For class on Thursday, 2 February, I have put together an online “tour” of premodern Europe for those of you in my ‘Games of Thrones’ classes (through a series of links which I have e-mailed to all of you). In all likelihood, few of you have been to Europe or had substantial personal encounters with arts and artifacts from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Therefore, the basic aim of this activity is that I want you to “experience” the premodern world, at least insofar as that is possible through fragments offered on and through the internet. Unfortunately, there is a significant difference between experiencing such objects and places first hand as opposed to a mediated forum, but all the same, this activity will (I hope) help attune you to our period of discussion and get you immersed in the period in a different and insightful way. In simple terms, in this Blog post I want to hear your (carefully focused) thoughts about the experience. I’m hoping that your posting offers us some sense of both your intellectual and emotional responses to the places, spaces, and artifacts under consideration. By exploring the places, spaces and artifacts of this era and then writing about it, this activity will, hopefully, help you form some meaningful realizations about how specific places or works suggest certain ideals and fit in a larger cultural context — the kind of perspective that you will be exploring in your first papers of the semester.
In even more specific terms, I want you to respond to two particular “objects” of your choosing in particular ways. Your response should broadly be broken down into two sections, with each section at least an in-depth and detailed paragraph in length — but the more the better. These sections are: 1) a section on a place, and 2) a section on an object or artifact. You should select a place and artwork that really piqued your interest, or that you found especially powerful in some way, shape, or form. Then, your response should offer some thoughts about just what these places/things seem to “mean” in your estimation. On the subject of your place/space, which location have you chosen, and why? What really stands out to you about it, and why is it so important and interesting? More to the point, what does your chosen place/space suggest to us about the premodern world and the people who lived there? Regarding your piece of art, you might track similar ideas and questions, as well as think about the minutiae of your chosen artifact. For instance, who created it, and when? What are central characteristics of that individual artists’ style, or how does this object suggest the stylistics of the day? How do you think it would have been used and understood by individuals in premodern society, and how might we reflect upon it from a twenty-first century perspective?
Overall, then, what have you LEARNED by exploring your selected places/objects, and what do they seemingly TEACH us about the premodern culture(s) of Western Europe??
Artifacts and architecture from specific time periods are physical pieces of evidence of the past. Art can reflect the culture of a specific time and place. Analyzing artifacts from pre modern Europe can give us a sense of what life was truly like. The Sistine Chapel and the Sutton Hoo Helmet both stood out to me as works of great power.
The Sistine Chapel not only demonstrates great importance to Catholicism but was filled with beautiful artwork. Every surface is decorated from the mosaics on the floor to the ceiling painted by Michelangelo. His paintings were revolutionary, they looked like real figures. Pope Julius II went to Michelangelo with the project, and since he was old, he wanted Michelangelo to finish the job before he died. Michelangelo completed the ceiling in only four years. The pope undertook an aggressive campaign for political control, his goal was to unite and empower Italy under the leadership of the Church. By creating a beautiful place for worship, the pope hoped for the church to gain power. Many of the cathedrals were decorated exquisitely to lure people into going to religious services. Gothic Architecture established the use of stain glass windows and light. Religion played a large part in the lives of people in the pre-modern era, the artwork reflected their spirituality.
The Sutton Hoo Helmet captivated me from first glance. The helmet comes from Anglo-Saxon England. Although the person buried with the helmet decomposed there is still clues about who they are based on artifacts left in the burial. The object was worn perhaps by a king or warrior during its prime existence. The helmet was highly decorated and reflected the superior craftsmanship of the people from this period. The pictures of warriors and powerful animals on the helmet such as dragons and serpents show what was thought to be important. It was once covered in tin bronze panels and reflected wealth. Being buried with such a prized possession was a sign of wealth, prosperity, and honor. The helmet is a true representation of the warrior culture during the realm.
The tour of the middle ages diminished my preconception of the middle ages as a dark, barbaric period. Instead, I now have a better idea of the sophistication of the period. The artwork and Architecture was truly breathtaking. Even today, historians are still trying to figure out how some of the greatest masterpieces were made. From a twenty-first century perspective, looking at the artifacts from pre modern Europe shows how innovative, ingenious, and honorable the people back then were.
The world’s largest masonry dome is located on the top of the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral in Florence Italy. Construction of the dome started in 1420 by an Italian goldsmith and clock craftsman named Filippo Brunelleschi who had no formal training in engineering but successfully completed the dome in 1436. Brunelleschi accepted the challenge of creating a dome to a cathedral that had a base that was an imprecise octagon with no true center.
The dome was created using two shells made of brick, an inner shell and an outer shell to offset the uneven octagon shaped base. To keep the walls of the dome from buckling in, rings made of wood and stone were built in between the two shells. Historians theorize that large strands of rope at the base of the dome with the ability to extend upwards and rotate were used as guidelines to show the exact placement of each individual brick.
Brunelleschi’s brick dome atop the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral is a magnificent engineering and artistic marvel. After reading about the structural challenges Brunelleschi had to over come with no formal engineering background amazed me.
An impressive structure built by a determined artist and craftsman such as Brunelleschi shows that people of the pre modern era were enlightened and innovative. A simple goldsmith with no formal training in engineering was able to create the largest brick dome in the world that still stands to this day. This magnificent structure also shows that the church was an important and powerful entity in the pre modern era. To have such a grand structure built was a sign of power and wealth.
The place I chose to talk about is the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France. The reason why I chose this particular place to talk is because of the amount of detail in the engraving and carvings on the walls of the exterior. On all entrances of the cathedral, engravings depict religious figures and scenes.
This building is extremely important because it shows the importance of the power and wealth of the church during that time. The height of the building stands above all else around it to shows its importance in the pre modern society. To be able to show the amount of detail that is engraved on the exterior walls shows that the church had money to be able to do that.
Artifacts such as the dome of the Santa Maria de Fiore cathedral and places like the Notre Dame cathedral in France are examples of key figures from the pre modern era that can tell us about the power of the church and the people who built extraordinary things.
I really liked the architecture part of the Middle ages and renaissance. I could just imagine seeing some of these places in real life. I would love to travel and go see them in person. The Westminster Abbey for example was amazing. I could have never imagined something so amazing would be built in the this time period. We have a preconceived misconception about the so called dark ages that we often forget that it was not necessarily like that. The Marksburg castle in Germany was also unbelievable. Apparently it was the only one not destroyed. During this time period the castle was used as a defense fortress for them. Over time though the castle has changed to different things. Today we can go visit and take a tour, which is something i plan on doing. Diego Gutierrez developed a map of the early america’s that was pretty amazing. The map is pretty accurate for the most part.
The place I am choosing to analyze is Cambridge University, but most importantly the Kings College Chapel. Cambridge University was built in the 13th Century, while Kings College was founded in the 15th century. I chose this specific place because of the history involving the college. What piqued my interest about the college was the architecture. The architecture seems to have taken inspiration from the “gothic” architecture, and how the Kings College had huge stained glassed-windows, detailed carvings, and how grand scale everything involved with the building looked, especially in the Middle Ages. What I found interesting about Kings College Chapel was how the process of building the Chapel involved 6 monarchs in total, which measures how long the process of building the chapel actually took: 70 years. The reason these buildings are so important is because they actually showcase how detailed architecture was back in the Late Middle-Ages, and the actual meaning of the buildings itself. Kings College Chapel was the biggest chapel at the time, showing great scale, and becoming a mascot for medieval art. The building suggests that people of the premodern world, like us, value the grandness of architecture, and clearly valued education.
An object that first caught my attention was the gold coins and ingots from Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, England. The coins were excavated at a burial site, and archeologist do not know where the coins trace back to. Although we do not know who created it, the British Museum has an idea on when the coins were in use, which would be 610 AD. The coins remind me of any other simple coin, but with different patterns such as crosses, lion heads, hooks, and more. The style of the coins look ancient, resembling tin coins painted with a gold tint. The gold was obviously used for trading and buying goods, similar to the way we use coins today.
What I learned overall about my selected object and place is how grand the premodern world was as a society. We are accustomed to our way of living, and taking a sneak peek at the other cultures makes me look at how much we took inspiration from our ancestors. They teach us their outlooks in the past, and how we see certain objects and themes within a building. Although history has its gaps, and we won’t truly know what these objects were, or how a building was viewed, we can still learn through its architecture and theme.
The Cathedrals of Europe showcase the power and wealth of the church at that time. These churches often were the largest and tallest buildings dominating the cityscape and skyline. Canterbury Cathedral is a stunning example of Gothic architecture in the same vein as West Minster Abbey, York Minster, and Notre Dame. The exterior design reminds me of these other churches with its two identical towers, tall arches, and gothic carvings. I imagine that standing at the foot of this cathedral imposes upon the visitor the grandeur of God and the power of the church.
The lavish interior further accentuates the importance of the church and its place in the culture of the time. The tall arching ceilings dwarf the visitor, almost mocking your insignificance when you enter. There is an anxiety that is transferred to the patron that is more than just reverence for religion. I am sure that kings, nobles and peasants alike were as awestruck in the past when visiting these beautiful works of art and craftsmanship.
Politics by Aristotle depicts three different sets of persons. On the first level appears to be the military in white and gold against a deep red background. The sophisticated weapons and armor are reflective of their professional status. The background color suggests blood spilled, violence, and passion. The uppermost position indicates the elevated position of the ruling class.
On the second level depicts the priests and monks of the church. They are dressed in white symbolizing divinity and purity. The gold and blue background gives the feeling of a calm, calculating, and cerebral influence. The positioning of the clergy beneath the military suggests that their role is beneath the ruling class but above that of the common man.
The third and bottommost level contains the peasant. Depicted with the tools of labor in hand. Situated at the bottom of the hierarchy and positioned with the least power. Though this bottom position indicates the lack of power it could also indicate the importance of the worker in the foundation of society. The red background also coveys passion, violence, and blood. This may indicate the blood sacrificed by the peasant in daily toil.
The place that I chose to analyze is the Speyer Cathedral, The Speyer Cathedral was built in 1030 by Conrad the second and eventually rebuilt by Henry IV. This building contained four towers with two domes that have stood since the time of the Holy Roman Empire. When looking at it from a distance, it is clearly the largest building that was made during the time period. When going into closer detail, you see the paint stained windows with artwork that are located in the area where you would have mass at. There are also statues that are located on the outside of the church, some above the arches and some located around the courtyard of the church. These statues have significant values because they are depicting religious figures like the Virgin and Child; they were also made from famous sculptures during that time period. It also had large and tall ceilings that were used as the normal architecture to show its significance. This church had to have significant value because it was the largest building and it had some many culturally important values and items to them.
The item that I will analyze is a Sutton Hoo Sword. This sword caught my attention while scrolling through because I was wondering what it was covered with. I found out that the sword is covered with some type of leather sheep wool because the oil form the sheep wool would keep the sword blade bright. The sword was created sometime during the 6th or 7th century according to the historians. The master craftsman that makes the swords used a complicated technique way to make the swords causing them to have a design printed on them that has patterns that look like rippling water, swirling smoke, or animal markings. The technique is known as pattern welding, rods of iron were twisted and then shaped together to make a sword. I think the sword would have been used in battle because of how strong and clean they kept them. If you leave iron unprotected in weather elements, you risk the stability of the iron. It will rust over time; it will become weaker and therefore will not be as strong in battle. I believe that they knew about this, that’s why they kept it covered when they were not using it.
I have learned through researching and looking through the links provided that the Pre-modern culture of is how they valued art work and religion. There were many sculptures, objects, and artwork that had many details in their work. They also had many churches built during the time period, which shows the dedication they had to religion. They also combined both to make magnificent pieces of artwork that became famous today and tells us how they lived life.
