Thursday, December 30, 2021

Another Chapel, More Armorial Royal Burials

Moving on in Roskilde Cathedral, we come to Frederik V's Chapel.

Not all of the sarcophagi in this Chapel have coats of arms on them. For example, those of Frederick V (d. 1766) and his two Queens, Louise of Great Britain (d. 1751) and Juliana Maria of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (d. 1796), all of whom are buried in this Chapel. (This is not to imply that their burials are of no interest, but this is, after all, a blog about heraldry, and so of less interest than they would be if garnished with coats of arms. Just sayin'.)

One of the standout, in terms of simply being eye-catching, burials in this Chapel, at least heraldically, is that of King Christian VI's queen, Queen Sophie Magdalene of Brandenburg-Kulmbach (d. 1770).

Here see that two coats of arms set side-by-side, those of Denmark in the person of King Christian VI on the left, and those of Brandenburg-Kulmbach in the person of Queen Sophie Magdalen on the right.

Something that you may notice about the remaining armorial burials in Frederik V's Chapel are the Egyptian motifs on their caskets.

First we have the sarcophagus of King Christian VII (d. 1808):

Notice the sphinxes on each side acting as supports for the sarcophagus.

And then, of course, the Royal Arms of Denmark on the foot, under his name.

Then we have the tomb of King Frederick VI (d. 1839):

Here, the supporting "legs" are winged sphinxes.

And the Royal Arms done in gold, above one of the sphinxes:

And matching his casket, we have his wife, Queen Marie Sophie Frederikke of Hesse-Kassel (d. 1852):

As you can see, here, instead of her paternal arms, they simply repeat the Royal Arms used by King Frederick VI.

Monday, December 27, 2021

The Other Royal Burials in the Chapel of the Magi, Roskilde Cathedral

The other royal burials in the Chapel of the Magi (Hellitrekongers Kapel) in Roskilde Cathedral are massive sepulchers made by Dutch artists in the Renaissance style as small antique temples with decorations inspired by ancient Rome. At each of the four corners of each sepulcher stands a stone-carved halberdier holding a spear and a shield with the Royal Danish arms on them.

The sarcophagus closest to the door is the burial place of King Christian III (d. 1559) and Queen Dorothea of Saxony-Lauenburg (d. 1571).

And here are two of their guards (they don't let riffraff like me walk all the way around the monuments to take pictures of the ones in the rear; it's entirely understandable. They don't want carelessness or accidents to damage the works!) and close-ups of their shields:

The red marks that you see on the pillar in the photo above the names and heights (in centimeters) of royal visitors from over the years, including, among others: King Christian X; Archduke Otto of Hapsburg; Prince George of Greece; Tsar Alexander III; Edward Albert, Duke of Windsor; and King Chulalongkorn of Thailand.

The other Royals buried here are King Frederick II (d. 1588) and Queen Sophia of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (d. 1631). And here are two of their guards and close-ups of their shields.

And that, by golly, is pretty much how royal heraldry should be done. As they say, "Go big or go home!"

Thursday, December 23, 2021

In the Chapel of the Magi (Helligtrekongers Kapel), Roskilde Cathedral

Obviously, not everyone, indeed, not every royal, entombed in Roskilde Cathedral can be buried in the chancel. I mean, really, there's only so much room available there. So other royal burials are done in various chapels around the sides of the cathedral.

In a very timely post, today we're going to look at the armory related to the burials in the Chapel of the Magi (Helligtrekongers Kapel; literally, the Holy Three Kings Chapel), especially appropriate so near to Christmas.

This chapel is also known as Christian I's Chapel, it being the burial place of King Christian I and his wife, Queen Dorothea of Brandenburg.

As you can see from the photograph above, the walls and ceiling are beautifully frescoed. Below are close-ups of the two Danish coats of arms above. Obviously, the quarters on the largest shield in each of these are: 1, Denmark; 2, Sweden; 3, Norway; and 4, Funen/The Wends. (We have seen these arms before, on a portrait of King Christian I and Queen Dorothea in Frederiksborg Castle, at

The arms on the left are those of King Christian, and those on the right, those of Queen Dorothea.

Now, despite this room being called Christian I's Chapel, you can't see his or Queen Dorothea's tombs here, as they are buried in small burial chambers under the floor. There is, however, a very large column right in the middle of the room, with the simple arms of Christian I, Queen Dorothea, and Bishop Oluf Mortensen (from left to right in the photographs below) painted on its capital.

Next time, we'll look at the armorial 16th Century sepulchers of the other Royal burials in this Chapel.

Monday, December 20, 2021

A Matching Set of Armorial Sarcophagi

Still in the area behind the main altar, in the Chancel of the Cathedral, are two more armorial sarcophagi (sarcophaguses? No, that doesn't sound right. In any event, there are two of them, and they are obviously matched), for another King and Queen of Denmark.

The first is that of King Frederik IV (d. 1730):

Needless to say, it's very Baroque, and there's a lot going on here. Please click on the image above to go to a larger, more detailed, photograph that will really let you get a good "feel" for just how detailed and "busy" this tomb is.

