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Architecture of Medieval Europe and Its Appearance in Films Ivanhoe (1952), Becket (1964), Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1972), Kristin Lavransdatter (1995), and El Cid (1961

Korean Minjok Leadership Academy
International Program
Eom, Tae Gyung
Term Paper, Medieval History Class, June 2009

Table of Contents

I. Introduction
II. Romanesque Architecture
II.1 Definition and History
II.2 Characteristics and Defining Features
II.3 Romanesque Architecture of England and Appearance in the Films Ivanhoe and Becket
II.4 Romanesque Architecture of Italy and Appearance in the Film Brother Sun, Sister Moon
III. Medieval Norwegian Architecture
III.1 History
III.2 Characteristics, Defining Features and Appearance in the Film Kristin Lavransdatter
IV. Mozarabic Architecture
IV.1 Definition and History
IV.2 Characteristics and Defining Features
IV.3 Mozarabic Architecture in the Film El Cid
V. Problems in Setting Architectural Backgrounds of Historical Films
VI. Conclusion

I. Introduction
            Since the term "Middle Ages" in European history refers to a long period from the collapse of Western Roman Empire in the 5th century to the beginning of Renaissance in the 13th, 14th, or 15th century, architecture of Europe during the Middle Ages widely varies from time and region.
            This paper focuses on three specific styles of medieval European architecture ? Romanesque architecture, specifically of England and Italy, Medieval Norwegian architecture, and Mozarabic architecture of Spain - based upon observation on their appearance in films Ivanhoe, Becket, Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Kristin Lavransdatter, and El Cid and research.

II. Romanesque Architecture

Definition and History
            Romanesque architecture is the style of building which spread in Europe before the domination of the Gothic style, which is around the middle of the 12th century in France and decades later in other European regions. The beginning date of the style is ambiguous, ranging from the 6th to the 10th centuries. Examples of this style are spread across Europe, making Romanesque architecture the first pan-European architectural style after the Roman Architecture. (1)
            After Western Roman Empire fell in 476, Roman culture was widely spread by the Christian church. Roman stylistic elements, for example rounded Roman arches, had fused with elements of various cultures, such as Byzantine, German, Celtic, and other northern tribes in Western Europe. These combinations created a number of local styles, altogether called Romanesque, meaning "in the manner of the Romans." (4)
            Terms such as Proto-Romanesque and Late Romanesque are used to specify the time period. Proto-Romanesque refers to the adoptions of this relatively new style between 10th and 11th century, and Late Romanesque to the architecture that does not accept the new Gothic style until the 13th century. (5)
            The development and spread of Romanesque architecture is strongly promoted by religious fervor of the period. For example, the Christian church adopted elements of Germanic and Celtic architecture to their own architecture while their propagation. Also, many medieval knights on Crusades and merchants had seen magnificent and solid fortresses of the Byzantine Empire. These massive buildings revolutionized construction ideas, engineering and architecture of the Romanesque period./ (6)

II.2 Characteristics and Defining Features
            Romanesque architecture is known by its solidity, thick walls, half-round arches, square keeps, sturdy piers, groin vaults, large towers and highly decorative arcades.
            The development of vaults is one of the most important achievements of Romanesque architects. The development of vaults, which are arrangements of arches forming ceilings or roofs, lead the replacement of inflammable wooden roofs to fire-proof stone roofs, because vaults could bear more weight than the former arches. Various vaults such as domes, rounded or pointed vaults, plain or ribbed vaults were developed, but vaults posed a new problem for the architects due to its highly heavy weight. (8)
            Romanesque architects used massive walls and piers in order to support the heavy stone vaults. Massive walls and piers, instead of pillars, columns, and arches, is one of the most apparent features that differentiate the style from the preceding Roman or later Gothic architecture. While most of the loads bear on pillars and arches in the Roman and Gothic architecture, Romanesque architecture, just alike Byzantine architecture, relies it on walls, or piers, which are sections of walls divided by windows or doors. (9) The walls were usually very thick because the weight of the stone ceilings and vaults tended to press the walls outward if the walls were not thick and weighty enough. Also, buttresses, which are structures that support or reinforce the walls, were used to keep the walls from being pushed outward, becoming features of Romanesque architecture. (11) Doors and windows had to be few in number and small in size, because large openings may not endure the weighty walls. (13)
            Arches in Romanesque architecture differs from Gothic architecture in the point that it was majorly Roman-like semicircular except some direct imitations of Islamic architecture such as Autun Cathedral in France and Monreale Cathedral in Sicily, in both of which pointed arches is used.