The location I have chosen is the Durham Cathedral in England. I chose this location because the massive scale of the architecture caught my eye. This cathedral is a work of art in and of itself. This cathedral is important because of the role that religion played in the pre modern time period, as well as throughout human history. This point is shown in the obvious amount of time and care that went into constructing the Durham Cathedral from 1093-1133 AD. This cathedral was constructed by architects George Gilbert Scott, James Wyatt, Edward Robson, and Richard Farnham. Their architecture resembles similar design of those days with the high ceilings, colorful windows, high archways, and eloquent designs on the walls. In pre modern society this would have been a very important place of worship and a type of relief from any troubles going on around them. From a twenty-first century perspective this cathedral is more than just an architectural marvel, but it also contains very valuable history. In it’s library there is several important shrines and artifacts, as well as historical texts such as the Magna Carta.
The object I have chosen is the category of “Gargoyles”. I chose gargoyles because I have always seen them referenced in culture but I did not know the significance of them; so this can be used as a learning experience for me. The term gargoyle mostly references medieval work, as they were very prominent on castles and cathedrals at the time. Gargoyle’s are typically images of scary beasts (dogs, wolves, and lions), and these beasts are supposed to keep away evil spirits. The church used the images of gargoyle’s to convey their ideas, as this was the easiest way to get their ideologies out to the largely illiterate world. Gargoyles do also have a practical use, as they are used as “gutters”. These protruding sculptures typically take the water into their back, and shoot it out of their mouth, several feel off of the side of the building. In pre modern times, gargoyles were used to keep the devil away, and if someone entered into a place with gargoyles they would know that they were under it’s protection.
Throughout the researching of the Durham Cathedral and of Gargoyles I have been able to obtain a closer look at the intricate and unique art work and architecture of the time period. These two objects teach us that religion was very important and prominent in the pre modern world. People needed a place to worship, and the place needed to be free and protected of all evils.
The online “tour” of the pre modern European world was quite interesting to me. As we are unable to go back in history to explore these times, artifacts and architecture are our main forms of evidence to help us theorize what the world and culture was like back then. Exploring these things through the tour was a fun and unique way to learn about evidence more.
The Sutton Hoo Helmet was the first artifact that caught my attention. It was old, yet still beautiful and in tact, which had me curious to begin with. The helmet is from Anglo-Saxon England which is an inconceivably long time ago. The helmet was beautifully decorated and lavish, making one assume that the high level of craftsmanship could only be fitting for that of a king, nobleman or warrior. To be buried with such a prosperous item makes one think that it was a sign of wealth and high nobility. In films, the time of Anglo- Saxons is depicted as gruesome and barbaric but this helmet tells just how much time and effort went into making only one piece of armor. That can only lead me to believe that the time period was more advanced than it is portrayed most of the time.
The Notre Dame Cathedral is truly a breathtaking piece of architecture in Europe. It is located in Paris, France. The cathedral is Gothic style, a very popular from of architecture in Europe, ranging all the way back to the pre modern age. It very famously has two identical twin towers that are breathtakingly tall. It also contains a very lavishly decorated interior and beautiful stained glass windows. This is something I could stare at all day and never get tired of because there are so many details and intricate parts to it. The dedication and craftsmanship that went into making something of this stature is unbelievable.
After looking through all the objects and architectures, the Sutton Hoo Helmet and Notre Dame Cathedral were truly the top two that stuck out to me. Undeniably, I think it was in part due to the outstanding beauty of them.
The premodern times in Europe were full of beauty. From Architecture and sculptures, to paintings and armor. Every aspect of the times were touched by the intricate and detailed nature of the time period. The Notre-Dame de Paris, or the Notre Dame Cathedral, is an amazing example of the architecture of this time period. The Cathedral stood tall, with its many statues and carvings placed among the walls. One of the most amazing things about the various statues and carvings is that they were not all there just for the sheer beauty, but also for the function of the building. For example, the statues were put in place to add structural support to the columns to increase the rigidity of them and disperse the weight to a larger surface. They were also turned into water spouts to add an extra layer of beauty and function to them. Also, the famous Gargoyle and Chimera carvings along the exterior of the building were used to improve water runoff and keep the water from falling in undesirable places. This just goes to show the immense thought and planning process that went into the construction of this building. These subtle yet very effective pieces of the Cathedral show just how attentive the people of the premodern time were to details. Also, it shows that the people from this period had a great appreciation for art, as well as a focus on religion. Most of the main Cathedrals and temples of this era were grand and quite frankly over the top. This shows the dedication to the religion that the people of the time had.
This brings me into yet another beautiful example of the premodern time period. That is, the artwork on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512, it continues to be a marvel of those who visit. The artwork along the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is a very realistic and Three-dimensional style. The painting was commissioned by the pope, and Michelangelo had an extremely short deadline for the project to be complete. Because of this deadline he used the “pouncing” method of outlining the image on a piece of paper, poking holes in the paper, and the hit it with a pouch of charcoal to leave the outline of it on the plaster, in order to complete the project on time. However, even this was too slow so he used a blade to do the outlining instead before painting. In the premodern society, these painting were probably viewed as a beautiful tribute to the Catholic religion, as it was inside of a Chapel and commissioned by the Pope. Today, we view it as a beautiful testament to a time of incredible development. In general it has become something that many people travel from across the world to see due to its sheer beauty.
Overall, from viewing these topics I have become much more intrigued in the architecture of premodern Europe. I never knew that the statues and carvings in many Chapels and Cathedrals were used for structural purposed or other functional things. These things show us that Premodern Europe was in no way a “dark age” or backwards time period, as they made immense advancements in technology, architecture, and artwork that still tot his day amazes those who view it. This shows the intelligence of the men and women of the time period and the way that they innovated.
The artifact that i found most interesting was the golden and garnet shoulder clasps. They caught my eye because of the design of them and the elegance of the gold on them. How they were most likely created was by sewing the gold and garnet onto a heavy fabric. Around the ends of the clasps they are designed with wild boars which during the Anglo-Saxon time period they it is a sign of Strength and courage. Each clasp has matching curved halves and is kept together by a chained pin that can be removed from the hinge. The purpose of the artifact is to hold the pieces of armor the warrior is wearing closer to his chest. What i like about the clasps is it says that only true skilled craftsmen during that time could create should beautiful pieces should as the one described.
The place that I found most interesting was the Westminster Abbey. The Westminster Abbey is a chapel it was first built in 960 but rebuilt in a later date. In 1560 Queen Elizabeth I established it as a church. What i find so beautiful about the Westminster Abbey is it is full of beautiful stain-glass, artifacts, and the architecture of the building is extraordinary. What first caught my eye when was watching the video was the stain-glass that was letting so much natural light into the building making it welcoming and homey. When the deacon directs the attention of the video to the design of the ceiling the video shows the beautifully designed Gothic style adding to the whole beauty of the building. What I found really interesting was they still have some of the original floor from when it was being built still in great condition as well as the building being full of other artifacts. What the this place shows about the pre-modern era is that they are not really barbaric which they are usually made out to be, but this people who create a chapel for a place to go worship at.
Artifacts found give us a unique glance and insight especially into the pre-modern era. The lack of written factual texts leaves gaps in understanding this period of history, however original artifacts and places help fill this informational absence.
First off, the place that caught my eye was the hill they found the buried Viking longship in a hillside. Absolutely awe inspiring. Not only was the ship left undisturbed for centuries (amazing enough) the preservation of the relic is unexpected. And because of he details being preserved it sheds tremendous light about their ship making, value in status, travel and war capabilities in primitive days. It also displays a look into that culture’s lifestyle. The buried ship that was actually being a sacred tomb shows how important tradition was to the SunHoo. It shows they treated the high ranking officers with extreme respect even after they had passed. The SunHoo obviously believed in some sort of afterlife, otherwise why go thru such a articulate burial. The commonly refered to Norse Gods could have been distorted over time and translation. This place could clarify that. After doing further research I found the viking’s culture had a belief in an afterlife “warrior pub”, Valhalla. The term “till Valhalla “ was still uttered between American forces while I was in the military. The Viking (Anglo-Saxon) culture has a long lasting legacy. The hill being left untouched until discovery of the long ship has proved to have significant informational value. And brings us closer to fuller understanding the truth of those who lived centuries ago.
The Sutton Hoo helmet was an eye-catching artifact. Swords found at the time look almost like they are made of stone however the helmet was clearly well preserved and intact. It’s safe to say from the elegance of the helmet the wearer was someone of significance and wealth. Being buried with such a helmet suggests the buried person was well liked, respected, and most likely successful in battles. Much like the discovered long ship, the Sutton Hoo helmet offers insight to the rituals and traditions of this culture. It also shows during the medieval period technology was more advanced than usually displayed in films and the craftsmanship was superb. Especially for the time period.
These discovered artifacts and places give an otherwise unobtainable insight to the lifestyles of the time period.
Early renaissance architecture originated in the early fifteenth century in Florence, Italy. One of the best examples of this is the Santa Maria Del Flore Cathedral or popularly referred to as the ‘Duomo’ or ‘Dome’. This masterpiece was designed and built by Filippo Brunelleschi, an amateur architect at the time. Brunelleschi used methods of building the cathedral that have not ever been used at the time and some that aren’t even completely understood to this day. These methods were so unique that there is still debate on how the dome was built so precisely mainly because after Brunelleschi died in 1446, he left behind no sketches or details on how he built his cathedral. After sixteen years of construction, the Duomo was finally completed in 1436. This piece of architecture shows how much the church had an influence on this particular culture of the time. To this day, the Santa Maria Del Flore Cathedral still stands as one of the greatest architectural masterpieces every constructed, hundreds of years after it was finished.
A specific artifact that caught my attention was the Sutton Hoo Helmet. This helmet was excavated 1939 in the southeastern region of England known as Sutton Hoo. In this region, several mounds of earth were dug up and the largest of which contained an entire ship, the largest ship burial in Europe, which is believed to be a burial ground of an ancient king. Within this burial site where hundreds of artifacts of exquisite design, including the Sutton Hoo Helmet. This helmet was reconstructed in the 1960s and is now one of the centerpieces of the museum of Britain. Historians and archaeologists believe that the helmet was owned by an early Christian Saxon King of the southeast of England, King Raedwald. For items like this helmet and many other artifacts of the Middle Ages and Renaissance of early premodern Europe to have survived until this day is truly remarkable and suggests that the people of this era were possible more technologically advanced then we’ve ever imagined.
Sutton Hoo was my place of interest in regards to premodern Europe. Before World War II, the owner of the land hired people to start excavating the large mounds on her property. The found a remarkable ship burial from approximately 600 AD. The burial site was found to be the grave of an assumingly adored king, with plenty of lavish and intricately decorated items found within the ship. With WWII, the findings from the excavation site had to be kept under ground, still covered in mud, for safe keeping until the war was over. Sutton Hoo is a remarkable place to exemplify the premodern world’s attention to detail, respect for authority figures, and the dedication of the people to their culture. These observations are apparent in the body of the ship itself. There was evidence found that the ship that was buried with the king was a vessel that had actually been used at sea. Also, there had been coins found in the burial that were evidence of trade across various countries. This to me suggests that the people of the time were not as dull and simpleminded as stereotyped in today’s word, but they took care in their work and their relations with those around them.
In contrast to the almost ancient ship burial, the artifact I looked closely at was the more recent printing press. The video I watched presented a model of the press that would only account for one to two thirds of the actual size of a premodern printing press. The demonstration showed how every small detail relied on the men that ran the press. Every letter would have been paced individually and the ink, made of soot or lamp black mixed with oil, would have been painted on the letters by hand. Though the press itself is not a painting, I do perceive the piece of machinery as a piece of art. Forming the sentences properly in the press to fit the page took great skill and dedication. The multiple levers made to make the press work and print the text also show great attention to mechanics.
