1 ORA ET LABORA: THE PROCESS OF MAKING IN THE CISTERCIAN ORDER Alba Serino Brown University, University of L Aquila The words Ora et Labora, pray and work, were the basic principles of the Rule of Saint Benedict, adopted in 1098 by Robert of Molesme in the foundation of a new monastic order, later known as the Cistercians. From the first five mother abbeys in the French region of Burgundy, the Cistercian monks founded new monasteries across Europe and gradually created a large monastic network that continued to expand up until the 15th century. Labor was an important aspect in this Order. By recovering the Rule of Saint Benedict, Robert's mission was to reestablish what he took to be the forgotten spiritual values of sacrifice and simplicity. This was possible by making the monks provide for their own living, through manual labor and farming activities. The life of a Cistercian monk was therefore divided between work and prayer, both essential for the fulfillment of his spiritual life. The labor activities of the monks were also relevant to the Order in more secular ways. The building activity of the Cistercian monks and their reclamation of land contributed to the transformation of the European landscape, from swamps and forests to fields and impressive architecture. 1 1 On the Cistercian Order see Duby, G. (1982). San Bernardo e l'arte cistercense, Torino; Comba, R. (1985). I cistercensi fra citta' e campagne nei secoli XII e XIII. Una sintesi mutevole di orientamenti economici e culturali nell'italia nord-occidentale in Studi Storici, Anno 26, No. 2, Economia monastica: I cistercensi e le campagne (Apr. -Jun., 1985), pp ; Vagni, M. (1993). L'organizzazione agricola dei Cistercensi nel Medioevo: l'esperienza di Casamari in Rivista Cistercense, X-2, Casamari, pp ; Righetti Tosti-Croce, M. (1993). Architettura per il lavoro. Dal caso cistercense a un caso cistercense: Chiaravalle di Fiastra, Rome; Pressouyre, L. (1994). L'Espace Cistercien. Paris: Comité des travaux historiques et scientifiques; Rapetti, A. M. (1999). La formazione di una comunità cistercense. Istituzioni e strutture organizzative di Chiaravalle della Colomba tra XII e XIII secolo. Rome; Piccinni, G. (2006). El Modelo Cisterciense en su aplicacion italiana centro-septentrional: algunas ideas desde la historiografia in Cistercium. Revista Cisterciense, n , anno LVIII. ZAMORA, 45-61; Civantos, J.M.M. (2006). Il territorio stratificato: proposte dall'archaeologia del paesaggio in IV Congresso Nazionale di Archaeologia Medievale, San Galgano Abbey (September 26-30, 2006). Florence, 3-7; Addison, K. (2006). Changing places: the Cistercian settlement and rapid climate change in England in
2 2 I have underlined two reasons for the importance of studying the process of making in the Cistercian Order, one religious and one economic. In the present paper, I will suggest that Cistercian work and architecture should be seen as complementary and should not be studied separately. The monastic order has been celebrated for its architectural marvels; I would like to extend the discussion beyond the aesthetic dimensions of the architecture into a wider context that includes the economic and religious dimension and brings the focus onto work. In his work on Saint Bernard and Cistercian art in 1976, Georges Duby argued that the spirit of Cistercian architecture lay in the cathedral. 2 Minor architecture, however, such as granges, hospitals, bridges, mills, and dovecotes can give us new information on the activities of the monks, both of an economic and religious nature. Each of these structures, many of which survive in the modern landscape, contributed to and shaped the economic and spiritual aspects of the Cistercian landscape. Marvin Trachtenberg and Tim Ingold have both emphasized the process of making in the study of architecture. In Building-in-Time, Trachtenberg applies what he defines as a relativity theory of architecture and time to pre-modern architecture. What is useful for this study is his vision of architecture as a process, rather than a finished product. 3 Ingold takes this idea a step further and sees architecture not only as a making process, but also as a process of growth. In his view, the maker is a participant Locating Medieval Landscapes. Eds by Lees, A.C. and Overing, G. L, Pennsylvania University Press, pp Duby, op.cit. p Trachtenberg, M. (2010). Building-in-Time: from Giotto to Alberti and Modern Oblivion. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, IX-XXV.
