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Romanesque Architecture In Europe - Examples

( Originally Published 1921 )

Examples of various buildings, such as cathedrals, churches, and castles, are given under their respective countries ; but as the monastic system was responsible for a new departure, necessitated by the requirements of monkish communities, a sketch of a typical Benedictine monastery is given to convey an idea of the monastic establishments which sprang up during the period in different European countries. Dr. Jessop, in the " Daily Life of an English Monastery," gives a vivid description of the life and varied pursuits of the monks, which not only helps us to realise the disposition, uses, and extent of the various buildings in a conventual establishment, but also shows the important role played by monasteries in the social system of the Middle Ages. They formed indeed the connecting link between the ecclesiastical hierarchy on the one hand and the secular life of the people on the other. These monastic settlements were important factors in the development of Mediaeval architecture.

The monks followed different pursuits according to the Order to which they belonged (p. 244). The Benedictine was the chronicler and most learned of all monks ; the Augustinian was the preacher and given to disputations ; the Cistercian was the recluse and interested in agricultural pursuits ; the Cluniac was the student and artist ; and the Carthusian was the ascetic. The Friars were the missionary preachers of a later period (p. 245).

A plan has been preserved of the Benedictine Monastery of S. Gall, Switzerland (p. 293), which shows that a complete conventual establishment, like Westminster Abbey (p. 354 H) or Fountains Abbey (p. 359), consisted of a group of buildings designed for all occupations, both spiritual and temporal, of the monks, and resembled a village with the monastic church as the centre. The monastic group was planned to include the following essential departments : (a) The Monastic Church, situated in a court or Close open to the public. (b) A Cloister Court off which were the chapter house, sacristy, and dormitory with its staircase into the church, while the cellarage for beer, wine, and oil was often under the dormitory. The refectory and kitchens, with their noise and smell, were on the side of the cloister away from the church. The lavatory was usually in the south cloister walk, as at Westminster, Wells, Chester, Peterborough, and Gloucester. (c) An Inner Court with infirmary, guest house, kitchen, servants' hall, library, and the scriptorium for writing and illuminating. (d) A Common Court, approached through a gateway for carts, and surrounded by granaries, bakehouses, stables, store-rooms, servants' rooms, tribunal, prison, abbot's lodging, and barn. (e) Mills, workshops, gardens, orchards, and fish ponds completed the monastic settlement. Monasteries served the purpose of inns in little-frequented places, as is the case to this day in some districts on the continent. The plans of some monastic establishments differed in certain details from this description of a Benedictine Monastery, as we have seen in dealing with the influence of religion.

Another development was the circular church, as distinct from the circular baptistery. From early Christian baptisteries, modelled on Roman circular temples and tombs, were evolved a few circular churches. In Italy, where the church plan was similar to that of the Roman basilica, the baptistery stood alone, but in France circular churches were sometimes built, and, when it was necessary to enlarge them, the circular building was retained as the sanctuary, a rectangular nave being added for the use of the people. The Germans also built circular churches, and then added rectangular sanctuaries for the priests (p. 290). In England circular churches were introduced by the Knights Templars in imitation of the Rotunda of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem (p. 207), and they are the Temple Church, London (p. 320), S. Sepulchre, Cambridge, and the churches at Little Maplestead and Northampton.

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