Feud, Violence and Practice: Essays in Medieval Studies in Honor of Stephen D. White
Feud, Violence and Practice: essays in Medieval Studies in Honor of Stephen D. White, edited by Belle S. Tuten and Tracey L. Billado, Ashgate, hardback, 2010, 350 pages, 9 b/w illustrations, £60 or £54 from the Ashgate website.
This book has much of interest to medievalists and for this reader, much that he didn’t know. The editors deserve praise for assembling such a volume. Several chapters are of particular importance to readers of Vidimus
Chapter 12 emphasises the importance of careful, closely focused readings of medieval sources and evidence. It explains ways of trying to date an undocumented work of art such as the 13th-century Miracles of St Andrew window in Troyes cathedral. The author of the essay is eminently qualified for the task she sets herself. Elizabeth Carson Pastan is both a renowned scholar and an inspirational teacher. She is also a member of the CVMA (USA) committee and a leading authority on the medieval glazing of Troyes cathedral (Elizabeth Pastan and Sylvie Balcon, Les Vitraux du choeur de la cathédrale de Troyes ( XIII siècle), Corpus Vitrearum France 2 Paris, CTHS, 2006).
Before looking at Professor Pastan’s essay in detail, some introductory words about St Andrew might be helpful. According to the New Testament gospel of St John he was the brother of Simon Peter (St Peter), and worked alongside him as a fisherman until both men were called by Jesus to become his disciples and ‘fishers of men’. Thereafter, although the saint is mentioned on several occasions in the Gospels, most accounts of Andrew’s life as they appeared to medieval audiences were drawn from later apocryphal texts. According to these sources he had preached the gospels in the ‘orient’ or Asia Minor before being martyred by crucifixion at Patras (Patrae) in Greece. A 3rd-century work known as the Acts of Andrew, included accounts of miracles attributed to the saint. Gregory of Tours (c. AD 538 –AD 594), a 6th-century Bishop of the city and a prolific author in his own right, helped to circulate some of these stories to new audiences until they eventually appeared in Jacobus de Voragine’s widely read 13th-century compendium of saint’s lives, the Legenda Aurea or Golden Legend. Many of the miracles chronicled in these accounts featured exorcisms of demons, such as those depicted in the window itself. In another legend Andrew, having been tied, rather than nailed, to a cross, preached to thousands of people for two days before he died. The iconographic version of Andrew crucified on an X-shaped cross called the Crux decussate, now commonly known as the ‘St Andrews cross’ or ‘saltire cross’ does not seem to have been standardised before the later Middle Ages. St Andrew was adopted as the patron saint of Scotland in the 10th century and his X-shaped cross now forms its national flag and is part of the United Kingdom’s Union flag.
The Miracles of St Andrew window can be found in Bay 9 of Troyes Cathedral’s central choir ambulatory chapels. It consists of a lower border of monkeys riding camels and a vertical line of eight medallions above, showing from bottom to top: the calling of St Peter and St Andrew (C19); St Andrew chasing two demons; St Andrew reviving a man killed by a demon (C19); St Andrew healing a paralytic; St Andrew exorcising a demon from a youth; St Andrew welcomed at Nicea; St Andrew routing seven demons who had taken the form of dogs and finally, St Andrew baptising the consul Egeus and his wife. [Figs. 2, 3 and 4]
Previous studies have dated the Miracles window to either the late 12th century (Jean Lafond ‘les vitraux de la cathédrale de Troyes’ in Congrès archéologique (Troyes) 1955, 30–31) or to the mid-1230s (V. Raguin, Stained Glass in Thirteenth-Century Burgundy, 1982, 52–58).
After discussing some of the problems associated with dating medieval works of art accurately without either documentary evidence or actual inscriptions, the author suggests a range of ways of overcoming such difficulties using various lines of inquiry: (1) the history and architecture of a site or building; (2) the pictorial style employed and comparable examples; (3) the nature of the subject and how it is shown, including iconography; (4) the reasons why the window may have been commissioned, such as complementing important relics or an altar, forming part of a wider iconographic programme, or corresponding to the dynamics of a particular patron; and finally (5) information about likely donors. It is the same methodological approach which the author applies to the Miracles of St Andrew window.
Beginning with a history of the site, Professor Pastan goes beyond a generalised history of the cathedral to take a closer look at the ambulatory chapel windows. Using evidence which shows that a gift was made in 1216 to an altar in this chapel, she suggests that this phase of the building work was probably nearing completion around that date and that the windows would have been available for glazing by the second decade of the 13th century. At the same time, she also discerns a clear mismatch between the architectural style of the window surrounds and the distinctive look of the St Andrew glazing, prompting her to wonder if the cathedral chapter ran out of money at this stage and inserted the glass later.
