Italian Architecture in the Middle Ages
In the Fifteenth century, the Italian historian Flavio Biondo regarded the sack of Rome by
the Visogoths as the end of ancient civilization. He also believed that this marked the beginning
of the Middle Ages (Erickson 72). Within the thousand years of the Middle Ages, historians
have recognized subperiods. These subperiods include the Early Middle Ages (900 to 1000), the
High Middle Ages (1000 to 1300), and the Later Middle Ages (the 14th and 15th centuries)
The purpose of this paper is to explain Middle Age Italian architecture
through its history and specific examples. Italian art history begins in Rome during the first
through the fourth centuries. The birth of Christian religious architecture based on Roman
prototypes, was developed. The transfer of the Roman imperial capital to Byzantium in the 4th
century meant that Italy would become a Byzantine cultural province (Hoyt 17,18, 20).
in Sicily were the Arabs who
introduced styles of oriental magnificence such as Palarmo's Palantine Chapel.
According to John White in Art and Architecture In Italy 1250-1400, impressive central
plans, lavish materials, sumptuous color, mysterious lighting, and stylized representation
describe such works as Ravenna's San Vitale and St. Marks Basilica. The Italian Romanesque
was concentrated in Lombardy, Tuscany, and Southern Italy. The Lombard architecture was
known for large vaulted churches made of elaborate exterior brick. In Tuscany, Pisan
architecture superimposed tiers of marble cascades as in the Pisa Cathedral. The Cefalu and
Monerale Cathedrals in Sicily are representations of southern Italy architectures.
French architects employed by the Normans, who had conquered Sicily from the Arabs, are
attributed to the northern Italy church facades decorated with sculptures of stone. This is evident
in such works as the Modena Cathedral and the bronze relief patterns in San...