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A. Gerhardt

Benedictine abbey on the River Enns in Styria, Austria. It was founded in the mid-11th century by Bishop Gebhard from Salzburg, endowed by St Henna von Gurk, Gräfin von Friessach (d 1045), and settled by Benedictine monks from St Peter’s, Salzburg under Abbot Isingrin. The Romanesque minster (consecrated 1074), which was dedicated to St Blaise, was famous for its marble columns and was rebuilt after a fire in 1152; a Gothic choir was added in 1276–86. The present church incorporates Romanesque side doors as well as other fragments. The abbey became an important cultural centre with a renowned scriptorium. Amongst the many famous scholars there was Abbot Engelbert of Admont (reg 1297–1327). From 1121 to the 16th century a convent was attached to the abbey. Under the abbots Mathias Preininger (reg 1615–28) and Urban Weber (reg 1628–59) the whole establishment was transformed in the Baroque style, and the church was rebuilt (...


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....



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 (...


Danielle B. Joyner

From the time John Cassian established the first female foundation in Marseille in ad 410, monastic women lived in varying states of enclosure and were surrounded by diverse images and objects that contributed to their devotion, education and livelihood. The first rule for women, written in 512 by St Caesarius of Arles, emphasized their strict separation from men and the world, as did the Periculoso, a directive issued by Pope Boniface VIII (reg 1294–1303) in 1298. Various architectural solutions developed throughout the Middle Ages to reconcile the necessities of enclosure with the access required by male clerics to celebrate Mass and provide pastoral care. Nuns’ choirs, where the women would gather for their daily prayers, were often constructed as discreet spaces in the church, which allowed women to hear or see the Mass without interacting with the cleric, as in the 10th-century choir in the eastern transept gallery at St Cyriakus in Gernrode, Germany. In some Cistercian examples, the nuns’ choir appeared at the west end of the nave. Dominican and Franciscan architecture was largely varied. Double monasteries, which housed men and women, also required careful construction. A 7th-century text describing the church of St Brigida in ...


Nigel J. Morgan

Former Benedictine abbey in the Weser Valley c. 30 km north of Kassel, Germany. It was founded in 999, and the abbey church of St Peter (mostly destr.) was consecrated in 1011; additions to the church were made in the 12th century, when it was also dedicated to St Modoaldus. The goldsmith Roger was a monk at the abbey during the first half of the 12th century, and Helmarshausen was also a major centre of illuminated manuscript production throughout the 12th century. The earliest manuscripts, three Gospel books (c. 1100–20; Trier, Domschatz, Cods 137–9), have Evangelist portraits in an Ottonian manner deriving from Corvey manuscripts of the late 10th century and from the Echternach school of the 11th century. In MS. 139, the latest of the group, the influence of the work of Roger of Helmarshausen is evident in some head types and fold forms. A fourth Gospel book (...


Alison Stones

French town in the Dordogne that grew up on the site of Roman Vesunna. Roman remains include the arena, temple and villa, the latter now the site of a museum of Roman art designed by Jean Nouvel. Several medieval houses preserve fragments of 13th-century wall paintings. The former medieval cathedral dedicated to St Etienne is located between the temple and arena and preserves several bays of its early 12th-century choir with a flat east end vaulted with domes on pendentives. Similar domes are found at the 12th-century abbey church of St Front, originally outside the walls and since 1669 the cathedral. St Front has a Greek-cross plan like that of the Holy Apostles (destr.) in Constantinople and St Mark’s in Venice. It was restored by Paul Abadie, architect of Sacré-Coeur, Paris, who endowed both buildings with ‘pepper-pot’ turrets. Fragments of early 12th-century sculpture from St Front survive at the Musée du Périgord in Périgueux, some from the tomb of St Fronto described in the mid-12th-century Pilgrims Guide to Santiago de Compostela, where it is claimed that Fronto was sent to Périgueux by St Peter. Other medieval holdings in the museum include the Diptych of Rabastens (Tarn), the founding charter of the Confraternity of the Assumption, containing the names of the founding members beneath scenes of the ...


Robert Melzak

Island on Lake Constance, Germany, and one of the major cultural and monastic Christian centres of the early Middle Ages. The monastery, according to tradition, was founded there in ad 724 by Pirmin, a Franco-Irish (possibly Spanish) monk, to convert the Germans, and benefited from royal patronage in the Carolingian and Ottonian periods, becoming a favoured stopping place between Germany and Italy. Its school, with a famous library (see Carolingian art §IV 3., and Ottonian art §IV 2.), produced such figures as Walafrid Strabo, a court poet and tutor who returned as Abbot (reg 838–49), and Hermann the Lame (1013–54), who wrote on astronomy, music, and history. Three churches at Reichenau preserve important remains from these centuries.

W. Erdmann: Die Reichenau im Bodensee: Geschichte und Kunst (Königstein im Taunus, 1979) J. Herrin: The Formation of Christendom (Princeton, NJ, 1987), pp. 481–7 K. Hublow and J. Krumbholz...


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 ...