Romanesque architecture

Romanesque architecture

Overview



Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 Europe characterised by semi-circular arch
Arch
An arch is a structure that spans a space and supports a load. Arches appeared as early as the 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamian brick architecture and their systematic use started with the Ancient Romans who were the first to apply the technique to a wide range of structures.-Technical aspects:The...

es. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

, characterised by pointed arches. Examples of Romanesque architecture can be found across the continent, making it the first pan-European architectural style since Imperial Roman Architecture
Roman architecture
Ancient Roman architecture adopted certain aspects of Ancient Greek architecture, creating a new architectural style. The Romans were indebted to their Etruscan neighbors and forefathers who supplied them with a wealth of knowledge essential for future architectural solutions, such as hydraulics...

.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Romanesque architecture'
Start a new discussion about 'Romanesque architecture'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Recent Discussions
Encyclopedia



Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 Europe characterised by semi-circular arch
Arch
An arch is a structure that spans a space and supports a load. Arches appeared as early as the 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamian brick architecture and their systematic use started with the Ancient Romans who were the first to apply the technique to a wide range of structures.-Technical aspects:The...

es. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

, characterised by pointed arches. Examples of Romanesque architecture can be found across the continent, making it the first pan-European architectural style since Imperial Roman Architecture
Roman architecture
Ancient Roman architecture adopted certain aspects of Ancient Greek architecture, creating a new architectural style. The Romans were indebted to their Etruscan neighbors and forefathers who supplied them with a wealth of knowledge essential for future architectural solutions, such as hydraulics...

. The Romanesque style in England is traditionally referred to as Norman architecture
Norman architecture
About|Romanesque architecture, primarily English|other buildings in Normandy|Architecture of Normandy.File:Durham Cathedral. Nave by James Valentine c.1890.jpg|thumb|200px|The nave of Durham Cathedral demonstrates the characteristic round arched style, though use of shallow pointed arches above the...

.

Combining features of Western Roman and Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 buildings, Romanesque architecture is known by its massive quality, its thick walls, round arches, sturdy pier
Pier (architecture)
In architecture, a pier is an upright support for a superstructure, such as an arch or bridge. Sections of wall between openings function as piers. The simplest cross section of the pier is square, or rectangular, although other shapes are also common, such as the richly articulated piers of Donato...

s, groin vaults, large towers and decorative arcading. Each building has clearly defined forms and they are frequently of very regular, symmetrical plan so that the overall appearance is one of simplicity when compared with the Gothic buildings that were to follow. The style can be identified right across Europe, despite regional characteristics and different materials.

Many castle
Castle
A castle is a type of fortified structure built in Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages by European nobility. Scholars debate the scope of the word castle, but usually consider it to be the private fortified residence of a lord or noble...

s were built during this period, but they are greatly outnumbered by churches. The most significant are the great abbey churches, many of which are still standing, more or less complete and frequently in use. The enormous quantity of churches built in the Romanesque period was succeeded by the still busier period of Gothic architecture, which partly or entirely rebuilt most Romanesque churches in prosperous areas like England. The largest groups of Romanesque survivors are in areas that were less prosperous in subsequent periods, including parts of Southern France and Northern Spain. Survivals of unfortified Romanesque secular houses and palaces are far rarer, but these used and adapted the features found in church buildings, on a domestic scale.

Definition


According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word "Romanesque", meaning "descended from Roman", was first used in English to designate what are now called Romance languages
Romance languages
The Romance languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family, more precisely of the Italic languages subfamily, comprising all the languages that descend from Vulgar Latin, the language of ancient Rome...

 (first cited 1715). Architecturally, the term was first applied in French by the archaeologist Charles de Gerville
Charles-Alexis-Adrien Duhérissier de Gerville
Charles-Alexis-Adrien Duhérissier de Gerville was a scholarly French antiquarian, historian and naturalist, from an aristocratic family of Normandy...

 or his associate Arcisse de Caumont, in 1818, to describe Western European architecture from the 5th to the 13th centuries, at a time when the actual dates of many of the buildings so described had not been ascertained. The first use in a published work is in William Gunn's An Inquiry into the Origin and Influence of Gothic Architecture (London 1819). The word was used to describe the style which was identifiably Medieval and prefigured the Gothic, yet maintained the rounded Roman arch and thus appeared to be a continuation of the Roman tradition of building.

The term is now used for the more restricted period from the late 10th to the 12th century. The term "Pre-romanesque" is sometimes applied to architecture in Germany of the Carolingian
Carolingian architecture
Carolingian architecture is the style of north European Pre-Romanesque architecture belonging to the period of the Carolingian Renaissance of the late 8th and 9th centuries, when the Carolingian family dominated west European politics...

 and Ottonian
Ottonian architecture
Ottonian Architecture is an architectural style which evolved during the reign of Emperor Otto the Great . The style was found in Germany and lasted from the mid 10th century until the mid 11th century....

 periods and Visigothic, Mozarab and Asturian constructions between the 8th and the 10th centuries in the Iberian Peninsula while "First Romanesque
First Romanesque
First Romanesque is the name due to Josep Puig i Cadafalch to refer to the Romanesque art developed in Catalonia since the late 10th century....

" is applied to buildings in north of Italy and Spain and parts of France that have Romanesque features but pre-date the influence of the monastery of Cluny
Cluny Abbey
Cluny Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in Cluny, Saône-et-Loire, France. It was built in the Romanesque style, with three churches built in succession from the 10th to the early 12th centuries....

.

Origins


Romanesque architecture was the first distinctive style to spread across Europe since the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

. Despite the impression of 19th century Art Historians that Romanesque architecture was a continuation of the Roman, in fact, Roman building techniques
Roman architecture
Ancient Roman architecture adopted certain aspects of Ancient Greek architecture, creating a new architectural style. The Romans were indebted to their Etruscan neighbors and forefathers who supplied them with a wealth of knowledge essential for future architectural solutions, such as hydraulics...

 in brick and stone were largely lost in most parts of Europe, and in the more northern countries had never been adopted except for official buildings, while in Scandinavia they were unknown. There was little continuity, even in Rome, where several great Constantinian
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

 basilica
Basilica
The Latin word basilica , was originally used to describe a Roman public building, usually located in the forum of a Roman town. Public basilicas began to appear in Hellenistic cities in the 2nd century BC.The term was also applied to buildings used for religious purposes...

s continued to stand as an inspiration to later builders. It was not the buildings of ancient Rome, but the 6th century octagonal Byzantine Basilica of San Vitale
Basilica of San Vitale
The Church of San Vitale — styled an "ecclesiastical basilica" in the Roman Catholic Church, though it is not of architectural basilica form — is a church in Ravenna, Italy, one of the most important examples of early Christian Byzantine Art and architecture in western Europe...

 in Ravenna
Ravenna
Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and the second largest comune in Italy by land area, although, at , it is little more than half the size of the largest comune, Rome...

 which was to inspire the greatest building of the Dark Ages in Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

, the Emperor Charlemagne's Palatine Chapel, Aachen, Germany, built around the year AD 800.

Dating shortly after the Palatine Chapel is a remarkable 9th century Swiss manuscript known as the Plan of Saint Gall
Plan of Saint Gall
The Plan of Saint Gall is a famous medieval architectural drawing of a monastic compound dating from the early 9th century. It is preserved in the Stiftsbibliothek Sankt Gallen, Ms 1092....

 and showing a very detailed plan of a monastic complex, with all its various monastic buildings and their functions labelled. The largest building is the church, the plan of which is distinctly Germanic, having an apse at both ends, an arrangement which is not generally seen elsewhere. Another feature of the church is its regular proportion, the square plan of the crossing tower providing a module for the rest of the plan. These features can both be seen at the Proto-Romanesque St. Michael's Church, Hildesheim
St. Michael's Church, Hildesheim
The Church of St. Michael in Hildesheim, Germany, is an early-Romanesque church. It has been on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list since 1985.-History:...

, 1001–1030.

Architecture of a Romanesque style also developed simultaneously in the north of Italy, parts of France and in the Iberian Peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

 in the 10th century and prior to the later influence of the Abbey of Cluny. The style, sometimes called "First Romanesque
First Romanesque
First Romanesque is the name due to Josep Puig i Cadafalch to refer to the Romanesque art developed in Catalonia since the late 10th century....

" or "Lombard Romanesque", is characterised by thick walls, lack of sculpture and the presence of rhythmic ornamental arches known as a Lombard band
Lombard band
A Lombard band is a decorative blind arcade, usually exterior, often used during the Romanesque and Gothic periods of architecture.Lombard bands are believed to have been first used during the First Romanesque Period of the early 11th Century. At that time, they were the most common architectural...

.

Politics


Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 was crowned by the Pope in St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica
The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter , officially known in Italian as ' and commonly known as Saint Peter's Basilica, is a Late Renaissance church located within the Vatican City. Saint Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world...

 on Christmas Day in the year AD 800, with an aim to re-establishing the old Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

. Charlemagne's political successors continued to rule much of Europe, with a gradual emergence of the separate political states which were eventually to become welded into nations, either by allegiance or defeat, the Kingdom of Germany
Kingdom of Germany
The Kingdom of Germany developed out of the eastern half of the former Carolingian Empire....

 giving rise to the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

. The invasion of England by William, Duke of Normandy, in 1066, saw the building of both castles and churches which reinforced the Norman presence. Several significant churches that were built at this time were founded by rulers as seats of temporal and religious power, or places of coronation
Coronation
A coronation is a ceremony marking the formal investiture of a monarch and/or their consort with regal power, usually involving the placement of a crown upon their head and the presentation of other items of regalia...

 and burial
Burial
Burial is the act of placing a person or object into the ground. This is accomplished by excavating a pit or trench, placing an object in it, and covering it over.-History:...

. These include the Abbaye-Saint-Denis, Speyer Cathedral
Speyer Cathedral
The Speyer Cathedral, officially the Imperial Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption and St Stephen, in Latin: Domus sanctae Mariae Spirae in Speyer, Germany, is the seat of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Speyer and is suffragan to the Archdiocese of Bamberg. The cathedral, which is dedicated to St...

 and Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, popularly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English,...

 (where little of the Norman church now remains).

