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Article

Alessandro Conti

(b Florence, before March 12, 1446; d Lucca, 1496).

Italian painter and illuminator. He was a Camaldolite monk; his appointment, from 1470, as Abbot of Agnano, Arezzo, and Val di Castro, Fabriano, was disputed, since he never resided at either abbey. His work is known from a signed triptych of the Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints (1460–67) in SS Martino e Bartolomeo at Tifi, Arezzo (in situ). It shows the influence of the most fashionable Florentine artists of the time, such as Neri di Bicci, and such artists from the Marches as Giovanni Boccati and Gerolamo di Giovanni da Camerino. The most noteworthy aspect of the altarpiece, however, is its chromatic quality. This undoubtedly derives from the work of Piero della Francesca and has made it possible to identify Amedei as the collaborator to whom Piero entrusted the small predella scenes and pilaster figures of the polyptych of the Misericordia (Sansepolcro, Pin.), a work that can be dated by the final payments made in ...

Article

William Hood

[Fra Giovanni da Fiesole; Guido di Piero da Mugello]

(b nr Vicchio, c. 1395–1400; d Rome, Feb 18, 1455).

Italian painter, illuminator and Dominican friar. He rose from obscure beginnings as a journeyman illuminator to the renown of an artist whose last major commissions were monumental fresco cycles in St Peter’s and the Vatican Palace, Rome. He reached maturity in the early 1430s, a watershed in the history of Florentine art. None of the masters who had broken new ground with naturalistic painting in the 1420s was still in Florence by the end of that decade. The way was open for a new generation of painters, and Fra Angelico was the dominant figure among several who became prominent at that time, including Paolo Uccello, Fra Filippo Lippi and Andrea del Castagno. By the early 1430s Fra Angelico was operating the largest and most prestigious workshop in Florence. His paintings offered alternatives to the traditional polyptych altarpiece type and projected the new naturalism of panel painting on to a monumental scale. In fresco projects of the 1440s and 1450s, both for S Marco in Florence and for S Peter’s and the Vatican Palace in Rome, Fra Angelico softened the typically astringent and declamatory style of Tuscan mural decoration with the colouristic and luminescent nuances that characterize his panel paintings. His legacy passed directly to the second half of the 15th century through the work of his close follower Benozzo Gozzoli and indirectly through the production of Domenico Veneziano and Piero della Francesca. Fra Angelico was undoubtedly the leading master in Rome at mid-century, and had the survival rate of 15th-century Roman painting been greater, his significance for such later artists as Melozzo da Forlì and Antoniazzo Romano might be clearer than it is....

Article

John N. Lupia

Type of ewer, usually of metal, used for the washing of hands in a liturgical or domestic context. It is often zoomorphic in form and usually has two openings, one for filling with water and the other for pouring. In their original usage aquamanilia expressed the symbolic significance of the lavabo, the ritual washing of the hands by the priest before vesting, before the consecration of the Eucharist and after mass. The earliest production of aquamanilia is associated with Mosan art of the Meuse Valley in northern France, and with Lower Saxony in north-east Germany. The majority of surviving examples are made of a variety of bronze that resembles gold when polished, while nearly all those made of precious metals are known only from church inventories.

Church documents refer to aquamanilia as early as the 5th century, when canon regulations stipulated that on ordination the subdeacon should receive such a vessel. Various documents from the 5th century to the beginning of the 11th sometimes use the term to denote both the ewer and its basin. Sometime after the beginning of the 11th century the term became transferred to a type of vessel, usually in the shape of an animal (e.g. lion, stag, horse; ...

Article

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....

Article

Jeremy Musson

(b Syracuse, 1426; d Palermo, c. 1487).

Italian historian, philosopher and theologian . A member of the Dominican Order, he taught at the University of Catania and at Palermo. He twice visited Hungary before 1474, and was granted a pension for life by King Matthias Corvinus. His writings included several historical works. His chronicle of popes and emperors (from 1316–1469) was first published anonymously in Rome in 1474, but was later reissued erroneously under the name of Giovanni Filippo de Lignamine. Another important work was the Virorum illustrium cronica (published early 1475), which culminates in a eulogy of Ferdinand the Catholic (later Ferdinand II, King of Aragon), and includes such figures as Guarino da Verona and Leonardo Bruni. He also produced two major theological works, De immortalite animarum libri tres and De divina providentia et hominum praedestionene, which defend the Thomist doctrine of predestination. In 1474 he was appointed as preacher to the Florentine convent of S Maria Novella and later as preacher to the Aragonese court in Naples. While he was on a mission to Seville, he came to be highly regarded by King Ferdinand II and his court. From ...