Between Sutton Hoo and the printing press, I think it is very apparent that the people of the premodern era were not what we currently perceive them to be. The details all around, from the burial of an entire functioning ship to the components of a functioning printing press, how the dedication and care people of that time had for their work. Additionally, great intellectual strength was needed to crate those items – whether it be the ship, the beautiful artifacts from the burial, the press itself, or the smithing of the metal letters for the press. In modern times, we assume the premodern people were dimwitted and almost heathens, but the evidence present from Sutton Hoo and the working printing press describe the existence of an alternate reality to that which is assumed.
Durham cathedral was built as a monastic cathedral for a community of Bendectivtine monks, and is one of the most intact monastic buildings remaining in England. I chose the Durham Castle as I was browsing through images of the cathedral itself it was quite pleasant to look at. I found myself sitting in a beautiful church, and being too astonished about all the art around me to focus on what my superiors had to enlighten me about.
The Durham Castle Construction began in 1093, and took 40 years. When William the Conqueror ordered it to be created. Six years after the Norman Conquest of England. It is regarded as one of the finest examples of Norman Architecture in the world.
The advancements and the success that they created allowed for other cathedrals to replicate the success that was found here. The use of the stone ribs became extremely important structural elements that created a more sophisticated engineering feat of even more strongly pointed arches, allowing the expansion and creation of the Gothic style to flourish between the 12th and 16th centuries.
This expansion of knowledge led to more experienced builders use the ribs to instead use them to support walls, but to become the main support system for the ceiling. Less support needed on the walls allowed for more windows, allowing cathedrals to rebuilding their name as “dark buildings” to a building that was fuller of light thanks to the allowance of more windows, which allowed for more lights into the building and less walls.
The main thing that I took away from the building of the Durham Vault was that it was a fix in terms of how Cathedrals were built would be built in the future, but the solution was not a panacea for all engineering problems, and it was not perfect. It was not perfect in the sense that some parts of the cathedral such as the vault collapsed, while other parts needed rebuilding.
What this cathedral means to me is the expression and appreciation for craftsmanship that may have been lost in a modern day architect. I believe this was in part was to create an expansion of religion and popularity with the church. Today looking at such a wonderfully designed building I could imagine it to be impossible to be anything but astonished, the moment you walk in. I think what really blows me away is the fact that the roughly 900 years ago, people were able to create buildings that to this day paramount some if not most “modern marvels”. It is still a place of patronage for worship and pilgrimage and a victory attraction.
The artifact that I chose, was Sutton Hoo, and the Anglo-Saxon ship burial discovered in 1939, by Mrs. Edith Pretty (very spiritual), Basil Brown, and a couple others. After seeing visions of a man on a horse like no other on one of her mounds, and other shadowy figures, she most notably hired Basil Brown, whom along with two others eventually uncovered the Sutton Hoo ship, a mask, a sword, and others things of immense historical value. What they uncovered turned out to be the largest ship burials at the time, which was found to be a burial of an ancient king. Many objects found within the burial site implied a member of high ranking, particular a king, and due to the increase in tension and the beginning of the world war they had to find a place to hide their finding’s until a safer time. Some of the artifacts other than the ship, that were found were, a helmet, a sword with a hilt fitted with gold, and other ornaments that would be attached to a sword. During the Blits of Adolf Hitler upon London they were forced to hide their findings into a disguised London tube station, until around 1947/1948. Without those willing to sacrifice their own safety to preserve history
To me the reason why I chose this topic was solely because it let me in on the perspective of those that lived in fear of Nazi Germany, in an entirely new light that many may have looked over in such depth. I also have always been excited about World War II history, and I feel like this allowed me to scratch the surface a little more.
The castles made were something that really caught my eye. Specifically, the spiral staircases inside the castles. Spiral staircases were used as a way to disarm enemies if they were to infiltrate a castle while those who defended the castle were able to fight while on the stairs. This just shows one of the many architectural designs of medieval times. Also, how there was so much thought put into something that in today’s age we over look and see as just something for show. These castles were used to intimidate others by demonstrating the wealth of the family there. The entire building was designed to protect those inside.
Another thing that caught my eye was the dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy made by Filippo Brunelleski. This was where a lot of the renaissance architecture had originated. How a man with no experience was able to make a perfectly standing dome and the largest in the world is amazing. Only taking 6 years to complete is also impressive for this time. He also had no plans written down as to how he had made the huge dome. These domes were something that was brought back during the renaissance from the romans. Brunelleski had been the first since the romans to use pillars for support.
The Speyer Cathedral, located in Speyer, Germany, began being built in 1030 by the order of Conrad II. The goal was to construct the largest Christian church in Europe, and it was to be the final resting place of Conrad II. In 1039, Conrad II died and was buried in the cathedral, even though it was still under construction. His son, Henry III, also didn’t live to see the completion of the cathedral. He died in 1056 and was buried next to his father. The cathedral was built with red sandstone from the mountains of the Palatine Forest, and it’s believed that the Speyerbach river was used to transport the red sandstone. In 1061, with the cathedral almost completed, it was consecrated. The interior has been changed many times, with new paintings being added as late as the 19th century. The cathedral’s crypt is over 800 square meters in size and is the largest Romanesque columned hall in Europe. I think this building shows how important religion was during this time period. This is proven by the fact that much of the artwork and buildings were created for religious pourposes. Religion had a large influence on not only politics and the government, but also the society as a whole.
I found the printing press to be very interesting. The long process and amount of work put into printing a single page amazes me. It must have took forever to print out a whole book, and that’s not even including multiple copies of the book. But, I imagine that not many people were literate during this time period, considering that most of the population spent their time working. Even if they were literate, they didn’t have much time to spend reading. I think the printing press also shows how intelligent people were. This is important because it goes counter to what many people think of the middle ages. People usually think everybody was dumb and simpleminded during this time period, but the creation of the printing press proves otherwise. The machine itself is very intricate and complex. It definitely required some engineering skills to plan and construct it.
Premodern Europe was filled with so much beautiful art and architecture. The artifacts left behind give a small glimpse of how people functioned and what they valued most during that time period. The artifact that really grabbed my attention was the Psalter World Map from 1265. The map really caught my eye because of its colors and different designs thus indicating that maps at this time were also a form of art. It consisted of intricate details of mythical creatures, Greek city states, different bodies of water, and biblical references. It was also very interesting seeing how the world was viewed and how little was yet to be discovered. While the creator of the map is unknown, it is evident that they had some strong religious beliefs which is plausible considering this was a time where the church was at the top. The religious beliefs are displayed through a large illustration of Jesus Christ and some angels beside him looking over the world. There are also illustrations from the Old Testament such as Adam and Eve and Noah’s Ark that have been placed on the map. Based on the illustrations, I believe the map was not only used to have an overview of the world but it was also used to retell stories whether they be biblical or about the great conquerors.
While Premodern Europe is known for its exquisite cathedrals and other monuments, the place that I was most interested in was the Marksburg Castle located in Germany. I found it interesting because it didn’t look at all like the typical castle one would initially think of. Instead of being the type of castle that one would imagine Kings and Queens lived in, I thought it had more of a plain look. I learned that instead of being a home to royal families, it was actually used for protection. Since the castle had so many items of the past left inside of it, I felt as though I got a real idea of what it looked like when it was still being occupied. The castle consisted of several bedrooms, rooms filled with different types of weaponry, and a dining room. Overall, the Marksburg Castle shows how protection of the people was very important during this imperialistic time period.
After closely viewing these two pieces of history, I have become much more interested on the people of the time and their culture. I feel driven to do more research on the different types of artifacts that were left behind. These two objects revealed the importance of religion and protection and have given great insight of the premodern world.
Upon first glance of the Albi Cathedral in France (built in the 13th century), I would not have necessarily expected what was to be seen on the inside. Despite it being an obviously large structure, the red style brick almost doesn’t prepare one for the stunning, internal views. The cathedral itself is so massive (in order to convey the church’s power over the people), yet it contains the most delicate and precise details within. It is slightly overwhelming to think just how much time and dedication went into building this structure. From the tiniest details of the painted vault to the bright, beautiful colors of the stained-glass windows, it is surely a sight to be seen in person. Although some slightly gothic creatures adorn the exterior walls, the statues above the entrance appear to be, in a way, welcoming the patrons inside. The organ also stood out to me, as it appears to be the heart of the cathedral.
The Anglo-Saxon Village Stow (Norfolk) video had a way of putting the reality of that time into perspective. I think that it is easy to forget just how little was/is actually needed to survive and the reconstruction of this village is a humble reminder. From the looms to the construction of each dwelling, it is eye-opening (especially in 2017) to see how people survived of absolute necessities. The 750 shingles on a small Anglo Saxon house highlights just how much work went into even the simplest house forms. Though true and consistent throughout time, it is disheartening to imagine those living in luxury while others live in homes built over pits.
A common idea that is brought into place when someone mentions the Medieval Ages is Castles. We all know what they are, but I decided to analyze the Hedingham Castle as my place. When I watched the video on this Castle, at first I was confused because it didn’t seem like a large Castle from what is normally depicted as a castle in the movies, or castles that you see Royalty staying in. Then they brought up that as long as the family was rich enough, everyone could have a castle. This castle struck my attention because it was in a square and did not seem large from the outside. Then when they brought us inside, everything was spaced out and designed in a way that was very deceptive. The entire castle was set up in such a way that would protect the family living there. Every part of the design was perfect. The walls were 12 feet of concrete, the windows were small so they could be shot out of but not shot into, and even the staircases were designed to escape easier if the castle was infiltrated. The stairwells really stand out because they know everyone fights with their right hand with a sword, so they have the stairs going clockwise so that when going downstairs, you have your right arm free and can swing your sword, but when going up the stairs you can’t swing your sword properly because the post on the inside of the stairwell. The design of the whole castle shows that in the Medieval/Pre-Modern Age, castles weren’t always huge, but the people were very good at strategy when making buildings of any sort.
The artifact that peaked my interest was Saint Luke Painting a Portrait of the Madonna which was painted in 1565. There were a few things that caught my eye in this painting. There is a bull in the painting, the babies that are around the girl are abnormally muscular, everyone is posing in the painting, the workers in the back room are in the picture, and Saint Luke is in a golden robe while everyone else is in lighter color things. This painting really shows how back in the Pre-Modern Age, social classes were a big factor in the day to day life. The noble classes in this picture were wearing bright colored robes, and then the less important they were, the lighter their colors got and the robes turned to shirts and pants. It also shows that his whole family had power because of the babies being so muscular, as well as Saint Luke. The bull looking up on the gold robe wearing Saint Luke shows the power him as an individual. For people in the Pre-modern society, they probably saw this as a reminder of Saint Luke’s or they saw it as showing Saint Luke’s brilliance. For people now who would look at this picture may be confused, because babies aren’t usually painted muscularly.
The location that stuck out to me the most was the Albi Cathedral in France for its amazing gothic style and sense of grandness that it holds from within. On its exterior the cathedral is composed of a massive amount of red brick that serves as its exterior walls with a very harsh looking Baldaquin on its southern porch. What really amazed me was the interior of the cathedral. The interior is a complete 180 compared to the harsh looking outside as it has beautiful walls covered in gothic style paintings that provide a rainbow of colors all around the cathedral. The area around the alter is covered in gold and carved stones surrounding it, not only that but all the windows are a colorful glass styling that give a heavenly ray of light. I think this was done intentionally as to create a heavenly or safe feeling for people who are within the church, giving it vibrance and color. This could have been a product of the church trying to lighten its image as it was known to do in the renaissance as it was combating a lose of followers due to new beliefs in secularism.
