"The Dark Ages" is the name that Renaissance humanists gave to the period that started with the "Fall" of Rome and ended with their own arrival.

Medieval Rome --Introduction and the Constantinian legacy.

A. Introduction

Dark Ages or Darkened ages

In general, "Darkness" was pejoratively applied by snooty Renaissance folks -- much like "pre-Raphaelites" -- not liking what came in between.

This was particularly true of Italians who thought that what came in between was German and thus Barbarian.

"Medieval" really just means "middle period"

Early and late Medieval

Different dates in different place -- like all historical period labels.

In "Western Civ", "medieval" is usually applied only to Europe, but historians of other areas also use the term.

Even in Europe, period names don't always mean the same thing.

Historians usually pick their own parameters

For our purposes, we will try to drop the term "dark ages" but no penalty for forgetting.

We will, however, use Medieval, early and late, for Rome.

We'll use Early Medieval to mean the time between Gregory the Great (born about 540, Pope from 590 until 604) and ca. 1000.

Late Medieval will mean 1000 through the debatable beginning of the Renaissance -- we'll decide later when that is.

Although the course is about Rome, we will talk about other places if needed.
                Milan, Ravenna, Constantinople, Avignon, etc.

Before starting on the Medieval period, we'll go into some background:

Constantine's legacy -- for better or worse

Barbarians -- anyone non-Roman -- "your barbarian is my cousin"

Benedict and early monasticism

Gregory was a monk and maybe a Benedictine

He wrote a biography of Benedict

Byzantines and their Representatives.

Despite what it sounds like, this isn't a linear history course

There are timelines and an abbreviated history, but we will concentrate on

trends and controlling factors (some of which are people) rather than on events

We won't always go in chronological order

Benedict, for example, is in the century before Gregory but will come after him in the course.

And the founders of the other Medieval monastic orders,

Francis and Dominic, will be discussed with Benedict even though

they're late Medieval. Even Ignatius, who was counter-Reformation, will rate a mention.

Krautheimer's Medieval Rome

B. Constantine's legacy

The "Donation of Constantine"

Constantine gives Rome and the Empire to Pope Sylvester 1 -- impious fraud

Extent of the Empire -- map exercise: from Augustus until 1500

Orphan maps? (Periodical Historical Atlas of Europe)

Structures: Church basilicas and rounds

Tituli -- home churches to which someone held title

Ancient Roman Basilicas

Basilica of Maxentius/Constantine

Largest built, curile basilica

Tomb dinners -- an ancient Mediterranean tradition:  Dining/assembly area in front of tombs
                    Grand triclinia: banquet halls for large numbers of guests

Exposing tombs -- ambulatoria around tombs

Medieval Churches of Rome


Old St. Peter's

Not oldest, but eventually assumed greatest importance.

Funerary chapel expanded into huge basilica

Good example of a semi-round ambulatory cut around a tomb

Perhaps built by Constantine (or Constantius)

Eventually demolished because it would have fallen -- but lasted more than 1000 yrs.

St. John Lateran

"Mother of all churches"

Converted grand tricliniun

Not a tomb church

Medieval Baptistery still standing

"Constantine's bathtub" (Rienzo connection)

Medieval cloister

Scala Sancta

Leo 3's Triclinium Mosaic from Palace

Disastrous Palace fires

Renaissance/baroque redecoration of the church

Quattro Coronati

4th Century Titulus Aemilianae built by Pope Miltiades (311-14)

Restored by Pope Honorius 625-638) and by Pope Hadrian 772-95

Basilica built by Pope Leo 4 (847-55).

Sacked by the Norman, Robert Guiscard, in 1048.

Rebuilt on a smaller scale by Pope Paschal 2 (1099-1118).

Monastery and cloister added in the 12th and 13th centuries, held by Benedictines until the 16th.

Fortress guarding the Lateran (1246, Innocent 4) and haven for Popes during conflict with the Hohehstaufen

Camaldolese monks got it in 1521 and 40 years later the Augustinians got it.

Now Augustinian nuns.
Fresco finds in late 1990's
St. Sabina
5th century (422-23), built on the site of Titulus Sabinae by Peter the Illyrian.

Became the Dominican HQ in 1218 (overtaken by S. Maria Sopra Minerva in 1370.)

Last home of Dominic, later was home of Thomas Aquinas.

Wooden doors are pre-450, perhaps the first doors of the church.

Windows are translucent selenite.

Restored in first half of 20th century -- renaissance and baroque additions removed.

Medieval cloister is attached.

Additional courtyard with "Dominic's" orange tree.

Rare Round Churches Round Roman Temple

Funerary rotundae without fronting basilicae?

S. Costanza   Originally a Mausoleum located outside the Aurelian walls on Via Nomentana

Not a church until 1254 -- Pope Alexander 4

Vault mosaic, with portrait of Costanza, is 4th century

Costanza's porphyry sarcophagus -- original in the Vatican

S. Maria ad Martyres -- Pantheon,_Rome

Built by Hadrian as a massive rebuilding of Marcus Agrippa's homage to the Julio-Claudian patron gods.

Temple closed in 5th century and given by Emperor Phocas to Pope Boniface 4.

Boniface consecrated it as S. Maria ad Martyres before 609

(in that year he proclaimed "All Saints Day" in the church.)

In 663, Eastern Emperor Constans 2 stole the bronze roof tiles.

Gregory 3 reclad the roof with lead in 735.

Used as a fortress and later as a poultry market during Avignon Captivity (1309-77)

Restored to use as a church after the Captivity -- in use since then.

Renaisance redecorations.

S. Stefano Rotondo al Celio

and following pages

A purpose built round church -- probably modeled directly after the Byzantine church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Same size as the Jerusalem Holy Sepulchre rotunda.

First church consecrated by Pope Simplicius (468-83), perhaps in 460.

Perhaps financed by the Verlarian family who had Jerusalem connections -- not a titulus.

Built on the site of a Mithraeum within the Castra Peregrinorum (a military barracks for foreign troops -- training for foreign officers).

Decorated by Pope John 1 (523-26) and Pope Felix 4 (526-30).

Colonnades altered and transverse arches added by Innocent 2 (1130-1143).

Renaissance restorations

Martyr frescoes

Other Medieval Churches S. Sebastiano -- 3rd century catacomb church, 4th basilica, 9th rededication

Ss. Giovanno e Paulo -- 2-3 century titulus, 4th century church, restored mid-5th, restored early 12th after Norman sacking

S. Pudenza (Pudenziana) 390 -- original but badly restored apse mosaic is the earliest of its type in Rome

S. Maria Maggiore

Basilica Liberiana 352-66, Damasus Basilica 366-84, Sixtus3432-40

            S. Maria della Neve -- Aug 4-5 358

Ss. Cosmas and Damian in Foro 527

S. Marco in Piazza Venezia -- ca 800,_Rome

S. Cecilia in Trastevere -- early titulus Ceacilia, 5th century church replaced in 9th


S. Prassede (Praxedes, sister of Pudenza) 5th century church replaced in 822
                                            Zeno chapel 817

S. Clemente 1100s (Earlier church destroyed by Guiscard)

S. Maria del Popolo 1227

S. Lorenzo fuori le Mure

And hundreds more: