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Lucília Verdelho da Costa

Cistercian abbey in Portugal. The abbey, dedicated to S Maria, was founded as part of the policy of repopulation and territorial improvement of the first king of Portugal, Alfonso I (reg 1139–85), who in 1152 granted a large area of land to St Bernard of Clairvaux by a charter known as the Carta dos Coutos (Lisbon, Arquiv. N.). Work on the monastery started in 1158 and adhered to the rigid precepts of the Order. Although the exterior was extended and altered in the 17th and 18th centuries, especially the Baroque façade of the church, the interior essentially preserves its original Early Gothic appearance.

W. Beckford: Recollections of an Excursion to the Monasteries of Alcobaça and Batalha (London, 1835/R 1972) M. V. Natividade: Ignez de Castro e Pedro o Cru perante a iconografia dos seus túmulos (Lisbon, 1910) E. Korrodi: Alcobaça: Estudo histórico, arqueológico e artístico da Real Abadia de Alcobaça...



Susan Young

[Gr. Panagia Phorbiotissa: ‘Our Lady of the Pastures’]

Byzantine church in Cyprus, situated on the west side of the island, 4 km south-west of the village of Vizakia. The church was originally part of the monastery of the Phorbia (destr.), and a marginal note in a synaxarion copied in Cyprus or Palestine in 1063 indicates that the manuscript once belonged to this monastery. The church is renowned for its well-preserved cycles of wall paintings and painted inscriptions, two of which attribute the foundation and decoration of the church to Nicephoros Ischyrios, the Magistros, in 1105–6. A third, damaged inscription mentions a certain ‘Theophilos’ and ‘the people’, who were probably responsible for a programme of redecoration in 1332–3. The wall paintings were cleaned and restored in 1965–8 by Ernest Hawkins and David Winfield under the auspices of the Center for Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC.

The church is a single-aisle structure with a semicircular apse and barrel-vaulted nave supported by transverse ribs and engaged piers, forming three blind niches in the north and south walls. In plan it resembles the parekklesion of the Cypriot monastery of St John Chrysosthomos, but it does not have a dome. Although the original walls were of stone mortared with mud, probably in the late 12th century, yellow sandstone of better quality was used for the construction of a domed narthex with north and south absidioles; this arrangement is found elsewhere in Cyprus, at the monasteries of St John Chrysosthomos, and the Panagia Apsinthiotissa. The church was later given a secondary steeply pitched wooden roof of a type common among the Cypriot mountain churches....


Sophie Page

Astrology is the art of predicting events on earth as well as human character and disposition from the movements of the planets and fixed stars. Medieval astrology encompassed both general concepts of celestial influence, and the technical art of making predictions with horoscopes, symbolic maps of the heavens at particular moments and places constructed from astronomical information. The scientific foundations of the art were developed in ancient Greece, largely lost in early medieval Europe and recovered by the Latin West from Arabic sources in the 12th and 13th centuries. Late medieval astrological images were successfully Christianized and were adapted to particular contexts, acquired local meanings and changed over time.

Astrology developed into a scientific branch of learning in ancient Greece, but because of the opposition of the Church Fathers it was transmitted to early medieval Europe in only fragmentary form in technically unsophisticated textbooks and popular divinatory genres. Literary and scientific texts provided more general ideas about the nature and attributes of the planets which were influential on later iconography. The first significant astrological images appear in 11th-century illustrated astronomical texts (e.g. London, BL, Cotton MS. Tiberius BV), which were acquired and produced by monasteries to aid with time-keeping and the construction of the Christian calendar....



Lucília Verdelho da Costa

Former Dominican priory, dedicated to S Maria da Vitória, c. 10 km south of Leiria, Portugal. Founded by John I (reg 1385–1433), the first king of the Aviz dynasty, to celebrate the Battle of Aljubarrota (1385), it is the most representative and important example of Late Gothic architecture in Portugal. It marks the highest point of the movement that began at Alcobaça Abbey and such buildings as Évora Cathedral and the chevet of Lisbon Cathedral, in which the national tradition of Gothic architecture is combined with a verticality that has few parallels in northern Europe (see Gothic, §II, 2). Although the decoration shows influences from French Flamboyant and English Perpendicular, its originality and the Portuguese style are unmistakable. The exterior of this vast cloistered complex, which the King presented to the Dominicans in 1388, has a strong horizontal emphasis in which the traceried outlines of parapets, pinnacles, steeples, and buttresses stand out in the mass of limestone. The west front is divided into three by narrow pilasters and buttresses, and the projecting doorway has a tympanum and archivolts richly carved with Old Testament kings, angels, and prophets; the façade is also pierced by a fine Flamboyant window. As at Alcobaça Abbey the interior is narrow (22 m) in proportion to its height (32.46 m). Two-bay transepts open off the crossing, and to the east is a row of five apsidal chapels, the central one projecting. The chancel, transepts, and nave are all the same height. The vaults, which are supported on compound piers, have ornamented keystones and both longitudinal and transverse ridge ribs. The interior is lit by the clerestory and tall aisle windows, and the apse has two rows of lancets, making ten windows in all (...


