Chartres Cathedral, interior
Master stone masonry and the innovative architectural trial-and-error of the High Middle Ages offer a fascinating and important commentary on local medieval communities. It was a time when common people viewed the construction of great cathedrals and other churches as the purest expression of shared life.
Historian Cheryl White examines the specific connections between the medieval concept of eternity and the temporal villages people shared as a common home. She explores this profound social construct through the great Gothic monuments to faith including the cathedrals of Notre Dame, Chartres, Canterbury, Milan, Florence, and Seville, among others. These connections involve an examination of beauty from tragedy: the failed attempts at building stability, which inspired the great flying buttresses of Notre Dame; and the transept of Canterbury Cathedral, which witnessed the murder of an archbishop, promoting an unparalleled cult of medieval devotion. The great duomo of Milan is built atop an ancient site that witnessed the baptism of St. Augustine by St. Ambrose, and recent archaeological excavations have revealed a fascinating complex, including a baptismal pool. These and many other unique building features are inextricably linked to the medieval social narrative.
White is a professor of history at Louisiana State University at Shreveport.
World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit*
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