Medieval Monasteries and Architectural Invention
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Medieval Monasteries and Architectural Invention Culminating in the opus modernum or “Gothic” Architecture in France. “Gothic” – opus modernum (“modern work”) or opus franceginum (“French work”). Architecture in the Middle Ages (400-1400).

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Medieval Monasteries and Architectural Invention

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Medieval monasteries and architectural invention

Medieval Monasteries and Architectural Invention

Culminating in the opus modernum or “Gothic” Architecture in France


Medieval monasteries and architectural invention

“Gothic” – opus modernum (“modern work”) or opus franceginum (“French work”)


Medieval monasteries and architectural invention

Architecture in the Middle Ages (400-1400)

EMERGENCE OF EUROPEAN ARCHITECTURE Critiquing the Legacy of Rome

Late Antique or Early Christian

Carolingian

Romanesque

Gothic

Middle Ages

medieval

476

Fall of Rome

c. 1400

Italian Renaissance begins


Medieval monasteries and architectural invention

Abbot Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) Cistercian order

Western monasticism toward the end of the Romanesque era

Benedictine order

1.

2.

“What is the good of displaying all this gold in the church? You display the statue of a saint . . . and you think that the more overloaded with colors it is, the holier it is. And people throng to kiss it – and are urged to leave an offering; they pay homage to the beauty of the object more than to its holiness. . . . Oh vanity! vanity! and folly even greater than the vanity! The church sparkles and gleams on all sides, while its poor huddle in need; its stones are gilded, while its children go unclad; in it the art lovers find enough to satisfy their curiosity, while the poor find nothing there to relieve their misery.”


Medieval monasteries and architectural invention

I. An alternative Romanesque ➝ the non-magnificence of Cistercian monastic architecture

Fontenay Abbey, France, 12th century (1139-47)


Medieval monasteries and architectural invention

I. A. What was the typical program of monasteries and how was Cistercian monasticism exceptional?

4.

Benedictine abbey at Cluny (Fr.) 1090-1130

Cistercian abbey of Fontenay, 1139-47

The Romanesque Abbey in 12th cen. (Cluny III)

Abbey of Cluny

photomontage reconstituting the great basilica Cluny III

1088-1130

destroyed (mostly) 1789-1823


Medieval monasteries and architectural invention

I. A.

cloister(s),

refectory,

chapter house,

dormitory,

workroom and forge

Benedictine abbey at Cluny

Cistercian abbey of Fontenay


Medieval monasteries and architectural invention

I. A. 1. Cloister – why was the cloister the heart of a monastic community?

Cistercian abbey of Fontenay


Medieval monasteries and architectural invention

I. A. 2. How was the cloister of Cluny III (Benedictine) different from that of Fontenay (Cisterician)?

Cluniac abbey at Moissac

Cistercian abbey of Fontenay


Medieval monasteries and architectural invention

I. B. The aesthetics of Cistercian architectural design compared with typical Romanesque magnificence?

Benedictine abbey at Cluny

Cistercian abbey of Fontenay


Medieval monasteries and architectural invention

I. B.

surviving Cluny transept (south arm)

Cluny nave, 95' high

Cistercian abbey church of Fontenay

reconstruction


Medieval monasteries and architectural invention

I. B.

transept of Fontenay


Medieval monasteries and architectural invention

I. B.

dormitory of Fontenay


Medieval monasteries and architectural invention

I. B. 2. Which of these inventions was acceptable to the Cistercian ideology at Fontenay?

Cluny nave, 95' high

Cistercian abbey church of Fontenay

pointed barrel vault

and pointed arches

reconstruction


Medieval monasteries and architectural invention

I. B. 2.

abbey church of Cluny III

Abbey church at Cluny

Fontenay – south flank of church

flying buttress


Medieval monasteries and architectural invention

I. C. How was the theory of Romanesque architecture (Platonic theory) applied with rigor in Cistercian

monasteries?