Article

Ludovico Borgo and Margot Borgo

[Porta, Baccio della]

(b Florence, March 28, 1472; d Florence, Oct 31, 1517).

Italian painter and draughtsman. Vasari and later historians agree that Fra Bartolommeo was an essential force in the formation and growth of the High Renaissance. He was the first painter in Florence to understand Leonardo da Vinci’s painterly and compositional procedures. Later he created a synthesis between Leonardo’s tonal painting and Venetian luminosity of colour. Equally important were his inventions for depicting divinity as a supernatural force, and his type of sacra conversazione in which the saints are made to witness and react to a biblical event occurring before their eyes, rather than standing in devout contemplation, as was conventional before. His drawings, too, are exceptional both for their abundance and for their level of inventiveness. Many artists came under his influence: Albertinelli, Raphael, Andrea del Sarto, Titian, Correggio, Beccafumi, Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino.

Fra Bartolommeo was the son of Paolo, a muleteer and carter. After 1478 he lived in a modest family house outside the Porta S Pier Gattolini in Florence and consequently was dubbed Baccio (a Tuscan diminutive for Bartolommeo) della Porta. In ...

Article

Batalha  

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 (...

Article

Bobbio  

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 (...

Article

Christopher de Hamel

Late medieval prayerbook containing, as its principal text, psalms, and devotions (primarily invoking the Virgin Mary) for the eight canonical hours of the day: Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline. They were intended for private reading and meditation by the laity, forming a shorter version of the cycle of daily prayers and psalms recited from the Breviary by members of religious orders. Each office is usually no more than a few pages long, and the books are generally small and portable, often of octavo size. Most surviving Books of Hours were made in the 15th century and early 16th, and they were produced in such numbers that they still form the most common surviving group of European illuminated manuscripts.

The offering of psalms eight times a day can be traced back to early monasticism, and parallel forms of worship are found in lay devotions (see Service book...

Article

Virginia Davis

Religious group and important exponents of the movement known as the Devotio moderna, which flourished in northern Europe, particularly in the Netherlands, from the late 14th century to the early 16th. The movement stressed the importance of the inner life of the individual, with great emphasis on meditation. The Brethren (and the female equivalent, the Sisters) were groups of pious lay people and clerics who lived a devout and useful communal life dedicated to God. Associated with the Brethren but more formally constituted were the Augustinian Canons Regular of Windesheim near Zwolle, founded in 1387, which became the centre of a flourishing congregation of similar foundations upholding the ideals of the Devotio moderna. The Brethren were first established in Deventer and spread into both the southern Netherlands and neighbouring German regions.

The movement was developed by Gerard Groote (1340–84) and Florent Radewijns (1350–1400). Groote, a canon lawyer, lived as a Carthusian between ...

Article

Nigel J. Morgan

Liturgical book containing the psalms, readings from the scriptures, the Church Fathers or the lives of the saints, antiphons, and prayers that constitute the Divine Office for each day of the Christian Church year (see Service book). The Divine Office comprises the daily devotions observed at the eight canonical hours of the day (Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline), arranged around the psalms, so that all 150 psalms are read each week. Its text covers two distinct sections: the Temporal (or Proper of Time), containing the offices for Sundays and festivals commemorating the life of Christ and the weekdays of the year; and the Sanctoral (or Proper of Saints), with offices for the feast days of saints. Supplementary offices for certain occasions, for instance the Office of the Dead and Little Office of the Virgin, were sometimes added to the daily office, and a full version of the Breviary usually includes the whole ...

Article

Virginia Davis

[Order of the Holy Saviour]

Religious order named after its foundress, St Bridget of Sweden (c. 1303–73; can 1391), a devout woman with Swedish court connections. In 1346 she founded Vadstena Abbey in Sweden, which she intended to be an influential spiritual centre reflecting the original group of the faithful with the Virgin at its head. Vadstena became the model for other Brigittine houses. Bridget went to Rome in 1349 to seek approval for her Order, dying there after returning from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Her body was returned to Vadstena in 1374.

