, not conquered, by
thrusting forward the great pendants of the roof and treating them as
essential parts of the construction, and as if they were supported by
pillars from the floor instead of by brackets from the wall. By this
means the roof was divided into rectangles more nearly approaching
squares than was otherwise attainable; but it is most false in
principle, and, in spite of all its beauty of detail, cannot be
considered successful.

[Illustration: 819. Choir Arches of Oxford Cathedral. (Cath. Hb.)]

Strange as it may appear from its date, the most satisfactory roof of
this class is that erected by Cardinal Wolsey in the beginning of the
16th century over the choir of Oxford Cathedral. In this instance the
pendants are thrust so far forward and made so important that the
central part of the roof is practically quadripartite. The remaining
difficulty was obviated by abandoning the circular horizontal outline of
true fan-tracery, and adopting a polygonal form instead. As the whole is
done in a constructive manner and with appropriate detail, this roof—
except in size—is one of the best and most remarkable ever executed.

The true solution of the difficulty, in so far as the vault was
concerned, would have been to include two bays of the side-aisles in one
of the centre; but this would have necessitated a rearrangement of both
plan and exterior to an extent the architects were not then prepared to
tolerate, and it never was attempted, except perhaps in the instance of
the retro-choir at Peterborough (Woodcut No. 818). Had it been done in
King’s College Chapel at Cambridge (Woodcut No. 846), it would have been
in every respect an immense improvement. At present the length of King’s
College Chapel is too great for its other dimensions. Had there been six
bays instead of twelve, its apparent length would have been considerably
diminished, and the variety introduced by this change would have
relieved its monotony without detracting from any of the excellent
points of design it now possesses.

The English architects never attempted such vaults as those of Toulouse
and Alby, 63 and 58 ft. respectively, still less such as that of Gerona
in Spain, which is 72 ft. clear width. With our present mechanical
knowledge, we could probably construct wider vaults still. Even the
Mediæval architects in England might have done more in this direction
than they actually accomplished, had they tried. On the whole, however,
it seems that they exercised a wise discretion in limiting themselves to
moderate dimensions. More poetry of design and greater apparent size is
attainable by the introduction of pillars on the floor, and with far
less mechanical effort. Unless everything is increased in even a greater
ratio, the dwarfing effect of a great vault never fails to make itself
painfully apparent. We may regret that they did not vary their vaults by
such an expedient as the lantern at Ely, but hardly that they confined
them to the dimensions they generally adopted.

                              PIER ARCHES.

Although the principles adopted by the English architects did not
materially differ from those of their Continental confrères with regard
to the arrangement of pier arches and the proportions of triforia and
clerestories, still their practice was generally so sound and the
results so satisfactory, that this seems the best place to point out
what the Mediæval architects aimed at in the arrangement of their wall

[Illustration: 820. Transformation of the Nave, Winchester Cathedral.
(Cath. Hb.)]

[Illustration: 821. Choir of Ely Cathedral. (Cath. Hb.)]

In the Norman cathedrals the general scheme seems to have been to divide
the height into three equal parts, and to allot one to the pier arch,
another to the triforium or great gallery, and the third to the
clerestory. In all the examples we now have, the upper is the smallest
division; but I cannot help fancying that some arrangement of the
timbers of the roof gave the additional height required. It is generally
supposed that the roof at Peterborough (Woodcut No. 810) was originally
flat. This, however, is by no means clear, nor that it started so low;
but, be that as it may, the woodcut (No. 820) will explain the usual
arrangement, as well as the changes afterwards introduced. At Winchester
the two lower divisions are practically equal, the upper somewhat less,
and the alternate arrangement of the piers hints at a hexapartite vault,
if such should ever come to be executed. When William of Wykeham
undertook to remodel the style of the nave, he first threw the two lower
compartments into one, as shown on the left-hand side of the cut. He
then divided the whole height, as nearly as the masonry would allow him,
into two equal parts, allotting one to the pier arches, and apportioning
the upper as nearly as he could by giving two-thirds to the clerestory
and one-third to the triforium. With pointed arches this was the most
pleasing and satisfactory arrangement adopted during the Middle Ages;
but when something very like it was attempted in the nave of Gloucester
with round arches, the effect was most unpleasing. Before the
architects, however, settled down to this proportion, a variety of
experiments were tried. One of the most successful was the nave of
Lichfield Cathedral (Woodcut No. 812). Here the whole height is divided
equally: one half is given to the pier arches, and the other divided
equally between the clerestory and triforium. If the latter had been
glazed externally, as was the case at Westminster Abbey and elsewhere,
and made to look like part of the church, the whole might be considered
as satisfactory. As it is, the area of the clerestory is so much less
than that of the triforium, that the proportion is not quite agreeable,
though the solidity and repose which this arrangement gives to the roof
is above all praise.

[Illustration: 822. Two Bays of the Nave of Westminster Abbey. Scale 25
ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 823. One Bay of Cathedral at Exeter. Scale 25 ft. to 1

All these objections were obviated in the three bays of the choir at
Ely, which were rebuilt by Walsingham at the same time as the octagon.
Here the triforium and clerestory are equal; but the upper window is so
spread out, and so much is made of it, that it looks equal to the
compartment below. The pier arch below is also subdued to less than half
the whole height, so as to give value to the upper division. These
proportions are derived from the very beautiful Early English presbytery
beyond; but they are here used with such exquisite taste and such
singular beauty of detail that there is perhaps no single portion of any
Gothic building in the world which can vie with this part of the choir
of Ely for poetry of design or beauty of detail.

The perfection of proportion, as of many other things, was reached in
Westminster Abbey (1245-1269). Here the whole height is divided into two
equal parts, and the upper subdivided into three, of which one is
allotted to the triforium, and two to the clerestory. It is true this
involves the necessity of springing the vault from a point half way down
the clerestory windows, and thus the lines of the severeys do not accord
quite with those of the lights; but at best it is a choice of
difficulties, and the happy medium seems to have been reached here more
successfully than elsewhere. The proportion of the width of a bay to its
height is here also most pleasing; it is as 1 to 5½.[105] Sometimes, as
at Exeter, it sinks as low as 1 in 3, but the whole effect of the
building is very much destroyed by the change.

Shortly after this, as in the choir at Lichfield (1250-1325) or at
Exeter (1308-1369), the mania for the display of painted glass upset all
these arrangements—generally at the expense of the triforium. This
feature was never entirely omitted, nor was it ever glazed internally,
as was frequently the case on the Continent; but it was reduced to the
most insignificant proportions—sometimes not pierced—and, with the wider
spacing just alluded to, deprived the English side screen of much of
that vigour and beauty which characterised its earlier examples.

                            WINDOW TRACERY.

The date of the introduction of the pointed arch in England—for it may
be considered as established that it was _introduced_—is a question
which has been much discussed, but is by no means settled. The general
impression is that it was at the rebuilding of the cathedral of
Canterbury after the fire of 1174 that the style was first fairly tried.
The architect who superintended that work for the first five years was
William of Sens; and the details and all the arrangements are so
essentially French, and so different from anything else of the same age
in England, that his influence on the style of the building can hardly
be doubted. Of course it is not meant to assert that no earlier
specimens exist; indeed, we can scarcely suppose that they did not, when
we recollect that the _pointed arch_ was used currently in France for
more than a century before this time, and that the _pointed style_ was
inaugurated at St. Denis at least thirty years before. Still this is
probably the first instance of the style being carried out in anything
like completeness, not only in the pier arches and openings, but in the
vaults also, which is far more characteristic.

Even after this date the struggle was long, and the innovation most
unwillingly received by the English, so that even down to the year 1200
the round arch was currently employed, in conjunction with the pointed,
to which it at last gave way, and was then for three centuries banished
entirely from English architecture.

Be this as it may, in their treatment of tracery, which followed
immediately on the introduction of the pointed arch, the English
architects showed considerable originality in design, though inspired by
the same sobriety which characterises all their works. They not only
invented the lancet form of window, but what may be called the lancet
style of fenestration. Nowhere on the Continent are such combinations to
be found as the Five Sisters at York (Woodcut No. 824), or the east end
of Ely (Woodcut No. 825), or such a group as that which terminates the
east end of Hereford (Woodcut No. 826). Tracery it can hardly be called,
but it is as essentially one design as any of the great east windows
that afterwards came into fashion; and until painted glass became
all-important, such an arrangement was constructively better than a
screen of mullions, and as used in this country is capable of very
beautiful combinations.

[Illustration: 824. The Five Sisters Window, York. (From Britton.)]

So, at least, the English architects of the 13th century seem to have
thought, for they continued to practise their lancet style, as in the
much-quoted example of Salisbury Cathedral, long after the French had
perfected the geometric forms; which may be seen from the contemporary
cathedral in Amiens. In France, as was pointed out in a previous chapter
(p. 163 _et seq._), we can trace every step by which the geometric forms
were invented. In England this cannot be done, and when we do find a
rudimentary combination of two lancets with a circle, it is more
frequently a harking back to previous forms than stepping forwards
toward a new invention.

[Illustration: 825. Ely Cathedral, East End. (Cath. Hb.)]

[Illustration: 26. Lancet Window, Hereford Cathedral. (Cath. Hb.)]

When, however, painted glass became an indispensable part of church
decoration, it was impossible to resist the influence of the French
invention. Like many other Continental forms it seems first to have been
systematically employed at Westminster, when the choir was rebuilt by
Henry III., A.D. 1245-69, but even then it was used timidly and
unscientifically as compared with the Sainte Chapelle at Paris, which
was commenced 1244, and completed long before the English choir. Once,
however, it was fairly introduced, the English architects employed it
with great success. One of the earliest examples is the beautiful
circular window of the north transept at Lincoln. It, however, is still
of the imperfect tracery of the early French examples. The lines do not
in all instances follow one another, and flat plain spaces are left, as
in what is generally called plate tracery. True geometric tracery is,
however, seen in perfection in the Angel Choir at Lincoln (1270-1282),
in the nave of (York 1291-1330), or better, in such abbeys as Tintern or
Gainsborough. In the chapter-house at York (Woodcut No. 829) the style
had already begun to deviate from the French pattern, and before the end
of the 13th century the English had so thoroughly assimilated it that
hardly a trace of its original form was left. The chapel at Merton
College, Oxford, is perhaps the most beautiful example remaining of that
exquisite form of English tracery; but St. Stephen’s Chapel,
Westminster, was the typical example, and specimens of it are found in
all our cathedrals. One at St. Anselm’s Chapel at Canterbury (Woodcut
No. 830) is perhaps as characteristic as any. When tracery had reached
this stage, it seemed capable of any amount of development, and was
applicable to any form of opening. All the difficulties of fitting
circles into spherical triangles which had so puzzled the early builders
were conquered,[106] and the range of design seemed unlimited. But
during the Edwardian period there prevailed a restless desire for new
inventions, and an amount of intellectual activity applied to
architecture which nothing could resist; so that these beautiful
geometric forms in their turn were forced to give way after being
employed for little more than half a century, and were superseded by the
fashion of flowing tracery, which lasted, however, for even a shorter
period than the style which preceded it. This time the invention seems
to have been English; for though we cannot feel quite certain when the
first specimen of flowing tracery was introduced in France, the
Flamboyant style was adopted by the French only after the English wars,
whereas the Perpendicular style had superseded this and all other
Decorated forms in England before the death of Edward III.

[Illustration: 827. East End of Lincoln Cathedral. (From Wild’s

[Illustration: 828. North Transept Window, Lincoln Cathedral. (Cath.

During the time that flowing forms were used in England they gave rise
to some of the most beautiful creations in window tracery that are
anywhere to be found. The east windows at Carlisle (Woodcut No. 831) and
of Selby, are two of the finest examples, and illustrate the peculiarity
of the style as adopted in this country. Though the forms are flowing,
and consequently, as lithic forms, weak, the parts are so exquisitely
balanced by the stronger ribs introduced and by the arrangement of the
whole, that, so far from any weakness being felt, the whole is quite as
stable as the purposes to which it is applied would seem to require.
Another equally constructive and equally beautiful example is the south
transept window at Lincoln (Woodcut No. 832), where the segmental lines
introduced give the strength required. Though almost all its lines are
flowing, it looks stronger and more constructively correct than the
north transept window (Woodcut No. 828), which is wholly made up of
circular forms, and is in itself one of the best examples of the earlier
form of English geometric tracery. Circular windows were not, however,
the forte of English architects; they very rarely used them in their
west fronts, not always in their transepts, and generally indeed may be
said to have preferred the ordinary pointed forms, in which, as in most
matters, they probably exercised a wise discretion.

 [Illustration: 829. Window in Chapter-house at York. English Geometric

[Illustration: 830. Window in St. Anselm’s Chapel, Canterbury.]

[Illustration: 831. East Window, Carlisle Cathedral. (From a Drawing by
R. W. Billings.)]

[Illustration: 832. South Transept Window, Lincoln Cathedral. (Cath.

It may not be quite clear whether William of Wykeham (1366-1404)
invented perpendicular tracery, but certain it is that the admiration
excited by his works in this style at Winchester, Oxford, and elsewhere,
gave a death-blow to the Decorated forms previously in fashion. Although
every lover of true art must regret the change, there was a great deal
to be said in favour of the new style. It was pre-eminently constructive
and reasonable. Nothing in a masonic point of view could be better than
the straight lines running through from bottom to top of the window,
strengthened by transoms when requisite for support, and doubled in the
upper division. The ornaments, too, were all appropriate, and,
externally at least, the whole harmonised perfectly with the lines of
the building. Internally, the architects were more studious to prepare
forms suitable by their dimensions and arrangements for the display of
painted glass, than to spend much thought on the form of the frames
themselves. The poetry of tracery was gone, but it was not only in this
respect that we miss the poetic feeling of earlier days. The mason was
gradually taking the guidance of the work out of the hands of the
educated classes, and applying the square and the rule to replace the
poetic inspirations of enthusiasts and the delicate imaginings by which
they were expressed.

[Illustration: 833. Perpendicular Tracery, Winchester Cathedral.]

It is curious to observe how different the course of events was in
France. While Saxon common sense was gradually coming to the surface in
this country and curbing every fancy for which a good economic reason
could not be given, the Celtic fancy of our neighbours broke loose in
all the playful vagaries of the Flamboyant style. Their tracery became
so delicate and so unconstructive that it is a wonder it ever stood, and
no wonder that half the windows of that date are now without tracery at
all. They were carved, too, with foliage so delicate that it ought to
have been executed in metal and never attempted in stone—in wonderful
contrast to the plain deep mouldings which surround most of our windows
of that period.

                         EXTERNAL PROPORTIONS.

If the sobriety of proportion which characterised the design of English
architects led to satisfactory results internally, its influence was
still more favourable on the external appearance of their churches. An
English cathedral is always a part of a group of buildings—the most
important and most dignified part, it is true, but always coinciding and
harmonising with its chapter-house, its cloister and conventual
buildings, its bishop’s palace or abbot’s lodging. In France the
cathedral is generally like a giant among pigmies—nothing can exist in
its neighbourhood. The town itself is dwarfed by the immense incubus
that stands in its centre, and in almost no instance can the subordinate
buildings be said to form part of the same design[107]—both consequently
suffering from their quasi-accidental juxtaposition.

This effect is even more apparent when we come to examine the sky-line
of the buildings. Their moderate internal dimensions enabled the English
architects to keep the roofs low, so as to give full effect to the
height of the towers, and to project their transepts so boldly as to
vary in perspective the long lines of the roofs from whatever point the
building was viewed. Their greatest gain, however, was that they were
able to place their tallest and most important feature in the centre of
their buildings, and so to give a unity and harmony to the whole design
which is generally wanting in Continental examples. One of the few cases
in which this feature is successfully carried out in France is the
church of St. Sernin at Toulouse (Woodcut No. 578), but there the body
of the building is low and long like the English type, and a tower of
the same height as those of the façade at Amiens suffices to give
dignity to the whole. That church, however, wants the western towers to
complete the composition. In this respect it is the reverse of what
generally happens in French cathedrals, where the western façades are
rich and beautifully proportioned in themselves, but too often
overpowered by the building in the rear, and unsupported by any central
object. In Germany they took their revenge, and in many instances kill
the building to which they are attached. In England the group of three
towers or spires—the typical arrangement of our architects—was always
pleasing, and very frequently surpasses in grace and appropriateness
anything to be found on the Continent. Even when, as at Norwich or at
Chichester, the spire is unsupported by any western towers, the same
effect of dignity is produced as at Toulouse; the design is pyramidal,
and from whatever point it is viewed it is felt to be well balanced,
which is seldom the case when the greatest elevation is at one end.

The cathedral at Salisbury (Woodcut No. 834), though, like the two last
named, it has no western towers, still possesses so noble a spire in the
centre, and two transepts so boldly projecting, that when viewed from
any point east of the great transept it displays one of the best
proportioned and at the same time most poetic designs of the Middle
Ages. It is quite true that the spire is an afterthought of the 14th
century, and that those who added it ought to have completed the design
by erecting also two western towers, but, like St. Sernin’s, it is
complete as it is, and very beautiful. The flêche at Amiens is 20 ft.
higher than the spire at Salisbury, being 424 ft. as against 404 ft. Yet
the Salisbury spire is among the most imposing objects of which Gothic
architecture can boast, the other an insignificant pinnacle that hardly
suffices to relieve the monotony of the roof on which it is placed.

[Illustration: 834. Salisbury Cathedral, from the N.E.]

Lichfield (Woodcut No. 835), though one of the smallest of English
cathedrals, is one of the most pleasing from having all its three spires
complete, and in the proportion originally designed for the building and
for each other. The height of the nave internally is only 58 ft., and of
the roof externally only 80 ft.; yet with these diminutive dimensions
great dignity is obtained and great beauty of composition, certainly at
less than one-fourth the expenditure in materials and moyen it would
have cost to produce a like effect among the tall heavy-roofed
cathedrals of the Continent.

[Illustration: 835. View of Lichfield Cathedral. (From Britton’s
‘Cathedral Antiquities.’)]

Had the octagon at Ely been completed externally,[108] even in wood, it
would probably have been superior to the spire at Salisbury both in
height and design. As before mentioned, it was left with only a
temporary lantern externally, and, as was always the case in England, no
drawing—no written specifications of the designer have been left. The
masons on the Continent were careful to preserve the drawings of
unfinished parts of the designs. The gentlemen architects of England
seem to have trusted to inspiration to enable them to mould their forms
into beauty as they proceeded. With true Gothic feeling they believed in
progress, and it never occurred to them but that their successors would
surpass them in their art, in the manner they felt they were excelling
those who preceded them.

[Illustration: 836. Lincoln Cathedral.]

The three-towered cathedrals are not less beautiful and characteristic
of England than those with three spires. Nothing can exceed the beauty
of the outline of Lincoln[109] as it stands on its cliff looking over
the Fens (Woodcut No. 836); though the erection of a screen in front of
the western towers cuts them off from the ground, and so far mars their
effect when seen close at hand. York perhaps possesses the best façade
of the class in England, both as regards proportion and detail. The
height of the towers to the top of the pinnacles is under two hundred
feet (196), but this is quite sufficient for the nave they terminate, or
the central tower with which they group. At Amiens the western towers
are respectively 224 and 205 ft. in height, but they are utterly lost
under the roof of the cathedral, and fail to give any dignity to the

[Illustration: 837. View of the Angel Tower and Chapter-house,
Canterbury. (Cath. Hb.)]

For poetry of design and beauty of proportion, both in itself and in the
building of which it forms a part, perhaps the Angel Tower at Canterbury
is the best in England, and is superior to any of the same class of
towers to be found elsewhere. It is difficult, however, among so many
beautiful objects, to decide which is the best. The highest tower at
Wells is only 165 ft. from the ground to the top of the pinnacle, yet it
is quite sufficient for its position, and groups beautifully with the
western towers. Though of different ages, the three towers at Durham
group beautifully together, and the single tower at Gloucester crowns
nobly the central point of that cathedral. But the same is true of all.
The central tower or spire is the distinguishing feature of the external
design of English cathedrals, and possessing it they in this respect
surpass all their rivals.

The western façades of English cathedrals, on the contrary, are
generally inferior to those on the Continent. We have none of those
deeply recessed triple portals covered with sculpture which give such
dignity and meaning to the façades of Paris, Amiens, Rheims, Chartres,
and other French cathedrals. Beautiful as is the sculptured façade of
Wells, its outline is hard, and its portals mean. Salisbury is worse.
Winchester, Exeter, Canterbury, Gloucester, indeed most of our
cathedrals, have mean western entrances, the principal mode of access to
the building being a side door of the nave. Peterborough alone has a
façade at once original and beautiful. Nothing but the portico of a
classic temple can surpass the majesty of the three great arches of the
façade of this church. The effect is a little marred by the fact that
the central arch, which should have been the widest and have formed the
chief entrance to the nave, is narrower than the other two, and,
further, is blocked up by a chapel built between the central piers. The
great portal in fact does not agree, either, with the main lines of the
church behind, and so far must be regarded only as a decorative front;
but, take it all in all, it is one of the most beautiful inventions of
the Middle Ages.

[Illustration: 838. West Front of Peterborough Cathedral. (From
Britton’s ‘Picturesque Antiquities.’)]

Such a screen would have been better had the arches been flanked by two
more important towers than those which now adorn that façade, but unless
the piers of the central tower were sufficient to carry a much more
important feature in the centre, the architects showed only their usual
discretion in refusing to dwarf the rest of the cathedral by an
exaggerated façade.

It may sound like the indulgence of national predilection to say so; but
it does seem that the English architects seized the true doctrine of
proportion to a greater extent than their contemporaries on the
Continent, and applied it more successfully. It will be easily
understood that in so complicated and constructive a machine as a Gothic
cathedral, unless every part is in proportion the whole will not unite.
It is as if, in a watch or any delicate piece of machinery, one wheel or
one part were made stronger or larger in proportion to all the rest. It
may be quite true that it would be better if all were as strong or as
large as this one part; but perfection in all the arts is attained only
by balance and proportion. Whenever any one part gets too large for the
rest the harmony is destroyed. This the English architects perfectly
understood. They kept their cathedrals narrow, that they might appear
long; they kept them low, that they might not appear too narrow. They
broke up the length with transepts, that it might not fatigue by
monotony. Externally they kept their roofs low that with little
expenditure they might obtain a varied and dignified sky-line, and they
balanced every part against every other so as to get the greatest value
out of each without interfering with the whole. A Gothic cathedral,
however, is so complicated—there are so many parts and so many things to
think of—that none can be said to be perfect. A pyramid may be so, or a
tower, or a Greek temple, or any very simple form of building, whatever
its size; but a Gothic cathedral hardly can be made so—at least has not
yet, though perhaps it might now be; but in the meanwhile the English,
considering the limited dimensions of their buildings, seem to have
approached a perfect ideal more nearly than any other nation during the
Middle Ages.

                          DIVERSITY OF STYLE.

There is still another consideration which must not be lost sight of in
attempting to estimate the relative merit of Continental and English
cathedrals; which is, the extraordinary diversity of style which
generally prevails in the same building in this country as compared with
those abroad. All the Great French cathedrals—such as Paris, Rheims,
Chartres, Bourges, and Amiens—are singularly uniform throughout.
Internally it requires a very keen perception of style to appreciate the
difference, and externally the variations are generally in the towers,
or in unessential adjuncts which hardly interfere with the general
design. In this country we have scarcely a cathedral, except Salisbury,
of which this can be said. It is true that Norwich is tolerably uniform
in plan and in the detail of its walls up to a certain height; but the
whole of the vaulting is of the 15th century, and the windows are all
filled with tracery of the same date. At Ely, a Norman nave leads up to
the octagon and choir of the 14th century, and we then pass on to the
presbytery of the 13th. At Canterbury and Winchester the anomalies are
still greater; and at Gloucester, owing to the perpendicular tracery
being spread over the Norman skeleton, they become absolutely

In some, as Wells or York, it must be confessed the increase in richness
from the western entrance to Lady Chapel is appropriate, and adds to the
effect of the church more than if the whole were uniform throughout.
This is particularly felt at Lincoln, where the simplicity of the early
English nave and choir blossoms at last into the chaste beauty of the
Angel Choir at the east end. It follows so immediately after the rest as
not to produce any want of harmony, while it gives such a degree of
enrichment as is suitable to the sanctity of the altar and the
localities which surround it.

Even, however, when this is not the case, the historical interest
attaching to these examples of the different ages of English
architecture goes far to compensate for the want of architectural
symmetry, and in this respect the English cathedrals excel all others.
That history which on the Continent must be learnt from the examination
of fifty different examples, may frequently be found in England written
complete in a single cathedral. The difficulty is to descriminate how
much of the feeling thus excited is due to Archæology, and how much to
Architecture. In so far as the last-named art is concerned, it must
probably be confessed that our churches do suffer from the various
changes they have undergone, which, when architecture alone is
considered, frequently turn the balance against them when compared with
their Continental rivals.


Whatever conclusion may be arrived at with regard to some of the points
mooted in the above section, there can be no doubt that in beauty of
situation and pleasing arrangement of the entourage the English
cathedrals surpass all others. On the Continent the cathedral is
generally situated in the market-place, and frequently encumbered by
shops and domestic buildings, not stuck up against it in barbarous
times, but either contemporary, or generally at least Mediæval; and
their great abbeys are frequently situated in towns, or in localities
possessing no particular beauty of feature. In England this is seldom or
never the case. The cathedral was always surrounded by a close of
sufficient extent to afford a lawn of turf and a grove of trees. Even in
the worst times of Anne and the Georges, when men chiselled away the
most exquisite Gothic canopies to set up wooden classical altar-screens,
they spared the trees and cherished the grass; and it is to this that
our cathedrals owe half their charm. There can be no greater mistake
than to suppose that the architect’s mission ceases with heaping stone
on stone, or arranging interiors for convenience and effect. The
situation is the first thing he should study; the arrangement of the
accessories, though the last, is still amongst the most important of his

Durham owes half its charm to its situation, and Lincoln much of its
grandeur. Without its park the cathedral at Ely would lose much of its
beauty; and Wells lying in its well wooded and watered vale, forms a
picture which may challenge comparison with anything of its class. Even
when situated in towns, as Canterbury, Winchester, or Gloucester, a
sufficient space is left for a little greenery and to keep off the hum
and movement of the busy world. York, among our great cathedrals is
about the most unfortunate in this respect, and suffers accordingly. But
in order to appreciate how essentially the love of Nature mingled with
the taste for architectural beauty during the Middle Ages, it is
necessary to visit some of the ruined abbeys whose remains still
sanctify the green valleys or the banks of placid streams in every
corner of England.

Even if it should be decided that in some respects the architects of
England must yield the palm to those of the Continent as regards the
mechanical perfection of their designs, it must at least be conceded,
that in combining the beauties of Art with those of Nature they were
unrivalled. Their buildings are always well fitted to the position in
which they are placed. The subsidiary edifices are always properly
subordinated, never too crowded nor too widely spaced, and always
allowing when possible for a considerable admixture of natural objects.
Too frequently in modern times—even in England—this has been neglected;
but it is one of the most important functions of the architect, and the
means by which in many instances most agreeable effects have been


The chapter-house is too important and too beautiful an adjunct to be
passed over in any sketch, however slight, of English architecture. It
also is almost exclusively national. There are, it is true, some “Salles
Capitulaires” attached to Continental cathedrals or conventual
establishments, but they are little more than large vestry-rooms, with
none of that dignity or special ordinance that belongs to the English
examples. One cause of the small importance attached to this feature on
the Continent was that, in the original basilica, the apse was the
assembly-place, where the bishop sat in the centre of his clergy and
regulated the affairs of the church. In Italy this arrangement continued
till late in the Middle Ages. In France it never seems to have had any
real existence, though figuratively it always prevailed. In England we
find the Bishop’s throne still existing in the choir at Norwich; and at
Canterbury, and doubtless in all the apsidal Norman cathedrals, this
form of consistory originally existed. Such an arrangement was well
suited for the delivery of an allocution or pastoral address by the
bishop to his clergy, and was all that was required in a despotic
hierarchy like the French Church; but it was by no means in accordance
with the Anglo-Saxon idea of a deliberate assembly which should discuss
every question as a necessary preliminary to its being promulgated as a

[Illustration: 839. Chapter-House, Bristol. (Cath. Hb.)]

[Illustration: 840. Chapter-House, Salisbury. (Cath. Hb.)]

In consequence of this, we find in England chapter-houses attached to
cathedrals even in early Norman times. These were generally rectangular
rooms, 25 or 30 ft. wide by about twice that extent in length. We can
still trace their form at Canterbury and Winchester. They exist at
Gloucester and Bristol and elsewhere. So convenient and appropriate does
this original form appear, that it is difficult to understand why it was
abandoned, unless it was that the resonance was intolerable. The
earliest innovation seems to have been at Durham, where, in 1133, a
chapter-house was commenced with its inner end semicircular; but shortly
after this, at Worcester, a circular chamber with a central pillar was
erected, and the design was so much approved of, that it became the
typical form of the English chapter-house ever afterwards. Next,
apparently, in date came Lincoln, and shortly afterwards the two
beautiful edifices at Westminster and Salisbury. The former, commenced
about the year 1250, became, without any apparent incongruity, the
parliament-house of the nation, instead of the council-chamber of a
monastic establishment; and all the parliaments of the kingdom were held
within its walls till the dissolution of the religious orders placed the
more convenient rectangular chapel of St. Stephen at their disposal. Now
that it has been restored, we are enabled to judge of the beauty of its
proportions; and, from the remains of paintings which have been so
wonderfully preserved, of the beauty of the art with which it was once
decorated. It only wants coloured glass in its windows to enable us to
realise the beauty of these truly English edifices.

[Illustration: 841. Chapter-House, Wells. (Cath. Hb.)]

That at Bristol is late in the style (1155-1170), and consequently
almost approaches the transitional epoch, but is very rich and
beautiful. The eastern end has been unfortunately pulled down and
rebuilt, but the western end, shown in the annexed Woodcut (No. 839), is
one of the richest and best specimens of late Norman work to be found

[Illustration: 842. Chapter-House, York. (Cath. Hb.)]

