Thursday, July 30, 2020

Remembering An Event in Stained Glass

This next armorial stained glass window in the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp commemorates the consecration in 1873 of the Statue of Our Lady of Lourdes by Mgr. Deschamps. (The window itself is dated 1885.)

This window was a donation of Johanna Catharina Waegemans, who was complying with the last will of her deceased husband, Cornelius Joseph Waegemans.

The devotion for Our Lady of Lourdes boomed quickly in the second half of the 19th century. In many churches her statue was put up, and sometimes, as was the case here in the cathedral, only temporarily for the specific feast on February 11, 1873.

Behind Msgr. Victor-August Deschamps, archbishop of Malines, is parish priest and dean Petrus Sacré. Churchwardens Jan Ullens and Jacobus Fuchs were elected to be portrayed, probably because they both had served the church board for more than 20 years and so were those with the longest record. 

There are three coats of arms at the top of the window:

In the center is the coat of arms of Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) (Giovanni Mastai-Ferretti), Quarterly: 1 and 4, Azure a lion rampant crowned or its hind foot resting on a globe [also or, sometimes – as here – argent]; 2 and 3, Argent two bendlets gules.

To the left are the arms of Msgr. Victor-August Deschamps, archbishop of Malines, which I am not even going to attempt to blazon because it has so very much going on on the shield there, and which was adapted to his elevation to the College of Cardinals in 1875.

And to the right are the arms of Msgr. Petrus Sacré, Argent three fusils fesswise in pale gules. He was Pastoor-deken (pastor-dean) of Onze-Lieve-Vrouw (Antwerp, 1868). (A dean is an authority within several Christian denominations, usually a clergyman, who directs a specific territory within a diocese; the holders of diocesan deans. These are priests who - on behalf of the bishop - coordinate a specific part of the diocese.) 

Encircling the central scene of the window are a series of shields containing the arms of the city's crafts and guilds: e.g., Shoemakers, Coffermakers, Schoolmasters, Vintners, Papermakers, Glaziers (windowmakers), and more. See how many you can identify. To see them more clearly, click on one of the images here to see a larger version. (As a hint: The name of the guild is on a scroll beneath each coat of arms, though yes, it is in Dutch.)

Monday, July 27, 2020

Memorializing Not an Individual, But an Event

The next armorial window we're going to look at is less about commemorating the donors (and their coats of arms) than it is an event: in this case, the proclamation of the dogma of Mary’s Immaculate Conception in 1854. (The window, by Edouard Didron, is dated 1873.)

Initially this was put next to the altar, but partly because it differs in style from the other stained-glass windows and partly because of the royal donation of the first stained-glass window in 1878, it was moved to a more modest spot at the far end of the aisle.

The central motif of the window, surrounded by angels, is Mary, Immaculately Conceived, at Christ’s right-hand side. Some fifty characters – Biblical figures and saints – share her joy in heaven. Among them is also Pope Pius IX, who proclaimed the dogma, but he directs himself to the patron saints of the two donors in the lower right portion of the window. 

At the top of the window are four coats of arms; three of which are identifiable. They are, from left to right: the Chapter of the Cathedral of Our Lady; the Margraviate of Antwerp; and the City of Antwerp.

The fourth coat is unidentifiable in any picture of it I have seen: my own, on Pinterest, in the Wikipedia article on the Cathedral, anywhere. The sun coming in the window apparently washes and "fuzzes" out the figure on the shield.

The donation of this window was by the married couple Albertus Havenith and Rosalia Le Brasseur. His "arms" (basically a merchant's mark placed on ashied) are at the bottom left of the window, and the marshaled arms of Albertus and his wife Rosalia Le Brasseur are at the bottom right.

I apologize for the lack of clarity of the marshaled arms. I normally try to take two photographs of each item, because frequently one turns out to be out of focus. Alas, I did not follow this procedure in this case, and the picture I took of the couples marshaled arms was indeed out of focus. The image above is extracted from the picture of the full window, but obviously suffers from being enlarged. Sorry!

Thursday, July 23, 2020

A Window with Two Armorial Saints

We have looked at a number of armorial stained glass windows in the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp, Belgium, in the last few weeks.

If you will recall from those posts (or, of course, if you'd prefer you can always scroll down the page see some of them), there have been several saints depicted in these windows; some name saints, some personal patron saints, and some - as in our last post - what we might term national patron saints.

