Romanesque architecture is the term that is used to describe the architecture of Middle Ages Europe which evolved into the Gothic style beginning in the 12th century. The term "Romanesque", meaning "descended from Roman", was used to describe the style from the early 19th century. Although there is no consensus for the beginning date of the style, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th centuries, examples can be found across the continent, making Romanesque architecture the first pan-European architectural style since Imperial Roman Architecture. The Romanesque style in England is more traditionally referred to as Norman architecture.
Combining features of contemporary Western Roman and Byzantine buildings, Romanesque architecture is known by its massive quality, its thick walls, round arches, sturdy piers, groin vaults, large towers and decorative arcading. Each building has clearly defined forms and they are frequently of very regular, symmetrical plan so that the overall appearance is one of simplicity when compared with the Gothic buildings that were to follow. The style can be identified right across Europe, despite regional characteristics and different materials.
Many castles were built during this period, but they are greatly outnumbered by churches. The most significant are the great abbey churches, many of which are still standing, more or less complete and frequently in use.
"Romanesque" was first applied by the archaeologist Charles de Gerville or his associate Arcisse de Caumont, in the early 19th century, to describe Western European architecture from the 5th to the 13th centuries, at a time when the actual dates of many of the buildings so described had not been ascertained. The term is now used for the more restricted period from the late 10th to the 12th century. The word was used to describe the style which was identifiably Medieval and prefigured the Gothic, yet maintained the rounded Roman arch and thus appeared to be a continuation of the Roman tradition of building, albeit a much simplified and less technically competent version.
The term "Pre-romanesque" is sometimes applied to architecture in Germany of the Carolingian and Ottonian periods while "First Romanesque" is applied to buildings in Italy, Spain and parts of France that have Romanesque features but pre-date the influence of the monastery of Cluny.
Dating shortly after Aachen Cathedral is a remarkable 9th century manuscript which shows the plan for the building of the Abbey of St. Gall in Switzerland. It is a very detailed plan, with all the various monastic buildings and their functions labelled. The largest building is the church, the plan of which is distinctly Germanic, having an apse at both ends, an arrangement which is not generally seen elsewhere. Another feature of the church is its regular proportion, the square plan of the crossing tower providing a module for the rest of the plan. These features can both be seen at the Proto-Romanesque St. Michael's Church, Hildesheim, 1001–1030.
Architecture of a Romanesque style also developed simultaneously in the north of Italy, parts of France and in the Iberian Peninsula in the 10th century and prior to the later influence of the Abbey of Cluny. The style, sometimes called "First Romanesque" or "Lombard Romanesque", is characterised by thick walls, lack of sculpture and the presence of rhythmic ornamental arches known as a Lombard band.
Charlemagne was crowned by the Pope in St Peter's Basilica on Christmas Day in the year AD 800, with an aim to re-establishing the old Western Roman Empire. Charlemagne’s political successors continued to rule much of Europe, with a gradual emergence of the separate political states which were eventually to become welded into nations, either by allegiance or defeat, the Kingdom of Germany giving rise to the Holy Roman Empire. The invasion of England by William, Duke of Normandy, in 1066, saw the unification of that country and the building of both castles and churches which reinforced the Norman presence.
At a time when the remaining structures of the Western Roman Empire were falling into decay and its learning and technology lost, the building of masonry domes and the carving of decorative architectural details continued unabated, though greatly evolved in style since the fall of Rome, in the enduring Byzantine Empire. The domed churches of Constantinople and Eastern Europe were to greatly affect the architecture of certain towns, particularly through trade and through the Crusades. The most notable single building which demonstrates this is St Mark's Basilica, Venice but there are many lesser known examples, particularly in France, such as the church of Saint-Front, Périgueux and Angoulême Cathedral.
