Tag Archives: heraldry

Conference: Heraldic Badges: From Miniature to Monumental, 1300–1500, Courtauld Institute of Art, Thursay 29 September, 2016

wilton-d-1-2-600x600Conference: Heraldic Badges: From Miniature to Monumental, 1300–1500, Courtauld Institute of Art, Thursay 29 September, 2016

The question of how to represent a person was of great importance to artists and patrons in the later Middle Ages. While much attention has focused on the development of facial likeness in portraiture, the concurrent fashion for expressing identity through symbolic codes has been comparatively ignored. Heraldic badges – a form of symbolic representation whereby individuals are represented through objects, plants, animals, letters or mythological beings – were extremely popular in the royal and aristocratic courts of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, proliferating across a wide range of artistic media and contexts.

This one-day conference brings together experts from across Europe, and aims to stimulate cross-cultural conversations on the display, function and circulation of heraldic badges in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The theme ‘Miniature to Monumental’ focuses on the size and context of badges, interrogating why these devices were represented in radically different scales, and the shifts in meaning incurred in these transformations.


10:00 – 10:15 REGISTRATION (Research Forum Seminar Room)

10:15 – 10:40 Jessica Barker (University of East Anglia) and Jana Gajdošová (University of Cambridge), What is a Badge and What are its Meanings?

Session 1: What is a Badge?

10:40 – 11:05 Laurent Hablot (Université de Poitiers), English and French Secular Badges 1350-1450, Interaction and Comparison

11:05 – 11:30 John Goodall (independent), Beasts and Badges in the Lancastrian Court.

11:30 –11:55 Jessica Berenbeim (University of Oxford), Chivalry in the Cloister.

11:55 – 12:10 Discussion

12:10 – 13:20 LUNCH

Session 2: Miniature

13:20 – 13:30 Lloyd de Beer (University of East Anglia/British Museum), The Digital Badge and the Potential of Miniature Things.

13:30 – 13:55 Maria Theisen (Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften), The Badge of the Royal Order of Wenceslas IV and its use in the King’s Willehalm manuscript (Vienna, ÖNB, Cod. Ser. n. 2643).

13:55 – 14:20 Hanneke van Asperen (Radboud University Nijmegen), Secular or Sacred? The Secular Design of Some Religious Badges in the Low Countries.

14:20 – 14:45 Milada Studničková (Institute of Art History, Czech Academy of Sciences), ‘Signum draconis’: Visual sources, Written Documents and Legends behind Sigismund of Luxembourg’s Badge of the Monarchical Order.

14:45 – 15:00 Discussion

15:00 – 15:30 TEA/COFFEE BREAK

Session 3: Monumental

15:30 – 15:55 Michael Carter (English Heritage), Azure, three horseshoes or: The Arms of Fountains Abbey, An Enduring Puzzle.

15:55 – 16:20  Matthew Payne (Westminster Abbey), Richard II’s White Hart Badge at Westminster Abbey.

16:20 – 16:45 Joana Ramôa Melo & Begoña Farré Torras (Universidade Nova, Lisbon), Heraldic Polychromy at the Monastery of Batalha: Presentation of a Work in Progress.

16:45 – 17:10 Miguel Metelo de Seixas (Universidade Nova, Lisbon) and João António Portugal (Instituto Português de Heráldica) Under the Sign of Our Lady and St. George: Dynastic Memory and the Use of Badges in the Portuguese Royal Shrine of Batalha.

17:10 – 17:25 Discussion

17:25 – 17:30 Closing Remarks by Alixe Bovey (Courtauld Institute of Art).

17:30 – 18:30 RECEPTION

Ticket / entry details: £16 (General admission) £11 (Students, Courtauld staff, concessions). Click here to book.

