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Title: The Arts in The Middle Ages and at the Period of The Renaissance
Author: Jacob, Paul Lacroix
Language: English
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                     _THE ARTS IN THE MIDDLE AGES,

[Illustration: THE ANNUNCIATION.

Fac-simile of a Miniature from the “Hours” of Anne de Bretagne formerly
belonging to Catherine de Medicis

(Library of M. A. Firmin Didot.)]

                               THE ARTS


                           THE MIDDLE AGES,

                         AND AT THE PERIOD OF

                           THE RENAISSANCE.

                            BY PAUL LACROIX
                         (Bibliophile Jacob),

                           Illustrated with

                            AND UPWARDS OF


                           FOURTH THOUSAND.




The aim and scope of this work are so explicitly set forth in the
appended Preface by its Author as to require for the book no further
introduction. The position held by M. LACROIX in the Imperial Library of
the Arsenal, Paris, is a sufficient guarantee of his qualifications for
undertaking a publication of this nature. How far his labours were
appreciated in France is evident from the fact that, when the first
edition made its appearance, it was exhausted within a few days.

It may fairly be presumed that THE ARTS IN THE MIDDLE AGES will find
equal favour in England, where so much attention has of late years been
given to the subject in all its various ramifications; and where,--in
our National Museum, Kensington, especially,--we are accumulating so
extensive and valuable a collection of objects associated with the
epochs referred to by M. LACROIX.

In preparing these sheets for the press, my task has been little more
than to put an excellent and conscientious _literal_ translation of the
French text into language somewhat in harmony with the construction of
our own. In so doing, however, it has been my object to retain, as far
as practicable, the peculiar--sometimes the quaint--phraseology of the
original writing. A few notes are added when they appeared necessary by
way of explaining terms, &c., or to render them more intelligible to the
general reader. But some words are used by the Author for which no
English equivalent can be found: these have been allowed to stand
without note or comment.


BRIXTON, _February, 1870_.




More than twenty years ago we published, with the aid of our friend
Ferdinand Séré, whose loss we regret, and with the co-operation of other
learned men and of the most eminent writers and artists, an important
work, entitled “THE MIDDLE AGES AND THE RENAISSANCE.” That work, which
consists of no less than five large quarto volumes, treated in detail
the manners and customs, the sciences, literature, and the arts of those
two great epochs, a subject as vast as it is interesting and
instructive. Thanks to the learning it displays, to its literary merit
and its admirable execution, it had the rare good fortune to attract
immediately the attention of the public, and even now it maintains the
interest which marked its first appearance. It has taken its place in
the library of the amateur, not only in France but also among
foreigners; it has become celebrated.

This exceptional result, especially as regards a publication of such
extent, induces us to believe that our work, thus known and appreciated
by the learned, may and ought henceforth to have still greater success
by addressing itself to a yet larger number of readers.

With this conviction we now present to the public one of the principal
portions of that important work, and perhaps the most interesting, in a
form more simple, easier, and more pleasing; within the reach of youth
who desire to learn without weariness or irksomeness, of females
interested in grave authors, of the family that loves to assemble round
a book altogether instructive and attractive. We would speak of the
having reunited the scattered materials on this subject, we have ranged
them each in its own rank, taking care to discard all crudity of
learning and to preserve in our work the brilliant colouring in which it
was first clothed.

All the Arts are interesting in themselves. Their productions awaken
attention and excite curiosity. But here it is not one Art only that is
treated of. We pass in review all the Arts, starting from the fourth
century to the second half of the sixteenth--Architecture raising
churches and abbeys, palaces and public memorials, strong fortresses and
the ramparts of cities; Sculpture adorning and perfecting other Arts by
its works in stone, marble, bronze, wood, and ivory; Painting,
commencing with mosaic and enamels, contributing to the decoration of
buildings jointly with stained glass and frescoes, embellishing and
illuminating manuscripts before it arrived at its highest point of
perfection, with the Art of Giotto and Raphael, of Hemling and Albert
Dürer; Engraving on wood and metal, with which is associated the work of
the medallist and the goldsmith; and after attempting to touch upon
Playing-cards and Niello-work, we suddenly evoke that sublime invention
destined to change the face of the world--Printing. Such are, in brief,
some of the principal features of this splendid picture. One can imagine
what an infinity, what variety and richness, of details it should

Our subject presents, at the same time, another kind of interest more
elevated and not less alluring. Here each Art appears in its different
phases and in its diversified progress. It is a history, not alone of
the Arts, but of the epoch itself in which they were developed; for the
Arts, regarded in their generality, are the truest expression of
society. They speak to us of tastes, of ideas, of character: they
exhibit us in their works. Of all an age can leave to the future
concerning itself, that which represents it most vividly is Art: the
Arts of an epoch revivify it, and bring it back before our eyes.

It is this which forms our book. Yet, we must remark, here its interest
is redoubled, for we retrace not only a single era, but two eras very
distinct from each other. In the first, that of the Middle Ages, which
followed the invasion of the Northmen, society was in a great measure
formed of new and barbarous elements, which Christianity laboured to
break up and fashion. In the second epoch, on the contrary, society was
organised and firmly established; it enjoyed peace, and reaped its
fruits. The Arts followed the same phases. At first rude and informal,
they rose slowly and by degrees, like society, out of chaos. At length
they nourished in perfect freedom, and progressed with all the energy of
which the human mind is capable. Hence the successive advances whose
history presents a marvellous interest.

During the Middle Ages, Art generally followed the inspirations of that
Christian spirit which presided at the formation of this new world. It
arose to reproduce in an admirable manner the religious ideal. Only
towards the end of that period it searched out for beauty of form, and
began to find it when the Renaissance made its appearance: the
Renaissance, that is, the intellectual revolution, which, in the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, restored among modern nations the
sceptre to Literature and the Arts of antiquity. Then, with the
Renaissance, the Arts changed their direction, and especially the
principal Arts, those by which the genius of man expresses most forcibly
his ideas and his feelings. Thus, in the Middle Ages, a new style of
architecture is created that rapidly attained the highest degree of
perfection, the _ogival_ (later Gothic or flamboyant), of which we see
the _chefs-d’œuvre_ in our cathedrals: at the Renaissance, this was
replaced by architecture derived from that of the Greeks and Romans,
which also produced admirable works, but almost always less in harmony
with the dignity and splendour of worship. In the Middle Ages, Painting
chiefly applied itself to represent the _beau idéal_ of the religious
mind reflecting itself in the countenance; at the Renaissance, it is the
beauty of the physical form, so perfectly expressed by the ancients.
Sculpture, which comes nearer to Painting, followed at the same time all
similar phases, drawing the art of Engraving with it. Do not the
diversified changes through which the Arts passed, as retraced in this
book during two epochs, present to the intelligent reader a succession
of facts of the highest interest and a history most instructive?

Our work is the only existing one on this great and magnificent subject,
of which the materials are scattered through a multitude of volumes.
Thus for the success of this undertaking it became necessary to unite
with us in our task men most distinguished by their learning and
talents: we are permitted to cite the names of MM. Ernest Breton, Aimé
Champollion, Champollion-Figeac, Pierre Dubois, Duchesne, Ferdinand
Denis, Jacquemart, Arch. Juvinal, Jules Labarte, Lassus, Louandre,
Prosper Mérimée, Alfred Michiels, Gabriel Peignot, Riocreux, De Saulcy,
Jean Designeur, le Marquis de Varennes. After such a list we record our
own name only to acknowledge that we have gone over and recast these
various works, and presented them in a form which gives them more unity,
but owes to them all the interest and all the charm it may offer.

The numerous illustrations that adorn the work will engage the eye,
while the text will speak to the intelligence. The designs in
chromolithography are executed by M. Kellerhoven, who for several years
has made the art one of a high order, worthy to shine among the finest
works of our greatest painters, as is proved by his “Chefs-d’œuvre of
the Great Masters,” “Lives of the Saints,” and “Legend of St. Ursula.”

No one is ignorant of the attention given in these days to archæology.
Information about objects of antiquity is necessary to every instructed
person. It ought to be studied so far as to enable us to appreciate, or
at least to recognise, the examples of olden time in Architecture,
Painting, &c., that present themselves to our notice. Thus it has become
for the young of each sex indispensable to good education. The perusal
of this book will be for such an attractive introduction to that
knowledge which for too long a time was the exclusive domain of the

(Bibliophile Jacob).




FURNITURE: HOUSEHOLD AND ECCLESIASTICAL                                1

Simplicity of Furniture among the Gauls and Franks.--Introduction
of costly taste in articles of Furniture of the Seventh
Century.--Arm-chair of Dagobert.--Round Table of King
Artus.--Influence of the Crusades.--Regal Banquet in
the time of Charles V.--Benches.--Sideboards.--Dinner
Furniture.--Locksmith’s Work.--Glass and Mirrors.--Room of a
Feudal Seigneur.--Costliness of Furniture used for Ecclesiastical
Purposes.--Altars.--Censers.--Shrines and Reliquaries.--Gratings and

TAPESTRY                                                              37

Scriptural Origin of Tapestry.--Needlework Embroidery in Ancient
Greek and Roman Times.--Attalic Carpets.--Manufacture of Carpets in
Cloisters.--Manufactory at Poitiers in the Twelfth Century.--Bayeux
Tapestry, named “De la Reine Mathilde.”--Arras Carpets.--Inventory
of the Tapestries of Charles V.; enormous Value of these Embroidered
Hangings.--Manufactory at Fontainebleau, under Francis I.--The
Manufacture of the Hôpital de la Trinité, at Paris.--The Tapestry
Workers, Dubourg and Laurent, in the reign of Henry IV.--Factories of
Savonnerie and Gobelins.

CERAMIC ART                                                           53

Pottery Workshops in the Gallo-Romano Period.--Ceramic Art disappears
for several Centuries in Gaul: is again found in the Tenth and Eleventh
Centuries.--Probable Influence of Arabian Art in Spain.--Origin of
Majolica.--Luca della Robbia and his Successors.--Enamelled Tiles in
France, dating from the Twelfth Century.--The Italian Manufactories of
Faenza, Rimini, Pesaro, &c.--Beauvais Pottery.--Invention and Works of
Bernard Palissy; his History; his _Chefs-d’œuvre_.--The _Faïence_ of
Thouars, called “Henri II.”

ARMS AND ARMOUR                                                       75

Arms of the Time of Charlemagne.--Arms of the Normans at the Time of
the Conquest of England.--Progress of Armoury under the Influence of
the Crusades.--The Coat of Mail.--The Crossbow.--The Hauberk and the
Hoqueton.--The Helmet, the Hat of Iron, the Cervelière, the Greaves,
and the Gauntlet; the Breastplate and the Cuish.--The Casque with
Vizor.--Plain Armour and Ribbed Armour.--The Salade Helmet.--Costliness
of Armour.--Invention of Gunpowder.--Bombards.--Hand-Cannons.--The
Culverin, the Falconet.--The Arquebus with Metal-holder, with Match,
and with Wheel.--The Gun and the Pistol.

CARRIAGES AND SADDLERY                                               107

Horsemanship among the Ancients.--The Riding-horse and the
Carriage-horse.--Chariots armed with Scythes.--Vehicles of the
Romans, the Gauls, and the Franks: Carruca, the Petoritum, the
Cisium, the Plastrum, the Basterna, the Carpentum.--Different
kinds of Saddle-horses in the Days of Chivalry.--The Spur a
distinctive Sign of Nobility: its Origin.--The Saddle, its Origin
and its Modifications.--The Tilter.--Carriages.--The Mules of
Magistrates.--Corporations of Saddlers and Harness-makers, Lorimers,
Coachmakers, Chapuiseurs, Blazonniers, and Saddle-coverers.

GOLD AND SILVER WORK                                                 123

Its Antiquity.--The Trésor de Guarrazar.--The Merovingian and
Carlovingian Periods.--Ecclesiastical Jewellery.--Pre-eminence of
the Byzantine Goldsmiths.--Progress of the Art consequent on the
Crusades.--The Gold and Enamels of Limoges.--Jewellery ceases to be
restricted to Purposes of Religion.--Transparent Enamels.--Jean of
Pisa, Agnolo of Siena, Ghiberti.--Great Painters and Sculptors from the
Goldsmiths’ Workshops.--Benvenuto Cellini.--The Goldsmiths of Paris.

HOROLOGY                                                             169

Modes of measuring Time among the Ancients.--The Gnomon.--The
Water-Clock.--The Hour-Glass.--The Water-Clock, improved by the
Persians and by the Italians.--Gerbert invents the Escapement
and the moving Weights.--The Striking-bell.--Maistre Jehan des
Orloges.--Jacquemart of Dijon.--The first Clock in Paris.--Earliest
portable Timepiece.--Invention of the spiral Spring.--First appearance
of Watches.--The Watches, or “Eggs,” of Nuremberg.--Invention of the
Fusee.--Corporation of Clockmakers.--Noted Clocks at Jena, Strasburg,
Lyons, &c.--Charles-Quint and Jannellus.--The Pendulum.

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS                                                  187

Music in the Middle Ages.--Musical Instruments from the Fourth to the
Thirteenth Century.--Wind Instruments: the Single and Double Flute, the
Pandean Pipes, the Reed-pipe.--The Hautboy, the Flageolet, Trumpets,
Horns, _Olifants_, the Hydraulic Organ, the Bellows-Organ.--Instruments
of Percussion: the Bell, the Hand-bell, Cymbals, the Timbrel, the
Triangle, the _Bombulum_, Drums.--Stringed Instruments: the Lyre,
the Cithern, the Harp, the Psaltery, the _Nable_, the _Chorus_, the
_Organistrum_, the Lute and the Guitar, the _Crout_, the _Rote_, the
Viola, the _Gigue_, the Monochord.

PLAYING-CARDS                                                        223

Supposed Date of their Invention.--Existed in India in the Twelfth
Century.--Their connection with the Game of Chess.--Brought into Europe
after the Crusades.--First Mention of a Game with Cards in 1379.--Cards
well known in the Fifteenth Century in Spain, Germany, and France,
under the name of _Tarots_.--Cards called _Charles the Sixth’s_ must
have been _Tarots_.--Ancient Cards, French, Italian, and German.--Cards
contributing to the Invention of Wood-Engraving and Printing.

GLASS-PAINTING                                                       251

Painting on Glass mentioned by Historians in the Third Century of
our Era.--Glazed Windows at Brioude in the Sixth Century.--Coloured
Glass at St. John Lateran and St. Peter’s in Rome.--Church-Windows of
the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries in France: Saint-Denis, Sens,
Poitiers, Chartres, Rheims, &c.--In the Fourteenth and Fifteenth
Centuries the Art was at its Zenith.--Jean Cousin.--The Célestins of
Paris: Saint-Gervais.--Robert Pinaigrier and his Sons.--Bernard Palissy
decorates the Chapel of the Castle of Ecouen.--Foreign Art: Albert

FRESCO-PAINTING                                                      269

The Nature of Fresco.--Employed by the Ancients.--Paintings at
Pompeii.--Greek and Roman Schools.--Mural Paintings destroyed by the
Iconoclasts and Barbarians.--Revival of Fresco, in the Ninth Century,
in Italy.--Fresco-Painters since Guido of Siena.--Principal Works of
these Painters.--Successors of Raphael and Michael Angelo.--Fresco
in _Sgraffito_.--Mural Paintings in France from the Twelfth
Century.--Gothic Frescoes of Spain.--Mural Paintings in the Low
Countries, Germany, and Switzerland.

PAINTING ON WOOD, CANVAS, ETC                                        283

The Rise of Christian Painting.--The Byzantine School.--First Revival
in Italy.--Cimabue, Giotto, Fra Angelico.--Florentine School: Leonardo
da Vinci, Michael Angelo.--Roman School: Perugino, Raphael.--Venetian
School: Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese.--Lombard School: Correggio,
Parmigianino.--Spanish School.--German and Flemish Schools: Stephen
of Cologne, John of Bruges, Lucas van Leyden, Albert Dürer, Lucas van
Cranach, Holbein.--Painting in France during the Middle Ages.--Italian
Masters in France.--Jean Cousin.

ENGRAVING                                                            315

Origin of Wood-Engraving.--The St. Christopher of 1423.--“The Virgin
and Child Jesus.”--The earliest Masters of Wood-Engraving.--Bernard
Milnet.--Engraving in _Camaïeu_.--Origin of Engraving on Metal.--The
“Pax” of Maso Finiguerra.--The earliest Engravers on Metal.--Niello
Work.--_Le Maître_ of 1466.--_Le Maître_ of 1486. Martin Schöngauer,
Israel van Mecken, Wenceslaus of Olmutz, Albert Dürer, Marc Antonio,
Lucas van Leyden.--Jean Duret and the French School.--The Dutch
School.--The Masters of Engraving.