But, having once got rid of the central pillar, which was the great
defect of their construction as halls of assembly, they would hardly
have reverted to it again, and a true Gothic dome might have been the
result had the style been continued long enough to admit of its being

Salisbury chapter-house (Woodcut No. 840) was erected shortly
afterwards; and, though its original beauties have been to a great
extent washed out by modern restorations, it still affords a very
perfect type of an English chapter-house of the 13th century, at a time
when the French geometric tracery was most in vogue. That at Wells
(1293-1302, Woodcut No. 841), however, is more beautiful and more
essentially English in all its details. The tracery of the windows, the
stalls below them, and the ornaments of the roof, are all of that
perfect type which prevailed in this country about the year 1300. Its
central pillar may perhaps be considered a little too massive for the
utilitarian purpose of the building, but as an architectural feature its
proportions are perfect. Still the existence of the pillar was a defect
that it was thought expedient to remove, if possible; and it was at last
accomplished in the chapter-house at York, the most perfect example of
the class existing, as its boasting inscription testifies,—

                        “Ut Rosa flos florum,
                        Sic Domus ista Domorum.”

Like all the rest of them, its diameter is 57 or 58 ft.—as has been
suggested, an octagon inscribed in a circle of 60 ft. diameter. In this
instance alone has a perfect Gothic dome been accomplished. It is 12 ft.
less in diameter than the lantern at Ely, and much less in height; but
it is extremely beautiful both in design and detail, and makes us regret
more and more that, having gone so far, the Gothic architects did not
follow out this invention to its legitimate conclusion.

By the time, however, that York chapter-house was complete, all the
great cathedrals and monastic establishments had been provided with this
indispensable adjunct to their ecclesiastical arrangements, and none
were erected either in the Lancastrian or Tudor periods of the art, so
that we can hardly guess what might have been done had a monastic
parliament-house been attempted at a later date.[110]


Although not so strictly peculiar, the forms of English chapels were so
original and offer so many points of interest that they are well worthy
of study.

With the exception of the chapel in the White Tower there is perhaps no
example of a Norman Chapel now existing, unless the remains of the
infirmary chapels at Canterbury and Ely may be considered as such. The
practice of erecting them seems to have risen with our educational
colleges, where all those present took part in the service, and the
public were practically excluded. One of the finest and earliest of
these is that of Merton College, Oxford. It has, and was always designed
to have, a wooden roof; but of what fashion is not quite clear, except
that it certainly could never have been like the one now existing.

[Illustration: 843. Internal Elevation in St. Stephen’s Chapel,

The typical specimen of that age, however, was the royal chapel of St.
Stephen at Westminster, which, from what remained of it till after the
Great Fire, we know must have been the most exquisitely beautiful
specimen of English art left us by the Middle Ages.[112]

It was 92 ft. long by 33 ft. wide internally, and 42 ft. high to the
springing of the roof. This was of wood, supported by hammer-beam
trusses similar to, but evidently more delicate in design and more
elegantly carved than those of Westminster Hall, which were apparently
copied from those of the chapel. The proportions were beautiful; but the
greatest charm was in its details, which were carried out evidently by
the best artists, and with all the care that was required in the
principal residence of the sovereign.

Though nearly a century later in date,[113] St. Stephen’s Chapel is so
nearly a counterpart of the royal chapel of Paris—“the Sainte Chapelle”—
that it may be worth while to pause a second to compare the two. In
dimensions, on plan, they are not dissimilar; both are raised on an
under-croft or crypt of great beauty. The French example has the usual
apsidal termination; the English the equally characteristic square east
end. The French roof is higher and vaulted; the English was lower and of
wood. It is impossible to deny that the French chapel is very beautiful,
and only wants increased dimensions to merit the title of a sublime
specimen of Gothic art; but the English example was far more elegant.
All the parts are better balanced, and altogether it was a far more
satisfactory example than its more ambitious rival, of the highest
qualities to which the art of the Middle Ages could attain.


 Half plan Upper Storey.

 Half plan Crypt.

 844. Plan of Ste. Chapelle, Paris. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]


 Half plan Upper Storey.

 Half plan Crypt.

 845. Plan of St. Stephen’s, Westminster. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 846. Interior View of King’s College Chapel, Cambridge.]

We have an excellent means of ascertaining how far St. Stephen’s Chapel
would have been damaged by a vaulted roof, by comparing it with the
nearly contemporary chapel at Ely (1321-1349), erected under the
superintendence of the same Alan de Walsingham who designed the octagon
of the church. Its internal dimensions are 100 ft. long by 43 wide, and
sixty high. The details of the screen of niches which form a dado round
the whole chapel are perhaps, without exception, the most exquisite
specimens of decorative carving that survive from the Middle Ages. The
details of the side windows are also good, but the end windows are bad
in design, and neither externally nor internally fit the spaces in which
they are placed. With painted glass this might be remedied, internally
at least; but the whole design is thrown out of harmony by its stone
roof. As a vault its width is too great for its length; the height
insufficient for its other dimensions; and altogether, though its
details are beyond all praise, it leaves a more unsatisfactory
impression on the mind than almost any other building of its class.

King’s College Chapel at Cambridge (1479-1515) errs in exactly the
opposite direction. It is too long for its width, but has height
sufficient to redeem the length, though at the expense of exaggerating
its narrowness. These, however are all errors in the direction of
sublimity of effect; and though greater balance would have been more
satisfactory, the chapel is internally so beautiful that it is
impossible not to overlook them. It is more sublime than the Saint
Chapelle, though, from its late age, wanting the beauty of detail of
that building.

Henry VII.’s Chapel, Westminster (1502-1515), differs from all previous
examples, in having side-aisles with chapels at the east end and a
clerestory. Its proportions are not, however, pleasing, but it makes up
in richness of detail for any defects of design.

Of the three royal chapels, that at Windsor (1475-1521) is perhaps on
the whole the most satisfactory. Being a chapel it has no western or
central towers to break its sky-line and give it external dignity; but
internally it is a small cathedral, and notwithstanding the lateness of
some of its details (part of the vault was finished in the reign of
Henry VIII.), is so elegant and so appropriate in every part as to be
certainly one of the most beautiful Gothic buildings in existence; for
its size, perhaps the most beautiful. Considering that these three
last-named chapels were being erected contemporaneously with St. Peter’s
at Rome, it is wonderful how little trace of classic feeling they
betray; and how completely not only Gothic details but true Gothic
feeling still prevailed in this country almost up to the outbreak of the

                            PARISH CHURCHES.

Were it possible in a work like this to attempt anything approaching an
exhaustive enumeration of the various objects of interest produced
during the Middle Ages, it would be impossible to escape a very long
chapter on the parish churches of England. They are not so magnificent
as her cathedrals, nor so rich as her chapels; but for beauty of detail
and appropriateness of design they are unsurpassed by either, while on
the Continent there is nothing to compare with them. The parochial
system seems to have been more firmly rooted in the affection of the
people of this country than of any other. Especially in the 14th and
15th centuries the parishioners took great pride in their churches, and
those then erected are consequently more numerous as well as more
ornamental than at any other time.

[Illustration: 847. Plan of Circular Church at Little Maplestead. Scale
50 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 848. Spire of Great Leighs Church, Essex.]

[Illustration: 849. Tower of Little Saxham Church, Suffolk.]

Strange to say, considering how common the circular form was in the
countries from which our forefathers are said to have emigrated, it
never took root in England. The round churches at Cambridge,
Northampton, and London, were certainly sepulchral, or erected in
imitation of the church at Jerusalem. The one known example of a village
church with a circular nave is that at Little Maplestead, in Essex. It
is of the pure German or Scandinavian type[114]—a little St. Gereon,
standing alone in this form in England; but a curious modification of it
occurs in the eastern counties, in which this church is situated, which
points very distinctly to the origin of a great deal of the architecture
of that country. There are in Norfolk and Suffolk some forty or fifty
churches with round Western towers, which seem undoubtedly to be mere
modifications of the western round nave of the Scandinavian churches. At
page 331, Läderbro Church (Woodcut No. 795) was pointed out as an
example of a circular nave attenuated into a steeple, and there are no
doubt many others of the same class in Scandinavia. It was, however, in
England, where rectangular naves were common, that the compromise found
in this country became fashionable. These Norfolk churches with round
towers may consequently be looked upon as safe indexes of the existence
of Scandinavian influences in the eastern counties, and also as
interesting examples of the mode in which a compromise is frequently hit
upon between the feelings of intrusive races and the habits of the
previous inhabitants.

It is doubtful whether round-naved and round-towered churches existed in
the eastern counties anterior to the Norman Conquest; so far as we know,
none have been described. The earliest that are known were erected
during the Norman period, and extend certainly down to the end of the
Edwardian period. Some of the towers have perpendicular details, but
these seem insertions, and consequently do not indicate the date of the
essential parts of the structure.

As a rule, the English parish church is never vaulted, that species of
magnificence being reserved, after the Norman times at least, for
cathedrals and collegiate churches; but on the other hand, their wooden
roofs are always appropriate, and frequently of great beauty. So
essential does the vault appear to have been to Gothic architecture both
abroad and in this country, that it is at first sight difficult to admit
that any other form of covering can be as beautiful. But some of the
roofs in English churches go far to refute the idea. Even, however, if
they are not in themselves so monumental and so grand, they had at least
this advantage, that the absence of the vault allowed the architect to
play with the construction of the substructure. He was enabled to
lighten the pillars of the nave to any extent he thought consistent with
dignity, and to glaze his clerestory in a manner which must have given
extreme brilliancy to the interior when the whole was filled with
painted glass. Generally with a wooden roof there were two windows in
the clerestory for one in the aisles: with a vaulted roof the tendency
was the other way. Had they dared, they would have put one above for two
below. But the great merit of a wooden roof was, that it enabled the
architect to dispense with all flying buttresses, exaggerated pinnacles,
and mechanical expedients, which were necessary to support a vault, but
which often sadly hampered and crowded his designs.

[Illustration: 850. Roof at Trunch Church. (From a Drawing by H.

[Illustration: 851. Roof of Aisle in New Walsingham Church.]

So various were the forms these wooden roofs took that they almost defy
classification. The earlier and best type was a reminiscence, rather
than an imitation, of the roof of St. Stephen’s Chapel or Westminster
Hall, but seldom so deeply framed. That at Trunch Church, Norfolk
(Woodcut No. 850), may be taken as a fair average specimen of the form
adopted for the larger spans, and that at New Walsingham of the mode
adopted for roofing aisles. Some, of course, are simpler, but many much
more elaborate. In later periods they become flatter, and more like the
panelled ceiling of a hall or chamber; but they were always perfectly
truthful in construction, and the lead was laid directly on the boarded
framing. They thus avoided the double roof, which was so inherent a
defect in the vaulted forms, where the stone ceiling required to be
protected externally by a true roof.

Among so many examples it is difficult to select one which shall
represent the class, but the annexed plan of Walpole St. Peter’s,
Norfolk, will suffice to explain the typical arrangement of an English
parish church. In almost every instance the nave had aisles, and was
lighted by a clerestory. The chancel was narrow and deep, without
aisles, and with a square termination. There was one tower, with a
belfry, generally, but not always, at the west end; and the principal
entrance was by a south door, usually covered by a porch of more or less
magnificence, frequently, as in this instance, vaulted, and with a
muniment room or library chamber over it.

[Illustration: 852. Plan of Church of Walpole St. Peter’s, Norfolk.
Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

Often, as at Coventry, Boston, and other places, these churches with the
above described arrangements almost reached the dimensions of small
cathedrals, the towers and spires matching those of the proudest
ecclesiastical edifices; and in many instances the details of their
tracery and the beauty of their sculptured ornaments are quite equal to
anything to be found in the cathedral of the diocese.


When we consider the brilliancy of invention displayed in the decorative
details of French ecclesiastical buildings, the play of fancy and the
delicacy of execution, it must perhaps be admitted that in this respect
the French architects of the Middle Ages far excelled those of any other
nation. This was, no doubt, due in a great measure to the reminiscences
of classical art that remained in the country, especially in the south,
where the barbarian influence never really made itself felt, and whence
the feeling gradually spread northwards; and may be traced in the
quasi-classical details of the best French examples of the 13th century,
even in the Isle de France. More also should perhaps be ascribed to the
Celtic feeling for art, which still characterises the French nation, and
has influenced it ever since its people became builders.

Though the English must yield the palm to the French in this respect,
there is still a solidity and appropriateness of purpose in their
details which goes far to compensate for any want of fancy. There is
also in this country a depth of cutting and a richness of form, arising
from the details being so often imitated from wood-carving, which is
architecturally more valuable than the more delicate exuberance of
French examples.

These remarks apply with almost equal force to figure-sculpture as a
mode of decoration. Neither in Germany nor in this country is anything
to be found at all comparable with the great sculptural Bibles of
Rheims, Chartres, Bourges, and other great cathedrals of France; even
such at Poitiers, Arles, St. Gilles, are richer in this respect than
many of our largest churches. It is true that the sculptures of the
façade at Wells, or of the Angel Choir at Lincoln, and the façade of
Croyland Abbey, are quite equal in merit to anything of the same period
on the Continent; and, had there been the same demand, we might have
done as well or better than any other nation. Whether it arose from a
latent feeling of respect for the Second Commandment, or a cropping out
of Saxon feeling, certain it is that, with certain exceptions, such as
the Lady Chapel at Ely, figure-sculpture gradually died out in England.
In the 14th century it was not essential; in the 15th and 16th it was
subordinate to the architectural details, and in this respect the people
became Protestant long before they thought of protesting against the
pope and the papist form of worship.

[Illustration: 853. Staircase at Canterbury Cathedral.]

As already hinted at, it is probable that a great deal of the richness
of English decorative carving is due to the employment, in early times,
of wood as a building material in preference to stone. It is difficult,
for instance, to understand how such a form of decorative arch as that
on the old staircase at Canterbury could have arisen from any exigency
of stone construction; but it displays all that freedom of form and
richness of carving that might easily arise from the employment of

The same remarks apply, though in a less degree, to the Norman gateway
at Bristol (Woodcut No. 854); which may be regarded as a typical
specimen of the style—sober, and constructive, yet rich—without a
vestige of animal life, but with such forms as an ivory or wood carver
might easily invent, and would certainly adopt.

[Illustration: 854. Norman Gateway, College Green, Bristol. (Cath. Hb.)]

The great defect of such a style of decoration as this was its extreme
elaboration. It was almost impossible to carry out a large building,
every part of which should be worked up to the same key-note as this;
and, if it had been done, it would have been felt that the effect was
not commensurate with the labour bestowed upon it. What the architects
therefore set to work to invent was some mode of decoration which should
be effective with a less expenditure of labour. This they soon
discovered in the deep-cut mouldings of the Gothic arch, with the
occasional intermixture of the dog-tooth moulding (as in the nave at
Lichfield, Woodcut No. 812), which was one of the earliest and most
effective discoveries of the 13th century. Sometimes a band of foliage
was introduced with the dog-tooth, as in the doorways leading to the
choir aisles at Lincoln (Woodcut No. 855), making together as effective
a piece of decoration as any in the whole range of English
architecture,—more difficult to design, but less expensive to execute,
than many Norman examples, and infinitely more effective when done.

[Illustration: 855. Capitals, &c., of Doorway leading to the Choir
Aisles, Lincoln. (Cath. Hb.)]

The west doorway at Lichfield (A.D. 1275, Woodcut No. 856) shows the
style in its highest degree of perfection. There is just that admixture
of architectural moulding with decorative foliage which is necessary to
harmonise the constructive necessities of the building with the
decorative purposes to which it was to be applied, combined with a
feeling of elegance which could only have proceeded from a thoroughly
cultivated and refined class of intellect.

[Illustration: 856. West Doorway, Lichfield Cathedral. (Cath. Hb.)]

[Illustration: 857. Tomb of Bishop Marshall, Exeter Cathedral. (Cath.

Everything in England of the same age bears the same impress, so that it
is difficult to go wrong in selecting examples, though hopeless to
expect, with any reasonable amount of illustration, to explain its
beauties. The niches at the back of the altar-screen at Winchester are
among the best examples of that combination of constructive lines and
decorative details which when properly balanced make up the perfection
of architectural decoration; or, perhaps, even better than these are the
heads of the three niches over the sedilia in the parish church at
Heckington in Lincolnshire (Woodcut No. 858). The style of these
examples is peculiar to England, and quite equal to anything that can be
found on the Continent; and thousands of examples, more or less perfect,
executed during the Edwardian period, exist in every corner of the
country. Bishop Marshall’s tomb at Exeter (Woodcut No. 621), though
somewhat earlier, displays the same playful combination of conventional
foliage with architectural details.

[Illustration: 858. Triple Canopy, Heckington Church, Lincolnshire.]

[Illustration: 859. Prior de Estria’s Screen, Canterbury Cathedral.
(Cath. Hb.)]

[Illustration: 860. Doorway of Chapter-House, Rochester Cathedral.
(Cath. Hb.)]

After the year 1300, however, we can perceive a change gradually
creeping over the style of decoration. Constructive forms are becoming
more and more prominent; merely decorative features being gradually
dropped as years went on. In Prior de Estria’s screen in Canterbury
Cathedral, for instance (Woodcut No. 859), though all the elegance of
earlier times is retained, the principal features are mechanical, and
the decoration much more subdued than in the examples just quoted. The
celebrated doorway leading to the chapter-house at Rochester (Woodcut
No. 860) is a still more striking example of this. It is rich even to
excess; but the larger part of its decoration consists of ornaments
which could be drawn with instruments. Of free-hand carving there is
comparatively little: and though the whole effect is very satisfactory,
there is so evident a tendency towards the mere mechanical arrangement
of the Perpendicular style that it does not please to the same extent as
earlier works of the same class.


Among the more beautiful objects of decorative art with which our
churches were adorned during the Middle Ages are the canopies or shrines
erected over the burying-places of kings or prelates, or as cenotaphs in
honour of their memory. Simple slabs, with a figure upon them, seem to
have been all that was attempted during the Norman period; but the pomp
of sepulchral magnificence gradually developed itself, so that by the
end of the 13th or beginning of the 14th century we have some of the
most splendid specimens existing, and the practice lasted down almost to
the Renaissance, as exemplified in Bishop West’s tomb at Ely
(1515-1534), or Bishop Gardiner’s at Winchester (1531-1555).

[Illustration: 861. Tomb of the Black Prince, Canterbury Cathedral.
(Cath. Hb.)]

At first the tomb-builders were content with a simple wooden tester,
like that which covers the tomb of the Black Prince at Canterbury; but
this became one of great beauty when applied, as in Westminster Abbey,
to the tomb of Edward III. (Woodcut No. 862), where its appropriateness
and beauty of detail distinguish it from many more ambitious shrines in

In general design these two monuments are similar to one another, and
must have been erected very nearly at the same time—the difference being
in the superior richness and elaboration of the regal as compared with
the princely tomb.

[Illustration: 862. Tomb of Edward III. in Westminster Abbey.]

Although this form of wooden tester was the most usual in monuments of
the age, stone canopies were also frequently employed, as in the
well-known monument of Aymer de Valence (died 1324) in Westminster
Abbey. But all previous examples were excelled by the beautiful shrine
which the monks of Gloucester erected, at a considerably later period,
over the burying-place of the unfortunate Edward II. (Woodcut No. 863).
In its class there is nothing in English architecture more beautiful
than this. It belongs to the very best age of the style, and is carried
out with a degree of propriety and elegance which has not been surpassed
by any example now remaining. If the statues with which it was once
adorned could now be replaced, it would convey a more correct idea of
the style of the Edwardian period than can be obtained from larger

[Illustration: 863. Tomb of Edward II. in Gloucester Cathedral. (Cath

It seems to have been as much admired then as now; for we find its form
repeated, with more or less correctness of outline and detail, at
Winchester, at Tewkesbury, and St. Alban’s, as well as elsewhere, the
whole forming a series of architectural illustrations unmatched in their
class by anything on the continent of Europe.

[Illustration: 864. Tomb of Bishop Redman in Ely Cathedral. (Cath. Hb.)]

As a fine specimen of the form taken by a multitude of these tombs
during the last period of Gothic art we may select that of Bishop Redman
at Ely (1501-1506). Though so late in date, there is nothing offensive
either in its form or detail. On the contrary, it is well proportioned
and appropriate; and though there is a little display of over-ingenuity
in making the three arches of the canopy sustain themselves without
intermediate supports, this is excusable from its position between two
massive piers. It is doing in stone what had been done in wood over
Edward III.’s tomb at Westminster, and is one of many instances which
might be quoted of the interchangeableness of wooden and stone forms
during the whole of the Middle Ages in this country, and a proof of the
influence the one always had on the other.

[Illustration: 865. Waltham Cross (restored).]

Among the most beautiful monuments of a quasi-sepulchral character
existing in this country are the crosses erected by Edward I. on the
spots at which the body of his queen Eleanor rested on its way from
Nottinghamshire to London. Originally, it is said, there were fifteen of
these, all different in design. Three only now remain; one near
Northampton, one at Geddington, and a third at Waltham (Woodcut No.
865).[115] Though greatly dilapidated, enough remains to show what was
the original design. While extremely varied both in outline and detail,
every part is elegant, and worthy of the best age of English

Had it not been the custom in those days to bury the illustrious dead
within the walls of the churches, this is probably the form which
sepulchral monuments would generally have taken. If we may judge from
the examples left us, we can have little doubt but that, with more
experience and somewhat increased dimensions, these monuments would have
surpassed the spires of our cathedrals or parish churches in every
respect as architectural designs. Being entirely free from utilitarian
exigencies, the architect had only to consult the rules of his art in
order to produce what would be most pleasing and most appropriate. We
can only therefore regret that so purely English a form of sepulchral
design began and ended with this one act of conjugal devotion.


One of the most remarkable characteristics of English architecture,
though but a negative one, is the almost total absence of any municipal
buildings during the whole period of the Middle Ages. The Guildhall of
London is a late specimen, and may even be called an insignificant one,
considering the importance of the city. There are also some corporation
buildings at Bristol, and one or two unimportant town-halls in other
cities; but there we stop. Nothing can more vividly express how
completely the country was Frenchified by the result of the battle of
Hastings, than this absence of municipal architecture. Till a very
recent period the king, the baron, and the bishop, were the estates of
the realm. The people were nowhere, and neither municipalities nor
guilds could assert an independent existence.

On the other hand, in proportion to her population, England is rich in
castles beyond any other country in Europe—especially of the Norman or
round-arched Gothic age. Germany, as already pointed out, has some fine
examples of the Hohenstaufen period. France has scarcely any, and
neither France nor Germany can match such castles as those of London,
Rochester, Norwich, Rising, &c. The Welsh castles of the Edwardian
period form an unrivalled group themselves; and are infinitely superior,
both in extent and architectural magnificence, to the much-lauded
robber-dens of the Rhineland; while such castles as Raglan, Chepstow,
Kenilworth, Warwick, or Windsor are, for picturesque beauty and elegance
of detail, quite unmatched except by one or two ruined strongholds in
the North of France. The discussion of their merits, however, would more
probably come under the head of military architecture, which is excluded
from this work, and cannot therefore be entered on here.

It is difficult, however, to draw the line exactly between the castles
and the castellated mansion, the moated grange, and lastly the mansion
or manor-house, which, towards the end of the Gothic period, had become
so numerous in England, and form an architectural group so beautiful and
so peculiarly English.

[Illustration: 866. Plan of Westminster Hall. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

Taken altogether, there is perhaps no class of buildings to which an
Englishman may turn with more pride than the educational establishments
which the Middle Ages have left him. Though in some cases entirely
rebuilt and no doubt very much altered, still the colleges of Oxford and
Cambridge retain much of their original features, and are unrivalled in
their kind. None of them, it is true, are very ancient as we now see
them. With the exception of some of the earlier buildings at Merton, the
greater number owe their magnificence to the days of Wykeham (ob. 1426)
and Waynflete (ob. 1486). It was during the reign of Henry VI.
(1422-1470) that the great impulse was given, not only within the limits
of the Universities, but by the foundation of Eton and Winchester, and
other great schools, all which belong to the 15th century. But the
building of Gothic or quasi-Gothic educational establishments was
continued till the death of Queen Elizabeth (1602).

[Illustration: 867. Section of Westminster Hall. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

In most respects, these colleges resembled the monastic establishments,
which, to a certain extent, they may be considered as superseding. The
principal difference was that the church of the monastery became subdued
into a chapel exclusively devoted to the use of the inmates of the
college. In all these establishments, whether palaces or colleges,
castles or manor-houses, the principal apartment was the hall, in some
cases subordinate to the chapel only. It was on the halls that the
architects lavished their art, and, generally speaking, these are most
entitled to be considered as architectural features. Even now there are
in England at least a hundred of these halls, either entire and in use,
or sufficiently perfect to render their restoration easy. All have
deeply and beautifully framed roofs of timber. In this respect they
stand alone, no wooden roofs on the Continent being comparable with

[Illustration: 868. Hall of Palace at Eltham.]

Among them the largest and grandest is, as it ought to be, the hall of
the King’s Palace at Westminster, as rebuilt by Richard II. Internally
it is 239 ft. long by 68 ft. in width, covering about 23,000 superficial
feet. The hall at Padua is larger, and so may some others be, but none
have a roof at all approaching this either in beauty of design or
mechanical cleverness of execution. In this respect it stands quite
alone and unrivalled, and, with the smaller roof of St. Stephen’s chapel
adjoining, seems to have formed the type on which most of the subsequent
roofs were framed.

The roof of the hall at Eltham (Woodcut No. 868), which belongs to the
reign of Henry IV., is inferior both in dimensions and design to that at
Westminster, but still displays clearly the characteristics of the
style. It would have been better if the trusses had sprung from a line
level with the sills of the windows, and if the arched frame had been
less flat; but that was the tendency of the age, which soon became so
exaggerated as to destroy the constructive proportion altogether.

We are not able to trace the gradual steps by which the hammer-beam
truss was perfected, but we can follow it from the date of the hall at
Westminster (1397), to Wolsey’s halls at Hampton Court and Oxford, till
it passed into the Jacobean versions of Lambeth or the Inner Temple.
Among all these, that of Kenilworth, though small (86 ft. × 43 ft.),
must have been one of the most beautiful. It belongs to an age when the
style adopted for halls had reached its acme of perfection (middle of
15th century), when the details of carpentry had been mastered, but
before there was any tendency to tame the deep framing down to the
flatness of a ceiling. The wooden roofs of churches were generally
flatter and less deeply framed than those of the halls, which may have
arisen from their being smaller in span, and being placed over
clerestories with little abutment to resist a thrust; but, whether from
this or any other cause, they are generally less beautiful.

There are few features of Mediæval art in this country to which
attention could be more profitably directed than the roof; for, whether
applied to secular or ecclesiastical buildings, the framed and carved
wooden roof is essentially English in execution and application, and is
one of the most beautiful and appropriate manifestations of our national

Did space admit of it, it would be easy to extend these remarks, and in
so doing to explain and prove a great deal which in the previous pages
it has been necessary to advance as mere assertion. The subject is, in
fact, practically inexhaustible; as will be easily understood when it is
remembered that for more than five centuries all the best intellects of
the nation were more or less directed towards perfecting this great art.
Priests and laymen worked with masons, painters, and sculptors; and all
were bent on producing the best possible building, and improving every
part and every detail, till the amount of thought and contrivance
accumulated in any single great structure is almost incomprehensible. If
any one man were to devote a lifetime to the study of one of our great
cathedrals—assuming it to be complete in all its Mediæval arrangements—
it is questionable whether he would master all its details, and fathom
all the reasonings and experiments which led to the glorious result
before him. And when we consider that not in the great cities alone, but
in every convent and every parish, thoughtful professional men were
trying to excel what had been done and was doing, by their predecessors
and their fellows, we shall understand what an amount of thought is
built into the walls of our churches, castles, colleges, and
dwelling-houses. If any one thinks he can master and reproduce all this,
he can hardly fail to be mistaken. My own impression is that not
one-tenth part of it has been reproduced in all the works written on the
subject up to this day, and much of it is probably lost and never again
to be recovered for the instruction and delight of future ages.


              |        |         |         |         |         |        |       |        |  Width  | Approximate
              | Area.  | Length  | Western | Central |  Height | Height | Width | Width  |   of    |  ratio of
              |        | inside. | Towers. | Towers. |    of   |   of   |  of   |   of   | Central |  Height to
              |        |         |         |         |   Nave. | Choir. | Nave. | Choir. |  Aisle. |    Width.
              |  Feet. |  Feet.  |  Feet.  |  Feet.  |  Feet.  |  Feet. | Feet. |  Feet. |  Feet.  |
 York         | 72,860 |   486   |   196   |   198   |    93   |   101  |  106  |   102  |   51    |   1 to 2
 Lincoln      | 66,900 |   468   |   206   |   258   |    82   |    71  |   80  |    81  |   39    |   1    2
 Winchester   | 64,200 |   530   |    ..   |   140   |    76   |    ..  |   85  |    ..  |   35    |   1    2·43
 Westminster  | 61,729 |   505   |   220   |   ..    |   103   |    ..  |   75  |    ..  |   35    |   1    3
 Ely          | 61,700 |   517   |   215   |   170   |    72   |    70  |   75  |    ..  |   34    |   1    2·1
 Canterbury   | 56,280 |   514   |   152   |   229   |    80   |    70  |   73  |    85  |   33    |   1    2·4
 Salisbury    | 55,830 |   450   |    ..   |   404   |    84   |    ..  |   82  |    ..  |   35    |   1    2·3
 Durham       | 55,700 |   473   |   164   |   216   |    74   |    ..  |   81  |    77  |   32    |   1    2·3
 Peterborough | 50,516 |   426   |   154   |   143   |    78   |    ..  |   79  |    ..  |   36    |   1    2
 Wells        | 40,680 |   388   |   125   |   165   |    67   |    ..  |   69  |    ..  |   34    |   1    2
 Norwich      | 40,572 |   408   |    ..   |   309   |    73   |    ..  |   70  |    ..  |   26    |   1    2·8
 Worcester    | 38,980 |   387   |    ..   |   191   |    66   |    ..  |   78  |    ..  |   32    |   1    2·45
 Exeter       | 35,370 |   383   |    ..   |    ..   |    70   |    ..  |   72  |    ..  |   34    |   1    2·1
 Lichfield    | 33,930 |   319   |   192   |   252   |    55   |    ..  |   66  |    ..  |   28    |   1    2

                              CHAPTER IV.

