Beacon Lights of History eBook

John Lord
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 270 pages of information about Beacon Lights of History.

AUTHORITIES.

Michaud’s Histoire des Croisades; Mailly’s L’Esprit des Croisades; Choiseul; Daillecourt’s De l’influence des Croisades; Sur l’Etat des Peuples en Europe; Heeren’s Ueber den Einfluss der Kreuzzuge; Sporschill’s Geschichte der Kreuzzuge; Hallam’s Middle Ages; Mill’s History of the Crusades; James’s History of the Crusades; Michelet’s History of France (translated); Gibbon’s Decline and Fall; Milman’s Latin Christianity; Proctor’s History of the Crusades; Mosheim.

WILLIAM OF WYKEHAM.

A. D. 1324-1404.

GOTHIC ARCHITECTURE.

A. D. 1100-1400.

Church Architecture is the only addition which the Middle Ages made to Art; but even this fact is remarkable when we consider the barbarism and ignorance of the Teutonic nations in those dark and gloomy times.  It is difficult to conceive how it could have arisen, except from the stimulus of religious ideas and sentiments,—­like the vast temples of the Egyptians.  The artists who built the hoary and attractive cathedrals and abbey churches which we so much admire are unknown men to us, and yet they were great benefactors.  It is probable that they were practical and working architects, like those who built the temples of Greece, who quietly sought to accomplish their ends,—­not to make pictures, but to make buildings,—­as economically as they could consistently with the end proposed, which end they always had in view.

In this Lecture I shall not go back to classic antiquity, nor shall I undertake to enter upon any disquisition on Art itself, but simply present the historical developments of the Church architecture of the Middle Ages.  It is a technical and complicated subject, but I shall try to make myself understood.  It suggests, however, great ideas and national developments, and ought to be interesting.

The Romans added nothing to the architecture of the Greeks except the arch, and the use of brick and small stones for the materials of their stupendous structures.  Now Christianity and the Middle Ages seized the arch and the materials of the Roman architects, and gradually formed from these a new style of architecture.  In Roman architecture there was no symbolism, no poetry, nothing to represent consecrated sentiments.  It was mundane in its ideas and ends; everything was for utility.  The grandest efforts of the Romans were feats of engineering skill, rather than creations inspired by the love of the beautiful.  What was beautiful in their edifices was borrowed from the Greeks; what was original was intended to accommodate great multitudes, whether they sought the sports of the amphitheatre or the luxury of the bath.  Their temples were small, comparatively, and were Grecian.

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Beacon Lights of History from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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