The early middle ages were an exciting period in the history of European architecture, culminating in the development of the Romanesque style. Major architectural innovations were made during this time including the medieval castle, the church spire, and the monastic cloister. By avoiding the traditional emphasis on chronological development, Roger Stalley provides a radically new approach to the subject, exploring issues and themes rather than sequences and dates. In addition to analysing the language of the Romanesque, the book examines the engineering achievements of the builders, and clearly how the great monuments of the age were designed and constructed. Ranging from Gotland to Apulia, the richness and variety of European architecture is explored in terms of the social and religious aspirations of the time. Symbolic meanings associated with architecture are also thoroughly investigated. Written with style and humour, the lively text includes many quotations from ancient sources, providing a fascinating insight into the way that medieval buildings were created, and in the process enlivening study of this period.
Medieval architecture brings to mind Gothic cathedrals and fortified castles. But those styles were developed from earlier traditions, as detailed by Stalley (history of art, Trinity Coll., Dublin). Covering the period 313-1200 C.E., Stalley discusses the influence of early Christianity prior to the emergence of the Gothic style. He examines stylistic periods as well as the elements of engineering and construction, the cooperative efforts of builder and patron, and the broad categories of secular and church structures. Photographs of buildings, diagrams, and period art tie in well with the text. Though the focus is specialized, Stalley's book is inviting to both students and general readers. This fine addition to Oxford's series, neatly written and presented, is recommended for public and academic libraries.--Karen Ellis, Nicholson Memorial Lib. Syst., Garland, TX Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\