                       ARCHITECTURE OF SCOTLAND.


Affinities of Style—Early Specimens—Cathedral of Glasgow—Elgin—Melrose—
  Other Churches—Monasteries.


   Malcolm Canmore.    Accession                            A.D. 1057
   David I.                                                      1124
   William the Lion                                              1165
   John Baliol                                                   1292
   Robert Bruce                                                  1306
   David II.                                                     1329
   Robert II., Stuart                                            1371
   James I.                                                      1406
   Mary Queen of Scots                                           1542

THERE are few countries in the world in respect to whose architecture it
is so difficult to write anything like a connected narrative as it is
regarding that of Scotland. The difficulty does not arise from the
paucity of examples, or from their not having been sufficiently examined
or edited, but from the circumstance of the art not being indigenous. No
one who knows anything of the ethnography of art would suspect the
people who now inhabit the lowlands of Scotland of inventing any form of
architecture, or of feeling much sympathy with it when introduced from
abroad. It may have been that the Celtic element was more predominant in
the country during the Middle Ages, and that the Teutonic race only came
to the surface with the Reformation, when they showed their national
characteristic in their readiness to destroy what they could not build.
If this were not so, it must have been that their priests were
strangers, who brought their arts with them and practised them for their
own satisfaction, in despite of the feelings of their flocks.

Briefly, the outline of Scotland’s architectural story seems to be this.
Till the time of the wars of the Edwards, the boundary line between the
styles on either side of the border cannot be very clearly defined. In
Scotland the forms were ruder and bolder than in the South, but were
still the same in all essential respects.

After the days of Wallace and of Bruce, hatred of the English threw the
Scotch into the arms of France. Instead of the Perpendicular style of
the South, we find an increasing tendency to copy the Flamboyant and
other contemporary styles of France, till at last, just as the style was
expiring, both churches and mansions are almost literal copies of French
designs. But, in addition to these, an Irish element is strongly felt:
at Iona and throughout the West, extending in exceptional cases to the
east, as at Brechin and Abernethy. It can also be traced in the Lothians
in the chapels and smaller edifices of the 11th and 12th centuries, and
seems to be the ingredient which distinguishes the early Round-arched
Gothic of Scotland from the Norman of England. Besides these three, a
Scandinavian element makes itself felt in the Orkneys, and as far south
as Morayshire; and even Spain is said to have contributed the design to
Roslyn Chapel, and made her influence felt elsewhere.

All these foreign elements, imported into a country where a great mass
of the people belonged to an art-hating race, tended to produce an
entanglement of history very difficult to unravel. With leisure and
space, however, it might be accomplished; and, if properly completed,
would form a singularly interesting illustration, not only of the
ethnography of Scotland, but of art in general.

The buildings of David I. (1124-1165) gave an immense impulse to the
round-arched style, which continued for nearly a century after his time,
and long after the pointed arch had been currently used in the South. It
is true we find pointed arches mixed up with it, as at Jedburgh, but the
pillars and capitals are those of the earlier orders; and the circular
arch continued to be used from predilection whenever the constructive
necessities of the building did not suggest the employment of the
pointed form.

The feature of English art which the Scotch seem to have best
appreciated was the lancet window, which suited their simple style so
completely that they clung to it long after its use had been abandoned
in England. This circumstance has given rise to much confusion in the
dates of Scottish buildings, antiquaries being unwilling to believe that
the lancet windows of Elgin and other churches really belong to the
middle of the 14th century, after England had passed through the phases
of circle and flowing tracery, and was settling down to the sober
constructiveness of the perpendicular.

Circle tracery is, in fact, very little known in the North, and English
flowing tracery hardly to be found in all Scotland. It is true that a
class of flowing tracery occurs everywhere in Scotland, but it is, both
in form and age, much more closely allied to French Flamboyant than to
anything English. It was used currently during the whole period between
the 2nd and 3rd Richards, and even during the Tudor period of England.

The one great exception to what has been said is the east window of the
border monastery of Melrose; but even here it is not English
Perpendicular, but an original mode of treating an English idea, found
only in this one instance, and mixed up with the flowing tracery of the

Of Tudor architecture there is no trace in Scotland; neither the
four-centred low arch nor fan-vaulting are to be found there, nor that
peculiar class of perpendicular tracery which distinguished the 16th and
17th centuries in the South. At that period the Scotch still adhered to
their Flamboyant style, and such attempts as they did make at
Perpendicular work were so clumsy and unconstructive that it is little
wonder that, like the French, they soon abandoned it.

In so poor and thinly-populated a country as Scotland was in the 11th
century, it would be in vain to look for any of the great ecclesiastical
establishments that are found in the South. The churches seem at this
age to have been cells or small chapels, such as that at Leuchars or
Dalmeny, closely resembling St. Clement’s church at Trondhjem, and a
little larger than the contemporary edifices so frequently found in

[Illustration: 869. Window, Leuchars. (From a Drawing by R. W.

Leuchars is perhaps the most characteristic and beautiful specimen of
its class, of which, like the contemporary chapel at Cashel, which it
much resembles, it may be considered as the type. Its details are not
only rich, but, as may be seen from the woodcut, bold and elegant at the
same time. Both internally and externally, the ornament is applied in so
masterly a manner that the beauty of the art makes up for the smallness
of dimensions, and renders it one of the most interesting churches in

[Illustration: 870. Pier-Arch, Jedburgh.]

David I. seems to have been the first king who gave an impulse to the
monastic establishments and to the building of larger churches. His
endowment of the great border abbeys, and his general patronage of the
monks, enabled them to undertake buildings on a greatly extended scale.
The churches of Jedburgh and Kelso, as we now find them, belong either
to the very end of the 12th or beginning of the 13th century. They
display all the rude magnificence of the Norman period, used in this
instance not experimentally, as was too often the case in England, but
as a well-understood style, whose features were fully perfected. So far
from striving after novelty, the Scotch architects were looking
backwards, and culling the beauties of a long-established style. The
great arch under the tower of Kelso is certainly a well-understood
example of the pointed-arched architecture of the 13th century, while
around it and above it nothing is to be seen but circular-headed
openings, combined generally with the beaded shafts and the foliage of
the Early English period. The whole is used with a Doric simplicity and
boldness which is very remarkable. Sometimes, it must be confessed, this
independence of constraint is carried a little too far, as in the
pier-arches at Jedburgh (Woodcut No. 870), which are thrown across
between the circular pillars without any subordinate shaft or apparent
support. This was a favourite trick of the later Gothic architects of
Germany, though seldom found at this early period. Here the excessive
strength of the arch in great measure excuses it.

[Illustration: 871. Arches in Kelso Abbey.]

Besides the general grandeur of their designs, a great deal of the
detail of these abbeys is of the richest and best class of the age. The
favourite form, as at Leuchars, is that of circular arches intersecting
one another, so as to form pointed sub-arches, and these are generally
ornamented with all the elaborate intricacy of the period, such as is
shown in Woodcut No. 871, taken from Kelso Abbey Church.

While these great abbeys were being erected in the southern extremity of
the kingdom, the cathedral of St. Magnus was founded at the other
extremity, at Kirkwall in the Orkneys. This building was commenced 1137,
and carried on with vigour for some time. The first three arches of the
choir (Woodcut No. 872) are all that can certainly be identified as
belonging to that period. The arch of the tower belongs probably to the
14th century, and the vaulting can hardly be much earlier. The three
arches beyond this are still circular, though with mouldings of a late
period. It is said that these were not completed till the 16th century.

[Illustration: 872. Plan and three Bays of Choir, Kirkwall Cathedral.]

Farther south, arches of this late age could not have been built in such
an ancient style, but we can believe that in that remote corner the old
familiar modes were retained in spite of changing fashion; and the
consequence is that, though the building of this cathedral was carried
on at intervals during 400 years, it is at first sight singularly
uniform in style, and has all the characteristics of an old Norman
building, as may be seen from the woodcut.

[Illustration: 873. North Side of the Cathedral at Kirkwall.]

The cathedral of Glasgow (Woodcut No. 878) is almost the only other of
the great ecclesiastical edifices of Scotland which retains its original
features in a nearly perfect state. It is at the same time one of the
most satisfactory and characteristic buildings to be found in the


  874. 1. Plan of Glasgow Cathedral.
  2. Plan of Crypt, Glasgow Cathedral. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.
  (From J. Collie’s Description of this Church.)

The bishopric was founded by David I., but it was not till after several
destructions by fire that the present building was commenced, probably
about the year 1240. The crypt and the whole of the choir belong to the
latter part of the 13th century, the nave to the 14th, the tower and
spire to the 15th. The central aisle never having been intended to be
vaulted, the architect has been enabled to dispense with all pinnacles,
flying buttresses, and such expedients, and thus to give the whole
outline a degree of solidity and repose which is extremely beautiful,
and accords perfectly with the simple lancet openings which prevail

The whole length of the building externally, exclusive of the western
towers, one of which has recently been pulled down, is 300 feet, the
breadth 73, and the area about 26,400 square feet, so that it is far
from being a large building; but its situation is so good, and its
design and proportion so appropriate and satisfactory throughout, that
it is more imposing than many others of twice its dimensions. The spire,
which is 219 feet in height from the floor of the church, is in perfect
proportion to the rest of the building, both in dimensions and outline,
and aids very much the general effect of the whole.

[Illustration: 875. View in Crypt of Glasgow Cathedral.]

The glory of this cathedral is its crypt, which is unrivalled in
Britain, and indeed perhaps in Europe. Almost all the crypts now found
in England were built during the Norman period, or very early in the
pointed style. That at Glasgow, however, belongs to the perfected style
of the 13th century, and as the ground falls rapidly towards the west,
the architect was enabled to give it all the height required, and to
light it with perfect ease. Here the crypt actually extends under and
beyond the whole choir; but even with all its adjuncts, it did not equal
in size the crypt of old St. Paul’s. There is a solidity, however, in
the architecture of the crypt at Glasgow, a richness in its vaulting,
and a variety of perspective in the spacing of its pillars, which make
it one of the most perfect pieces of architecture in these islands.

[Illustration: 876. Crypt of Cathedral at Glasgow.]

[Illustration: 877. Clerestory Window, Glasgow Cathedral.]

In the crypt and lower part of the church the windows are generally
single or double lancet, united by an arch. In the clerestory they
sometimes take the form of three lancets, united, as shown in Woodcut
No. 877, by an imperfect kind of tracery, more in accordance with the
simplicity of the building than the more complex form prevalent in
England at the same period. In the south transept, and some of the later
additions, there is a tracery of considerable elaboration and beauty of

[Illustration: 878. East End of Glasgow Cathedral.]

[Illustration: 879. East End, Elgin Cathedral.]

Perhaps the most beautiful building in Scotland is, or was, the
cathedral of Elgin. The province of Moray, in which it was situated, was
so remote that it seems to have been comparatively undisturbed by the
English wars, and the greater part of the building was erected during
the Edwardian period, with all the beautiful details of that age. The
seat of the see was removed from Spynie to Elgin in the year 1223, and
the cathedral commenced contemporaneously with those of Amiens and
Salisbury. All that now remains of this period is the fragment of the
south transept (Woodcut No. 880), where we see the round arch
reappearing over the pointed, at a period when its use was entirely
discontinued in the South. At the same time the details of the doorway
(Woodcut No. 881) show that in other respects the style was at that
period as far advanced as in England. The cathedral was burnt down in
1270, and again partially in 1390. The choir and other parts which still
remain were built subsequently to the first conflagration and escaped
the second. These parts appear at first sight to belong to the lancet
style of the previous century, but used with the details and tracery of
the Edwardian period, and with a degree of beauty hardly surpassed
anywhere. As compared with English cathedrals, that at Elgin must be
considered as a small church, being only 253 ft. in length internally,
and 82 wide across the five aisles of the nave. It is very beautifully
arranged, and on the whole is perhaps more elegant in plan than any of
the Southern examples. As a mechanical design, its worst fault is that
the piers supporting the central tower want strength and accentuation.
As will be seen from the plan, an attempt was made to throw the weight
of the tower on the transept walls, which are built solid for this
purpose; but this was artistically a mistake, while mechanically it
caused the destruction of the tower at the beginning of the last
century. The choir (see Woodcut No. 879) is terminated by what is
virtually a great east window, but with piers between the compartments
instead of mullions. As an architectural object this is a far more
stable and appropriate design than a great mullioned window like that of
York and others in England. But the latter must be judged of as frames
for glass pictures, which Elgin is by no means so well suited to
display. Its details, however, are exquisite, and the whole design very
rich and beautiful.

[Illustration: 880. South Transept, Elgin Cathedral.]

[Illustration: 881. Ornament of Doorway, Elgin Cathedral.]

[Illustration: 882. Plan of Elgin Cathedral. (From an Original Plan.)
Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

The north and south aisles of the nave and the chapter-house were
rebuilt after the last destruction, and belong to the 15th century.
These parts, though very charming, display generally the faults of the
Scotch Flamboyant style, and show a certain amount of heaviness and
clumsiness mixed with the flowing and unconstructive lines of this class
of tracery, which nothing could redeem but the grace and elegance with
which the French always used it.

Next in beauty to Elgin Cathedral is the well-known abbey at Melrose.
This, though founded contemporaneously with Jedburgh and Kelso, was
entirely rebuilt during the Lancastrian period, and, owing to its
situation near the border, shows much more affinity to the English style
than the building last described. The nave, as may be seen from the view
of its aisle (Woodcut No. 883), is of a bold, solid style of
architecture, with a vault of considerable richness. The window of the
south transept is the most elegant specimen of flowing tracery to be
found in Scotland, and its great east window (Woodcut No. 884), as
before remarked, is almost the only example of the Perpendicular style
in the North, and is equal to anything of the kind on this side of the

[Illustration: 883. Aisle in Melrose Abbey.]

Few of the architectural antiquities of Scotland are so well known, or
have been so much admired, as the chapel at Roslyn (Woodcut No. 885),
which William St. Clair caused to be erected in the year 1446.

For this purpose he did not employ his countrymen, but “brought
artificers from other regions and forraigne kingdomes,”[118] and
employed them to erect a building very unlike anything else to be found
in Great Britain.

[Illustration: 884. East Window, Melrose.]

Our present knowledge of styles enables us to pronounce with little
doubt that his architects came from the Spanish peninsula. In fact,
there is no detail or ornament in the whole building which may not be
traced back to Burgos or Belem; though there is a certain clumsiness
both in the carving and construction that betrays the workmanship of
persons not too familiar with the task that they were employed upon. The
building, which perhaps exhibits the greatest affinity of detail to the
Chapel is the church at Belem on the Tagus, opposite Lisbon (Woodcut No.
969). Nothing, in fact, can well be more similar than the two are. That
at Roslyn is the oldest, having been commenced in 1446. Belem, begun in
1498, was finished apparently in 1511, at which date the Scottish
example hardly appears to have been complete. Roslyn Chapel is small,
only 68 ft. by 35 ft. internally. The central aisle is but 15 ft. wide,
and has the Southern peculiarity of a tunnel-vault with only transverse
ribs, such as is found at Fontifroide (Woodcut No. 553), and in almost
all the old churches of the South of France. The ornaments between
these, which were painted in the earlier examples, are at Roslyn carved
in relief. The vault, as in the South, is a true roof, the covering
slabs being laid directly on the extrados or outside of it, without the
intervention of any woodwork, a circumstance to which the chapel owes
its preservation to the present day. Beyond the upper chapel is a
sub-chapel (Woodcut No. 886), displaying the same mode of vaulting in a
simpler form, but equally foreign and unlike the usual form of vaults in

[Illustration: 885. Chapel at Roslyn.]

[Illustration: 886. Under Chapel, Roslyn.]

[Illustration: 887. Stone Roof of Bothwell Church. (From a Drawing by J.
Honeyman, jun.)]

Another very interesting chapel of the same class is that now used as
the church at Bothwell, near Glasgow. Like Roslyn, it has the
peculiarity unknown in England, though common in the South of France, of
a tunnel-vault with a stone roof resting directly upon it. It is not
large, measuring only 53 feet by 22, internally. The beauty of its
details, however—late in the 14th century—and the simplicity of its
outline, combined with the solidity of its stone roof, impart to the
whole an air of grandeur far greater than its dimensions would justify.
Had it been constructed with a timber roof, as usual in churches of its
date, it would hardly be considered remarkable, but it is redeemed both
internally and externally by its stone roof. As will be seen from
Woodcut No. 888, the arrangement of the stones forming the roof is very
elegant, and gave rise to a form of battlement frequently found
afterwards in Scotland, though generally used only as an ornament.[119]

[Illustration: 888. Exterior of Roof of Bothwell Church.]

[Illustration: 889. Ornamental Arcade from Holyrood.]

[Illustration: 890. Ornamental Arcade from Holyrood.]

The chapel attached to the palace at Holyrood is of a very different
character from that at Roslyn; being infinitely more beautiful, though
not nearly so curious. The building was originally founded by David I.
in 1128, but what now remains belongs to the latter end of the 13th or
beginning of the 14th century, and has all the elegance of the Edwardian
style joined to a massiveness which in England would indicate a far
earlier period. Some of its details (as that shown, Woodcut No. 889) are
of a beautiful transitional character, though not so early as might be
suspected; and others (such as Woodcut No. 890) have the rich but
foreign aspect that generally characterises the architecture of

[Illustration: 891. Interior of Porch, Dunfermline.]

The nave of the cathedral of Aberdeen is still sufficiently entire to be
used as a church, and with its twin western spires of bold castellated
design is an impressive building; but it has a character of
over-heaviness arising from the material used being granite, which did
not admit of any of the lighter graces of Gothic art.

The cathedral of St. Andrew’s must at one time have been one of the most
beautiful in Scotland, but fragments only of its east and west ends now
remain. They suffice to show that it was of considerable dimensions, and
inferior, perhaps, only to Elgin and Melrose in beauty of detail.

[Illustration: 892. Window at Dunkeld (restored).]

Besides these there are in Scotland many ruined monastic establishments,
all evincing more or less beauty of design and detail. One of the most
remarkable of these is Dunfermline, whose nave is of a bold,
round-arched style, very like what Durham Cathedral would have been had
it been intended (as this was) for a wooden roof. The other parts
display that intermixture of styles so usual in monastic buildings; bold
billeted arches, as in Woodcut No. 891, being surmounted by vaults of a
much later date. But Scotch vaulting was in general so massive and rich
that it requires the eye of an archæologist to detect a difference that
is never offensive to the true artist. Among the remaining specimens are
Dunblane, Aberbrothock, Arbroath, and Dunkeld, a window of which
(Woodcut No. 892) is a fine specimen of the Scotch flamboyant, identical
in design with one still existing in Linlithgow parish church, and very
similar to many found elsewhere. The west doorway in the last named
church is a pleasing specimen of the half Continental[120] manner in
which that feature was usually treated in Scotland.

[Illustration: 893. Doorway, Linlithgow.]

It has already been hinted that the Scotch unwillingly abandoned the
circular archway, especially as a decorative feature, and that they
indeed retain it occasionally throughout the whole of the Middle Ages,
though with the details of the period. The doorway illustrated in
Woodcut No. 894, from St. Giles’s, Edinburgh, is a fine specimen of this
mode of treatment, and so is the next illustration, from Pluscardine
Abbey. Similar doorways occur at Melrose and elsewhere. For canopies of
tombs and suchlike purposes, the circular arch is almost as common as
the pointed. Other examples are found at Iona, though there the
buildings are nearly as exceptional and Continental in design as Roslyn
itself—the circular pier-arch is used with the mouldings of the 13th
century, and the pointed arch is placed on a capital of intertwined
dragons, more worthy of a Runic cross or tombstone than a Gothic
edifice. The tower windows are filled with a quatrefoil tracery (Woodcut
No. 896), in a manner very unusual, and a mode of construction is
adopted which does not perhaps exist anywhere else in Britain. The whole
group, in fact, is as exceptional as its situation, and as remote from
the usual modes of architecture on the mainland.

The early Scotch vaults, as already mentioned, were singularly bold and
massive, and all their mouldings were characterised by strength and
vigour, as shown in the examples taken from Glasgow and Dunfermline
(Woodcuts Nos. 876, 891). At a later period, however, when the English
were using perpendicular tracery, and when the invention of fan-vaulting
was beginning to be introduced, the Scotch, with the flamboyant tracery
of the French, adopted also their weak and unconstructive modes of
vaulting. It is not uncommon to find as poor a vault as that of the
lately destroyed Trinity College Church, Edinburgh (Woodcut No. 897),
erected contemporaneously with the elaborate vaulting of the royal
chapels in England; and not only in this but in every other respect it
is to the Continent, and not to their nearest neighbours, that we must
at this late period look for analogies with the architecture of the

[Illustration: 894. Doorway, St. Giles’s, Edinburgh.]

Scotland is, generally speaking, very deficient in objects of civil or
domestic architecture belonging to the Middle Ages. Of her palaces,
Holyrood was almost rebuilt in the reign of Charles I., and Edinburgh
Castle entirely remodelled. Stirling still retains some fragments of
ancient art, and Falkland seems on the verge of the Renaissance.
Linlithgow perhaps alone remains in its original state, a fine specimen
of a fortified palace, with bold flanking towers externally, and a noble
courtyard in the centre.

[Illustration: 895. Doorway, Pluscardine Abbey.]

[Illustration: 896. Window in Tower, Iona.]

There are, besides these, numberless square towers and fortalices
scattered over the country, which were the residences of the turbulent
barons of Scotland during the Middle Ages; but none of these can
properly be called objects of architecture.

[Illustration: 897. Aisle in Trinity College Church, Edinburgh.]

The baronial edifices of the succeeding age give the impression of
belonging to an earlier style, which was retained in this wild country
long after it had been laid aside elsewhere. They are as remarkable as
any class of buildings erected after the Middle Ages, both for
originality and picturesqueness. But they were, with scarcely an
exception, built after the accession of Elizabeth to the throne of
England, and all, when closely examined, display features belonging to
the Renaissance style. Their description would therefore be more
appropriate in a subsequent volume than in a chapter devoted to the
Gothic architecture of Scotland.

                               CHAPTER V.



Oratories—Round Towers—Domical Dwellings—Domestic Architecture—Runic
  Cross Decoration.

THE history of architecture in Ireland forms as distinct a contrast to
that of Scotland as it is possible to conceive. At a very early period
the Irish showed themselves not only capable of inventing a style for
themselves, but perfectly competent to carry it to a successful issue,
had an opportunity ever been afforded them. But this has not yet
happened. Before the English conquest (1169) the country seems to have
been divided into a number of small states, whose chieftains occupied
the scant leisure left them between the incursions of the Danes and
other Northmen, in little wars among themselves. These were never of
such importance as to yield glory to either party, though amply
sufficient to retard the increase of population and to banish that peace
and sense of security which are indispensable for the cultivation of the
softer arts. Yet during that period the Irish built round towers and
oratories of a beauty of form and with an elegance of detail that charm
even at the present day. Their metal work showed a true appreciation of
the nature of the material, and an artistic feeling equal in kind, if
not in degree, to anything in the best ages of Greece or Italy; and
their manuscripts and paintings exhibit an amount of taste which was
evidently capable of anything.

After the conquest, the English introduced their own pointed
architecture, and built two churches in Dublin which, in dimensions and
detail, differ very little from English parish churches. But beyond the
Pale their influence was hardly felt. Whatever was done was stamped with
a character so distinctly Irish as to show how strong the feeling of the
people was; and sufficient to prove, with our knowledge of their
antecedents, how earnestly and how successfully they would have laboured
in the field of art had circumstances been favourable to its
development. For seven centuries, however, the two races have lived
together, hating and hated, and neither capable of comprehending the
motives or appreciating the feelings of the other. It was not that the
Saxon was tyrannical or unjust, but that he was prosaic among a people
whose imagination too often supplied the place of reason, and that he
was strong among those who could not combine for any steady purpose. His
real crime was that, like the leopard, he could not change his spots. He
belonged to a different race, and the Irish have always chosen to
cherish the idea of vengeance and suffer the derangement consequent on
it, rather than enjoy peace and prosperity under those they hated. Art
is a plant too tender to flourish in the garden of hatred, and it has
consequently been long banished from Irish soil, though, under gentler
influences, it is probable that it might be more easily revived and more
successfully cultivated there than in any other part of the British

Whatever may be the fate of art in Ireland for the future, the history
of the past is sufficiently discouraging.

The cathedral of Dublin must always have been a second-class edifice for
a metropolitan church, and those of Cashel and Kildare, which are as
celebrated and as important as any in Ireland, are neither so large nor
so richly ornamented as many English parish churches. The cathedral of
Lismore has entirely disappeared; and generally it may be asserted that,
throughout the country, there is not one cathedral church remarkable for
architectural beauty or magnificence, though many are interesting from
their associations, and picturesque from the state of ivy-clad ruin in
which they appear.

The same is true with regard to the monasteries—they are numerous; and
many, though small, are rich in detail. One of the most elaborate is
that of the Holy Cross near Cashel, erected in the 15th century. This,
like every other building of the Gothic period in Ireland, shows a
strong affinity to the styles of the Continent, and a clearly marked
difference from those of this country.

Some of the monasteries still retain their cloisters, which, in all
instances, have so foreign an aspect as to be quite startling. That at
Muckross (Killarney) retains the round arch on two sides with the
details of the 15th century. That at Kilconnel (Woodcut No. 662)[121]
looks more like a cloister in Sicily or Spain than anything in the
British Islands. None of them seem large. The last named is only 48 ft.
square, though, if more extensive, it would be out of place compared
with the rest of the establishment.

There is scarcely a single parish church of any importance which was
built in Ireland beyond the limits of the Pale during the Middle Ages,
nor, indeed, could it be expected that there should be. The parochial
system is singularly unsuited to the Celtic mind at all times, and,
during the Gothic period, the state of Ireland was especially
unfavourable to its development, even if any desire for it had existed.
What the Celt desiderates is a hierarchy who will take the trouble of
his spiritual cares off his hands, and a retreat to which he can retire
for repose when the excitement of imagination no longer suffices to
supply his daily intellectual wants. These may lead to a considerable
development of cathedral and monastic establishments, but not to that
self-governing parish system which is so congenial to the Saxon mind.

View it as we will, the study of the Mediæval architecture of Ireland is
a melancholy one, and only too truly confirms what we know from other
sources. It does not even help us to answer the question whether or not
Ireland could successfully have governed herself if left alone. All it
does tell us is that, from the accidental juxtaposition of two
antagonistic races, one of them has certainly failed hitherto in
fulfilling the artistic mission which, under favourable circumstances,
it seems eminently qualified to perform.

[Illustration: 898. Cloister, Kilconnel Abbey.]

From these causes, the Mediæval antiquities of Ireland would not deserve
much notice in a work not specially devoted to that one subject, were it
not that, besides these, Ireland possesses what may properly be called a
Celtic style of architecture, which is as interesting in itself as any
of the minor local styles of any part of the world, and, so far as at
present known, is quite peculiar to the island. None of the buildings of
this style are large, though the ornaments on many of them are of great
beauty and elegance. Their chief interest lies in their singularly local
character, and in their age, which probably extends from the 5th or 6th
century[122] to the time of the English conquest in 1169. They consist
principally of churches and round towers, together with crosses and a
number of other antiquities hardly coming within the scope of this work.

No Irish church of that period now remaining is perhaps even 60 ft. in
length, and generally they are very much smaller, the most common
dimensions being from 20 to 40 ft. long. Increase of magnificence was
sought to be attained more by extending the number of churches than by
augmenting their size. The favourite number for a complete
ecclesiastical establishment was 7, as in Greece and Asia Minor, this
number being identical with that of the 7 Apocalyptic Churches of Asia.
Thus, there are 7 at Glendalough and 7 at Cashel; the same sacred number
is found in several other places,[123] and generally two or three at
least are found grouped together.

As in Greece, too, the smallness of the churches is remarkable. They
were not places for the assembly of large congregations of worshippers,
but were oratories, where the priests could celebrate the divine
mysteries for the benefit of the laity. In fact, no church is known to
have existed in Ireland before the Norman Conquest that can be called a
basilica, none of them being divided into aisles either by stone or
wooden pillars, or possessing an apse, and no circular church has yet
been found—nothing, in short, that would lead us to believe that Ireland
obtained her architecture direct from Rome; while everything, on the
contrary, tends to confirm the belief of an intimate connection with the
farther East, and that her earlier Christianity and religious forms were
derived from the East, by some of the more southerly commercial routes
which at that period seem to have touched on Ireland.

A good deal of uncertainty and even of ridicule has been thrown on the
subject of the Eastern origin of the Irish Church by the extreme
enthusiasm of its advocates, but there seems to be no reasonable ground
for doubting the fact.[124] At all events, it may safely be asserted
that the Christian religion did not reach Ireland across Great Britain,
or by any of the ordinary channels through the Continent. As a corollary
to this, we must not look for the origin of her architectural styles
either in England or in France, but in some more remote locality whose
antiquities have not yet been so investigated as to enable us to point
it out as the source whence they were derived.

The Irish Celtic churches are generally rectangular apartments, a little
longer than they are broad, like the small one on the island of
Innisfallen on the lake of Killarney (Woodcut No. 663). To the larger
churches a smaller apartment of the same proportions is added to the
eastward, forming a chancel, with an ornamental arch between the two.

The most remarkable of these now existing is that known as Cormac’s
Chapel, on the rock at Cashel (Woodcut No. 900), which was consecrated
in the year 1134. It is a small building, 55 ft. long over all
externally. The chancel is 12 ft. square internally, covered with an
intersecting vault; the nave is 18 ft. by 29, and covered by a
tunnel-vault with transverse ribs, very like those found in the South of
France. Externally, as shown in the view, it has two square towers
attached to it at the juncture of the nave and chancel, while the church
itself is richly ornamented by a panelling of small arches.