International Bridges Group in Prague (Symposium Review, 2016)

IMG_20160712_160528This year, the delegates of the International Bridge Group assembled in Prague for their annual symposium. Held over three days, the delegates enjoyed tours of medieval monuments, a day of papers at Vila Lanna, and a day trip to study medieval bridges outside of Prague. The event was a spectacular introduction to medieval Bohemia and – via the none-too-shy monumental decoration of the Charles Bridge in Prague – provided a fascinating insight into the socio-economic ramifications of the campaign of stone bridge construction in the Middle Ages.

Day 1: The Charles Bridge and medieval Prague

A visit to St Vitus Cathedral was one major highlight of this aesthetically munificent event. Dr IMG-20160710-WA0012Klàra Benešovská (Institute of Art History, Czech Academy of Sciences) and Petr Chotěbor (master mason of the cathedral) opened the doors for us an hour before the official opening. Points of particular interest to the IBG included the work of Peter Parler, who took over as master mason from 1356 and who also designed parts of the Charles Bridge. Likewise, St Wenceslas’ chapel, with its lavish decorations, stood out as a relative of Karlštejn Castle’s interior, impressing upon us the ties between court and church in fourteenth-century Prague.

Being in Prague enabled the group to take full advantage of the expertise of IBG’s co-founder, Dr Jana Gajdošová, whose forthcoming book focuses on Prague’s medieval bridges. As visitors populated the cathedral, we made our way to the so-called Judith bridge tower. The 12th century bridge, which was built by King Vladislav I, was destroyed in the St Mary Magdalene flood in 1342; however, fragments of its towers survive, built into the fabric of the later structure. We were granted access to one of the towers which once fortified the west end of the Judith Bridge and where a relief carving of two figures, that once decorated the exterior wall of the tower, survives.

From here we made our way to the House at the Stone Bell, which was probably the private residence of John of Luxembourg and Elizabeth of Přemyslid, and which has a gothic façade bearing formal resemblance to that of the bridge tower.

IMG_-cdlg22The Charles Bridge and its Gothic tower was our last point of call. The tower, built facing the Old Town, greets users of the bridge. Designed by Peter Parler, the decorative scheme includes an elaborate east-facing façade which is decorated with heraldic emblems representing ten lands of the crown of Bohemia and figural statues. Within its central blind arch are statues of Emperor Charles IV, and his son, King Wenceslas IV, either side of the standing figure of St Vitus, one of the patron saints of Bohemia. Gajdošová emphasised the way in which the original sculptures, now in the Lapidárium, would have overlooked the viewer as they passed under the tower.

The bridge was a portal connecting the general populus of the Old Town and the sacred royal centre, as much in the imagination as in practice. Charles IV’s patronage is a testament to the political importance of bridges; far beyond the domestic concerns of the civic sphere, this vast structure, adorned with his likeness, facilitated crucial trade, communication and travel between eastern and western Europe.DSC_0811

The first day ended with a keynote from Prof Christopher Wilson, Emeritus of UCL. It explored the prolific career of the late thirteenth-century architect Henry Yevele and his construction of a chapel of St Thomas Becket on London Bridge. The two-storey apsidal chapel was built according to Yevele’s design between 1384 and 1397. Probably recalling the chapel to Our Lady Undercroft beneath the shrine of St Thomas at Canterbury cathedral, the lower and upper storeys of the chapel were dedicated respectively to the same pair. Eighteenth-century etchings suggest its appearance accorded with the reserved perpendicular style favoured by Yevele in his design for the nave of Canterbury cathedral. The paper drew from medieval and antiquarian sources to build up a picture of the lost edifice.

Day 2: The Papers

On the second day the delegates heard ten papers, divided across three sessions, outlined below.

Session 1: Lost, Destroyed and Re-used Bridges

David Harrison, a co-founder of the IBG, discussed the apparently systematic demolition of medieval bridges during the Georgian period, suggesting the motivations behind the destruction often had as much to do with fashion as engineering. He was followed by Klàra Benešovská, who considered the extensive patronage undertaken by Jan of Dražice, the last Bishop of Prague. The focus was his patronage of the bridge in Roudnice nad Labem and its connections to Avignon, where Master William came from to teach the local builders the bridge building techniques of southern France. The paper was a useful complement to the conference’s emphasis on the legacy of Emperor Charles IV but also to the following paper. For this, Michal Panáček shared his exhaustive research into the building technologies of the medieval bridge in Roudnice nad Labem and the Charles Bridge in Prague. The paper emphasised how much more technologically advanced the bridge in Roudnice was – probably since it had a direct connection with the sophisticated French bridge builders.

