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    • #7521
      jlchamberlain
      Keymaster

      While churches became more and more ornate and impersonal those who had the means invested in private devotional objects and spaces. How do we see these dual impulses coexisting during the Gothic period?

    • #7710
      Laura Barber
      Participant

      The moralized bibles, such as Bible moralisée and the Saint Louis Bible, were essentially illustrated bibles that gained popularity during the Gothic period, but were not accessible to most due to the high cost required to make them. Typically, royal family members were the only ones who could afford to buy them.
      Numerous books also began being published during this time period. For the common folk, many of whom were illiterate, reading these books wouldn’t have been possible. This provides yet another means with which the upper class was able to attain additional religious objects for themselves alone.
      Perhaps it was the increasing ornateness and impersonal nature of the churches of the time that drove wealthy nobles to seek out additional devotional objects and personal spaces for praying/studying the bible. It became a matter of status and exclusivity for those who could afford those rare and difficult to attain religious objects.

      • #7755
        Miranda Jackovich
        Participant

        To Laura Barber
        I thought you made great points about how elites and nobles would use decorated religious objects to further stratify themselves from lower ranked social classes. Do you believe that these wealthier individuals took advantage of the adornment of these objects to further establish their social status?

      • #7791
        Bob Hook
        Participant

        I agree with you Laura that the use of these illustrated bibles was used as a physical demonstration of wealth by the nobility. I wonder how many of the nobles were actually able to read or if they were just ornaments of their social position.

      • #7954
        rdnelson4
        Participant

        Laura,
        I agree that the cast system was very harsh and unforgiving. The class and social status you were born with was rigid and most often the one you died with as well. During this time period being able to afford food was difficult, much less extravagant art and religious texts that are only good for those with an education. Religion did seem to be a sign of social status during this time period. Sad that it seems with each new step forward in history, those who are already on top seem to be the ones who are benefitting.

    • #7756
      Miranda Jackovich
      Participant

      It was common during the Gothic period for an individual of any social ranking to carry some sort of religious item. When a person was unable to attend church the object(s) would be used for personal prayer and practices. It’s not surprising to see that elites and nobles used these symbols to reflect their status and wealth. ‘The Sainte Chapelle, Paris’ (1239-1248 CE) demonstrates on a larger scale how status and wealth affects private devotional objects and spaces. The king, his family, and court had a personal chapelle built into the palace. The king and queen also had their own personal quarters to worship in private. It’s important to recognize the influence the church had on all walks of life, and how personal religious objects were widely used amongst everyone.

      • #7768
        Laura Barber
        Participant

        Re: Miranda
        Very interesting post! It’s interesting to see what wealthy people use to flaunt/cement their status in society. It also removes them from the very public, almost common, act of going to church. Perhaps this was one more reason why they did things such as building their own private worship areas.

      • #7892
        Miranda Johansson
        Participant

        Miranda – what an interesting connection between religion, devotions, and social status! Such an odd notion to show off social status through religion, but this was really not uncommon during this time period, as you state. Thank you for bringing this up!

    • #7769
      Lacey Miller
      Participant

      Private devotional objects were actually very widespread. Devotional prints could be owned by almost anyone at the time. Little idols and crosses and such were a little more sparse, but also a commonality amongst society. The higher classes that could afford their own private alter or prayer space, likely felt a bit more likely to lock in a spot in heaven. Not only did it become a competition of riches but also that of divinity. I suppose it could just be looked at as yet another facet to class or status

      • #7828
        Gabe
        Participant

        Hah I like that ‘Lock in a Spot in Heaven’. Were there heaven-ticket scalpers? Probably! That’s what the whole indulgences thing was iirc. I’d be curious about some of the cheaper and more personal things that people created to remind them of their faith in their everyday lives. Of course the largest, most expensive items are what have been most well-preserved through time, but I wonder if people made little crosses out of wood and straw and carried them around, or something like that. Of course we still see ‘Holier than the Joneses’ in our society too! Do ornate Christmas light decorations count? Or is that something different lol.