At a time when the remaining architectural structures of the Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

 were falling into decay and much of its learning and technology lost, the building of masonry domes and the carving of decorative architectural details continued unabated, though greatly evolved in style since the fall of Rome, in the enduring Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

. The domed churches of Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 and Eastern Europe were to greatly affect the architecture of certain towns, particularly through trade and through the Crusades
Crusades
The Crusades were a series of religious wars, blessed by the Pope and the Catholic Church with the main goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem...

. The most notable single building which demonstrates this is St Mark's Basilica
St Mark's Basilica
The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, northern Italy. It is the most famous of the city's churches and one of the best known examples of Byzantine architecture...

, Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 but there are many lesser known examples, particularly in France, such as the church of Saint-Front
Périgueux Cathedral
Périgueux Cathedral may refer either to the present Roman Catholic cathedral in the city of Périgueux, France, dedicated to Saint Front , which has been the cathedral since 1669, or to its predecessor, still in operation as a church, dedicated to Saint Stephen .The cathedral, in either...

, Périgueux
Périgueux
Périgueux is a commune in the Dordogne department in Aquitaine in southwestern France.Périgueux is the prefecture of the department and the capital of the region...

 and Angoulême Cathedral.

Much of Europe was affected by feudalism
Feudalism
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

 in which peasants held tenure from local rulers over the land that they farmed in exchange for military service
Military service
Military service, in its simplest sense, is service by an individual or group in an army or other militia, whether as a chosen job or as a result of an involuntary draft . Some nations require a specific amount of military service from every citizen...

. The result of this was that they could be called upon, not only for local and regional spats, but to follow their lord to travel across Europe to the Crusades, if they were required to do so. The Crusades
Crusades
The Crusades were a series of religious wars, blessed by the Pope and the Catholic Church with the main goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem...

, 1095–1270, brought about a very large movement of people and, with them, ideas and trade skills, particularly those involved in the building of fortifications and the metal working needed for the provision of arms, which was also applied to the fitting and decoration of buildings. The continual movement of people, rulers, nobles, bishops, abbots, craftsmen and peasants, was an important factor in creating a homogeneity in building methods and a recognizable Romanesque style, despite regional differences.

Life became generally less secure after the Carolingian period. This resulted in the building of castles at strategic points, many of them being constructed as strongholds of the Normans, descendants of the Vikings who invaded northern France in 911. Political struggles also resulted in the fortification of many towns, or the rebuilding and strengthening of walls that remained from the Roman period. One of the most notable surviving fortifications is that of the city of Carcassonne
Carcassonne
Carcassonne is a fortified French town in the Aude department, of which it is the prefecture, in the former province of Languedoc.It is divided into the fortified Cité de Carcassonne and the more expansive lower city, the ville basse. Carcassone was founded by the Visigoths in the fifth century,...

. The enclosure of towns brought about a lack of living space within the walls, and resulted in a style of town house that was tall and narrow, often surrounding communal courtyards, as at San Gimignano
San Gimignano
San Gimignano is a small walled medieval hill town in the province of Siena, Tuscany, north-central Italy. It is mainly famous for its medieval architecture, especially its towers, which may be seen from several kilometres outside the town....

 in Tuscany
Tuscany
Tuscany is a region in Italy. It has an area of about 23,000 square kilometres and a population of about 3.75 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence ....

.

In Germany, the Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

s built a number of residences, fortified, but essentially palaces rather than castles, at strategic points and on trade routes. The Imperial Palace of Goslar
Goslar
Goslar is a historic town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is the administrative centre of the district of Goslar and located on the northwestern slopes of the Harz mountain range. The Old Town of Goslar and the Mines of Rammelsberg are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.-Geography:Goslar is situated at the...

 (heavily restored in the 19th century) was built in the early 11th century by Otto III and Henry III, while the ruined Palace at Gelnhausen
Gelnhausen
Gelnhausen is a town and the capital of the Main-Kinzig-Kreis, in Hesse, Germany. It is located approx. 40 kilometers east of Frankfurt am Main, between the Vogelsberg mountains and the Spessart range at the river Kinzig...

 was received by Frederick Barbarossa prior to 1170. The movement of people and armies also brought about the building of bridges, some of which have survived, including the 12 century bridge at Besalú
Besalú
Besalú is a town in the comarca of Garrotxa, in Catalonia, Spain.The town's importance was greater in the early Middle Ages, as capital of the county of Besalú, whose territory was roughly the same size as the current comarca of Garrotxa but sometime extended as far as Corbières, Aude, in France....

, Catalonia
Catalonia
Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, with the official status of a "nationality" of Spain. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Its capital and largest city is Barcelona. Catalonia covers an area of 32,114 km² and has an...

, the 11th century Puente de la Reina, Navarre
Navarre
Navarre , officially the Chartered Community of Navarre is an autonomous community in northern Spain, bordering the Basque Country, La Rioja, and Aragon in Spain and Aquitaine in France...

 and the Pont-Saint-Bénézet, Avignon
Avignon
Avignon is a French commune in southeastern France in the départment of the Vaucluse bordered by the left bank of the Rhône river. Of the 94,787 inhabitants of the city on 1 January 2010, 12 000 live in the ancient town centre surrounded by its medieval ramparts.Often referred to as the...

.

Religion


Across Europe, the late 11th and 12th "centuries" saw an unprecedented growth in the number of churches. A great number of these buildings, both large and small, remain, some almost intact and in others altered almost beyond recognition in later centuries. They include many very well known churches such as Santa Maria in Cosmedin
Santa Maria in Cosmedin
The Basilica of Saint Mary in Cosmedin is a minor basilica church in Rome, Italy. It is located in the rione of Ripa.- History :The church was built in the 8th century during the Byzantine Papacy over the remains of the Templum Herculis Pompeiani in the Forum Boarium and of the Statio annonae, one...

 in Rome, the Baptistery in Florence and San Zeno Maggiore in Verona. In France, the famous abbeys of Aux Dames and Les Hommes at Caen and Mont Saint-Michel
Mont Saint-Michel
Mont Saint-Michel is a rocky tidal island and a commune in Normandy, France. It is located approximately one kilometre off the country's north-western coast, at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches...

 date from this period, as well as the abbeys of the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela is the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia, Spain.The city's Cathedral is the destination today, as it has been throughout history, of the important 9th century medieval pilgrimage route, the Way of St. James...

. Many cathedrals owe their foundation to this date, with others beginning as abbey churches, and later becoming cathedrals. In England, of the cathedrals of ancient foundation, all were begun in this period with the exception of Salisbury, where the monks relocated from the Norman church at Old Sarum
Old Sarum
Old Sarum is the site of the earliest settlement of Salisbury, in England. The site contains evidence of human habitation as early as 3000 BC. Old Sarum is mentioned in some of the earliest records in the country...

, and several, such as Canterbury
Canterbury
Canterbury is a historic English cathedral city, which lies at the heart of the City of Canterbury, a district of Kent in South East England. It lies on the River Stour....

 which were rebuilt on the site of Saxon churches. In Spain, the most famous church of the period is Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela is the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia, Spain.The city's Cathedral is the destination today, as it has been throughout history, of the important 9th century medieval pilgrimage route, the Way of St. James...

. In Germany, the Rhine and its tributaries were the location of many Romanesque abbeys, notably Mainz
Mainz Cathedral
Mainz Cathedral or St. Martin's Cathedral is located near the historical center and pedestrianized market square of the city of Mainz, Germany...

, Worms
Worms Cathedral
Cathedral of St Peter is a church in Worms, southern Germany. It was the seat of the Catholic Prince-Bishopric of Worms until its extinction in 1800.It is a basilica with four round towers, two large domes, and a choir at each end...

, Speyer
Speyer Cathedral
The Speyer Cathedral, officially the Imperial Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption and St Stephen, in Latin: Domus sanctae Mariae Spirae in Speyer, Germany, is the seat of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Speyer and is suffragan to the Archdiocese of Bamberg. The cathedral, which is dedicated to St...

 and Bamberg
Bamberg Cathedral
The Bamberg Cathedral is a church in Bamberg, Germany, completed in the 13th century. The cathedral is under the administration of the Roman Catholic Church and is the seat of the Archbishop of Bamberg....

. In Cologne
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

, then the largest city north of the Alps, a very important group of large city churches survives largely intact. As monasticism spread across Europe, Romanesque churches sprang up in Scotland, Scandinavia, Poland, Hungary, Sicily, Serbia and Tunisia. Several important Romanesque churches were built in the Crusader kingdoms.

Monasticism


The system of monasticism in which the religious become members of an order, with common ties and a common rule, living in a mutually dependent community, rather than as a group of hermits living in proximity but essentially separate, was established by the monk Benedict
Benedict of Nursia
Saint Benedict of Nursia is a Christian saint, honored by the Roman Catholic Church as the patron saint of Europe and students.Benedict founded twelve communities for monks at Subiaco, about to the east of Rome, before moving to Monte Cassino in the mountains of southern Italy. There is no...

 in the 6th century. The Benedictine Monasteries spread from Italy throughout Europe, being always by far the most numerous in England. They were followed by the Cluniac order, the Cistercians, Carthusian
Carthusian
The Carthusian Order, also called the Order of St. Bruno, is a Roman Catholic religious order of enclosed monastics. The order was founded by Saint Bruno of Cologne in 1084 and includes both monks and nuns...

s and Augustinian Canons. In association with the Crusades
Crusades
The Crusades were a series of religious wars, blessed by the Pope and the Catholic Church with the main goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem...

, the military orders of the Knights Hospitaller
Knights Hospitaller
The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta , also known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta , Order of Malta or Knights of Malta, is a Roman Catholic lay religious order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature. It is the world's...

 and the Knights Templar
Knights Templar
The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon , commonly known as the Knights Templar, the Order of the Temple or simply as Templars, were among the most famous of the Western Christian military orders...

 were founded.

The monasteries, which sometimes also functioned as cathedrals, and the cathedrals which had bodies of secular clergy often living in community, were a major source of power in Europe. Bishops and the abbots of important monasteries lived and functioned like princes. The monasteries were the major seats of learning of all sorts. Benedict had ordered that all the arts were to be taught and practiced in the monasteries. Within the monasteries books were transcribed by hand, and few people outside the monasteries could read or write.

