How a canny abbot and an unknown architect let in the light
Competition among the burgeoning towns may also have spurred creativity during France's building blitz, which between the 11th and 14th centuries saw the construction of dozens of cathedrals, hundreds of large churches, and tens of thousands of smaller ones. Which isn't to say that the locals always cheered the construction efforts. Angered by the church's demands for cash, the burghers of Reims staged a riot in 1233 that forced the cathedral's governing body to flee town, halting construction. "The more power a bishop had economically, the harder it was for him to produce a cathedral," says Oggins. "Chances were higher that he'd provoke a violent backlash from townsfolk."
As long as the church could still tap into the bustling economy, though, cathedral building continued at full throttle, entering a new phase in the 1230s known as Rayonnant Gothic. Epitomized by Paris's Ste.-Chapelle and the Church of St.-Urbain at Troyes, the style introduced a new interior consistency by eliminating the distinct horizontal levels of earlier churches. But by the time the Hundred Years' War and the bubonic plague struck France in the 14th century, the flash of cathedral construction had long begun to fade. "In the 1240s," says Murray, "the king realized that he could tap into the money that the church was getting and use it to fight the crusade." The cash that had gone to creating a heavenly Jerusalem in France went instead to recovering the earthly Jerusalem abroad.