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Algarve  

Kirk Ambrose

Southern-most region of mainland Portugal. Its name is derived from ‘the West’ in Arabic. This region has relatively few medieval buildings: devastating earthquakes in 1722 and 1755 contributed to these losses, though many buildings were deliberately destroyed during the Middle Ages. For example, in the 12th century the Almoravids likely razed a pilgrimage church, described in Arabic sources, at the tip of the cape of S Vicente. Mosques at Faro, Silves and Tavira, among others, appear to have been levelled to make room for church construction after the Reconquest of the region, completed in 1249. Further excavations could shed much light on this history.

Highlights in the Algarve include remains at Milreu of a villa with elaborate mosaics that rank among the most substantial Roman sites in the region. The site further preserves foundations of a basilica, likely constructed in the 5th century, and traces of what may be a baptistery, perhaps added during the period of Byzantine occupation in the 6th and 7th centuries. The period of Islamic rule, from the 8th century through to the 13th, witnessed the construction of many fortifications, including examples at Aljezur, Loulé and Salir, which were mostly levelled by earthquakes. Silves, a city with origins in the Bronze Age, preserves a substantial concentration of relatively well-preserved Islamic monuments. These include a bridge, carved inscriptions, a castle, cistern and fortified walls, along which numerous ceramics have been excavated. Most extant medieval churches in Algarve date to the period after the Reconquest. These tend to be modest in design and small in scale, such as the 13th-century Vera Cruz de Marmelar, built over Visigothic or Mozarabic foundations. The relatively large cathedrals at Silves and at Faro preserve substantial portions dating to the 13th century, as well as fabric from subsequent medieval campaigns. Renaissance and Baroque churches and ecclesiastical furnishings can be found throughout Algarve....

Article

Sophie Page

Astrology is the art of predicting events on earth as well as human character and disposition from the movements of the planets and fixed stars. Medieval astrology encompassed both general concepts of celestial influence, and the technical art of making predictions with horoscopes, symbolic maps of the heavens at particular moments and places constructed from astronomical information. The scientific foundations of the art were developed in ancient Greece, largely lost in early medieval Europe and recovered by the Latin West from Arabic sources in the 12th and 13th centuries. Late medieval astrological images were successfully Christianized and were adapted to particular contexts, acquired local meanings and changed over time.

Astrology developed into a scientific branch of learning in ancient Greece, but because of the opposition of the Church Fathers it was transmitted to early medieval Europe in only fragmentary form in technically unsophisticated textbooks and popular divinatory genres. Literary and scientific texts provided more general ideas about the nature and attributes of the planets which were influential on later iconography. The first significant astrological images appear in 11th-century illustrated astronomical texts (e.g. London, BL, Cotton MS. Tiberius BV), which were acquired and produced by monasteries to aid with time-keeping and the construction of the Christian calendar....

Article

Nigel J. Morgan

Benedictine abbey in Upper Austria. It was possibly founded in 1054 by St Adalbero (1045–90), Bishop of Würzburg, and has been a Benedictine foundation since 1056. Of the Romanesque church only the westwork survives, and the remainder of the church and conventual buildings date from the rebuilding begun under Abbot Placidus Hieber (reg 1640–78), which was continued into the early 18th century. The west choir was built 1056–89 but was blocked off by a Baroque organ loft and buttressing wall. In 1957 it was discovered that behind these structural additions there was a complete series of wall paintings, which probably date from before the time of the consecration of the church in 1089. They are one of the most important survivals of 11th-century painting in northern Europe. The space, surmounted by three domical groin vaults, is covered with paintings on both the vaults and the walls. They show cycles from the Old Testament and the ...

Article

Ronald Baxter and Mario D’Onofrio

Benedictine abbey in Lazio, Italy. The birthplace of Western monasticism, it was founded c. ad 529 by St Benedict (c. ad 480–c. 547; see Benedictine Order §1) on the mountain overlooking the town of Casinum, on the site of a pagan temple. Benedict wrote the Rule here after 534, and he was buried alongside his sister, St Scholastica, in the chapel of St John the Baptist. The architectural history of the abbey (see §1 below) is closely linked with historical events. Montecassino was sacked by the Lombards c. 589, and it lay abandoned until c. 718, when a small community was founded there; it was reformed c. 729, and the monastery was rebuilt by Willibald, from Waltham Abbey. The abbey grew more powerful during the 8th century: Carloman, brother of Pepin the Short, was a monk there c. 746, and Paul the Deacon stayed for ten years until his death ...