Medieval Architecture in Western Europe: From A.D. 300 to 1500

Medieval Architecture in Western Europe: From A.D. 300 to 1500

Medieval Architecture in Western Europe: From A.D. 300 to 1500

Medieval Architecture in Western Europe: From A.D. 300 to 1500

Synopsis

Medieval Architecture in Western Europe covers the entire period of European Medieval architecture from c. 300 to c.1500. It offers a basic introduction with appropriate plans, sections, and photographs, all in one single volume. Concerned about the perceived gap in current art history books in regards to medieval architecture, the author is careful to examine selected major monuments, incorporating just the right amount of detail to provide the basic information needed to learn about each type of building, and to impart a sense of continuity and development of structure, form, and function across Europe and through the different periods of the Middle Ages. The author explores the contextual role of the buildings in their settings and the symbolic impact of both exterior and interior forms, paying particular attention to their experiential qualities. The book is heavily illustrated with photographs, plans, sections, and diagrams. Remarkably thorough in its coverage, Medieval Architecture in Western Europe will not only appeal to the general reader who has little or no prior knowledge of medieval architecture, but will also keep the interest of those who are more knowledgeable about the subject.

Excerpt

This book is intended as an introductory survey of the architecture of the Middle Ages in western Europe from circa A.D. 300 to 1500, from the early Christian period through the late Gothic in Europe. It aims to fill a gap between the very selective and cursory mention of major medieval buildings in general surveys of art or architectural history and the in-depth books on particular periods or regions, so that the interested reader can find in one volume what has previously been scattered through myriad expensive books.

Given the extent of the period covered and the number of important monuments, however, not every medieval building can be discussed, neither can all of the architectural details and complete contextual background of each of those chosen. Nevertheless, beginning with structural antecedents in Roman architecture, and referring to a few representative types of Byzantine churches that had a particular impact on the West, I have tried to select major examples of representative traditions and innovative solutions, particularly those that influenced contemporary or later developments throughout the Middle Ages. Realistic expectations of what a student might encounter in an academic semester or what an interested traveler might find useful to consult also determined the number and selection of buildings discussed.

Sometimes specific themes have a life of their own that dictate being followed through at the expense of strict chronology. Therefore, the section on monasticism extends from its beginnings through Cluny III; a section in the same early chapter on timber construction, ubiquitous to northern Europe throughout the Middle Ages, spans several centuries and encompasses some secular buildings. The chapter on Ottonian architecture comes immediately after that on Carolingian in order to follow the developing imperial tradition, before backtracking to Visigothic and Asturian Spain, contemporary with the Merovingian and Carolingian periods. Also for this reason, Anglo-Saxon buildings serve as a preface to the changes wrought in England by the invading Normans after 1066, even though these buildings are again contemporary with the Carolingian. Innovations appearing in secular architecture, particularly the diamond or cellular vault of the late fifteenth century, might appropriately be discussed in the chapter on secular buildings, but since these vaults were also adapted to ecclesiastical structures, both uses are examined together. The chapter on medieval building practices, though appearing at the end as a summary of monuments discussed, can just as easily be read as an introduction. Many of these structures were built and revised over long periods of time, but where particularly relevant, I have tried . . .

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