EASTERN RESULTS FROM THE MAY 2016 LoAR
The Society College of Heralds runs on monthly cycles and letters. Each month, the College processes name and armory submissions from all of the Kingdoms. Final decisions on submissions are made at the monthly meetings of the Pelican Queen of Arms (names) and the Wreath Queen of Arms (armory). Pelican and Wreath then write up their decisions in a Letter of Acceptances and Return (LoAR). After review and proofreading, LoARs generally are released two months after the meeting where the decisions are made.
An “acceptance” indicates that the item(s) listed are now registered with the Society. A “return” indicates that the item is returned to the submitter for additional work. Most items are registered without comments. Sometimes, the LoAR will address specific issues about the name or armory or will praise the submitter/herald on putting together a very nice historically accurate item.
The following results are from the May 2016 Wreath and Pelican meetings.
Alys Mackyntoich. Heraldic will.
Upon her death, all items registered solely to Alys, including any registered after the issuance of this heraldic will, will be released.
In addition, the household name Sisterhood of Saint Walburga and its associated badge, (Fieldless) A standing seraph gules, haloed and charged with a cup held to its breast Or, will revert solely to Brunissende Dragonette.
An Dubhaigeainn, Barony. Badge. Per fess wavy azure and barry wavy argent and azure, a duck naiant contourny argent billed Or.
The submitter has permission to conflict with the device of Signý Ingadóttir: Per chevron ermine and purpure, in base a swan naiant contourny argent.
Antonii Machinevik. Name and device. Or, a wolf dormant contourny sable and a chief enarched vert.
Antonii Machinevik. Alternate name Kenny Lockin of Logan.
Arne Ulrichsson. Name and device. Per fess embattled gules and sable, three crosses fleury and an eagle Or.
Arne was documented in the Letter of Intent as a German given name, which is compatible with the Swedish last name under Appendix C of SENA.
The submitter may wish to know that Arne is found in Sweden dated from 1341 (SMP, s.n. Arne), so this name is also wholly Swedish.
* Ayleth le Frye. Name.
Both elements are dated to 1332, making this an excellent 14th century English name!
Brynjolfr Rorikssen. Name and device. Quarterly argent and vert, a ram’s head cabossed quarterly sable and argent.
Rorik was documented as a possibly normalized Frisian given name, but no documentation to support the formation of the patronymic byname was provided in the Letter of Intent. The byname Rorikessone is found in the Diplomatarium Danicum, dated to 1411. Rørikssøn is found in the same source dated to 1401, in a text written in Old Danish. The patronymic ending -sen is found in this source, in an Old Danish text dated to 1401. Therefore, Rorikssen is a reasonable early 15th century Danish spelling.
The submitted form Brynjólfr is an earlier Old Norse form recorded in Iceland. The submitter may wish to know that the Danish form Bryniolff is documented to 1409 in Diplomatarium Danicum. If the submitter prefers this form of the name, he can submit a request for reconsideration.
Dragonship Haven, Barony of. Badge (see RETURNS for order name). (Fieldless) A woman passant contourny maintaining a drinking horn Or.
Dragonship Haven, Barony of. Order name Order of Saint Martin of Dragonship Haven and badge. Azure, on a sun argent a capital letter M azure.
Submitted as Order of Saint Martin, this order name conflicts with the registered branch name March of Saint Martin. We have added the branch name of Dragonship Haven is order to clear this conflict and register this name.
As the branch name was added, we decline to rule whether the submitted form presumed upon the island of Saint Martin (claimed for Spain by Columbus in 1493) or the 14th century Brotherhood of St. Martin founded by a cathedral in Utrecht, Netherlands.
Dragonship Haven, Barony of. Badge. (Fieldless) In saltire a pair of scissors and a smith’s hammer argent.
Dragonship Haven, Barony of. Badge for Order of the Keel. Per fess wavy azure and barry wavy argent and azure, a hulk Or and in chief two clouds argent.
Please advise the submitter to draw the ship larger, as befits a primary charge.
Gelleys Jaffrey. Device. Per bend sinister sable and azure, a bear statant erect contourny Or maintaining a glaive argent.
Johannes Mikkinen. Device. Quarterly azure and sable, four wolves rampant argent.
Kiena Stewart. Name reconsideration from Kiena Stiward.
Leifr Skáldason. Badge. Argent, a trebuchet vert and a chief embattled gules.
Lijsbet van Catwiic. Badge. Paly argent and purpure, a winged camelopard statant Or.
Lijsbet van Catwiic. Blanket permission to conflict with badge. Paly argent and purpure, a winged camelopard statant Or.
The submitter grants permission to conflict for any armory that is at least one countable step different from their registered armory.
Lottieri Malocchio. Badge. Per chevron sable and gules, a tower between three decrescents argent.
Lyssa ingen Fháeláin. Device. Vert, an owl displayed and in base a stringless hunting horn Or.
There is a step from period practice for the use of a bird other than an eagle in the displayed posture.
Magnus Thorfinnsson. Device. Per saltire arrondi azure and sable, two ravens respectant Or.
Marieta Charay. Device. Azure, a leaf Or and in base two mice sejant erect respectant argent, a bordure Or.
Nadia Hart. Name and device. Or, a badger rampant contourny sable marked argent maintaining a snake palewise vert, a bordure sable.
Both elements are dated to c.1600, making this a nice English name for the end of our period!
Niall Gorm. Name and device. Per bend argent and vert, a stag rampant contourny sable and a sword inverted argent.
Nice 15th century Gaelic name!
Niall Gorm. Badge. (Fieldless) On a stag rampant contourny argent a sword inverted sable.
Remy le Bastard. Device. Sable, a pall gules fimbriated between three crescents horns outward withina double tressure overall Or.
Please advise the submitter to draw the fimbriation and double tressure thicker.
Richard Holland. Device. Azure, in pale three lions passant gardant and on a chief Or three fleurs-de-lys azure.
Rúadán mac Paidín. Device. Per bend sinister gules and sable, a stag’s head cabossed and a broad-arrow argent.
Sabiha al-Nahdiya. Badge. Per pale wavy sable crusilly formy and argent semy of water bougets gules.
Tatiana Hopfen. Name.
Tatiana is the name of a 12th century Italian saint, known at least until the early 17th century.
This name combines an Italian saint’s name with a German byname. This is an acceptable lingual mix under Appendix C of SENA.
Terren of Tir. Name.
Submitted as Terren of TIR (where TIR is an acronym), the name was changed in kingdom to Terren Tir with the submitter’s permission to use an attested byname.
Commenters were unable to document or construct the byname in the submitter’s preferred capitalization, so we could not restore the name to the submitted form.
