Medieval Histories http://www.medievalhistories.com News about the Middle Ages Fri, 21 Aug 2015 13:48:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 Plans to turn the Castle of Baena into a spahttp://www.medievalhistories.com/plans-to-turn-the-castle-of-baena-into-a-spa/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/plans-to-turn-the-castle-of-baena-into-a-spa/#comments Fri, 21 Aug 2015 13:48:40 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=15216 Baena is a picturesque small town in Andalucía near Cordoba. It lies at the slope of a hill crowned with a medieval castle. Plan is to turn this into a spa.

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Baena is a picturesque small town in Andalucía near Cordoba. It lies at the slope of a hill crowned with a medieval castle. Plan is to turn this into a spa.

The present fame of Baena accrues to its production of high quality olive oil which has a long history of production in the area. Exhibitions on how olive oil was produced historically are on display at the Museo Arqueológico (Archaeological Museum) on Calle Henares.The location is in an old Olive Oil Mill

This fact effectively silences one of the more horrible massacres in the Civil war, which took place in 1936 when at least 700 persons were brutally murdered (other sources count more than 2000 victims). This was part of a general purging of Andalucian countryside, which was orchestrated by the fascists. This part of Baena’s history is nevertheless effectively silenced in the official tourism promotion of the town.

Long history

Castillo in Beana before restorationUntil then Baena had been a typical peaceful rural town situated on the hillside beneath the ruins of a medieval castle and a central church with the landowners’ houses on the upper slopes and the workers living down below.

The history of the town dates back to Roman times, but it was more important in Moorish times. In fact its name stems from Bayyana, which was turned into a madinah, a proper Arabic city named after Medina. Very little, though, is left from that period apart form the minaret of a former mosque, which now functions as the tower of the 16th century Santa Mariá la Mayor, the church in the centre. The Almedina (the Arabic quarter) can be traced in the general town-plan. Next to the mosque turned church was the local alcazar located.

In 1241 Bayyana became Christian Baena. In the following centuries it was the property of the king. At this point the earlier fortress was rebuilt in order to provide a haven for the locals in times of unrest. Later in the beginning of the the castle was turned into a small palace complete with private rooms, patios wit arcades etc.

Castillo in Beana In 1897 the place was auctioned off and the castle grounds passed into private ownership. At this point the place was already falling into ruins and the monument was used as a stone quarry. Between 1927 and 1959 a water deposit was built inside the fortified patio.

In 2005 the restoration of the alcazar in Baena was initiated in order to crate a communal cultural space. In connection with this a series of archaeological excavations were carried out. Part of these plans was to renovate the local historical museum as well as creating lookouts where the surrounding countryside may be sampled. Currently the town is finalising the renovation/reconstruction of the castle and working towards opening it to the public.

At the same time the authorities are busy rethinking how to use the renovated castle grounds and especially the underground “cellars” which have surfaced inside  the former water tanks.

One plan is to build the amenities for a spa with mineral waters inside the castello. Exactly how this is going to play out is not known at present. The investment is calculated to be between €300.000 and €700.000; money which is currently sought in a public-private collaboration

The water was recently certified by the Ministry of Health and comes from a spring in Cueva del Yeso, a local grotto located 8 km north of Baena

Archaeological and historical exhibition

Lion from Baena exhibited in Museo Histórico y Arqueológico de BaenaThe local museum is installed in the Casa de la Tercia from the 18th century

Here a number of spectacular finds discovered in connection with the extensive archaeological excavations carried out in 2007 – 10 are exhibited  as well as an extensive collection of Ibero-Celtic sclptures (and copies of them): the socalled lions of Baena

Nearby the fascinating remains of an Iberic-celtic town have been excavated. Here at Torreparedones the remains of a city founded in the 6th century BC have been excavated. In connection with this a pagan temple from the 4th century BC was discovered in 1988. It has been interpreted as an important sacrificial site. At the excavations more than 56 statues were found, probably votive in character. The were dismantled and destroyed in the first century AD. They are exhibited at Baena.

MORE ON BAENA:

Pamphlets (in Spanish) can be downloaded from the official tourism site

SEE MORE:

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Mystery of the Rhynie Manhttp://www.medievalhistories.com/mystery-of-the-rhynie-man/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/mystery-of-the-rhynie-man/#comments Fri, 21 Aug 2015 09:50:09 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=15206 Archaeologists aim to unravel the mystery of the Rhynie Man, a Pictish symbol stone from the 5th century

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Archaeologists aim to unravel the mystery of the Rhynie Man, a Pictish symbol stone from the 5th century

Rhynie Man When a farmer ploughing an Aberdeenshire field in 1978 uncovered a six-foot high Pictish stone carved with a distinctive figure carrying an axe, it quickly earned the name the ‘Rhynie Man’, coined from the village in which it was found.

But in the decades since its discovery, little more is known about the Pictish figure, who he was or why he was created. Now a team of archaeologists from the University of Aberdeen are leading a dig, which they hope will yield answers to the mystery of Aberdeenshire’s ‘oldest man’.

Believed to date from the fifth or sixth century, the Rhynie Man carries an axe upon his shoulder, has a large pointed nose and wears a headdress

Dr Gordon Noble, a Senior Lecturer in archaeology at the University of Aberdeen, says their excavations would focus on the area around where the Rhynie Man was first found by local farmer Kevin Alston at Barflat and around the Craw Stane, another Pictish standing stone.

He says: “We did significant work at Rhynie in 2011/12 and identified that the area was a high-status and possibly even a royal Pictish site. We found many long distance connections such as pottery from the Mediterranean, glass from France and Anglo-Saxon metal work with evidence to suggest that intricate metalwork was produced on site.

The excavations also brought to light the remains of a body laid to rest in a carefully made sandstone grave. Some have identified this as the grave of a Pictish “prince” or “princess”.

Many Theories

Craw Stane. Source: Wikipedia/Ray Berry
Craw Stane. Source: Wikipedia/Ray Berry

“Over the years many theories have been put forward about the Rhynie Man. However, we don’t have a huge amount of archaeology to back any of these up so we want to explore the area in which he was found in much greater detail to yield clues about how and why he was created, and what the carved imagery might mean”, tells Gordon Noble, who adds: “From the evidence we have already, it looks like the Rhynie man stood somewhere near the entrance to the fort. We want to try and identify exactly where he was standing as this will give us a better idea how he fits into the high status site and what his role may have been. The Rhynie Man carries an axe of a form that has been linked to animal sacrifice and we also hope to discover more evidence that might support the theory that he was created as part of ceremonies and rituals for high-status events, perhaps even those for early Pictish royal lineages. This may also help us to better understand the imagery used and why the Rhynie Man is depicted in this way. Standing at more than 1.8 metres, the stone must have been an impressive sight to anyone coming to Rhynie some 1500 years ago.”

Aberdeenshire Council Archaeologist, Bruce Mann, explains that “The ongoing work is not only helping us to reveal more about this little understood period of history, but is proving to be a fantastic opportunity for people to actively learn about part of the rich history of Aberdeenshire.

“One day we will understand not only ‘who’ the Rhynie Man was, but also what part the Picts played in the early development of the village. It’s a very exciting time for the community, and I hope everyone enjoys visiting both the dig and the local area.”

Rhynie in Aberdeenshire

The Rhynie man is not the only Pictish symbol stone found at Rhynie, a village in Aberdeenshire situated north of Alford.. All-in-all eight carved boulders have been located. Among these is the “Craw Stane”, depicting a salmon and an unknown animal. This also reaches 1.8 metres into the air. Originally, though, it has reached higher. It may be found in a field uphill beyond the churchyard. Other stones are exhibited in the churchyard beneath a rough shelter. The Rhynie-man itself is exhibited at the entrance to the headquarters of Aberdeenshire Council on the edge of Aberdeen. However, villagers in Rhynie have campaigned to bring the stone “back”.

Engaging the public

Excavations will continue throughout the week and on Saturday August 22 and 29 the archaeology team will take part in public open days showcasing previous finds at Rhynie and some of their initial thoughts on the current dig.

To help the public understand more about the Rhynie Man and Rhynie’s Pictish standing stones, the open day on Saturday August 22 will also feature stone carving with Monikie Rock Art, a Pictish pop-up café with ‘Rhynie Woman’, an artist collective that aims to raise awareness of the local landscape. On Saturday August 29, there will be a further open day to showcase what has been found in 2015 with site tours, activities on site for children and the Pictish café with Rhynie Woman will run once again.

Both days will run from 10-5pm. Visitors can park in the village and walk up to the Craw Stane field on the south of the village. Or they can park in the churchyard and walk up from there.

SOURCE:

Archaeologists aim to unravel the mystery of the Rhynie Man. Press release by Joanne Milne

READ MORE:

Pictish Symbol Stones in Aberdeenshire

Between prehistory and history: the archaeological detection of social change among the Picts
by Gordon Noble, Meggen Gondek, Ewan Campbell and Murray Cook
In: Antiquity, Volume 87, Issue 338, December 2013, pp 1136-1150

Map of Rhynie in Aberdeenshire

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History of Fifteenth-Century Musichttp://www.medievalhistories.com/the-cambridge-history-of-fifteenth-century-music/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/the-cambridge-history-of-fifteenth-century-music/#comments Thu, 20 Aug 2015 12:21:57 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=15201 The Cambridge History of Fifteenth-Century Music is bound to be vigorously studied by scholars, musicologists, art historians and performers.

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Cambridge History of Fifteenth Century Music CoverThe Cambridge History of Fifteenth-Century Music is bound to be vigorously studied by scholars, musicologists, art historians and performers.

