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.