THE word "Romanesque" does not, as sometimes supposed, refer to a debased and degraded Roman style adopted by the Middle Ages, but rather specifies the two traits of Roman architecture which were reëmployed at this time, viz., the pier and the vaulting arch. All the great Romanesque cathedrals of North Continental Europe use this construction and are distinguished by it from the earlier basilicas with timber roofs and with columns supporting the arches of the nave.
Timber ceilings for minor churches were by no means abandoned at any time. In Italy they continued the rule even for many of the important cathedrals, like that of Pisa. The Romanesque naves were rarely vaulted in England, although this use was general in the aisles. Finally the earlier churches of the Romanesque period in Northern Europe adhered more or less to basilica methods of construction. Notwithstanding these exceptions, it is the pier and the vaulting which distinguish this period of cathedral building as a whole and it is this use which has suggested the word "Romanesque." It may be added that the evolution of the Gothic style from the Romanesque was absolutely dependent on a peculiar development of the vaulting. Hence, above all, the necessity for insisting on it and understanding it, as a necessary preliminary to the study of this later style.
As far as our illustrations go, the character of a Roman-