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Author Archive for Elmar Hofman

Bellenville’s two armorials

The »Bellenville« armorial is one of the most famous and admired of the Middle Ages. Its production context however remains shrouded in mystery. This brief blogpost discusses the relations between its two main sections and demonstrates how focus on the material aspects of the manuscript can clarify a somewhat confusing statement in the most recent heraldic edition of the armorial. The manuscript The manuscript with the »Bellenville« armorial consists…

The Bavarian Charlemagne: Communicating through attributed coats of arms

The series of Bavarian princes in a late 15th-century manuscript contain an interesting coat of arms attributed to Charlemagne. It differs slightly from the common design of his arms. This subtle variation can open a door to more insights into the function of coats of arms as a performative means of communication. Charlemagne’s arms This coat of arms of Charlemagne consists of three elements: per pale, the dexter half Or, a double-headed…

The material of the Berry armorial

This is the second post in the series on armorials, in which each time a manuscript from the digitized armorials list will be highlighted (click here for the list). The armorial will not be treated in full, but specific aspects, problems or ideas will be discussed. Your thoughts on these issues are valuable and therefore you are more than welcome to share your ideas and comments.   Paris, BnF,…

[Report:] Heraldry in Medieval and Early Modern State-Rooms, Münster 16-18 March

On 16-18 March 2016 the workshop Heraldry in Medieval and Early Modern State-Rooms took place in Münster. The origins of this workshop lay in the challenges of understanding the function of the heraldic display in one particular state-room: the sala dos brasões of the National Palace in Sintra, Portugal, dating from the early sixteenth century. The ceiling of this hall presents the coats of arms of the Portuguese royal…

Handschriftenkunde Digital. Erfahrungsbericht zur Manusciences‘15 Summer School

Von 6. bis 12. September war die Benediktinerinnenabtei Frauenwörth am Chiemsee Gastgeberin der inspirierenden Manusciences ’15 Summer School. Das primäre Ziel der Veranstaltung war es, Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler verschiedener Disziplinen zusammenzubringen, die sich mit Manuskripten beschäftigen. Biblischen Theologie, Geschichtswissenschaften und … Weiterlesen

A treasure hidden in plain sight. The armorial behind the Schichtbuch

This is the first post in a new series on armorials, in which each time a manuscript from the digitized armorials list will be highlighted. The armorial will not be treated in full, but specific aspects, problems or ideas will be discussed. Your thoughts on these issues are valuable and therefore you are more than welcome to share your ideas and comments. Manuscript The manuscript Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek,…

[Report:] Heraldry in the Medieval City: The Case of Italy in the European Context, Rome 5-7 May 2015

On 5-7 May the École française de Rome was home to the fifth workshop in the conference series Journées Héraldiques. This time the conference was dedicated to the topic of ‘Heraldry in the Medieval City’. The event was opened by the organizers LAURENT HABLOT and TORSTEN HILTMANN, who introduced the key points of this workshop. Heraldry is often exclusively perceived as part of an aristocratic culture. Traditionally, cities and their inhabitants are regarded as the opposite of this aristocratic culture and their use of heraldry is little studied, and if it is mentioned, it is often perceived as a (false) imitation of aristocratic heraldry. Criticism on this traditional view has not led to a change of perspective. To change this, this entire workshop is dedicated to the heraldic practice in the city. The medieval city is an interesting case, since it holds a large public of various social groups within a limited space. And in this space heraldry was ubiquitous. Therefore the neglected city might actually prove to be one of the most interesting places to study the practice of heraldry. Studying heraldry in the urban space might provide valuable insights on the use of coats of arms as a […]

[Paper:] Elmar Hofman (Münster), What is an armorial? Presentation in Münster, 20 May

Everybody agrees that the Bellenville manuscript is an armorial. It exclusively consists of collections of coats of arms. However, manuscripts are often not as homogenous as Bellenville. Some works we regard as armorials do not only hold collections of coats of arms, but texts and images as well, while other works with text, images and some collections of coats of arms are not considered armorials. What is the difference? When does a collection of coats of arms becomes an armorial? In this presentation I will discuss the problematics of defining armorials. Through various examples from the sources I will point out the shortcomings of some of the current definitions, after which I will propose a different approach to armorials. The presentation will take place on Wednesday 20 May in the Fürstenberghaus in Münster, room F 102.

