The Franciscan church of S. Fortunato in Todi, an important central Italian example of a Gothic hall church, was begun in 1292, when this building type was still rather unusual in the region. Earlier students of S. Fortunato have generally attributed its appearance in Todi to the Franciscan demand for open preaching halls, but a closer analysis suggests there were additional, perhaps even stronger, incentives for using it. A hall church achieved an imposing effect on a small construction site and helped fulfill a desire to underscore the building's Franciscan affiliation. Previously ignored, this question of the motivations of the Todi hall church has particular relevance to current studies of the mendicant architecture, that is, the architecture of the new urban orders, principally the Franciscans and Dominicans. The question is: do we continue to see mendicant churches exclusively in terms of the friars' altruistic religious mission, or should we see them as efforts at self-promotion in the competitive milieu of the late medieval city?
- Copyright 1989 The Society of Architectural Historians