Stonecutters: The Trade
the 12th century, the medieval guilds grew to rest the power once
tightly held by the feudal land barons, and in so doing heralded
economic freedom not known until then.
in particular, wasted no time in organizing and virtually monopolizing
the trade in towns and cities throughout Europe.
a code of business ethics established, rules were rigidly enforced
for upholding the guild's reputation. In return, a loyal member
could expect steady work, and his expenses met - along with those
of his family - should he become sick or injured.
were ready for acceptance into the guild at the age of 11 or 12.
Entry was easier if they had a relative in the business - for
example, a father who was
a stonecutter (and with a set of tools to bequeath). Once accepted,
applicants embarked on a five year apprenticeship with a master
stonecutter who, as well as professional training, provided room
and board. Trainees with an artistic bent were encouraged since
carvers or sculptors could go on to earn additional pay - whether
in currency or extra food or wine rations.
training completed, apprentices were eager
to ply the trade as journeyman, striking out on their own to work
for higher wages, with more varied projects in other cities and
with other masters.
INSIDE GOTHIC -
vs. English In a Nutshell
first to incorporate the flying buttress, the French
used cutting edge technology to achieve greater height
which was never really rivaled by their English counterparts.
Stained glass, i.e., at Chartres and Amiens, was
also more favored as a decorative element. In comparison,
the strength of the English architects lie in their use
of intricate interior masonry as seen in the fan
vaulting in the Henry VII chapel at Westminster Abbey,
and at Kings College Chapel, Cambridge.
journeymen eventually applied for the position of master after
passing a rigid guild exam in which they submitted a 'master-piece'
of stonecutting to the guild for acceptance. The cycle was completed
when a new master set up his own shop and sought out apprentices.
From these ranks of master stonecutters often came the Gothic
engineers and master builders.
general, the 'high crafts' (stone, wood and ironcrafters) received
a better salary rate than in other trades, with stonecutters among
the highest paid.
were occasionally employed as stone carvers, although not officially
accepted into the guild. Legends
persist about Sabina Von Steinbach, who assisted her father in
the building of Strasbourg Cathedral. Very real images in stained
glass depict at least one woman in the highly respected role of
stonecarver at Bourges Cathedral (above).
II. The Stained Glass Painters
The Virtual Gothic Cathedral: HOME