The window we are going to look at today is not as exuberant as most of the windows we've looked at to day, and the only coats of arms in it are those of the saints depicted there.

The memorial text in the center, below the central figure of the Mater Dei (Mary, the Mother of God), remembers: Ioannis Francisci Raas, who died in 1849, his wife, Ioannæ Mariæ Peeters, who died in 1880, and their son, Ferdinandus Artorius Josephus, who died in 1890.

The figures depicted are thus the patron saints of the individuals being memorialized: St. Francis, Mary, and St. Ferdinand.

Of Saints Ferdinand and Francis (left and right), their coats of arms are below them at the bottom of the window.

St. Ferdinand's arms are the quarterly arms of Castile and Leon, here with Granada in base.

St. Francis of Assisi's arms are a Latin cross throughout on a blue field with two crossed arms: Christ's right hand with the nail wound and Francis' left hand with the stigmata wound, with a mullet argent in dexter base.

Each coat of arms is surrounded by a rose bush growing from a vase or pot, and I suspect the roses are a play (in heraldic terms, a "cant") on the surname Raas, adding another element to the rendition.

All in all, a lovely armorial window.

Monday, July 20, 2020

A Royal Window in the Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp

I have to admit, I have somewhat mixed feelings about this next window. On the one hand, it's wildly heraldic, with the coats of arms and territorial arms of its donors, and so is worth sharing. On the other hand, its donors were King Leopold II and his Queen, Marie Henriette of Austria, and King Leopold is under a bit of a cloud for the abuses under his regime in what was then the Belgian Congo in Africa. On the other hand (on the third hand?), neither his nor his wife's figures appear in the window, which may be enough to keep it from being vandalized by our modern iconoclasts. On the other hand (fourth hand?), it has his and her names prominently displayed right there.

So, as I said, mixed feelings.

The window, which is dated 1878, has as its central figures Our Lady, the patron saint of Antwerp, and her husband Joseph, the patron saint of Belgium. The window is a donation of King Leopold II and Queen Marie Henriette, hence its being called "the Royal Window."

Each of the then nine Belgian provinces are represented by their patron saints. 

The inscription in the center reads (in Latin) as I make it out:

Leopoldus II Belgarum Rex et Maria Yenrica Regina
Cultus Beatæ Mariæ Virginis in hoc Sacello Constituti
Anno jubilæo mdccclxxviii hoc evga Deiparam pictatus pignus P.C.

Thus the donors are Leopold II (Leopold Lodewijk Filips Maria Victor) (1835-1909) and Marie Henriette of Austria (1836-1902). Leopold was the eldest surviving son of Leopold I and Louise of Orléans, he succeeded his father to the Belgian throne in 1865 and reigned for 44 years until his death – the longest reign of any Belgian monarch.

Leopold II remains a controversial figure both in Belgium and in Africa, especially in what now the Democratic Republic of Congo, because of what many term genocide owing to the extensive abuses under his regime in what was then the Belgian Congo (estimates of the dead range from 1 million to 15 million, with a “best guess” based on the spotty records available at about 10 million).

In the mid-1880s, with the help of the explorer Henry Morton Stanley, Leopold seized a part of central Africa, more than 76 times the size of Belgium, in a region that includes the modern Democratic Republic of Congo. Until 1908, Leopold ran the Congo as a venture for personal profit. Using a private army that included Congolese orphans, the king and his agents drained the land of resources, killing elephants for ivory and tapping trees for rubber. Congolese families were forcibly moved and their members separated and enslaved.

On Tuesday, June 9, 2020, a 150-year-old statue of King Leopold II of Belgium, whose forces seized Congo in the late 19th century and ran an exploitative regime that led to the deaths of millions, was removed from a public square in Antwerp as protests against racism continued around the world.

At the peak of the window is an imperial crown, and immediately below it representations of his arms (left and center left, the latter supported by a lion rampant) and hers (center right, supported by a griffin) and right, marshaled with her husband's.

Descending down the window, flanking the central and surrounding figures, are a number of territorial (perhaps ancestral?) coats of arms, many of which you may recognize. Here, too, until we get to the bottommost central arms, his are on the left and her are on the right.

In the right-hand column of arms, you may recognize the next to bottommost; it is the arms we have seen a number of times in some of my recent posts from Stuttgart and Heidelberg, the arms of the Duchy of Württemberg! It's almost like running across an old friend here.

