Italian architecture in the middle ages

Essay by Christine PaladinoCollege, Undergraduate March 1995

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Italian Architecture in the Middle Ages

In the Fifteenth century, the Italian historian Flavio Biondo regarded the sack of Rome by

the Visogoths as the end of ancient civilization. He also believed that this marked the beginning

of the Middle Ages (Erickson 72). Within the thousand years of the Middle Ages, historians

have recognized subperiods. These subperiods include the Early Middle Ages (900 to 1000), the

High Middle Ages (1000 to 1300), and the Later Middle Ages (the 14th and 15th centuries)

(Grolier 1).

The purpose of this paper is to explain Middle Age Italian architecture

through its history and specific examples. Italian art history begins in Rome during the first

through the fourth centuries. The birth of Christian religious architecture based on Roman

prototypes, was developed. The transfer of the Roman imperial capital to Byzantium in the 4th

century meant that Italy would become a Byzantine cultural province (Hoyt 17,18, 20).


in Sicily were the Arabs who

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introduced styles of oriental magnificence such as Palarmo's Palantine Chapel.

According to John White in Art and Architecture In Italy 1250-1400, impressive central

plans, lavish materials, sumptuous color, mysterious lighting, and stylized representation

describe such works as Ravenna's San Vitale and St. Marks Basilica. The Italian Romanesque

was concentrated in Lombardy, Tuscany, and Southern Italy. The Lombard architecture was

known for large vaulted churches made of elaborate exterior brick. In Tuscany, Pisan

architecture superimposed tiers of marble cascades as in the Pisa Cathedral. The Cefalu and

Monerale Cathedrals in Sicily are representations of southern Italy architectures.

French architects employed by the Normans, who had conquered Sicily from the Arabs, are

attributed to the northern Italy church facades decorated with sculptures of stone. This is evident

in such works as the Modena Cathedral and the bronze relief patterns in San...