Lafond and Raguin both relied on the ‘look’ or pictorial style of the window glass for their dating, despite the problems this can cause when compositions include features which seem both old and new. For Lafond the simple vertical presentation of scenes in medallions together with wide leafy borders were reminiscent of windows at Canterbury Cathedral in England of around 1200. But, as the author shows, this conclusion is incompatible with the history of the building. In contrast to Lafond’s interpretation of the pictorial style, Raguin placed greater emphasis on how figures were portrayed in the glass; the way they were shown in space, and how drapery folds were handled. Using these criteria, she compared the style to other examples produced in Burgundy from the mid-1230s and found strong similarities with the Life of St Nicholas window at nearby Auxerre cathedral dated to c.1237. As such she dated the Troyes window to around 1225–1235.
The author then considers why St Andrew was shown in the cathedral and whether the circumstances behind this choice of subject could throw any light on the dating of the window. She discusses possible associations with relics. The church’s collection of relics included some of St Andrew’s hair. While many items in its collection were celebrated in a special window known as the ‘Procession of Relics’ window dating to c. 1228–35, St Andrew’s hair was not included in the depictions. However, while the cathedral only had one of the saint’s relics, the nearby palace chapel of the counts of Champagne had three of his teeth and an ‘appreciable’ fragment of the cross on which he was martyred. Together with other evidence, it seems that he had a special meaning for these powerful patrons of the church, a theme the author returns to later.
Seeing a window as part of a wider iconographic programme is another useful aide for dating the undated. The cathedral was dedicated to St Peter and windows depicting the patron saint were directly opposite from, and pendant to, the St Andrew window. With Peter as the apostle to the west and Andrew as the apostle of the orient the pair complemented one another, a point underlined by Peter being referred to by the Latin inscription PETRUS and Andrew described by an abbreviated inscription in Greek HAGIOS EDREUS. Moreover, both saints suffered martyrdom by crucifixion. Such an association was strengthened by the scenes depicted in the window immediately to the left of the Miracles window which shows scenes from the martyrdom of the St Andrew. [Fig. 5] However, the St Peter windows are much earlier, c.1200. While the St Andrew window forms a unity with the earlier scheme – and may have partly had that intention – the installations clearly belong to different periods.
The author’s final avenue for dating is patronage. Although the window is not inscribed or decorated with heraldry, she finds vital clues in its iconography. The lower border scheme of monkeys riding camels is used to investigate several possibilities. Alongside other factors, such as the history of devotion to St Andrew by the counts of Champagne, the author suggests that the inclusion of camels may be a reference to Count Thibaut IV’s decision to go ‘east’ as part of the sixth crusade in 1235. A poem written by the count about this decision alluded to a demon that weakens one’s resolve to go on crusade and which must be overcome. The inscription on the window in Greek continues the point. The author wonders whether the count may have assimilated his own life and going ‘east’ into that of St Andrew’s, the apostle of the ‘east’. [Fig. 6]
Another possibility concerns the mention of camels in the Gospel of St Matthew 19.24 where Jesus says that it is harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to go to heaven. She suggests that without his participation in the sixth crusade Thibaut was one of the least likely individuals to enter the heavenly kingdom!
Taking all of these factors into account Professor Paston concludes that the window can be dated to c.1235–40s, a date wholly complementary with the contemporaneous windows in a similar style at Auxerre cathedral. Overall the essay provides a rewarding case study for students and others interested in dating undocumented medieval glass.
Now for the rest of this fascinating book: the introduction by Belle S. Tuten and the remaining fourteen essays. Although none refer to stained glass directly, one can easily imagine some of the issues they raise, and the examples they cite, as prompting wealthy people to donate windows. All of the essays are thought provoking. Ideas about violence are discussed on multiple levels and with unexpected nuances, ranging from the efforts to contain it to distinctions between legitimate and illegitimate force, the role of threats and peace brokering. Concepts of different rules for enmities and the status of political hostages add to one’s enjoyment.
One essay deserves mention. Caroline Bynum tackles ‘violence’ in a different way, exploring how medieval worshippers saw the violence suffered by Christ as a way of opening a route to their own salvation, themes often represented in stained glass of the period, as images of the Five Wounds testify. Particular attention is paid to the story of how a Roman soldier, subsequently named as Longinus, thrust his lance into the dead Christ as the Son of God was still nailed to the cross. The author reminds us that this was often described as ‘opening’ Christ and that the blood which poured out of his dead body symbolised everlasting life and the miracle of transubstantiation during the Mass. [Fig. 7]
Introduction: Feud, violence and practice, Belle S. Tuten.
