Between 1220 and 1300, the Dominican Order developed an extensive but little-known body of constitutional legislation governing the construction and decoration of its churches and conventual buildings. During this period, the original constitution on architecture was amended on five separate occasions in order to include specific restrictions on height and vaulting, as well as a ban on all types of architectural ornamentation. Analysis of the constitutions serves not only to identify the shifting artistic concerns of the friars, but also the various legal mechanisms by which they sought to enforce their concept of poverty in architecture. In addition to this constitutional legislation, the general and provincial chapters also passed numerous acts dealing both directly and indirectly with architecture and its ornamentation. Some of these led to the adoption, in 1263, of a statute prohibiting most forms of architectural decoration. However, the principal aim of the capitular legislation was to ensure observance of the constitutions by warning frairs of infractions, forcing adherence to the rules, and punishing all who disobeyed.
- Copyright 1987 The Society of Architectural Historians