II.3 Romanesque Architecture of England and Appearance in the Films Ivanhoe and Becket
            Romanesque architecture of England is traditionally referred to as Norman architecture, because in England it was majorly influenced by the Normans. It was first introduced to England during the regime of Edward the Confessor, who had Normans to work on the extension of Westminster Abbey in 1042. Following the Norman Conquest in 1066, Normans constructed numbers of castles, cathedrals and abbeys, and fortresses across the Britain Isles.(15) The Norman style of architecture replaced the previous Saxon style, which majorly uses wood. The long, narrow Norman churches were constructed with heavy walls and piers, rectangular apses, double transepts, and deeply recessed portals. Naves were covered with flat roofs or vaults, and aisles were usually covered with groined vaults. (17)
            The background of the films Ivanhoe and Becket is the late 12th century, which is the transition from Romanesque to Gothic architecture in England; Gothic architecture was introduced in 1174 by Norman masons when a fire damaged Canterbury Cathedral, while the timeline of Becket ends in 1170 and of Ivanhoe in 1194. However, the both majorly feature Norman architecture which was still dominant in the country. Elements of Romanesque Architecture, such as gates with semicircular arches, massively thick walls and tiny windows are often observed throughout the film Ivanhoe. The Castle of Torquilstone in the same movie also features groined vaults and small openings, which are characteristics of Romanesque Architecture. The Cathedral of Canterbury observed in the film Becket also features semicircular Romanesque arches and Romanesque-style façade, but the walls are not thick enough to say the architecture of the film is perfectly in Romanesque style.

II.4 Romanesque Architecture of Italy and Appearance in the Film Brother Sun, Sister Moon
            One of the earliest types of Romanesque Architecture evolved with German influences in Lombardy (Lombardia in Italian) in Northern Italy, called First Romanesque or Lombard Romanesque. This style spread to the whole Italian Peninsula, lasting until the end of the 13th century. Exterior bands of blind arches for decoration (Lombard bands), thick walls, lack of sculpture in fa?ades, and interiors profusely painted with frescoes characterize this style. (18)
            Romanesque Architecture in Italy varies with regional characteristics in both the style and building materials used, while most of the regions are highly influenced by the Byzantine and Arabic Architecture, except Puglia. Building materials depended on local availability, since the imports of heavy materials were very costly. In Lombardy (Lombardia in Italian), where clayey soil is abundant, the major material was brick. The high availability of stone in Como made it the major building material at the region. In Tuscany (Toscana), buildings made of white marbles with green serpentine are common, since of its abundance in the city of Carrara in Tuscany. In Puglia, calcareous tufa was widely used (20).
            In Umbria, the major regional background of the film Brother Sun, Sister Moon, the architecture shows Lombard influences, while many classical elements from the Roman Architecture still survived. In this region, the fa?ade panels of churches are often decorated with crisp geometric patterns. In some churches, for example Cathedral of Spoleto, mosaics of Roman influence decorates the interior. (21)
            In the film, certain features of Romanesque Architecture, such as thick walls, semicircular arches, and square keeps and towers are commonly observed. Windows and doors are very small in order to bear the weight of heavy walls and vaults, which is a distinctive characteristic of Romanesque Architecture. Also, Roman-style mosaics are observed in several churches, which are of the local characteristic of Umbria.

III. Medieval Norwegian Architecture

III.1 History
            Norway has always had a tradition of building in wood, due to its abundance in nature. Norway¡¯s conversion to Christianity during the first few centuries of the second millennium led to the introduction of stonework architecture. In the early Middle Ages, stave churches were constructed throughout the country, which takes an important part of the architectural history. (22)
            Due to the geography, economy and population were widely dispersed in medieval Norway. Only few examples of Romanesque, Baroque, Renaissance, and Rococo architecture, which were so often built by the ruling classes elsewhere in Europe, were constructed in Norway. Instead, Norwegian architecture evolved with originality, with the use of readily available wood as a building material. (23)

III.2 Characteristics, Defining Features and Appearance in the Film Kristin Lavransdatter
            Medieval Norwegian architecture is strongly influenced by the harsh climate of Norway and abundance of wood, along with relative lack of other building materials. Buildings with extremely small openings, sometimes even with no windows at all, are often observed in the film, which is due to preserve the heat inside of the building. Stave churches and houses are very common, while only few edifices such as castles consist of stone, featuring characteristics of Romanesque Architecture: semicircular arches, thick walls, and small openings.

