Monday, October 19, 2020

Two Displays of Heraldry

In this, the final post of my heraldic excursions in and about Antwerp, Belgium, we come to two very nice displays of heraldry.

Participants in the Congress were invited to a reception at the City Archives one evening, and while there we were treated to a number of heraldry-related items from those Archives.

It didn't hurt that two of those items consisted of some of the more complex, and colorful, uses of heraldry: heraldic family trees, here, specifically, descent trees.

I apologize for the quality of the pictures. I only had my phone with me to take photographs, and, naturally, the scrolls on which these trees were painted were behind glass, so there are lots of reflections.

First, we have the descent tree of the Doncker* family:

(I recommend clicking on the image above, or those below, to see a larger, more detailed version, so you can get all of the detail contained in these pictures.)

At the top left of the scroll we find this display of marital arms, those of Gisbertas Doncker and Maria Ryns:

The other descent tree, this one taller than it is wide, was that of the de Hobocken** family, starting with Nicolas de Hobocken at the top:

What follows are two closer shots of the tree:

There is a wonderful amount of detail in this descent tree: names, names of spouses and second spouses, and dates (1306 through 1433 in the visible portion of the scroll).

All in all, it was a fun evening with good friends and, of course, an abundance of heraldry to see!

* I have not been able to confirm elsewhere that these are the Doncker arms. The Donckers in Rietstap's Armorial Général bear different arms from these. This coat appears to be the quarterly arms ascribed to the van Pruyssen family in the Wapenboek van de Belgische Adel.

** What is now Hoboken, New Jersey in the United States, was originally called Hoebuck, old Dutch for high bluff and likely referring to Castle Point (the district of the city highest above sea level). Hoebuck was used during the colonial era, and later spelled as Hobuck, Hobock, Hobuk and Hoboocken. In the nineteenth century, the name was changed to Hoboken, influenced by Flemish Dutch immigrants and a folk etymology that had emerged linking the town of Hoboken to the similarly-named Hoboken district of Antwerp.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Arms on the House of the Archers

Along one side of the main square in old Antwerp is a row of several ornately decorated guild houses.

One of these is the Huis van de Schutters, the home of the Sint-Joris Guild of Archers. This is a different guild from two whose arms we have already seen: the Old Longbowmen and Young Longbowmen Guilds. These Archers, or Shooters, used arbalests, or crossbows.

The "House of the Shooters", topped by a gilded statue of their namesake St. George slaying the dragon (which itself appears to be climbing up the facade of the building), has two roundels with a crossbow on each side of one level, while at the top of the next level there are relief carvings of two crossbowmen. (You can click on the image above to go to a larger picture where you can see these details more clearly.)

On the top level, below the statue of St. George, is an unusual coat of arms.

In an upside down shield surmounted by three towers (rather like a mural coronet), above an image of St. George and the dragon, flanked by the words Rust Rœst, is a landscape of a ship on the River Scheldt with the skyline of the City of Antwerp behind it. (Rather like this recent photograph, only without the sailing ship in the foreground. Again, click in the image above to see the skyline on the shield in more detail to better compare it to the modern skyline in the photo below. It appears not to have changed all that much in the last few centuries.)

I found it to be an interesting display of heraldry, on a building clearly meant to demonstrate the pride and prowess of the guild members.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Inside and Outside the Cathedral in Antwerp, Part 3 of 3

One final coat of arms of which I found examples both inside and outside of the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp, Belgium, were the arms of the Bakers Guild

It's a great, simple, and immediately identifiable as belonging to bakers a coat of arms as you could hope to find.

It would be blazoned Azure two baker's peels in saltire between in pale two loaves of bread and in fess two (round loaves, or are they pies?) all or.

Now, that example was, obviously, found out on the street, on the wall of a building.

This example was hidden away in one of the many stained glass windows in the Cathedral.

You may have to hunt a bit to find it here, but the arms of the Bakers are in the top row of arms on the far right, impaling a coat of arms that is Gules a windmill vanes in saltire or with steps argent leading to its doorway sable.

This impaled shield is labeled Backers (Bakers).

Once again, you may may want to click on the image above to see a larger version which is easier to make out.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Inside and Outside the Cathedral in Antwerp, Part 2 of 3

The other coat of arms which I ran across both inside and outside of the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp, Belgium, was that - with some differences - of the Violieren.

The Violieren (wallflower or gillyflower) was a chamber of rhetoric that dates back to the 15th century in Antwerp, when it was a social drama society with close links to the Guild of Saint Luke. It was one of three drama guilds in the city, the other two being the Goudbloem and the Olyftack. In 1660 the Violieren merged with former rival Olyftack, and in 1762 the society was dissolved altogether.

