IMC 2007: Sessions

Session 1616: City and Monastery, IV: Monasteries as Transmitters of City Ideals

Thursday 12 July 2007, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Albrecht Diem, Institut für Mittelalterforschung, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien
Paper 1616-aThe Urban Impetus for Monastic Architecture in the Early Middle Ages
(Language: English)
Charles McClendon, Department of Fine Arts, Brandeis University, Massachusetts
Index terms: Architecture - General, Architecture - Religious, Ecclesiastical History, Monasticism
Paper 1616-bModels of Monastic Cities: Building up an Ideal
(Language: English)
Paula C. Barata Dias, Instituto de Estudos Clássicos, Universidade de Coimbra
Index terms: Architecture - Religious, Language and Literature - Latin, Monasticism, Religious Life
Paper 1616-cCity Monasteries in 7th-Century Francia: A Nexus between City Ideals and Merovingian Governance
(Language: English)
Hans Stegeman, Independent Scholar, Zoetermeer
Index terms: Canon Law, Hagiography, Monasticism, Religious Life

Paper a: Monasticism began in Egypt as a rejection of urban life, but the vision of coenobitism, promoted by Pachomius in the early 4th century, produced ordered settlements that resembled small towns. In the Latin West, St Benedict called for monasteries to be self-sufficient and enclosed by a wall. In the Carolingian period, ancient manuals for town planning were carefully copied and illustrated and their influence is seen in the ordered layout of the Plan of St Gall. The monastery was also believed to reflect the Augustinian concept of the City of God, which established important precedents for the great abbeys of the latter Middle Ages.
Paper b: Among other phenomena, the Late Antiquity was affected by the decadence of the cities as the privileged space of human actions and achievements. Simultaneously, the coenobitical monachism developed. Born under an ideal of urban refusal, its chief leaders proclaimed it as an alternative to organised urban life. However, they created structures whose institutional, human and spiritual organisation was inspired by the ancient city model: political dimension, hierarchy, juridical support, labour division, economy and production, education, symbolic and effective organisation of time and space, memory and spirituality. This paper wants to explore the elements, acquired by the monastic institutions, that, following very closely the ancient urban models, were brought to the Middle Ages by monastic way also.
Paper c: In the beginning of the 7th century, monastic life in the Regnum Francorum was strongly oriented on cities. Although, as a consequence of the ‘Columbanian’ impulse, many new monasteries were founded on rural estates, in the hagiography, e.g. the Vita Domnae Balthildis and the Passio Leudegarii, a certain royal preference for urban monasteries remains evident. When queen Balthild regulated religious life by granting immunities in the six ‘Seniores Basilicas’ of Francia, all the monasteries involved were urban. From Leudegar’s life it appears that king Childeric II found strong support in Autun’s St Symphorien monastery at a time of factional strife. There are other examples from the sources. Evidence suggests that the royal affinity with city monasteries may correspond with increasing ‘urban’ orientation of the 7th-century Merovingians. In 7th-century Francia, city monasteries may have been the nexus between cities and their Merovingian ruler – as well as a nexus for shaping city and royal governance.