Abstracts: Buildings, Planning, and Networks of Medieval Cities I and II

Buildings, Planning, and Networks of Medieval Cities I

Thursday, May 11, 2017
Session 77
Presider: Mickey Abel, University of North Texas

The Congregation of Tiron: Urban Development in Medieval France and Britain
Ruth Cline, Georgetown University

Founded ca. 1108, and under the aegis of the bishop and cathedral chapter of Chartres, Tiron Abbey was rural and remote but attracted skilled artisans displaced by famine. The monastery survived by selling their wares in Chartres, acquiring property near the market ca. 1120, a priory near the cathedral and comital palace ca. 1130, houses near the educational center, and ovens, forges, and textile and tanning facilities near the river. Tiron expanded in Châteaudun ca. 1131 with a large suburban estate on the Loire that as not elevated to a priory but was a base for southern vineyards, wheat farms, milling, and pilgrim traffic. In 1138, Tiron acquired a headquarters and fief in the modern 75004 arrondissement. Tiron expanded its holdings in Paris over the ensuing centuries, concentrating them near the docks north and south of the Ile Saint-Louis and in the Latin Quarter.  The pattern suggests trading and advanced education, mirroring Tiron’s earlier move into Chartres.

By 1120 Tiron had priories on the Southampton Water at Hamble and at Saint Cross, Isle of Wight, in modern north Newport near the head of the Medina estuary flowing to the Channel at Cowes. In modern downtown Newport, Saint Cross owned shops and houses, one on St. Cross Pier, and houses in coastal ports facilitating transit between England and France. The Scottish abbeys of Kelso and Arbroath had extensive urban holdings, including townhouses in all the royal boroughs. Kelso controlled the churches and schools of nearby Roxburgh. Arbroath Abbey ran the harbor, market, and courts of Arbroath and had considerable property in Aberdeen: coastal land, a church, and a ferry boat on the Dee. Tiron’s involvement in the economic growth and urban expansion of the twelfth century governed its urban planning.

Resident and Absentee Planners in New Town Development of Thirteenth-Century Languedoc
Catherine Barrett, University of Oklahoma

The century between 1150 and 1250 was a time of sea change in the relationships between lords and commoners in Languedoc. Whereas up until the mid-twelfth century many rural settlements were centered around a church, a monastery, or a castle, beginning at this time a wave of new town foundations for commercial gain was initiated. In these towns, the central focus was a marketplace; a void in which all sorts of goods might be exchanged.

Towns founded by the counts of Toulouse and their lieutenants were given charters with formulaic elements, one of which was the specification of common lot sizes for new inhabitants. These lot allotments suggest town plan frameworks, and indeed some of them are still in evidence today. These lords, however, were not inhabitants of these towns, and once having launched their framework for development, they expected a body of elected officials to direct day to day affairs and to that end provided for the creation of this administrative group in their charters.

To offer a contrast to the rough physical skeletons sketched by the charters of the secular lords, which stand on their own merits, I will compare an example of much more specific control of urban form and public health through documents from Aurillac. Here, thirteenth-century abbots-lords, who were resident at the monastery of Saint-Géraud of Aurillac, micro-managed town form and the health of the citizens, at least attempting to ensure an orderly life for those within the orbit of their care.

Angevin Manfredonia and the Development of a New Adriatic Port
Alexander Harper, Princeton University

This paper examines the urban development of the Adriatic port of Manfredonia in Apulia, southern Italy, under the Angevin kings of Naples (c. 1266-1343). Specifically, it frames Manfredonia’s urban development within the context of state building in late medieval southern Italy, arguing that the Manfredonia and other cities within the region served as “conduits” for centralization. Labeled by the fourteenth-century chronicler Giovanni Villani as “the greatest port between Venice and Brindisi,” Manfredonia’s role in the economic, cultural, and political consolidation within the kingdom is well documented in surviving Angevin sources already by the turn of the fourteenth century.

Urban development in Manfredonia followed a similar pattern enacted in other Angevin cities such as L’Aquila in Abruzzo, the re-Christianized city of Lucera thirty miles to its west, and the Angevin capital Naples. This included the importation of loyal subjects and royal administrators, the creation of interregional markets, and the institutionalization of the mendicant orders, particularly the Dominicans. Moreover, the orthogonal plan employed to organize these various groups is still visible within the street grid of Manfredonia’s medieval core. Urban development also included state-sponsored building projects, in particular for Manfredonia the port, a castle, and walls. The bulk of this paper will focus of the construction of these monuments, analyze the extant building documents and the surviving monument, and argue that both the building process and the final architectural products serve as embodiments for the urban project at Manfredonia and the process of state building in Angevin southern Italy as a whole.

Orsanmichele: A Florentine Civic, Commercial, and Religious Space, and Its Loggias, to 1337
Marie D’Aguanno Ito, American University

This paper will consider the physical development of Orsanmichele in light of its communal, political, and commercial growth from the mid-twelfth century to 1336/1337, when the current loggia was initiated. It will first consider the layout of the area in the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, when it was occupied by private housing, with a shared piazza, under the control of leading Florentine families. It will then turn to Orsanmichele’s transformation into one of Florence’s leading judicial and civic centers to the mid-thirteenth century, using certain private homes, an 8th century church, and the piazza for this business. After the mid-thirteenth century, the judicial center was replaced by a new, central grain market for the city, a politically- and commercially-motivated move that once again transformed the area physically, generating an enlarged piazza and then a majestic and bold loggia that was completed by 1290. The paper will address the relationship of the loggia to other leading Florentine buildings of the time, and the relationship between the loggia and the piazza and surrounding buildings of Orsanmichele for grain trading and public accommodation. It will consider the establishment of the Confraternity of Orsanmichele under the loggia in 1291, and the 1292 miracles of the Virgin, which again transformed the loggia, piazza, and various surrounding buildings into a heavily used commercial and religious center, with political backing. The paper will consider important physical and political challenges to the area, with a massive factionally-inspired fire in 1304, the construction of a second loggia with a second Madonna, and the use and eventual faltering of that loggia from decay and the 1333 flood. It will finally consider the decision to build a new (and final) loggia in the 1330s, for grain trading and the veneration of the confraternity’s Madonna. The paper will conclude that Orsanmichele was an important and well-used Florentine space long before the construction of the famous fourteenth-century loggia that currently occupies the premises. Rather, it will argue that the current loggia is the result of almost two centuries of focused Florentine activity and planning in the area.

