10 December 1996
Elaine Kriegh: Tomb monuments
Elaine presented a short overview of the different styles of medieval tomb monuments (reproduced below), and then followed this with a set of slides she had taken that illustrated many of the different designs that she had discussed. Here is a copy of her handout, with a couple of [marginal notes] by john wilkes.
Medieval Monuments: Slabs, Effigies, Tombs and Brasses
Most medieval memorials fall into four categories: incised slabs, tomb chests, effigies, and memorial brasses. There is some overlap; for example, the effigy and tomb chest were often combined, as were the brass and tomb chest in some cases. Some things to consider when looking at memorials in a church or cathedral are the following:
- Many of the floor memorials have been moved from their original sites.
- Many of the memorials - even very recent ones - have been subject to damage from neglect, vandalism, or wear (foot traffic).
- A "mythology" - about effigies in particular - has arisen, which cannot be verified.
- Have been used since the eighth century to the present day.
- Were usually made from local material
- Are most difficult to date (wear and tear)
Date from the 12th century [at around this time, the papacy was trying to get together with the Eastern church, which was known to favor memorials; it coincided with the church's willingness to allow burials in the church proper, rayther than in the chapter house]
Earliest ones are simple and two dimensional
13th,14th, and 15th century ones became highly decorated,three dimensional
- "active repose" for knights [these did not have any special significance other than of being ready for the resurrection) - many of them came from the West country]
- husband and wife or wives
- ecclesiastics/clerics with appropriate regalia
- "double deckers" (stylized above, rotting below)
Features to look for include:
- pose of body
- fashion/clothing styles
- armor/heraldic devices
- animals [often: lion for men, dogs for women - probably just family pets, rather than any deep symbolism]
- symbols of authority
Royalty and higher nobility usually opted for effigies ($$$$)
- may or may not contain a corpse; sometimes were for show
- earliest are plain or have little decoration.
- later ones are very elaborate: niches, "weepers" [which began in early 14th century - initially simply stylized, later individuals], heraldry
- Size is very important: full (life) size, half size, or"dinky"
- Preferred by the less nobility, gentry, wealthy merchants, lesser clerics ($$)
- Very stylized, often included the same features as effigies
- Early brass workers were known as "marblers"
What were the major influences on medieval memorials?
- Development of chivalry and strong class of knights
- Development of heraldry
- Concurrent developments in architecture, sculpture, other arts
- The growing influence of the concept of Purgatory (probably St.Thomas Aquinas and the Papacy promoted this)
- Clonmacnois, Ireland - incised slabs
- Salisbury Cathedral - effigies of William Longspee , his son, ecclesiastics from Old Sarum, Sir John Cheney
- Worcester Cathedral - King John 
- Temple Church, London - William Marshall and other crusader knights
- Gloucester Cathedral - Robert Curthose (Duke of Normandy) [Son of William the Conqueror]
- St. Mary's, Warwick - Beauchamp Chantry (Richard Beauchamp)
- Tewkesbury Abbey - "The Kneeling Knight," Wakeman Cenotaph, others
- Northleach and Chipping Campden churches - memorial brasses