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Gothic art was often typological in nature, reflecting a belief that the events of the Old Testament pre-figured those of the New, and that this was indeed their main significance.Old and New Testament scenes were shown side by side in works like the Speculum Humanae Salvationis, and the decoration of churches.

Monastic orders, especially the Cistercians and the Carthusians, were important builders who disseminated the style and developed distinctive variants of it across Europe.Raphael claimed that the pointed arches of northern architecture were an echo of the primitive huts the Germanic forest dwellers formed by bending trees together - a myth which would resurface much later in a more positive sense in the writings of the German Romantic movement."Gothic art" was strongly criticized by French authors such as Boileau, La Bruyère, Rousseau, before becoming a recognized form of art, and the wording becoming fixed.Renaissance authors believed that the Sack of Rome by the Gothic tribes in 410 had triggered the demise of the Classical world and all the values they held dear.In the 15th century, various Italian architects and writers complained that the new 'barbarian' styles filtering down from north of the Alps posed a similar threat to the classical revival promoted by the early Renaissance.