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Date of Award

Summer 1989


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Document Type

Thesis: EWU Only

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA) in Interdisciplinary Studies


Interdisciplinary Studies


This study investigates three significant influences on the creation of the rose windows of the Cathedral of Notre Dame at Chartres. The first area of influence lies in the cultural environment of the eleventh century, the second in the construction of the cathedral at Chartres, and the third in the medium of rose windows. The development of Gothic architecture is found within the cultural environment of the eleventh century. It began with the Abbey of St.-Denis as rebuilt by the Abbot Suger (1081-1151). Suger aspired to glorify both the Abbey of St.-Denis and the Crown of France. He positioned himself centrally in the cultural environment so as to forge a reality of those aspirations. St. Bernard of Clairvaux, leader of the ascetic Cistercian Order and the creator of the Cistercian style of art, influenced Suger's point of view regarding philosophical, theological and aesthetic matters. Suger favored the Neoplatonic philosophy of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, the "anagogical approach" in particular. That philosophy became the aesthetic basis for the reconstruction of the Abbey. The artistic and technical innovations Suger envisioned became an actuality with the rebuilding at Chartres. The cathedral at Chartres contributed a history, a circumstance and physical features that were solely its own. In 1194 the cathedral burned. When rebuilt the edifice presented more height and width than any other cathedral of that time. The new expanse of space was made rich with Gothic Style stained glass, including three rose windows. Stylistically and iconographically the rose windows at Chartres drew from within the history of all rose windows. Technically the windows reflected the techniques of the stained glass craft. It is the conclusion of this thesis that significant influences on the creation of the rose windows of the Cathedral of Notre Dame at Chartres are to be found in Gothic architecture as represented by the Abbey of St.-Denis and as influenced by the Abbot Suger; in the unique history, circumstances and physical features of the Cathedral of Notre Dame at Chartres; and in the techniques of the craft of making stained glass, in the history of rose windows and in the iconography of the times.