The Maps of Matthew Paris

The Maps of Matthew Paris

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The Maps of Matthew Paris: Medieval Journeys through Space, Time and Liturgy

By Daniel K. Connolly
Boydell and Brewer, 2009
ISBN: 9781843834786

The illustrations of the Benedictine monk, artist, and chronicler Matthew Paris offer a gateway into the thirteenth-century world. This new study of his cartography emphasises the striking innovations he brought to it, and shows how the maps became an investment and repository of certain medieval spatial practices: travel through the world, the occurrence of history in that world, and the religious practices and devotional attitudes that were assiduously cultivated within the larger visual culture of St. Albans abbey [in great measure produced by Matthew’s own images]. Travel [i.e. space], history [time], and devotion [liturgy], then, are the primary issues and meanings deposited in and registered by Matthew Paris’s cartographic landscape.

In searching out these contexts, the book explores the paradigm of imagined pilgrimage as an organizing principle that pushes into greater relief medieval understandings of their arrangements of places and of histories. Thus traveling through geography could enact its meanings in a dynamic, religious, even devotional performance of the maps’ materials. Richly illustrated with black and white and colour plates.

Matthew Paris’ map of Great Britain – from the British Library

“Daniel K. Connolly’s The Maps of Matthew Paris. Medieval Journeys Through Space, Time, and Liturgy rejects the format of a more conventional monograph and instead examines the maps of Matthew Paris in the context of the visual culture of St. Albans, seeking to expose some of the visual contexts–spatial, liturgical, and graphic–that enriched the production of the maps. While some of his arguments are more persuasive than others, he has approached the work of Matthew Paris in an original and stimulating way and has made a meaningful contribution to our knowledge of the ways manuscripts, texts, images, rituals and prayers provided the fertile ground for the pictorial and cartographic imagination of Matthew Paris.” review by Camille Serchuk, from the Medieval Review

Examples of Matthew Paris’ maps:

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