In France, Burgundy was the centre of monasticism. The enormous and powerful monastery at Cluny
Cluny Abbey
Cluny Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in Cluny, Saône-et-Loire, France. It was built in the Romanesque style, with three churches built in succession from the 10th to the early 12th centuries....

 was to have lasting effect on the layout of other monasteries and the design of their churches. Unfortunately, very little of the abbey church at Cluny remains; the "Cluny II" rebuilding of 963 onwards has completely vanished, but we have a good idea of the design of "Cluny III" from 1088–1130, which until the Renaissance remained the largest building in Europe. However, the church of St. Sernin at Toulouse
Toulouse
Toulouse is a city in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern FranceIt lies on the banks of the River Garonne, 590 km away from Paris and half-way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea...

, 1080–1120, has remained intact and demonstrates the regularity of Romanesque design with its modular form, its massive appearance and the repetition of the simple arched window motif.


Pilgrimage and Crusade


One of the effects of the Crusades
Crusades
The Crusades were a series of religious wars, blessed by the Pope and the Catholic Church with the main goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem...

, which were intended to wrest the Holy Places of Palestine from Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic control, was to excite a great deal of religious fervour, which in turn inspired great building programs. The Nobility of Europe, upon safe return, thanked God by the building of a new church or the enhancement of an old one. Likewise, those who did not return from the Crusades could be suitably commemorated by their family in a work of stone and mortar.

The Crusades resulted in the transfer of, among other things, a great number of Holy Relics
Relic
In religion, a relic is a part of the body of a saint or a venerated person, or else another type of ancient religious object, carefully preserved for purposes of veneration or as a tangible memorial...

 of saint
Saint
A saint is a holy person. In various religions, saints are people who are believed to have exceptional holiness.In Christian usage, "saint" refers to any believer who is "in Christ", and in whom Christ dwells, whether in heaven or in earth...

s and apostles. Many churches, like Saint-Front, Périgueux
Périgueux
Périgueux is a commune in the Dordogne department in Aquitaine in southwestern France.Périgueux is the prefecture of the department and the capital of the region...

, had their own home grown saint while others, most notably Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela is the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia, Spain.The city's Cathedral is the destination today, as it has been throughout history, of the important 9th century medieval pilgrimage route, the Way of St. James...

, claimed the remains and the patronage of a powerful saint, in this case one of the Twelve Apostles. Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela is the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia, Spain.The city's Cathedral is the destination today, as it has been throughout history, of the important 9th century medieval pilgrimage route, the Way of St. James...

, located near the western extremity of Galicia (present day Spain) became the most important pilgrimage destination in Europe. Most of the pilgrims travelled the Way of St. James
Way of St. James
The Way of St. James or St. James' Way is the pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the apostle Saint James are buried....

 on foot, many of them barefooted as a sign of penance. They moved along one of the four main routes that passed through France, congregating for the journey at Jumièges
Jumièges
Jumièges is a commune in the Seine-Maritime department in the Haute-Normandie region in northern France.-Geography:A forestry and farming village situated in a meander of the river Seine, some west of Rouen, at the junction of the D65 and the D143 roads...

, Paris, Vézelay
Vézelay
Vézelay is a commune in the Yonne department in Burgundy in north-central France. It is a defendable hill town famous for Vézelay Abbey. The town and the Basilica of St Magdelene are designated UNESCO World Heritage sites....

, Cluny
Cluny
Cluny or Clungy is a commune in the Saône-et-Loire department in the region of Bourgogne in eastern France. It is 20 km northwest of Mâcon.The town grew up around the Benedictine Cluny Abbey, founded by Duke William I of Aquitaine in 910...

, Arles
Arles
Arles is a city and commune in the south of France, in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, of which it is a subprefecture, in the former province of Provence....

 and St. Gall in Switzerland. They crossed two passes in the Pyrenees
Pyrenees
The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain...

 and converged into a single stream to traverse north-western Spain. Along the route they were urged on by those pilgrims returning from the journey. On each of the routes abbeys such as those at Moissac
Moissac
Moissac is a commune in the Tarn-et-Garonne department in the Midi-Pyrénées region in southern France. It is famous world-wide mostly for the artistic heritage handed down by the ancient Saint-Pierre Abbey.-History:...

, Toulouse
Toulouse
Toulouse is a city in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern FranceIt lies on the banks of the River Garonne, 590 km away from Paris and half-way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea...

, Roncesvalles
Roncesvalles
Roncesvalles is a small village and municipality in Navarre, northern Spain. It is situated on the small river Urrobi at an altitude of some 900 metres in the Pyrenees, about 8 kilometres from the French frontier....

, Conques
Conques
Conques is a commune in the Aveyron department in southern France.-Geography:The village is located at the confluence of the Dourdou and Ouche rivers. It is built on a hillside and has classic narrow Medieval streets. As a result, large vehicles cannot enter the historic town centre but must...

, Limoges
Limoges
Limoges |Limousin]] dialect of Occitan) is a city and commune, the capital of the Haute-Vienne department and the administrative capital of the Limousin région in west-central France....

 and Burgos
Burgos
Burgos is a city of northern Spain, historic capital of Castile. It is situated at the edge of the central plateau, with about 178,966 inhabitants in the city proper and another 20,000 in its suburbs. It is the capital of the province of Burgos, in the autonomous community of Castile and León...

 catered for the flow of people and grew wealthy from the passing trade. Saint-Benoît-du-Sault
Saint-Benoît-du-Sault
Saint-Benoît-du-Sault is a commune in the Indre department in central France.It is a medieval village , perched in a curve on a rocky butte overlooking the Portefeuille River in the former province of Berry....

, in the Berry province, is typical of the churches that were founded on the pilgrim route.

Characteristics


The general impression given by Romanesque architecture, in both ecclesiastical and secular buildings, is one of massive solidity and strength. In contrast with both the preceding Roman
Roman architecture
Ancient Roman architecture adopted certain aspects of Ancient Greek architecture, creating a new architectural style. The Romans were indebted to their Etruscan neighbors and forefathers who supplied them with a wealth of knowledge essential for future architectural solutions, such as hydraulics...

 and later Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

 in which the load-bearing structural members are, or appear to be, columns, pilasters and arches, Romanesque architecture, in common with Byzantine architecture
Byzantine architecture
Byzantine architecture is the architecture of the Byzantine Empire. The empire gradually emerged as a distinct artistic and cultural entity from what is today referred to as the Roman Empire after AD 330, when the Roman Emperor Constantine moved the capital of the Roman Empire east from Rome to...

, relies upon its walls, or sections of walls called piers.

Romanesque architecture is often divided into two periods known as the "First Romanesque
First Romanesque
First Romanesque is the name due to Josep Puig i Cadafalch to refer to the Romanesque art developed in Catalonia since the late 10th century....

" style and the "Romanesque" style. The difference is chiefly a matter of the expertise with which the buildings were constructed. The First Romanesque employed rubble walls, smaller windows and unvaulted roofs. A greater refinement marks the Second Romanesque, along with increased use of the vault and dressed stone.

Walls


The walls of Romanesque buildings are often of massive thickness with few and comparatively small openings. They are often double shells, filled with rubble.

The building material differs greatly across Europe, depending upon the local stone and building traditions. In Italy, Poland, much of Germany and parts of the Netherlands, brick is generally used. Other areas saw extensive use of limestone, granite and flint. The building stone was often used in comparatively small and irregular pieces, bedded in thick mortar. Smooth ashlar
Ashlar
Ashlar is prepared stone work of any type of stone. Masonry using such stones laid in parallel courses is known as ashlar masonry, whereas masonry using irregularly shaped stones is known as rubble masonry. Ashlar blocks are rectangular cuboid blocks that are masonry sculpted to have square edges...

 masonry was not a distinguishing feature of the style, particularly in the earlier part of the period, but occurred chiefly where easily worked limestone was available.

Buttresses


Because of the massive nature of Romanesque walls, buttresses are not a highly significant feature, as they are in Gothic architecture. Romanesque buttresses are generally of flat square profile and do not project a great deal beyond the wall. In the case of aisled churches, barrel vaults, or half-barrel vaults over the aisles helped to buttress the nave, if it was vaulted.

In the cases where half-barrel vaults were used, they effectively became like flying buttress
Flying buttress
A flying buttress is a specific form of buttressing most strongly associated with Gothic church architecture. The purpose of any buttress is to resist the lateral forces pushing a wall outwards by redirecting them to the ground...

es. Often aisles extended through two storeys, rather than the one usual in Gothic architecture, so as to better support the weight of a vaulted nave. In the case of Durham Cathedral, flying buttresses have been employed, but are hidden inside the triforium gallery.

Arches and openings


The arches used in Romanesque architecture are nearly always semicircular, for openings such as doors and windows, for vaults and for arcades. Wide doorways are usually surmounted by a semi-circular arch, except where a door with a lintel is set into a large arched recess and surmounted by a semi-circular "lunette" with decorative carving. These doors sometimes have a carved central jamb.

Narrow doors and small windows might be surmounted by a solid stone lintel. Larger windows are nearly always arched and may be paired with two arches separated by a column, or occur as paired windows framed by a single larger arch. Occular windows are common in Italy, particularly in the facade gable and are also seen in Germany. Later Romanesque churches may have wheel windows or rose window
Rose window
A Rose window is often used as a generic term applied to a circular window, but is especially used for those found in churches of the Gothic architectural style and being divided into segments by stone mullions and tracery...

s with plate tracery.

There are a very small number of buildings in the Romanesque style, such as Autun Cathedral in France and Monreale Cathedral in Sicily in both of which pointed arches have been used extensively, apparently for stylistic reasons. It is believed that in these cases there is a direct imitation of Islamic architecture
Islamic architecture
Islamic architecture encompasses a wide range of both secular and religious styles from the foundation of Islam to the present day, influencing the design and construction of buildings and structures in Islamic culture....

. Other late Romanesque churches such as Durham Cathedral
Durham Cathedral
The Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St Cuthbert of Durham is a cathedral in the city of Durham, England, the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Durham. The Bishopric dates from 995, with the present cathedral being founded in AD 1093...

 introduce the pointed arch in as a structural device.

Arcades


An arcade is a row of arches, supported on piers or columns. They occur in the interior of large churches, separating the nave from the aisles, and in large secular interiors spaces, such as the great hall of a castle, supporting the timbers of a roof or upper floor. Arcades also occur in cloisters and atriums, enclosing an open space.