3 THE PROCESS OF MAKING IN THE CISTERCIAN ORDER 3 in a world of active materials. Thus, it is important for scholars to look at the makers engagement with the materials themselves while studying the process of making. 4 With the help of two different case studies, this paper will consider religious and secular aspects of labora in Cistercian culture. It will refer to two particular architectural structures: an outer court building, the so-called woolhouse of Fountains Abbey, and the Capello Bridge of the monastery of San Martino al Cimino. The Woolhouse of Fountains Abbey Fountains Abbey is located near the village of Aldfield in North Yorkshire, England. The Abbey was officially founded in 1132, by monks from the mother abbey of Clairvaux. According to Glyn Coppack s reconstruction, the whole area of the monastic complex was surrounded by a precinct wall and divided by the river Skell into two parts. The area to the south of the river, where the building identified as woolhouse was also located, was dedicated to agricultural and industrial processes. 5 Today, the structure of the twelfth century woolhouse is in ruins. 6 Glynn Coppack s excavations revealed the complex history of the building, which included at least six phases of construction. 7 Excavations also demonstrated that the original form of the structure was an aisled hall. In this first phase the structure was most likely a simple storehouse, and it continued to be used as such even after it acquired new functions. During its second building phase, about seventy years later, a 4 Ingold, T. (2013). Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture. London and New York: Routledge, Coppack, G. (1986). The Excavation of an Outer Court Building, Perhaps the Woolhouse, at Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire in Medieval Archaeology, 30 (1986), pp ; see fig. 1 for the location of the woolhouse. 6 See fig Se fig. 3.
4 4 series of waterworks were added. 8 This led archaeologists to identify the building as the abbey s woolhouse, used for the storage and processing of the monastery's main product, wool. As a result of this identification, the structure is commonly referred to as the woolhouse. The woolhouse continued to be enlarged in its subsequent building phases and was finally transformed into a mill. Its development reflected the changes in the monastery, proving a close connection between the monastery itself and its surroundings. As the economy of Fountains Abbey developed, the woolhouse continued to evolve as well. 9 Looking now at the location of Fountains' woolhouse, one notices that the structure was part of the outer court buildings of Fountains Abbey. It was the main storage building of the monastic complex and, like the rest of the outer court buildings, constituted a direct link between the monastery and its estates outside the precinct wall. Each of Fountains' monastic barns, or granges, situated outside the precinct walls, had its own gate onto the outer court. 10 The woolhouse, together with the other outer court buildings, was therefore the main link between the monastery and the outside world. As such, the particular location of the building gave it an important role both from a spiritual and economic point of view. From the spiritual aspect, one must consider the Cistercian monks desire for isolation from the outside world. In fact, the Cistercian Order aimed to reestablish the 8 Outside of the western wall a culvert was added, together with a sluice to control the flow of water within the building. Other conduits and drain-pipes were found during the excavations on the eastern side of the woolhouse. Ibid. pp Ibid. pp Cistercian granges were structures created originally for the storage of agricultural products. These buildings were built at regular distances from the monastery and could be used as a network to manage its entire properties. With their peculiar triangular façade, granges distinguished themselves as an autonomous architectural type and could therefore constitute a sign of the Cistercian presence in the agricultural landscape. Righetti Tosti-Croce, M. (1993). Architettura per il lavoro. Dal caso cistercense a un caso cistercense: Chiaravalle di Fiastra. Rome: Viella.