SCULPTURE                                                            339

Origin of Christian Sculpture.--Statues in Gold and Silver.--Traditions
of Antique Art.--Sculpture in Ivory.--Iconoclasts.--Diptychs.--The
highest Style of Sculpture follows the Phases of
Architecture.--Cathedrals and Monasteries from the year 1000.--Schools
of Burgundy, Champagne, Normandy, Lorraine, &c.--German,
English, Spanish, and Italian Schools.--Nicholas of Pisa and
his Successors.--Position of French Sculpture in the Thirteenth
Century.--Florentine Sculpture and Ghiberti.--French Sculptors from the
Fifteenth to the Sixteenth Century.

ARCHITECTURE                                                         373

The Basilica the first Christian Church.--Modification of
Ancient Architecture.--Byzantine Style.--Formation of the Norman
Style.--Principal Norman Churches.--Age of the Transition from
Norman to Gothic.--Origin and Importance of the _Ogive_.--Principal
Edifices in the pure Gothic Style.--The Gothic Church, an Emblem of
the Religious Spirit in the Middle Ages.--Florid Gothic.--Flamboyant
Gothic.--Decadency.--Civil and Military Architecture: Castles,
Fortified Enclosures, Private Houses, Town-Halls.--Italian Renaissance:
Pisa, Florence, Rome.--French Renaissance: Mansions and Palaces.

PARCHMENT AND PAPER                                                  413

Parchment in Ancient Times.--Papyrus.--Preparation of Parchment
and Vellum in the Middle Ages.--Sale of Parchment at the Fair of
Lendit.--Privilege of the University of Paris on the Sale and Purchase
of Parchment.--Different Applications of Parchment.--Cotton Paper
imported from China.--Order of the Emperor Frederick II. concerning
Paper.--The Employment of Linen Paper, dating from the Twelfth
Century.--Ancient Water-Marks on Paper.--Paper Manufactories in France
and other parts of Europe.

MANUSCRIPTS                                                          423

Manuscripts in Olden Times.--Their Form.--Materials of which
they were composed.--Their Destruction by the Goths.--Rare
at the Beginning of the Middle Ages.--The Catholic Church
preserved and multiplied them.--Copyists.--Transcription of
Diplomas.--Corporation of Scribes and Booksellers.--Palæography.--Greek
Writings.--Uncial and Cursive Manuscripts.--Sclavonic
Writings.--Latin Writers.--Tironian Shorthand.--Lombardic

MINIATURES IN MANUSCRIPTS                                            443

Miniatures at the Beginning of the Middle Ages.--The two “Vatican”
Virgils.--Painting of Manuscripts under Charlemagne and Louis
le Débonnaire.--Tradition of Greek Art in Europe.--Decline
of the Miniature in the Tenth Century.--Origin of Gothic
Art.--Fine Manuscript of the time of St. Louis.--Clerical and Lay
Miniature-Painters.--Caricature and the Grotesque.--Miniatures in
Monochrome and in Grisaille.--Illuminators at the Court of France
and to the Dukes of Burgundy.--School of John Fouquet.--Italian
Miniature-Painters.--Giulio Clovio.--French School under Louis XII.

BOOKBINDING                                                          471

Primitive Binding of Books.--Bookbinding among the Romans.--Bookbinding
with Goldsmith’s Work from the Fifth Century.--Chained
Books.--Corporation of _Lieurs_, or Bookbinders.--Books bound in
Wood, with Metal Corners and Clasps.--First Bindings in Leather,
honeycombed (_waffled?_) and gilt.--Description of some celebrated
Bindings of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries.--Sources of Modern
Bookbinding.--John Grollier.--President de Thou.--Kings and Queens of
France Bibliomaniacs.--Superiority of Bookbinding in France.

PRINTING                                                             485

Who was the Inventor of Printing?--Movable Letters in ancient
Times.--Block Printing.--Laurent Coster.--_Donati_ and
_Specula_.--Gutenberg’s Process.--Partnership of Gutenberg and
Faust.--Schœffer.--The Mayence Bible.--The Psalter of 1457.--The
“Rationale” of 1459.--Gutenberg prints by himself.--The “Catholicon” of
1460.--Printing at Cologne, Strasbourg, Venice, and Paris.--Louis XI.
and Nicholas Jenson.--German Printers at Rome.--_Incunabula._--Colard
Mansion.--Caxton.--Improvement of Typographical Processes up to the
Sixteenth Century.




Plate                                                       To face page

1. The Annunciation. Fac-simile of Miniature
taken from the “Hours” of Anne
de Bretagne, formerly belonging to
Catherine de Medicis                                        FRONTISPIECE

2. Distaff and Bedposts of the Sixteenth
Century                                                               20

3. Adoration of the Magi. Bernese Tapestry
of the Fifteenth Century                                              46

4. Paris in the Fifteenth Century. Beauvais
Tapestry                                                              50

5. Encaustic Tiles                                                    58

6. Biberon of Henri Deux Faience                                      64

7. Casque, Morion, and Helmets                                        82

8. Entrance of Queen Isabella of Bavaria
into Paris. From Froissart’s
“Chronicles”                                                         118

9. Jewelled Crosses of the Visigoths, found
at Guarrazar. Seventh Century                                        124

10. Drageoir, or Table Ornament. German
work                                                                 154

11. Clock of Damaskeened Iron of the Fifteenth
Century; and Watches of the
Sixteenth Century                                                    180

12. Francis I. and Eleanor his Wife at their
Devotions. Sixteenth Century                                         266

13. The Dream of Life, a Fresco by Orcagna                           276

14. St. Catherine and St. Agnes, by Margaret
van Eyck                                                             300

15. Clovis the First and Clotilde his Wife                           352

16. Decoration of La Sainte-Chapelle, Paris                          386

17. Coronation of Charles the Fifth of
France. From Froissart’s “Chronicles”                                464

18. Panel of a Book-cover of the Ninth
Century                                                              472

19. Diptych of Ivory                                                 474



Abbey of St. Denis                                                   416

Alhambra, Interior of the                                            405

Alphabet, Specimen of Grotesque                                      327

Altar-cloth of the Fifteenth Century                                  30

  “   Cross ascribed to St. Eloi                                     137

  “   of Gold                                                        130

  “   Tray and Chalice                                                31

Arch, Restoration of a Norman                                        343

Archer of Normandy                                                    79

Archers of the Fifteenth Century, France                              88

Arles, Sculptures on St. Trophimus                              384, 385

Armour, Convex, of the Fifteenth Century                              84

  “     Knights in complete                                           89

  “     Lion                                                          90

  “     of the Duc d’Alençon                                          92

  “     Plain, of the Fifteenth Century                               83

Arms of the Cardmakers of Paris                                      250

     “      Goldsmiths of Paris                                      160

Arquebus with Wheel and Match                                        103

Arquebusier                                                          102

Atelier of Etienne Delaulne                                          158

Bagpiper, Thirteenth Century                                         199

Banner of Paper-makers of Paris                                      422

  “       Printers-Booksellers of Angers                             479

  “       Printers-Booksellers of Autun                              484

  “       Saddlers of Tonnerre                                       121

  “       Sword-cutlers of Angers                                    105

  “       Tapestry Workers of Lyons                                   51

Banners of Corporations                                              161

Banquet in the Fifteenth Century                                      12

Basilica of Constantine, at Trèves                                   374

Basilica of St. Peter’s, Rome, Interior of                           407

Bas-relief in carved wood                                             34

Battle-axe and Pistol, Sixteenth Century                             104

Bed furnished with Canopy and Curtains                                19

Belfry of Brussels                                                   404

Bell in a Tower of Siena, Twelfth Century                            206

Bells of the Ninth Century, Chime of                                 208

Bolt of the Sixteenth Century, with Initial                           23

Bombards on fixed and rolling carriages                               96

Bookbinders’ Work-room                                               482

Bookbinding for the Gospels                                          474

     “      in an Unknown Material                                   480

     “      in Gold, with precious Stones                            474


Bible, called Clement VII.’s                                         463

Bible of St. Martial of Limoges                                      450

Book of the Gospels, Eighth Century                                  446

Book of the Gospels, Eleventh Century                                451

Book of the Gospels in Latin                                         451

Employed by John of Tournes                                          519

Froissart’s “Chronicles”                                             465

Gospel in Latin                                                      456

Lectionary in Metz Cathedral                                         448

“Livre d’Heures” of Anthony Vérard                                   516

“Livre d’Heures” of Geoffroi Tory                                    517

Lyons School                                                         518

Missal of Pope Paul V.                                               467

“Ovid,” Fifteenth Century                                            465

Prayer-book of Louis of France                                       461

Sacramentary of St. Æthelgar                                         453

Bracelet, Gallic                                                     124

Brooch, chased, enamelled, &c.                                       167

Cabinet in damaskeened Iron, inlaid                                   22

  “  for Jewels                                                       21

Cameo-setting of the time of Charles V.                              140

Cannon, Earliest Models of                                            98

  “  Hand                                                             99

Caparison of the Horse of Isabel the Catholic                        117

Capital of a Column, St. Geneviève, Paris                            392

    “          “    St. Julien, Paris                                392

    “          “    The Célestins, Paris                             393

Carruca, or Pleasure-carriage                                        108

Cart drawn by Oxen, Fifteenth Century                                109

Castle of Marcoussis, near Rambouillet                               397

    “     Coucy, in its ancient state                                399

    “     Vincennes, Seventeenth Century                             399

Cathedral of Amiens, Interior of                                     391

    “        Mayence                                                 388

Censer of the Eleventh Century                                        32

Chains                                                               165

Chair called the “Fauteuil de Dagobert”                                3

  “   of Christine de Pisan                                            9

  “   of Louise de Savoie                                             10

  “   of Louis IX.                                                     7

  “   of the Ninth or Tenth Century                                    4

Chalice of the Fourth or Fifth Century                                31

  “     said to be of St. Remy                                       135

Château de Chambord                                                  409

Chess-Players                                                        225

Chest shaped like a Bed, and Chair                                    20

_Choron_, Ninth Century                                              211

_Chorus_ with Single Bell-end with Holes                             199

Church of Mouen, Remains of the                                      378

  “       St. Agnes, Rome                                            377

  “       St. Martin, Tours                                          377

  “       St. Paul-des-Champs, Paris                                 381

  “       St. Trophimus, Arles, Portal                          384, 385

  “       St. Vital, Ravenna                                         376

Clock, Astronomical, of Strasburg Cathedral                          184

  “    of Jena, in Germany                                           183

  “    Portable, of the time of the Valois                           178

  “    with Wheels and Weights                                       177

Clockmaker, The                                                      170

Cloister of the Abbey of Moissac, Guyenne                            386

Coffee-pot of German Ware                                             72

Concert; a Bas-relief (Normandy)                                     193

  “      and Musical Instruments                                     194

Cooper’s Workshop, Sixteenth Century                                  16

Crossbow Men protected by Shield-bearers                              85

Cross, Gold-chased                                                   163

_Crout_, Three-stringed, Ninth Century                               217

Crown of Suintila, King of the Visigoths                             125

Crozier, Abbot’s, enamelled                                          138

  “      Bishop’s                                                    138

Cup, Italian Ware                                                     62

  “  of Lapis-lazuli, mounted in Gold                                152

Diadem of Charlemagne                                                127

Diptych in Ivory                                                     345

Dish, Ornament of a                                                   74

Doorways of the Hôtel de Sens, Paris                                 403

Dragonneau, Double-barreled                                          101

Drinking-cup of Agate                                                134

Dwelling-room of a Seigneur of the Fourteenth
Century                                                               26

Enamelled Border of a Dish                                            63

  “       Dish, by Bernard Palissy                                    71

  “       Terra-cotta                                                 57

Engine for hurling Stones                                             95


Columbus on board his Ship                                           325

Ferdinand I.                                                         335

Herodias                                                             329

Letter N, Grotesque Alphabet                                         327

Lutma, of Groningen                                                  337

Isaiah with Instrument of his Martyrdom                              323

Maximilian, Coronation of                                            321

Phalaris, Tyrant of Agrigentum                                       333

Repose of the Holy Family                                            334

St. Catherine on her Knees                                           319

St. Hubert  praying  before the Cross
borne by a Stag                                                      331

The Holy Virgin                                                      338


The Prophet Isaiah                                                   323

The Virgin and Child                                                 318

The Virgin and Infant Jesus                                          316

Ensign of the Collar of the Goldsmiths of
Ghent                                                                144

Escutcheon in Silver-gilt                                            145

Escutcheon of France, Fourteenth Century                             470

Ewer in Limoges Enamel                                               157

Fac-simile of a Bible of 1456                                        503

  “  “Catholicon” of 1460                                            506

  “  Engraving on Wood                                               487

  “  Inscription _Ex libris_                                         441

  “  Miniature drawn with a pen                                      450

  “  Miniature of a Psalter                                          455

  “  Miniature, Thirteenth Century                                   457

  “  Page of a “Livre d’Heures”                                      510

  “  Page of a Psalter of 1459                                       505

  “  Page of the “Ars Moriendi”                                      495

  “  Page of the most ancient
Xylographic “Donatus”                                                491

  “  Xylographic Page of the
“Biblia Pauperum”                                                    493

Fiddle, Angel playing on the                                         220

Flute, Double                                                        197


Christ and his Mother                                                273

Creation, The                                                        278

Death and the Jew                                                    281

Disciples in Gethsemane                                              275

Fra Angelico, of Fiesole                                             282

Fraternity of Cross-bowmen                                           280

Group of Saints                                                      277

Pope Sylvester I.                                                    274

Gargoyles in the Palais de Justice, Rouen                            372

Gate of Moret                                                        401

  “  St. John, Provins                                               402


Citadel of Pallas                                                    262

Flemish Window                                                       265

Legend of the Jew piercing the Holy
Wafer                                                                260

St. Paul, an Enamel                                                  264

St. Timothy the Martyr                                               255

Temptation of St. Mars                                               267

The Prodigal Son                                                     257

Window, Evreux Cathedral                                             261

Goblet, by Bernard Palissy                                            69

Goldsmiths of Paris carrying a Shrine                                162

Goldsmiths’ Stamps:--

Chartres                                                             159

Lyons                                                                159

Melun                                                                159

Orleans                                                              159

Gutenburg, Portrait of                                               492

Harp, Fifteen-stringed, Twelfth Century                              214

  “  Minstrel’s, Fifteenth Century                                   216

  “  Triangular Saxon, Ninth Century                                 214

Harper of the Fifteenth Century                                      215

Harpers of the Twelfth Century                                       215

Helmet of Don Jaime el Conquistador                                   80

  “  of Hughes, Vidame of Châlons                                     82

Henry VIII. in the Camp of the Field of
the Cloth of Gold                                                    119

Horn, or _Olifant_, Fourteenth Century                               201

  “  Shepherd’s, Eighth Century                                      201

Hour-glass of the Sixteenth Century                                  173

Hour-glass, Top of                                                   186

Initial Letter, Ninth Century                                        476

Initial Letters from Manuscripts                                     445

Initial Letters extracted from the “Rouleau
Mortuaire” of St. Vital                                              454

Jacquemart of Notre-Dame at Dijon                                    176

Key of the Thirteenth Century                                         23

King William, as represented on his Seal                              77

Knight armed and mounted for War                                     114

  “  entering the Lists                                              111

  “  in his Hauberk                                                   81

Knights, Combat of                                                    89

Lament composed shortly after the Death of
Charlemagne                                                     188, 189

Lamps of the Nineteenth Century                                       17

Lancer of William the Conqueror’s Army                                77

Library of the University of Leyden                                  475

Lute, Five-stringed, Thirteenth Century                              216

Lyre, Ancient                                                        209

  “  of the North                                                    209

Mangonneau of the Fifteenth Century                                   97


Anne de Bretagne’s Prayer-book                                       468

Book of the Gospels of Charlemagne                                   447

Consecration of a Bishop                                             449

Dante’s “Paradiso”                                                   466

Evangelist, An, transcribing                                         415

Four Sons of Aymon                                                   458

Les Femmes Illustres                                                 461

Margrave of Baden’s “Livre d’Heures”                                 469

Miniature of the Thirteenth Century                                  457

Missal of the Eleventh Century                                       452

Order of the Holy Ghost, Instituting the                             464

Psalter of John, Duke of Berry                                       462

Psalter of the Thirteenth Century                                    455

“Roman de Fauvel,” from the                                          459

“Virgil,” in the Vatican, Rome                                       444

Mirror for Hand or Pocket                                             25

Monochord played with a Bow                                          221

Musician sounding Military Trumpet                                   202

Musicians playing on the Flute, &c.                                  198

  “          “           Violin                                      219

_Nabulum_, Ninth Century                                             211

Notre-Dame la Grande of Poitiers                                     383

      “    Paris                                                     390

      “    Rouen                                                     379

Organ, Great, of the Twelfth Century                                 204

  “  Pneumatic, of the Fourth Century                                203

  “  Portable, of the Fifteenth Century                              205

  “  with single Key-board                                           205

_Organistrum_, Ninth Century                                         213

Oxford, Saloon of the Schools                                        396

Painting on Wood, Canvas, &c.:--

Baptism of King Clovis                                               286

Christ crowned with Thorns                                           304

Portrait of Leonardo da Vinci                                        292

Princess Sibylla of Saxony                                           305

St. Ursula                                                           302

Sketch of the Virgin of Alba                                         312

The Holy Family                                                      294

The Holy Virgin, St. George, and St.
Donat                                                                300

