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Features of Romanesque architecture: Round Arch Wall arcade or buttress Cylindrical apse and chapels Square, round or polygonal towers St. Sernin, Toulouse, France (aerial view). c. 1070 - 1120. Romanesque architecture and art, the artistic style that prevailed throughout Europe from the 10th to the mid-12th cent., although it persisted until considerably later in certain areas. The term Romanesque points to the principal source of the style, the buildings of the Roman Empire. In addition to classical elements, however, Romanesque architecture incorporates components of Byzantine and Eastern origin
Introduction In the years 900AD-1450AD virtually all significant architecture, with the exception of castles, and most significant art was religious. Churches, cathedrals and monasteries were the great symbols of the time. The reasons for this being the case are quite complex, but basically it was an age when people felt that the best way to get to heaven was to give things [money, land, labour] to the church. The result was that the Catholic Church [there was no other in Western Europe] became very, very rich, and much money was spent on church building. Also, from about 900AD, three other factors contributed enormously to the wealth of the Church. The first was the development of the worship of relics: the idea was that these relics [examples: the finger of John the Baptist; a sliver of wood from the Cross] were in some way miraculous and when worshipped at a church which had a good relic your prayers were more likely to be answered. A good collection of relics brought in worshippers and hence money to a church, and at the same time worshippers expected the relics to be well housed: so bigger and better churches were built. The second development was the growth of monasticism. Monasteries were very big business in the Middle Ages: they helped look after the old and the poor and the sick; they ran large-scale industrial enterprises [producing woollen cloth for example]; they were the largest landowners in Europe. The reason for all this was that a monastery was an exceptionally good institution to give your money to: the monks would pray for your soul after your death, and even look after you in your old age.
THE CRUSADES TO THE HOLY LAND "Undertake this journey for the remission of your sins, with the assurance of the imperishable glory of the Kingdom of Heaven!“ Pope Urban II Pope Urban II, in one of history's most powerful speeches, launched 200 years of the Crusades at the Council of Clermont, France on November 27, 1095 with this impassioned plea. In a rare public session in an open field, he urged the knights and noblemen to win back the Holy Land, to face their sins, and called upon those present to save their souls and become "Soldiers of Christ." Those who undertook the venture were to wear an emblem in the shape of a red cross on their body. And so derived the word "Crusader," from the Latin word cruciare - to mark with a cross. By the time his speech ended, the captivated audience began shouting "Deus le volt! - God wills it!" The expression became the battle-cry of the crusades. The Crusades were an example of a high-minded ideal betrayed by human nature. The outcome, in the hands of the warring noblemen and knights who became obsessed with power, land, and riches, proved disastrous and really achieved very little.
The medieval mason was not a monk but a highly skilled lay craftsman who combined the roles of architect, builder, craftsman, designer and engineer. Using only a set of compasses, a set square and a staff or rope marked off in halves, thirds and fifths, the mason was able to construct some of the most amazing structures ever built. Contemporary illustrations of master masons show them to have been prosperous middle class professionals. The men they supervised, who did much of the actual carving and laying of stone, were like modern skilled tradesmen, and many younger men still learning the trade worked on the building sites as laborers. Masons shared their secrets openly and many medieval buildings imitate each other in style and technique. Master Masons
For safety and for defense, people in the Middle Ages formed small communities around a central lord or master. Most people lived on a manor, which consisted of the castle, the church, the village, and the surrounding farm land. These manors were isolated, with occasional visits from peddlers, pilgrims on their way to the Crusades, or soldiers from other fiefdoms. In this "feudal" system, the king awarded land grants or "fiefs" to his most important nobles, his barons, and his bishops, in return for their contribution of soldiers for the king's armies. At the lowest echelon of society were the peasants, also called "serfs" or "villeins." In exchange for living and working on his land, known as the "demesne," the lord offered his peasants protection. Feudal System The popes also discovered two very effective tools to consolidate power in their office. Excommunication or the threat of excommunication was the first weapon. Catholics believe salvation depends on perpetual sacramental observance. Cutting a communicant off from the sacraments means one loses salvation. When the pope excommunicated a believer there was really "no hope." The interdict served as the pope's second weapon. Some scholars call it an "ecclesiastical lockout." What excommunication was to individuals, the interdict was to an entire nation. A papal interdict suspended all public worship and withdrew the sacraments. After the interdict went into effect, Citizens usually pressured their rulers to repent or abdicate. Occasionally citizens overthrew their rulers. Pope Innocent III utilized or threatened interdicts 85 times during his papacy.
