Ecclesiastics of the 12th century. Bishop, monks costumes.

Ecclesiastics, clergy, Bishop, monks, norman,middle ages, 12th century, dress,pastoral, staff, Henry Shaw, fashion

Ecclesiastics, Bishop, monks, 12th century

ECCLESIASTICS OF THE TWELFTH CENTURY.

Initial letter, drop-cap, manuscript,12th century,middle ages,medieval, illumination,Henry Shaw

Initial letter N

NO class of figures occurs so frequently in the illuminations of our earlier manuscripts, as those of ecclesiastics of different grades; and as the older illuminators were almost exclusively monks, we are justified in concluding that none are represented more accurately with regard to their costume and other characteristics.

Our plate contains some very good figures of prelates of the earlier half of the twelfth century. They are taken from a series of curious scriptural illustrations accompanying a copy of the early Anglo-Norman version of the Psalter, in MS. Cotton, Nero C. IV., in the British Museum. This manuscript was probably written about the middle of the twelfth century, possibly a little earlier. The bishops, who are in their full dress, are remarkable as representing specimens of the low formed mitre which was characteristic of the earlier pontifical costume.

These figures, besides affording good specimens of costume, are remarkable as embodying a little caustic satire on some of the ecclesiastics of the day. The particular illuminations from which they are taken compose a representation of the last judgment, in four large pages. The two inner pages represent the Deity with his apostles sitting in doom.

The first page of the four contains in the upper part a numerous group of heads of the different classes of mankind, from kings and queens to the lowest orders of the people, and beneath a separate group of whole-length figures of bishops and monks. Above is inscribed in Anglo-Norman, “These shall be at the right hand of God at the judgment.”

The three bishops on the right hand of our plate are taken from this page. On the fourth page is another group of heads, with whole-length figures of churchmen below, and the inscription, “These shall be at the left hand of the Lord God at the judgment.” This page furnished the two figures on the left hand side of our plate.

In drawing all these figures, the illuminator has shewn considerable skill in depicting the physiognomical characteristics. On the right hand of God, the faces of the kings, queens, and higher orders, are dignified and benign; and all have an air of conscious virtue. The bishops below are unshaven, with serious countenance, and bearing all the insignia of office, as being entirely absorbed in the discharge of their pontifical duties.

The monks in like manner are thin and sedate, shewing by their outward appearance that they kept rigidly the rules of their order. On the other page, at the left hand of the judgment-seat, the physiognomical character of the faces is entirely changed. The male heads, especially those which appear to belong to the lower orders, have features of a diabolical character; the faces of the kings and rulers are dark and gloomy; those of the queens are particularly effective, exhibiting a singular mixture of pride and voluptuousness.

The clergy below are fat and sleek, with voluptuous and gluttonous looks; and some of the ecclesiastical dignitaries, as in the two given in our plate, while they bear their rich garments as objects of pride and ostentation, are without the principal insignia of their office, because they neglected their duties, and are very fat, with their faces closely shaven.

From what we know from history of the manners of the clergy of the age to which these drawings belong, we can hardly avoid believing that the illuminator intended to depict some of the sleek worldly ecclesiastics of his time.pastoral staff, 12th century Ecclesiastics,Bishop,middle ages, medieval,manuscript,england,normann

The handsome pastoral staff, of the twelfth century, of which the upper part is given on the preceding page, is preserved in the collection of Monsieur Duguay, at Paris. It is of copper gilt, and elegantly enameled.
Our initial letter, which affords a curious illustration of early armor, is taken from a foreign manuscript in the possession of the Hon. Robert Curzou, Junior. The Manuscript appears to have been written also about the twelfth century, or perhaps a little earlier.

Source: Dresses and Decorations of the Middle Ages by Henry Shaw F.S.A. London William Pickering 1843.

Related to:
Byzantine, Medieval, Gothic, Burgundian, Renaisance fashion history




Costume Burgundian nobleman15th century.
Costume Burgundian nobleman, 1450. Burgundian nobleman in the 15th century. Medieval fashion. T... Read more
1450 • 15th Century • Burgundian dress • Court dress • Hairstyle • Headdresses • Middle Ages • Nobility
Beret • Burgundian fashion period • Gothic costumes • Schaube • Surcoat
German Citizens in Gothic fashion. 15th century costumes.
German Citizens in 1480. Gothic fashion period, 15th century. The man is dressed in the typical d... Read more
1480 • 15th Century • Germany • Hat • Headdresses • Middle Ages • Renaissance
Beret • Cotte • Gothic costumes • Hennin • Houppelande • Medieval costume • Miparti • Poulines • Schaube
Costumes of the 11th century. Monastic, Normanns, Crusaders.
Costumes of the 11th century. Monastic, Normanns, Crusaders Nobility costumes. Costumes during ... Read more
11th Century • Byzantine • Court dress • Ecclesiastical • France • Germany • Middle Ages • Nobility
Byzantine fashion era • Gothic costumes • Knighthood • Monastic clothing • Münchener Bilderbogen
Medieval fashion history. Reign of Charles VI and Charles VII
Content Reign of Charles VI and Charles VII. 1380 to 1461. Table of Content Taste in dress beco... Read more
14th Century • 15th Century • Burgundian dress • Court dress • Fashion History • France • French fashion history • Hairstyle • Headdresses • Middle Ages
Augustin Challamel • Burgundian fashion period • Gothic costumes • Hennin • Houppelande • Medieval costume
German and French renaissance fashion 1520.
German and French renaissance fashion 1520. First third of the 16th Century. Top row left to ... Read more
1520 • 16th Century • France • Germany • Middle Ages • Nobility • Renaissance
Münchener Bilderbogen • Renaissance fashion era
Iron Gloves, gauntlets of the 15th century.
Iron Gloves of the 15th century. Iron gloves, gauntlets (1460-1500) from the palace of Count Tör... Read more
1460 • 15th Century • Germany • Middle Ages • Military
Costumes art and utensils • Gothic costumes • Knighthood
William Caxton and the art of printing.
William Caxton and the art of printing. The revolution which had been effected by war, by changes... Read more
1470 • 15th Century • England • Genre • Middle Ages
English history • Medieval costume • Pictures and Royal Portraits
Pierre du Terrail, Chevalier de Bayard.
Pierre du Terrail, Chevalier de Bayard. PIERRE DU TERRAIL, chevalier de Bayard (about 1473 at... Read more
15th Century • France • Middle Ages • Military • Nobility
Character sketches • Knighthood • Medieval costume