Finally, Alexandra Gajewski addressed the medieval afterlife of the magnificent Roman aqueduct, the Pont du Gard, sharing shocking accounts of how the piers of the second storey of arcading were recessed to enable wagons to cross a bridge never designed for human passage. She explored various reasons – aesthetic, practical, economic – that compelled medieval travelgaers to use this treacherous bridge.

Session 2: Bridges in Art, Sources and Myths

The second session opened with a paper by Gerrit Deutschländer who discussed medieval gates, their relation to bridges and their ability to glorify rulers. Then, Sarah Harrison gave an art historical overview of depictions of bridges as narrative cues, geographical aides or simply as aesthetic motifs. Susan Irvine closed the session with an exploration of the motif of the bridge in late medieval Middle English romance narratives. In her chosen case study, Gawain and the Green Knight, the bridge serves as means of testing the mettle of the chivalric hero and exploring prevailing questions of personal or universal morality.

Session 3: Digital Technologies and Bridges

Engineer Bill Harvey presented to us the usefulness of 3D-imaging medieval stone bridges as means of assessing their structural integrity and, often, saving them from demolition. Although Simone Balossino was unable to attend the event, he had sent us a video which captured the methods used by the Avignon team to digitally reconstruct the medieval Pont Saint-Benezet. Next, the author of this review presented the Digital Pilgrim Project, which is making 3D-images of a selection of the British Museum’s medieval badge collection and uploading them to the museum’s account with the 3D-imaging platform, Sketchfab. Lastly, Jana Gajdošová and David Harrison presented The Bridge Project to the group, funded by the GEO Sea and Currents Fund, which aims to bring awareness to medieval bridges, to plot them on a map and to thus digitally preserve them.

Day 3: Pìsek and Zvikov Castle

Our last day in the old territories of Charles IV took us to the town of Písek. Here we visited its 13th century bridge, the oldest in Bohemia, which survives close to its original form despite a number of floods and thanks to conservation work. The bridge was fortified by two gate towers, neither of which survives; however, the IBG was able to get an impression of these gates by studying the monumental wall painting in the castle of Písek. Viewing the town’s museum and churches was an opportunity to appreciate the reach of the gothic aesthetic in Bohemia during the Middle Ages. This was intensified by a sun-baked walk to the castle of Zvikov, positioned at the confluence of the Vltava and Otava. There, we encountered a moat bridge, an early example of the use of triradials, traceried arcades, and the cool interior of a fourteenth-century chapel with vibrantly restored wall-paintings.

To sum up, the IBG Conference 2016 achieved a balance of action and reflection. Prague, as an extreme case study in terms of the Charles Bridge’s potency as a political tool, proved both fascinating in isolation and a lens through which to consider the multifaceted functions of bridges across medieval Europe. Thanks is owed to Jana Gajdošová and David Harrison for organising this fascinating conference.

Amy Jeffs

Heraldry Study Day at Ely Cathedral Education and Conference Centre (10 September 2016)

issue_13_2007_pom3Heraldry Study Day
‘Mitres, Martlets and Mantling’: a heraldry study day organized by the Stained Glass Museum with Chloë Cockerill will take place on Saturday 10 September, 10.30am 4pm, at the Ely Cathedral Education and Conference Centre.

Heraldry is all around us – in both ecclesiastical and secular buildings – and can often provide vital information about the history of a building and the people associated with a place. This study day is intended as a basic introduction to the language and art of heraldry in all its various forms. Open to all, it will help you to recognize, interpret and accurately describe a variety of heraldic emblems. The day will be in split into two halves: a morning session of two informal introductory lectures – the first on how to identify and describe shields, colours, furs and the royal arms, and the second on how to understand arms that demonstrate peerage, and family pedigree. In the afternoon there will be a heraldic tour of Ely Cathedral to look at ecclesiastical arms and many other examples of heraldry in situ, before a visit to the Stained Glass Museum to see some fine examples of heraldic stained glass in both the museum’s main gallery and reserve collection.

