Rosaries, Crucifix and Cross Pendants

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Ghost
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Rosaries, Crucifix and Cross Pendants

Postby Ghost » Tue Dec 23, 2008 5:01 pm

After being asked a question in passing by my wife and on realising it did not involve weapons, armour, battles etc etc I though I best direct the question toward all those that may know much more about these things than I...............

Question being "did people (in this case) women wear crucifix's in the 15th C?"

Now as far as I have got is

1. Examples of pendant style crosses with suspension loopholes, including (from my research) those showing jesus on the cross appear to exist from the period. However my research generally suggests that these were more likley to be fixed to a rosary rather than worn around the neck.

2. I have recently come across a couple of un-referenced sources suggesting that at some point in the medieval period (and we all know how long that is) women began wearing rosary beads around their necks and it does not take a great leap of faith (sorry for the pun) to see this giving rise to the fashion of the cross pendant worn around the neck.

Thoughts / Contemporary Images / References Please........................

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Last edited by Ghost on Wed Dec 24, 2008 4:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Postby Templar Knight » Tue Dec 23, 2008 8:06 pm

well I imagine they did, Queen most definatley would of had one. Normal women as in peasants probably did if they were Church goers, most Churches give out cross's today I recon they did then. Id say yeah they did, i dont have any evidence just speculation lol


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Re: Rosaries, Crucifix and Cross Pendants

Postby Karen Larsdatter » Tue Dec 23, 2008 10:54 pm

Geoffrey Chaucer wrote:Of smal coral aboute hir arm she bar
A peire of bedes, gauded al with grene,
An theron heng a brooch of gold ful sheene,
On which ther was first write a crowned A,
And after Amor vincit omnia.

(from the description of the Prioress in The Canterbury Tales)

The illustrator of the Ellesmere manuscript (one of the earliest manuscripts of The Canterbury Tales, and in my opinion, at least, the one in which the illustrations are the closest to what Chaucer seems to be describing, being only around 20 years younger than the text itself) shows the Prioress's rosary beads on her wrist -- "aboute hir arm" -- as you can see at http://www.liu.edu/cwis/cwp/library/sc/ ... ress2b.jpg



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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Wed Dec 24, 2008 9:46 am

You should carry a rosary, not wear it.
If you are not using it it should be kept safe and respectfully clean in a pouch as befits a devotional aid.
That of course did not stop women from wearing them as jewlery any more in the past than it does now.


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Postby Jenn » Wed Dec 24, 2008 4:51 pm

Essentially the two big themes in medieval jewellery are religion and love
http://www.vam.ac.uk/images/image/47183-popup.html - certainly shows that the wearing of jewellery of basically deventional purposes happened.
http://collections.vam.ac.uk/objectid/O17851 the only rosary to survive the reformation in England
This image shows someone wearing beads and a cross
http://www.tudoreffigies.co.uk/browse/view.asp?id=96 for example although dated 1510 many of the features of her dress (apart from her headress) are much earlier.



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Postby Colin Middleton » Sun Dec 28, 2008 9:27 pm

My wife is our group's 'costume expert'. She is of the oppinion that the wearing of crosses by anyone except for the clergy didn't start until the 16th C in England. She doesn't have any evidence at the moment, but I'd avoid it unless you can evidence it.

All the best.


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Postby Jenn » Mon Dec 29, 2008 10:15 am

There is certainly little evidence of common people wearing cross pendants before the 16th century which maybe what your wife was thinking of however if you are high status then there is evidence. For example the Clare cross - that's Clare in Suffolk so nice and English too(mid 15th cent - sorry can't find an image at the mo - it's in the care of the british museum - was in the gothic exhibition so if you've got the catalogue look in that)..
There are others. It basically follws the fashion as necklines get lower so people well women look for something to put in them and you find women wearing necklaces..
I have some more images - I just need to find them sorry ghost!



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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Mon Dec 29, 2008 12:57 pm

Mind you there were a lot of men who could claim "right of clergy" by the late medieval period, doctors, lawyers, accountants, bell ringers, chrurch wardens, pardoners, alter servers.

