The Gothic Maze. The Middle Ages and the Churches of Denmark: The Gothic Maze focuses on the vigorous building activity among the 2,692 parish churches in medieval Denmark in the time up to the Reformation: Was this an expression of economic prosperity, increased piety, or a church in crises? Can the development be described as a transition from Romanesque to Gothic? How did the churches change? What was the economic background? Who were the benefactors? What were their motives? And what can the changes teach us about the Middle Ages as an epoch? The Gothic Maze studies the concepts of church architecture, its explanations, sources, and contexts. The dissertation emphasizes that concepts as "the Middle Ages", "Romanesque", and "Gothic" are nothing but metaphors created in modern times. The traditional explanations, which refer to currents of fashion and changes in the economic cycle, are insufficient for an understanding of the culmination of building activity in the fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries. Church construction and its context are studied in two of the juridical districts known as "härader" (hundres) in Scania. Experience from this area is used to assist in the interpretation of church-building throughout medieval Denmark. In addition, the building activity is examined in relation to economic data and details of the benefactors in selected areas where the sources permit closer study. The intensive period of building shortly before the Reformation is not interpreted as a direct reflection of increased prosperity or piety, but as the use of material symbols in a time of social stress. The church was threatened by a steadily growing opposition between religious ideals and the new economic realities. Gothicization is a sign of crisis.