Arcades can occur in storeys or stages. While the arcade of cloister is typically of a single stage, the arcade which divides the nave and aisles in a church is typically of two stages, with a third stage of window openings known as the clerestory
Clerestory
Clerestory is an architectural term that historically denoted an upper level of a Roman basilica or of the nave of a Romanesque or Gothic church, the walls of which rise above the rooflines of the lower aisles and are pierced with windows. In modern usage, clerestory refers to any high windows...

 rising above them. Arcading on a large scale generally fulfils a structural purpose, but it is also used, generally on a smaller scale, as a decorative feature, both internally and externally where it is frequently "blind arcading" with only a wall or a narrow passage behind it.

Piers


In Romanesque architecture, pier
Pier (architecture)
In architecture, a pier is an upright support for a superstructure, such as an arch or bridge. Sections of wall between openings function as piers. The simplest cross section of the pier is square, or rectangular, although other shapes are also common, such as the richly articulated piers of Donato...

s were often employed to support arches. They were built of masonry and square or rectangular in section, generally having a horizontal moulding representing a capital at the springing of the arch. Sometimes piers have vertical shafts attached to them, and may also have horizontal mouldings at the level of base.

Although basically rectangular, piers can often be of highly complex form, with half-segments of large hollow-core columns on the inner surface supporting the arch, or a clustered group of smaller shafts leading into the mouldings of the arch.

Piers that occur at the intersection of two large arches, such as those under the crossing of the nave and transept, are commonly cruciform in shape, each arch having its own supporting rectangular pier at right angles to the other.

Columns


Columns are an important structural feature of Romanesque architecture. Colonnettes and attached shafts are also used structurally and for decoration. Monolithic columns cut from a single piece of stone were frequently used in Italy, as they had been in Roman and Early Christian architecture. They were also used, particularly in Germany, when they alternated between more massive piers. Arcades of columns cut from single pieces are also common in structure that do not bear massive weights of masonry, such as cloisters, where they are sometimes paired.

Salvaged columns


In Italy, during this period, a great number of antique Roman columns were salvaged and reused in the interiors and on the porticos of churches. The most durable of these columns are of marble and have the stone horizontally bedded. The majority are vertically bedded and are sometimes of a variety of colours. They may have retained their original Roman capitals, generally of the Corinthian
Corinthian order
The Corinthian order is one of the three principal classical orders of ancient Greek and Roman architecture. The other two are the Doric and Ionic. When classical architecture was revived during the Renaissance, two more orders were added to the canon, the Tuscan order and the Composite order...

 or Roman Composite
Composite order
The composite order is a mixed order, combining the volutes of the Ionic order capital with the acanthus leaves of the Corinthian order. The composite order volutes are larger, however, and the composite order also has echinus molding with egg-and-dart ornamentation between the volutes...

 style.
Some buildings, like Santa Maria in Cosmedin
Santa Maria in Cosmedin
The Basilica of Saint Mary in Cosmedin is a minor basilica church in Rome, Italy. It is located in the rione of Ripa.- History :The church was built in the 8th century during the Byzantine Papacy over the remains of the Templum Herculis Pompeiani in the Forum Boarium and of the Statio annonae, one...

 (illustrated above) and the atrium at San Clemente
Basilica di San Clemente
The Basilica of Saint Clement is a Roman Catholic minor basilica dedicated to Pope Clement I located in Rome, Italy. Archaeologically speaking, the structure is a three-tiered complex of buildings: the present basilica built just before the year 1100 during the height of the Middle Ages; beneath...

 in Rome, may have an odd assortment of columns in which large capitals are placed on short columns and small capitals are placed on taller columns to even the height. Architectural compromises of this type are seen where materials have been salvaged from a number of buildings. Salvaged columns were also used to a lesser extent in France.

Drum columns


In most parts of Europe, Romanesque columns were massive, as they supported thick upper walls with small windows, and sometimes heavy vaults. The most common method of construction was to build them out of stone cylinders called drums, as in the crypt at Speyer Cathedral
Speyer Cathedral
The Speyer Cathedral, officially the Imperial Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption and St Stephen, in Latin: Domus sanctae Mariae Spirae in Speyer, Germany, is the seat of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Speyer and is suffragan to the Archdiocese of Bamberg. The cathedral, which is dedicated to St...

.

Hollow core columns


Where really massive columns were called for, such as those at Durham Cathedral
Durham Cathedral
The Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St Cuthbert of Durham is a cathedral in the city of Durham, England, the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Durham. The Bishopric dates from 995, with the present cathedral being founded in AD 1093...

, they were constructed of ashlar masonry and the hollow core was filled with rubble. These huge untapered columns are sometimes ornamented with incised decorations.

Alternation


A common characteristic of Romanesque buildings, occurring both in churches and in the arcades which separate large interior spaces of castles, is the alternation of piers and columns.

The most simple form that this takes is to have a column between each adjoining pier. Sometimes the columns are in multiples of two or three. At St. Michael's, Hildesheim, an ABBA alternation occurs in the nave while an ABA alternation can be seen in the transepts.

At Jumièges
Jumièges
Jumièges is a commune in the Seine-Maritime department in the Haute-Normandie region in northern France.-Geography:A forestry and farming village situated in a meander of the river Seine, some west of Rouen, at the junction of the D65 and the D143 roads...

 there are tall drum columns between piers each of which has a half-column supporting the arch. There are many variations on this theme, most notably at Durham Cathedral
Durham Cathedral
The Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St Cuthbert of Durham is a cathedral in the city of Durham, England, the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Durham. The Bishopric dates from 995, with the present cathedral being founded in AD 1093...

 where the mouldings and shafts of the piers are of exceptional richness and the huge masonry columns are deeply incised with geometric patterns.

Often the arrangement was made more complex by the complexity of the piers themselves, so that it was not piers and columns that alternated, but rather, piers of entirely different form from each other, such as those of Sant' Ambrogio, Milan where the nature of the vault dictated that the alternate piers bore a great deal more weight than the intermediate ones and are thus very much larger.

Capitals


The foliate Corinthian
Corinthian order
The Corinthian order is one of the three principal classical orders of ancient Greek and Roman architecture. The other two are the Doric and Ionic. When classical architecture was revived during the Renaissance, two more orders were added to the canon, the Tuscan order and the Composite order...

 style provided the inspiration for many Romanesque capitals, and the accuracy with which they were carved depended very much on the availability of original models, those in Italian churches such as Pisa Cathedral and southern France being much closer to the Classical than those in England.

The Corinthian capital is essentially round at the bottom where it sits on a circular column and square at the top, where it supports the wall or arch. This form of capital was maintained in the general proportions and outline of the Romanesque capital. This was achieved most simply by cutting a rectangular cube and taking the four lower corners off at an angle so that the block was square at the top, but octagonal at the bottom, as can be seen at St. Michael's Hildesheim.
This shaped lent itself to a wide variety of superficial treatments, sometimes foliate in imitation of the source, but often figurative. In Northern Europe the foliate capitals generally bear far more resemblance to the intricacies of manuscript illumination than to Classical sources. In parts of France and Italy there are strong links to the pierced capitals of Byzantine architecture
Byzantine architecture
Byzantine architecture is the architecture of the Byzantine Empire. The empire gradually emerged as a distinct artistic and cultural entity from what is today referred to as the Roman Empire after AD 330, when the Roman Emperor Constantine moved the capital of the Roman Empire east from Rome to...

. It is in the figurative capitals that the greatest originality is shown. While some are dependent on manuscripts illustrations of Biblical scenes and depictions of beasts and monsters, others are lively scenes of the legends of local saints.

The capitals, while retaining the form of a square top and a round bottom, were often compressed into little more than a bulging cushion-shape. This is particularly the case on large masonry columns, or on large columns that alternate with piers as at Durham.

Vaults and roofs


The majority of buildings have wooden roofs, generally of a simple truss, tie beam or king post form. In the case of trussed rafter roofs, they are sometimes lined with wooden ceilings in three sections like those which survive at Ely
Ely Cathedral
Ely Cathedral is the principal church of the Diocese of Ely, in Cambridgeshire, England, and is the seat of the Bishop of Ely and a suffragan bishop, the Bishop of Huntingdon...

 and Peterborough
Peterborough Cathedral
Peterborough Cathedral, properly the Cathedral Church of St Peter, St Paul and St Andrew – also known as Saint Peter's Cathedral in the United Kingdom – is the seat of the Bishop of Peterborough, dedicated to Saint Peter, Saint Paul and Saint Andrew, whose statues look down from the...

 cathedrals in England. In churches, typically the aisles are vaulted, but the nave is roofed with timber, as is the case at both Peterborough and Ely. In Italy where open wooden roofs are common, and tie beams frequently occur in conjunction with vaults, the timbers have often been decorated as at San Miniato al Monte, Florence.

Vaults of stone or brick took on several different forms and showed marked development during the period, evolving into the pointed ribbed arch which is characteristic of Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

.

Barrel vault


The simplest type of vaulted roof is the barrel vault
Barrel vault
A barrel vault, also known as a tunnel vault or a wagon vault, is an architectural element formed by the extrusion of a single curve along a given distance. The curves are typically circular in shape, lending a semi-cylindrical appearance to the total design...

 in which a single arched surface extends from wall to wall, the length of the space to be vaulted, for example, the nave of a church. An important example, which retains Medieval paintings, is the vault of Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe
Abbey Church of Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe
The Abbey Church of Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe is located in Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe, in Poitou, France.-Description:The Romanesque church was begun in the mid 11th century and contains many beautiful 11th- and 12th-century murals which are still in a remarkable state of preservation...

, France, of the early 12th century. However, the barrel vault generally required the support of solid walls, or walls in which the windows were very small.

Groin vault


Groin vaults occur in early Romanesque buildings, notably at Speyer Cathedral
Speyer Cathedral
The Speyer Cathedral, officially the Imperial Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption and St Stephen, in Latin: Domus sanctae Mariae Spirae in Speyer, Germany, is the seat of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Speyer and is suffragan to the Archdiocese of Bamberg. The cathedral, which is dedicated to St...

 where the high vault of about 1060 is the first employment in Romanesque architecture of this type of vault for a wide nave. In later buildings employing ribbed vaultings, groin vaults are most frequently used for the less visible and smaller vaults, particularly in crypts and aisles. A groin vault is almost always square in plan and is constructed of two barrel vaults intersecting at right angles. Unlike a ribbed vault, the entire arch is a structural member. Groin vaults are frequently separated by transverse arched ribs of low profile as at Speyer and Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela is the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia, Spain.The city's Cathedral is the destination today, as it has been throughout history, of the important 9th century medieval pilgrimage route, the Way of St. James...

