The cultural identity of medieval Silesia: the case of art and architecture

The cultural identity of medieval Silesia: the case of art and architecture

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The cultural identity of medieval Silesia: the case of art and architecture

Romuald Kaczmarek (University of Wrocław)

Cuius Regio? Ideological and Territorial Cohesion of the Historical Region of Silesia (c. 1000-2000) vol. 1.: The Long Formation of the Region Silesia (c. 1000–1526)


The cultural identity of architecture and visual arts of the Middle Ages in Silesia can be analyzed in the following frameworks: 1.) the distinct formal features of local artwork; 2.) the specific content expressed through it. Macro factors (the type of materials and their availability) are important in architecture, as are architectural patterns and styles. Of greatest frequency in this context are brick buildings, with sandstone used for details. In the 14th century distinct and formal patterns of style in architecture took shape (such as the basilica form of town churches), as was the case with detailed construction and aesthetic solutions applied in walls and vaults. Factors shaping the specific nature of Silesian art were the influence of dominant styles (initially from the Czech state, later southern Germany, including Nuremberg), political contexts (affiliation with the Bohemian Crown) and religious ones (mostly the selection and popularity of patron saints).

The subject of Silesia’s cultural identity in the Middle Ages, viewed from the nar- row perspective of architecture and fine arts, has not had much scholarly attention de- voted to it in recent decades, notwithstanding a few attempts to identify unique Silesian characteristics in certain groups of work or artistic genres. One obvious reason for this restraint may be to some extent the decision to disqualify texts which attempted to de- velop a more general approach to this subject. These texts, produced directly before the outbreak of World War II, were to various degrees burdened with nationalist or even racialist ideals, and as a consequence their authors attempted to describe certain features specific to Silesian art within the framework of concepts such as nation (Nation), tribe (Stamm), tribal territory (Stammesboden, Stammesgebiet), cultural nationality (Kultur- nation) and colonization (Kolonization).1

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