Great Churches of Medieval Europe

Ref: C3742891

Concentrating on mainland Europe, we will focus on examples that illustrate key stages of architectural development between the 4th and 15th centuries. We will begin at Old St Peter’s in Rome, an Early Christian building, and will then chart the emergence of the Romanesque style from the 11th century, at sites from Normandy to Santiago de Compostela. Early Gothic style then fanned out from northern France from the 12th century with the abbey church of St-Denis influencing cathedral building in Laon and Paris. High Gothic cathedrals took on the technical challenge of awe-inspiring internal height, as we will see at Chartres, Reims and Amiens. French Gothic style then influenced 13th century cathedral building in Spain at Toledo and Burgos, and in the German lands at Cologne and Strasbourg, while in Italy the new cathedrals in Florence and Milan saw rethinking of the Gothic form to meet local priorities.

Course aim

To enable course members to investigate the architecture of the great cathedrals and abbey churches of mainland Europe.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • appreciate of the development of the architecture of these great buildings over the historical period
  • understand how their architectural styles spread across Europe
  • relate these great churches to the political and social history of Europe

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • Presentations with images and colour notes provided for each session

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • Useful background reading, but not essential for the appreciation of the course. Christoph Frommel, The Architecture of the Italian Renaissance, Thames and Hudson John Summerson, Architecture in Britain 1530 to 1830, Yale

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Arranging visits to study buildings covered by this course

Download full course information sheet

Great Churches of Medieval Europe


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  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
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  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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