STUDYING AND CHARACTERIZING A MEDIEVAL SCRIPTORIUM AND ITS PRODUCTION:
ALCOBAÇA, LOCAL IDENTITIES AND LITURGICAL UNIFORMITY IN DIALOGUE
Research project PTDC/ART-HIS/29522/2017
Over recent years, the study of the Cistercian scriptoria has produced new knowledge and perspectives. This Project seeks to elucidate the case of Portugal and place it within this European historiographical current through an analysis of the scriptorium of the Abbey of Alcobaça from the end of the 12th to the beginning of the 16th century.
The purpose is to study and date Alcobaça’s liturgical corpus which comprises some 50 codices. The interdisciplinary approach aims both to study the Material Aspects of the manuscripts (characteristics of illuminated decoration, pigments and binding) and also to analysemLiturgical Content (an articulation between ‘global’ Cistercian precepts and influences operating at local level) from the end of the 12th century to the beginning of the 16th. The reason for the selection of this type of manuscript, i.e. liturgical, as the subject for study, is linked to purpose. These were the most important manuscripts monasteries produced, indispensable to the celebration of the Daily Office, around which the lives of the monks were structured. Unlike other abbeys, at Alcobaça a large number of these manuscripts have survived which presents the possibility of dating them more accurately and thereby of charting the evolution of materials and techniques of book production within the scriptorium over more than four centuries of activity.
This case study is intended for insertion into the wider context of European Cistercian cultural production whilst simultaneously answering questions – What was Alcobaça’s role in the global European context? Was the Liturgy practiced in Alcobaça subject to local usage or was the Cistercian model followed without deviation? Is there an artistic identity in Alcobaça in terms of illuminated production, or does the ornamentation share the aesthetics and materiality of the French context, particularly the mother house, Clairvaux? Are the original bindings of Alcobaça specific to this Abbey or do they exhibit elements common to other abbeys? How have these codices evolved in terms of content and materials and to what influences was the scriptorium permeable? Answers to these questions will shed new light on the illuminated manuscripts produced or acquired by Alcobaça.
The project Cistercian Horizons. Studying and characterizing a medieval scriptorium and its production: Alcobaça. Dialogues between local identities and liturgical uniformity (PTDC/ART-HIS/29522/2017) is financed by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).
This project is hosted by the Institute for Medieval Studies, a research centre of NOVA – FCSH (Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, NOVA University of Lisbon) in collaboration with REQUIMTE, a Research Centre of NOVA FCT (Faculty of Sciences and Technology, NOVA University of Lisbon) and HERCULES Lab, of the University of ÉVORA.
Other partners of the Project are the Centre for the Study of Religious History Studies (Catholic University of Portugal), the National Library of Portugal and the Monastery of Alcobaça.