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Cité épiscopale d’Albi

The Gothic style can be found mainly in the regions of Haute-Picardie and Île-de-France with the very first proto-Gothic edifices appearing in the Île-de-France.

The foremost hypothesis for this development suggests that these regions contained mainly paleo-Christian monuments in this era, notably Cathedrals with narrow walls, wooden frameworks and numerous bays. These regions were thus prepared for the technical and aesthetic choices within the Gothic style.

The renewal of religious edifices in these regions followed the rise of the Capetians and the consolidation of their rule. As they progressed through the annexation of the feudal fifes, they strove to symbolise their power through the construction of major buildings.

Finally, these regions border other architecturally dynamic areas; Burgundy, where the broken arch was invented in the abbey of Cluny, the flying buttresses invented at Cluny and Vézelay; and Normandy, where the rib vault was imported from England to the Abbeys of Jumièges and Lessay. Picardie and the Ile-de-France remained in a continual state of flux as many travellers passed through and here the first masters of Gothic architecture began to synthesize the various influences.

The style evolved in time from the early Gothic of the 12th century and, in France, gave way to the classic Gothic style (around 1190 – 1230). This in turn was succeeded by the style referred to as ‘Rayonnant’ (1230 – 1350) and finally the style known as ‘Flamboyant’ (15thand 16th centuries). During the Renaissance the Gothic style in France evolved toward a hybrid between Gothic structures and Renaissance decoration (eg: the church of Saint Etienne du Mont in Paris).

Geographically, the expansion of Gothic architecture is confined essentially to Western Europe and numerous local variations can be found: Angevin (in the Anjou region), Norman, Perpendicular (also known as Rectilinear)…

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