Tag: burgundians

Safe dating in times of corona

One of those weird details in Bosch paintings, this one from an Adoration of the Magi.

This post is not going where you think it is going…

This is something I mentioned before, but I keep running into dating issues. Not just that most books and paintings of the 15th century are not dated but when dates are used, they do not correspond 1 on 1 with the dates we use now.

First of all there is the Julian-Gregorian conversion, which differs from region to region, and started from 1582. Due to timing issues caused by the method of the Julian calendar, it was decided to skip a number of days at a given time. The difference was 10 days at first, but it increments so now we’re apparently 13 days ahead. The result is that not only is it not clear if authors writing after 1582 are using the new date format or the old one when mentioning dates from a time before that, but you also have to factor in the incrementation between the author’s time and the current time.

The second issue is that the year in the middle ages didn’t start on 1 January but on another selected day, usually the day of an important catholic event such as the Annunciation or Easter. This means there is also some discrepancy in year numbers between now and eg. dates in the contemporary chronicles. To give a relevant example, it can happen that you find 1476 as the year when Charles the Bold died, instead of 1477.

I am not even going to mention the weird French Republican calender that was used during a few years around 1800.

It’s convenient we’re in lockdown and I have no idea of what day, month and year it is anyway.

Hey Jean

Yesterday chores, plus a long VT bike ride along the many cycling paths in our area took most of the day. No pictures of that, didn’t take any. In the evening I spent some more time going through Elisabeth Danens’ book about Hugo van der Goes. Some paths ended up in a dead end, others opened new doors.

My current focus is a Nativity painting depicting Jean (or Jehan in old French) Rolin (1408-1483), son of Nicolas Rolin, bishop and afterwards cardinal of Autun (see earlier post).

This is the painting under scrutiny, this time on a postcard:

It was just a hunch, but the painting reminded me of the Monforte altarpiece by Hugo van der Goes. It’s different in composition but there are some elements that have a likeness to it, namely, the two angels in the front, Joseph, the posture of the cardinal and the two figures in the back leaning over the wall.

For reference purposes, here are pictures of a statue of Jean Rolin and a fragment of a wall painting featuring Jean Rolin as a donor, both on display at the museum of Autun (pictures from the family archives):

He seems to have inherited his father’s duckface.

The museum of Autun lists the painting as a Nativity with Jean Rolin, dated around 1480, attributed to the Master of Moulins.

The Master of Moulins turns out to be Jean Hey, (source of dates etc.: Wikipedia) probably Flemish, born around 1455, and active in France, mostly Moulins, between 1475 and 1505. By coincidence I took a picture of his Ecce Homo at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts because I found it a compelling painting.

Now for the interesting bit. According to Wikipedia Jean Hey was at influenced or even a pupil of Hugo van der Goes. According to the French Wikipedia: “Il semble être formé à Gand au début des années 1470 par Hugo van der Goes. De ce peintre, il est proche par la technique faite d’un dessin net, d’une mise en page aux perspectives hardies, d’une lumière froide et d’un coloris éclatant.”

This raises a number questions, in a time before photography and the internet: Are the similarities between the paintings a coincidence or had Jean Hey seen the Monforte altarpiece or studies for it, or copies afterwards, and if so, when? How did he end up working for Jean Rolin? Via Charles de Bourbon? What does that mean for the date and the location of the Monforte piece?

Elisbeth Dhanens has a theory regarding the identity of the kneeling man in red on the Monforte altarpiece. She compares his posture and items of clothing to that of Nicolas Rolin and deducts that he must be another chancellor, namely Willem Hugonet. It is just a theory and if it is valid or not, is not of importance to me. What is interesting is, that it puts both my tournament man (supposedly related to Jean Rolin of above) and Hugonet together in the Council of Mechelen:

Note that the painting is not contemporary but dates from the 16th century, so the portraits are probably fantasy. I also have to look into the correctness of the other members.

After the death of Charles the Bold, Willem/Guillaume Hugonet was tortured and decapitated in Gent on 3rd April 1477. He wrote a farewell letter to his wife:

“My Fortune Is Such that I Expect to Die Today and to Depart this World”

Did Hugo witness the execution?

To be continued.

