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Art in Europe from 4th to 10th Century

Code: 100562 ECTS Credits: 6
Degree Type Year Semester
2500239 Art History OB 2 2
The proposed teaching and assessment methodology that appear in the guide may be subject to changes as a result of the restrictions to face-to-face class attendance imposed by the health authorities.


Anna Orriols Alsina

Use of Languages

Principal working language:
catalan (cat)
Some groups entirely in English:
Some groups entirely in Catalan:
Some groups entirely in Spanish:


- General notion of the historical-artistic period in the context of the history of Western art.

- Sufficient knowledge of English and French (and, if possible, also Italian) that allow the proper use bibliography and/or electronic resources in these languages.

- The intellectual attitude and level of general culture of a person who, having voluntarily and consciously enrolled in a university degree, is of course interested in studying and gaining new knowledge.

- It is absolutely essential that both oral and written expression are correct in content and form, as must be required of anyone who has completed high school and aspires to a university degree, regardless of the language used.

Objectives and Contextualisation

1- To provide a general vision of this artistic period that runs between the end of antiquity and the beginnings of Romanesque, parallel to the specific knowledge of its various manifestations within a complex and changing territory. This should allow to assimilate the profile and specificities of the art of this period in order to be able to identify and evaluate the works then produced.

2 - To understand the fundamental relationships between art and the historical, religious, social, economic, political and cultural context, as well as the various functions and readings of the work of art.

3- To know and learn how to conveniently handle the relevant bibliography and certain electronic resources, insofar as they allow the knowledge provided in the classroom to be expanded and information to be sought when necessary.

4- To acquire and progressively master a specific lexic that allows the correct interpretation and description of a work, a typology or an iconographic theme.

5 - To dismantle false myths and erroneous interpretations about this period and its artistic manifestations, largely derived from the weight of a certain historiographic tradition and the lack of knowledge of the scientific bibliography that allows its objective and updated understanding.


  • Critically analysing from the acquired knowledge a work of art in its many facets: formal values, iconographic significance, artistic techniques and procedures, elaboration process and reception mechanisms.
  • Developing critical thinking and reasoning and communicating them effectively both in your own and other languages.
  • Interpreting a work of art in the context in which it was developed and relating it with other forms of cultural expression.
  • Recognising the evolution of the artistic imagery from the antiquity to the contemporary visual culture.
  • Students must be capable of applying their knowledge to their work or vocation in a professional way and they should have building arguments and problem resolution skills within their area of study.
  • Students must develop the necessary learning skills in order to undertake further training with a high degree of autonomy.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Accurately defining and explaining an artistic object with the specific language of art criticism.
  2. Analysing ideas about an artistic phenomenon in a given cultural context.
  3. Analysing the creators of an artistic phenomenon in a specific cultural context.
  4. Analysing the recipients of an artistic phenomenon in a specific cultural context.
  5. Applying the iconographic knowledge to the reading of artistic imagery.
  6. Connecting an artistic imagery with other cultural phenomena within its period.
  7. Distinguishing the elaboration techniques and processes of an artistic object.
  8. Efficiently presenting knowledge in oral and written form.
  9. Encouraging creativity and fomenting innovative ideas.
  10. Examining an artistic imagery and distinguishing its formal, iconographic and symbolic values.
  11. Explaining the reception mechanisms of a work of art.
  12. Identifying the artistic imagery, placing it into its cultural context.
  13. Identifying the main and secondary ideas and expressing them with linguistic correctness.
  14. Reconstructing the artistic outlook of a particular cultural context.
  15. Working in teams, respecting the other's points of view and designing collaboration strategies.


This is one of the four core subjects that make up the topic General History of Medieval Art, from 24 ECTS: one in the second year (Art in Europe from the 4th to the 10th centuries) and three in the third year (Byzantine Art, Romanesque Art and Gothic Art). It is therefore also an introduction to Medieval Art.

Much less well known than Byzantine, Romanesque or Gothic art, and often misinterpreted and underestimated, the art that developed in European territories during this period is largely the result of a Christian interpretation of the classical legacy or, if one prefers, of the transformation of the pagan world in late Antiquity. During the convulse seven centuries that are taken into consideration, a diverse art was created - albeit with common formulas - that established the foundations -both typological and iconographic- of the later European artistic culture.


1.- Ancient art or medieval art? Interpretatio christiana: survival and transformation of the Roman heritage. Holy places and relics as driving forces for artistic creation.

2.- Early Christian foundations. Early Christian art, a Roman art. The constantinian impulse. Architectural typologies and iconographic programs.