Much of Europe was affected by feudalism in which peasants held tenure from local rulers over the land that they farmed in exchange for military service. The result of this was that they could be called upon, not only for local and regional spats, but to follow their lord to travel across Europe to the Crusades, if they were required to do so. The Crusades, 1095–1270, brought about a very large movement of people and, with them, ideas and trade skills, particularly those involved in the building of fortifications and the metal working needed for the provision of arms, which was also applied to the fitting and decoration of buildings. The continual movement of people, rulers, nobles, bishops, abbots, craftsmen and peasants, was an important factor in creating a homogeneity in building methods and a recognizable Romanesque style, despite regional differences.
The monasteries, which sometimes also functioned as cathedrals, and the cathedrals which had bodies of secular clergy often living in community, were a major source of power in Europe. Bishops and the abbots of important monasteries lived and functioned like princes. The monasteries were the major seats of learning of all sorts. Benedict had ordered that all the arts were to be taught and practiced in the monasteries. Within the monasteries books were transcribed by hand, and few people outside the monasteries could read or write.
In France, Burgundy was the centre of monasticism. The enormous and powerful monastery at Cluny was to have lasting effect on the layout of other monasteries and the design of their churches. Unfortunately, very little of the abbey church at Cluny remains; the "Cluny II" rebuilding of 963 onwards has completely vanished, but we have a good idea of the design of "Cluny III" from 1088–1130, which until the Renaissance remained the largest building in Europe. However, the church of St. Sernin at Toulouse, 1080–1120, has remained intact and demonstrates the regularity of Romanesque design with its modular form, its massive appearance and the repetition of the simple arched window motif.
The Crusades resulted in the transfer of, among other things, a great number of Holy Relics of saints and apostles. Many churches, like Saint-Front, Périgueux, had their own home grown saint while others, most notably Santiago de Compostela, claimed the remains and the patronage of a powerful saint, in this case one of the Twelve Apostles. Santiago de Compostela, located near the western extremity of Galicia (present day Spain) became the most important pilgrimage destination in Europe. Most of the pilgrims travelled the Way of Saint James on foot, many of them barefooted as a sign of penance. They moved along one of the four main routes that passed through France, congregating for the journey at Jumieges, Paris, Vezelay, Cluny, Arles and St. Gall in Switzerland. They crossed two passes in the Pyrenees and converged into a single stream to traverse north-western Spain. Along the route they were urged on by those pilgrims returning from the journey. On each of the routes abbeys such as those at Moissac, Toulouse, Roncesvalles, Conques, Limoges and Burgos catered for the flow of people and grew wealthy from the passing trade. Saint-Benoît-du-Sault, in the Berry province, is typical of the churches that were founded on the pilgrim route.
Romanesque architecture is often divided into two periods known as the "First Romanesque" style and the "Romanesque" style. The difference is chiefly a matter of the expertise with which the buildings were constructed. The First Romanesque employed rubble walls, smaller windows and unvaulted roofs. A greater refinement marks the Second Romanesque, along with increased use of the vault and dressed stone.
The building material differs greatly across Europe, depending upon the local stone and building traditions. In Italy, Poland, much of Germany and parts of the Netherlands, brick is generally used. Other areas saw extensive use of limestone, granite and flint. The building stone was often used in comparatively small and irregular pieces, bedded in thick mortar. Smooth ashlar masonry was not a distinguishing feature of the style, particularly in the earlier part of the period, but occurred chiefly where easily-worked limestone was available.
In Romanesque architecture, piers were often employed to support arches. They were built of masonry and square or rectangular in section, generally having a horizontal moulding representing a capital at the springing of the arch. Sometimes piers have vertical shafts attached to them, and may also have horizontal mouldings at the level of base.
Although basically rectangular, piers can often be of highly complex form, with half-segments of large hollow-core columns on the inner surface supporting the arch, or a clustered group of smaller shafts leading into the mouldings of the arch.
Piers that occur at the intersection of two large arches, such as those under the crossing of the nave and transept, are commonly cruciform in shape, each arch having its own supporting rectangular pier at right angles to the other.
The Corinthian capital is essentially round at the bottom where it sits on a circular column and square at the top, where it supports the wall or arch. This form of capital was maintained in the general proportions and outline of the Romanesque capital. This was achieved most simply by cutting a rectangular cube and taking the four lower corners off at an angle so that the block was square at the top, but octagonal at the bottom, as can be seen at St. Michael's Hildesheim.
This shaped lent itself to a wide variety of superficial treatments, sometimes foliate in imitation of the source, but often figurative. In Northern Europe the foliate capitals generally bear far more resemblance to the intricacies of manuscript illumination than to Classical sources. In parts of France and Italy there are strong links to the pierced capitals of Byzantine architecture. It is in the figurative capitals that the greatest originality is shown. While some are dependent on manuscripts illustrations of Biblical scenes and depictions of beasts and monsters, others are lively scenes of the legends of local saints.
The capitals, while retaining the form of a square top and a round bottom, were often compressed into little more than a bulging cushion-shape. This is particularly the case on large masonry columns, or on large columns that alternate with piers as at Durham.
The most simple form that this takes is to have a column between each adjoining pier. Sometimes the columns are in multiples of two or three. At St. Michael's, Hildesheim, an ABBA alternation occurs in the nave while an ABA alternation can be seen in the transepts.
At Jumieges there are tall drum columns between piers each of which has a half-column supporting the arch. There are many variations on this theme, most notably at Durham Cathedral where the mouldings and shafts of the piers are of exceptional richness and the huge masonry columns are each deeply incised with a different geometric pattern.
Often the arrangement was made more complex by the complexity of the piers themselves, so that it was not piers and columns that alternated, but rather, piers of entirely different form from each other, such as those of Sant' Ambrogio, Milan where the nature of the vault dictated that the alternate piers bore a great deal more weight than the intermediate ones and are thus very much larger.
While small windows might be surmounted by a solid stone lintel, larger windows are nearly always arched. Doorways are also surmounted by a semi-circular arch, except where the door is set into a large arched recess and surmounted by a semi-circular "lunette" with decorative carving.
Vaults of stone or brick took on several different forms and showed marked development during the period, evolving into the pointed ribbed arch which is characteristic of Gothic architecture.
In ribbed vaults, not only are there ribs spanning the vaulted area transversely, but each vaulted bay has diagonal ribs. In a ribbed vault, the ribs are the structural members, and the spaces between them can be filled with lighter, non-structural material.
Because Romanesque arches are nearly always semi-circular, the structural and design problem inherent in the ribbed vault is that the diagonal span is larger and therefore higher than the transverse span. The Romanesque builders used a number of solutions to this problem. One was to have the centre point where the diagonal ribs met as the highest point, with the infil of all the surfaces sloping upwards towards it, in a domical manner. This solution was employed in Italy at San Michele, Pavia and Sant' Ambrogio, Milan.
Another solution was to stilt the transverse ribs, or depress the diagonal ribs so that the centreline of the vault was horizontal, like a that of a barrel vault. The latter solution was used on the sexpartite vaults at both the Saint-Etienne, the Abbaye-aux-Hommes and Abbaye-aux-Dames at Caen, France, in the late 11th and early 12th centuries.
Many parish churches, abbey churches and cathedrals are in the Romanesque style, or were originally built in the Romanesque style and have subsequently undergone changes. The simplest Romanesque churches are aisless halls with a projecting apse at the chancel end, or sometimes, particularly in England, a projecting rectangular chancel with a chancel arch that might be decorated with mouldings. More ambitious churches have aisles separated from the nave by arcades.
Abbey and cathedral churches generally follow the Latin Cross plan. In England, the extension eastward may be long, while in Italy it is often short or non-existent, the church being of T plan, sometimes with apses on the transept ends as well as to the east. In France the church of St Front, Perigueux, appears to have been modelled on St. Mark's Basilica, Venice or another Byzantine church and is of a Greek cross plan with five domes. In the same region, Angouleme Cathedral is an aisless church of the Latin cross plan, more usual in France, but is also roofed with domes.
In Germany, Romanesque churches are often of distinctive form, having apses at both east and west ends, the main entrance being central to one side. It is probable that this form came about to accommodate a baptistery at the west end.
In section, the typical aisled church or cathedral has a nave with a single aisle on either side. The nave and aisles are separated by an arcade carried on piers or on columns. The roof of the aisle and the outer walls help to buttress the upper walls and vault of the nave, if present. Above the aisle roof are a row of windows known as the clerestory, which give light to the nave. During the Romanesque period there was a development from this two-stage elevation to a three-stage elevation in which there is a gallery, known as a triforium, between the arcade and the clerestory. This varies from a simple blind arcade decorating the walls, to a narrow arcaded passage, to a fully-developed second story with a row of windows lighting the gallery.
In the cases where half-barrel vaults were used, they effectively became like flying buttresses. Often aisles extended through two storeys, rather than the one usual in Gothic architecture, so as to better support the weight of a vaulted nave. In the case of Durham Cathedral, flying buttresses have been employed, but are hidden inside the triforium gallery.
Smaller churches often have a single tower which is usually placed to the western end, in France or England, either centrally or to one side, while larger churches and cathedrals often have two.
In France, Saint-Etienne, Caen presents the model of a large French Romanesque facade. It is a symmetrical arrangement of nave flanked by two tall towers each with two buttress of low flat profile which divide the facade into three vertical units. The three horizontal stages are marked by a large door set within an arch in each of the three vertical sections. The wider central section has two tiers of three identical windows, while in the outer tiers their are two tiers of single windows, giving emphasis to the mass of the towers. The towers rise through three tiers, the lowest of tall blind arcading, the next of arcading pierced by two narrow windows and the third of two large windows, divided into two lights by a colonette.
This facade can be seen as the foundation for many other buildings, including both French and English Gothic churches. While the form is typical of northern France, its various components were common to many Romanesque churches of the period across Europe. Similar facades are found in Portugal. In England, Southwell Cathedral has maintained this form, despite the insertion of a huge Gothic window between the towers. Lincoln and Durham must once have looked like this. In Germany, the Limburger Dom has a rich variety of openings and arcades in horizontal storeys of varying heights. The churches of San Zeno Maggiore, Verona and San Michele, Pavia present two types of facade that are typical of Italian Romanesque, that which reveals the architectural form of the building, and that which screens it. At San Zeno, the components of nave and aisles are made clear by the vertical shafts which rise to the level of the central gable and by the varying roof levels. At San Miniato al Monte the definition of the architectural parts is made even clearer by the polychrome marble, a feature of many Italian Medieval facades, particularly in Tuscany. At San Michele the vertical definition is present as at San Zeno, but the rooflines are screened behind a single large gable decorated with stepped arcading. At Santa Maria della Pieve, Arezzo this screening is carried even further, as the roofline is horizontal and the arcading rises in many different levels while the colonettes which support them have a great diversity of decoration.
Many abbeys of France, such as that at Cluny, had many towers of varied forms. This is also common in Germany, where the apses were sometimes framed with circular towers and the crossing surmounted by an octagonal tower as at Worms Cathedral. Large paired towers of square plan could also occur on the transept ends, such as those at Tournai Cathedral in Belgium. In Germany, where four towers frequently occur, they often have spires which may be four or eight sided, or the distinctive Rhenish helm shape seen on Limburg Cathedral. In England, for large abbeys and cathedral buildings, three towers were favoured, with the central tower being the tallest. This was often not achieved, through the slow process of the building stages, and in many cases the upper parts of the tower were not completed until centuries later as at Durham and Lincoln. Large Norman towers exist at the cathedrals of Durham, Exeter, Southwell and Norwich. In Italy towers are almost always free standing and the position is often dictated by the landform of the site, rather than aesthetics. This is the case in Italian nearly all churches both large and small, except in Sicily where a number of churches were founded by the Norman rulers and are more French in appearance.
As a general rule, large Romanesque towers are square with corner buttresses of low profile, rising without diminishing through the various stages. Towers are usually marked into clearly defined stages by horizontal courses. As the towers rise, the number and size of openings increases as can be seen on the right tower of the transept of Tournai Cathedral where two narrow slits in the fourth level from the top becomes a single window, then two windows, then three windows at the uppermost level. This sort of arrangement is particularly noticeable on the towers of Italian churches, which are usually built of brick and may have no other ornament. Two fine examples occur at Lucca, at the church of San Frediano and at the Duomo. It is also seen in Spain.
In Italy, there are a number of large free-standing towers which are circular, the most famous of these being the Leaning Tower of Pisa. In other countries where circular towers occur, such as Germany, they are usually paired and often flank an apse. Circular towers are uncommon in England, but occur throughout the Early Medieval period in Ireland.
Octagonal towers were often used on crossings and occur in France, Germany, Spain and Italy where an example that is unusual for its height is that on the crossing of Sant' Antonio, Piacenza, 1140.
In Spain, in the 12th century, a feature is the polygonal towers at the crossing. These have ribbed vaults and are elaborately decorated, such as the "Torre del Gallo" at Salamanca Old Cathedral.
In England, such decoration could be discrete, as at Hereford and Peterborough cathedrals, or have a sense of massive energy as at Durham where the diagonal ribs of the vaults are all outlined with chevrons, the mouldings of the nave arcade are carved with several layers of the same and the huge columns are deeply incised with a variety of geometric patterns creating an impression of directional movement. These features combine to create one of the richest and most dynamic interiors of the Romanesque period. Although much sculptural ornament was sometimes applied to the interiors of churches, the focus of such decoration was generally the west front, and in particular, the portals. Chevrons and other geometric ornaments, referred to by 19th century writers as "barbaric ornament" are most frequently found on the mouldings of the central door. Stylized foliage often appears, sometimes deeply carved and curling outward after the manner of the acanthus leaves on Corinthian capitals, but also carved in shallow relief and spiral patterns, imitating the intricacies of manuscript illuminations. In general, the style of ornament was more classical in Italy, such as that seen around the door of Sant Giusto in Lucca, and more "barbaric" in England, Germany and Scandinavia, such as that seen at Speyer Cathedral. France produced a great range of ornament, with particularly fine interwoven and spiralling vines in the "manuscript" style occurring at Saint-Sernin, Toulouse.
Images that occurred in metalwork were frequently embossed. The resultant surface had two main planes and details that were usually incised. This treatment was adapted to stone carving and is seen particularly in the tympanum above the portal, where the imagery of Christ in Majesty with the symbols of the Four Evangelists is drawn directly from the gilt covers of medieval Gospel Books. This style of doorway occurs in many places and continued into the Gothic period. A rare survival in England is that of the "Prior's Door" at Ely Cathedral. In South-Western France, many have survived, with impressive examples at Saint-Pierre, Moissac, Souillac, and La Madaleine, Vézelay – all daughter houses of Cluny, with extensive other sculpture remaining in cloisters and other buildings. Nearby, Autun Cathedral has a Last Judgement of great rarity in that it has uniquely been signed by its creator, Giselbertus. A feature of the figures in manuscript illumination is that they often occupy confined spaces and are contorted to fit. The custom of artists to make the figure fit the available space lent itself to a facility in designing figures to ornament door posts and lintels and other such architectural surfaces. The robes of painted figures were commonly treated in a flat and decorative style that bore little resemblance to the weight and fall of actual cloth. This feature was also adapted for sculpture. Among the many examples that exist, one of the finest is the figure of the Prophet Jeremiah from the pillar of the portal of the Abbey of Saint-Pierre, Moissac, France, from about 1130.
