The fortunes of Gothic architecture passed through two periods definable by two mutually contradictory assessments of it. With the OItalians of the Quattrocento and Vasari a little later, a long diatribe began against the formal excesses of all kinds that went on being attributed to Gothic architecture until the very end of the eighteenth century.
At perhaps their saddest point in history, during the reign of Napoleon III, the French Gothic structures were threatened with complete extermination by Imperial order. Ironically, this objective was achieved most effectively within the heart of Paris. In the very birth place of Gothic spirit, a great number of fine churches were ravaged or completely demolished by the great grandchildren of their medieval builders.
Flamboyant : The closing period of French Gothic during the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. A style characterized by tracery designs which resemble upward spiraling flames, dominant in the north of France. A classic example of this work is the north spire of Chartres which stands in evident contrast to the remainder of the cathedral, completed two centuries before.
England was the country in which the Gothic or Christian style was most exquisitely and most sumptuously developed, especially in respect of its details. But France, Germany, Holland, and the Low Country, and even Italy to some extent, used the very same style, and with only some comparatively trifling differences.
LATE GOTHIC world (c. 1300-1500): Formation of a new international culture supported by courtly and patrician upper classes: the Papacy; great nobles; bankers and business men. Combination of practical business sense and romantic revival of chivalry. Scholastic logic and system replaced by realism and sentiment, often merged with mysticism.
A new, Gothic Style of architecture and decoration emerged in France. It was initially simply called "The French Style". The Gothic architects started to apply ribbed vaulting and pointed arches to emphasize light and soaring spaces. The focus on vertical lines increased as did the ratio of glass to stone. The new French Style of architecture applied at first to churches and cathedrals in France soon spread to other structures.
at the close of the "Middle Ages" the humanists of the Renaissance came up with the negative designation "Gothic," creating the master narrative by fixing the phenomenon as the cultural manifestation of a despised "Other." Such was the force of this disapproval and the power of theorized classical architecture that it was, according to traditional narratives, impossible to speak positively about Gothic for a period of two to three centuries.
So what were the characteristics of a Gothic building? Generally speaking, Gothic architecture emphasized strong vertical lines, high vaulted ceilings, minimal wall space, pointed window and door openings, and buttressed walls.
In 1140, Abbott Suger began a renovation of St. Denis Abbey which was the beginning of what we now call Gothic architecture. Suger had a high theology of light and wanted the abbey filled with light and color. He first enlarged the ambulatory, the walkway behind the altar. He did this by using pointed arches instead of the former rounded arches of the Romanesque style. To these arches he linked flying buttresses and vaulted ceilings. These components were all tied together.
The Gothic period of medieval art and architecture flourished from the mid-12th century until the dawn of the Renaissance in the 16th century. The successor of the Romanesque style, Gothic architecture is characterized by vertical lines, high vaults, pointed arches, flying buttresses and large stained glass windows. Gothic art can be distinguished by the graceful poses of its figures and an increasing attention to realism.