5 THE PROCESS OF MAKING IN THE CISTERCIAN ORDER 5 myth of the desert, introduced by the founders of European monasticism. Their goal was to recover the concept of renunciation of the outside world and its temptations. 11 Working in the woolhouse constituted an important but also spiritually dangerous connection with the outside world. The function of the woolhouse could be seen also in connection to this spiritual problem: labor was a way to keep the monks connected to the real world and also resist its temptations; the labora, once again, was closely connected to the ora. By working in the building that linked the monastery to the world outside of the precinct walls, these two parts of the monk's life came together in the basic principle of ora et labora. Next, one must consider the role of labor in terms of the economic production of the monastery. The woolhouse at Fountains was the largest building within the outer court and the biggest storage building within the precinct. Coppack calculates the total height of the gable to have been meters. In this case, the woolhouse was much taller than the 3.5 meter high precinct wall, and could therefore be seen outside of the monastic enclosure. 12 This high visibility factor can be linked to the theories of the neomarxist anthropologist Norman Yoffee. In his study on the formation of primary estates, Yoffee suggests that the productive potential of a past community was increased not only by the creation of a surplus, but also by the institutionalization of that surplus. He uses the example of large or peculiar architecture of storage spaces to make this 11 The lack of isolation in several Cistercian monasteries across Europe, especially the communities established from the thirteenth century, has brought scholars to believe that the idea of establishing a desertum consisted in a more symbolic rather than real isolation. On the topic see Lekai, L.J. (1978). Ideals and Reality in early Cistercian Life and Legislation in Sommerfeldt, J.R., Cistercian ideals and reality, Michigan: Cistercian Publications; Pressouyre, L. (1994). L'Espace Cistercien. Paris: Comité des travaux historiques et scientifiques. 12 Coppack, op.cit., p. 84.
6 6 surplus evident. 13 Fountains' woolhouse can be seen as the architectural representation of a surplus of production. In this way, the goal of the Cistercian monks was to make the result of their labor visible and highlight their robust economic activity. So far, the observation of religious and economic characteristics of Fountains' woolhouse has highlighted two interesting factors considered by Cistercian monks in the making of a building: one spiritual, the defense from external temptations, and one secular, the display of economic resources. The Capello Bridge of San Martino al Cimino As previously mentioned, the Cistercian Order contributed significantly to the transformation of the medieval landscape. One of the ways that they contributed was their ability to reclaim uncultivated land. For example, it was not uncommon during the foundation of a Cistercian monastery for the monks to divert the course of a river to bring fresh water to the enclosure. Another example of the Cistercian talent in hydraulic engineering is the construction of bridges, such as the case of the Capello Bridge. The monastery of San Martino al Cimino is located at the top of the hill of the town of its namesake, a fraction of the city of Viterbo in the northern part of the Lazio region (Italy). The Cistercian history of the monastery started in 1150, when Pope Eugene III demanded to replace the existing Benedictine community at San Martino 13 Yoffee s neo-marxist theories make a second interesting point on the process of creation of political power, which can be well applied to the study of Cistercian communities: the religious elite of a past society, he explains, could own land, properties and employed dependents and ceremonial buildings could link different social units and their belief system. It is automatic to apply this category to Cistercian estates and to the distribution within their properties of ecclesiastic buildings. If one adopts the model described by Yoffee, the formation of the Cistercian identity in the medieval landscape could be definitely compared to the constitution of a political identity. Yoffee, N. (2005). Myths of the Archaic State: Evolution of the Earliest Cities, States and Civilizations. Cambridge University Press, pp
