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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  February 2006

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION February 2006

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Subject:

Re: beggars and saints' charity

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

medieval-religion - Scholarly discussions of medieval religious culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 13 Feb 2006 14:35:07 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (88 lines)

medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

This replaces an earlier posting that seems to vanished into the ether 
(and that's the only way in which it could be described as aetherial!).

The siting of mendicant houses may, in many places at least, have had 
at least as much to do with the availability of land than with a desire 
to be near gates _per se_.  In Naples, for example, the first 
Franciscan church was a little paleochristian basilica donated to the 
order by the bishop of Aversa.  This was near the city's then market 
place (the ancient forum) and doubtless served the programmatic needs 
of the friars very well.  But it was not particularly close to any of 
the city gates as the city wall was then constituted and its successor 
on the site, the late thirteenth-century church of San Lorenzo 
Maggiore, is by no means close to the expanded mural circuit created by 
the Angevins in the early years of the fourteenth century.  The first 
Dominican presence in Naples is dated to 1227; whatever they were using 
at first was quickly abandoned in 1231 in favor of the site of the 
present San Domenico Maggiore, donated to the order in 1231 by the 
archbishop of Sorrento on land with a church previously used by 
Benedictines (Sant'Angelo a Morfisa, rededicated to Dominic after his 
canonization in 1234).  This was adjacent to the seat of one of the 
city's administrative districts and to its university founded here in 
1234.  It was not particularly close to the nearest gate, the Porta di 
Nido.  Closer to the same gate was the later Franciscan house of Santa 
Chiara, founded on open land by Sancia of Majorca in 1310.  The land 
across the street from it now occupied by the Gesu' Nuovo remained open 
until the latter half of the fifteenth century.  Also in this part of 
the city is the late thirteenth-century Angevin foundation of San 
Pietro a Maiella.  The medieval city's other major Dominican house, it 
was originally Celestinian, which explains its isolated position: 
though it is close to the originally seventeenth-century Port'Alba, it 
was not at the time of its foundation near any major gate.  The city's 
first Augustinian house, the later thirteenth-century Sant'Agostino 
della Zecca, was close to a minor gate but was built on open land on a 
promontory above it and was more easily reached from the Piazza della 
Sellaria, another of the city's internal market places. 

The Carmelite monastery at Naples (date of foundation unknown; prob. 
mid-13th cent.) was extraurban until the early fourteenth-century 
eastern expansion of the city wall, after which it did adjoin a gate.  
That expansion enclosed several suburban houses, not all of which were 
mendicant (e.g., the Benedictine San Pietro ad Ara).  It also enclosed 
open areas upon which convents were later founded: one of these, the 
fourteenth-century Santa Maria della Maddalena (Dominican), was near a 
major gate, the Porta Capuana, precisely because it ran a hospice.  The 
fourteenth-century San Giovanni a Carbonara (Augustinian) was outside 
the Angevin wall and built on cheap land next to what had been the 
city's medieval refuse dump (the Carbonara of its name); before its 
enclosure within the mural circuit at the end of the fifteenth century, 
it was just off a major gate.  Moving around to the north, the early 
fourteenth-century female convent of Santa Maria di Donnaregina 
(Franciscan) was inside the Angevin wall and again near a major a gate, 
but seemingly quite by accident: it was built on property that had been 
ecclesiastical since the eighth century and was now conveniently 
available after its predecessor church had been badly damaged by the 
earthquake of 1293.

One could argue that, since these fourteenth-century mendicant 
foundations were close to gates, proximity to gates as well as the 
availability of land was a factor in their siting.  But one could not 
make the same argument in the case in the case of the city's mendicant 
foundations of the thirteenth century: these were either a) fairly well 
extraurban (the Carmelites), though at the edge of a developing suburb, 
b) near inner-city centers of commerce (the early Franciscans, 
Dominicans, and Augustinians) or else c) isolated convents in open 
space towards the city's western edge (Santa Chiara, San Pietro a 
Maiella) that may have been passed by local traffic but not by the 
crowds coming in from the north and the east or up from the port 
(though they're both at the western end of major east-west _decumani_, 
only Santa Chiara's had a gate at that end and that did not lead 
directly to any major avenue of commerce or pilgrimage).

Best,
John Dillon

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