The Romanesque era of the eleventh and twelfth centuries was an era named for its art, unlike the many eras before it which were named for either its politics or its geography. It means “Romanlike” and was first first referred to as this in the early nineteenth century. It was the first era that had an architectural style based on an ancient culture. The rounded arches in which the barrel and groin vaults were based upon was a primary characterization of the architectural form and style of this era.
Though most of this architecture shared these commonalities, there were still many differences depending on the region. Some regions stuck to the old, wooden roofs while other regions kept up with the times where stone vaulted roofs were the norm.
It was also a time of prosperous growth for Europe due to the expanse of international trade. The growth of these enormous buildings reflected that time, and a major source of income and support for these buildings was from the pilgrims that came to visit them. It was a ebb and flow effect, as the the cathedrals got larger, more pilgrims traveled to see them. As more pilgrims traveled to see them, the buildings got larger- both due to the money coming in and also in order to support the mass amount of people coming to visit them. There was a great importance placed on the display of relics, and many Roman influences were in the art depicted- all adding to the lure of pilgrims and visitors.