PhD Project: Structure and Function of Medieval Armorials – Part 2

In the last blogpost concerning my PhD project, I briefly sketched some of the starting points of my research. These remain largely unchanged, but I have refined my view on them. In this second blog post, I will highlight one of the approaches in my research on the structure and function of medieval armorials. Armorials and Codicology One of the first things I noticed when I started studying armorials is that they are very complicated sources, not only concerning the content, but codicologically as well. The structure of armorials often seems disordered, frequently one sees that parts were added or omitted and sometimes one finds that a clear coherence between an armorial and other parts of the same manuscript is absent. In recent research, scholars have only rarely discussed the codicological structure of an armorial. One of the few exceptions is Marie-Françoise Damengeot’s article in Emmanuel de Boos’ edition of Armorial Le Breton. [1] We know that the current state of this manuscript is somewhat disordered, but luckily the folia in this work contain three different foliations from the 15th and 16th centuries. The sequence of these three foliations, written in Roman numerals, does not coincide. Hence the order of the manuscript has […]

[paper:] New perspectives on the armorial in the Schichtbuch (Elmar Hofman) – Wolfenbüttel 21 November 2014

The Schichtbuch is a renowned manuscript. Written in the 1510’s, it described the numerous civil revolts that struck Braunschweig in the Middle Ages. Various parts of this Schichtbuch have been subjected to thorough research, but there is one section that has been ignored by scholars: the armorial. That is a pity, since the armorial in the Schichtbuch is unique in several ways. It depicts the coats of arms of groups that are not often represented in armorials, such as the kontor of the Hanseatic League and an extensive list of Hanseatic cities. Furthermore, every section in this armorial is introduced by a short text, which gives a rare insight in the intention of the author and the use of the book.   This armorial has too many interesting elements to deal with in one paper, therefore I am forced to concentrate on certain aspects. These are, however, very important facets of the armorial: the codicological structure and the visual presentation.   More often than not, armorials lack a coherent structure. Regularly one finds that armorials are composite sources, consisting of different parts, and often the sequence of the quires has been disordered through additions, omissions or rebinding of the book. […]

Report of the conference ‘Peintres et artistes heraldistes au Moyen Âge / Heraldic artists and painters in the Middle Ages’ – Poitiers 10-11 April 2014

The fourth edition of the ‘Journées d’études héraldiques’ was dedicated to the heraldic artist. Well-known artists such as Donatello, the Limbourg brothers and Barthélemy van Eyck were engaged in heraldic and emblematic depictions, but most of the heraldic presentations were produced by a large number of artists that have been living under the historical radar. In fact, the role these artists played in the heraldic depictions of the Middle Ages, as well as the role of heraldic art itself, has been neglected by scholars for a long time. This conference aimed to alter this situation and shed light on these elusive persons, their work and their specific knowledge, as well as the significance of heraldry in medieval society. Below follows a report of the lectures and discussions. For the conference’s programme, please click here.   Heraldry was ubiquitous Initiators LAURENT HABLOT and TORSTEN HILTMANN opened the conference by introducing the subject and stressing its significance. In the Middle Ages, heraldry was everywhere: at funerals, in churches, on clothing, at taverns, etc. These heraldic symbols could be applied on many different sorts of materials, ranging from metal to wood and, although not very common, ginger bread. Heraldry, it was emphasised, was not a […]

Recent publications: update October 2014

In this first post of this section we listed books and articles concerning medieval and early modern heraldry published since the start of 2013. If you now any interesting publications that are not in this list, please let us know, so we can include them in the next update   Books Biendiné, Dominique, Armorial de l’Ost de Flandre (1297) (Paris, 2013) Biendiné, Dominique, Armorial du Tournoi de Cambrai (1269) (Paris, 2013) Delgrange, Dominique, Imposture héraldique au XVIIe siècle. Généalogistes, héraldistes,faussaires. Les frères Pierre et Jean de Launay, pseudo-barons de Launay, (Wasquehal, 2013) Huthwelker, Thorsten, Die Darstellung des Rangs in Wappen und Wappenrollen des späten Mittelalters (Ostfildern, 2013) Gaier, Arno, Herrschaftssymbole und Fahnen im hoch- und spätmittelalterlichen Imperium. Die Herausbildung unserer heutigen Staatssymbolik im Mittelalter (Hamburg, 2013) Gîrbea, Catalina, Laurent Hablot and Raluca Radulescu, Marqueurs d’identité dans la littérature médiévale. Mettre en signe l’individu et la famille (XIIe-XVe siècles). actes du colloque tenu à Poitiers les 17 et 18 novembre 2011 (Turnhout, 2014) Jaillard, Pierre, Les blasons. Art et langage héraldique (Paris, 2013) Jalouneix, Jacques, Michel Pastoureau and Jean-Luc Chassel, L’héraldique en Limousin. XIIe-XXIe siècle (diss., Lille, 2014) Kühne, Hartmut, Lothar Lambacher and Jan Hrdina, Wallfahrer aus dem Osten Mittelalterliche Pilgerzeichen […]

