Categorisation according to region is one of the cornerstones of French Romanesque historiography. The following paper examines the historical and political circumstances of the birth of this concept in the first half of the 19th century. At that time, when Paris-based French scholars wrote to their provincial correspondents, their initial aim was to develop a simple typology in order to create the first lists of protected monuments. However, some also wished to build a true ‘science’ on the back of this, one which would enable them to classify architectural groupings according to their vaults, arches, abutments, and other means of articulation. Thus was born a theory of regional styles, albeit one created in the ideological (and conservative) context of the development of folklore. It is important to grasp the implications of the attractive and popular mental landscape compounded by the ‘Romanesque schools’. This last became so influential that certain specific features of Romanesque churches considered to be paragons of a regional style are, in fact, the consequence of 19th-century ‘restoration’ and are better considered as examples of the architecture of a Romanesque Revival.