When my friend went to New York, although she surprised (and inspired) me by visiting the Croton Aqueduct, I managed to point her towards a few of my favourite sights in the city. The last time I visited, after dragging myself away from the Nintendo store and Kinokuniya, I headed uptown to The Cloisters: a branch of the Met devoted to medieval art and architecture.
It’s a bit of a strange thing to find across the ocean from Europe, but it’s an excellent collection for anyone with an interest in medieval works (like me and my friend).
Pay close attention and you’ll see strange monsters…
…medieval playing cards…
…and much much more!
My friend agreed: definitely better than sitting around in New York conference rooms all day!
I do like how one side in this battle seems to have swords while the other has bright yellow sticks.
This is a depiction of the Battle of the Golden Spurs, fought outside Kortrijk (Courtrai) in 1302, where Flemish forces stood up to the supposedly unassailable French and afterwards stole a vast number of their golden spurs to show off their victory (which were nicked back by the French within a century). Kortrijk is a pretty sleepy place these days, but its quite hilarious coat of arms, visible in many a hotel in Kortrijk, hints at this turbulent past, with the giants representing strength and vigilance - important qualities in those times.
The battle was also recently memoralised on a stamp:
Not nearly as fun as the medieval depictions, imo.
In one of many similarly themed blog posts around April this year in the UK, the British Library has collected several examples of weddings as depicted in illuminated manuscripts from medieval England. The above is Henry III and Eleanor of Provence, who married in 1236. Not much of a custom bridal gown on Eleanor, but this marginalia was perhaps only a symbolic sketch - or, at this point in history, wedding costumes were a lot simpler than in later medieval periods. No doubt the crowns were a bit fancier than the plain lines and red dots…
This one, of the wedding between Edward II and Isabella of France in 1308, is considerably more elaborate.
Speaking of museums, my very own British Museum is in the midst of its current exhibition about medieval European relics.
I’m going to visit it this weekend - so excited!
There was a very interesting post on the BM Blog about the St Baudime reliquary arriving at the museum.
Relics! I find them so hilarious. Like the church that once realised it had 3 heads of the same saint; or the other church, which claimed to have the head of St John the Baptist, aged 8.
Head out from your city centre or Hyde Park hotel; London’s best museum has a truly excellent-looking exhibition on.