The Latin phrase archiepiscopo de Tyr (“archbishop of Tyre”) is found in ‘The chronicle: 1187-1214’, Annales Cestrienses Chronicle of the Abbey of S. Werburg, At Chester (pp. 36-49, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/lancs-ches-record-soc/vol14/pp36-49), dated to 1188. Tyre was part of the Crusader state of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. At least one archbishop of Tyre was English, so the vernacular of Tyr is an appropriate 12th century English form of the attested locative phrase. Tir is a reasonable interpolation of the attested forms Tyr, Tire, and Tyre, all found in the Middle English Dictionary. Therefore, we have changed the byname to of Tir, which is identical in sound and closer to appearance to the submitted form, in order to register this name.
Þorsteinn Hroðbjartsson. Name.
Tighearnán Blackwater. Name change from Tighearain Blackwater and badge. Azure, a talbot’s head erased ermine and a bordure counter-compony gules and argent.
Blackwater is grandfathered to the submitter.
The submitter’s previous name, Tighearain Blackwater, is released.
Vivien de Valois. Name.
The submitter requested authenticity for 15th century French. Both the given name and byname are dated to 1421, so this name meets the submitter’s request.
Wynflæd æt Hamtunscire. Name.
Submitted as Wynflaed aet Hamtunscir, the given name was changed to Wynflæd to match the documentation that could be found.
The correct form of the locative byname is æt Hamtunscire, using the dative form of the place name instead of the nominative (base) form. We have made these changes in order to register this name.
Dragonship Haven, Barony of. Order name Order of Freya’s Cup.
In 2013 we ruled:
In August of 2005, the use of orders named after pagan deities and “saints” was allowed but ruled a step from period practice. Under SENA, there are no steps from period practice for names. Given that order names were derived from classical references (like the Golden Fleece) and from the names of saints, we will continue to allow order names to use the names of pagan gods and other figures that would have been venerated in those places that had order names. [East Kingdom, Order of Artemis, June 2013, A-East]
NPN1Cd1 of SENA states:
The name phrase must be shown to be a form by which the entity was known in that time and place. Generally this means finding it in the literature of that time (so a Renaissance Italian Bible, or an English publication of an Arthurian romance). In the case of a saint’s name, evidence for their veneration through the naming of churches is generally sufficient. Only the form of the name used in that culture is permitted under this allowance.
For example, the Greek mythological object known in English as the Golden Fleece was known to the medieval French as the Toison d’Or. It is Toison d’Or that was borrowed for the name of the period Burgundian order. Similarly, the saint known in her lifetime as Æhelthryth was venerated by late period English people as Audrey. Audrey is the form allowed in late period English context to create a name like the College of Saint Audrey.
By long precedent, we do not allow the creation of lingua Anglica forms of given names. We have to document the name Freya, and cannot register the form Freya’s Cup because it uses a modern apostrophe. In addition, NPN1C2 of SENA states that the substantive element is a name phrase; the entire phrase must be either in a period form or a lingua Anglica form, but not a mixture of the two. Therefore, we need to document Freyas as a period genitive (possessive) form for the same time and place as the period English term Cup. Unfortunately, we could not find evidence that the spelling Freya was known in England at a time when order names were used there. Without this documentation, we cannot register Order of Freyas Cup.
Cup was not documented as a period form. This spelling is found in the MED, s.v. cuppe, dated to around 1425.
Upon resubmission, the submitter might like to know that the mythological Freya is found in Stephani Johannis Stephanii, Notae uberiores in Historiam Danicam Saxonis Grammatici (a Latin edition of Gesta Danorum from 1645), in earlier Latin translations of Gesta Danorum, and in various adaptations of the Gesta Danorum published in France in the 16th century. Therefore, Order of Freya could be registered as a Danish or French order name. English forms of the goddess’ name are documented in the late 13th to mid-15th centuries in the Middle English Dictionary: Frea, frie, frye, andffre. Something like Order of Freas Cup would also be registerable as an English order name. We are returning this order name so that the barony can consider its options.
Esa Gray. Name.
The question was raised whether this name presumes upon that of 19th century botanist Asa Gray, one of Charles Darwin’s collaborators and founder of Harvard’s department of botany.
PN4D1 of SENA states:
Individuals whose names are recognized by a significant number of people in the Society without having to look them up in a reference are generally important enough to protect. Individuals recognized only by specialists in a subject are unlikely to be important enough to protect. Individuals who are only recognized with the assistance of reference books are unlikely to be important enough to protect.
Individuals whose work and/or life are still influential today are generally important enough to protect. Those whose work significantly shaped the course of world history, science, or the arts are generally important enough to protect. This is generally measured by examining measures like the length of encyclopedia articles about the person and his/her work, numbers of search engine hits for the individual, and the like.
We are pending the name to allow commenters to discuss just how prominent an individual needs to be to have “significantly shaped the course of world history, science, or the arts”, given that the names of many such individuals may only be known to specialists.
On the one hand for the present submission, Asa Grey’s name is largely known only by specialists. On the other, Asa Gray’s work clearly “shaped the course of world science”. In particular, Gray authored or co-authored the first editions of Gray’s Manual, still the standard text on North American plants. He also formed one of the first global networks of naturalists, was a founding member of the National Academy of Sciences, and arranged for Darwin’s On the Origin of Species to be published in the United States. He also defended the highly controversial theory of evolution and attempted to reconcile it with the prevailing theological teachings in a series of essays entitled Darwiniana. He is widely considered the most important American botanist of the 19th century.
If Asa Gray is important enough to protect, the present submission will be returned for presumption, as the two names can be identical in sound.
This name does not conflict with the registered name Aislinn Grey. One syllable has been substantially changed in sound and appearance under PN3C2 of SENA.
This name also does not conflict with the registered name Emma Grey. Both syllables of the given name have been changed in sound in appearance, so this name is clear under PN3C1 of SENA.
This was item 12 on the East letter of February 29, 2016.
Filed under: Heraldry Tagged: LoAR
Responses to the second poll of Their Highnesses Brion and Anna need to be sent before midnight, Friday, September 9th, when the polls close.
Polls are sent to the members of the Orders of High Merit and the Peerages so that they may provide input to the Crown on future members. Orders which conduct polls include the Chivalry, Laurel, Pelican, Defense, Silver Crescent, Tygers Combattant, Sagittarius, Maunche, Golden Rapier, and Golden Lance.
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Filed under: Announcements
Æthelmearc’s Kingdom A&S Championship is coming up on October 15th in Sunderoak. See the online Event Announcement.
ENTER the competition! It’s fun, exciting, and educational! Note that this year, brewing and vinting entries are welcome!
