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Response to Review no. 469

I thank Dr Bolgia for her thoughtful and generous review.

My purpose was to write a narrative on religious architecture in the kingdom of Sicily during the first three generations of Angevin rule. In the many books that concern, either specifically or generally, the subject of Italian Gothic architecture, the kingdom rarely receives mention, and the Cathedral of Naples in particular is almost entirely absent from the literature (aside from studies that concern only Naples, such as Arnaldo Venditti’s splendid long essay in Storia di Napoli (1)) I wanted to put southern Italy back on the ‘European map’, and to consider these deeply interesting buildings as part of the broader frame of architecture in Italy and Europe. It seemed fundamental to observe that the construction of Gothic, and even Rayonnont Gothic, is possible (the spirit willing) – cf. Famagusta in Cyprus – but this did not occur in southern Italy. The question was why.

My interest in the social history of architecture thus comes out of a long and deep analysis of the physical facts of building: the materials, the moldings, the composition of walls, the structures, the spaces. It is the result of a desire to explain why buildings look the way they do. And of course to make the fundamental observation that architecture is the result of human agency and practical exigency.

As for the Franciscans as builders, she is quite right: this is a long and complicated subject, and deserved more extended treatment. It would be a book in its own right, one that I hope she may herself perhaps write.


1. Arnaldo Venditti, ‘Urbanistica e architettura angioina’, Storia di Napoli, iii (Naples, 1969), pp. 665–888.