After the death of Justinian, the Lombards (in Latin: Langobardī) invaded Italy in 565, and established a German kingdom in northern Italy. The period of their rule lasted until 774. The Lombard occupation broke Rome off from the rest of Byzantine Italy, and the Pope became a secular governor alongside his being a spiritual leader.
The Nomadic Seljuk Turks (called so after their leader whose name was Seljuq) who accepted the religion of Islam fanatically, a fact which did not stop them from fighting other Muslims, conquered in the 11th century the eastern part of the Muslim state, and Jerusalem itself (in 1071) .
The Crusades had much effect on the entire economic and political life, being Europe's economic impetus, and increasing the movement of people and goods across the continent. Pilgrimages to holy and far places became popular. Many enjoyed it as contemporary tourists do.
The absence of knights in the countries of the crusaders' origin expanded the power of the kings of England and France, and increased the nationalist sentiment in their countries. In the 11th and 12th centuries, Mediterranean trade was revived and developed in Europe. The fiefs, known to us today from the word "bourg" which was added to the names of cities, attracted the trade routes to them. These were the seeds, from which the market towns developed. Economic life was renewed and cities developed.
During the years 1060-1091, the Normans conquered Sicily from the Muslims, and at the end of the tenth century, they often attacked England. King Edward the Confessor appointed Normans positions in the church and encouraged Normans to immigrate to England. In 1066, William, the Duke of Normandy, conquered England, and became the king of England. The Norman Conquest turned England into a province of French culture and French language became the language of the nobles.
William and his successors continued to rule Normandy. A large part of France, first Normandy, and later the Kingdom of Anjou, remained subject to the power of the kings of England until the early 13th century. The situation where England intervened in the political affairs of France, led to wars that lasted hundreds of years between England and France.
During this phase began the rise and strengthening of Western European countries, and Europe started to get its modern shape. Between the years 1070 -1130, the middle classes in many cities revolted to gain political independence of the feudal system. Kings in the various countries subdued the noble feudal lords and the citizens of the cities, and thus formed a national unity. The English, who were the first to set up a national state, were followed by the French and later by the Spaniards.
With the revival of city life in Europe in the 12th century, began an intellectual renaissance. Schools of law and medicine, philosophy and theology received new impetus. Secular universities were founded in Italy. Bologna University was known as center of law studies, and in Paris, there was a university center of theological studies. Unlike the schools of monasteries, which were located in isolated rural areas, unable to hold opinions exchange, the universities were in the cities.
Like many other names given to periods and styles, the name "Romanesque" (literally: "a Roman") was not coined by its contemporaries, but appeared later. It was coined in the early 19th century in Normandy, when medieval art was rediscovered and its monumentality stirred up enthusiasm. Some see the name "Renaissance" fitting this period not less than that of the 15th century in Italy.
In the tenth century, which is considered pre-Romanesque, we already find the characteristics of Romanesque architecture. Above the nave appeared a vault, and a dome above squinches. In decoration appeared "Lombard bands" and niches. The main areas where we find the beginnings of Romanesque architecture are Catalonia (in the tenth century), which was influenced by Muslim art in Spain, and Lombardy in northern Italy.
Romanesque architecture is based on Roman traditions and Roman construction in early Christianity. Roman remains found in areas that were once provinces of the Roman Empire influenced the medieval builders, and were natural role models.
The most prominent features of the Romanesque style are: round arches, massive stone building resembling its Roman precedent, barrel vaults, crossing vaults, and heavy pillars that support them. In Romanesque buildings, we find large wall areas. Stone slabs placed one on the top of the other create a massive wall. The appearance of fortified buildings, including churches, during this period can be attributed to the abundance of civil wars during this period.
In Romanesque architecture we find horizontal and vertical divisions of the internal and external walls of the church. The need for massive vaults led to building thick supporting walls and small openings, which influenced the nature of light inside the church.
One of the innovations of Romanesque architecture was the big gate in the front of the church and its rich sculpture. Likewise, a new design characterized the capitals. For the first time we find capitals showing stories in high relief such as the story of Noah's Ark, scenes from the life of Jesus' childhood and scenes from the lives of saints.
Since Imperial Roman architecture, Romanesque style was the first to conquer the whole of Europe. The spread of the style can be attributed to the relative mobility of people during this period. Merchants, nobles, knights, artisans and peasants moved around Europe for trade and pilgrimage. Pilgrimage routes helped spread the style.
