1. Identify and discuss Romanesque building techniques
2. Describe the formal and iconographic characteristics of Romanesque art
3. Discuss the social and economic forces affecting Romanesque art and architecture
4. Identify the regional variations in Romanesque figural arts
5. Explain the regional variations in the plan and elevation of Romanesque churches
6. Explain the role of art within (and on) Romanesque churches
7. Discuss the significance of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela to Romanesque art and architecture
8. Explain the role of monastic orders in the creation of Romanesque art and architecture

Guiding Questions

Explain what is meant by the term “Romanesque”. What is unique about this label for a given period of time found within an art history text? When was the term assigned / coined?

Pilgrimages and Cult of the Relics: Explain what pilgrimages are and why they existed.

Church plans – form / function:
  • How did the form of the Romanesque church evolve, adapt, adjust to serve their intended function?

Examine parts of the Romanesque Cathedral; Be able to identify them and explain their function.

What is a module and how is one determined?

The Romanesque church portal:
  • Explain what it is, where it would be located in relation to a church plan.
  • Draw a typical Romanesque church portal and label the following parts (voussoirs, archivolts, tympanum, lintel, trumeau, jambs).
  • Furthermore, explain the compositional arrangement that was found within most tympana and the implied function it served to the given spectator.
  • Activity: Romanesque Portal

  • What were they?
  • How many crusades were there?

Illuminated manuscripts:
  • How are illuminated manuscript during the Romanesque period different than those in the Early Medieval period?

The Bayeux Tapestry

  • Explain the misnomer associated with this work’s title.
  • What is depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry?
  • How does this form of narrative differ from / similar to the preceding period(s)?
  • Why is this work important?
  • What was the architectural significance of the conquest of Anglo-Saxon England by William of Norman?

Explain the role that sculpture played during the Romanesque period.

Examine the cathedral of Saint-Sernin.
  • How does this work conform to the Romanesque pilgrimage church?
  • How does this theme conform to Romanesque style?
  • Where is this located?

Briefly describe a "pilgrimage type" church.

Briefly describe feudalism.

What are charters?

Define radiating chapel.

  • The term is unique (first time label applied to a style of art not specifically tied to a geographic location); used to describe Medieval art & architecture that looked "Roman-like". Scholars noted architectural elements of period - principally barrel and groin vaults based on the round arch (resembling those of ancient Roman architecture).
  • Coined much later (during the early 19th century) to describe European architecture of 11th and 12th centuries.

No apocalypse in the year 1000 CE = thanksgiving (and a greater sense of piety) on the part of the Europeans.
  1. Crusades (win the holy land from the Muslims)
  2. Pilgrimages (from church to church - relics)
    • The ultimate pilgrimage: Santiago de Compostelo - link

Churches during the "Age of Pilgrimages"
  1. Built
  2. Remodeled

So, what's Roman about these churches?
  • The basilica plan (Roman)
  • No concrete used (not Roman)
  • Purpose = not to glorify emperor or secure stamp of Roman authority [but rather, for the "glory of God"] (certainly not Roman)

Toulouse, France
  • Located in the city of Toulouse (Southern France).
  • An important stop along the way of pilgrimage routes.
  • House for reliquaries.
  • Dedicated to the first bishop of Toulouse, Saint Saturninus (martyr in the 3rd C CE).
  • This serves as a "paradigm" for Romanesque cathedrals -- it contains many hallmark features of the Romanesque style pilgrimage church.

To accommodate larger numbers of people:
  • Lengthened of the nave of the basilica plan.
  • Doubled width of the aisles.

Other changes in the church plan / design:
  • Transept present here
  • Crossing square - the area of intersection
  • The church plan resembles a cruciform.
  • Also, we can see an ambulatory (an extra walkway surrounding the apse).
    • Note that in this particular church, radiating chapels are greater in number and are attached to both transept and ambulatory.
  • Relics were placed in radiating chapels (semicircular niches surrounding the ambulatory).
  • Cult of the Relics - link
  • The ambulatory allows visitors / pilgrims to visit relics without disrupting the daily rituals occurring in the nave and altar.

Hallmarks of the Romanesque church:
  • thick stone walls (...producing an overall "heavy appearance")
  • little light / windows tend to be smaller (due to the need for solid vaulting of stone material); therefore, a darker feeling / mood exists within the interior of the church; Roman vaulting techniques were unknown to these architects.
  • round arches - surround the portals (entrances into the church); these arches recall the Roman-like building appearance [remember the triumphal nature of the arch form].
  • barrel vaults (stone vaulting) - support the nave (transverse ribs); timber roofs were a thing of the past (due to destructive qualities in a fire) and really ceased to exist during the Ottonian period.
  • arcades - row / series of arches and piers and / or columns; flank the nave on both sides.
  • nave arcade - separate the nave from the side-aisles.
  • nave elevation- the distance / height from the floor to the vaulting; now consists of two levels:
    1. nave arcade
    2. tribune
  • tribune - space above the arcade that accommodated extra visitors (overflow crowds) on special holidays.
  • emergence of exterior stone sculpture (portal)
    • why a sudden surge / revival in stone sculpture? >>> prosperity & desire to impress and educate
    • excessive sculpture was not always consistently applied to every structure...(see below - Saint-Pierre)
Moissac, France
cloister & sculpture

  • >> Basis of measurement: the crossing-square (module)
  • >> Regional differences exist between Romanesque churches.

FRANCE (Normandy)

Saint Etienne Cathedral
Normandy, France

  • specific location > Caen, France
  • example of "Norman Romanesque"
  • ribbed, sexpartite vaults
  • looks Gothic, but has round arches
  • clerestory windows - not very large either


Durham Cathedral


  • ribbed groin vault with pointed arches
  • slightly larger windows here, but not as large as those found in a Gothic cathedral

ITALY (Pisa)

Cathedral Complex at Pisa
  • example of yet another regional Romanesque style.
  • complex consists of three parts (unique aspect - unlike other Romanesque churches):
    1. cathedral
    2. baptistry
    3. campanile (aka bell tower)

  1. adherence to the EC basilica tradition, but inherent Romanesque characteristics.
  2. another distinction - the Pisa buildings have marble incrustation (as do others in Italy).
  3. longer transept
  4. extra side aisles
  5. three (3) portals
  6. numerous round arches and columns

  1. separate buildings
  2. multiple engaged columns and small windows
  3. pinnacles and spires
  4. frilly-looking stonework protruding from upper half of building.
  5. all of which testify to the construction and modification into the Gothic period.

Screen shot 2013-11-12 at 10.04.31 AM.png
  1. the famous "Leaning Tower of Pisa"
  2. bell towers were common within the French Romanesque style.
  3. In Italy, campaniles (bell towers) existed as independent structures that were part of cathedral complexes

Romanesque portals
giselbertus_west tympanum_whole.jpg
romanesque portal.jpg
  • The Benedictine abbey church of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine at Vézelay [in Burgundy] (c/o Pitt.edu) - link
  • The Cathedral of St. Lazare: West Facade - Center Portal (c/o Pitt.edu) - link
  • Images of Medieval Art and Architecture (c/o Pitt.edu) - link
  • High quality images if the The Last Judgment [on the West Tympanum] Saint-Lazare [Autun, France] portal are available at the following link - Romanesque Portal

Romanesque sculpture

The Bayeux Tapestry

  • Explain the misnomer associated with this work’s title.
  • What is depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry?
  • How does this form of narrative differ from / similar to the preceding period(s)?
  • Why is this work important?
  • What was the architectural significance of the conquest of Anglo-Saxon England by William of Norman?