The Last Judgment                                                    311

The Patriarch Job                                                    290

The Tribute Money                                                    309

Paper-maker, The                                                     420

Pendant, adorned with Diamonds, &c.                                  164

  “      after a Design by Benvenuto Cellini                         150


Ancient French                                                       236

Buffoon, from a Pack of _Tarots_                                     230

Charles VI. on his Throne                                            233

Engravings, Coloured, analogous to
Playing-Cards                                                        227

From a Game of “Logic”                                               245

German Round-shaped                                                  247

Italian Tarots                                                       242

Justice                                                              231

King of Acorns                                                       244

Knave of Clubs                                                       238

Knight from a Pack engraved by
“The Master of 1466”                                                 249

_La Damoiselle_                                                      248

Moon, The                                                            231

Roxana, Queen of Hearts                                              242

Specimen of the Sixteenth Century                                    236

Three and Eight of Bells                                             243

Two of a Pack of German Lansquenet                                   245

Two of Bells                                                         244

Porte de Hal, Brussels                                               410

Pottery Figures, Fragments of                                         68

  “     Ornamentation on                                              67

Printers’ Marks, Arnold de Keyser, Ghent                             511

  “         “    Bonaventure and Elsevier,
Leyden                                                               520

  “         “    Colard Mansion, Bruges                              512

  “         “    Eustace, W.                                         483

  “         “    Fust and Schœffer                                   511

  “         “    Galliot du Pré, Paris                               513

  “         “    Gérard Leeu, Gouwe                                  511

  “         “    Gryphe, Lyons                                       515

  “         “    J. Le Noble, Troyes                                 515

  “         “    Philippe le Noir, &c., Paris                        514

  “         “    Plantin, Antwerp                                    515

  “         “    Robert Estienne, Paris                              515

  “         “    Vostre, Simon, Paris                                513

  “         “    Temporal, Lyons                                     514

  “         “    Trechsel, Lyons                                     512

Printing-office, Interior of a                                       499

_Psalterion_, Performer on the                                       212

“ Twelfth Century                                                    211

Psaltery, Buckle-shaped                                              211

  “       to produce a prolonged Sound                               210

Reredos in Carved Bone                                               363

Rebec of the Sixteenth Century                                       221

Reading-desk of the Fifteenth Century                                 33

Reliquary, Byzantine                                                 129

  “        Silver-gilt                                               143

Rings                                                                165

_Rote_, David playing on a                                           218

Saddle-cloth, Sixteenth Century                                      118

Salt-cellar, Enamelled                                               155

  “          Interior base of                                        156

_Sambute_, or Sackbut, of the Ninth Century                          202

Sansterre, as represented on his Seal                                 79

_Saufang_, of St. Cecilia’s at Cologne, The                          206

Scent-box in Chased Gold                                             142

Scribe or Copyist in his Work-room                                   432


Altar of Castor                                                      340

Altar of Jupiter Ceraunus                                            341

Bas-relief of Dagobert I.                                            347

Citizens relieving Poor Scholars                                     351

Coronation of the Emperor Sigismund                                  360

Fragment of a Reredos in Bone                                        363

Francis I. and Henry VIII. on the
Field of the Cloth of Gold                                           369

Gargoyles on the Palace  of Justice,
Rouen                                                                372

Roman Triumphal Arch                                                 342

“Le Bon Dieu,” Paris                                                 364

St. Eloi                                                             366

St. John the Baptist preaching                                       368

St. Julien and his Wife conveying Jesus
Christ in their boat                                                 362

Statue of Philip Chabot                                              370

Statue of Dagobert I.                                                347

Statue said to be of Clovis I.                                       353

Statues on Bourges Cathedral                                         357

Statuette of St. Avit                                                361

Stone Tomb                                                           343

The “_Beau Dieu d’Amiens_”                                           355

The Entombment                                                       371

Tomb of Dagobert                                                     349

Seal of the Goldsmiths of Paris                                      159

  “         King of La Basoche                                       419

Seal of the University of Oxford                                     478

   “       University of Paris                                       417

Seals                                                                166

Seats, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries                              8

Sedan Chair of Charles V.                                            120

Shrine in Copper-gilt                                                132

Shrine in Limoges                                                    131

    “ of the Fifteenth Century                                       147

Soldiers, Gallo-Romano                                                76

Spurs, German and Italian                                            113

Staircase of a Tower                                                 398

Stall of the Fifteenth Century                                        33

Stalls in St. Benoît-sur-Loire                                        35

Sword of Charlemagne                                                 126

Syrinx, Seven-tubed                                                  197

Table of King Artus of Brittany                                        5

    Construction of Boats for the Conqueror                           44
    Hunting Scene                                                     49
    Marriage of Louis XII. and Anne of
      Brittany                                                        46
    Mounted Men of Duke William’s army                                45
    The Weaver                                                        50

_Tintinnabulum_, or Hand-bell                                        206

Toledo, Gothic Architecture at                                       393

Tour de Nesle, Paris                                                 400

Tournament Helmet, screwed on the Breastplate                         82

Tournament Saddles, ornamented with
Paintings                                                            116

Tree of Jesse. From a Miniature                                      195

Triangle of the Ninth Century                                        222

Trumpet, Curved, Eleventh Century                                    200

    “ Straight, with Stand                                           200

Tympanum of the Thirteenth Century                                   208

Vase of Rock-crystal, mounted in Silver-gilt                         152

Vases of ancient shape                                            54, 55

_Vielle_, Juggler playing on a                                       220

    “   Oval                                                         220

    “   Player on the                                                220

Watches of the Valois Epoch                                          181

Water-jug, Four-handled                                               72

Water-marks on Paper                                                 421

Window with Stone Seats                                              398

Wood-block cut in France, about 1440                                 488

    “      Print cut in Flanders                                     486

Writing Caligraphic Ornament                                         442

    “   Cursive, of the Fifteenth Century                            439

    “   Diplomatic, of the Tenth Century                             438

    “   of the Eighth Century                                   436, 437

    “   of the Fifteenth Century                                     442

    “   of the Fourteenth Century                                    440

    “   of the Seventh Century                                  435, 436

    “   of the Sixth Century                                         435

    “   of the Tenth Century                                         437

    “   Tironian, of the Eighth Century                              437

    “   Title and Capital Letters of the
Seventh Century                                                      435


                     THE ARTS IN THE MIDDLE AGES,

                         AND AT THE PERIOD OF

                           THE RENAISSANCE.



     Simplicity of Furniture among the Gauls and Franks.--Introduction
     of costly taste in articles of Furniture of the Seventh
     Century.--Arm-chair of Dagobert.--Round Table of King
     Artus.--Influence of the Crusades.--Regal Banquet in the time of
     Charles V.--Benches.--Sideboards.--Dinner
     Wood Furniture.--Locksmith’s Work.--Glass and Mirrors.--Room of a
     Feudal Seigneur.--Costliness of Furniture used for Ecclesiastical
     Purposes.--Altars.--Censers.--Shrines and Reliquaries.--Gratings
     and Iron-mountings.

We shall be readily believed when we assert that the furniture used by
our remote ancestors, the Gauls, was of the most rude simplicity. A
people essentially addicted to war and hunting,--at the best,
agriculturists,--having for their temples the forests, for their
dwellings huts formed out of turf and thatched with straw and branches,
would naturally be indifferent to the form and description of their

Then succeeded the Roman Conquest. Originally, and long subsequent to
the formation of their warlike republic, the Romans had also lived in
contempt of display, and even in ignorance of the conveniences of life.
But when they had subjugated Gaul, and had carried their victorious arms
to the confines of the world, they by degrees appropriated whatever the
manners and habits of the conquered nations disclosed to them of refined
luxury, material progress, and ingenious devices for comfort. Thus, the
Romans brought with them into Gaul what they elsewhere had acquired.
Again, when, in their turn, the semi-barbarous hordes of Germany and of
the Northern steppes invaded the Roman empire, these new conquerors did
not fail to accommodate themselves instinctively to the social condition
of the vanquished.

This, briefly stated, is an explanation--we admit, rather concise--of
the transition connecting the characteristics of the society of olden
days with those of modern society.

Society in the Middle Ages--that social epoch which may be compared to
the state of a decrepid and worn-out old man, who, after a long, dull
torpor awakes to new life, like an active and vigorous child--society in
the Middle Ages inherited much from preceding times, though, to a
certain extent, they were disconnected. It transformed, perhaps; and it
perfected, rather than invented; but it displayed in its works a genius
so peculiar that we generally recognise in it a real creation.

Proposing rapidly to pursue our archæological and literary course
through a twofold period of birth and revival, we cannot indulge the
belief that we shall succeed in exhibiting our sketches in a light the
best adapted to their effect. However, we will make the attempt, and,
the frame being given, will do our best to fill in the picture.

If we visit any royal or princely abode of the Merovingian period, we
observe that the display of wealth consists much less in the elegance or
in the originality of the forms devised for articles of furniture, than
in the profusion of precious materials employed in their fabrication and
embellishment. The time had gone by when the earliest tribes of Gauls
and of Northmen, who came to occupy the West, had for their seats and
beds only trusses of straw, rush mats, and bundles of branches; and for
their tables slabs of stone or piles of turf. From the fifth century of
the Christian era, we already find the Franks and the Goths resting
their muscular forms on the long soft seat which the Romans had adopted
from the East, and which have become our sofas or our couches; changing
only their names. In front of them were arranged low horse-shoe tables,
at which the centre seat was reserved for the most dignified or
illustrious of the guests. Couches at the table, suited only to the
effeminacy induced by warm climates, were soon abandoned by the Gauls;
benches and stools were adopted by these most active and vigorous men;
meals were no longer eaten reclining, but sitting: while the thrones of
kings, and the chairs of state for nobles, were of the richest
sumptuousness. Thus, for instance, we find St. Eloi, the celebrated
worker in metals, manufacturing and embellishing two state-chairs of
gold for Clotaire, and a throne of gold for Dagobert. The chair ascribed
to St. Eloi, and known as the Fauteuil de Dagobert (Fig. 1), is an
antique consular chair, which originally was only a folding one; the
Abbé Suger, in the twelfth century, added to it the back and arms.
Artistic display was equally lavished on the manufacture of tables.
Historians tell us that St. Remy, a contemporary of Clovis, had a silver
table decorated all over with sacred subjects. The poet Fortunat, Bishop
of Poitiers, describes a table of the same metal, which had a border
representing a vine with bunches of grapes.

[Illustration: Fig. 1.--The Curule Chair called the “Fauteuil de
Dagobert,” in gilt bronze, now in the Musée des Souverains.]

Coming to the reign of Charlemagne, we find, in a passage in the
writings of Eginhard, his minister and historian, that, in addition to a
golden table which this great monarch possessed, he had three others of
chased silver; one decorated with designs representing the city of Rome,
another Constantinople, and the third “all countries of the universe.”

[Illustration: Fig. 2.--Chair of the Ninth or Tenth Century, taken from
a Miniature of that period (MS. de la Bibl. Imp. de Paris).]

The chairs or seats of the Romanesque period (Fig. 2) exhibit an attempt
to revive in the interior of the buildings, where they were used, the
architectural style of contemporary monuments. They were large and
massive, and were raised on clusters of columns expanding at the back in
three semicircular rows. The anonymous monk of Saint-Gall, in his
chronicle written in the ninth century, alludes to a grand banquet, at
which the host was seated on cushions of feathers. Legrand d’Aussy tells
us, in his “Histoire de la Vie Privée des Français,” that at a later
date--referring to the reign of Louis le Gros, in the beginning of the
twelfth century--the guests were seated, at ordinary family repasts, on
simple stools; but if the party was more of a ceremonious than intimate
character, the table was surrounded with benches, or _bancs_, whence the
term banquet is derived. The form of table was commonly long and
straight, but on occasions of state it was semicircular, or like a
horse-shoe in form, recalling the Romanesque round table of King Artus
of Brittany (Fig. 3).

[Illustration: Fig. 3.--Round Table of King Artus of Brittany, from a
Miniature of the Fourteenth Century (MS. de la Bibl. Imp. de Paris).]

The Crusades, bringing together men of all the countries of Europe with
the people of the East, made those of the West acquainted with luxuries
and customs which, on returning from their chivalrous expeditions, they
did not fail to imitate. We find feasts at which they ate sitting
cross-legged on the ground, or stretched out on carpets in the Oriental
fashion, as represented and described in miniatures contained in the
manuscripts of that period. The Sire de Joinville, the friend and
historian of Louis IX., informs us that this saintly king was in the
habit of sitting on a carpet, surrounded by his barons, and in that
manner he dispensed justice; but at the same time the practice of using
large _chaires_, or arm-chairs, continued, for there still is to be seen
a throne in massive wood belonging to that period, and called _le banc
de Monseigneur St. Louis_, embellished with carvings representing
fanciful and legendary birds and animals. It is unnecessary to add that
the lower orders did not aspire to so much refinement. In their abodes
the seats in use were settles, chests, or at best benches, the supports
of which were, to a slight extent, carved.

This was the period when the practice commenced of covering seats with
woollen stuffs, or with silk figured on frames, or embroidered by hand,
displaying ciphers, emblems, or armorial bearings. From the East was
introduced the custom of hangings for rooms, composed of glazed leather,
stamped and gilt. These skins of the goat or sheep were called _or
basané_, because plain gilt; or embossed leather, in gold colour, was
made from them. _Or basané_ was also used to conceal the bare look of
arm-chairs. Towards the fourteenth century, tables of precious metals
disappeared, in consequence of fashion ruling in favour of the stuffs
which covered them; tapestry, tissues of gold, and velvets thenceforth
formed the table-cloths. On great occasions, the place of the principal
guests was distinguished by a canopy, more or less rich, erected above
their seats, as represented in the account of the sumptuous feast given
by King Charles V. to the Emperor Charles of Luxemburg, in the great
hall of the palace. M. Fréguier thus describes the banquet from
contemporary documents in the “Histoire de l’Administration de la Police
de Paris:”--

“The dinner was served on a marble table. The Archbishop of Rheims, who
had officiated that day, first took his place at table. The Emperor then
sat down, then the King of France, and the King of Bohemia, the son of
the Emperor. Above the seat of each of the three princes was a separate
canopy of gold cloth, embroidered all over with fleurs-de-lis. These
three canopies were surmounted by a larger one, also of cloth of gold,
which covered the whole extent of the table, and was suspended behind
the guests. After the King of Bohemia, three bishops took their place,
but far removed from him, and near the end of the table. Under the
nearest canopy the Dauphin was seated, at a separate table, with several
princes or nobles of the Court of France, or of the Emperor. The hall
was adorned with three buffets, or dressers, covered with gold and
silver plate; these three dressers, as well as the two large canopies,
were protected by a railing, to prevent the intrusion of the crowds of
people who had been permitted to witness the magnificence of the
display. Finally, there were to be seen five other canopies, under which
were assembled princes and barons round private tables; also numerous
other tables.”

It is noteworthy that from the time of St. Louis these same chairs and
seats, carved, covered with the richest stuffs, inlaid with precious
stones, and engraved with the armorial bearings of great houses, issued
for the most part from the workshops of Parisian artisans. Those
artisans, carpenters, manufacturers of coffers and carved chests, and
furniture-makers, were so celebrated for works of this description, that
in inventories and appraisements of furniture great care was taken to
specify that such and such articles among them were of Parisian
manufacture; _ex operagio Parisiensi_ (Fig. 4).

[Illustration: Fig. 4.--Louis IX. represented in his Regal Chair,
tapestried in fleurs-de-lis, from a Miniature of the Fourteenth Century.
(MS. de la Bibl. Imp. de Paris.).]

The following extract, from an invoice of Etienne La Fontaine, the royal
silversmith, affords, in terms which require no comment, an idea of the
costliness lavished on the manufacture of an arm-chair, then called
_faudesteuil_, intended for the King of France, in 1352:--

“For making a fauteuil of silver and of crystal decorated with precious
stones, delivered to the said seigneur, of which the said seigneur
ordered the said goldsmith to make the framework, who ornamented it
with several crystals, illuminated pieces, many designs, pearls, and
other stones.... VIIᶜ LXXIIIIᵐ (774 louis).

“For illuminated pieces placed under the crystals of the said fauteuil,
of which there are 40 of the armorial bearings of France, 61 of the
prophets holding scrolls, 112 half-length figures of animals on gold
ground, and 4 large representations of the judgments of Solomon....
VIˣˣᵐ (620 louis).

“For twelve crystals for the said fauteuil, of which five are hollow to
hold the bâtons, six flat, and one round,” &c.

[Illustration: Fig. 5.--Seats from Miniatures of the Fourteenth and
Fifteenth Centuries.]