7 THE PROCESS OF MAKING IN THE CISTERCIAN ORDER 7 with a Cistercian one coming from the monastery of Saint Sulpice in Savoia. 14 San Martino, after an initial period of struggle, gradually expanded its patrimony and reached the apex of its economic growth during the thirteenth century. It was in this period that the monks of the Cistercian community planned the construction of the Capello Bridge. Today, the bridge is in ruins and well hidden by the Cimina forest, about 2.5 kilometers from the monastery over the course of the Porchetta stream. 15 The ruins of the bridge are mentioned in early eighteenth century documents and can be identified in the 1641 map by Pietro Coretini, but unfortunately no mention has been yet found of this structure in medieval sources. 16 However, the building techniques suggest a date from the thirteenth or fourteenth century. 17 The position of the structure along a route connecting the ancient Roman road via Ciminia to the monastery of San Martino is a further hint on the date and authorship of the Capello Bridge. 18 The bridge was built by the Cistercians to connect their monastery to what had become at that time the main pilgrimage route to Rome, under the name of via Francigena. 19 The bridge ceased to be 14 Egidi, P. (1907). L Abbazia di San Martino al Cimino presso Viterbo. Roma: Officina Poligrafica Italiana, pp See fig Francocci, S., Rose, D. (1996). L Antica via Ciminia dell Etruria in Rivista di Topografia Antica, VI (1996), p. 71; Milioni, A. (2007). Carta Archeologica d Italia: Contributi. Viterbo 2, Viterbo: Universitá degli Studi della Tuscia, pp ; Serino, A. (2010). Il monastero cistercense di San Martino al Cimino. Analisi del territorio pertinente all abbazia nel Medioevo, masters thesis, Universitá degli Studi della Tuscia. 17 The segmental arch, the use of small blocks kept together by a large amount of mortar and the positioning of large blocks of stone right above the piers of the bridge were part of a common technique used for the construction of small medieval bridges in Italy. In addition, small bridges were rarely built in stone or brick along secondary routes before the thirteenth century. Patitucci Uggeri, S. (2002). La viabilitá di terra e d acqua nel Italia medievale in ed. Patitucci Uggeri, S. Quaderni di Archeologia Medievale IV. La viabilità medievale in Italia. Contributo alla carta archeologica medievale. Atti del V Seminario di Archeologia Medievale (Cassino, 2000), Firenze: All Insegna del Giglio, p.7; Stopani, R. (1992). La via Francigena. Una strada europea nell Italia del Medioevo, Firenze: Le Lettere, p Serino, op. cit., pp See fig. 5; It is necessary to specify that the so called via Francigena was a pilgrimage route connecting the north of Europe (England, France, Belgium, Germany) to Rome. It was used throughout the Middle Ages and constantly changed its path through the centuries, maintaining however its name. In the area of Viterbo, more precisely, the via Francigena had reused until the twelfth century the ancient
8 8 used after the construction of a new road from Viterbo to San Martino towards the end of the seventeenth century, which crossed the Porchetta stream at a point further southeast through the use of a new bridge. 20 Once again, it is useful to look at factors of visibility in the making of a structure. For instance, were travelers aware in some way that the bridge was built by the monks of San Martino and not by a secular institution? Could travelers see the monastery from the bridge, and in this way feel less the trials of a long journey? An answer to these questions is offered by the presence of a quarry a few meters away from the bridge. 21 This quarry, used to build the structure, can be found to the south along the same river. Large blocks were cut and transported on water to the location of the bridge, where they were then manufactured into smaller blocks. The quarry, right along the path, could be seen by travelers continuing to San Martino from Viterbo. Located on the road that led from the via Francigena to the monastery of San Martino, the most frequent users of the bridge were pilgrims. This might have been a factor considered by the monks in their construction of Capello Bridge. Literary sources describe the thickness of the Cimina forest, in which the bridge is situated. 22 Today, the forest cuts off the view of the monastery, which stands forty-five minutes walking distance from the bridge. The walls of San Martino appear at the very last part of the walk. When I performed the hike from Capello Bridge to San Martino, I noticed my sense of relief at the site of the monastic route of the via Cassia and only from the half of the thirteenth century travelers started to prefer the eastern route of the via Ciminia to the western via Cassia. I am in this case referring to the thirteenth century via Francigena, which reused the ancient Roman route of the via Ciminia. For a reconstruction of the course of the via Francigena in the territory of Viterbo see Serino, op. cit., pp Dionisi, S., Esposito, A. (2001). Paesaggio e viabilitá nel Piano dei Bagni di Viterbo tra Medioevo e prima Etá moderna in ed. Fosi, I., Recchia, A.P. (2001). Fra centro e Periferia: strade, territorio, comunitá negli Anni Santi tfra Cinquecento e Settecento, Roma: Gangemi, pp See fig Livy, in the first century BCE wrote that Silva erat Ciminia magis tum invia atque horrenda quam nuper fuere Germanici saltus, nulli ad eam diem ne mercatorum quidem adita (Ab Urbe Condita, IX, 36).