Feeling doomed, might delete later…

The portrait of Laurent Froiment, by Rogier van der Weyden. The picture is grainy because it was a dark and stormy day when I took this picture, and these portraits are already quite dark to start with. You can just about see Otto’s head in the background (see earlier post).

Have been reading about movements and connections between the Primitives this morning. Hugo stayed in the Roo(d)klooster, who were Augustinians. The family library contained a number of books about the Augustinian order and its history, might be something interesting in them, but they’re in storage and I’m not able to get to them right now. That will have to wait until after lockdown. In 2068 or something.

I have also been reading a bit more about the upper left panel of the last supper by Dieric Bouts and who’s in it:

Even with the limited subject I’m researching and the amount of knowledge I already absorbed and paintings I’ve seen since my childhood, I realised I still know next to nothing about it all. But what’s the point of all this research? What’s the future going to be like? Building up immunity after infection is unlikely, vaccines are unlikely.

Guess we’re all doomed.

This is how going out to buy bread feels like.

Anyway, got to go paint now.

The Just but slightly crazy Judge

The beheading of the Duke of Somerset (already showed this in an earlier post, but it is quite fitting for this one as well)

As promised (or threatened?) in an earlier post about the Judgment of Otto by Dieric Bouts, here is the description of a fairly bizarre trial held by Charles the Bold in Zeeland, preceded by another rather strange punishment of some misbehaving knights, as some kind of prologue. First the Dutch text is shown, slightly modernised, followed by an English summary. Sorry for the awkward translation.

The text is from the rather voluminous Algemene kerkelyke en wereldlyke geschiedenissen des bekenden aard-kloots by Geerlof Suikers. He borrows some of his information from Pontus Heuterus. I have the Pontus lying around and know I should verify if it’s correct but the book is in Latin and I’m not up to that right now. No idea if this is just a wild tale or historically accurate.

The noblemen

De hertog in het volgende jaar eenige tydt zyn verblyf in den Hage houdende, ontstondt daar onder zyne edelknaepen een zo grote twist, dat een der zelven, een Burgundiër van geboorte, dood bleef. Dit wierdt zo hoog door hem genomen, dat hy hen alle in eene oopen-plaats deedt opsluiten, en beval dat zy malkander met roeden, hen ten dien einde gegeven, zouden geesselen, tot dat zy moede waren. Toen het lang genoeg geduurt hadt, deed de hertog eene aanspraak aan hen, en besloot de zelve met eene bedreiging, dat hy alle, die verder eenige wraak wilden nemen, of den twist langer doen duren, zou laten ophangen.

The next year (1469 ed.), when the duke was staying at The Hague for a while, such a huge quarrel broke out amongst his noblemen, that one of them, a Burgundian by birth, was killed. Charles was so vexed that he had them all locked up in an open space and ordered them to bash each other with sticks that were given to them for this purpose, until they were tired. When it had lasted long enough the duke threatened them that if they wanted revenge or if the quarrel lasted on, he would have them all hanged.