It was only towards the commencement of the fifteenth century that
chairs stuffed with straw or rushes first appeared; they folded in the
form of the letter X (Fig. 5); the seats and arms being stuffed. In the
sixteenth century chairs with backs (_chaires_ or _chayeres à
dorseret_), in carved oak or chestnut, painted and gilt, fell into
disuse, even in the royal castles, as being too heavy and inconvenient,
and on account of their enormous size (Figs. 6 and 7).

The dresser, which has just been described as used at the grand feast of
Charles V., and which moreover has been retained, altered to a sideboard
with shelves, almost to our time, was an article manufactured much less
for use than for show. It was upon this dresser,--the introduction of
which does not appear to go further back than the twelfth century, and
the name whereof sufficiently describes its purpose,--that there was
displayed, in the vast halls of manorial residences, not only all the
valuable plate required for the table, but many other objects of
goldsmith’s work which played no part in the banquet--vases of all
sorts, statuettes, figures in high relief, jewels,

[Illustration: Fig. 6.--Christine de Pizan, contemporary with Charles V.
and Charles VI., seated on a Chair in carved wood with back and canopy,
and tapestry of worsted or figured silk. The box or chest which formed
the writing-table contained books. (Miniature from a MS. in the Bibl. of
Burgundy-Bruxelles, Fifteenth Century.)]

and even reliquaries. In palaces and mansions, the dressers were of
gold, silver, or copper gilt; as were previously the tables. Persons of
inferior rank had only wooden tables, but they were scrupulous in
covering them with tapestry, embroidered cloth, and fine table-cloths.
At one time the display of wealth on the dressers in ecclesiastical
establishments attained to such a point, that we are reminded, among
other censures levelled against that fashionable exhibition of vanity,
of the expostulations of Martial d’Auvergne, author of the historical
poem, “Les Vigiles de Charles VII.,” addressed to the bishops on the
subject. One item significant enough is mentioned in ancient documents;
it is the tribute of half-a-dozen small bouquets, which the inhabitants
of Chaillot were bound to tender annually to the Abbey of Saint-German
des Prés, to decorate the dressers of Messire the Abbot.

[Illustration: Fig. 7.--Louise de Savoie, Duchess of Angoulême, mother
of Francis I., seated in a high-backed Chair of carved wood. (Miniature
from a MS. in the Imp. Bibl. of Paris.)]

More plain, but also more useful, were the _abace_ and the _crédence_,
other kinds of sideboards which generally stood at a little distance
from the table; on one of these were placed the dishes and plates for
removes, on the other the goblets, glasses, and cups. It may be added
that the _crédence_, before it was introduced in the dining-halls, had
from very remote times been used in churches, where it was placed near
the altar to receive the sacred vessels during the sacrifice of mass.

Posidonius, the Stoic philosopher, who wrote about a hundred years
before the Christian era, tells us that, at the feasts of the Gauls, a
slave used to bring to table an earthenware, or a silver, jug filled
with wine, from which every guest quaffed in turn, and allayed his
thirst. We thus see the practice of using goblets of silver, as well as
of earthenware, established among the Gauls at a period we consider
primitive. In truth, those vessels of silver were probably not the
productions of local industry, but the spoil which those martial tribes
had acquired in their wars against more civilised nations. With regard
to the vases of baked clay, the majority of those frequently exhumed
from burial-grounds prove how coarse they were, though they seem to have
been made with the help of the potter’s wheel, as among the Romans.
However that may be, we think it best to omit the consideration of the
question in this place, and to resume it in the chapter on the Ceramic
Art. But we must not forget to notice the custom which prevailed among
the earliest inhabitants of our country, of offering to those most
renowned for their valour beverages in a horn of the _urus_, which was
either gilt or ornamented with bands of gold or silver. The _urus_ was a
species of ox, now extinct, that existed in a wild state in the forests
with which Gaul was then partly covered. This horn goblet long continued
to be the emblem of the highest warlike dignity among the nations who
succeeded the Gauls. William of Poitiers relates, in his “Histoire de
Guillaume le Conquérant,” that towards the end of the eleventh century,
this Duke of Normandy still drank out of the horn of a bull, when he
held his full court at Fécamp.

Our ancient kings, whose tables were made of the most precious metals,
failed not also to display rare magnificence in the plate that stood on
those superb tables. Chroniclers relate, for example, that Chilperic,
“on the pretext of doing honour to the people whom he governed, had a
dish made of solid gold, ornamented all over with precious stones, and
weighing fifty pounds;” and again, that Lothaire one day distributed
among his soldiers the fragments of an enormous silver basin, on which
was designed “the world, with the courses of the stars and the planets.”
In the absence of any authentic documents, it must be presumed that, in
contrast to this regal style, or rather far removed therefrom, the rest
of the nation scarcely used any other utensils but those of earthenware,
or wood; or else of iron or copper.

Advancing in the course of centuries, and till the period when the
progress of the ceramic art enabled its productions at length to rank
among articles of luxury, we find gold and silver always preferred for
dinner services; but marble, rock crystal, and glass appeared in turn,
artistically worked in a thousand elegant or singular forms, as cups,
ewers, large tumblers, goblets, &c. (Fig 8).

[Illustration: Fig. 8.--A State Banquet in the Fifteenth Century, with
the service of dishes brought in and handed round to the sound of
musical instruments. (Miniature from a MS. in the Imp. Lib. in Paris.)]

To the goblet, especially, seem to belong all honorary privileges in the
etiquette of the table; for the goblet, a sort of large chalice on a
thin stem, was more particularly regarded as an object of distinction by
the guests, on account of the supposed antiquity of its origin. Thus we
see represented among the presents given to the Abbey of St. Denis by
the Emperor Charles the Bald, a goblet which is alleged to have belonged
to Solomon, “which goblet was so marvellously wrought, that never
(_oncques_) was there in all the kingdoms of the world a work so
delicate (_subtile_).”

The goldsmiths, sculptors, and workers in copper had recourse to all
the devices of art and imagination to embellish goblets, ewers, and
salt-cellars. We find allusions, in the recitals of chroniclers, the
romances of chivalry, and especially in old invoices and inventories, to
ewers representing men, roses, and dolphins; to goblets covered with
flowers and animals; to salt-cellars in the form of dragons, &c.

Several large pieces of gold plate, discontinued at a later period,
glittered then at grand banquets. Especially may be noted the portable
fountains raised in the middle of the table, and from which, during the
repast, flowed several sorts of beverages. Philip the Good, Duke of
Burgundy, had one in the form of a fortress with towers, from the summit
of which the figure of a woman poured out hippocras (spiced wine) from
her bosom, and that of a child, which sprinkled perfumed water.

There were also plate-holders, well described by Du Cange as large
dishes made to contain vessels, cups, knives; comfit-boxes, which have
been replaced by our modern _bonbonnières_, and which formerly were
valuable caskets chased and damaskeened; and lastly, almsboxes, a
description of metal-urns, richly chased; these were placed before the
guests in order that, according to an ancient custom, each might place
therein some portions of meat, to be subsequently distributed to the

If we glance at the other minor objects which completed the
table-service--knives, spoons, forks, bottle-stands, plate-mats, &c.--we
shall see that they no less indicate refinement and luxury. Forks, that
now seem to us so indispensable, are mentioned for the first time in
1379, in an inventory of Charles V. They had only two prongs, or rather
two long sharp points. As for knives, which, with spoons, had to supply
the place of forks for the guests to eat with, their antiquity is
undoubted. Posidonius, whom we have already quoted, says, when speaking
of the Celts:--“They eat in a very slovenly manner, and seize with their
hands, like lions with their claws, whole quarters of meat, which they
tear in pieces with their teeth. If they find a tough morsel, they cut
it with a small knife which they always carry in a sheath at their
side.” Of what were these knives made? Our author does not tell us; but
we may assume that they were of flint or of polished stone, like the
hatchets and arrow-heads so frequently found where these ancient people
dwelt, and which bear testimony to their industry.

In the thirteenth century mention is made of knives, under the name of
_mensaculæ_ and _artavi_, which a little later were known by the word
_kenivet_, from which evidently is derived _canif_. To complete this
connection, we may remark that it is to be gathered, from a passage by
the same author, that the blades of some knives of that period were made
to slide into the handle by means of a spring, like our pocket-knives.

Spoons, which necessarily were used by all nations as soon as dishes
more or less liquid were introduced, are described from the date of
almost our earliest history. Accordingly, we see, in the “Life of St.
Radegonde,” that that princess, who was constantly engaged in charitable
acts, used a spoon for feeding the blind and the helpless whom she took
under her care.

At a very remote period we find in use _turquoises_, or nut-crackers.
Cruet-stands were, excepting in form, very similar to stands for two
bottles; for they are thus described:--“A kind of double-necked bottle
in divisions, in which to place two sorts of liquors without mixing
them.” The plate-mats were our _dessous de plat_, made of wicker, wood,
tin, or other metal.

The manufacture of the greater number of these articles, if intended for
persons of rank, did not fail to engage the industry of artisans and the
talent of artists. Spoons, forks, nut-crackers, cruet-stands,
sauce-boats, &c., furnished inexhaustible subjects for embellishment and
chasing; knife-handles, made of ivory, cedar-wood, gold, or silver, were
also fashioned in the most varied forms. Until ceramic art introduced
plates more or less costly, they naturally enough followed the shape of
dishes, which in fact they are, on a small scale. But if the dishes were
of enormous size, the plates were always very small.

If from the dining-room we pass to the kitchen, so as to form some idea
of culinary utensils, we must admit that, anterior to the thirteenth
century, the most circumstantial documents are all but silent on the
subject. Nevertheless, some of the ancient poets and early romancers
allude to those huge mechanical spits on which, at one and the same
time, large joints of different kinds, entire sheep, or long rows of
poultry and game, could be roasted. Moreover, we know that in palaces,
and in the mansions of the nobility, copper cooking-utensils possessed
real importance, because the care and maintenance of the copper-ware was
entrusted to a person who bore the title of _maignen_, a name still
given to the itinerant tinker. We also find that from the twelfth
century there existed the corporation of braziers (_dinans_), who
executed historical designs, in relievo, by the use of the hammer in
beating out and embossing copper,--designs that would bear comparison
with the most elaborate works produced by the goldsmith’s art. Some of
these artisans obtained such reputation that their names have descended
to us. Jean d’Outremeuse, Jean Delamare, Gautier de Coux, Lambert
Patras, were among those who conferred honour on the art of brazier’s
work (_dinanderie_).

From the kitchen to the cellar the distance is usually but short. Our
forefathers, who were large consumers, and in their way had a delicate
appreciation, of the juice of the vine, understood how to store the
barrels which contained their wines in deep and spacious vaults. The
cooper’s art, when almost unknown in Italy and Spain, had existed for a
long time in France, as is attested by a passage taken from the
“Mémoires de l’Académie des Inscriptions:”--“We see by the text of the
Salic law that, when an estate changed hands, the new proprietor gave,
in the first place, a feast, and the guests were bound to eat, in the
presence of witnesses, a plate of boiled minced meat. It is remarked in
the ‘Glossaire de Du Cange’ that, among the Saxons and Flemings, the
word _boden_ means a round table; because the peasantry used the bottom
of a barrel as a table. Tacitus says that for the first meal of the day
the Germans had each their own table; that is to say, apparently a full
or empty barrel placed on end.”

A statute of Charlemagne alludes to _bons barils_ (_bonos barridos_).
These barrels were made by skilled coopers (Fig. 9), who gave all their
care to form of staves, hooped either with wood or iron, the casks
destined to hold the produce of the vintage. According to an old custom,
still in vogue in the south of France, the inside of the wine-skin used
to be painted with tar, in order to give a flavour to the wine; to us
this would perhaps be nauseous, but at that time it was held in high
favour. In alluding to wine-skins, or sewn skins coated with pitch, we
may remark that they date from the earliest historic times. They are
still employed in countries where wine is carried on pack-animals, and
they were much used for journeys. If a traveller was going into a
country where he expected to find nothing to drink, he would fasten a
wine-skin on the crupper of his horse’s saddle, or, at least, would
sling a small leather wine-skin across his shoulder. Etymologists even
maintain that from the name of these light wine-skins, _outres légères_,
was derived the old French word _bouteille_; that, first having been
designated _bouchiaux_, and _boutiaux_, they finally were named
_bouties_ and _boutilles_. When, in the thirteenth century, the Bishop
of Amiens was setting out for the wars, the tanners of his episcopal
town were bound to supply him with two leathern _bouchiaux_--one holding
a hogshead, the other twenty-four _setiers_.

[Illustration: Fig. 9.--A Cooper’s Workshop, drawn and engraved, in the
Sixteenth Century, by J. Amman.]

Some archæologists maintain that, when there had been a very abundant
vintage, the wine was stored in brick-built cisterns, such as are still
made in Normandy for cider; or that they were cut out of the solid rock,
as we see them sometimes in the south of France; but it is more probable
that these ancient cisterns, which are perhaps of an earlier date than
the Middle Ages, were more especially intended for the process of
fermentation--that is to say, for making wine, and not for storing it;
which, indeed, under such unfavourable circumstances, would have been
next to impossible.

What light did our ancestors use? History tells us that at first they
used lamps with stands, and hanging lamps, in imitation of the Romans;
which, however, must not lead us to the conclusion that, even in the
remotest times of our annals, the use of fat and wax for such purposes
was absolutely unknown. This fact is the less doubtful because, from the
time when trade corporations were formed, we find the makers of candles
and wax-chandlers

[Illustration: Figs. 10 and 11.--Hanging Lamps of the Ninth Century,
from Miniatures in the Bible of Charles the Bald (Bibl. Imp. de Paris).]

of Paris governed by certain statutes. As for the lamps, which, as in
ancient times, were on stands placed for this purpose in the houses, or
were suspended by light chains (Figs. 10 and 11), they were made in
accordance with the means of those for whom they were intended, and were
of baked earth, iron, brass, and gold or silver, all more or less
ornamented. Lamps and candlesticks are not unfrequently mentioned in the
inventories of the Middle Ages. In the fifteenth and sixteenth
centuries, German artisans made torch-holders, flambeaux, and
chandeliers in copper, wrought and embellished with representations of
all kinds of natural or fantastic objects; and in those days these works
of art were much in request. The use of lamps was all but general in the
early days of the monarchy; but as the somewhat dim and smoky flame
which they furnished did not give sufficient brilliancy to the
entertainments and solemn assemblies held in the evening, it became an
established custom to add to these lamps the light of resinous torches,
which serfs held in their hands. The tragic episode of the Ballet des
Ardents, as told by Froissart--which we shall hereafter relate in the
chapter on Playing Cards--shows that this custom, which we already see
alluded to in Grégoire de Tours, our earliest historian, was in fashion
until the reign of Charles VI.

In subjugating the East, the Romans assumed and brought back with them
extreme notions of luxury and indolence. Previously their bedsteads were
of planks, covered with straw, moss, or dried leaves. They borrowed from
Asia those large carved bedsteads, gilt and plated with ivory, whereon
were piled cushions of wool and feathers, with counterpanes of the most
beautiful furs and of the richest materials.

These customs, like many others, were handed down from the Romans to the
Gauls, and from the Gauls to the Franks. With the exception of
bed-linen, which came into use much later, we find, from the time of our
earliest kings, the various sleeping appliances nearly as they are
now--the pillow (_auriculare_), the foot-coverlet (_lorale_), the
counterpane (_culcita_), &c. No mention, however, is made of curtains
(or _courtines_).

At a later period, while still retaining their primitive furniture,
bedsteads vary in their shapes and dimensions: those of the poor and of
the monks are narrow and homely; among kings and nobles they, in process
of time, became veritable examples of the joiner’s work, and only to be
reached by the aid of stools, or even steps (Fig. 12). The guest at a
château could not receive any greater honour than to occupy the same bed
as the lord of the manor; and the dogs by whom the seigneurs--all great
sportsmen--were constantly surrounded had the privilege of reposing
where their masters slept. Hence we recognise the object of these
gigantic bedsteads, which were sometimes twelve feet in width. If we are
to believe the chronicles, the pillows were perfumed with essences and
odoriferous waters; this we can understand to have been by no means a
useless precaution. We see, in the sixteenth century, Francis I.
testifying his great regard for Admiral Bonnivet by occasionally
admitting him to share his bed.

Having completed our review of furniture, properly so called, we have
now to treat of that which may be termed highly artistic articles of
furniture--that is, those on which the workers in wood exercised their
highest talents--elevated seats of honour, chairs and arm-chairs,
benches and trestles; all of which were frequently ornamented with
figures in relief, very elaborately sculptured with a knife (_canivet_);
the _bahuts_, a kind of chest with either a flat or convex top, resting
on feet, and opening on the upper side, whereon were placed stuffed
leather cushions (Fig. 13); tubs, buffets,

[Illustration: Fig. 12.--Bed furnished with Canopy and Curtains, from a
Miniature at the end of the Fourteenth Century. (MS. de la Bibl. Imp. de

presses, coffers both large and small, chess-boards, dice-tables,
comb-boxes, which have been superseded by our dressing-cases, &c. Many
specimens of these various kinds of furniture have descended to our
time; and they prove to what a degree of perfection and of elaborate
finish the art of cabinet-making and of inlaying had attained in the
Middle Ages. Elegance and originality of design in inlaid metals,
jasper, mother-of-pearl, ivory; carving, various kinds of veneering, and
of stained woods, are all found combined in this description of
furniture; some of which was ornamented with extreme delicacy of taste
(Plate I.), and still remains inimitable, if not in all the details of
execution, at least in rich and harmonious effect.