3.- Romans and barbarians. Disintegration of the Western Roman Empire. Italy: Ostrogoths and Byzantines in Ravenna.

4.- Carolingian Renaissance. Church, empire and renovatio. The Palatine complex of Aachen and the court of Charlemagne. The Benedictine monastery: plan of St. Gallen. Worship spaces: the Early Christian model and the novelties. The Westwerk. Iluminated manuscripts.

5. Christian territories of the Iberian Peninsula. 9th century: Asturian art, a royal patronage art. 10th century: Monastic scriptoria. Illuminating the Apocalypse: the Beatus.

6. Art of the Ottonian empire: artistic forms of a political ideology. Emperors and ecclesiastical princes as artistic patrons: Bernward of Hildesheim. 


- During classroom-based instruction, the programme will be developed in master class sessions, always with the accompaniment of images and occasionally the reading of texts or the use of some electronic resource. Readings will be assigned and others will be recommended.

- Interventions by students will be welcome, in the form of questions, comments or contribution of complementary information that can generate a debate or lead to other aspects of interest.

- The Virtual Campus /Aules Moodle will be used to provide lists of bibliography, links and other material deemed appropriate, as well as to warn of incidents that may affect the course.  

- There will be a regular control of attendance to class. Attendance is necessary to obtain one's own class notes, for a correct understanding of the subjects and for participation in the activities that may be carried out. In no case does the existence of the Virtual Campus / Aules Moodle, or the notes floating around on the Internet, save face-to-face instruction nor are they any guarantee that the course will be passed. It is, therefore, the absolute and exclusive responsibility of the student for the lack of knowledge arising from not following the course in person.

- All information regarding readings, tasks, calendar and programmed activities will be provided in the classroom and/or through the Virtual Campus / Aules Moodle. E-mail will only be used when agreed upon by both parties.

- Tutorials are reserved for specific and particular doubts, leaving those of collective interest for interventions in the classroom.


Title Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Type: Directed      
Development of the programme ( classroom-based master classes) 54 2.16 3, 4, 12, 5, 1, 7, 10, 11, 14, 6
Seminar 6 0.24 12, 1, 10, 6
Type: Supervised      
Written coursework 30 1.2 3, 4, 12, 1, 10, 13, 14, 6, 15
Type: Autonomous      
Reading of texts indicated by the teacher 15 0.6 1, 10, 14
Study (consolidation and expansion of content explained in class through bibliography and other resources) 45 1.8 3, 4, 12, 5, 1, 10, 11, 13, 14, 6


In order to pass the subject a grade of not less than 5 out of 10 must be obtained.

The rating of Not Evaluable will be obtained as long as no more than 30% of the evaluation activities have been carried out.

When the results of each evaluation activity are made public, students will be informed of the procedure and date for reviewing grades.


The following evaluable tests will be carried out:


A) Two mid-term exams

One in the middle of the term and another at the end. Dates will be set on the first day of the course.

They will be of the same type and will consist of a written test with two parts of variable length:

a) 3 to 5 short questions consisting of the identification of images including the essential information (work, artistic period, chronology, agents involved - patron, artist if known) accompanied by a brief and precise indication of the most relevant aspects.

b) Explanation of a work or a theme based upon one or more images shown. Answer must include the essential information (as with brief questions) developed in this case in a reasoned manner, specifying the context in which the work arises and carrying out its reading from all possible angles (historical-artistic, iconographic...).


B) Coursework

A written exercise that complements the subject will be proposed. It will be of limited extension in its final form but of dilated execution throughout the course, which will suppose the search of bibliography and images and the correct management of the information.

The structure and methodology of the coursework will be explained in detail in a practical session in the classroom and will be published via Virtual Campus / Aules Moodle, where the delivery date will also be provided and, eventually, that of a script prior to its final writing.

The work will be delivered bothin pdf format through the virtual campus and in printed format on the date that will be specified in due course (and that will be before the Christmas holidays).

Courseworks carried out spontaneously outside the established criteria or those delivered after the deadline will not be accepted.

Courseworks totally or partially plagiarized and those being no more than the result of  automatic translations will be graded with a 0 (1)


In the event that tests or exams cannot be taken onsite, they will be adapted to an online format made available through the UAB’s virtual tools (original weighting will be maintained). Homework, activities and class participation will be carried out through forums, wikis and/or discussion on Teams, etc. Lecturers will ensure that students are able to access these virtual tools, or will offer them feasible alternatives.


Second-chance examination

An exam may be repeated only in the following cases.