2. The commander

Karel wilde de misbruiken aangaande de rechtsvorderingen, in het bijzonder op het gebied van onkuisheid, verbeteren en trok vanuit Den Haag naar alle landschappen die onder zijn heerschappij stonden, om overal recht te spreken, waarmee hij zich drie dagen per week bezighield, wat hem bij zijn onderdanen zeer geliefd maakte. Toen hij in datzelfde jaar (1469 nvdr) in Zeeland aankwam, men meent Vlissingen, heeft hij daar een voorbeeld van strenge rechtsvordering nagelaten, het welk door verschillende schrijvers is verhaald, maar door niemand uitgebreider dan Pontus Heuterus, die wij daarom hier willen navolgen. Een zekere edelman, die in de oorlog grote dienst aan zijn vorst Filips de goede had bewezen, kreeg daarvoor de heerschappij over een stad in Zeeland. Hij was niet gehuwd en woonde daarom bij een voornaam burger in. Deze had een mooie vrouw, op welke de bevelhebber verliefd werd; doch als hij noch door geweld, noch door andere kunstenarijen iets vorderde, en gestadig in vrees was, dat de vrouw hem aan hare man zou ontdekken, nam hij zijn toevlucht tot list en geweld. De partijschappen in Holland en Zeeland smeulen nog in de gemoederen van de inwoners, en de hertog was op niemand zo zeer gebeten dan op degene, die, zowel de Kabbeljauwsen als de Hoeksen, enige blijk gaven van die partijschappen. De bevelhebber deed derhalve de man in de gevangenis werpen, op een voorwendsel dat hij de gemene rust zocht te storen, en hield toen weer bij de vrouw aan, zeggende dat de hertog wel nergens bitterder om verstoord was dan om zulke zaken als haar man had begaan, haar man zou ontslaan, en het wagen zelf daardoor de gramschap van Karel op zich te laden. De huwelijksliefde deed in dit geval een zo wonderlijke werking, dat misschien nooit iets dergelijks gehoord is. De vrouw staat hem zijn begeerte toe. Doch hij, willende zich van haar bezittingen voor het toekomende te verzekeren, hield haar eerst zo lang als het mogelijk was op, alsof hij order van de hertog aangaande haar gevangen man moest afwachten, en toen zij, zo hij dacht, genoeg aan zijn liefkozingen gewend was, gaf hij haar een briefje van zijn hand, om met hetzelfde bij de gevangenisbewaarder te gaan, en hem haar man op te eisen. Deze had enige uren tevoren order van de bevelhebber gekregen om de gevangene het hoofd af te slaan, had zulks verricht, en gaf het lijk over aan de vrouw, die door dat gezicht tot uiterste woede werd gebracht. Zij maakte de ganse zaak aan haar bloedvrienden bekend, die haar raad gaven haar droefheid te ontveinzen, en, alzo de hertog in Zeeland stond te komen, hem zelf de zaak voor te dragen, en recht te verzoeken. Toen Karel in Zeeland aangekomen was, verscheen de vrouw met twee van haar bloedvrienden aan hem, en stelde daar de zaak voor, zo als zij gebeurd was, waarover de hertog zo vergramd was, dat hij dreigde haar te straffen, zo zij een zo wakker (dapper nvdr) man ten onrechte beschuldigde, maar in het tegendeel haar recht te doen, zo men bevond, dat zij de waarheid sprak. Daarop werd de gezaghebber ontboden, en door Karel met een vriendelijk wezen afzonderlijk ondervraagd zijnde, bekende hij alles, en smeekte om genade. Aanstonds daarna deed Karel zijn raad met de vrouw binnentreden, en gebood hem haar terstond te trouwen, en haar erfgenaam van zijn goederen te maken, indien hij zonder kinderen kwam te sterven. Hij was daar zeer wel mee vergenoegd, en beloofde alles, wat de hertog begeerde, maar de vrouw was daar niet toe te brengen als door lang aanhouden van de raad des hertogs, die hij bevolen had haar te bepraten om haar toestemming te bekomen. Nadat zij eindelijk haar stem tot dat huwelijk had gegeven, en hetzelfde ook aanstonds door een priester was voltrokken, vroeg de hertog: “Vrouwe, zijt gij voldaan?” en als zij daar ja op antwoordde, hernam Karel: “Ik nog niet”, en deed aanstonds de gezaghebber in dezelfde gevangenis brengen, waar hij een onschuldig man had laten onthoofden. Daar vond hij een priester, een beul, en een doodskist, nevens een brief van de hertog, behelzende zijn doodvonnis van onthoofd te worden, hetwelk twee uren daarna door de beul werd volvoerd. Aan de vrouw werd ook een afschrift van het doodvonnis van de bevelhebber gegeven, om bij haar vrienden en bloedverwanten tot een getuigenis te strekken van de wraak, die de hertog over haar ongeval en het gedrag van zijn bevelhebber had genomen. Dus was zij voor de tweede maal weduwe, maar verviel in een zo grote droefgeestigheid, dat zij in korte tijd door de dood werd weggesleept; latende de grote goederen van de bevelhebber tot erfenis aan de kinderen, die zij uit het eerste huwelijk had.

Charles wanted to end the abuses in the justice system, especially those concerning immorality, so he travelled to all the places he governed. He did this three days a week, which made him popular with his subjects. When he arrived in Zeeland that same year (1469, ed.) – it is believed it was in Vlissingen – he left an example of the severe justice system he wanted to put in place. This has been described by several authors but the most extensively by Pontus Heuterus, on which this is based.

