Toledo Cathedral: Building Histories in Medieval Castile by Tom NicksonToledo Cathedral: Building Histories in Medieval Castile by Tom Nickson

Toledo Cathedral: Building Histories in Medieval Castile

byTom Nickson

Paperback | October 9, 2017

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Medieval Toledo is famous as a center of Arabic learning and as a home to sizable Jewish, Muslim, and Christian communities. Yet its cathedral—one of the largest, richest, and best preserved in all of Europe—is little known outside Spain. In Toledo Cathedral, Tom Nickson provides the first in-depth analysis of the cathedral’s art and architecture.

Focusing on the early thirteenth to the late fourteenth centuries, he examines over two hundred years of change and consolidation, tracing the growth of the cathedral in the city as well as the evolution of sacred places within the cathedral itself. He goes on to consider this substantial monument in terms of its location in Toledo, Spain’s most cosmopolitan city in the medieval period. Nickson also addresses the importance and symbolic significance of Toledo’s cathedral to the city and the art and architecture of the medieval Iberian Peninsula, showing how it fits in with broader narratives of change in the arts, culture, and ideology of the late medieval period in Spain and in Mediterranean Europe as a whole.

Tom Nickson is Lecturer in Medieval Art and Architecture at The Courtauld Institute of Art, London.Tom Nickson is Lecturer in Medieval Art and Architecture at The Courtauld Institute of Art, London.
Title:Toledo Cathedral: Building Histories in Medieval CastileFormat:PaperbackDimensions:324 pages, 10 × 9 × 1 inPublished:October 9, 2017Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271066466

ISBN - 13:9780271066462


Table of Contents


List of Illustrations




Note on the Text

Part 1


Building Histories

The Historical Trajectory

Toledan Encounters

Chapter 1. The City

The Forma mezquite

Part 2

Chapter 2. The Design

Rodrigo and his Chapter

Building Big



Chapter 3. Rodrigo’s Project

Setting Out

New Altars, Old Altars

The Upper Levels

Building the Cathedral

Building Toledo

Chapter 4. Between Córdoba and Paris

Design and Transmission

Inventing vaults

Chapter 5. The Exemplary Form

Archaeological Evidence

Written Evidence

Stylistic Evidence

Finding the End

Part 3

Chapter 6. The Cathedral of Memory


The Dead

Sacred Topography

The Treasury

Chapter 7. Cults

Mad about Mary

Mary Multiplied

Greedyguts and Avarice

The Cult of St Ildefonso

The San Ildefonso Chapel

St Eugene

The Cross

Chapter 8. Urbs regia

The Royal Chapels

Kings and Crosses

History Embodied

Picturing History

Chapter 9. Cathedral and City

The Puerta del Reloj

The West Façade

The Puerta del Perdón

Chapter 10. Art and Belief

Tenorio and his Painters

Locating the Choir Enclosure

Picturing the Pentateuch

The Choir Enclosure and Image Culture in Late Medieval Castile

Conclusion. Toledo and Beyond






Editorial Reviews

“Few studies of Spanish Gothic architecture address the history and significance of a major cathedral with such mastery as does Tom Nickson’s Toledo Cathedral. Nickson’s meticulous scrutiny of primary texts and material evidence builds a cogent, persuasive construction narrative that illuminates the roots and trajectory of Toledo Cathedral’s distinctive design, while his reconstruction of the late medieval people, objects, and performances that animated this great building sheds unprecedented light on its continuing importance to a city bent on asserting its centrality to Iberian history, politics, and culture. Blending traditional architectural analysis with incisive social history, this impressive, generously illustrated book will reshape our understanding not just of Toledo’s history and meaning but also of the story and significance of Gothic architecture in Spain.”—Pamela Patton, Princeton University