The Cambridge History of Fifteenth-Century Music 
Series: The Cambridge History of Music
By Professor Anna Maria Busse Berger (Editor), Dr Jesse Rodin (Editor)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press 2015
ISBN-10: 1107015243
ISBN-13: 978-1107015241

Through forty-five creative and concise essays by an international team of authors, this Cambridge History brings the fifteenth century to life for both specialists and general readers. Combining the best qualities of survey texts and scholarly literature, the book offers authoritative overviews of central composers, genres, and musical institutions as well as new and provocative reassessments of the work concept, the boundaries between improvisation and composition, the practice of listening, humanism, musical borrowing, and other topics. Multidisciplinary studies of music and architecture, feasting, poetry, politics, liturgy, and religious devotion rub shoulders with studies of compositional techniques, musical notation, music manuscripts, and reception history. Generously illustrated with figures and examples, this volume paints a vibrant picture of musical life in a period characterized by extraordinary innovation and artistic achievement.

A must for anyone with a vested interest in late medieval music!

 

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Crusading and Pilgrimage in the Norman Worldhttp://www.medievalhistories.com/crusading-and-pilgrimage-in-the-norman-world/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/crusading-and-pilgrimage-in-the-norman-world/#comments Thu, 20 Aug 2015 11:55:12 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=15194 Norman relationship with crusading and pilgrimage, so central in many ways to Norman identity, has hitherto not received extensive treatment. New book tells the story

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Norman relationship with crusading and pilgrimage, so central in many ways to Norman identity, has hitherto not received extensive treatment. New book tells the story

Crusading and pilgrimage in the Norman World CoverCrusading and Pilgrimage in the Norman World
Edited by Kathryn Hurlock and Paul Oldfield
Boydell Press 2015
13 Digit ISBN: 9781783270255

The reputation of the Normans is rooted in warfare, faith and mobility. They were simultaneously famed as warriors, noted for their religious devotion, and celebrated as fearless travellers. In the Middle Ages few activities offered a better conduit to combine warfare, religiosity, and movement than crusading and pilgrimage. However, while scholarship is abundant on many facets of the Norman world, it is a surprise that the Norman relationship with crusading and pilgrimage, so central in many ways to Norman identity, has hitherto not received extensive treatment.
The collection here seeks to fill this gap. It aims to identify what was unique or different about the Normans and their relationship with crusading and pilgrimage, as well as how and why crusade and pilgrimage were important to the Normans. Particular focus is given to Norman participation in the First Crusade, to Norman interaction in later crusading initiatives, to the significance of pilgrimage in diverse parts of the Norman world, and finally to the ways in which crusading and pilgrimage were recorded in Norman narrative. Ultimately, this volume aims to assess, in some cases to confirm, and in others to revise the established paradigm of the Normans as crusaders par excellence and as opportunists who used religion to serve other agendas.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

  • 1  Introduction
  • 2  ‘Many others, whose names I do not know, fled with them': Norman Courage and Cowardice on the First Crusade
  • 3  The Enemy Within: Bohemond, Byzantium and the Subversion of the First Crusade
  • 4  Norman Italy and the Crusades: Thoughts on the ‘Homefront’
  • 5  The Norman Influence on Crusading from England and Wales
  • 6  The Secular Clergy of Normandy and the Crusades
  • 7  Norman and Anglo-Norman Intervention in the Iberian Wars of Reconquest Before and After the First Crusade
  • 8  The Pilgrimage and Crusading activities of the Anglo-Norman Earls of Chester
  • 9  The Use and Abuse of Pilgrims in Norman Italy
  • 10  Antioch and the Normans
  • 11  The Landscape of Pilgrimage and Miracles in Norman Narrative Sources
  • 12  Normans and Competing Masculinities on Crusade
  • 13  Select Bibliography

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Dr Kathryn Hurlock is Senior Lecturer in Medieval History at Manchester Metropolitan University; Dr Paul Oldfield is Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Manchester.

Contributors: Andrew Abram, William M. Aird, Emily Albu, Joanna Drell, Leonie Hicks, Natasha Hodgson, Kathryn Hurlock, Alan V. Murray, Paul Oldfield, David S. Spear, Lucas Villegas-Aristizábal.

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Medieval Graffiti in Englandhttp://www.medievalhistories.com/medieval-graffiti-the-lost-voices-of-englands-churches/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/medieval-graffiti-the-lost-voices-of-englands-churches/#comments Thu, 20 Aug 2015 10:38:02 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=15181 Images of compasses, windmills, sundials, circles, ships and much more were doodled onto medieval church walls by in massive numbers. A new book tells the story of this medieval graffiti

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Images of compasses, windmills, sundials, circles, ships and much more were doodled onto medieval church walls by in massive numbers. A new book tells the story of this medieval graffiti

Medieval Graffiti: The Lost Voices of England's Churches In 2010 Matt Champion started registering graffiti in medieval churches. In 2014 he revealed that more than 28.000 images had so far been recorded from Norfolk even though only a third of the Cathedral itself had so far been inspected. Since then a popular movement has been growing all over England. In short: it has become a very popular local sport to re-discover and document these delightful drawings. A new book by medieval archaeologist, Michael Champion tells the story.

Medieval Graffiti: The Lost Voices of England’s Churches 
by Matthew Champion
Ebury Press 2015
ISBN-10: 009196041X
ISBN-13: 978-0091960414

For centuries carved writings and artworks in churches lay largely unnoticed. So archaeologist Matthew Champion started a nationwide survey to gather the best examples. In this book he shines a spotlight on a forgotten world of ships, prayers for good fortune, satirical cartoons, charms, curses, windmills, word puzzles, architectural plans and heraldic designs. Drawing on examples from surviving medieval churches in England, the author gives a voice to the secret graffiti artists: from the lord of the manor and the parish priest to the people who built the church itself.

Here are strange medieval beasts, knights battling unseen dragons, ships sailing across lime-washed oceans and demons who stalk the walls. Latin prayers for the dead jostle with medieval curses, builders’ accounts and slanderous comments concerning a long-dead archdeacon. Strange and complex geometric designs, created to ward off the ‘evil eye’ and thwart the works of the devil, share church pillars with the heraldic shields of England’s medieval nobility.

READ MORE:

A survey of medieval churches in Suffolk is just about to be launched, and anyone interested in volunteering or learning more about the project is invited to visit www.medieval-graffiti.co.uk

FEATURED PHOTO:

Ship from Wiveton church on the north Norfolk coast. © www.medieval-graffiti.co.uk

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Francis I – Big Boy and Larger than Lifehttp://www.medievalhistories.com/francis-i-big-boy-and-larger-than-life/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/francis-i-big-boy-and-larger-than-life/#comments Wed, 19 Aug 2015 15:14:55 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=15129 This year France celebrates the life and times of one of its greatest monarchs, Francis I (1494 -1547). Here is a short introduction with recommended readings.

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This year France celebrates the life and times of one of its greatest monarchs, Francis I (1494 -1547). Here is a short introduction with recommended readings.

Europe at the beginning of the 16th century was peopled with a number of kings, who by all measures were “larger than life” – Henry VIII with his six wives, Charles V who as king of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor ruled a vast and sprawling empire reaching from the Far East to the Americas, Christian II, who was ruler of all Scandinavia and the Baltic and Francis I, one of the greatest French monarchs. To this panoply should be added the Muslim sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent.

The Cultural Background

Matteo del Nassaro, François Ier en cuirasse, vers 1540 – BnF, Monnaies, médailles et antiques,Camée 780 © BnF
Matteo del Nassaro, François Ier en cuirasse, vers 1540 – BnF, Monnaies, médailles et antiques,Camée 780 © BnF

Uniting these towering figures – and many of their lesser minions – was more than anything the cultural climate, in which they grew up. To begin with this panoply was peopled – to name but a few – by intellectual giants like Erasmus of Rotterdam, Martin Luther and not least, Niccolò Machiavelli. However, Renaissance artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Holbein, Cranach, Raphael and Titian deserve to be mentioned since they played such important roles in the overall framing of the lives and times of these Renaissance princes.

This story has been told in very many ways since Jacob Burchardt established himself as the progenitor of the budding field of cultural history in 1860 by publishing his magnum opus on “The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy”. This is definitely still worth reading and should be on your list.

However, a fine – and generally up-to-date introduction to all this is the recently updated third edition of “The Italian Renaissance: Culture and Society in Italy” by Peter Burke, professor emeritus of Cultural history at the University of Cambridge. This is heartily recommended. Another more general introduction is “The Renaissance in Europe” by Margaret L. King. A fourth general introduction is the collection of introductions edited by Keith Whitlock: The Renaissance in Europe. It is heavily recommended to begin with these introductions.

The Machiavellian Moment

Illumination by unknown artist. In:  Guillaume Budé, L’Institution du prince, vers 1518-1519. BnF, Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, MS-5103, fol. 1 v° © Bibliothèque nationale de France
Illumination by unknown artist. In: Guillaume Budé, L’Institution du prince, vers 1518-1519.
BnF, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, MS-5103, fol. 1 v°
© Bibliothèque nationale de France

From 1494 to 1559 Italy was ravaged by what was later named “The Great Italian Wars” but is known primarily as the Italian Wars. Involved were most of the city-states of Italy, the papal state as well as the major European “players” at that time: France, Spain, The Holy-Roman Empire, England and Scotland. An accompanying conflict was the religious wars, which played out in Europe North of the Alps from 1546 and which did not end until 1648.

Keen observer of the initial dismemberment of Italy in the wake of the warring between The Holy Roman Emperors and the French Kings was Niccolò Machiavelli (1469 -1527), who took part in the government of Florence after the fall of Savonarola in 1498. However, in 1512 this government fell and the Medici’s returned to power. At this point Machiavelli was imprisoned, tortured and later banished from the city. This lead to a sojourn in his family home at   where he wrote one on the most enduring treatises on political theory: the Prince. Although not printed until 1532, five years after his death, manuscripts circulated amongst European intellectuals as well as princes.

