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    The first Romanesque architecture of Conflent, Pyrénées-Orientales, France (66). Tradition, system and style

    Rush, Simon John Nowell (2022) The first Romanesque architecture of Conflent, Pyrénées-Orientales, France (66). Tradition, system and style. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    The area of southern France and northern Spain which constituted medieval Catalonia includes numerous sites witnessing developments in Romanesque church architecture. The buildings of the 11th century inspired a local architectural historian, Josep Puig i Cadafalch, to propose a division of the period into two phases, the earlier primer art romànic (‘First Romanesque’) being distinguished from the mature variant of the style by the treatment of the fabric, the lack of sculpted ornament and the limited use of vaulting. Affinities with contemporary practice in northern Italy were recognised, the connection between the two regions being supported by the historical narrative, but questions relating to the introduction of the style into Catalonia remain the subject of debate. Whereas the recruitment of master-masons from Lombardy may be a reasonable assumption in the case of the more iconic monuments, it fails to explain the near-universal adoption of First Romanesque features in the numerous rural churches which must have been constructed by indigenous artisans. This thesis focuses on the reliance placed on traditional methods by local labour, and the extent to which architectural developments at the turn of the first millennium might be considered evolutionary rather than revolutionary. It also emphasises the constraints placed on the mason by the materials at his disposal, and suggests that areas where complex geological events have occurred are best suited to gauge the relative dominance of ‘system’ over ‘style’. The study area is thus largely confined to the medieval county of Conflent, which occupied the foothills of the Canigou massif to the west of Perpignan, and now forms an administrative sub-division of the French département of Pyrenées-Orientales (66). Within its borders are to be found the Pre-Romanesque abbey church of Saint-Michel de Cuxa and Saint-Martin du Canigou, one of the earliest examples of First Romanesque architecture in Catalonia, these providing suitable points of departure for a discussion of precedents and innovation. Equal importance will, however, be attached to the numerous parish and community churches which survive on the county’s three distinct geological landscapes, and best encapsulate the various problems encountered by the individuals responsible for raising fabric to satisfy the aesthetic demands of their patrons.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Additional Information: 2 Volumes: Volume 1: Text ; Volume 2: Illustrations
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 22 Nov 2022 15:24
    Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 15:54


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