Universe Of Stone Chartres Cathedral And The Triumph Of The Medieval Mind In the twelfth century Christians in Europe began to build a completely new kind of church not the squat gloomy buildings we now call Romanesque but soaring spacious monuments flooded with light f

  • Title: Universe Of Stone: Chartres Cathedral And The Triumph Of The Medieval Mind
  • Author: Philip Ball
  • ISBN: 9780224078634
  • Page: 399
  • Format: Hardcover
  • In the twelfth century, Christians in Europe began to build a completely new kind of church not the squat, gloomy buildings we now call Romanesque, but soaring, spacious monuments flooded with light from immense windows These were the first Gothic churches, the crowning example of which was the cathedral of Chartres, an unparalleled feat of craftsmanship in which all thIn the twelfth century, Christians in Europe began to build a completely new kind of church not the squat, gloomy buildings we now call Romanesque, but soaring, spacious monuments flooded with light from immense windows These were the first Gothic churches, the crowning example of which was the cathedral of Chartres, an unparalleled feat of craftsmanship in which all the elements of the new style cohered perfectly for the first time It marked a profound change in the social, intellectual and theological climate of Western Christendom.In Universe of Stone, Philip Ball explains the genesis and development of the Gothic style He argues that it signified a new way of looking at God and the universe, as well as humanity s relationship with them Informed by the rediscovery of texts from the ancient world, philosophers began to question old certainties about God s power and plan for mankind This was the beginning of the argument between faith and reason, and of a scientific view of the world that threatened to dispense with God altogether Universe of Stone establishes Chartres Cathedral s iconic role in Europe s history a revolution in thought embodied in stone and glass, a philosophy made concrete through the cooperation of theologians, craftsmen and engineers It shows us that there are other ways of seeing the world and reveals, as never before, the complex workings of the medieval mind.

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    One thought on “Universe Of Stone: Chartres Cathedral And The Triumph Of The Medieval Mind”

    1. Ball uses Chartres Cathedral as a lens through which to examine medieval thought and history, but that maybe ends up being a bit more of a limited lens than I thought it was going to be. You'll probably get more out of the book if, unlike me, you've been to or heard of Chartres Cathedral; ideally you'd read the book *in* Chartres Cathedral. Are you allowed to read non-Bibles in a cathedral? I bought The Warlock of Firetop Mountain in Durham Cathedral's bookshop, so I suspect you can.

    2. I had to give this one up because I dropped it in the bath. Was it any good up to the point I'd read to? Well, it wasn't bad. Philip Ball is a polymath - every one of his books isn't just about a different topic, it involves a completely different discipline: the two others of his I own are the fascinating Critical Mass, on using physics to analyse social behaviour, and the (not read yet) Water Kingdom, a history of China centred on its relationship with water.This means that a Philip Ball book [...]

    3. Ball gives a good overview of the debates concerning the Gothic as a style, with architectural and philosophical elements. In general, he introduces the various sides of a debate (the East end was started first, the West end was started first; the builder knew the neo-Platonist philosophy, he was just doing his best with available materials), shows the flaws in each side, and then ultimately concludes "Well, we may never know, but it's probably some of both or the prettiest solution is best." It [...]

    4. This book provides a great historical explanation of the religious and philosophical climate during which Chartres Cathedral was built (as well to what extent these religious/philosophical ideas influence the building) and an even better explanation of how the cathedral was actually built. Laying of stones, stained glass, stone carving were all addressed in fascinating detail. (These details feel particularly interesting after reading Pillars of the Earth earlier this year.)Because this book is [...]

    5. This book tells the story of the building of Chartres Cathedral in France. It also looks at the philosophical and theological trends current at the time of the building. The author seeks to weave the wider historical and philosophical overview into the history of the cathedral, but the two stories never quite come together. I feel like he jumps back and forth between the narrow history of the cathedral, and the wider history of the European world at that time, without ever reconciling them. He a [...]

    6. There's a lot of interesting information here about structural development, medieval guilds, and comparisons between various cathedrals built in the Gothic style. There is also a lot of disrespect paid to art history (except when he finds it convenient to stand on their shoulders to draw his own seemingly pre-determined aesthetic conclusions) and a lot of blatant bullshittery where he fills in the blanks of scanty documentations with barely-related other texts and overt wish fulfillment.It was w [...]

    7. Ball's prose occasionally falters, and I prefer less anglicizing of French names, but nevertheless, the book is nicely informative. Henry Adams (in Mont St Michel and Chartres) explores the religious feeling and artistry of Gothic architecture, and Ball focuses more on physical technique. There is some overlap, and our contemporary, Ball, has the advantage of nineteenth century Adams, thanks to scholarship of the intervening years. Ball corrects some of Adams' enthusiastic flights of fancy - for [...]

