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Medieval Washing & Polishing Knights Station! Read More...
Medieval Washing & Polishing Knights Station!
Twice as many Wars of the Roses heraldic banners will be hung from lamp standards along Barnet High Street this summer – just one of the attractions planned to commemorate the Battle of Barnet, and to promote a repeat of last year’s highly-successful Barnet Medieval Festival. Read More...
Today is Mothering Sunday in the UK (Mother’s Day is different, but we will gloss over that for now - see note at end) and here we have my replica of an early 14th century badge. The badge is notable for the use of the word ‘mother’, or ‘mot:here' to be precise. Is the word… Read More...
Today is Mothering Sunday in the UK (Mother’s Day is different, but we will gloss over that for now - see note at end) and here we have my replica of an early 14th century badge. The badge is notable for the use of the word ‘mother’, or ‘mot:here' to be precise. Is the word intended to be ‘mother’? We can’t be sure to be honest, but the badge potentially tells a very interesting story.
The badge is rather crudely made, being a little clumsy compared to some badges of the time and is also rather poorly cast in a lead rich alloy rather than the more normal tin/lead eutectic alloy (these facts become important). The badge can be dated to the early 14th century; but what is it depicting? A crowned woman (presumably a queen) holding a long stick, with a submissive male figure kneeling in front of her. A number of similar badges depicting this or similar scenes have survived, indicating that this was a popular and well known image. In some versions of the badge, the Queen is taking a bag of money from the kneeling figure (in this one she seems to be simply holding out her hand) and all badges share architectural frames, with one, in particular, showing the queen standing at the door of a palatial building.
Normally, we would be pushed to understand exactly what such an obscure subject as this relates to but, in this case, we can link it stylistically to another series of badges of which we do know quite a bit - those depicting the unofficial or ‘popular’ saint, Thomas of Lancaster. I will deal with Thomas of Lancaster pilgrim badges at another time, but, for now, we can summarise Thomas as the leader of the opposition to King Edward II and who was executed for treason following the Battle of Boroughbridge in 1322. After his death, a popular but unofficial saintly cult grew up around him, much to the King’s fury. Despite attempts to suppress it, the cult became widespread and long lasting, with two principle cult centres and all of the accompanying pilgrimage souvenirs that went with it.
Back to our ‘mother’ badge: We now have to look for who the characters depicted on the badge could be... We can see that these badges could well be related, both stylistically and through the unusually poor quality metal alloy, to the aforementioned Thomas of Lancaster badges and it’s quite possible that they were the work of the same badge making workshop. So we need to look for characters contemporary with the cult of Thomas of Lancaster and who may be worthy of receiving some unflattering badge based satire. This brings us knocking on the door of two likely candidates - Queen Isabella and her son, the young King Edward III.
During Edward II’s lifetime, his Queen, Isabella, had been the focus of opposition to the king, with the intention of placing her son, the future Edward III on the throne in place of his father. Following the capture and probable murder of Edward II in 1327, Isabella, along with her lover Roger Mortimer, proceeded to rule in her son’s name. Isabella’s greed made her unpopular and, as her regency slipped into tyranny, a new anti Isabella opposition formed, this time led in part by Henry of Lancaster, brother and heir of ‘Saint’ Thomas of Lancaster. So is this what our badge depicts - the overbearing and widely disliked Queen Mother, Isabella, with the submissive figure being the young and, for now, powerless King Edward III? It’s a great possibility, as it would identify these badges as nothing less than pieces of mass-produced political propaganda - a very unusual thing for the time, but not dissimilar to the Thomas of Lancaster pilgrim badges, with that being a cult promoted for largely political reasons.
This theory was first proposed some years ago by the then foremost authority on pilgrim badges, the much missed Brian Spencer of the Museum of London and has been expanded in more recent years by James Robinson of the British Museum. Some doubts have been raised though, with Amy Jeffs of Cambridge University’s ‘Digital Pilgrim’ project not unreasonably pointing out the deliberate word separation on the badge - making it ‘mot:here’ (meet here?) and suggesting that it possibly depicts an illicit tryst between courtly lovers. I personally wonder if we are seeing a bit of a wordplay, with ‘Mother’ meaning ‘Queen Mother’, but, at the same time also saying ‘meet here’ - perhaps alluding to a long forgotten story from the troubled times of the money grabbing Isabella’s tyrannical regency. Punning was popular at the time, so this is eminently possible.
Perhaps a stick wielding, money grabbing tyrannical mother isn’t an entirely appropriate subject for this particular day, but it’s the best I can do.
This badge was in my range many years ago, but I deleted it as it wasn’t too popular. I’ve decided to give it another outing and have put it back in the range as item S41. https://www.lionheartreplicas.co.uk/Secular-Badges/S41-Satirical%20badge;%20Queen%20Isabella..html
*Finally, a brief comment regarding Mothering Sunday versus Mothers’ Day: Mothering Sunday was originally a church celebration where people would return to their mother church - either the Cathedral or the parish where they were born (opinion is divided on that one). Mother’s Day, as a celebration of motherhood, is a fairly modern re invention, with the original meaning of Mothering Sunday largely forgotten.
Rosemary is just coming into bloom in our garden. The folklore has it that the blue colour came from the time when the Virgin Mary laid her blue mantle over a Rosemary bush. Medieval brides and their guest carried Rosemary for love and virtue. Read More...
Rosemary is just coming into bloom in our garden. The folklore has it that the blue colour came from the time when the Virgin Mary laid her blue mantle over a Rosemary bush. Medieval brides and their guest carried Rosemary for love and virtue.
Saint Gertrude praying as mice (or holy souls) scamper up her crozier. Image via Wikimedia. Cat-lovers, rejoice! While many of us will be celebrating St Patrick's Day, today is also St Gertrude's Day, known to many as the patron saint of cats. Much of what we know about Saint Gertrude comes from the... Read More...
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The Original Reenactor's Market
6 all day. COME AT ME BRO, I FUCKIN DARE YOU Read More...
6 all day. COME AT ME BRO, I FUCKIN DARE YOU
In the United Kingdom, a deserted mediaeval village (DMV) is a former settlement which was abandoned during the Middle Ages, typically leaving no trace apart from earthworks or cropmarks. If there are fewer than three inhabited houses the convention is to regard the site as deserted; if there are... Read More...