The Brigittine Rule, the Regula Sancti Salvatoris, supposedly was revealed to Bridget by Christ. With the Augustinian Rule (see Augustinian Canons §1), it formed the constitution of the Order, which was finally recognized by Pope Urban VI (reg 1378–89) in a bull of 1378. The Order flourished mainly in northern Europe in the later Middle Ages. Intended primarily for women, it had double houses with separate but adjacent convents for men and women, sharing a church. Monks were superior in spiritual matters, the abbess in all else. Monasteries were large by contemporary standards, the rule stipulating that they should have 85 members. Convents were consecrated at Vadstena in ...

Article

Stephen Murray

Former Cistercian abbey dedicated to Notre-Dame de la Nativité, in Périgord, France. The abbey is particularly famous for its cloister. Cadouin, on the River Dordogne, fell under the control of the Cistercians directly after its foundation in 1115. The acquisition of a famous relic (the ‘Saint Suaire’ or Holy Shroud) led to the establishment of a flourishing pilgrimage to the site. The church dates from the 12th century, but the monastic complex, heavily damaged in the Hundred Years War, was rebuilt in the 15th and 16th centuries. The cloister, a relatively small structure (six bays by five; 19×16 m), was begun under Abbot Pierre V de Gaing (1455–75). During the troubled period of the wars the relic of the Holy Shroud was alienated and went to Toulouse, but Pierre de Gaing re-established possession of it and regained many of the lost domaines of the monastery. He initiated major campaigns of construction on the cloister, building the north, south, and east walks. It was completed in the early 16th century....

Article

Jeremy Griffiths

(b ?Kings Lynn, April 21, 1393; d Kings Lynn, Aug 12, 1464).

English writer, translator, and scribe. He entered the Augustinian monastery at Kings Lynn, Norfolk, c. 1410, was ordained priest in 1416–17, and then studied in London (1417–22). By 1422 he had completed a verse translation of the Life of St Norbert. He studied at Cambridge from 1422, preaching his sermon, the Tretis of the Orders that be Undyr the Reule of Oure Fader Seynt Augustin, in that year. He became a bachelor in theology in 1423 and gained his doctorate in 1425. He is not recorded between 1427 and 1437, during which time he may have composed works now lost, for example, the Commentary on Kings, dedicated to Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester, and John Lowe, Bishop of St Asaph (d 1467), which is referred to in the preface to Capgrave’s Commentary on Genesis (1437–8; Oxford, Oriel Coll.), a copy of which was presented to Duke ...

Article

(b Torrelaguna, 1436; d Roa, Nov 8, 1517).

Spanish archbishop and patron. He came from a minor family of the nobility, studied at Salamanca and went to Rome. As a priest he was curate to Cardinal Pedro Salazar de Mendoza in Sigüenza. He joined the Franciscan Order in 1484 and, through Mendoza’s influence, became confessor to Isabella, Queen of Castile and León, in 1492. He became General of his order in 1494 and, with royal support, began a vigorous reform of the monastic orders. As Archbishop of Toledo from 1495 he developed a hard-line policy against the Granada moriscos that led to the uprising of the Albaicín quarters of the city and the subsequent rebellion in the Alpujarras region, which was harshly suppressed and was followed by the first expulsion of the Moors (1502). This crusading spirit led him to make two military campaigns into Africa, which resulted in the conquests of Mers el Kébir (...

Article

Stephen Brindle

(b Burgos, c. 1385; d Burgos, 1455).

Spanish bishop, patron and builder. He was the son of an eminent Jewish banker, who converted to Christianity and became a bishop. Alonso, as Dean of Compostela, led Castile’s delegation to the Council of Basle, and he travelled in France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Bohemia from 1434 to 1439. On his return he became Bishop of Burgos. He worked on a funerary chapel (Capilla de la Visitación; 1440–44) in Burgos Cathedral and on spires of openwork tracery (1442–58) on the cathedral’s 13th-century western towers. Both are the work of Juan de Colonia, who was very probably brought to Castile by Alonso for this express purpose. The spires are based closely on German models, in particular the early 15th-century design for the spires at Cologne Cathedral. Don Alonso was a key figure in the introduction of Late Gothic architecture into Castile, for Juan de Colonia founded an energetic school of Late Gothic design based at the Burgos Cathedral workshops....

