Saint Sernin Vs. Chartres Cathedral

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Saint Sernin vs. Chartres Cathedral

Certain aspects of Christian architecture changed quickly and dramatically between the Early Christian and Gothic periods? but the basic basilica plan remained throughout. Christian worship? being congregational? requires a hall? and the Roman basilica - a civic lawcourt - became the early model for both large and small churches. The basilica? processional in form? had a long axis running from a centered doorway to the altar at the other end of the building. They were generally shaped like a cross? either in the form of a Greek cross (with arms of equal length) or a Latin cross (with one longer arm? the nave) (Swaan 45-49). 

Thesis statement

The Romanesque and Gothic styles herald one of the most important periods in art history? the Renaissance.

St. Sernin in Toulouse

St. Sernin in Toulouse was constructed in the Cluniac-Burgundian style of the Romanesque period. It was similar to past basilicas because it was a Latin cross? pilgrimage church complete with a crypt of relics. The double aisles of St. Sernin are as well connected to those of St. Peter's. But the massive stone barrel vault over the nave? with its ribs and transverse arches(Fletcher 34-49).

St. Sernin in Toulouse


The introduction of vaulting led to the general use of heavy walls and piers in place of the light walls and columns that had sufficed for wooden roofs(Icher 23-39).

Massiveness in stone structures is another main characteristic of Romanesque architecture. The nave in Romanesque churches was usually made higher and narrower than in earlier structures? such as St. Peter's? resulting from the northern influences of verticality. Doors and windows were more often than not capped by surrounding arches; somewhat pointed arches were also sometimes employed. These openings were generally small and decorated with moldings? carvings? and sculptures that became increasingly rich and varied as the Romanesque period advanced(Harvey 89-109).

St. Sernin had no clerestory or windows in the barrel vaultings? so it was slightly darker than other churches. But it did have a second story gallery for overflow crowds? with quadrant vaults? so light came in from there. Also at St. Sernin? as with other pilgrimage churches of the time? was the need for circulation through the church? particularly from the door in the east to the crypt near the apse in the west. This was accomplished with the far outer aisle? leading to the ambulatory? which encircled the apse. There were also many small side chapels which could be used individually during the services(Harvey 78-79).

So? even though St. Sernin held many of the traditional features of a Christian basilica? such as the long nave? the east end apse? and the transept forming a cross? its extensive use of huge vaults? and incorporation of the modular system defined the church's Romanesque style? and led to the revolutions of the Gothic period(Tatton-Brown 67-69). 

But on the other hand Chartres is a cathedral that inspires superlatives and there are few architectural historians who have not waxed lyrical about its soaring aisles and delicate ...
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