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Ename

Ename, at the former border between the Ottonian Empire and the French Kingdom, grew into a well-known Ottonian margravial centre during the tenth century. Presently, the foundations of the Ottonian site and the Benedictine abbey are integrated into a provincial archaeological park.

  • AD 850 – 1050

AD 850 – 1050

History

Ename was part of the Lotharingia region and, situated on the right bank of the Scheldt, it belonged to Francia Media of the divided Carolingian empire. The Scheldt, Meuse and Rhine basin has always been considered to be the home base of the Merovingian rulers. In 925 Lotharingia finaly came under the sovereignty of East Francia. Fig. 4

Fig. 4: Map of Lotharingia, Naar ‘Kaart van Lotharingen’. Credit: Algemene geschiedenis der Nederlanden, deel 1, p. 317.

Fig. 4: Map of Lotharingia, Naar ‘Kaart van Lotharingen’. Credit: Algemene geschiedenis der Nederlanden, deel 1, p. 317.

Ename is first mentioned as Villa Ehinham in the 9th century, the name indicating a rural settlement. Situated on the western border of the empire this allodial property was most probably a gift of the Ottonian emperor to Mathilde Billung on the occasion of her marriage with Godfried of Ardenne-Verdun, approximately shortly after 962. This dowry was meant to be developed and to be made economically profitable for the area. Fig. 5

Fig. 5: Map of regions of origin of Godfried and Matilde. Credit: Tom Nevejan

Fig. 5: Map of regions of origin of Godfried and Matilde. Credit: Tom Nevejan

Mathilde and Godfried stimulated shipping, installed toll on the Scheldt and a market district in Ename. In a bend of the river they built a stronghold and a palace with a collegiate church dedicated to Our Lady. A small commercial centre developed in the shadow of the stronghold. Two stone churches, dedicated to Saint Salvator and Saint Laurentius, were built by Herman, the son of Mathilde and Godfried. Fig. 6

Fig. 6: Digital drawing evocates the Ottonian margravial centre Ename about 1000 AD. Credit: Daniël Pletinckx – Visual Dimension bvba

Fig. 6: Digital drawing evocates the Ottonian margravial centre Ename about 1000 AD. Credit: Daniël Pletinckx – Visual Dimension bvba

At the beginning of the 11th century hostilities with the Flemish count gave Ename an increasing military importance. Ename took on its function as a margravial centre in order to defend the western border of the empire. In 1033 Ename was invaded by the Flemish count and at least part of the stronghold was destroyed. In 1047 a final arrangement pointed out that the whole region between Scheldt and Dender was definitely in possession of the Flemish count. 13 14 15

Archaeology

The oldest traces in the stronghold (castrum) belong to the second half of the 10th century, a ditch and treads. More information is not available.

Around AD 1000 the castrum was transformed into a prestigeous, limestone building complex. The foundations of a stone hall with an aula, camera and capella were found, also the foundations of a donjon, of which the walls were 3 m up to 4,4 m, and the ground plan of a wooden building that could not be fully excavated. The buildings, the objects and the foodrests witness of high social position of the inhabitants of the stronghold. Fig. 7

Fig. 7: Digital drawing evocates the Ottonian castrum in Ename about AD 1000. Credit: Daniël Pletinckx – Visual Dimension bvba

Fig. 7: Digital drawing evocates the Ottonian castrum in Ename about AD 1000. Credit: Daniël Pletinckx – Visual Dimension bvba

More to the south a settlement is situated on a terrain with three occupation layers, dominated by two churches dedicated to Saint Salvator and Saint Laurentius. Of the Saint Salvator church only the foundations have been found. The parcels of the settlement were delimited by ditches, forming settlement islands with wooden constructions in which handicraft activities took place. Near the west side of the church a paved road was found by the archeologists. Fig. 8

Fig. 8: Groundplan of the Saint Lawrence church. Credit: Daniël Pletinckx – Visual Dimension bvba

Fig. 8: Groundplan of the Saint Lawrence church. Credit: Daniël Pletinckx – Visual Dimension bvba

