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Romanesque Architecture

Medieval life and Times

What is Romanesque Architecture? Definition
What is Romanesque Architecture? Definition: Romanesque architecture is a style of architecture developed between the Roman and the Gothic styles after 1000 AD. Romanesque architecture is characterized by round arches and vaults and by the substitution of piers for columns. Romanesque architects and builders generally used round arches and only very occasionally employed slightly pointed ones.

Romanesque Architecture is the term used to describe the building styles which were used between 800 AD to 1100 AD.

Why is it called Romanesque Architecture?
The name of this style of architecture leads to some confusion - the immediate association with this style of architecture is with the Roman Empire! The reason for this association are the similarities between Roman Architecture especially the Roman 'barrel vault' and the Roman arch. And the Medieval Romanesque Architecture was the first major style of architecture to be developed after the collapse of the Roman Empire. Romanesque Architecture was primarily developed by the Normans, especially in England following the Battle of Hastings and the Norman Conquest of 1066.

History of Romanesque Architecture
Romanesque Architecture emerged during the Medieval era and is strongly identified with the Normans and Norman castles. The History of Romanesque Architecture is strongly influenced by the religious fervour of the Medieval era which resulted in the construction of many Romanesque churches in England. Many medieval knights had travelled to the Holy Land on Crusades. They had seen the magnificent solid fortresses of the Byzantine Empire en route and these massive buildings influenced and revolutionised castle and church building ideas, engineering and Romanesque architecture.

History of Romanesque Architecture - Norman Castles
The Normans had developed the wooden Motte and Bailey castles at first in Normandy. Then England was invaded by William the Conqueror and were defeated at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The wooden Motte and Bailey castles were used by the Normans as a means to subjugate the conquered English inhabitants. The wooden tower on the top of the 'Motte' was soon replaced by the Castle Keep and the Norman castles were then designed and built in stone resulting in Norman Romanesque Architecture. The castles built in the style of Romanesque Architecture were massive - impressive fortresses to keep the English in check. The Normans conquered and maintained their domination of the English through the Romanesque style architecture of their castles.

Development of Romanesque Architecture
Time played a major part in the development of Romanesque Architecture. This was a time of social and cultural change. Highly influenced by Christianity and religious fervour. It was the period of crusades - even the Norman Invasion of England was sanctified as a crusade by the Pope! Lands were conquered and the means had to be found to crush the conquered English. The victorious Normans used the castles as a power base and built numerous churches.

Romanesque Architecture replaces Roman architecture
What materials were readily available to create the buildings styled in the fashion of Romanesque architecture? Old Roman bricks were re-cycled and various stone which was available locally were used in the buildings. Most of the remaining Roman villas and temples were totally destroyed. There was plenty of labor to build the structures. The heavy stones required to build the Romanesque castles and churches were transported by the conquered English. The feudal system of the Medieval era ensured that labour to build massive structures of Romanesque architecture could be easily deployed

Romanesque Architecture - New Techniques
New building techniques, construction methods and ideas included the development of the stone vault ceiling, the arch and the buttress to support the great stone weights which were a feature of the massive castles and churches.

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