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Old Saint Peter's, Rome


Part of British School at Rome Studies

Paolo Liverani, Richard Gem, Lex Bosman, Olof Brandt, Rosamond McKitterick, Meaghan McEvoy, Alan Thacker, Peter Jeffery, Éamonn Ó Carragáin, Antonella Ballardini, Paola Pogliani, Charles McClendon, Ann van Dijk, Joanna Story, John Osborne, Carmela Vircillo Franklin, Katharina Christa Schüppel, Carol M. Richardson, Robert Glass, Catherine Fletcher, Bram Kempers
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  • Date Published: January 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108730044

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About the Authors
  • St Peter's Basilica in Rome is arguably the most important church in Western Christendom, and is among the most significant buildings anywhere in the world. However, the church that is visible today is a youthful upstart, only four hundred years old compared to the twelve-hundred-year-old church whose site it occupies. A very small proportion of the original is now extant, entirely covered over by the new basilica, but enough survives to make reconstruction of the first St Peter's possible and much new evidence has been uncovered in the past thirty years. This is the first full study of the older church, from its late antique construction to Renaissance destruction, in its historical context. An international team of historians, art historians, archaeologists and liturgists explores aspects of the basilica's history, from its physical fabric to the activities that took place within its walls and its relationship with the city of Rome.

    • The first full study of the original church on the site of St Peter's Basilica in Rome, from late antique construction to Renaissance destruction
    • Takes full account of the new evidence accruing as a result of the consolidation, conservation and ongoing exploration of the present basilica and its surroundings, particularly in the last thirty years
    • Includes contributions from specialists in history, art history, archaeology and liturgy
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… impressive and interesting …' The Times Literary Supplement

    'Although this book has been written for experts, it will not fail those who are eager to know more about the first church of Christendom.' The Art Newspaper

    'This elegantly conceived volume adds considerably to our knowledge and understanding of one of the most remarkable buildings to have been constructed over the last two millennia … the book amply and illuminatingly demonstrates that an old and long-vanished building can still remain a powerful resource for historical research of the highest significance.' David Hemsoll, History Today

    '… splendid and lavishly illustrated …' Timothy D. Barnes, Expository Times

    '… an essential reference tool … illuminating observations … the production of the volume is highly commendable, with maps that will make it a pleasure to use this work for research and teaching purposes.' Richard Westall, The Classical Review

    'Together they have created an impressive book that sports nearly 130 illustrations, images and plates. Most of the contributions start out with a detail of the modern plan of St Peter's, showing the most important places in the church that the following pages proceed to deal with, which is very helpful. The special highlight is the (approximately) 62x48 cm (or a little more than 2x1.5 ft!) fold-out facsimile of Tiberio Alfarano's plan of Old St Peter's shown in the relationship to the new basilica from 1590. This alone is great to have; albeit admittedly relatively modern, it shows many locations in the old church.' Clemens Gantner, Early Medieval Europe

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108730044
    • dimensions: 245 x 189 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.101kg
    • contains: 103 b/w illus. 16 colour illus. 3 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. St Peter's and the city of Rome between Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages Paolo Liverani
    2. From Constantine to Constans: the chronology of the construction of St Peter's Basilica Richard Gem
    3. Spolia in the fourth-century basilica Lex Bosman
    4. The early Christian Baptistery of St Peter's Olof Brandt
    5. The representation of Old St Peter's Basilica in the Liber Pontificalis Rosamond McKitterick
    6. The Mausoleum of Honorius: late Roman imperial Christianity and the city of Rome in the fifth century Meaghan McEvoy
    7. Popes, emperors and clergy at Old St Peter's from the fourth to the eighth century Alan Thacker
    8. The Roman liturgical year and the early liturgy of St Peter's Peter Jeffery
    9. Interactions between liturgy and politics in Old St Peter's, 670–741: John the Archcantor, Sergius I and Gregory III Éamonn Ó Carragáin
    10. A reconstruction of the Oratory of John VII (705–707) Antonella Ballardini and Paola Pogliani
    11. Old St Peter's and the Iconoclastic Controversy Charles McClendon
    12. The Veronica, the Vultus Christi, and the veneration of icons in medieval Rome Ann van Dijk
    13. The Carolingians and the Oratory of Saint Peter the Shepherd Joanna Story
    14. Plus Caesare Petrus: the Vatican Obelisk and the approach to St Peter's John Osborne
    15. The legendary of St Peter's Basilica: hagiographic traditions and innovations in the late eleventh century Carmela Vircillo Franklin
    16. The stucco crucifix of Saint Peter's reconsidered: textual sources and visual evidence for the Renaissance copy of a medieval silver crucifix Katharina Christa Schüppel
    17. St Peter's in the fifteenth century: Paul II, the archpriests and the case for continuity Carol M. Richardson
    18. Filarete's renovation of the Porta Argentea at Old St Peter's Robert Glass
    19. The altar of Saint Maurice and the invention of tradition in Saint Peter's Catherine Fletcher
    Epilogue. A hybrid history: the antique basilica with a modern dome Bram Kempers
    Appendix. Letter of the Canons of St Peter's to Paul V concerning the demolition of the old basilica, 1605 Carol M. Richardson and Joanna Story.

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    Old Saint Peter's, Rome

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  • Editors

    Rosamond McKitterick, University of Cambridge
    Rosamund McKitterick is Professor of Medieval History at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Sidney Sussex College. She has published on literacy, manuscript transmission, perceptions of the past, and political culture in the early Middle Ages. In addition to many articles, chapters in books, edited books and monographs, her most recent books include History and Memory in the Carolingian World (Cambridge, 2004), Charlemagne: The Formation of a European Identity (Cambridge, 2008), and Rome across Time and Space: Cultural Transmission and the Exchange of Ideas, c.500–1400 (with C. Bolgia and J. Osborne, Cambridge, 2011).

    John Osborne, Carleton University, Ottawa
    John Osborne is Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Carleton University, Ottawa. His publications cover topics as varied as the Roman catacombs, the fragmentary mural paintings from excavated churches such as San Clemente and S. Maria Antiqua, the decorative program of the church of San Marco in Venice, seventeenth-century antiquarian drawings of medieval monuments, cultural transmission between Western Europe and Byzantium, and the medieval understanding and use of Rome's heritage of ancient buildings and statuary.

    Carol M. Richardson, University of Edinburgh
    Carol M. Richardson is Lecturer in the History of Art at the University of Edinburgh. Her book Reclaiming Rome: Cardinals in the Fifteenth Century (2009) was described as 'a milestone in the history not only of artistic patronage but also of the papacy in fifteenth-century Rome [which] will become a standard work for scholars to return to again and again' (Simon Ditchfield, Art History 34/1 (2011)). She has also edited a number of Open University textbooks which are widely used to teach history of art on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Joanna Story, University of Leicester
    Joanna Story is Professor of Early Medieval History at the University of Leicester, specialising in interdisciplinary research into the history and archaeology of Europe in the age of Charlemagne. She has published widely on the contacts between Anglo-Saxon England and the Continent at this time, focusing especially on manuscripts and inscriptions, and the links between England and Rome.


    Paolo Liverani, Richard Gem, Lex Bosman, Olof Brandt, Rosamond McKitterick, Meaghan McEvoy, Alan Thacker, Peter Jeffery, Éamonn Ó Carragáin, Antonella Ballardini, Paola Pogliani, Charles McClendon, Ann van Dijk, Joanna Story, John Osborne, Carmela Vircillo Franklin, Katharina Christa Schüppel, Carol M. Richardson, Robert Glass, Catherine Fletcher, Bram Kempers

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