The Ottonian Saint Laurentius church, located near the central common field, was built around AD 1000 on ancient occupation layers. It is the only Ottonian monument that has been preserved and it is still used as parish church. Excavations showed that the building has a basilical ground plan with an east and a west choir while art-historical investigation showed the exceptional importance of the decorations from the 11th century. Fig. 9 Fig. 10

Fig. 9: Photograph of the Saint Laurentius church. Credit: Daniël Pletinckx – Visual Dimension bvba

Fig. 9: Photograph of the Saint Laurentius church. Credit: Daniël Pletinckx – Visual Dimension bvba

Fig. 10: Digital design evocates the Saint Laurentius church about AD 1000. Credit: Daniël Pletinckx – Visual Dimension bvba

Fig. 10: Digital design evocates the Saint Laurentius church about AD 1000. Credit: Daniël Pletinckx – Visual Dimension bvba

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Art and Architecture

Saint Laurentius church

The Saint Laurentius church is the only Ottonian monument that has been preserved in Ename. It was built in limestone from Tournai on the highest point of the present village centre. First the foundations were laid for a hall church with an eastern choir and a flatly closed-off western choir. The building activities were stopped and the plans were changed in favour of a basilical church with a double choir.

The Saint Laurentius church is a well-preserved example of early medieval import architecture in Flanders. The two choirs were characteristic of the Ottonian imperial churches and they had to show the direct bond between the patron (Herman of Verdun) and the imperial authority. The blind arches were inspired by the architectural form of buildings in Ravenna, the anchorage place of the Ottonian emperors in Italy, whereas the two floors and the triple arcade of the east choir referred to the palatine chapel in Aachen, the residence of Charlemagne. Also the choice of the patron saint, Saint Laurentius, referred to the ideology of the emperor: on 10 August 955, the saint’s day, the imperial armies definitively defeated the Magyars at the eastern border of the empire. Fig. 11 Fig. 12

Fig. 11: Interior of Saint Laurentius church, Ename: west oriented choir and east oriented choir. Credit: Daniël Pletinckx – Visual Dimension bvba

Fig. 11: Interior of Saint Laurentius church, Ename: west oriented choir and east oriented choir. Credit: Daniël Pletinckx – Visual Dimension bvba

Fig. 12: Exterior of the 2nd floor of the east choir of the Saint Laurentius church, Ename. Credit: Dirk Callebaut, Institute for Archaeological Heritag

Fig. 12: Exterior of the 2nd floor of the east choir of the Saint Laurentius church, Ename. Credit: Dirk Callebaut, Institute for Archaeological Heritag

Majestas Domini

Murals and graffiti have been preserved in the interior of the Saint Laurentius church. Three kinds of paintings fragmentarily remained in the arch above the triple arcade. Mural paintings are of exceptional value, especially the fresco of the Majestas Domini. Dating from the first quarter of the 11th century it was inspired by Byzantine examples.

This Ottonian mural is the only one known in Belgium today. Technically, it shows a number of exceptional elements that were unusual in Flanders in the Romanesque period. This makes it likely that the fresco was painted by a travelling artist. Fig. 13

Fig. 13: Majestas Domini. Fresco above the triple arches on the second altar floor of the east choir of the Saint Laurentius church, Ename. Credit: Hans Dennis, Institute for Archaeological Heritage

Fig. 13: Majestas Domini. Fresco above the triple arches on the second altar floor of the east choir of the Saint Laurentius church, Ename. Credit: Hans Dennis, Institute for Archaeological Heritage

Crosier crowning

An ivory crowning of a crosier from the last quarter of the 12th century is one of the archaeological finds at the abbey site. This exceptional piece of carving was added to the list of top masterpieces by the Flemish government in 2013.

