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Romanesque architecture is the term that is used to describe the architecture of Europe which emerged in the late 10th century and evolved into the Gothic style during the 12th century. The Romanesque style in England is more traditionally referred to as Norman architecture.
  • Romanesque architecture is characterized by its massive quality, its thick walls, round arches, sturdy piers, groin vaults, large towers and decorative arcading. Each building has clearly defined forms and they are frequently of very regular, symmetrical plan so that the overall appearance is one of simplicity when compared with the Gothic buildings that were to follow. The style can be identified right across Europe, despite regional characteristics and different materials.
  • Although there was much building of castles during this period, they are greatly outnumbered by churches of which the most significant are the great abbey churches, many of which are still standing, more or less complete and frequently in use.
Bamberg Cathedral presents the distinctive outline of many of the large Romanesque churches of the Germanic tradition.
  • The system of monasticism in which the religious become members of an order, with common ties and a common rule, living in a mutually dependant community, rather than as a group of hermits living in proximity but essentially separate, was established by the monk Benedict in the 6th century. The Benedictine Monasteries spread from Italy throughout Europe, being always by far the most numerous in England. They were followed by the Cluniac order, the Cistercians, Carthusians and Augustinian Canons. In association with the Crusades, the military orders of the Knights Hospitallers and the Knights Templars were founded.
pilgrimage and crusade
Pilgrimage and Crusade
  • One of the effects of the Crusades, which were intended to wrest the Holy Places of Palestine from Islamic control, was to excite a great deal of religious fervor, which in turn inspired great building programs. The Nobility of Europe, upon safe return, thanked God by the building of a new church or the enhancement of an old one. Likewise, those who did not return from the Crusades could be suitably commemorated by their family in a work of stone and mortar.
  • The Crusades resulted in the transfer of, among other things, a great number of Holy Relics of saints and apostles. Many churches, like Saint-Front, Périgueux, had their own home grown saint while others, most notably Santiago de Compostela, claimed the remains and the patronage of a powerful saint, in this case one of the Twelve Apostles. Santiago de Compostela, located near the western extremity of Galicia (present day Spain) became the most important pilgrimage destination in Europe. Most of the pilgrims traveled the Way of Saint James on foot, many of them barefooted as a sign of penance. They moved along one of the four main routes that passed through France, congregating for the journey at Jumieges, Paris, Vezelay, Cluny, Arles and St. Gall in Switzerland.
Cathedral of Pisa Commentary "Pisa Cathedral with Baptistery, Campanile and Campo Santo, together form one of the most famous building groups in the world. The cathedral is one of the finest of the Romanesque period and has a strongly marked individuality. It resembles other early basilican churches in plan, with long rows of columns connected by arches, double aisles, and a nave which has the usual timber roof. The exterior has bands of red and white marble, and the ground story is faced with wall relief by tiers of wall passages which rise one above another right into the gable. The transepts, each with an apse at the end, were an advance on the simple basilican plan. The elliptical dome over the crossing is of later date. The building depends for its interest on its general proportions and on the delicacy of its ornamental features, rather than on any new structural development, such as may be seen in northern Italy."
bayeux tapestry
Bayeux Tapestry
  • In common with other embroidered hangings of the early medieval period, this piece is conventionally referred to as a "Tapestry," although it is not a true woven tapestry.
  • The Bayeux tapestry is embroidered in wool yarn on a tabby-woven linen ground using two methods of stitching: outline or stem stitch for lettering and the outlines of figures, and couching or laid work for filling in figures. The linen is assembled in panels and has been patched in numerous places.
  • The main yarn colors are terracotta or russet, blue-green, dull gold, olive green, and blue, with small amounts of dark blue or black and sage green. Later repairs are worked in light yellow, orange, and light greens. Laid yarns are couched in place with yarn of the same or contrasting color.
1070 1080 c e
1070-1080 C.E.
  • The Bayeux Tapestry (French: Tapisserie de Bayeux) is a 20-in. by 230 ft. long embroidered cloth which depicts the events leading up to the 1066 Norman invasion of England as well as the events of the invasion itself. The Tapestry is annotated in Latin. It is presently exhibited in a special museum in Bayeux, Normandy, France.

A star with hair then appears: Halley's Comet. The first appearance of the comet would have been 24 April, nearly four months after Harold's coronation. Comets, in the beliefs of the Middle Ages, warned of impending doom.


Durham Cathedral was built in the late 11th and early 12th centuries to house the relics of St Cuthbert (evangelizer of Northumbria) and the Venerable Bede. It attests to the importance of the early Benedictine monastic community and is the largest and finest example of Norman architecture in England. The innovative audacity of its vaulting foreshadowed Gothic architecture. Behind the cathedral stands the castle, an ancient Norman fortress which was the residence of the prince-bishops of Durham.

St.Cuthbert of Lindisfarne (c. 634–20 March 687) was an Anglo-Saxon monk and bishop in the Kingdom of Northumbria which at that time included, in modern terms, north east England and south east Scotland as far as the Firth of Forth. Afterwards he became one of the most important medieval saints of England, with widespread recognition in the places he had been in Scotland.

A close-up of the twelfth century painting of St Cuthbert in Durham Cathedral


Bede became known as Venerable Bede soon after his death, but this was not linked to consideration for sainthood by the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, his title is believed to come from a mistranslation of the Latin inscription on his tomb in Durham Cathedral, intended to be Here lie the venerable bones ofBede, but wrongly interpreted as here lie the bones of the Venerable Bede

  • Bede (also Saint Bede, the Venerable Bede, or (from Latin) Beda, (c. 672 or 673 – May 25, 735), was a Benedictine monk at the Northumbrian monastery of Saint Peter, and of its companion monastery, Saint Paul's, both in the English county of Durham. He is well known as an author and scholar, and his most famous work, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History of the English People) gained him the title "The father of English history."

'The Venerable Bede translates John'J. D. Penrose (ca. 1902)