Chloë Cockerill is a former Regional Development Manager for the Churches Conservation Trust. She is a popular lecturer for NADFAS, the National Trust, and many historical associations throughout Britain, with a special interest in heraldry and fabulous beasts. She has written articles and guide books on churches and heraldry and is an Ely Cathedral guide and Friend of The Stained Glass Museum.

Tickets: £40 (£30 for Friends of the Museum). Prices include lunch (all dietary requirements catered for). Please bring your Friends membership card or cathedral pass with you. You can book online, by telephone, or by post. Please make cheques payable to the Stained Glass Museum.

• Geoffrey Clarke: A New Spirit in Stained Glass (Stained Glass Museum gallery), 1 April – 1 July 2016
• Paradise and Other Places, Mick Abbott (Ely Cathedral in conjunction with the Stained Glass Museum), 14 June – 15 July 2016
• Sheryl Vaughan: Cast Glass (museum shop), 1 March – 30 April 2016
• Juliet Forrest: Landscapes (museum shop) 6 May – 10 June 2016

CFP: Heraldry in Medieval and Early Modern State-Rooms

Münster, Germany, March 16 – 18, 2016
Deadline: Dec 15, 2015

Heraldry in Medieval and Early Modern State-Rooms: Towards a Typology
of Heraldic Programmes in Spaces of Self-Representation

Heraldry was an ubiquitous element of state-rooms. Whether in palaces
of kings and princes, castles of noblemen, residences of patricians,
city halls or in cathedral chapters, heraldic display was a crucial
element in  the visual programme of these spaces. Despite its
omnipresence, however, heraldic display in state-rooms remains largely
understudied so far.

Given the fundamental role of heraldry in medieval and early modern
visual communication, it seems essential to incorporate the study of
heraldry into our understanding of the state-rooms and their functions.
The heraldic programmes appear to have been intimately tied to the
functions of those rooms and the strategies of self-representation and
communication employed by commissioners and users of such places.

This workshop aims to explore these heraldic programmes in state-rooms
in medieval and early modern Europe and to suggest an initial typology
of this phenomenon. We would like to include case studies showcasing
different social and institutional examples. In the context of the
workshop, we understand state-rooms to be rooms used for ceremonies and
receptions, and spaces able to construct and express identity that were
meant to be witnessed by  members of a community itself as well as by

Heraldry in state-rooms was displayed in a variety of media, including,
but not limited to, paintings, stained-glass, sculptures, tiles,
tapestries, curtains, furniture. As part of ceremonies, it also
appeared as ephemeral decor. The topics of such heraldic programmes
were diverse. They could represent genealogical, chivalric, legendary
as well as historical and commemorative themes, reflect political
networks and convey political and imaginary  ideas.

We particularly welcome comparative papers on the heraldic display of
state-rooms and groups of state-rooms from different geographical,
social and institutional contexts. Rather than only identifying the
displayed coats of arms, contributions should address the heraldic
ensembles in their entirety and locate them in their specific social
and institutional contexts, aiming to further our understanding of the
functions of heraldic display in the state-rooms and their visual

Papers can be presented in English or French. Proposals (200 words in
French or English) should be sent to heraldica@uni-muenster.de by 15
December 2015.

