Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The miracle of Cathedral architecture

We don't often think of Cathedrals like Paris' Notre Dame as being high tech, but the architecture that exploded on the scene around 1100 AD was a game changer - one that wasn't really eclipsed until the steel and concrete skyscraper 800 years later.  This scene from the great series The Ascent Of Man sums this up in a very digestible manner.*

Quite frankly, the strength of the design is possibly the reason that Notre Dame still stands, damaged but unconquered.

* The 1970s was perhaps the golden age of educational television, with this series and Kenneth Clark's Civilization as perhaps the pinnacle of TV where you could expect to actually learn something more than how to rap.  The music here is awful - the 1970s intellectual soundtrack par excellence - but the scene still presents the story efficiently and entertainingly.


Beans said...

The marvel of medieval architecture, from castles to cathedrals, is even more amazing when one realizes it was all done by muscle powered machines and just people. Truly.

The flying buttress was a spectacular leap forward in design. I highly encourage y'all to look up the various NOVA programs and other good science shows that deal with cathedrals and other medieval architecture.

As to 70's educational shows, "Connections" and "Connections II" are two of the best. Shows literally how one thing can't occur until another related or seemingly unrelated thing happens.

drjim said...

"The Ascent of Man" is an all-time favorite here. I have a first edition hardcover of his book, and the series on DVD.

He wrote it as reply to Kenneth Clark's "Civilization", which was mostly artsy-fartsy stuff.

And all of James Burke's series' were excellent, too.

BillM said...

A good read that touches heavily on cathedral construction is Ken Follett's
"The Pillars of the Earth".

chris said...

I echo Dr Jim - James Burke's Connections was perhaps the most entertaining history/science series that ever aired.

Aesop said...

A somewhat more accessible description, based on a Caldecott Medal-winning book: