chapter  6
6 Pages

Variety in Romanesque Architecture

WithWhitney S. Stoddard

In spite of the improved communication which the pilgrimages to the grave of Saint James Major in Spain and the Crusades to the Holy Land afforded, Romanesque architecture in France remains strongly regional. The “pilgrimage family” of churches — Santiago de Compostela, Saint-Sernin at Toulouse, Sainte-Foy at Conques — are exceptions to the localism of Romanesque times. Yet French Romanesque architecture in its entirety was rooted in the local region and reflected the fragmentation of political authority in this period. The comparisons of interiors and exteriors suggest the extraordinary variety of imaginative solutions which can be seen in a small selection from the thousands of Romanesque monuments in present-day France. The treatment of interior spaces is quite different in various geographic areas. Most Norman churches display elaborate façades with paired towers and large square lantern towers over the crossing. Queen Matilda’s church at Caen, Sainte-Trinite, reveals the same mural massiveness as seen in Mont-Saint-Michel.