9 THE PROCESS OF MAKING IN THE CISTERCIAN ORDER 9 walls. The relief must have been also part of the pilgrim's religious journey to the monastery. In this view, the sight of the quarry next to the Capello Bridge, emphasizing the process of the making of the bridge itself, constituted a first hint of the presence of the monastery, and anticipated the pilgrim s final relief. In the process of making the Capello Bridge the monks might have considered not only the symbolic value of the bridges sight lines in helping a pilgrim in his journey of penitence; they could have also been mindful of the bridge s potential to stand as a sign of their power and control over the landscape. Marjorie Boyer, in her study on medieval French bridges, stressed that the property of a bridge often determined the property of the territory around it. 23 The presence of the quarry, in this view, would reinforce the notion of property by highlighting the physical labor used for the construction of the bridge. The user of the bridge became aware not only of who owned the land, but also of the power of the monks to transform the appearance of that land through their engineering skills. The study of the Capello Bridge, in the religious and economic dimension, has underlined how factors of visibility can influence Cistercian making. Conclusion This study on the woolhouse of Fountains Abbey and the Capello Bridge of San Martino has underlined how labor was an important aspect in the life of the Cistercian monk. In fact, labora was used not only as an instrument to recover the lost Benedictine values of simplicity and sacrifice, but also to conduct advanced agricultural and building activities that signaled the dominance of Cistercians. The product of this Cistercian 23 Boyer, M. N. (1976). Medieval French Bridges. A History, Cambridge: Medieval Academy of America, p.6.
10 10 architectural making was also used to demonstrate economic power. The outer court buildings at Fountains were not only spaces used for storage and labor activities; other factors were considered by monks in the construction of these buildings, such as their position in relation to the monastery and the surrounding estates and also their visibility. Similarly, other types of minor architecture were deployed in multiple ways to communicate both ora and labora to the community. For instance, the Capello Bridge, was not only a structure to cross a river, it provided evidence of the monks skills in hydraulic technology and possession of the land, and it could also be seen as a sign of spiritual motivation for the pilgrim during the process of pilgrimage. In the study of this structure, one should consider factors of intentionality, such as the visibility of the quarry used to build it, to prove the ownership and power of its monastic creators. These religious and economic factors should not be considered separately from the architecture itself. The building techniques used by Cistercians are essential to understand factors of intentionality. It is also important to look at architecture as a process, rather than a singular finished product. Considering Cistercian structures in the whole process of their making from planning to construction provides a better understanding of both their symbolic and physical value. Additionally, it is useful to look at the finished product of this making as an active participant. In this way, the structures act both as products of the monks, but also as actors that produce their own effects: the outer court building could act to intimidate outsiders with its imposing height, while the bridge could produce relief for weary travelers. Cistercian work and architecture should be seen as complementary and should therefore not be studied separately. For example, the impressively tall woolhouse and
11 THE PROCESS OF MAKING IN THE CISTERCIAN ORDER 11 the clever positioning of the bridge relative to the quarry are uniquely Cistercian architectural achievements, which should not be overlooked for the sake of spiritual considerations. By looking at both the physical object and its possible symbolic meaning, this study s approach can provide a better understanding of Cistercian culture and architecture, which brought about a significant transformation of the medieval European landscape thanks to its complex spirituality, divided equally between work and prayer.
12 12 Images Figure 1. Plan of Fountains Abbey (after Coppack 1986).
13 THE PROCESS OF MAKING IN THE CISTERCIAN ORDER 13 Figure 2. The ruins of the woolhouse of Fountains Abbey.
14 14 Figure 3. Reconstruction of the building phases of Fountain Abbey's woolhouse by Glyn Coppack (after Coppack 1986).
15 THE PROCESS OF MAKING IN THE CISTERCIAN ORDER 15 Figure 4. Ruins of Capello Bridge seen from north (photograph by Alba Serino).
16 16 Figure 5. Road network connecting the monastery of San Martino to the city of Viterbo. On the left is the reconstruction of the via Cassia route while on the right is the via Ciminia, known in the thirteenth century as via Francigena (after Serino 2010).
17 THE PROCESS OF MAKING IN THE CISTERCIAN ORDER 17 Figure 6. Quarry located a few meters from Capello Bridge along the Porchetta stream (photograph by Alba Serino).
