The sword in the stone: Duck à la blood

This is a sequel to the previous post. I am working my way through thousands of pages of memoirs and biographies, mostly in French (with free headache included), such as those of Olivier de la Marche, Georges Chastellain and Molinet plus some obscure footnotes in catalogues. I haven’t started Comines yet. Some of the research pertains another French man who was involved with the ducks dukes of Burgundy so it’s basically a double whopper. The blood is flowing from the pages and women and soldiers are moved around like chess pieces. At the same time, those women had to take care of the business and the state affairs when the men were away on their endless campaigns or crusades, or got killed in them. And often they did well, or even better.

Cryptophoriques at Arles or the mind of Charles of Burgundy. Your guess is as good as mine.

After watching the news I can only conclude that not much has changed in 500 years, despite the obsolescence of catapults and crossbows. There is still a lot of hunger, disease and random violence around us. We still have a Charles at the head of the government, not Charles of Burgundy, just Michel, funny hats, tights and hair not included, and he’s under fire too, proverbial this time. No blood has been drawn yet but it’s getting very interesting. Anyway.

Charles (the duck, not our prime minister) started behaving strangely in 1472. Well, even more strangely than he already was, that is. There was a vague reference to a couple anecdotes in the catalogue I borrowed from the library so I specifically looked for those. I also looked for a description of the 6 month period in which the D was very depressed and underwent special treatments. And finally I looked for the boot incident. So far I have only found one of those, but also other things.

First of all I found some accounts about the castle of Hesdin. This was more of a fairground attraction than a castle with machinery that scared or surprised visitors. After a quick search I found a description of the castle on this website: Marvels of Hesdin. I wish I had a time machine and could see this.

Secondly I found an account of the death of brave but poor de Lalaing who was killed at 32 in a siege of Gent (Philip had his hands full with the Gent people). Apparently Jacques had a problem with his leg and his doctor told him to rest but he wouldn’t listen and went into battle anyway. The revolters fired a cannon, and some wood hit de Lalaing in the head so his skull was crushed and his brain came out. (if my medieval French was good enough).

Thirdly I found a story in which someone was voodooed with a wax doll. I need to reread that story, it is quite interesting. Lots of poisonings, hangings and chopping off hands, raping and pillaging, and in between all that, – in Philip’s time – dining and jousting and extorting citizens and borrowing money from fishy bankers for war machines and expensive jewellery. 

I found some circumstantial evidence that the D saw/was near the Holy Blood at least once in his life. 

Some claim that the D was so depressed after the lost battles in the end, he wouldn’t take any advice from the others and claimed he’d even fight alone if he had to, so basically committed virtual suicide at Nancy in 1477.

According to a professor who had it from another professor who wrote about it to his student in 1800-something, the duck suffered from strange visions about Arles, Italy and God. It’s supposedly in Chastellain’s memoires, but I haven’t found it yet. I visited Arles once and they have dark Roman cellars and this church full of gruesome relics of saints so it is a place that inspires black thoughts.

Relics in the St. Trophime church

Also encountered a rather gruesome description of the destruction of a city in which nobody was spared, not even the people who sought refuge in a church. The vengeful Terrible rode into the church on his horse, into the bodies and the great pool of blood on the floor and he allegedly said: “My butchers have done a good job.”

Most interesting anecdote regarding his mental state in my opinion, I found in Molinet’s chronicles:

car il estoit fort mélancolieux et faci- lement incité à l’ire depuis la perte de Granson. Et disent aulcuns de ses privés serviteurs, qu’il prendoit par fois un libvre pour faire manière de vouloir, lire , et s’enclouoit seule; et illec, par grand courroux, tiroit cheveux, et se destordoit, en faisant les plus angoisseux regrets et plainctes qui jamais furent ouys; et, à ceste cause, chascun craindoit l’advertir de chose qui tournoit à sa des- plaisance.

Simply translated from my less than perfect old French: ...”[because] he was quite melancholic and was easily incited to rage after the loss of Granson. And some of his private servants said that sometimes he would take a book as if to read and lock himself up alone, where in great wrath he would tear at his hair and twist himself, while uttering the most anguished regrets and complaints ever heard. And because of this, everybody feared to inform him of something that would displease him.”

