Open main menu

Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/432

This page needs to be proofread.
Part II.




Basilicas at Rome—St. Peter's—St. Paul's—Basilicas at Ravenna—Torcello.



Honorius a. d. 395

Valentinian 425-435

Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths 493-525

Justinian 527


Alboin Longimanus, King of Lombardy a. d. 568

Gregory I. 590

Charlemagne 768


LIKE the study of all modern history, that of Christian architecture commences with Rome; and not, as is sometimes supposed, where the history of Rome leaves off, but far back in the Empire, if not, indeed, almost in the Republic.

As has already been pointed out, the whole history of the art in Imperial Rome is that of a style in course of transition, beginning with a purely Pagan or Grecian style in the age of Augustus, and passing into one almost wholly Christian in the age of Constantine. At the first epoch of the Empire the temple architecture of Rome consisted in an external arrangement of columns, without arches or vaults, and was wholly unsuited to the purposes of Christian worship. Towards the end of the period it had become an internal architecture, making use of arches and vaults almost entirely to the exclusion of the columnar orders, except as ornaments, and became so perfectly adapted to Christian requirements, that little or no essential change in it has taken place from that time to the present day. A basilica of the form adopted in the first century after Constantine is as suited now as it was then to the forms and ceremonies of the Christian ritual.

The fact seems to be, that during the first three centuries after the Christian era an immense change was silently but certainly working its way in men's minds. The old religion was effete: the best men, the most intellectual spirits of the age, had no faith in it; and the new religion with all its important consequences was