Architectural Influence Essay, Research Paper
The Elizabethan Age was an innovative and unique period in history. In this
period architecture was more than a profession, it was an art, and an influence on the
people. Architects in this period made historical differences, the styles of architecture
transitioned greatness, and the homes created an individual standing. Elizabethan
architecture was an influential “trend” in which the “competition” for social division
began, and architects attempted to replicate Italian Renaissance architecture.
Architects of the Elizabethan Era were somewhat of a new thing. Sculptors
introduced Renaissance forms early in the fifteenth century. Three Florentines, who
were originally trained as goldsmiths, made crucial innovations to the Renaissance art
(Beck 3). The eldest of the three Florentines eventually became an architect. Filippo
Brunelleschi, the eldest, developed linear perspective, which is an important prospect of
architecture today. Filippo designed the spacious octagonal dome of Florence
Cathedral. This building was considered one of the most impressive engineering and
artistic feats since Roman times (Beck 3). Because of this attainment, Filippo was
considered the first true Renaissance builder.
Even though Filippo was one of the greatest architects of his time, his style was
similar to that of the traditional churches. Elizabethan architecture didn’t come from the
churches, in fact most of the main ideas came from the architects themselves (Locher,
Pruitt, and Silver 2). Inigo Jones was perhaps the biggest reason architecture is what it
is today. Jones was responsible for bringing Renaissance architecture to England.
Inigo’s first piece of architecture was a royal one. He was asked to design Queen
Anne’s house in Greenwich. The Queen’s house was built with a similar design to that
of the Banqueting House of Whitehall in London which was later to be built by Jones.
“[the banqueting house] represented the assimilation of the Renaissance in England”
(Locher, Pruitt, Sliver 2). “Because of Jones’s unique and innovative styles, architects
everywhere used his ideas for centuries afterward;” They combined his work with their
own to better their work (2).
Another great architect of this time was Robert Smythson, the designer of
Hardwick Hall. Robert “was one of the largest advocates of the use of symmetry and
ornateness (2). He wanted buildings to be beautiful even though he would say that they
are practical. Smythson’s buildings had high basements for an attempt of lighting in the
kitchen or storage areas. His most ingenious tactic was the use of stairways. The
stairways made all parts of the mansions easily accessible. “Architecture that was
practical was a new idea in the 1500’s” (2).
The architects responsible for the Flamboyant style being built in France were
mainly Amboise (1483-1501) and Blois (1498-1515). “The crowning features of their
exteriors are magnified versions of dormer windows” (Hinkle 7).
The last flowering of Flamboyant architecture occurred between the end of
the fifteenth century and the 1530’s in the work of Martin Chambiges (died
1532) and his son Pierre (died 1544), who were responsible for a series of
grand cathedrals facades, including the west front of Troyes Cathedral and
the transept facades of Senlis and Beavvais Cathedral. (7).
Architects made things possible, but with possibility comes reason. What makes
things possible? The reason for Renaissance architecture is simply the need to have
historical and modern expressions. “The two principal components of Renaissance style
are the following: A revival of the classical forms originally developed by the ancient
Greeks and Romans, and a renewed vitality and spirit emphasizing the diverse qualities
of humanity” (Beck 1). “Architecture was the dominant expression of the Gothic Age”
(Hinkle 1). Gothic architecture consisted of secular buildings, stained glass, and other
decorative arts through the centuries. In France Gothic architecture is known as
Flamboyant because of it’s flame like forms of tracery. The Flamboyant style originated
in the 1380’s, and ended between the end of the 15th century and the 1530’s. The
English builders devised their own late Gothic architecture, the perpendicular style. This
style spurned the Flamboyant style altogether. The masterpiece of this style was that of
a king’s, in which the fan-shaped spreading panels are in complete accord with the
rectangular walls and windows (Hinkle 7). By the 17th century the growth of the late
Gothic forms were replaced by the Renaissance.
Religion was a pretty big part of what style evolved. Baroque evolved in Rome in
1620 as an expression of the Catholic revival. Also during this time Baroque spread to
other parts of Italy and even across the Alps. The word “Baroque” originally meant
irregular or misshapen (Norwich 172). Baroque was “applied by art historians inn the
19th century to describe a type of architecture current in Europe during the 17th and
18th centuries which they condemned as being contrary to classical principals” (172).
Baroque was a very strong influence of architecture, but in some places it never took
root because religions were so strong. These religions were mostly Christian.
Italian Renaissance spread across the Alps in the last years of the 1500’s.
Plateresque was bought into England under the rule of Henry VIII. In the middle of the
sixteenth century a new style emerged, it was much more classical than any other style
before it (Norwich 157). The second half of the sixteenth century was dominated by
Italian Mannerism. In the seventeenth century this manner was gradually replaced by
new styles. This shows that there are other influences of architecture, such as the
peoples’ desires to keep up on the modern style.
