Chapter_16_Early_Medieval_Art_in_the_West_-Notes - Chapter...

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Chapter 16 Europe After the Fall of Rome: Early Medieval Art in the West -Notes Historians once referred to the thousand years (roughly 400-1400) between the dying Roman Empire’s adoption of Christianity as its official religion and the rebirth (Renaissance) of interest in classical antiquity as the Dark Ages. Scholars and lay persons alike thought this long “interval” - between the ancient and what was perceived as the modern European world - was rough and uncivilized, and crude and primitive artistically. They viewed these centuries - dubbed the Middle Ages - as simply a blank between (in the middle of) two great civilizations. This negative assessment, a legacy of the humanist scholars of Renaissance Italy, persists today in the retention of the noun Middle Ages and the adjective medieval to describe this period and its art. The force of tradition dictates that we continue to use those terms, even though modern scholars long ago ceased to see the art of medieval Europe as unsophisticated or inferior. Art historians date the art of the Early Middle Ages from 500 to 1000. Early medieval civilization in Western Europe represents a fusion of Christianity, the Greco-Roman heritage, and the cultures of the non-Roman peoples north of the Alps. Although the Romans called everyone who lived beyond the classical worlds frontiers “barbarians,” many northerners had risen to prominent positions within the Roman army and government during the later Roman Empire. Others established their own areas of rule, sometimes with Rome’s approval, sometimes in opposition to imperial authority. In time, these non Romans merged with the citizens of the former northwestern provinces of Rome and slowly developed political and social institutions that have continued to modern times. Over the centuries a new order gradually replaced what had been the Roman Empire, resulting eventually in the foundation of today’s European nations. The Art of the Warrior Lords Rome’s power waned in Late Antiquity, armed conflicts and competition for political authority became common place among the non Roman people of Europe - Huns, Vandals, Merovingians, Franks, Goths, and others. Once one group established it self, another often pressed in behind and compelled it to move on. The Visigoths, for example, who once held northern Italy and formed a kingdom in southern France, were forced south into Spain under pressure from the Franks, who had crossed the Rhine River and established themselves firmly in France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and parts of Germany. The Ostrogoths moved to Italy, establishing their kingdom there only to be removed 100 years later by the
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Lombards. In the North Anglo Saxons controlled what had been Roman Arian. Celts inhabited France and parts of the British Isles, including Ireland, the one area
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This note was uploaded on 09/25/2011 for the course HUMA 201 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '10 term at SUNY Canton.

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Chapter_16_Early_Medieval_Art_in_the_West_-Notes - Chapter...

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