[Illustration: 899. Oratory, Innisfallen, Killarney.]

In almost all cases the principal entrance to these churches is from the
west, opposite to the altar. The chapel at Cashel is, however, an
exception, since it has both a north and a south entrance. That on the
north is the principal, and very richly ornamented. The same is the case
at Ardmore, where the whole of the west end is taken up by a bas-relief
rudely representing scenes from the Bible, and the entrance is on the
north side of the nave. On these principal entrances all the resources
of art were brought to bear, the windows generally being very small, and
apparently never glazed. There is a doorway at Freshford in Kilkenny,
and another at Aghadoe near Killarney, which for elegance of detail will
bear comparison with anything in England or on the Continent of the same

[Illustration: 900. Cormac’s Chapel, Cashel.]

[Illustration: 901. Section of Chapel, Killaloe.]

One of the peculiarities of these churches is, that they were nearly all
designed to have stone roofs, no wood being used in their construction.
The annexed section (Woodcut No. 901) of the old church at Killaloe,
belonging probably to the 10th century, will explain how this was
generally managed. The nave was roofed with a tunnel-vault of the
ordinary form; over this is a chamber formed by a pointed arch, and on
the outside of these two, the roofing slabs were laid. Sometimes,
instead of being continuous, the upper vault was cut into ribs, and the
roof built up straight externally, with horizontal courses resting on
these ribs. This mode of double roofing was, perhaps, a complication,
and no improvement on that adopted in the South of France in the same
age (Woodcuts Nos. 312, 319), but it enabled the Irish to make the roof
steeper than could be effected with a single vault, and in so rainy a
climate this may have been of the first importance.

The roof of the Cashel Chapel is of this double construction; so is the
building called “St. Kevin’s Kitchen” at Glendalough (Woodcut No. 902),
which apparently belongs to the 10th century. There is another very
similar at Kells, and several others in various parts of Ireland, all
displaying the same peculiarity.

[Illustration: 902. St. Kevin’s Kitchen, Glendalough.]

Had the Irish been allowed to persevere in the elaboration of their own
style, they would probably have applied this expedient to the roofing of
larger buildings than they ever attempted, and might, in so doing, have
avoided the greatest fault of Gothic architecture. Without more
experience, it is impossible to pronounce to what extent the method
might have been carried with safety, or to say whether the Irish double
vault is a better constructive form than the single Romance pointed
arch. It was certainly an improvement on the wooden roof of the true
Gothic style, and its early abandonment is consequently much to be

                      ROUND TOWERS AND ORATORIES.

The round towers which accompany these ancient churches have long proved
a stumbling-block to antiquaries, not only in Ireland but in this
country; and more has been written about them, and more theories
proposed to account for their peculiarities, than about any other
objects of their class in Europe.

The controversy has been, to a considerable extent, set at rest by the
late Mr. George Petrie.[125] He has proved beyond all cavil that the
greater number of the towers now existing were built by Christians, and
for Christian purposes, between the 5th and 13th centuries; and has
shown that there is no reasonable ground for supposing the remainder to
be either of a different age or erected for different uses.

Another step has recently been made by Mr. Hodder Westropp, who has
pointed out their similarity with the Fanal de Cimetière so frequently
found in France,[126] and even in Austria (Woodcut No. 765).

To any one who is familiar with the Eastern practice of lighting lamps
at night in cemeteries or in the tombs of saints, this suggestion seems
singularly plausible when coupled with the knowledge that the custom did
prevail on the Continent in the Middle Ages. It is, however, far from
being a complete explanation, since many of these towers have only one
or two very small openings in their upper storey; and there is also the
staggering fact that this use is not mentioned in any legendary or
written account of them which has come down to our time. On the other
hand, they are frequently described as bell-towers, and also as
treasuries and places of refuge, and seem even better adapted to these
purposes than to that of displaying lights.

That they may have been applied to all these purposes seems clear, but a
knowledge of their use does not explain their origin; it only removes
the difficulty a step farther back. No attempt has been made to show
whence the Irish obtained this very remarkable form of tower, or why
they persevered so long in its use, with peculiarities not found either
in the contemporary churches or in any other of their buildings. No one
imagines it to have been invented by the rude builders of the early
churches, and no theory yet proposed accounts for the perseverance of
the Irish in its employment, at a time when the practice of all the
other nations of Europe was so widely different. It must have been a
sacred and time-honoured form somewhere, and with some people, previous
to its current adoption in Ireland; but the place and the time at which
it was so, still remain to be determined.[127]

Although, therefore, Mr. Petrie’s writings and recent investigations
have considerably narrowed the grounds of the inquiry, they cannot be
said to have set the question at rest, and anyone who has seen the
towers must feel that there is still room for any amount of speculation
regarding such peculiar monuments.

In nine cases out of ten they are placed unsymmetrically at some little
distance from the churches to which they belong, and are generally of a
different age and different style of masonry. Their openings, from the
oldest to the most modern, generally have sloping jambs, which are very
rare in the churches, being only found in the earliest examples. Their
doorways are always at a height of 7, 10, or 13 ft. from the ground,
while the church doors are, it need hardly be said, always on the ground
level. But more than all this, there is sometimes an unfamiliar aspect
in the detail of the towers which is not always observed in the
churches. The latter may be rude, or may be highly finished, but they
rarely have the strange and foreign appearance which the towers always

Notwithstanding this, the proof of their Christian origin is in most
cases easy. Woodcut No. 902, for instance, shows a round tower placed
_upon_ what is, undoubtedly, a Christian chapel, and which must
consequently be either coeval with the tower or more ancient. At
Clonmacnoise (Woodcut No. 904) the masonry of the tower is bonded with
the walls of the church, and evidently coeval therewith, the chancel
arch being undoubtedly Christian round Gothic of the 10th or 11th
century. At Kildare the doorway of the tower (Woodcut No. 905) is
likewise of unquestionable Christian art, and an integral part of the
design, though it may be somewhat earlier than the foregoing; and at
Timahoe the doorway of the tower is richer and more elaborate, but at
the same time of a style so closely resembling that of Cormac’s Chapel
as to leave no doubt of their being nearly of the same age. The only
remarkable difference is that the jambs of the doorway of the tower
slope considerably inwards, while all those of the chapel are perfectly
perpendicular. Another proof of their age is, that many of the doorways
have Christian emblems carved _in relief_ on their lintels, as in the
example from the tower at Donoughmore (Woodcut No. 906), or that from
Antrim (Woodcut No. 907), or on the round tower at Brechin in Scotland,—
emblems which, from their position, and the fact of their being in
relief, cannot have been added, and must therefore be considered as
original. When we find that the towers which have not these indications
differ in no other respect from those that have, it is impossible to
resist the conclusion that they too are of Christian origin; the
positive evidence of a few being sufficient to overbalance the mere
absence of a proof in a far greater number.

[Illustration: 904. Round Tower and Chancel Arch of Fineens Church,

 [Illustration: SECTION


 905. Doorway in Tower, Kildare.]

Antiquaries have enumerated 118 of these monuments as still to be found
in Ireland; of these some twenty are perfect, or nearly so, varying in
height from about 60 ft. to 130 ft., which is the height of the
imperfect one at Old Kilcullen. They all taper upwards towards the
summit, and are generally crowned with a conical cap like that at
Clonmacnoise (Woodcut No. 904), though not often constructed in the
herring-bone masonry there shown.

[Illustration: 906. Doorway in Tower, Donoughmore, Meath.]

[Illustration: 907. Doorway in Tower, Antrim.]

[Illustration: 908. Tower, Devenish.]

[Illustration: 909. Tower, Kilree, Kilkenny.]

The tower of Devenish (Woodcut No. 908) may be taken as a typical
example of the class. It is 82 ft. high, with a conical cap, and its
doorway and windows are all of the form and in the position most usually
found in monuments of this class. The conical cap is sometimes omitted,
and its place supplied by a battlemented crown, though this is probably
of later date; this is the case at Kildare, and also at Kilree (Woodcut
No. 909). In one instance, and, I believe, one only, the base of the
tower is octagonal. This is found at Kinneh, county Cork (Woodcut No.

One of the most beautiful and most perfect is that of Ardmore (Woodcut
No. 911). It is of excellent ashlar masonry throughout, and is divided
externally into 4 storeys by string-courses, which do not, however, mark
the position of the floors inside. Its mouldings and details lead to the
presumption that it is nearly coeval with Cormac’s Chapel, Cashel, and
that consequently it must belong to the 12th century. It stands within
the precincts of the rude old church mentioned above, and when explored
not long ago the skeletons of two persons were found below its
foundations, placed in such a manner as to lead to the inevitable
conclusion that it was a place of Christian burial before the
foundations of the tower were laid. [Illustration: 910. Tower, Kinneh,

[Illustration: 911. Tower, Ardmore.] The floors which divide the tower
into storeys are generally of wood, but sometimes of masonry,
constructed as that at Kinneh (Woodcut No. 912). There are no stairs,
but ladders are used to pass from one storey to the next.

Several instances of doorways have been quoted above. Of these no two
are exactly alike, though all show the same general characteristics.
That at Monasterboice, for instance (Woodcut No. 913), has an arch cut
out of a horizontal lintel extending the whole way across, while that at
Kilcullen (Woodcut No. 914) has the arch cut out of two stones, which is
by far the most usual arrangement.

[Illustration: 912. Floor in Tower, Kinneh.]

The windows are generally headed with two stones meeting at the apex, as
in the three examples given below (Woodcut No. 915); but sometimes the
window-head is either a flat lintel or a single stone cut into the form
of an arch, as at Glendalough (Woodcut No. 916).

[Illustration: 913. Doorway, Monasterboice.]

[Illustration: 914. Doorway, Kilcullen, Kildare.]

[Illustration: 915. Windows in Round Towers.]

[Illustration: 916. Window, Glendalough.]

Though these remarkable towers are of extremely various forms, differing
according to their age and locality, almost all exhibit that peculiar
Cyclopean character of masonry which has led to such strange, though
often plausible, speculations; for though neither their details, nor
their masonry would excite remark if found at Norba in Latium or at
Æniade in Acarnaniæ, yet here they stand alone and exceptional to
everything around them.

Whatever may have been their origin, there can be no doubt as to the
uses to which they were applied by the Christians—they were symbols of
power and marks of dignity. They were also bell-towers, and lamps were
possibly lighted in them in honour of the dead. But perhaps their most
important use was that of keeps or fortalices; to which, in troubled
times, the church plate and other articles of value could be removed and
kept in safety till danger was past.

As architectural objects these towers are singularly pleasing. Their
outline is always graceful, and the simplicity of their form is such as
to give the utmost value to their dimensions. Few can believe that they
are hardly larger than the pillars of many porticoes, and that it is to
their design alone that they owe that appearance of size they all
present. No one can see them without admiring them for these qualities,
though the peculiar fascination they possess is no doubt in great
measure owing to the mystery which still hangs round their origin, and
to the association of locality. In almost every instance the tower
stands alone and erect beside the ruins of an ancient but deserted
church, and among the mouldering tombstones of a neglected or desecrated
graveyard. In a town or amid the busy haunts of men, they would lose
half their charm; situated as they are, they are among the most
interesting of the antiquities of Europe.

There is still another class of antiquities in Ireland, older perhaps
than even these round towers, and certainly older than the churches to
which the towers are attached. These are the circular domical dwellings
found in the west of the island, constructed of loose stones in
horizontal layers approaching one another till they meet at the apex,
like the old so-called treasuries of the Greeks, or the domes of the
Jains in India. Numbers of these are still to be found in remote parts,
sometimes accompanied by what are properly called oratories, like that
shown in Woodcut No. 917, taken from Mr. Petrie’s valuable work. It is
certainly one of the oldest places of worship in these islands,
belonging probably to the age of St. Patrick; and it is also one of the
smallest, being externally only 23 ft. by 10. It shows the strange
Cyclopean masonry, the sloping doorway, the stone roof, and many of the
elements of the subsequent style, and it is at the same time so like
some things in Lycia and in India, and so unlike almost any other
building in Europe, that it is not to be wondered at that antiquaries
should indulge in somewhat speculative fancies in endeavouring to
account for such remarkable phenomena.

[Illustration: 917. Oratory of Gallerus. (From Petrie’s ‘Ancient
Architecture of Ireland.’)]

Ireland is not rich in specimens of domestic architecture of the Middle
Ages, but such fragments as do exist show marked variations from the
contemporary style in England. Such battlements, for instance, as those
which crown the tower of Jerpoint Abbey are identical with many found in
the North of Italy, but very unlike anything either in England or
Scotland, and give a foreign look to the whole building which is very

[Illustration: 918. Tower, Jerpoint Abbey.]

The same may be said of the next example (Woodcut No. 919) from a house
in Galway. Its architecture might be Spanish, but its ornamental details
look like a reminiscence of the entwined decoration of a Runic cross,
and reminds one more of the interlaced work of the Byzantine style than
of any other.[129]

[Illustration: 919. House, Galway.]

[Illustration: 920. Ballyromney Court, Cork.]

Ballyromney Court, illustrated in Woodcut No. 920, is perhaps the most
usual form of an Irish mansion in the last age of Gothic. After its time
the Elizabethan became the prevalent style. All individuality vanished
with the more complete subjection of the country in the reign of that
queen. This is, no doubt, to be regretted; but, as before remarked,
Ireland is interesting, not for her Gothic so much as for her Celtic
antiquities, the epoch of which closed as nearly as may be with the
English conquest in 1169.

[Illustration: 921. Cross at Kells.]

                               BOOK VIII.

                          SPAIN AND PORTUGAL.

                               CHAPTER I.






 Gothic Conquest—Athulf                                         A.D. 411
 Moorish conquest                                                    711
 Kingdoms of Navarre and Arragon   established, about                760
 Sancho I., King of Castille                                        1005
 Alphonso VI. unites all Northern   Spain into one kingdom          1072
 Henry de Besançon—foundation of   kingdom of Portugal              1095
 Alphonso III.—conquest of Toledo                                   1085
 Conquest of Cordova                                                1226
 Conquest of Valencia                                               1238
 Conquest of Seville and Murcia                                     1243
 Ferdinand el Santo died                                            1252
 Alonso el Sabio                                               1252-1284
 Pedro the Cruel                                               1350-1369
 Ferdinand and Isabella                                        1474-1516
 Conquest of Granada                                                1492

SPAIN is one of those countries regarding the architecture of which it
is almost as difficult to write anything consecutive as regarding that
of Scotland. This does not arise from the paucity of examples nor from
their not having been examined and described, but from the same cause as
was insisted upon in speaking of Scotch art, that the style was not
indigenous, but borrowed from other nations, and consequently practised
far more capriciously than if it had been elaborated by the Spaniards

In the very early ages of their architectural history we do find the
inhabitants of the Peninsula making rude attempts to provide themselves
with churches. These, however, were so unsuited for their purposes that
so soon as returning prosperity put the Spaniards in a position to erect
larger edifices, they at once fell into the arms of the French
architects, who had advanced far beyond them in the adaptation of
classical materials to Christian purposes. When tired of the French
styles, they enlisted the Germans to assist them in supplying their
wants, and Italy also contributed her influence, though less directly
than the other two. In the mean time the Moors were more steadily
elaborating their very ornate but rather flimsy style of art in the
southern part of the Peninsula, and occasionally contributed workmen and
ideas whose influence may be traced almost to the foot of the Pyrenees.
When all this passed away with the Middle Ages, they borrowed the
Renaissance style of the Italians, but used its Doric and Corinthian
details more literally and with less adaptation, than any other nation.
With these classical materials they erected churches which were larger
and more gorgeous than those of the previous styles, and admired them
with the same unreasoning devotion they had bestowed on their

So far as we at present know, this peculiarity is unique in the history
of architecture. Some nations are content to worship in barns, or to
dispense with temples altogether. It is not, therefore, surprising that
they should have no architecture, or should throw it aside as the Scotch
did the moment they could shake off its trammels. But the Spaniards
loved art. They delighted in the display of architectural magnificence,
and indulged in pomp and ceremonial observances beyond any other people
on the Continent.

The singularity is, that though endowed with the love of architecture,
and an intense desire to possess its products, nature seems to have
denied to the Spaniard the inventive faculty necessary to enable him to
supply himself with the productions so indispensable to his intellectual
nature. We can perfectly understand how, among so Teutonic a people as
the Scotch, architecture should be found planted in an uncongenial soil
and perish with the first blast of winter; but what seems unique is
that, planted where both the soil and climate seem so thoroughly
congenial as they do in Spain, it should still remain exotic and refuse
to be acclimatised.

If we knew who the Spaniards were we might be able to explain these
phenomena, but we know so little of the ethnography of Spain that at
present this source of information is not available. The term “Iberian”
hardly conveys a distinct idea to the mind. The first impulse is to say
they must have been Turanian; but, if so, where are their tombs? Few
tumuli or rude-stone monuments exist in Spain, and fewer traces of
sepulchral rites or ancestral worship, and these have been so
imperfectly described that it is difficult to reason regarding them, but
unless they do exist we are safe in asserting that no Turanian people
lived in historic times in Spain. From history we know that the
Phœnicians occupied the coast-line at least all round the southern part
of the Peninsula, and their settlements probably penetrated some way
into the interior. The facility with which the Moors conquered and
colonised the country, is in itself sufficient to prove that a people of
cognate race had occupied the land long before they came there; but this
hardly helps us, for neither the Phœnicians nor any of the Semitic races
were ever builders, and we look in vain in Spain or at Carthage, or at
Tyre or Sidon, for anything to tell us what their architecture may have
been. The Goths who invaded Spain in the beginning of the 5th century
must have been of Teutonic race, Aryans _pur sang_, for they have not
left a building or a tradition of one, and they therefore can hardly
have influenced the style of their successors in the Peninsula. Even the
Moors were scarcely an architectural people in the proper sense of the
term. Their mosques were, so far as we know them, made up of fragments
of classical temples arranged without art or design. Their palaces were
ornamented with plaster work of the most admired complexity of design,
coloured with the most exquisite harmony; but all this was the work of
the ornamentalist, hardly of the architect. It was perfectly suited to
the wants of an elegant and refined Oriental race, but most ill adapted
to the wants of a hardy race of mountaineers struggling for freedom
against the invaders of their birthright. The Celtic element must have
been the one wanting in this “olla podrida” of nations to fuse the whole
together, and to give the arts that impulse which in Spain was always
wanting. All the other elements they seem to have possessed, but the
absence of this single one prevented them from attaining that unity
which would enable us to follow their story with the same interest which
we feel in tracing the development of the arts in France or England.
Notwithstanding this, however, it must be confessed that the result in
Spain is frequently grand, and even gorgeous, though never quite

The periods of Gothic architecture in Spain coincide in age very nearly
with those in this country; far more nearly than with France or Italy,
or any other nation. Before the era of the Cid (1066-1099), which was
coincident with that of William the Conqueror, there existed a style
similar in importance and character to our Saxon style. This the
Spaniards call “obras de los Godos,” and the term may be practically
correct, but it would confuse our nomenclature to call it the “Gothic”
of Spain. “Asturian” or “Catalonian” might nearly describe it, but for
the present some such indefinite description as “Early Spanish” must

In the latter half of the 11th century it was overwhelmed, as in this
country, by a wholesale importation of French designs. These continued
to be employed, as if no Pyrenees existed for about a century, with the
round arch in all the decorative features, but with an occasional
tendency to employ the pointed arch in construction.

By degrees this round-arched style grew into an early pointed Spanish,
which, like our own lancet, is more national and more characteristic
than any other phase of the art, and, like it, seems to have been more
cherished and for a longer time. In the beginning of the 13th century a
new set of French patterns were introduced; but while French cathedrals
with geometric tracery were being erected at Toledo, Burgos, and Leon,
in the provinces they continued to adhere to the simpler and more solid
forms of the earlier style.

During the 14th century the French style reigned supreme, with only a
slight touch of local feeling and a slight infusion of Moorish details
in parts, till in the 15th it broke away from its prototype into a style
half German, half Spanish, with all the masonic cleverness so fatal to
the style in Southern Germany, and more than German exuberance of
detail, and complexity of vaulting expedients. With these the style
continued to be used for churches as late as in England, and long after
the classical styles had become universal in Italy and fashionable in

The Gothic style was not entirely disused in Spain till after the middle
of the 16th century, but there its history ends, no attempt at a Gothic
revival having yet been perpetrated among that inartistic race. It may
come, however; but they would adopt Mexican or Chinese with equal
readiness, if either of these styles would provide them with places of
worship as gorgeous and as suited to their purposes as those they now

                              CHAPTER II.


Romanesque: Churches at Naranco, Roda, and Leon—Early Spanish Gothic:
  Churches at Santiago, Zamora, Toro, Avila, Salamanca, and Tarragona—
  Middle Pointed style: Churches at Toledo, Burgos, Leon, Barcelona,
  Manresa, Gerona, Seville—Late Gothic style: Churches at Segovia,
  Villena—Moresco style: Churches at Toledo, Ilescas, and Saragoza.

                       EARLY SPANISH ROMANESQUE.

AS might be expected from what we know of the history of Spain, the only
specimens of this style which are known to exist in the country are to
be found in the Asturias or in the recesses of that mountain range which
extends from Corunna to Barcelona. It was in these regions alone that
the Spanish Christians found refuge during the supremacy of the Moslems
in the Peninsula, and were free to exercise their religious forms
without molestation.

Four or five examples of the style have been described in sufficient
detail to enable us to see what its leading features were. The earliest
appears to be that of Santa Maria de Naranco, near Oviedo, said to be
erected A.D. 848.[131] Another is San Miguel de Lino, which appears to
be nearly as old. A third, San Salvador de Val de Dios,[132] is less
important than the other two, though peculiar, more like an Irish or
French oratory than the others. A fourth is Santa Cristina de Lino.[133]
San Pablo, Barcelona,[134] may be of about the same age as these; and no
doubt there are many others which have escaped notice from their
insignificant dimensions.

Among these the most interesting is that first named, which stands at
Naranco. As will be seen from the plan (Woodcut No. 923), it is unlike
any contemporary example we are acquainted with. Practically it is a
Roman tetrastyle amphiprostyle temple, if such terms can be applied to a
Christian edifice; and, so far as we can understand, the altar was
placed originally in one of the porticoes, and the worship was
consequently probably external. The great difference seems to have been
that there was a lateral entrance, and some of the communicants at least
must have been accommodated in the interior. The ornamentation of the
interior differs from classical models more than the plan. The columns
are spirally fluted—a classical form—but the capitals are angular, and
made to support arches. On the walls also there are curious medallions
from which the vaulting-ribs spring, which seem peculiar to the style,
since they are found repeated in S. Cristina.

[Illustration: 922. View of Church at Naranco. (From Parcerisa.)]

[Illustration: 923. Plan of Church at Naranco. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

The chief interest of this building, however, lies in the fact that it
exhibits the Spaniards in the middle of the 9th century trying to adapt
a Pagan temple to Christian purposes, as if the Romans had left no
basilicas in the land, and as if the Goths had been unable to elaborate
any kind of “ecclesia” in which they might assemble for worship. San
Miguel and Santa Cristina are adapted for internal worship, but their
form is very unlike those of any other church we are acquainted with.
The church of San Pablo differs essentially from them, inasmuch as it is
a complete Christian church in all its essentials. Though very small (80
ft. by 67), it is triapsal, with a central dome and all the arrangements
of a church, but more like examples found in the East than anything
usually known in the West. Its details still retain traces of classic
feeling (Woodcut No. 925), though something not unlike the Jewish
candlestick of the Temple is mixed up with ornaments of Christian

[Illustration: 924. Plan of S. Pablo. (From ‘Mon. Arch.’)]

[Illustration: 925. Detail of S. Pablo. (From ‘Mon. Arch.’)]

[Illustration: 926. Church at Roda. (From Parcerisa.)]

It is difficult to distinguish between the buildings existing in
Catalonia and on the southern side of the Pyrenees, and those which
prevailed in the southern Aquitanian province. The church at Roda, for
instance (Woodcut No. 926), might as well have been found at Alet
(Woodcuts Nos. 549, 550) or Elne (Woodcuts Nos. 560, 561). It presents a
complete Gothic style, rich and elegant in its details, but the parts
badly fused together, and not well proportioned either to each other or
to the work they have to do. Still the combinations are so picturesque,
and the details so elegant, that it is not without regret that we find
the style of Alet and Roda passing away into something more mechanically
perfect, but without their quasi-classical refinement.

[Illustration: 927. Panteon of St. Isidoro, Leon. (From Parcerisa.)]

Towards the other extremity of the architectural province we find in the
Panteon of the church of San Isidoro at Leon (A.D. 1063) a contemporary
example, exhibiting a marked difference of style. At the time when this
and the church at Roda were erected, Catalonia belonged architecturally
to Aquitaine, and Leon to Anjou, or some more completely Gothicised
province of France. In consequence, we find the style at Leon much more
complete in principle, but very much ruder in detail. The eastern
province was in the hands of a Latin people; the inhabitants of the
western must have been far more essentially Gothic in blood, and their
style is strongly marked with the impress of their race.

                         EARLY SPANISH GOTHIC.

After three centuries of more or less complete supremacy over the whole
of Spain with the exception of the northern mountain fastnesses, the
tide of fortune at length turned against the Moors. During the course of
the 11th century the Castilles and all to the north of them were freed
for ever from their power. Their favourite capital, Toledo, fell into
the hands of the Christians in 1085, and from that time the Christians
had nothing to fear from the Moors, but on the contrary had the prospect
of recovering the whole of their country from their grasp. It was
consequently a period of great and legitimate exultation, greater than
that which followed the fall of the last stronghold of the infidels
before the conquering arms of Ferdinand and Isabella (A.D. 1492)—an
event that ended the drama of the Middle Ages in Spain, which the
conquest of Toledo had commenced. It is between these two events that
the history of Gothic art in Spain is practically included.

[Illustration: 928. Plan of Santiago di Compostella. (Reduced from
Street.) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

For present purposes it may suffice to divide this history into three
great chapters.

1. Early Spanish Gothic, commencing about 1060, and lasting for two
centuries. A plain and simple, but bold and effective style, first
borrowed from the French, but latterly assuming a local character.
Round-arched when first introduced, but adopting the pointed form in its
later development, though still retaining the rounded form in many of
its details till a very late period of the style.

[Illustration: 929. Santiago Cathedral. Interior of South Transept,
looking North-East. (From Street.)]

2. Middle or perfect Pointed Gothic, introduced from France about the
year 1220, when Amiens and Salisbury were founded; and used in the plans
of Toledo, Burgos, and Leon. It consequently overlaps the other to some
extent, though its actual development as we now see it (except in plans)
must probably date from the latter part of the 13th century. It may be
said to have lasted for more than 200 years, though it is extremely
difficult to draw a line between it and the

3rd period, or Late Gothic style, the duration of which was probably
hardly more than one century. The cathedral at Salamanca was founded
1513, and that at Segovia 1525; and these are the two typical examples
of the style, which in minor examples continued to be practised till
nearly the end of the 16th century, but latterly with a considerable
admixture of Renaissance detail.

[Illustration: 930. Interior of S. Isidoro, Leon. (From Street.)]

One of the earliest examples of a complete cathedral in Spain is that of
Compostella, commenced in 1078, and carried on vigorously from the
foundation. As will be seen by the plan, it is a complete French
cathedral in every respect, very nearly identical with that of St.
Sernin at Toulouse (Woodcut No. 572), possessing only three aisles
instead of five in the nave, though otherwise very similar to it in
arrangement and general dimensions.

Its internal structure is also that of the French cathedral, and forms
an instructive point of comparison with our English examples of the same
age. Up to the string-course above the triforium the Spanish, French,
and English examples are much alike, except that the section of the
piers in England is nearly double that of the others. Above this, at
Toulouse and Compostella, there is a bold tunnel-vault with transverse
ribs; at Ely, Norwich and Peterborough a clerestory with a flat wooden
roof. These differences in the treatment of the upper part no doubt
arose to some extent from the difference of latitude, sufficient light
being attainable in the South without a clerestory, though the gloom of
such a design could never be tolerated in Normandy, and much less in

[Illustration: 931. Cathedral at Zamora. (From Villa Amil.)]

What is most striking, however, at Compostella is the completeness of
the style. The piers are not only judiciously proportioned to the work
they have to perform, but are as perfect in their details as any of the
contemporary churches in Auvergne; and though in what may be called a
Doric style, this church is as complete in itself as any of the florid
Corinthian Gothics that succeeded it.

The same may be said of the church of San Isidoro at Leon, which, though
probably somewhat later—the church seems to have been completed about
1149—presents the same simple style in the same degree of
well-understood completeness, all the lines running through without
confusion, and every part well proportioned to the other. The foliation
of the transept arch may be a peculiarity borrowed from the Moors, but,
as used here, it is simple and appropriate, and perhaps better than a
roll moulding, which would have been the mode of treatment on this side
of the Pyrenees.

[Illustration: 932. Collegiate Church at Toro. (From Villa Amil.)]

The interior of Zamora Cathedral, which seems to have been erected about
the year 1174, though wholly in the pointed-arch style, is as plain and
as little ornamented as that last described. Even the interior of the
dome is plain when compared with its exterior, which is varied in
outline and rich in decoration, like most of those of that age in Spain.
As in the façade, the round arch is employed in the cimborio almost to
the exclusion of the pointed arch as a decorative feature, though in the
lower part of the façade and under the dome all the arches are pointed.

