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Romanesque refers to the international architectural style and type of art that was prominent in most of Europe approximately from the 11th century until the rise of Gothic art in the 12th century. The term was coined in the 19th century by art historians, most notably the Norman archaeologist Charles Duhérissier de Gerville[1]. It is often seen as the first art style definitely influenced by Christianity, and it retained a few characteristics from imperial Roman art, but at the same time it also developed distinct elements. Romanesque may vary by country, region or territory due to its diverse cultural influences, including Carolingian, Antique, Byzantine, Middle Eastern, Norman and Celtic.

Massive walls, rounded arches, and a focus on religious topics are the most well-known characteristics of this historical style[2]. It was also greatly influenced by Byzantine art, and the architecture that preceded Romanesque is typically called Pre-Romanesque. Romanesque is often cited as one of the first international art trend since it simultaneously emerged in multiple European countries, geographically ranging from the island of Sicily to Scandinavia. Some of the regions in Europe most renowned for their regional variations of Romanesque architecture include Burgundy, Provence, Poitou and Normandy (in France), the Rhine Valley (in Germany), Lombardy (in Italy) and Catalonia (in Spain).

History[]

Background[]

Romanesque art is rooted in the economical growth of several cities, the rise of pilgrimage and spiritual renewal. It began to develop during the 10th century and became the first style to spread accross Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire, when Christianity also began to spread as the most practiced religion in the continent. Consequently, monasteries also became extremely influential in the 11th and 12th centuries, and they were seen as centres of education, culture and the arts. A majority of the European population at the time could not read and literacy was a privilege for the higher classes, so the Romanesque style also served as a tool to further promote the Christian religion through the visual arts accross the continent with its emphasis on religious topics.

Therefore, the rise of Romanesque art was also inherently related to the spread of Christianity. Some events related to this include the Crusades[3], which were religiously motivated wars that took place during the late part of the Romanesque period. The Crusaders sought to spread their religion and traveled extensively, encountering people from other cultures and artistic styles in the Middle East. Some of these ideas and elements from other cultures were brought back to Europe, indirectly influencing the style.

The pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela (in Latin: Peregrinatio Compostellana; Galician: O Camiño de Santiago) in the region of Galicia began in 823 and also played a crucial role on the development of Romanesque[4]. It has a great artistic heritage, with several routes from various parts of Western Europe, it attracted a massive amount of pilgrims during the 11th and 12th centuries, coinciding with the peak of Romanesque art. It created an increased demand for churches and architecture in order to accomodate them. The French Way in particular became one of the busiest routes in the continent and it boasts a lot of examples of Romanesque architecture and art. Some of the "purest" examples can be found in the regions of Northern Spain, and centuries later it spreaded to the rest of the country but with further influences from other styles such as Gothic, Plateresque and Mudéjar architecture.

Development[]

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Modern Interpretations[]

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Regional Variants[]

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Art[]

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Architecture[]

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Sculpture[]

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Stained Glass[]

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Neo-Romanesque and Romanesque Revival[]

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Gallery[]

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References[]

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