The Anglo-Norman empire and the Norman royalty of Sicily in the 12th century had many points of convergence for art history, especially in the field of architecture. Following this exceptional period the two geographical areas at opposite ends of Europe followed separate historical destinies.
The heritage of the past has not been preserved in an identical way and the myths arising from it reflect local traditions. Thus the treasures of Norman cathedrals and abbeys have almost completely vanished, and those of England have only been partly preserved while those of the Mezzogiorno still adorn places of worship or are displayed in museums.
Contemporary historical research has not followed the same paths. The history of Romanesque art - especially sculpture – is better understood and studied in Southern Italy while medieval archaeology initially developed around Winchester and Caen following the 1944 bombings. In Italy the burden of antiquity long suppressed the opening up of medieval archaeology.
From one location to another, collections are very different in their quality and their level of documentation. This disparate aspect is a constant in the medieval collections of Europe.
In order to have a measure of the richness and diversity of this medieval European civilisation, it would be necessary to visit a very large number of libraries and civilian, military or religious buildings, down to the most humble chapel which may be concealing a work vital to its original context.
Normandy British isles Italy