. At La Madeleine, Vézelay
Vézelay Abbey
Vézelay Abbey was a Benedictine and Cluniac monastery in Vézelay in the Yonne département in Burgundy, France. The Benedictine abbey church of Ste-Marie-Madeleine Vézelay Abbey (now known as Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine) was a Benedictine and Cluniac monastery in Vézelay in the Yonne...

, the ribs are square in section, strongly projecting and polychrome.

Ribbed vault


In ribbed vaults, not only are there ribs spanning the vaulted area transversely, but each vaulted bay has diagonal ribs. In a ribbed vault, the ribs are the structural members, and the spaces between them can be filled with lighter, non-structural material.

Because Romanesque arches are nearly always semi-circular, the structural and design problem inherent in the ribbed vault is that the diagonal span is larger and therefore higher than the transverse span. The Romanesque builders used a number of solutions to this problem. One was to have the centre point where the diagonal ribs met as the highest point, with the infil of all the surfaces sloping upwards towards it, in a domical manner. This solution was employed in Italy at San Michele, Pavia and Sant' Ambrogio, Milan.

Another solution was to stilt the transverse ribs, or depress the diagonal ribs so that the centreline of the vault was horizontal, like a that of a barrel vault. The latter solution was used on the sexpartite vaults at both the Saint-Étienne, (Abbaye-aux-Hommes
Abbaye-aux-Hommes
The Abbaye aux Hommes is a former abbey church in the French city of Caen, Normandy. Dedicated to Saint Stephen , it is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames , to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine...

) and Sainte-Trinité, (Abbaye-les-Dames) at Caen, France, in the late 11th and early 12th centuries.

Pointed arched vault


Late in the Romanesque period another solution came into use for regulating the height of diagonal and transverse ribs. This was to use arches of the same diameter for both horizontal and transverse ribs, causing the transverse ribs to meet at a point. This is seen most notably at Durham Cathedral
Durham Cathedral
The Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St Cuthbert of Durham is a cathedral in the city of Durham, England, the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Durham. The Bishopric dates from 995, with the present cathedral being founded in AD 1093...

 in northern England, dating from 1128. Durham is a cathedral of massive Romanesque proportions and appearance, yet its builders introduced several structural features which were new to architectural design and were to later to be hallmark features of the Gothic. Another Gothic structural feature employed at Durham is the flying buttress
Flying buttress
A flying buttress is a specific form of buttressing most strongly associated with Gothic church architecture. The purpose of any buttress is to resist the lateral forces pushing a wall outwards by redirecting them to the ground...

. However, these are hidden beneath the roofs of the aisles.
The earliest pointed vault in France is that of the narthex of La Madeleine, Vézelay
Vézelay Abbey
Vézelay Abbey was a Benedictine and Cluniac monastery in Vézelay in the Yonne département in Burgundy, France. The Benedictine abbey church of Ste-Marie-Madeleine Vézelay Abbey (now known as Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine) was a Benedictine and Cluniac monastery in Vézelay in the Yonne...

, dating from 1130.

Architectural embellishment


Arcading is the single most significant decorative feature of Romanesque architecture. It occurs in a variety of forms, from the Lombard band
Lombard band
A Lombard band is a decorative blind arcade, usually exterior, often used during the Romanesque and Gothic periods of architecture.Lombard bands are believed to have been first used during the First Romanesque Period of the early 11th Century. At that time, they were the most common architectural...

 which is a row of small arches that appear to support a roofline or course, to shallow blind arcading often a feature of English architecture and seen in great variety at Ely Cathedral
Ely Cathedral
Ely Cathedral is the principal church of the Diocese of Ely, in Cambridgeshire, England, and is the seat of the Bishop of Ely and a suffragan bishop, the Bishop of Huntingdon...

, to the open dwarf gallery, first used at Speyer Cathedral
Speyer Cathedral
The Speyer Cathedral, officially the Imperial Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption and St Stephen, in Latin: Domus sanctae Mariae Spirae in Speyer, Germany, is the seat of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Speyer and is suffragan to the Archdiocese of Bamberg. The cathedral, which is dedicated to St...

 and widely adopted in Italy as seen on both Pisa Cathedral and its famous Leaning Tower
Leaning tower
This is a list of leaning towers. A leaning tower is a tower which, either intentionally, due to errors in design, construction or to subsequent external influence, does not stand perpendicular to the ground...

. Arcades could be used to great effect, both externally and internally, as exemplified by the church of Santa Maria della Pieve, in Arezzo.

Architectural sculpture


The Romanesque period produced a profusion of sculptural ornamentation. This most frequently took a purely geometric form and was particularly applied to mouldings, both straight courses and the curved moldings of arches. In La Madeleine, Vezelay, for example, the polychrome ribs of the vault are all edged with narrow filets of pierced stone. Similar decoration occurs around the arches of the nave and along the horizontal course separating arcade and clerestory. Combined with the pierced carving of the capitals, this gives a delicacy and refinement to the interior.

In England, such decoration could be discrete, as at Hereford
Hereford Cathedral
The current Hereford Cathedral, located at Hereford in England, dates from 1079. Its most famous treasure is Mappa Mundi, a mediæval map of the world dating from the 13th century. The cathedral is a Grade I listed building.-Origins:...

 and Peterborough cathedrals, or have a sense of massive energy as at Durham where the diagonal ribs of the vaults are all outlined with chevrons, the mouldings of the nave arcade are carved with several layers of the same and the huge columns are deeply incised with a variety of geometric patterns creating an impression of directional movement. These features combine to create one of the richest and most dynamic interiors of the Romanesque period.

Although much sculptural ornament was sometimes applied to the interiors of churches, the focus of such decoration was generally the west front, and in particular, the portals. Chevrons and other geometric ornaments, referred to by 19th century writers as "barbaric ornament" are most frequently found on the mouldings of the central door. Stylized foliage often appears, sometimes deeply carved and curling outward after the manner of the acanthus leaves on Corinthian capitals
Corinthian order
The Corinthian order is one of the three principal classical orders of ancient Greek and Roman architecture. The other two are the Doric and Ionic. When classical architecture was revived during the Renaissance, two more orders were added to the canon, the Tuscan order and the Composite order...

, but also carved in shallow relief and spiral patterns, imitating the intricacies of manuscript illuminations. In general, the style of ornament was more classical in Italy, such as that seen around the door of San Giusto in Lucca
Lucca
Lucca is a city and comune in Tuscany, central Italy, situated on the river Serchio in a fertile plainnear the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Lucca...

, and more "barbaric" in England, Germany and Scandinavia, such as that seen at Speyer Cathedral
Speyer Cathedral
The Speyer Cathedral, officially the Imperial Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption and St Stephen, in Latin: Domus sanctae Mariae Spirae in Speyer, Germany, is the seat of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Speyer and is suffragan to the Archdiocese of Bamberg. The cathedral, which is dedicated to St...

. France produced a great range of ornament, with particularly fine interwoven and spiralling vines in the "manuscript" style occurring at Saint-Sernin, Toulouse.

Figurative sculpture




With the fall of the Roman Empire, the tradition of carving large works in stone and sculpting figures in bronze died out. The best-known surviving large sculptural work of Proto-Romanesque Europe is the life-size wooden Crucifix commissioned by Archbishop Gero of Cologne in about 960–65. During the 11th and 12th centuries, figurative sculpture flourished in a distinctly Romanesque style which can be recognised across Europe, although the most spectacular sculptural projects are concentrated in South-Western France, Northern Spain and Italy.

Major figurative decoration occurs particularly around the portals of cathedrals and churches, ornamenting the tympanum
Tympanum (architecture)
In architecture, a tympanum is the semi-circular or triangular decorative wall surface over an entrance, bounded by a lintel and arch. It often contains sculpture or other imagery or ornaments. Most architectural styles include this element....

, lintels, jambs and central posts. The tympanum is typically decorated with the imagery of Christ in Majesty
Christ in Majesty
Christ in Majesty, or Christ in Glory, in Latin Majestas Domini, is the Western Christian image of Christ seated on a throne as ruler of the world, always seen frontally in the centre of the composition, and often flanked by other sacred figures, whose membership changes over time and according to...

 with the symbols of the Four Evangelists
Four Evangelists
In Christian tradition the Four Evangelists are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the authors attributed with the creation of the four Gospel accounts in the New Testament that bear the following titles:*Gospel according to Matthew*Gospel according to Mark...

, drawn directly from the gilt covers of medieval Gospel Book
Gospel Book
The Gospel Book, Evangelion, or Book of the Gospels is a codex or bound volume containing one or more of the four Gospels of the Christian New Testament...

s. This style of doorway occurs in many places and continued into the Gothic period. A rare survival in England is that of the "Prior's Door" at Ely Cathedral
Ely Cathedral
Ely Cathedral is the principal church of the Diocese of Ely, in Cambridgeshire, England, and is the seat of the Bishop of Ely and a suffragan bishop, the Bishop of Huntingdon...

. In South-Western France, many have survived, with impressive examples at Saint-Pierre, Moissac
Moissac
Moissac is a commune in the Tarn-et-Garonne department in the Midi-Pyrénées region in southern France. It is famous world-wide mostly for the artistic heritage handed down by the ancient Saint-Pierre Abbey.-History:...

, Souillac
Souillac, Lot
Souillac is a commune in the Lot department in south-western France, on the river Dordogne. It is the site of the new Brive – Souillac Airport, that opened in 2010. The abbey has famous Romanesque carvings....

, and La Madaleine, Vézelay
Vézelay Abbey
Vézelay Abbey was a Benedictine and Cluniac monastery in Vézelay in the Yonne département in Burgundy, France. The Benedictine abbey church of Ste-Marie-Madeleine Vézelay Abbey (now known as Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine) was a Benedictine and Cluniac monastery in Vézelay in the Yonne...

 – all daughter houses of Cluny, with extensive other sculpture remaining in cloisters and other buildings. Nearby, Autun Cathedral has a Last Judgement of great rarity in that it has uniquely been signed by its creator, Giselbertus.
It is a feature of Romanesque art, both in manuscript illumination and sculptural decoration, that figures are contorted to fit the space that they occupy. Among the many examples that exist, one of the finest is the figure of the Prophet Jeremiah from the pillar of the portal of the Abbey of Saint-Pierre, Moissac
Moissac
Moissac is a commune in the Tarn-et-Garonne department in the Midi-Pyrénées region in southern France. It is famous world-wide mostly for the artistic heritage handed down by the ancient Saint-Pierre Abbey.-History:...