As the architects in early Christianity, during the Romanesque, builders were forced to build without the pozzolana mortar as the basis for concrete construction in Rome. A strong type of cement, such as the erosion of the Rhine river, or scaly stone mentioned by Palladio, were found in several places, but these materials were not common, and had no effect on construction techniques that were prevalent during Romanesque architecture. In many buildings constructed during this period, weak cement was used for construction. The result of this construction was that water, inevitably seeps over time, and tends to infiltrate and carry out the mortar, leaving spaces sometimes causing the collapse of the building. This was not a big problem for a few generations after the construction, but was felt later. This is why there were structure problems requiring constant repairs, which characterize Romanesque buildings.
Comparing the Romanesque construction with its Roman predecessor, shows a distinct advantage of Roman concrete construction with pozzolana cement. The preservation level of Roman buildings, although they are older, is much higher than that of the Romanesque buildings.
The Romanesque builders had to solve two problems: to ensure the stability of the structure, and illuminate its interior, without compromising its stability. The lighting in Romanesque buildings is usually not enough. In order to support the structure, the builders used double arches inside the church to strengthen the vaults. These arches always protrude from the barrel vault, but they do not appear in all areas where Romanesque was the style. In Auburn, for example, they do not appear. The pillar bearing the weight of the Romanesque structure is heavy and massive, round, polygonal or complex shaped.
Means used by the builders to strengthen the structure were massive buttresses, which can be seen on the exterior of the building. Their appearance is simple and their function is to strengthen the walls and neutralize the pressure from the arches. Sometimes flying buttresses were added to them to strengthen the resistance of the wall.
In England, Romanesque construction method (called Norman) was simple. This can be attributed to unskilled Saxon workers who were used to build in wood rather than in stone. The massive appearance of the Norman buildings can be misleading. In most cases, the pillars are made of simple bricks or stone exterior stuffed with gravel.
Romanesque construction technique does not always take into account the weather. The writer Prosper Mérimée (1803 – 1870), who also studied medieval art, wrote that it was amazing to see how climate had little effect on the roofs of the northern churches, which, being flat, did not suit weather conditions. He noted that in the East, construction more suited the weather conditions.
A typical Romanesque church combines, in one way or another, a basilica plan with stone vaults. Emphasis was placed on length, rather than height. Its ground plan is Latin cross shaped which can be seen when looking from above at the church. The highlighted cross became a central element later in Gothic church architecture.
Over the square of the intersection typically appears a Romanesque dome, and above it, a bell tower. These presented a hierarchical scheme vertically oriented in addition to the horizontal orientation.
Domes on a square base are found in many churches built in Romanesque style. Compared with the Byzantine architects, Romanesque architects built a dome in the shape of half-full ball carried over a base of pendentives and arches. The use of squinches, usually appears in bell towers whose square base on which the squinches are placed, becomes an octagon.
Another type of vault, which we find in the Romanesque church, besides the barrel vault and the vault placed on square basis is the vault shaped like a half-dome, characteristic of the apse and the radiating chapels.
The nave in the Romanesque church is usually taller and narrower than that in churches from previous periods, to allow more room for windows in the clerestory. These windows were small and often decorated with moldings, reliefs and sculptures. In the clerestory of the church of Autun, in each bay, there is a window, which occupies only one third of the length of the bay. In Paray Le Monial there are three windows in one bay, but their height occupies only a small part of the height of the clerestory. As a result, the nave and choir are relatively dim.
The plan of the church also suited the requirements of the liturgy, which were a large crowd, chorus of singing priests and the separation between the priests and the crowd. The vaults significantly improved the acoustics of the church and played an important role in musical rituals.
One of the innovations in Romanesque style is the design of the gate. For the first time we find archivolts, decorated with concentric arches getting smaller and smaller into the depth of the gate. Such design of arches is also found in the arcades, vaults and windows. In the front gate a tympanum (the area between the arch of the gate and between the beam) is often found.
Sometimes to the religious significance of the statues was added their function as guardians of the place. Thus, statues of lions were placed to guard the church.
Most of the construction activity of Romanesque churches was financed by communities of monks. Abbots were responsible for building the monasteries. They initiated the construction and raised money to finance it. Less often, a patron who was a citizen financed it.
