From Research into Antiquity to Work on the Middle Ages
Illustrated Anthologies by the Congregation of Saint-Maur
Whereas the ancient period had been the object of sustained attention since the Renaissance, the Middle Ages remained little known until the 17th century. Starting in 1680, Benedictine monks of the Congregation of Saint-Maur launched the widespread exploration of the medieval period. Familiarity with the Italian tradition of "paper museums" induced these monks, notably Bernard de Montfaucon, to compile large illustrated compendia of both medieval and ancient works. Their research program evolved from a history of the church and the Benedictine order into a general, illustrated history of civilizations.