Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Kathleen M. Baker

Second Advisor

Dr. Gregory Veeck

Third Advisor

Dr. Susan Steuer

Fourth Advisor

Dr. E. Rozanne Elder


Historical GIS, Historic Routes, Historical Geography, Ripley's K-Function, Cistercian Monasteries

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Historical geography focuses upon those relationships which have shaped the evolution of place and landscape over time. One fundamental approach used to achieve this objective is the set of theories associated with spatial diffusion. This includes the spatial and chronological paths, the periodicities and rates of spread, as well as the identification of areas of void or avoidance. An emerging trend in historical geography is the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). A GIS provides the researcher with the necessary tools to re-evaluate and challenge long-standing interpretations of any given event, historical or otherwise, as well as develop new insights and formulate new research questions. The Center for Cistercian and Monastic Studies (CCMS) at Western Michigan University (WMU) is compiling a digital gazetteer database documenting Cistercian monasteries worldwide. This thesis project will utilize CCMS data and GIS software products from ESRI, Inc. to construct an historical GIS application which depicts and examines the foundation and expansion of Cistercian monasteries in France from their establishment in 1098 until their closure during the French Revolution. This investigation will examine spatial diffusion and attempt to reveal any patterns of clustering or avoidance that may exist. Results will be calculated with respect to the temporality of the data and will be presented using iterative maps and graphs.