Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Monastères et Espace Social: Genèse et Transformation D'un Système De Lieux Dans l'Occident Médiéval

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Monastères et Espace Social: Genèse et Transformation D'un Système De Lieux Dans l'Occident Médiéval

Article excerpt

Monastères et espace social: Genèse et transformation d'un système de lieux dans l'Occident médiéval. Edited by Michel Lauwers. (Turnhout: Brepols. 2014. Pp. 620. euro75,00 paperback. ISBN 978-2-503-5381-4.)

This extensive collection of specialized articles on seventh- to fifteenth-century monasteries and social space covers models, places, movement, hierarchy, functions, and settings at Saint-Gall, Cluny, Marmoutier, Fontevraud, and other famous abbeys in Western Europe and the British Isles. Michel Lauwers notes that Western monasticism moved from fourth-century solitude to seventh-century community, with a standard architectural structure of a cloister surrounded by specialized buildings. Ninth-century monasteries included laypersons: patrons, laborers, pilgrims, possibly armed men, resulting in a complex society and accompanying physical structure, which Sofia Uggé divides into community spaces: church, cloister, refectory, dormitory, and chapter; property spaces: cellar and sacristy; separate spaces: infirmary, guest house, and novitiate; and work spaces: workshops, kitchen, and garden. In Italy Federico Marazzi and Elisabeth Lorans add an abbot's house, library, school, stables, forge, cemeteries, churches, and chapels. Moving forward, Uta Kleine shows the twelfth-century monastery engaged in production and trade, both a retreat from the world and a dominating center of real-estate holdings. Jean- Michel Picard and Paul Fermon note that monastic maps and architectural drawings imposed a social hierarchy on the landscape, depicting the monastery as a sacred celestial center with a profane terrestrial periphery of granges, manses, towns, parish churches, and fishing stations, with complicated economic rights.

Fragmentary information in cartularies and foundation stories can be contextualized within this framework of monastic construction and expansion. JeanMichel Picard notes the recent use of magnetic gradient survey, revealing linear anomalies in the soil at the sites of cloisters or buildings and showing the construction process. Nicolas Reveyron and Cécile Caby find little and marginal change in monastic space to preserve the quiet of the house. Monasteries were shaped by earlier lost structures, site constraints, water resources, and a heritage of respect for the initial gift, venerated tombs, and the terms of property ownership. …

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