      • #7906
        Lucas Warthen
        Participant

        Hey Lacey,

        I think you’re right – it was definitely a competition of divinity and the riches that required it were just another set bar to become one with that divine level. However, while also just being a facet of their status, I think the rich thought these things helped show their dedication to God – the more worldly goods they spent on their devotion meant the further they would get in the afterlife; the less they cared about worldly possessions the more they would get in the afterlife (or something to that extent). So yes, I think it is definitely a divine competition even though it is not outright stated or proven.

      • #7940
        ckocsis
        Participant

        Lacey-
        Interesting points! It’s interesting that they thought the more they spent on their faith the more faithful they were and more likely to get into heaven. I wonder where that idea started!

    • #7770
      Lacey Miller
      Participant

      Miranda-
      Interesting to think the palace had its own private church.

    • #7827
      Gabe
      Participant

      Gothic architecture is the most ‘public’ manifestation of the period. Giant, mind-blowingly ornate Cathedrals were stationed in major cities. The stained glass and stonework, for instance jam sculptures, all told the holy stories from Abraham through the acts post-Christ saints. These provided a method for anyone visiting and viewing these sites to have a religious experience, however each visitor had essentially the same experience.

      More personal techniques did exist at the time – the Moralizing bibles were intensely detailed illustrated texts, and were also incredibly expensive. Nothing else like them existed at the time though, so the owners and readers of such texts were likely in awe of what they saw. This allowed them to absorb the holy stories, and pray etc. without engaging with the throng at the Cathedrals (perhaps this was an anticipation of the Gutenberg bible and the philosophies of the protestant reformation). Another instance of more personal devotional art was the Book of Hours. Thousands of these books were produced that had illustrations and sets of prayers to be recited throughout the day. Here was another way to make the religious practices of Christianity more personal in one’s life.

      • #7955
        rdnelson4
        Participant

        Gabe,
        I like the imagery you use describing the cathedrals and how you stated everyone essentially had the same experience. If everyone should be on the same level anywhere, in should be in a church. Of course, some people *cough cough rich snobby people cough cough* would probably have a problem with mingling with such inferior beings and of course the only solution would be to throw massive amounts of money into building one’s own private place of worship. Even though that’s pretty much exactly the kind of thing God says he hates in the Bible.

    • #7850
      Kaitlyn
      Participant

      I think this is an interesting concept. The moralizing bibles and the private chapels for worship are two of the examples we see of private devotion. I do wonder what the motivation behind the private devotions were. After all the Bible doesn’t say god loves the rich more than the poor, so I wonder if the rich simply used private devotion as means to show off their wealth, or to avoid intermingling with lower social classes. Or if they truly thought private devotion and spending immense amounts of money would lead to winning more approval from god than the people attending the public church services.

    • #7851
      Kaitlyn
      Participant

      Miranda I like how you pointed out how great of an influence religion had on every walk of life regardless of social class. I think it makes sense the king and royal family would have a private chapel, their safety was most likely a matter of concern. But I wonder how true to intentions were behind the other wealthy families who went about buying the extravagent moralizing bibles and other religious items for private devotions

    • #7865
      Bob Hook
      Participant

      I think that some of the rich and nobility sanctioned religion in ways that not only glorified God but glorified themselves. The Book of Hours is an excellent example of the disparity between what the wealthy used and what the lay people had. A religious text that was used to develop a prayer sequence. Thousands of these books were created from 1250 until 1700. The prayers and prayer sequence began with praise for the Virgin Mary and eventually was known as the Hours of the Virgin. Patrons could have the basic model or if they wanted could expand upon the illustration. Supporters were found who wanted to not only support their own religious activities but demonstrate their wealth. It is easy to understand how these economic factors drove the creation of more ornate plates and fonts. They often included images of the family and embellished favorite psalms or saints of the church. The nobility could take great comfort in knowing that their names and efforts were associated with Holy works and words.

    • #7881
      Maggie May
      Participant

      Often the possession of large, ornate, expensive private devotional or religious objects were both a display of wealth and religious devotion. Although smaller religious objects were common, larger, more expensive commissions, such as illustrated bibles or private worship spaces, demanded vast financial resources. These may have been ascertained in avoidance of the rather impersonal church spaces of the time, or rather as displays of religious devotion, which might help others to see them in a more positive light or help them to gain favor in the eyes of God.