Ironically I drew this quick sketch as a study for the second, more fantasy painting of the series, long before I read about the above anecdote.

Still quite some research to do, but the coming days will be filled with 21st century tasks.


The sword in the stone – Gold cups and red kings

It’s a curse.
Mend my troubled soul.

[Stole this quote from (the unintentionally hilarious) Knightfall. Quite befitting in the context of this post, even though it was uttered by a templar about to enter the holy lands of a voluptuous woman.]

1. WIP

Artwork in progress: still the same apart from a new modern martyr and miniature of a suit of armour in art school.

2. Research about the Bold’s crypto and other portraits

On Monday I traded my library books about van der Weyden and the Bold for some other books, more in particularly another one about Rogier, one about Michael Cocxcie and two about Jan van Eyck. Poor Hubert is rarely mentioned. I also checked some clues about Memling in a book I didn’t take home, mostly because it made my pile to heavy. I just took a picture of the relevant page:

The article mentioned that somebody thought the third apostle on the left of Christ was Philip the Good but the author says it looks more like his son. Side by side, he looks like the spitting image but I already mentioned this. Note that when I say Memling it could also mean his workshop

With the Columba altarpiece (see pages and earlier posts), where the red king is supposed to be a crypto of the Bold, the date is problematic. The red king looks a bit too old in relation to the age of C at the time, plus he doesn’t have that rather obvious double chin, folds near the corners of his mouth, big staring eyes and frown of the couple contemporary portraits. 

There are three other candidates for a crypto portrait, basically three versions of the same painting. I also found this partially in the book about Memling but did some additional comparing. There is the Jan Floreins triptych (dated 1479) and an almost the same painting which hangs in the Prado (dated 1470), plus a third similar but not quite the same painting by an unknown painter from a bit later.

In 1893 a certain Wauters said the king on the left in the Floreins/Prado painting is a crypto of the Bold, but this was debunked by somebody else in 1899.

Why whould anyone have thought it was a crypto? Well, here are the paintings, in the presumed order of creation, followed by details, so you can judge for yourselves. For the record: The Bold was born at the end of 1433 and had dark, thick and straggly hair. Not sure about a moustache or dimple in his chin. Nb, look very closely at the one by the unknown painter, not just at the king on the right, but also the black king. Same stance and overcoat as the red king in the Columba altarpiece by Rogier but that’s it, none of the other features.

The Prado Adoration of the Magi by Memling (workshop) (around 1470):

The Adoration of the Magi by an anonymous painter (around 1475):

The Floreint triptych by Memling (workshop) (around 1479):

Here are the heads of the three kings, the middle one is mirrored:

And all three mirrored so they can be compaired with the Berlin portrait:

For completeness sake, here are two other portraits: one of the relic holder which was ordered by Charles, and the face from his tomb effigy which was created a very long time after his death (all images from Wikipedia).

Maybe I shouldn’t spend so much time on this, but it’s quite interesting to see how the Middle Ages had their own versions of stock images and no worries about copyright at all.

I was going to add something about the research about Charles of Burgundy’s mad behaviour after 1472 but this post is already too long, so that’s for a next post.


The Rebis


The document ‘Gideon is coming’  with the – pretty bloody – quest for the Rebis is ready. This is a work in progress. I still have a lot of research to do.

I have put a password on it, but the self-hosted WP won’t let me upload a document with a password, so mail me for the document if you’re interested. And sign a NDA, obviously.

Note that our poltergeist has not gone yet. The cat keeps attacking invisible enemies and I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep for ages.

Maugis the Bewitched


Site update: Pictures of the Seven Sacraments

I have uploaded the pictures I took of the Seven Sacraments altarpiece by Rogier van der Weyden on a separate page under the menu (see above or on the right). I have not yet added my personal thoughts and background information.

The page can be found here:

V. Documents & Background > The Dukes of Burgundy > The Seven Sacraments by Rogier van der Weyden