According to the text book, Romanesque means “Romanlike”. The Romanesque era received its name from an artistic style rather than from politics or geography. It is used to describe European architecture of the 11th and 12th centuries. The structures labeled Romanesque feature barrel and groin vaults based on the round arch, which resembled ancient roman architecture. The word distinguished most Romanesque buildings from earlier medieval structures as well as the later Gothic churches that feature vault resting on pointed arches. Today, the term “Romanesque” is used more broadly to describe the history and culture of Western Europe from roughly 1050 to 1200.
During the Romanesque era many pilgrimages took place because of investments in ecclesiastical buildings and furnishings. The results of this pilgrimage traffic were the development of towns, increase in trade and the flourishing of monasteries. The trade and traffic of pilgrimages encouraged growth of towns and cities, gradually displacing feudalism as the governing political, social and economic system. The churches and monasteries were the center of towns and offered religious relics of saints to those looking for them. The buildings and art created during this time reflected the people’s relief and thanks that the end of the first Christian millennium in the year 1000 had not ended the world.
Although Romanesque architecture is usually defined by its stone vaults, it was much more varied in reality. Some churches had wooden roofs like past Christian buildings, yet most of the Romanesque buildings featured new methods of design and construction that were derived from ancient Rome. Construction and design included buttresses, the use of geometry in aesthetic design, groin vaults and baptisteries. The Romanesque style was unique in its approach to revamping Roman architecture.