Document Type


Date of Award



Vaults (Architecture), Architecture, Gothic, Gdańsk (Poland)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Art History

First Advisor

Francois Bucher

Second Advisor

Stanley H. Ferber

Third Advisor

Norman F. Cantor




A meaningful investigation of the Danzig Late Gothic sacral architecture can be achieved only by a close look into the changing political and social conditions in the city.

All the medieval churches of Danzig belong to the rare monuments of the Middle Ages whose original plans are preserved in a most remarkable work written by Bartel Ranisch (1648-1701), a man whom we may truly call the first art historian of Danzig. Without Ranisch’s work, the thirteen churches and four monasteries would have been impossible to describe, and their exact plans but a guess of historians.

However, an historical interest in medieval Danzig did not develop until the Romantic period when many neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque buildings were erected in the city, and it was not until 1843 that Theodor Hirsch wrote the first critical evaluation of St. Mary Church.

A turning point for the investigation of Danzig’s past was reached when, at the beginning of the twentieth century, a Polytechnical Institute with a Department of Architecture was opened in that city, thus creating a center for a planned methodical examination of Danzig architecture under the guidance of such professors as E. Keyser, K. Gruber, A. Matthae, and D. Kloeppel.

Subsequently, the examination of the Danzig churches, as well as of their archives, has become more difficult, for following the fire of 1945, only a few churches remained. While some of them have been partially rebuilt, the rest remain burned-out shells; because of their extensive destruction, recent studies have been forced to rely on previously accumulated data.

Although the churches which will be the main object of my examination were originally founded from the thirteenth to the early fifteenth centuries, their vaults date from the Late Gothic period—around 1465 and thereafter. The aim of this dissertation is to study the unity as well as the originality of the Late Gothic vaults of Danzig in the context of the long tradition of Gothic vault development.

The Danzig vaults are not isolated or unique creations. They fit into the general pattern of European Gothic building activity, and are a synthesis of many centers and many ideas. As a basis for their evaluation and their placement into proper perspective, the general development of decorative vaults of Western and Central Europe has to be taken into account. Finally, by using the work of Ranisch of 1695, whose drawings were never fully utilized in the examination of the vaults, the technical aspects of the construction of the Danzig vaults will be explained.


This dissertations is bound in two volumes. Both volumes are combined in the pdf.