Anyway, there you have it. A beautiful armorial stained glass window donated to the Cathedral by a couple with a somewhat stained history.

As I said: mixed feelings.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Nobody Expects the ... Austrian Archdukes?

(My apologies to anyone who doesn't quite understand the title of this post; it's a take-off of a line from an old Monty Python skit, where the main line is: "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!")

The next armorial stained glass window in the Cathedral of Our Lady, Anterwerp, that we're going to look at contains some more "foreign" heraldry that I hadn't expected to see.

I mean, really, when you look at the history and the individuals being commemorated, it makes perfect sense, but I'm just an amateur herald from Texas, so what do I know? I have to look these things up to more fully understand what I'm looking at.

Anyway, the window is entitled the Archdukes Albert and Isabella in Adoration of the Cross by Cornelis Cussers and Jan Baptist van der Veken, and is dated 1616.

As you can see, there is clearly a lot going on in this window. At the very peak of the window, we have symbols of the Order of the Golden Fleece: firesteels, sparks, and a golden fleece.

Below that, on the right we see the arms of Albert VII as Sovereign of the Habsburg Netherlands, and on the left those of Isabella Clara Eugenia as Sovereign of the Habsburg Netherlands.

Their full title was: Albert and Isabella Clara Eugenia, Infanta of Spain, by the grace of God Archdukes of Austria, Dukes of Burgundy, Lothier, Brabant, Limburg, Luxembourg and Guelders, Counts of Habsburg, Flanders, Artois, Burgundy, Tyrol, Palatines in Hainaut, Holland, Zeeland, Namur and Zutphen, Margraves of the Holy Roman Empire, Lord and Lady of Frisia, Salins, Mechlin, the City, Towns and Lands of Utrecht, Overijssel and Groningen.

Near the bottom of the window we find the Archdukes Isabella (on the left) and Albert (on the right), each with their coat of arms in front of them, hers on a lozenge, and his on a standard heraldic heater shield. (Again, you may click on any of the images here to see a larger version,and with this much detail, I recommend doing so.)

Further (heraldically speaking), Archduke Albert is wearing a tabard of his arms under his cloak.

Isabella is accompanied here by her patron saint Elizabeth of Thuringen, bearing a crown, and Albert is accompanied by his patron saint Albert the Great holding a mitre.

In the very lower left-hand corner is the arms of the Margraviate of Antwerp, which we have seen before here and there in the city of Antwerp. In the very lower right corner is the seal of the Chapter of the Cathedral of Our Lady.

Monday, July 13, 2020

A Companion for the English Window

Two 1503 stained glass windows in the Cathedral of Our Lady, in Antwerp, Belgium, commemorate the Intercursus Magnus, the important commercial treaty that the Burgundian and English sovereigns concluded in 1496.

In our last two posts, we looked at the "English" window. This time we're going to look at the window commemorating the "other" side of that treaty, in the "Burgundian" window.

The central figures here, in the lower row, are the kneeling images of husband and wife, Philip the Handsome, Duke of Burgundy, and Joanna I (‘the Mad’), Queen of of Castile and Leon. Standing behind them are their personal patron saints. They are shown beneath canopies whose borders are emblazoned with the coats of arms of their territories.

Above them, in the upper row of figures, the two central figures are Christ as Salvator Mundi and St. Joseph. Flanking those figures are the patron saints of Philip's and Joanna's national patron saints: St. Andrew (carrying his saltire cross) for Burgundy, and St. James (Santiago) (carrying a palmer's staff from which is hung an escallop) for Spain.

At the top, flanking the central coat of the arms of Burgundy, are symbols of the Order of the Golden Fleece: in this instance, three firesteels and a golden fleece. To the left are the marital arms of Philip and Juana, Burgundy impaling Spain. On the right are the Holy Roman Empire (Philip's father was the Emperor Maximilian) impaling another version of Burgundy. Only a little further down on each side we find three steels surrounding a flint and giving off sparks/small flames. And, of course, at the very peak of the window are Philip's and Joanna's initials, P and I.

Flanking the window on both sides and running across the bottom are coats of arms of various regions and individuals with a connection to the events commemorated here: Burgundy, Portugal, the Prince of Wales (at this date, not Arthur but Henry, later King Henry VIII, who in 1509 married Juana's older sister and widow of his own older brother, Catherine of Aragon), Aragon, Bavaria, the Duke of Bourbon, the Duke of Anjou, and others.

