Medieval People by Michael Prestwich (Book Review)

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Anyone who reads even casually about the Middle Ages encounters the many vivid personalities who emerge from the history books, from titanic figures like St. Thomas Aquinas and Eleanor of Aquitaine to lesser known people like Simon de Montfort (largely responsible for the horrors of the Albigensian Crusade) and the Countess Matilda of Tuscany (an ally of [Read More...]

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The Devil Tempts St. Benedict

Rule

This illumination showed up in my medievalist Twitter feed today and I tracked it back to the so-called Mettener Regel (1414), a manuscript of the rule of Saint Benedict as practiced at the Abbey of Metten. The manuscript is illustrated by moments in the life of St. Benedict. At first, I thought this might be an illustration [Read More...]

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The Bible of St. Louis

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The Bible of St. Louis is one of the greatest works of illumination in history, with 4,887 illustrations providing an astonishing view of both scripture and the 13th century. The three volumes contain excerpts from the Bible and commentary. They were commissioned between 1226 and 1234 by Blanche of Castile for the education of her son, King [Read More...]

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Christ the Apothecary

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There is a minor tradition in art of depicting Christ as the Divine Pharmacist, an Apothecary of the Soul, mixing and compounding the medicine for mankind. In this illumination from a 16th century manuscript, He is shown writing out the prescription to treat original sin. There’s no word on whether Adam and Eve had a co-pay. [Read more...]

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The Dixie Trinity?

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Painting by Clyde Broadway. [Read more...]

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Statue of Jesus Has Human Teeth

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The statue of Jesus as the “Lord of Patience,” kept at the church of San Bartolo in Cuautlalpan Mexico, was gruesome enough before an art restorer subjected it to x-rays. That’s when the blood-drenched figure of a suffering Jesus was discovered to have an unexpected feature: its teeth are human. See for yourself: The teeth are unlikely [Read More...]

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Piercing the Unicorn

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Now here’s as elegant a visual metaphor for the loss of virginity as you could want. The unicorn (a symbol of virginity) is resting on the maiden’s lap. The knight has pierced it with his spear (of obvious symbolism, as is the horn of the unicorn). Blood flows from the wound (also of obvious symbolism) [Read More...]

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Satan is Just a Little Blond Girl in Pigtails Handing Out Fruit

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The Temptation is much easier to understand when you look at it this way: Although, yeah: the snake body thing should have been a dead giveaway. Think about it, though: we have nasty visual images of Satan in our mind because artists need to convey evil visually, but Paul tells us that Satan himself masquerades as [Read More...]

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