The Anglo-Norman Territories


Art and architecture


    The expression Romanesque art was coined in 1818 by the Norman archaeologist Charles Duhérissier of Gerville. It would be taken up by another Norman, Arcisse de Caumont, in his work of making an inventory of medieval architecture and would pass into general use from 1835 onwards. The expression, pejorative at first, established a parallel between the Romance languages, considered as impoverished versions of Latin, and the architecture of the period perceived as a clumsy continuation of the Roman art of building.

This opinion has been largely revised since and the forms of artistic expression which spread in the Anglo-Norman realm have been related to their political and economic importance in the 11th and 12th centuries.

In Normandy, from the time of the first dukes, a great programme of reconstruction was undertaken, supported by the rise of Benedictine monasticism. The affirmation of power by William the Conqueror marked the apogee of this period. In England after 1066 the upsurge of construction work can be related to an intention to impose Norman power and prestige everywhere while the profits of the conquest and the interchange between the two territories led to new developments.

Romanesque art is, above all, represented by the great abbeys and cathedrals, but it also encompasses military architecture, especially at the beginning of the 12th century. It is also based on structures with a utilitarian as much as a prestigious function and includes rare examples of civil architecture, notably palaces.

One must not neglect, finally, a mass of little parish churches which enabled the development of both technical innovations and the plastic arts of the Anglo-Norman Romanesque. Sculpture in particular and other arts called minor – painting, illumination and glass – shone with the same radiance as, in other areas, did literature and music.

Building in stone Timber framing
Anglo-Norman Church Architecture Anglo-Norman Military Architecture
Sculpture in Normandy Anglo-Norman stone sculpture
Wall-painting Painted glass
Book and illumination Illuminated manuscripts in England
Literature Music

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