The term Norman architecture is used to categorise styles of Romanesque architecture developed by the Normans in the various lands under their dominion or influence in the 11th and 12th centuries. In particular the term is traditionally used for English Romanesque architecture. The Normans introduced large numbers of castles and fortifications including Norman keeps, and at the same time monasteries, abbeys, churches and cathedrals, in a style characterised by the usual Romanesque rounded arches (particularly over windows and doorways) and especially massive proportions compared to other regional variations of the style.
These Romanesque styles originated in Normandy and became widespread in north western Europe, particularly in England, which contributed considerable development and has the largest number of surviving examples. At about the same time a Norman dynasty ruled in Sicily, producing a distinctive variation incorporating Byzantine and Saracen influences which is also known as Norman architecture, or alternatively as Sicilian Romanesque. Ancient Rome's invention of the arch is the basis of all Norman architecture.
The term may have originated with eighteenth-century antiquarians, but its usage in a sequence of styles has been attributed to Thomas Rickman in his 1817 work An Attempt to Discriminate the Styles of English Architecture from the Conquest to the Reformation which used the labels "Norman, Early English, Decorated, and Perpendicular". The more inclusive term romanesque was used of the Romance languages in English by 1715,and was applied to architecture of the eleventh and twelfth centuries from 1819. Although Edward the Confessor built Westminster Abbey in Romanesque style (now all replaced by later rebuildings) just before the Conquest, which is still believed to be the earliest major Romanesque building in England, no significant remaining Romanesque architecture in Britain can clearly be shown to predate the Conquest, although historians believe that many surviving "Norman" elements in buildings, nearly all churches, may well in fact be Anglo-Saxon.
The Norman arch is a defining point of Norman architecture. Grand archways are designed to evoke feelings of awe and are very commonly seen as the entrance to large religious buildings such as cathedrals. Norman arches are semicircular in form. Early examples have plain, square edges; later ones are often enriched with the zig-zag and roll mouldings. The arches are supported on massive columns, generally plain and cylindrical, sometimes with spiral decoration; occasionally, square-section piers are found. Main doorways have a succession of receding semicircular arches, often decorated with mouldings, typically of chevron or zig-zag design; sometimes there is a tympanum at the back of the head of the arch, which may feature sculpture representing a Biblical scene. Norman windows are mostly small and narrow, generally of a single round-headed light; but sometimes, especially in a bell tower, divided by a shaft into two lights.
Viking invaders arrived at the mouth of the river Seine in 911, at a time when Franks were fighting on horseback and Frankish lords were building castles. Over the next century the population of the territory ceded to the Vikings, now called Normans, adopted these customs as well as Christianity and the langue d'oïl . Norman barons built timber castles on earthen mounds, beginning the development of motte-and-bailey castles, and great stone churches in the Romanesque style of the Franks. By 950, they were building stone keeps. The Normans were among the most travelled peoples of Europe, exposing them to a wide variety of cultural influences which became incorporated in their art and architecture. They elaborated on the early Christian basilica plan. Originally longitudinal with side aisles and an apse they began to add in towers, as at the Church of Saint-Étienne at Caen, in 1067. This would eventually form a model for the larger English cathedrals some 20 years later.
In England, Norman nobles and bishops had influence before the Norman Conquest of 1066, and Norman influences affected late Anglo-Saxon architecture. Edward the Confessor was brought up in Normandy and in 1042 brought masons to work on the first Romanesque building in England, Westminster Abbey. In 1051 he brought in Norman knights who built "motte" castles as a defence against the Welsh. Following the invasion, Normans rapidly constructed motte-and-bailey castles along with churches, abbeys, and more elaborate fortifications such as Norman stone keeps.
The buildings show massive proportions in simple geometries using small bands of sculpture. Paying attention to the concentrated spaces of capitals and round doorways as well as the tympanum under an arch. The "Norman arch" is the rounded, often with mouldings carved or incised onto it for decoration. chevron patterns, frequently termed "zig-zag mouldings", were a frequent signature of the Normans.The cruciform churches often had deep chancels and a square crossing tower which has remained a feature of English ecclesiastical architecture. Hundreds of parish churches were built and the great English cathedrals were founded from 1083.
After a fire damaged Canterbury Cathedral in 1174 Norman masons introduced the new Gothic architecture. Around 1191 Wells Cathedral and Lincoln Cathedral brought in the English Gothic style, and Norman became increasingly a modest style of provincial building.
Scotland also came under early Norman influence with Norman nobles at the court of King Macbeth around 1050. His successor Máel Coluim III overthrew him with English and Norman assistance, and his queen, Margaret, encouraged the church. The Benedictine order founded a monastery at Dunfermline. Her sixth and youngest son, who became King David, built St. Margaret's Chapel at the start of the 12th century.