3.

Quadrature: 1 : √2 or other methods based on manipulating the square:

Fontenay Abbey

Medieval architect’s sketchbook

by Villard de Honnecourt, 1220s/40s


Medieval monasteries and architectural invention

I. C.

5.

Cistercian abbey at Fontenay


Medieval monasteries and architectural invention

II.Gothic theory of divine light: emerging Gothic architecture follows mathematical ratio theory and some

faith in human senses to appreciate the splendor of the divine

Choir of St.-Denis, Paris, France, b. 1144, Gothic


Medieval monasteries and architectural invention

II.

Abbot Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) Cistercian order

Abbot Suger of St.-Denis (1081-1151) Benedictine order

“We maintain that the sacred vessels should be enhanced by outward adornment, and nowhere more than in serving the Holy Sacrifice, where inwardly all should be pure and outwardly all should be noble . . . . If, according to the word of God and the prophet’s command, the gold ves-sels, the gold phials, and the small gold mortars were used to collect the blood of goats, the calves,

“What is the good of displaying all this gold in the church? You display the statue of a saint . . . and you think that the more overloaded with colors it is, the holier it is. And people throng to kiss it – and are urged to leave an offering; they pay homage to the beauty of the object more than to its holiness. . . . Oh vanity! vanity! and folly even greater than the vanity! The church sparkles and gleams on all sides, while its poor huddle in need; its stones are gilded, while its children go unclad; in it the art lovers find enough to satisfy their curiosity, while the poor find nothing there to relieve their misery.”

and a red heifer, then how much more zealously shall we hold our gold vases, precious stones, and all that we value most highly in creation, in order to collect the blood of Jesus Christ.”


Medieval monasteries and architectural invention

II. A. Abbot Suger on light: “de materialibus ad immaterialia” (“from the material to the immaterial”)

colored light and air in the choir of St.-Denis


Medieval monasteries and architectural invention

II. A.

Neoplatonic purity

(Romanesque)

Neoplatonic theory + Theology of light

that appeals to the senses

(Gothic)

Benedictine abbey church of St.-Denis

Cistercian abbey church at Fontenay


Medieval monasteries and architectural invention

III. Structure: What combination of older structural expedients made it possible for Abbot Sugerto

realize a new sensory-oriented, light-filled religious space?

III. A. pointed arch or arc brisé (“broken arch”) = modernist characteristic

Choir of St.-Denis


Medieval monasteries and architectural invention

III. B. rib vaults = modernist structure

Choir of St.-Denis


Medieval monasteries and architectural invention

III. B.

Choir of St.-Denis

rib vaults facilitate vaulting irregular bay shapes


Medieval monasteries and architectural invention

III. B.

Romanesque

pointed arches and rib vaults

Gothic

pointed arches and rib vaults

Durham Cathedral, 1093

Cluny III, 1088

Notbrand new technologies at St.-Denis

St.-Étienne at Caen, 1120

Fontenay Abbey, 1139


Medieval monasteries and architectural invention

III. C. How is Abbot Suger’s choir at St.-Denis, then, a new style of architecture (Gothic)?

Choir of St.-Denis


Medieval monasteries and architectural invention

III. C.

complex, towered profile

complex, towered profile

standard basilical profile

structural ponderance

skeletal frame

skeletal frame

wall as a 3-D entity in planes

walls a continuous plane

OR elevational system rather than

true wall

ORelevational system rather than

true wall

classical column (pilasters,

engaged columns)

compound piers

compound piers

round arches

pointed arches (“broken” arches)

pointed arches (“broken” arches)

punched in windows and square-headed doors

walls/doors in recessed archivolts

walls/doors in recessed archivolts

vertical articulation in a bay system

vertical articulation in a bay system

horizontal continuous space

load-bearing vaults

rib vaults

rib vaults

Choir of St.-Denis (Benedictine abbey church)


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