It is possible that these interiors, which now look so plain, were, or
were intended to be, plastered and painted; though, had the intention
been carried out, it is hardly probable but that traces of this mode of
decoration would have remained to this day, which does not seem to be
the case. Still it is difficult to understand why they should have
designed a façade so rich as that of Zamora Cathedral (Woodcut No. 931),
if it were to lead to an interior infinitely plainer than the exterior
would lead one to expect. In all the countries of Europe during the
Romanesque period the external doorways were the features on which the
architects lavished all their art, and Spain was certainly not behind
the others in this respect. That at Zamora is excelled in richness by
that at Toro (Woodcut No. 932), though the rest of the façade is not so
well worked up to its key-note as in the last example. Among a hundred,
one of those at Lérida (Woodcut No. 933), borrowed from Mr. Street’s
work, will illustrate their beauty, and seems to force on us the
conviction that so much labour would not have been bestowed on them if
they were not intended to herald a greater richness within.

[Illustration: 933. Lérida Old Cathedral. Door of South Porch. (From

In this last example, the doorway has been covered by a porch of 14th or
15th century work; but occasionally the Spaniards seem to have attempted
a porch on the scale of Peterborough, as in the church of San Vincente
at Avila (Woodcut No. 934). In this instance we have only one arch
between two flanking towers; but, though limited in extent, it forms a
very noble feature, and gives a dignity to the entrance, too often
wanting in Gothic design. Its date is uncertain—probably the end of the
12th century—but, strange as it may appear, the richly carved doorway
within, though round-arched, seems to be an insertion either of the same
age, or subsequent to the pointed-arch architecture which surrounds it.

[Illustration: 934. San Vincente, Avila. Interior of Western Porch.
(From Street.)]

[Illustration: 935. Exterior of Lantern, Salamanca Old Cathedral. (From

Beautiful as are these details, the great feature of the Early Spanish
style is the cimborio, or dome, which generally occurs at the
intersection of the nave with the transepts. Something very similar is
to be found in France, especially in Auvergne and Anjou; but the
Spaniards seized upon it with avidity, and worked it out more completely
than any other nation; and with their wide naves it afterwards assumed
an importance almost equal to the octagon at Ely. One of the most
perfect examples in the early style is that which crowns the old
cathedral at Salamanca (Woodcut No. 935), and dates about 1200. As will
be observed from the view of the exterior, every detail belongs to the
round-arched style, and in France would certainly be quoted as belonging
to that date, or earlier; but when we turn to the interior (Woodcut No.
936), we find that the whole substructure is of pointed architecture.
True it is the old simple Early Spanish style, yet still such as rather
to upset our ideas of architectural chronology in this respect. The
internal diameter of the dome is only 28 ft.; yet it is a most effective
feature both internally and externally, and gives great dignity to what
otherwise would be a very plain building.

[Illustration: 936. Section of Cimborio at Salamanca. (From ‘Mon. Arch.
d’Espana.’) No scale.]

Without going beyond the limits of the style, the dome at Tarragona
(Woodcut No. 938) illustrates the form usually taken by Gothic domes
when resting on square bases. There is a little awkwardness in the form
of the pendentives, which do not fit the main arches below them, though
at that age the Spaniards might have learned from the Saracens how to
manage this feature. At Salamanca the mode in which the square base was
worked up into a circle was by pendentives of Byzantine form, the
courses of masonry simply projecting beyond one another till the
transition was effected, but without that accentuation which was thought
so essential in Gothic art. Above the pendentives, however, at
Tarragona, the form of the dome is perfect. The windows are alternately
of three and four lights, and the whole is fitted together with
exquisite propriety and taste.

[Illustration: 937. St. Millan, Segovia. (From Gailhabaud.) Scale 100
ft. to 1 in.]

Although borrowing their style in the first instance immediately from
the French, the Spaniards developed it with such a variety of plans and
details, as might have made it a style of their own but for the fresh
importation of French designs in the beginning of the 13th century.
Before these came in, however, they had very frequently in their
churches adopted a form of external portico which was singularly suited
to the climate and produced very original and pleasing effects. In the
annexed plan of St. Millan at Segovia (Woodcut No. 937), they form
fourth and fifth aisles, opening externally instead of internally;
these, with the windows over them and the shadow they afford, break up
the monotony of the sides of the church most pleasingly.[135] Sometimes
the aisles are carried round the church, so as to form a portico at the
west end as well as at the sides. Sometimes they are on one side or the
other as the situation demands; but wherever used they are always
pleasing and appropriate.

[Illustration: 938. Tarragona Cathedral. View across Transepts. (From

The round form of church does not seem ever to have been a favourite in
Spain. There are some examples, it is true, but they seem, like that at
Segovia (Woodcut No. 939), to have been built by the Templars in
imitation of the church at Jerusalem, and used by them, and them only.
The idea of a circular ceremonial church attached to a rectangular
“ecclesia,” does not appear to have entered into Spanish arrangements.
As before remarked, the sepulchres of the original people of Spain do
not seem to have been sufficiently important to lead to any considerable
development of this form in the Christian times.

[Illustration: 939. Church of the Templars at Segovia. No scale.]

                     MIDDLE POINTED SPANISH STYLE.

While the early style described in the last chapter was gradually
working itself into something original and national, its course was
turned aside by a fresh importation of French designs in the beginning
of the 13th century. Before the Germans had made up their minds by
building the Cathedral of Cologne to surpass the grandest designs of the
French architects, the Spaniards had already planned a cathedral on a
scale larger than any attempted even in France. The great church at
Toledo was commenced in 1227, seven years after Amiens and Salisbury
cathedrals had been determined upon. The plan is certainly of that date;
the present superstructure may rather be taken as representing the style
of the end of the 13th century, though it does not seem to be known when
the church was first consecrated.

The church which Toledo Cathedral most resembles in that plan is at
Bourges (Woodcut No. 640). The length is about the same, but the French
example is only 130 ft. in width across the five aisles, while the
Spanish church is 178 ft., so that its area is considerably in excess.
It is not easy to say what the area of Toledo Cathedral really was, as
we cannot quite determine which of the excrescences belong to the
original design; but we shall not probably be far wrong in estimating it
as under 75,000 sq. ft. It is less therefore than Seville, Milan, or
Cologne. It covers rather more ground than York Cathedral, but
considerably exceeds Chartres (68,000 sq. ft.), or any of the French

[Illustration: 940. Plan of Cathedral at Toledo. (From ‘Monumentos
Arquitectoricos d’Espana.’) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

The church at Toledo possesses the same defect in plan that we remarked
on in describing that at Cologne: it is too short for its other
dimensions. When the French architect at Bourges found himself in that
difficulty he omitted the transepts, and so, to a great extent, restored
the appearance of length. The architect at Toledo has not projected his
transepts to the same extent as at Cologne, but they are still
sufficiently prominent internally to make the church look short; but, on
the other hand, by keeping his vault low, he has done much to restore
the harmony of his design; and instead of the 150 ft. of Cologne, or the
125 of Bourges, even with his greater lateral extension, the height of
the central vault is little over 100 ft. (105?). The next aisle is 60,
the outer 35,—a proportion certainly more pleasing than Bourges, or any
other five-aisled cathedral. So thoroughly French is the design, that
there is no attempt at a cimborio or dome of any sort at the
intersection of the nave and transepts; but, on the other hand, the
arrangement of the choir is essentially Spanish, and the screen
surrounding it among the most gorgeous in Spain, and one of the most
beautiful parts of the cathedral.

[Illustration: 941. View in the Choir of the Cathedral at Toledo. (From
Villa Amil.)]

The origin of the Spanish arrangement of the choir will be understood by
referring to the plan of San Clemente at Rome (Woodcut No. 395). The
higher clergy were in the early days of the Church accommodated on the
bema in the presbytery. The singers, readers, &c., were in an enclosed
choir in the nave. The place for the laity was around the choir outside.
So long as the enclosing wall of the choir was kept as low as it was at
Rome (about 3 ft.), this arrangement was unobjectionable: but when it
came to be used as in Spain, it was singularly destructive of internal
effect. In France the stalls of the clergy were in the choir beyond the
transept, and all to the eastward of the intersection was reserved for
them, the nave being wholly appropriated to the laity. This was an
intelligible and artistic arrangement of the space; but in Spain the
stalls of the clergy were projected into the nave, blocking up the
perspective in every direction, and destroying its usefulness as a
congregational space, where the laity could assemble or be addressed by
the bishop or clergy. Worse than this, it separated the clergy from the
high altar and Capilla Mayor, in which it was situated, so that a railed
gangway had to be kept open to allow them to pass to and fro.[136] When
the Spaniards determined that this was the proper liturgical arrangement
for a church, had they been an artistic people they would have invented
an appropriate shell to contain it; but to put such an arrangement into
a French church was a mistake that nothing could redeem. Even the
elaborate richness of the exterior of the choir at Toledo fails to
reconcile us to it, though it is perhaps the richest specimen of its
class in Europe, and betraying in certain parts of its ornamentation the
influence of Moorish taste which still lingered in the soil in spite of
persecution and every attempt to eradicate it.

[Illustration: 942. Plan of Burgos Cathedral. (Reduced from Street’s.)
Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 943. West Front of Burgos Cathedral. (From Chapuy,
‘Moyen-Âge Monumental.’)]

The external appearance of this church is very much less beautiful than
that of the interior. It is, however, so encumbered, that a good view of
it can hardly be obtained, and what is seen has been so much altered as
to have lost its original character. The north-western tower, in
granite, of the façade is fine, though late (1428-1479) and hardly
worthy of so grand a building. Its companion was terminated with an
Italian dome in the last century, and both in height and design is quite
incongruous with the rest.

[Illustration: 944. Plan of Leon Cathedral. (Reduced from Street’s.)
Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

If at Toledo we find a noble interior encased in an indifferent husk,
the contrary is the case at Burgos. Although very much smaller, being
only originally designed to be 90 ft. wide by about 310 ft. long, and
all its dimensions reduced in proportion, still externally it is as
picturesque and effective a design as can be found anywhere in Europe.
The western façade (1442) is essentially a German design, originally
consisting of three portals deeply recessed and richly sculptured, and
still crowned with two spires of open work, and is exquisitely
proportioned to the size of the building, though its details are open to
criticism. It is well supported by the cimborio or dome at the
intersection, though this is even later, having been erected to replace
the old dome which fell in 1539, and seems not to have been completed
till 1567. Beyond this again, to the extreme east, rises the chapel of
the Connestabile, erected about 1487, and though this also is impure in
detail, it is beautiful in outline, and groups pleasingly with the other
features of the design. The effect of the interior is very much injured
by the four great masses of masonry which were introduced as piers to
support the cimborio when it was rebuilt; and which, with the “Coro”
thrust as usual into the nave, greatly destroy the appearance of the
building. On the other hand, the richness of the details of the Capilla
Mayor and of the Connestabile chapel, together with the variety and
elaborateness of the other chapels, make up an interior so poetic and so
picturesque, that the critic is disarmed, and must admit that Burgos
merits the title of a romance in stone if any church does.

[Illustration: 945. Bay of Choir, Leon Cathedral. (From Street.)]

[Illustration: 946. Compartment of Nave, Burgos Cathedral.]

Leon is a third 13th-century church, the design of which seems certainly
to have been imported from France. The exact date of its commencement is
not known. Mr. Street thinks it about 1250-58, which seems very
probable, and it may have been practically completed about 1305. Its
dimensions are not unlike those of Burgos; but it has been very much
less altered, and may be taken as the type of a 3-aisled basilica as
imported into Spain in the 13th century. In the arrangement of the
pier-arches (Woodcut No. 945) it very much resembles Beauvais, and in
the extent of the clerestory it is more essentially French than almost
any other church in Spain. Burgos, on the contrary (Woodcut No. 946),
possesses features not to be found in France, such as the round-arched
head to the triforium, and the rounded form of the clerestory
intersecting vault. The tracery of the clerestory windows is also
peculiar in such a situation, and altogether there is a Southern feeling
about the whole design which we miss at Leon.

Oviedo is another example of the same class, and generally it may be
said that the Spanish cathedrals which were commenced in the first half
of the 13th century are all more or less distinctly French in design.
But the Spaniards were again working themselves free from their masters,
and towards the end of the century and during the next erected a class
of churches with wide naves and widely spaced piers which were very
unlike anything to be found in France; and, if they cannot be considered
as original, their affinities must be looked for rather in Italy than to
the north of the Pyrenees.

[Illustration: 947. Plan of Cathedral at Barcelona. (Reduced from
Street’s.) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

Among these churches the most remarkable group is that still existing in
Barcelona. That city seems during the 14th century to have had a season
of great prosperity, when the cathedral and other churches were rebuilt
on a scale of great magnificence, and with special reference to the
convenience of the laity as contradistinguished from the liturgical
wants of the clergy. The cathedral seems to have been commenced about
1298, and been tolerably far advanced in 1329. Its internal length is
about 300 ft., its width, exclusive of the side chapels, about 85 ft.,
so that it is not a large church, but is remarkable for the lightness
and wide spacing of its piers, and generally for the elegance of its
details. Looked at from a purely æsthetic point of view, it has neither
the grandeur nor solemnity of the older and more solid style; but gloom
and grandeur are not necessary accompaniments of a city church, and
where cheerfulness combined with elegance are considered appropriate,
few examples more fully meet these conditions than this church.
Considerable effect is obtained by the buttresses of the nave being
originally designed, as was so frequently the case in the South of
France, as internal features, and the windows being small are not seen
in the general perspective. This supplies the requisite appearance of
strength, in which the central piers are rather deficient, while the
repetition of the side chapels, two in each bay, gives that perspective
which the wide spacing of the central supports fails to supply.
Altogether the design seems very carefully studied, and the result is
more satisfactory than in most Spanish churches.

The system which was introduced in this cathedral was carried a step
further in Sta. Maria del Mar (1328-1383). There the central vault was
made square and quadripartite, as was frequently the case in Italy; the
vault of the aisles oblong, on exactly the contrary principle to that
adopted in the North of Europe. Again, however, the equilibrium is to
some extent restored by each bay containing three side chapels, though
the effect would have been better if these had been deeper and more
important. Such a design is inappropriate when a choir is necessarily
introduced to separate the clergy from the laity, but for a
congregational church it is superior to most other designs of the Middle

A third church, Sta. Maria del Pi (1329-1353), carries this principle
one step farther—this time, however, evidently borrowed from such
churches as those of Alby (Woodcut No. 568) or Toulouse (Woodcut No.
569). It has been carried out with the utmost simplicity. The clear
internal length is nearly 200 ft., the clear width upwards of 50 ft.
Such a church would easily contain 2000 worshippers seated where all
could see and hear all that was going on. Though it may be deficient in
some of those poetic elements which charm so much in our Northern
churches, there is a simple grandeur in the design which compensates for
the loss.

[Illustration: 948. Sta. Maria del Mar, Barcelona. (From Street.) Scale
100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 949. Sta. Maria del Pi, Barcelona. (From Street.) Scale
100 ft. to 1 in.]

The church (Woodcut No. 950) at Manresa is very similar in design so
Sta. Maria del Mar, only carried a step farther, and in the wrong
direction. From wall to wall it is 100 ft. wide, and 200 ft. long, and
is thus so comparatively short that we miss the perspective which is the
great charm in Northern cathedrals. Still if it were not that the
central aisle is blocked up by the choir, as is usual in Spain, it would
be a very noble church. Its central aisle, which possesses a clear width
of 56 ft., would be a very noble place of assembly for a congregation.
There is, at the same time, a simplicity and propriety about its details
and the arrangement of its apse which have seldom been surpassed, while
at the same time, they are characteristic of Spain.

[Illustration: 950. Interior of Collegiate Church, Manresa. (From

The Spaniards having once grasped the idea of these spacious vaulted
halls, and found out the means of constructing them, they carried the
principle far beyond anything on this side of the Pyrenees. Their most
successful effort in this direction was at Gerona. The choir of a church
of the usual French pattern had been erected there in the beginning of
the 14th century (1312?), but it had remained unfinished till 1416, when
after much consultation it was determined to carry out the design of a
certain Guillermo Boffiy, who proposed to add a nave without pillars, of
the same breadth as the centre and side aisles of the choir. As will be
seen from the plan, it consists of a hall practically of two squares,
the clear width being 73 ft., the length 160 ft. Considering that 40 ft.
is about the normal width of the naves of the largest French and English
cathedrals, such a span is gigantic, though with the internal buttresses
of the side chapels it presented no great difficulty of construction.
Indeed, when we remember that in their vaulted halls the Romans had
adopted 83 ft. (vol. i. p. 331) as the normal span of their intersecting
vaults, it is not its novelty or mechanical boldness that should
surprise us so much as its appropriateness for Christian worship. As
might be expected, there is a little awkwardness in the junction of the
two designs. It is easy to see what an opportunity the eastern end of
the great nave offered to a true artist, and how a Northern architect
would have availed himself of it, and by canopies and statues or
painting have made it a masterpiece of decoration. It is too much to
expect this in Spain; but it probably was originally painted, or at
least intended to be. Otherwise it is almost impossible to understand
the absence of string-courses or architectural framings throughout. But,
even as it stands, the church at Gerona must be looked upon as one of
the most successful designs of the Middle Ages, and one of the most
original in Spain.

[Illustration: 951. Plan of Cathedral at Gerona. (Reduced from Street’s
to 100 ft. to 1 in.)]

The cimborio had somewhat gone out of fashion in the North of Spain in
the 15th century, and with these very wide naves had become not only
difficult to construct, but somewhat inappropriate.

Still there are examples, such as that at Valencia (Woodcut No. 953),
which, externally at least, are very noble objects. The church at
Valencia seems to have been erected in 1404, and probably it was
originally intended to have added a spire or external roof of some sort
to the octagon. So completed, the tower would have been a noble central
feature to any church, though hardly so perfect in design as that of the
old cathedral at Salamanca (Woodcut No. 935).

[Illustration: 952. Interior of Cathedral at Gerona, looking East. (From

[Illustration: 953. Cimborio of Cathedral at Valencia. (From Chapuy.)]

Of about the same age (1401) is the great cathedral of Seville, the
largest and in some respects the grandest of Mediæval cathedrals. Its
plan can, however, hardly be said to be Gothic, as it was erected on the
site of the Mosque which was cleared away to make room for it, and was
of exactly the same dimensions in plan (Woodcut No. 954). It consists of
a parallelogram 415 ft. by 298, exclusive of the sepulchral chapel
behind the altar, which is a cinque-cento addition. It thus covers about
124,000 sq. ft. of ground, more than a third in excess of the cathedral
at Toledo (75,000), and more than Milan (108,000 sq. ft.), which, next
to Seville, is the largest of Mediæval creations. The central aisle is
56 ft. wide from centre to centre of the columns, the side-aisles 40
ft., in the exact proportion of 7 to 10, or of the side of an isosceles
right-angled triangle to the hypothenuse. As will be explained
hereafter, this is the proportion arrived at from the introduction of an
octagonal dome in the centre of the building, though it may have arisen
here from the existence of an octagonal court in the centre of the
mosque; but, be that as it may, it is a far more agreeable proportion
than the double dimensions generally adopted by Gothic architects, and
probably the most pleasing that has yet been hit upon. Unfortunately no
section of the cathedral has been published, but the nave is said to be
145 ft. in height, and the side-aisles seem to be in as pleasing
proportion to it in height as they are in plan, so that, though
different from the usually received notions of what a Gothic design
should be, it is an invention that should well bear to have been further
followed out. Perhaps it might have been, had it not come so late. The
cathedral was only finished about 1520, when St. Peter’s at Rome was
well advanced.

[Illustration: 954. Plan of Cathedral at Seville. Scale 100 ft. to 1

The architect of this noble building is not known, but he was probably a
German acting under Spanish inspiration, as at Milan we find a German
carrying out an Italian design with just that admixture of foreign
feeling which seems to prevail at Seville. When, however, we consider
what was done at Barcelona so shortly before, or at Segovia so soon
afterwards, we need hardly be surprised if a Spanish architect really
built this cathedral also. Those features which to us have a foreign
aspect may really be peculiarities forced upon him by having to suit his
church to the lines of a mosque, and there may be forms in Andalusian
architecture derived from Moorish examples with which we are not so
familiar as with those which the Northern provinces derived from France.
But, be this as it may, Spain may well feel pride in possessing a
cathedral which is certainly the largest of those of the Middle Ages, as
well as far more original in design than Toledo or any that were built
under French influence. These remarks apply only to the interior.
Externally it never was completed, and those parts which are finished
were erected so late in the style that their details are far from
pleasing in form or constructively appropriate.

                          LATE SPANISH GOTHIC.

The last stage of Spanish Gothic was not less remarkable than those
which preceded it, and perhaps more original. At the time when other
Continental nations were turning their attention to the introduction of
the classical styles, Spain still clung to the old traditions, and
actually commenced Gothic cathedrals in the 16th century. A new
cathedral was designed in the year 1513, for Salamanca, to supersede the
old one; and another very similar both in dimensions and style was
commenced at Segovia in 1523.[137] Both these churches are practically
five-aisled, but as they have three free aisles and two ranges of
chapels between the internal buttresses, making a total internal width
of 160 ft., with an internal length of twice that dimension, no fault is
to be found with their internal proportions. But their details want that
purity and subordination so characteristic of the earlier styles.

Their great peculiarity, however, consists in the extreme richness and
elaboration of their vaults. In this respect they more resemble St.
Jacques, Liège (Woodcut No. 681), and some of the late German churches,
than anything to be found nearer home. But, wherever derived from, the
practice of thus ornamenting the vaults at this late date contrasts
singularly with what was done in earlier stages of the style.

One of the defects of Spanish architecture, after the earliest examples
in the round-arched forms, is the poverty of its vaults. Generally they
are like those of the French; but owing to the vast extent they attained
at Gerona, Manresa, and elsewhere, the one lean rib in the centre and
the absence of any ridge-rib make themselves more painfully felt than
even in the French examples. When in the 16th century the architects
tried to obviate this defect, it was not done as in England by
constructive lines representing the arches, but by waving curved lines
spread capriciously over the vault, which was thus certainly enriched,
but can hardly be said to have been adorned.

[Illustration: 955. Plan of Cathedral at Segovia. (Reduced from Street.)
Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

In one or two instances, the late Gothic architects aimed at the
introduction of new principles, not perhaps in the best taste, but still
so striking as to merit attention. In the church at Villena (1498-1511),
for instance, all the columns are ornamented with spiral flutings so
boldly executed as to be very effective; and as this spiral ornament is
consistently carried throughout the design, and the parts are
sufficiently massive not to look weakened in consequence, the whole
design must be admitted to be both pleasing and original.

[Illustration: 956. Section of Church at Villena. (From ‘Mon. Arch.
d’Espana.’) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

The exteriors of these 16th century churches have a much more modern
look than their interiors. From the buttresses being internal, the
external walls are perfectly flat, generally terminating upwards by a
cornice more or less classical in design. The windows are frequently
without tracery, and are ornamented with balconies, and Renaissance
ornaments are often intermixed with those of Gothic form in a manner
more picturesque than constructive. At times, however, they exhibit such
a gorgeous exuberance of fancy that it is impossible to avoid admiring,
though we feel at the same time that it would be heresy to the
principles of correct criticism to say that such a style was legitimate.

Among the minor examples of the age, perhaps the most remarkable is the
church or chapel of San Juan de los Reyes at Toledo, built by Ferdinand
and Isabella as a sepulchral chapel for themselves, though not used for
that purpose. It is thus the exact counterpart of our Henry VII.’s
Chapel, and of the church at Brou in Bresse. As its founders were at the
time of its erection among the richest and most prosperous sovereigns in
Europe, all that wealth could do was lavished on its ornamentation. It
is as rich as our example, and richer than the French one. But, on the
whole, the palm must be awarded the English architect. There is more
constructive skill, and the construction is better expressed, at
Westminster, than either at Toledo or Brou; though it is difficult not
to feel that the money in all these cases might have been better
expended on a larger and purer style of art.

Some parts of the church of San Miguel at Xeres exceed even this in
richness and elaborateness of ornament, and surpass anything found in
Northern cathedrals, unless it be the tabernacle-work of some tombs, or
the screens of some chapels. In these it is always applied to small and
merely ornamental parts. In Spain it is frequently spread over a whole
church, and thus, what in a mere subordinate detail would be beautiful,
on such a scale becomes fatiguing, and is decidedly in very bad taste.

It would be tedious to attempt to enumerate or describe the other
cathedrals of Spain, or the numerous conventual or collegiate churches,
many of which are still in use, with their cloisters and conventual
buildings nearly complete. In this respect Spain is nearly as rich as
France; while she possesses, in proportion to her population, a larger
number of important parochial churches than that country, though
inferior in that respect to England. The laity seem during the Middle
Ages to have been of more importance in the Spanish Church than they
were north of the Pyrenees, and the tendency of the architecture
therefore was to provide for their accommodation. If, however, any such
feeling then existed, it was carefully stamped out by the Inquisition
after the fall of Granada. It would be interesting, however, to trace it
back, and try to ascertain the cause whence it arose. Was it that the
Aryan blood of the Goths was then more prevalent, and that the Iberian
race has since become more dominant? Whatever the cause, it is one of
those problems on which architecture may hope to throw some light, and
to which, consequently, it is most desirable that the attention of
architects should be turned.

                             MORESCO STYLE.

While Gothic churches were being erected under French influence in the
north and centre of Spain, another style was developing itself under
Moorish influence in the south, which in the hands of a more artistic
people than the Spaniards might have become as beautiful as any other in
Europe. It failed, however, to attain anything like completeness,
primarily because the Spaniards were incapable of elaborating any
artistic forms, but also perhaps because the two races came to hate one
another, and the dominant people to abhor whatever belonged to those
they were so cruelly persecuting.

If we knew more of the ethnic relations of the Moors, who conquered
Spain in the 8th century, we might perhaps be able to predicate whether
it were possible for such dissimilar parents to produce a fertile
hybrid. It seems certain, however, that the Moors did not belong to any
Turanian race, or traces of their tombs would be found; but none such
exist. Nor did they belong to any of the great building races, for
during the whole of their sojourn in Spain they showed no constructive
ability, no skill in arrangement of plans, and no desire for
architectural magnificence. But they were a rich, luxurious, and refined
people possessing an innate knowledge of colour and an exquisite
perception of the beauty of form and detail. They were, in fact, among
the most perfect ornamentalists we are acquainted with, but they were
not architects. Had the inhabitants of Toledo from the 11th century been
French, or any Celtic race, the combination of their constructive skill
with the taste in detail of the Moors could hardly have failed to
produce the happiest results. As it was, after a few feeble efforts the
style died out, but not without leaving some very remarkable specimens
of architectural art, though on a small scale. They were also only in
perishable plaster, which, though well suited to the style of the Moors,
is a material which no architectural people ever would have employed.

[Illustration: 957. Sta. Maria la Bianca. (From ‘Mon. Arch.’) Scale 50
ft. to 1 in.]

As might be expected, the principal examples of this style are to be
found in or about Toledo, but specimens exist in almost every province
of Spain up to the very roots of the Pyrenees, and its influence is
often felt in the extreme richness of ornamentation into which the
architects of Spain were often betrayed, even when expressing themselves
in Gothic or Renaissance details.

[Illustration: 958. Sta. Maria la Bianca. (From Villa Amil.)]

Among the examples at Toledo the two best interiors seem to be the
church of Sta. Maria la Bianca and that of Nuestra Senora del Transito,
both originally built as synagogues, though afterwards appropriated to
Christian purposes. The first is said to have been erected in the 12th
century, and was appropriated by the Christians in 1405. As will be seen
by the plan, it is an irregular quadrangle, about 87 ft. by 65 ft. in
width across the centre, and divided into five aisles by octagonal piers
supporting horse-shoe arches. Above these now runs what may be called a
blind clerestory, though it appears as if light were originally admitted
through piercings in it. The objects are so dissimilar that it is
difficult to institute a very distinct comparison between the synagogue
and a contemporary Gothic church of the same dimensions; but it may
safely be said that if the Northern style is grander in conception, this
is far more elegant in detail: the essential difference lying in the
fact that the Gothic style always had, or aimed at having, a vault, and
consequently forced the architects to work and think—the very difficulty
of the task being thus the cause of its success. The Saracens in Spain,
on the contrary, never attempted either a vault or a dome, but were
always content with an easily constructed wooden roof, calling for no
ingenuity to design, and no thought how to convert its mechanical
exigences into artistic beauties. The Moorish architects could play with
their style, and consequently produced fascinating elegances of detail;
the Gothic architects, on the contrary, were forced to work like men,
and their result appeals to our higher intellectual wants; though in
doing so they frequently neglected the polish and lighter graces of
style which are so pleasing in the semi-Asiatic art of the South of

The other synagogue—del Transito—we know was completed in 1366. It is
merely a large room, of pleasing proportion, the walls of which are
plain and solid up to about three-fourths of their height. Above this a
clerestory admits the light in a manner singularly agreeable in a hot
climate. The roof is of wood, of the form called _Artesinado_ in Spain,
from its being something in the form of an inverted trough—with coupled
tie-beams across, so that, though elegant in detail it has no
constructive merit, and the whole depends for its effect,[138] like all
Moorish work in Spain, on its ornamental details.

[Illustration: 959. Apse of St. Bartolomeo. (From ‘Mon. Arch.’) Scale 25
ft. to 1 in.]

All the churches we know of in this style date within the period
comprised between the fall of Toledo (1085) and that of Granada (1492).
During that time the Moors were still sufficiently powerful to be
respected and their art tolerated. After their expulsion from their last
stronghold, fear being removed, bigotry became triumphant, and
persecution followed, not only of the people and their religion, but of
everything that recalled either to remembrance.

It is possible that some larger and more important churches than those
we now find were erected during this period in this style; but if so,
they have perished. One of the largest at Toledo, San Bartolomeo, has an
apse (Woodcut No. 959) little more than 30 ft. across over all, and
others, such as Santa Fé, Santa Leocadia, San Eugenio, or Santa Isabel,
are all smaller, St. Ursula alone being of about the same dimensions
with St. Bartolomeo. The decoration of the apse of the latter will
afford a fair idea of the style of detail adopted in these churches. For
brick architecture it is singularly appropriate. It admits of more or
less light, as may be required. It is crowned by a cornice of pleasing
profile, and the whole is simpler and better than the many-buttressed
and pinnacled apses of the Gothic architects.

