This is the essay for the 27th week of the 9th Grade Tom Woods Homeschool. In this blog post, I will be answering two questions.
The first one is, What was a major innovation of the Gothic cathedral, and how did the architecture of the cathedral reflect the prevailing idea of God?
The second one is, Why was the rise of the medieval towns significant?
In Romanesque cathedrals, there was very little space for light unlike in Gothic cathedrals. All of the cathedral’s weight had to be supported somewhere. The solution that was used in Romanesque cathedrals was to have very thick walls, so there wouldn’t be any buttresses inside the cathedrals. This made it impossible to have very big windows as the wall was crucial to the support of the cathedral. An innovation in Gothic cathedrals made it possible to have much bigger windows. This innovation was a flying buttress. A buttress is a pillar inside a building that helps support the building. The difference between a normal buttress and a flying buttress is that a flying buttress is on the outside of the building. The buttress is connected to the building by a load-bearing beam at the top of the buttress. This is done so that the weight gets transferred from the building to the buttress.
These changes in the cathedral’s architecture made it so that there was more light coming in. This change also signified two prevailing ideas of God. These ideas were that God illuminated the mind and that God was the light of the world. These ideas were reflected in the cathedrals by the amount of light that was shining in. There was also a change in the understanding of God. This change changed the way cathedral architects were seen. Before the change, these architects were seen as just that, but afterward, they started seeing them as imitations of God. This was because the cosmos was a work of architecture, which was created by God.
The rise of medieval towns was significant because they created the basis of the structure that many towns use today. Before towns, large communities were centered around a lord’s castle, but towns were centered around a cathedral or monastery. Towns came into being when the Viking invasions were prevalent. People needed a safe place to stay in, so they built walls around their houses. These communities attracted merchants because there were a lot of people in a very tight space. This meant that these merchants could become very successful. These communities then developed into towns as more people started settling in the communities. The towns wanted commercial liberties for themselves and lords gave these liberties because towns would help them. One of the things that towns could help is by giving soldiers to lords during a war, in exchange for more liberties. One of the liberties was that if a serf managed to escape capture for 1 year and 1 day then the serf would be free. Another reason lords allowed liberties was because the town’s liberties attracted more people to the lord’s land which allowed the lord to tax more people.