JUDGE – If you’re a Laurel or a Fleur (or the equivalent), help us out by donating your day to JUDGE the competition.
REGISTRATION FORMS can be found here.
Come to the Championship and see the finest artisans of Æthelmearc!
Earlier this year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art presented more than 265 artifacts from the Hellenistic period in the exhibition Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World. As the title suggests, most of the pieces on display came from Pergamon, an ancient city of the Aegean which is now in western Turkey. The largest and most dramatic object on display was a monumental statue of the goddess Athena, on loan from Berlin’s Pergamon Museum.
The exhibition closed on July 17th, but the Pergamon Museum agreed to extend the loan of Athena and another colossal piece, the fragmentary head of a youth, for two more years. The Berlin museum is currently undergoing an extensive refurbishment and will be closed until 2019, so this arrangement is advantageous for both parties.
On August 4th, the statue of Athena was moved to the southern side of the Met’s Great Hall and the installation process was filmed because it’s cool.
The statue was modeled after the famous monumental gold and ivory statue of Athena by Phidias that stood inside the Parthenon in Athens for a thousand years from the 5th century B.C. until the 5th century A.D. Phidias’ vision of the patron goddess of Athens was iconic in antiquity and it was widely copied for centuries. This version was made around 170 B.C. and it’s not an exact replica. It’s smaller in scale — 12 feet high to the original’s 40 feet — with a more simple helmet, no shield, no column on the side and therefore probably no small figure of Nike in Athena’s hand outstretched just above the column, and no serpent sidekick which was a symbol of Athena as protector of the Acropolis and thus not relevant to Pergamon’s interests. On the base is a carved relief with six figures depicting the birth of Pandora, as on the pedestal of the original. The base of the Pergamon statue is heavily damaged, however, with significant chunks of the relief missing.
It was discovered in the Sanctuary of Athena in Pergamon in 1880. The body was found behind the North Stoa in front of the largest rooms in the sanctuary which may have housed the Pergamon Library. The head was found in a courtyard in front of the remains of the North Stoa. The body, head, base and arms of the statue were made separately and joined together, which is why the head fits in like a puzzle piece as you can see in the installation video. The arms are now lost.
The monumental statues will be on display in the Great Hall until fall of 2018.
On September 24th in the Shire of Heronter, Prince Marcus and Princess Margerite will be crowned King and Queen of Æthelmearc. Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope interviewed Their Highnesses to learn more about them, their SCA careers, and their personas.
Prince Marcus Eisenwald joined the Society in 1993 in his native Nordmark, aka Stockhlolm, Sweden, though he had participated with boffer groups as early as 1987. His persona is that of a German Landsknecht foot soldier from 1523-1525. During that time period, he says, younger sons of nobility could gain experience and money serving as officers in the military. He received his AoA in 1996 and was made a Court Baron in 1997 after serving as the second and last Governor of the Crown Principality of Nordmark before it became a full Principality. Marcus reigned as King of Drachenwald in the summer and fall of 2003, and then again in the winter and spring of 2009. In between, in 2007, he was knighted. He also did a stint as Earl Marshal of Drachenwald.
Marcus’ interests include German costuming and scribal arts as well as fighting. While still in Nordmark, he served as Scroll Clerk (Signet) for the Principality. He also enjoys woodwork and other arts; he currently has his sights set on learning to make shoes. He appreciates people who really go the extra mile to be authentic, and says he would love to camp in the Enchanted Ground some day, though currently having a young child and being royalty makes that impractical.
As a former Drachenwalder, His Highness has a unique perspective on Æthelmearc. He notes that both Kingdoms have distinct differences in culture and atmosphere. He appreciates the fact that Æthelmearc has so many people willing to step up and make things happen, and admires the energy and service he sees on display in our Kingdom. The thing he misses most about Drachenwald is the easy access to museums with actual period artifacts, which makes it much easier to do research.
Princess Margerite Eisenwald joined the SCA in 1992, and is looking forward to being Queen on her 25th anniversary in the Society at next March’s Ice Dragon. She found the SCA through Duchess Liadain ní Dheirdre Chaomhánaigh, who she’s known since they were in 6th grade. Her persona is primarily late Roman, though she has forays into other periods and places and believes in taking the best from a variety of cultures. Once the protégé of the late Mistress Michaele del Vaga, and a member of Count Robyn Wallace and Countess Isabeau de L’Isle’s household, Anephedros, Her Highness received her AoA in 1994 and was made a Court Baroness in 2005. Over the years she has served as a local and Kingdom officer, including a stint as Kingdom Seneschale, and has autocratted and served as head tollner or cook for numerous events. She is currently the Kingdom Minister of Youth, but will be passing that office to THLady Cordelia Colton before she is crowned Queen.
Margerite claims she is “not arts inclined” but admits to enjoying costuming, cooking, and beadwork. She says Mistress Michaele taught her how to plan a feast, and credits Michaele with persuading her to run a feast at the first Æthelmearc Æcademy with Mistress Mathilde des Pyrenees.
Marcus and Margerite first met at Pennsic. Duchess Anna Blackleaf introduced them because they had both been through gastric bypass surgery and Her Grace thought they might be interested in sharing their experiences. Obviously they hit it off, and while the distance proved a bit of a barrier, Marcus says they had a few visits back and forth as well as a lot of Skyping before deciding to get married. Then they faced the choice of where to live: in the U.S. or Sweden. At the time, Marcus was working for Swedish TV while Margerite had a Master’s degree and worked as a teacher here. They decided it would be too difficult for Margerite to get work in Sweden, and His Highness was looking for a career change, so he moved to the Shire of Heronter and went back to school there, studying mental health counseling. He now works as a drug and alcohol counselor while Her Highness continues teaching 4th graders.
Their Highnesses have a daughter named Ingrid who is a very energetic four-year-old. Sometimes jokingly referred to as “The Dread Empress,” Marcus notes that, if she’s not sleeping, Ingrid is constantly on the move. Although a little shy with adults she doesn’t know well, Margerite says Ingrid enjoys playing with other children. Her Highness said she and Prince Marcus are “fairly strict” parents who want Ingrid to grow up successful and good-natured.
When asked about their goals for their upcoming reign, Princess Marguerite said they want to see their subjects shine. She encourages people to take risks and try new things, working outside their comfort zone. Prince Marcus believes that many people worry too much about failing. For fighters, he recommends that they try new weapons forms, fighting in tourneys with their least favorite weapon because they will learn more from the experience.
