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Identify and Explore Any Three Ways in Which the Church Effected the Development of Arts During the 11-16th Centuries. Which Do You Think Was the Most Significant?give Reasons for Your Answer

Essay by review  •  February 25, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  2,383 Words (10 Pages)  •  1,382 Views

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My focus for this essay will be on the general effects of the churches patronage and education system and its subsequent influence on the development of architecture. I will then discuss the way in which the church nurtured the development of musical tradition, considering also the impact of the reformation on the development of music. This essay will contextualise these developments in a very relevant and turbulent history, as to isolate strictly church influence without considering the ramifications of a synergistic relationship between monarchical changes and their agendas is unrealistic. Due to the broad period covered in this essay title and the possibility of Ð''Church' being a worldwide phenomenon, my concentration will be on the churches effect on the development of the arts in England.

Critical to the development of the arts at this time was the strength of religious belief. Religion determined the structure and representation of almost everything including society. People believed their existence was God-ordained, and that their survival depended upon honouring him. The prevalence of this way of thinking was a governing factor in the development of the arts and what they portrayed. Life on earth was mirrored in the structure of the universe; God was at the top in heaven, below him his angels, then the seven planets circling the earth. Jerusalem was at the centre of a flat earth, with England on its fringes. Peoples thoughts, aided by visual image and teachings moved freely from heaven to Earth. This gave the church a great deal of power and control also making their financial patronage and ideological support essential to the development of the arts.

The churches wealth came from both from the crown and the people. The church taxed its parishioners, in the form of the tithe,. This was a payment of a 10th of the produce from each parishioners land. This money was at the disposal of the Bishops and monarch. Largely they invested in buildings and the arts, both as devotional acts and as statements of their own monarchical supremacy as god ordained rulers. By 1272 with a network of Diocese, 3 in the North and 18 in the south and 9500 parishes, the Church was a rich and powerful institution perfectly positioned to promote, restrain and guide education, artistic development and the arts.

At the time the practice of religion within the church was a closed affair behind locked doors. Then the 13th Century saw the development of two new religious orders, St Francis of Assisi and St Dominic. These orders were actively involved in their communities, not confined to monasteries. They preached and heard confessions, educating the people. "They produced men of great learning who added to the lustre of the new universities at Oxford and Cambridge" (Strong, 1996: p.80)

This had a knock on effect on the churches development of the arts, especially in terms of architecture and education. "This was a golden age for monasticism" (Strong, p.60) between 1066 and 1154 the number of religious houses grew from 48 to 300, mostly Cistercian. They built many Abbeys and churches, e.g. The Cellarium of Fountains in Yorkshire, built in 1132. These monasteries were centres for learning, and were instrumental in the development of universities and the academic tradition that survives today.

Following the events of 1066 the churches power grew significantly. William I appointed a new archbishop of Canterbury Ð'- Lefranc, to replace the Anglo-Saxon Stigand. They reorganised the church and a new wave of cathedral building started, monumental in scale and a testament to their power. Norman architecture, Durham cathedral (1093) being one example was a pivotal point in the churches influence in the development of architecture and paved the way for subsequent styles. Although it retains many of its original Norman features it has undergone many alterations. It is a testimony to progression, changing ideals and monarchical change, complete with the accompanying political uncertainties the country faced.

By the time Henry III came to reign in 1216, Britain was ready for stable leadership. The previous 25 years had destabilised the country. A new style symbolic of prosperity was imported from France Ð'- Gothic. Gothic architecture spans 300 years and is often split into 3 different periods, Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular. Churches and cathedrals were rebuilt and the style demonstrated society's newfound confidence in itself and its Christian faith. The bigger the building, the more praise they believed they were giving to God, but it also demonstrated the power of the Monarchy. Henry III vision of absolute power was demonstrated in the rebuilding of Westminster Abbey Ð'- changing its style from Anglo Saxon to Gothic French.

Through the transition from Norman to Gothic, as building knowledge developed, so did the characteristic features, mainly pointed arches replaced the rounded Gothic ones. Gothic architecture originated at the abbey of Saint-Denis in Saint Denis near Paris. Its design was conceived by Abbot Suger. He wanted "to create a physical representation of the Heavenly Bethlehem, a building of a high degree of linearity that was suffused with light and colour" (Wikipedia) In Gothic architecture as the stone was purposefully cut, the blocks fitted together better. Another significant progression from Norman to Gothic was the fact the hollow walls were left solid which allowed the pillars and walls to support the heavier and more intricately detailed arches and roofs. They used buttresses and flying buttresses to spread the weight. Churches and cathedrals of the Gothic period were much larger than their Norman counterparts. The new strength provided by masonry knowledge also allowed for the addition of large stained glass windows. Gothic cathedrals were about representing the power of the monarchy and the church.

The Gothic cathedral supposes to be a microcosm representing the world, and each architectural concept; mainly the loftiness and huge dimensions of the structure were intended to pass a theological message: the great glory of God versus the smallness and insignificance of the mortal being. (Gothic Church Architecture)

The churches influence on the development of architecture is clear; they were intended to be landmark creations, visible for miles around. Their spires were built to reach for the heavens, and their highly decorated insides complete with gargoyles to ward of evil and tell stories to a largely illiterate population. They served to bring people together for prayer, festival and music.

Inside these monumental, guardian like buildings, the church fostered the development of music. Medieval music owes its existence

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