Books, Prehistory, Archaeologia Volume 29 Section III

Archaeologia Volume 29 Section III is in Archaeologia Volume 29.

Observations on the Heraldic Devices discovered on the Effigies of Richard the Second and his Queen in Westminster Abbey [Map], and upon the Mode in which those Ornaments were executed; including some Remarks on the surname Plantagenet, and on the Ostrich Feathers of the Prince of Wales. By Joan Govucu Nicuoxs, Esq. F.S.A.

Read 4th June, 1840.

The volume of Monumental Effigies, drawn and engraved by Mr. Charles Alfred Stothard, F.S.A. the late draughtsman to the Society, is so generally known and so highly appreciated wherever known, that it is only necessary, in order to introduce the subject of the following remarks, to remind the reader that it was left imperfect, in consequence of the author's sudden death, from a lamentable accident which occurred in the pursuit of his congenial profession. It was a part of Mr. Stothard's plan to have included in his work a complete series of the effigies of the Kings and Queens of this country; and for that purpose he visited France, and brought from Fontevraud [Map] his drawings of the statues of Henry the Second and his Queen, of Richard the First, and of Isabella Queen of John; and from the Abbey of L'Espan, near le Mans, the effigy of Berengaria, Queen of Richard I., as well as the figure of Geoffrey, Comte of Anjou, from an enamelled Plate in the church of St. Julien at le Mans [Map]. There were others, however, and those by no means inferior to any in beauty or interest, which had been left, perhaps from the very reason of their being within immediate reach, until some convenient opportunity, which was frustrated by the premature close of the artist's career. I allude particularly to thosea of Queen Philippa, King Richard the Second, and his Queen Anne of Bohemia, all in Westminster Abbey.

Note a. Mr. Stothard also intended to have included in his work all the knightly effigies in the Temple church. Those he omitted will be given by the Messrs. Hollis.

The task of completing Mr. Stothard's design has been recently adopted by Mr. George Hollis (the son-in-law of Mr. John Buckler, F.S.A.), and his son Mr. Thomas Hollis: and among the objects of their earliest attention have been the royal effigies just named. In the course of making his drawings from the monument of Richard the Second, Mr. Thomas Hollis discovered that the robes of the effigies, and the platform or bed upon which they are placed, are ornamented with various patterns, punctured upon the metal, which had become so entirely concealed by the accumulated dirt of centuries that they were at length forgotten and unknown.

This discovery is interesting in two respects; both on account of the various devices developed, the history of which forms a curious branch of heraldic investigation; and also from the peculiar, and at the same time very beautiful manner in which they are impressed.

The minute and elaborate finish, which is characteristic of the works of ancient artists, cannot escape observation. It is very evident in their illuminated miniatures, where the patterns of the dresses of the persons represented are often clearly made out, together with those of the tapestry and other accessories; whilst sometimes, and even in outdoor scenes, the whole background, where modern artists lightly sketch their sky and clouds, is occupied by a diapered pattern, very minutely delineated. In like manner it was usual to embellish with patterns the fields and larger ordinaries of armorial shields. In short, no portion of a design was left unadorned with elaborate workmanship.

Having adverted to this characteristic of the arts of our ancestors, I will merely, by way of further preface, point out the prevalent custom of forming the patterns of furniture, plate, tapestry, and dresses from devices — heraldic devices as we should now term them, allusive to the particular person or family for whom they were intended. This circumstance, again, will be familiar to those who are conversant with old illuminations; and that such pictures are accurate representations of the dresses and furniture which were in general use among the great, is evident upon the perusal of any of our collections of ancient wills and inventories, as well as from portions of painting still remaining on some sepulchral effigiesa.

Note a. See the note on Fret-work towards the close of this paper.