Many churches and cathedrals built during the Romanesque were largely modified or replaced later by other churches. In some places Romanesque forms dominate, with Gothic additions.
The Romanesque period was the golden age of monasteries. Communities of monks in Cluny and Cîtaux, both in Burgundy, became not only spiritual centers, but also intellectual, artistic, and political centers, which were within a short period, international centers.
When we refer to the Romanesque churches, we must remember the importance of pilgrimage routes to the churches of Santiago in Compostela, Rome, and Jerusalem. Europe became a network of pilgrimage routes. The routes to Santiago in Compostela pilgrimage spread across France and led to the Pyrenees. One of the routes passed through Chartres, Orleans, Tours and Poitiers. Another route passed through Vezeley, Puy and Conque, and a third passed through Earl, San Gilles and Toulouse. Thus, we can understand the obvious similarity between the churches of Santiago in Compostela, San Sernin in Toulouse and St. Martial de Limoges (which no longer exists).
The Order of Cluny contributed greatly to the development of immigration routes. The characteristics of Cluny, such as ambulatory and radiating chapels, which were designed to facilitate the access of the faithful to the relics, can be found in most abbey churches along the pilgrimage routes, even when they were integrated into local traditions. Such ambulatory and chapels we have already seen in the plan of the monastery of Saint Gallen from the ninth century.
In 1098 was established the monastery of Cîteaux in Burgundy, which gave its name to the Cistercian Order, which was designed to reform the order of Cluny, and live according to the rules of St. Benedict, as they are written. The Cistercian rules dictated the establishment of monasteries out of town, and in isolated areas. The new order of Citaux, which was joined by Bernard of Clairvaux in 1112, had in 1152, the year of Bernard's death, 343 monasteries, and in 1200 CE, approximately 700 monasteries.
While the success of the Order of Cluny stemmed from the desire of Europe to distance itself from the barbarism of the tenth and eleventh centuries, the success of the Cistercian Order derived from the ambition to strictness and desire to break away from the pleasures of the Western world. The Cistercian Order and its spiritual leader, Bernard of Clairvaux, abandoned the life of luxury and preached the love of God. They moved away from all the pleasures of the world, to devote themselves in body and soul to God.
The only Cistercian church that kept its original appearance, is Fontenay monastery (founded in 1119, built during the years 1139-1147), which represents the Cistercian ideals. It is located in a forested area, surrounded by a wall and in its center was a cloister. The church, whose ground plan is cross-shaped, is simple in its exterior and interior, and has no decorations. Beauty is achieved by the simplicity of the building. In the nave, which has a pointed barrel vault, dominates dim light, which creates a mysterious atmosphere.
Image - Fontenay monastery, a look at the apse
Image - Fontenay Monastery plan
The purity of forms and lack of ornament, fit well with the spiritual aspirations of the Cistercian Order expressing the mysteries of faith and the light of reason. In the 11th century, no one doubted the priority of faith over reason. The Order of Citaux saw the Virgin as protecting the Cistercian churches. Accordingly, during the 12th century, most churches were called "Notre Dame" (literally in French: "Our Lady") - "Notre Dame de Lyon", "Notre Dame d'Amiens", "Notre Dame de Paris" and the like. Leonardo da Vinci wrote about it, that many, who believe in the Son, build temples only for the mother.
Local Romanesque Styles in Architecture
There was no such period in the history of architecture, which has introduced large variety of façades and plans of churches, as the Romanesque period. Multiplicity of architectural styles reflects the feudal fragmentation that existed during this period. Below are presented the unique architectural features in the various regions in France, Italy, England (where Romanesque is called Norman), and the Rhine in Germany.
French Romanesque architecture can be divided into two major stylistic groups: one group is churches with a nave and two or four side aisles, transepts and apses, a choir with ambulatory and radiating chapels. A significant feature of these churches is the weswerk. A direct light is penetrating to the side aisles and galleries, and the nave is lit indirectly. The second group is churches that show Byzantine and Muslim influence, and are characterized by a series of domes. These churches have no side aisles, but sometimes they have transepts. Apses are in the same width as the nave, and sometimes they have radiating chapels. A more detailed outline of the Romanesque style in France shows the various characteristics of each region. The regions are Provence, Auvergne and Languedoc, Aquitaine, Poitou, Burgundy and Normandy.