Part I: ‘Feud and violence: threat’, William Ian Miller; ‘Feud, vengeance and violence in England from the 10th to the 12th centuries’, John G.H. Hudson; ‘The politics of chivalry: the function of anger and shame in 11th- and 12th-century Anglo-Norman historical narratives’, Kate McGrath; ‘Devils in the sanctuary: violence in the Miracles of Saint Benedict’, Dominique Barthélemy; ‘Violence occluded: the wound in Christ’s side in late medieval devotion’, Caroline W. Bynum.
Part II: ‘Legal Culture and Feudalism: ‘Feudalism’: a memoir and an assessment’, Frederic L. Cheyette; ‘Reflections on feudalism: Sir Thomas Madox and the origins of the feudal system in England’, Elizabeth A.R. Brown; ‘The language and practice of negotiation in medieval conflict resolution (Castille-Leon, 11th-13th centuries)’, Isabel Alfonso Antón; ‘Thinking English law in French: the Angevins and the common law’, Paul R. Hyams; ‘Mortal enemies: the legal aspects of hostility in the Middle Ages’, Robert Bartlett; ‘Making a clamor to the lord: noise, justice and power in 11th- and 12th-century France’, Richard E. Barton.
Part III: ‘Reading, re-reading and practice: dating the medieval work: the case of the Miracles of St Andrew window from Troyes cathedral’, Elizabeth Carson Pastan; ‘Kinship, disputing and ira: a mother-daughter quarrel in Southern France’, Cynthia J. Johnson; ‘Rescuing the maidens from the tower: recovering the stories of two female political hostages’, Annette P. Parks; ‘Treason and politics in Anglo-Norman histories’, Karen Bosnos.
Bibliography of secondary sources; Index.
Salisbury Cathedral: the Making of a Medieval Masterpiece
Salisbury Cathedral: the Making of a Medieval Masterpiece by Tim Tatton-Brown and John Crook, Scala, London 2009, 26.8 x 24.2 x 1.2 cm softback cover, 128 pages, £16.95.
This is a clearly written, beautifully illustrated book about the building of one of England’s greatest cathedrals. Although stained glass is barely mentioned by the author, the study will be of great interest to Vidimus readers for its superb introduction to the architectural settings of the original 13th-century glazing and the fragments which still survive (see Further Reading).
Chapter 1 discusses the history of the first cathedral in the city, a Romanesque church occupying part of a hilltop stronghold about two and half miles south of the current building. It explains how William the Conqueror’s first archbishop of Canterbury, the elderly Italian Benedictine monk, Lanfranc, ordered its building to replace the older Anglo-Saxon diocesan seat for the counties of Dorset, Wiltshire and Berkshire based at the monastic cathedral of Sherborne.
Work on the new ‘Sarisbury’ cathedral began in 1075 and was finished around 1091 under the energetic leadership of Bishop Osmund, a former royal chaplain from Normandy who had served as the king’s chancellor in 1075 before becoming bishop in 1078. By the time of his death in 1099 the new cathedral was flourishing. His successor was another former chancellor, Roger le Poer, who significantly enlarged the earlier building. Towards the end of the life of the next bishop, Bishop Jocelin, a cult developed around the tomb of Bishop Osmund and the chapel at the extreme eastern end of the cathedral was refurbished to house a tomb-shrine for the ‘blessed Osmund’ as he was occasionally called. Parts of a remarkable geometric pavement from this area of the church, containing purple and green porphyry, were discovered in 1913 during excavations of this site. The authors speculate that Osmund’s shrine probably resembled the foramina shrine depicted in the Miracles of Becket windows at Canterbury cathedral (1215–1220) which shows large round holes in the side where pilgrims could put their hands or heads in as they sought the saint’s intercession. [Fig. 2]
After the promotion of the next archbishop Hubert Walter, his successor, Herbert Poore, made the radical suggestion that a new cathedral be built far way from the military complex with which it shared space at ‘Old Sarum ‘ as it is now known. Justifying the move to the Pope, Poore told him that the castle governor and soldiers oppressed and dominated the church by refusing to allow worshippers to enter the complex or members of the cathedral community to leave the site without their permission; that the hill top was so windy that the monks could not hear their own chanting and that in winter it was so cold that they suffered from rheumatism.
Herbert Poore was enthroned on 12 June 1194. His rule, and that of his brother and successor, Richard, was decisive in giving us the cathedral we know today.
