The origins of Gothic Architecture are credited to Abbot Suger and the renovation of The Cathedral Basilica of Saint-Denis. The “Church” was largely defined by the Gothic Style during the Middle Ages. This style was an amalgamation of earlier styles, and prior to being recognized as “Gothic”, was not necessarily popular nor was it not part of the original program of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint-Denis. This soon changed and it became commonplace for cathedrals to utilize pointed arches, rose windows, and flying buttresses during their conception- all of which were incredibly distinctive to and indicative of the Gothic style of architecture. The renovation of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint-Denis was Suger’s physical expression of his
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It is believed that as a young boy Suger was given to the monastery by his father for education at the priory of Saint-Denis de l'Estrée. Because Suger was raised at the church for the majority of his life, he saw himself as the adopted child of the church and therefore felt an unwavering commitment to the Church itself. During his time at the abbey, an Abbot by the name of Abbot Adam would often send Suger to various missions to Rome. In March 1122, during such missions, Suger was elected Abbot of Saint-Denis. Upon election to the role of Abbot, he became responsible for giving aid and counsel to the King of France, King Louis VI (commonly referred to as King Louis Le Gros or The Fat, for his obesity). Because of the association that the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Denis had with royalty, the role of Abbot provided Suger with an incredible amount of political influence. The Cathedral Basilica itself had become decrepit, and was in need of restoration. It was here that Abbot Suger made his mark.
Little was actually recorded of the architecture of the church prior to the renovation to the Cathedral Basilica of Saint-Denis, but it is believed that the original structure was constructed sometime around 475 followed by two, possibly three distinct iterations on the same site based on Professor Sumner McKnight Crosby’s findings. (citationpage 6 early gothic