At the time of the Renaissance, cabinets with numerous drawers and in
several compartments were introduced: these were known in Germany by the
name of artistic cabinets (_armoires artistiques_): the sole object of
the maker was to combine in one piece of furniture, under the pretext of
utility, all the fascination and gorgeous caprices of decorative art.

To the Germans must be awarded the merit of having been the first to
distinguish themselves in the manufacture of these magnificent cabinets,
or presses; but they soon found rivals in both the French (Fig. 14) and
Italians (Fig. 15), who proved themselves equally skilful and ingenious
in the execution of this kind of manufacture.


     Fig. 13.--Chest shaped like a Bed, standing in front of a
     Fireplace, and a Chair with cushions, in carved wood, from
     Miniatures of the Fifteenth Century. (Bibl. Roy. de Bruxelles.)

The art of working in iron, which can legitimately rank as one of the
most notable industries of the Middle Ages, soon came to lend its aid to
that of cabinet-making, both in embellishing and giving solidity to its
_chefs-d’œuvre_. The ornamentation of cabinets and coffers was
remarkable for the good taste and the high finish displayed in them.

[Illustration: DISTAFF OF WOOD, Turned and Carved. Sixteenth Century.
Size of the Original.]

In the hands of skilful artisans, of unknown artists dating from the
twelfth to the sixteenth century, iron seemed to assume great
ductility--indeed, we might say unprecedented submission. Observe, in
the gratings of courtyards, in the iron-work of gates, how those lines
are interlaced, how attractive are those designs, how those wrought
stems are delicately lengthened out, at once strong but light, and
finally how they expand with natural grace into leaves, fruits, and
symbolic figures.

[Illustration: Fig. 14.--Small Cabinet for Jewels, in carved wood, after
the style of Jean Goujon, from the Château d’Ecouen, and which formerly
belonged to the Montmorency family. (In the Collection of M. Double.)]

Moreover, the workers in metal did not confine themselves to the
application of iron on articles already prepared and manufactured by
other artisans; they had also to originate and execute, to ornament
caskets and reliquaries: but their special art was to manufacture bolts
(Fig. 16), locks, and keys; examples of this kind of ancient work will
always be admired. “Locks,” says M. Jules Labarte, “were at that time
carried to such a degree of perfection, that they were considered as
veritable objects of art; they were carried from place to place, as
would have been done with any other valuable article of furniture.
Nothing could be more artistic than the figures in high relief, the
armorial bearings, the letterings, the ornaments and the engravings
which embellished that portion of the key which the fingers grasp (Fig.
17), and for which we have substituted a common ring.”

[Illustration: Fig. 15.--Cabinet in Damaskeened Iron, inlaid with gold
and silver. An Italian work of the Sixteenth Century.]

Glass and glazing claim particular notice. It may be said that glass was
known in the remotest ages, for Phœnicia and ancient Egypt were, in the
time of Moses, renowned for their innumerable productions in vitrified
sand. In Rome they cast, cut, and engraved glass--they even worked it
with the hammer, if we are to believe Suetonius, who relates that a
certain artist had discovered the secret of making glass malleable. This
industrial art, which extended and improved under the emperors, found
its way to Byzantium, where it flourished during several centuries;
until Venice, claiming as she then did a prominent position in the
history of the arts, imported the process of the Byzantine method of
making glass, and in her turn excelled in this manufacture. Although
articles in glass and crystal, painted, enamelled, and engraved, are
frequently alluded to in historical and poetical narratives, and also in
the inventories of the Middle Ages, we know they were all the result of
Greek or Venetian manufacture. In this art France especially seems to
have been somewhat late in taking her first artistic step; such

[Illustration: Fig. 16.--Bolt of the Sixteenth Century, with Initial of
Henry II.

(In the Castle of Chenonceaux.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 17.--Key of the Thirteenth Century, with two Figures
of Chimeras, back to back.

(Soltykoff Collection.)]

objects as were manufactured for the use of the rich never passed beyond
the limits of the rudest art. We should, however, observe that France
must have long been acquainted with the art of glazing, for in the
middle of the seventh century we find St. Benoît--called Biscop, who
built so many churches and convents in England--coming to France in
search of workmen for the purpose of glazing the church and the
cloisters of his abbey at Canterbury. And it is also mentioned in the
chronicles of the Venerable Bede, that the French taught their art to
the English glaziers.

Towards the fourteenth century the windows of even the commonest houses
were generally glazed; at that date glass manufactories were found in
operation everywhere; and although they may not have rivalled in a
remarkable degree their predecessors of the Merovingian period, they
nevertheless made in large quantities all kinds of articles ordinarily
in use, as we can judge by the terms of a charter, dated 1338, by which
one Guionnet, in order to have the privilege of establishing a glass
factory in the forest of Chambarant, was bound to furnish as an annual
due to his seigneur, Humbert, Dauphin of Viennois, one hundred dozen
glasses in the shape of a bell, twelve dozen small shallow glasses,
twenty dozen goblets, twelve dozen amphoræ, twenty dozen lamps, six
dozen candlesticks, one dozen large cups, one large stand (or _nef_),
six dozen dishes without borders, twelve dozen jars, &c.

We have alluded to Venice and the celebrity she attained in the art of
working glass. It was especially for the manufacture of mirrors and
looking-glasses that this large and industrious city made herself
renowned over all the world. If we are to believe Pliny, the Romans
purchased their glass mirrors at Sidon, in Phœnicia, where, in the
remotest ages, they had been invented. At this time were these mirrors
silvered? We must believe that they were, for a plate of glass, without
quicksilvering, could never be anything than glass more or less
transparent, and would permit of the light passing through, without
reflecting objects. But Pliny asserts nothing of the kind; and,
moreover, as the practice of using mirrors of polished metal, which was
taken from the Romans, was for a long time maintained among modern
nations, we may conclude either that the invention of glass mirrors was
not a great success, or that the secret of making them was lost. In the
thirteenth century an English monk wrote a treatise on optics, in which
allusion is made to mirrors lined with lead. Nevertheless, mirrors of
silver continued in use among the rich, and of iron and polished steel
by the poorer classes, till the time when glass became less expensive,
and Venetian looking-glasses were introduced, or cleverly imitated, in
all European countries; metal mirrors, which easily became dim, and did
not give the natural colour to reflected objects, were then
discontinued. At the same time, the elegant shape of the ancient
hand-mirrors was retained, the workers in gold and silver still
continuing to encircle them with most graceful designs; the only
difference being that the surface of polished steel or silver was
replaced by a thick and bright piece of Venetian glass, sometimes
ornamented with reflected designs produced in the coating of quicksilver
(Fig. 18).

[Illustration: Fig. 18.--Hand or Pocket Mirror in gold or chased silver,
from an Engraving by Etienne Delaune, a celebrated French goldsmith and
engraver (Sixteenth Century).]

From all these details, the reader will have the gratification of
ascertaining at a glance the general effect of furniture in use for
domestic purposes; and thus, after the analysis, he will have its
opposite. Fig. 19, a reproduction, taken from the “Dictionnaire du
Mobilier Français,” by M. Viollet-le-Duc,

[Illustration: Fig. 19.--Dwelling room of a Seigneur of the Fourteenth

represents a dwelling-room of a rich nobleman in the fourteenth century.
What we now designate as a bedroom, and which was then called simply
_cambre_ or _chambre_, contained, besides the bed--which was very
large--a variety of other furniture in use for the ordinary requirements
of daily life; for the time that was not given to business, to out-door
amusements, to state receptions, and to meals, was passed, both by
nobles and citizens, in this room. In the fourteenth century
requirements for comfort had developed themselves in a remarkable degree
in France. To be convinced of this, we have only to glance at the
inventories, to read the romances and narratives of the day, and to
study with some little care the mansions and houses erected in the reign
of Charles V. A huge chimney admitted many persons to the fireside. Near
the hearth was placed the _chaire_ (seat of honour) of the master or of
the mistress. The bed, which usually stood in a corner, surrounded by
thick curtains, was effectually screened, and formed what was then
called a _clotet_; that is, a sort of small room enclosed by tapestry.
Near the windows were _bancals_, or benches with backs covered with
drapery, on which persons could sit and talk, read, or work, while
enjoying the view. A dresser was ranged along one side of the room, and
on its shelves were placed pieces of valuable plate, dishes for comfits,
and flower-vases. Small stools, arm-chairs, and, especially, numerous
cushions were placed here and there in the room. Flemish carpets, and
those which were called _sarrasinois_, covered the floor; this was
composed of enamelled tiles; or, in the northern provinces, of thick
squares of polished oak. These large, lofty, wainscoted rooms always
communicated with private staircases, through dressing-rooms and
wardrobes in which were located the domestics in immediate attendance.

Let us now pass from domestic furniture to that used for ecclesiastical
purposes. We now leave the palaces of kings, the mansions of nobles, and
the dwellings of the rich, and enter the buildings consecrated to

We know that in the early ages of Christianity religious ceremonies were
characterised by the greatest simplicity, and that the buildings in
which the faithful were wont to assemble were for the most part devoid
of any kind of decoration. By degrees, however, rich display entered
into churches, and pomp accompanied the exercise of religious worship,
especially at the period when Constantine the Great put an end to the
era of persecutions and proclaimed himself the protector of the new
faith. It is related that among the rich presents which this emperor
distributed throughout the Christian temples in Rome, were a golden
cross weighing two hundred pounds, patens of the same metal, lamps
representing animals, &c. At a later period, in the seventh century, St.
Eloi, who was a celebrated goldsmith before he became Bishop of Noyon,
gave his whole mind and talents to the manufacture of church ornaments.
He enlisted from among the monks of the various monasteries that were
subject to his episcopal authority, all those whom he fancied had an
aptitude for these works of art; he instructed and directed them
himself, and made them excellent artists; he transformed entire
monasteries into gold and silver-smiths’ workshops; and numerous
remarkable works increased the splendour of the Merovingian basilicas;
such, for example, were the shrine of St. Martin of Tours, and the tomb
of St. Denis, the marble roof of which was profusely ornamented with
gold and precious stones. “The bounty of Charlemagne,” says M. Charles
Louandre, “added new riches to the immense wealth already accumulated in
the churches. Mosaics, sculpture, the rarest kinds of marble, were
lavished on those basilicas for which the emperor evinced partiality;
but all these treasures were dispersed by the Norman invasions. From the
ninth to the eleventh centuries it would seem that, with the exception
of a few shrines and crosses, objects employed for ecclesiastical
purposes were not enriched by the addition of anything note-worthy; at
any rate, the works of that period and those of anterior date have not
been handed down to us, if we except some rare fragments. The reason is,
that, independently of the constant causes of destruction, the furniture
of churches was renewed towards the end of the eleventh century, when
the edifices themselves were rebuilt; and it is only from the date of
this mystical Renaissance that we begin to find in the texts precise
indications, and in museums or temples perfectly preserved monuments.”

Ecclesiastical appendages include altars, altar-screens, the pulpit,
monstrances, chalices, incense-burners, candlesticks or lamps, shrines,
reliquaries, basins for containing holy water, and some other objects of
lesser relative importance, as crosses, bells, and banner-poles. To
these we may add votive offerings, which were generally either of gold
or silver.

In the infancy of religious worship the altar took two distinct shapes;
sometimes the form of a table, with a top of stone, wood, or metal
supported by legs or by columns; sometimes it resembled an ancient
tomb, or a long coffer, narrowed at the base, and surmounted by a
similar covering, which invariably formed the upper portion, or the
table, of the altar.

In addition to altars, more or less monumental, which were fixtures in
the churches, and which, from the earliest period, were placed under
_ciboria_ (a kind of dais or canopy supported by columns), small
portable altars were employed, in order to meet the requirements of the
service. They were intended to accompany the bishops, or the ordinary
clergy, who had to preach the faith in countries where no churches
existed. These altars, which were alluded to when the Christian religion
had made but slight progress, were no longer seen after it became
general; but we again find them at the time of the Crusades, when pious
pilgrims, who journeyed from place to place preaching the Gospel, were
obliged to say mass in fields and public places, where the faithful
assembled to hear them, and to “take up the cross.” M. Jules Labarte
gives the following summary description of a portable altar of the
twelfth century:--“It consists of a slab of lumachella marble, set in a
box of gilt copper, 36 centimètres in height by 27 in width, and 3 in
thickness. The top of the box is cut in such a manner as to leave
uncovered the stone on which the chalice was placed during the
celebration of mass.”

Throughout all the periods of the Middle Ages, the ardent faith of which
seemed to consider sufficient honour could never be rendered to the real
presence of God in the holy sacrifice, the ornamentation of the altar
was everywhere looked upon as an object of the most extraordinary pomp
and of the most elevated artistic taste. Among the marvels of this kind
we must name, as occupying a leading place, the gold altar of St.
Ambrose, in Milan, which dates from 835, and those of the cathedrals of
Basle and Pistoia, which belong to the eleventh and twelfth centuries.
These gold altars, wrought with the hammer, were chased and sometimes
enamelled, and in addition to remarkably well executed designs in carved
work, taken from religious books, they usually also had on them
portraits of the donors.

The altars and tabernacles were executed with an equal amount of art and
costliness; and from the earliest period of the fabrication or the
importation of carpets, embroideries, and gold and silver fabrics, we
see them employed for the purpose of covering, adorning, and of
rendering more striking and imposing the altar and its accessories, to
which the name of chancel was given (Fig. 20).

The chalice and the altar-vessels, which date from the very cradle of
Christian worship, since without these sacred vases the fundamental
services of the religion of Jesus Christ could not have been performed,
perhaps owe it to this exceptional fact that they are not spoken of
before the eleventh century (Fig. 21). In truth, nowhere do we find an
indication of their ordinary shape, nor of the mode of their manufacture
in early times; but it is reasonable to suppose that the chalice
originally was identical, as it was in times approaching nearer to our
own, with the goblet of the ancients; or perhaps, to define it more
particularly, was the well-known _hanap_ (drinking-cup), the earliest
type of which tradition endeavours to trace to so early a date. At a
later period, and until the time when the artists of the Renaissance
period were called upon to remodel sacred ornaments, and they
transformed them into marvels of art on which were lavished all the
resources of casting, chasing, and glyptic, we observe that chalices
continued to be manufactured with the greatest care, adorned with
exquisite elegance, and enriched with all the brilliancy that art can
give them.

[Illustration: Fig. 20.--An Altar-cloth embroidered in silver on a black
ground, representing the procession of a friar of the Abbey of St.
Victor. Fifteenth Century (copied from the original belonging to N.
Achille Jubinal).]

All that can be said regarding the chalice applies equally to the
monstrances and the pyxes employed to contain and to exhibit the
consecrated wafers, as also to the censers, which originated in the
Jewish form of worship, and which, in accordance with the successive
epochs of Christianity, affected different mystical and symbolic shapes
(Fig. 22). Of these M. Didron gives the following description:--“They
were first formed of two open-work spheroids, in cast and chased copper,
ornamented with figures of animals and inscriptions.” Originally they
were suspended by three chains, which, according to tradition, signified
“the union of the body, the soul, and the divinity in Christ.” At
another period the censers represented, in miniature, churches and
chapels with pointed arches. Again, at the Renaissance, they took the
form of that now in use.

[Illustration: Fig. 21.--An Altar-Tray and Chalice, in enamelled gold,
supposed to be of the Fourth or Fifth Century, found at Gourdon, near
Chalon-sur-Saône, in 1846. (Cabinet des Antiques, Bibl. Imp. de Paris.)]

From the first, the lighting of churches was, to a certain extent,
carried out on much the same principle as that employed in princely
abodes and important mansions. Fixed or movable lamps were used; also
wax candles in chandeliers, for the ornamentation of which pious donors
and pious artisans, the former paying the latter, vied with each other
in skill and liberality. We may here observe that even in the early days
of Christianity, numerous candlesticks were generally employed both by
day and by night. The candlesticks on the altar represented the apostles
surrounding Christ; thus their number ought to be twelve. Placed around
the dead, they signified that the Christian finds light beyond the
grave. To the faithful they typified the day which shines brightly in
celestial Jerusalem.

The worship of relics, established in the early days of the Church,
subsequently led to the introduction of shrines and reliquaries, a kind
of portable tomb which the disciples of the Gospel devoted to the
memory, and in honour, of martyrs and confessors of the faith. Thus from
the first, in collecting these holy relics, to which the faithful
attached every kind of miraculous powers, they dedicated what, according
to ecclesiastical writers, had been the temple of the living God, a
gorgeous sanctuary, worthy of so many virtues and miracles. Hence the
introduction of shrines into churches, and reliquaries into private

[Illustration: Fig. 22.--Censer of the Eleventh Century, recalling the
shape of the Temple of Jerusalem, in copper repoussé. (Formerly in Metz
Cathedral, now at Trèves.)]

