Chapter_17_Romanesque_Art_-_Notes - Chapter 17 The Age of...

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Chapter 17 The Age of Pilgrimages: Romanesque Art - Notes The Romanesque era is the first since Archaic and Classical Greece to take its name from an artistic style rather than from politics or geography. Unlike Carolingian and Ottonian art, named for emperors, or Hiberno - Saxon art, a regional term, Romanesque is a title art historians invented to describe an artistic phenomenon. Romanesque means “Romelike” and was first applied in the early 19th century to describe European architecture of the 11th and 12th centuries. Scholars noted that certain architectural elements of this period, principally barrel and groin vaults based on a round arch, resembled those of ancient Roman architecture. Thus, the word distinguished most Romanesque buildings from earlier medieval timber roofed structures, as well as from later Gothic churches with vaults resting on pointed arches. Scholars in other fields quickly borrowed the term. Today Romanesque broadly designates the history and culture of Western Europe between about 1050 - 1200. In the early Middle Ages, the focus of life was the manor or estate, of a landholding liege lord, who might grant tenure of a portion of his land to vassals. The vassals swore allegiance to their liege and rendered him military service in return for the land and protection. But in the Romanesque period, a sharp increase in trade encouraged the growth of towns and cities, gradually displacing feudalism as the governing political, social, and economic system of late medieval Europe. The new towns were granted independence from the feudal lords in the form of charters which enumerated the communities’ rights, privileges, immunities, and exceptions beyond the feudal obligations they owed the lords. Often located on navigable rivers, the new urban centers naturally became the nuclei of networks of maritime and overland commerce. Separated by design from the busy secular life of Romanesque towns were monasteries and their churches. During the 11th and 12th centuries, thousands of ecclesiastical buildings were remodeled or newly constructed. This immense building enterprise reflected in part the rise of independent cities and the prosperity they enjoyed. But it also was an expression of the widely felt relief and thanksgiving that the conclusion of the first Christian millennium in the year 1000 had not brought an end to the world, as many had feared. In the Romanesque age, the construction of churches became almost an obsession. Raoul Glaber (985 - 1046) a monk who witnessed the new millennium commented on the beginning of it: [After the] year of the millennium, which is now about three years past, there occurred, throughout the world, especially in Italy and Gaul, a rebuilding of church basilicas. Notwithstanding, the greater number were already well established and not in the least in need, nevertheless each Christian people strove against the others to erect nobler ones. It was as if the whole
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earth, having cast off the old by shaking itself were clothing itself everywhere in
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Chapter_17_Romanesque_Art_-_Notes - Chapter 17 The Age of...

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