Reviews - What do customers think about Facade As Spectacle: Ritual and Ideology at Wells Cathedral (Studies in Medieval and Reformation Traditions)?
a symbol of power and glory Jun 26, 2007
Malone has produced a speculative but extremely heavily researched monograph on the history of the building of Wells Cathedral in the 13th century. She must have spent hundreds of hours pouring over surviving church and lay documents from that time. The heavily footnoted nature of the text attests to considerable researching. While Wells Cathedral is not as prominent as York Minister or Westminister, it has remained in good shape, and its historical record is intact.
In essence, at the most direct level, the building of the cathedral was perhaps as with any other cathedral. A statement by the English church of its power and wealth. The Church Triumphant, as one chapter is titled. Malone gives an analysis of the religious symbolism still evident in the stonework. The book shows the Christian dialectic of its time. A cynic might ask if the wealth expended on the cathedral could have been better spent on the layfolk from whom it was tithed.
But aside from timeless symbols of faith, the text also attempts to interpret the construction in the context of specific events of its time. Like the 4th Lateran Council and the reforms it produced. Without having similar scholarly background to the author, it is hard to gainsay the book's ruminations. Though they do seem plausible.
If you liked Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth, which was a fictional description of the making of a cathedral, then this book is a good accompaniment.