Den reformerade världen : Monastisk och materiell kultur i Alvastra kloster från medeltid till modern tid
Sammanfattning: In 1143 a Cistercian abbey was founded in the parish of Västra Tollstad in the province of Östergötland in Eastern Middle Sweden. The abbey of Alvastra and the role of the Cistercian monasteries in medieval Swedish society forms the main subject of this thesis. This thesis is based on an analysis of architecture, artefacts and graves recovered during the excavations of Alvastra, and analogies are made with the abbeys of Varnhem, Gudhem and Vreta but also with urban and rural areas in the region. The abbeys are studied in long-term perspective, using archaeology to study not only monastic life but the Reformation and post-dissolution periods.The primary results of the thesis concern the later history of Alvastra, which is poorly known from written sources. The archaeological material in many ways highlights the 14th century as an important period in the history of the abbey of Alvastra. New monastic buildings were erected that in both form and function directly related to secular society. The use of international currency increased, as did the use of imported pottery. Burial practices changed, particularily in regards to the spatial distribution of graves. Several if not all of these changes may be interpreted as part of a transformation of the relationship between the abbey and secular society. The relationship between the abbey and secular society became closer, which was manifested in architecture, artefacts and burials. This may be seen as an attempt by the abbey to adapt monastic culture to changing religious ideals, but it caused secular perceptions of the abbey to change.By opening the abbey to seculars and making lay people a part of the Cistercian brotherhood, the monks adapted a traditional structure to changing circumstances. At the same time, the very relationship with the seculars changed. The position and authority of the Cistercians stemmed in large part from their distance and isolation from lay society. Monastic culture did not provide the tools for understanding religious change in terms that allowed the monasteries to survey the consequences of their actions in terms of the social and religious position of the abbey.
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