Traditie als maatstaf voor vernieuwing in de kerkelijke architectuur van de middeleeuwen. De rol van oud en nieuw in het proces van bevestiging en doorbreking van maatschappelijke structuren
'Progress' and 'standstill', 'conservation' and 'innovation' are quite relative concepts in the history of architecture, too. The attainment of a social position of power is always accompanied by the question of how this can be given adequate material expression. When it concerns new groupings, the answer to this question is not immediately obvious, although the 'parvenu' will always wish to adorn himself with the attributes of the 'arrivé'.
These 'attributes' include the architectonic concept and the style in which it is executed. Sometimes both are inextricably connected, as is the case with the French kings' churches, which we usually call Gothic cathedrals. Generally, they are two separate things: the concept of the building is maintained, whereas the form language is 'modern'. If the old form language is also retained, this involves more than a certain sense of tradition.
This explicitly archaic way of building is intended to suggest great age. This archaism is the most radical expression of hierarchic relations. In many cases it is the reflection of social structures subjected to increasing pressure. The reverse is the introduction of new architectonic concepts and building styles. One of the most impressive examples is the reception of French 'kings' Gothic by cathedral chapters outside the Kingdom of France.
Thus the concept of the kings' cathedral could no longer be used for the hierarchically subordinate 'ordinary' collegiate churches in the episcopal towns. It was therefore an affront to the cathedral chapters when town authorities adopted the cathedral architecture tor their parish churches. Thus they emphasized their 'independent' position. After all, the town community had always been a 'Fremdkörper' in a society based on landownership, lack of personal freedom and God-given hierarchic relations.
The town citizens, in a position to do so because of increasing power and wealth, gradually appropriated all the major architectonic status symbols of the establishment, both worldly and spiritual. Two very clear examples of this are the use of the seigneur tower for parish churches and other town buildings, and the construction of fraternity choirs and council chapels.
Copyright (c) 1998 Aart J.J. Mekking
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