The curvature of the volute ends in a heavily damaged monster’s head with big ears and a nose. The representation of Christ on the one side can be identified by his cross nimbus. The other side shows a standing woman, the bride of Christ, who also treads down the dragon. Fig. 14 Fig. 15

Fig. 14: Crosier crowning; Provinciaal Archeologisch Museum Ename. Credits: pamEname, Van Wambeke

Fig. 14: Crosier crowning; Provinciaal Archeologisch Museum Ename. Credits: pamEname, Van Wambeke

Fig. 15: Crosier crowning; Provinciaal Archeologisch Museum Ename. Credits: pamEname, Van Wambeke

Fig. 15: Crosier crowning; Provinciaal Archeologisch Museum Ename. Credits: pamEname, Van Wambeke

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International connections

The patron saints of the churches in Ename reveal the link of the Verdun-Billung family with the Ottonian emperors and their ideology of the Renovatio Imperii Romani. The chapel in the stronghold is dedicated to Our Lady, just like the palatine chapel in Aachen. The second important altar in the palatine chapel is dedicated to Saint Salvator and is itself a reference to the basilica of Lateran in Rome, which is both pontifical and imperial. Saint Laurentius refers to the battle and the victory of Otto I against the Magyars on 10 August 955, the name day of the saint. Fig. 16

Fig. 16: Palatine chapel in Aachen, Germany. Credit: paltskapel, SN

Fig. 16: Palatine chapel in Aachen, Germany. Credit: paltskapel, SN

The two churches commissioned by Herman of Verdun feature an imported architecture and evoke a direct bond of the patron with the imperial authority. The two choirs can also be found in the big imperial churches. The pronounced presence of the blind arches refers to Ravenna, the favourite residence of the Ottonians in Italy. Fig. 17

Fig. 17: Mausoleum Gallia Placidia in Ravenna, Italy. Credit: Mausoleum Gallia Placidia, Ravenna, S.N.

Fig. 17: Mausoleum Gallia Placidia in Ravenna, Italy. Credit: Mausoleum Gallia Placidia, Ravenna, S.N.

The Byzantine influence is reflected in the technique and materials used for the fresco of the Majestas Domini. In the church of Velzeke two children of Herman of Verdun are buried. Fig. 18

Fig. 18: Saint Martinus church in Velzeke, Belgium. Credit: Provinciaal Archeologisch Museum Velzeke

Fig. 18: Saint Martinus church in Velzeke, Belgium. Credit: Provinciaal Archeologisch Museum Velzeke

The pre-urban settlement of Ename has been replaced by a Benedictine abbey in the second half of the 11th century. (cfr. Montmajour, Prague)

27 28 29

References

13 Milis, Ludo, Callebaut, Dirk, ‘Ename : burcht en “pre-stedelijke” nederzettin’, in Ontstaan en vroegste geschiedenis van de middeleeuwse steden in de zuidelijke Nederlanden. Een archeologisch en historisch probleem, 14 de Internationaal Colloquium, Spa, 6-8 september 1988, Gemeentekrediet, Historische uitgaven, reeks 8°, 83, 1990, pp. 459-497

14 Callebaut, Dirk, ‘Ename and the Ottonian west border policy in the middle Scheldt region’, in Exchanging Medieval Material Culture. Studies on archaeology and history presented to Frans Verhaeghe. Relicta Monografieën 4. Brussel, VIOE-VUB, 2010, pp. 217-248

15 Callebaut, Dirk, ‘De Ottoonse grenspolitiek in het Midden-Scheldegebied en de sociale opgang van een Lotharingse familie’, in Handelingen van de Geschied- en Oudheidkundige Kring van Oudenaarde, XLVIII, Oudenaarde, 2011, pp. 373-426

16 Milis, Ludo, Callebaut, Dirk, ‘Ename : burcht en “pre-stedelijke” nederzetting’, in Ontstaan en vroegste geschiedenis van de middeleeuwse steden in de zuidelijke Nederlanden. Een archeologisch en historisch probleem, 14 de Internationaal Colloquium, Spa, 6-8 september 1988, Gemeentekrediet, Historische uitgaven, reeks 8°, 83, 1990, pp. 459-497