    • #7882
      Aubri Stogsdill
      Participant

      As churches constantly become more and more beautiful and intricately designed in the Gothic period, many wealthy families invested in things such as moralized bibles. These bibles were made of up thousands of illustrations of the stories and values found within scripture and they also included commentaries. These bibles would have been extremely costly, therefore would not have been accessible by the commoners. Being able to have these items would have only been a possibility because of rank. Though, there was also a growing access to various written devotionals for commoners called the ‘books of hours’. These books would have becoming increasingly more available to those who were less fortunate as the gothic period went on. Each of these books would have been unique. Inside would be a number of prayers that the individual could read and specific times of the day. In many ways this shift began as the Christians valuing of personal piety grew.

    • #7883
      Aubri Stogsdill
      Participant

      RE Mirand

      Great points! It is interesting to me how different expressions existed amidst the various classes. The more wealthy individuals would have had beautiful buildings crafted and moralized bibles made, while the less fortunate would have been so grateful for much smaller, less costly items in order to expression their own devotion to God.

    • #7886
      Tamara Toy
      Participant

      Private devotion was definitely something for the higher classes. These cost a considerable amount of money alone, not counting any personal religious relics that may have been owned. This was possibly so that the higher ranking classes had a better and more personal relationship with the Divine, therefore ensuring their place in Heaven. Meanwhile, the lower ranking classes had little choice but to practice their devotions in a more public, impersonal setting, however, this relationship was probably more of a comforting one than those of the higher ranking classes due to the idea that they were not worshipping out of self-preservation.

      • #7893
        Miranda Johansson
        Participant

        Tamara – you make an excellent point about worship and self-preservation. It really was crazy how those of a higher social rank believed that they could “buy” their salvation. I agree that the churches were lower class members went to worship were probably not impersonal, because their point of worship and devotion was from a completely different perspective than those who did it to “show off” their riches. Thank you for this post!

      • #7922
        tmbergan
        Participant

        Tamara, that’s a really interesting idea that they would have more of a relationship with the Divine. Do you think some of them may have liked having private areas for devotion to show off their wealth and “devotion’ to the faith to make some people feel jealous of it?

    • #7891
      Miranda Johansson
      Participant

      I don’t think I would say that churches were becoming more impersonal. If we look at Christianity and Judaism throughout history, early churches and places of worship were sectioned off to where the most holy place of God was separate from the “common” place of the building. In the Gothic cathedrals, there is such a sense of openness and availability of being close to God, that this is almost the opposite of impersonal. Instead of having a relationship with God through the priest or pastor, God is available for personal relationships with this new architecture.

      The fact that people would invest in private devotional objects is another key point to show how much more personal religion had become. We have moved away from the Bible only being in Latin, to the Bible being available to even those who were not literate. Just because churches and devotional spaces were becoming more ornate this does not necessarily mean it was becoming impersonal.

    • #7901
      Lucas Warthen
      Participant

      The churches becoming more and more ornate was a very obvious phenomenon that overshadowed the creation of devotional objects and spaces for those who could afford them. Stained glass became extremely prominent as seen in Sainte-Chapelle of Paris and flying buttresses came coupled with those (as the walls needed extra support that stained glass could not provide). The buttresses, while being beautiful, allowed for the amount of light that came in to remain constant while also providing needed support for the building.
      The devotional objects, especially the moralized bibles, were completely separate of the church, as people that owned these objects had no reason for attending a church. Churches were most likely filled with pilgrims and devotees and people that could afford the moralized bibles were far from that.
      The beautiful churches and moralized bibles coexisted during this time because neither of them knew they existed – they never came in contact with one another during their time period because those that attended them never experienced the other (if that makes sense… hope it does).

      • #7921
        tmbergan
        Participant

        Lucas, I think that makes sense! The wealthier people had their own private devotional objects that kept them from having to go to the churches, and the commoners likely never saw these objects so they might not have even realized at the time that the private devotion was a thing. Great post!