A more picturesque example, though not so pure as that last quoted, is
found in the little chapel of Humanejos in Estremadura (Woodcut No.
960). As will be observed from the woodcut, there is some 13th-century
tracery in its windows, thus revealing its date as well as betraying its
origin, and but for which it might almost be mistaken for an example of
pure Saracenic architecture.

[Illustration: 960. Chapel at Humanejos. (From Villa Amil.)]

This is even more the case in a beautiful chapel in the monastery of the
Huelgas, near Burgos, which, were it not for some Gothic foliage of the
14th century, introduced where it can hardly be observed, might easily
pass for a fragment of the Alhambra. The same is true of many parts of
the churches at Seville. That of La Feria, for instance, and the apse of
the church of the Dominicans at Calatayud, are purely in this style, and
most beautiful and elaborate specimens of their class.

Very pleasing examples of the adaptation of Moorish art to Christian
purposes are to be found in various churches throughout Spain. That of
St. Roman at Toledo[139] is a very pleasing and pure example of the
style, but neither so picturesque nor so characteristic as that at
Ilescas (Woodcut No. 961), not far from Madrid, which, though differing
essentially from any Gothic steeple, is still in every part
appropriately designed, and, notwithstanding its strongly marked
horizontal lines, by no means deficient in that aspiring character so
admirable in Gothic steeples.

[Illustration: 961. Tower at Ilescas. (From Villa Amil.)]

Another remarkable example is the tower and roof of the church of St.
Paul, Saragoza. It is so unlike anything else in Europe, that it might
pass for a church in the Crimea or the steppes of Tartary. As if to add
to its foreign aspect, the tiles of the roof are coloured and glazed,
thus rendering the contrast with Gothic art stronger than even that
presented in the details and forms of the architecture.

The Church of St. Thomé at Toledo has a tower so perfectly Moorish in
all its details, that but for its form it might as well be classed among
the specimens of Moorish as of Mozarabic architecture. Throughout Spain
there are many of the same class, which were undoubtedly erected by the
Christians. Both in this country and in Sicily it is never safe to
assume that because the style of a building is Moorish, even purely so,
the structure must belong to the time when the Moors possessed the
country, or to a happy interval, if any such existed, when a more than
usually tolerant reign permitted them to erect edifices for themselves
under the rule of their Christian conquerors.

[Illustration: 962. St. Paul, Saragoza. (From Villa Amil.)]

Sometimes we find Moorish details mixed up with those of Gothic
architecture in a manner elsewhere unknown, as for instance in the
doorway, in Woodcut No. 963, from the house of the Ablala at Valencia.
The woodwork is of purely Moorish design, the stonework of the bad
unconstructive Gothic of the late Spanish architects, altogether making
up a combination more picturesque than beautiful, at least in an
architectural point of view.

[Illustration: 963. Doorway from Valencia. (From Chapuy.)]

                              CHAPTER III.

                          CIVIL ARCHITECTURE.


Monastic Buildings—Municipal Buildings—Castles.

                          MONASTIC BUILDINGS.

AS already mentioned, to most of the great churches described above
there were attached monastic establishments on a scale commensurate with
them in dignity, and ornamented in an equal degree. Most of these, too,
had chapter-houses, generally square vaulted apartments, not equal in
originality or magnificence with those of England, but very superior to
anything found in France. The most ornamental part of these is generally
the screen of triple arches by which they open on the cloister.
Internally they are now generally plain, but they may have been adorned
with wooden stalls and furniture, which have since disappeared.

[Illustration: 964. Cloister of the Huelgas, near Burgos. (From Villa

More important than these are the cloisters to which they were attached—
the _patio_ of the convent, which in such a climate as that of Spain was
an indispensable adjunct, and much more appropriate than a covered
arcade ever was or could be in our northern climate. The Spanish
architects seem, in consequence, to have revelled in the designs of
their cloisters, and from the simple arcade of Gerona (1117) to the
exuberant caprice of San Juan de los Reyes, they form a series of
examples completely illustrative of the progress of Spanish art: perhaps
more so than even the churches to which they are attached. Some of the
cloisters have octagonal projections with lavatories.

The favourite form of the earlier examples, like those in the South of
France (Woodcut No. 559), is that of an open arcade supported on coupled
columns, on the capitals of which the architects delighted to lavish all
their powers of variety and design. That at the convent of the Huelgas
(Woodcut No. 964) gives a fair idea of the mode in which they are
carried out, and is certainly far more appropriate than the traceried
arches of Northern examples, which, without glazing, are most unmeaning.
During the 14th and 15th centuries the Spaniards adopted them, and some
of the best specimens of their traceries are to be found in the cloister
arcades. Having gone so far, however, they went on, and carried the idea
to its legitimate conclusion by filling up the whole opening with a
screen of pierced tracery. The most complete example of this style is
that found at Tarazona in Aragon. The cloister itself is in brick, but
not even plastered; the openings are filled with stone slabs pierced
with the most varied and elegant Gothic tracery. It would seem a more
reasonable plan to have used stone for the structure and terra-cotta for
the openings; but as it is, the effect of the whole is extremely
pleasing. It is, however, more like an Oriental than an European design,
and reveals as clearly as the churches of Toledo the continued presence
of the Moor in the land of Spain.

[Illustration: 965. Cloister, Tarazona. (From Street.)]

[Illustration: 966. The Casa Lonja, Valencia. (From Street.)]

                          MUNICIPAL BUILDINGS.

Spain does not seem to have possessed, during the Middle Ages, any
municipalities of sufficient importance to require buildings of an
important or permanent character for their accommodation. There are, it
is true, one or two Lonjas, or places for the assembly of merchants,
which are of some magnificence. But these were erected on the very verge
of the Renaissance, and betray all the feebleness of an expiring style.
That at Valencia is, perhaps, the best example. Internally it has
twisted fluted columns similar to those at Villena[140] (Woodcut No.
956). The two buildings are said to have been designed by the same
architect, but the columns in this instance are much more attenuated
than in the church. The exterior has at least the merit of expressing
the internal arrangements. On one side of the central tower is the great
hall, on the other the public rooms, and above these an upper storey
with an open arcade. The last is a feature very frequently found in
Spain, not only in Mediæval palaces, but in those of the Renaissance
period, and wherever it exists it is one of the most pleasing that can
be found; it gives all the shadow of a cornice, without its inconvenient
and useless projection, and crowns the whole design in an appropriate
and pleasing manner.


[Illustration: 967. Castle of Cocos, Castille. (From Villa Amil.)]

One example must suffice to recall attention to the fact of the
existence of “Chateaux en Espagne.” On the plains of Castille they are
not only numerous, but of great magnificence; erected apparently before
the fear of inroads from the Moors of Granada had passed away, or at all
event when a military aristocracy was indispensable to save the nation
from reconquest by these dreaded enemies. Of these the Kasr at Segovia
is one of the best known and most frequently drawn. It has the advantage
of being still inhabited, and its turrets retained, till recently, their
tall conical roofs, which gave it so peculiar and local an aspect.[141]
It also possesses the advantage—rare in Spanish castles—of standing on
the edge of a tall rock, to which it has been fitted with almost
Oriental taste.

Another favourable specimen is the now ruined castle of Cocos. Its tall
towers and clustering turrets still attest its former magnificence, and
point to a local style of defensive architecture differing from that of
any other part of Europe, but even more picturesque than the best
examples of either France or England. The castle at Olite is still more
local in its style. Many other examples might be quoted; but they hardly
belong to the fine-art branch of Architecture, and thus scarcely come
within the scope of this work, though a monograph of the military
architecture of Spain during the Middle Ages would be almost as
interesting as that of her ecclesiastical remains.

                              CHAPTER IV.



Church of Batalha—Alcobaça—Belem.

SO little attention has been paid to the subject of Gothic architecture
in Portugal, that it is by no means clear whether it contains any
churches of interest belonging to that style. There are certainly some
splendid remains at Belem near Lisbon, and fragments at least elsewhere;
but those who have described them are so little qualified for the task
by previous study, that it is impossible to place reliance on the
correctness of their assertions regarding them. One church, however,—
that at Batalha,—has met with a different fate, and having arrested the
attention of Mr. Murphy, “the illustrator of the Alhambra,” was drawn by
him, and published in a splendid folio work at the end of the last
century. As might be supposed from the date of the work, the
illustrations do not quite meet the exigences of modern science, but it
is at all events one of the best illustrated churches in the Peninsula,
and seems in some respects to be worthy of the distinction, being
certainly the finest church in Portugal.

It was erected by King John of Portugal, in fulfilment of a vow made
during a battle with his namesake of Spain in the year 1385, and was
completed in all essentials in a very short period of time. From the
plan (Woodcut No. 968) it will be seen that the form of the original
church is that of an Italian basilica—a three-aisled nave ending in a
transept with five chapels; the whole length internally being 264 ft.,
and the width of the nave 72 ft. 4 in. It is therefore a small building
compared with most of the Gothic churches hitherto described. To the
right of the entrance, under an octagonal canopy which once supported a
German open-work spire, are the tombs of the founder and of his wife
Philippa, daughter of John of Gaunt; beyond this the octagon expands
into a square, in a very Eastern fashion, to accommodate the tombs of
other members of the royal family who are buried around. The whole
design of this part is one of the most suitable for a family sepulchre
to be found anywhere. The wonder, however, of the Batalha, or rather
what would have been so had it been completed, is the tomb-house which
Emanuel the Fortunate commenced for himself at the east end of the
church. Similar chapels at Burgos and Murcia have already been noticed,
but this was to have surpassed them all, and if completed would have
been the most gorgeous mausoleum erected during the Middle Ages.

It is curious to observe how the tradition of the circular tomb-house
behind the altar remained constant in remote provinces to the latest
age. The plan of this church is virtually that of St. Martin at Tours,
of St. Benigne at Dijon (Woodcuts Nos. 575, 577), and of other churches
in Aquitania. It is easy to see how by removing the intermediate walls
this basilica would become a chevet church, complete except for the
difference in the span of the two parts. Had the mausoleum been
finished, the wall separating it from the church would not improbably
have been removed.

The plan of this tomb-house is interesting as being that of the largest
Gothic dome attempted, and as showing how happily the Gothic forms adapt
themselves to this purpose, and how easily any amount of abutment may be
obtained in this style with the utmost degree of lightness and the most
admirable play of perspective; indeed no constructive difficulties
intervene to prevent this dome having been twice its present diameter
(65 ft.); in which case it would have far surpassed Sta. Maria del Fiore
and all the pseudo-classical erections that have since disfigured the
fair face of Europe.

[Illustration: 968. Plan of the Church at Batalha. (From Murphy.) Scale
100 ft. to 1 in.]

Generally speaking, neither the proportions nor the details of this
church are good; it was erected in a country where the principles of
Gothic art were either misapprehended or unknown, and where a lavish
amount of expenditure in carving and ornament was thought to be the best
means of attaining beauty. The church from this cause may almost be
considered a failure; its two sepulchral chapels being in fact by far
the most interesting and beautiful parts of the structure. It may be
observed also that the open-work spire agrees much better with the
semi-Oriental decoration of the churches both of Burgos and Batalha than
with the soberer forms of the more Northern style. One is almost tempted
to fancy that the Germans borrowed the idea from Spain rather than that
Spain imported it from the North. Till we know more of the age of the
cathedrals of Leon, Oviedo, and other cities in the North of Spain, the
point cannot be determined; but it seems by no means certain but that
further knowledge will compel the Germans to resign their claim to this
their single alleged invention in the pointed style.

Next in importance to the church at Batalha is that at Alcobaça,
commenced in the year 1148, and finished in 1222. It is a simple and
grand Cistercian abbey-church, not unlike that at Pontigny (Woodcut No.
643) in style. Its total length is 360 ft.; its height about 64. The
nave is divided from the side-aisles by twelve piers, the arches of
which support vaults of the same height over the three divisions—a
circumstance which must detract considerably from the beauty of its
proportions. The east end is terminated by a chevet (called by the
Portuguese a _charola_) with nine chapels.

The monastery attached to this church, formerly one of the most splendid
in the world, was burnt by the French in their retreat from Portugal.

At Coimbra there are still some remains of Gothic churches; the
principal of these is the old cathedral, which, though much destroyed,
still retains many features belonging to the same age as that of

In the same town is the church of Sta. Cruz, rebuilt by French
architects in the year 1515, in the then fashionable flamboyant style of
their country; and in complete contrast to this is the small but
interesting Round Gothic church of Sta. Salvador, erected about the year

The church of the convent at Belem near Lisbon, though one of the
latest, was intended by its founder, Emanuel the Fortunate, to be one of
the most splendid in the kingdom. It was commenced in 1500, but not
finished till long after the Renaissance had set in, so that (in the
interior especially) it is very much disfigured by incongruities of
every sort. The southern portal, however, is wholly in the style of the
first years of the 16th century, and is as elaborate an example of the
exuberant ornamentation of that age as can be found in the Peninsula. It
is, of course, full of faults, and by no means worthy of imitation; but
its richness in figure sculpture and in architectural carving is very
impressive and pleasing, in spite of all that can be said against its

[Illustration: 969. Façade at Belem. (From a Photograph.)]

No one who is familiar with the chapel at Roslyn can fail to recognise
at once the similarity of design and detail between the two. The
Portuguese example is half a century more modern, for which allowance
must be made. It is also more delicate, as the work of a Southern people
might be expected to be. Moreover, it is the work of men among whom the
style arose, and who consequently were more at home in it than the
Scotch builder could pretend to be; but notwithstanding all these
deductions, there is a similarity between the style of the two buildings
so remarkable as to leave no doubt of their common origin.

The other churches of Portugal, such as those of Braga, Guimaraens, &c.,
seem to have been of late flamboyant style, and generally are so much
modernised that the little beauty they ever possessed is concealed or
destroyed by modern details.

Notwithstanding the late age of the principal examples and the apparent
paucity of those of an earlier time, it is still possible that Portugal
may contain much to interest the archæologist. But travelling has
hitherto been inconvenient and slow in that country, and it has not yet
been visited, or at least described, by any one familiar with the
peculiarities of Mediæval art. When properly explored, we may be
surprised at the treasures it contains. On the other hand, it is by no
means impossible that the ‘Handbook of Portugal’ is correct when it
asserts that “There is no European country which has less interesting
ecclesiology than Portugal. There are certainly not 150 old churches in
the kingdom. The French invasion, the great earthquake, and the rage for
rebuilding in the 18th century, have destroyed nearly all.”

Let us hope it may not be so, but at present we have little beyond the
hope to rely on.

                               PART III.


                                BOOK I.

                               CHAPTER I.


NOTE.—In consequence of the re-arrangement of the work, as explained
above, by which all the Indian chapters are taken out of it and put
together in a separate volume by themselves, the third part of the
original work is reduced to very limited dimensions. It consists in the
first place of those styles of Saracenic art which are in any way
connected with the European styles, and which consequently must be
studied together with them in order to be understood. But all the Indian
developments of the same style are omitted; first, because they have no
real or direct connection with the Western styles; and, secondly,
because their affinities are much more intimate with the local styles of
Hindostan than with those of Europe. When, however, this great branch is
cut off, the Saracenic styles west of the Indus do not occupy a very
important place in a general history of architecture—nothing that can
compare with the great Christian or classical styles, and hardly even
with those of Assyria or Egypt.

As the Indian styles necessarily include the Cambodian, Chinese,
Japanese, &c., the only styles that remain to be described are those of
the New World. Their connection with other styles is at present so hazy
and indefinite that they may be arranged anywhere; but in order to avoid
any appearance of prejudging any hypothesis, it may be as well to place
them in this part of the work, in juxtaposition with a style with which
they cannot be suspected of having any connection.



THE first century of the Hejira forms a chapter in the history of
mankind as startling from the brilliancy of its events as it is
astonishing from the permanence of its results. Whether we consider the
first outburst of Mahomedanism as a conquest of one of the most
extensive empires of the world by a small and previously unknown people,
or as the propagation of a new religion, or as both these events
combined, the success of the movement is without a parallel in history.
It far surpassed the careers of the great Eastern conquerors in the
importance of its effects, and the growth of the Roman Empire in
brilliance and rapidity. From Alexander to Napoleon, conquests have
generally been the result of the genius of some gifted individual, and
have left, after a short period, but slight traces of their transient
splendour. Even Rome’s conquest of the world was a slow and painful
effort compared with that of the Arabians; and though she imposed her
laws on the conquered nations, and enforced them by her military
organization, she had neither the desire nor the power to teach them a
new faith; nor could she bind the various nations together into one
great people, who should aid her with heart and hand in the mission she
had undertaken.

It was, indeed, hardly possible that a poor and simple, but warlike and
independent, people like the Arabs, could long exist close to the ruins
of so wealthy and so overgrown an empire as that of Constantinople,
without making an attempt to appropriate the spoil which the effeminate
hands of its possessors were evidently unable to defend. It was equally
impossible that so great a supervision of Christianity as then prevailed
in Egypt and Syria could exist in a country which from the earliest ages
had been the seat of the most earnest Monotheism without provoking some
attempt to return to the simpler faith which had never been wholly
superseded. So that on the whole the extraordinary success of
Mahomedanism at its first outset must be attributed to the utter
corruption, religious and political, of the expiring empire of the East,
as much as to any inherent greatness in the system itself or the ability
of the leaders who achieved the great work.

Had it been a mere conquest, it must have crumbled to pieces as soon as
completed; for Arabia was too thinly populated to send forth armies to
fight continual battles, and maintain so widely extended an empire. Its
permanence was owing to the fact that the converted nations joined the
cause with almost the enthusiasm of its original promoters; Syria,
Persia, and Africa, in turn, sent forth their swarms to swell the tide
of conquest and to spread the religion of Islam to the remotest corners
of the globe.

To understand either Mahomedan history or art it is essential to bear
this constantly in mind, and not to assume that, because the first
impulse was given from Arabia, everything afterwards must be traced back
to that primitive people: on the contrary, there was no great
depopulation, if any, of the conquered countries, no great
transplantation of races. Each country retained its own inhabitants,
who, under a new form, followed their old habits and clung to their old
feelings with all the unchangeableness of the East, and perhaps with
even less outward change than is usually supposed. Before the time of
Mahomet the Sabean worship of the stars was common to Arabia and Persia,
and a great part of the Babylonian Empire. The Jewish religion was
diffused through Syria and parts of Arabia. Egypt, long before the time
of Mahomet, must have been to a great extent Arabian, as it now wholly
is. In all these countries the religion of Mahomet struck an ancient
chord that still vibrated among the people, and it must have appeared
more as a revival of the past than as the preaching of a new faith. In
Spain alone colonization to some extent seems to have taken place, but
we must not even there overlook the fact of the early Carthaginian
settlements, and the consequent existence of a Semitic people of
considerable importance in the south, where the new religion maintained
itself long after its extinction in those parts of Spain where no
Semitic blood is known to have existed.

So weak, indeed, in the converted countries was the mere Arabian
influence, that each province soon shook off its yoke, and, under their
own Caliphs, Persia, Syria, Egypt, Africa, and Spain soon became
independent States, yielding only a nominal fealty to that Caliph who
claimed to be the rightful successor of the Prophet, and, except in
faith and the form of religion, the real and essential change was
slight, and far greater in externals than in the innate realities of

All this is more evident from the architecture than from any other
department—without, at least, more study than most people can devote to
the subject. The Arabs themselves had no architecture, properly so
called. Their only temple was the Kaabah at Mecca, a small square tower,
almost destitute of architectural ornament, and more famous for its
antiquity and sanctity than for any artistic merit.

It is said that Mahomet built a mosque at Medina—a simple edifice of
bricks and palm-sticks.[142] But the Koran gives no directions on the
subject, and so simple were the primitive habits of the nomad Arabs,
that had the religion been confined to its native land, it is probable
that no mosque worthy of the name would ever have been erected. With
them prayer everywhere and anywhere was equally acceptable. All that was
required of the faithful was to turn towards Mecca at stated times and
pray, going through certain forms and in certain attitudes, but whether
the place was the desert or the housetop was quite immaterial.

For the first half century after the Mahomedans burst into Syria they
seem to have built very little. The taste for architectural magnificence
had not yet taken hold of the simple followers of the Prophet, and
desecrated churches and other buildings supplied what wants they had.
When they did take to building, about the end of the 7th century, they
employed the native architects and builders, and easily converted the
Christian church with its atrium into a place of prayer; and, then, by a
natural growth of style, they gradually elaborated a new style of
details and new arrangements, in which it is often difficult to trace
the source whence they were derived.

In Egypt the wealth of ancient remains, in particular of Roman pillars,
rendered the task easy; and mosques were enclosed and palaces designed
and built with less thought and less trouble than had occurred almost
anywhere else. The same happened in Barbary and in Spain. In the latter
country, especially, a re-arrangement of Roman materials was all that
was required. It was only when these were exhausted, after some
centuries of toil, that we find the style becoming original; but its
form was not that of Syria or of Egypt, but of Spanish birth and
confined to that locality.

When the Turks conquered Asia Minor, their style was that of the
Byzantine basilicas which they found there, and when they entered
Constantinople they did not even care to carry a style with which they
were familiar across the Bosphorus, but framed their mosques upon a type
of church peculiar to that city, of which Sta. Sophia was the crowning

It is true that, after centuries of practice most of these heterogeneous
elements became fused into a complete style. This style possesses so
much that is entirely its own as to make it sometimes difficult to
detect the germs, taken from the older styles of architecture, which
gave rise to many of its most striking peculiarities. These, however,
are never entirely obliterated. Everywhere the conviction is forced upon
us that originally the Moslems had no style of their own, but adopted
those which they found practised in the countries to which they came. In
other words, the conquered or associated people still continued to build
as they had built before their conversion, merely adapting their former
methods to the purposes of their new religion. After a time this
Mahomedan element thus introduced into the styles of different countries
produced a certain amount of uniformity,—increased, no doubt, by the
intercommunications arising from the uniformity of religion. In this way
at last a style was elaborated, tolerably homogeneous, though never
losing entirely the local peculiarities due to the earlier styles out of
which it rose, and which still continue to mark most distinctly the
various nationalities that made up the great Empire of Islam.

                              CHAPTER II.

                            SYRIA AND EGYPT.


Mosques at Jerusalem—El-Aksah—Mosque at Damascus—Egypt—Mosques at Cairo—
  Other African buildings—Mecca.



 The Hejira                                                     A.D. 622

 Caliph Omar builds Mosque at Jerusalem                              637

 Amru—Mosque at Old Cairo                                            642

 Abd el-Malek builds El-Aksah at Jerusalem   and the “Dome of
 the Rock”                                                           691

 Caliph Walid builds Mosque at Damascus                              705

 Ibn Tooloon at Cairo                                                879

 Kaloun                                                             1284

 Sultan Hassan                                                      1356

 Sultan Berkook                                                     1386

 Kait-bey                                                           1490

AS before mentioned, the earliest mosque of which we have any record was
that built by Mahomet himself at Medina. As, however, it contained
apartments for his wives, and other rooms for domestic purposes, it
might perhaps be more properly denominated a dwelling house than a
mosque. Indeed sacred buildings, as we understand them, seem to have
formed no part of the scheme of the Mahomedan dispensation. The one
temple of this religion was the Kaabah at Mecca, towards which all
believers were instructed to turn when they prayed. As with the ancient
Jews—one Temple and one God were the watchwords of the faith.

When, however, the Mahomedans came among the temple-building nations,
they seem early to have felt the necessity of some material object—some
visible monument of their religion; and we find that Omar, when he
obtained possession of Jerusalem, in the 15th year of the Hejira, felt
the necessity of building a place of prayer towards which the faithful
might turn, or rather which should point out to them the direction of

According to the treaty of capitulation, in virtue of which the city was
ceded to the Moslems, it was agreed that the Christians should retain
possession of all their churches and holy places; and no complaint is
made of even the slightest attempt to infringe this article during the
following three centuries. On the other hand, it was stipulated that a
spot of ground should be ceded to Omar, in which he might establish a
place of prayer. For this purpose the site of the old Temple of the Jews
was assigned to him by the patriarch; that spot being considered sacred
by the Moslems, on account of the nocturnal visit of the Prophet, and
because they then wished to conciliate the Jews, while at the same time
the spot was held accursed by the Christians on account of the Lord’s
denunciation and Julian’s impious attempt to rebuild it. Here Omar built
a mosque, which is described by an early pilgrim who saw it, as a simple
square building of timber capable of holding three thousand people, and
constructed on the ruins of some more ancient edifice.[143]

[Illustration: 970. Plan of the Mosque el-Aksah at Jerusalem. Scale 100
ft. to 1 in.]

The troubles which, during the next half-century, succeeded the murder
of Ali and his sons, seem to have been unfavourable to building or any
of the arts of peace, and no record has yet been brought to light of any
important structure erected during that period. In the 69th year of the
Hejira, Abd el-Melik, the Caliph of Damascus, determined to erect a
mosque at Jerusalem. His objects were to set up that city as a place of
pilgrimage in opposition to Mecca, which was then in the possession of a
rival, and to carry into effect what was at one time understood to have
been the intention of Mahomet, namely, to convert the temple of
Jerusalem into the holy place of his new religion, instead of that of
Mecca. These ulterior purposes were never realised, in consequence of
the violent opposition which the project met with from the Jews.

[Illustration: 971. View in the Mosque el-Aksah at Jerusalem.]

The mosque which Abd el-Melik erected was, according to Professor
Lewis,[144] partially destroyed by earthquakes in the years 748, 755 and
770 A.D., and was rebuilt by El Mahdi in 771-781 A.D., with increased
lateral dimensions but diminished in length. From the description given
by Mukaddasi,[145] the building, thus restored, covered a very much
larger area than the existing mosque, there being as many as seven
aisles on each side of the central aisle. Professor Lewis, in the work
above quoted, gives a suggested restoration of the plan, which in the
first place resembles very closely the prayer chambers of the typical
Mahomedan mosques at Amru in Old Cairo, Kerouan in Barbary, and Cordoba
in Spain; and in the general plan coincides so nearly in the position of
its piers and columns with the existing building, so far as it extends,
as to give a reasonable probability to his suggestion. When Jerusalem
was taken by the Crusaders, the Aksah was converted by them into a
palace, and some of their work is still to be seen in the arcades at the
north end. After the conquest of Saladin he carried out extensive
restorations; he covered the Mihrab, which had been walled off by the
Crusaders, and decorated it with marble: he erected the magnificent
pulpit which had been sent from Aleppo, and rebuilt the transept with
its dome as we now see it.

As the Aksah exists at present it has the appearance of an ordinary
basilica with nave and aisles, to which double aisles have been added on
each side. This would suggest that the three central aisles of the
mosque were raised above the rest of the building in order to obtain
increased light through clerestory windows both in central and side
aisles. This, however, may have been done by El Mahdi, who also built
the transept and dome, because they are mentioned by Mukaddasi (985
A.D.), who says “the centre part of the main building is covered by a
mighty roof, high pitched and gable-wise, behind which rises a
magnificent dome.” The mosque (Woodcut No. 971) is 187 ft. wide and 272
ft. in length over all, thus covering about 50,000 sq. ft., or as much
as many of our cathedrals. It has a porch, which is a later addition,
but has not the usual square court in front, possibly because it was
already within the enclosure of the sacred area. “The interior is
supported,” says an Arab historian,[146] “by 45 columns, 33 of which are
of marble, and 12 of common stone, besides which there are 40 piers of
common stone.” Later investigation has shown that the main piers of the
church are built with materials taken from some earlier edifice: the
circular piers of the nave, for instance, are of a reddish marble from
quarries near Jerusalem, patched up and bound together with iron rings,
the whole being plastered over, painted and polished in imitation of
marble, and Professor Lewis suggests that they may have been taken from
Justinian’s Church of St. Mary (described by Procopius), which was burnt
and thrown down by Chosroes in 614 A.D.

Although extremely picturesque, as an architectural object the Aksah is
of no great importance, the only portions which can lay any claim to
beauty being the arches carried on basket-capitals, which were erected
by the Crusaders, and the later decorations of Saladin and other Sultans
who enriched the south portion of the mosque near the Mihret: it must
also be added that it suffers very considerably from its juxtaposition
with the Dome of the Rock, which, though constructed by the same Abd
el-Melik who founded the Aksah, has been added to and decorated in so
sumptuous a manner by succeeding khalifs as to render it one of the most
beautiful buildings in the world.

The first drawings which were made of the Dome of the Rock
(Cubbet-es-Sakra, more generally known as the Mosque of Omar) by Messrs.
Arundale and Catherwood (probably under great difficulties, for the
sacred enclosure was not then thrown open to the gaze of unbelievers),
represented the work as one of uniform design. The more careful
examination which has been made in later years has revealed that the
columns, capitals and bases of the main structure were taken from some
earlier buildings and adapted in the best way; a high base making amends
for a small capital, and new ones only being made when it became
necessary. On this point Major Condor says,[147] “only three of the
capitals under the drum are alike; the rest differ in size, in outline,
and in details. One of the capitals is evidently placed on a shaft which
did not originally belong to it, but which required a large capital. The
sixteen capitals in the screen are more uniform:” “two of those capitals
are, however, of entirely different design, and their shafts longer than
the others.” “The original bases are now covered with marble flagging;”
“but this was removed in 1874, and it was then found that they differed
in outline and height, viz. from 4 to as much as 17 inches.”

[Illustration: 972. Plan of the Dome of the Rock (Mosque of Omar)

The plan (Woodcut No. 972), consists of a central hall over the Sakhra,
or sacred rock, with double aisles round. The hall is divided from the
first aisle by 4 piers, with 3 columns between each; these 16 supports
carry 3-centred arches (virtually pointed arches, whose centres are
distant from one another by about one-fourth of the span, with the point
of the arch rounded off) with wooden tie-beams. Above these arches rises
a lofty cylindrical drum, the upper portion of which is pierced with 16
clerestory windows; the whole covered by a wooden dome, richly carved,
painted and gilded. The screen which divides the first aisle from the
surrounding one is octagonal, with piers at each angle, and two columns
between each; these columns are surmounted by capitals, dosserets, and
carry wood beams encased in rich architrave framing, and circular arches
above with a frieze decorated with an inscription above, now partially
hidden by later restorations. The outer wall is also octagonal, with
four doorways facing the cardinal points, and a parapet, the pent roof
over both aisles being continuous.