Owing to the care bestowed on some of these by St. Eloi, from the
seventh century, they had become real marvels of intrinsic richness and
artistic finish. Nevertheless we are unacquainted with the shape which,
in accordance with the Christian liturgy, was originally given to the
shrines and reliquaries, although the Latin word _capsa_, from which the
word _châsse_ (shrine) is derived, conveys the idea of a kind of box or
coffer. Indeed this shape was retained for a long time by the whole of
Christendom; but the majority of shrines in gold and silver work which
do not date further back than the eleventh or twelfth century represent
tombs, chapels, and even cathedrals. This symbolic shape continued in
use to the time of the Renaissance, but with successive modifications
suggested by the architectural style of each period. We thus see there
was no precious material or delicate workmanship which was not employed
to contribute in making the shrines and reliquaries more magnificent.
Gold, silver, rare marbles, precious stones, were lavished on their
construction; the chaser and enameller embellished with figures and
emblems, with incidents taken from Holy Writ and from the lives of
saints, the shrines in which are deposited their remains.

[Illustration: Figs. 23 and 24.--Stall and Reading-desk in carved wood,
from the Church of Aosta (Fifteenth Century).]

We know that in the early days of Christianity the rite of baptism was
performed by immersion in rivers or in fountains, but at a period nearer
to our own time, basins or vessels of various dimensions were placed in
a small detached edifice, by the side of the church; into these the
neophytes were plunged when receiving the first sacrament. These
baptistries disappeared as soon as the practice of sprinkling holy water
on the forehead of the catechumen was definitely substituted for that of
immersion. Baptismal fonts then became what they now are, that is, a
kind of small erection above the level of the floor--piscinas, shells
(_vasques_), or basins, recalling to our minds, though on a reduced
scale, the primitive baptistries. They were placed inside the church,
either near the entrance, or in one of the side-chapels. At various
periods they were made of stone, marble, or bronze; and were ornamented
with subjects relating to the rite of baptism. It was the same with the
holy-water basins, which, according to ancient custom, were placed at
the entrance to the church, and generally assumed the form of a shell,
or of a large amphora, when not made simply of a hollowed stone to
recall the ancient baptismal vessels.

[Illustration: Fig. 25.--Bas-relief in carved wood, representing a
Domestic Scene, from the Stalls called “Miséricordes,” in the Choir of
the Cathedral of Rouen (Fifteenth Century).]

We must not overlook the altar and procession-crosses, which, as being
typical of the divine emblem of the Christian faith, could not fail to
become real objects of art even from the time of the catacombs. It would
be needless repetition to enumerate here the different materials used in
the manufacture of crosses, the various shapes that were given to them,
according to the purpose for which they were intended, and the subjects
and figures they represented. The sculptor, the modeller, the chaser,
the enameller, and even the painter, were associated with the goldsmith
in producing most exquisite works of this kind. The art of the
wood-carver and that of the worker in iron, which we have seen executing
such marvels for household furniture, could not fail to find scope in
the manufacture of objects used for religious purposes. It was
especially in making pulpits, ornamental screens, wainscoting, and
stalls, that the art of the wood-carver became renowned; he was no
longer simply an artisan, but became an artist of the highest order. In
the ornamentation of railings of choirs and tombs, the iron-work on
doors, of bolts, locks, and keys, the remarkable talent of the
locksmiths of the Middle Ages was displayed. Let us here remark, that in
the early days of worship the pulpit was simply a kind of stool on which
the preacher stood in order that his congregation might see him. By
degrees the pulpit was raised on supports or columns; and later again,
but only towards the end of the fifteenth century, we find it fixed at a
great height against one of the central pillars of the church, and
usually magnificently carved, as was also the dais, and the
sounding-board by which it was surmounted.

To form an idea of the degree of perfection attained in wood-carving
from the thirteenth to the fourteenth century, we ought to inspect the
stalls of St. Justine, at Padua, those of the cathedrals of Milan and
Ulm, the church of Aosta (Figs. 23 and 24), &c., and the stalls of the
churches of Rodez, Albi, Amiens, Toulouse, and Rouen (Fig. 25). And if
we would examine a very ancient example of the art attained by workers
in iron, we have but to notice the hinges, dating from the thirteenth
century, which stretch, in arabesque designs, over the panels of the
western door of Notre-Dame, Paris.

[Illustration: Fig. 26.--Design on the Stalls in the Church of St.


     Scriptural Origin of Tapestry.--Needlework Embroidery in Ancient
     Greek and Roman Times.--Altalic Carpets.--Manufacture of Carpets in
     Cloisters.--Manufactory at Poitiers in the Twelfth Century.--Bayeux
     Tapestry, named “De la Reine Mathilde.”--Arras Carpets.--Inventory
     of the Tapestries of Charles V.; enormous Value of these
     Embroidered Hangings.--Manufactory at Fontainebleau, under Francis
     I.--The Manufacture of the Hôpital de la Trinité, at Paris.--The
     Tapestry Workers, Dubourg and Laurent, in the reign of Henry
     IV.--Factories of Savonnerie and Gobelins.

If there is an art which bears brilliant testimony to the industry and
ingenuity of mankind in the remotest ages, undoubtedly it is that of
weaving, or of embroidering tapestry; for, however far back we trace the
annals of nations, we find this art flourishing and producing marvels of

Let us first open the Bible, the oldest of all historical documents; we
read therein of woven fabrics, not only worked on the loom, but also
made by hand, that is, richly embroidered in needlework on linen or
canvas. These magnificent fabrics, which were laboriously and minutely
executed, represented all kinds of designs in relief and in colours;
they were used as decorations for the holy temple, and as ornamental
garments for the priests who performed the religious ceremonies.
Indubitable proof of this is the description, in the book of Exodus, of
the curtains surrounding the tabernacle. Some of these embroideries, in
the manufacture of which gold and silver thread, combined with dyed
wools and silk, was used, were named _opus plumarii_ (work in imitation
of bird’s plumage); others--such, for example, as the veil of the Holy
of Holies, which represented cherubim in the act of adoration--were
called _opus artificis_ (work of the artisan), because they were made by
the weaver on the loom; and, with the aid of numerous shuttles, the woof
of wools and silks of various hues was introduced.

In the traditions of the magnificent city of Babylon we also find
figured tapestry delineating the mysteries of religion, and handing
down to us the recollection of historical incidents. “The palace of the
kings of Babylon,” says Philostratus, in the “Life of Apollonius of
Tyana,” “was ornamented with tapestries in gold and silver tissues,
which recorded the Grecian fables of Andromeda, of Orpheus, &c.” The
Greek poet Apollonius of Rhodes, who wrote a century before our era,
relates in his poem of “The Argonauts” that the women of Babylon
excelled in the execution of these gorgeous textures. The famous
tapestries which were sold in the time of Metellus Scipio for 800,000
sesterces (about 165,000 francs), and a hundred years later were
purchased for the exorbitant sum of two million sesterces (about 412,000
francs) by Nero, to place on his festive couches, were of Babylonian

Ancient Egypt, which would seem to have been the early cradle of an
advanced civilisation, was also renowned for this marvellous art, the
invention of which the Greeks attributed to Minerva, and to which
allusion is frequently made in their mythology. Penelope’s web, whereon
were delineated the exploits of Ulysses, has remained the most
celebrated among them all. It was on a similar web that Philomela, in
her prison, illustrated in embroidery the narrative of her misfortunes,
after Tereus had cut out her tongue, to prevent her telling her sister
Progne the outrage she had suffered at his hands.

Throughout the poems of Homer we find embroidery of this kind either
mentioned, or described as made with the needle or loom, and intended
for decorative drapery, or as garments for men and women. During the
siege of Troy, Helen embroidered, upon a fine tissue, the sanguinary
combats of the heroes who were destroying each other for her sake. The
cloak of Ulysses represents a dog pulling down a fawn, &c.

The custom of embroidering such scenes as combats and hunting-incidents
seems to have lasted during a long time. According to Herodotus, certain
races bordering on the Caspian Sea were accustomed to have figures of
animals, flowers, and landscapes delineated on their garments. This
custom is mentioned among the pagans by Philostratus, and among
Christians by Clement of Alexandria. Pliny, the naturalist, who lived in
the first century of our era, also alludes to it on several occasions in
his works. Three hundred years later, Amasius, Bishop of Amasia,
deplores the folly which “set a great value on this art of weaving, a
vain and useless art, which by the combination of the warp and woof
imitates painting.” “When persons thus dressed appear in the street,”
adds the pious bishop, “the passers-by look at them as walking pictures,
and the children point at them with their finger. We see lions,
panthers, bears, rocks, woods, hunters; the religiously inclined have
Christ, his disciples, and his miracles figured on their garments. Here
we see the wedding of Cana, and the pitchers of water turned into wine;
there we have the paralytic carrying his bed, or the sinner at the feet
of Jesus, or Lazarus being raised from the dead.”

We have only to look into the works of the writers of the time of
Augustus to learn that the halls in the houses of the wealthy were
always hung with tapestry; and that the tables, or rather the beds, upon
which the guests were seated, were covered with carpets.

The Attalian carpets, which were thus named because they came from the
inheritance bequeathed to the Roman people by Attalus, King of Pergamos,
were indescribably magnificent. Cicero, who was a connoisseur in such
matters, speaks of them with enthusiasm in his works.

Under Theodosius I., that is to say, at the time of the decline of the
great empire which was soon to break up and be separated, and at last to
merge into new nationalities, a contemporaneous historian shows us “the
youth of Rome engaged in making tapestry-work.”

In the early period of French history, this ingenious and delicate work
would seem to have been mainly carried on by women, and especially by
those of the highest rank. At any rate it is a fact that rich tapestries
were in common use, both in private houses and for ecclesiastical
purposes, as early as the sixth century; for Gregory of Tours does not
fail to tell us of the embroidered hangings, and also of the tapestry,
in most of the ceremonies which he describes. When King Clovis renounced
paganism and asked to be baptised, “this intelligence was the greatest
joy to the bishop; he orders the sacred fonts to be prepared; the
streets overhung with painted cloths; the churches ornamented with
hangings.” When the abbey-church of St. Denis had to be consecrated,
“its walls are covered with tapestry embroidered in gold and ornamented
with pearls.” These tapestries were for a long time preserved in the
abbey-treasury. Subsequently, this same treasury received, as a present
from Queen Adelaide, the wife of Hugh Capet, “a chasuble, a valance, as
also some hangings, worked by her own hand;” and Doublet, the historian
of this ancient abbey, states that Queen Bertha (the same whom the old
French proverb makes an indefatigable worker with her needle)
embroidered on canvas a series of historical subjects, depicting the
glorious deeds of the family.

Nevertheless, there is no written authority for asserting that in France
the manufacture of tapestries and hangings worked on the loom can be
traced beyond the ninth century; but at this period, and a little later,
we find some documents which are as precise as they are curious--proving
that this industry, the principal object of which, at that period, was
the ornamentation of churches, had to a certain extent obtained a
footing, and was flourishing in religious establishments. The ancient
chronicles of Auxerre relate that St. Anthelm, the bishop of that city,
who died in 828, caused to be made, under his own directions, numerous
rich carpets for the choir of his church.

One hundred years later we find a regular manufactory established at the
monastery of St. Florent, at Saumur. “In the time of the abbot Robert
III.,” says the historian of this monastery, “the vestry (_fabrique_) of
the cloister was further enriched by magnificent paintings and pieces of
sculpture, accompanied by legends in verse. The above-mentioned abbot,
who was passionately devoted to similar works, sought for and purchased
a considerable quantity of magnificent ornaments, such as large
_dorserets_[1] in wool, curtains, canopies, hangings, bench-covers, and
other ornaments, embroidered with various devices. Among other objects,
he caused to be made two pieces of tapestry of large size and of
admirable quality, representing elephants; and these two pieces were
joined together with a rare kind of silk, by hired workers in tapestry.
He also ordered two _dorserets_ in wool to be manufactured. It happened
that, during the time one of these was being completed, the
above-mentioned abbot went to France. The ecclesiastic left in charge
took advantage of his absence to forbid the artisans to work the woof
according to the customary method. ‘Well,’ said they, ‘in the absence of
our good abbot we will not discontinue our employment; but as you thwart
us we shall make quite a different kind of fabric.’ And this now admits
of proof. They made several square carpets, representing silver lions
upon a field of _gules_ (red), with a white border covered with scarlet
animals and birds. This unique piece of workmanship was looked upon as a
perfect specimen of this kind of fabric, until the time of the abbot
William, when it was considered the most remarkable piece of tapestry
belonging to the monastery. In fact, on the occasions of great
solemnities the abbot had the elephant tapestry displayed, and one of
the priors showed that on which were the lions.”

From the ninth or tenth century there was also a manufactory at
Poitiers; and its fabrics, on which figured kings, emperors, and saints,
were of European celebrity, as appears to be attested, among other
documents, by a remarkable correspondence which took place, in 1025,
between an Italian bishop, named Léon, and William IV., Count of Poitou.
To understand rightly this correspondence, it must be borne in mind that
at the time Poitou was as famous for its mules as for tapestry. In one
of his letters, the bishop begs the count to send him a mule and a piece
of tapestry, both equally marvellous (_mirabiles_), and for which he has
been asking six years. He promises to pay whatever they may cost. The
count, who must have had a facetious disposition, replied, “I cannot, at
present, send you what you ask, because for a mule to merit the epithet
of marvellous, he would require to have horns, and three tails, or five
legs--and this I should not be able to find in our country. I shall
therefore content myself with sending you one of the best I can procure.
As to the tapestry, I have forgotten the dimensions you desire. Let me
have these particulars again, and it will then soon be sent to you.”

But this costly industry was not limited to the French provinces. In the
“Chronique des Ducs de Normandie,” written by Dudon, in the eleventh
century, it is stated that the English were clever workers in this art;
and when designating some magnificent embroidery, or rich tapestry, it
was described as of English work (_opus Anglicanum_). Moreover, the same
chronicle relates that the wife of Richard I.,[2] the Duchess Gonnor,
assisted by her embroiderers, made hangings of linen and of silk,
embellished with images and figures representing the Virgin Mary and the
Saints, to decorate the church of Notre Dame, Rouen.

The East, also, which from the earliest times had been renowned for the
art of producing beautiful embroidered fabrics, became still more famous
during the Middle Ages for those of wool and silk, embroidered with
silver and gold. It was from the East were brought the rich stuffs
covered all over with emblazonments, and with figures of animals, and
probably also embroidered in open-work: these fabrics were called
_étoffes sculptées_, or _pleines d’yeux_.

The librarian Anastasius, in his book the “Lives of the Popes,” which
undoubtedly was written before the eleventh century, gives, when
describing church decorations, some curious and circumstantial details
regarding the subject we are now discussing. According to him, as early
as the time of Charlemagne (eighth century), Pope Leo III. “had a veil
made of purple worked in gold, on which was the history of the Nativity
and of Simon, having in the centre the Annunciation of the Virgin.” This
was to ornament the principal altar of the Holy Mother of God, at Rome.
He also ordered for the altar of the church of St. Laurence, “a veil of
silk worked in gold, having on it the histories of the Passion of our
Saviour and of the Resurrection.” He placed on the altar of St. Peter’s
“a veil of purple of a remarkable size, worked in gold and ornamented
with precious stones; on one side was seen our Saviour giving St. Peter
the power to bind and to loose, on the other the Passion of St. Peter
and St. Paul.” In the same book, several other pieces of tapestry are
described in such terms that it seems difficult to realise the richness
and the beauty of finish of these artistically-worked fabrics, which for
the most part came from Asia or Egypt. It was only in the twelfth
century, after the return from the first crusades had enabled Western
nations to admire and to appropriate to themselves luxuries quite new to
them, that the custom of using tapestry, while becoming far more general
in churches, found its way also into private dwellings. If, in the
cloisters, the monks, in order to find employment, lavished their utmost
care on the weaving of wool and of silk, there was the more reason why
this occupation should prove pleasing to the noble _châtelaines_ who
were confined to their feudal castles. It was then, when surrounded by
their tire-women, as in earlier times were the Roman matrons by their
slaves, that these fair dames, while listening to the reading of tales
of chivalry which deeply interested them, or inspired by a profound
faith, gave themselves to the task of reproducing with the needle either
the pious legends of the saints or the glorious exploits of warriors.
The bare walls, when thus draped with touching incidents or warlike
memorials, assumed a peculiar eloquence which doubtless inspired the
mind with grand visions, and aroused noble sentiments in the heart.

Among the finest specimens of this kind is one which, owing to its
really exquisite character, has escaped what would have seemed
inevitable destruction. We allude to the famous Bayeux tapestry called
“_de la Reine Mathilde_” (of the wife of William the Conqueror). This
work represents the conquest of England by the Normans. If we are to
accept the ancient traditions to which it owes its name, it must date
from the last half of the eleventh century.

