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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Dec, 2007 9:18 am    Post subject: Total non-A&A question about windows in the middle ages         Reply with quote

Hi everyone,

I looked this up and have always wondered about it but still don't have a clear sense of how it was. . .

I read that glass windows (I gather clear house windows in houses) were invented in the 18th. C. I know that stained glass in churches pre-dated this type of glass by at least three centuries.

So what were the windows of manors and significant buildings like in the 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th C? Did these buildings just not have windows or did they use shutters or what?

I guess my question has to do with the development of the window/opening to the exterior in western Europe.

Thanks to anyone that takes time to address this unconventional question.

Merry Christmas and happy Holidays everyone,
Jeremy
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D. Rosen





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PostPosted: Mon 24 Dec, 2007 10:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not entirely positive, but I'm pretty certain that at least by the high/late middle ages, there was some limited use of 'plain' glass in secular buildings. Glass was definitely in use by the Renaissance and Baroque periods, as can be seen in Durer's, Vermeer's, and others' art work.

Otherwise, I've read that those who could afford it used window panes made of very very thin slices of horn in the Middle Ages. This still would have been somewhat opaque, but would have allowed a good amount of light in without risking the elements. Most homes however, just had shutters.


Last edited by D. Rosen on Mon 24 Dec, 2007 3:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Bruno Giordan





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PostPosted: Mon 24 Dec, 2007 1:37 pm    Post subject: Re: Total non-A&A question about windows in the middle a         Reply with quote

Jeremy V. Krause wrote:
Hi everyone,

I looked this up and have always wondered about it but still don't have a clear sense of how it was. . .

I read that glass windows (I gather clear house windows in houses) were invented in the 18th. C. I know that stained glass in churches pre-dated this type of glass by at least three centuries.

So what were the windows of manors and significant buildings like in the 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th C? Did these buildings just not have windows or did they use shutters or what?

I guess my question has to do with the development of the window/opening to the exterior in western Europe.

Thanks to anyone that takes time to address this unconventional question.

Merry Christmas and happy Holidays everyone,
Jeremy


In italy, thick slices of alabaster marble were often employed (I don't know if only at rich houses/church level or at a more widespread level). I saw some still in place in an old church, for example, placed into a small romanesque window.

Pls consider the early medieval houses had very small windows and wall were thick just for preserving as much heat as it was possible.

Lightning from alabaster windows is phenomenal, a warm and soft light.
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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Dec, 2007 2:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes Bruno,

That extremely famous depiction of the Holy Spirit behind the High Alter in St. Peter's Basilica is made of alabaster and I was fortunate enough to see in person.

Words cannot convey the magnificence of the whole High Altar, Bernini's Canopy, and the steps and lights leading down to the bones of good old St. Peter!

Does anyone know if parchment was used in any form as window covering?

Jeremy
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Pierre T.




Location: Ottawa, Canada
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PostPosted: Mon 24 Dec, 2007 2:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeremy V. Krause wrote:
Yes Bruno,

Does anyone know if parchment was used in any form as window covering?

Jeremy


I've read that in general history books a long time ago, but I can't vounch on the reliability of what I read.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Mon 24 Dec, 2007 4:01 pm    Post subject: Re: Total non-A&A question about windows in the middle a         Reply with quote

Jeremy V. Krause wrote:


So what were the windows of manors and significant buildings like in the 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th C? Did these buildings just not have windows or did they use shutters or what?


According to Danny Danziger and John Gillingham in 1215: The Year of Magna Carta, "[i]ncreasingly, the rich had their windows glazed. In 127, for example, Peter the Painter was paid 5s 6d for making a glass window in Marlborough Castle. At this time, what is now the tiny village of Chiddingford in the Sussex Weald was the centre of the English glass-making industry" (Danziger and Gillingham 19). Later, it is incidentally mentioned that "[s]ome stories suggest that indoors [in a castle], with the shutters closed, it was very dark indeed" (32).

Clearly then, glass was available by the 13th century, and shutters were undoubtedly used earlier. I also believe that I've read something about parchment being used as a window covering in another book, but I cannot recall which one it was.
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Steve Grisetti




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Dec, 2007 10:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is a picture of the home of Bess of Hardwicke, built in the late 1500's.

Note all of the glass windows. While I believe that use of glass for windows was fairly common at this point, Hardwicke House was an extreme use of glazing for the time, and was intended to show off Bess' wealth.

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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Dec, 2007 6:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting everyone,

When I referred earlier to the 18th c. development of window glass I read this on some article I found through Google. Now I see that this was most likely referring to a specific type of window glass manufacture. I can see that there must have been a multitude of ways to produce window glass and now that I think about it I remember reading that old glass tended to be more wavy and less smooth than today.

I would think that earlier windows had this character. I do believe that glass windows of the 11th, 12th, and 13th, c. were on the rare side.

Does anyone know if some windows had a bowed or less than flat surface?

I bet they got REALLY got pissed when some kid threw a stone through those new high-tech home improvements!

Jeremy
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Dec, 2007 7:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think i read somewhere about using parchment or very thin animals skins ( parchment is based on animal skins I think and not paper or wood pulp based ).

The parchment/skins would be rubbed with some form of grease which would make it very translucent: So one might not be able to see much through such a window but it would let a fair amount of light into a room, at least a lot more than wooden shutters.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Dec, 2007 8:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you can blow a glass cylinder you can make a glass panel.

At least a small one.

Notoriously leaky Wiki says that glass making was know in Mesopotamia and that the Phoenicians really mastered glass blowing enough to spread it across the Mediterranean basin by 50 BC. It goes on to say that glass blowing was widely known to the Romans so the required knowledge and process was in play long before the Medieval.

Whether or not the technology was widely available on a commercial scale though...?

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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Wed 26 Dec, 2007 4:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Glass was certainly a common product in Roman times, and cheap enough for every-day use by anyone who wasn't "poor". Glass *windows* are another matter--they were certainly known to the Romans though I don't know how widespread they may have been. In a bathhouse in Pompeii the eruption blew in a glass window and threw a large stone basin up against the wall, trapping pieces of broken glass behind it.

I saw an experiment by historical glass makers on a BBC show not long ago, which concluded that Roman windowpanes were probably made by blowing a cylinder and cutting and flattening it. The resulting experimental piece was very similar to Roman fragments, and much thinner and lighter than a rolled-out blob or spun disc of glass.

My guess is that glass windows were primarily an upper-class thing, but common enough in that social stratum. I'd also guess that glass windows stayed in use to at least some degree among the wealthy right through from the Roman era to the middle ages. Architecture isn't my strongest area, but there has to be more evidence either way. I also wouldn't be surprised if the whole theory of "greased parchment" isn't at least a little over-blown by Victorian and modern historians who just couldn't accept that medieval people did indeed have a few basic luxuries! Sounds too much like the whole "leather armor" issue...

Valete,

Matthew
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