The artifact I choose the book of Kells. This book of gospels is a feat of both artwork and early literature. Coming from a period of time that had no printing press so the transcription of the manuscript is a feat in its own right, but what is even more impressive is the immense amount of art that goes into the manuscript. This highlights the amount of detail and dedication that went into crafting the manuscript. Perhaps it was created for a person of great significance, maybe a person high in the church or royalty. Great detail goes into individual details of certain letters like some at the beginning of a page. This artifact was most likely made by a member of the church due to its context and the fact they were some of the only scribes of the time. The writing itself is also in the very old english style and the artwork is very early gothic which is evident by its high use of gold coloring especially around divine figures
The place the piqued my interest the most was Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. I previously assumed that most European cathedrals were bleak and dark so I was shocked to see how well decorated and bright the inside was with the vibrant colors of all the stained-glass windows. The magnitude of the project of creating something so big and intricate in the late 1100s suggests a few things. For one thing, the Catholic church or some who supported it must have been extremely wealthy to be able to pay for not only the raw materials but for years and years of laborers salaries to put it all together. In fact, it was 182 years after the start of construction that it was finally finished. Another thing it suggests is that there were a lot of extremely skilled builders and craftsmen living at the time who were able to create an extremely intricate and aesthetically pleasing building.
For my artifact, I chose the helmet found at Sutton Hoo. It isn’t known who created it but it was likely created around the year 600 A.D. The helmet is decorated with images of powerful animals and the overall form of the helmet resembles a two-headed serpent with a dragon-like face. Since the owner was extremely wealthy and could have had the helmet made however he wanted, it is likely that this type of design was thought of as very fashionable and desirable. The intricacy of the design likely signaled this extreme wealth to all who saw him wearing it and therefore commanded their respect. When viewing the artifact from a twenty-first century perspective we can reflect on the differences between what was considered a desirable object or an object that signified great wealth in those days versus today. While there are still a lot of people who flaunt their wealth today I get the feeling that in the period that this helmet was created it would be a lot easier to distinguish if a person was wealthy if you simply saw them on the street.
Overall I learned that people in premodern Europe seemed to be very concerned with the aesthetics of their buildings, clothing, and accessories and that it was likely because these things being so nice was symbolic of their status or power.
Architecture has always been a telltale sign of modernization and advancement of technology throughout history. The Speyer Cathedral in Germany was built in the early 10th century and was commissioned by the Salian dynasty, more importantly under the rule of Konrad II. It was styled after the Romanesque form of architecture and was to be the largest Christian church in all of Europe. It has the largest crypt in Europe, being a total of over 800 square meters. I was personally drawn to write about the Cathedral simply because of how truly massive it was. Looking into it more and seeing that it was originally made to be the largest Christian church in Europe is incredible. Also, the crypt is not only the largest but also home to past emperors and kings. It shows the extravagance of the time and the need to constantly boast the success of a country through the church. Such massive cathedrals somehow stand the test of time and remain intact for people to enjoy today.
The artifact that I chose to research was gargoyles. Often times, gargoyles are depicted in many movies to create an eerie and offsetting mood for the current scene. If there is a creepy house in a movie, the lighting is usually dark and the scene flashes to a gargoyle and a bolt of lightning strikes, lighting up the gargoyles face. However, though they are used in movies to give the illusion of evil, they were actually believed to ward off evil spirits and demons. They’re more practical use was to drain water off of the roofs in order to prevent leaking roofs. The word is actually derived from a meaning of throat, which makes sense since the water would usually leave through their mouths. Gargoyles have actually been used throughout the ages, even though their typical look has changed over the years. The use of a sculpture to move water was used by ancient Egyptians and Greeks and has evolved all the way to what people know as gargoyles. The church had two very differing views of gargoyles, believing them to either ward off either or to be a physical embodiment of evil beasts. Obviously the latter view has become a very prominent view of gargoyles in modern film and literature.
A location I found interesting is the Durham Cathedral. I chose this place because it has a fascinating history, both in it’s own era but also long after it was made. The Durham Cathedral was built in the 1100s in northeast England. The Cathedral was covered in black soot over the years because of the Industrial Revolution. Joseph Boruwłaski wanted to restore the Cathedral to how it was, and had it trimmed of the very top layer of stone in order to clean it. However, the Cathedral was not really “restored,” since it is now smaller than it originally was. Though this change in shape is virtually miniscule, and Joseph Boruwlaski had the right idea, it’s an undeniable fact that people today will never know one-hundred percent of what the original state of the Cathedral was. Another thing I found interesting about the Durham Cathedral was the actual architecture of it. It’s one of the oldest buildings of it’s massive size, and the fact that it’s survived for nearly a thousand years is amazing. I also like the design of the Cathedral – the ornate and elegant design really shows me what the style of this time period was. The amount of detail that went into the Cathedral also shows me that whoever was building it took their time to make sure it was perfect.
An item I found interesting was the Lindisfarne Gospels. This was a medieval manuscript written in the late 600s to 700s by Eadfrith, the Bishop of Lindisfarne. It is a series of very detailed gospels, complete with fully colored images and Latin text. One thing I find amazing is that this artifact survived for so long. This artifact was created long before the Durham Cathedral was, and the fact that something made out of paper survived for just as long as something made of stone really fascinates me. Although the complete manuscript didn’t survive, I think the amount that did after so many years is amazing enough. Another thing I find interesting is that this artifact, along with the Cathedral, shows the importance of Christianity in history long ago. The amount of work that went into both of these things shows that the people of those time periods found their faith important and took religion seriously, more seriously than most people do in today’s society, in my opinion. It shows how much religion influenced people’s lives, and how long Christianity has been worshipped.
One place that really stood out to me was the Durham Cathedral. This cathedral is as massive as it is beautiful. The architecture that went into this building is truly amazing, designed by architects George Gilbert Scott, James Wyatt, Edward Robson, and Richard Farnham it took about 40 years to make (from 1093-1133 AD). This cathedral seems to have both Romanesque and Gothic influences since there are both rounded arches as well as pointed arches inside. The inside also features many bright windows, radiant colors and a mosaic floor. This cathedral also features a Cloister, which is a section of covered walkways along the outside of the building that form a rectangular courtyard. Previously, I had not known the name of this sort of walkway. An interesting fact about this cathedral is that an “infamous midget” and “self-proclaimed Count of Poland” named Józef Boruwłaski decided the cathedral was too dirty. So he hired a team of masons to chisel about one inch of stone from each surface of the building. This and the extravagant design in and outside of this cathedral show just how important religion must have been to the people of this age.
The artifacts that I chose are the “Illuminated Manuscripts”. These are books or writings that have art involved as well as calligraphic writing. Most of the early works came from Ireland and Wales so there is a strong Gallic, or Celtic influence. Although, the text is in latin and the miniature paintings are of Roman styles, left over from Roman occupation. At first these were made by Monks in isolated monasteries, therefore most of the illuminated texts are bibles or other secular writings. However, by the 15th century rich folk could hire artists to create such books for them. These artifacts not only help in preserving classical literature, but it again shows the influence or importance of religion during these time periods. What people thought important to illustrate and make lavish were bibles and secular writings, even when the rich would commission books to be made they often included their favorite psalms.
By exploring this cathedral and these illuminated manuscripts I have seen, again, the influence of religion on pre-modern Europe. Places of worship and words of God were deemed very important so they were made to be lavish, appealing to the eye, and most importantly they were made to last. Aside from that I learned about the architecture that went into the Burham Cathedral. Things such as Cloisters and the different archways and where the designs influence originated.
The place that I found to be the most interesting was the Sistine Chapel. The architecture of the Sistine Chapel is truly reflective of the Renaissance. I feel the pictures of the Sistine Chapel do not fully capture how amazing it really is to see in person. Perhaps the most spectacular feature of the Sistine Chapel is the Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo. The Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is one my personal favorite works of art because of how incredible it is to examine. The most interesting part of the painting is how each panel of the painting has religious meaning. The paintings such as the Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel are examples of how incredible the art Renaissance was and how the art defined the way people thought during that time.
The artifact that I found to be the most interesting was the printing press. The printing press is interesting because of how revolutionary it was for the time and important it was to the Renaissance. The printing press was created Johannes Gutenberg in 1440. The printing press allowed for the mass spread of knowledge, which allowed more people the opportunity to be literate. The printing press allowed books to created significantly faster than before when they were made by hand. It may be hard to realize how important the printing press was when we consider how easy it is access knowledge today. The printing press is another example of the forward thinking of Renaissance. The spread of different ideas from different people was a main factor in many of successes of the Renaissance.
Place- The Dome of The Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral in Florence
Artifact- Last Judgement by Michelangelo
While scrolling through the various links trying to get a sense of the various time periods to choose from, I stopped and the renaissance section had caught my eye. The Renaissance was an extraordinary time period in European history which let its people explore the works from ancient scholars such as Plato to develop a more expressive and intellectual culture. What emerged was new age art, science, and technologies which changed Europe forever. A little city in Italy called Florence greatly expressed this new change.
Florence is home to the prime example of architecture during the renaissance, The Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral in Florence, more specifically the dome. This dome was built by Filippo Brunelleschi which believe it or not had no formal training in architecture. I picked this cathedral to mention in my blog post because of its unorthodox method of production. Filippo Brunelleschi was assigned to build an eight sided dome upon a hexagonal shaped opening which seemed impossible. The placement of the bricks combined art with physics to construct beautiful sturdy walls. Using his new expressive architecture ways, Brunelleschi and his team took 16 years to complete the dome and left no drawings or plans which leaves sort of a mysterious affect to this wonderful dome.
As mentioned earlier, the renaissance brought about a new art form, which I happen to take a great liking to. Being that I have an interest in the art that this time period has brought about it was not hard to find an artifact to mention in this blog. I have chosen the painting Last Judgement by Michelangelo. The story behind this painting is a biblical reference of when a life has fallen and is passed on to either meet Christ or be damned to the gates of hell. What is fascinating to me is the precise detail of the very complex painting. One can clearly see Christ along with angles surrounding him emanating a holy and peaceful setting , but going down the painting, the damned are dragged by demons down to their doom which portays all the pain and suffering of these poor souls. Painting such as this really gets a student such as myself immersed in the atmosphere of the renaissance.
While exploring through the virtual tour of premodern Europe, it struck my interest greatly when learning about the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral in Florence, Italy. The characteristic that is so intriguing about this cathedral is the dome that sits upon the top of the building. The construction of the dome was assigned to an amateur engineer and carpenter by the name of Filippo Brunelleschi in the year 1418. This was a time in which the technology that we have today, that assists in the construction of such architecture, did not exist. So the question that struck me most when learning about this man and this cathedral was, “how is it possible for him to build such a dome so complex and so ahead of its time?” It turns out that Brunelleschi constructed the World’s largest and most unique dome with the base being an 8-sided octagon with no true center. During his process of engineering the dome, Brunelleschi pioneers a hoisting device, which is extremely futuristic compared to the premodern time in which he lives. When finished the dome consisted of over 1 million bricks and took 16 years to complete. I chose to focus my attention on this place that was first established in premodern Europe because I think that the dome that tops Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral and its creator, Filippo Brunelleschi exemplify the tenacity, patience, and work ethic of the people who lived in that time. The beautiful and intricate architecture that was created with out the use of fancy machines and computerized blueprints, illustrates the pure artistry and determination that these people had. Seeing such places created by hands that are often depicted at “barbaric” is really quite inspiring and changes my perspective of the time period completely.
When it comes to an object that I found most interesting about premodern Europe, it was the Sutton Hoo Lyre. The lyre was a musical instrument, which resembles that of a modern day harp or violin. It was used for the same purpose that we use musical instruments today. People made music simply to be heard and enjoyed or in order to add another element to the telling of a story or poem. Of the lyre that was found, it is suggested that it was kept in a beaver-skin bag, much like the bag we keep musical instruments in today. I chose to focus on the Sutton Hoo Lyre because it shows how similar people of the premodern world were to those of today’s time. People found comfort and joy in playing music as well as listening to it. It was a large part of society as it is in modern day and also further emphasizes how music effects the emotions of human beings, even many hundreds of years ago.
