Article

Carolingian Architecture

Caroline Goodson

in Medieval Studies

ISBN: 9780195396584
Published online December 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396584-0087
Carolingian Architecture

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)
  • Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)
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  • Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400)
  • Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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Carolingian-period architecture is a key expression of the cultural cohesion of the Franks and their allies under Carolingian rule. In the period from the mid-7th century to the end of the 9th century, across central Europe and down to Italy and over to Spain and England, patrons of buildings shared aesthetic and functional aims to create broadly consistent shapes and scales of churches, monastic complexes, and palaces. This was no mere aesthetic movement. There were new and newly important roles played by ecclesiastical and governmental institutions within Carolingian society, where aristocratic men were appointed to positions in leadership in the church as auxiliary governmental structures. Bishops and abbots often served as local agents of Carolingian rule. In the Carolingian view of the world, Christian history was as important as the history of peoples and wars, and shrines to local founding bishops and ancient Roman martyrs gained prominence in the 8th and 9th centuries. Concerns about correct religious observance prompted the unification of liturgical practice, and this unification was achieved in part through the development of a clear hierarchy. These ideas of sacred history, standardized practice, and hierarchical order were given form by the new building, and architecture was the physical expression of new, common interests and purposes. The basilica-plan buildings with monumental western entrances, towers, and interiors decorated with marbles, carved capitals, and standardized interior arrangements provided a new and often-consistent frame that encouraged standardized liturgies inside. The political collaborations of local, regional, and courtly patronage that the greatest buildings of the day commanded were monumentalized in great churches and palaces. The innovations and interests of rulers of the Carolingian house influenced their contemporary rulers in Christian Spain, Italy, and Anglo-Saxon England, and the architecture of those places will be included in this bibliography.

Article.  9642 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500) ; Literary Studies (Early and Medieval) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy ; Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400) ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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