The History of Stained Glass Windows

Updated April 17, 2017

Stained glass is made by adding coloured metallic salts during its manufacture. The process of creating these windows involves arranging pieces of the coloured glass inside a frame to form a design, which is fastened together with strips of lead. Stained glass windows are a global fascination and have adorned churches and other establishments for centuries.

Early History

Stained glass window use began with church building. In the 10th century, French and German churches featured biblical windows and English churches featured decorative windows.


Around 1100 AD, a monk named Theophilus wrote a "how to" that described stained glass window construction and techniques.

The Gothic Age

The Gothic age ushered in fantastic stained glass window techniques that graced the great cathedrals of Europe with works of art.

The Renaissance

During the Renaissance, stained glass suffered a 300 year period in which the form became less artistic and more garish with the use of thick, heavy paint.

The 1800s

In the mid-1800s, interest in Gothic architecture resurrected in England when art historians rediscovered stained glass techniques of medieval times.

Contemporary Age

After the Second World War the flowering abstract and expressionist movements led to stained glass church windows that are reminiscent of the artistically beautiful Gothic period.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Stacy Taylor has been an Alaska-based freelance writer for 25 years. Her expertise includes health, childhood development and disabilities, photography, history and the arts. Her articles have appeared in "Events Quarterly" magazine,, and She also writes web content for private clients. Her professional experience includes writing, photography, book cover design, publishing, construction and social services.