Princess Margerite says she would like people to know that they welcome help from gentles across the realm. Since they don’t have a large household, they will be looking for people in the groups they visit to assist them, especially as retainers, which they hope will be a good way for them to meet new people and for their subjects to get to know them better. They and their daughter have no food allergies or dietary restrictions (though, like many young children, Ingrid can be somewhat particular about her food), and look forward to attending feasts throughout the Kingdom.
From Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope, Interim Kingdom Youth Combat Marshal:
Greetings unto the Youth Fighters of AEthelmearc and their Parents!
Per Kingdom law, I am calling for letters of intent for the office of Kingdom Youth Combat Marshal. I took over the last three months of Sir Thorgrim’s term, but that term is up in September, at which time Their Highnesses will appoint a new officer. I plan to apply for the position, but any interested parties are encouraged to send a letter of intent with their qualifications by Coronation (September 24, in the Shire of Heronter) to all of the following:
Applicants for the office of Kingdom Youth Combat Marshal must be paid members of the SCA and warranted youth combat marshals, with current SCA Background Checks and, if living in Pennsylvania, PA Clearances. For more information on the background check and warranting requirements, go to youthcombat.aethelmearc.org/.
The duties of the position are outlined in the Kingdom Youth Combat policies, available on the Kingdom website at aethelmearc.org under the Earl Marshal.
Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope
Five friends on a goose hunting weekend in the Skaftárhreppur district near the Skaftá river in South Iceland, killed nary a single goose, but they did bag a Viking sword. It wasn’t even buried, but found on the surface of the soil. One of the hunting party, Runar Stanley Sighvatsson, said: “It was just there, waiting to be taken up.” That is probably the result of last year’s severe glacial floods eroding the old lava fields which had enveloped the sword for hundreds of years and carrying it to the field where it was found.
Runar Sighvatsson and another of the hunters, Árni Björn Valdimarsson, notified the Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland of their find and on Monday delivered the sword to Kristín Sigurðardóttir, director of the Cultural Heritage Centre. Judging from a picture of the sword Valdimarsson had posted on his Facebook page, Sigurðardóttir estimated the weapon dated to the 10th century. Her initial examination confirmed that it is a type Q sword from 10th century, possibly the first half of the 10th century. She suspects the sword was probably buried in a grave.
The hunters came across it before it had been exposed for long, so while it is corroded, there’s a bend in the blade and the tip has broken off, all the parts are there and the sword is in excellent condition. There are even splinters of wood still attached to the handle.
“There might be some remains of scabbard on the blade but we will know more about this when the conservators have done a thorough search. The goose hunters that found the sword discovered another object which we have not analyzed yet,” [Sigurðardóttir] added.
“Our archaeologists have now gone to evaluate whether this [area] is a pagan grave.”
Finding a Viking sword anywhere is immensely exciting, but particularly so in Iceland where only 22 other Viking-era swords have been found. The last one was discovered more than 10 years ago.
The precise location of the find is being kept secret to keep treasure hunters away and give the agency the chance to explore the site for any other archaeological materials that might be there. Meanwhile the sword will go to the National Museum in Reykjavík for further study and conservation.
Unto the Kingdom do Byron and Ariella, Rex et Regina, Send Greetings.
We were so very happy to spend this weekend within Our glorious Shire of Sylvan Glen. The Siege of Glengary was superbly organized by Lady Laurentia Caledonia, and We had the opportunity to see and participate in numerous arts that were new to Us. We especially thank those gentles who allowed theÆthelings and the Princess Royale to be involved.
Our royalty Liaison, Ursula of Rouen, made sure that We were well cared-for throughout the day. A vegetarian lunch was made just for Us (under the supervision of Mistress Alfrun Ketta and her husband), and We are still munching on the leftovers today. The feast by Lady Arianna del Vallone and her staff was amazing, as every meat dish had a delicious vegetarian counterpart for Us.
The site was marvelous, the weather was beautiful, and everyone seemed relaxed. And We were pleased to host so many of Our good friends from the neighboring Kingdom of Atlantia. Borders mean nothing to our SCA friendships.
I love a good 3D scan of historical and archeological materials. Be it the Apollo 11 command module, Revolutionary War-era gunboat, Anglo-Saxon stones, Pictish stones, Chinese oracle bones, a king’s grave, or a centenarian ham and peanut, I have spent untold hours turning, zooming and flipping 3D models. So when I say that the recently uploaded 3D scans of one skull and nine artifacts from the Tudor warship the Mary Rose are the best I’ve ever seen, that’s saying something.
It’s been a banner year for the Mary Rose, the flagship of Henry VIII’s navy which sank off the coast of Portsmouth on July 19th, 1545, and whose intact hull still containing the remains of the crew and 19,000 artifacts was raised from the Solent in 1982. This summer, after more than three decades of constant conservation, the stabilized ship was displayed to the public in all its glory in an extensively renovated exhibition hall of the Mary Rose Museum. The museum opened in 2013, but because the ship was still being renovated, it was partially obscured by an intricate network of pipes, sprayers, sheets of glass and scaffolding. Now it can be viewed from three balconies and wall to ceiling windows that give visitors the chance to observe the hull from multiple angles.
The new Mary Rose exhibition humanizes the vast archaeological treasure of the ship by featuring the stories of members of the crew whose remains and/or belongings were discovered on the ship. While their names are unknown, their roles could be deduced by the locations in which they were found (the cook in the galley, the Master Gunner near a gun on the deck), from osteological analysis (the longbow archers suffered from a shoulder blade condition still found in archers today), or from their stuff (the purser had a chest full of coins, the carpenter had his tools).
Yesterday the Mary Rose Museum launched a new website, Virtual Tudors, which focuses on one of those featured crewmen, the carpenter, and the artifacts found with him. He was in his mid-to-late 30s when he went down with the Mary Rose. He was a strong, well-muscled man 5’7″ tall who suffered from arthritis in his spine, ribs and left collar bone. He also had terrible teeth with extensive plaque build up and an abscess in his upper jaw so severe and painful that he could only have been able to chew on the right side of his mouth. Nearby were found a leather shoe (one of nearly 300 shoes found on board), an oak grooving plane (one of 22 found), a poplar whetstone holder and more.
The website is a collaboration of the Mary Rose Trust, Swansea University and Oxford University. For the general public, the skull of the carpenter, the shoe, plane, whetstone holder, plus two knife handles, two carved panels, a wooden spoon, a wooden mirror, and a section of the ship’s rigging have been 3D scanned and uploaded to the site. For the skull alone, 120 high resolution pictures were taken with a 39-megapixel camera. They were then stitched together to create a 15-megapixel 3D model. The level of detail is unbelievable. I must have stared at the rope from the rigging for a solid 30 minutes at the most extreme zoom, and I’ve barely started.
