French Gothic architecture

French Gothic architecture
Notre Dame de Paris, East View 140207 1.jpg
North rose window of Notre-Dame de Paris, Aug 2010.jpg
Chartres - Cathédrale 16.JPG
Facade de Notre Dame de Reims.png
Sainte Chapelle Interior Stained Glass.jpg
Top left: Notre-Dame de Paris; top right: Rose window, Notre-Dame de Paris; Center left: Interior of Chartres Cathedral: Center right: Reims Cathedral; Bottom: Sainte-Chapelle, Paris
Years active1140 to 16th century

French Gothic architecture is a style which emerged in France in 1140, and was dominant until the mid-16th century. The most notable examples are the great Gothic cathedrals of France, including Notre Dame Cathedral, Chartres Cathedral, and Amiens Cathedral. Its main characteristics were the search for verticality, or height, and the innovative use of flying buttresses and other architectural innovations to distribute the weight of the stone structures to supports on the outside, allowing unprecedented height and volume, The new techniques also permitted the addition of larger windows, including enormous stained glass windows, which filled the cathedrals with light. The French style was widely copied in other parts of northern Europe, particularly Germany and England. It was gradually supplanted as the dominant French style in the mid-16th century by French Renaissance architecture.[1]


French Gothic architecture was the result of the emergence in the 12th century of powerful French state centered in the Ile-de-France. During the reign of Louis VI of France (1081-1137), Paris was the principal residence of the Kings of France, Reims the place of coronation, and the Abbey of Saint-Denis became their ceremonial burial place. The Abbot of Saint-Denis, Suger, was a counselor of Louis VI and Louis VII, as well as an historian. He oversaw the reconstruction of the ambulatory of Saint-Denis, making it the first and most influential example of Gothic architecture in France.[2]

Over the later course of the Capetian dynasty (1180 to 1328), three Kings; Philip Augustus (1180-1223); Louis IX of France (1226-1270) and Philip le Bel (1285-1314) established France as the major economic and political power on the Continent. The period also saw the founding of the University of Paris or Sorbonne. It produced the high Gothic and the Flamboyant Gothic styles, and the construction of some of the most famous cathedrals, including Chartres Cathedral, Reims Cathedral, and Amiens Cathedral.[3]