Kind of funny: the ‘Renaissance’ is the historical period in Europe following the Middle Ages. It’s a French word meaning ‘rebirth.’ This cultural rebirth was of everything Roman: frescoes, sculpture, poetry, the sciences, and architecture. Promoters of the Renaissance thought to make their new movement look good by making the preceding centuries look bad. The Mediæval period got dubbed ‘the Dark Ages.’
Renaissance architects started using Roman arches again (instead of the pointed Gothic arch). They liked the old southern Roman basilicas and disliked the northern mediæval style of architecture and calligraphy. Those fancy-pants Renaissance promoters thought the northern style looked barbaric, so they called it by the name of the northerners’ barbarian ancestors—Gothic. The insult stuck. We still use ‘Gothic’ today to describe the buildings and the typeface.
Apologies to Robert E. Howard
Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.