Effigy of Geoffrey of Anjou

Effigy of Geoffrey of Anjou is in Monumental Effigies of Great Britain.

GEOFFREY Earl, or rather, according to the foreign style, Count of Maine and Anjou (called Plantagenet from the sprig of Planta Genista or Broom which he was accustomed to wear in his capa), was son of Fulk the preceding Earl, King of Jerusalem, by Eremburga, daughter of Helias Count of Mans.

As the Earldom of Anjou was contiguous to Normandy he became an eligible husband for Matilda or Maud, the daughter of Henry the First, King of England, and widow of the Emperor Henry the Fourth. They were married at Mans, April 3, 1127. By the issue of this union the Saxon blood was restored in the succession of English monarchs, for Henry the Second, their only son, was great-grandson, by his mother's side, to Margaret, the sister of Edgar Atheling. Geodrey Plantagenet died in 1150, and was buried before the Crucifix in the Church of St. Julien [Map] in Mansb. The beautiful enamelled tablet, from which the plate is etched, is preserved in the Museum at Mans, where it was found by the Author of this work in the year 1817. It had formerly been suspended in the Church of St. Julien [Map], but disappeared during the Revolution. It was fortunately, however, preserved from the melting pot, to which the unsparing hands of the Revolutionists had consigned it. On this singularly curious and ancient memorial the Earl appears at full length, under an arch decorated with semicircular ornaments, and supported on either side by a pillar with a capital of foliagec. He wears a steel capd, in form like the Phrygian, enamelled with a leopard of gold. In his right hand is a sword, his left supports a shield, which is adorned with golden leopards on a blue held, similarly to the cap. This shield is of the long kite shape, and reaches from the shoulders to the feet; it bears a striking comparison with those represented on the Bayeux Tapestry, save that the upper part is not curved, but the angles are rounded. He wears an under-tunic of light blue ornamented with borders of gold, an upper one of green; his mantle is of light blue, and is lined with vair; above the mantle and over the right shoulder is his belt. The whole ground-work of the tablet is curiously filled up with small trefoil, scroll, and other ornaments. Over the head of the figure is this inscription:



The heraldic bearings on this tablet, by some thought to the griffins (though they are in all probability leopards or lions), have excited much attention from their being perhaps the earliest specimen extant of armorial bearings. "It is not easy to fix the time when heraldic bearings assumed a more decided character than in the Bayeux tapestry, but there appears to exist some proof that they were used in the time of Henry the First. John, a monk of Marmonstier, in Touraine, who was living in the time of Geoffrey Plantagenet, on that prince's marriage with Matilda, daughter of Henry the First, at Mans, describes him, previous to his being knighted, as having put on him a hauberk and stockings wrought with double mailles, golden spurs fastened to his feet, a shield emblazoned with little golden lions hung about his neck, and a helmet glittering with precious stones upon his head." This description accords very well with the charge emblazoned on his shield. "The number of lions is not certain, as but one half of the shield is seen, yet it seems probable there were six; 3, 2, and 1, as we find his bastard grandson William Longespee, on his tomb in Salisbury Cathedral, bearing on his shield, in a held Azure, six lions Or, 3, 2, and 1e. There can be little doubt, from the style in which the tablet is executed, but this memorial of Geoffrey Plantagenet was made about the time when he died. It appears to have been no unusual mode at this period of commemorating the defunct. A similar enamelled tablet or picture, representing Ulger Bishop of Angers, who died in 1149, formerly was suspended over his tomb in the Church of St. Maurice at Angers, but was destroyed during the Revolution.

Note a. It is said that Fulk, the first of that name Earl of Anjou, his ancestor, made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to atone for his sins, and was scourged before the Holy Sepulchre with a rod made of broom; whence he assumed it as his cognizance, and it was adopted as a family distinction by his descendants.

Note b. Sandford gives the following as his epitaph:

Huic Deus aeternum tribuat conscendere regnum [May God grant to him an eternal kingdom]

Quatenus Anglicis turmis conregnet in osvum [How far the English troops will congregate in the snow?].

Note c. An arch of very similar design is still extant, forming the frontispiece to the very ancient chancel of the church of Compton, near Guildford, in Surrey.

Note d. Similar caps appear on the heads of Stephen and Henry II. to be worn MMder the chain mail. See the reverse of their seals in Speed.

Note e. See Essay by the Author of the Monumental Effigies of Great Britain on the Antiquity of the Bayeux Tapestry, Archseologia, vol. xix. p. 188.