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Original scientific paper


Ana Marinković ; Central European University, Budimpešta

Full text: croatian pdf 19.913 Kb

page 43-74

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Full text: english pdf 19.913 Kb

page 75-76

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Erection of the architectural ensemble consisting of the chapter house and the bell tower in the precinct of the nunnery of St. Mary in Zadar represents a turning point in the architectural practice of medieval Dalmatia, featuring for the first time elements of the High Romanesque style. Question of the function of this architecture, related to Hungarian king Coloman and his military campaign in Dalmatia in 1105, has not, however, been discussed so far. The form of a private chapel, that is, a hall joined by an axial bell tower with a gallery on the first floor, indicates an initial function for the private, in this case royal, liturgy. Such interpretation is supported by the architectural articulation and decorative programme of the western gallery (featuring an inscription with the name of the king), and the reconstruction of the external access to the gallery indicating a user who was not a member of the monastic community. In addition, liturgical and iconographic aspects, together with political context of Coloman's architectural intervention provide more evidence for such a use of the gallery. The iconography of the wall paintings in the gallery corresponds not only to the usual iconography of the western complexes, but also to the liturgy of laudes regiae by appearance of the same saintly figures: Christ the Saviour, Virgin Mary, John the Baptist and Archangel Gabriel. The mention of the palace built by Coloman in Zadar, provided by a 14th-century Hungarian chronicle, gives another indication of king's presence in the city, and therefore of the need for the royal chapel. Returning to the question of style, the interpretation of the complex as the royal chapel offers answers for several problems concerning the circulation of decorative and architectural forms in the region, both as the model for and the further influence of the chapel. The form was determined by its function in terms of the symbolic importance it had for its contemporaries. On the basis of the stylistic similarity, but also the symbolic compatibility, the "Contarini" phase (consecrated in 1094) of St. Mark's in Venice is established as the model for the decoration of Coloman's chapel. Diffusion of forms (cubic capitals, frieze of heart-shaped palmettes, and cross-ribbed vaulting) from Zadar to Dalmatia and to the continent under direct Hungarian ecclesiastical jurisdiction, provides a more complex picture. Firstly, one can discern the immediate and continuous influence visible in the city of Zadar (St. Thomas, St. Mary Maior, the cathedral). Furthermore, there is a homogenous group of churches on the territory newly subjected to the Church of Zadar (primarily on the island of Krk) following its elevation to the level of archbishopric in 1154. Finally, spread of the forms of Coloman's chapel to another group of churches (Gora, Szekesfehervar, Kaštel Gomilica) is related to its direct political conotations used by Hungarian church prelates or secular dignitaries. The importance of the city of Zadar and the monastery of St. Mary that caused Coloman's intervention is explained by the role of Zadar as the capital of Dalmatia since the 9th century, while the monastery gained importance through its role in the church reform, but also through the traditional ties with the family of Madii, and with Croatian king Petar Krešimir IV. It is interesting to note similar strategy of relating to the abbess that both kings used in order to strenghten their rule in Dalmatia. By relating to the monastery of St. Mary, primarily by inserting his royal chapel in its precinct, Coloman consciously followed the "traditions" of the Croatian ruler, the strategy which is discernible in other aspects of his rule as well.


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