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On Time and Space in a 12th Century Augustinian Priory (Marbach, Alsace)

By: Anja Rathmann-Lutz

"If they need to cut nails, then they would cut [them]." A point in time for the cutting of nails-this sounds rather like the schedule of a 21st century teenager than that of a medieval monk or canon regular. However, within the densely structured hours, days, weeks, months, years and lives of regular canons in the 12th century, besides many more liturgically important activities, even a detail like the cutting of nails has its appropriate time. And-as time and space are thought to be intertwined categories-it has also its appropriate place.

Studies on medieval historiography, exegesis, and apocalyptic speculations have recently underlined the variety of medieval concepts of ’past, present, and future’ as well as their spatial logics, but not much research has been done on the materiality of the experience of time people had in their daily life and how the theological and philosophical notions of past and future would intermingle with every-day perceptions and performances of time. This article will explore how time and space were conceived in a high medieval Augustinian community by taking a closer look at the regular requirements for the novices and canons, exploring how they expressed the interconnectedness of time and space by directing the bodies of the monks across the monastery. As a consequence, the article will highlight the triangle of time, space, and motion.

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