Petrifing Wealth

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Petrifying Wealth. The Southern European Shift to Masonry as Collective Investment in Identity, c.1050-1300

PETRIFYING WEALTH

Between the years 1050 and 1300 the European landscape turned to stone. It was a structural transformation that led to the birth of a new, long-lasting panorama and helped in the creation of individual, collective and regional identities: a landscape epitomising the way we see the space and territory of Europe. Petrifying Wealth seeks to rewrite the social history of the central Middle Ages, emphasizing the need to reassess from an untried perspective an element that has always been present in our vision of the period—the sudden ubiquity of masonry construction—but which has hardly been given the opportunity to provide in-depth explanations for complex social dynamics. This project seeks to offer novel explanations to previously unasked questions about wealth, building, and collective identity. The speed, extent, and systematization of the construction of churches, towers, castle walls, palaces, and houses within castles and cities provide evidence of an underlying, if unaddressed, issue. That is, it is precisely in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries that the structural link can most clearly be seen between both private and collective wealth, and the investment in stone structures built to last. Our study of the shift involving new institutional dynamics, but also unprecedented social practices, as well as ideological concepts radically different from those that had prevailed until then, aims to break down

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