Thanks to the combined effect of the changes that took place from Late Antiquity to the beginning of the Medieval period, this work opens up new perspectives on the unusual character of a period which proved to be crucial for the future history of European culture.
In the traditional way of approaching art history there is a long, dark interval between the architecture of the Roman Imperial period and the early Middle Ages. However, the old theory of a gradual decline of classical culture and timid signs of rebirth in the early Middle Ages now seems to have been abandoned. Instead, the key concepts of this historical period are: continuity, Christianization and innovation. The fulcrum of this development was the creation of buildings for the Christian cult, which was to prove to be one of the most fertile themes in the history of European architecture. But the monuments surviving from Antiquity, the impulses deriving from the Lombard settlements, Byzantine influences and the new European dimension of the Carolingian period also characterize this period. All these subjects are examined in the book by scholars of international standing. They describe the first flowering of ecclesiastical building in the largest cities of Late Antiquity; Rome, Milan and Ravenna and in the other cities and territories of northern and southern Italy. They also consider the permanence of the Ancient world’s urban and architectural heritage, from the point of view of both the continuity of use and their influence as a source of memory and inspiration. At the other end of the book, it focuses on the new towns built in the early Middle Ages. In the chapter about towns settled by the Lombards, the author also analyzes town-planning and residential architecture. The book also describes the completely new phenomenon of the monasteries, which altered the appearance not only of the physiognomy of the towns but also of the countryside. The final chapter considers the whole cultural area of Italy during the Carolingian period, during which the legacy of Christianized Antiquity changed for good, as a result of interaction with impulses from Europe north of the Alps and from Byzantium. Thanks to the combined effect of the changes that took place from Late Antiquity to the beginning of the Medieval period, this work opens up new perspectives on the unusual character of a period which proved to be crucial for the future history of European culture. Slipcase (two volumes).