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Gothic Architecture

Of all the styles of architecture, the Gothic is that which is most intimately connected with the history of Freemasonry, having been the system peculiarly practiced by the Freemasons of the Middle Ages.

To what country or people it owes its origin has never been satisfactorily determined; although it has generally been conjectured that it was of Arabic or Saracenic extraction, and that it was introduced into Europe by persons returning from the Crusades. The Christians who had been in the Holy Wars received there an idea of the Saracenic works, which they imitated on their return to the West, and refined on them as they proceeded in the building of churches.

The Italians, Germans, French, and Flemings, with Greek refugees, united in a fraternity of architects and ranged from country to country, and erected buildings according to the Gothic style, which they had learned during their visits to the East, and whose fundamental principles they improved by the addition of other details derived from their own architectural taste and judgment. Hence Sir Christopher Wren thinks that this style of the Medieval Freemasons should be rather called the Saracenic than the Gothic. This style, which was distinguished by its pointed arches, and especially by the perpendicularly of its lines, from the rounded arch and horizontal lines of previous styles, was altogether in the hands of those architects who were known, from the tenth to the sixteenth centuries, as Freemasons, and who kept their system of building as a secret, and thus obtained an entire monopoly of both domestic and ecclesiastical architecture. At length, when the gilds or fraternities of Freemasons, "who alone," says Hope, "held the secrets of Gothic art," were dissolved, the style itself was lost, and was succeeded by what Paley says (Manual of Gothic Architecture, page 15) was "a worse than brazen era of architecture" (see Traveling Freemasons).

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