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Monumentalna architektura "kościoła chłopskiego". O prawnych, społecznych i ekonomicznych przyczynach okcydentalizacji architektury cerkiewnej w Europie Środkowej w okresie baroku

Krasny, Piotr

English Title: The monumental architecture of the "peasant church". On the legal, social and economic reasons of the occidentalization of the Eastern Orthodox church architecture in Central Europe in the Baroque period

In: Barok, 3 (1996), Nr. 2. pp. 73-101

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Translation of abstract (English)

In the Baroque period Orthodox church architecture underwent strong occidentalization. The process was especially intensive in central-European countries – Poland and the Hungarian Kingdom – where the churches of Uniate Russians and Orthodox Serbs were almost identical with or closely resembled the neighbouring Roman-Catholic churches, which meant a decisive break with the centuries-old Byzantine-Russian architectural tradition. The causes of this phenomenon should be perceived, among others, in the social, economic and legal conditions in which functioned the eastern churches in Central Europe. The Uniates in Poland and in Hungary as well as the Serbs in the lands of St. Stephen’a Crown were only a small part of the population. There were no aristocrats or rich nobility among them, so the Eastern churches in Central Europe were perceived as plebeian communities deserving the name of the “peasant church”. The communities of the Eastern church had usually scarce financial means, insufficient for the construction of imposing masonry sanctuaries. Their churches were mostly made of wood in simple, functional forms. At the same time, the wooden Orthodox Church architecture had preserved traces of peasant architecture, copying traditional patterns and showing some kind of immunization to style changes taking place in West-European architecture. The imposing, masonry Uniate churches were usually commissioned by Polish and Hungarian aristocrats, professing the Roman rite of Catholicism and brought up in the sphere of the western culture. These benefactors did not appreciate the architectural tradition of the Eastern church, so the Orthodox churches they founded had the forms characteristic of the Roman-Catholic churches. Additionally, numerous Orthodox churches on the territory of Hungary were constructed from the means of the state Ecclesiastic Fund and were based on official, typical plans originally conceived for Roman-Catholic churches. The occidentalization of the Orthodox Church architecture was accepted by the priests of the Eastern rite. The clergy, educated not as good as its Roman-Catholic counterparts, strongly felt the inferiority of the Byzantine-Slavonic tradition in relation to the achievements of the Roman church. They thought that only the latinization of the Eastern Church could smooth over the plebeian character of this community. The bishops of the Uniate church and the Serb orthodox bishops were commonly adopting West European manners and cultural patterns. The same can be said about the Uniate Basilian monks and their educational programmes in seminaries and colleges they had run. Therefore, it does not astonish that the eastern clergymen recommended constructing churches "iuxta formam moderni saeculi". In the 17th and 18th centuries the designs for magnificent masonry churches were executed exclusively by architects coming from the West (especially from the countries of the Holy Roman Empire and from Italy) or educated there. These artists were not familiar with the Byzantine-Slavonic architectural tradition, so they designed Orthodox churches in the same way as they planned the Catholic ones. One can therefore say that the changes in the Orthodox church architecture in Poland and Hungary occurred to a great degree thanks to persons not belonging to the eastern churches. They favoured solutions which followed western cultural patterns, and they were imitated in that preference by the strongly latinized higher Uniate and Orthodox clergy. As a result, in the Orthodox Church architecture there came to a kind of a "pseudomorphosis", i.e. the development at the price of extirpation.

Document type: Article
Version: Secondary publication
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2011 16:55
Faculties / Institutes: Research Project, Working Group > Individuals
DDC-classification: Architecture
Controlled Subjects: Polen, Ungarn, Aristokratie, Kirchenbau, Geschichte 1600-1800
Subject (classification): Architecture
Countries/Regions: East Europe
Collection: ART-Dok Central and Eastern Europe