Norman architecture

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The nave of Durham Cathedral. Durham Cathedral. Interior.jpg
The nave of Durham Cathedral.
Interior of Monreale Cathedral in Sicily MonrealeCathedral-pjt1.jpg
Interior of Monreale Cathedral in Sicily
St Swithun's, Nately Scures in Hampshire, from the south-west Swithun-natelyscures-swest.jpg
St Swithun's, Nately Scures in Hampshire, from the south-west

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.

Contents

Origins

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, [1] and was applied to architecture of the eleventh and twelfth centuries from 1819. [2] 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.

Norman arch

The nave of Laon Cathedral resembles a Norman arch Laon Cathedral Interior 04.JPG
The nave of Laon Cathedral resembles a Norman arch

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. [3]

Normandy

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.

England

A Norman arch c. 1150 in Andover, Hampshire Andover - Norman Arch - geograph.org.uk - 556600.jpg
A Norman arch c. 1150 in Andover, Hampshire
A Norman arch with zig-zag mouldings above the church doorway at Guiting Power, Gloucestershire Norman arch.jpg
A Norman arch with zig-zag mouldings above the church doorway at Guiting Power, Gloucestershire

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. [4] 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.

Ecclesiastical architecture

Bibliography

Military architecture

Domestic architecture

Scotland

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.

Ecclesiastical architecture

Kirkliston Parish Church. With rare examples of late 12th century "Norman Transitional" architecture[3

Ireland

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. [8]

Italy

Mezzogiorno

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. [9] 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

The oldest Norman cathedral in Sicily (1094), the cathedral of Catania 3420 - Catania - Absidi del duomo (1094) - Foto Giovanni Dall'Orto, 5-July-2008.jpg
The oldest Norman cathedral in Sicily (1094), the cathedral of Catania
Interior of the Cathedral of Cefalu Cefalu Cathedral interior BW 2012-10-11 12-07-53.jpg
Interior of the Cathedral of Cefalu
Cathedral of Cefalu Cefalucathedralnight.jpg
Cathedral of Cefalu

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.

Malta

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.

Transitional style

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. [10] [11]

Neo-Norman

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.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Gothic architecture Style of architecture

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Romanesque Revival architecture style of building employed beginning in the mid-19th century

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Portuguese Gothic architecture archotectural style of Medieval Portugal

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.

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Architecture of the United Kingdom consists of an eclectic combination of architectural styles

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Church architecture in England

Church architecture of England refers to the architecture of buildings of Christian churches in England. It has evolved over the two thousand years of the Christian religion, partly by innovation and partly by imitating other architectural styles as well as responding to changing beliefs, practices and local traditions. Christian architecture encompasses a wide range of both secular and religious styles from the foundation of Christianity to the present day, influencing the design and construction of buildings and structures in Christian culture. From the birth of Christianity to the present, the most significant period of transformation for Christian architecture and design was the Gothic cathedral.

Romanesque secular and domestic architecture Period of architectural design across Europe that reflected and interpreted forms and styles of ancient Rome

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

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.

Portuguese Romanesque architecture

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 in the United Kingdom

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.

References

  1. OED "Romanesque": in French a letter of 1818 by Charles-Alexis-Adrien Duhérissier de Gerville seems to be the first
  2. OED same entry; in French by Gerville's friend Arcisse de Caumont in his Essaie sur l'architecture du moyen âge, particulièrement en Normandie, 1824.
  3. Bloxam, Matthew Holbeche (1841). The Principles of Gothic Ecclesiastical Architecture. Oxford: John Henry Parker. pp. 52–57.
  4. Bell, Edward (December 1888). "ON THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN ROMANESQUE AND GOTHIC". The Archaeological Review. 2 (4): 237–251. JSTOR   44245200.
  5. Crummy, Philip (1997) City of Victory; the story of Colchester – Britain's first Roman town. Published by Colchester Archaeological Trust ( ISBN   1 897719 04 3)
  6. Denney, Patrick (2004) Colchester. Published by Tempus Publishing ( ISBN   978-0-7524-3214-4)
  7. "Moyse's Hall museum". Moyseshall.org. Retrieved 2011-06-11.
  8. Castles in Ireland Feudal Power in a Gaelic World. by Tom McNeill. (London, 1997) ISBN   978-0-415-22853-4
  9. "Abbazia Benedettina di Sant' Eufemia" . Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  10. "Gothic Architecture in England". Britainexpress.com. Retrieved 2011-06-11.
  11. "Norman Gothic". Racine.ra.it. Retrieved 2011-06-11.

Sources and literature

  • Bilson, J. (1929), "Durham cathedral and the chronology of its vaults", Archaeological Journal, 79
  • Clapham, A. W. (1934), English Romanesque Architecture after the conquest, Oxford
  • Clifton-Taylor, A. (1967), The Cathedrals of England, London
  • Cook, G. H. (1957), The English Cathedrals through the Centuries, London
  • Escher, K. (1929), Englische Kathedralen, Zürich
  • Von Pevsner, Nikolaus; Fleming, John; Honour, Hugh (1971) [1966], Lexikon der Weltarchitektur, München
  • Rieger, R. (1953), "Studien zur mittelalterlichen Architektur Englands", Wiener Kunstwiss. Blätter, Jg. 2
  • Short, Ernest H. (2005), Norman Architecture in England
  • Webb, G. (1956), "Architecture in Britain : The Middle Ages", Pelican History of Art, London