The architects of Provence built little churches with harmonic proportions. Among the ancient elements that we find in these churches are façades decorated with gables, entablatures, and fluted pilasters with Corinthian capitals. In the sculptures can be seen heavy and parallel folds reminiscent of statues of the Gallo - Roman tombs. Decorative elements resemble decorative elements of Roman architecture.
Image - Church of St. Tropez in Arles
The interior of the church of St Trophime in Arles represents the Romanesque architecture in Provence. To the pillars are attached pilasters, which support large arcades. The arches, which are high, define the high position of the windows. The small dimensions of these windows allow some light penetration. To the darkness of the church contributes the fact that from the side aisles there is no direct light to enter the nave. The vaults are very high, and they seem to lack decorative detail. In its severe look, this assemblage represents the culmination, and the end of the Romanesque style in Provence.
In Provence region, the construction technique has changed over time. Using rubble was replaced by the use of stones placed in rows, one atop the other.
The main churches in Provence include, in addition to St. Gilles du Gard and St. Tropez in Arles, the Cathedrals of Avignon, Sisteron, and Carpendra.
Romanesque in Auvergne and Languedoc
Auvergne area is in central France, and Languedoc ("langue" in French, literally "tongue", and "oc" in the local dialect - "Yes") is a historical province in southern France bordering the Mediterranean Sea in the south, and the river Rhone in the east. In 121 BCE, Languedoc became part of the Roman province. In the ninth century, Toulouse develop into the cultural center of Languedoc and in 924 CE passed to the hands of the dukes of Languedoc. Here developed a culture based on a unique dialect of the French language, after which the region was named. In this region, the word "Yes" is "oc", as opposed to "oil" (Today "oui").
In the mountainous region of Auvergne, there is a group of abbey churches built since the late 11th century. The most striking feature is half- barrel vaults over the side aisles, built according to the principle of the flying buttresses supporting the structure in Gothic cathedrals, which will be discussed later on. These vaults support the barrel vault which is over the nave. Light enters the church through the windows in the side aisles and galleries, and as a result, the lighting in these churches is inadequate, and the interior of the church is always dim.
The main type of church in Auvergne is a church with a large nave, and galleries above the side aisles. A narthex usually precedes the nave. The various parts of the church are always covered with barrel vaults. Columns are adjacent to the corners of the pillars. Another important feature is the ambulatory, from which chapels are radiating.
Image - St. Nectar church
The church of Notre Dame de Clermont Ferrand represents well the character of the churches of Auvergne. All the characteristics of the churches of Auvergne are found in this church, except for the columns that attached only to two pillars in the nave.
The church of St. Sernin, which was dedicated to St. Saturninus who brought the Gospel to Languedoc, is a church of pilgrims, located on the route of pilgrimage to Santiago in Compostela. It was built during the years 1150-1060 and was dedicated in 1096. The main building material was re-used Roman bricks.
The church of St. Sernin is a large monument with a wide cross-shaped ground plan. Its nave is divided into two wall zones: arcade and gallery. Like the church of San Pietro in Rome, or the Church of Cluny III, San Sernin is a large church, with a nave and four side aisles.
The upper floors of the tower were added in the 13th century.
The impact of the schools of Auvergne and Languedoc, reached Spain. The ground plan and side section of the church of Santiago in Compostela (1078-1128) were significantly influenced by those of the church of San Sernin in Toulouse. The nave has galleries. Around the choir, there are the ambulatory and radiating chapels. The nave and the transepts have lower side aisles. Barrel vaults cover the entire structure. Over the area of intersection towers an octagonal tower. In the western façade, there are two towers.
St. Front de Perigueux Cathedral, built mostly in the second quarter of the 12th century (restored, and in fact rebuilt in the 19th century), represents well the architecture of Equitaine. It was built on a site where there was a small church from the 10-11th centuries, which was destroyed by fire in 1120.
Image - St. Front in Perigueux
The region of Poitou, located in central western France, was conquered by the Romans in 56 BCE, and became part of Aquitaine province. The Visigoths took over this area in 418, but it fell in the hands of the Franks in 507. In 732 Emperor Charles Martel pushed the Muslim invasion to Poitiers. In the 11th and 12th centuries the dukes of Poitou were also the dukes of Aquitaine, and the importance of Poitiers increased. In 1152, Poitou passed to British rule when Eleonora of Aquitaine married Henry II who later became King of England.