The treatise was written as if it was a traditional “Mirror of Princes”. In fact, however, it was more of a political analysis of how powerful politics were played out than an exposé of how it should be done. As Machiavelli wrote: He, who neglects what is done for what ought to be done, sooner effects his ruin than his preservation”. Incidentally the book came to inspire people pursuing power – then as now. Whether it was meant as a satire or a disillusioned political analysis is a matter for the professionals. We, the mere mortals, will read it because it so enlightening when trying to understand the business of these renaissance kings, and how their politics came to be treated as a science apart from religion and morality. At what point Francis I came to read the book is not known precisely, but as it contained a biographical sketch of his predecessor we may be pretty sure it must at some time have become part of his personal royal library, where it accidentally joined up with other treatises on the correct way to behave as a prince. Mentioned might for instance be the manuscript written by Guillaume Budé : De l’institution du prince which was presented to him in 1519 and Desiderius Erasmus’: The Education of a Christian Prince from 1516. Or the bestseller of them all: Castiglione’s The Courtier, which in an early version was claimed by the author to have been inspired by Francis I, whom he met in 1515.

Roi-Chevalier

La Bataille de MarignanAttribué au Maître de la RatièreMilan, [vers 1515]Bibliothèque et archives du château deChantilly
The Battle at Marignan 1515. Maître de la Ratière Milan. © Bibliothèque et archives du château deChantilly
Francis was born in 1494 as the son of Charles d’Orléans, Count of Angoulême. His father died early on and his extensive education was supervised by his mother, Louise of Savoy. Due to Louis XII’s lack of heirs he became next in line to the French throne. In 1506 he was betrothed to the daughter of the king, Claude de France, and in 1508 he took up residence at the court, where he began as apprentice to the king. It was while fulfilling this role, his cousin the ruling king Louis XII exclaimed that “This Big Boy will ruin everything”. On January 1st he was proclaimed king of France.

This was an expansionary time, when princes constantly had to police their borders while at the same time be seen to uphold the territorial claims of their ancestors. Those of Francis’ included districts and cities bordering on the Netherlands and the Holy Roman Empire plus the Kingdom of Naples, Southern Italy and Sicily and the Duchy of Milan. All-in-all he spent 20 of his 32 years as king going to war. At first he was quite successful routing the Old Swiss Confederacy at Marignano and thus pawing the way for French reclamation of the Duchy of Milan. Nevertheless, in 1525 this was followed by the disaster at Pavia in 1525, when Francis I was captured by Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. The next year was spent in custody in Madrid, while the conditions for a release were negotiated. It stands to reason these were harsh and when the king finally returned to France he renegaded even though his two eldest sons had been exchanged for the king. The two boys, 8 and 7 spent the next four and a half years in Madrid until he had payed his way and seceded Burgundy.

He is not considered to have been a military genius but he did succeed in skillfully negotiating diplomatic relations with his allies and enemies while at the same time projecting an image of his royal power in a wider European context. This was partly the result of his near-continuous alliances with the heretic Henry VIII as well as the Ottoman Sultan. Thus he succeeded in holding the holy Roman Emperor at bay. But war was a defining characteristic of the politics of that time (as Machiavelli did explain) and Francis was personally engaged in both traditional war-games like jousting and hunting as well as present at the various battlefields.

Royal Prestige

Anne de Pisseleu, Mistress of francis I. By Corneille de Lyon © Metropolitan Museum of Art
Anne de Pisseleu, Mistress of francis I. By Corneille de Lyon © Metropolitan Museum of Art

Primarily, though, he is remembered for his personal charisma and his support of art, architecture, literature and history. In this he was aided and abetted with his childhood friend Anne de Montmorency.

At the centre of this effort were his building projects – not least the castles at Blois, Chambord and Fontainebleau. Here he housed his steadily growing collections of books and manuscripts as well as his art collection. He also had a collection of natural oddities kept in a cabinet. During his lifetime his agents scoured the Italian peninsula in order to discover pieces of art (much in the same manner as medieval kings had worked to amass collections of relics). Classical sculptures, beautiful manuscripts and famous paintings still grace the national collections of France witnessing to this mania.

Francis is also known for his seemingly innumerable lovers and his 205 (?) poems, which some scholars have found bland and insipid, while others have characterised them as filled with haunting emotive inspiration. Recently his more personal letters have been characterised as examples of poetic prose. A full evaluation, though, is hampered by the lack of proper and full editions of his letters, official as well as private. Some of his poems were later set to music, but it is not believed he personally composed this.

VISIT IN 2015:

Francis I King of France 1515 – 2015
Exhibition in Paris and general presentation of the anniversary

The Century of Francis I
Exhibition at Domaine de Chantilly
07.09.2015 – 07.12.2015

Royal Treasures of Francis I of France’s library
Château de Blois
04.07.2015 – 18.10.2015

READ MORE:

General Introductions:

Burkhardt The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy Penguin edition CoverThe Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy
By Jacob Burkhardt
Countless editions since 1860 with the first English translation in 1878.
Penguin edition 1990. (Penguin Classics) ISBN 0-14-044534-X
Electronically available at archive.org

 

 

 

 

The Italian renaissance by peter Burke coverThe Italian Renaissance: Culture and Society in Italy
By Peter Burke
Third edition and with a new preface by the author
Princeton University press 2014
ISBN: 9780691162409

 

 

 

 

The Renaissance in Europe CoverThe Renaissance in Europe
by Margaret King
latest reissue by Laurence King Publishers 2013
ISBN-10: 0072836261
ISBN-13: 978-0072836264

 

 

 

The renaissance in Europe a reader coverThe Renaissance in Europe: A Reader
Edited by Keith Whitlock
Yale University Press 2000
382 p., 7 1/2 x 9 3/4
ISBN: 9780300082234

The Machiavellian Moment

cambridge companion to machiavelli - coverThe Prince
by Nicolo Machiavelli
Translated by W. K. Marriott 1903

The Cambridge Companion to Machiavelli
By John M. Najemy
‪Cambridge University Press 2010
ISBN: 9780521678469

History of Renaissance France

rise and fall of renaissance france coverThe Rise and Fall of Renaissance France, 1483-1610
Robert J. Knecht
Wiley-Blackwell: 2 edition 2002
ISBN-10: 0631227296
ISBN-13: 978-0631227298

 

 

 

 

renaissance France at War Cover‪Renaissance France at War: Armies, Culture and Sociey c. 1480 – 1560.
By D. Potter
Boydell Press 2008
ISBN-10: 1843834057
ISBN-13: 978-1843834052

 

 

 

 

The french renaissance Court coverThe French Renaissance Court
By R. J. Knecht
Publisher: Yale University Press (June 30, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0300118511
ISBN-13: 978-0300118513

 

 

 

 

Queens and Mistresses of France CoverQueens and Mistresses of Renaissance France
By Kathleen Wellman
Yale University Press 2013
ISBN: 9780300178852

 

 

 

 

 

Renaissance Monarchy CoverRenaissance Monarchy: The Reigns of Henry VIII, Francis I and Charles V
By G. J. Richardson
Bloomsbury Academic 2002
ISBN-10: 0340731435
ISBN-13: 978-0340731437

Biographies:

Renaissance Warrior and Patron- The Reign of Francis I‪Renaissance Warrior and Patron: ‪The Reign of Francis I
By R. J. Knecht
Cambridge University Press 1994
ISBN-10: 052157885X
ISBN-13: 978-0521578851

 

 

 

 

french Renaissance Monarchy - CoverFrench Renaissance Monarchy: ‪Francis I & Henry II
By R. J. Knecht
Routledge 2008
ISBN-10: 0582287073
ISBN-13: 978-0582287075

 

 

 

 

 

Francois I. Pouvois et image - bnf coverFrançois Ier. Pouvoir et Image.
Ed by Bruno Petey-Girard and Magali Vène together with d’Estelle Boeuf-Belilita and Lucile Trunel
BnF 2015
ISBN: 978-2-7177-2622-0
ISBN: 9782717726220

 

 

 

 

max gallo francois I coverFrançois Ier, Roi de France, Roi-Chevalier, Prince de la Renaissance française
By Max Gallo
XO Editions 2014
ISBN-10: 2845636814
ISBN-13: 978-2845636811

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ferrand Francois I coverFrançois Ier, roi de chimeres
By Franck Ferrand
Flammarion 2014

FEATURED PHOTO:

Buste de François Ier © Château Royal de Blois – photo F. Lauginie

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Francis I and his Library at Château de Bloishttp://www.medievalhistories.com/francis-i-and-his-library-at-chateau-de-blois/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/francis-i-and-his-library-at-chateau-de-blois/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 17:20:42 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=15117 This year France commemorates the 500-year anniversary of one of its more significant kings, Francis I. Together with Bibliothèque national de France the Château de Blois has mounted an exhibition of his library in its original surroundings The Château de Blois is one of the finest castles in the Loire Valley and a must-see for any cultural traveler visiting …

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This year France commemorates the 500-year anniversary of one of its more significant kings, Francis I. Together with Bibliothèque national de France the Château de Blois has mounted an exhibition of his library in its original surroundings

The Château de Blois is one of the finest castles in the Loire Valley and a must-see for any cultural traveler visiting this part of France. Its history dates back to the 13th century but elements of Renaissance architecture are most prominent. This is mainly due to Francis I, who on the behest of his wife began an extensive refurbishing of the castle in 1515. Part of this was also the organization and expansion and of the massive library there. Already his predecessor had reunited the family collection of the Orléons’, the collection of Charles VIII’s from Amboise and the books seized from the Visconti-Sforza library during the Italian campaigns of 1499 and 1500. This was expanded upon by Francis. Accrding to an inventory from1518 1,626 manuscripts and printed volumes belonged to the collection. Apart from religious texts, hunting manuals and medieval romances a number of classical texts in Latin were listed. During his reign, Francis added a number of volumes in Greek and Hebrew.