Article

Ryszard Brykowski

Church dedicated to St Michael at Dȩbno in the province of Nowy Sa̧cz, southern Poland. The 15th-century wooden church at Dȩbno has interested art historians since the middle of the 19th century; the stencilled paintings that decorate the interior were then regarded as an expression of ‘Slavonic taste’; soon afterwards the monument was defined as ‘a work in the pointed arch style’. In the 1920s it was included in the ‘Tatra Highlands group of wooden churches’ and regarded as the most characteristic and earliest example of a medieval wooden church in Poland.

A church was first mentioned on the site in 1335. Most of the present church is now dated to the second half of the 15th century: the curtain arch surmounting the south door is typical of Saxon architecture of the period, and the paintings are independently dated c. 1500. The nave and the chancel are both rectangular with a narrow sacristy north of the chancel. The spacing of the roof rafters with collar-beams corresponds to the width of the chancel, creating ‘plank-boxes’ on the sides of the wider nave, a structural solution typical of wooden Gothic church architecture in Little Poland. The lap joints and dowels survive, with the incised carpenter’s marks. Also original are the beam-framed ceiling, the same height in the nave and chancel; the ornate rood-screen; the western choir gallery; the west door and the door leading to the sacristy, both with pointed arches, and the south door; and a window with a curtain arch in the east wall of the chancel....

Article

M. Heinlen

Essentially a papal letter concerning a matter of canonical discipline. Throughout the Middle Ages numerous collections of decretals were compiled, which served as the basis of ecclesiastical administration and canon law; in the 12th century they began to be extensively illustrated. Between the 12th and 15th centuries illustrated canon law manuscripts, primarily comprising decretals, were made and used throughout western Europe, with major centres of production located in such university cities as Paris and Bologna. These books, along with civil law manuscripts, are numerically the most important type of non-liturgical manuscript illustrated in the medieval period, and a wide range of stylistic developments is represented in the hundreds of extant examples.

The earliest illustrations in decretal manuscripts are Trees of Consanguinity and Affinity. These full-page schemata depict degrees of familial relationships in order to demonstrate the legal implications of marriage bonds. The Tree of Consanguinity shows a man standing with outstretched arms before a tree containing the Table of Consanguinity; the affinities were similarly depicted but also included a woman. These illustrations first appeared in manuscripts of the ...

Article

Eliot W. Rowlands

(b Terranuova, Val d’Arno, c. 1430; d after 1492).

Italian painter. He was brought up in the Carmelite convent in Prato and first worked as garzone for the Carmelite painter Fra Filippo Lippi. On 17 July 1447 he was paid for gilding a temporary predella for Lippi’s Coronation of the Virgin (Florence, Uffizi). At Prato he assisted Lippi on his fresco cycle in the choir of the parish church (now the cathedral) between 1452 and 1466. In July 1460 Diamante received payment on Lippi’s behalf for the latter’s completion of Pesellino’s Trinity with Saints (London, N.G.), and in the same month he is recorded as a Vallombrosan monk. At this time he probably executed the frescoes of St John Gualbertus and St Albert of Trapani beside the window of the choir of Prato Cathedral.

In 1463 Diamante was imprisoned in Florence for an undisclosed crime. His absence from Prato coincided with a halt on Lippi’s fresco project, and in ...

Article

Virginia Jansen

Town in Bavaria, Germany. A Hohenstaufen possession, it was a free imperial city by the 13th century, and in the 1370s the walls were expanded to their present extent. The parish church of St Georg, one of the most famous Late Gothic, south German hall churches, dominates the town at the main crossroads; its south side, facing the old Town Hall and cemetery, was originally the show side. Civic pride is evident in the building, symbols of the bakers’ and coopers’ guilds in the east window demonstrating the importance of the guilds, which shared power with the patrician families from the late 14th century.

The earliest known church on the site of St Georg was built in the 12th century. The existing west tower was added c. 1220–30, and in the second half of the 14th century the church was expanded to include a six-bay nave of nearly the same dimensions as the present one and a single-aisled choir terminating in a five-sided apse. The present church, slightly off the axis of its predecessor, was founded in ...