From this virtual tour I have learned a lot about premodern Europe and got a good sense of what the world was like during the time period. I always imagined it as pre-industrious, where everything that was made was made without machines or tools but that turns out to not be true. They has their own forms of tools and machines such as the one that Fillippo Brunelleschi created as a hosting device to aid in the construction of the largest dome still known to man. What I feel is most important of the knowledge that I gained from this assignment is understanding that though the time was must different, much of their world is similar to the world that we live in today when it comes to art, socialization, government, religion, and carpentry.
One of the most important places during the Middle Ages was the church. Specifically, the Durham Cathedral in Durham, England. This cathedral is interesting because it was so dirty from the Industrial Revolution that Joseph Baranski had it cleaned to make it a beautiful building again. In essence, we now only see the shell of this great cathedral. As stated in the video, there are preservation renovations being done to it to help keep it standing, but by doing this, it raises the question, “What are we preserving?” Although the cathedral is not what it was in its original state, we are preserving the ideal state of it per Joseph Baranski. The church is the center of Durham meaning everything revolves and goes on around it, therefore, it should be in the best possible condition. With the cathedral cleaned, and now preserved we are saving the most important part of the city since it is at its center. This enables us to look deeper into the meaning of the cathedral because it symbolizes one of the most important aspects of the Middle Ages: religion.
At the center of the Middle Ages was religion. With religion comes religious texts such as the Bible and the Lindisfarne Gospels. The Lindisfarne Gospels are manuscripts, “Written and decorated at the end of the 7th century by the monk Eadfrith.” This manuscript is decorated elaborately and with detail with most pages having very few words on them because of the intricate art work on the page and some words being written elegantly, in large colorful text. Also, there are intricately designed cross-carpet pages that show the intensity and care monk Eadfrith took when drawing this book. His art style is very colorful and vibrant which is very similar to the Catholic church’s because they have grand pictures and very colorful stained glass windows. This shows the power of the church because they were able to afford to make extravagant buildings. Much of the people followed religion very strictly during the Middle Ages, so people would have used and understood the Lindisfarne Gospel very seriously, following any of the rules the priests would tell them since only the priests could read Latin and the text is in Latin. From a twenty first century perspective, this document serves to look into how the Catholic Church could have had control over its followers very easily. This makes religion not look as appealing to people today, therefore, less people will take what is said in this text seriously as it can have a hidden corrupt meaning behind it. The Durham Cathedral and the Lindisfarne Gospel offer insight into how the world was governed back in the Middle Ages, showing that religion was the center of everyone’s world.
The location which caught my interest was Cambridge University in Cambridge, England. Starting from humble beginnings in narrow streets and dank alleys, it became one of, if not, the most prestigious universities in the world. Through the King’s help, the university was able to develop legs, and once they were fully grown it hit the ground running. Despite the dislike of the townspeople the university continued to grow into the goliath it is today. Their dislike most likely came from the King using the plot of land supposed to be used for housing, but could have potentially came from the disdain of knowing they couldn’t afford to send their children, or themselves, to a higher education. I have some bias towards the location however since I plan to study abroad and England is on the list of potentials and seeing Cambridge would be something I would make a point to do while there.
The amateur architect, Filippo Brunelleschi, inspired me with his masterpiece of a dome piece for the Santa Maria Del Fiore in Florence, Italy (1418). I couldn’t care less about his actual masterpiece, but his choice to not leave behind any schematics or blueprints to the actual build was bold and impressive. Surely, there are probably more people like this, but this was the first video I picked. Brunelleschi’s choice to leave nothing behind speaks volumes to me, he essentially made himself eternal through his work. Rather than leaving a blueprint to the physics behind the build, he has people actively theorizing ways he could have possibly built the dome in a way that it withstands hundreds of years. No one will fully know how he did it, but that’s the fun in it, the universal fun that makes something an idea. A modern day example would be politics. Politics is entertainment in itself because opinions are entertainment. Without disclosing the magic of his build, Brunelleschi creates a piece that has no definitive answer, and the nature of mankind is to figure out the environment around them; after all, an unexamined life is not worth living. In short, Brunelleschi put sixteen years of his life into making a masterpiece and made sure that his sixteen years would be rewarded in a way money couldn’t compensate.
The artifact that caught my eye while going through the online early European tour was the Sutton Hoo burial ship. This artifact was discovered by an archaeologist named Basil Brown. The ship has been dated to the early AD 600 when Anglo-Saxon Europe belonged to East Angla. The ship itself is 27 meters long and made of oak wood with iron rivets. The wood and rivets of the boat has since decayed but the iron rivets remain. This burial ship is the largest and most complete Anglo-Saxon ship to be discovered. The ship itself was shown as a working vessel that the Anglo-Saxons used at one point because there is evidence of repairs to the ship. The burial part of the ship was built into the middle of the ship. Ships were very important in Anglo-Saxon society because it was their main way of transportation and communication to other neighboring countries. Based on the extravagance of the ship and the objects inside it is inferred that the burial ship was meant for someone of wealth and power, like a lord or even a king. This ship is very interesting because it gives us an insight to how the wealthy and powerful lived in Anglo-Saxon society. Commonly people think of the time after Roman fall as the “Dark Ages”. A time of savage and uneducated people. This burial ship however shows a high sophistication, and unprecedented craftsmanship. It gives us a complete contradiction to the previously thought of time-period.
The place I found the most interesting was the Durham Cathedral. The cathedral was built in AD 1093 after the age of the Anglo-Saxon. This was built by the Normans and is said to be one of the finest piece of Norman architecture. This massive building of its time is 75 feet tall made mostly of stone. The build is known for its Romanesque style and for being the only cathedral to retain almost all its Norman architecture. The Durham Cathedral gives modern society an understanding of how important the Church of England was to the people. This place was built around the end of the “Dark Ages,” signifying the end of the Anglo-Saxon era and the beginning of the Norman as they replaced Anglo-Saxon as the ruling class of England. This place has been preserved from almost 1000 years ago, and is still used as a church today. This cathedral was also used in Harry Potter. They used the cathedral as the school for young wizards, Hogwarts. This shows how people perceive the architecture of the church as something that could be out of a fantasy.
These artifacts give an important insight to modern society because it gives us a view into a time where not everything was written down in words, but instead by placement or by architecture. The Sutton Hoo burial ship is a contradiction to what we previously believed of the Anglo-Saxon people and the Durham Cathedral is an amazing insight to how important religion in the beginning of the high middle ages. These artifacts show us a world that we find unfathomable by our modern standards.
One place that really stood out to me was the Santa Maria del Fiore, a cathedral in Florence, Italy. The architecture of this cathedral is incredible, and it shows how important religion was in premodern culture. The dome of the cathedral was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, when he was commissioned to engineer the dome he had no background in architecture, his profession was as a goldsmith and clockmaker. He was told to build an 8 sided dome, the methods he used to construct the dome still aren’t fully understood. The fact that he was able to design and construct this dome without modern technology is incredible, it shows that human ingenuity was in full force in premodern Europe. It took 16 years to complete the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore, the time and patience that was put into this conveys that religion was one of the most important aspects of life during the time in history.
One artifact that caught my attention was the helmet of Sutton Hoo, it was a helmet that was discovered in a burial ship beneath the mounds of Sutton Hoo. When it was found it was broken into pieces from a collapse of the burial ship, but through reconstruction the art and detail put into this helmet is revealed. It’s an artifact from the Anglo-Saxons, it is believed to be from the 7th century and belonged to King Raedwald, a Christian Anglo-Saxon king. The helmet is adorned with a dragon on the mask as well as warrior type figures. The artistic detail in the helmet really exemplifies the creativity and craftsmanship of this period, something that isn’t really thought about for a period that is thought of as a dark warlike time. Although, this is also shown on equipment of war which is kind of ironic.
One of the most well known monuments of Roman society was The Colosseum, constructed between A.D. 70-72 by emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty. The project took nearly a decade and was opened to the public by Vespasian’s son, Titus, in A.D. 80. The event he would unfold for The Colosseum’s grand opening would be a festival called the 100-days of games. The creation of this venue was a true milestone in the history of the great Roman Empire.
Nowadays, we watch football every Sunday and maybe even attend a sports game in a large stadium once in a while, but we need to understand where the origins of these extravagant spectacles originated. The Colosseum was a symbol of Rome, their culture, and the vast history of their people and people to come. It seated 50,000 people and became a part of their lives and their society. Men died fighting within its walls where Rome’s people came to experience an event like no other. It was even said to have had drinking fountains and latrines. The grandness of The Colosseum cannot possibly be conveyed through a website or virtual tour, but it was said to be a truly magnificent structure, built for the pure entertainment, and became a sign of power for Rome.
Books are the real testament to human history and can tell stories that no man can ever outlive. They embody a culture and its people’s beliefs. In the Book of Kells, we can see a beautiful example of history and helps us understand humans before us. The book itself was decorated with gold and the attention to detail was astounding. Jesus is portrayed multiple times throughout its 680 pages that survived, and that gives us a better understanding of their beliefs. It was believed that there were many artists who worked on this book, still unknown to this day. It was a gospel book that was used for religious purposes until the church of Kells was destroyed in 1641. In 1653 it was sent to Dublin and is currently on display in the Old Library at Trinity College.
The book itself may not have been a literary masterpiece, but the significance and power of the artistry is truly amazing. We can look at our people’s history through different eyes and appreciate the beauty of books.
The Anglo-Saxons are a particularly interesting group of people due to their exquisite craftsmanship and sophistication at such an early time period. Archaeologists had discovered a buried ship in which, presumably, the man buried was a man of high importance or a king. Within this ship, there had been a trove discovered treasures that represented a time capsule for the Anglo-Saxons. In addition, this was the largest burial ever discovered that was related to the Anglo-Saxons. Due to the vast nature of the amount of discovered treasures, the likely suspect of the person buried is a king, which is a replication in which Vikings would bury their kings. This person was of high importance since the manner of the burial was so immense, although it is unclear as to who this individual was precisely. This location of Sutton Hoo is interesting to me due to the fact that it is the largest burial site of the Anlgo-Saxons and contains many items that provide an imagery to their past. Many artifacts were recovered upon the discovery of this burial site.
The artifact in which I have chosen is that of the premodern printing press. This artifact was used in order to help with the mass production of books, which was an enormous step above replicating books by use of handwriting. This device allowed the mass production of important books of literature and religion, such as the King James’ Bible and Shakespearian plays. The process of making and producing books had been a hard and tedious process before the invention of this device. However, compared to modern day technology, this device is merely a faction of the speed in which books, novels, and bibles can be produced. Books were hard to come by as a lower class individual, as the replication of books was both time consuming and costly. However, due to this new invention, a larger portion of people were able to become both educated and entertained.
One artifact that really stood out to me was a string-instrument called a lyre that was found at an Anglo-Saxon ship burial site in eastern England. Fragments of it were found at the site, and it was discovered that it made out of maple wood, and had six strings which were either strummed or plucked. As a music lover, it is always fun to learn about play different instruments, and I had never known about this until now. Music played an extremely important role in Anglo-Saxon culture. They made music just for the sake of making music, but the lyre in particular was used to accompany stories and poems. The only thing that is disappointing to me about this article is that it does not say what the strings were made out of, which would have been interesting to know. All in all, I’m really glad I found out about a new instrument, and all that’s left to do is find one and figure out how to play it.
The place that sparked my interest was the Gates of Paradise, Florence Baptistry, located in Florence, Italy. Italy is an interesting enough place for me to learn about since I have family who are from Italy, but what really stands out to me about this place is the artwork within the walls of the Baptistry. The doors are covered in artwork, done by Lorenzo Ghiberti, depicting scenes from biblical stories, which also interest me. Ghiberti used several different formats on the door panels so that all of the scenes would fit in place. The way he was able to achieve such beautiful works of art on fairly small spaces is absolutely incredible to me, and I am really glad I got to learn about the Gates of Paradise.
