The term Gothic is derived from Goths, a Germanic people who invaded southern Europe at the time of the decline of the Roman Empire. The term was first employed by Italians to describe northern art, but is now widely applied to the architecture and other art forms created in northern Europe between approximately the12th and16th centuries.

Gothic architecture is characterised by the pointed arch, but also in later forms by the ogival arch, by increasingly perpendicular and attenuated supporting members, and by tracery with flowing and intersecting lines. In the figurative arts an elongation of the figure and a flowing linear treatment of drapery forms and of anatomy were characteristic.

See the entry for International Gothic.