    8. Despite the title, this book is less about Chartres itself than it is about exploring the intellectual and technological circumstances which made the construction of it and the other great Gothic cathedrals possible. Ball is not a medievalist, and so Universe of Stone is largely a synthesis of the works of other historians and art historians. He does write compellingly, particularly when it comes to conjuring up the sheer mass and weight of these buildings. Yet while Ball's clearly read some of [...]

    9. A very exciting tour de force through Gothic buildings in particular and to the science of that time. Several concepts from engineering and architecture are introduced in order to explain the Goth cathedral. The mechanics of arcs, vaults, foundations, etc are explained and put in the context of Europe in the X - XIII centuries. Mainly, is a book about science in those times, and the cite from Adelard of Bath is overwhelming: "If we turned our backs on the amazing rational beauty of the universe [...]

    10. I visited Chartres and it's cathedral earlier this year. To know a little more about this famous building, I decided to read this book.I got to know a bit more than just "a little".This book is DENSE. Incredibly dense. It doesn't just discuss the building, but places it in a historical context, describing the political and religious situation of the time in which the cathedral was build. Thus, the narrative frequently moves away from Chartres, most often to Paris and St Denis. It also goes indep [...]

    11. Ball examines the Chartres Cathedral in the context of the Medieval world in which it was built.Religious thought dominated the period and science was largely a process of scanning works of the past in hope of recovering some of the lost knowledge of antiquity. Ball reviews the important figures of the time and their views on learning. The cathedral school at Chartres became a center of learning, being a major conduit of Arabic science and mathematics.Ball describes the men who planned the Chart [...]

    12. This book was fascinating! I enjoyed both aspects - the first part of the book that talks about the philosophy of medieval thinkers and how it related to the Gothic church crusade and the more practical chapters on how it was actually built. What seems so surprising to me is that we still don't know a lot of answers. In this book you find a little bit of everything: the Roman Empire, the Kings of France, St. Augustine, monasteries, medieval art, history of geometry, Platonic cosmology, abbots, t [...]

    13. The book gives a view of Gothic style of architecture using the Chartres Cathedral as the main focus. For me who is very ignorant about architecture it was not an easy read especially when it came to the various design differences etc but I was captivated with the cultural aspect of the story. The different roles of workers and their sponsors who were responsible for creating such marvellous buildings. The power of faith in Europe must be at a entirely different level to be able to finish such a [...]

    14. I really enjoyed this book. I have a very basic background in Medieval history and none at all in architecture, but didn't find Philip Ball at all too much. Although he deals with some fairly complex ideas (or what seem complex for those who know nothing about them!) he makes them easy to understand and not only interesting but completely fascinating.Frankly, I was entranced. I found the philosophical and religious links to the Gothic style interesting and the detail about the style's developmen [...]

    15. Ball attempts to put Chartres Cathedral in its cultural and intellectual context. He admits that asking “why” Chartres was built has been a subject of fierce and unresolved debate, but he wades into the controversy anyway. The result is too casual for the scholarly community, and perhaps a bit involved for general readers without an architectural background. Chronology and early history of the site are well summarized.

    16. I'm not sure I needed to read so much about 12th and 13th century cathedrals, how and why they were built. Nor do I really need to know about vaults, arches, clerestories and flying buttresses. Do you know the difference between Romanesque and gothic cathedrals or that St. Augustine was a Neo-Platonist? All this and more if you want to borrow my book. Even so, it was an interesting read.

    17. Excellent topic and quite informative book. Only one small blemish as far as I am concerned: the fellow is blatantly a rationalist and indulges -at times- in the usual jazz of "freedom of thought", "proto-scientists", and the like. But, he can be forgiven, on account of his marvelous journey through one of West's all-time achievements

    18. This book was an excellent piece of writing. It did a good job of chronicling the social and economic forces that led to the building of the cathedral and the building of the cathedral itself. A few times I got a little lost in the technical details of the building of it, but overall it was a very good read.

    19. Philip Ball looks back to the building of the great Gothic cathedrals, particularising Chartres, when we stopped looking back always to the Classical World and began asking our own questions which leads us up to modern times.

    20. Indispensable for those of you interested in Gothic design and engineering. Minor quibble: the title is somewhat misleading in that Ball's study is not focused wholly on Chartres. But a subject like this requires an expanded / seemingly ever-expanding scope.

    21. Philip Ball is one of my favorite authors, and this book does not disappoint. Ball as usual combines history, art, philosophy, religion, science, and more in a thorough and well-written biography of Chartres Cathedral.

    22. An excellent review of the development of medieval science via the story of Chartres cathedral. Well-written and very readable. Can serve as a nice introduction to the Gothic experience as demonstrated by the spectacle of the great Gothic cathedrals of France.

    23. I started reading this book, but found "The Inheritance of Rome" in the middle, and turned to it. I hope I finish it.

    24. I couldn't finish it. It was hard to read, and seemed more focused on medieval philosophy than the building of the cathedral. I was highly disappointed.

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