Aim of this chapter is the study of statics of Gothic cathedrals, splendid achievements of engineering, and architecture of the Middle Age. Some brief notes give information about times and places of their construction and an introductory analysis describes the structural elements constituting their stone skeleton. Two main static problems are then discussed: evaluation of the wind strength of the whole cathedral structure and analysis of the slender piers instability. The critical wind velocity for the cathedral of Amiens is determined by direct application of the Limit Analysis, via kinematical approach.

The failure occurred at the cathedral of Beauvais in the past 1284 is studied in the second part of the chapter. The failure is generally attributed to the effects of foundations settlements. The chapter, conversely, inquires the possibility that the collapse could be due to piers instability, due to their exceptional height and slenderness. The question is examined in deep, analyzing, in particular, the effects of creep of the mortars on the piers strength. It is shown that the instability of the slender masonry piers, with their axial loadings eccentricities and the mortars creep effects, could be considered really responsible of the 1284 failure.


Leeward Side Wind Pressure Windward Side Internal Edge Absolute Center 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil EngineeringUniversity of Rome TorvergataRomaItaly

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