In Search of the Unknown in Medieval Architecture


24 x 17 cm
686 pp. 280 illus.
Publication: October 2007
ISBN 1 904597 36 X
ISBN-13 978 1 904597 36 10


Book Description

John James is an Australian architect and medieval historian. Since 1969 he has been searching for the origins of the Gothic style, beginning with a five-year study of Chartres cathedral. At that time there were no coherent techniques for analysing the detailed construction history of existing stone structures. This he created. He expanded his research to include all the early Gothic churches in the Paris region with a three-year survey of over 3500 buildings. His most important discovery has been that all churches of this period were constructed in many short campaigns by mobile building teams, and that major innovation was more likely to occur in the smaller buildings than in the larger. This volume makes available 42 of the author‘s studies on the development of Gothic architecture in France.


  • Introduction
  • History : A new chronology for French High Gothic: Consequences of The Ark of God
  • An investigation into the uneven distribution of churches in the Paris Basin
  • Memes and assumptions
  • The evolution of medieval architecture from a symbolic perspective
  • Evidence for flying buttresses before 1180; Chartres was lucky the Parisians were busy; Toichology: In defence of Toichology
  • Were the transept porches at Chartres added; An examination of some anomalies in the ascension and incarnation portals of Chartres Cathedral
  • Multiple contracting in the Saint-Denis chevet
  • Could Suger have built the choir of Saint-Denis in four years?
  • La construction de la façade occidentale de la cathédrale de Senlis
  • The Masters and their methods
  • A northern master for Clermont-Ferrand?; Vaulting
  • The evolution of the rib vault; The peaked arch, and the earliest domical rib vaults in the Paris Basin
  • The rib vaults of Durham cathedral; Rib Vaults in Italy
  • Techniques:Medieval mortar ; Construction, cranes, formwork and timing
  • Foliage And Decoration: The foliate capitals in the nave of Peterborough Cathedral
  • The rustic master – a Chartrain master in Italy; Chapiteaux à feuilles d’acanthe du Portail Royal
  • An analysis of chevron patterns and column patterns at Durham
  • Geometry: An Architect’s approach to Medieval Geometry
  • Measuring and hunting geometry
  • Medieval Units of Measure: the feet of the master
  • The tools of Hues Libergier, Master Mason of the Thirteenth Century
  • Chartres cathedral and the rule of geometry
  • Four ‘identical’ windows
  • The great western rose of Chartres cathedral
  • The White Tower, discrepancies were deliberate
  • Gothic pinnacles
  • The two geometric layouts for la Sainte-Chapelle
  • Meaning: The canopy of paradise
  • The mystery of the great labyrinth, Chartres cathedral
  • Medieval Astrology: the signs of the Zodiac on the Royal Portal of Chartres cathedral
  • Changes in architectural symbolism
  • Economics: What price the cathedrals?; How many built the churches?
  • Funding the Early Gothic churches of the Paris Basin
  • Index

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