17 Callebaut, Dirk, (met een bijdrage van Buyle, Marjan), ‘De Sint-Laurentiuskerk van Ename, een vroeg 11 de –eeuws symbool van stabilitas regni et fidelitas imperatoris’, Archeologie in Vlaanderen Brussel, Instituut voor het Archeologisch Patrimonium, 1992, Dl. II, pp. 435-470

18 Callebaut, Dirk, De Groote, Koen, ‘The Ottonian margravial centre of Ename : from large-scale excavations to international regulations’, in Large-scale excavations in Europe : Fieldwork strategies and scientific outcome, Proceedings of the International Conference Esslingen am Neckar, Germany, 7th – 8th October 2008, EAC Occasional Paper nr. 6, pp. 85-102

19 Callebaut, Dirk, ‘Ename and the Ottonian west border policy in the middle Scheldt region’, in Exchanging Medieval Material Culture. Studies on archaeology and history presented to Frans Verhaeghe, Relicta Monografieën 4, Brussel, VIOE-VUB, 2010, pp. 217-248

20 Callebaut, Dirk, ‘De portus en abdij van Ename‘, Archaeologia Belgica, 1985, dl. I-2, pp. 89-94

21 Callebaut, Dirk, ‘De vroeg-middeleeuwse portus en Benedictijnenabdij van Ename‘, Archaeologia Belgica, 1986, dl. II-1, pp. 95-104

22 Callebaut, Dirk, (met een bijdrage van Buyle, Marjan), ‘De Sint-Laurentiuskerk van Ename, een vroeg 11 de –eeuws symbool van stabilitas regni et fidelitas imperatoris’, Archeologie in Vlaanderen, Brussel, Instituut voor het Archeologisch Patrimonium, 1992, Dl. II, pp. 435-470

23 Callebaut, Dirk, ‘Ename and the Ottonian west border policy in the middle Scheldt region’, in Exchanging Medieval Material Culture. Studies on archaeology and history presented to Frans Verhaeghe, Relicta Monografieën 4, Brussel, VIOE-VUB, 2010, pp. 217-248

24 Callebaut, Dirk, ‘De Ottoonse grenspolitiek in het Midden-Scheldegebied en de sociale opgang van een Lotharingse familie’, Handelingen van de Geschied- en Oudheidkundige Kring van Oudenaarde, XLVIII, 2011, pp. 373-426

25 Van Dijck, Linda, Ename, Sint-Laurentiuskerk. Restauratie van muurschilderingen in het boogveld boven een dichtgemetselde arcade op de oostelijke muur van het middenschip. Onuitgegeven verslag in opdracht van de Kerkfabriek Sint-Laurentius, Ename, Bonheiden, 1995, pp. 15-32 + bijlagen

26 den Hartog, Elisabeth, ‘De kromstaf van Ename (Oudenaarde, prov. Oost-Vl.) Een pastoraal gezagssymbool uit de 12 de eeuw’, in Relicta 9. Archeologie, Monumenten- en Landschapsonderzoek in Vlaanderen, Brussel, Onroerend Erfgoed, 2012, pp. 91-148

27 Callebaut, Dirk, (met een bijdrage van Buyle, Marjan), ‘De Sint-Laurentiuskerk van Ename, een vroeg 11 de –eeuws symbool van stabilitas regni et fidelitas imperatoris’, Archeologie in Vlaanderen, Brussel, Instituut voor het Archeologisch Patrimonium, 1992, Dl. II, pp. 435-470

28 Milis, Ludo, Callebaut, Dirk, ‘Ename : burcht en “pre-stedelijke” nederzetting‘, in Ontstaan en vroegste geschiedenis van de middeleeuwse steden in de zuidelijke Nederlanden. Een archeologisch en historisch probleem, 14 de Internationaal Colloquium, Spa, 6-8 september 1988, Gemeentekrediet, Historische uitgaven, reeks 8°, 83, 1990, p. 459-497

29 Callebaut, Dirk, ‘Ename and the Ottonian west border policy in the middle Scheldt region‘, in Exchanging Medieval Material Culture. Studies on archaeology and history presented to Frans Verhaeghe, Relicta Monografieën 4, Brussel, VIOE-VUB, 2010, pp. 217-248

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