A cathedral is a Christian church building, specifically of a denomination with an episcopal hierarchy, such as the Anglican, Catholic and some Lutheran churches, which serves as the central church of a diocese, and thus as a bishop's seat. As cathedrals are often particularly impressive edifices, the term is sometimes also used wrongly as a designation for any large church. The term "Gothic" is nothing more than high medieval northern European art, especially architecture.
It was early decreed that the cathedral of a bishop was not to be placed in the church of a village, but only in that of a city. This was not difficult on the continent of Europe, where towns were numerous and cities were the natural centers from which Christianity was diffused among the surrounding districts. In the British Isles, however, towns were few, and, instead of exercising jurisdiction over definite areas, many of the bishops were bishops of tribes or peoples, as the bishops of the south Saxons, the West Saxons, the Somersætas, etc. The cathedral of such a bishop was often migratory.
The history of the body of clergy attached to the cathedral church is obscure, and as in each case local considerations affected its development, all that can be attempted is to give a general outline of the main features which were more or less common to all. Originally the bishop and cathedral clergy formed a kind of religious community, which, in no true sense a monastery, was nevertheless often called a monasterium. The word did not have the restricted meaning which it afterwards acquired. Hence the apparent anomaly that churches like York Minster and Lincoln Cathedral, which never had any monks attached to them, have inherited the name of minster or monastery. In these early communities the clergy often lived apart in their own dwellings, and were not infrequently married. In the 8th century, however, Chrodegang, bishop of Metz (743-766), compiled a code of rules for the clergy of the cathedral churches, which, though widely accepted in Germany and other parts of the continent, gained little acceptance in England.