IV. Mozarabic Architecture

IV.1 Definition and History
            Mozarabic Architecture refers to the architecture of the Mozarabs, which are the Iberian Christians under the Muslim rule from the Arab invasion of 711 to the end of the 11th century. Although the conquered Christians were called musta 'rib ("arabicized", which "Mozarab" is derived from), they maintained their religion, Christianity. However, their architecture, "Visigothic Architecture", was influenced by Islamic culture, becoming a synthesis of two distinct styles. (24) Visigothic Architecture is a style of architecture that was introduced to the Iberian Peninsula as the Visigoths, an East Germanic tribe, invaded the peninsula in 415. (25)
            Restrictions on building and restoring the shrines inhibited the Mozarabs under the Muslim rule, but monks who immigrated to the Christian territories of northern Spain and other countries built a large number of churches in the Mozarabic style. As a result, Arabic influence spread northward into Europe. (26)

IV.2 Characteristics and Defining Features
            Mozarabic Architecture strongly shows the influence of Islamic style especially in its use of the tight horseshoe-shaped arch and the ribbed dome. (27) The horseshoe arches were also constructed in Visigothic Spain, yet less tight than Mozarabic horseshoe arches. (28) The absence or conciseness of the exterior decoration due to the religious restriction of Muslims also features in Mozarabic Architecture, while the Visigothic Architecture is characterized by ornamented decorations (30). The use of alfiz, which is a rectangular panel that encloses the outward side of an arch is also an example of Islamic influence (31). In Mozarabic Architecture, the eaves generally extend outwards and rest on top of corbels.(32)

IV.3 Mozarabic Architecture in the Film El Cid
            By comparing two cities in the film, Burgos, the capital of Christian Castile, and the city of Muslim Valencia, several differences between Mozarabic Architecture and non-Arabic architecture of contemporary Spain could be observed.
            The arches of Burgos are majorly Roman-style semicircular or Visigothic horseshoe-shaped, while the arches of Valencia feature Arabic influence by their tight horseshoe shape. Alfiz around the arches are also frequently observed. However, some horseshoe arches of Valencia in the film seems to be Visigothic rather than Mozarabic, of which the slopes of horseshoe arches are tighter than Visigothic ones. On the other hand, some arches of Valencia are semicircular, which leads to a conclusion that the architecture of the city featured in the film does not fully reflect Mozarabic or Visigothic influences.
            Meanwhile, the rounded castle keeps that features in the film seems to be anachronistic. The round keeps are developed at the end of the 12th century, while the historical background of the film is the late 11th century. Instead, square keeps were majorly used during the period. (33)

V. Problems in Setting Architectural Backgrounds of Historical Films
            One of the problems for directors of historical films, especially about the Middle Ages, is featuring buildings that correspond to the regional and historical background of the film. In many cases, the director could find a set that fits to the regional background of a historical film: the very region in real world.
            A place that fits to the historical period of the film, however, is not easy to find. The director may make sets for some scenes that feature only parts of a building. However, for some edifices, say a cathedral, that the director wants to show a real building instead of sets, the problem evolves. This is because many buildings of the Middle Ages were continually extended. That is, even if the cathedral was first built in Romanesque style and a director wants to make a film that features the early days of the cathedral, the cathedral would have been extended continually, even centuries later, in Gothic, Renaissance, or Baroque style. For example, the Canterbury Cathedral was first built in Anglo-Saxon style in 602, but was reconstructed in Romanesque style in 1066, and the eastern end was extended in Gothic style in 1174 (34). If a director wants to make a film that features the Cathedral between 1066 and 1174, he should find another way to feature the eastern end than just filming the Cathedral with its Gothic eastern end. Many directors, however, may make anachronistic mistakes by featuring the eastern end of the Cathedral in its modern appearance; that is, in Gothic style.
            To avoid such mistakes, the director should find an alternative so that he could feature the correct architecture. Miniatures or computer graphics may be adopted for some scenes. Featuring other buildings that resemble to the former architectural style of the building may fit better to other scenes. In making historical films, the director should carefully research the architectural history of the period of his film and of the buildings in the film to figure out how he could portray the architecture: whether he could film a building in its modern appearance, which alternative building he could adopt, elements of architecture that he should keep in mind while making computer graphics or miniatures, etc.

