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The term pre-Romanesque or pre-Romanesque in art history includes the epochs of the early Middle Ages in Europe , from around the 5th to the 11th century. It marks the time or the transition from late antiquity to Romanesque . The term is mainly used for architecture.

Saint-Pierre church in Vienne (Isère) , built at the end of the 5th century as an episcopal burial church


Traditionally, periods of time were viewed as stylistic epochs in art history . The artistic creation of antiquity in the Greek area as well as in the Roman Empire was subsumed under the term antiquity very early (around the Renaissance ) . The art of the High and Late Middle Ages has been classified under Romanesque and Gothic over the past three centuries . Roman antiquity can be reconciled spatially and temporally with the Roman Empire , the Romanesque with the medieval empires of Europe. While the art of antiquity and Romanesque art was relatively easy to grasp on the basis of common stylistic features and temporal and regional connections due to a sufficient number of objects, the period in between remained relatively poorly documented. It includes the achievements of the Christian successor empires , in particular the stable Byzantine Empire , but also those of the Lombards ( Lombard style ), Goths and Vandals . Following this, the Frankish Empire emerged in Western Europe . For its cultural achievements, the style names Merovingian and Carolingian are often used analogously to the ruling dynasties and then Ottonian in the German area . Due to the small number of preserved buildings, these periods of time are grouped under the umbrella term Pre-Romanesque.

Pre-Romanesque buildings take up ancient models, transform them and prepare the forms of the Romanesque. New forms are being developed, especially in church construction, which belong to the standard repertoire in the Romanesque and Gothic styles, including z. B. cloister , 'real' and 'separated' crossing , westwork , church towers .

Important pre-Romanesque monuments

Byzantine architecture

Visigoth architecture

Ostrogothic and Lombard architecture

In Italy, Lombardy (named after the Lombards who followed the Ostrogoths there in 568 ) developed a radiance that also had an impact on northern Spain and selectively across the Alps to the north. Initially influenced by the Byzantine rule under the Ostrogoth king Theodoric (Ravenna), later Lombard developments developed. One of the achievements of the Lombard pre-Romanesque era was the revival of the brick building .

such as:

  • Santa Maria in Valle / Cividale del Friuli (also called Tempietto Longobardo)
  • Baptistery in Albenga , Liguria (late 5th / early 6th century)
  • Capitals and fragments in Sant'Eusebio and Santa Maria delle Cacce in Pavia

Merovingian architecture

Only relatively few buildings from the Franconian Empire of the Merovingians have survived, including:

However, numerous dioceses and their cathedrals have their origins in the Merovingian period. The early significant monastery foundations of this era are no longer preserved as buildings, but they play a prominent role in cultural history, starting with the Saint-Martin de Ligugé Abbey, founded by Martin von Tours in the late Roman period in 361, and the Marmoutier monastery (Tours ) . This was followed around 400/410 by the Abbey of Lérins des Honoratus of Arles , in 416 the Abbey of St-Victor (Marseille) of Johannes Cassianus and around 420 the Abbey of Saint-Claude des Romanus of Condat . Benedict of Nursia founded the Montecassino Abbey in 529 , which was followed by numerous Benedictine monasteries in Italy. Around the year 600 the Irishman Columban von Luxeuil founded the Annegray monastery and its daughter monasteries Luxeuil and Fontaine-lès-Luxeuil, and his companion Gallus founded the Saint Gallen monastery in 612 . At the transition to the Carolingian era, the German monastery was founded by Boniface , including 744 Fulda .

Carolingian architecture

Carolingian gate hall and Basilica of Lorsch Monastery

Ottonian architecture

The beginning of the Ottonian Renaissance heralded the transition to Romanesque in Eastern Franconia . The most important structures are:

Asturian pre-Romanesque

These are buildings of the Kingdom of Asturias , a Christian successor state of the Visigoth Empire in the northern part of Spain (718 to 910):

Old Croatian pre-Romanesque

Pre-Romanesque buildings can also be found in parts of Croatia .

Irish pre-Romanesque

The pre-Romanesque style of Ireland was much more modest , in which mostly one-room churches ( Killelton Oratory , church at St. John's Point ) made of dry stone structure determine the picture.

See also

Web links

Commons : Pre-Romanesque Architecture  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  • Xavier Barral I Altet: Early Middle Ages. Cologne 2002.
  • Hans Erich Kubach : Romanesque. Stuttgart 1986.
  • Annett Laube-Rosenpflanzer and Lutz Rosenpflanzer: Churches, monasteries, royal courts: pre-Romanesque architecture between the Weser and Elbe. Mitteldeutscher Verlag, Halle 2007, ISBN 3-89812-499-1