18 18 Bibliography Addison, K. (2006). Changing places: the Cistercian settlement and rapid climate change in England in Locating Medieval Landscapes. Edited by Lees, A.C. and Overing, G. L. Pennsylvania University Press, pp Boyer, M. N. (1976). Medieval French Bridges. A History. Cambridge: Medieval Academy of America. Civantos, J.M.M. (2006). Il territorio stratificato: proposte dall'archaeologia del paesaggio in IV Congresso Nazionale di Archaeologia Medievale, San Galgano Abbey (September 26-30, 2006). Florence, 3-7. Comba, R. (1985). I cistercensi fra citta' e campagne nei secoli XII e XIII. Una sintesi mutevole di orientamenti economici e culturali nell'italia nord-occidentale in Studi Storici, Anno 26, No. 2, Economia monastica: I cistercensi e le campagne (Apr. - Jun., 1985), pp Coppack, G. (1986). The Excavation of an Outer Court Building, Perhaps the Woolhouse, at Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire in Medieval Archaeology, 30 (1986), pp Dionisi, S., Esposito, A. (2001). Paesaggio e viabilitá nel Piano dei Bagni di Viterbo tra Medioevo e prima Etá moderna in ed. Fosi, I., Recchia, A.P. (2001). Fra centro e Periferia: strade, territorio, comunitá negli Anni Santi tfra Cinquecento e Settecento, Roma: Gangemi, pp Duby, G. (1982). San Bernardo e l'arte cistercense. Torino. Egidi, P. (1907). L Abbazia di San Martino al Cimino presso Viterbo. Roma: Officina Poligrafica Italiana. Francocci, S., Rose, D. (1996). L Antica via Ciminia dell Etruria in Rivista di Topografia Antica, VI (1996). Ingold, T. (2013). Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture. London and New York: Routledge. Lekai, L.J. (1978). Ideals and Reality in early Cistercian Life and Legislation in Sommerfeldt, J.R., Cistercian ideals and reality. Michigan: Cistercian Publications. Milioni, A. (2007). Carta Archeologica d Italia: Contributi. Viterbo 2, Viterbo: Universitá degli Studi della Tuscia.
19 THE PROCESS OF MAKING IN THE CISTERCIAN ORDER 19 Patitucci Uggeri, S. (2002). La viabilitá di terra e d acqua nel Italia medievale in ed. Patitucci Uggeru, S. Quaderni di Archeologia Medievale IV. La viabilità medievale in Italia. Contributo alla carta archeologica medievale. Atti del V Seminario di Archeologia Medievale (Cassino, 2000), Firenze: All Insegna del Giglio. Piccinni, G. (2006). El Modelo Cisterciense en su aplicacion italiana centroseptentrional: algunas ideas desde la historiografia in Cistercium. Revista Cisterciense, n , anno LVIII. ZAMORA, Pressouyre, L. (1994). L'Espace Cistercien. Paris: Comité des travaux historiques et scientifiques. Rapetti, A. M. (1999). La formazione di una comunità cistercense. Istituzioni e strutture organizzative di Chiaravalle della Colomba tra XII e XIII secolo. Rome. Righetti Tosti-Croce, M. (1993). Architettura per il lavoro. Dal caso cistercense a un caso cistercense: Chiaravalle di Fiastra, Rome: Viella. Serino, A. (2010). Il monastero cistercense di San Martino al Cimino. Analisi del territorio pertinente all abbazia nel Medioevo, Masters thesis, Universitá degli Studi della Tuscia. Stopani, R. (1992). La via Francigena. Una strada europea nell Italia del Medioevo, Firenze: Le Lettere. Trachtenberg, M. (2010). Building-in-Time: from Giotto to Alberti and Modern Oblivion. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, IX-XXV. Vagni, M. (1993). L'organizzazione agricola dei Cistercensi nel Medioevo: l'esperienza di Casamari in Rivista Cistercense, X-2, Casamari, pp Yoffee, N. (2005). Myths of the Archaic State: Evolution of the Earliest Cities, States and Civilizations. Cambridge University Press.
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