The digitization team is hoping that this project will have research advantages as well. Besides the publically viewable models, another 9 skulls have been scanned exclusively for examination by osteologists all over the world.
Each participant will be given a questionnaire to see what their assessment is of the skulls, which the UK team will then compare.
“Do you really need to hold the skull, or can you tell a lot from the digital one? There’s the potential to speed up science dramatically – but this needs to happen first.”
Because the pool of expertise can be much wider once resources like these are online, there is also the possibility that a new discovery will emerge.
“It might be that somebody in, I don’t know, Arizona, has a particular speciality and they say, ‘Do you realise that this person here has such-and-such a condition?’ It’d be very nice if that happened,” said Swansea biomechanist Nick Owen, who has previously studied the skeletons of archers from the Mary Rose.
My current term of office as Chancellor of Æthelmearc Æcademy ends at Twelfth Night 2017.
I intend to apply for a second two-year term.
That being said, anyone interested in applying for the position of Chancellor of Æthelmearc Æcademy is welcome to submit a resume to the Crown and the Kingdom Seneschal by October 1. If you are interested in applying for this position, please send your resume to this address.
I would be delighted to answer questions about the position and its
Yours, in Service,
Here is a copy of my Florilegium article for September, detailing what is new in the Florilegium this month.
I am always looking for good articles for the Florilegium. If you have researched something in our period or you practice a little known art or craft, writing an article is an excellent way to introduce others to the work you’ve done. I’m especially interested in academic papers written for A&S contests because, unfortunately, few have time at such an event to read them. Even the judges. Getting them published in the Florilegium lets your hard word benefit the entire Known World. Word format is the easiest for me to handle, but others are possible.
If you see an article in a kingdom, guild or local newsletter that you think others might find useful or interesting, please consider sending me a note about it. I would appreciate the author’s contact info if you have it. I will not add an article to the Florilegium without the author’s permission, but many authors are too inhibited to send me their own work. If you like an article, then chances are other SCA folks will as well.
Over the past twenty-six years in an ongoing effort, I have been collecting bits of useful information from various newsgroups, mail lists and articles whose authors have given me permission to publish. In order to make this information available to others, I have placed this information in a collection of files called Stefan’s Florilegium.
The Florilegium is on the web here.
I am always interested in new articles. If you have written an article that would be of interest to others in the SCA, please send it to me for possible inclusion in the Florilegium. A&S documentation and class handouts will also often work well. I am especially interested in research papers submitted as A&S entries.
If you see someone’s A&S documentation or perhaps an article in a local newsletter that you think deserves a wider audience, please let me know. I won’t publish anything without the author’s permission, but many authors are too reserved to send me their articles on their own.
Here are the new files for this month:
In the ARCHERY section:
In the CRAFTS section:
In the FOOD section:
Rec-Medv-Lent-art (20K) 1/20/16 “Recreating Medieval Lent” by Mistress
In the FOOD-BY-REGION section:
In the FOOD-FRUITS section:
watermelons-msg (64K) 10/24/15 Period watermelons.
In the TEXTILE ARTS section:
There are no confirmed portraits of William Shakespeare. Most of them were painted years after his death and there is little reason to believe they accurately reproduce the playwright’s features. The one with the best shot is the Chandos portrait. Painted between 1600 and 1610, a time when author portraits were increasingly popular among the moneyed literati, the Chandos portrait is not only the only extant portrait to have been painted during Shakespeare’s lifetime, but it has also been widely believed to be a portrait of the Bard since the mid-17th century when there were still people living who had known Shakespeare. None of the other contenders have so long a pedigree. It was hanging in Duke’s Theatre in London as a portrait of Shakespeare in the 1660s.
Its early history has come down to us from engraver and antiquarian George Vertue who filled 40 notebooks with his observations on art and artists of the time. Those notebooks, purchased after Vertue’s death by Horace Walpole who used them as the primary source for his five-volume Anecdotes of Painting in England, include a passage written in 1719 about the painting that would become known as the Chandos portrait.
Mr. Betterton told Mr. Keck several times that the Picture of Shakespeare he had, was painted by one John Taylor/a Player, who acted for Shakespear and this John Taylor in his will left it to Sr Willm Davenant. & at the death of Sir Will Davenant — Mr Betterton bought it, & at his death Mr. Keck bought it in whose poss. it now is.
It’s hard to know how accurate this information is. Vertue had to rely on the recollections of Robert Keck, the owner of the portrait in 1719, and there is no independently verifiable source on the mysterious actor John Taylor who purportedly painted his boss. He doesn’t appear on any surviving records of Even if the ownership history is correct, there is no proof that the sitter was William Shakespeare instead of somebody else. John Taylor could have acted in Shakespeare’s company and painted other people.
The portrait was inherited by Keck descendants until 1789 when one of them married James Brydges, 3rd Duke Chandos, who gave the painting its moniker. It remained in the Chandos line until 1848 when it was purchased by Francis Egerton, 1st Earl of Ellesmere, who donated it to the newly formed National Portrait Gallery in 1856. It was the first painting in the museum’s collection, hence its vanity plate-like inventory number of NPG 1.
By then, the portrait was viewed with suspicion by literary critics. Shakespearean scholar George Steevens said of a copy of the Chandos portrait that “our author exhibits the complexion of a Jew, or rather that of a chimney-sweeper in the jaundice.” Essayist James Hain Friswell cast doubt the sitter’s identity in similar racist terms. His argument amounted to that Shakespeare couldn’t possibly have looked like a dirty foreigner.
“One cannot readily imagine our essentially English Shakespeare to have been a dark, heavy man, with a foreign expression, of decidedly Jewish physiognomy, thin curly hair, a somewhat lubricious mouth, red-edged eyes, wanton lips, with a coarse expression and his ears tricked out with earrings.”
The difficulty in the identification of the sitter is compounded by the portrait’s extensive damage over the centuries. It was cleaned with excessive vigour, thinning the paint layers, and is coated in cracked and discolored varnish. Extensive retouching has materially altered the image, lengthening the hair and beard.
Now the NPG is seriously considering cleaning and restoring the portrait for the first time since it darkened the museum’s doorway. Outside specialists have recommended conservation, but the National Portrait Gallery’s trustees will make the final decision on whether to go forward next year.
The Chandos portrait has had no significant conservation treatment since its arrival at the gallery. A decision on cleaning has not yet been made but the work would involve the removal of discoloured varnish. The challenge for conservators will be to determine how much of the later additions to remove.
Most exciting, however, is the prospect that conservation work might provide further clues to determine whether the sitter is indeed the great dramatist—and how different the face was originally from what we see with the portrait’s present condition.