Nicola Coldstream

Premonstratensian abbey in Cyprus dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The abbey was founded in 1206 by Thierry, Archbishop of Nicosia, the foundation being confirmed by Pope Gregory IX in 1232. Of the buildings, the church and two ranges round the cloister substantially remain; the western range was looted for building materials. Bellapais is built of limestone on a precipitous hillside facing north, with the conventual buildings north of the church, heavily buttressed against the slope of the hill.

The church is of the early 13th century, while the present claustral buildings and much of the cloister were begun by King Hugh IV (1324–39); Jeffery (1914) identified later work, possibly of the 15th century, in the cloister itself. After the Lusignan period (1192–1489) the church was used by the Orthodox Christians until 1974, when it was desecrated in the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. Bellapais was heavily repaired by ...



Michael Richter

Monastery in Emilia-Romagna, Italy. Approximately 50 km south of Piacenza in the Apennines, it was founded c. ad 613 through the cooperation of the Lombard king Agilulf (reg 590–615) and the Irish abbot and saint Columbanus (c. 540–615). Its nucleus was an older dilapidated church dedicated to St Peter. Columbanus died on 23 November 615, but his name and renown remained alive in the following centuries. Through cooperation with the Lombard monarchs as well as later the Carolingian kings, Bobbio became a very prominent monastery in Northern Italy. In 628 it was granted the earliest monastic exemption from supervision by the local diocesan, the bishop of Tortona. The community of Bobbio apparently lived according to the Rule of Columbanus as well as the Rule of Basil of Caesarea. The presence of the Rule of St Benedict cannot be documented there before the early 9th century. Bobbio became a known not only as a centre of Irish learning but also as a centre of grammatical as well as computational studies. Its early library also contained Classical texts as well as important palimpsests (a ‘catalogue’ survives from the late 9th century). In the late 9th and early 10th centuries (a period of economic decline) important illuminated manuscripts were produced there. The abbatial church was rebuilt under Abbot Agilulf (...


Ernst Ullmann

Former Cistercian abbey on Lake Parstein, eastern Germany. It was founded in 1258 by the margraves Johann I and Otto III of Brandenburg on the Pehlitzwerder on Lake Parstein. They established the church to serve as a burial place for their branch of the Askania family and installed monks from the Cistercian abbey of Lehnin in 1260. The remains of an incomplete church were excavated in 1939: a square-ended choir with aisles and four closely spaced pairs of piers indicate a basilican plan. The plan shows similarities to the choir of the Cistercian church in Hude, Oldenburg. The architect may have been the Conradus magister operis who is mentioned in 1260 in connection with the foundation of the abbey.

In 1270 and 1272 the monks complained about life on Lake Parstein, and the abbey was transferred to a village on the lake 5 km to the south-west. Construction of new buildings must have begun immediately, as Margrave Johann II (...


Christian Heck

Former collegiate church, now a parish church, in Alsace, France. In the religious architecture of Alsace, St Martin is second in importance only to Strasbourg Cathedral; the design of its nave, however, is distinct from that of Strasbourg, and the novel structure of the choir seems to anticipate the work of the Parler family. The church is 75 m long and 23 m high and is built of sandstone.

The excavations of 1972 identified traces of a large 11th-century church that had a rectangular choir, projecting transept and nave with narrow aisles; it was entirely wooden-roofed. This Ottonian building is the earliest church of which foundations are known, and it marks the first of five principal building phases on the site, of which only the last two survive. At the beginning of the 12th century its nave was lengthened towards the west by one bay, and a massive, rectangular western block was built, with three groin-vaulted bays reflecting the nave and aisles and, probably, an upper chapel accessible by two stair turrets. The choir was then rib-vaulted. At the end of the 12th century provision was made for a large basilica to be built on a different plan, entirely independent of the constraints of the old church. Only the choir and beginnings of the transepts were built, however, the choir consisting of one almost square bay and a semicircular apse. On each arm of the transept an eastern apsidal chapel was planned, but only the southern one was built....


Gordana Babić

Monastic church dedicated to Christ Pantokrator in the Serbian Republic of Yugoslavia, situated 15 km south of Peć. It was founded by King Stephen Uroš III Dečanski (reg 1321–31) and his son, Stephen Uroš IV Dušan (reg as king 1331–46; emperor 1346–55). A sturdy wall surrounds the complex, which is entered by a fortified gate. Few of the conventual buildings remain. Archbishop Danilo II (1324–37) participated in the founding of the main church, which was built between 1327 and 1335 by Fra Vita, a Franciscan from Kotor. It is a five-aisled basilica modelled on Romanesque architecture with bands of grey, white and pink marble, a tripartite gabled façade and richly carved portals, windows, ribbed vaults and columns. These features are combined with a dome rising from a square base supported by four piers, three eastern semicircular apses and a narthex divided into three bays. The two lateral bays for the singers place the church within the so-called Raskian school of architecture. The interior is entirely covered in frescoes, which were completed between ...