VI. Conclusion
            The spread of culture directly influences architecture. As the Normans invaded England, the Norman Architecture, or the Romanesque Architecture was introduced to the island. As the Muslims invaded Iberia, many features of Islam Architecture merged into Visigothic Architecture, creating Mozarabic Architecture, and even influencing the northern side of the Pyrenees.
            Architecture also reflects the geographical and cultural characteristics of a region. Romanesque Architecture varies in every region from north to south, even the style is altogether called under the same title "Romanesque". The climate and nature of Norway made Norwegian architecture distinct from other regions'
            Architecture is not only a science of designing and constructing buildings, but also a direct reflection and expression of regional features and cultures

VII. Notes
(1)      Romanesque architecture, Wikipedia; Architettura romanica, Wikipedia (Italian); Romanesque Architecture, Castles
(4)      Romanesque Architecture, The Illustrated Web of Architecture
(5)      Architettura romanica, Wikipedia (Italian)
(6)      Romanesque Architecture, Wikipedia; Romanesque Architecture, Castles
(8)      Romanesque Architecture, The Illustrated Web of Architecture
(9)      Romanesque Architecture, Castles; Pier, Encyclopaedia Britannica
(11)      Romanesque Architecture, Castles; Buttress, Encyclopaedia Britannica
(13)      Romanesque Architecture, Castles; Romanesque architecture, Wikipedia
(15)      Norman architecture, Wikipedia; Romanesque Architecture, Wikipedia
(17)      Romanesque Architecture, The Illustrated Web of Architecture
(18)      Architettura romanica in Italia, Wikipedia (Italian); Romanico lombardo, Wikipedia (Italian)
(20)      Architettura romanica in Italia, Wikipedia (Italian)
(21)      ibid..
(22)      Culture of Norway, Wikipedia
(23)      Architecture of Norway, Wikipedia
(24)      Mozarabic Art, Encyclopaedia Britannica
(25)      Visigoth, Encyclopaedia Britannica
(26)      Mozarabic Art, Encyclopaedia Britannica
(27)      ibid.
(28)      Visigothic Art, Encyclopaedia Britannica; Horseshoe arch, Wikipedia
(30)      Mozarabic art and architecture, Wikipedia
(31)      Alfiz, Wikipedia
(32)      Mozarabic art and architecture, Wikipedia
(33)      Castle Keep, Castles
(34)      Canterbury Cathedral, Wikipedia

Bibliography Note : websites quoted below were visited in June and July 2009.
All Wikipedia articles cited below are from the English version, except noted.

Primary Sources
1.      El Cid (1961), directed by Anthony Mann, 182 min.
2.      Becket (1964), directed by Peter Grenville, 148 min.
3.      Ivanhoe (1952), directed by Rochard Thorpe, 106 min.
4.      Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1972), directed by Franco Zeffirelli, 135 min.
5.      Kristin Lavransdatter. Liv Ullman. 1995.

Secondary Sources
6.      Section: "Romanesque Architecture", The Illustrated Web of Architecture.
7.      Section: "Romanesque Architecture", Castles.
8.      Section : "Castle Keep", Castles.
9.      Article : Architettura romanica, Wikipedia (Italian).
10.      Article: Architettura romanica in Italia, Wikipedia (Italian).
11.      Article: Romanico lombardo, Wikipedia (Italian).
12.      Article: Romanesque Architecture, Wikipedia.
13.      Article: Norman Architecture, Wikipedia.
14.      Article: Mozarabic art and architecture, Wikipedia.
15.      Article: Alfiz, Wikipedia.
16.      Article: Horseshoe arch, Wikipedia.
17.      Article: Culture of Norway, Wikipedia.
18.      Article: Architecture of Norway, Wikipedia.
19.      Article: Canterbury Cathedral, Wikipedia
20.      Article: Pier, Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online.
21.      Article: Buttress, Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online.
22      Article: Mozarabic Art, Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online.
23.      Article: Visigoth, Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online.
24.      Article: Visigothic art, Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online.

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