The Early Middle Ages Manuscripts

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Texts in illuminated manuscripts is embellished with gold and silver decorations including borders, initials, and small illustrations. The earliest illuminated writings that have survived date from 400 to 600 and are mainly religious in nature. The vibrant colors used in these manuscripts were intended to depict God's glory and Christian reality. The Book of Dimma 18th century Gospel Book, the Jewish Haggadah for Passover 14th century, and Li Livres dou Sante 15th century are three examples. The majority of these manuscripts were religious in nature since the artistic works were completed at devotional and prayer times. Since most of the scripts in the early Middle Ages were devoted to Christianity, bishops and other religious leaders commissioned their creation. Additionally, the rulers and kings who were interested in literacy and civilization also instructed monks to write the illuminated manuscripts. During this period, the scripts and books served as tangible proof of the gospel the missionaries were spreading.

Illuminated manuscripts were built to not only for an inherent art historical value but also to help maintain a link of literacy that was offered by non-illuminated texts. These manuscripts played a significant role in preserving the literature of those periods, which would have otherwise, perished. Many people in the early middle ages were illiterate; illuminated texts were created to reach to people who could not read in any language. However, in today’s society, there is a high level of literacy; as such, religious texts are created to provide additional knowledge to the interested people (Walther, & Wolf, 2014). Books of religion do not serve as the basis of teaching people how to read; instead, their purpose is to provide more in-depth understanding of the history and development of different beliefs that exist in the world today.

Romanesque architecture is typified by semi-circular arches, massive quality thick walls, and decorative arcading, which originated in Medieval Europe. St. Trophime is a Roman Catholic Church that is considered one of the most important examples of Romanesque architecture, built between the 12th and 15th centuries. In essence, Romanesque architecture was a combination of the aesthetic design and practical use in the building of cathedrals. It needed to convey domination, respect submission, and power. The stones used were heavy to support the wall from pushing outward, which became the basic design of the Romanesque architecture. Additionally, the comfort stone in the interior was an improvement from the wooden Motte; small window openings were necessary to keep the strength of the wall. The vault, an essential characteristic of such cathedrals, was a structural development to enable the construction of stone roofs (Sprunger, 2014). There was also some ornamental additions, an aspect that made this architecture expensive, but durable.

Gothic church architecture, on the other hand, is characterized by ribbed vault and pointed arch and the flying buttress; it evolved from Romanesque architecture. Essentially, this form of construction was aimed at solving some of the unpleasant problems and create light with the previous buildings. St. Stephen’s Cathedral is an example of Gothic architecture, which is situated in Vienna, built in the 14th century. Gothic architecture scales great heights since the flying buttress enabled builders to spread the weight of taller walls. Moreover, the floating buttress also acted as decorative features, giving a sense of flight and movement. Another noticeable characteristic of Gothic architecture was the pointed arch served both decorative and supportive purposes. As a result, the force of more massive ceilings and bulky walls could be distributed evenly, thereby ensuring that the cathedrals could achieve more heights; they reached up to the heavens.

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Sprunger, K. L. (2014). The Romanesque and Gothic Revival among American Mennonites in

the Early Twentieth Century. Mennonite Quarterly Review, 88(3), 295.

Walther, I. F., & Wolf, N. (2014). Codices illustres: the world's most famous illuminated

manuscripts, 400 to 1600. Taschen.

August 18, 2021

Literature History


Medieval Europe

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