Sweden Medieval Arts Part I

Northern European state, with its capital Stockholm, which includes the eastern area of ​​the Scandinavian peninsula and the islands of Gotland and Öland, in the Baltic Sea. In the Middle Ages the extreme southern provinces of the peninsula (Scania, Halland and Blekinge) belonged to Denmark and passed to the South. only in 1658.The name of Sweden derives from Svea rike or Svealand (‘land of the Svear’), a kingdom of the to the North of Lake Mälaren, whose political and religious center was Gamla Uppsala (near the od. Uppsala), where until the eighth decade of the century. 11th a pagan temple was still in use. During the same century another kingdom, called Götaland and located to the South of Lake Mälaren, was added to the South. and in the following centuries, with the progress of evangelization, the northern part of the country (Norrland) was colonized; Finland was also conquered, E of the Gulf of Bothnia. Since then the art of Finland was closely linked to that of Sweden, to which it belonged until 1809. In 829-830 the monk Anscario tried to introduce Christianity to the Viking city of Birka on the island of Björkö, located on the lake Mälaren, but he did not succeed and the new religion was widely accepted in the Sweden only two centuries later. During the century 11 ° other missionaries from England and Germany went to different regions of the Sweden and at the same time many Vikings of Swedish origin were baptized abroad. the birth of cities. The first Swedish dioceses were established in the cities of Eskilstuna, Linköping, Sigtuna, Skara and Växjö; subsequently the dioceses of Eskilstuna and Sigtuna were supplanted by those of Strängnäs, Gamla Uppsala and Västeraas. King Erik Jedvardsson (S. Erico, d. 1160) was buried in the Gamla Uppsala cathedral, but a translation of his remains had to take place before 1198: with him the Sweden acquired a national saint of the same rank as Sweden Olav in Norway and s. Canute in Denmark. In the first half of the century. 12 ° the bishops of Sweden were subordinate to the archbishop of Lund (Denmark), but in 1164 the Swedish Church was organized with its own archbishopric, which was first established in Gamla Uppsala, and then moved from 1273 to the od. Uppsala; During the same century a new diocese was founded in Turku, Finland.While the mainland was Christianized by England and Germany, the island of Gotland had numerous links with the Orthodox Church of Russia, a natural consequence of commercial contacts that the population entertained with the Russian city of Novgorod. In the century 13 ° it was however the Hanseatic League to have the commercial dominance of the Baltic Sea.

According to Plus-Size-Tips, numerous German merchants settled in Visby at this time and their church, St. Mary, became the town’s main building. Civilian buildings were generally constructed of wood in both towns and rural areas. As in Denmark and Norway, ecclesiastical architecture also began with wooden construction and the first churches were built as stavkirker, with the vertical ‘staves’ technique. In Sweden there is only one stavkirke, in the village of Hedared, but there are archaeological evidences of many other buildings of this kind. Starting from the century 13 ° most of the wooden churches were erected with another technique, in which an elaborate type of corner supports were used, while the external walls were covered with wood flakes: a typical example of this construction solution is represented by the church of Södra Raada (14th century). The use of masonry buildings was introduced in Sweden by foreign workers around 1100 and was supported by both kings and their rivals. German influences appear predominant, but in the western regions of the country they blend with English ones; through the Cistercians they penetrated into Sweden also elements of French origin. At first natural stone was used, but, after the middle of the century. 13 °, the main building material became brick, except for Gotland. The first stone churches of the Sweden were cathedrals, monastic churches and churches of merchants or towns. Most of the Romanesque cathedrals have been replaced by Gothic buildings: an exception is the mighty ruins of the church of St. Peter in Sigtuna and the ancient cathedral of Gamla Uppsala, built on the site of a pagan temple. As for the monastic churches, most of them belonged to Cistercian abbeys which were subsidiaries of Clairvaux; consequently they were designed with the same regular layout that characterized the Bernardine church of that abbey, as it is reflected in the church of Fontenay. Following the reform the churches of many Cistercian monasteries of Sweden (Alvastra, Gudhem and Rome, the latter in Gotland) fell into disrepair, but the church of Varnhem is preserved. Damaged by a fire in 1234, it was rebuilt in imitation of the third church of Clairvaux, that is to say with a semicircular choir with ambulatory; at the same time the nave was covered with ribbed Gothic vaults. The merchant churches of Sigtuna and Visby are also in a state of disrepair, with the only exception being St. Mary in Visby, consecrated in 1225 as a church of German merchants and later cathedral in 1572. The church has the forms of a late Romanesque limestone basilica with a mighty western tower and two smaller towers flanking the choir. According to the typology of the ‘hall’ church, the height of the central nave is equal to that of the side aisles; the space above its vaults was used by merchants as a warehouse and meeting room. Among the Romanesque churches of Visby in ruins, at least those of San Lorenzo and Santo Spirito should be remembered. The first presents the morphological characteristics of a Byzantine church with a Greek cross, while the Santo Spirito has an octagonal layout on two levels, with a square choir; if the derivation from the German Palatine chapels is clear enough, the presence of such a church in Visby still remains a mystery. From the cities and monasteries, stone architecture spread to rural centers: naturally the Romanesque churches of the countryside were built on a smaller scale than the cathedrals and other urban churches, but on the whole they constitute a much more consistent ensemble of Romanesque architecture.

Many of them are still in use and, although in most cases they have been rebuilt several times, unlike what happens in Romanesque cathedrals, they are quite well preserved. Many have a rectangular nave, a square choir and sometimes a semicircular apse. While any apses were covered by a quarter-sphere dome, the choir and the longitudinal body were covered by flat wooden ceilings. On both sides of the triumphal arch the nave was equipped with side altars, facing respectively the area occupied during the functions by women and towards that intended for men. The nave usually had two portals, one in the southern wall and the other in the northern one: originally, the first was used only by men, while the northern portal was reserved for women. The wooden doors of the portals were often richly decorated with ornaments, symbols and figures in wrought iron. In some cases, a stone bell tower was built above the choir or to the west of the nave, but often the bell was suspended from a wooden bell tower. Some rural churches enjoyed the patronage of members of the nobility and in these cases there was a private tribune in the western part of the nave. numerous fortified stone churches (försvarskyrkor) were built, some of which were circular in shape (rundkyrkor), such as the churches of Bromma and Solna, in the suburbs of Stockholm. Others, such as the church of Källa on the island of Öland, were instead in the form of rectangular fortresses.

Sweden Medieval Arts 1