In 1375 the Black Prince bequeathed to his son Richard his hangings for a hall, embroidered with mermen, and a border of red and black impaled, embroidered with swans having lady's heads, and ostrich feathers: to his wife, the Princess, he bequeathed a hall of red worsted, embroidered with eagles and griffins, with a border of swans having lady's heads; and to Mons. Aleyne Cheyne a bed of camoca, powdered with blue eagles. In 1385, Joan Princess of Wales bequeathed "To my dear son, the King, my new bed of red velvet, embroidered with ostrich feathers of silver, and heads of leopards of gold, with boughs and leaves issuing out of their mouths." Edward, [Note. Edward assumed to be a mistake for Edward?] Earl of March, in 1380, bequeathed to his son and heir, "our large bed of black satin, embroidered with white lions and gold roses, with escutcheons of the arms of Mortimer and Ulster;" and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, in 1397, bequeathed to the altar of St. Paul's cathedral "his great bed of cloth of gold, the champepiers powdered with golden roses, placed upon pipes of gold, and in each pipe two white ostrich feathers;" and again, to his daughter the Duchess of Exeter, his "white bed of silk, with blue eagles displayed." In 1415, Edward, Duke of York, bequeathed to his wife "my bed of feathers and leopards, with the furniture appertaining to the same; also my white and red tapestry of garters, fetter-locks, and falconsb".

Note b. Nichols's Royal and Noble Wills. Nicolas's Testamenta Vetusta.

Bequests of articles of dress, being neither so appropriate nor of so much value as beds and furniture, or plate and jewellery, are not frequent in the wills of persons of high rank. In that of Robert, Earl of Suffolk, in 1368, we find mentioned together, "my bed with the eagle, and my summer vestment, powdered with leopards," by which, perhaps, the summer bed-furniture was intendedc. We are not, however, destitute of instances of ornamented dresses, more immediately illustrative of the royal robes before us.

Note c. Ibid.

Two ladies, engravedd in Strutt's Dresses, vol. II. plates xevi. and xevii. have their robes powdered with swans, with wings erect. They are both copied from a French MS. in the Royal Collection, 15 D III. which is a superbly illuminated copy of the Histoire Scholastique, or Scholastic Bible.

Note d. Also in Shaw's "Dresses and Decorations of the Middle Ages," 1840, Part 5.

Ashmole, in his History of the Order of the Gartere, tells us that at the time of instituting the order, and for a long time after, the vestments were garnished or powdered all over with little garters, embroidered with silk and gold plate, with buckles, and pendants of silver gilt. Of these there were laid upon the first surcoat and hood, made for the royal Founder, no less than 168. In King Richard the Second's reign, the little garters which then adorned the surcoats of the Sovereign and Knights Companions, were wrought in embroidery upon blue taffaty, with Cyprus gold, and silk of divers colours, and letters of gold.

Note e. P. 213.

This fashion of the robes of the Garter was continued to the reign of Henry the Sixth, when the surcoat and hood of the King took 173, and those of the King of Portugal 120 Garters; but it went out of use shortly after.

A representation of a Knight, attired in this original robe of the Garter, will be seen in Strutt's Dresses, vol. II. pl. eviii. it being the figure of Sir Nigel Loring, one of the first knights of the order, and a benefactor to the Abbey of St. Alban's, commemorated and depicted in a Register of the monastery, now the Cottonian MS. Nero D. vir; and another instance is that of John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, presenting the volume now the Royal MS. 15 E VI. to Margaret, Queen of Henry the Sixth, engraved in Strutt's Royal and Ecclesiastical Antiquities, pl. xliii., in Walpole's Royal and Noble Authors, and in Mr. Planche's interesting little volume on British Costume, p. 191f. In the series of portraitures of the Sovereign and first twenty-five knights, engraved in Ashmole's History of the Order, p. 642, the artist, who was apparently of a century at least after the time, has given them the modern mantles with the badge only on the left shoulder, but he has represented several of their turban-like hoods as sprinkled with garters, though not all, his aim evidently being to make as much variety as could be allowed in their head-attires.

