Medieval Architecture, Medieval Learning

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Builders and Masters in the Age of Romanesque and Gothic

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The eleventh and twelfth centuries witnessed a thoroughgoing transformation of European culture, as new ways of thinking revitalized every aspect of man's endeavor, from architecture and the visual arts to history, philosophy, theology, and even law. In this book Charles M. Radding and William W. Clark offer fresh perspectives on changes in architecture and learning at three moments in time. Unlike previous studies, including Erwin Panofsky's classic essay Gothic Architecture and Scholasticism, Radding and Clark's book not only compares buildings and treatises, but argues that the ways of thinking and the ways of solving problems were analogous.

The authors trace the professional contexts and creative activities of builders and masters from the creation of the Romanesque to the achievements of the Gothic and, in the process, establish new criteria for defining each. During the eleventh and early twelfth centuries, they argue, both intellectual treatises and Romanesque architecture reveal a growing mastery of a body of relevant expertise and the expanding techniques by which that knowledge could be applied to problems of reasoning and building. In the twelfth century, new intellectual directions, set by such specialists as Peter Abélard and the second master builder working at Saint-Denis, began to shape new systems of thinking based on a coherent view of the world. By the thirteenth century these became the standards by which all practitioners of a discipline were measured. The great ages of scholastic learning and of Gothic architecture are some of the results of this experimentation. At each stage Radding and Clark take the reader into the workshops and centers of study to examine the methods used by builders and masters to create the artistic and intellectual works for which the Middle Ages are justly famous.

Handsomely illustrated and clearly written, this book will be of great interest to scholars and students of medieval art, culture, philosophy, history, intellectual history, and the history of technology.

Charles M. Radding, professor of history at Michigan State University, is the author of The Origins of Medieval Jurisprudence, also published by Yale University Press. William W. Clark, professor of art history at Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, is the author of Laon Cathedral.

"Erwin Panofsky’s intuition about the relationship between scholastic knowledge and architecture finds its justification and correction in this very suggestive and convincing essay. A brilliant demonstration of the creativity of medieval intellectuals, from Abélard to the masters of Saint Denis and Reims, and of the modernity of the twelfth century, the greatest century of the Middle Ages."—Jacques Le Goff, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales

"A fundamental study—extremely pertinent—whose results are laid out with the greatest clarity."—Georges Duby, Collège de France

"An ambitious attempt to uncover, beneath the radical transformations of art and thought in the period from the 11th through the 13 century, an underlying commonality of purpose and method. . . . The book will be a useful introduction both to significant historical events and to the methodological issues that their interpretation entails."—Choice

"This book was waiting to be written. . . . Radding and Clark present sound expositions of the history of learning and architecture in the period, and readers working in either area will come away with an enhanced understanding of the culture of the eleventh and twelfth centuries in western Europe."—Eric Fernie, Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain Newsletter

"[A] fine study of the intellectual and artistic emergence of Western Europe. Its thought-provoking thesis and the clarity and breadth of its presentation will provide other scholars with a foundation and template for similar work."—Steven J. Livesey, American Historical Review

ISBN: 9780300049183
Publication Date: September 23, 1992