The abbey of Saint gall ( Sankt Gallen in German) was founded in the year 613 in the city that this day bears his surname in Switzerland through an ireland monk, Gallus that Hibernia. It would certainly be among the main Benedictine abbeys in Europe for countless centuries.

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Aerial see of the Abbey of Saint Gall now / photograph Hansueli Krapf en Wikimedia Commons

It grew under the patronage the Pepin the Short and his son Charlemagne as a centre for the examine of arts and also sciences, and also came to house vital library of manuscripts that monks from anywhere the continent concerned copy. The arsenal is still preserved and, with nearly 160,000 volumes, is the earliest in Switzerland. The current room, developed in the 18th century, is considered one of the most beautiful libraries in the world.


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Plan the Saint bile / photo public domain ~ above Wikimedia Commons

Among the treasures it contains is the so-called setup (or floor plan) the Saint Gall, an architectural illustration unparalleled in the entirety of the High center Ages and a good part that the reduced Period. In fact, that is the only good architectural architecture that survived in between the loss of the Western roman inn Empire and the 13th century.

It dates from 820-830 AD, when the abbey to be under the control of Emperor louis the Pious, boy of Charlemagne. And also besides being distinct in its type for a period of around 700 years, it has other amazing particularities, together as: that is not known who designed it or why, the project was never ever built, and the monks offered it in the 12th century to compose the life of Saint boy name behind it. But there is more.

The setup was drawn on five scrolls sewn together and also has dimensions of 113 through 78 centimeters. It represents a monastic complicated drawn in red ink, with its abbey church, cloister, abbot’s house and monks’ quarters, school, guest house, residence for pilgrims, novitiate, stables, kitchens, workshops, brewery, infirmary, cemetery, orchard and gardens. Follow to calculations make by experts, the planned complicated could accommodate about 110 monks, 115 visitors and 150 craftsmen and also farmers.

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Detail that the cloister ar / picture public domain ~ above Wikimedia Commons

More than 300 engravings describing the features of every of the buildings were included in brown ink. They to be made by two different scribes and, through comparison, it has been possible to identify that they to be monks belonging not to Saint Gall but to the surrounding (about 52 kilometers to the northwest) Reichenau monastery, started in 724 and located top top the island that the same name in Lake Constance (in the current German state that Baden-Württemberg). Furthermore, among the scribes has actually been determined as the monk Reginbert, the Reichenau librarian that wrote the codex the the Symbol Library around 820.


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The dedication of the setup / picture Horn/Born, The plan of St.Gall, t.1, p.8, fig.2

The setup is specialized to kidnapping Gozbertus or a monk that the very same name who lived in the monastery at the time:

Haec tibi dulcissime fili cozb(er)te de posicione officinarum paucis examplata direxi, quibus sollertiam exerceas tuam, meamq(ue) devotione(m) utcumq(ue) cognoscas, qua tuae bonae voluntari satisfacere me segnem no inveniri confido. Ne suspiceris autem me haic ideo elaborasse, quod vos putemus n(ost)ris indigere magisteriis, sed potius ob amore(m) dei tibi soli p(er) scrutinanda pinxisse amicabili fr(ater)nitatis intuitu crede. Vale in Chr(ist)o semp(er) memor n(ost)ri ame(n).

For thee, my sweetest child Gozbertus, have actually I drawn this briefly annotated copy the the layout the the monastic buildings, through which you might exercise your ingenuity and also recognize my devotion, by which I trust you do not uncover me sluggish to accomplish your wishes. Carry out not imagine the I have actually undertaken this task supposing you to stand in require of ours instruction, however rather think that the end of love the God and also in the trusted zeal of brotherhood ns have portrayed this because that you alone come scrutinise. Farewell in Christ, always mindful the us, Amen

There space two theories as to why the arrangement was drawn. Some historians, such together Walter Horn and also Ernest Born, think that the is a copy that the original arrangement created at the court that Louis the Pious. The king would have actually wanted to create a network of abbeys in his empire, thus offering guidelines on just how they have to be developed in accordance through Benedictine rule.

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Diagram the the setup published in a book by Mackenzie E. Walcott in 1861 / photograph public domain top top Flickr

Others, such as Werner Jacobsen, Norbert Stachura and also Lawrence Nees, maintain that the setup is an original work, make in the Reichenau monastery, probably commissioned by the abduction of Saint Gall, who wanted to construct a new church because that his abbey in the 820s. They basic this top top the reality that the parchment mirrors marks of having actually used compasses, and that changes and also alterations made throughout the drawing procedure can be seen. In fact, it is recognized that work-related on the building and construction of a new church began in the year 830.

Reichenau to be at the time a imperial monastery, dependence on the crown, if Saint gall belonged to the Bishop of Constance. Furthermore, follow to Alfons Zettler, the lower component of the setup shows a huge royal palace, other only existing in large royal abbeys such together Saint-Denis. However, it does not show up under that name, but is labelled as a guest house. Zettler believes that the visibility of another building, a hospice because that pilgrims and also beggars, top top the other side the the church, says that the former was actually intended to house a visit by the monarch.

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Reconstruction according to the plan, drawn by Johann Rudolf Rahn in 1876 / photograph public domain top top Wikimedia Commons

It is also not very clear what range the airplane is drawn to, whether it is a single scale because that the entirety or some aspects are top top a different scale. Typically it is embraced 1:192, which would correspond come 116 of a foot. What the experts do agree on is that there is a differentiation that spaces follow to social status. Lynda Coon discovered that the northwest area comprises structures reserved for the secular elites, if the southwest area would certainly correspond come the reduced classes. On the various other side, the sacred zone is additionally divided, with the northeast and also southeast areas for the monastic elite, and the much more distant east and south areas for the novices.

Today it is taken into consideration that the arrangement does not show the layout or setup of a particular Carolingian monastery, and also that the monastic facility represented was not intended come be constructed in Saint bitterly or elsewhere. It to be a vision the what a large royal abbey need to look like, conceived in the particular political situation of the Regnum Alamannorum between the abbeys the Reichenau and Saint bile in 829-830.

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Model based on the setup of Saint Gall, at the Reichenau traveler office / picture Wolfgang Sauber ~ above Wikimedia Commons

A couple of years ago, a group of enthusiasts in Meßkirch, Baden-Württemberg, very close come Lake Constance, produced a building and construction project to bring out what is shown in the plan of Saint Gall. They room using techniques and tools that the time, and also since 2013 the site is open to the public as a design template park (with restaurants, accommodation and so on), in order come finance the work. On their main website over there is a version of the arrangement in i m sorry you have the right to see what function each structure had.

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Sources: The plan of St. Gall: A study of the architecture & economic situation of, & Life in a Paradigmatic Carolingian Monastery (Walter Horn, Ernest Born) / Spaces for servants and provendarii in beforehand Medieval Monasteries. The example of the online monastery that the arrangement of Saint Gall (Alfons Zettler). Bulletin du centre d’études médievales d’Auxerre, BUCEMA (Hors-série no.8). Doi:10.4000/cem.13624 / The setup of Saint Gall and the concept of the routine of Carolingian Art. Gesta. 25:1–8. JSTOR 766891 / Nouvelles perspectives pour le arrangement de Saint Gall (M.Carol Heitz). Bulletin de la Société Nationale des Antiquaires de France pour 1992: 169–173. Doi:10.3406/bsnaf.1994.9735 / Wikipedia.