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Glass, Stones & Crown: The Abbé Suger and…

Glass, Stones & Crown: The Abbé Suger and the Building of St. Denis

by Anne F. Rockwell

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Nice! The language is simple, but not simplistic. The story of the church of St. Denis is intertwined with the history of France and of Abbot Suger in a fascinating story of the time. It's an era I'm slightly familiar with - mostly from the English side of things, with Eleanor and Henry II; Louis VII is dismissed as pious, weak and unwise. Here we get to see a bit more about him, and why he chose to take the actions he did - though Abbot Suger also finds him rather over-pious, weak and unwise! Along with the history comes discussions of the structure of the new church, and how it differed from the old church and the normal way churches were built then. There are longish expositions on how arches are formed, and how the new pointed arch allowed the airy structure of the church; how the stonemasons learned their craft and passed on secrets, some now lost; and how the magnificent stained glass windows were made, including which metals created which colors. The book also discusses how religion was seen, and how much a part of everyone's life it was, in the twelfth century - how the Oriflamme, St. Denis' banner, united the fractious nobles under Louis VI, Louis the Fat, to begin to create the nation of France, and the symbolism that permeated the design of the church of St. Denis, for instance. Overall, it's a fascinating book - very short, very simple and clear language, but it conveys a _lot_ of information clearly and memorably. ( )
  jjmcgaffey | Oct 6, 2012 |
I'm surprised the classical education crowd hasn't found this gem. Set in medieval France, it details history, Gothic architecture, and religion. It's word intensive, but full of simple line art illustrations. Fantastic.
  mebrock | Jan 22, 2008 |
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