EARLY MEDIEVAL AND ROMANESQUE ARCHITECTURE
Reading: Architecture, chapter five; pp. 185--203, 209--213.
The Early Medieval period in architecture extended from about 550 to 1050, and covers three phases: Early Medieval itself (what used to be called the "Dark Ages," around 550--750; Carolingian, 750--950; and Ottonian, 950--1050. These are approximatations, of course. The Romanesque style dominated Europe for about a century, 1050--1150, after which it was supplanted by Gothic in France, but it held on in Italy, Spain, and Germany for another century.
Carolingian and Ottonian buildings epitomize the organization of the feudal, agricultural society formed on the ruins of the Western Roman Empire in Central and western Europe. The Carolingian Empire was formed on French and German soil by Charlemagne after 750 and reached its height to about 850. It declined, and was in part replaced by the Ottonian Empire, based in Germany. Episcopal seats and especially monastic centers were the main cultural centers throughout the Early Medieval, Carolingian and Ottonian eras.
Romanesque Architecture is marked by the integration and monumentalization of elements from Roman, Early Christian and provincial Byzantine architecture. Cathedrals and monastic churches, mostly basilican in type. Plan determined by liturgial demands: High Mass, antiphonal choirs of clergy, separation of clergy and people. Numerous altars with relics, etc. Massive and austere, with heavy walls, small windows. Usually vaulted: clearly defined tactile space and interior. Articulation on exterior and interior by vertical and horizontal members defining main and subordinate divisions. On the exterior, varying combinations of twin facade towers, crossing and transept towers, sharply marked nave, aisles and transept wings, apses with ambulatories and radiating chapels.
On the interior, clearly segregated bays, clearly marked stories and massive supports frequently set in alternating rhythms. Open timber roofs or ribs on vaults (barrel and groin), compound piers and heavy moldings accentuate interior divisions, horizontal and vertical; sometimes half-barrel vaulted galleries with vaulted aisles below; applied members in varied combinations (salient pier buttresses, pilaster strips, engaged shafts, arched corbel tables, string courses, etc.) mark exterior subdivisions. Wide variety of local styles in Tuscany, Lombardy, Rhineland, Burgundy, Normandy and England. Importance of pilgrimage routes (Southern France and Spain), sponsored by Benedictines (Cluny). The great event of the period was the Crusades.