One of the most significant motifs of Romanesque design, occurring in both figurative and non-figurative sculpture is the spiral. One of the sources may be Ionic capitals. Scrolling vines were a common motif of both Byzantine and Roman design, and may be seen in mosaic on the vaults of the 4th century Church of Santa Costanza, Rome. Manuscripts and architectural carvings of the 12th century have very similar scrolling vine motifs. Another source of the spiral is clearly the illuminated manuscripts of the 7th to 9th centuries, particularly Irish manuscripts such as the St. Gall Gospel Book, spread into Europe by the Hiberno-Scottish mission. In these illuminations the use of the spiral has nothing to do with vines or other natural growth. The motif is abstract and mathematical. It is in an adaptation of this form that the spiral occurs in the draperies of both sculpture and stained glass windows. Of all the many examples that occur on Romanesque portals, one of the most outstanding is that of the central figure of Christ at La Madaleine, Vezelay. Another influence from Insular art are engaged and entwined animals, often used to superb effect in capitals (as at Silos) and sometimes on a column itself (as at Moissac).
Many of the smaller sculptural works, particularly capitals, are Biblical in subject and include scenes of Creation and the Fall of Man, episodes from the life of Christ and those Old Testament scenes which prefigure his Death and Resurrection, such as Jonah and the Whale and Daniel in the Lions' Den. Many Nativity scenes occur, the theme of the Three Kings being particularly popular. The cloisters of Santo Domingo de Silos Abbey in Northern Spain, and Moissac are fine examples surviving complete.
A feature of some Romanesque churches is the extensive sculptural scheme which covers the area surrounding the portal or, in some case, much of the facade. Angouleme Cathedral in France has a highly elaborate scheme of sculpture set within the broad niches created by the arcading of the facade. In Spain, an elaborate pictorial scheme in low relief surrounds the door of the church of Santa Maria at Ripoll.
The purpose of the sculptural schemes was to convey a message that the Christian believer should recognise their wrong-doings, repent and be redeemed. The Last Judgement reminds the believe to repent. The carved or painted Crucifix, displayed prominently within the church, reminded the sinner of their redemption. The sculpture which reminded the sinners of their sins often took alarming forms. These sculptures, not being of Christ, were usually not large and are rarely magnificent, but are often fearsome or simply entertaining in nature.
These are the works that frequently decorate the smaller architectural features. They are found on capitals, corbels and bosses, or entwined in the foliage on door mouldings. They represent the Seven Deadly Sins but often take forms that are not easily recognisable today. Lust, gluttony and avarice are probably the most frequently represented. The appearance of many figures with oversized genitals can clearly be equated with carnal sin, but so also can the numerous figures shown with protruding tongues, which are a feature of the doorway of Lincoln Cathedral. Pulling ones beard was a symbol of masturbation, and pulling ones mouth wide open was also a sign of lewdity. A common theme found on capitals of this period is a tongue poker or beard stroker being beaten by his wife or seized by demons. Demons fighting over the soul of a wrongdoer such as a miser is another popular subject.
Gothic architecture is usually considered to begin with the design of the choir at the Abbey of Saint-Denis, north of Paris, by the Abbot Suger, consecrated 1144. The beginning of Gothic sculpture is usually dated a little later, with the carving of the figures around the Royal Portal at Chartres Cathedral, France, 1150–55. The style of sculpture spread rapidly from Chartres, overtaking the new Gothic architecture. In fact, many churches of the late Romanesque period post-date the building at Saint-Denis. The sculptural style based more upon observation and naturalism than on formalised design developed rapidly. It is thought that one reason for the rapid development of naturalistic form was a growing awareness of Classical remains in places where they were most numerous and a deliberate imitation of their style. The consequence is that there are doorways which are Romanesque in form, and yet show a naturalism associated with Early Gothic sculpture.
One of these is the Pórtico da Gloria dating from 1180, at Santiago de Compostela. This portal is internal and is particularly well preserved, even retaining colour on the figures and indicating the gaudy appearance of much architectural decoration which is now perceived as monochrome. Around the doorway are figures who are integrated with the colonnettes that make the mouldings of the doors. They are three dimensional, but slightly flattened. They are highly individualised, not only in appearance but also expression and bear quite strong resemblance to those around the north porch of the Abbey of St. Denis, dating from 1170. Beneath the tympanum there is a realistically carved row of figures playing a range of different and easily identifiable musical instruments.
