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Wharton, Edith, 1862-1937; Codman, Ogden / The decoration of houses
(1898)

I: The historical tradition,   pp. [1]-16


Page 3

             The Historical Tradition                            3
where the inmates, pent up against attack, awaited the signal
of the watchman who, from his platform or ~chauguette, gave
warning of assault; the ponderous doors, oak-ribbed and metal-
studded, with doorways often narrowed to prevent entrance of
two abreast, and so low that the incomer had to bend his head;
the windows that were mere openings or slits, narrow and high,
far out of the assailants' reach, and piercing the walls without
regard to symmetry - not, as Ruskin would have ~us believe, be-
cause irregularity was thought artistic, but because the medi~val
architect, trained to the uses of necessity, knew that he must de-
sign openings that should afford no passage to the besiegers'
arrows, no clue to what was going on inside the keep.          But
to the reader familiar with Viollet-le-Duc, or with any of the
many excellent works on English domestic architecture, further
details will seem superfluous.  It is necessary, however, to point
out that long after the conditions of life in Europe had changed,
houses retained many features of the feudal period.  The survival
of obsolete customs which makes the study of sociology so in-
teresting, has its parallel in the history of architecture.  In the
feudal countries especially, where the conflict between the great
nobles and the king was of such long duration that civilization
spread very slowly, architecture was proportionately slow to give
up many of its feud~l characteristics.  In Italy, on the contrary,
where one city after another succumbed to some accomplished
condottiere who between his campaigns read Virgil and collected
antique marbles, the rugged little republics were soon converted
into brilliant courts where, life being relatively secure, social
intercourse rapidly developed.  This change of conditions brought
with it the paved street and square, the large-windowed palaces
with their great court-yards and stately open staircases, and the


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