The several depictions of the arms of the Violieren demonstrate their close link to the Guild of St. Luke, a city guild for painters and artists, through the use of the winged ox of St. Luke.

First we have this black and white (no, really. The photograph is in color, but the image was drawn and painted in black and white) which was on display at the City Archives.

Here we have the arms of the society surrounded by gillyflowers (violieren), supported by the winged ox of St. Luke, the whole encircled with eight personal coats of arms connected by a chain, with the arms of the City of Antwerp behind the ox's head.

I found this piece to be one of the most dramatic works of heraldic art that I have ever seen. It is a remarkably dynamic image.

Inside the Cathedral, we can find the arms of the Violieren in the upper part of one of the stained glass windows.

Here, the arms are colored Azure three escutcheons argent and the shield hangs from the neck of the winged ox of St. Luke (affronty). The ox's head has a golden star between its horns.

In another of the stained glass windows, we can find a variant of the arms of this society:

You may have to hunt for it, as it's a fairly large window with a lot going on in it.

Here's a clue: It's right next to the arms of the City of Antwerp.

Not sure yet? Here's a close-up of the bottom part of the window:

See it now? Just left of center in the bottom row?

Here, the shield is Azure three escutcheons argent on a chief or a mullet gules. It is supported once again by a single supporter, the winged ox of St. Luke, brown with gold horns and green wings. (You can click on the image above to see a larger and more detailed version where these details are easier to see.)

Immediately to its right, on a shield surmounted by a crown, is the coat of arms of the City of Antwerp, which we have already seen many times in our heraldic review of the city.

To the left and right of these two central shields are six more, three on each side, of some of the guilds of the city.

Next time, yet another guild!

Monday, October 5, 2020

Inside and Outside the Cathedral in Antwerp, Part 1 of 3

We are now winding down our review of, well, not all, but certainly a lot of the heraldry to be found in the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp, Belgium.

As a part of that, we're going to be looking at examples of three coats of arms (besides the city of Antwerp!) that I found occurring both inside the Cathedral and outside of it.

First, on my way to the Cathedral, I noticed a coat of arms near the peak of this building, just below a golden statue:

Yeah, I know, it's not that easy to see from here. Fortunately for me and you, I have a telephoto lens on my camera.

As you can more clearly see here, it consists of a field, two arrows crossed in saltire (points down, the usual default for arrows), and a cross overall. But, alas, no tinctures. And, of course, no identification.

Fortunately, inside the Cathedral, on the side of one of the bays, we find ...

... a color version of these same arms. Here's a close-up:

Sharing this bay with the arms of two other guilds (the Old Handbow or Longbow Guild, Gules a cross of Jerusalem or) and another possibly personal coat of arms (Argent a fess between three millrinds sable), on the right we have the arms of the Yonge Handbooggilde (Young Handbow or Longbow Guild): Gules, two arrows in saltire or barbed argent overall a cross or.

In the early 14th century, archers guilds were established in cities across Flanders and Brabant. These associations would regularly organize festivals. Archery contests provided not only useful practice for guild members, but also entertainment. Such events would invariably conclude with a feast where flutists, drummers and minstrels played music, rhetoricians performed plays written for the occasion, and jesters provided general entertainment. One such Festival of the Archers was organized by Antwerp's four archers guilds: the ‘old’ and the ‘ young’ Arbalest and the ‘old’ and the ‘young’ Longbow.

I find myself somewhat attracted to the artistic conceit of hanging all three shields by their giges from a horizontal pole, don't you?

Anyway, I thought this was a good example of how you can find heraldry here and there, outside and inside, and match them up to learn not only their colors but to identify them.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

A Passel* of Popes

* Passel: a large group of people or things of indeterminate number; a pack.

You may be happy to know that, with one exception in the next couple of posts, we have finished our review of the armorial stained glass windows in the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp, Belgium. And, look, I understand that not all of these posts from the Cathedral have been all that interesting to you. The several posts that I did on the various depictions of the Geelhand and Ullens coats of arms may not have been as exciting for you as they were for me. But, frankly, I really enjoy seeing all the different ways that heraldry can be depicted, so despite the lower traffic than usual to this blog for those posts, I had fun doing them and learned quite a bit in researching them. I'm sorry if you found them either boring or repetitive, but that's the chance you and I will have to take sometimes.

(Stepping off my soapbox.)

Anyway, having pretty much said all that we're going to be able to say about the stained glass heraldry there, we move on to some of the painted depictions of arms, specifically this time, papal heraldry.

On this wall framing one side of a window, we find the following:

Here we have, placed on a lovely gold tree, two rows containing three coats of arms of Popes.