- if it could not be done at the time (proof must be provided)

- if the final result obtained is a failing score of not less than 3,5.

* If both mid-term tests were failed, one should take the second-chance exam corresponding to that which obtained a lower grade .

* The date for the second-chance exam is fixed by the Faculty. No change or exception will be made at a particular level. If there were any change of date it would affect the whole group and would be communicated in due time.

* The second-chance exam will have the same structure as the partial exams. The length may vary slightly.

* Courseworks can not be repeated.


(1) In the event of a student committing any irregularity that may lead to a significant variation in the grade awarded to an assessment activity, the student will be given a zero for this activity, regardless of anydisciplinary process that may take place. In the event of several irregularities in assessment activities of the same subject, the student will be given a zero as the final grade for this subject.

Those acts of evaluation where there have been irregularities will not be recoverable.

Assessment Activities

Title Weighting Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Mid-term exam 1 40% of the final mark 0 0 3, 4, 12, 5, 1, 7, 10, 11, 13, 6, 8
Mid-term exam 2 40% of the final mark 0 0 3, 4, 12, 5, 1, 7, 10, 11, 13, 6, 8
Written coursework 20% of the final mark 0 0 3, 4, 2, 9, 13, 14, 6, 8, 15



Bibliographic selection (general and introductory works)

* Once the course has started, the complete bibliography of the subject will be provided.



Enciclopedia dell’Arte Medievale, 12 vols., Roma 1991-2002.

The Grove Encyclopedia of Medieval Art and Architecture, C. Hourihane (ed.), 6 vols., Oxford University Press, Oxford 2012 (accessible també on-line via subscripció)

Caillet, Jean-Pierre (dir), L’Art du Moyen Age. Occident. Byzance. Islam, Reunion des musées nationaux / Gallimard, París 1995.

Garcia Marsilla, Juan Vicente, Història de l’Art Medieval, Publicacions de la Universitat de València, 2004.

Bango, Isidro G. / Abad, Concepción, Arte Medieval I, Historia 16 (col. Conocer el Arte, 4), Madrid 1996.

Nees, Lawrence, Early Medieval Art, Oxford History of Art, OxfordUniversity Press 2001.

Mathews, Thomas F., The Clash of Gods. A Reinterpretation of Early Christian Art, PrincetonUniversity Press, 1993. Ed. corregida i augmentada, 1999.

Krautheimer, Richard, Arquitectura paleocristiana y bizantina, Cátedra ("Manuales Arte"), Madrid 1984 [ed. or. anglesa a 'The Pelican History of Art' 1965].

Lowden, John, Early christian and Byzantine Art, Phaidon (Art & Ideas), Londres 1997.

Krautheimer, Richard, Introduction à une «iconographie de l’architecture médiévale», Gérard Monfort,París 1993 [publicat originalment com a article al Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, V (1942), p. 1-33].

Belting, Hans, Imagen y culto. Una historia de la imagen anterior a la era del arte, Akal, Madrid 2009 [ed. original alemanya, 1990].

Yarza Luaces, Joaquín et altri, Arte Medieval I. Alta Edad Media y Bizancio ("Fuentes y Documentos para la Historia del Arte" II), Gustavo Gili, Barcelona 1982.

Barral i Altet, Xavier, La alta Edad Media. De la antigüedad tardía al año mil, Taschen (col. Arquitectura mundial), Colònia 1998.

McClendon, Charles B., The Origins of Medieval Architecture. Building in Europe 600-900 AD, YaleUniversity Press, New Haven – Londres 2005.

Stalley, Roger, Early Medieval Architecture, Oxford History of Art, Oxford 1999.

De Blaauw, Sible, Storia dell'Architettura Italiana. Da Costantino a Carlo Magno, 2 vols., Electa, Milà 2010.

Bango Torviso, Isidro G., El prerrománico en Europa. De Carlomagno a los otones, Historia 16 ("Historia del Arte" 17), Madrid 1989.

Caillet, Jean-Pierre, L’art carolingien, Flammarion (col. Tout l’art), París 2005.

Riché, Pierre (dir.), Caillet, Jean-Pierre; Gaborit-Chopin, Danielle; Palazzo, Éric, L’Europe de l’an mil, Zodiaque, La Pierre-qui-Vire 2001.

Bango Torviso, I.G., Arte prerrománico hispano. El arte de la España cristiana de los siglos VI al XI, Espasa Calpe(Summa Artis, vol. VIII-II), Madrid 2001.


Electronic Resources

It is recommended to use those of the main museums (Metropolitan, British Museum, Louvre).

Specific electronic resources resources will be provided throughout the course.