One place I found particularly interesting was the Canterbury Cathedral. It is amazing that a building that large and with that much detail was constructed in the year 597. I think a building that large and beautiful just shows how large of a role Christianity played in the society of pre-modern Europe. King Henry VIII removing the shrine of Thomas Becket was interesting as it somewhat showed that he was upset with the Catholic Church and could be considered a sign of his eventual departure from the it altogether.
As for an object, the ship burials found in Sutton Hoo are fascinating. These ships were clearly significant to the Anglo-Saxon culture since they were used as burial sites. These ships could have been seen as a sign of power or royalty, considering many of the burials are thought to have held kings. Even the artifacts found inside the burials are interesting, specifically the gold belt buckle. The belt buckle has so much detail with all of the intertwining parts and in my opinion in is very aesthetically pleasing. For that much detail to go into a belt buckle is also somewhat absurd.
Throughout this tour of pre-modern Europe I learned that our societies are extremely different. I always knew that, but going through all of these videos and reading it has become that much more eye opening. The church had a significantly bigger role than it does today and there was much more appreciation for art. Things like ship burials and the artifacts found in those burials are nothing like that art or artifacts that are made in today’s society.
The location that intrigued me the most was the Canterbury Cathedral. I have always appreciated gothic architecture and this particular cathedral stood out to me among the rest. It is one of the oldest standing structures in England, dating all the way back to its creation in 597 AD and its reconstruction in the late 11th century. What intrigued me the most about this cathedral was the rich history. It is the location of the murder of Thomas Becket who was the Archbishop of Canterbury before his death. He had angered many people due to discontinuing relations with the King and solely doing business with the Church. Eventually, under what is presumed to be a misinterpretation of a command by the king, four knights killed him. A shrine was built later on and was removed by King Henry VIII after calling for the dead saint to rise from the dead to face his charges. The history of this cathedral pulled me in more than any of the other ones I learned of since it shows many rich stories of the life of people back then. The history of this church and its stories suggest power and intricacy. The slaughtering of an arch bishop by knights that stained the floors red and the sharp, complicated edges of the cathedral’s architecture are frightening yet beautiful. The amount of authority religion had is showcased here; the construction of a magnificent cathedral that towers over its followers demonstrate the control the Church had.
One of the most interesting items that I came across during the tour was the Sutton Hoo belt buckle. It was most likely made in early 600 AD and was owned by a high ranking citizen, possibly a king. It is fascinating that something as seemingly simple as a belt buckle could show so much beauty. The complex and intricate snake-like lines show that there were craftsmen that were capable of being much more than what society would normally think of medieval people. When mentioning medieval times, people think everything is backwards and there is no progression in society, but items such as this buckle show that to be false. The fact that it was not just a buckle made of gold, but a lavish small container for personal items shows true skill in craftsmanship. This also illustrates people in medieval times were not ruthless and unintelligent, but elaborate thinkers in a confusing era of history. After all, society has not changed much since then, as we all still wear some type of jewelry or clothing that can express wealth just like this king.
Following this tour of the Premodern world has opened my eyes to the complexity and beauty that I never would have seen before. I had a small interest in the gothic architecture, but reading on the history of cathedrals and artifacts has led me to question how much history there is all around us. The buildings that we traverse or items we use daily may have a significant history behind them. I believe the Premodern world can teach us not to judge a book by its cover; there is so much allure to the history of this era that has been stomped on due to widely believed, yet false, thoughts.
By far, I found the Psalter World Map the most interesting object. Not only does this artifact show the people’s understanding of geography, but it also it shows how influential and central Christianity was in the Middle Ages. As for the geographical aspect of it, I found that while the full map looked very imprecise, the biggest mistakes were ones that dealt with proportions (ex: Sicily is larger than mainland Italy). If you were to ignore those mistakes, the map could be useful as cities are placed relatively in the correct directions from each other (ex: Macedonia is directly east of Rome, etc).
When it comes to the religious aspects of the map, there is a lot of obvious influences that can be spotted. Firstly, the images of angels, Jesus, and mythical creatures clearly reflect that religion played a central role when this map was made. East being closer to god, and Jerusalem being the center of the world are also indicative of Christian influences.
Another interesting aspect of the map is how the antique myths, legends and histories impacted it. One of the best examples would be the mentioning of Carthage on the map. Although Carthage has no religious significance, and was completely destroyed by the Romans in the Punic Wars, it was still included on the map. In addition, the map also contains an image of Gog and Magog locked behind a gate. While Gog and Magog is mentioned in some Judeo-Christian texts as an evil barbarian civilization, the fact that they are locked away behind a large gate is purely the product of an antique legend called “Gates of Alexander” which has nothing to do with Christianity.
A place that really interested me was the Hedingham Castle. When I think of the word castle I instantly think of manned-walls, moats, gates, archer towers, and other defensive structures. Hedingham Castle does not have many of those. Instead, it is a tall structure that is designed to reflect the owner’s social status. While it’s architecture isn’t nearly as impressive as that of the cathedrals we saw, I found it fascinating how somebody would build such a tall, impractical castle just to reflect their social status. Interestingly, after doing more research, I found out that at one point it belonged to Edward de Vere (Controversial author of Shakespeare’s works from the “Anonymous” movie we saw in class.)
The renaissance art and architect in Florence, Italy really impressed me. Florence was the center of all science, economics and arts during the renaissance. The city was rich with wealthy merchant and banking families like Merdici, who ruled Florence for generations. The city spent most of their wealth on painting sculptures etc.
One of their greatest architectures in early renaissance was Filippo Brunelleschi.His famous work was the Dome of Cathedral of Santa Maria Del Fiore. It took him 16 years to construct the Dome. The impressive part was that he made the dome self supporting which was rare in the renaissance period. He also use pillars for structural support for the first time since the Romans.
The location that I decided to explore for my post was the massive Albi Cathedral in Albi, France. Now, when I was sifting through all of the possible locations and buildings, nothing really stuck out to me at first since I don’t really have a massive interest in architecture. However, when I was skimming through the different buildings, I wanted to find one that was really lavish and well decorated with as much art and style as possible. To me, the Albi Cathedral stuck out because of its interesting gothic design and just the amount of time and resources that went in to constructing it. The interior seemed to be filled with gold structures and other decorations. Not only that, but since I am a stickler for medieval military artifacts and information, finding out that the cathedral was initially constructed as a huge fortress really struck a chord with my love for the Middle Ages. When I saw the beautiful and extremely artistically-focused interior, it surprised me since most fortresses constructed that long ago have a tendency to end up decayed and worn-down from time.
When I chose the object I would talk about, I decided to cheat a little bit and picked two artifacts from the Anglo-Saxon ship located at the burial site in Sutton Hoo, England. There were several items unearthed from the site that seemed to belong to someone of high ranking. The two artifacts I chose were a helmet and a sword from the 7th century. At first, the helmet didn’t seem particularly special except the design of the moustache on the faceplate since I hadn’t seen a helmet with that design before. After delving a little deeper, I discovered that the different designs that made up the faceplate were designed to look like some kind of dragon and that really interested me since I also have an interest in the mythological too. The moustache was really the tail of the creature, the eyebrows were the wings, the nose was the body, and the forehead was the head. The helmet’s design also reminded me of a traditional samurai helmet with the combination of the rounded top and the long sides of the helmet that reach down to the chin.
The second artifact that interested me was an Anglo-Saxon sword. In that time, swords were considered prestigious to warriors and sometimes they were buried with them. When looking at this sword, I noticed that a lot of the artifacts found in this site had a common theme of having gold and garnets included in their design. The scabbard itself was interesting because it was apparently made with leather and lined with sheep wool, which kept the blade very bright because of the oil it gave off. The blade itself was forged in a very interesting way that reminded me a bit of the technique used to form a modern cable Damascus blade. Damascus blades are a type of blade that is made by pattern-welding different types of steel and cable Damascus is apparently an easier method of forging this way. The blade on the artifact was made by twisting rods of iron together to make a core and that core was then given a cutting edge. When creating a cable Damascus blade, a thick piece of braided metal cable is heated and then further twisted to compress the individual fibers together. This technique of twisting metal to eventually form the blade is what connected with my knowledge of Damascus blades and the artifact sword. After several other steps, the blade ends up with an interesting pattern just like the Sutton Hoo sword, which I found fascinating.
A place that I thought was very interesting was Hedingham Castle which was built by the Normans. The Normans were originally Vikings from Scandinavia that moved to Normandy in Northern France. They invaded England in 1066. Although the castle walls were built in the early parts of the 11th century the Keep of the Castle or the tower within the walls (The part which remains today) was built much earlier in the 10th century around 1130 to 1140 A.D. The keep seemed to really have an authoritative presence at first glance. The architecture of this building doesn’t appear to be elegant or for the attraction of the human eye. This was strictly a defense fortress designed to provide protection for the very royal and wealthy families that had the privilege to be held there. Walls from 11 to 12 feet thick make up the nearly square keep surrounded with narrow windows. The entrance to this tower was raised up which made it hard for enemy’s to get into the castle and during attacks I imagine the platform leading up to it could possibly even be dropped to allow no access at all. The stairway leading up to the top was purposely built in a clockwise direction so that you could fight off invading enemy’s inside as you would have the advantage if you held your sword in your right hand due to the pillar in the center of this round staircase. The keep had 4 floors with the top possibly be added on at a later date. This castle was a place of ritual and ceremony as well. People would come and honor the lord in the great banquet room where higher court was held. Knights would be sworn in and pledge their loyalty here. In this room there is the widest arch ever built by the Normans that still stands to this day. I would sure feel safe in a place like this during the time period.
The artifact I chose to analyze and write about was the Fra Mauro World Map. In fact, I thought it was the most interesting object of the whole tour. This thing was the possibly the first ever “modern” map of the world. Fra Mauro was the Venetian Monk who made it. Keep in mind that what you see is actually an 1804 copy of the actual map depiction which possibly dates back to the original year around 1405. The map points south because 15th century compasses were oriented this way making the map appear to be upside down compared to modern day ones. The Earth is drawn in a circle. Fra Mauro thought the world to be a cylinder like column floating. When zooming in it reveals the amazing and extreme detail of the map not only in its beautiful colorful pictures of cities, areas, rivers and terrain but with words and descriptions of the various places. Information from many travelers journeys were incorporated into the making of the map, the most notable being Marco Polo’s expedition to Asia. Very interesting diagrams surround the landscape. My favorite is the Ptolemaic System of our Solar System. The Earth of course was thought to be at the center of the so called universe with the Sun, Moon, and other planets orbiting around it. I imagine ancients thought the Sun was closer than the Moon due to its size appearance in the sky. Looking at this map really puts me in another world/time period that seems almost fantasy like. One of myths and monsters that gives me a great sense of adventure. It leaves so many questioned asked and dares for further discovery by future explorers to come.
My favorite pictures and sketches I glanced at were ‘St. George fighting the Dragon’ and ‘Lady with a Unicorn’ both by Raphael, and the ‘Mona Lisa’ and ‘flying machine sketch’ by Leonardo Da Vinci.
The place I’m choosing to discuss from the middle ages is the Albi Cathedral in France. This cathedral, which is arguably the most important cathedral in France, was constructed as a fortress during the crusades and was under construction for over 200 years. The building was not the first constructed on this land and was preceded by other cathedrals and religious buildings. This history is what gives the building its formal name, the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Cecilia. I found this place interesting because it was constructed as a fortress not only to keep the people in the area safe but as a symbol of power and authority. It could possibly be the largest brick building in the world. The building represents the power struggle between different religious sects and how much time and effort the would put into standing up for themselves and their beliefs. It is an example of how dominant religion was in these times.
