Codex Manesse Court – Of kings and lords.

codex-manesse_Of-Kings-and-lords_lr

With this set I am starting a new theme in Codex Manesse miniatures under working title “the Court”. Having (almost) depleted the supply of jousting knights in the original manuscript, this new “line” will focus on those who would watch their exploits on the tournament field, and scheme on the backstage.

This first set of the court line introduces some of the mightiest lords of XII-XIV century Central Europe in persons of:

  • His imperial highness Heinrich the VI  der Staufer, by the grace of God, Holy Roman Emperor , King of Italy and Sicily ,
  • Vaclav the II Přemyslovec King of Bohemia and Poland, duke of Cracow, overlord of Silesia (one of the brightest monarchs of the era) and
  • Otto the IV “with an Arrow” Markgrave of Brandenburg-Stendal with his wife Heilwig.

Actually I’m not sure if it is in fact Heilwig (as only Otto was described in the caption of the original miniature), but the woman wears a headscarf – so is probably married, and Otto is depicted as young so it might be her. (Otto married another woman – Jutta of Henneberg – after the death of Heilwig, but he was around 60 y.o. at a time.)

As for the rest of the figures, the first two are the courtiers of king Vaclav, considering their attributes I expect them to be the Sword-bearer and Cup-bearer of Bohemia* – some of the highest ranking officials at a medieval court. The next two crowned miniatures are actually unnamed characters. The young gentleman comes from the miniature of King Tyro of Scotland (as king Tyro is a fictionnal character I expect this one to be such as well), and the lady is from miniature of Der von Kurenberrg. She is actually the only crowned female in the Codex with exception of Virgin Mary – so I decided that unnamed or not this set deserves some queen or at least princess character – and here she is. The final piece is a chessboard for the lord and lady of Brandenburg – I hope no assembly instructions is required.

The lot above are of course not the first mighty lords in Codex Manesse line as many Dukes (Such as Henryk of Wrocław or Jan van Brabant) and other lords were already covered as jousting knights.

Anyway right click on the image to “save target as” them for your use.

*Cup bearer’s duty was to serve drinks to his lord at feasts. As  he could easily poison his liege it was an office reserved for the most trusted vassals, usually connected with other great privileges.

Sword-bearer carried his lord sword as a sign of his judicial authority, and in some realms was in charge of royal armoury. Sometimes he was the only person allowed to carry a weapon in presence of his lord.

The assumption that above lords are actually these officials  is made purely on the depiction of characters and the widespread of such offices across the medieval Europe. If someone could confirm if such offices actually existed in the Kingdom of Bohemia I would be grateful. If they didn’t I could safely assume they are Vaclavs Sword and Cup bearers as a king of Poland.

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