gothic architecture

Definition

The architectural style of the High Middle Ages in Western Europe, which emerged from Romanesque and Byzantine forms in France during the later 12th cent. Us great works are cathedrals, characterized by the pointed arch, the ribbed vault, the development of the exterior flying buttress, and the gradual reduction of the walls to a system of richly decorated fenestration. Gothic architecture lasted until the 16th cent., when it was succeeded by the classical forms of the Renaissance. ln France and Germany one speaks of the Early, High, and Late Gothic; the French middle phase is referred to as Rayonnant, the late phase as Flamboyant. In English architecture the usual divisions are Early English, Decorated, and Perpendicular. -- The Illustrated Dictionary of Historic Architecture