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The Baltic Regions
By the 12th century the Baltic countries were more integrated into European society although
Christianity continued to be rejected until the Christian Crusades of the late century. During this
time wooden castles were constructed throughout Lithuania, none of which have survived
today. From the middle of the century the capitals of Latvia and Estonia, Riga and Tallinn were
growing in their importance as centres for trade. By the end of the century Pope Celestine III
had called for an end to paganism in Europe which brought both the Crusaders and Christianity
to the Baltic regions. From this point on the art of the Baltic regions would conform to that of
mainstream Christian Europe.
The Czech Lands
The Romanesque style played the most significant role in Czech art and culture from the 12th
until the 13th century. A well preserved example of this can be found in the windows of the
Bishop’s Palace at Olomouc, most likely the work of stonemasons from Italy. Another example
can be found at the triptych of St. George’s cloister at Prague Castle. As in the rest of Europe
Czech Romanesque churches were decorated with frescoes. Those of St. Catherine’s rotunda
in Znojmo, are the oldest and most significant of these. Similarly, illuminated manuscripts
enjoyed great popularity in the Czech lands during this century. An exquisite example of this is
the Vyšehrad Codex. This illuminated manuscript Gospel book was created to honour the
coronation of the Czech King Vratislav.
France
12th century France was the source of the style that was to dominate artistic Europe for the next
200 years. ‘The French style’ known as the Gothic developed in Paris in the mid 12th century
and soon became the dominant style throughout Europe. The style prevailed in France itself
until 1500 and progressed through several different style developments: Early Gothic, High
Gothic or Rayonnant and the Late Gothic or Flamboyant style. The 12th century saw the
development of the Early Gothic from the Romanesque around 1140. The main characteristic of
this style was the adoption of the pointed arch. The first building which brought together all the
various elements of the Gothic can be seen at the choir of the Basilique Saint-Denis north of
Paris, built by the Abbot Suger constructed between 1140 and 1144. Most notable features of
this cathedral are the first use of large areas of glass combined with a thoughtful organisation of
space as well as the birth of Gothic sculptures on the walls of the abbey. The successes of
Saint Denis can be seen in its immediate influence in other Gothic buildings such as Sens
Cathedral, Notre-Dame of Laon, The West facade of Chartres Cathedral, Lyon Cathedral and
Toul Cathedral. The 12th century also saw the early construction of the Gothic’s most famous
structures, The Notre Dame de Paris which began in 1163.
Germany
th
12 century German art and architecture was dominated by the Romanesque style, and
towards the end of the century the French Gothic. The Brunswick Lion is an important example
of Romanesque sculpture and metalwork. It was the first bronze hollow-casting and the first
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