[book review:] Thorsten Hutwelker, Die Darstellung des Rangs in Wappen und Wappenrollen des späten Mittelalters

Can one determine the rank of a person through his coats of arms? Can armorials be used to examine social hierarchy? These are the exciting questions posed by Thorsten Huthwelker in his book Die Darstellung des Rangs in Wappen und Wappenrollen des späten Mittelalters. He has chosen an interesting as well as a difficult object of study and this review will discuss whether Huthwelker managed to tackle the many obstacles on his path. The outline Huthwelker’s study is embedded in the larger project called RANK, which aims to gain insights on the process of social differentiation of the higher nobility in England and the Holy Roman Empire in the 13th and 14th century. The overall project has set the boundaries for this research, which has a positive and a negative consequence. Geographically Huthwelker focusses on England and the Holy Roman Empire and compares the situation in the two regions. Since studies on this topic are often confined by national borders and their historiographical traditions, such a comparative approach has the potential of putting the results in perspective. On the down side, this research unfortunately stops at 1400, which leaves out the entire 15th century, a period that has witnessed many […]

[Book review:] Georg Scheibelreiter, Wappen im Mittelalter, Darmstadt 2014

There is no shortage on introductions to heraldry. Recent publications by for example Václav Vok Filip and Georg Scheibelreiter himself were added to the bookshelf already filled with classics such as Galbreath/Jéquier’s Lehrbuch der Heraldik and Neubecker’s Wappen.[1] This book, however, promises to be something different. It is not meant to be an introduction to nor a textbook on heraldry, but a study on the human need to identify itself by the use of signs. Rather than an ordinary overview of coats of arms, Scheibelreiter wants it to be a social/cultural history and a history of mentalities of this phenomenon (p.7). Does Scheibelreiter succeed in his aims? Partially. On some themes he demonstrates he is one of the leading authors on the subject and his detailed arguments are supported by interesting examples and anecdotes. On the other hand, however, the book does have its blind spots and voids. Furthermore, it proves to be difficult to write a comprehensive book on coats of arms without heraldry as a starting point. The first thing to notice is that Wappen im Mittelalter is a feast for the eyes. The book is enriched with beautiful illustrations, some filling the entire page. Since coats of […]

[paper:] Lecture on the Armorial of Guillaume Revel by Mathieu Lescuyer and Olivier Matteoni at the Bibliothèque National de France, 27 May 2014

The fifteenth century has witnessed the birth of many beautifully executed armorials, some of which are richly decorated, while others contain interesting literary and symbolic representations. In this group of armorials, the Armorial of Guillaume Revel (also known as the Armorial d’Auvergne, du Bourbonnais and du Forez) stands out. This book not only includes miniatures on the first pages of the manuscript and evidently a great number of coats of arms, but it is adorned with many detailed views of towns and castles as well. Furthermore, this extensive armorial has a very local scope, only dealing with the regions of Auvergne, Bourbon and Forez, which it covers extensively. This makes the Armorial Guillaume Revel an interesting source for many disciplines, ranging from genealogy to architectural history and visual communication to military history. The background of the armorial is largely covered in mist.[1] We do not know a lot more of the composer than that his name was Guillaume Revel. Dating the armorial has been a difficult task, but Emmanuel de Boos plausibly states that it has been produced in the 1450’s. The areas covered are the lands of Charles I duke of Bourbon (d. 1456), but in the preface king […]

PhD project “Structure and function of medieval armorials” – The kick-off

Torsten Hiltmann’s innovative project on late medieval coats of arms has a subproject attached to it called ‘Struktur und Funktion mittelalterlicher Wappenbücher’. Some of the faithful followers of this blog might remember the vacancy that has been posted on this site a couple of months ago. This has recently been filled. I have been given the opportunity to work on the interesting and challenging subject of late medieval armorials. In the next few lines I would like to shortly introduce myself. As a history student at the University of Groningen (The Netherlands) the Middle Ages immediately attracted to me. This period has a constant interpretive tension to it: on the one hand the foundation of many structures and ideas of our modern western society have been laid during this arbitrarily confined time period, but on the other hand it is popularly referred to as the Dark Ages and perceived as a period of barbarity, brutality and decline. The latter is particularly true for post-Carolingian age and spurred to study this saeculum obscurum in its own right I specialized in the late ninth and early tenth century during my Research Master Classical, Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the University of Groningen. […]