Architecture and Society in Normandy, 1120-1270


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Lindy Grant

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This wide-ranging book explores the architecture—principally ecclesiastical—of Normandy from 1120 to 1270, a period of profound social, cultural, and political change. In 1204, control of the duchy of Normandy passed from the hands of the Anglo-Norman/Angevin descendants of William the Conqueror to the Capetian kingdom of France. The book examines the enormous cultural impact of this political change and places the architecture of the time in the context of the Normans’ complicated sense of their own identity. It is the first book to consider the inception and development of gothic architecture in Normandy and the first to establish a reliable chronology of buildings.
Lindy Grant extends her investigation beyond the buildings themselves and also offers an account of those who commissioned, built, and used them. The humanized story she tells provides sharp insights not only into Normandy’s medieval architecture, but also into the fascinating society from which it emerged.

Lindy Grant is medieval curator at the Conway Library, the Courtauld Institute, University of London.

“The result of admirable tenacity, dedication and energy, the book has been twenty-five years in the making… Not only has the author succeeded triumphantly in her primary aim of establishing the basic narrative of Norman Gothic architecture, she is alert to every nuance and detail of that narrative. … We are also generously provided with…a proper historical apparatus of contexts and patronage – a whole methodological world predicated on the premise that architecture is never unintentional and that people matter… One hopes that it will act as a touchstone and model for the future development of the medieval regional architectural history.” - John McNeil, Transactions of the Ancient Monuments Society

“Grant is determined to give us more than the traditional fare… This book will be of long-term value to medieval scholars, but anyone planning a trip to Normandy would do well to have a copy of it on the back seat of the car; among other things, it is an excellent vade mecum for the architectural tourist. A further pleasure is the illustrations. … These crystal-clear images, often revealing details which are now lost, evoke a world closer to that of the medieval architects than to the one in which we live today.” - Alan Borg, The Burlington Magazine

“Grant has assembled a remarkable wealth of material, proposed a number of important re-datings of important monuments, and set out a web of connections and interrelations that are deeply interesting—all set into a richly textured account in which patrons played an active role.”—Caroline Bruzelius, author of The Stones of Naples: Church Building in the Angevin Kingdom

“This distinguished book provides a new way of understanding an important period. Nothing remotely similar in range or quality can be found on the subject in English or any other language.”—Peter Fergusson, Wellesley College

"This is a major contribution to the history of medieval architecture and essential for every architectural library. Essential."—Choice


"[A] new, indeed unprecedented, overview of the major and lesser monuments of Gothic greater church building in Normandy in the first century and a half of the new style. The book . . . carries off its project of providing the first sustained English-language commentary on this aspect of French Gothic architecture with remarkable panache. . . . Spirited and stylish."—Paul Binski, Ecclesiastical History

"The virtues of this book, its careful tracing of secondary opinion and its gentle stalking of the problem in hand, will make it useful. . . . Grant's dissection of building forms and her tireless geological researches constitute a huge resource for anyone who works in Normandy. . . . The book is attractively produced, with copious photographs that support the text at every juncture."—Dorothy Gillerman, Speculum

"[Grant's] book will be the starting point for all future studies of later-twelfth- and thirteenth-century architecture in Normandy, and serves as a model for regional studies of medieval architecture."—Malcolm Thurlby, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians

"Grant's detailed and stimulating survey is an important and innovative book. In addition to its value for architectural history, it adds a new dimension to the study of medieval Norman society."—Marjorie Chibnall, English Historical Review
ISBN: 9780300106862
Publication Date: June 10, 2005
284 pages, 8 1/2 x 11
220 b/w illus.