~ A Better Idea of Late Gothic Architecture ~
Santa Croce, Florence : A Fanciscan Preaching Church
Santa Croce has a timber-roofed nave of seven bays. A polygonal apse is separated from the nave by a triumphal arch something like those found in Early Christian basilicas of the fourth to sixth centuries . This form, like some of the Romanesque portals ,derives ultimatelyfrom the monumental triumphal arches of ancient Rome. Here at Santa Croce, the triumphal arch is pointed and is pierced by two pointed windows.
The structure is almost a hall church , with only slender octagonal piers separating nave from aisles. The main arcade is tall, and te clerestory is rather small , so that the interior gives an impression of loftiness and openness , but not of the verticality characteristic of French versions of the Gothic. This design was planned deliberately , so as to create a low , broad interior with relatively few internal obstructions. The advantage to effective preaching is obvious : large crowds are able to see and hear easily . The relatively austere aspect of the itnerior is in keeping with the Franciscan tradition of poverty and in strong contrast to the Late Gothic style that flourished in fourteenth-century England.