Kirkliston Parish Church. With rare examples of late 12th century "Norman Transitional" architecture[3
The Normans first landed in Ireland in 1169. Within five years earthwork castles were springing up, and in a further five, work was beginning on some of the earliest of the great stone castles. For example, Hugh de Lacy built a Motte-and-bailey castle on the site of the present day Trim Castle, County Meath, which was attacked and burned in 1173 by the Irish king Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair. De Lacy, however, then constructed a stone castle in its place, which enclosed over three acres within its walls, and this could not be burned down by the Irish. The years between 1177 and 1310 saw the construction of some of the greatest of the Norman castles in Ireland. The Normans settled mostly in an area in the east of Ireland, later known as the Pale, and among other buildings they constructed were Swords Castle in Fingal (North County Dublin), Dublin Castle and Carrickfergus Castle in County Antrim.
The Normans began constructing castles, their trademark architectural piece, in Italy from an early date. William Iron Arm built one at an unidentified location (Stridula) in Calabria in 1045. After the death of Robert Guiscard in 1085, the Mezzogiorno (peninsular southern Italy) experienced a series of civil wars and fell under the control of increasingly weaker princes. Revolts characterised the region until well into the twelfth century and minor lords sought to resist ducal or royal power from within their own castles. In the Molise, the Normans embarked on their most extensive castle-building programme and introduced the opus gallicum technique to Italy. Their clever use of the local stone artisans, together with the vast riches amassed from their enslaved population, made such tremendous feats possible, some as majestic as those of the ancient Roman structures they tried to emulate.
Besides the encastellation of the countryside, the Normans erected several religious buildings which still survive. They edified the shrine at Monte Sant'Angelo and built a mausoleum to the Hauteville family at Venosa. They also built many new Latin monasteries, including the famous foundation of Sant'Eufemia Lamezia.Other examples of great importance are the portal of the Shrine of Mary Queen of Anglona and the ambulatory and radiating chapels of the Aversa Cathedral.
Here is a list of Norman architecture in the Mezzogiorno :
Sicily's Norman period lasted from circa 1070 until about 1200. The architecture was decorated in gilded mosaics such as that at the cathedral at Monreale. The Palatine Chapel in Palermo built in 1130 is perhaps the strongest example of this. The interior of the dome, (itself a Byzantine feature), is decorated in a mosaic depicting Christ Pantocrator accompanied by his angels.
During Sicily's later Norman era early Gothic influences can be detected such as those in the cathedral at Messina consecrated in 1197. However, here the high Gothic campanile is of a later date and should not be confused with the early Gothic built during the Norman period; which featured pointed arches and windows rather than the flying buttresses and pinnacles later to manifest themselves in the Gothic era.
After its Norman conquest in 1091, Malta saw the construction of several Norman pieces of architecture. Many have been demolished and rebuilt over the years (especially after the 1693 Sicily earthquake which destroyed many old Norman buildings), however some fortresses and houses still exist in Mdina and Vittoriosa.
As master masons developed the style and experimented with ways of overcoming the geometric difficulties of groin vaulted ceilings, they introduced features such as the pointed arch that were later characterised as being Gothic in style. Architectural historians and scholars consider that a style must be assessed as an integral whole rather than an aggregate of features, and while some include these developments within the Norman or Romanesque styles, others describe them as transitional or "Norman–Gothic Transitional". A few websites use the term "Norman Gothic", but it is unclear whether they refer to the transitional style or to the Norman style as a whole.
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Neo-Norman architecture is a type of Romanesque Revival architecture based on Norman Romanesque architecture. There is sometimes confusion, especially in North America, between this style and revivalist versions of vernacular or later architecture of Normandy, such as the "Norman farmhouse style" popular for larger houses.
Romanesque Revival versions focus on the arch and capitals, and decorated doorways. There are two examples in Manchester: the former Stock Exchange building and a synagogue in Fallowfield.
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of medieval Europe characterized by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque style, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 11th century, this later date being the most commonly held. In the 12th century it developed into the Gothic style, marked 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. The Romanesque style in England is traditionally referred to as Norman architecture.
Gothic architecture is an architectural style that flourished in Europe during the High and Late Middle Ages. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture. It originated in 12th-century northern France and England as a development of Norman architecture. Its popularity lasted into the 16th century, before which the style was known as Latin: opus Francigenum, lit. 'French work'; the term Gothic was first applied contemptuously during the later Renaissance, by those ambitious to revive the Grecian orders of architecture.
The architecture of cathedrals and great churches is characterised by the buildings' large scale and follows one of several branching traditions of form, function and style that derive ultimately from the Early Christian architectural traditions established in Late Antiquity during the Christianization of the Roman Empire.
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. No universally accepted example survives above ground.
A rib vault or ribbed vault is an architectural feature for covering a wide space, such as a church nave, composed of a framework of crossed or diagonal arched ribs. Variations were used in Roman architecture, Byzantine architecture, Islamic architecture, Romanesque architecture, and especially Gothic architecture. Thin stone panels fill the space between the ribs. This greatly reduced the weight and thus the outward thrust of the vault. The ribs transmit the load downward and outward to specific points, usually rows of columns or piers. This feature allowed architects of Gothic cathedrals to make higher and thinner walls and much larger windows.