One notable aspect of the architecture of Poitou region, is covering the nave and side aisles with pitched roof, the height of the nave hardly rises above the level of the side aisles. These churches have no galleries or clerestories. Instead, there are tall pillars that reach the vaults. Designing the church in this way allows the penetration of light only through the windows of the outer walls of the side aisles.
In the facades of churches in this area, the surface of the entire wall is adorned with statues and creates at a distance a strong impression of decoration. Sometimes the figures are exceedingly elongated to match the lines of the archivolts. In Poitou region there is no tympanum in the church. In these churches, there are a nave and side aisles, transept, and a choir with ambulatory and radiating chapels.
The oldest church with vaults in Poitou is the Church of St. Savin, which was built in the 11th century. A pointed barrel vault rises in the nave above large arcades that are also pointed and made of round and slender columns.
Image - Notre Dame La Grand de Poitier
The Romanesque churches of Poitou, also include, besides those mentioned, St. Europe and Sainte Croix in Bordeaux.
The Romanesque of Burgundy
Image - The church of the Madeleine in Vezeley, the nave
The first building of the Church of Cluny, Cluny I, established in 910, was not of great importance, being small in dimensions. The monastery church had only a nave without side aisles.
Image - Cluny - plan and elevation
The façade of Cluny III had two towers. The plan of the church and the buildings adjacent to it followed the requirements of the Order. There were four side aisles, and a narthex leading to them. In addition, there were also two transepts and an apse with ambulatory and radiating chapels.
Until the church of St. Peter in Rome was built in the 16th and 17th centuries, Cluny III was the largest church in the West. Its colossal dimensions reflected the aspirations of the Order of Cluny to prestige and universality. Following the French Revolution, its buildings were destroyed during the years 1798-1823. The southern arm of the great transept has survived along with capitals from the apse.
The abbey church of Cluny was one of the most important monuments of early Romanesque architecture in France. The disappearance of this structure is one of the big losses in the history of architecture, as it is a missing link.
Vezelay is the starting point from which Gothic architecture would develop. The openings in the wall of the triforium with gallery and clerestory are typical of Burgundy. The tall tower in the intersection originates in local tradition. The façade, not including the tower, is divided into three floors. The entrance gate on the first floor consists of three arcades, and above this floor there are two floors separated by cornices. This division matches the division of the wall zones inside the church. Such is also the division in Notre Dame in Dijon. This division apparently drew inspiration from Italian architecture. Possibly the inspiration comes from the church of Santa Maria della Pieve in Arezzo. These influences reached France and there they went through changes that made the church look more elegant. The combination of strength and gentleness is the essence of the Burgundian Romanesque style.
It is important to note that the first step in the development of the crossed vault and the openings in the walls took place in Normandy. In Romanesque architecture of Normandy, the walls support the pointed arches, but the full expression of these would appear decades later, with the development of the Gothic style. The first pointed arches would appear in the Cathedral of Durham in England.
Romanesque in Normandy
Significant progress in shaping the nave's walls was achieved at the Church of Notre Dame in Jumièges (1040-1067). This is the most ancient church in this area, and we know the date of its construction. Today one can see its ruins attesting to the splendor and grandeur of the church, which was the most important in Normandy. Its western facade, with its tall towers reaching a height exceeding 50 m, is the earliest examples of a westwerk with gable located in the center. This is also the first church in this area with pointed vaults.
Image - The Abbey of Jumieges
The abbey of Jumièges used the formula of proportions, according to which the size of a square shaped bay in the nave equals two rectangular bays of the side aisles. One can see the buttresses appearing alternately (between any two arches in the arcade), and very high clerestory.
Image - St. Etienne in Caen
Image - St. Trinite in Caen, Facade
Image - St Trinite in Caen , the nave
Romanesque architecture took root across Europe and reached England. The term "Norman style" was coined in the 19th century England to describe a style of Romanesque art of Normandy in northwestern France and in the regions occupied by the French Normans in England. Today this term is attributed only to English Romanesque.
The great Norman abbey church had the shape of a Latin cross, deep gate, thick walls and pillars. The nave was long, the transept was doubled and the apse was rectangular. The nave initially had a flat wooden ceiling later replaced by vaults. The side aisles had crossed vaults. The side section of the church typically has three floors almost equal in height, with large galleries. Cloisters and other monastery buildings, stand along the church. The western part of the church was usually the last to be built, which explains their being built in the latest style. This part of the Norman church sometimes expanded and became a large structure in the westwerk style, probably inspired by German examples, rather than by French ones.