Chapter 2 describes the new site and the initial plans. It explains that although the early work was supervised by Herbert, the first stones were not laid until 1220.
Chapters 3, 4 and 5 concentrate on the building of the cathedral. The first of these describes how it was initially funded, the making of the foundations and the recruitment of Elias of Dereham as chief designer, a post he held for twenty-five years. Chapter 4 identifies a quarry at Tisbury, eighteen miles from Salisbury, as the most probable source of the stone, all of which had to be carted to Salisbury. Perhaps more interesting is the use of Purbeck marble from Dunshay or Downshay on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset, employed in greater quantities than in any other building in Britain. Vidimus readers will also be intrigued by references to large amounts of roofing timber arriving from south-east Ireland, as several studies have suggested a two-way trade with Salisbury – with the designs for the Gothic-style St Patrick’s cathedral in Dublin seemingly based on the plans of the Romanesque church at Old Sarum and strong parallels between some of the 13th-century glass found at Kells Priory and that made for Salisbury (see Further Reading: Ireland).
As the new church began to take shape, the author suggests that the earliest glass may have been installed in the extreme eastern Trinity chapels (the first to be built) around 1225 slightly before the tombs of Osmund and other Bishops were moved, or ‘translated’, from Old Sarum to the new church in 1226.
Two years later Richard Poore was promoted to the See of Durham and Robert de Bingham was appointed as his successor. During the next eighteen years the new bishop oversaw the completion of the entire eastern end of the cathedral. The contemporary chronicler, Matthew Paris, said that he also furnished the choir with its stalls (the largest set in Britain still surviving) and glass.
Chapter 6 charts the completion of the 200 feet (c 60m.) long nave and the building of a spectacular west front. It also describes the construction and fate of a superb free-standing bell tower, pulled down in 1790.
Chapter 7 focuses on the cloisters and the chapter house, completed by 1266. Among the many excellent photographs in the book are images of some of the surviving royal/aristocratic heraldic shields which were originally set into grisaille glass above the most important seven seats in this important space. The shields can now be found in the lower part of the west window of the cathedral. [Fig. 3]
Chapter 8 deploys the author’s expertise to its full as he describes the immense undertaking started by Bishop Simon of Ghent in 1315 and completed by Bishop Roger Martival before his death in 1330; the building of the cathedral’s remarkable 265 ft (81 m) tower and spire taking its total height to little under 400 feet (81 m) and making it the tallest masonry building in Britain.
The next chapter deals with changes during the later Middle Ages, Tudor and early Stuart periods. One of the stories it relates is the successful campaign to have the ‘blessed Osmund’ canonised. Approved by the ageing Spanish Pope Callistus III in 1457, any joy was short-lived. The richly decorated shrine was smashed to pieces on the king’s orders in 1538.
This chapter also records the destruction of the cloister glazing in the 17th century, probably when the buildings were used as prison by the republican ‘Commonwealth’ government.
The final chapter is broadly headed ‘Restoration’ although it also involves periods of wholesale demolition. Changing fashions and tastes, combined with the needs of repair and modernity have seen many changes. For stained glass lovers the restoration campaign of James Wyatt between 1789 and 1792 is particular painful as he removed most of the surviving 13th-century grisaille glazing and replaced it with plain glass.
Despite such changes, Salisbury still possesses a unique stylistic homogeneity (Early English Gothic), which makes it to a wonder to behold. It is well worth buying this book.