The architecture of England is the architecture of modern England and in the historic Kingdom of England. It often includes buildings created under English influence or by English architects in other parts of the world, particularly in the English and later British colonies and Empire, which developed into the Commonwealth of Nations.
Romanesque Revival is a style of building employed beginning in the mid-19th century inspired by the 11th- and 12th-century Romanesque architecture. Unlike the historic Romanesque style, however, Romanesque Revival buildings tended to feature more simplified arches and windows than their historic counterparts.
English Gothic is an architectural style which flourished in England in the Late Middle Ages and Early Modern Period. The style was most prominently used in the construction of churches and cathedrals. Gothic's defining features are pointed arches, rib vaults, buttresses, and extensive use of stained glass. Combined, these features allowed the creation of buildings of unprecedented height and grandeur, filled with light from large stained glass windows. Important examples include Westminster Abbey, Canterbury Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral. The Gothic style endured in England until the early 16th century – much longer than in Continental Europe.
Portuguese Gothic architecture is the architectural style prevalent in Portugal in the Late Middle Ages. As in other parts of Europe, Gothic style slowly replaced Romanesque architecture in the period between the late 12th and the 13th century. Between the late 15th and early 16th century, Gothic was replaced by Renaissance architecture through an intermediate style called Manueline.
The medieval cathedrals of England, which date from between approximately 1040 and 1540, are a group of twenty-six buildings that constitute a major aspect of the country’s artistic heritage and are among the most significant material symbols of Christianity. Though diverse in style, they are united by a common function. As cathedrals, each of these buildings serves as central church for an administrative region and houses the throne of a bishop. Each cathedral also serves as a regional centre and a focus of regional pride and affection.
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 characteristics. Romanesque architecture can be found across the continent, diversified by regional materials and characteristics, but with an overall consistency that makes it the first pan-European architectural style since Imperial Roman Architecture. The Romanesque style in England is traditionally referred to as Norman architecture.
Church architecture in Scotland incorporates all church building within the modern borders of Scotland, from the earliest Christian structures in the sixth century until the present day. The early Christian churches for which there is evidence are basic masonry-built constructions on the west coast and islands. As Christianity spread, local churches tended to remain much simpler than their English counterparts. By the eighth century more sophisticated ashlar block-built buildings began to be constructed. From the eleventh century, there were larger and more ornate Romanesque buildings, as with Dunfermline Abbey and St Magnus Cathedral in Orkney. From the twelfth century the introduction of new monastic orders led to a boom in ecclesiastical building, often using English and Continental forms. From the thirteenth century elements of the European Gothic style began to appear in Scotland, culminating in buildings such as Glasgow Cathedral and the rebuilt Melrose Abbey. Renaissance influences can be seen in a move to a low-massive style that was probably influenced by contacts with Italy and the Netherlands.
The Romanesque style of architecture was introduced in Portugal between the end of the 11th and the beginning of the 12th century. In general, Portuguese cathedrals have a heavy, fortress-like appearance, with crenellations and few decorative elements apart from portals and windows. Portuguese Romanesque cathedrals were later extensively modified, among others the Old Cathedral of Coimbra, although it only had some minor changes.
Romanesque Revival architecture, Norman Revival architecture or Neo-Norman styles of building were inspired by the Romanesque Architecture of the 11th and 12th centuries AD.
Gothic cathedrals and churches are religious buildings created in Europe between the mid-12th century and the beginning of the 16th century. The cathedrals are notable particularly for their great height, and their extensive use of stained glass to fill the interiors with light. They were the tallest and largest buildings of their time, and the most prominent examples of Gothic architecture. The appearance of the Gothic Cathedral was not only a revolution in architecture; it also introduced new forms in decoration, sculpture, and art.
The Gothic style of architecture was strongly influenced by the Romanesque architecture which preceded it; by the growing population and wealth of European cities, and by the desire to express national grandeur. It was also influenced by theological doctrines which called for more interior light as a symbol of divinity, and by the practical necessity of many churches to accommodate large numbers of pilgrims. It was especially by technical improvements in vaulting and buttresses which allowed much greater height and larger windows,
Perpendicular Gothic architecture was the third and final style of English Gothic architecture developed in the Kingdom of England during the Late Middle Ages, typified by large windows, four-centred arches, straight vertical and horizontal lines in the tracery, and regular arch-topped rectangular panelling. Perpendicular was the prevailing style of Late Gothic architecture in England from the 14th century to the 17th century. Perpendicular was unique to the country: no equivalent arose in Continental Europe or elsewhere in the British Isles. Of all the Gothic architectural styles, Perpendicular was the first to experience a second wave of popularity from the 18th century on in Gothic Revival architecture.
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