A wonderful wood frame recreation of the London skyline at the time of the Great Fire built on a platform on the Thames is about to be set on fire. Watch now!
In 1954, Egyptologist Kamal el-Mallakh discovered a pit carved into the bedrock at the foot of the Great Pyramid of Giza. Underneath a row of 40 massive limestone blocks covering the pit was a full-sized wooden ship, disassembled into 1224 pieces and untouched since the reign of the Pharaoh Khufu (2589–2566 B.C.) in the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom. It is commonly known today as a solar boat, a ritual ship to transport the pharaoh in his incarnation as the sun god Ra on his daily voyage across the sky, but it’s possible it was used as a funerary barge to carry Khufu’s body on the Nile to Giza. Mallakh spent 20 months painstakingly excavating the ship parts. Then Egyptian Department of Antiquities conservator Ahmed Youssef Moustafa spent another 13 years reconstructing it. At 143 feet long and 20 feet wide and 4500 years old, Khufu’s ship is the oldest and largest intact ship in the world.
Mallakh found a second pit next to the first one and was convinced there was a second boat, but it was left unexplored until 1987 when a team of archaeologists fielded by the National Geographic Society ran a camera under the limestone cover stones and confirmed Mallakh was right. Without the budget to safely excavate the extremely fragile second boat, its disassembled parts remained undisturbed until 2011 when a team of Japanese and Egyptian researchers, funded by a $10 million grant from Waseda University, raised the slabs covering the second pit. It took another two years before they were ready to recover more than 700 pieces of Lebanese cedar and Egyptian acacia wood.
The original estimate was that excavating and reconstructing the ship would take four or five years, but archaeologists have had to employ great caution going through the 13 layers of wood beams and the recovery is still ongoing today. Last week, the team raised a beam from the eighth layer that is eight meters (26 feet) long, 40 centimeters (15.7 inches) wide and four centimeters (1.6 inches) thick. It was taken to the laboratory built on the Giza Plateau for the Khufu Second Boat Project for it to be dried and stabilized.
Upon closer examination, the beam was found to have unique features: a number of U and L-shaped metal hooks embedded in the surface of the wood. There are no such metal elements in any of the beams from Khufu’s first solar boat. Archaeologists believe the metal parts may have been the ancient version of oar locks.
From the boats found across Egypt, “we have not found the use of metals in their frames like in this boat”, Mohamed Mostafa Abdel-Megeed, an antiquities ministry official and expert in boat-making in ancient Egypt, told AFP on the sidelines of a Cairo press conference.
The U-shaped hooks were used “to place the paddles to prevent friction of wood against wood”, said Sakuji Yoshimura, an Egyptologist from Japan.
The Zapotec site of Lambityeco, just west of Tlacolula in Mexico’s Oaxaca Valley, reached its apogee in the Late Classic and Early Postclassical period (500–850 A.D.). It was a major center of trade and was the dominant producer of salt in the Oaxaca Valley. Around the same time, the city-state of Monte Albán 100 miles south of Lambityeco came to the fore as the capital of the Zapotec nation. It was much larger than Lambityeco, with a peak population of some 25,000 people.
When Lambityeco was first excavated in the 1960s, archaeologists discovered art and architectural elements that appeared to be strongly influenced by Monte Albán. Other artifacts indicated marked differences between the two cities, marked enough that archaeologists believed that Lambityeco dated to a later time period than Monte Albán. The archaeological record has been reinterpreted in recent years. Now researchers believe the two cities were indeed contemporaneous.
Archaeologists from Chicago’s Field Museum have been excavating Lambityeco for the past four years, expanding the area of the city that has been explored archaeologically and revealing more about the city’s relationship with Monte Albán. They found that the public buildings in Lambityeco’s civic center were initially laid out in much the same manner as Monte Albán’s public buildings. At some point, however, Lambityeco restructured its center, remodeling buildings and moving bits of them around so that its similarity with Monte Albán was erased. This is likely the result of a political shift in the two cities from alliance to opposition.
This season, the Field Museum team unearthed another artifact that contributes to our understanding of the ancient dynamic between the Zapotec urban centers. It’s a stone carved into the image of a crocodile on three sides. It’s the largest carved stone yet discovered at Lambityeco, and the first crocodile stone. Crocodile stones have been found at other Zapotec sites in the Oaxaca Valley, but most of them have been moved around over the centuries and are long divorced from their pre-Hispanic context. This one was moved, yes, but it was moved in Lambityeco’s heyday.
“We believe that this crocodile stone was originally a part of a stairway leading up to a temple at the heart of the civic-ceremonial center of Lambityeco,” said Linda Nicholas, archaeologist at The Field Museum. “However, when the people reconstructed the core area of the site, the entrance to the temple was blocked and the stairway was dismantled.”
The stone was moved so that it leaned against the new façade of the building, where it continued to serve ritual significance, as evidenced by remains of charcoal and ceramics used to hold incense that were deposited right in front of the stone. The stone, when found in this location, was upside down with one of its carved sides completely hidden from view. These observations further indicate that the stone had been repositioned from its original location.
Ernst Christiansen and Lise Therkelsen were enjoying a leisurely evening constitutional in a field in Forsinge, western Zealand, when their metal detector signalled the presence of something underground. They dug less than a foot underground and found the tip of what looked a lot like a sword. As experienced and responsible metal detectorists, they recognized the object could be archaeologically significant, so they reburied it and the next morning alerted the Museum Vestsjælland (Museum of West Zealand) to the find.
Curator of the museum’s archaeology department Arne Hedegaard Andersen, with the aid of the finders, excavated the artifact. It’s a sword 82 centimeters (2’8″) long; the blade alone is 67 centimeters (26 inches) long. The sword is astonishingly well preserved: intact from tip to hilt (although the grip, which was likely made of an organic material like wood or horn, is gone) with fine decorations still visible. The edge is even still sharp. Museum experts date it to Phase IV of the Nordic Bronze Age, between 1100 and 900 B.C., so it has kept a keen edge for 3,000 years.
The sword is of a type known in Danish as a hornknapsværd, which translated to a horn button sword. (I wasn’t able to find any English scholarship on the sword type using that translation, so either it has another name in English or it’s enough of a niche area not to have much of a web presence. If anyone knows of an English name for this type sword, please let me know in the comments.) The blade is long and narrow with slightly sloping shoulders leading into the hilt. The grip has a short pair of arms and ends with a long narrow tip. Including that tip, the grip is 10 cm (4 inches) long. The arms are around nine cm wide. The grip is decorated with recessed lines and arches.