In these days we may be permitted to doubt, in consequence of the many
discussions that have taken place among the learned, if this embroidery
is as ancient as was at one time supposed. And although we first find it
alluded to in an inventory (prepared in 1476) of the treasury of Bayeux
Cathedral, we may venture, with a certain degree of confidence, to
believe that it was made in the twelfth century by Englishwomen, who at
that time were particularly famous for their needlework; an opinion
confirmed by more than one author contemporaneous with William and

This tapestry, which is 19 inches in height, by nearly 212 feet in
length, is a piece of brown linen, on which are embroidered with the
needle, in wool of different colours (and these seem to have lost none
of their early freshness), a series of seventy-two groups or subjects,
with legends in Latin interspersed with Saxon, embracing the whole
history of the Conquest, as related by the chroniclers of the period
(Figs. 27 and 28).

At the first glance, this embroidery may seem to be but a rudely
executed grouping of figures and animals; nevertheless there is
character throughout, and the original outline, discoverable beneath the
intersections of the wool, is not wanting in a certain accuracy that
brings to our mind the vigorous simplicity of the Byzantine style. The
decoration of the double border, between which is delineated a drama
wherein 530 figures are introduced, is the same as those of the
paintings in manuscripts of the Middle Ages. And, in short, failing any
exact proof, if we are determined not to deprive this immense work of
its traditional antiquity, it might, with much probability, be
attributed to a female embroiderer of Queen Matilda, named Leviet, whose
skill has rescued her name from oblivion. It may also be well to observe
that at the time it is first alluded to in history, this tapestry is
found belonging to the very church in which Matilda desired to be

We have already seen (in the chapter on Furniture) that towards the
twelfth and thirteenth centuries, under the influence of Eastern habits

[Illustration: Fig. 27.--A piece of the Bayeux Tapestry, representing
the construction of Boats for William (with Border).]

customs, the practice of sitting on carpets was established at the court
of our kings. From this date rich tapestries were frequently used for
making tents for campaigning or for hunting. They were displayed on
festive occasions; as, for instance, when princes were entering a town,
the object being to hide the bare walls. The dining-halls were hung with
magnificent tapestries, giving additional splendour to the interludes
(_entremets_, or _intermèdes_) performed during the repast. The
champions in the lists saw glittering around them, suspended from the
galleries, fabrics on which heroic deeds were embroidered. Lastly, the
caparison of the charger (the war-horse’s garb of honour) displayed its
brilliant emblazonings to the eyes of admiring crowds.

[Illustration: Fig. 28.--A portion of the Bayeux Tapestry, representing
two mounted men of Duke William’s army armed from head to foot, and in
the act of fighting.]

It was moreover the custom that the tapestries made for noblemen should
bear their respective armorial devices, the object being, no doubt, that
it might be known to whom they belonged when used on the occasion of the
entry of royal and other distinguished personages in solemn processions;
and also at jousts and tournaments.

In the fourteenth century the manufactories of Flanders, which were of
considerable reputation even about the twelfth century, made great
advance, and the success of the Arras tapestries became so general that
the most handsome hangings were called Arras tapestry, although the
greater part of them did not come from that city. It may here be noticed
that the term _Arrazi_ is, in Italy, still synonymous with valuable
tapestry (Fig. 29).

These fabrics were generally worked in wool, and sometimes in flax and
linen: but at the same period Florence and Venice, which had imported
this industry from the East, wove tapestries wherein gold and silk were

[Illustration: Fig. 20.--Marriage of Louis XII. and Anne of Brittany.
Tapestry in wool and silk, with a mixture of gold and silver thread.
Made in Flanders the end of the Fifteenth Century. (Lent by M. Achille

An inventory, dated 21st January, 1379, contained in a manuscript now in
the “Bibliothèque Impériale,”--in which are enumerated “all the jewels
in gold and silver, all the rooms with embroidery and tapestries
belonging to Charles V.,”--gives us an idea not only of the multiplicity
of hangings and tapestries that appertained to the personal property of
royalty, especially at the Hôtel Saint-Pol, but it also shows us the


Tapestry of Berne of the fifteenth Century

(Communicated by M. Achille Jubinal.)]

of subjects therein represented. A few of these pieces of tapestry are
still preserved, but among some which have been destroyed or lost we may
mention those representing the Passion of our Saviour, the Life of St.
Denis, the Life of St. Theseus, and that entitled Goodness and
Beauty--all these were of large dimensions. Then again, the tapestry of
the Seven Mortal Sins, two pieces of the Nine Bold Knights, that of the
ladies hunting and flying (_qui volent_), in other words, hawking; that
of the Wild Men; two of Godfrey de Bouillon; a white tapestry for a
chapel, in the centre of which was seen “a compass with a rose,”
emblazoned with the arms of France and of Dauphiny, this was three yards
square; one large handsome piece of tapestry, “the king has bought,
which is worked with gold, representing the Seven Sciences and St.
Augustin;” the tapestry of Judith (the queen who subsequently appears on
playing-cards); a large piece of Arras cloth, representing the Battles
of Judas Maccabæeus and Antiochus; another of “the Battle of the Duke of
Aquitaine and of Florence;” a piece of tapestry “whereon are worked the
twelve months of the year;” another of “the Fountain of Jouvent”
(Jouvence), a large piece of tapestry “covered with azure fleurs-de-lys,
which said fleurs-de-lys are mingled with other small yellow
fleurs-de-lys, having in the centre a lion, and, at the four corners,
beasts holding banners, &c.”--in fact, the list is endless. We must
still, however, add to these figured tapestries those with armorial
bearings, made for the most part with “Arras thread,” and bearing the
arms of France and Behaigne (the latter being those of the queen,
daughter of the King of Bohemia). There was also a piece of tapestry
“worked with towers, fallow bucks and does, to put over the king’s
boat.” The tapestry called _velus_, or velvet, which now we call
_moquettes_, was as commonly seen as any other kind. There were also to
be noticed the _Salles d’Angleterre_, or the tapestries from that
country, which, as we have said, had previously acquired a great
celebrity in that art. Among these one was “_ynde_ (blue), with trees
and wild men, with wild animals, and castles;” others were vermilion,
embroidered with azure, having vignette borders, and in the centre
lions, eagles, and leopards.

In addition to these, Charles V. possessed at his castle of Melun many
“silken fabrics and tapestries.” At the Louvre one could but admire,
among other magnificent pieces of tapestry, “a very lovely green room,
ornamented with silk covered with leaves; and representing in the centre
a lion, which two queens were in the act of crowning, and a fountain
wherein swans were disporting themselves.”

Yet we must not be led away with the idea that it was only the royal
palaces which presented such sumptuousness; for it would be easy to
enumerate many instances similar to those we have given, by looking over
the inventories of the personal property of nobles, or those of the
treasuries of certain churches and abbeys. In one place the tapestries
represent religious subjects taken from the Bible, the Gospels, or the
legends of the saints; in another the subjects are either historical or
relating to chivalry, more especially battles or hunting scenes (Fig.

We are thus justified in asserting that the luxury of tapestry was
general among the higher classes. An expensive taste it was; because not
only does an examination of these marvellous works show us that they
could have been purchased only at a very high price, but in old
documents we find more than one certain confirmation of this fact. For
example, Amaury de Goire, a worker in tapestry, received in 1348, from
the Duke of Normandy and Guienne, 492 livres, 3 sous, 9 deniers, for “a
woollen cloth,” on which were represented scenes from the Old and New
Testaments. In 1368, Huchon Barthélmy, money-changer, received 900
golden francs for a piece of “worked tapestry, representing La Quête de
St. Graal (the search for the blood of Christ); and in 1391, the
tapestry exhibiting the history of Theseus, to which we have already
alluded, was purchased by Charles V. for 1,200 livres; all these sums,
considering the period, were really exorbitant.

The sixteenth century, remarkable for the progress and the excellence to
which the arts of every kind had attained, gave a renewed impulse to
that of tapestry. A manufactory was established by Francis I., at
Fontainebleau, where the tapestry was woven in one entire piece, instead
of being made up, as had been the practice, of separate pieces matched
and sewn together. In this new fabric gold and silver threads were mixed
with silk and wool.

When Francis sent for the Primate from Italy, he commissioned him to
procure designs for several pieces of tapestry, to be made in the
workshops of Fontainebleau. But, while liberally rewarding the Italian
or Flemish artists and artisans collected in the dependencies of his
château, the king still continued to employ Parisian tapestry-workers;
proof of which is to be found in a receipt of the sieurs Miolard and
Pasquier, who give an

[Illustration: Fig. 30.--Tapestry representing a Hunting Scene, from the
Château d’Effiat. (In the possession of M. Achille Jubinal.)]

acknowledgment of having been paid 410 _livres tournois_, “to begin the
purchase of materials and other requisites for a piece of silk tapestry,
which the said seigneur had ordered them to make for his coronation,
according to the patterns which the said seigneur has had prepared for
this purpose, and on which must be represented a Leda, with certain
nymphs, satyrs, &c.”

[Illustration: Fig. 31.--The Weaver. Drawn and Engraved by J. Amman.]

Henry II. did even more than maintain the establishment at
Fontainebleau; in addition he instituted, in compliance with the request
of the guardians of the Hôpital de la Trinité, a manufactory of tapestry
in Paris, in which the children belonging to the hospital were employed
in dyeing wool and silk, and in weaving them in the loom with a high and
low warp.

The new manufactory, whether on account of the excellence of its
productions, or from influential patronage, obtained so many privileges
that the public peace was on several occasions seriously disturbed by
the jealousy of the guild of tapestry-workers; an ancient and numerous
corporation still possessing great authority and influence.

The manufactory of the Hôpital de la Trinité continued to flourish
during the reign of Henry III.; and Sauval, in his “Histoire des
Antiquités de



    _Mil cinq cents ans quarante et neuf passez_
    _Du déluge: Paris le noble roy_
    _Dix-huitième: fonda en grand arroy_
    _Ville et cité de Paris belle assez_
    _Devant que Rome eust des gens amassez_
    _Six cent cinquante et huit ans comme croy._


     One thousand five hundred and forty-nine years after the Deluge,
     the noble King Paris, the eighteenth of his name, founded with
     great pomp the fine town and city of Paris, anterior to the
     foundation of Rome, which took place, as I think, 658 (?) years
     before Jesus Christ.


Beauvais Tapestry (Communicated by M. Achille Jubinal.)]

Paris,” informs us that in the following reign it reached its highest
point of prosperity. In 1594, Dubourg made in these workshops, from the
designs of Lerembert, the beautiful tapestries which, to a date very
near our own, decorated the Church of Saint-Merry. Henry IV., says
Sauval, hearing this work much spoken of, desired to see it, and was so
pleased therewith that he resolved to restore the manufactories in
Paris, “which the disorder of preceding reigns had abolished.” He
therefore established Laurent, a celebrated tapestry-worker, in the
_maison professe_ of the Jesuits, which had remained closed since the
trial of Jean Chastel. He allowed one crown a day, and one hundred
francs a year, as wages to this skilful artist; his apprentices
receiving ten sous a day, and his fellow-workmen twenty-five, thirty,
and even forty sous, according to their skill. At a later period Dubourg
and Laurent, who had entered into partnership, were both installed in
the galleries of the Louvre. Henry IV., following the example of Francis
I., brought from Italy skilled workers in gold and in silk. These he
lodged in the Hôtel de la Maque, Rue de la Tisseranderie: the special
works they made were hangings in fine cloth of gold and silver

[Illustration: Fig. 32.--Banner of the Tapestry Workers of Lyons.]

Subsequently to the sixteenth century, the tapestries fabricated at the
manufactories of the Savonnerie, the Gobelins, and at Beauvais, &c.,
although more perfect as regards the weaving, and therefore presenting
greater regularity of design and a better comprehension of colour and
perspective, unfortunately lost the original simplicity which
characterized them in olden times. Approaching the reign of Louis XIV.,
under the influence of the school of Le Brun,[3] they affected an
imitation of Greek and Roman forms, which seem out of place in France.
Handsome countenances are the result, out accompanied by meaningless
figures; the frankness of truth gives place to staid coldness, the ideal
usurps the place of nature, conventionality that of spontaneity. We find
them ingenious, pretty, and even beautiful productions, but wanting
character, the real soul of works of art.


     Pottery Workshops in the Gallo-Romano Period.--Ceramic Art
     disappears for several Centuries in Gaul: is again found in the
     Tenth and Eleventh Centuries.--Probable Influence of Arabian Art in
     Spain.--Origin of Majolica.--Luca della Robbia and his
     Successors.--Enamelled Tiles in France, dating from the Twelfth
     Century.--The Italian Manufactories of Faenza, Rimini, Pesaro,
     &c.--Beauvais Pottery.--Invention and Works of Bernard Palissy; his
     History; his _Chefs-d’œuvre_.--The _Faïence_ of Thouars, called
     “Henri II.”

We can assuredly say, with M. Jacquemart, that “the history of the
ceramic art of the Middle Ages is shrouded by a veil which probably will
always remain impenetrable. Notwithstanding the constant investigations
of local societies, and the numerous documents that have been brought to
light, nothing has transpired to remove the doubts of the archæologist
regarding the places where the manufacture of pottery had its birth
among us.”

Nevertheless, it is certain that at the Gallo-Romano period--that is to
say, when the Romans, having made themselves masters of that country,
had introduced their customs and their industry--Gaul possessed numerous
and considerable pottery workshops, which produced vessels and vases of
all kinds. Maintaining the ancient forms and processes of manufacture,
these factories continued to furnish, till about the sixth century,
amphoræ, basins, cups on stems, dishes, plates, and bottles. They were
made, with the aid of the potter’s wheel, of grey, yellow, or brown
clay. Some of the finest quality were covered with a brilliant varnish,
resembling red sealing-wax both in colour and appearance; and these
articles were often ornamented with much care and delicacy. We find
vases surrounded with garlands of leaves, cups embellished with figures
of men and animals; these are so many proofs that this was a manufacture
to which the influence of art was by no means unknown.

Yet it is also evident that this industry--one of a sufficiently
elevated kind--nearly disappeared about the period of the invasions and
wars amidst the tumult of which French monarchy had its birth; and
there remained but the simple art that provided for ordinary
requirements an assemblage of articles rude and devoid of character.

It must be remembered, however, that the ceramic art which had
flourished in the West merely migrated, instead of becoming extinct; and
it found, like so many other arts, a new country in that Byzantium
destined to be the sanctuary of ancient magnificence. Whatever may be
the reason, ceramic art disappeared from the soil of France during a
long period; and it is still a question what was the real origin of its
revival. Did it revive of itself, or was it under the influence of
example? Did it owe its resuscitation to any immigration of artisans, or
to the importation of some process of manufacture? These questions still
remain unanswered.

[Illustration: Fig. 33.--Vases of ancient shape, represented in the
decorative sculpture of the Church of St. Benoît, Paris. (Twelfth

The ceramic art, which perhaps we somewhat wrongly style modern, is
characterized by the use of enamel, or overlaying articles with a glaze
having a metallic basis; this the fire of the oven vitrifies; it is a
process of which the ancients were entirely ignorant.

But, in searching the tombs that belonged to the ancient abbey of
Jumièges (in Normandy), and which date from the year 1120, there have
been found fragments of pottery of a fine but porous clay, covered with
a glazing somewhat similar to that now used.

Moreover, we read in a chronicle of the ancient province of Alsace, that
in the year 1283 “died a potter of Schelestadt, who was the first to
cover earthen vessels with glass.”

But we also know that at the time when these isolated attempts were
being carried out in France, the Persians and Armenians had long before
discovered the art of making magnificent enamelled ware for covering the
exterior of their monuments; and that the Arabs settled in Spain
produced wonderful examples of painted and enamelled earthenware, with
which they decorated and furnished those palaces whose grand ruins are
still to us like the fairy visions of a dream or of enchantment. The
vases of the Alhambra, types of an art as original as it was singularly
ingenious, claim, and doubtless will always claim, the admiration of
minds that can appreciate the beautiful in whatever form it may present

[Illustration: Fig. 34.--Vases of ancient form, represented in the
decorative sculptures of the Church of St. Benoît, Paris. (Twelfth

And now, are we to suppose that the intercourse between nations and the
transactions of commerce must necessarily have made western Europe
acquainted with the enamelled dishes of Asia, or the _chefs-d’œuvre_ of
the African race in Spain? Or, on the other hand, shall we say that it
was by a spontaneous effort of invention that our forefathers opened up
the road to a new domain of art? In the one case we have the opinion,
deservedly respected, of Scaliger, who affirms the fact, apparently very
significant, that during the Middle Ages there existed in the Balearic
Islands manufactories of pottery of Arab origin; our learned author even
adds, that in accordance with the most probable etymology, the name of
_Majolica_, which was first given to Italian ware (the earliest in the
European revival of the ceramic art), was derived from _Majorca_, the
largest, as we know, of the Balearic Islands, in which locality the
principal manufactory of these pottery wares was situated. But, on the
other hand, a comparative examination of Arab and Italian wares excludes
all idea not only of affiliation, but even of imitation or reminiscence
between them.