Tania Velmans

Monastic church in Bulgaria, 10 km south of Sofia on the northern slopes of the Vitocha Mountains. The monastery, consecrated to the Virgin, was founded by King John Alexander (reg 1331–71) towards the middle of the 14th century, but has since been destroyed; a small church (c. 10×4.5 m), however, remains. Its single nave has a barrel vault, and its decorations, which were painted at a much later date, are blackened and of little interest. Work of greater interest was executed in the narthex, however, which was also vaulted. Most of its walls are still covered with original scenes paid for, according to an inscription, by a certain Radislav Mavr in 1476. The principal schemes depicted on the upper parts of the walls are the Last Judgement and the Second Coming. They are interspersed with various other images including Christ and the Virgin and Child surrounded by an aureola shown on the east wall over the door leading to the nave and the ...


Dorothy Gillerman

Former collegiate church in Normandy, France. It was founded by Enguerran de Marigny, the powerful financial minister of Philip IV. The new church was dedicated on 9 September 1313 in a ceremony that attracted members of the royal court and ecclesiastics from all over France; the ceremony was remarkable enough to be mentioned in the chronicles for the year. Begun in 1308, the building was probably complete at the time of the dedication, because Marigny fell from favour soon after Philip IV’s death in 1314 and was hanged the year after. His tomb was not erected until 1375, when the canons succeeded in rehabilitating the memory of their founder and gained possession of his body. Although not large, the building was conceived on a grandiose scale. On the façade, two great towers flank an entrance portal surmounted by a large traceried window. Life-size sculpted figures of Enguerran de Marigny and his wife, ...


Phillip Lindley and Faith Johnson

Cathedral in Cambridgeshire, England. It began as the minster church for the city of Ely, having been founded in ad 673 on an island in the Fens by Queen Etheldreda (reg 630–79). After being sacked by the Danes in 870, the minster was reconsecrated and re-endowed by Bishop Aethelwold and King Edgar (reg 959–75) in 970 as the church of a Benedictine monastery. Before the Norman Conquest of 1066 Ely was one of the richest English monasteries. Little is known of the undoubtedly sizeable Anglo-Saxon church, which possibly lay on the north side of the present nave, because the first Norman abbot, Simeon (reg 1081–93), founded a new church in 1082. In 1109 Ely was made an episcopal see, and the endowments were divided between the bishop and the monastery. The monastery was dissolved in 1539, and the cathedral church refounded in 1541, when the dedication to SS Etheldreda and Peter was changed to the Holy and Undivided Trinity....


Michael W. Cothren

Cathedral dedicated to Notre-Dame at Evreux, in the département of Eure, France, 80 km west of Paris, known primarily for its collection of stained-glass windows. Begun after fire destroyed its predecessor in 1119, it was not completed until the 17th century, and its appearance reflects several phases of the Gothic style, with richly decorated Flamboyant traceried windows and a late 16th-century west façade. The cathedral has an aisled nave with a two-tower façade and transepts leading to a chevet with ambulatory and chapels. It was severely damaged in 1940 and was subsequently restored.

Although glazing survives from building campaigns from the late 13th century (south nave chapels, parts of the nave clerestory) to the 16th (north transept clerestory and rose window), the most important windows date from the 14th and 15th centuries, in particular the choir clerestory, whose glass is dated c. 1320–1400. The exact dating, patronage, and original disposition are controversial. The iconographic emphasis is on the Virgin Mary and the patron saints of the donors. The latter constitute some of the most powerful Normans of 1320–40 (...



Italian, 13th – 14th century, male.

Born 1266/1267, in Colle di Vespignano (Tuscany); died 8 January 1337, in Florence.

Painter, fresco artist, architect. Religious subjects.

Florentine School.

Giotto is regarded by most to be the founder of the central tradition of Western painting. His work broke away from the stylisations of Byzantine art, introduced new ideals of naturalism, and created a convincing sense of pictorial space and drama. Giotto was duly recognised by his contemporaries, who imitated him and memorialised him in literary sources, and by later generations of artists....