A classic scheme for the full painted decoration of a church, derived from earlier examples often in mosaic, had, as its focal point in the semi-dome of the apse, Christ in Majesty or Christ the Redeemer enthroned within a mandorla and framed by the four winged beasts, symbols of the Four Evangelists, comparing directly with examples from the gilt covers or the illuminations of Gospel Books of the period. If the Virgin Mary was the dedicatee of the church, she might replace Christ here. On the apse walls below would be saints and apostles, perhaps including narrative scenes, for example of the saint to whom the church was dedicated. On the sanctuary arch were figures of apostles, prophets or the twenty-four "elders of the Apocalypse", looking in towards a bust of Christ, or his symbol the Lamb, at the top of the arch. The north wall of the nave would contain narrative scenes from the Old Testament, and the south wall from the New Testament. On the rear west wall would be a Last Judgement, with an enthroned and judging Christ at the top. One of the most intact schemes to exist is that at Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe in France. The long barrel vault of the nave provides an excellent surface for fresco, and is decorated with scenes of the Old Testament, showing the Creation, the Fall of Man and other stories including a lively depiction of Noah's Ark complete with a fearsome figurehead and numerous windows through with can be seen the Noah and his family on the upper deck, birds on the middle deck, while on the lower are the pairs of animals. Another scene shows with great vigour the swamping of Pharaoh's army by the Red Sea. The scheme extends to other parts of the church, with the martyrdom of the local saints shown in the crypt, and Apocalypse in the narthex and Christ in Majesty. The range of colours employed is limited to light blue-green, yellow ochre, reddish brown and black. Similar paintings exist in Serbia, Spain, Germany, Italy and elsewhere in France.
Most of the magnificent stained glass of France, including the famous windows of Chartres, date from the 13th century. Far fewer large windows remain intact from the 12th century. One such is the Crucifixion of Poitiers, a remarkable composition which rises through three stages, the lowest with a quatrefoil depicting the Martyrdom of St Peter, the largest central stage dominated by the crucifixion and the upper stage showing the Ascension of Christ in a mandorla. The figure of the crucified Chirst is already showing the Gothic curve. The window is described by George Seddon as being of "unforgettable beauty".
In England, the Romanesque groundplan, which in that country commonly had a very long nave, continued to affect the style of building of cathedrals and those large abbey churches which were also to become cathedrals in the 16th century. Despite the fact that English cathedrals were rebuilt in many stages, substantial areas of Norman building can be seen in many of them, particularly in the nave arcades. In the case of Winchester Cathedral, the Gothic arches were literally carved out of the existent Norman piers.
In Italy, although many churches such as Florence Cathedral and Santa Maria Novella were built in the Gothic style, sturdy columns with capitals of a modified Corinthian form continued to be used. The pointed vault was utilised where convenient, but it is commonly interspersed with semicircular arches and vaults wherever they conveniently fit. The facades of Gothic churches in Italy are not always easily distinguishable from the Romanesque.
Germany was not quick to adopt the Gothic style, and when it did so, often the buildings were modelled very directly upon French cathedrals, as Cologne Cathedral was modelled on Amiens. The smaller churches and abbeys continued to be constructed in a more provincial Romanesque manner, the date only being registered by the pointed window openings.
The type of modern buildings for which the Romanesque style was most frequently adapted was the warehouse, where a lack of large windows and an appearance of great strength and stability were desirable features. These buildings, generally of brick, frequently have flattened buttresses rising to wide arches at the upper levels after the manner of some Italian Romanesque facades. This style was adapted to suit commercial buildings by opening the spaces between the arches into large windows, the brick walls becoming a shell to a building that was essentially of modern steel-frame construction, the architect Henry Hobson Richardson giving his name to the style, "Richardson Romanesque". Good examples of the style are Marshall Fields store, Chicago by H.H.Richardson, 1885, and the Chadwick Lead Works in Boston USA by William Preston, 1887. The style also lent itself to the building of cloth mills, steelworks and powerstations.