ROMANESQUE AND GOTHIC
Basilique Ste-Madeleine, Vézelay (Romanesque)
Birth of the Gothic:
Abbot Suger and the Ambulatory at St. Denis (includes video)
"Medieval architecture in the west encompasses a time period of some 1,000 years, from the decline of the Roman Empire to the advent of the Renaissance, and a geographical expanse covering all of what is now modern Europe. From the Early Christian basilicas of Rome begun in the fourth century for the nascent community of Christian followers, to the Byzantine structures of Constantinople, to early medieval architecture under the Carolingian and Ottonian rulers in northern Europe, to the Romanesque pilgrimage churches of southern France and Spain, to the Gothic cathedrals of northern France, and, finally, to the small but ornate Flamboyant churches of the 15th century—all of this, and much more, constitutes the history of medieval architecture.
Most medieval ecclesiastical buildings were richly decorated with sculptural programs, especially on the exterior of the west façade, and windows filled with stained glass in the clerestory. These decorative cycles, usually depicting episodes from the Old and New Testament, lives of the saints but also including secular subjects such as the labors of the months or signs of the zodiac, are an integral element of the aesthetic, spiritual and functional life of the building."