Slobodan Ćurčić

Byzantine monastery in the Kosovo region between Montenegro and Macedonia, 8 km south of Priština. It was founded by the Serbian king Stephen Uroš II Milutin (reg 1282–1321). The church of the Dormition (originally Annunciation; 1311–21) is all that survives and is one of the outstanding achievements of Late Byzantine architecture (see Early Christian and Byzantine art, §II, 2, (iv), (c)). It was built on the site of two earlier churches. The dismantling of the second church—a small single-aisled 13th-century structure—is described in the monastery’s charter, as recorded on the west wall of the south chapel, and has been confirmed by excavations. Gračanica also served as the seat of the bishops of Lipljan, the probable heirs to the bishopric of Ulpiana, a Roman and Early Christian city c. 1 km to the west. Milutin may also have intended Gračanica’s church as his mausoleum.

Gračanica was a product of the political and cultural circumstances that prevailed in Serbia following Milutin’s marriage in ...


Concepción Abad Castro

Hieronymite monastery in Cáceres Province, Estremadura, Spain. The monastery of Nuestra Señora de Guadelupe was founded to house an ancient image of the Virgin on the site of a small Mudéjar chapel of the type characteristic of Toledo (for a long time Guadalupe belonged to the archbishopric of Toledo). In 1325 the original building was enlarged by Alfonso XI of Castile and León (reg 1313–50), and, following the foundation of the monastery on 29 October 1340, the date of the Battle of Salado, the dependent buildings gradually rose around the church. In 1389 the Hieronymite monks were installed under their first prior, Fray Fernand Yáñez of Cáceres. The monastery was sacked by the French in 1809 and abandoned in 1835 but in 1908 it was occupied by Franciscans.

Most of the building was constructed using brick, which was dressed and then plastered. The parts built in this way include the late 15th-century Gothic façade; the towers of the Reloj and the Mayordomía (both 14th century); the square ...


French, 14th century, male.

Sculptor, architect.

In 1326 he decorated the portal of the church of St-Sépulcre in Paris with the statues of Christ and the Twelve Apostles, and low reliefs of The Entombment and The Resurrection


J. Steyaert

Pilgrimage church near Brussels, Belgium. It was constructed between 1341 and 1409, preserving one of the most important ensembles of later Gothic sculpture in the Netherlands. Statues of the Virgin surmount each of the principal entrances to the church: the finest are the elegant Virgin accompanied by music-making angels (c. 1380) in the south-west porch portal and the slightly later Virgin of the north entrance (c. 1400), both carved by Tournai sculptors working in the manner of André Beauneveu. The statues of the Magi (c. 1380) in the south-west portal are in a similar style and by an outstanding sculptor, possibly from Brussels. The sculptural decoration of the west tower, nave and adjoining Virgin chapel, completed in several campaigns, provides an excellent guide to the development of 14th-century Brabantine small-scale sculpture, extending from the regional style in the expressive bust corbels of the tower vault (...



Tania Velmans

Village in Bulgaria about 20 km south of Rousse, near to which along the banks of the River Roussenski Lom a large number of churches and monks’ cells were carved into the rock: the earliest information concerning them dates to the reign of Tsar Ivan Assen II (reg 1218–41). Traces of wall painting survive in five of the churches.

The earliest frescoes are those in the single-cell, apsed church of the Gospodev Dol; the flat, decorative style in which the full-length figures of saints and scenes from the Passion are depicted suggests a 13th-century date. Of greater interest are the paintings in the rock-cut monument known as Crkvata (Bulg.: ‘the church’). This comprises a nave and a narthex, with the remains of a rock-cut chapel to the north. Its wall paintings, only about a third of which survive, were commissioned by Tsar Ivan Alexander (reg 1331–71), whose portrait decorates the north wall of the narthex. Scenes from the ...



Harriet Sonne de Torrens

Mainland peninsula of modern-day Denmark and one of the three provinces (Jutland, Zealand and Skåne, southern Sweden) that constituted medieval Denmark. The conversion of the Danes to Christianity initiated a reorganization of the economic, social and legal structures of Denmark that would change the shape of Jutland dramatically between the 11th and 14th centuries. Under Knut the Great, King of Denmark and England (reg 1019–35), Jutland acquired a stable diocesan system (1060) that enabled a systematic collection of tithes and the growth of religious institutions between 1050 and 1250. During this period, agricultural practices changed as manor houses and landed estates were established, producing wealth for the ruling families. Under Valdemar I (reg 1157–82) and Knut VI (reg 1182–1202), Jutland witnessed a great building activity; on Jutland more than 700 stone churches were constructed, some replacing earlier wooden churches, each needing liturgical furnishings. Workshops, such as that of the renowned sculptor Horder and many others, were actively engaged in carving stone baptismal fonts (e.g. Malt, Skodborg, Ut, Stenild), capitals, reliefs (Vestervig, Aalborg) and tympana (Gjøl, Ørsted, Stjaer, Skibet), wooden cult figures, Jutland’s golden altars (Lisbjerg, Sahl, Stadil, Tamdrup) and wall paintings. Evidence of the earliest wall paintings in Jutland, ...