【圖片說明】The Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Amiens is the largest of the three great Gothic cathedrals built in France during the Middle Ages. It remains the largest in France.
– Joni Cheng
The Church’s history from 1050 AD to 1200 AD is a preparation for a great period of creative explosion and finds its culmination in the 13th century.
This is a period that might be characterized as a time of intellectual awakening and the signs of this were the establishment of new methods of education. Prior to this, the monasteries had been the main centers of education and the preservation of culture. St Bernard of Clairvaux, for instance, was a great monastic theologian in this tradition.
The cathedral schools that were originally founded by St Norbert to prepare the clergy for service in the cathedrals of Europe were the most vital centers of learning at the time.
However, around 1170 AD, they were slowly being replaced by the development of some new centers of education, that are the newly founded universities or what we call today the higher education. The name “university” comes from Paris, the Universitas Societas Magistorurum et Scholarium (“Universal Society of Teachers and Students”). It was an organized guild of sorts and managed under the authority of a chancellor who was loosely responsible to the bishop.
The universities were basically guilds of scholars, i.e. Paris, Oxford, and Bologna were the centers of theology, philosophy, and science which spawned an educational tradition that has lasted till today. The development and establishment of the universities were great incubators for the Renaissance and the Reformation.
Another great glory of this period is in art and architecture. This is why it is also called the age of Gothic art and architecture. Christian nations rivaled with one another in building the most magnificent places of worship, which led to a transformation of religious buildings, cathedrals, country churches, and village chapels.
Before this, church architecture followed the Romanesque style, characterized by round arches with heavy, thick walls. They were not tall structures as there was no technological understanding as yet of how to build tall churches.
But by the first quarter of the 12th century, some advances in the field of architecture was developed: the new Gothic style that was developed in Northern France. This Gothic architectural style is the most scientific and artistic style of architecture. It features thinner and higher walls with larger windows, and hence, enables the artistic blossom in the beautiful stained-glass windows. Thus, Gothic architecture rightly deserves to be called the “Catholic” style that brought forth faith and aspirations in its creation.