The abbey of Saint Gall ( Sankt Gallen in German) was founded in the year 613 in the tvery own that this particular day bears his name in Switzerland by an Irish monk, Gallus of Hibernia. It would be one of the main Benedictine monasteries in Europe for many type of centuries.

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Aerial watch of the Abbey of Saint Gall this day / photo Hansueli Krapf en Wikimedia Commons

It flourished under the patronage of Pepin the Brief and also his kid Charlemagne as a centre for the study of arts and also sciences, and pertained to home a crucial library of manuscripts that monks from almost everywhere the continent involved copy. The collection is still preserved and, with practically 160,000 volumes, is the oldest in Switzerland. The present room, built in the 18th century, is considered one of the the majority of beautiful libraries in the civilization.


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Plan of Saint Gall / photo public domajor on Wikimedia Commons

Amongst the treasures it has is the so-dubbed Plan (or floor plan) of Saint Gall, an architectural drawing unparalleled in the entirety of the High Middle Ages and a good part of the Lower Period. In reality, it is the just great architectural style that survived in between the fall of the Western Romale Empire and also the 13th century.

It days from 820-830 AD, as soon as the abbey was under the control of Emperor Louis the Pious, kid of Charlemagne. And besides being distinct in its type for a period of about 700 years, it has various other exciting particularities, such as: it is not well-known who designed it or why, the project was never before built, and the monks offered it in the 12th century to create the life of Saint Martin behind it. But there is even more.

The arrangement was attracted on five scrolls sewn together and has actually dimensions of 113 by 78 centimeters. It represents a monastic complex drawn in red ink, with its abbey church, cloister, abbot’s residence and monks’ quarters, school, guest home, home for pilgrims, novitiate, stables, kitchens, workshops, brewery, infirmary, cemetery, orchard and gardens. According to calculations made by experts, the planned complicated can accommodate about 110 monks, 115 travellers and also 150 craftsmen and also farmers.

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Detail of the cloister area / photo public doprimary on Wikimedia Commons

More than 300 engravings describing the attributes of each of the buildings were added in brvery own ink. They were made by 2 various scribes and also, by comparichild, it has been feasible to identify that they were monks belonging not to Saint Gall but to the adjacent (about 52 kilometers to the northwest) Reichenau monastery, founded in 724 and also located on the island of the very same name in Lake Constance (in the present Germale state of Baden-Württemberg). Furthermore, among the scribes has been determined as the monk Reginbert, the Reichenau librarian that composed the codex of the Symbol Library approximately 820.


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

The plan is dedicated to Abbot Gozbertus or a monk of the same name who stayed in the monastery at that 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 non inveniri confiexecute. 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 son Gozbertus, have I attracted this briefly annotated copy of the layout of the monastic structures, with which you may exercise your resourcefulness and recognize my devotion, by which I trust you carry out not find me slow to satisfy your wishes. Do not imagine that I have undertaken this job supposing you to stand in require of our instruction, however quite believe that out of love of God and in the friendly zeal of brotherhood I have illustrated this for you alone to scrutinise. Farewell in Christ, always mindful of us, Amen

Tbelow are two theories as to why the Plan was attracted. Some historians, such as Wchange Horn and Ercolony Born, think that it is a copy of the original arrangement developed at the court of Louis the Pious. The monarch would have wanted to develop a network-related of abbeys in his empire, for this reason giving guidelines on exactly how they should be developed in accordance via Benedictine ascendancy.

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Diagram of the setup publiburned in a book by Mackenzie E. Walcott in 1861 / photo public domain on Flickr

Others, such as Werner Jacobsen, Norbert Stachura and also Lawrence Nees, keep that the setup is an original job-related, made in the Reichenau monastery, perhaps commissioned by the Abbot of Saint Gall, that wanted to build a brand-new church for his abbey in the 820s. They base this on the reality that the parchment mirrors marks of having actually supplied compasses, and also that alters and also alterations made throughout the illustration process have the right to be seen. In truth, it is well-known that work on the building and construction of a new church started in the year 830.

Reichenau was at that time a imperial monastery, dependent on the crvery own, while Saint Gall belonged to the Bishop of Constance. Furthermore, according to Alfons Zettler, the lower component of the plan mirrors a big imperial royal residence, somepoint just existing in big imperial monasteries such as Saint-Denis. However before, it does not appear under that name, but is labelled as a guest house. Zettler believes that the presence of an additional structure, a hospice for pilgrims and also beggars, on the various other side of the church, suggests 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 / photo public doprimary on Wikimedia Commons

It is also not exceptionally clear what range the airplane is drawn to, whether it is a single range for the entirety or some facets are on a various range. Usually it is embraced 1:192, which would certainly correspond to 116 of a foot. What the specialists execute agree on is that tbelow is a differentiation of spaces according to social condition. Lynda Coon discovered that the northwest location comprises structures scheduled for the secular elites, while the southwest location would correspond to the reduced classes. On the other side, the sacred zone is likewise split, via the northeast and also southeast areas for the monastic elite, and the even more remote east and southern areas for the novices.

Today it is taken into consideration that the plan does not display the layout or arrangement of a specific Carolingian monastery, and that the monastic complex represented was not intfinished to be constructed in Saint Gall or elsewhere. It was a vision of what a large imperial abbey have to look choose, conceived in the specific political case of the Regnum Alamannorum between the abbeys of Reichenau and Saint Gall in 829-830.

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Model based on the setup of Saint Gall, at the Reichenau tourist office / photo Wolfgang Sauber on Wikimedia Commons

A few years earlier, a team of enthusiasts in Meßkirch, Baden-Württemberg, incredibly cshed to Lake Constance, produced a building project to carry out what is illustrated in the arrangement of Saint Gall. They are making use of approaches and devices of the moment, and considering that 2013 the site is open to the public as a layout park (through restaurants, accommodation and so on), in order to finance the work-related. On their main webwebsite tright here is a variation of the setup in which you can watch what attribute each structure had.

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Sources: The Plan of St. Gall: A Study of the Architecture & Economy of, & Life in a Paradigmatic Carolingian Monastery (Walter Horn, Ernest Born) / Spaces for servants and also provendarii in Early Middle ages Monasteries. The example of the virtual monastery of the Plan of Saint Gall (Alfons Zettler). Bulletin du centre d’études médievales d’Auxerre, BUCEMA (Hors-série no.8). doi:10.4000/cem.13624 / The Plan of Saint Gall and the Theory of the Program of Carolingian Art. Gesta. 25:1–8. JSTOR 766891 / Nouvelles perspectives pour le Plan 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.