XIV century

“Dancing mania was a social phenomenon that occurred primarily in mainland Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries. It involved groups of people, sometimes thousands at a time. The mania affected men, women, and children, who danced until they collapsed from exhaustion. (…)

It is certain that many participants of dancing mania were psychologically disturbed, but it is also likely that some took part out of fear,  or simply wished to copy everyone else. Sources agree that dancing mania was one of the earliest-recorded forms of mass hysteria, and describe it as a “psychic epidemic”, with numerous explanations that might account for the behavior of the dancers.”

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Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dancing_mania

The Bust of Charlemagne is a reliquary in the form of the bust of Charlemagne made around 1350, which contains the king’s skullcap. The reliquary is part of the Late Medieval treasure kept in the Aachen Cathedral Treasury. It is one of the most significant examples of Gothic goldwork and the best-known example of a reliquary bust anywhere. The reliquary is an idealised image, not an actual portrait of Charlemagne.

(Click on the image. It’s breathtaking.)

Friday the 13th - medieval roots

Some believe that the arrest of Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Knights Templar, and 60 of his senior knights on Friday, October 13, 1307 by King Philip IV of France is the origin of this superstition. That day thousands of Templars were arrested and subsequently tortured. They then ‘confessed’ and were executed. From that day on, Friday the 13th was considered by followers of the Templars as an evil and unlucky day.

Image: Jacques de Molay sentenced to the stake in 1314, from the Chronicle of France or of St Denis (fourteenth century). Note the shape of the island, representing the Île de la Cité (Island of the City) in the Seine where the executions took place.

You look at this picture and you instantly say: “Gothic”. And it is correct, since the Old Santa Clara Monastery is a very fine example of the XIV century’ Gothic (actually, this building has not a single inch of Neogothic “polution”, unlike many other medieval structures). 

But there is a problem: this is not Gothic. During Late Middle Age, this architectual style was usually know as “Opus Francigenum” - the word “Gothic” is basically pejorative and appeared only during Renaissance. The use of the word “Gothic” to refer to one of the most significant eras of medieval architecture is an invention from the late-XVIII century, that would spread trought the XIX century - in earlier centuries, “Gothic” was a synonim of “barbarian art”.

So, most of the Gothic you celebrate is not Gothic, it’s Neogothic - an evocative celebration of Middle Ages that took place during Romanticism and that still echoes trough nowadays imaginary. The Gothic you see in this picture is the real one… the one that wasn´t Gothic in first place.

Truth is never simple.