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13. Monreale from Its Origin to the End of the Middle Ages

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Chapter Summary

The cathedral of Monreale forms part of a sequence of royal foundations, such as the Cappella Palatina begun by Roger II, completed by William I, and the church of Cefalừ, the first royal cathedral and sponsored by this same king. A grandiose undertaking, William II's foundation vies with the earlier creations as much in its scale as in the richness of its decoration. Every artistic aspect of the structure was designed to express the ambition, the greatness, indeed the excessive nature of the new creation. Architects, sculptors and mosaicists from a wide range of different, often distant regions pooled their skills in order to erect a temple to the glory of God, but also to that of the sovereign and patron. The architecture refers to a Nordic tradition, the capitals in the cloister recall Provenḉal sculpture, while the mosaics compete with the gold of Byzantium.

Keywords: Byzantium; Cappella Palatina; Cefalừ; Monreale; Nordic tradition; Provenḉal sculpture; Roger II; William I



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