Note f. Still more perfectly, since this Paper was written, in Shaw's "Dresses and Decorations of the Middle Ages."

The preceding remarks have been made in illustration of the fashion of forming an heraldic badge or charge into the running pattern of state robes, a practice which we have already found described by the contemporary term "powdering." The same term, or poudré, was formerly used by the heralds in blazonry, in cases where they now employ the terms semée, or sown, and mis par tout.

I will now proceed to notice in succession the several devices with which the robes of the Effigies before us are adorned. The robes of the King are powdered or strewn with three badges, the White Hart, the Broom Plant, and the Rising Sun. Among them are intermixed the letters R and A, the initials of Richard and Anne. The borders of the robes are ornamented with elegant patterns minutely delineated, the principal being a running scroll of the Broom-plant; at the foot are two rows of ermine spots, and the hood is also lined with ermine, but the inner sides of the mantle are plain. The badges on the mantle are interwoven with running lines of flowers or small leaves, in a manner so nearly resembling a curious painting of Richard the Second which is now preserved in the Earl of Pembroke's collection at Wilton, that, before I proceed further, I shall take some notice of that picture.

Wilton Diptych Left Hand Panel.

Wilton Diptych Right Hand Panel.

Wilton Diptych Outer Panels.

It is painted on two tablets, and Hollar engraved it in two plates in the year 1639; but the two when viewed together form but one design. The King is kneeling in prayer to the Virgin and her Son; behind him stand the three saints, John the Baptist, Edward the Confessor, and Edmund the King. Behind and around the Virgin are eleven angels. King Richard is here attired in a gown powdered with White Harts, which are interlaced with Broom-cods running in the same manner as the interlacing foliage on the mantle of his Effigy. He wears round his neck a collar of Broom-cods; and on his left shoulder is his badge of the White Hart. But what is more extraordinary is, that each of the eleven angels wears a similar collar and a similar badge. It must be remarked that the pendant to the collar in front, in every case, is formed of two of the Broom-cods only; and that the King, as well as the angels, wears the White Hart, as a badge, on his shoulder, not as a pendant to the collar, as was misapprehended by Anstisg. It was this picture which furnished a subject of discussion to Walpole in connexion with the alleged discovery of oil-painting by Van Eyckh; but it was proved to be painted in water-colours, on an examination by T. Phillips, Esq. R.A. as is noticed in Britton's Beauties of Wiltshire. It formerly belonged to the Royal Collection, but is said to have been given away by King James the Second to Lord Castlemaine, about the time he went Ambassador to Rome, after whose death it was purchased by the Earl of Pembroke, and added to the Collection at Wilton.

Note g. Register of the Order of the Garter, vol. i. p. 112; and also in p. 110. Anstis was here writing of collars, and he did not sufficiently bear in mind that the badge, stigma, mark, sign, or cognizance was another thing. He followed the verses under Hollar's print, in which it is erroneously said, "Pendulus est albus cervus," &c. Anstis, in turn, is followed by Mr. Beltz, who states that the White Hart was "pendent from a collar," in his Notices of Collars of the King's Livery, Retrospective Review, new series, vol. ii. p. 501.

Note h. In reference to this subject, see a paper by the present writer in the Gentleman's Magazine for Nov. 1840, vol. xiv. p. 489, relative to a picture in the Duke of Devonshire's villa at Chiswick, which was assigned by Walpole to Van Eyck, and supposed to represent the family of Lord de Clifford, but regarding which, Mr. Waagen has pronounced that "Jan Van Eyck is quite out of the question," and which is shown (ubi supra) to be the portraits of Sir John Donne and his wife Elizabeth, sister to Lord Hastings, temp. Edw. IV. They wear the collar of that King's livery, formed of alternate roses and suns, with a white lion sejant as a pendant.