Image - Durham Cathedral interior
The division of the wall of the nave in Durham is typical of the division of the walls of naves in Normandy. The wall is divided into three floors: arcade, gallery floor with two bays next to each bay of the nave, and clerestory.
The pillars in Durham show an original rich decoration. They are round, and in each of them dominates a repetitive bold pattern such as zigzag, lines and diamond, appearing alternately, and creating a complex rhythm. These patterns conceal the bulky nature of the pillars. Their capitals, however, are simple. The arcades and the arches of the gallery are carved with decoration of zigzag patterns, echoing the zigzag patterns that appear in some of the pillars.
Apart from the Church of Durham, there were Norman churches such as Ely (1081 CE), Peterborough Abbey (1118), Southwell (1108 - 1114), and Fountains Abbey (founded in 1135) which were close to the churches in Normandy in their characteristics. These are large structures with galleries, thick walls and massive pillars, high ceilings in the nave, usually built of wood, stone vaults in the side aisles and a tower of illumination (lanterna) over the area of intersection.
Like in France, the different character of the various regions of Romanesque architecture in Italy reflects lack of political unity. The main versions of Italian Romanesque, are those that developed in Lombardy, Tuscany and Sicily. Lombardy in northern Italy began the revival of Roman architecture, which led to the development of Romanesque architecture in Italy. Here in a prosperous region in Europe emerged an architectural style whose influence expanded to Germany and Spain. Tuscany has created a style combining classic influences with Byzantine ones. Sicilian Romanesque style combines Norman, Muslim and Byzantine influences.
Lombard Romanesque flourished mainly in Lombardy, a region in northern Italy, from Milan in the west to Bologna in the east. It feeds on Roman tradition and early Christian period that includes the monuments of Ravenna. Churches of the basilica-type from early Christian era, and the type of the Byzantine churches in Ravenna, were built in this region by mid 11th century, and in some areas even later.
Image - St. Ambrogio in Milan
Lombard bands decorate the church, internally and in externally.
Tuscan Romanesque is lighter and more elegant than that of the northern cities. Except for the side aisles of the Cathedral of Pisa, which were vaulted, churches had wooden ceilings, which allowed the use of columns instead of pillars separating between the nave and the side aisles. The façades were decorated with lush decoration almost all over their walls, or blind arcades, as is seen in Pisa. Sometimes the entire wall is divided into marble panels in black and white, like in San Miniato al Monte.
Image - St Giovani Baptistery in Florence
The arcades of the nave, which are arranged in threes and separated by massive pillars, to which are attached half columns with Corinthian capitals, support the arches that cross the nave.
Image - St. Miniato al Monte
The cathedral, which is dominated by horizontal lines, has a Latin cross shaped ground plan, with a nave and four side aisles. The side aisles open into the transept, which also has side aisles. A dome is towering above the intersection area. The eastern part of the church was built during the years 1264-1270.
The field of miracles , Pisa
The complex of buildings constituted a significant innovation. Camillo Sitte (1843-1903) compares the plan of the Pisa Duomo Square to that of the Acropolis in Athens. This impressive square is unique, being isolated from the world around it, with no civilian buildings to remind of everyday life.
Some see a connection between the complex of buildings in Pisa and the temple on the Temple Mount site in Jerusalem. The connection that was created by the Crusades between the Holy Land and Europe during this period, explains the similarities between the "field of miracles" and the complex of mosques on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The monotonous repetition of patterns, which we find in the Cathedral of Pisa, is typical Italian, and appears inside the church and on its exterior. Even the dome in the intersection area is not the prominent point in the structure. Lack of towers that are part of the cathedral's structure is typical of the Italian churches from this period. The bell tower was built near the church, apart from it, a characteristic unique to the architecture of churches in Italy.
Romanesque architecture in Sicily fed on foreign sources of inspiration. The Arab rule in Sicily, which began in 827, and the Normans who came to Sicily in 1030, left their mark on the architecture of the island. We find Muslim and Norman influences, combined with Byzantine and Greek influences, represented by the Greeks, who had already settled the island in ancient times.
