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Architecture During the Middle Ages
Architecture of the Middle Ages consists of the Gothic and Romanesque styles. The architectural styles of the Middle Ages have an extensive history. Gothic Architecture appears the most in old towns and big cities. Gothic Cathedrals anticipated modern skyscrapers. Romanesque Architecture came before Gothic, and was known for its squat pillars and its heavy, rounded arches (MacDonald and James 8).

History of Architecture During the Middle Ages
Example of intricate rib-vaulting found at
Example of intricate rib-vaulting found at
The architectural styles between the years 1066 and 1200 mainly consisted of the Romanesque and Norman styles. The Gothic style spanned during the years of 1200 and 1500 (Middle Ages). The changes in the architectural styles came from new methods and ideas of building, advances in technology, and the changing needs of the population. Rib-vaulting significantly advanced the building of stone structures because it lessened the amount of support needed to build a cathedral or castle. Later, when another source of support was found, rib-vaulting had more elaborate patterns, and today rib-vaulting is just for decoration.

Gothic Architecture

A view of the Basilica of St. Denis found at
A view of the Basilica of St. Denis found at

Gothic Architecture originated around Ile-de-France and dominated French architecture from the years 1150 to 1500 (New Advent). Abbot Suger has been considered the man that created the Gothic style. Abbot Suger rebuilt a lot of the abbey church of Saint-Denis, which is known as the first definite Gothic structure, and he commemorated the event in his book “The Consecration of the Church of Saint-Denis.” Of all of the Gothic Cathedrals, the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, stands out as the most famous. The roof on the Notre Dame weighed so much that the walls that supported the cathedral bulged outward. In order to keep the cathedral standing flying buttresses had to be placed outside to even the weight distribution out. Other qualities of Gothic Architecture include the great height that is attainable the Cathedral of Amiens, which has a roof that is 140 feet above the nave, shows a great example of this quality (Gale Group INFOTRAC).

Romanesque Architecture
Romanesque Architecture has many different characteristics that define this style. The style of Romanesque varies country to country because of different needs of the people. Thick walls, squat pillars, and heavy, rounded arches define this particular style. Romanesque churches began to be made into Pilgrimage Churches that housed the bones and possessions of saints (Hersey 617). Pilgrimage Churches enabled the common people could go to a holy place without going all of the way to Jerusalem. The abbey church in Cluny, France shows an example of a Romanesque church that has arcades in the nave.

Interesting Facts
Aachen Cathedral found at
Other architectural styles during the Middle Ages include Edwardian, Norman, Carolingian, and Byzantine. Edwardian Castles replaced the Norman Castles that had hollow walls and, the Edwardian style was designed for siege warfare. Turrets and west works define the Carolingian style, the Aachen Cathedral happens to be an example of this style, inside the Aachem Cathedral, one finds a small chapel and an ambulatory. The Hagia Sophia Basilica of Saint Mark of the Byzantine style originated in the Byzantine Empire. Gargoyles placed upon the roofs of Gothic Cathedrals disguised the drains that removed water from the roof. Gargoyles were statues that looked like demons. Gargoyles received their name because when water ran through the drain inside the statue, it made a gargling noise. The Gothic and Romanesque styles dominated the churches during the Middle Ages and the Edwardian protected all of the castles.

Works Cited

"Gothic Architecture Developed, c. 1200." DISCovering World History. Online ed. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Student Resource Center - Junior. Gale. Greenacres Middle School. 24 Mar. 2011 [[ 4&docId=EJ2105240464&source=gale&srcprod=SRCJ&userGroupName=lap08grams&version=1.0]].

Cram, Ralph Adams. "Gothic Architecture." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 6. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 25 Mar. 2011 <>

Alchin, Linda. "Architecture of Castles in the Middle Ages." Middle Ages. 20 Sept. 2006. Web. 24 Mar. 2011. <>.

Macdonald, Fiona, and John James. A Medieval Cathedral. New York: P. Bedrick, 1991. 8+.

Hersey, G. L. The World Book Encyclopedia. 2001 ed. Vol. 1. Chicago: World Book,2001.

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The last revision was Dec 10, 2013 12:22 pm by ELBeth.