Again though it was uncommon. There are some images of pilgrims, hermits and the like wearing what look like crude wooden crosses but even amongst "ordinary" clergy, deacons, priests etc it seems a rarity.

The rosary hanging off a belt or the cross around the neck seems to be a bit of a re-enactorism, unless you are trying to portray someone unusually religious, even then a pilgrim badge (or badges) might be a better option.

I'm looking into getting more "charms" to carry instead.

You know us Irish have a thing about them peepel after me lucky charms.


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Postby Colin Middleton » Mon Dec 29, 2008 2:42 pm

Marcus Woodhouse wrote:You know us Irish have a thing about them peepel after me lucky charms.


I thought that you were Italian!


Thanks for those references Jenn. I'll point the wife at them for guidance.

Colin


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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Mon Dec 29, 2008 4:27 pm

You've no heard of the McMedici clanna of awl Derry Town then? Of course we pronounce it Derriia Towna.


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Postby Karen Larsdatter » Mon Dec 29, 2008 7:13 pm

On the other hand (back to the original topic), there are pendants like this 15th century pendent reliquary cross, which I suspect was not worn by a member of the clergy. (Well -- it could have been the sort of thing that was given to a church upon the death of the owner, of course. But it seems to me that I've seen something similar on a 15th century portrait, and I'll keep looking around for it.)



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Postby Jenn » Tue Dec 30, 2008 12:11 am

This is a portrait with a woman wearing a cross for example http://www.wga.hu/art/c/christus/2/isabel.jpg
dated around 1457
It certainly looks like a cross that the young girl is wearing round her neck in this picture 1476-79
http://www.wga.hu/art/g/goes/portinar/right4.jpg
the cross on this portrait can be seen on other portraits too (read the notes) including female ones
http://www.wga.hu/art/m/memling/3mature1/18portra.jpg



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Postby craig1459 » Tue Dec 30, 2008 12:30 am

I've seen a few alabasters round this way with rosaries on belts - there's a Curzon effigy in Kedleston and a Babington effigy in Ashover.


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Postby Xioumi » Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:12 am

I suppose you would also need to look at the allegorical aspect of art as well. What a person is wearing eg; colours, fabric, cut of cloth and jewellery may be trying to indicate something specific about that person. Like the wearing of an alms purse is supposed to symbolise their charity, and in this case the wearing of a cross may be to show their piety. The language of medieval art is very complex and re-enactors often make the mistake of assuming what you see in the picture is a true representation of something. It's just a matter of trying to figure out what is a true representation and what is symbolic.



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Postby Jenn » Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:14 am

there is that that's why I excluded pictures of saints or pictures that are speciffically allergotical - these are portraits. the evidence of portraits combined with actual finds would seem to indicate that high status women were wearing crosses round their necks -as I said the notes attached to the paintings are very helpful.



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Postby Theotherone » Tue Dec 30, 2008 1:18 pm

Jenn wrote:This is a portrait with a woman wearing a cross for example http://www.wga.hu/art/c/christus/2/isabel.jpg
dated around 1457


Is that a cross? to me it looks like there is something round fastening the kercheif(?) under her gown with the vertical center of said kercheif then being crossed by two horizontal strands of gown lacing.

Jenn wrote:It certainly looks like a cross that the young girl is wearing round her neck in this picture 1476-79


Again I'd query that this is a cross. To me this one looks like a circular pendant with a dependant tear drop jewel/pearl

Jenn wrote:http://www.wga.hu/art/g/goes/portinar/right4.jpg
the cross on this portrait can be seen on other portraits too (read the notes) including female ones
http://www.wga.hu/art/m/memling/3mature1/18portra.jpg


This one was a bit muddy on my monitor and I couldn't seem to find any notes.


Because there would have to be three of them.

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Postby Colin Middleton » Tue Dec 30, 2008 1:37 pm

I'm afraid to say that I'm inclined to agree with Theotherone about themnot showing crosses. The last one appears to be formed of 9 circluar elements joined togeather, 5 are darker, 4 are brighter, to give a cross effect like this:
OXO
XXX
OXO

But, what the hell was that THING on the floor in the first picture? I'm going to be having nightmares about that!


Xioumi,
Thanks for reminding us of that, it's easy to get carried away. However, I would be inclined to say that if we can find portraits of people wearing crosses then it is probably indicative that SOME people wore them SOME of the time and try not to extrapolate the everyone wore them all of the time, which is the big mistake that we tend to make. That is to say that if we can find some portraits, it probably means that some pious laymen wore them when they wanted to look pious (which you do in portraits and tomb effigies). Do be very careful with interpretation.

Many thanks


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Postby Xioumi » Tue Dec 30, 2008 5:17 pm

That is to say that if we can find some portraits, it probably means that some pious laymen wore them when they wanted to look pious

Yes and no :) Even if a picture isn't allegorical that isn't to say that there aren't allegorical elements to it, especially in portraiture. Remember that in this era a portrait is not necessarily a photographic rendition of the subject and what they were wearing at the time they sat for the painter. But I agree that combining pictures with actual finds could be used as evidence provided you can ascertain who it belonged to originally.



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Postby robjones999 » Tue Dec 30, 2008 7:03 pm

Thre is also a difference betweeen a cross-shaped pendant and a crucifix.

Religious images have a power in the middle ages, and should be used as such.



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Postby sally » Tue Dec 30, 2008 7:12 pm

Jenn wrote:This is a portrait with a woman wearing a cross for example http://www.wga.hu/art/c/christus/2/isabel.jpg
dated around 1457


I see that image as showing a small annular brooch holding shut the two edges of an undergarment or similar :?



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Postby Jenn » Tue Dec 30, 2008 7:46 pm

There are crosses from the period see British museum collection for example or museum of london collection
http://www.museumoflondonprints.com/ima ... earch=true
certainly described as a pendant yes it would be a matter of interpretation where you wore it but round the neck is where they are commmonly worn.
the last one is certainly described in the notes which do exist - look at the website in question -written by the curators from the museum as a cross. The artist has painted other people wearing crosses - and surely the original question was did women wear them so the answer would be yes?
I'm not claiming everyone did yes but given that there is evidence both from portraits and finds (and goodness there's enough armour kicking around with far less evidence than that)
http://www.metmuseum.org/works_of_art/c ... 01430&vT=1 a man but definitely a cross alright
http://www.metmuseum.org/Works_of_Art/c ... =11&dd1=11
and this opne is also a cross too - use the excellent zoom facility if you're not sure



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that thing..

Postby jelayemprins » Tue Dec 30, 2008 8:18 pm

Colin- I believe its a dragons head - representative of St Margaret.
Will go and check books now!


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Postby Handbag » Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:39 pm

the effigy of Sir Gorges of Warleigh and his wife Agnes in st marys church, Tamerton Foliot shows agnes wearing a cross choker. it lies very high up on her neck and is clearly strung with beads that lead down to a cross.

the church places this effigy at circa 1346 but from looking at the armour and dress of the couple i would say its more likely 1380 onwards.

the photos i have of this arent very clear but in person the cross is very prominent about her neck

unfortunately these lovely effigies had the faces smashed in and are victims of very poor victorian reconstruction. but is definite the neck adornment is original



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Postby Handbag » Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm

some more pics for you - this time from st marys church in warwick -

one is late 14th century from the tomb of Lord Thomas and Lady Katherine de Beauchamp. the others are late 15th century



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Postby Xioumi » Tue Dec 30, 2008 11:15 pm