The influence of Islamic ornament explains the very delicate decoration in this area. Arab motifs appear in the exterior of the building. Inside, the decoration is based on mosaics. Local architecture adopted the shape of the cross for churches and combined it with eastern domes. A formula combining radiant plan with a plan of long nave developed. This type of plan with domes is based on the model of Constantinople.
Image - Monreale Cathedral - apse
Patterns unique to Sicily, reminiscent of embroidery are seen on the outside wall of the Church of Monreale. Colored stones and ceramics, decorate the pillars. The exterior look Combines Arabic and Byzantine traditions. Such decoration, hiding completely the structure of the church, is typical of Sicilian architecture.
Vaults came late to this area, and were adopted in other regions in Germany later still.
Image - Rhomboid domes Church of the Apostles
Image - Cathedral St. Marry and St. Stephen in Speyer
The construction of the monumental cathedral in Speyer began between the years 1027-1030, under the reign of Emperor Conrad II. Henry IV was forced to make basic renovations in the church, soon after it was dedicated. The reason for the failure of the architect was the excessive width of the nave. The spectacular towers in Speyer were restored after 1095. The crypt's walls were strengthened. Two bell towers were built instead of the stair towers, and an apse was built for the choir. In the 19th century the church has been restored after being destroyed in the 17th century, and was destroyed again at the end of the 18th century.
Image - Church of Santa Maria Laach
For the most part medieval population lived in huts and shacks that provided very little beyond shelter. In the bigger houses, the main room was a large hall used for cooking, food, and sleep. Before they began to separate the living room from the bedrooms in the 11th and 12th centuries, all the servants lived in one big room 18 m in length and 6 meters in width. A curtain separated the area where the women lived. This large room was roofed by wood and the floor was made of stone, earth, brick or tiles. In northern Europe, they used to cover it with leaves and straw.
The Norman Military conquerors were required to pay special attention to the fortifications to protect their rule and villages, rather than build castles for God. They covered England, especially its southern shoreline, with monuments for the military aristocracy. It was their way to demonstrate the strength of their rule. Fortifications were often built by the bishops. The earliest fortifications built by the conquerors in England were castles of earth and wood.
Image - The White Tower in London
In the White Tower, there is a private chapel, the Chapel of St. John. It can be seen from the outside in the semicircular bulge in the south - east corner of the structure. It is located in the third and fourth floors of the tower. Its presence indicates that the castle also served as a palace. In the chapel, there are a nave with round columns, ambulatory and gallery, without a clerestory.
Image - Chapel of St John in the White tower
In the northeastern corner of the White Tower, there is a stairs tower. A corridor runs around the great halls. The exterior walls show a division into four floors. In each of the three lower floors, there is a uniform row of windows with round arches, variable from floor to floor. There is a balance between the horizontal and vertical lines in the tower. Arches and saw tooth pattern, are the main decoration themes.
After the advent of gunpowder in the 14th century, the castles were not supplied with the proper protection. However, the establishment of relative peace in Europe and after the war period was over and the rise of the merchant class led to the demand for homes more comfortable and better suited to everyday life. Castles were homes, along with being military fortresses. In the late 14th century, many of them were nothing but estates, or fortified palaces. The castles were more domestic and their number increased, until the late 14th century, then they were scattered throughout England.
Such castles were built by the royal family and by the nobility. Those who could not afford castles and palaces built large and fortified estates. The only difference between them and the castles and palaces, was that they were smaller and maintained a more modest agricultural character.
During the Middle Ages, it was expensive to build in stone or brick, Only the rich could afford it. The other houses were built of wood. The king and the aristocracy generally built stone castles. Most of the Norman stone houses were built on two levels. The upper classes did not live on the ground floor of the house, which was very dirty because the ground was not paved. Another reason to avoid living on the ground floor was the small windows, which were designed to keep out unwanted guests. For the same reason, the Norman stone houses had no doors on the ground floor. The entrance was from the first floor above the ground floor, and was accessed via external stone steps.
Image - Castel del Monte in Puglia
In Italy we find fortified round castles such as Castel del Monte in Puglia, whose construction began in 1233. The prosperity in the Italian Romanesque cities began to attract rural lords to build near the markets in the cities. The Nobility intertwined the rural castles with towers in the urban fabric. The Tuscan town of San Giminiano illustrates how the aristocratic class and the merchants fortified their homes with high towers in the 12th and 13th centuries.