The sword will be on public display very briefly on September 7th from 1:00-4:00 PM at the Kalundborg Museum. Finders Ernst Christiansen and Lise Therkildsen and curator/excavator Arne Hedegaard Andersen will be at the special presentation to talk about the sword and answer questions from the visitors. After that quick viewing, the artifact will be processed and catalogued.
Arts & Sciences Research Paper #12: Untwisting the Answer: A Trick for Tablet Weaving on Modern Portable Looms
Our twelfth A&S Research Paper comes to us from Condêssa Violante do Porto, of the Shire of Quintavia. She examines a kind of puzzle that is all too familiar to the student of historical crafts: What do you do about problems arising from trying to do a historical craft with our more modern tools? (Prospective future contributors, please check out our original Call for Papers.)
Untwisting the Answer: A Trick for Tablet Weaving on Modern Portable Looms
The subject of this paper will discuss adapting period patterns for modern looms in order to tackle the problems presented by using modern tools for period narrow weaving. This is not exclusive or proprietary; as I will discuss, I stumbled upon this technique by accident. This technique is also an adaptation to a modern loom, and I know of no examples supporting this as a period technique. My argument is that it is possible, and easy, to maintain the integrity of period patterns when working on a modern loom without relying on modern solutions. This technique could be similarly applied to more period techniques of tablet weaving, such as the backstrap method, as another means of handling the problems associated with some of the more complex period patterns.
Tablet weaving is one of my favorite art forms because it spans so many periods and cultures. Evidence of Iron Age tablet weaving exists as far back as the 8th century BCE and continues through until at least the 15th century. The most recognizable examples, and my area of interest tend to revolve around the Norse cultures commonly mislabeled as “Vikings”. This paper is not meant to address the history or cultural significance of tablet weaving, so that is all that I will add to the historical overview.
One of the specific problems associated with tablet weaving is “twist”. Tablet weaving is worked by turning tablets forwards or backwards in order to create the “shed” necessary for any type of weaving. As the tablets are turned forwards or backwards to create a pattern, the warp fiber to be woven ahead of the cards begins to twist in a lane. The more that any particular card is turned in one direction, the more noticeable this twist will be. If your pattern has a different number of forwards and backwards turns among the cards, twist will develop along the warp lane/s of the card/s with the uneven number of turns. For example, if your pattern has 24 cards and cards 1-20 turn four forward and four backwards (4F/4B), but cards 21-24 turn 8 times backwards (8B), lanes 21-24 will develop twist. This becomes a problem as the overly twisted yarn becomes unusable. It also creates tension variance along the width of the band, which will affect the overall quality of weaving throughout the piece.
In period, a tablet weaver would tie their warp to two points. There are examples of period looms where these points are two posts that can be adjusted as the weaving tightens towards completion. Below we can see a 15th century image of Mary weaving using such a technique. Another technique is referred to as the back-strap method. With this technique the weaver ties the working end of the weave to a horizontal bar tied to their waist, and the other end to a post. Both of these methods allow the weaver to deal with twist by untying the end to be worked and combing out the twist.
In the SCA we have become particularly innovative in our ability to adapt modern sensibilities to the recreation of period arts. Modern tools are used to help expedite the period process across the entirety of SCA arts. Gas stoves, propane torches, pvc pipe, and many other conveniences make the pursuit of period arts easier and more accessible to a greater population of the SCA. One of my favorites is the portable tablet loom. This ubiquitous SCA loom has allowed countless artists to pursue the various types of narrow work over the SCA period. It is an incredibly practical device allowing complex weaves to be transported to events for teaching, learning, or just getting through court!
The problem with the modern loom is that it does not allow the weaver the opportunity to untie one end to comb out developing twist. There are two solutions that SCA weavers have employed to combat this issue. One is to work with undocumentable modern patterns, and the other is fishing swivels. These are modern solutions to a problem created by a modern tool, and to me represents a further step away from period accuracy.
The first solution is to use one of the thousands of really stunning undocumentable patterns that have evenly counted turns. For the bulk of my weaving experience, I was limited to these patterns because I did not have a suitable method for dealing with twist developing unevenly across the band. There are many period patterns that can be worked using an even number of forwards and backwards turns, eliminating this concern entirely. I had a habit of doing prettier, undocumentable patterns instead.
The second solution is to use fishing swivels. My knowledge of period fishing is extremely limited, but I suspect that these ingenious little devices are not period. In my experience, this technique didn’t do me any favors. Tie one end of your warp to an end of the swivel, travel the warping pattern of your loom, then tie the other end of the warp to the other end of the swivel. I found tying the cards to fishing swivels to be extra annoying. The swivels also didn’t play nice on my loom. After a few attempts, I abandoned this method and just stuck to patterns as a means to combat the twist problem.
There are a lot of really great period patterns that do create uneven twisting. My favorite patterns came out of the Birka find. There are so many great shapes. Keys, hooks, knots, basket weaves, fylfot (swastikas), and many more. Before they became associated with 20th century evil, swastikas were actually very cool.
So in order to recreate the more complex patterns on the modern loom, I had to come up with a means to combat twist. It is possible to maintain the integrity of the period patterns simply by mirroring the motifs! This is actually easy to accomplish, and I will demonstrate the turn diagram that I use and then how to adapt it for the new technique. I only write down the third highlighted column as a personal shorthand to read turning patterns. I use a regular piece of notebook or notecard and use the top line for forward and the second line for backwards. I am using three columns to explain how I read the third column in shorthand. The below pattern is completely arbitrary, but a good example of the erratic turning counts found in complex period weaves.
As you can see, cards 1-4 & 11-15 constantly turn forwards, card 9 always turns backwards, and the rest have some variation. This will create different twists. Cards 1-4 & 11-15 and 9 will always develop the same amount of twist, in different direction. With the remaining cards turning at uneven intervals, these lanes will all develop different tensions. This is typical of the complex weaves I wanted to add to my portfolio of work.
In order to mirror the motif from the above pattern, I will add a few turns forwards and backwards to create visual and physical space between motifs. The number of turns is completely based on what I think “looks good”. This could be any number, but I like to use 4-10 as a rough guide. Then write the pattern from bottom to top completely inverting the turning directions. What I end up with is two rows read in a circle from top left to bottom left, bottom right to top right, then back down on the left. I have used different highlighting colors to show the pairs that are inverted.
There may be patterns that have repeats built in, and you can use as many repeats as you like until the twist becomes a problem for your tension. What is important to the technique I am trying to demonstrate is the inversion of the pattern. It doesn’t matter if your pattern has repeats, is a particular standalone motif, or a combination of the two. This technique has three integral pieces to be successful:
The picture below shows the completed technique using elements from various Birka bands. I hope that this technique will help you in your weaving! Good luck, and have fun!
