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Early Medieval Architecture (Oxford History of Art) [Paperback]

Roger Stalley
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

21 Oct 1999 Oxford History of Art
The early middle ages were an exciting period in the history of European architecture, culminating in the development of the Romanesque style. Major architectural innovations were made during this time including the medieval castle, the church spire, and the monastic cloister. By avoiding the traditional emphasis on chronological development, Roger Stalley provides a radically new approach to the subject, exploring issues and themes rather than sequences and dates. In addition to analysing the language of the Romanesque, the book examines the engineering achievements of the builders, and clearly how the great monuments of the age were designed and constructed. Ranging from Gotland to Apulia, the richness and variety of European architecture is explored in terms of the social and religious aspirations of the time. Symbolic meanings associated with architecture are also thoroughly investigated. Written with style and humour, the lively text includes many quotations from ancient sources, providing a fascinating insight into the way that medieval buildings were created, and in the process enlivening study of this period.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks (21 Oct 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192842234
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192842237
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 1.5 x 16.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 179,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


"In his enjoyable book, Stalley examines architecture in western Europe, from the legalization of Christianity in 313 CE to the period around 1200, when patrons began to prefer the Gothic style.... Each chapter is well illustrated and clearly written, and the book ends with a concise section of endnotes, a useful bibliographic essay, and a well-designed time line incorporating religious and historical event as well as architectural chronology."--CHOICE"This is a book that is well-conceived, cogently organized and lucidy written."--Professor Stephen Murray, Columbia University

About the Author

Roger Stalley is Professor of the History of Art at Trinity College, Dublin. His previous books include

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Anyone who travels through the towns of southern Europe will sooner or later encounter the word 'basilica', frequently used to describe a large Christian church, normally one belonging to the Roman Catholic faith. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic! 6 July 2009
Professor Stalley writes in a highly engaging manner...a long way from the often dry style of many medieval scholars. The thematic approach is very different to the usual chronological method and it works well, making it more accessible generally. He is a great writer, lecturer and scholar. I couldn't recommend this book (and any other book/paper written by Prof. Stalley) enough.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 25 Nov 2009
This book offers an highly engaging approach to Early Medieval Architecture. It treats the subject thematically allowing the reader to follow up the parts they are most interested in. The only downside of this is that it leads to some repetition. This is a small price to pay, and indeed may be welcome considering Prof. Stalley's (A real professor, not an American style lecturer where they are ALL called professor. Stalley is the Chair of Art History at Trinity College, Dublin) superb writing style. If David Attenborough were to write a book on architecture with all his personality, charm and eruditeness he would have a difficult time topping this book. A must for those casually interested, but also undergraduates; because of the commentated bibliography which even suggests different avenues which need further research.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction and polemic 12 July 2010
This is an easy read and great introduction to the subject. Prof Stalley's writing is lively and full of humour, his comment that the reader can read the book in any order is a good start. He is not afraid to take on the most notable experts in the field with cheeky abandon. Use it as a fine commentary and bibliography.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A useful introduction 4 Oct 2014
Verified Purchase
Roger Stalley's work provides a useful introduction to Western European architecture c. 300 - 1200. Of necessity, given what survives, mostly it covers churches and monasteries, but there is a single chapter on castles too. It's a largely thematic rather than chronological account, though the first couple of chapters concern themselves with the early form of the Christian basilica and its later transformation under the Carolingians. The rest of the chapters consider symbolism, the roles of patron and builder, art & engineering, the relationship of form to monastic use and visiting pilgrims respectively, architectural language and the diversity of style.

The thematic approach means a lot of flicking back and forth right throughout the book to refer to the illustrations. Many photographs are in colour but not all, some filling a whole page but others are on the small side. The language is mostly accessible but there is usage of architectural vocabulary at times which is not explained (there is no glossary). The bibliography is large but consists of specialist publications - it would have been nice to have a less specialist further reading list.

Other works suitable for an introductory level are Romanesque: Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, and The Romanesque: Cathedrales, Monasteries and Cities. Both are larger format works and thus tend to have larger photographs (and all colour too). The first mentioned as the name suggests also covers sculpture and painting in roughly equal measure to the architecture. The second of these appears to be sadly out of print (I can't obviously see a newer edition anywhere), though second-hand copies are available at the time of writing.
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