This study sets out to test assumptions about openwork flying buttresses of the type used in Gothic buildings from the mid-thirteenth century. The employment of such units has been associated with the "decadence" of Gothic architecture. Arguing that the deployment of the first such flyers responded to special circumstances at each of the buildings in question, the authors proceed to test the structural performance of the newfangled flyers of the Amiens choir and to correlate the findings with an archaeological investigation of the edifice itself. The openwork flyer is thus placed within a broadly conceived framework of theory and practice.

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