, France, from about 1130. A significant motif of Romanesque design is the spiral, a form which is applied to both plant motifs and drapery in Romanesque sculpture. An outstanding example of its use in drapery is that of the central figure of Christ at La Madaleine, Vezelay
Vézelay Abbey
Vézelay Abbey was a Benedictine and Cluniac monastery in Vézelay in the Yonne département in Burgundy, France. The Benedictine abbey church of Ste-Marie-Madeleine Vézelay Abbey (now known as Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine) was a Benedictine and Cluniac monastery in Vézelay in the Yonne...

.

Many of the smaller sculptural works, particularly capitals, are Biblical in subject and include scenes of Creation and the Fall of Man
Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve were, according to the Genesis creation narratives, the first human couple to inhabit Earth, created by YHWH, the God of the ancient Hebrews...

, episodes from the life of Christ and those Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 scenes which prefigure
Typology (theology)
Typology in Christian theology and Biblical exegesis is a doctrine or theory concerning the relationship between the Old and New Testaments...

 his Death
Crucifixion of Jesus
The crucifixion of Jesus and his ensuing death is an event that occurred during the 1st century AD. Jesus, who Christians believe is the Son of God as well as the Messiah, was arrested, tried, and sentenced by Pontius Pilate to be scourged, and finally executed on a cross...

 and Resurrection
Resurrection
Resurrection refers to the literal coming back to life of the biologically dead. It is used both with respect to particular individuals or the belief in a General Resurrection of the dead at the end of the world. The General Resurrection is featured prominently in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim...

, such as Jonah and the Whale
Jonah
Jonah is the name given in the Hebrew Bible to a prophet of the northern kingdom of Israel in about the 8th century BC, the eponymous central character in the Book of Jonah, famous for being swallowed by a fish or a whale, depending on translation...

 and Daniel in the Lions' Den
Daniel
Daniel is the protagonist in the Book of Daniel of the Hebrew Bible. In the narrative, when Daniel was a young man, he was taken into Babylonian captivity where he was educated in Chaldean thought. However, he never converted to Neo-Babylonian ways...

. Many Nativity
Nativity of Jesus in art
The Nativity of Jesus has been a major subject of Christian art since the 4th century. The artistic depictions of the Nativity or birth of Jesus, celebrated at Christmas, are based on the narratives in the Bible, in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and further elaborated by written, oral and...

 scenes occur, the theme of the Three Kings being particularly popular. The cloisters of Santo Domingo de Silos Abbey in Northern Spain, and Moissac
Moissac
Moissac is a commune in the Tarn-et-Garonne department in the Midi-Pyrénées region in southern France. It is famous world-wide mostly for the artistic heritage handed down by the ancient Saint-Pierre Abbey.-History:...

  are fine examples surviving complete.

Murals



The large wall surfaces and plain, curving vaults of the Romanesque period lent themselves to mural decoration. Unfortunately, many of these early wall paintings have been destroyed by damp or the walls have been replastered and painted over. In England, France and the Netherlands such pictures were systematically destroyed in bouts of Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 iconoclasm
Iconoclasm
Iconoclasm is the deliberate destruction of religious icons and other symbols or monuments, usually with religious or political motives. It is a frequent component of major political or religious changes...

. In other countries they have suffered from war, neglect and changing fashion.

A classic scheme for the full painted decoration of a church, derived from earlier examples often in mosaic
Mosaic
Mosaic is the art of creating images with an assemblage of small pieces of colored glass, stone, or other materials. It may be a technique of decorative art, an aspect of interior decoration, or of cultural and spiritual significance as in a cathedral...

, had, as its focal point in the semi-dome
Semi-dome
A semi-dome, also called a "half-dome", is the term in architecture for half a dome , used to cover a semi-circular area. Similar structures occur in nature.-Architecture:...

 of the apse, Christ in Majesty
Christ in Majesty
Christ in Majesty, or Christ in Glory, in Latin Majestas Domini, is the Western Christian image of Christ seated on a throne as ruler of the world, always seen frontally in the centre of the composition, and often flanked by other sacred figures, whose membership changes over time and according to...

 or Christ the Redeemer enthroned within a mandorla and framed by the four winged beasts, symbols of the Four Evangelists
Four Evangelists
In Christian tradition the Four Evangelists are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the authors attributed with the creation of the four Gospel accounts in the New Testament that bear the following titles:*Gospel according to Matthew*Gospel according to Mark...

, comparing directly with examples from the gilt covers or the illuminations of Gospel Book
Gospel Book
The Gospel Book, Evangelion, or Book of the Gospels is a codex or bound volume containing one or more of the four Gospels of the Christian New Testament...

s of the period. If the Virgin Mary was the dedicatee of the church, she might replace Christ here. On the apse walls below would be saints and apostles, perhaps including narrative scenes, for example of the saint to whom the church was dedicated. On the sanctuary arch were figures of apostles, prophets or the twenty-four "elders of the Apocalypse
Heavenly host
Heavenly host refers to an army of good angels mentioned in the Bible. It is led either by the Archangel Michael, Jesus, or by God himself. Most descriptions of angels in the Bible describe them in military terms, such as encampment , command structure , and combat...

", looking in towards a bust of Christ, or his symbol the Lamb, at the top of the arch. The north wall of the nave would contain narrative scenes from the Old Testament, and the south wall from the New Testament. On the rear west wall would be a Last Judgement, with an enthroned and judging Christ at the top.

One of the most intact schemes to exist is that at Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe
Abbey Church of Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe
The Abbey Church of Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe is located in Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe, in Poitou, France.-Description:The Romanesque church was begun in the mid 11th century and contains many beautiful 11th- and 12th-century murals which are still in a remarkable state of preservation...

 in France. The long barrel vault of the nave provides an excellent surface for fresco, and is decorated with scenes of the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

, showing the Creation, the Fall of Man
Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve were, according to the Genesis creation narratives, the first human couple to inhabit Earth, created by YHWH, the God of the ancient Hebrews...

 and other stories including a lively depiction of Noah's Ark
Noah's Ark
Noah's Ark is a vessel appearing in the Book of Genesis and the Quran . These narratives describe the construction of the ark by Noah at God's command to save himself, his family, and the world's animals from the worldwide deluge of the Great Flood.In the narrative of the ark, God sees the...

 complete with a fearsome figurehead and numerous windows through with can be seen the Noah and his family on the upper deck, birds on the middle deck, while on the lower are the pairs of animals. Another scene shows with great vigour the swamping of Pharaoh's army by the Red Sea. The scheme extends to other parts of the church, with the martyrdom of the local saints shown in the crypt, and Apocalypse
Apocalypse
An Apocalypse is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception, i.e. the veil to be lifted. The Apocalypse of John is the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament...

 in the narthex and Christ in Majesty
Christ in Majesty
Christ in Majesty, or Christ in Glory, in Latin Majestas Domini, is the Western Christian image of Christ seated on a throne as ruler of the world, always seen frontally in the centre of the composition, and often flanked by other sacred figures, whose membership changes over time and according to...

. The range of colours employed is limited to light blue-green, yellow ochre, reddish brown and black. Similar paintings exist in Serbia, Spain, Germany, Italy and elsewhere in France.

Stained glass


The oldest-known fragments of medieval pictorial stained glass appear to date from the 10th century. The earliest intact figures are five prophet windows at Augsburg, dating from the late 11th century. The figures, though stiff and formalised, demonstrate considerable proficiency in design, both pictorially and in the functional use of the glass, indicating that their maker was well accustomed to the medium. At Canterbury and Chartres Cathedrals, a number of panels of the 12th century have survived, including, at Canterbury, a figure of Adam digging, and another of his son Seth from a series of Ancestors of Christ. Adam represents a highly naturalistic and lively portrayal, while in the figure of Seth, the robes have been used to great decorative effect, similar to the best stone carving of the period.

Most of the magnificent stained glass of France, including the famous windows of Chartres, date from the 13th century. Far fewer large windows remain intact from the 12th century. One such is the Crucifixion of Poitiers, a remarkable composition which rises through three stages, the lowest with a quatrefoil depicting the Martyrdom of St Peter, the largest central stage dominated by the crucifixion and the upper stage showing the Ascension of Christ in a mandorla. The figure of the crucified Christ is already showing the Gothic curve. The window is described by George Seddon as being of "unforgettable beauty".

Plan and section


Many parish churches, abbey churches and cathedrals are in the Romanesque style, or were originally built in the Romanesque style and have subsequently undergone changes.
The simplest Romanesque churches are aisless halls with a projecting apse at the chancel end, or sometimes, particularly in England, a projecting rectangular chancel with a chancel arch that might be decorated with mouldings. More ambitious churches have aisles separated from the nave by arcades.

Abbey and cathedral churches generally follow the Latin Cross plan. In England, the extension eastward may be long, while in Italy it is often short or non-existent, the church being of T plan, sometimes with apses on the transept ends as well as to the east. In France the church of St Front, Périgueux, appears to have been modelled on St. Mark's Basilica, Venice or the Byzantine Church of the Holy Apostles
Church of the Holy Apostles
The Church of the Holy Apostles , also known as the Imperial Polyandreion, was a Christian church built in Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, in 550. It was second only to the Church of the Holy Wisdom among the great churches of the capital...

 and is of a Greek cross plan with five domes. In the same region, Angoulême Cathedral is an aisless church of the Latin cross plan, more usual in France, but is also roofed with domes.
In Germany, Romanesque churches are often of distinctive form, having apses at both east and west ends, the main entrance being central to one side. It is probable that this form came about to accommodate a baptistery at the west end.

In section, the typical aisled church or cathedral has a nave with a single aisle on either side. The nave and aisles are separated by an arcade carried on piers or on columns. The roof of the aisle and the outer walls help to buttress the upper walls and vault of the nave, if present. Above the aisle roof are a row of windows known as the clerestory, which give light to the nave. During the Romanesque period there was a development from this two-stage elevation to a three-stage elevation in which there is a gallery, known as a triforium, between the arcade and the clerestory. This varies from a simple blind arcade decorating the walls, to a narrow arcaded passage, to a fully developed second story with a row of windows lighting the gallery.