On the sides, among other things, we find the full achievement of the Greater Arms of Denmark from the time of Frederick IV.

But, of course, since clearly "Nothing succeeds like excess," there is also a crowned lion sejant supporting a shield of the Lesser Arms of Denmark:

The matching sarcophagus is that of the wife of King Frederik IV, Queen Louise of Mecklenburg-Güstrow (d. 1721). (Again, click on the image to see a larger, more detailed photograph. It will be worth it!)

Naturally, it's not an exact match, bearing as it does on its side the arms accolée of King Frederik IV and Queen Louise:

On the left, of course, we have the arms of King Frederik IV, and on the right, the arms of Mecklenburg-Güstrow, for Queen Louise.

And some of the details of this monument are specific to the Queen:

Here, for example, a weeping angel child or putti holding a shield with her monogram (L intertwined with a mirrored L) on it.

The more I look at these two sarcophagi, the more impressed I am by the skill of the stonecarvers and the amount of work they put into creating these two monuments. How about you?

Thursday, December 16, 2021

An Armorial Sarcophagus

You may have noticed in one of the pictures in my last post a sarcophagus below the feet of Queen Margrete I, with the figure of an armored knight on it's top.

Christopher, Duke of Lolland (1341-1363), was, like his sister, Queen Margrete I, the child of King Valdemar IV Atterdag of Denmark and his wife, Queen Helvig of Schleswig. He never became King of Denmark because he died at age 22, predeceasing his father.

Anyway, this is the sarcophagus of Duke Christopher. The white alabaster figure on top, which had been kept in pieces in a trunk, was reassembled in 1878, and the original gemstones are now colored and cut glass.

There are three shields on the top of the sarcophagus: The crowned shield over his right shoulder is, obviously, the small arms of Denmark, Or three lions passant azure between nine hearts gules. The one near his right foot is a little too blurry for me to quite make out for certain, though I'm pretty sure it is the King of the Wends/Funen, Gules a lindworm (wyvern) passant crowned or. Finally, the shield by this left foot is the arms of King of the Goths/Jutland, Or nine hearts gules in chief a lion passant azure.

All in all, it's a beautifully carved work, and of course, some heraldry!

Monday, December 13, 2021

The Sarcophagus of a Medieval Queen

And now we come to the main attractions of Roskilde Cathedral in Denmark -- the Royal burials.

Built in the 12th and 13th Centuries, and renovated and added onto a number of times since then, Roskilde Cathedral is (and has been) the official royal burial church of the Danish monarchs since the 15th century. Currently, 38 Danish kings and queens are buried here, including 16 in an unbroken line from the Reformation to 1972.

Beginning today, and for the next few posts, we're going to visit  some of the coffins of these kings and queens (and a couple of others), most notably, of course, on this blog, those with heraldry on them.

Located immediately behind the high altar, the most prominent sarcophagus is that of Queen Margrete I (d. 1412), Denmark’s first queen (she succeeded her son, Olaf II, in 1387, when he died at age 16), whose remains have been in Roskilde since 1413. The sculpture of the queen lying in state with a golden crown is striking.

Yeah, I know it's not all that impressive in the top of the photo here, taken from the floor above. Just wait!

Here's a picture of part of it, taken from just outside the cable cordoning it off.

 Its sides are decorated with intricate carvings of small religious figures embellished with gold accents. You will probably recognize a number of the saints portrayed here from their attributes (the tools, etc. that they are holding). As always, you can click on an image to go to a larger, more detailed photograph.

But, of course, it was the heraldry that attracted me the most (as it usually does!):

The shield on the top of the architectural canopy over her head is, of course, the Royal Arms of Denmark from the time of Queen Margrete I, uncolored but beautifully carved (like everything else on this sarcophagus!) in high relief.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Oh, Look! The Coats of Arms of Some "Old Friends"

I can't say that I am totally surprised to have run across these two very complex coats of arms that we have seen before in another setting, but I also wasn't expecting to find them here.

And it's interesting to see that they hadn't lost any of their "nothing succeeds like excess" taste in the decorative arts.

Of course, when you're the king and queen, and have your own private box at Roskilde Cathedral, so that you can attend the ceremonies and hear mass, etc. without having to mix with the hoi polloi, you're going to want to put your own stamp on it.

And as the longest reigning of the Danish monarchs, at 59 years, 330 days (1588-1648), well, you've got plenty of time to make your mark on the country.

I am referring, of course, to King Christian IV and his queen, Anne Catherine of Brandenburg, whose arms we have seen over and over again in the castle he built, Frederiksborg Castle.

And now here we are at Roskilde Cathedral, looking across the way at the private box built for them.

We'll see parts of this box in greater detail below, but feel free to click on the image above to see a larger, more detailed photograph, and take in the total and utter splendor that is this carved, painted, and gilded masterpiece.

In the center are the personal ciphers of Queen Anne Catherine and King Christian IV.

On the right, next to his cipher, are the Royal Arms of Christian IV:

And on the left, next to her cipher, the arms of Queen Anne Catherine of Brandenburg:

We have already covered these very complex coats of arms sufficiently in our review of them in Frederiksborg Castle, so I'm not going to repeat all that here.