For Information About the Medieval Glazing
- S. Baker, ‘Digging the “Town Ditch” for Salisbury’s Lost Cathedral Glass’, The Illustrated London News, 181, 1932, p. 886
- P. S. Blum, ‘Thirteenth-century glass of the Salisbury Chapter House’, Gesta, 37, No.2, Essays on Stained Glass in Memory of Jane Hayward (1918–1994), 1998, pp. 142–49
- S. Brown, Sumptuous and Richly Adorn’d: The Decoration of Salisbury Cathedral, Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. HMSO, 1999 (in particular the chapter on ‘Glass’, pp. 78–110)
- S. Brown, ‘The thirteenth-century stained glass of the Salisbury Cathedral Chapter House’. Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine, 94, 2001, pp. 118–38
- E. E. Dorling, ‘Armorial Glass in Salisbury Cathedral’, in Leopards of England and others papers on Heraldry, London, 1912, pp. 57–72
- E. E. Dorling, ‘Notes on some armorial glass in Salisbury cathedral’, The Ancestor, 4, 1903, pp. 120–126
- J. M. J. Fletcher, ‘The Stained Glass in Salisbury Cathedral.’ Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine 45, l930, 235–53
- W. R. Lethaby, ‘Early 13th Century Glass at Salisbury Cathedral.’ Journal of the British Society of Master Glass Painters, 1 (4), 1926, pp. 17–18
- R. Marks, ‘Cistercian window glass in England and Wales’ in C. Norton and D. Park (eds), Cistercian Art and Architecture in the British Isles, Cambridge, 1986, 211–27
- R. Marks, ‘The Thirteenth Century Glazing of Salisbury Cathedral’, in L. Keen and T. Cocke (eds), Medieval Art and Architecture at Salisbury Cathedral, British Archaeological Association Transactions, XVIII, London, 1996, pp. 106–120
- R. Quirke, ‘Our 13th century glass’ Annual Report of the Friends of Salisbury Cathedral (1947), pp. 5–6
- R. O. C. Spring, The Stained Glass of Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury, 1987
- C. Winston, ‘Painted Glass at Salisbury.’ In Memoirs Illustrative of the History and Antiquities of Wiltshire and City of Salisbury (Communicated to the Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland at Salisbury, 1849). London: G.Bell, 1851, pp. 135–59
- There is also a brief summary of the medieval glazing in Vidimus 23, November 2008.
- J. Crawford and R. Gillespie (eds) St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin. A History. Dublin (Four Courts Press), 2009
- J. Moran, ‘The Shattered image: archaeological evidence for painted and stained glass in medieval Ireland’ in R. Moss, C. O’Clabaigh and S. Ryan (eds), Art and Devotion in Late Medieval Ireland, Dublin, 2006, pp. 121–141
An excellent website about the cathedral, The Salisbury Project, created by Professor Marion Roberts, McIntire Department of Art, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, contains over 2000 images of the building. http://salisbury.art.virginia.edu
See also M M. Reeve, Thirteenth-Century Wall Painting of Salisbury Cathedral, Woodbridge, 2008.
Name that Roundel! Solution
This month’s puzzle shows an episode from the story of Sorgheloos (sometimes, Sorghelos), a late medieval Dutch morality tale without a happy ending. It tells of a young man, Sorgeloos or ‘Carefree’ in English, who squanders his fortune on gambling, loose women and false companions. When he becomes penniless, his friends and family desert him and he ends up destitute. Unlike the Christian parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11–32), Sorgheloos is rejected when he returns home. It is a harsh warning to the irresponsible and feckless.
The story begins with Sorgheloos riding forth accompanied by a finely dressed woman, Weelde (Luxury), and a male page, Gemack (Ease/Comfort), who runs on foot alongside him. Verses written by the 16th-century Antwerp-based playwright, Jacob Jacobsz Jonk, describes this and other scenes in the story. Sorgheloos declares that he is without a care in the world and intends to spend the money his parents saved on having a good time. The next episodes see him feasting with Weelde and dancing with her, suggesting lewdness and lust. This part of the tale ends with him losing his the last of his money in a game of dice to a wandering peddler and ne’re-do-well known as Lichte Fortune (Fickle Fortune).
In the fifth episode, Weelde and Gemack abandon the now penniless Sorgheloos, leaving him to his new companions, a man called Pouer (Poverty) who hits him and a woman known as Aermoede (Want) who bites him.
The story ends with a bedraggled Sorgheloos carrying Aermoede home on his back. He is rejected by his friends and family, and slides into poverty.
Our roundel shows one of the final scenes of this story – Sorgheloos returning home carrying Aermoede.
The lesson is stark. Spendthriftiness leads to poverty.
Other episodes from the story were often shown in roundels and prints. A roundel depicting Sorgheloos dancing with Weelde belongs to the Stedelijk Museum in Leiden. Sorgheloos staring at a dice while Lichte Fortune celebrates can be seen at the Toledo Art Museum and the Cloisters Museum collection in New York. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has a roundel of the same scene as our panel. Examples of Sorgheloos living in poverty can be seen at Christ church, Llanwarne . [Fig. 2].
Care needs to be taken not to confuse some of these scenes with the Parable of the Prodigal Son which shows similar events.
- T. B. Husband and M. Hoyle, “‘Ick Sorgheloose..’: A Silver-Stained Roundel in the Cloisters’, Metropolitan Museum Journal, 24, 1989, pp 173–188.
T. B. Husband, The Luminous Image: Painted Glass Roundels in the Lowlands, 1480–1560, New York, 1995, especially Chapter Three, ‘The Sorgheloos series’, pp. 88–97.