However, after her death in 1524, Francis moved to the Château de Fontainebleau and with him (in 1544) went the library. At that point nearly 1900 volumes were listed in an inventory. To this should be added the personal library of the King, which was unfortunately never inventoried. Later these collections were incorporated in the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

This year, however, his first library has been reconstructed. For the very first time since the 16th century, the most valuable books from the collection of Francis I have been brought together again. With a selection of other art objects the 140 books and manuscripts witness to the immense importance of the book culture of his time.

The Collection

Exhibition room at chateau de Blois The library of Francis IAmong the exceptional works presented here are:

  • Les Grandes heures d’Anne de Bretagne with illuminations by Jean Bourdichon
  • Les Heures de Louis de Laval illuminated by Jean Colombe
  • An embroidered Renaissance Book binding
  • The Robert Estienne Bible printed in 1540
  • The 9th century Charlemgane Gospels with a binding made for Francis I.

Some of the exhibited books have never been shown publicly before.

The exhibition has been organized around the provenience of the books. Thus the books inherited from his parents and grandparents are shown apart, while those, which belonged to the king’s private cabinet, have been kept apart.

The three rooms show examples of the

  • The Angoulême Inheritance
    Here is shown books, which belonged to his parents and grandparents, but also books used in the upbringing of the future king of France, Francis I.
  • The Royal Library at Blois. This collection consisted of volumes acquired by his ancestors, former kings of France.
  • The Kings Personal Library
  • The confiscated books, which belonged to the Bourbon Family
  • The Italian Library
  • The Humanist library with Greek and Orientalist books and manuscripts
  • The King’s private cabinet

The Library

Unknown, Illumination dedicated to a young prince In:  Guillaume Budé, L’Institution du prince, vers 1518-1519. BnF, Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, MS-5103, fol. 1 v° © Bibliothèque nationale de France
Unknown, Illumination dedicated to a young prince In: Guillaume Budé, L’Institution du prince, vers 1518-1519.
BnF, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, MS-5103, fol. 1 v°
© Bibliothèque nationale de France

Around 1500 the library at Blois occupied a room between the dry moat and the courtyard, where now the Gaston d’Orléans wing is found. The room was furnished with two fireplaces at each end with manuscripts and books laid out on wooden planks placed one on top of the other. Little cupboards held the most precious volumes.

Surviving contemporary descriptions suggest the way, the library in Blois was organized. A contemporary described it thus:

“In the castle, or rather Palace, we saw a library consisting of a sizeable room not only furnished with shelves from end to end but also lined with book-cases from floor to ceiling, and literally packed with books – to say nothing of those put away in chests in an inner room. These books are all of parchment, handwritten in beautiful lettering and bound in silk of various colours, with elaborate locks and clasps of silver gilt”. (Travel Journal of Antonio de Beatis, 1517, p. 133.)

The curators have sought to recreate this atmosphere by using colours from the illuminated opening page of the Paraphrase d’Erasme sur l’Evangile saint-Matthieu (BnF, Mss., Français 934), by the Parisian painter Noël Bellemare.

VISIT:

Trésors Royaux: La bibliothèque de François Ier
Château de Blois
04.07.2015 – 18.10.2015

VISIT MORE:

Francis I King of France 1515 – 2015
Exhibition in Paris and general presentation of the anniversary

The Century of Francis I
Exhibition at Domaine de Chantilly
07.09.2015 – 07.12.2015

CATALOGUE:

Trésors royaux - La bibliothèque de François Ier coverTrésors royaux – La bibliothèque de François Ier
Ed. by Maxence Hermant
Presses universitaires de Rennes 2015
ISBN/EAN – 9782753541856

 

 

 

FEATURED PHOTO:

 

Les Grandes heures d’Anne de Bretagne, illuminated at Tours circa 1508 by Jean Bourdichon for the Queen, Anne of Brittany– BnF, Manuscrits, Latin 9474 © BnF

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Francis I – Warrior King and Patron of Arthttp://www.medievalhistories.com/francis-i-warrior-king-and-patron-of-art/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/francis-i-warrior-king-and-patron-of-art/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 14:22:28 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=15094 This year France celebrates the cultural and artistic heritage from the reign of Francis I. After an exhibition in Paris has ended, Chantilly offers insights into the life of the king and his reign.

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This year France celebrates the cultural and artistic heritage from the reign of Francis I. After an exhibition in Paris has ended, Chantilly offers insights into the life of the king and his reign.

How did Francis I – who was victorious at Marignano in 1515 but defeated ten years later in Pavia – save his reign? By becoming a patron of the arts and a protector of literature. “The century of Francis I” exhibition at Chantilly illustrates the extraordinary impetus the king gave to literature and arts. Illuminated manuscripts, architectural drawings, paintings and decorative art objects demonstrate the immense cultural influence of the man, who won the battle of Marignano but was defeated at Pavia.

The Century of Francis I

Portrait de François Ier Jean Clouet, [Vers 1524] Musée Condé
Portrait of Francis I by Jean Clouet.. Musée Condé
In 2015 France Francis I is honoured for his services to culture and humanism. As the ultimate Renaissance Prince – pace his contenders to this throne: Henry VIII and Charles V – he surrounded himself with scholars and scientists, and the greatest artists of his time were drawn to him. He worked on an unprecedented scale to enhance the royal collections, encouraging the distribution of books and formalising the French language.

“The century of Francis I” exhibition demonstrates how Francis I sought compensation through art and culture. In so doing, the French monarch became a key figure of his century, surrounded by artists, humanists and printers.

Some 200 pieces are exhibited, allowing visitors to gain a better understanding of the high points of his reign. They provide an opportunity to plunge into the universe of the king and discover his family and his court in the drawings of Jean and François Clouet; or to compare the portrait of the King by Clouet, which has been lent by the Louvre museum, with sketches of it kept at Chantilly.

But it is perhaps the collection of the books of the king, which merits the largest interest. Here visitors will be invited to explore Francis I’s cultural enthusiasm, spirit and ambition. The King’s Book Collection at Chantilly is the second largest collection of works that belonged to Francis I, next to that of the National Library of France (heir to the former royal library). Exhibiting these works will enable visitors to discover the king’s favourite books, as well as certain manuscripts that are veritable emblems of the art of illumination that can only be viewed in Chantilly. This part of the exhibition may be enhanced by another ongoing exhibition at Blois.

In particular, the first three books of Diodorus of Sicily and two of the three volumes of the Commentaries on the Gallic War, illuminated by Godefroy le Batave and the extremely rare Discourse on War and Peace by Machiavelli, printed in 1544 should be mentioned.

Presented together for the first time ever in the Jeu de Paume at Chantilly books, paintings, decorative arts, gold and silverware, drawings and prints illustrate the invention of the unique French relationship between power and culture, which is the living legacy of Francis I.

VISIT:

The Century of Francis I
Exhibition at Domaine de Chantilly
07.09.2015 – 07.12.2015

VISIT MORE:

Francis I King of France 1515 – 2015
Exhibition in Paris and general presentation of the anniversary

Royal Treasures of Francis I of France’s library
C
hâteau de Blois
04.07.2015 – 18.10.2015

READ MORE:

Francois I le Roi-chevalier cover rFrançois Ier : le roi-chevalier
By Georges Bordonove
Pygmalion 2013
ISBN: 9782756409504

VISIT:

Domaine de ChantillyThe Century of Francis I
Domaine de Chantilly
07.09.2015 – 07.12.2015

VISIT MORE:

Francis I of France 1515 – 2015

FEATURED PHOTO:

Detail from: Les Trois premiers livres de Diodore Sicilien, historiographe grec Traduit par Antoine Macault Enluminé par Jean Clouen, Noël Bellemare et le Maître de François de Rohan. Parus en 1534 Bibliothèque et archives du château de Chantilly.

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Margaret of Cortona and her Legendahttp://www.medievalhistories.com/margaret-of-cortona-and-her-legenda/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/margaret-of-cortona-and-her-legenda/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 13:08:35 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=15082 The Life of Margaret of Cortona is a precious biography from the end of the 13th century detailing the life of a lay penitent woman living on the fringes of the early Franciscan movement

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The Life of Margaret of Cortona is a precious biography from the end of the 13th century detailing the life of a lay penitent woman living on the fringes of the early Franciscan movement. She continues to draw scholarly interest.

The Creation of a Franciscan Lay Saint: Margaret of Cortona and her Legenda
Mary Harvey Doyno, California State University, Sacramento
In: Past & Present Volume 228, Issue 1Pp. 57-91

ABSTRACT:

Story of st margaret of cortona by unknown Italian master, Museo Diocesano di Cortona
Story of St. Margherita di Cortona by unknown Italian master, Museo Diocesano di Cortona

Margaret of Cortona (1247 -1297) was born in Laviano near Perugio but spent most of her adult life in Cortona. She was was an unmarried laywoman who, after living for years as the concubine of a nobleman from Montepulciano, she came to Cortona with her “illegitimate” son around 1272, seeking protection and spiritual help after the death of her lover had left her homeless.

Margaret of Cortona’s arrival in the city must have been the talk of the town. Within a few years of her arrival in the city, Margaret had asked the Cortonese Franciscans to allow her to wear their penitential habit, a decision that would not only mark her new dedication to a penitential life but also offer her an association with a religious order on the rise in the city.

Although the friars were at first sceptical — Margaret’s beauty and youth led them to question her commitment — they eventually relented, and in 1277 they allowed her to wear a habit that would mark her as a Franciscan lay penitent.

