> Skip to content
  • Published: 31 August 2011
  • ISBN: 9781446499757
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 336

Universe of Stone

Chartres Cathedral and the Triumph of the Medieval Mind

Award-winning author Philip Ball illuminates the medieval mind through a study of the greatest architectural masterpiece of the period, Chartres Cathedral.

In the twelfth century, Christians in Europe began to build a completely new kind of church - soaring, spacious monuments flooded with light from immense windows. These were the first Gothic churches, the crowning example of which was the cathedral of Chartres: a revolution in thought embodied in stone and glass, and a bridge between the ancient and modern worlds.

In Universe of Stone, Philip Ball explains the genesis and development of the Gothic style. He argues that it signified a profound change in the social, intellectual and theological climate of Western Christendom. As the church represented nothing less than a vision of heaven on earth, this shift in architectural style marked the beginning of the argument between faith and reason which continues today, and of a scientific view of the world that threatened to dispense with God altogether.

  • Published: 31 August 2011
  • ISBN: 9781446499757
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 336

About the author

Philip Ball

Philip Ball writes regularly in the scientific and popular media and worked for many years as an editor for physical sciences at Nature. His books cover a wide range of scientific and cultural phenomena, and include Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads To Another (winner of the 2005 Aventis Prize for Science Books), The Music Instinct, Curiosity: How Science Became Interested in Everything,Serving The Reich: The Struggle for the Soul of Science Under Hitler and Invisible: The History of the Unseen from Plato to Particle Physics.

Also by Philip Ball

See all

Praise for Universe of Stone

(Ball) has a knack for translating difficult concepts into lucid prose: he offers a refreshingly sceptical guided tour of Chartres Cathedral and the intellectual contents that helped produce it

Daily Telegraph

Lucid and resplendent...a model of explanatory writing

John Carey, Sunday Times

Consistently and healthily sceptical ... an intelligent, enjoyable and well-produced book which deserves a wide audience

Times Literary Supplement

An original and imaginative synthesis of art history and history of science

History Today

lucid, resplendent book

The Times


Katie Owen, Sunday Telegraph

richly rewarding book


lively biographical of Chartres...illuminating sections...masterpiece. The erudition with which Ball imparts his knowledge does nothing to diminish his sense of wonder

William Skidelsky, Observer

Philip Ball has done something extraordinary here: he's got me interested in cathedrals

William Leith, Evening Standard

Thoughtfully designed book.

Nicholas Hamilton, Irish Times

Related titles