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New structures in the style included Chartres Cathedral (begun 1200); Bourges Cathedral (1195 to 1230), Reims Cathedral (1211–1275), and Amiens Cathedral (begun 1250); At Chartres, the use of the flying buttresses allowed the elimination of the tribune level, which allowed much higher arcades and nave, and larger windows.The early type of rib vault used of Saint Denis and Notre Dame, with six parts, was modified to four parts, making it simpler and stronger.

The first important example is generally considered to be the Basilica of Saint-Denis, near Paris, whose choir was reconstructed with Gothic rib vaults and large stained glass windows between 11.At Amiens, the windows of the nave were made larger, and an additional row of clear glass windows (the claire-voie) flooded the interior with light.The new structural technologies allowed the enlargement of the transepts and of the choirs at the east end of the cathedrals, creating the space for a ring of well-lit chapels.The term "Gothic architecture" originated in the 16th century and was originally very negative, suggesting something barbaric.Giorgio Vasari used the term "barbarous German style" in his 1550 Lives of the Artists to describe what is now considered the Gothic style, and in the introduction to the Lives he attributed various architectural features to "the Goths" whom he held responsible for destroying the ancient buildings after they conquered Rome, and erecting new ones in this style.

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The new style was also copied outside the Kingdom of France in the Duchy of Normandy.