[Illustration: 973. View in Aisle of Dome of Rock. (From a Drawing by

[Illustration: 974. Capital in Dome of Rock. (From De Vogüé.)]

The history of the structure has been carefully worked out by Professor
Lewis, taken from various ancient authors, compiled in part by Messrs.
Besant and Palmer, from which it would seem that Abd-el-Melik, having
first built a small dome known as the Cubbet-es-Silsileh (Dome of the
Chain) (A, Woodcut No. 972), for a treasury, was so pleased with the
work that he ordered the great dome over the Sakhra to be built on the
same model. The structure thus erected (shown in black on the plan,
Woodcut No. 972), was executed by skilled workmen from Persia,
Byzantium, and India. It was hung round with curtains of brocade,
probably protected by eaves as in the Cubbet-es-Silsileh. Owing possibly
to the inclemency of the weather, the Khalif el-Mamun (813-33) enclosed
the whole with the octagonal wall, and made various alterations,
including the erasure of Abd-el-Melik’s name in the frieze before
alluded to, and the insertion of his own, the date being untouched. To
this period (9th century) may also be attributed the mosaic decorations
of the drum, though a later date is by some ascribed to them. The dome
was rebuilt by Saladin, 1189, and although restored, is substantially
the same as erected by him. In the 16th century the whole building was
restored by Solyman the Magnificent, who encased the piers of the
interior and the arches covered by them with marble, filled the
clerestory windows with stained glass, and encased with marble and
Persian tiles the external walls.

Notwithstanding the various additions and restorations which have thus
therefore been made from time to time, the whole structure retains at
first sight one uniform character in its design, and it is only on a
careful analysis of its several parts that it is possible to distinguish
the dates of the various changes. The effect which is produced by the
whole is quite unrivalled by any other known building of its class. It
has not, of course, the splendour and magnificence arising from the
vastness and constructive beauty of such a church as Sta. Sophia at
Constantinople, but for its dimension, there is probably no building in
the world the design of which is at the same time so beautiful and so
appropriate for the purposes for which it was erected.

[Illustration: 975. Order of the Dome of the Rock. (From a Drawing by

                          MOSQUE AT DAMASCUS.

As an architectural object the great mosque at Damascus is even more
important than the Aksah, and its history is as interesting. The spot on
which it stands was originally occupied by one of those small Syrian
temples, surrounded by a square _temenos_, of which those at Palmyra and
Jerusalem are well-known examples.[148] The one in question was,
however, smaller, having been apparently only 450 ft. square; and we do
not know the form of the temple which occupied its centre.[149] This
temple was converted into a Christian church by Theodosius (395-408),
and dedicated to St. John the Baptist, whose chapel still exists within
the precincts of the mosque.

[Illustration: 976. Plan of Mosque at Damascus. By Sir Charles Wilson.
Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

According to Jelal ed-Deen,[150] the church remained the joint property
of the Christians and Moslems, both praying together in it—or, at least,
on the east and west sides of a partition run through it—from the fall
of the city in the year of the Hejira 14 (A.D. 636) to the time of the
Caliph Walid in the year 86. He offered the Christians either four
desecrated churches in exchange for it, or threatened to deprive them of
one which they held on sufferance. As soon as the matter was settled, it
is said, he pulled down the Christian church, or at least part of it,
and in ten years completed the present splendid mosque on its site,
having first procured from the emperor at Constantinople fit and proper
persons to act as architects and masons in its construction.

If the building were carefully examined by some competent person, it
might even now be possible to ascertain what parts belonged to the
Heathen, what to the Christians, and what to the Moslems. At first sight
it might appear that the covered part of the mosque is only the
Christian church, used laterally like that at Ramleh; but its
dimensions—126 ft. by 446—are so much in excess of any three-aisled
church of that age, that the idea is hardly tenable. On the whole, it
seems probable that we must consider that the materials which had first
been collected for the Temple, and were afterwards used in the church,
were entirely rearranged by the Mahomedans in the form in which we now
find them.

Like all buildings in the first century of the Hejira, it was so badly
done that nearly all the pillars of the court have since that time been
encased in piers of masonry. The walls have been covered up with
plaster, and whitewash has obliterated the decoration which once
existed, and which is still visible where the plaster has peeled off. It
is still, however, interesting from its history, venerable from its age,
and important from its dimensions. These are, externally, 508 ft. by
320, and the enclosed court 400 ft. by 106. So that, in so far as size
is concerned, it may rank among the first of its class; and it has
always been considered so sacred, that repairs and additions have
constantly been made to it since its erection, more than eleven
centuries ago; but, as in the case of its contemporary the Aksah at
Jerusalem, the result is far from satisfactory. In this respect, these
two buildings form, as just mentioned, a most singular contrast with the
Dome of the Rock at Jerusalem (Woodcuts Nos. 973 to 975). That is
perfect—solemn and solid, and one of the most impressive buildings in
the world, both externally and internally; while the other erections of
the Moslems are rickety, in spite of all repairs, and produce no
impression of greatness notwithstanding their dimensions and antiquity.

The additions made by the Moslems to the mosque at Hebron (Woodcut No.
542) are mean and insignificant to the last degree; and beyond these, it
is difficult to say what there is in Syria built by them that is worthy
of attention.

There are some handsome fountains at Jerusalem, some details at
Hasbeiya, a few large khans at Beisan and elsewhere, and some very fine
city gates and remnants of military architecture; but the tombs are
insignificant, and except the two mosques described, there seems to be
no example of monumental architecture of any importance. The one
building epoch of the country occurred when the Roman influence was at
its height, during the first five centuries of the Christian era. Since
that time very little has been done, except by the Crusaders, worthy of
record; and before it nothing, that, from an architectural point of
view, would deserve a place in history.


In Egypt our history begins with the mosque which Amru, in the 21st year
of the Hejira (A.D. 642) erected at Old Cairo; its original dimensions
were only 50 cubits, or 75 ft. long, by 30 cubits, or 45 ft. wide.
Edrisi[151] says that it was originally a Christian church which the
Moslems converted into a mosque; and its dimensions and form would
certainly lead us to suppose that, if not so, it was at least built
after the pattern of the Christian churches of that age. As early,
however, as the 53rd year of the Hejira it was enlarged, and again in
the 79th; and it apparently was almost wholly rebuilt by the two great
builders of that age, Abd-el-Melik and Walid, the builders of the
mosques of Jerusalem and Damascus.

It probably now remains in all essential parts as left by these two
Caliphs, though frequently repaired, and in some parts probably altered
by subsequent sovereigns of Egypt. In its present state it may be
considered as a fair specimen of the form which mosques took when they
had quite emancipated themselves from the Christian models, or rather
when the court before the narthex of the Christian church had absorbed
the basilica, so as to become itself the principal part of the building,
the church part being spread out into a prayer chamber (Mihrab) and its
three apses modified into niches pointing towards the sacred Mecca.

As will be seen from the plan (Woodcut No. 977), it is nearly square
(390 ft. by 357), and consists of a court-yard, 255 ft. square,
surrounded on all sides by arcades supported by 245 columns taken from
older edifices of the Romans and Byzantines.[152] These columns carried
brick arches,[153] tied at their springing by wooden beams, as in the
Aksah. All this part of the mosque, however, has been so often repaired
and renovated, that but little of the original details can now remain.

[Illustration: 977. Mosque of Amru, Old Cairo. (From Coste’s
‘Architecture Arabe.’) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

Of the original mosque, the only part that can with certainty be said to
exist is a portion of the outer wall, represented in Woodcut No. 960,
which possesses the peculiarity of being built with pointed arches,
similar in form to those of the Aksah at Jerusalem. They are now built
up, and must have been so at the time of one of the earlier alterations;
still they are, from their undoubted antiquity, a curious contribution
to the much-contested history of the pointed arch. Notwithstanding the
beautiful climate of Egypt, the whole mosque is now in a sad state of
degradation and decay, arising principally from its original faulty
construction. Owing to the paucity of details, many of M. Coste’s
restorations must be taken as extremely doubtful.

From the time of the great rebuilding of the mosque of Amru under Walid,
there is a gap in the architectural history of Egypt of nearly a century
and a half, during which time it is probable that no really great work
was undertaken there, as Egypt was then a dependent province of the
great Caliphat of the East. With the recovery, however, of something
like independence, we find one of its most powerful rulers, Ibn Tooloon,
commencing a mosque at Cairo (A.D. 876), which, owing to its superior
style of construction, still remained in tolerable perfection till about

Tradition, as usual, ascribes the design to a Christian architect, who,
when the Emir declined to use the columns of desecrated churches for the
proposed mosque, offered to build it entirely of original materials. He
was at first thrown into prison through the machinations of his rivals;
but at last, when they found they could not dispense with his services,
was again sent for, and his design carried out.[155]

Be this as it may, the whole style of the mosque shows an immense
advance on that of its predecessor, all trace of Roman or Byzantine art
having disappeared in the interval, and the Saracenic architecture
appearing complete in all its details, the parts originally borrowed
from previous styles having been worked up and fused into a
consentaneous whole.

[Illustration: 978. Arches in the Mosque of Amru. (From G. de Prangey’s

[Illustration: 979. Mosque of Ibn Tooloon at Cairo. (From Coste’s
‘Architecture Arabe.’)]

The architect is said to have been a Copt, and if so this would explain
the development of style, Mr. Butler’s work on the Coptic churches of
Egypt,[156] proving clearly that, long previous to the buildings of
Tooloon, a style had been developed by the Copts with ornaments of a
geometrical character similar to that which is found in Tooloon.[157]
From this time we find no backsliding; the style in Egypt at last takes
its rank as a separate and complete architectural form. It is true, that
in so rich a storehouse of materials as Egypt, the architects could not
always resist appropriating the remains of earlier buildings; but when
they did this, they used them so completely in their own fashion, and so
worked them into their own style, that we do not at once recognise the
sources from which they are derived.

To return, however, to the mosque of Tooloon. Its general arrangement is
almost identical with that of the mosque of Amru, only with somewhat
increased dimensions, the court being very nearly 300 ft. square, and
the whole building 390 ft. by 455. No pillars whatever are used in its
construction, except as engaged corner shafts; all the arches, which are
invariably pointed, being supported by massive piers. The court on three
sides has two ranges of arcades, but on the side towards Mecca there are
five; and with this peculiarity, that instead of the arcades running at
right angles to the Mecca wall (as in the mosques of Amru and Kerouan)
they run parallel to it. This may be accounted for by the great solidity
of the walls carried by these arches, and the fact that the thrust of
the latter could not have been counteracted by the wooden ties which
suffice in the two examples above mentioned. By running the arcade the
other way, the arches served as abutments one to the other, carrying the
thrust to the outer walls, which are of great thickness. The same
principle is observed on the other three sides, which in each case lie
parallel to the external wall.

The whole building is of brick, covered with stucco; and fortunately
almost every opening is surrounded by an inscription in the old form of
Cufic characters, which were then used, and only used, about the period
to which the mosque is ascribed, so that there can be no doubt as to its
date. Indeed, the age both of the building itself and of all its
details, is well ascertained.

The Woodcut No. 979 will explain the form of its arcades, and of the
ornaments that cover them. Their general character is that of bold and
massive simplicity, the counterpart of our own Norman style. A certain
element of sublimity and power, in spite of occasional clumsiness, is
common to both these styles. Indeed, excepting the Mosque of Sultan
Hassan, there is perhaps no mosque in Cairo so imposing and so perfect
as this, though it possesses little or nothing of that grace and
elegance which we are accustomed to expect in this style.

[Illustration: 980. Window in Mosque of Ibn Tooloon.]

Among the more remarkable peculiarities of this building is the mode in
which all the external openings are filled with that peculiar sort of
tracery which became as characteristic of this style as that of the
windows of our churches five centuries afterwards is of the Gothic
style. With the Saracens the whole window is filled, and the interstices
are small and varied; both which characteristics are appropriate when
the window is not to be looked out of, or when it is filled with painted
glass; but of course are utterly unsuitable to our purposes. Yet it is
doubtful, even now, whether the Saracenic did not excel the Gothic
architects, even in their best days, in the elegance of design and
variety of invention displayed in the tracery of their windows. In the
mosque of Ibn Tooloon it is used as an old and perfected invention, and
with the germs of all those angular and flowing lines which afterwards
were combined into such myriad forms of beauty.

It is possible that future researches may bring to light a building, 50
or even 100 years earlier than this, which may show nearly as complete
an emancipation from Christian art; but for the present, it is from the
mosque of Tooloon (A.D. 885) that we must date the complete foundation
of the new style. Although there is considerable difficulty in tracing
the history of the style from the erection of the mosques of Damascus
and Jerusalem to that of Tooloon, there is none from that time onwards.
Cairo alone furnishes nearly sufficient materials for the purpose.

The next great mosque erected in this city was El-Azhar, or “the
splendid” built in the year A.D. 981 by the Arabs of Kerouan on the type
of their own mosque. This has been rebuilt in later times, but according
to Mr. Carpenter[158] it preserves the proportions of its original plan.
It is said to have been converted into a university in 1199, but was
overthrown by an earthquake in 1303, and subsequently entirely rebuilt
and restored by various sultans.

The Mosque of Al Hákim was built in the beginning of the 11th century.
Portions of the arcades still remain, which show it to have been of the
same type as Tooloon, with pointed and slightly horseshoe arches, and
engaged angle shafts, which in Tooloon are probably the earliest
examples of that feature extant. In the place of the minarets are two
Mabkárehs or square tombs with small minarets on the top.

The buildings during the next two centuries are neither numerous nor
remarkable in size, though progress is very evident in such examples as
exist, and towards the commencement of the 13th century we find the
style almost entirely changed. The Mosque of El-Dhahir (1268), now used
as a fort, is remarkable for the ornament around the arches of two of
its porches, which would prove it to be of Norman origin. It consists of
a chevron or zigzag in one case, and of moulded mullions in the other,
similar to those found in the porch of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem,
attributed to the Crusaders, and in the tower of the Martorana at

The mosque of Kalaoon and the hospital attached to it (A.D. 1287) are
both noble buildings, full of the most elegant details, and not without
considerable grandeur in parts. In all except detail, however, they must
yield the palm to the next great example, the mosque with which the
Sultan Hassan adorned Cairo in the year 1356. In some respects it is one
of the most remarkable mosques ever erected in any country, and
differing considerably from any other with which we are at present

As will be seen from the plan (Woodcut No. 981), its external form is
very irregular, following on all sides the lines of the streets within
which it is situated. This irregularity, however, is not such as to
detract from its appearance, which is singularly bold and massive on
every side; the walls being nearly 100 ft. in height, and surmounted by
a cornice, which adds another 13 ft., and projects about 6 ft. This
great height is divided into no less than nine storeys of small
apartments; but the openings are so deeply recessed, and the projections
between them so bold, that, instead of cutting it up and making it look
like a factory, which would have been the case in England, the building
has all the apparent solidity of a fortress, and seems more worthy of
the descendants of the ancient Pharaohs than any work of modern times in

[Illustration: 981. Mosque of Sultan Hassan. (From Coste’s ‘Architecture
Arabe.’) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

Internally there is a court open to the sky, measuring 117 ft. by 105,
enclosed by a wall 112 ft. in height. Instead of the usual colonnades or
arcades, only one gigantic niche opens in each face of the court. On
three sides these niches measure 46 ft. square; but on that which faces
Mecca, the great niche is 69 ft. wide by 90 in depth, and 90 ft. high
internally. All four are covered with simple tunnel-vaults of a pointed
form, without either ribs or intersections, and for simple grandeur are
unrivalled by any similar arches known to exist anywhere.

Behind the niche pointing towards Mecca is the tomb of the founder,
square in plan, as these buildings almost always are, measuring 69 ft.
each way, and covered by a lofty and elegant dome resting on pendentives
of great beauty and richness. It is flanked on each side by two noble
minarets, one of which is the highest and largest in Cairo and probably
in any part of the world, being 280 ft. in height and of proportionate
breadth. Its design and outline, however, are scarcely so elegant as
some others, though even in these respects it must be considered a very
beautiful example of its class.

[Illustration: 982. Section of Mosque of Hassan, Cairo. Scale 100 ft. to
1 in.]

One of the principal defects of this building is the position of its
doorway, which, instead of facing the _kibleh_ or niche pointing towards
Mecca, is placed diagonally, in the street alongside of the building. It
is a very beautiful specimen of architecture in itself; still its
situation and the narrow passages that led from it to the main building
detract most materially from the effect of the whole edifice, which in
other respects is so perfect. It may have been that ground could not be
obtained for the purpose of placing the entrance in the right position;
but more probably it was so arranged for the sake of defence, the whole
structure having very much the appearance of a fortalice, and being
without doubt erected to serve that purpose, as well as being adapted
for a house of prayer.

One of the finest buildings of the 14th century is that built by Sultan
Berkook outside the walls of Cairo (A.D. 1384), which, besides a mosque,
contains an additional feature in the great sepulchral chambers which
are in fact the principal part of the edifice, and betray the existence
of a strong affinity to the tomb-building races in the rulers of Egypt
at that time.

[Illustration: 983. Plan of Mosque and Tombs of Sultan Berkook. (From
Coste.) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

The plan and section (Woodcuts Nos. 983, 984), though small, will show
the state to which the art had at that period arrived in Egypt. The
pointed arch, as will be observed, is used with as much lightness and
elegance as ever it reached in the West.

[Illustration: 984. Section of Mosque of Berkook. (From Coste’s
‘Architecture Arabe.’)]

The dome has become a truly graceful and elaborate appendage, forming
not only a very perfect ceiling inside, but a most imposing ornament to
the exterior. Above all, the minaret has here arrived at as high a
degree of perfection as it ever reached in any after age.

The oldest known example of this species of tower is that of the mosque
of Ibn Tooloon, but it is particularly ungraceful and clumsy. The
minaret in that of Amru was probably a later addition. But it is only
here in Berkook that they seem to have acquired that elegance and
completeness which render them perhaps the most beautiful form of tower
architecture in the world. Our prejudices are of course with the spires
of our Gothic churches, and the Indians erected some noble towers; but
taken altogether, it is doubtful if anything of its class ever surpassed
the beauty and elegance of the minarets attached to the mosques during
this and subsequent centuries.

The mosque El Muayyad, erected in 1415 A.D., is a singularly elegant
specimen of a mosque with columns. Externally it measures about 300 ft.
by 250, and possesses an internal court, surrounded by double colonnades
on three sides, and a triple range of arches on the side looking towards
Mecca, where also are situated—as in that of Berkook—the tombs of the
founder and his family. A considerable number of ancient columns have
been used in the erection of the building, but the superstructure is so
light and elegant, that the effect is agreeable; and of the “mixed
mosques”—_i.e._, those where ancient materials are incorporated—this is
one of the most pleasing specimens.

Perhaps the most perfect gem in or about Cairo is the mosque and tomb of
Kaitbey (Woodcut No. 985), outside the walls, erected A.D. 1472. Looked
at externally or internally, nothing can exceed the grace of every part
of this building. Its small dimensions exclude it from any claim to
grandeur, nor does it pretend to the purity of the Greek and some other
styles; but as a perfect model of the elegance we generally associate
with the architecture of this people, it is perhaps unrivalled by
anything in Egypt, and far surpasses the Alhambra or the other Western
buildings of its age.

After this period there were not many important buildings erected in
Cairo, or indeed in Egypt; and when a new age of splendour appears, the
old art is found to have died out, and a renaissance far more injurious
than that of the West, has grown up in the interval. In modern Europe
the native architects wrought out the so-called restoration of art in
their own pedantic fashion; but in the Levant the corresponding process
took place under the auspices of a set of refugee Italian artists, who
engrafted their would-be classical notions on the Moorish style, with a
vulgarity of form and colour of which we have no conception. In the
later buildings of Mehemet Ali and his contemporaries we find the
richest and most beautiful materials used, so as to make us wonder how
men could so pervert every notion of beauty and propriety to the
production of such discordant ugliness.

[Illustration: 985. Mosque of Kaitbey. (From Coste’s Architecture

From its size and the beauty of the materials, the mosque erected by the
late Pasha in the citadel of Cairo ought to rival any of the more
ancient buildings in the city; but it is already falling to pieces, and
except for the fact that its main design is based on the principle of
the great mosques erected in imitation of Sta. Sophia at Constantinople,
which gives a certain grandeur to its interior, it would be utterly


In a history of the Mahomedan religion a description of the mosque at
Mecca would naturally take the first place; but in a work devoted to
architecture it is sufficient to mention it in connection with Egypt, to
whose sultans it owes whatever architectural adornment it possesses. The
Kaabah, or holy shrine itself, has no architecture, and is famous only
for its sanctity.

In the earlier centuries of the Hejira the area seems to have been
surrounded by a cloister of no great magnificence, but after a great
fire which occurred in 1399, the north and west sides were built in a
more splendid manner by Barkook, Sultan of Egypt, whose mosque and tomb
are illustrated, Woodcuts Nos. 983, 984. In 1500 El Ghoury, likewise an
Egyptian sultan of Memlook race, rebuilt the Bab Ibrahim. The next
repairs were due to the sultans of Constantinople. Selim I., in 1572,
rebuilt one side, and in 1576 Murad effected a general repair of the
whole, and left it pretty much as we now find it.

It need hardly be pointed out that in arrangement it necessarily differs
from all other mosques. The precept of the Koran was, that all true
believers when they prayed should turn to the Kaabah, and a mosque
consequently became a mere indicator of the direction in which Mecca
stood; but in this instance, with the Kaabah in the centre, no mihrab or
indication was possible. All that was required was a _temenos_ to
enclose the sacred object and exclude the outside world with its
business from the hallowed precincts.

The principal object in the enclosure is of course the Kaabah, a small,
low tower, nearly but not quite square in plan, the longer sides 39 and
40 ft. respectively; the shorter 31 and 33 ft.; its height is 36 ft. The
entrance is near one corner, at a height of 6 ft. from the ground. It is
wholly without architectural ornament, and the upper part is covered by
a black cloth, which is annually renewed. Next in importance to this is
the Zemzem, or holy spring, which is said to have gushed out on this
spot to the succour of Ishmael and his mother when perishing of thirst.
These two objects are joined by a railing surrounding the Kaabah, except
at one point, where it joins the Zemzem. The railing probably marks the
enclosure of the old Pagan temple before Mahomet’s time.

These, with some other subordinate buildings, now stand in a courtyard,
forming a perfect rectangle of about 380 ft. by 570 internally,
surrounded by arcades on all sides. These vary considerably in depth, so
as to accommodate themselves to the external outline of the building,
which, as shown in the Woodcut (No. 968), is very irregular. It is
entered on all sides by nineteen gateways, some of which are said to be
of considerable magnificence, and it is adorned by seven minarets. These
are placed very irregularly, and none of them are of particular beauty
or size.

On the longer sides of the court there are thirty-six arches, on the
shorter twenty-four, all slightly pointed. They are supported by columns
of greyish marble, every fourth being a square pier, the others circular

[Illustration: 986. Great Mosque at Mecca. (From a Plan by Ali

Neither its ordonnance, nor, so far as we can understand, its details,
render the temple an object of much architectural magnificence. Even in
size it is surpassed by many, and is less than its great rival, the
temple of Jerusalem, which was 600 ft. square. Still it is interesting,
as it is in reality the one temple of the Moslem world; for though many
mosques are now reputed sacred, and as such studiously guarded against
profanation, this pretended sanctity is evidently a prejudice borrowed
or inherited from other religions, and is no part of the doctrine of the
Moslem faith, which, like the Jewish, points to one only temple as the
place where the people should worship, and towards which they should
turn in prayer.


[Illustration: 987. Plan of Great Mosque of Kerouan.]

There may be—no doubt are—many buildings erected by the Moslems in the
countries between Egypt and Spain; but, strange to say, with their love
of art, and opportunities for investigating them, the French have not
yet made us acquainted with their peculiarities. Even if not magnificent
in themselves, they must form a curious link between the styles of the
East and the West. The recent annexation of Tunis by France, however,
has enabled us at last to obtain plans and drawings of the great mosque
at Kerouan, so that we can trace, according to Mr. Carpenter (_see_
R.I.B.A. Transactions, 1882-83, from whence the particulars here given
are borrowed) the parentage of the Mosque of Cordoba and other work in
Spain which seemed, when this work was first written, to be cut off from
all connection with the East and to stand utterly alone.

[Illustration: 988. Main Entrance in Court of Great Mosque of Kerouan.]

The mosque of Kerouan was founded by the Emir Akhbah in 675 A.D., and
was rebuilt and extended in the succeeding three centuries. The plan of
the mosque (Woodcut 987) is somewhat irregular, being wider at the
south-eastern end by about thirty feet. It covers an area of a little
over 100,000 square ft. of which about one-third is covered over and
forms the prayer chamber. The great court measures 220 × 176 ft. with
double-aisled corridors on the east and west side; other buildings
partially enclosed on the north side, with a lofty tower, thirty feet
square, in the centre and surmounted by a small dome. In this tower is a
marble staircase, with Roman fragments of the time of Trajan and
Aurelius Antoninus.

The prayer-chamber is entered from the court by thirteen archways, all
circular and horseshoe. The central entrance (Woodcut 988) to the
principal aisle consists of a lofty horseshoe arch of two orders, with a
square low tower and surmounted by a fluted dome. The prayer-chamber
consists of a central aisle with eight aisles on each side, all running
in the direction of the Mecca wall, with cross-arcading at various
intervals. The aisles are separated one from the other by columns all
taken from earlier buildings, carrying horseshoe arches, the columns in
the central aisle being twenty-two feet high, and occasionally coupled
together or in triplets; those of the aisles being fifteen feet high.
The capitals are mainly taken from Roman buildings; some, however, are
Byzantine, and are carved with birds and flowers. The arches are all
tied together by wooden beams and iron rods. The mihrab is surmounted by
a fluted dome on hexagonal base, containing richly coloured glass
windows, and the mihrab niche is lined with marble and Byzantine mosaic
and flanked by porphyry columns. The chief entrance is through a porch
on the west side and is carried up as a tower, and there are four other
minor entrances.

[Illustration: 989. Minaret at Tunis. (From Girault de Prangey.)]

Tunis possesses some noble edifices, not so old as this, but still of a
good age; but except the minaret represented in the annexed woodcut (No.
989), none of them have yet been drawn in such a manner as to enable us
to judge either what they are or what rank they are entitled to as works
of art. This minaret is one of the finest specimens of a particular
class. It possesses none of the grace or elaborate beauty of detail of
those at Cairo; but the beautiful proportion of the shaft, and the
appropriate half-military style of its ornaments, render it singularly
pleasing. The upper part also is well proportioned, though altered to
some extent in modern times. Unfortunately neither its age nor height is
correctly known. It is probably three or four centuries old, and with
its contemporary the Hassanee mosque at Cairo, proves that the Saracenic
architects were capable of expressing simple grandeur as well as
elaborate beauty when it suited them to do so.

Algeria possesses no buildings of any importance belonging to any good
age of Moorish art. Those of Constantine are the only ones which have
yet been illustrated in an intelligible manner, and they scarcely
deserve mention after the great buildings in Egypt and the farther East.
I cannot help suspecting that some remains of a better age may still be
brought to light; but the French archæologists seem to be wholly taken
up with the vestiges of the Romans, and not to have turned their
attention seriously to the more modern style, which it is to be hoped
they soon will do. In an artistic point of view, at least, it is far
more important than the few fragments of Roman buildings still left in
that remote province.

                              CHAPTER III.



Introductory remarks—Mosque at Cordoba—Palace at Zahra—Churches of Sta.
  Maria and Cristo de la Luz at Toledo—Giralda at Seville—Palace of the
  Alcazar—The Alhambra—Sicily.



 Moors invade Spain                                             A.D. 711

 Abd-el-Rahman commences Mosque at   Cordoba                         786

 El-Hakeem II. extends the Mosque southwards   and rebuilds
 sanctuary                                                           961

 El Mansour enlarges mosque eastwards                                980

 Alcazar and Giralda at Seville (about)                             1200

 Mohammed ben Alhammar commences   Alhambra                         1248

 Abou abd-Allah, builder of Court of   Lions, begins to reign       1325

 Christian conquest of Granada                                      1492

OWING probably to its position, the forms which the Saracenic style
assumed in Spain are somewhat different from those which we find
elsewhere. As a style it is inferior to many other forms of Saracenic
art. It has not the purity of form and elegance of detail attained in
Egypt, nor the perfection in colouring which characterises the style of
Persia, while it is certainly inferior both in elegance and richness to
that of India. Still it is to us perhaps the most interesting of the
whole, not only because of its proximity to our own shores, and our
consequent greater familiarity with it, but because history, poetry, and
painting have all combined to heighten its merits and fix its forms on
our minds. Few are unacquainted with the brilliant daring of the handful
of adventurers who in the 8th century subjugated Spain and nearly
conquered Europe, and fewer still have listened without emotion to the
sad tale of their expulsion eight centuries afterwards. Much of the
poetry and romance of the Middle Ages owes its existence to the
struggles between the Christian and the Paynim knights; and in modern
times poets, painters, and architects have all lingered and expatiated
on the beauties of the Alhambra, or dwelt in delight on the mysterious
magnificence of the mosque at Cordoba. Indeed no greater compliment
could be paid to this style than that conveyed by the fact that, till
within the last few years, not one work of any importance has been
devoted to the Christian antiquities of Spain, while even England has
produced two such splendid illustrations of the Alhambra as those of
Murphy and Owen Jones—works far more magnificent than any devoted to our
own national art. In France, too, Girault de Prangey, Le Normand,
Chapuy, and others, have devoted themselves to the task; and even in
Spain the ‘Antigüedades Arabes en España’ is the best production of the
class. We are thus really familiar with what these strangers did; while
the cathedrals of Seville, Toledo, Burgos, and Leon, are only partially
measured or illustrated; and travellers hurrying to the Alhambra scarce
condescend to alight from the diligence to cast a passing glance at
their beauties.[161]

This is indeed hardly fair; still it must be confessed it is impossible
to come into contact with the brilliant productions of the fervid
imagination of a Southern people without being captivated with their
beauty; and there is a fascination in their exuberance of ornament and
brilliancy of colour which it is impossible to resist when these are
used with the daring which characterises their employment here. It is
also true that these Moorish architects avoid the vulgarity which would
inevitably accompany such exuberance in the hands of Northern artists—a
defect which the more delicately organised Asiatic invariably escaped.