Again be careful when interpreting tomb effigies and such. Especially tomb effigies. For example you see a lot of ladies wearing heraldic gowns on effigies yet their existence is highly unlikely. Adornements such as purses and jewellery are more likely to be representative of something in that persons life than actual accesories as we think of them. I'm not saying that people never wore crosses but drawing the conclusion that because someone is wearing one in a portrait and we have archealogical evidence of cross/crucifix pendants means that they were worn as jewellry ignores the subtle language of symbolism in medieval art. You really need to take into consideration where the archealogical examples were found and who they may have belonged to originally - if it was from an ecclesiastical source than extrapolating to them being evidence of crucifixes being worn as jewellery is a bit of a leap.
I am in no way saying crosses worn as jewellery is wrong, just that when interpreting things like portraits and tomb effigies you need to try and filter out the reality from the symbolism. Objects like pater nosters or crosses represent piety, purses can represent charity, different animals and flowers represnt other complimentary personal charactristics. It doesn't necessarily mean that the person sitting for the portrait was holding a posy of pinks with a rosary wrapped around their wrist and a dove perched on their shoulder. And sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and the crucifix pendant on the portrait and the choker on the effigy are just there for decoration :)
I have some lovely pictures of Elizabeth Fitzalan's tomb effigy. I'm still trying to work out what exactly her necklace is.
Attachments
EF neck2.JPG
EF neck.JPG



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Postby Frances Perry » Wed Dec 31, 2008 10:48 pm

Just came across this site which I hope can be of some assistance - if nothing else it has a lovely woodcut of a craftsman making rosaries:

http://images.google.co.uk/imgres?imgur ... n%26sa%3DN

(p.s. sorry - not sure how to shortcut webpages...)


http://www.medievalartandwoodcraft.com

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Postby Colin Middleton » Fri Jan 02, 2009 1:38 pm

Xioumi, I'm still not convinced about this symbolism argument. Perhaps you could clarify it a bit for me, please. You appear to have studied the subject some-what, which I haven't.

I understand and agree with the idea that you carev the effigy of a knight in full harness, even though he may never have worn or even owed armour in his life because that 'legitimises' him as a knight (which is a warrior class).

What I don't get is why there is any assumption that the armour that our hypotetical knight is wearing is not just some armour that some-one else owns, that the artist knows well and so uses in all his sculptures/paintings.

Similarly, why would you say "I want to make this woman look pious. I know, they have crosses in churches, I'll give her a piece of jewelery that looks like a cross!" Wouldn't it be more likley to have her hold an altar cross or some other item that was known at the time?

A modern equivalent would be to paint a racing driver with an F1 car behind him (regardless of whether he does F1 driving). You'd be unlikley to paint a hover car behind him, as you're bound to get some-one say "Look, that idiot artist forgot to paint wheels on that car!".

Many thanks

Colin


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Postby Xioumi » Fri Jan 02, 2009 8:02 pm

Colin
I am not saying that every aspect of an illustration/effigy etc has to be symbolic. We know that many effigies were carved from a template, customized for the client which was probably dependant on how much of a customization they could afford and what station they were. But effigies have their own language too. Whether or not the subject in question has their sword drawn or sheathed, what kind of animal their feet are resting upon, what their head is resting upon, all sorts of things mean different things (and please forgive me I don't know them off the top of my head :oops: ). It is the same with illuminations and portraits. The artist isn't just trying to present the viewer with a snapshot of the subject, they are also trying to convey something about that subject. For example the tomb of Queen Berengaria shows her wearing an alms purse. She was noted throughout her life as being charitable to those less fortunate and the inclusion of an alms purse on her effigy is supposed to symbolise this. It's also supposed to be subtle so holding an alter cross to symbolise the whole piety thing is a bit heavy handed. I'm not sayig that crosses were never worn as jewellery , just that you need to take care when interpreting medieval art, it can't be approached with a modern eye. An excellent book that touches on the subject is Medieval Dress and Fashion by Margaret Scott. It's available through Amazon and Oxbow though I bought mine from the V&A. I really reccomend it.



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Postby Colin Middleton » Mon Jan 05, 2009 1:28 pm

Thanks Xioumi, I'll keep an eye open for that book.


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Postby Theotherone » Mon Jan 05, 2009 1:48 pm

This refers to a much later time period, but shows some of the "language" that would come to be used in monumental masonary

http://www.churchmonumentssociety.org/newfile21.htm

(The whole site is nice to look through too)


Because there would have to be three of them.


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