All in all, a gorgeous display of heraldry, and a worthy match to the English window nearby.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

What Are Those Arms in the Bottom Corners of This Window?

So this time we come to those two mysterious coats of arms at the bottom corners of the window to King Henry VII and Queen Elizabeth of York in the cathedral in Antwerp. (If you click on the image below, you should see a larger and more detailed version, which shows these arms more clearly.)

They are somewhat reminiscent of the Manners Dukes of Rutland, but those arms have a golden field, have but two bars (and those not wavy), and the chief is quarterly azure and gules, with two golden fleurs-de-lis in the azure quarters.

I was unable to identify these arms in any of my usual sources for either English or Belgian heraldry. It didn't help that the colors of the wavy bars are not quite the same in each shield (the left one appears to be a faded black, and the right one seems to be more of a reddish brown).

Fortunately, the source I spoke of last time, Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century, gave me a slightly different blazon for the field of these arms: Nebuly (not Argent three bars wavy). So a quick trip back to Papworth's Ordinary of British Armorials gave me the following:

Barry nebuly (or wavy) of six argent and azure on a chief quarterly gules a lion passant guardant gold with or two roses in fess gules barbed vert. Merchant Adventurers of the Old Trade, or Hambrough Merchants.

Sure, the tinctures weren't a perfect match, but it is often the case that depictions of coats of arms, whether painted or in stained glass, get one or more of the those tinctures incorrect. And here, we even have the difference between barry nebuly/wavy and three bars wavy that we are contending with.

And this identification of the Merchant Adventurers makes even more sense in the context of the Magnus Intercursus ("great agreement") of 1496 that we spoke of in the last post.

Of the history of the Merchant Adventurers we find the following in the Encyclopedia Britannica:

Merchant Adventurers, company of English merchants who engaged in trade with the Netherlands (and later with northwest Germany) from the early 15th century to 1806. The company, chartered in 1407, principally engaged in the export of finished cloth from the burgeoning English woolen industry. Its heyday extended from the late 15th century to 1564, during which period it sent its fleets to its market at Antwerp in the Spanish Netherlands with cloth to be sold at the annual fairs. By the middle of the 16th century, as much as three-fourths of English foreign trade was controlled by the London officers of the company, many of whom served as financiers and advisers to the Tudor monarchs. After 1564 the Merchant Adventurers lost its market in the Spanish Netherlands and a long search for a new one followed. After 1611 its foreign trading activities were centered at Hamburg and one or another town in the republican United Provinces. The company was criticized in Parliament as a monopoly, and it lost many of its privileges in the 17th century. Its charter was abrogated in 1689, but the company survived as a trading association at Hamburg until the outbreak of the Napoleonic Wars. (emphasis added)

So there you have it, I believe! The people who commissioned this window in Antwerp and, in the context of the Magnus Intercursus, the reason for their commission.

Heraldry and history, coming together to create a stained glass feast for the eyes!

Monday, July 6, 2020

An English Window in Antwerp Cathedral

Following the unexpected Spanish window in our last post, we come to an unexpectedly English window. (As always, you may click on an image to see a larger, and more detailed version, something that I recommend just to you can take in all of the details contained in this window.)

You can tell at first glance, even without reading the memorial text at the bottom, that the central figures being memorialized are English.

At the top of the window we find the arms of King of England (on the left) and the arms of the Queen of England (on the right), with a crowned red rose between them. Around them are portcullises, red roses, and scrollwork with the motto of the King, Dieu et mon droit (God and my will) and the initials "H" and "E".

These are, of course, the arms of King Henry VII, and the marshaled arms of him and his Queen, Elizabeth of York.

Moving down to the top row of figures, we notice that the sides of the window are also marked by crowned portcullises (within wreaths of roses) and crowned roses.

The figures in this row are, from left to right: St. John the Baptist; Pope Innocent VIII; the Blessed Virgin; and St. John the Evangelist.

The figures in the bottom row are, also from left to right: St. George; King Henry VII; Queen Elizabeth of York; and Queen Elizabeth Woodville, wife of King Edward IV, and mother of Elizabeth of York St. Elizabeth of Hungary.