The artifact I’m choosing to discuss is Leonardo Da Vinci’s piece “The Last Supper.” It was painted in or around 1497 in Italy and is one of the most famou paintings in the world. It depicts Jesus and his disciples at a table, specifically when Jesus informed them that one of them would betray him. To me, this painting is very important and interesting. Not only does it continue to show the dominance of religious thought, but shows a transformation in interpretation of religion from the earlier centuries. The painting has remained one of the most important artifacts in history despite sustaining damage over the years.
I did my best to click on as many links as possible. After going on this “tour” my own personal reaction was kind of neutral. The historical facts and pieces of art being presented were interesting, but, the tone of some of the videos was anything but aesthetically pleasing. I watched a few of them with my Father who is a huge premodern literature fan, and even he felt as though some of it was a little too monotone at times. But, with that being said, I still managed to try and really focus in on two things that I found to be most interesting.
I’ll start with the object or artifact that I found most interesting. It may seem a little bland to some, but, I have always have a strong fascination with castles. Ever since I was a kid, I unsuccessfully built large towers in the sand, and always had different castle toys growing up. As I got older, I began playing different kinds of computer games. One of my favorites was a game called Age Of Empires, which focused on Medieval warfare. I would always build really awesome fortresses. The castles that I focused on in my tour were the castles in Britain. The one castle that I found most interesting was the castle built around 1140. It was used by the fighting Veres. The things that I found most interesting about the castle were the attention to detail. They had a raised floor on the first level, which added to the difficulty for penetrating the castle. Also portrayed in the video was the design of the staircase. Most people were right handed, so, they designed the staircase in a way that anyone attacking the castle would have difficulty getting the right angle to attack you, but, anyone coming down the steps to defend it would not have such difficulty. There was also extremely high ceilings and a great dining hall. An archway in the castle was the also one of the widest ever built by the Normans. All of these characteristics speak to the time period that the castle was built. It was clearly designed as a place for battle, but, also had all the elements that such as the ceilings and paintings throughout the castle to show respect to their king and leaders. The overall design itself, the extremely high walls, the stone, and the fireplaces all contribute to understanding and relating to the time period. Technology wasn’t advanced, so, it was extremely difficult and time consuming to try and breach high entrances. Having to go through many obstacles just to get to your enemy during battle was not a highly successful strategy.
The most interesting place for me was Florence, Italy. The art designed was astonishing for its time. It was a time when the Renaissance was occurring. There were numerous sculptures and paintings made that just left you in awe. The time period was around the 1400s. I also found very interesting that Italy at the time was known as one of the first locations to begin a shift towards capitalism. Although Italy was never the biggest, they’ve always been able to pack in large amounts of structures and buildings while being able to maintain an aesthetically pleasing visual. Many of the other places that I visited just didn’t keep my attention. I might be biased because I’ve seen many pictures previously of the York Minster in England, but, the video on Italy just seemed to keep my interest. It stood out in my memory even after viewing about 22 of the links.
All things considered, I was definitely more interested in the artifacts than the actual locations. I really enjoyed the Notre Dame Cathedral tour in Paris, but, ultimately decided to write about the castles because of my childhood fascination with them. The least interesting part to me personally was the early links on Anglo-Saxon and all the talk about the Sutton Hoo. It wasn’t so bad learning about the different designs on their shields and the symbolism behind them and the designs of early helmets, but, overall, most of the narrators were difficult to listen to.
The Westminster Abbey originally known as the Church of St. Peter at Westminster was believed to be created in 927. The church’s reconstruction was really pushed by King Edward the Confessor who really only wanted it built so he could have a proper burial site. He got his wish and he was buried there, shortly after his wife was buried with him. Next the church undergone another reconstruction by Henry the third who also wished for this to be his burial site, who also got his wish and was buried in it. Henry the third’s last set of reconstruction was the last one, the church that he finished is the one that still stands today. Then, and today the Westminster Abbey is a focal point for the Roman Catholic church, which is still in function today. The inside is beautiful standing high with stain glass windows, and archways. To me we see that this time period did not lack inspiration from the vibrant colors and complex design of the entire church. It took a lot of creativity to create such a magnificent work of art that is still looked at today as inspiring. The Westminster Abbey still stands today over one thousand years later which truly shows that this type of work and commitment can withstand the tests of time. All the hard work of the individuals who created it is still admired to this day showing that the people of this time were more than civilized they were creative and intelligent.
Filippo Brunelleschi was a amatuer architect who was tasked in 1418 to finish the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore which was the main church in Florence Italy. The dome itself was designed to stand on top of the Cathedral overlooking the city. Brunelleschi was not a famous architect, but he was determined to fulfill the church’s request. Architects still to this day look at his creation puzzled, wondering how he managed to create the 171 foot tall dome. Obviously at the time of creating it there was no machinery, or technology in order to aid him. Brunelleschi was tasked with designing and creating his own invention to build the dome. He created ox drawn cranes that allowed him to reach the top of the dome carrying hundreds of pounds brick and stone everyday. The church required the dome to be more of an oval design when most if not all domes at the time were in the shape of spheres. His dome had no internal support so he had to create a second internal dome as support to the external one. Another issue with the dome was the fact that it arches towards the top making the bricks harder to layer together. Each brick was laid individually by hand in a interlocking fashion allowing the bricks to support themselves allowing them to stand up. Each row of bricks took around one week, taking up to sixteen years for it’s total completion. This type of architecture is astounding, for one man to create a dome of that magnitude was nigh impossible for the time. Brunelleschi was a genius who created unthinkable machines that to this day still baffle even the most expert architects. This man proves that this time period was not a time of simple people, but a time of astounding intellect that deserves nothing but the utmost respect.
For anyone to say that this period in time is considered the “dark ages” is entitled to their opinion, but has not been looking into the creativity and majesty that this era created. These artistic structures have been standing for hundreds of years, and are still admired to this day showing that there was no darkness. This period should be looked at as a beautiful era full of creativity, and artwork not a backwards time full of despair.
The building that struck me the most during my tour of the premodern world was the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is one of the most recognizable pieces of architecture in Florence Italy. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore took sixteen years to be built and was completed in 1436. The architecture of the cathedral was heavily influenced by roman architecture particularly the Pantheon in Rome, Italy. The cathedral is a testament to the power of the Catholic Church during this period, since it features such an exquisite design. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore popularized the Dome that is featured in much of the architecture of the Renaissance.
The second piece that stood out to me in my investigation of the premodern world was the painting “Cardinal Tommaso Inghirami”. The painting was done by Raphael a very well-known renaissance painter and architect. Raphael did an amazing job of portraying many details in the painting such as the pages on the book, and the rings on Cardinal Tommaso Inghirami’s fingers. The expression of Cardinal Tomasso Inghirami is also interesting, he is looking up and away from the painter which gives the impression that he is deep in thought about what he is writing about. Cardinal Tomasso Inghirami stands out since most renaissance portraits have the subject directing their eyes towards the painter.
I found the clip in the tour discussing medieval castles to be extremely interesting. Castles are definitely structures we more commonly associate with the premodern and medieval world. The introduction of the castle by the Normans seemed almost aggressive in that there were hundreds built over the course of a single generation. Castles were built to secure the Norman’s rule and almost personified the strength of William the Conqueror and his followers during this period. Structures like castles were never seen in England before these were built and the sheer size of the architecture seems to have been advantageously intimidating in the Normans’ favor.
The Hedingham castle built in 1140 is one of the finest examples of Norman power. Castles, like the Hedingham, worked as edifices of daunting proportions used to intimidate outsiders by showing the owner’s authority, wealth, etc. This castle was owned by a particularly impressive military family, the de Veres. There was something to be said about how the castle fit such a feared family so well. It’s incredible to think that the walls were 12 feet thick and could with blows from basically any enemy attack. Even the staircases of the castle were built with close quarters combat in mind. They were spirals that would allow the de Veres to hold a downhill advantage against aggressors during sword fights and melee. The castle was very unique in that it also had rooms that closely resembled the halls of a church or places of worship. They were believed to be places where people not only lived, but paid respects to their lord. In the de Vere’s banquet hall of the Hedingham castle is the largest arch built by the Normans that is still standing.
I also really like the video on the tour that discusses the pouncing that Michelangelo had to do when painting larger figures on the Sistine Chapel. Some of the figures were as tall as 13 feet. He adopted a technique using a blade which allowed him to work faster and more efficiently under pressure, but before that he used a slow, methodical technique referred to as pouncing. It is incredible that he was able to create initial sketches of the figures that he would later transfer onto the ceiling plaster of the chapel. Using charcoal dust and carefully poked holes, Michelangelo was able to outline the figures with precision and pounce outlines onto the walls. I don’t understand how he was able to complete a task like the Sistine Chapel paintings by himself. It still boggles my mind. His work is so detailed and it’s evident that he was a perfectionist. The scale on which he painted was massive and even though the painting took up the entire ceiling, he never spared detail. I’m sure that people in premodern society had a difficult time digesting such beauty and genius.
I though the Gothic art plays a major role in Late Middle age art, which is derived from the traditions of the Byzantine and Romanesque styles. These are the artistic traditions regulations, with strict religious constraints, limiting the creativity of artist, and often reflects the biblical story. The main Gothic arts including sculpture, painting, stained glass, frescoes, manuscripts and printmaking.
Gothic art is distinguished from the previous category by naturalism, such as using lines, patterns and colors more impressive. Gothic art began in the 13th century in Italy and spread throughout Europe developed until the 15th century. Gothic means the Ostrogoths and Visigoths who mercilessly destroy the art of ancient Rome. It was first named by the critics Renaissance Italy in the 16th century as a pejorative term for a series of art and architecture of the Middle Ages until the early 14th century.
Caceres, Spain is one of the few places in the world still standing that gives us a glimpse into the culture and past achievements of those from the premodern era. Still containing beautiful palaces and ancestral homes from both the Medieval and Renaissance eras, Caceres is a traveler’s paradise as they are able to appreciate old Arabic fortresses, beautiful convents, and breathtaking towers of defense. The city caught my eye on my tour because it was one of the few times I had heard a city in Spain brought up in reference to either Medieval or Renaissance times. The mixture of architectural styles influenced from Arabic, to Northern Gothic, and the Italian Renaissance prove to the traveler that the height of those eras was full of beauty and wonder. Specifically Gargoyles and magnificent arches show the wonders of the Gothic movement and prove that the Medieval Era was not a dank, grimy place not full of beauty and its own charms.
One of the most well-known stories in Christianity is the tale of Adam and Eve. The tale of God’s first man and woman in his Garden of Eden, has been a topic of discussion for generations. In 1550, Tiziano Vicellio painted a beautiful work, illustrating the fated moment where Eve plucked an apple–the fabled apple–that would change the fates of herself and Adam. To be honest, although I do not think of myself as a religious person, this painting caught my eye. The attention to detail that Titian focuses on–especially in the facial features of Adam and Eve–is quite breathtaking. I can feel the temptation that Eve is losing to, and Adam’s attempts to stop her from making a grave mistake. And the colors of the painting truly bring the scene to life. Of course, it is not a big surprise that there were works like this during the Renaissance era, with the big three of Michaelangelo, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci, creating their own masterpieces. But Titian was no slouch himself, and had many fine pieces. If anything, I have learned that the Renaissance Era was not only a time of great Enlightenment and achievements in the Arts and Sciences, but also that even some lesser known artists and scientist were still making masterful works. It was not that you could only choose from a handful of artists, you could pick what taste suited you.
