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James D’Emilio

Benedictine abbey near Burgos, Spain, noted for its Romanesque cloister. The abbey, documented in ad 919 with a gift from Count Fernán Gonzalez, was restored and reformed during the abbacy of St Dominic of Silos (1041–73). A contemporary manuscript from Silos (Paris, Bib. N., MS. n.a.lat. 2169, fol. 37bis v) records a consecration by Abbot Fortunio in 1088. After difficult years, the abbey enjoyed renewed prosperity under Abbot Juan (reg 1118–42), obtaining papal protection and generous gifts from King Alfonso VII (reg 1126–57). Revenues were allocated for work on the cloister in a budget of 1158. The Romanesque church was razed in the 18th century, but descriptions by abbots Gerónimo de Nebrada (reg 1572–8) and Baltazar Diaz (reg 1729–33, 1749–53, 1765–9), who supervised its demolition, two plans in the abbey archives, and findings from Iñiguez’s excavations of 1931 and 1934 provide a basis for a reconstruction, although the evidence is contradictory. The church was built in several campaigns and stood on two levels on sloping terrain. The lower church terminated in three eastern apses, and the main arcade was supported by large cylindrical piers in the two easternmost bays and compound piers in the two bays lying to the west of the line of an earlier façade. A porch adjoined the north wall. The pavement was raised and steps built over the central and south apses when the upper church was added; this had three apses preceded by deep choir bays, a shallow apse off each transept arm, and compound crossing piers. Comparisons with Jaca Cathedral and S Isidoro, León, show that the consecration of ...


Zoe Mindell

Richly illustrated Romanesque manuscript on vellum (276×184 mm; Hildesheim, Dombibliothek, MS. St Godehard 1), commissioned about 1123 at the Benedictine St Albans Abbey, England, by Abbot Geoffrey de Gorham (reg 1119–46) for Christina of Markyate (d c. 1155), prioress at the St Albans convent from 1145. Christina came to St Albans after living among hermits, having fled a forced marriage years earlier, and her story informs the manuscript. Obits added later for Christina and her family also help to date the Psalter. Forty full-page miniatures constitute one of the finest and first such Romanesque series painted in England and the text includes the earliest extant literature in Anglo-Norman French. Composed of four parts, the manuscript comprises the calendar, the miniature cycle, and the Alexis quire (including the Life of St Alexis, with many parallels to Christina’s life), followed by the traditional liturgical elements beginning with the Psalms. In addition to the miniatures, 211 historiated initials decorate the Psalter, and medallions in the calendar illustrate the Labours of the Months and zodiac signs (...