However, new research by Mary Harvey Doyno demonstrates that the Franciscans continued much longer than hitherto suspected to be sceptical about the religious fervour of this unattached woman with a scandalous past, who claimed to have visionary access to Christ. Penitents like her seem to have raised complex questions for the mendicant friars, whose early history was marred by struggles between factions trying to balance their respect fort Franciscan heritage with the need to be publicly recognised by the Papacy. In this situation any whiff of heresy attached to an adherent might complicate matters further and the Franciscans seem to have kept a much more marked distance to the would-be-saint than has hitherto been acknowledged. It was not until 1289 the penitents were formally organised inside “the Third order of Franciscans”.

In the end she was declared a delusional fraud and moved from her cell near the friary in town to take up residence in a dilapidated church outside Cortona at San Basilio, where she was eventually buried and where a local cult developed. The church was renamed Santa Margarita. She was not canonized until 1728.

We know quite a lot about her life thanks to the Legenda de vita et miraculis Beatae Margaritae de Cortona written by her confessor, fra Giunta Bevegnati. This is the most extensive biography of a Franciscan penitent, which exists.

READ MORE:

Legenda de Vita et Miraculis beatae Margaritae de Cortona
Ed. By Fortunato Iozzelli
Bibliotheca Franciscana Ascetica Medii Aevi, tom. 13.
Grottaferrata 1997
ISBN 8870131718
ISBN-13 9788870131710

Margherita of Cortona and the Lorrenzetti CoverMargherita of Cortona and the Lorrenzetti: Sienese Art and the Cult of a Holy Woman in Medieval Tuscany.
By Joanna Cannon and Andre Vauchez.
Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999.
ISBN: 0-271-01756-2.

 

 

 

 

The Life of Saint Margaret of CortonaThe Life and Miracles of Saint Margaret of Cortona (1247 – 1297), Translated by Thomas Renna and edited by Shannon Larson.
Saint Bonaventure, New York:
Franciscan Institute Publications 2012
ISBN: 9781576593011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Italian Trade in Eleventh-Century Mediterraneanhttp://www.medievalhistories.com/calamity-and-transition-re-imagining-italian-trade-in-the-eleventh-century-mediterranean/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/calamity-and-transition-re-imagining-italian-trade-in-the-eleventh-century-mediterranean/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 09:36:08 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=15072 Around AD 1000 the Mediterranean was criss-crossed by a huge number of diverse vessels running out of the Levant. Hundred years later Italian cities came to dominate

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Around AD 1000 the Mediterranean was criss-crossed by a huge number of diverse vessels shifting people and merchandise back and forth. Although an open system, it was dominated by merchants operating out of Alexandria, Mahdia and Palermo. Hundred years later Italian cities came to dominate. Article by Romney David Smith explores this shift.

Calamity and Transition: Re-Imagining Italian Trade in the Eleventh-Century Mediterranean
By Romney David Smith
In: Past & Present Vol. 228, Issue 1: pp. 15 – 56

ABSTRACT:

Cramic Bowl from 1175 -1225 showing Mediterranean ship. From National Museum of San Matteo, Pisa. Source Wikipedia/Saiko
Cramic Bowl from 1175 -1225 showing Mediterranean ship. From National Museum of San Matteo, Pisa. Source Wikipedia/Saiko

In the year 1000, the Mediterranean thrummed with a commerce as vital as any that has graced its waters. With its heart in Egypt, a trading network spanned the sea from east to west. Its merchants were chiefly Muslims and Jews, and their ships hailed from ports in the House of Islam: Alexandria, Mahdia and Palermo; as witnessed by the evidence from the Geniza archives from Cairo.

At this time “merchants of various nationalities were able to traverse the Mediterranean, restricted only by risk and opportunity, on ships of disparate origins. Thee ships were open to paying passengers, who might exert influence over their routes, and were not necessarily bound by political divisions. Goods regularly changed hands, and travelled on the ships under the eyes of the merchants or their agents. There was no distinction between trading vessels, state-owned ships, passenger ships, or pirate ships. Nor were merchants clearly defined” (p. 35). These characteristics suggest an open network, writes Smith, characterized by opportunities followed by all an sundry: Christians, Jews, Muslims, merchants, peddlers and pilgrims. As such it was quite different to monopolistic corporate bodies like the late medieval Northern European Hansa or the late medieval system of commerce operated by Venetian investors who worked to import goods to Venice shipped on Venetian ships.

According to Romney David Smith this system did not change radically during the 11th century. What changed was the ownership and origin of the ships. This process was fostered by “The Great Calamity”: the contraction and even dissolution of the former mighty political power-spheres of the Fatimid Caliphate, The Umayyad Caliphate, The Byzantine Empire and the Italian Kingdom. Whether caused by climate change and environmental disasters (famines caused by cash-cropping and plagues) or civil wars is not necessarily important to decide for Smith. His interest is to note the de facto dissolution of these former mighty powers into what in a Muslim context came to be known as Taifas and in a Christian context turned into the city-states.

This void created a series of opportunities for the merchants and tradesmen operating out of the Italian regions, while Southern dominance of the network waned. A significant witness to this shift is the number of Italian cities, which were mentioned as partners in the Mediterranean trade-network. In 970 -1040 Muslims registered five ports on the Italian peninsula. In 1150 the number had increased to 33. (p. 53)

“A century later, the situation had thus been transformed: Italian merchants traversed the sea, and their ships emerged from the quays of Pisa, Genoa or Amalfi. By the late twelfth century, once prosperous North African entrepôts were begging for Italian patronage”, writes Smith

He continues: “Abrupt shifts in maritime hegemony are not rare, but the economic transition of the eleventh-century Mediterranean has attracted little attention, perhaps because of the sense of manifest destiny that has usually accompanied it in accounts of European predominance. Crusade narratives, for instance, often take for granted the seaborne supremacy that made them possible. And from a long-term perspective, the outlines of this economic transition are well known: first, the direction of trade was reversed from south to north; second, the trade techniques of the south were adopted in the north. What we do not know is how this reversal took place.

It is the purpose of this very interesting paper by Romney David Smith to propose a mechanism whereby the open Mediterranean trading-network of the 10th century fostered remarkable opportunities at a time when the power-centres on the southern coast of the Mediterranean lost their former steam. In the end this led to the reversal of the political power-play in the region where Muslim expansion was eventually replaced by Crusading.

FEATURED PHOTO:

The Madrid Skylitzes is a richly illustrated illuminated manuscript of the Synopsis of Histories (Σύνοψις Ἱστοριῶν), by John Skylitzes, which covers the reigns of the Byzantine emperors from the death of Nicephorus I in 811 to the deposition of Michael IV in 1057. The manuscript was produced in Sicily in the 12th century, and is now at the Biblioteca Nacional de España in Madrid, with the shelfmark MS Graecus Vitr. 26-2. The drawing shows a fierce fight with Greek Fire.

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Richard of Saint-Vannehttp://www.medievalhistories.com/imagining-religious-leadership-in-the-middle-ages-richard-of-saint-vanne-and-the-politics-of-reform/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/imagining-religious-leadership-in-the-middle-ages-richard-of-saint-vanne-and-the-politics-of-reform/#comments Mon, 17 Aug 2015 10:43:20 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=15065 Richard of Saint-Vanne (970–1046) was the abbot of the influential northeastern French Monastery of St. Vanne from 1004 to 1046. New book focus on how he imagined his role as religious leader.

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Richard of Saint-Vanne (970–1046) was the abbot of the influential northeastern French Monastery of St. Vanne from 1004 to 1046. During his lifetime he succeeded in rebuilding the monastery as both a religious and political centre. New book focus on how he imagined his role as religious leader.

Imagining Religious Leadership in the Middle Ages
Richard of Saint-Vanne and the Politics of Reform
By Steven Vanderputten
Cornell University Press 1015
ISBN- 10: 0-8014-5377-1
ISBN-13:  978-0-8014-5377-9
GTIN13 (EAN13)     9780801453779

ABSTRACT:

Imagining Religious Leadership in the Middle Ages coverAround the turn of the first millennium AD, there emerged in the former Carolingian Empire a generation of abbots that came to be remembered as one of the most influential in the history of Western monasticism. In this book Steven Vanderputten reevaluates the historical significance of this generation of monastic leaders through an in-depth study of one of its most prominent figures, Richard of Saint-Vanne. During his lifetime, Richard (d. 1046) served as abbot of numerous monasteries, which gained him a reputation as a highly successful administrator and reformer of monastic discipline. As Vanderputten shows, however, a more complex view of Richard’s career, spirituality, and motivations enables us to better evaluate his achievements as church leader and reformer.

Vanderputten analyzes various accounts of Richard’s life, contemporary sources that are revealing of his worldview and self-conception, and the evidence relating to his actions as a monastic reformer and as a promoter of conversion. Richard himself conceived of his life as an evolving commentary on a wide range of issues relating to individual spirituality, monastic discipline, and religious leadership. This commentary, which combined highly conservative and revolutionary elements, reached far beyond the walls of the monastery and concerned many of the issues that would divide the church and its subjects in the later eleventh century.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Introduction

  1. Imagining Richard in Medieval and Modern Historiography
  2. Ecclesiastical Office, Religious Virtuosity, and the Apostolic Imperative
  3. Imagining Saint-Vanne
  4. “Founder and Head of Many Monasteries”
  5. Converting the World

Conclusion

Appendix A: Chronology of Major Events in Richard’s Life
Appendix B: The Life of Roding
Appendix C: Monastic Reading at Saint-Vanne
Appendix D: Overview of Richard’s Abbacies Outside of Saint-Vanne
Appendix E: Overview of Richard’s “Priors”
Appendix F: Overview of Richard’s Successors

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Gracious Times by Jehan de Lescurelhttp://www.medievalhistories.com/gracious-times-by-jehan-de-lescurel-performed-by-syntagma/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/gracious-times-by-jehan-de-lescurel-performed-by-syntagma/#comments Mon, 17 Aug 2015 08:20:16 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=15050 Syntagma recently published a media book on the work of Jehan de Lescurel

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Syntagma recently published a media book on the work of Jean de Lescurel

The well-known group “Syntagma” recently published a media book with essays on Jehan de Lescurel, his poetry and his time (early 14th century). The publication contains 70 min. with recording of his music (in French and English; poetical texts in old and contemporary French, English and German. Illustrations from the Ms 1588 with the courtesy of the Bibliothèques-Médiathèque de Metz.)

Jehan de Lescurel

Nothing is known of his life other than that he was the son of a merchant in Paris, and he probably received his musical training at the Notre Dame cathedral. He was a transitional figure from the trouvère period to the ars nova. His lyrical style unites him with the composers of the later period, and they clearly thought highly enough of him to include his music in the same manuscript which preserves the Roman de Fauvel.

Most of his works are monophonic songs, in the style of the trouvères; only one of his 34 works was polyphonic, although he wrote other works which have not survived. The songs are virelais (five), ballades (fifteen), rondeaux (twelve)  and two dits entés; they include word painting more in the style of the later 14th-century composers and are simple and charming. Debauchery is not a prominent theme and his poems are much less didactic than that of earlier composers in the trouvères tradition.

Songé .I. Songe
Jehan de Lescurel. Chansons & Dit Enté “Gracïeus temps”
Total playing time: 70’26,
livre illustré: 160 pages – Fr, Engl,poetical texts also in German
By Syntagma under the direction of Alexandre Danilevski
FacSimile-Records 2015
EAN 3003651420002

READ AND LISTEN:

 

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Authorship in the Middle Ages and Laterhttp://www.medievalhistories.com/authorship-in-the-middle-ages-and-later/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/authorship-in-the-middle-ages-and-later/#comments Mon, 17 Aug 2015 07:40:54 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=15042 The Authorship, Theoretical Reflections and Practical Analysis is an international conference focusing on variations of authorship from the Middle Ages until today

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The Authorship, Theoretical Reflections and Practical Analysis is an international conference focusing on variations of authorship from the Middle Ages until today

The Authorship, Theoretical Reflections and Practical Analysis
University of Santiago de Compostela’s Facultity of Geography and History and Facultity of Philosophy
22.10.2015 – 23.10.2015

Background

In the last third part of the 20th Century, historical, philosophical and social scientific different trends converged in a common interest: to problematize author and authorship’s concepts. This issue has already emerged in the late 60’s, but it was the Internet appearance and the uprising of technology in academic activities that made it went in depth and, at the same time, became more complex in theoretical terms. In History and Historiography’s fields, the idea of authorship becomes a relational concept, losing in this way its autonomy and relatively isolation as approach, which was typical in the traditional perspectives. The concept of author refers to one or several biographies at the same time, depending on the particular work and on the context or historical moment. Authorship is comprehensive of a biography and a series of works that closely related with multiple collective contexts and perceptions. The author is then part of a historical world that defines the way he choses the subjects and the structure of his work, he publishes his texts and also the way he reaches some kind of public projection. Most frequently, the author belongs to an authorship community, with which he negotiates, collaborates or starts different arguments. These three actions are usually reflected in certain texts, and sometimes they produce jointly made narratives; the already mentioned uprising of technology in academic and cultural activities emphasizes this relation.

In a historiographical field, authorship, co-authorship, collective authorship, author groups direction, independent authors coordination or published works compilation are a particularly complex exercise of interaction, conciliation and responsibility. From the moment the author decides to publish his work, he must face the requirements of the publishing market, as well as the universities commercial and corporative orientations and the industrial trends. Such kind of conditioning, especially in the academic world, may affect the choice for certain authorship forms or communicative strategies. The author – and particularly the historian – writes for different publics that show interest in using his texts and that, directly or indirectly, influence the way the author presents his works and himself. Therefore, nowadays, authorship is not only a published book; it is a work that is a commercial object, a historiographic narration, a historiographical construction.

The author can be studied from different perspectives: his own biographical “name”, the works that he makes in his own name, all the symbolic references ttached to it and all the marketing strategies placed but publishers companies.. Some authors like Roland Barthes even consider that the author has disappeared and has been replaced by the advent of the reader as well as for a culture that is value-orientated.

The texts produced by the authors are not exclusively the result of their personal experience or their capacity for analysis. In other words, the analysis of an author’s theory, text or work cannot be interpreted only by a point of view based on biographical and conceptual structure. Since the Middle Ages, each historiographical production work has been always connected with other texts: the ones that influence author’s interpretative models, the ones that offer similar studies and the ones that provide evidentiary documents that prove author’s theory and explications. Thus, textual documents citations and previous researches’ bibliographical references are crucial for those that study the past. Intertextuality acquires in this way not only the meaning given to it by Gérard Genette, but also a wider epistemological significance, for example in a grammatical way just like conceived Jacques Derrida. In a information society context, with technology’s industrialization, telematics webs hipertextuality stimulate intertextuality, throwing it into a whole new context which consequences in the author’s concept broadening deserve a detailed consideration.

Call for papers

The aim of this call and this Congress is then to analyse and to reflect on these subjects from a widespread and varied point of view without limits of domain, considering all variations of authorship forms, from the Middle Ages to today’s world. The main purpose is to delve into the critical reflection of author terms, biographical name, work and writing’s concepts, their different backgrounds, relations, production and reception’s contexts. Contributions are welcome to consider these and other related subjects, from a particular topic disciplinary analyses point of view, or from specific study cases that may reveal significant issues.

  • Dates:
    – Until September 7 2015: Papers or posters submission must be sent to israel.sanmartin@usc.es.
    – September 14 2015: Acceptance notification
    – October 22 and 23 2015: Congress
  • Places:
    The Congress will take place at University of Santiago de Compostela’s Facultity of Geography and History and Facultity of Philosophy.
  • Publication:
    Papers will be published in a collective volume with double-blind peer review evaluation system.
  • Fees:
    – General: 30 euros
    – Predoctoral Fellowship Holders: 20 euros
    – Students and Unwaged: 10 euros

FEATURED PHOTO:

Hildegard of Bingen dictates to her Secretary Volmar. Since then medievalists have hotly contested “who” was the real author of her work.  From: Liber Divinorum Operum Lucca Biblioteca Statale Cod 1942. Source:

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Castle in Conisbroughhttp://www.medievalhistories.com/castle-in-conisbrough/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/castle-in-conisbrough/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 19:04:01 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=15016 Conisbrough lies near Doncaster in one of the poorest parts of England. But it holds two medieval jewels – a very early Anglo-Saxon church and a magnificent Norman Castle Spending a Saturday night in Conisbrough is a heart-warming experience. Apart from having to try and escape inhaling the fumes from the local pubs while walking …

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Conisbrough lies near Doncaster in one of the poorest parts of England. But it holds two medieval jewels – a very early Anglo-Saxon church and a magnificent Norman Castle
Conisbrough Castle Wall
Conisbrough Castle Wall © Medieval Histories

Spending a Saturday night in Conisbrough is a heart-warming experience. Apart from having to try and escape inhaling the fumes from the local pubs while walking past, or surmounting the trouble of finding anything at all to eat – because everybody has suspended with this basic need until the carveries open on Sunday – it is downright mysterious to see people still coming together for a pint (or two as I happens). This may be one of the most downtrodden villages in the old mining districts in Southern Yorkshire, houses may be derelict and small children are without exception dressed up in cheap patent-leather shoes. Nevertheless the local community soldiers on with a basic friendliness towards each other and any odd medievalist on a field-trip.

As a warm-hearted and very helpful woman explained to me rather surprisingly over breakfast: “this place is in fact rather “medieval”; we all know each other down to every bit and detail”, she said. She had been watching “Secrets of the castle with Ruth, Peter and Tom” (BBC) and obviously felt the comparison to be to the point.
Contributing to this “medieval aura”, though, which she so keenly experienced, is probably also the towering castle, which seems to dominate the old mining town.

With its magnificent great tower it  must absolutely be considered one of the most “castly” castles in Good Old England. Although abandoned in the early 16th century, locals obviously had enough stones to quarry elsewhere, and even if it was robbed of parts of its wall, it was early on thought of as a very picturesque ruin. Famously, it inspired Sir Walter Scott to write his most novel “Ivanhoe”, a connection, which the place still profits from. Today it is cared for by “English Heritage” and a group of friendly and knowledgeable curators and guides, who work to turn it into a must-see for both local schoolchildren and the odd tourist, while gently fanning the Ivanhoe-connection.

Strategic location

Conisbrough castle seen from the river Don
Conisbrough castle seen from the river Don. Source: Wikipedia

The best way to get a feeling for the landscape is to climb the mighty tower, which was built into the curtain wall of the inner baily some time in the late 12th century on top of a promontory of limestone. From up here it is possible to look down on the river Don and its confluence with the river Dearne and the ancient Roman road, which led from Doncaster to Templeborough. Here is also a view towards Strafford Sands, where the Don used to be forded. This was probably the traditional meeting place for the Viking Wapantake of Strafforth Hundred (Strafford is probably derived from Stratford or Street-ford(ing). It was also on the line of the ancient border between Mercia and Northumbria.

Obviously the castle was located in such a way that it was possible to oversee the movements of goods and men from the North to the South. But it was also possible to collect customs of the agricultural produce freighted down the river Don to East of England.

It is generally believed that Conisbrough was part of an old Anglo-Saxon/ Viking administrative unit, which was owned by Earl Harold Godwinson, who seized the English throne after Edward in 1066; and who was killed at Hastings in the same year. Very soon after one of the most trusted companions in arms of William, William de Varenne, was appointed the first earl of Varenne. He had married a distant relative of Queen Matilda, called Gunrada.