    • #7903
      Sam Saccomen
      Participant

      I would say private would be a good word to describe the Gothic period. Individuals had personal devotional objects and those who could afford it had private devotional spaces. Some individuals of the Gothic period carried small crosses or other religious items with them. Some people had moralized bibles but only the wealthy could afford these books because they were expensive at the time. The Book of Hours also became popular. Many individuals started to have the Book of Hours as the Gothic period continued. These books although they had numerous pictures throughout them, many individuals of this time period were still illiterate making it almost impossible for them to fully understand the Word of God. That brings questions to my head? Were these items and space a way to show class, a way to get away from the lower classes, or did private worship become popular? I believe it was another way to show class because again lower classes were unable to purchase these moralized books and all still went to the churches to worship. All the upper class was able to worship in their own homes with these moralized bibles at hand and private devotion spaces. I believe it was a way to separate classes once again.

      • #7932
        Raven Shaw
        Participant

        Good questions. Maybe private devotion became popular because of the slow trend toward humanism and individuals that would become the Renaissance? I think the rich would want to separate themselves from the poor during any era of suffering. Nobody wants to be around depressed people for too long, and the rich probably wanted to keep their air of perfection – which you can’t keep if people get to look at you too closely.

    • #7904
      Sam Saccomen
      Participant

      Lacey, I also liked your clever statement “lock in a spot in heaven” because I believe this was very important in the Gothic period and still now. I really liked your statement about riches and divinity because the rich were building places of worship in their houses and buying expensive moralized books, while low class was still only about to afford to go to church and worship because of their lack in wealth. This to me proves that the higher classes believed they were locking in their spot over those of the lower class. Overall, your post was short and sweet but got your point across!

    • #7912
      Jessi Willeto
      Participant

      As always, the higher classes will have the advantages of being able to purchase or commission religious objects and things for their devotional purposes. However, the lower glasses and common people were also known to have some sort of object related to their religion; be it rosaries, idols, tapestries. What we see is the rich being able to afford specific spaces for devotional purposes (like the private chapels), as well as having the advantage of being able to read ornate bibles and such. Christianity almost seemed like a trend at this point because many things were manifested to prove higher worship than another. In a way, it is reminiscent of previous eras where nobility would liken themselves unto the divine.

      • #7925
        csayreswoody
        Participant

        I can agree when you said that Christianity seems to be a trend, even in todays time it seems to be that way. However now its not just Christinaity but other religions as well.

    • #7913
      Jessi Willeto
      Participant

      RE: sjsaccomen
      That’s a good point you brought up. It’s almost a religious monopoly where the disadvantaged will not have the same opportunities as those with wealth or power. We see this still happening to this day, I think, but it also shows the innovation of the lower classes with the objects they created as well.

    • #7914
      Jessi Willeto
      Participant

      RE: Lucas Warthen
      It makes sense! They were both created with the same need of devotion, but just created for different people and needs. Regardless, I’m glad both exist as a testament to the gothic era.

    • #7919
      Aalieyah Creach
      Participant

      Looking at the material given, i do not think these two parties coexisted but instead they found a way to part with each other by class. In a way they kinda coexisted but in actuality they just did their own thing instead of trying to be able to come together. the rich would buy their private spaces and objects while the poor did what they could to be apart of there devotion.

    • #7923
      tmbergan
      Participant

      Although the churches remained large and open for all individuals to come and visit, we see that a lot of wealthy people in the Gothic period began investing in different forms of private devotion. With their wealth and literacy, they were able to get books of hours and moralized bibles that the commoners wouldn’t have been able to understand. Another interesting thing that I noticed looking at this week’s artwork was the fact that a lot of the noble families would also get a stained glass window with their coat of arms. A lot of the stained glass that we saw would usually occur in churches to tell more of the stories, but wealthy families were able to make it more private by getting it in their homes, some of them even changing it so that instead of telling biblical stories it would tell their family’s stories.

      • #7939
        Valene
        Participant

        Great post and I agree that the wealthy definitely seemed to have an advantage with obtaining religious items. It seems that throughout history, no matter the religion or time frame, those with money were able to obtain more things for their faiths and likely felt they were more spiritual. Even in cultures where religion wasn’t as common, it still seems that wealth brought the status and ability to show off one’s own accomplishments.