THE BADGE OF THE WHITE HART was the most favourite device of King Richard, and it was that which he used for the cognizance which was profusely distributed among his courtiers and immediate dependants. It has been suggested with much apparent probability that he adopted it from the White Hind which is stated to have been borne by his mother the Fair Maid of Kenti, and which was certainly used by the Holands, the sons of her first marriagek [Thomas Holland 2nd Earl Kent and John Holland 1st Duke Exeter]. "The author of the Alliterative Poem, which has been edited by Mr. Wright for the Camden Society, reproaching the unfortunate Richard, reminds him that

First at your anointing all were your own,

Both Harts and Hinds, and held of none other.

Note i. "The bagens that he [the King] beareth by the Faire Maide of Kent, is a Whyte Hynde." Collectanea Top. et Geneal. vol. iii. p. 56, from MS. Harl. 4632, written in the time of Henry VIII.; but the same MS. attributes the White Hind to Queen Philippa (Ibid. p. 53.), and so does the MS. L. 14, in Coll. Arm. f. 27, b.

Note k. In Sandford's Genealogical History, 1677, p. 124, will be seen the seal of Thomas de Holand, Earl of Kent, where his shield is suspended from the neck of a Hind, lodged or seated, and collared with a coronet.

The writer of the Life of Richard, edited by Hearne, states that the badge of the White Hart was first given at the time of the Tournament held in Smithfield in 1396 for the entertainment of the Count of St. Pol and the Count of Ostrevandt:—

"Ubi datum erat primo signum vel stigma illud egregium cum Cervo Albo, cum corona et cathena aurea." [Where was first given that excellent sign or mark with a white stag, with a golden crown and chain]

But it is less probable that the White Hart was first givenl on that occasion, than that it was then brought into conspicuous notice by being displayed upon all the housings and accoutrements of the English knights who took part in the tournament, as the accounts given by Walsingham and in the Polychronicon state that it was. Indeed, as Anstis has pointed out (though with a wrong date, as it belongs to Richard's sixthm and not his ninth year), there is a document in Rymer some years earlier in date, which enumerates various crown jewels pawned to the Corporation of London, among which occur three brooches in the form of White Harts, set with rubies. It should, however, be added that in this document the White Hart does not come prominently forward, for there were more brooches of other patterns; as, of twenty-three in the whole, four were worked with a Griffon in the middle, five were in the form of White Dogs, one great one with four Blue Boars, four in the form of Eagles, three in the form of White Harts, and six in the form of Keys. Still there is ample evidence that the White Hart was made very conspicuous on occasion of the Tournament already mentioned, and it is remarkable that a passage has been foundn in the household-book of Richard's great adversary the Earl of Derby (afterwards Henry the Fourth) for that very year, recording the expenditure of 40s. for the embroidering of two sleeves of red velvet and a pair of plates of the same suit, with the Harts

Note l. The devise of "le Cerf volant, couronné d'or au col," had been adopted ten years before, viz. in 1380, by Charles VI. of France, according to his historian, Juvenal des Ursins; who connects it with a legendary story of the collar having been placed upon the Hart in its youth by Julius Cesar; which legend is also related by Upton and by him located in Windsor Forest, at the stone called Besaunteston near Bagshot. (Nic. Upton de Studio Militari, 1654, p. 159.) The same legendary beast was adopted as a supporter by the family of Pompei in Italy in token of their allegiance to the Emperor, with the initials N. M. T. alluding to the inscription on the collar of the original Hart, Nemo Mg Tanear, Casaris svm. (Anstis, Register of the Garter, i. 113, from Menestrier, Ornem. des Armes, p. 118.) Froissart ascribes the origin of the fying hart of Charles VI. to a dream of the king, the story of which occupies his CIVth chapter. It was represented winged, as it appears in the engraved title of the Compendium Roberti Gaguini super Francorum Gestis. Paris, fol. 1504.

Note m. See Rymer's Foedera, edit. 1740, vol. IIT. part iii. p. 140.

Note n. Anstis, i. 14.