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COMUNITÀ E SPAZIO URBANO NEL MEDIOEVO SUGGESTIONI DALLA «ROMANIA» TRANSALPINA E DALLA GERMANIA

Alfred Haverkamp and Monika Pelz
Quaderni storici
NUOVA SERIE, Vol. 36, No. 107 (2), La schiavitù nel Mediterraneo (AGOSTO 2001), pp. 573-593
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43779300
Page Count: 21
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
COMUNITÀ E SPAZIO URBANO NEL MEDIOEVO SUGGESTIONI DALLA «ROMANIA» TRANSALPINA E DALLA GERMANIA
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Abstract

The subject is a very large and complex one. Therefore, we decided to divide it into two sections. First of all, we carried out a terminological clarification, in order to better define the concept of «community» through the very history of the word itself; we then proceeded to formulate a thesis concerning the «mix» between «community» and space. In the second part of this text we tried to demonstrate the truth of the submitted thesis, verifying it through a sample of «communities». We attempted to provide a set of comparable data, locating our observation — though it referred to a relatively narrow geographical space (Germany and French Romania) — in the broader context of western medieval history. In this paper the word «community» will be understood, generally speaking, as the «union of several persons»; this semantic field includes both social relationships, explicitly agreed and strongly changeable (i.e. unions, brotherhoods etc.), and «forms of social action», defined through belonging — more or less consciously — to similar groups, not necessarily organized on a «egalitarian-horizontal» basis. Here, self-organization, often mandatory for practical reasons, was strictly connected to a strong «competitive» tendency, increasing the demand for regulation that was often obtained through the consolidation of institutions perceived as lasting and impersonal. In the Middle Ages, the several «communities» constituted, very likely, the forces most affecting the organization of space. This thesis could be applied to every strongly structured and gathered space, since these are the result of various human relationships and of forms of communication connected to them. A very strong impulse to the structural organization of space came from cultural communities; it is probably not too risky to affirm that in medieval Latin Christendom all the communities which were not based on natural ties had their most important focal point in communal worship, so that it often seems difficult to make a distinction between «lay communities» and «religious communities». A sign of such a difficulty in our research is the need to use a concept like «half-religious» (semireligiosi). Finally, in our opinion, one should underline a very important factor, i.e. the existence of sacred Jewish communities beside the Christian ones. The link between those communities and the «commune» helps to provide an interpretation which is also applicable to the Christian context. Therefore it is crucial, in respect to the problem of spacial organization, to study the Jewish minority and the Christian majority together.

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