A noblemen who had fought bravely in the service of Philip the Good, was awarded with the government of a city in Zeeland. He was not married and lived with a distinguished citizen. He fell in love with the wife of his host and was constantly afraid that she would betray him to her husband, so he used deceit and violence to prevent that. The Hook and Cod wars were still causing upstirs and there was nothing that the duke was more vexed about than the ones that supported either side. The commander had his host locked up in prison under the pretense that he wanted to cause an uproar.

The commander went back to his wife and said that Charles would be very angry about the things her husband had done and that he might direct his anger towards her too. The woman gave in but he was trying to stall the affair because he had his eye on the possessions of the couple. He told her was still waiting for the orders of the duke. After a while, when he thought she was sufficiently used to his caresses, he sent her with a note by his own hand to the prison guard to get her husband. But hours before, the commander had ordered the prison guard to chop off the man’s head. So when they handed over his corpse to his wife she became furious. She told everything to four of her ‘bloodfriends’ (close relatives, ed.) who advised her to feign grief and await the arrival of the duke and present the case to him.

So when Charles arrived, she and two of her bloodfriends went to him and told him what happened. The duke became very angry and told her that if she lied, he would punish her, but if she told the truth, justice would be done. The commander was summoned and Charles questioned him in a friendly manner, after which the commander confessed to everything and begged for mercy. The duke had the woman brought in and ordered the commander to marry her and bequeath all his possessions to her in case he died without heirs. He was quite pleased with the outcome but the woman refused to marry him. Charles ordered his counsel to try and convince her to change her mind and it took a lot of effort of them to do so.

When she finally gave her permission, they were immediately wed by a priest. After this Charles asked her: “Are you satisfied, woman?” and when she said yes, Charles answered: “I’m not yet.” He had the commander brought to the same prison where his innocent host had been beheaded. There the commander was met by a priest, an executioner and a coffin, and also to a letter from the duke that ordered his beheading. Two hours later he was beheaded by the executioner. A copy of the death warrant was given to the wife as a testimony of the revenge the duke had taken regarding her misfortune and the behaviour of the commander. In this way she became a widow for the second time and she suffered so much grief that death dragged her away not long after; and left many possessions of the commander to the children she had in her first marriage.

The (not so happy) end.

The Sword in the Stone: Louis, Louis, Louis


I am not really stuck with the quest but the part about Gideon two weeks before I ran into the fleece kept bugging me. After retracing my steps to the moment the roadsign with Gideon appeared in the summer of 2018 and checking the picture, not finding anything new and interesting (see older posts), I decided to go back in time and place, a mere few minutes earlier, when we were inside the cathedral St. Cécile at Albi, which was maybe 50, 70 metres away from the river. I don’t like loose ends and this one was still dangling.

I did something I had not done, ie. look at the photographs I took inside the church once more with a different eye, and this time also do some research about the history of the church in the second half of the 15th century.

The dominant decoration is a large medieval fresco of The Last Judgement. It shows medieval men and women being tortured by demons and the way to heaven and more of that sort of apocalyptic stuff the medieval people and the contemporary media are quite fond of.

The middle scene of the Judgement is missing, it was destroyed centuries ago to create a doorway. It possibly showed Christ in heaven and maybe St Michael weighing souls. Some articles I read mentioned that the Last Judgement painting of Rolin at Beaune was an inspiration for the Albi one but a certain professor Durliat claims it was more likely inspired by a receuil of 1492, published by Antoine Vérard, a Parisian printer. The first theory is interesting because it is a direct link with the quest. However, I don’t see many obvious similarities between the paintings. Unfortunately, I can’t find the article by Durliat nor the receuil that is mentioned but interestingly enough Vérard also printed versions of The cent nouvelles nouvelles and Le chevalier délibéré, two manuscripts I’ve run into before and which are directly linked with the Burgundians. But that is a trivial link.

Some articles state the Judgement was painted somewhere around 1474, another article dates the fresco around 1500. No real certain date in any case, it would have taken some time to paint anyway.

