Medieval Architecture

1812 words 8 pages
Medieval Architecture

World Geography 101

December 1, 2010

The Middle Ages, also known as the Medieval era, though scarred with a history of violence and war, has given the world some of the most marvelous and beautiful pieces of art, particularly in architecture. The Middle Ages is the name given to the time period from the late 5th century to the 15th century, particular to European history. The construction of these types of buildings was a constant for various cultures for a thousand years. They can be categorized into three phases; Pre-Romanesque, Romanesque and Gothic. The most important buildings during medieval times were religious, defensive and governmental or power related.
Figure 1 – Sarcophagus of Abbess
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The castles were massive and built primarily for defensive purposes. However, some were designed to convey messages of wealth, power and respect as well as fear and domination. Besides a military need, castles were used for administrative purposes as well as a residence. Typical castle residents consisted of the castle’s owner, his family and his military and administrative support staff. Castles were generally made from local materials of stone and wood as well as recycled materials, like Roman bricks and marble. There are, of course, exceptions to this depending on how much money and/or power the person building the castle had. For example, William the Conqueror had the White Tower of The Tower of London built from Caen stone, imported from France. (see figure 6)
Figure 6 – The White Tower of the Tower of London. Castles come in all different shapes, sizes and designs depending on the materials available as well as the terrain chosen to build on. Some of the common characteristics of castles are; the motte – an earthen mound created with a flat top for the castle to be built upon; the moat – a large ditch around the castle, typically filled with water; the bailey – fortification that surrounds the keep; the keep – the actual residence of the lord in charge and the most strongly defended part of the castle; the gatehouse – the entrance to the castle; and the


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