Template-Makers of the Paris Basin
by John James
A master mason could control a building site with 300 men under him.
This book describes how he did it. It identifies the mason who invented tracery and
shows that most of the key inventions that created Gothic architecture
did not come from Paris, but from the quiet countryside to the northeast.
1989, 248 pages, 283 illustrations,
to show where medieval builders preferred to place their construction
to illustrate ways of wrapping one section of a church around
or within another.
to show that the builders had to stop work and possibly leave
the site wherever mortar had to be left to harden, sometimes
showing that very small observations can be as important as
to show the origin of the elements that were used to create
and how design for even the most important buildings were being
constantly modified as work proceeded.
||The Dossier method
since the template was the primary means for the master mason
to communicate with his men, I use a novel technique to show
how a master may be recognized across many buildings - in this
case the man who created window tracery in 1215.
to separate the roles of the client and builder and to discover
who was responsible for introducing new ideas.
||A Detailed History of One Small Building to illustrate
toichological techniques in the small parish church of Cerseuil.
Example of the text:
To examine other books by John James, especially
his newest 1600-page thesaurus, The
Ark of God,
"No medieval construction manuals exist on how to proceed with the
building of a church, though some deal with equipment and template
design. No guidelines were issued by the episcopate. Each parish
was on its own. Clergymen with no experience had to plan for the
future on he same basis as cathedral chapters. We are so accustomed
to the widespread sharing of knowledge on contracts, on the avoidance
of pitfalls in building and on their financing that is it hard to
conceive a time when this was not so. Around 1200 many communities
were starting some of the largest projects they were ever to undertake
without any formalized way to share their experience or caution
"In these circumstances clients would have had to rely heavily on
the experience and counsel of their builders, not that it was always
wise, as the negligence of the Auxerre master showed when he advised
his client that in spite of the growing cracks in the underpinned
tower it would be safe to continue with worship. It was fortunate
that this error did not eliminate the client.
"In all ways these men demand our respect - for their organizational
skills, their ability to cut and place intractable materials, and
for the imagination shown in solving problems that wee too would
find difficult. They accepted - and indeed made a virtue of the
fact - that a building was more a process than a project. Construction
was like a natural growth which might take more than a generation
to unfold, an accumulation of historic events in stone that, like
a living organism, evolved towards a common image of the Heavenly
City, while at the same time reflecting something of each man's
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