|Details|| ||1. BRIEF INTRODUCTION.
Romanesque architecture marked the first time since the Roman Empire that a consistent architectural language appeared throughout much of Europe It derived from Rome in so much as it often appropriated such features as round arches and vaulting, although Romanesque architecture was not a continuation of Roman practices and principles. Instead, it was a revival during the Holy Roman Empire of various architectural influences of the Mediterranean region.
The first phase was typified during the reign of Emperor Otto (962-73 BCE) and drew on Carolingian and Byzantine precedents, but its heyday was from the 10th to 12th centuries when some of the most advanced vaulting systems (barrel, dome and groin) were constructed, stone was dressed and elaborate details adorned buildings.
Aesthetically, Romanesque architecture tends to be heavy, relying on thick load-bearing walls to support vaulted masonry roofs. Churches such as that at Cluny, France (dedicated 1130) were the most outstanding manifestations of the style, but it was also used in military installations and domestic buildings Romanesque churches are characterized by symmetrical plans, solidity of form, fireproof masonry construction, vaulted roofs, round arched openings and, in larger structures, arcades of massive supporting columns and piers.
Romanesque architecture flourished throughout southern and western Europe from the 8th century, and is characterized by load-bearing masonry walls, round arches, narrow openings, arcades and vaulting.
Experimentation by master builders and stonemasons, not scientific analysis, led to a steady refinement of construction techniques into the 12th century. The features that characterize Romanesque architecture were, ironically, also the attributes constraining its progress. The structurally inefficient round arch was replaced by the pointed arch, liberating the exterior walls from much of their load bearing duties, and in time giving rise to the next great architectural epoch, Gothic.
2. ARCHITECTURAL CHARACTER
The term Romanesque includes those phases of European architecture which were based on Roman art from the end of the Roman Empire in A.D. 475 up to the end of the twelfth century, when the pointed arch was introduced, and this general survey of the style is given before treating of the development in each country, viz. in Italy (p. 269), France (p. 292), Germany (p. 312), and England (p. 337). After the Imperial rule of Rome had passed away, her genius still asserted itself in the architecture of the new states and gave it all a certain similarity, until each country developed its own style. Certain districts of Europe fell specially under the influence of Byzantine art, which was itself partly derived from Rome, but which, as East and West drifted apart, had assumed a special character. Western European archi¬tecture exhibiting Eastern influence in a paramount degree is classified as Byzantine. To appreciate the character of Romanesque architecture, we must form a mental picture of the conditions of Europe during the period known as the Dark Ages. We must imagine the remains of an ancient civilisa¬tion, vast in extent and uniform in character, no longer regulated by Roman law and no longer protected by Roman power. Its former glory was now recognisable only by the multitude of its monuments; some were still intact, others were injured or partially destroyed, most were unused, and all were alike unguarded and neglected. This is the Rip Van Winkle period of European architecture. We next see Europe rising like a strong man from the lethargy of a long sleep. He yawns, rubs his eyes, stretches his giant limbs, shakes off his slumber, and stumbles to his feet to look out again upon the work-a-day world and the treasures scattered around. He finds himself surrounded by the achievements of a proud past, and as he becomes conscious of his own needs he realises the possibilities of the present. Then with dazed eyes and groping hands he collects these treasures of art and applies them to his daily needs. From the ruins of mighty edifices, he gathers fragments of hewn stone, carved capital and sculptured frieze, and places them together, with monoliths of porphyry and marble, upon old foundations to construct some building of service to himself. Thus, by a gradual discovery and under¬standing of the uses of these old fragments, did he succeed in adapting them to new needs, and thus was a new art founded on the old. Here we have indeed" new lamps for old." In this way the birth of Romanesque archi¬tecture may be explained, for the ruins of ancient buildings served as the quarry for the new, and necessarily determined the character , both of construction and decoration, in proportion to the extent to which old features were employed|