At the conclusion of this online tour, I found that there were a plethora of artifacts and places that both piqued my interest and offered valuable information on the times in which they were built or originated. In terms of physical locations, the Florence Baptistery (also known as the Baptistery of Saint John) specifically caught my attention. Located in Florence, Italy, the octagonal-shaped building is equipped with three doors, all decorated with highly-detailed religious imagery. Interestingly enough, the doors’ designs were completed in different times over a near-century long period. The south doors were created by Andrea Pisano, with the north doors being designed by Lorenzo Ghiberti using the same design as Pisano. However, Ghiberti used a completely different method for the last set of doors, using a “square format”. This style was almost timeless, with Ghiberti taking cues from Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance periods. This shows that while there were certain aspects of art and design that were unique to the period, artists also looked to the past and implemented older techniques.
The object that I found most interesting was the buried Anglo-Saxon ship, uncovered at Sutton Hoo in the southeast of England. Though the ship is arguably one of the greatest archaeological findings in England, it raises just as many questions as it does provide answers. Though the Anglo-Saxons were known for their seafaring abilities, the fact that the ship’s center was hollowed out for burial made it impossible to know whether it had a mast or not. Inside what was the chamber, there were a great deal of weapons, coins, and lavish ornaments. This type of burial would only be befitting of a king or high-ranking individual, raising questions as to who the man was and what he had done to become so important among the Anglo-Saxons. I found it particularly interesting that there was a presence of Byzantine coins among the riches. This makes you wonder how such objects made their way to England all the way from the Eastern Mediterranean. Questions about trade routes, communications and relations between the Anglo-Saxons and different cultures are therefore raised.
Artifacts, architecture, and art are three great examples to use as a window into the premodern world. These three aspects are helpful to understand the culture, traditions, and overall way of life, of the premodern world in Europe. While going through each link in the premodern “tour,” the two aspects that stood out to me the most, was the Sutton Hoo burial site and early Italian Renaissance. Primarily, the helmet the early British archaeologists found at the burial site and Michael Angelo’s famous Sistine Chapel.
The Sutton Hoo burial site was a great find for the British, its various artifacts gave archaeologists a true and clear representation of the Anglo—Saxon life in Europe. The helmet found in the Sutton Hoo burial site was at first glance looked like any regular old iron helmet. However, looking deeper into its detailed worked, the helmet appears to have images of warriors and various animals engraved on the helmet, also the helmet itself is in the shape of a dragon’s head. This along with the other various artifacts found in the burial site sheds light on to what early premodern European life was like. For many of us, much like myself who’s knowledge of premodern/medieval life is only learned through various films and tv shows, the Sutton Hoo site, gave me a better understand of premodern life. The premodern world wasn’t a world of uneducated, classless, barbaric, dirty humans; however, a world filled with traditions and culture much like any other time—period. The helmet itself is almost seen as an art form, with its various detail. This is a contradiction to many people views of the premodern world. The people in this time valued life, making a big deal in building grave filled with treasures for its dead. This is much like the tombs in Egypt. The early Anglo—Saxons’ fought in war various wars and battles and this way of life was very important to them. However, there was still some amount of culture that played into it. The various animals and warriors engraved into the helmet could have represented strength or give luck to the individual wear it. This perspective is much different then we’re a use to seeing or hearing about.
In addition, the Sistine Chapel peaked my interest the most. I love art and during the Italian Renaissance, the best most infamous pieces of art emerged. The Sistine Chapel is one of my favorite paintings, due to its great detail and its enormous size. As stated before, when people think of the premodern world typically think of the age of barbaric humans, who had no class, education or sense of culture. However, the early Italian Renaissance is still considered part of the premodern world and is filled with advancements in art, technology, science, math, and overall culture. The Sistine Chapel is a great representation of the importance the people of the time had for religion, primarily Catholic/Christian religion. The painting also shows the power that the Church had during the time. People valued the church and what the Pope and the church had to say, essential were the one’s “calling the shots” and had the most political power. The Italian Renaissance is a direct contradiction to the popular belief that the premodern world was sole barbaric in nature. Instead, this time—period was filled with sophistication, intelligence, culture, and life.
I really enjoyed the tour of Premodern Europe. I learned a lot about places and objects I’ve heard about before and also places and objects I’ve never heard of before the tour. It was really cool to see how certain architectures and buildings were inspired by earlier architectures. Art helps reflect the culture that it was taken from. I will be looking at these resources more, because I’ve never been to Europe and it is really interesting to see how the past influences the present and future in more ways than one. We can learn a lot from the past architecture designs.
Before reading through these resources I had never heard of Sutton Hoo. Sutton Hoo is located in southeast England where various mounds are located. There were many stories told about the lumps in the grounds varying from. In 1939 the land had been owned by a woman named Edith Prittey who believed in spiritualism. She and others believed that they had seen spirits of figures around the mounds including a man on a horse located by the largest mound. In 1937, mrs Prittey hired an archaeologist named Basil Brown, her games keeper, and her gardener to excavating one of the larger mounds. In 1939 they uncovered one of the largest ship burials in all of Europe. I think it is really interesting to see that there are historical objects that are buried all throughout the world that are just waiting to be discovered. The site was also believed to be a burial ground for an Ancient King where the chamber had collapsed leaving many of the objects buried there were in a state of decay. Within a month World War II was declared and the objects found had to be hid underground
I really thought that it was cool that the famous Michelangelo was not so famous or experienced when he was chosen by the Pope Julius II to do the painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I didn’t know that the Sistine chapel’s ceiling was originally a painting of stars. It took him four years to complete and he used techniques to help with speeding up the process, because Pope Julius II wanted to see it completed before his death.
A The Ancient King who was believed to be King Raedwald an early Christian Saxon ruler from Southeast England. The Sutton Hoo mask was an object that stood out to me. It was the death mask that King Raewald The Sutton Hoo mask has come to represent for many people the beginnings of Englishness in the islands of Britain. I find it interesting that back in Premodern Europe the King was buried with his objects, because today in America people are buried and their valuable objects are dispersed to their family members. But it is cool that the objects buried told a lot about the King buried with them like his love for gold, money, and music. British museum curator Herban Marian came to the metal placs he knew it must have been the death mask for the King found in the mound. They attempted right away with trying to reconstruct the way the mask would have looked like. The reconstruction was criticized due to the fact that it would have left its user vulnerable during battle. The reconstruction left the neck and face exposed. In 1968, the mask was reconstructed again by Rupert Mitford. It became an icon for Britain. It is intriguing to think how much we can learn from objects that are excavated which were buried hundreds of years ago.
I look forward to learning more about these beautiful locations, architectures, and objects. I enjoyed learning more about Premodern Europe. This is actually the most I’ve learned about Europe’s history. I am excited to see more of how history ties everything together. It was cool to see the excavations of the mounds that were originally burial sites. The objects were dig up in the 1930s and had to be hidden during World War II. I hope one day that I will be able to visit some of these historical Premodern Europe locations and be able to experience the culture while also learning about their historical significance.
Arts and Architecture of the High Middle Ages
During my online “tour” of pre modern Europe I chose the Durham Cathedral, located in England. The architecture is what really caught my eye and caused me to chose this place. I was amazed at the size and how well structured this cathedral was and how much detail was put into it. At first glance without reading I thought this cathedral was an important castle from the High Middle Ages. Its massive size and great detail however shows how back in the middle ages the church and religion played such a large role in during the era.
For a cathedral built in 1093, it took forty years to build this 496 feet length from west to east. Through out time this cathedral was well preserved because it was a place of worship and prayer. It had a looping river and a gorge. It has structural pointed arches and large columns. Surprisingly it transitioned into the modern era with some new construction but still maintaining its structural beauty.
As my artifact I chose the Psalter World Map. Even though it is small it captures a lot of pre modern beliefs and shows how religion played a major role throughout the entire world. It captures many beliefs and of the bible, for example the old and the new testament, it also contained ancient history, politic, scripture and ethnography as well as geography (although east was placed where north should be, but it was done on purpose because the garden of Eden was believed to be located in the east so the put it on top to be closest to God the creator.). It was a very interesting artifact and gave me a stronger understanding of how important religion was in the high middle ages.
The location I decided to research was Toledo Spain and more specifically the School of Translators. Toledo is a city found in Spain along the Tagus River. It is home to an array of different architectural styles. Toledo is known for its numerous Mosques, Synagogues, and Cathedrals. It was one of very few places in medieval Europe that was known to be tolerant of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths. It is because of this that I chose to research the School of Translators in Toledo. First when Toledo was still under Muslim rule during the Islamic Golden Age many classical works of ancient philosophers were being translated into arabic as well as some Arabic literature was being translated into latin. However, it was not a very organized school until Spain was back under Christian rule. Many ancient greek philosophers had their works translated here into many different languages which allowed for easier distribution of knowledge as a whole. Other works that were translated were advanced science and medical practices from Arabic into Castilian and then into Latin. This was a truly unique place in medieval Europe for its tolerance of many faiths. This tolerance lead to the sharing of ideas through cultures causing knowledge to spread.
The item I chose to research was the hand press because it revolutionized the the ability to disseminate information. The process starts with setting type into sentences on lines, then lines into pages. The ink would be applied to the type on ink balls. The type would be pressed onto a page and clamped to insure that every letter had made contact with the paper. Books could now be produced on a much larger scale so they were available to more than just monks and high nobility.
The virtual tour of Pre-Modern Europe was a great tool to help one sincerely jump into the beauties of the period. The changes of architecture and fine art that are visible as you continue through the door allow people to understand that Pre-Modern Europe was a time of progression. On a personal level, I found myself most engaged in the aspects of the tour that focused on the period of Gothic art, and the impacts that era had on paintings and architecture throughout Europe. Beginning in France, Gothic art is a wave that took over Europe from the 12th to 16th centuries. Originally assuming that Pre-Modern Europe was a menacing place (as often portrayed in films), the aesthetical appeal of Gothic art really drew me in and kept me engaged during the tour.
Reims Cathedral (also known as Notre-Dame de Reims) is a historic Catholic cathedral located in Reims, France. Notable for being the place where French kings were crowned, it is one of the most visited cathedrals in the entire world and an outstanding example of French Gothic architecture. As the period of Gothic architecture came right as Christianity was back on the rise, much of the works from the period are vastly centralized around Christian Holy figures. At Reims Cathedral, one will find that the foremost piece of the central exterior is a statue of Virgin Mary. The south portal shows a display of the Last Judgment scene. This display features Jesus Christ holding a globe of the world, numerous angelic figures, and Saint John as he writes the Book of Revelations. The interior of Reims, as with many other architectural designs during the period, has many large expanses of glass that allow the entrance of light. Gothic architects wanted high amounts of light to be able to enter the buildings, as it was a representation of Spirit entering the room. “In seeing this light, architects felt that the dull mind would be resurrected from darkness to the true light of Christ.” (Romanesque v. Gothic Architecture, YouTube) The interior of Reims also features many high, pointed arches. This is a trait that impacted not only the architecture of this Gothic era, but it entirely changed the craft forever as it impacted the entire way that buildings were constructed. Buildings (such as Reims Cathedral) were designed to evoke the experience of heaven, further explaining the Christian background and the elaborate/intricate details that were chosen.
Just as Gothic architecture hinges on Christian symbolism, Gothic art showed the same trend. Containing elements of Gothic art, the Psalter of St Louis (created during the late 13th century) is a beautiful recreation of scenes from the Old Testament. As Gothic pieces often used gold, ivory, and precious stones to display the wealth of the time period, it is no wonder that the Psalter of St Louis features figure against a background of shimmering gold. Painted with rich colors, pieces are elegant and can be compared to that of a stain-glass design. Figures featured within these pieces were thin and poised, appearing to move around easily with grace. This is all a testament to just how regal the time period truly was.
While media portrayals misled me to believe that Pre-Modern Europe was a depressing time, the virtual tours exploitation of Gothic trends entirely changed my mind. Gothic architecture and fine art is majestic; one could even go as far as to say it is mystical and transcendent. Understanding that one movement is not definitive of the entire era, I am delighted that this virtual tour exposed me to something from Pre-Modern Europe that I would really like to explore further.