Varied Development of Pointed Architecture in Different European Nations
Pointed architecture took root and grew with almost equal vigour, though under different conditions, in almost every part of Europe. But the honour of having developed the style to the very highest perfection must undoubtedly be adjudged to France, or rather to the small portion of the country, including Paris, which formed the old Ile de France.
In Germany there was much less natural development. For a long period after the Lombard style had been perfected on the Rhine no variation of moment was adopted, until German architects attempted at Cologne to outvie and rival the magnificence of Amiens.
In Spain the architects of some of the finest buildings were Frenchmen, and the style can hardly be said to have been developed there at all.
In England, on the contrary, though our earliest Pointed buildings were undoubtedly to a great extent French in their origin, the development of the art were soon entirely national, and were but little modified even by the influence of the foreign religious orders, which (as at Fountains Abbey) had so much power over many of our ecclesiastical foundations. From England the style was carried by Englishmen to Scotland, -- a poor country, with no style of its own, and no cultivation such as is necessary to produce an order of architects, and to Ireland, where the English architects followed the footsteps of the invading armies; and finally, if we may trust the evidence of the stones themselves, to the coast of Norway, where the cathedral of Trondhjem is as unmistakably English in much of the style and detail as any English cathedral.
In England the development of the style is plainly marked, and its advances are easily traceable. We find in various portions of the same edifice, according to the period of its construction, exemplifications of the style, from the ingrafting of the simple lancet arch on the Norman piers in the time of Henry II, to the highly enriched groinings and ramified traceries of the age of Henry VII; but the changes are so gradual, and are so finely blended, that the one in advance appears naturally to result from that which comes before it.
Although the nations of the Continent never borrowed from us, but were themselves originators, it is very clear that after the first we did not borrow; for our structures bear the strongest possible marks of originality, as the gradual advances can be traced from one feature to another in a way which is quite peculiar to this country. This, however, will be explained more in detail further on.
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