Dr Anne-Julie Lafaye
School of History
Anne-Julie Lafaye is a medieval archaeologist interested in the buildings and landscape context of religious orders in medieval Europe, especially the mendicant orders in Ireland. After completing her undergraduate degree in History and Archaeology at the University of Rouen and the first year of a Master’s Degree in Medieval Archaeology with the Sorbonne University, she enrolled on the MLitt and then a PhD programme of UCD’s School of Archaeology under the supervision of Prof. Tadhg O’Keeffe and Dr Edel Bhreathnach. Before beginning her IRC Postdoctoral Fellowship in UCC’s School of History she was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Trinity College Dublin and the Discovery Programme. She is one of the collaborators on the Monastic Ireland project.
Spiritual Infrastructure, Space and Society: The Augustinian Friars in Late Medieval Ireland
At the core of the proposed research lies the study of the physical remains of Augustinian friaries in Ireland. The Augustinian friars belonged to the so-called mendicant orders that appeared in the first decades of the thirteenth century in France and Italy. They were friars, not monks, and did not live cloistered lives of prayer and contemplation, but were itinerant preachers who tended to the spiritual needs of the laity. They preached in and outside their churches, leading a life of poverty and begging for their sustenance. For these reasons, they chose to live mainly in towns, where larger populations could support their voluntary poverty through donations, but also where they could cater for the spiritual needs of more intellectually demanding urban populations.
Mendicant orders began to arrive in Ireland from 1224 onwards, where they found a largely rural society with a handful of cities and many modest boroughs, newly founded by the Anglo-Norman colonial lords. The friars first settled in larger and wealthier towns of the country, but their rapid success led to foundation of houses in more modest settlements, and even in completely rural landscapes. This phenomenon increased in the fifteenth century, and has often been explained by scholars as resulting from the Gaelic resurgence and the contraction of the English royal power.
In my research to date, I have studied Irish mendicant settlements through a multidisciplinary lens and within a broader European context, aiming to measure their physical, religious and socio-economic impact on the landscapes of medieval Ireland, demonstrating the crucial role of mendicant orders in shaping both its urban and rural landscapes. The proposed research has therefore a two-fold purpose. Firstly, the project will shift the focus to a seemingly marginal order that has been little studied in Ireland and elsewhere. Secondly, it will investigate the social and spiritual infrastructure in late medieval Ireland by concentrating on the Augustinian friars and building on my existing research. The proposed research will include the cataloguing of all twenty-two Irish Augustinian foundations, and an in-depth historical and architectural survey of twelve sites where remains survive, with the overall aim to determine the extent of the physical, religious and social impact of the Augustinian friars in medieval Ireland.