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Title: Visions of order and apocalypse : text and image in thirteenth-century Vercelli
Author: Shurville, Jennifer
ISNI:       0000 0004 7966 188X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis presents seven large thirteenth-century single and multiple piece roll manuscripts (the Rotoli figurati) held at the Archivio Capitolare of the cathedral of S. Eusebio in Vercelli. In the process of presenting these documents, and arguments for their dating and provenance in the city of Vercelli, I contend that they should be examined as a group because of their distinctive shared qualities, particularly their unusual format, and their communication of complex forms of knowledge through ordered systems of image and text. Understood broadly, the thematic content of most of these manuscripts relates to the ordered representation of knowledge and the shape of salvific history including the (imminent) Apocalypse. Further motifs emerge which concern the role of the Church within this ordered universe. In two of the manuscripts, Rotoli figurati 4 and 7, these themes converge in the thought and works of monastic exegete Joachim of Fiore (d. 1202). The diagram of Rotoli figurati 4 (Ecclesia) is known from one other version, but with significant differences relating to its incorporation of Joachim's thought. Rotoli figurati 7 contains five new testimonies of Joachim's work, including two diagrammatic figures. I argue that the layout of texts in this manuscript represents an early and accurate visual transmission of Joachim's works. To critically engage with their function, these documents are historicized in an examination of the active religious and intellectual centres in Vercelli, 1150‒1300, a city marked by its political significance to both papacy and empire. Furthermore, I expand the significance of the Rotoli figurati by contextualising them within known complex visualisations of knowledge in medieval visual culture. While some of the Rotoli figurati can be compared to other sources, others demonstrate an innovative use of the diagrammatic mode. Considered together, their shared motifs directly reflect their use and function in the cathedral chapter of S. Eusebio, with its dynamic intellectual community and strong links to the papacy. In this thesis I argue for the significance of complex images as a means of communicating innovative theological thought and papal ideology in the period 1185‒1307, reflected in the distinctive composition of the Rotoli figurati.
Supervisor: Rosser, Gervase ; Kauffmann, Martin Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Joachim of Fiore ; Apocalypticism ; History of Art ; Art, Medieval ; Manuscripts, Medieval--Italy--Vercelli ; Manuscripts, Latin (Medieval) ; visual communication ; Christian Art and Symbolism--Europe ; Medieval Manuscript Diagrams