The Art of Reform in a Bavarian Nunnery Around 1000

The Art of Reform in a Bavarian Nunnery Around 1000

By Adam S. Cohen

Speculum, Vol. 74, No. 4. (1999)

Introduction: That an efflorescence of visual art and architecture was a common feature of monastic reform in the Middle Ages has been well documented. Defining the precise nature of the relationship between that art and the reform that stimulated it has been less easy. Why should reform movements engender the production of art? What form does that art and architecture take? And how does it express or reflect the concerns and aims of monastic reformers? This essay will seek to address the last question in particular by examining a cluster of images and texts that are exceptionally clear in their expression of reform ideas. They were produced in Regensburg, in Bavaria, around the year 1000 for the newly reformed nunnery of Niedermunster. An investigation of this evidence not only indicates how art could be an integral feature of monastic reform but also reveals some of the strategies used by reformers to counter opposition.

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