Buildings, Planning, and Networks of Medieval Cities II

Thursday, May 11, 2016
Session 140
Presider: Erik Gustafson, George Mason University

Building a Brand: Abbot Desiderius’s Development of a Monastic Identity
Rachel Hiser, University of North Texas

A plan, by its very nature, exhibits an intention to do but does not necessitate that every element of that plan fall into place as was intended. While scholarship on urban planning has discussed the monastic desire to construct an urban-type center, as at St. Gall, it has not yet addressed how an individual or group tangibly measured their developments as their plan was being enacted. The frontispiece from Rome, BAV, Vat. Lat. 1202 depicts Abbot Desiderius of Montecassino bowing as he presents St. Benedict with a representation of the manuscript itself. Behind Desiderius is an image of the newly constructed Basilica of St. Benedict at Montecassino and below are seven non-descript churches with campaniles. The next known depiction of Abbot Desiderius and St. Benedict together are two frescoed images that frame the lower zone of the apse at Sant’ Angelo in Formis, where Abbot Desiderius is rendered by himself as the donor holding a representation of Sant’ Angelo, juxtaposed with St. Benedict, holding his Rule, on the opposite side of the apse. I argue that frontispiece of BAV, Vat. Lat. 1202 exhibits Abbot Desiderius’ plan to extend the Cassinese identity outside of the confines of the monastery itself through the appropriation and re-dedication of churches and that his representation at Sant’ Angelo in Formis stands as a realization of that plan in action, an acknowledgement of his planned production. A comparison of these two images, first considered through the words of Abbot Desiderius himself in his book, The Miracles of St. Benedict, second through the political environments surrounding their formations, and lastly through a spatial analysis of their geographical location and visual receptivity, suggests that Desiderius was using his portrait as a physical marker of urban development outside the walls of Montecassino. While the proliferation of images of a single donor cues to the Medievalist a foreshadowing of Abbot Suger at St. Denis, Abbot Desiderius’ extension of his mark beyond a single space proposes that he sought to create a network within not just Montecassino, but Southern Italy.

Water as the Philosophical and Organizational Basis for an ‘Urban’ Community Plan: The Case of Maillezais Abbey
Mickey Abel, University of North Texas

The control and development of the marshy wetland within the ancient Golfe des Pictons, off the western coast of France, can be traced to the monks of Maillezais abbey in the 10th C., who in an effort to gain more arable land and pasture, to create fish ponds and saltbeds, and to generate revenue from the taxes placed on the operation of grain mills and the regulated movement of people and material goods, as well as to secure the defenses of their island setting, initiated the construction of an elaborate hydraulic system of dykes, locks and canals.

The financial rewards to be gained from all aspects of this hydraulic system, which was sanctioned and supported by the dukes of Aquitaine, are evidenced in the successive series of expensive building programs at the abbey, most dramatically in the massive tower and porch appended to the western façade of the abbey church, facing west out to the open gulf.

This paper argues that in the development of the hydraulic system within the marshy gulf the monks understood implicitly, but explicitly conveyed in the architectural construction at the abbey the biblical correlations between their island location and the paradisiacal setting of the Island of Patmos as recorded in John XXX.  Combining this with a keen awareness of the metaphysical and polymorphic qualities of water in general, they created a system that preserved the affective the qualities of the  “living water” of the rivers and mitigated the “decay” implied in the swampy marsh. In this metaphorical harnessing of good and evil, they established an environmental management program that was both politically astute and economically profitable.  It created opportunities for work, enhanced the well-being of both the monastic community and the neighboring villages, facilitated peaceful relations at all strata of society, all the while sustaining the spiritual meaning of the landscape. By all accounts it represents a successful program of “urban planning.”

‘Any Place I Hang My Hat’: Peripatetic Ymagiers and the Emergence of Urbs
Janet Snyder, University of West Virginia

In an intriguing coincidence with twelfth-century institutional reforms, the series of narrative capitals with dynamic compositions made between 1120 and 1130 for the cloister of Notre-Dame la Daurade in Toulouse extended the use of architectural sculpture, engaging and involving observers, and providing vehicles for prayer and meditation. Within a decade after the end of this commission, the ideas of composition and the expressive, dynamic narrative relief sculpture evident at La Daurade reappeared far to the north in relief sculpture projects with similar characteristics. This paper postulates that the movement of artisans who produced this innovative work and the commercial activity related to their practice contributed significantly to the emergence of functional urbanism in the second quarter of the twelfth century. Making use of comparative visual analysis and evidence of both the shipping of materials and transient suburban settlements around established centers, it addresses urbanism not only in cathedral cities but also in urbs associated with great houses, regional fairs, and monastic complexes. Those who commissioned architectural sculpture projects may not have intended to reshape their environments except though the construction of great churches, but the influx of labor, materials, craftspeople, and the support services required to complete the jobs resulted in permanent changes to their communities.

Leave a Reply

Post Navigation