The photographs I took of The Last Judgment didn’t reveal anything new but in the history of the church and the painting I found some unexpected links to the quest (though most of them not very crucial for the main quest at this moment, I must admit).
I am not going to retell the whole history of Albi cathedral, built between 1282 and 1480. It can easily be found online. I’ll just describe the two men that were involved with the church and the fresco and that are part of the period I’m researching (1433-1477). These men were Louis I of Amboise and his nephew Louis II of Amboise.

A short summary with relevant facts based on several articles I found on the internet, and which I will update when I discover new facts:

1. Louis I of Amboise

Louis I of Amboise was born in the the castle of Chaumont-sur-Loire (which we saw from outside last summer (but did not enter unfortunately – castle overdose that day).

He was born in 1433, the same year as Charles the Bold. His history is linked with the king of France and the wars with Burgundy, he also conducted negotiations in January 1477 when Burgundy was annexed by France after the death by Charles the Bold. He was a witness at the marriage of Louis XII and Anne de Bretagne on 7 January 1499. Anne de Bretagne is also part of the quest and I’ve ran into her in different circumstances years ago, in part I of the quest, so interesting trivia.

Louis died in Lyon somewhere between 1503 and 1505, so long after Charles the Bold.

I am going to try and dig up information about him in my personal library but currently I’m more interested in his nephew:

2. Louis II of Amboise

Louis was the son of Charles I of Amboise, brother of Pierre, Louis I’s father. I got a bit lost in the family relations so take it with a grain of salt for now. He was born in the castle of Chaumont-sur-Loire in 1477, the same year Charles the Bold died, or maybe a bit later according to some sources (again, I will try to find out more about him in my personal library).

I couldn’t find a portrait of Louis II online, but I did find a portrait of his brother, Charles II of Amboise by Andrea Solari. Ironically I have had this portrait in my medieval reference portrait folder for ages and often use it as a reference, without really having done any research about it. So it’s quite odd there is more to it than just a pretty picture. I have no idea if the brothers resembled each other.

The link with Burgundy is clear: on 9 August 1501 Louis II is appointed bishop of Autun, of which I am also researching that period, as mentioned before.

His bishopry or whatever it is called, doesn’t last long. In 1503 Louis II returns to Albi. He dies in Italy in 1511.  I have to look into his period at Autun because he is a major direct link with one of my subquests. I want to find out what his contacts were and how he ended up there. Also, I have a feeling there are a few links in the Amboise part of the story that I haven’t discovered yet. But that is not going to happen today.


About a week after our stay in the Tarn, we tagged along with relatives on a trip to Bruges because they wanted to visit an exhibition about WWI. It was summer and very crowded so after the exhibition we had lunch, and afterwards just wandered around. Apart from a short visit to the Saint Salvator cathedral and the Holy Blood chapel where I took a couple random pictures, we didn’t really visit or look at anything in particular. Charles the Bold was not in the picture, literally. The stained glass windows of the Holy Blood chapel turned out to be overexposed, it is not allowed to photograph the relic and we didn’t set foot in the Church of our Lady where the tombs are. The rest of the few pictures I took were just of streets full of tourists and the Jerusalem church from the outside. The tower behind the houses:

The Jerusalem church is interesting and there are links with the Dukes, but not quite in a way that it would help me with the quest at the moment. But I’m keeping it in the back of my head.

We also didn’t visit the Groeninge museum where the painting by van Eyck with van der Paele and Saint George is, as we were in a group, it was late and everybody was tired. But I remembered Durendal, hidden away in a random picture of some buildings at Rocamadour and reminded myself it’s all in the eye of the beholder, you just have to find it when it wants to be found.

All items in this quest seem to consist of three parts. If week one was Gideon and week three was the Bold, the Fleece had to have been present in one form or another in week two as well. I went through the pictures again

And this time I found it.

There it was, the Golden Fleece. Above the entrance of the Gruuthuusemuseum, the home of Louis of Gruuthuuse, knight of the golden fleece. I can’t believe I have not noticed it before. Louis is a major figure in the quest too but I have not really been busy with him.

On top of that, it’s the third Louis in this chain.

Plus est en vous: There is more in you.

Sounds like an invitation.

The museum was still closed the times I was in Bruges, so a third trip is in order. But first Corona has to disappear. It’s quite ironic. Charles the Bold was desperately longing for a crown and I am trying to avoid it at all cost.


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