At that time the honour of Conisbrough consisted of 28 villages covering most of the south eastern corner of southern Yorkshire.

In Doomsday, Conisbrough is described as a village with 21 villagers, 11 smallholders, two mills and a priest. All-in-all they worked 16 plough-teams, of which 5 belonged to the lord and 11 belonged to the village. But Conisbrough was only a small part of the wealth of William de Varenne, who held land in 13 counties all over the country. In modern money his holdings have been estimated to be worth £57 billion, a record in Britain during the last millennium.

At that time earth banks and timber palisades probably surrounded the inner bailey. Inside, there would have been a timber-framed hall, a kitchen and a chamber. There was probably also an outer bailey covering the ground to the west.

The Grandiose Keep

chapel conisbrough
Chapel in the keep at Conisbrough © Medieval Histories

The present castle was built in the late 12th century by their grandchild, Isabel de Warenne who was married to William, son of king Stephen. Later she married Hamelin of Anjou, King Henry’s illegitimate brother.

The unique feature of the castle is its round tower faced with finely dressed limestone. These had been sourced locally to the east of the village. With six buttresses it appears more robust from the outside than from the inside, where the visitor gets a sense of a small and private apartment, which must have been at the height of its fashion at the time of construction.

At the ground floor there was a huge well and probably storage room, which was accessed via a ladder from the first floor. Exactly how this was used is not known. Second floor held a great chamber, which is believed to have been richly furnished. One of the fine details is the magnificent chimneypiece next to which was a water basin fed by rain-water via lead pipes from the roof. The third floor was used as bedroom. Here was yet another chimneypiece, which although smaller served to make the room cosy.

From here a doorway led to a small chapel located in one of the buttresses. A smaller and more cramped doorway led into a sacristy, where the vestments and holy vessels would have been kept. Perhaps this was also used to house the “treasure” consisting of jewels, coins, drinking vessels and the like. This was the private chapel of the lord and his family. Another chapel was in the grounds of the inner baily. used by the servants in the castle. Here in the inner bailey was also the great hall used for the business transactions carried out whenever the lord was in residence. Later in the 14th century a so-called solar was attached to the west end of the great hall. This furnished the earl and his family with more comfortable rooms than those in the great tower built by their ancestors 150 years earlier.

The Church of St. Peter

The interior of St Peter i Conisbrough
The interior of St. Peter i Conisbrough Medieval Histories

Walking down the hill from the castle and up another we find the centre of the small village with its church, graveyard and former centre square (now busy road). The church is arguably the oldest Anglo-Saxon Church in Yorkshire. It is believed to have been built around AD 740, but excavations indicate there was an even earlier wooden predecessor.

Archaeological excavations have demonstrated that the church was perhaps built in an enclosure. It has been speculated that it was part of a very early monastic of royal compound located near the place, where the battle of Idle is supposed to have taken place in AD 616. Another hypothesis is that the findings indicate a wall of a stock-pond for fish, which has been dendrochronologically dated to the end of the 6th or the beginning of the 7th century. This would also indicate that the church was built in connection with an upper-status settlement (monastery and/or royal hall) aka Conungesburh – the Kings Burgh.

As it stands today the church is an amalgamation of different building materials and periods. The early church was curiously enough constructed of a mixture of reused Coals Measure sandstones and reused blocks of limestone, probably quarried from a nearby Roman villa-site, but they may also have come from the Roman forts at Templeborough further to the West and ferried down the Don. Nevertheless, it is an impressive building with a nave measuring 13.4 x 5.28 metres. The original chancel was enlarged in or around 1050 and further extended in the 15th century. The Normans also added the aisles, which gives the church a very wide character.

VISIT:

Conisbrough Castle
Located north-east of Conisbrough town centre off A630; 4 1⁄2 miles south-west of Doncaster

Conisbrough St. Peter
Opening Times: The church is open every day from 9:00am – 4:00pm with a few exceptions.

SOURCES:

guidebook-conisbrough-castle-newThe Conisbrough Estate and the southern boundary of Northumbria. Environmental and archaeological evidence from a late sixth/early seventh century structure and a later deer park boundary at Conisbrough South Yorkshire.
By Paul C. Buckland, David Hey, Richard O’Neill and Ian Tyers.
Unpublished paper 2013

Conisbrough Castle
By Stephen Brindle and Agnieszka Sadraei
English Heritage Guidebooks 2015

Landscape, Conservation, and Action Plan.
Dearne Valley Partnership 2014

 

 

SEE MORE:

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Oldest Qur’an Manuscript in the world?http://www.medievalhistories.com/oldest-quran-manuscript-in-the-world/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/oldest-quran-manuscript-in-the-world/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 13:26:57 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=15006 Scholars from the University of Birmingham claims a fragment of a manuscript to be part of the oldest Qur'an in the world. But what is the evidence?

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Scholars from the University of Birmingham claims a fragment of a manuscript of the Qur’an in their possession is one of the oldest in the world. But what is the evidence?

According to a press-release from the University of Birmingham a fragment of a manuscript is said to be from one of the oldest Qur’ans in the world. The evidence cited is a radiocarbon analysis, which has dated the parchment on which the text was written to the period between AD 568 and 645 with 95.4% accuracy. The test was carried out in a laboratory at the University of Oxford. The result places the leaves close to the time of the Prophet Muhammad, who is generally thought to have lived between AD 570 and 632.

Susan Worrall, Director of Special Collections (Cadbury Research Library), at the University of Birmingham, says that: ‘The radiocarbon dating has delivered an exciting result, which contributes significantly to our understanding of the earliest written copies of the Qur’an. We are thrilled that such an important historical document is here in Birmingham, the most culturally diverse city in the UK.’

The Qur’an manuscript is part of the University’s Mingana Collection of Middle Eastern manuscripts, held in the Cadbury Research Library. Funded by Quaker philanthropist Edward Cadbury, the collection was acquired to raise the status of Birmingham as an intellectual centre for religious studies and attract prominent theological scholars.

Consisting of two parchment leaves, the Qur’an manuscript contains parts of Suras (chapters) 18 to 20, written with ink in an early form of Arabic script known as Hijazi. For many years, the manuscript had been misbound with leaves of a similar Qur’an manuscript, which is datable to the late seventh century.

Susan Worrall said: ‘By separating the two leaves and analysing the parchment, we have brought to light an amazing find within the Mingana Collection.’ Dr Alba Fedeli, who studied the leaves as part of her PhD research, said: ‘The two leaves, which were radiocarbon dated to the early part of the seventh century, come from the same codex as a manuscript kept in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris.’

Context

quran-manuscript Birmingham University Mingana CollectionExplaing the context and significance of the discovery, Professor David Thomas, Professor of Christianity and Islam and Nadir Dinshaw Professor of Interreligious Relations at the University of Birmingham, said: ‘The radiocarbon dating of the Birmingham Qur’an folios has yielded a startling result and reveals one of the most surprising secrets of the University’s collections. They could well take us back to within a few years of the actual founding of Islam.

‘According to Muslim tradition, the Prophet Muhammad received the revelations that form the Qur’an, the scripture of Islam, between the years AD 610 and 632, the year of his death. At this time, the divine message was not compiled into the book form in which it appears today. Instead, the revelations were preserved in “the memories of men”. Parts of it had also been written down on parchment, stone, palm leaves and the shoulder blades of camels. Caliph Abu Bakr, the first leader of the Muslim community after Muhammad, ordered the collection of all Qur’anic material in the form of a book. The final, authoritative written form was completed and fixed under the direction of the third leader, Caliph Uthman, in about AD 650.

‘Muslims believe that the Qur’an they read today is the same text that was standardised under Uthman and regard it as the exact record of the revelations that were delivered to Muhammad.

‘The tests carried out on the parchment of the Birmingham folios yield the strong probability that the animal from which it was taken was alive during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad or shortly afterwards. This means that the parts of the Qur’an that are written on this parchment can, with a degree of confidence, be dated to less than two decades after Muhammad’s death. These portions must have been in a form that is very close to the form of the Qur’an read today, supporting the view that the text has undergone little or no alteration and that it can be dated to a point very close to the time it was believed to be revealed.’

Dr Muhammad Isa Waley, Lead Curator for Persian and Turkish Manuscripts at the British Library, said: ‘This is indeed an exciting discovery. We know now that these two folios, in a beautiful and surprisingly legible Hijazi hand, almost certainly date from the time of the first three Caliphs. According to the classic accounts, it was under the third Caliph, Uthman ibn Affan, that the Qur’anic text was compiled and edited in the order of Suras familiar today, chiefly on the basis of the text as compiled by Zayd ibn Thabit under the first Caliph, Abu Bakr. Copies of the definitive edition were then distributed to the main cities under Muslim rule.

‘The Muslim community was not wealthy enough to stockpile animal skins for decades, and to produce a complete Mushaf, or copy, of the Holy Qur’an required a great many of them. The carbon dating evidence, then, indicates that Birmingham’s Cadbury Research Library is home to some precious survivors that – in view of the Suras included – would once have been at the centre of a Mushaf from that period. And it seems to leave open the possibility that the Uthmanic redaction took place earlier than had been thought – or even, conceivably, that these folios predate that process. In any case, this – along with the sheer beauty of the content and the surprisingly clear Hijazi script – is news to rejoice Muslim hearts.’

Wishful Thinking?

The last comment is of course exactly where the snag is buried. We must ask: From where is it known that this beautiful manuscript was not written on stockpiled parchment? As a matter of fact a beautiful manuscript written on parchment cannot be produced without stockpiling the prepared skin before one proceeds to write it. The reason is of course that animal skin comes in all sorts of qualities. In order to produce a book, which looks homogenous such skins has to be stockpiled in advance in order for it to be possible at some point to choose leaves of parchment of the same colour, quality, size etc. This is especially the case for such beautiful manuscripts as the one here presented to the public.