In the top row, we have (from left to right): Clement VIII (1591-1605), Paul V (1605-1621), and Gregory XV (1621-1623)

In the bottom row (also left to right), we find the arms of: Gregory XVI (1831-1846), Pius IX (1846-1878), Leo XIII (1878-1903) 

The arms of the next three Popes come from some of the painted panels in another part of the cathedral:

To right of center here, we find another copy of the arms of Pope Pius IX (1846-1878), with the arms of an unidentified cardinal.

Here we see the arms of an unidentified cleric and a Pope Urban IV (1261-1264).

And finally, in the right-hand panel, the arms of Pope Julius II (1503-1513) (who bore the same arms as his uncle, Pope Sixtus IV (1471–1484)).

The work that went into painting all of these arms is very impressive to me, but then, I can't draw a straight line without a ruler. Nonetheless, there's a lot of detail in these paintings that don't show up all that well in the pictures here; I recommend clicking on an image to be taken to a larger version with more detail, so you can really see what's been done by the craftsman or craftsmen here.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Three More Saints

I swear, I learn so much history in researching these armorial stained glass windows. Even when I'm left with a few questions, or even one question (as in this window today), there is so much more that I have learned that to focus on the question just seems like a minor quibble.

Anyway, today we're going to look at an armorial window which, like the one we saw a few posts back, has no inscription telling us who the donor was.

It does, I assume, contain a coat of arms for the donor, in the form of a merchant mark, in the upper portion of the window. Alas, all of my heraldic references are exactly that; heraldic, and do not contain merchant's marks. So I have no way of looking up who the donor might be.

In the central portion of the window are three saints; above them are three coats of arms, and below them are three more.

The three saints are, from left to right: St. Willibrord, St. Walburga (or Walpurga), St. Norbert of Xanten 

St. Willibrord was "Apostle to the Frisians" in the Netherlands and the first Bishop of Utrecht. He died in Echternach, in what is now Luxembourg, in 739. 

St. Walpurga died in Heidenheim, Bavaria, in what is now Germany, in 777 or 779. In Finland, Sweden, and Bavaria, her feast day commemorates the transfer of her relics on 1 May from Heidenheim to Eichstätt. She is the patroness of Eichstätt and Weilburg, Germany; Oudenarde, Veurne, Antwerp, Belgium; and Zutphen the Netherlands. 

St. Norbert, called the "Apostle of Antwerp" for his success in combatting a eucharistic heresy in Antwerp proposed by one Tanchelm, died in 1134 in Magdeburg in what is now Germany. He preached throughout lands in what is now western Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and northern France. 

So, with that as background information, let us try to identify the heraldry contained in the window.

In the top row, also from left to right, we have: the Diocese of Utrecht; the arms of Sweden or the attributed arms of King Arthur (St. Walpurga/Walburga's feast day is celebrated on May 1 in Sweden, Finland, and Bavaria), and she was born in what is now England); and the Diocese of Utrecht.

The left-hand coat of the Diocese of Utrecht has behind it a double-barred processional cross and is surmounted by a galero with 10 tassels on each side; the one on the right has a single-barred processional cross and is surmounted by a galero with six tassels on each side, demonstrating two high but different ranks among the clergy.

The bottom row of arms are, again, from left to right, and clearly relating to the saint above each one: Echternach, Luxembourg (where St. Willibrord died); Bavaria (where St. Walpurga/Walburga died); and Magdeburg, now in Germany, where St. Norbert died.

So, having identified all of these shields, the one question remaining (that "minor quibble" I spoke of above, is: does Azure three crowns or here represent Sweden, or as the attributed arms of King Arthur, does it represent England, where St. Walpurga was born? I suspect it was meant to be the latter, but I can equally argue for the former.

So there you have it! A minor quibble about one of six coats of arms on a lovely armorial stained glass window dedicated to three saints, all of whom had a meaningful connection to Antwerp. Plus, we've all learned a little ecclesiastical history, to boot!

Thursday, September 24, 2020

A Very Rare Medieval Seal Matrix Discovered

A recent (September 12, 2020) post on The History Blog remarks on the discovery (back in April 2019) of the silver armorial seal matrix dating back to the late 13th or early 14th Century.

The seal matrix is remarkable because its owner was a woman who is named in the inscription. As the post notes, seal matrices are not uncommon, but those with inscriptions naming a specific individual are more rare, ones that name a woman are "vanishingly rare", and those that are found in a context directly connected with the female owner "can be counted on the finger of one finger."

