Mediterranean Trade and Architectural Production: The Church of S. Corrado in Molfetta (Apulia) ca. 1100-1300 CE
The 12th- and 13th-century cathedral of S. Corrado in Molfetta (Apulia) illuminates the effects of Mediterranean trade on architectural production. The town's engagement with long-distance commerce supported professional travel and prompted new institution-building strategies in ecclesiastical and lay society. In these ways trade reshaped the finances, building process, and specialized expertise of S. Corrado.
This study applies a combination of approaches to the written record and built fabric of the church. Documents are examined for their financial structures and symbolic ramifications. The building fund is found to have manifested the competitive relationships of many large institutions, producing a multiplicity of forms and functions in the cathedral. A new chronological analysis informed by construction archaeology (detailed photography, on-site measurement, digital modeling, and diagrammatic visualization) suggests that the cathedral was designed in a series of flexible episodes, and not in accordance with an original plan. New technical comparisons suggest that the specialized knowledge of the work force of S. Corrado was transmitted from a range of contexts (including the northern Adriatic and southern France).
These dynamics can be related, more precisely than before, to specific conditions of the commercializing economy. Thus the findings of this study can inform the methods and frameworks of architectural history in the larger Mediterranean context.
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