Medieval Cathedrals Research

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The Wonder of Cathedrals
Since the beginning, man has always had some form of faith. Whether it was worshiping rocks or praying to God. No matter what faith, they’ve always had a center of worship. Well when the middle-ages came around, Christian’s centers were the cathedrals where the bishops were placed. Cathedrals were the pinnacle of the European churches. They demonstrated the wealth and the power of the city’s Christian church. But with such extravagant attention placed into these structures, one can only wonder what it must have taken to create such detail and why these were built the way they were.

Cathedrals are mainly churches that were built rather large, but they were also small at times. The main idea was to have a bishop placed on a throne in the cathedral. An early decree stated that a bishop’s Cathedra, or office, could not be placed in the church of a village, but only in a city ("Middle"). With abundant towns and cities being centers for Christianity, this wasn’t much of a problem for Europe. But this wasn’t the case for the British Isles, because their towns were few and the bishops were bishops of tribes, instead of having of having jurisdiction over separate areas. These Bishops were involved with groups such as the South Saxons, West Saxons, Somerseats, and many other groups. Also, instead of having their established churches, these bishops were often migratory. Most European bishops must have been happy with their arrangement, because if they were placed in a nice cathedral then they could stay there until they died. But if a bishop’s Cathedra were to be removed from the church, then this action would deprive the church of its Cathedral dignity ("Middle"). It seems that having a bishop must have been a big deal for cities.

The Cathedrals were the most obvious symbol of a church’s wealth. It must have been a competition of who had the nicest and largest Cathedral. In 1163, Notre-Dame in Paris was the highest at 34m tall and from then on they just got bigger; such as the Strasbourg Cathedral Spire which is 142 M high, identical to a 45 story building (“Medieval Spell”). The most popular of the large cathedrals are found in places like Canterbury and York, then in other major cities. Just by looking at pictures, one can only imagine what it must have taken to create these Cathedrals.

The cost of these monstrosities must have been ridiculous, but the money came from the many payments that the people had to make to the Roman Catholic Church. But with so much money placed into these structures, it’s obvious that there must have been a lot of effort placed into them. The workers of these builds used basic tools, from a pickaxe to a chisel and everything in between, but they used devotion to create such magnificent structures. The first step was to appoint an architect to design the structure. In turn, this architect would choose master craftsmen that he knew would have the skills to construct the Cathedral. These master masons would have their specific trade and workshop with their own selected masons in order to run their own system and method to work on their particular field. Then unskilled workers from around the area would be hired to do the hard labor, such as lifting objects and doing whatever the masons needed them to do. Even though each one trade might seem skilled enough to handle their own, this wasn’t the case; as each trade relied on the other. An example would be that a master blacksmith would make the metal tools needed while the carpenters made the wooden handles. Even though it appears that the architect is in charge, every build needs to have a customer. This customer was a body of individuals that decided how much money could be spent and decide the final design of the cathedral, they are also known as a Chapter. The whole process must have been a challenge, even without the machinery that we have today these medieval workers would create these beautiful...
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