During this time in Europe there was a very large interest in religion. Large numbers of people traveled on pilgrimages to visit sites of saints and martyrs. People believed that holy relics had the power to do miracles. The most popular destination was Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain. Pilgrimages were big business: certainly on a par with modern day tourism. In the thirteenth century [1200s] perhaps as many as 60% of the people with any significant wealth went on pilgrimages. Many churches were built along the pilgrimage routes and many were specially designed to cope with vast numbers of people The routes to the more famous holy places, such as Santiago, became very well traveled and required larger buildings to hold the large crowds. The basilica style church could not hold the large crowds which were coming. They began to build churches in the shape of the Latin cross. The pilgrim would enter the church through the nave. They would then come to the area known as the crossing, which was under a groin vault, where the vaults of the nave and the transepts would intersect. The relics of the church would be held and displayed in the area of the high alter. The pilgrims would be allowed to view the relics from the ambulatory which allowed for a good traffic pattern for these large crowds. The more famous the relics a church held, the larger the crowds it would attract.
The architects also wanted to get away from using wood for the ceilings. They began to use stone ceilings on the new type of churches. Barrel or groin vaults were used in the ceiling. The stone was supported in the middle by the arch construction but was very heavy. The weight of the ceilings would tend to buckle the walls outward. This pressure outward is known as outward thrust. To support the walls, large piles of stone would be stacked along the wall in intervals to buttress (or support) the walls from pushing. Due to the weight of the stone ceiling, the wall of the church had to be very thick. Windows had to be small to keep the strength of the wall strong. Because of this, the churches interior was dim. This was not solved till the gothic church design was used.
Romanesque churches in the Pilgrimage style, of which St.-Sernin is a fine example, share several features. Built as they were to accommodate large groups of visitors, they were constructed on a grand scale in both length and width. Aisles paralleling the nave and an ambulatory allowing easy access to the chapels radiating off the apse permit the throng to circulate in an orderly fashion. Because of the technical limitations of Romanesque architecture, windows were kept small. The long nave and gallery are common features in pilgrim churches. The high roof sits directly on the ribs which support the round-arched barrel vault. There are two aisles on each side of the nave. The chevet has five chapels. There are four more chapels, two on the eastern side of each of the transept arms.
Part of a church, hall or other building, parallel to the main span and divided from it by an ARCADE of piers or columns or in rare cases by a screen wall.
A semicircular or polygonal aisle enclosing an apse or a straight-ended sanctuary; originally used for processional purposes
A French term for the east end of a church, consiting of APSE and AMBULATORY with or without radiating chapels.
The part of a church where divine service is sung, usually part of the chancel
The space at the intersection of the nave, chancel, and transepts of a church; often surmounted by a crossing tower or dome.
In church architecture, an upper storey over an aisle, opening on to the nave. Also called a tribune
Chapels projecting radially from an AMBULATORY or APSE
Has cruciform plan , includes a five-aisled nave with a central vessel and two side aisles on each side (perhaps based on Old Saint Peters or Cluny III). A strongly projecting transept is also aisled with two chapels off the eastern side of each arm. To the east of the transept is the choir that includes an ambulatory and five radiating chapels. The aisles in the nave, transept, and choir (ambulatory) permit the pilgrim to circumambulate the entire church without entering the central vessel. The eastern portions of the choir are constructed above a crypt . Because of the more complex arrangement of spaces, the portion east of the transept in the Romanesque period is referred to as the choir rather than apse , the term used to describe the semicircular space east of an Early Christian or Byzantine transept or nave. The transept crossing piers and western nave piers are enlarged to support towers. Regular rectangular bays form the length of the nave, transept and choir and the plan proportions (the square bays of the aisles and the rectangular bays of the central vessel) are based on square schematism derived from the square of the transept crossing . Square schematism results in great regularity and harmony of spatial proportions. (Note: In a good ground plan dotted or broken lines usually indicated groin vaults whereas a solid line indicates ribbed vaults). Each nave bay measures ½ of crossing/ aisles are ¼ the size of crossing.