    • #7924
      csayreswoody
      Participant

      Just as any other thing through these eras, the higher classes were able to partake more in a private devotion than those of a lower class. The wealthy had the funds and means to be able have private spaces, spiritual objects, and bibles to be able to be apart and do devotions on a daily bases where as the lower class was only able to get their devotions in when they could. Even though the two classes had to go about different ways for their devotions they both was able to be apart devotions which is a plus in my eyes. It was like they didn’t care how or where they was going to get their devotions from but as longs as they did and as longs as others saw that they did.

    • #7928
      Raven Shaw
      Participant

      Most of the ornament in Gothic churches went into the architecture itself. The stonework became light and airy, looking like a holy gingerbread house with an emphasis on letting light in. The statuary no longer took center space, but was used to highlight the beautiful windows. Carvings surrounded the arches, and sat atop the gabled spaces above arches. All of this was public artwork.

      Rulers and the rich were able to have their own churches built, or donate holy objects to existing churches. Louis IX built the Saint-Chapelle to house his own collection of relics in Paris, and a piece of the Virgin Mary’s linen was donated by Charlemagne to the Notre Dame. Royal families commissioned Moralizing bibles to be illustrated for the masses, sort of like getting your kid into reading by givivng them comic books.

      There is a lot of art representing the relationship between the church and the current king. The statue of the Virgin Mary outside the Reims Cathedral wears a large crown to show the connection, Christ is shown to be a descendant of ancient kings in statuary atop the church, and inside Melchizedek gives communion to Abraham.

    • #7938
      Valene
      Participant

      I feel like there are definitely differences in how social class separations enabled people to worship in different ways but I’m not sure I see it as impersonal. Wealthy followers were able to buy more ornate objects to show their devotion. Wealthy individuals also could spend the money on fancy stained glass windows and other religions items. Those unlucky enough to not afford those items simply didn’t have the option to show their religious devotion in the same way. I don’t see any of these types of followers as necessarily being impersonal though. The Christian faith was based on a relationship with their God and although the wealthier could show off their faith better, ultimately everyone was given the chance to have a personal relationship. Those who were illiterate likely had the hardest path simply because they couldn’t read the teachings and religious documents themselves.

    • #7941
      ckocsis
      Participant

      I think private devotional spaces were a way for the upper class to avoid mingling with the common people, and I definitely don’t think going to church was impersonal. Even though the churches were getting larger and more ornate, people who were going to church were celebrating their faith with other people who shared their beliefs, which I think would enhance the experience rather than detract from it. It seems like the upper class were competing with each other on who was the most devote and had the nicest religious items, while the lower class was going to church to actually show their devotion.

    • #7953
      rdnelson4
      Participant

      As the name suggests, the Age of Cathedrals was one of splendor and magnificence. While religious extravagance was in part out of reverence and worship, I am certain there was an amount of pomp and circumstance as well. The wealthy upper class flaunted their wealth by commissioning expensive and intricate works of art, such as RÖTTGEN PIETÀ OR JEAN PUCELLE’S THE HOURS OF JEANNE D’ÉVREUX. Moralized Bibles were also very expensive, so only wealthy families could afford them. I think to a certain extent religion became a symbol of social status; the wealthier you were, the more you could afford to spend on religious art, texts, and worship.

    • #7961
      Jess
      Participant

      Much like today, personal devotional objects were very popular among all social classes. Everyone had something to use or a space to go and worship if they could not make it to a mass service. The wealthy also had special versions of the bible made accessible to them and they used this to let others know of their social status as well as their wealth. People that had a large influence on the church, such as Kings and Queens, often times had their own rooms of worship as well as special sections within the main halls of the church to attend mass without having to mingle with their subjects.

    • #7967
      Dean Riley
      Participant

      I feel that the more wealthy thought that the more ornate their worship items were, the closer to God that they were. And if you could afford to have your own alter at you place of residence then you were truly close to God. Things such as a moralized Bible would also have been a worship item that was unavailable to those of limited means that would have separated the wealthy from those of lower social status.

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