Elizabethan style art was a transitional period between the Gothic and
Renaissance styles (”Elizabethan” 1). This type of architecture was the new style and
like most new styles it made an impact. Elizabethan architecture ranged from the late
1500’s throughout the 1600’s. It also reached it’s pinnacle in the late 1500’s. The
Renaissance started in Italy in the 1400’s but didn’t affect England until a later period.
“The first significant architectural factor from this period was that the traditional building
of churches stopped and the building of houses began” (Locher, Pruitt, and Silver 1).
Within the short Elizabethan period, a “competition” emerged to divide the social
classes. Houses in the Elizabethan period served as social and personal status
symbols. “There were several types of homes in this period: royal works, great homes,
smaller country homes, and farmhouses” (Kamhi 1). Externally, Elizabethan houses had
many different features. “The mixture of unusually tall buildings and towers made for an
effective skyline” (Locher, Pruitt, and Silver 1). Also “as the royalty of the Elizabethan
period grew so did their homes, not only in size and magnitude, but also in greatness
and volume” (Kamhi 1).
The royal works belonged to the kings and queens, this meant that these houses
were usually extraordinary. The houses spread over miles of land, farther than the
human eye could see. They were stone foundations with several levels and a countless
number of bedrooms. They contained halls, chapels, parlors, large bay windows, and
miles of stone gardens and vegetation. These houses were not common and were
nothing short of astonishing.
The upper-class, comprised of doctors and business men owned the great
homes. These homes weren’t as extraordinary or uncanny, but were large and quite
nice. The great homes had many of the same features as the royal works, just on a
much lesser scale (Kamhi 1). These homes were by no means small or shabby; they
were large and sometimes considered to be just as beautiful as the royal works.
The smaller country homes were owned by merchants and tradesmen. These
homes are more conceivable than the royal works and the great homes. The smaller
country homes were nice, cozy, and very inexpensive because the owners, craftsmen
and tradesmen, already had most of the materials needed to build the houses (Kamhi 2).
These homes were usually two stories, with a kitchen, family room, and three or four
bedrooms. The use of glass also made the smaller country homes a notable feature.
The idea conceived from the Pre-Renaissance churches allowed light to flood into the
houses through the grid-shape windows (Locher, Pruitt, and Silver 1).
Lastly the farmers and their families occupied the farmhouses. These houses
were similar to the small country homes with a few structural differences. These houses
weren’t used for social symbols, but rather just for a nice place to live. However “the
countryside began to reform itself from small farmhouses to great houses which features
gothic styles and Renaissance detail” (Locher, Pruitt, and Silver 1). These houses were
built by successful merchants and powerful statesmen to express their wealth.
There were many different floor plans to go along with this period of architecture.
An odd floor plan was used in the Triangular Lodge in Northernhamptonshire. “This
building has the common theme of the number three. For instance, it has three walls,
three floors, and three entrances. The use of the number three was to symbolize trinity”
(1). “This plan goes along with some of the other [main elements] of this period, such as
sunlight and the circulation of free air” (1). Sometimes one side of the building is left off
to promote the extra sunlight and free circulation of air.
The different styles of architecture suit the different tastes of the Elizabethan
people. Homes were made beautiful through the use of classical symmetry and
Ornateness. Classical symmetry was the Elizabethan visual expression of order and
harmony. Ornateness, invented by the English, was another idea of Renaissance
architecture. “If [someone] were to walk into a Renaissance house and glance up at the
ceiling, [he/she] would see an example of this ornateness” (Locher, Pruitt, and Silver 1).
Instead of decorating the walls with art, the walls were made their own art form, as well
as the fireplaces.
The Elizabethan era may have been short, but made its impression in history just
the same. Architects designed amazing buildings, styles of architecture influenced the
people, and the homes socially divided the people. Elizabethan Architecture was an
influential “trend” in which the “competition” for social division began, and architects
attempted to replicate Italian Renaissance architecture.
Beck, James. “Renaissance Art and Architecture.” Http://www.fwkc.com/encyclopedia/
“Elizabethan Style.” Http://www.fwkc.com/encyclopedia/low/articels/e/e007000727f.html
Hinkle, William. “Gothic Art and Architecture.” Http://www.fwkc.com/encyclopedia/low/
Kamhi, Valerie. “Elizabethan Architecture.” Http://www.springfield/eliz/architecture.html
Locher, Barbara. Pruit, David. Silver, Justin. “A History of Elizabethan Architecture.”
Http://www.springfield.k12.il.us/schools/springfield/eliz/HistLizArch.html (6 Jan.
Norwich, John. Julius, ed. Great Architecture of the World. London: Mitchell Beazly,