Church and cathedral east ends



The eastern end of a Romanesque church is almost always semi-circular, with either a high chancel surrounded by an ambulatory as in France, or a square end from which an apse projects as in Germany and Italy. Where square ends exist in English churches, they are probably influenced by Anglo Saxon
Anglo-Saxon architecture
Anglo-Saxon architecture was a period in the history of architecture in England, and parts of Wales, from the mid-5th century until the Norman Conquest of 1066. Anglo-Saxon secular buildings in Britain were generally simple, constructed mainly using timber with thatch for roofing...

 churches. Peterborough and Norwich Cathedrals have retained round east ends in the French style. However, in France, simple churches without apses and with no decorative features were built by the Cistercians who also founded many houses in England, frequently in remote areas.

Church and cathedral facades and external decoration


Romanesque church facades, generally to the west end of the building, are usually symmetrical, have a large central portal made significant by its mouldings or porch and an arrangement of arched-topped windows. In Italy there is often a single central ocular window. The common decorative feature is arcading.

Smaller churches often have a single tower which is usually placed to the western end, in France or England, either centrally or to one side, while larger churches and cathedrals often have two.

In France, Saint-Étienne, Caen
Abbaye-aux-Hommes
The Abbaye aux Hommes is a former abbey church in the French city of Caen, Normandy. Dedicated to Saint Stephen , it is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames , to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine...

 presents the model of a large French Romanesque facade. It is a symmetrical arrangement of nave flanked by two tall towers each with two buttress of low flat profile which divide the facade into three vertical units. The three horizontal stages are marked by a large door set within an arch in each of the three vertical sections. The wider central section has two tiers of three identical windows, while in the outer tiers there are two tiers of single windows, giving emphasis to the mass of the towers. The towers rise through three tiers, the lowest of tall blind arcading, the next of arcading pierced by two narrow windows and the third of two large windows, divided into two lights by a colonnette.

This facade can be seen as the foundation for many other buildings, including both French and English Gothic churches. While the form is typical of northern France, its various components were common to many Romanesque churches of the period across Europe. Similar facades are found in Portugal. In England, Southwell Cathedral has maintained this form, despite the insertion of a huge Gothic window between the towers. Lincoln
Lincoln Cathedral
Lincoln Cathedral is a historic Anglican cathedral in Lincoln in England and seat of the Bishop of Lincoln in the Church of England. It was reputedly the tallest building in the world for 249 years . The central spire collapsed in 1549 and was not rebuilt...

 and Durham
Durham Cathedral
The Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St Cuthbert of Durham is a cathedral in the city of Durham, England, the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Durham. The Bishopric dates from 995, with the present cathedral being founded in AD 1093...

 must once have looked like this. In Germany, the Limburg Cathedral
Limburg Cathedral
The Catholic Cathedral of Limburg, also known as Georgsdom or Limburger Dom in German after its dedication to Saint George, is located above the old town of Limburg in Hesse, Germany. Its high location on a rock above the Lahn provides its visibility from far away...

 has a rich variety of openings and arcades in horizontal storeys of varying heights.

The churches of San Zeno Maggiore, Verona and San Michele, Pavia present two types of facade that are typical of Italian Romanesque, that which reveals the architectural form of the building, and that which screens it. At San Zeno, the components of nave and aisles are made clear by the vertical shafts which rise to the level of the central gable and by the varying roof levels. At San Miniato al Monte the definition of the architectural parts is made even clearer by the polychrome
Polychrome
Polychrome is one of the terms used to describe the use of multiple colors in one entity. It has also been defined as "The practice of decorating architectural elements, sculpture, etc., in a variety of colors." Polychromatic light is composed of a number of different wavelengths...

 marble, a feature of many Italian Medieval facades, particularly in Tuscany.
At San Michele the vertical definition is present as at San Zeno, but the rooflines are screened behind a single large gable decorated with stepped arcading. At Santa Maria della Pieve
Santa Maria della Pieve
Santa Maria della Pieve is a church in Arezzo, Tuscany, central Italy.-History:The church is documented since as early as 1008, and, during the communal period of Arezzo, it was the stronghold of the city's struggle against its bishops...

, Arezzo
Arezzo
Arezzo is a city and comune in Central Italy, capital of the province of the same name, located in Tuscany. Arezzo is about 80 km southeast of Florence, at an elevation of 296 m above sea level. In 2011 the population was about 100,000....

, this screening is carried even further, as the roofline is horizontal and the arcading rises in many different levels while the colonettes which support them have a great diversity of decoration.

Church towers


Towers were an important feature of Romanesque churches and a great number of them are still standing. They take a variety of forms: square, circular and octagonal, and are positioned differently in relation to the church building in different countries. In northern France, two large towers, such as those at Caen, were to become an integral part of the facade of any large abbey or cathedral. In central and southern France this is more variable and large churches may have one tower or a central tower. Large churches of Spain and Portugal usually have two towers.

Many abbeys of France, such as that at Cluny, had many towers of varied forms. This is also common in Germany, where the apses were sometimes framed with circular towers and the crossing surmounted by an octagonal tower as at Worms Cathedral
Worms Cathedral
Cathedral of St Peter is a church in Worms, southern Germany. It was the seat of the Catholic Prince-Bishopric of Worms until its extinction in 1800.It is a basilica with four round towers, two large domes, and a choir at each end...

. Large paired towers of square plan could also occur on the transept ends, such as those at Tournai Cathedral
Tournai Cathedral
The Cathedral of Our Lady is Roman Catholic church, see of the Diocese of Tournai in Tournai, Belgium. It has been classified both as a Wallonia's major heritage since 1936 and as a World Heritage Site since 2000.-History:...

 in Belgium. In Germany, where four towers frequently occur, they often have spires which may be four or eight sided, or the distinctive Rhenish helm shape seen on the cathedrals of Limburg or Speyer
Speyer Cathedral
The Speyer Cathedral, officially the Imperial Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption and St Stephen, in Latin: Domus sanctae Mariae Spirae in Speyer, Germany, is the seat of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Speyer and is suffragan to the Archdiocese of Bamberg. The cathedral, which is dedicated to St...

. It is also common to see bell or onion-shaped spires of the Baroque period
Baroque architecture
Baroque architecture is a term used to describe the building style of the Baroque era, begun in late sixteenth century Italy, that took the Roman vocabulary of Renaissance architecture and used it in a new rhetorical and theatrical fashion, often to express the triumph of the Catholic Church and...

 surmounting Romanesque towers in central and Eastern Europe.

In England, for large abbeys and cathedral buildings, three towers were favoured, with the central tower being the tallest. This was often not achieved, through the slow process of the building stages, and in many cases the upper parts of the tower were not completed until centuries later as at Durham and Lincoln. Large Norman towers exist at the cathedrals of Durham, Exeter
Exeter Cathedral
Exeter Cathedral, the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter at Exeter, is an Anglican cathedral, and the seat of the Bishop of Exeter, in the city of Exeter, Devon in South West England....

, Southwell
Southwell Minster
Southwell Minster is a minster and cathedral, in Southwell, Nottinghamshire, England. It is six miles away from Newark-on-Trent and thirteen miles from Mansfield. It is the seat of the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham and the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham.It is considered an outstanding...

, Norwich
Norwich Cathedral
Norwich Cathedral is a cathedral located in Norwich, Norfolk, dedicated to the Holy and Undivided Trinity. Formerly a Catholic church, it has belonged to the Church of England since the English Reformation....

 and Tewkesbury Abbey
Tewkesbury Abbey
The Abbey of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Tewkesbury in the English county of Gloucestershire is the second largest parish church in the country and a former Benedictine monastery.-History:...

. Such towers were often topped during the late Medieval period with a Gothic
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

 spire of wooden construction covered with lead
Lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

, copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

 or shingles. In the case of Norwich Cathedral, the huge, ornate, 12th century crossing-tower received a 15th century masonry spire rising to a height of 320 feet and remaining to this day.

In Italy towers are almost always free standing and the position is often dictated by the landform of the site, rather than aesthetics. This is the case in nearly all Italian churches both large and small, except in Sicily where a number of churches were founded by the Norman rulers and are more French in appearance.

As a general rule, large Romanesque towers are square with corner buttresses of low profile, rising without diminishing through the various stages. Towers are usually marked into clearly defined stages by horizontal courses. As the towers rise, the number and size of openings increases as can be seen on the right tower of the transept of Tournai Cathedral
Tournai Cathedral
The Cathedral of Our Lady is Roman Catholic church, see of the Diocese of Tournai in Tournai, Belgium. It has been classified both as a Wallonia's major heritage since 1936 and as a World Heritage Site since 2000.-History:...

 where two narrow slits in the fourth level from the top becomes a single window, then two windows, then three windows at the uppermost level. This sort of arrangement is particularly noticeable on the towers of Italian churches, which are usually built of brick and may have no other ornament. Two fine examples occur at Lucca
Lucca
Lucca is a city and comune in Tuscany, central Italy, situated on the river Serchio in a fertile plainnear the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Lucca...

, at the church of San Frediano
Basilica di San Frediano
The Basilica of San Frediano is a Romanesque church in Lucca, Italy, situated on the Piazza San Frediano.Fridianus was an Irish bishop of Lucca in the first half of the 6th century. He had a church built on this spot, dedicated to St. Vincent, a martyr from Zaragoza, Spain. When Fridianus was...

 and at the Duomo. It is also seen in Spain.

In Italy, there are a number of large free-standing towers which are circular, the most famous of these being the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa or simply the Tower of Pisa is the campanile, or freestanding bell tower, of the cathedral of the Italian city of Pisa...

. In other countries where circular towers occur, such as Germany, they are usually paired and often flank an apse. Circular towers are uncommon in England, but occur throughout the Early Medieval period in Ireland.

Polygonal towers were often used on crossings and occur in France, Germany, Italy and Spain such as that of the Old Cathedral, Salamanca
Old Cathedral, Salamanca
The Old Cathedral is one of two cathedrals in Salamanca, Spain, the other being the New Cathedral of Salamanca....

, which is covered by a dome supported on a ribbed vault.

Smaller churches sometimes had bell-gable
Bell-gable
The bell gable is an architectural element crowning at the upper end of the wall of church buildings, usually in lieu of a church tower. It consists of a gable end in stone, with small hollow semi-circular arches where the church bells are placed...

s instead of towers, a feature which, according to some authors, is characteristic of the simplicity of much architecture in the Romanesque style.