The workshop is organised by Miguel Metelo de Seixas (Lisbon) and
Torsten Hiltmann (Münster) as part of the Portuguese-German research
project “In the Service of the Crown: The Use of Heraldry in Royal
Political Communication in Late Medieval Portugal”, funded by the

Call for Papers: Emblems and Enigma: the Heraldic Imagination (London 2014)

Call for Papers:
Emblems and Enigma: the Heraldic Imagination
An Interdisciplinary Symposium at the Society of Antiquaries of London
London, Burlington House, April 26, 2014
Deadline: Jan 10, 2014
Conference website: http://heraldics2014.wordpress.com

‘Time has transfigured them into / Untruth’ (Philip Larkin)

CfP v5In his 1844 short story ‘Earth’s Holocaust’, Nathaniel Hawthorne sees heraldic signs reaching ‘like lines of light’ into the past, but also as encrypted and obsolete. Proliferating and arcane, unique, ubiquitous, and inscrutable, the heraldic has been a major presence across the arts since medieval times; yet it remains, culturally and
critically, enigmatic. The organisers of this interdisciplinary symposium, Professor Fiona Robertson (St Mary’s University College) and Dr Peter Lindfield (University of St Andrews) invite proposals for twenty-minute papers on any aspect of the employment and perception of the heraldic in literature, history, art, architecture, design, fashion, and contemporary and historical practice. The programme will include a keynote address by Professor Vaughan Hart (University of Bath); a special session on the heraldry of Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill and William Beckford’s Fonthill Abbey; and papers on eighteenth-century antiquaries’ exploration of the heraldic, and on heraldry in nineteenth-century British and American literature.

Topics may include, but are not restricted to:

– the languages and grammar of heraldry
– armoiries parlantes, allusions and puns
– imaginary and fantastical heraldry
– decoration and display
– blazonry and identity: nations, groups, individuals
– mock- and sham-heraldics; parody and subversion
– practices of memory and memorialisation
– history, development, and modern practice
– blazon and the body
– heraldic revivalism; medievalism; romance
– enigma, error, and absence: the bar sinister and the blank shield
– individual designers, writers, and collectors
– gendered identity
– hierarchies of signs
– international and interdisciplinary perspectives

Proposals of 200 words should be sent to heraldics2014@gmail.com by 10
January 2014.

Fiona Robertson and Peter Lindfield plan to edit a collection of essays
arising from the symposium.

Call For Papers: Heraldic Artists and Painters in the Middle Ages

Call For Papers: Heraldic Artists and Painters in the Middle Ages
(Poitiers, 10-11 Apr 2014)

Hyghalmen_Roll_Late_1400sThe big names of art history such as the Limbourg brothers, Donatello, Pisanello, Barthélemy d’Eyck, Jean Fouquet or Albrecht Dürer have left important traces of their preoccupation with heraldic and emblematic depictions, whether in preserved artwork or by being mentioned in financial sources. Besides them, a huge number of other, less well known artists have also contributed to shape the medieval heraldic heritage.

Many questions need to be asked here: about the formation of those artists and their heraldic culture, about the extent of their intervention in the conception of heraldic and emblematic programs, and about their relationship to the patron. On what basis did they work, did they have textual descriptions or already any drawn models to start from? Which liberties did they take in dealing with the heraldic rules of depiction? What was their eventual contribution to the evolution of heraldry in the late Middle Ages and did artistic creation contribute to the spreading of heraldry as a mean of symbolical and political communication as well as prestige? How have art historians treated this part of medieval artistic creation so far? And which role did the heralds play in this matter? Could it be possible that they did execute heraldic depictions as well and if so, which artistic skills did they need to do so? Finally, how do we have to imagine the creation of heraldic depictions such as mural paintings, painted roll of arms or the illustrated charters of concessions of arms?

Papers can be presented in English or French.

Proposals should be sent by 5th January 2014 together with an abstract
(200 words) in English or French to hiltmann@uni-muenster.de

Workshop organised by the research programme Héraldique, emblématique et signes d’identité au Moyen Age (Laurent Hablot, CESCM, University of Poitiers) and the research project The performance of coats of arms – Die Performanz der Wappen. Zur Entwicklung von Funktion und Bedeutung heraldischer Kommunikation in der spätmittelalterlichen Kultur,
Dilthey-Fellowship of the Volkswagen Foundattion (Torsten Hiltmann, Historisches Seminar, University of Münster)