King s College Chapel
The architectural historian G. E. Kidder Smith correctly identifies Kings College Chapel as one of the great rooms in architecture. Initiated by King Henry VI in July 1446, it was not completed until 1537. Even then, it was acknowledged by many to be one of Europes finest late-medieval buildings. It was an architectural achievement in that it epitomized the English High Gothic, its filigreed stone frame, large windows, and exquisite fan vaulting all demonstrating the pinnacle of structural refinement that had taken almost 400 years to achieve.
Henry VI 1421 1471, described as a a pious and studious recluse incapable of governing, succeeded his father Henry V as king of England in 1422. Just a month or so after the infant monarch ascended the English throne, he was also proclaimed king of France. Interrupted by the Wars of the Roses in 1461, his reign resumed in 1470, only to be cut short by his murder the following May. When he reached the age of sixteen he was deemed old enough to rule for himself and, despite a reputedly rebellious youth, by the time he was nineteen Henry had grown to be religious. Neglecting matters of government, he turned his attention to the establishment of two educational foundations: Eton College near Windsor 1440 1441 and the Royal College of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Nicholas of Canterbury now known as Kings College at Cambridge University 1441 provided for seventy scholars drawn from Eton. Henry set out detailed instructions for both colleges and at both his primary concern was for the construction of a chapel. One writer has obsequiously observed that the kings selfless piety accounts for the form of the chapel at Kings, which was conceived