These particular fragments of the Qur’an might thus very well have been written later than what the radio-carbon-dating says. In fact this is likely!

Such quibbles, though, does not seem to have stopped the press office at the University to publish a press release aiming at the Muslim community in Birmingham and elsewhere, claiming it – in the words of Dr Muhammad Isa Waley – to be news, which must “rejoice Muslim hearts”. Nor has it seemingly allowed the quoted Qur’an Scholars expressing any caution or doubt; let alone pointing to the real and fascinating part of the study of these very early texts, which is that a number of interesting scribal variants may easily be found; and that it is through the diligent, but perhaps less heroic study of these, an understanding of the very early composition and dissemination of the Qur’an may be carried out. As demonstrated by the work carried out on the texts by Dr. Alba Fedeli, who has made the important discovery.

The Qur’an manuscript will be on public display at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham, from Friday 2 October until Sunday 25 October.

Karen Schousboe
(The presentation of the manuscript  etc. is from the press release.)

READ ALSO:

Sensational Fragment of Very Early Qur’an Identified 
A fragment of a Qur’an in the University Library at Tübingen may be dated back to the 7th century

READ MORE:

Early Qur’ānic manuscripts, their text, and the Alphonse Mingana papers held in the Department of Special Collections of the University of Birmingham
By Fedeli, Alba (2015) 
Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

Abstract

The Special Collections of the Cadbury Research Library at the University of Birmingham hold seven early Qur’ānic pieces on parchment and papyrus dating from the seventh century. Alphonse Mingana purchased them from the antiquarian dealer von Scherling in 1936. Through investigation of the private correspondence of Mingana and archival documents, this research provides new information about the origin and history of the fragments, whose reception has been influenced by the European cultural context at the beginning of the twentieth century, in contrast with the public image proposed in catalogues, official documents and previous studies.

Furthermore, this research is an attempt to initiate an alternative perspective in analysing and editing the physical objects and texts of early Qur’ānic manuscripts by applying digital philology, thus using XML-encoded expressions to transcribe all of the richness of manuscripts in reconstructing the history of their transmission. This perspective interprets the process of the making of the manuscript text and the context in which the manuscript was written, thus editing its mobile and multi-layered text, differently from previous examples of the edition of early Qur’ānic manuscripts.

 

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Einhard’s Basilica in Michelstadthttp://www.medievalhistories.com/einhards-basilica-in-michelstadt/ http://www.medievalhistories.com/einhards-basilica-in-michelstadt/#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2015 17:24:41 +0000 http://www.medievalhistories.com/?p=14988 In 815 Louis the Pious granted Michelstadt and Seligenstadt to his faithful courtier, Erhard. One church still stands and makes Michelstadt worth a detour for all Carolingian scholars

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In 815 Louis the Pious granted Michelstadt and Seligenstadt (Mulinheim) to his faithful courtier, Erhard. Later he built churches there and fitted them with relics, stolen from the Catacombs in Rome. One church still stands and makes Michelstadt worth a detour for all Carolingian scholars
Odenwald-michelstadt
…”Through the descent of Brombach into the Mümling; from there to the oak tree between Grafschaft and Munitat…”. The oaks, which Einhard used as markers in the landscape are long gone. But a new one opens the vista towards Michelstadt.

A little under a year after the death of Charlemagne (AD 814), Einhard was able to secure a grant of some land east of Lorsch in Hessen between the rivers Main and Neckar. Here in the Odenwald (Odonewalt) was a small place with a wooden church to which belonged approximately 15 to 34 km2 of land [1]. Within this boundary lived fourteen servants with their wives and children plus forty “dependant men and woman”. If a Carolingian manse – farm – was app. 8 – 10 ha, this means that no more than 5 – 10% of the land was cultivated by a small population of somewhere between 100 -120 people (today more than 8927 live in Michelstadt today). [2]

Of course these figures are very tentative. However in 819 Einhard and his wife Imma decided to have their land in Michelstadt transferred to Lorsch. In connection with this we find that Einhard – probably in person – did a field-walk together with the elders from the hamlet in order to get a proper feeling for the place. It appears from this (Dutton, p. 56) that the area stretched north to south and not east to west as the local district does today. It is possible there was some sort of manor located in the midst of the property, as was the case later on. However this is not mentioned in the grant. What we get is a sense of a hilly landscape covered with woods and oak-trees and traversed by the valley of Mümling fed by numerous minor creeks, watercourses and small rivers. As it is today!

Later Einhard himself described the place as “a certain remote piece of property, that was well out of most people’s way” [3]

Einhard’s Basilica in Steinbach

Plan of Einhard's Basilica by Otto Müller
Plan of Einhard’s Basilica by Otto Müller

Nevertheless, he embarked upon a major venture: the building of a large and impressive church of red sandstones, which quite remarkably still stands as a witness to the entrepreneurial spirit of this little, big man. Of course nearly 1200 years have set their mark on the edifice as it stands today. Nevertheless, the building still retains large parts of its original plan and and it is here we get – better than anywhere else – a feeling for the Carolingian masterplan of Christianisation as it unfolded in a far-a-way corner of the empire.

Michelstadt Steinbach Einhard's basilica interior
In Einhards time the arches opened up into the aisles. Source: Wikipedia

Lucky for us, however, Michelstadt never became the vibrant religious centre, which Einhard had dreamed of. After he had secured his longed-for relics – the bones of St. Marcellinus and Peter – from Rome, he tells us the saints came in a dream to one of his servants and commanded to be translated once more to a new and more convenient place. In the end the remains of the two saints were carried to Seligenstadt, where Einhard had more success with attracting religious persons (monks) who might help him in creating the framework for at prosperous pilgrim-centre. Curiously enough Einhard writes that the “people who lived nearby were entirely ignorant about what we were doing” [4]. (They were probably tired of having been commandeered to work on the prestigious new basilica.)

It was not until 1073 that Lorsch became interested in sending a delegation of monks to Michelstadt. In 1235 it was taken over by nuns, which left the place after the reformation. Hereafter the convent was turned into a spital. This, however, was destroyed in the 30-year was and the next centuries the building was used by the local count as a boathouse and shed for firewood. Luckily these functions needed to be kept under sturdy roofs. This was no small matter since it probably saved the building. Since the 1990’s the basilica has undergone extensive restoration and today it welcomes visitors on a pilgrimage to this extraordinary relic of the Carolingian world.

Michelstadt

Stadtmauer Kellerei Michelstadt
So-called “Kellerei” – a rambling collection of buildings erected on top of a former “castle”

Originally Michelstadt is believed to have been a small Roman settlement located at the crossroad of two roads built to support castells on the Limes. During the Early Middle Ages it seems as if the settlement turned into the small and insignificant village, which figures in the writings of Einhard. However, in the later Middle Ages Michelstadt changed again into a proper small German town complete with a wall, a late-Gothic church (1461 – 90), a famous city hall (from 1484) and an apothecary (from 1551). Later a railroad linked the town with Darmstadt und Eberbach and turned the place into a thriving industrial hotspot with a number of small-scale factories. It is still possible to travel by train to Michelstadt. However, the railroad is also served by the local association of “railroaders” , which offer old-fashioned excursions with steam-locomotives.

It is really nice to take a walk along the wall in the evening looking into a miniature world of old timber-framed houses. At one corner the local renaissance “castle” – the Kellereihof – is built into the wall. Beneath is said to be the remains of an early medieval castle (not excavated).

The place to stay in Michelstadt is “Zum Grünen Baum”. The hotel, which is fitted with a traditional beer-garden and restaurant, has been run by the same family since 1667, but the building is older. If brave, try out the local “kochkäse” served on bread and with “musik” = pickled onions.

Einhardweg

In the 1990’s locals organised a trail from Michelstadt to Seligenstadt, mimicking the last step in the translation of the relics of Marcellinus and his friend, Peter.

NOTES:

[1] The measurement says that the area stretched for two leagues (4.4 km) or one rasta (6.6 km). The area of a circle with the radius of 2.2 km/3.3 km gives the area presented here.) But it was obviously not a circular area, but a long area covering the valley from Michelstadt and up through the Valley of Mümling.

[2] Donatio Einhardi et Immae de cella Michlenstat. The charter is translated in: Charlemagne’s Courtier. By Paul Edward Dutton. Broadview Press 1998, p. 43 – 44. Cella means small church.

[3] Charlemagne’s Courtier op. cit. p. 54 – 57

[4] Charlemagne’s Courtier op. cit. p. 81

SOURCE:

Einhards-Basilika CoverEinhards-Basilika. Michelstadt-Steinbach
By Thomas Ludwig
Edition der Verwaltung der Staatlichen Schlösser und Gärten Hessen . Brochure 18.
Schnell & Steiner 2003

 

 

 

 

Die Einhards Basilika CoverDie Einhards-Basilika in Steinbach bei Michelstadt im Odenwald
By Thomas Ludwig, Otto Müller und Irmgard Widdra-Spiess.
Verlag Phillip von Zabern in Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft 1996
ISBN-10: 3805313225
ISBN-13: 978-3805313223

READ ABOUT EINHARD:

Ich und Karl der Grosse PatzoldIch und Karl der Große: Das Leben des Höflings Einhard
By Steffen Patzold
Klett-Cotta 2014
ISBN-10: 3608947647
ISBN-13: 978-3608947649

 

 

 

 

Charlemagne's coutier by Dutton Charlemagne’s Courtier.
By Paul Edward Dutton.
Broadview Press 1998
ISBN-10: 1551111349
ISBN-13: 978-1551111346

 

 

 

 

Map of Michelstadt

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