Filed under: A&S Research Papers, Arts and Sciences Tagged: a&s, Arts and Sciences
A team of paleontologists from Vienna’s Natural History Museum (NHM) has unearthed two large tusks and some vertebrae from a rare mammoth at a site 30 miles north of Vienna in the Weinviertel region of Lower Austria. The fossils were first discovered in mid-August by geologists surveying the site of a highway construction. They were studying the sediment layers when one of the geologists spotted an anomaly that turned out to be the tip of a tusk. The next day, experts from the NHM’s Geology and Palaeontology Department were called in to excavate the find and quickly unearthed a whole tusk and several vertebrae.
They knew there was more to be found, but rain interfered with further exploration for a few days. The delay made researchers antsy since this is a construction site and they didn’t have much time to salvage whatever was there. As soon as the rain let up, they went back to digging and unearthed a second tusk. The tusks are about 2.6 meters (8.5 feet) long now and were probably three meters (9.8 feet) long when they were still attached to their owner.
NHM paleontologists believe the tusks and vertebrae came from a single animal who died in the proto-Zaya river. The shape of the tusks and the sediment layer in which they were found suggest a preliminary date of around one million years ago. The fact that there was a river in which a mammoth’s remains could become embedded in the mud indicates it lived during an interglacial period, of which there were many during the 2.5 million years of the Pleistocene.
The museum’s press release doesn’t name the possible species, referring to it solely as Ur-mammoth, meaning original or primitive mammoth. Maybe the steppe mammoth (Mammuthus trogontherii) which ranged over Eurasia during the Pleistocene? Its ancestor the southern mammoth (Mammuthus meridionalis) died out 1.5 million years ago, so if the provisional dating estimate proves accurate, the steppe mammoth seems the most likely candidate. The descendents of a Siberian population of steppe mammoths evolved into the woolly mammoth about 400,000 years ago, so that might earn it the ur. Also the curved tusks seems most similar to those of Mammuthus trogontherii, to my entirely inexpert eyes.
After they were fully excavated, the tusks were stabilized for transport with the application of a thin coat of plaster bandages and wrapped with damp newspaper. They were then brought to the Natural History Museum in Vienna where they will be conserved and prepared for further study. Researchers are excited to find out all they can, not just about the animal but its environment. Very few remains this old have been discovered in Austria, so there is much to be learned from them and the discovery context.
The museum will keep the remains, but tt’s not known at this juncture whether the tusks and vertebrae will be integrated into the museum’s permanent exhibition. They will be very briefly shown at the a “Behind the Scenes” event at 11:00 AM on November 6th.
We have all been there. Pennsic is over, we have another shoot to do, we’re tired and just fresh out of ideas, or we get that dreaded phone call: Lord so-and-so has a family emergency, can you step in? Here are some quick and easy ideas for targets.
First, who would not enjoy shooting at a plague rat? All you have to do is make four circles. I like to add my googly eyes. The whiskers are 4 wire ties. A smile, a little backing and you’re ready to go. ( You can see how well he stands up.)
Next, I get so many comments on this target – it’s a candelabra shoot that takes all of 5 minutes to make. All you need is a piece a black foam board from the nearest dollar store and some white and gold duct tape. Archers get six shots to shoot the five candles. It doesn’t matter if they hit the candelabra, and there’s plenty of room to miss, so they cannot hit two candles in one shot.
Third, let’s go for a little bit of hunting. You have to protect His Majesty’s rabbit for His dinner, and shoot the four foxes. Now, I’m not making any political statement here, but in the commercial word Fox, the “O” makes a perfect bulls eye. Believe me when I say people will get a good laugh out of this. If you’re a good artist you can do this all freehand, or go to your local store and buy stencils.
Last we have a small twist on a wand shoot. Get a cylindrical piece of cardboard like an oatmeal box. Hang about two and a half feet of pool noodle covered in cookie dough-colored duct tape from the box. You now have Captain Ahab’s peg leg. Hang it just off the ground, and you will get the feel of shooting his leg out from under him.
This month’s safety tip: now that Pennsic it is over, don’t let your guard down when you’re on the range. I’ve had as few as one shooter and as many as 50. Stay alert, offer to help the Marshal in charge if you can, and if you are marshalling, don’t be afraid to ask for a break.
The Imperial Treasury at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna is home to an extraordinary collection of treasures accumulated by the House of Habsburg over hundreds of years. Jewels, vessels made of gold, silver and gemstones, furniture, paintings, the imperial regalia of the Holy Roman Empire and opulent vestments are on display in the Secular Treasury, including one of my favorite historic textiles of all time, the Mantle of Roger II, made in 1133-4 for the Norman king of Sicily. The crimson samite mantle was embroidered in gold by Arabic craftsmen in Palermo who created a breathtaking split scene of lions attacking dromedaries on both sides of a stylized date palm. It made its way to the Holy Roman Empire through marriage by the early 13th century and to Vienna in 1801.
The Ecclesiastical Treasury features chalices, relics, monstrances, tabernacles and liturgical vestments. Its collection of 18th century religious textiles, most of which were donated to the Church by Emperor Charles VI, his wife Elisabeth Christine and their Empress Maria Theresa, mother of Marie Antoinette of France. The vestments were made of the most expensive French and Italian silks and satins that were then lavishly embroidered.
The extensive holdings of the Ecclesiastical Treasury in Vienna are largely unknown to the general public; they comprise mainly vestments and liturgical textiles that were used to celebrate Mass or during religious festivities. Totalling around 1,700 artefacts, the collection includes both sets of vestments and individual textiles. Many of these precious garments were donated by members of the House of Habsburg who for centuries ruled the Holy Roman Empire. The pomp and circumstance associated with this high office is reflected in the costliness of these sumptuous textiles, the finest of which date from the Baroque, the apogee of Habsburg piety. Unlike mediaeval ecclesiastical textiles, baroque vestments generally feature not figurative but purely ornamental decorations. Precious secular silks adorned with a variety of designs frequently function as the base material, which is then elaborately embellished with appliqués, lace or gold-, silver- and silk embroidery to produce opulent textile works of art.
The leading benefactress in the 18th century was Maria Theresia (1717-1780). She donated precious textiles for use in the imperial palace chapel and the chapels of the different imperial summer residences at Schönbrunn, Laxenburg and Hetzendorf, as well as in St. Augustine’s church in Vienna. The latter evolved into a major stage for Habsburg piety. Here newly-appointed bishops were invested. All these places were lavishly appointed with sumptuous ecclesiastical textiles.
These textiles are so fragile they are kept in conservation cabinets and cannot be on permanent display. Select pieces can be seen now in the special exhibition Praise of God, and the embroidery alone is mind-blowing.