The Normans in the Mediterranean


Arts, architecture, culture in Norman Italy


    Much of the culture of southern Italy in the Norman period was of monastic origin. The courts of the Norman lords were centres of artistic production, first and foremost the royal court of Palermo. Montecassino, Salerno and Palermo formed the melting-pot in which the four cultural components of Norman Italy - Lombard, Byzantine, Islamic and French - were fused together.
Medicine was particularly advanced : firstly at Montecassino, then, with important results, at the school of medicine in Salerno. The literary output was also notable : in particular, there were numerous translations of scientific texts from Arabic and Greek. There was also a flourishing school of book illumination.

In the field of architecture, Norman patronage led to the construction of a series of ecclesiastical buildings in which the pre-existing traditions ('Cassinese', Byzantine and Arabizing) tended to coexist with the imported Benedictine-Cluniac style. Although little attention was paid to painting, the Norman kings commissioned a series of truly outstanding mosaic cycles (Monreale, the Cappella Palatina in Palermo), which today are perhaps the most splendid memorial to their era.

Medical culture : the legacy of oriental science
Literary works : history-writing
Court of Palermo : a cultural and scientific center
The book and illumination
Religious architecture
Painting and large decorations

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