Different Germanic tribes settled in Europe, combining classical Roman, Early Christian and Barbarian traditions into the style known as one of the first steps out of the “Dark Ages”.
image source : https://brewminate.com/charlemagnes-works-in-western-europe/
The Merovingians, the Carolingians and the Ottonians
These Frank dynasties built large buildings with precisely cut stone like monastery churches and palaces, which building plans often resembled the ones of Roman basilicas. The structure of their buildings was based on the combination of block-units, forming a complex internal space and a correspondingly rich external silhouette, anticipating the vertical emphasis and other hallmarks of the Romanesque style.
Architectural elements commonly used :
- round arch;
- barrel vaults;
- piers and aisles with galleries above them;
- semi-circular arches as windows, doors and arcades;
- ornamented portals around the main door named tympanum.
Influenced by the Byzantine style, the Ottonian art is characterized by bright colours. Its religious nature is due to the common practice of commission, either by the imperial court or the leading Church figures. They used a variety of mediums :
- illuminated manuscripts
- ivory carvings
- sculptures with gilded adornments.
The Anglo-Saxon identity took shape in Northern Europe giving life to highly intricate metalwork, ivory carving, sculpting and illuminated manuscripts with less interlace in favour of plant scrolls, which combined Celtic and Viking traditions. The Religious architecture though was generally simple and modest, without any sculptural decorations.
The Visigoths, The Normans and The Longobards
Italy benefited from the presence of the Arabs and the Normans which contributed to the First Romanesque. The exterior of their buildings was decorated with bands of ornamental blind arches called Lombard bands, paired with thick walls and lack of sculptures. The interior was usually filled with iconographic mosaics and frescos instead.