This particular seal matrix was discovered on the grounds of the Henley Business School in Hambledon, Buckinghamshire, and bears as its central motif a shield of Three garbs, two and one (that is, three bound sheaves of wheat, two in chief and one in base) surrounded by the legend: SIGILLUM * MAR * GERIE * PEVREL (the seal of Margerie Pevrel or Peverell).

The Henley Business School sits on what used to be the estate of Yewden Manor, owned by the Peverells from 1248 to the mid-1300s.

The Peverell coat of arms was Azure three garbs argent banded gules, often with a chief argent, which does not appear on the matrix here.

There are two strong possible identifications of the owner of this matrix. One is Margaret of Cornwall, the wife of James Peverell, d. 1349. The other is her granddaughter, Margaret Peverell, the daughter of Hugh Peverell IV, b. 1321. Both of them lived at Yewden Manor, where the matrix was found.

You can learn a little more about this rare find and see more pictures of the front, side, and back of the seal matrix, on The History Blog at:

Monday, September 21, 2020

Geelhand and Ullens: Two Families Together, The Final Part

This will be our final stops for the arms of the Geelhand and Ullens families, I promise!

For our first stop, we have yet another window donated to the Cathedral of Our Lady, in Antwerp, Belgium, by the same donors as the last two windows we have looked at: Jacob Ullens and his wife Clementia Geelhand.

That photo is not the best one, but the angle was a little weird, and was the best I could do to get as much of the window as possible.

This shot is a better view of the three central figures, St. Eligius (Eloi), St. Dympha, and St. Amand, between two rows of coats of arms that relate to them.

In the upper portion of the window, we have the arms of the two donors, Jacob Ullens and Clementia Geelhand, placed side-by-side, surmounted with a helm from which the crest of the Ullens, A garb or banded vert issues from the coronet of a marquis.

Of the coats of arms above the the three saints, we have, from left to right, the arms of:

Tornacum (Diocese of Tournai, Belgium, where St. Eligius (Eloi) was bishop, 641-660);
Ireland (where St. Dymphna was born in the 7th Century); and
Maastricht, The Netherlands (St. Amand was bishop of Maastricht, 647-650). 

Below the three saints, we have three more coats of arms relating this time to their deaths. From left to right we find the arms of:

Noviodunum (Noviodunum is a name of Celtic origin, meaning "new fort"), now Noyon, France (where St. Eligius died, December 1, 660);
Gheel, or Geel, Belgium (where St. Dymphna was martyred to protect her chastity in the 7th century); and
Tornacum, now Tournai, Belgium (St. Amand died in 679 in Saint-Amand-les-Eaux, near Tournai).

And now we go to our final photograph with the arms of Ullens and Geelhand:

This is, alas, another painted wooden panel underneath that row of windows with the sun shining in, and giving my digital camera a little sun flare that washes out the image a bit on the right.

Nonetheless, and as always, you can click on the image above to see a larger, more detailed one, in this row of four coats of arms, the first two on the left are essentially merchants marks, followed by Ullens (surmounted by a helm and the Ullens crest of A garb or banded vert, and Ullens impaling Geelhand. This last, being on a lozenge, is presumably for the wife of the Ullens in the third panel here.

Anyway, it's been fun, compiling - and sharing with you - all of the depictions of the coats of arms of these two significant Antwerp families. I can only hope that you have found it at least a little bit educational as well as entertaining.

Next time, somebody else!

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Geelhand and Ullens: Two Families Together, Part 3

This next window has the same donors (Jacob Ullens and Clementia Geelhand), designer (Edouard Didron), and year of installation (1872) as the last armorial window we looked at in the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp, Belgium.

In the main scene of the window, Saint Norbert restores the cult of the Blessed Sacrament in Antwerp. Although in about 1124 there was absolutely nothing like a Blessed Sacrament Procession, since the Counter-Reformation St. Norbert has been pictured with it as a defender of the Eucharist against the alleged heresy of Tanchelm. The immediate background to the procession is main porch of the cathedral and the late fifteenth century well attributed to Quentin Matsys. So it's a little anachronistic, but nonetheless conveys the location in the city of Antwerp well.

At the peak of the window, within an annulet inside of a five-lobed tracery, surmounted by the coronet of a marquis, we have two shields set side-by-side of the arms of Ullens and of Geelhand.

In a row beneath those two shields, we have the arms, from left to right, of: Cornelissen de Schooten (Per pale indented sable and or on a chief azure an escallop or between two lozenges argent), Ullens (which we have seen before), Geelhand (which we have seen before), and de Wael/de Wal (Argent three martlets sable). (I've not yet done the genealogical research to determine how these two families are related to the Ullens and the Geelhands, but I feel confident that they are.)

Anyway, it's a lovely window, and I just had to share it with you!