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Monasteries on the Horizon, The Sacral Landscape Through the Senses of Medieval Pilgrims

Abstract : Medieval monastery churches in today’s France (e.g. Vézelay, Mont-Saint-Michel, Bourges etc.) very often dominate their surroundings, their silhouettes on the horizon harmoniously complete the image of a natural landscape in which they are settled and intensely catch the eyes of present (and very probably also medieval) pilgrims. Through the analysis of historical sources, the suggested paper focuses on the first encounter of a medieval traveller with such a prominent landmark –in other words, on the encounter from a “certain distance”. Consequently, the following questions would arise: How was a monastery church in the landscape (but also the sound of bells arriving from bell towers) perceived in Middle Ages? How could this first sensory experience, and the expectations which it evokes, shape the following, much closer, meeting with the object? A figure of a pilgrim can be, when dealing with these topics, understood as one of the possible embodiments of the concept of a “cultural transfer“. To answer the above-mentioned questions, we will be reflecting on the social or economic importance of medieval churches. We will also be dealing with their practical function as necessary landmarks which linked the international network of pilgrim (and other) roads. This paper will furthermore try to consider these issues from the perspective of the connection between natural landscape (cultivated or uncultivated) and sacral buildings. It will be based on the presumption that only through the comprehension of the natural landscape surrounding the sacral building it is possible to arrive to the understanding of what the building meant to a medieval pilgrim. The landscape and a pilgrim thus become the binding components between medieval monasteries
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Submitted on : Tuesday, July 9, 2019 - 10:48:27 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, July 10, 2019 - 1:11:57 AM

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  • HAL Id : halshs-02177565, version 1

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Martin F. Lešák. Monasteries on the Horizon, The Sacral Landscape Through the Senses of Medieval Pilgrims. Colloque international (Trans)missions : Monasteries as Sites of Cultural Transfers, Sep 2017, Prague, Czech Republic. ⟨halshs-02177565⟩

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