In the bottommost row of this window are two identical coats of arms we will discuss in more detail in our next post; two memorial inscriptions to King Henry and Queen Elizabeth; and in the center, an achievement of the Royal arms (Quarterly France modern and England) and the arms of Elizabeth of York being held by an angel (Quarterly: 1, Quarterly France modern and England; 2 and 3, Or a cross gules (de Burgh/Ulster); and 4, Barry of six or and azure on a chief or two pallets between two base esquierres [gyrons] azure overall an inescutcheon argent (Mortimer)). This shield is a modified and simplified version of the the quartered arms born by her paternal grandfather, Richard, the 3rd Duke of York. (Her father, of course, came to bear the Royal arms as King.)

The date given in the memorial to Elizabeth, 1789, is the date the window was repaired and reinstalled. There is a transcription of a letter dated 1775 that describes the window and its then-broken condition. (Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century, Comprising Biographical memoirs of William Bowyer, Printer, F.S.A. and Many of his Learned Friends by John A Nichols, F.S.A., Nichols, Son, and Bentley, London, 1815, Vol. IX,  pp. 356-357)

Finally, of course, we come to the question why there is an armorial stained glass window to an English King and Queen in an Antwerp cathedral. The answer, I feel confident, lies in the following:

Henry VII's most successful diplomatic achievement* as regards the economy was the Magnus Intercursus ("great agreement") of 1496. In 1494, Henry embargoed trade (mainly in wool) with the Netherlands in retaliation for Margaret of Burgundy's (his Queen Elizabeth of York’s aunt, who married Charles the Bold of Burgundy) support for the pretender to the English throne Perkin Warbeck. The Merchant Adventurers, the company which enjoyed the monopoly of the Flemish wool trade, relocated from Antwerp to Calais. At the same time, Flemish merchants were ejected from England. The stand-off eventually paid off for Henry. Both parties realized they were mutually disadvantaged by the reduction in commerce. Its restoration by the Magnus Intercursus was very much to England's benefit in removing taxation for English merchants and significantly increasing England's wealth. In turn, Antwerp became an extremely important trade entrepôt (transshipment port), through which, for example, goods from the Baltic, spices from the east and Italian silks were exchanged for English cloth.

So there you have it! A large, detailed, exquisitely done armorial stained glass window in Belgium with the arms of the English King and Queen who reigned in the aftermath of the Wars of the Roses on the other side of the English Channel. A surprise to find, but less surprising once the history of the relationship between the English Crown and mercantile Antwerp is known.

* His most successful non-diplomatic achievement was, of course, successfully wresting the throne of England from King Richard III.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Wow. Just, wow.

Who knew that it was truly possible, in this day and age, right now in the 21st Century, to have people call for something to be banned because, among other things, they especially didn't like a quasi-heraldic image that they thought was "belittling the dignity of the coat of arms and had insulted the symbol of [a] nation’s sovereignty"?*

Well, me neither, but apparently, that is exactly what happened.

In a June 28 article in Free Malaysia Today, reprinted with a response by Sarawak Report (both of which can be found on-line at, UMNO (United Malays National Organisation) Youth has called for action against the author, editor and publisher of a book on Malaysian politics and alleged that the cover image was an affront to Malaysia’s coat of arms. Youth wing leader Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said the book, Rebirth: Reformasi, Resistance, And Hope In New Malaysia, edited by Kean Wong, should be banned.

“Such action clearly shows the author of the book is belittling the dignity of the coat of arms and had insulted the symbol of the nation’s sovereignty,” Asyraf said in a Facebook post. He said stern action should be taken against the author, editor and publisher “if it is proven there was an intention to insult the nation’s official symbol”.

Asyraf said the publication of the book had shown that a 2016 decision to impose heavier penalties, including a maximum jail term of three years and a maximum fine of RM20,000 had not been enough to deter people from openly insulting such symbols.

Here is the Malaysian coat of arms, borrowed here from Heraldry of the World:

The offending book cover image bears a resemblance to this national coat of arms, but features a naked child flanked by two tigers with humanoid faces stepping on a crocodile:

If that's the sort of reaction one can expect from creating a parody of a national coat of arms, I'm grateful that I live in a country that doesn't impose criminal penalties (!) for parodying, "belittling" (and just how does one "belittle" an emblem?), or insulting the good ol' U.S. of A.'s coat of arms, the Seal of the President of the U.S., or other official heraldry of the federal government, or I'd be in serious trouble for having seen, and republished on this blog, the following (among others):

Just sayin'.

* It is, in fact, an offence in Malaysia under Act 414 of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act 1963.