But, Wow! What an amazing work of heraldic, and other, art!

Monday, December 6, 2021

And Then, Sometimes ...

So, having explained last time about how I can't always identify the arms I see and photograph during my travels, today I'm going to share an example of (mostly) the opposite. (Of course, it helped that the display of arms was labeled as to the names of the husband and wife!)

Over an archway in Roskilde Cathedral was painted this display of four coats of arms, in two pairs accolée (tilted in toward each other):

The names inscribed below the arms are Erick Valkendorff and his wife, Berette Andersdaatter (no surname, but the biographical information found, and given below, makes her Berete Andersdatter Lindenov).

The arms (and you can click on the image above to see a larger, more detailed photograph of them), from left to right, are those of: Valkendorf, Argent a rose gules between three wings [in annulo one and two? in triangle inverted?] sable; (possibly) Friis, Argent three squirrels sejant erect sable cracking nuts proper; Lindenov (canting arms), Per pale: Gules a linden tree palewise issuant from the line of division or; and Barry of four gules and argent; and [Unidentified], Argent three roses sable.

My surmise is that these four coats of arms are: Erick (from his father Henning Valkendorf), Erick’s mother, Berete’s father, and Berete’s mother.

Erik Valkendorf (ca. 1523–1605) was a Danish nobleman. He was the son of Councilor Henning Valkendorf to Glorup (d. 1535). In the years 1549 and 1559 he is mentioned as a courtier, and from 1553 he was a chamberlain to King Christian III and as such present at his deathbed at Koldinghus. In 1553 he got Hardanger and Halsnø monastery and in 1555 Højstrup a mortgage on the crown. He lived in Højstrup, and kept the mortgage unredeemed for the rest of his life. His wife Berete Andersdatter Lindenov died in 1568 at Højstrup in childbirth.

And how great a display of family heraldry is all that?

Thursday, December 2, 2021

No, I Actually _Can't_ Identify Them All

Yeah, I know, I post of lot of pictures of heraldry on this blog, and I try to identify them when I do. In spite of what appears to be a lot of success at doing so, there are actually a lot of coats of arms that I cannot, for whatever reason, identify.

Sometimes this is because the arms are simply too worn to make out clearly. Other times, it is because the arms do not appear in one or another of my sometimes limited sources. (For example, besides the Order Books for the Order of the Elephant and Order of the Dannebrog, which can be found on-line, I really have only one decent source for identifying Danish coats of arms: Sven Tito Achen's Danske adelsvåbener en heraldisk nøgle. It's a nice source to have, and I'm grateful to have a copy in my heraldic library, but, as I have discovered through using it lately, it is somewhat limited in the arms it helps me to identify.)

Anyway, I thought today that I would share a few coats of arms found on the floor of Roskilde Cathedral, only one of which I think I have identified.*

We'll start with this well-worn memorial:

Many of the words can still be made out on the inscription, though not enough for me to identify the knight ("ridder") being memorialized. And, of course, it's easy enough to tell he was a knight, since his effigy is shown in full armor with his left arm crooked about a jousting lance and his right hand holding a sword.

Many of the shields down each side of the memorial are very worn, but one of them jumped out at me.

These are recognizable since we have seen them before, in our tour of Frederiksborg Castle earlier. They are the arms of Biller or Bille, Barry of four gules and argent per pale counterchanged.

For our next one, we have this very worn memorial. (Well, you know, a few centuries of people walking over them does wear the stone down a bit!)

Here's a closer view of the two shields at the top, from a different angle, so the background looks more black than red.

The shields are accolée, or "embracing"; that is, turned tilted inward toward each other. The shield on the left has a bend (displayed by itself, what is shown would be a bend sinister, but it is turned toward the other shield, so it's a bend dexter), and the one on the right has a lion rampant, with the tail forked (queue forchy) near its tip. Well, bends and lions rampant are pretty popular in heraldry all over Europe, so there are any number of families who could be candidates for identifying this grave marker.

But the Latin inscription on the memorial, which could give us some additional identifying information, is too worn to be deciphered, as you can see here.

For our next memorials, we have two individuals, related either by blood or marriage, but who on their arms managed to the the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Here is the woman's slab:

And this the coat of arms above her head:

Here is the man's slab:

And at his shoulders, these two coats of arms:

Above his right shoulder is the sun, moon, and stars coat of arms that appears on the woman's memorial, and above his left shoulder is a device like those found in Polish runic and German hausmarken heraldry.

Alas, despite the fairly unique arrangement of astronomical charges on these arms, I have been entirely unable (so far) to identify the family, much less the specific bearers, of these shields.

So there you have it! Sure, I can often link a coat of arms to a family, and sometimes even to specific members of a family. But not always. And that's sometimes just the way it is in this wonderful, colorful art that we call heraldry.

* "Why are these memorials in the floor of the cathedral?", you may ask. Though it is rare in the United States, where I live, except for a few early Colonial Period instances, in Europe it is not at all uncommon to find such memorials, where the person memorialized may be buried in the crypt underneath the church or, just as, or even more, often, directly under the floor of the church. To steal a line from American television's The Daily Show: "If you didn't know, now you know."