As far as the history of architecture is concerned, by far the most
interesting building in Spain is the mosque of Cordoba; it was the first
important building commenced by the Moors, and was enlarged and
ornamented by successive rulers, so that it contains specimens of all
the styles current in Spain from the earliest times till the building of
the Alhambra, which was in the latest age of Moorish art.

This celebrated mosque was commenced by Caliph Abd-el-Rahman in the year
786, and completed by his son El-Hakeem, who died 796. The part built by
them was the eleven western aisles and twenty-one bays deep, which then
formed an edifice completed in itself, not unlike the Aksah at Jerusalem
(except in the number of aisles), which the Caliph is said to have been
anxious to surpass. In 961 A.D. El Hakeem II. enlarged the mosque by
forming arches through the south wall and adding twelve more bays
further south. He rebuilt the mihrab and added priest’s chambers the
whole width of his building. The court on the north side was rebuilt
about 937 A.D.

[Illustration: 990. Plan of Mosque of Cordoba. (R. H. Carpenter, R. I.
B. A., Transcriber.)]

The eight eastern aisles were added by El Mansour (976-1001), who
increased the size of the court to the full width, thus completing the
mosque to a parallelogram of 573 ft. by 422; it covers, therefore,
242,000 square feet, or, not counting the open court, 232,000 square
feet, being a larger superficies than that of any Christian church,
including St. Peter’s at Rome. It is, however, sadly deficient in
height, being only about 30 ft. high to the roofs, and also wants
subordination of parts, all the aisles being nearly of the same width,
about 22 ft., except the central one of the original eleven, which is 5
ft. wider; the 33 transverse aisles are all similar in breadth; so that
altogether it is as deficient in design as the “hall of a thousand
columns” of a Hindu temple, and produces pretty nearly the same effect.

The mosque of Abd el-Rahman I. was built with columns of many-coloured
marbles, taken from ancient edifices, with beautiful capitals of Roman
and Byzantine work. These columns being small and low, they were obliged
to employ the expedient of placing arch over arch to eke out their
height—to insert, in short, for the nonce that strange style which gives
so peculiar a character to the building. In the additions by El Hakeem
II. the same style was adhered to, but the columns were quarried at
Merida for the purpose, and are all uniform in colour and size. The
capitals are blocked out only, and not carved, except some in the
mihrab. A manksoura or sanctuary was enclosed at the north end,
including two bays in depth, and extending across the eleven bays of El
Hakeem II.’s addition. Great richness was given to this portion of the
work, and the lower arches are formed of interlaced cusped work of great
elaboration and richness, which seems to have suggested the plaster
decoration of the screen work above the arches in the courts of the
Alhambra. The decorations of the sanctuary and the mihrab in marble and
mosaic are of Byzantine workmanship, being executed by artists sent by
the Emperor Leo from Constantinople at the request of the Caliph, El
Hakeem II. The roof of the whole mosque was originally in wood, carved,
painted, and gilded. This is now hidden by the brick and plaster vault
built underneath partly in 1713-23 and in this century; this vault also
hides the frieze which decorated the upper part of the walls.

[Illustration: 991. Interior of Sanctuary at Cordoba. (From a Drawing by
Girault de Prangey.)]

In the eastern extension of Al Mansour there is a great falling off in
the execution of the work, which is irregularly set out, and in which
some of the arches are pointed.

The alterations effected by the Christians are found in the church
erected on the southern side of the first south wall, taking three bays
of El Hakeem II.’s mosque, and in the great coro built in 1547, in the
centre of the whole building. According to Mr. Carpenter, the work is a
combination of late Gothic and Plateresque work, and great ingenuity has
been shown in the treatment of the arches of the transept where the
Moorish aisles run into them. “The effect of the whole is undoubtedly
very grand, and we cannot but respect the skill of the architect, even
though its erection involved the sweeping away of a large portion of
Moorish work.” Mr. Carpenter refers also to “the very clever and
artistic treatment of the great internal piers of the flying buttresses,
which, with the walls of the Capilla Mayor facing the aisles are
panelled and filled with sculptures of late-painted work executed with
great delicacy and beauty.”

[Illustration: 992. Exterior of the Sanctuary, Cordoba. (From

Before leaving this mosque it may be as well to remark that nowhere in
any of these styles does the pointed arch appear, or only so timidly as
to be quite the exception, not the rule. At an age when its employment
was universal in the East, it is singular to observe how completely the
Saracenic architects followed the traditions of the country in which
they found themselves. At Cordoba they never threw off the influence of
the Roman arches, though farther north the pointed is by no means
uncommon in their buildings.

Contemporary with the rebuilding of the sanctuary of the mosque was the
erection of the great palace in the city of Zahra near Cordoba, which,
if we may trust the accounts that have been handed down to us, was by
far the most wonderful work of the Moors in Spain. This indeed might be
expected, for, as has been before remarked, the palaces were the
principal buildings of this people, and this being of the very best age,
might naturally be expected to excel any other edifice erected by them.

Hardly a stone now remains to mark even the spot where it stood. Its
destruction commenced shortly after its completion, in the troubles of
the 11th century, even before the city fell into the hands of the
Christians, and we therefore depend wholly on the Arabian historians
from whom Conde and Murphy compiled their accounts; but as they, with
Maccary, describe the mosque in the same page with the palace, and do
not exaggerate, nor say one word too much in praise of the former, we
cannot refuse credence to their description of the latter.

[Illustration: 993. Screen of the Chapel of Villa Viciosa, Mosque of

According to these authors the enclosing wall of the palace was 4000 ft.
in length E. and W., and 2200 ft. N. and S. The greater part of this
space was occupied by gardens, but these, with their marble fountains,
kiosks, and ornaments of various kinds, must have surpassed in beauty,
and perhaps even in cost, the more strictly architectural parts of the
building. 4300 columns of the most precious marbles supported the roofs
of the halls; 1013 of these were brought from Africa, 19 from Rome, and
140 were presented by the Emperor of Constantinople to Abd-el-Rahman,
the princely founder of this sumptuous edifice. All the halls were paved
with marbles in a thousand varied patterns. The walls too were of the
same precious material, and ornamented with friezes of the most
brilliant colours. The roofs, constructed of cedar, were ornamented with
gilding on an azure ground, with damasked work and interlacing designs.
All in short, that the unbounded wealth of the caliphs of that period
could command was lavished on this favourite retreat, and all that the
art of Constantinople and Bagdad could contribute to aid the taste and
executive skill of the Spanish Arabs was enlisted to make it the most
perfect work of its age. Did this palace of Zahra now remain to us, we
could afford to despise the Alhambra and all the works of that declining
age of Moorish art.

Among other buildings contained within the great enclosure of the palace
was a mosque. This had five aisles, the central one wider than the
others. The total length from the Kibleh, or niche pointing to Mecca, to
the opposite wall was 97 cubits (146 ft.), the breadth from E. to W. 49
cubits (74 ft.). It was finished in the year 941, and seems to have been
one of the last works of the palace, having been commenced in 936. From
this description it is clear that it was virtually a five-aisled church,
and, as no mention is made of the court, we may fancy that, like the
seven-aisled Aksah at Jerusalem, it never had that accompaniment, but
was in reality only a basilica extended laterally, but on a small scale.

The church of Sta. Maria la Bianca (Woodcuts Nos. 957, 958), described
in a previous chapter, though built for another people, and for a
different purpose, is still so essentially in the Saracenic style, that
it may fairly be taken as illustrating the progress which has been made
in perfecting it up to its date in the 12th century.

[Illustration: 994. Church of San Cristo de la Luz, Toledo. (From a
Drawing by Girault de Prangey.)]

Another very interesting specimen of a Moorish mosque in Spain is that
at Toledo, now known as the church of Cristo de la Luz (Woodcut No.
994). It is a small square building with four stout short pillars on the
floors, dividing it into nine equal compartments, the central one of
which is carried up higher than the others, and terminated by a sort of
dome, if dome it can be called; for the Spanish architects, working
almost wholly from Roman models, never adopted the Byzantine dome to any
extent, except perhaps as the roofs of baths. In their mosques and
palaces it is only used as an ornamental detail, and never constructed
either of stone or brickwork, but merely a carpentry framing covered
with stucco or mastic. The Spanish style shows in this a most essential
difference from the Eastern, where the domes are so splendid and durably
constructed, and where they constitute the actual roofs of the

Indeed vaulting does not seem under any circumstance to have been an art
to which the Spanish Arabs ever paid any attention. Almost all their
roofs are of wood carved and painted, or of stucco, not used to imitate
stone, but as a legitimate mode of ceiling, which it certainly is, and
for fanciful and gorgeous decorations perhaps preferable to more durable
but less manageable materials.

The art resulting from such materials is, it is true, more ephemeral and
must take a lower grade than that built up of materials that should last
for ever; but such was not the aim of the gay and brilliant Moors, and
we must judge them by their own standard, and by their success in
attaining the object they aimed at.

In San Cristo the walls are sufficiently solid and plain, and on the
whole the forms and decorations are judiciously and skilfully applied to
attain the requisite height without raising the columns or giving any
appearance of forced contrivances for that purpose. In this respect it
shows a considerable advance on the design of the older part of the
mosque at Cordoba, than which it is probably at least a century more
modern; but it does not show that completeness which the art attained in
the 10th century, when the sanctuary at Cordoba was erected.

These four buildings mark four very distinct stages in the history of
the art—the early mosque at Cordoba being the first, the San Cristo de
la Luz the second; the third and most perfect is well represented by all
the building at the southern end of the mosque at Cordoba; and the
fourth by Sta. Maria la Bianca, where all trace of Roman and Byzantine
art has wholly disappeared. A fifth stage is represented by another
synagogue at Toledo called El Transitu; but this is so essentially
merely a gorgeously ornamented room that it hardly serves to be classed
among monumental buildings; besides which this stage is so well
illustrated in the palaces of Seville and Granada that it is not
necessary to dwell on minor examples. Had the great mosques of Seville,
Toledo, or Granada been spared to us, it would perhaps have been easier
and better to restrict our illustrations to sacred edifices alone; but
they—at least certainly the two first named—have wholly disappeared to
make way for the splendid cathedrals which stand where they once stood,
and which have obliterated nearly every trace of their previous
existence. In the northern cities the national pride and stern bigotry
of the Spaniards have long ago effaced all traces of this religion.

                        THE GIRALDA AT SEVILLE.

None of the mosques we have been describing possess minarets, nor is
there anything in Spain to replace the aspiring forms of the East except
the Giralda at Seville. This is a more massive tower than is, I believe,
to be found anywhere else as the work of a Moslem architect. At the base
it is a square of about 45 ft., and rises without diminution to the
height of 185 ft. from the ground; to this a belfry was added in 1568 by
Ferdinand Riaz, making it 90 ft. higher; and unfortunately we have
nothing to enable us to restore with certainty the Saracenic termination
which must have been displaced to make room for this addition. In the
annexed woodcut (No. 995) it is represented as restored by Girault de
Prangey, and from a comparison with the towers of Fez and Morocco,
erected by the same king, it is more than probable it was thus
terminated originally. It is difficult nevertheless to reconcile oneself
to the idea that the upper part was not something more beautiful and
more in accordance with the base. In the East the Mahomedan architects
would certainly have done something better; but here, from the want of
familiarity with tower-architecture, and from the want of any circular
or domical forms for the termination of towers or sky-lines, this
inartistic form may have been adopted. The lower part is certainly much
more beautiful; the walls are relieved with panels to just such an
extent as is required for ornament without interfering with the
construction or apparent solidity of the tower, while the windows are
graceful and appropriate, and in such number as seems required. In this
respect it contrasts pleasingly with the contemporary campanile at
Venice, which, though very nearly of the same dimensions, is lean and
bald compared with this tower at Seville. So indeed are most of the
Italian towers of the same age. All these towers seem to have been
erected for very analogous purposes, for the Giralda can never have been
meant as the minaret of a mosque, to be used for the call to prayer; nor
can we admit the destination sometimes ascribed to it by those who
surmise that it may have been merely meant for an observatory.

[Illustration: 995. Giralda, Seville. (From a Drawing by Girault de

Most probably it was a pillar of victory, or a tower symbolical of
dominion and power, like many others we have had occasion to allude to
in the previous pages of this work. Indeed the tradition is that it was
built by King Yousouf to celebrate his famous victory of Alarcos, gained
in the year 1159, in which year its construction was commenced. As such
it is superior to most of those erected in Europe in the Middle Ages,
but far inferior, except in size, to the Kootub Minar, and many others
still found in various parts of Asia.

                        THE ALCAZAR AT SEVILLE.

The Alcazar[162] at Seville was an older palace, and perhaps also at one
time a more magnificent one than the Alhambra itself. Hence it would be
a most interesting example of the Mahomedan style, were it not that it
has been much dilapidated in subsequent ages, and its character
destroyed by alterations and so-called improvements after it fell into
the hands of the Christians. It is more than probable that the best
parts of it belong to the same age as the Giralda—the end of the 12th
and beginning of the 13th century—and that it continued to receive
additions till the city was taken by the Christians in 1248. A careful
examination of the building by some one intimate with all the
peculiarities of the style might distinguish the ancient parts from the
later Christian additions, especially those perpetrated by Don Pedro the
Cruel (1353-1364), who, in an inscription on the walls, claims the merit
of having rebuilt it. The history of this palace is not consequently of
much importance, since it is not so much older than the Alhambra as to
mark another style, nor so complete as to enable us to judge of the
effect of the art as perfectly as we can in that celebrated palace.

                             THE ALHAMBRA.

It was after his expulsion from Seville (1248) that Mohammed ben Alhamar
commenced the present citadel of the Alhambra, at which both he and his
successors worked continually till the end of the 13th century. It does
not, however, appear that any of the more important buildings now found
there were erected by these monarchs. From the accession of
Abou-el-Walid (1309) to the death of Yousouf (1354) the works of the
present palace seem to have been carried on uninterruptedly, and it is
to this half-century that we must refer all the essential parts of the
palace now found in the citadel.

[Illustration: 996. Plan of the Alhambra, Granada. (From G. Le

As will be seen from the annexed plan, it consists principally of two
oblong courts; the richest and most beautiful, that of the Lions (A A),
running east and west, was built by Abou Abdallah (1325-1333). The
other, the Court of the Alberca (B B), at right angles to the former, is
plainer and probably earlier. Restorers generally add a third court,
corresponding with that of the Lions, which they say was removed to
allow of the erection of the palace of Charles V. (X X), which now
protrudes its formal mass most unpleasingly among the light and airy
constructions of the Moors. My own impression is that if anything did
stand here, it was the Mosque, which we miss, although we know that it
existed, and tradition points to this side as its locality, though it
certainly was not the apartment at that angle which now goes by that
name. It must, like all Spanish mosques, have faced the south, and was
most probably destroyed by the first Christian conquerors of Granada.
Indeed it is not unlikely that the Christian palace above mentioned,
which stands strangely unsymmetrically with the other buildings, follows
the lines of the old mosque. This could be in great measure determined
if we could rely upon the bearings of the different courts and buildings
as given in the plans hitherto published.

The principal entrance to the Alhambra seems always to have been at the
southern end of the Court of the Alberca. This part does seem to have
been altered or pulled down to make way for the palace of Charles V. The
court was originally called, apparently from the pool of water which
always occupied its centre, El Birkeh. It is 138 ft. long by 74 wide,
the longer sides being singularly, and in such a place ungracefully,
plain. The end to the south terminates with a double arcade of very
beautiful design; and that to the north with a similar one, but only one
storey in height, crowned by the tower enclosing the great Hall of the
Ambassadors (C), to which the Court is practically an anteroom. This is
an apartment 35 ft. square, and about 60 in height, roofed by a
polygonal dome of great beauty of design, and covered, like the walls,
with arabesque patterns of the greatest beauty. One of its most charming
peculiarities, however, is the deeply-recessed windows, looking down on
the city, and beyond that commanding a view of the delicious Vega, and
the mountains that bound it. It is one of the most beautiful scenes in
the world, of which the architect availed himself with the eye of a true
artist, who knew how to combine nature and art into a perfect whole.

The other court, called that of the Lions (A A), from the beautiful
fountain supported by twelve conventional-looking animals so called, is
smaller (115 ft. by 66 from wall to wall), but far more beautiful and
elaborate than the other; indeed, with the apartments that surround it,
this is the gem of Arabian art in Spain—its most beautiful and most
perfect example.[163] It has, however, two defects which take it
entirely out of the range of monumental art: the first is its size,
which is barely that of a modern parish church and smaller than many
ball-rooms; the second its materials, which are only wood covered with
stucco. In this respect the Alhambra forms a perfect contrast to such a
building as the Hall at Karnac, or any of the greater monumental
edifices of the ancient world, and, judged by the same standard, would
be found lamentably deficient. But, in fact, no comparison is applicable
between objects so totally different. Each is a true representative of
the feeling and character of the people by whom it was raised. The
Saracenic plaster hall would be totally out of place and contemptible
beside the great temple-palace of Thebes; while the granite works of
Egypt would be considered monuments of ill-directed labour if placed in
the palaces of the gay and luxurious Arab fatalist, to whom the present
was everything, and the enjoyment of the passing hour all in all.

The shafts of the pillars that surround the Court of Lions are far from
being graceful in themselves, being more like the cast-iron props used
by modern engineers than anything else. Their capitals, however, are
very gracefully moulded, and of a form admirably adapted for the support
of the superstructure they were destined to bear, and the pillars
themselves are so gracefully grouped, alternately single and coupled,
and their alignment is so completely broken by the projecting portico at
each end, that they cease to be prominent objects in themselves, and
become mere accessory details. The arcades which they support are
moulded in stucco with a richness and beauty of ornament that is
unrivalled. There is in this no offence to good taste; indeed work
executed in plaster _ought_ to be richly decorated, otherwise it is an
unsuccessful attempt to imitate the simplicity and power that belongs to
more durable and more solid materials. It should therefore always be
covered with ornament, and was never elaborated with more taste and
consistence than here.

At the upper end of this court is an oblong hall, called that of
Judgment (D), and on either side two smaller rooms, that “of the
Abencerrages” (E) on the south, and that called “of the Two Sisters” (F)
opposite, the latter being the most varied and elegant apartment of the
whole palace. The walls of all these are ornamented with geometric and
flowing patterns of very great beauty and richness, and applied with
unexceptionable taste for such a decoration; but it is in the roofs and
larger arcades that the fatal facility of plaster becomes most apparent.
Instead of the simple curves of the dome, the roofs are made up of
honeycombed or stalactite patterns, which look more like natural
rockwork than the forms of an art, which should be always more or less
formal and comprehensible at a glance, at least in its greater lines and
divisions. There is perhaps no instance where a Saracenic architect has
so nearly approached the limits of good taste as in these parts, and it
requires all the countervailing elements of situation, and comparison
with other objects, to redeem them from the charge of having exceeded
those limits.

Behind the Hall of the Two Sisters, and on a lower level, are situated
the baths (G)—beautiful in some respects, and appropriately adorned, but
scarcely worthy of such a palace.

Besides the edifices mentioned above, there is scarcely a town in Spain,
once occupied by the Moors, that does not retain some traces of their
art. These traces, however, are generally found in the remains of baths,
which from their nature were more solidly built than other edifices, and
were generally vaulted with bricks—frequently with octagonal domes
supported on twelve pillars, as those in the East. These in consequence
have survived, while the frailer palaces of the same builders have
yielded to the influence of time, and their mosques have disappeared
before the ruthless bigotry of their successors. None of the baths,
however, seem to be of sufficient importance to require notice.

In Spain we entirely miss the tombs which form so remarkable a feature
of Saracenic architecture wherever any Turanian blood flows in the veins
of the people. The Moors of Spain seem to have been of purely Semitic
race, either importations from Arabia or the descendants of the old
Phœnician settlers on the southern coast; and among them, of course, it
would be absurd to look for any indications of sepulchral magnificence.

If the Moors of Spain had practised tomb-building to as great an extent
as some of their brethren further east, this circumstance would, in all
probability, have given a more monumental character to their style of
architecture. True domes would certainly have been introduced and
applied, not only to their mosques but to their palaces, and with them
all those beautiful arrangements which we find as the invariable
accompaniments of domes in the East.

Be this as it may, it is on the whole perhaps fortunate that we possess
in Spain a form of Saracenic art from which all feeling of solemnity,
and all aspirations for the future, are wholly banished. No style of
architecture is so essentially impressed with the feeling that the
enjoyment of the hour is all that should be cared for. It is
consequently the gayest, but it is also the most ephemeral, of all the
styles of architecture with which we are acquainted.[164]

                              CHAPTER IV.



Mosques of Mahomet II.—Suleimanie and Ahmedjie Mosques—Mosques of
  Sultanas Validé, and of Osman III.—Civil and Domestic Architecture,
  Fountains, &c.


 Conquest of Constantinople by Mahomet II.                     A.D. 1443
 Bajazet II.                                                        1481
 Selim I.                                                           1512
 Suleiman II., the Magnificent                                      1520
 Selim II.                                                          1566
 Amurath III.                                                       1574
 Mahomet III.                                                       1595
 Ahmed I.                                                           1603
 Amurath IV.                                                        1623
 Mahomet IV.                                                        1649
 Suleiman III.                                                      1687
 Ahmed III.                                                         1703
 Mahmood I.                                                         1739

THE latter half of the 15th century witnessed some strange vicissitudes
in the fate of the Mahomedan faith in Europe. In 1492 Granada was
conquered, and the Moors expelled from the country which they had so
long adorned by their arts, and rendered illustrious by their
cultivation of the sciences. Of all the races who, at various times,
have adopted the faith of Islam, the Spanish Moors seem to have been
among the most enlightened and industrious, and the most capable of
retaining permanently the civilisation they had acquired. They have made
way for a people less progressive and more bigoted than any other
population in Europe.

Before, however, this misfortune happened in the West, the fairest city
of the Christian world, and its most fertile provinces, had fallen a
prey to the most barbarous horde of all those who had adopted the
Mahomedan religion. For two centuries the Turks had gradually been
progressing westward from their original seats in Central Asia, and at
last, in 1453, Constantinople itself fell into their power, and for more
than a century after this, the fate of Europe trembled in the balance.
The failure of the siege of Vienna (1683) turned the tide. Since that
time the Christians have slowly and surely been recovering their lost
ground; but the Crescent still surmounts the dome of Sta. Sophia.

Had the Turks obtained possession of Constantinople at an earlier date,
it is possible that their architecture might have taken a different form
from that in which we now find it. But before that event the foundation
of St. Peter’s at Rome had already been laid. The old principles of art
were already losing their hold on the architects of Europe, a revolution
was taking place, and though this would hardly be much felt so far east
as the Bosphorus, or materially influence strangers like the Turks,
still it must have had some influence, and modified their style to some
extent. Be this as it may, we are struck at Constantinople with the same
phenomenon which meets us everywhere in the Mahomedan world. Wherever
the various nationalities settled who had embraced that faith, they at
once adopted the architectural forms of their new country, and set to
work to mould and modify them, so as to bring them more into conformity
with their special requirements. Nowhere do they seem to have brought
their style with them, or thought of forcing that on their new subjects.
In this they were wise; and it is what probably all nations would do who
had any true knowledge of art, or any true feeling for its purposes. In
nine cases out of ten the original people of a country find out the
arrangements most suited to their climate, and the forms of construction
best adapted to the materials which are available; and to attempt to
substitute for these, forms suited to other climates and another class
of materials, is what only an Aryan would think of doing. The Turks,
though barbarous, belonged to one of the great building races of the
world; and so soon as they entered Constantinople, set to work
vigorously to vindicate the characteristics of the family.

Besides appropriating seven or eight of the principal churches of the
city—with Sta. Sophia at the head of the list—to the new worship,
Mahomet II. founded six or seven new mosques, some of them of great
magnificence. The chief of these is that which still bears his name, and
crowns the highest of the seven hills on which the city stands. To make
way for it, he pulled down the Church of the Apostles, which had been
the burying-place of the Christian emperors apparently since the time of
Constantine, and was consequently an edifice of considerable
magnificence. It had, however, been plundered by the Latin barbarians
who sacked the city some time before the Moslems, and it was also so
crippled by earthquakes as to be in a dangerous state. In order to
effect his purpose, Mahomet employed Christodulos, a Christian resident
in Constantinople, to erect on the spot a mosque, which he intended
should surpass all others in his empire. How far he was successful we
have now little means of judging. An earthquake in 1763 so completely
ruined this mosque that the repairs amounted almost to a rebuilding; and
as these were carried out with the quasi-Italian details of the latter
half of the 18th century, its present appearance probably conveys very
little idea either of the form or of the magnificence of the original
building. Enough of its form, however, still remains to tell us that,
like all Turkish mosques, it was a copy of Sta. Sophia. There is,
indeed, nothing in the style we are now speaking of so remarkable as the
admiration which that great creation of the Christians excited in the
minds of its Moslem possessors. There are in or about Constantinople at
least 100 mosques erected in the four centuries during which the Turks
have possessed that city. Not one of these is a pillared court, like
those of Egypt or Syria, nor an arcaded square, like those of Persia or
India—none are even extended basilicas, like those of Barbary or Spain.
All are copies, more or less modified, of Sta. Sophia; and many of the
modifications are no doubt improvements; but none are erected with the
same dimensions, none possess the same wonderful richness of decoration,
or approach the poetry of design, of their prototype. In all that
constitutes greatness in architectural art, the Christian Church still
stands unrivalled. No one who has stood beneath the dome of Sta. Sophia
will hesitate to admit that the Turks were perfectly justified in their
admiration of Justinian’s great creation; but the curious thing is, that
no Christian ever appreciated its beauties. When, after the troubles of
the 7th and 8th centuries, the Greeks again took to building churches,
it was such as Sta. Irene, or the Theotokos, churches like those at
Pitzounda or Ani, or those of Greece or Mount Athos. Not one single
direct copy of Sta. Sophia by Christian hands exists, so far as is
known, in the whole world. But the Turk saw and seized its beauties at a
glance; and, by constancy to his first affection, saved his architecture
from the utter feebleness which has characterized that of Western Europe
during the four centuries in which he has been encamped on this side of
the Bosphorus.

Among the other mosques built by Mahomet II., the most sacred is that of
Eyub, the standard-bearer of the Prophet, whose body is said to have
been found on the site of the mosque. Plans and drawings of this mosque
might easily have been obtained while our armies occupied Constantinople
during the Crimean war; but the opportunity was neglected, and all we
have to depend upon is an eye-sketch by Ali Bey.[165] As the mosque in
which each Sultan on his accession is girt with the sacred sword, and as
the most holy in the empire, it would be interesting to know more about
it, but we must wait.

The mosque of Bayazid, 1497-1505, is of the usual type, but not
characterized by any extraordinary magnificence. In the mosque of Selim,
1520-26, the dome and its pendentives are carried by eight octagonal
piers, reverting therefore to the principle of St. Sergius as regards
supports; these piers, however, stand free within the walls, so that
there is apparently greater space provided; the dome has a diameter of
108 ft., being the largest built by the Turks, that of Suleimanie mosque
being 93 ft. in diameter, and of Sultan Ahmed 63 ft.


All these were, however, surpassed by that which was erected by Suleiman
the Magnificent, between the years 1550-1555. It is still quite perfect
in all its constructive parts, and little altered in detail; and as
there is every reason to suppose that it equalled, or even surpassed,
all others of its class, if it be illustrated the rest will be easily

[Illustration: 997. Plan of Suleimanie Mosque. (By Texier.) Scale 100
ft. to 1 in.]

As will be seen from the plan,[166] the mosque itself is nearly square,
225 ft. by 205 over all externally, and covering between 45,000 and
46,000 sq. ft. In front is a forecourt, 150 ft. by 190 internally,
surrounded by an arcade on all sides, and containing the fountains,
which are the indispensable accompaniment of all mosques. Behind is the
“garden” containing the tomb of the founder and those of his favourite
wife and other members of the family. All this, properly speaking, is
one design and one building; and all these parts are requisite to
complete the establishment of a great imperial mosque.

[Illustration: 998. Section of Suleimanie Mosque. (By Texier.) Scale 50
ft. to 1 in.]

Internally the construction rests on four great piers of pleasing and
appropriate design; and the screen of windows on each side, under the
great lateral arches of the dome, is borne by four monolithic shafts of
porphyry of great beauty. These formerly supported statues in the
hippodrome, and most probably were brought originally from Egypt. Each
is 28 ft. in height, or, with the base and capital, 35 ft. The dome
itself is 86 ft. in diameter internally, and 156 ft. in height. This
seems even a better proportion of height to diameter than that of Sta.
Sophia, though the dimensions are so much less that it has not, of
course, the same grandeur of effect. At Sta. Sophia the dome is 108 ft.
in diameter, and 175 ft. in height, or 21 and 19 ft. more respectively.
These smaller dimensions, as well as the absence in the mosque of all
the mosaic magnificence of the church, and the presence of a good deal
of modern vulgarity, render it extremely difficult to institute any fair
comparison between the two buildings. On the whole, it may, perhaps, be
said with truth, that the mosque is more perfect mechanically than the
church; that the constructive parts are better disposed and better
proportioned; but that, for artistic effect and poetry of design, the
church still far surpasses its rival, in so far at least as the interior
is concerned.

[Illustration: 999. View of Suleimanie Mosque. (From a Photograph by

Externally the mosque suffers, like all the buildings of the capital,
from the badness of the materials with which it is constructed. Its
walls are covered with stucco, its dome with lead, and all the sloping
abutments of the d