Transitional style


During the 12th century, features that were to become typical of Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

 began to appear. It is not uncommon, for example, for a part of building that has been constructed over a lengthy period extending into the 12th century, to have very similar arcading of both semi-circular and pointed shape, or windows that are identical in height and width, but in which the later ones are pointed. This can be seen on the towers of Tournai Cathedral
Tournai Cathedral
The Cathedral of Our Lady is Roman Catholic church, see of the Diocese of Tournai in Tournai, Belgium. It has been classified both as a Wallonia's major heritage since 1936 and as a World Heritage Site since 2000.-History:...

 and on the western towers and facade at Ely Cathedral
Ely Cathedral
Ely Cathedral is the principal church of the Diocese of Ely, in Cambridgeshire, England, and is the seat of the Bishop of Ely and a suffragan bishop, the Bishop of Huntingdon...

. Other variations that appear to hover between Romanesque and Gothic occur, such as the facade designed by Abbot Suger
Abbot Suger
Suger was one of the last Frankish abbot-statesmen, an historian, and the influential first patron of Gothic architecture....

 at the Abbey of Saint-Denis which retains much that is Romanesque in its appearance, and the Facade of Laon Cathedral which, despite its Gothic form, has round arches.


Romanesque influence


Paris and its surrounding area were quick to adopt the Gothic style of Abbot Suger Abbey of Saint-Denis in the 12th century but other parts of France were slower to take it up, and provincial churches continued to be built in the heavy manner and rubble stone of the Romanesque, even when the openings were treated with the fashionable pointed arch.

In England, the Romanesque groundplan, which in that country commonly had a very long nave, continued to affect the style of building of cathedrals and those large abbey churches which were also to become cathedrals in the 16th century. Despite the fact that English cathedrals were rebuilt in many stages, substantial areas of Norman building can be seen in many of them, particularly in the nave arcades. In the case of Winchester Cathedral
Winchester Cathedral
Winchester Cathedral at Winchester in Hampshire is one of the largest cathedrals in England, with the longest nave and overall length of any Gothic cathedral in Europe...

, the Gothic arches were literally carved out of the existent Norman piers.

In Italy, although many churches such as Florence Cathedral and Santa Maria Novella were built in the Gothic style, sturdy columns with capitals of a modified Corinthian form continued to be used. The pointed vault was utilised where convenient, but it is commonly interspersed with semicircular arches and vaults wherever they conveniently fit. The facades of Gothic churches in Italy are not always easily distinguishable from the Romanesque.

Germany was not quick to adopt the Gothic style, and when it did so, often the buildings were modelled very directly upon French cathedrals, as Cologne Cathedral
Cologne Cathedral
Cologne Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church in Cologne, Germany. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne and the administration of the Archdiocese of Cologne. It is renowned monument of German Catholicism and Gothic architecture and is a World Heritage Site...

 was modelled on Amiens. The smaller churches and abbeys continued to be constructed in a more provincial Romanesque manner, the date only being registered by the pointed window openings.

Romanesque castles, houses and other buildings


The Romanesque period was a time of great development in the design and construction of defensive architecture. After churches and the monastic buildings with which they are often associated, castles are the most numerous type of building of the period. While most are in ruins through the action of war and politics, others, like William the Conqueror's White Tower within the Tower of London
Tower of London
Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space...

 have remained almost intact.

In some regions, particularly Germany, large palace
Palace
A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop. The word itself is derived from the Latin name Palātium, for Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome. In many parts of Europe, the...

s were built for rulers and bishops. Local lords built great hall
Great hall
A great hall is the main room of a royal palace, nobleman's castle or a large manor house in the Middle Ages, and in the country houses of the 16th and early 17th centuries. At that time the word great simply meant big, and had not acquired its modern connotations of excellence...

s in the countryside, while rich merchants built grand town houses. In Italy, city councils constructed town halls, while wealthy cities of Northern Europe protected their trading interests with warehouse
Warehouse
A warehouse is a commercial building for storage of goods. Warehouses are used by manufacturers, importers, exporters, wholesalers, transport businesses, customs, etc. They are usually large plain buildings in industrial areas of cities and towns. They usually have loading docks to load and unload...

s and commercial premises. All over Europe, dwellers of the town and country built houses to live in, some of which, sturdily constructed in stone, have remained to this day with sufficient of their form and details intact to give a picture of the style of domestic architecture that was in fashion at the time.

Examples of all these types of buildings can be found scattered across Europe, sometimes as isolated survivals like the two merchants' houses on opposite sides of Steep Hill in Lincoln, England, and sometimes giving form to a whole medieval city like San Gimignano
San Gimignano
San Gimignano is a small walled medieval hill town in the province of Siena, Tuscany, north-central Italy. It is mainly famous for its medieval architecture, especially its towers, which may be seen from several kilometres outside the town....

 in Tuscany, Italy. These buildings are the subject of a separate article.

Romanesque Revival



During the 19th century, when Gothic Revival architecture
Gothic Revival architecture
The Gothic Revival is an architectural movement that began in the 1740s in England...

 was fashionable, buildings were occasionally designed in the Romanesque style. There are a number of Romanesque Revival churches, dating from as early as the 1830s and continuing into the 20th century where the massive and "brutal" quality of the Romanesque style was appreciated and designed in brick.

The Natural History Museum, London designed by Alfred Waterhouse
Alfred Waterhouse
Alfred Waterhouse was a British architect, particularly associated with the Victorian Gothic Revival architecture. He is perhaps best known for his design for the Natural History Museum in London, and Manchester Town Hall, although he also built a wide variety of other buildings throughout the...

, 1879, on the other hand, is a Romanesque revival building which makes full use of the decorative potential of Romanesque arcading and architectural sculpture. The Romanesque appearance has been achieved while freely adapting an overall style to suit the function of the building. The columns of the foyer, for example, give an impression of incised geometric design similar to those of Durham Cathedral. However, the sources of the incised patterns are the trunks of palms, cycads and tropical tree ferns. The animal motifs, of which there are many, include rare and exotic species.

The type of modern buildings for which the Romanesque style was most frequently adapted was the warehouse, where a lack of large windows and an appearance of great strength and stability were desirable features. These buildings, generally of brick, frequently have flattened buttresses rising to wide arches at the upper levels after the manner of some Italian Romanesque facades. This style was adapted to suit commercial buildings by opening the spaces between the arches into large windows, the brick walls becoming a shell to a building that was essentially of modern steel-frame construction, the architect Henry Hobson Richardson
Henry Hobson Richardson
Henry Hobson Richardson was a prominent American architect who designed buildings in Albany, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and other cities. The style he popularized is named for him: Richardsonian Romanesque...

 giving his name to the style, Richardsonian Romanesque
Richardsonian Romanesque
Richardsonian Romanesque is a style of Romanesque Revival architecture named after architect Henry Hobson Richardson, whose masterpiece is Trinity Church, Boston , designated a National Historic Landmark...

. Good examples of the style are Marshall Fields store, Chicago by H.H.Richardson, 1885, and the Chadwick Lead Works in Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

 USA by William Preston
William G. Preston
William G. Preston was an American architect. He was active in Boston and Georgia, where he designed the De Soto Hotel and the Savannah Volunteer Guards Armory...

, 1887. The style also lent itself to the building of cloth mills, steelworks and powerstations.

Sources

  • V.I. Atroshenko and Judith Collins, The Origins of the Romanesque, Lund Humphries, London, 1985, ISBN 085331487X
  • Rolf Toman, Romanesque: Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, Könemann, (1997), ISBN 3-89508-447-6
  • Banister Fletcher
    Banister Fletcher
    Sir Banister Flight Fletcher was an English architect and architectural historian, as was his father, also named Banister Fletcher....

    , A History of Architecture on the Comparative method (2001). Elsevier Science & Technology. ISBN 0-7506-2267-9.
  • Helen Gardner
    Helen Gardner (art historian)
    Helen Gardner was an American art historian and educator. Her Art Through the Ages remains a standard text for American art history classes....

    ; Fred S. Kleiner, Christin J. Mamiya, Gardner's Art through the Ages. Thomson Wadsworth, (2004) ISBN 0-15-505090-7.
  • George Holmes, editor, The Oxford Illustrated History of Medieval Europe, Oxford University Press, (1992) ISBN 0-19-820073-0
  • René Huyghe, Larousse Encyclopedia of Byzantine and Medieval Art, Paul Hamlyn, (1958)
  • François Ischer, Building the Great Cathedrals. Harry N. Abrams, (1998). ISBN 0-8109-4017-5.
  • Nikolaus Pevsner
    Nikolaus Pevsner
    Sir Nikolaus Bernhard Leon Pevsner, CBE, FBA was a German-born British scholar of history of art and, especially, of history of architecture...

    , An Outline of European Architecture. Pelican Books (1964)
  • John Beckwith, Early Medieval Art, Thames and Hudson, (1964)
  • Peter Kidson, The Medieval World, Paul Hamlyn, (1967)
  • T. Francis Bumpus,, The Cathedrals and Churches of Belgium, T. Werner Laurie. (1928)
  • Alec Clifton-Taylor, The Cathedrals of England, Thames and Hudson (1967)
  • John Harvey
    John Harvey
    -People:*John Harvey , English stage and film actor*John Harvey , American actor*John Harvey , Retired National Football League running back...

    ,
    English Cathedrals, Batsford (1961).
  • Trewin Copplestone, World Architecture, and Illustrated History, Paul Hamlyn, (1963)

See also


  • List of Romanesque architecture
  • Regional characteristics of Romanesque architecture
    Regional characteristics of Romanesque architecture
    Romanesque architecture is the term that is used to describe the architecture of Europe which emerged in the late 10th century and evolved into the Gothic style during the 12th century...

  • Romanesque secular and domestic architecture
    Romanesque secular and domestic architecture
    Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. The term "Romanesque" is usually used for the period from the 10th to the 12th century with "Pre-Romanesque" and "First Romanesque" being applied to earlier buildings with Romanesque...

  • Romanesque art
    Romanesque art
    Romanesque art refers to the art of Western Europe from approximately 1000 AD to the rise of the Gothic style in the 13th century, or later, depending on region. The preceding period is increasingly known as the Pre-Romanesque...

  • Romanesque sculpture

External links