In the face of such contradictory coincidence, if we may say so, it
would be as difficult as it would be rash to pronounce an opinion; we
consider it better, while disregarding problematical indications, to
boldly face a train of facts now determined by historical proof.

“At the commencement of the fifteenth century”--we cannot do better than
borrow from M. Jacquemart a passage which he himself took from the
Italian work by Passeri, on Majolica (Pesaro, 1838, in 8vo.)--“Luca
della Robbia, the son of Simone di Marro, apprenticed himself to a
Florentine goldsmith, Leonardo, the son of Giovanni; but disliking the
confinement of a laboratory, he soon became a pupil of the sculptor
Lorenzo Ghiberti, who made the gates of the Baptistry at Florence. His
rapid progress under so able a master placed him in a position, when he
could not have been more than fifteen years old, to undertake the task
of ornamenting a chapel for Sigismond Malatesta, at Rimini. Two years
later, Pietro di Medici, who was having an organ erected in Santa-Maria
dei Fiori, at Florence, directed Luca to execute some marble sculptures
in that church. The fame which he gained by these works drew everybody’s
attention to the young sculptor. Orders reached him in such numbers that
he clearly saw the impossibility of executing them in marble or in
bronze; added to this, he bore with impatience the restraint imposed by
working with such rigid materials, of which the laborious handling
trammelled the flights of his imagination. Soft and plastic clay was a
material far better suited to his readiness of conception. At the same
time, Luca dreamt of the future, and of glory; and thus having in view
the object of executing works which, though less perishable, might be
rapidly executed, he devoted all his efforts to discover a coating which
would give to clay the polish and the hardness of marble. After many
trials, a varnish made of tin (_étain_), which was white, opaque, and of
a resisting nature, furnished him with the result he hoped for. The art
of producing fine earthenware was discovered, which first received the
name of vitrified clay (_terra invetriata_).

“Luca’s enamel was a most perfect white; he first used it alone for
figures, in semi-relief, which were raised on a blue background. At a
later period he ventured to colour his figures, and Pietro di Medici
was one of the first who encouraged this kind of work for the decoration
of palaces. The fame of this novel art spread with rapidity; all the
churches were anxious to possess some specimen of the master, so that
Luca was soon compelled to associate with himself his two brothers
Ottaviano and Agostino, in order to keep pace with the requirements of
the public. He endeavoured, nevertheless, to extend the application of
his discovery by painting flowers and groups of figures on a smooth
surface; but in the year 1430 death cut short his remarkable career, and
stayed, in the hands of the inventor, the progress of _enamelled
pottery_ (Fig. 35).

[Illustration: Fig. 35.--Enamelled Terra-cotta, by Luca della Robbia.]

“The family of Luca, however, made public the secret of his discovery.
His two nephews, Luca and Andrea, produced some figures and designs of
singular merit in terra-cotta. Luca ornamented the floor of the Loggia
of Raphael. Girolumo, a relative of Luca, come to France, where he
decorated the château of Madrid, in the neighbourhood of Paris. Two
females, Lisabetta and Speranza, added to the renown of the family Della

Such is the history of the revival, or rather of the creation, of
ceramic art in Italy, as briefly recorded by a man thoroughly acquainted
with the subject. An ancient author, and, moreover, a competent writer,
instances some monuments of an earlier date; among others a tomb at
Bologna, in which were tiles covered with a green and yellow varnish,
and vessels (_écuelles_) of the same kind inserted in the façades or
porticoes of the churches of Pesaro and the abbey of Pomposa. But to the
honour of Luca della Robbia it may be remarked, that these specimens of
an earlier industry differed essentially from his productions; because
the glazing that covered them, the basis of which was lead, was so
transparent, that through it could be seen either the clay or the
colours underneath; whereas the enamel discovered by Luca, the basis of
which was tin, had, on the contrary, for its essential character, an
opacity which may be termed intense. Let us observe, moreover, that in
order to embellish his productions with paintings, Luca was accustomed
to apply colours to the first and general coating, which became fixed by
a subsequent process of baking.

It is by recognising the distinction we have just laid down between
these two processes, that the productions of Italian ceramic art are
ordinarily classified: the _demi-majolica_, with transparent glaze,
somewhat like the Spanish-Arabian pottery, and also, perhaps, like
Asiatic tiles; then the _majolica_, by which we understand fine
earthenware, where the clay is covered with a coating of opaque varnish,
distinguishing the invention due to Luca della Robbia.

Having given priority of invention to Luca della Robbia, it is as well,
nevertheless, here to state, that from the eleventh and twelfth
centuries there existed in France a kind of ceramic art employed
especially in the manufacture of varnished pottery-tiles. Many, of baked
clay, have been found with drawings and designs in black or brown on a
white or yellow ground (Plate IV.). At a later period these tiles, of
which we see such brilliant specimens in the small pictures in
manuscripts, especially in those


of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, were embellished with
designs, emblems, armorial bearings, and scrolls. As already stated, in
the passage from the author whom we have taken as our guide, the impulse
which Luca della Robbia gave to ceramic art extended itself with
rapidity in every direction; and if any other reason were wanting,
beyond the intrinsic value of this art, to account for its development,
we should say that the circumstances in the midst of which Luca made his
discovery were eminently favourable to its advancement.

Luxurious display was, at that time, prominent among the classes who
aspired to ostentation. When writing of furniture, we saw to what a
pitch of splendid profusion kings, princes, and nobles carried the mania
for displaying their wealth. We particularly pointed out sideboards in
the dining-rooms, covered with plate and all kinds of objects, which
were only placed there to dazzle the eyes. The custom of these displays
having been introduced, it could nevertheless be only indulged in by
those in possession of considerable fortunes, and therefore it will be
readily understood how quickly fashion affected the productions of
ceramic art; which, in addition to being recognised as works of art,
were singularly well suited, both in character and by their comparative
cheapness, to the spirit of ostentation which had taken possession of
people of inferior rank. It was sufficient that some piece of majolica
should have found a place on the sideboard of a prince amidst the gold
and the silver which hitherto had alone enjoyed this privilege, for the
lower ranks of the _bourgeoisie_ and the _tiers-état_ to adopt the
fashion, in their dining-rooms, of decorating them either with majolica
alone, or associated with plate.

And admitting this fact, that the productions of ceramic art were thus
allowed to find admittance, and, as it were, in some measure an equally
distinguished position, amidst plate and objects of precious metals, it
resulted that this new industry, supported by the best artists, soon
became remarkable for works which were at the same time most beautiful
and original.

As something new in history, we find simple pieces of pottery--to give
them their generic name--passing as valuable offerings among the great,
and employed on very many occasions to denote ardent admiration in the
world of courtly gallantry. It is thus we have handed down to us,
principally on cups by renowned masters, portraits of the beauties who
in those times adorned the ranks of the nobility: the Dianas, the
Francescas, the Lucias, the Proserpines, whom their admirers caused to
be portrayed in order to offer them their own likenesses.

It was at Florence, about the year 1410, that Luca della Robbia first
introduced his invention; but as soon as the process became known, the
greater part of the towns of Italy, especially those of Tuscany,
established manufactories, among which a remarkable rivalry soon arose:
Pesaro, Gubbio, Urbino, Faenza, Rimini, Bologna, Ravenna, Ferrara, Citta
Castellana, Bassano, Venice, emulated each other, and almost all
succeeded in giving, as it were, an individual character to their

Pesaro--the place were the earliest workshops of ornamental pottery in
Italy were seated, and the processes of which (derived from Luca della
Robbia) seem to have blended with the ancient Spanish, or
_Majorquaises_--presents to us a design of a rather harsh and stiff
character. “The outlines of figures,” adds M. Jacquemart, “are drawn in
manganese black, the flesh is the colour of the enamel, and the drapery
alone is of uniform tint.”

It was at Pesaro that the celebrated Lanfranco flourished. The ceramic
museum of Sèvres has two of his pieces: it was he who invented the
method of applying gold to earthenware, at a time when the early
processes of ornamenting this manufacture had ceased to be employed, and
had given place to delicate paintings, which, although no longer
executed by the most renowned artists of Italy, were nevertheless the
work of intelligent pupils who had received the benefit of their
teaching and example.

The manufactory at Gubbio had for its founder Giorgio Andreoli, who,
both as a sculptor and an artist in majolica, executed works as
remarkable in form as in effect. “The palette of mineral colours adopted
by Andreoli was the most perfect of the period; and coppery yellows,
ruby reds, are frequently used in his works.” There are still extant
some works signed by this _master_ (a title officially conferred on him
by a patent of nobility); one is a slab in the Sèvres collection, and
another a tablet representing the Holy Family.

Urbino--of which the dukes, especially Guidobaldo II., signalized
themselves as the most zealous patrons of ceramic art--became famous
through the works of Francesco Xanto, who executed historical subjects
on enamelled clay. Xanto had as a successor Orazio Fontana, who has been
named “the Raphael of Majolica,” and who produced, among other
magnificent objects, some vases which, when subsequently seen by
Christina of Sweden, so impressed her by their beauty that she offered
to exchange for them silver vases of equal size.

It was at the manufactory of Deruta that imaginative subjects on
majolica were first introduced; Bassano was famous for its landscapes
with ruins; Venice became celebrated for delicate ware with _repoussé_
reliefs; Faenza is still proud of her Guido Salvaggio; Florence of her
Flaminio Fontana, &c.

Majolica attained to its highest point of brilliancy under the Duke of
Urbino whom we have already named, Guidobaldo II., who was ever ready to
make any sacrifice in order that this art might be introduced into the
manufactories under his patronage. He even obtained from Raphael and
Giulio Romano some original drawings to serve as examples; and this
feeling having once been inculcated, we soon find artists of renown,
such as Batista Franco and Raphael del Colle, tendering their services
for the ornamentation of majolica. Thus the productions of this period
are distinguishable among all others for harmony of composition and
accurate drawing, qualities which render them specially noteworthy (Fig.
36). Then, almost immediately, followed the decline of this art. While
flourishing more and more until the middle of the sixteenth century, the
art of making majolica had fallen, at the termination of that epoch,
into a kind of degenerate industry, swayed by the caprice of fashion,
and thereby reduced to mannerism.

Nearly at the commencement of the renovation of ceramic art, Italian
artisans had established themselves in various places, which then became
so many artistic centres. Eastern Europe had for its earliest
instructors three brothers, Giovanni, Tiseo, and Lazio, who settled at
Corfu. Flanders was indebted for the knowledge of these processes to
Guido of Savino, who took up his abode at Antwerp. And about the year
1520 we find a manufactory at Nuremberg, of which the ware, though
materially differing in character from Italian majolica, may still very
probably have been derived from Italy.

We may add that letters of the King of France mention that from 1456
there were certain revenues derivable from the “Beauvais Potteries;” and
in the twenty-seventh chapter of the first book of “Pantagruel,”
published in 1535, Rabelais places among the various articles composing
the trophy of Panurge, “a saucer, a salt-cellar of clay, and a Beauvais
goblet;” which proves, as M. de Sommerard remarks, “that as early as
this date, there were manufactured in this city vessels of clay
sufficiently good in quality to be placed on the table with silver and
pewter utensils;” but it does not naturally follow that France had not
long to wait for the man of genius who would soon leave her nothing to
covet from Italy.

[Illustration: Fig. 36.--Cup, Italian Ware. In the Collection of Baron
Alph. Rothschild. Taken from MM. Carle Delange and C. Borneman’s work.]

About the year 1510, in a small village in Périgord, a child was born
who, after receiving the rudiments of education, was obliged while still
quite young to try to gain a livelihood by his own industry. This
child’s name was Bernard Palissy. He first learnt the trade of a
glazier, or rather of a glass-fitter and painter. This trade, while it
initiated him into the principles of drawing, and gave him a certain
insight into chemical manipulations, at the same time aroused in him a
taste for art and the study of natural sciences. While “painting figures
in order to gain his daily bread,” as he himself tells us in one of the
works he has left behind him, and which gives us the highest opinion of
his simple yet energetic nature, he applied himself to the study of the
true principles of art in the works of the great Italian painters--the
only artists then in repute. Owing to various circumstances the trade
of glazier proving unprofitable, he at once began the study of geometry,
and soon obtained credit, in the part of the country wherein he dwelt,
as “a clever draughtsman of plans.” Such comparatively mechanical labour
as this could not long suffice for the active vigour of a mind thirsting
after progress and discovery. Moreover, Palissy, while employed on his
calling as a land-surveyor, had never ceased to give close observation
to the structure and composition of geological strata. With the purpose
of dispelling the doubts in his mind, and also with the object of
obtaining substantial confirmation regarding the system he had already
originated, he began to travel. The result of his journeyings was the
inauguration of a theory which, after having long been contemptuously
rejected by the learned, was nevertheless destined to form the
foundation of principles which are now considered as the basis of modern
geological science.

[Illustration: Fig. 37.--A figured Border of an Enamelled Dish, by
Bernard Palissy.]

But if the certain knowledge which Palissy thought he had acquired as to
the early convulsions of the globe had succeeded in satisfying his own
mind, the glazier-surveyor (who was now a married man with a family)
still remained in straitened circumstances, and was obliged to find some
means of avoiding actual want. We must refer to what he himself says
more than a quarter of a century later, and when success had completely
crowned his efforts, to learn what were his recollections of his early
and hazardous experiments in a new channel. “Know,” says he, in his
expressive language, “that it is twenty-five years since an earthen
vessel was shown to me; it was turned, enamelled, and of such exquisite
beauty, that from that very moment I began to argue with myself, while
remembering observations made derisively to me by some persons when I
was painting figures. And seeing that they were beginning to give up the
use of these objects in the country where I lived, and that glazing also
was not in great demand, I set myself to think that had I but discovered
the art of making enamel, I might make earthen vessels and other
articles of beautiful appearance; for God had given me the capacity to
understand a little about ceramic painting, and from that instant,
without in the least regarding my utter ignorance of siliceous
substances, I set myself to discover enamels like a man groping in the

It has been much disputed, but we may as well say at once to no purpose,
how to assign with certainty a particular locality whence came this
object which inspired Palissy; but whatever may have been its origin, it
seems to us to be a question of little moment, because at the time when
Palissy must have seen it, the Italian manufactories, and even those
which were afterwards established in various localities, had succeeded
in disseminating their wares far and wide; and, besides this, the works
of Palissy, which we still see, bear testimony to a style that was
peculiarly his own, and in some measure original.

However this may have been, here we have him seeking out and grinding
all kinds of substances, mixing them, and coating with them pieces of
ware which he first subjected to the action of an ordinary potter’s
oven, afterwards to the more powerful heat employed by glass-makers.
Then we see him building an oven in his own house--taking into his
service a working potter, to whom, on one occasion, when he has no money
for the payment of wages, he is obliged to give his own clothes; again
we find him turning, single-handed, a mill for grinding his materials
which ordinarily required “two powerful men” to work it; then again,
wounding his hands in repairing the oven that the fire cracked, and the
bricks and mortar of which had become “liquified and vitrified;” so that
he is obliged for several days “to eat his soup with his fingers tied up
in rags;” pushing the conscientiousness and zeal of an experimentalist
so far as to fall down in a state of insensibility on finding that the
whole contents of an oven, on which he had been relying, proved to have
numerous defects. In despite


Or Oiron fayence. (Pourtales’ Collection.) Now in the possession of J.
Malcolm, Esq.]

of his poverty we see him destroying pieces of work that he considered
were not quite perfect, though a fair price was offered him for them,
merely because “they might bring discredit on him and loss of
reputation;” and finally, we see him breaking up and putting into the
fire, for want of other fuel, the flooring of his house and the
furniture of his humble abode.

The magnificent discovery, brought about by the single initiative of an
individual who had said that he would succeed, and who heroically
endured all kinds of misery, privations, and humiliations, in order to
attain his object, was the labour of not less than fifteen years.

“To console me,” relates Palissy, “even those from whom I had a right to
expect help laughed at me” (he here alludes to his family--his wife, and
children--who had not the same unbounded faith as himself in the
ultimate success of his labours); “they paraded the town exclaiming that
I was burning the woodwork of my house; thus was my credit injured, and
I was looked upon as a fool. Others said I was attempting to make base
coin. I went about quite humiliated, ashamed of myself. I owed money in
several quarters, and generally had two children out at nurse, and not
able to pay the cost. All ridiculed me, saying: ‘He deserves to starve,
because he has given up his trade.’

“Struggling on in this way, at the end of ten years I became so thin
that my legs and arms had no roundness of shape left about them; my legs
were all of a size (_toutes d’une venue_); so that as soon as I began to
walk, the garters with which I fastened my stockings used at once to
slip down, stockings and all, on to my heels.... For many years, having
nothing wherewith to cover my ovens, I was exposed all night long to the
winds and the rains, without receiving any help or consolation, except
from the screech-owls hooting on one side and the dogs howling on the
other.... Sometimes I found myself, with all my garments wet through
from the rain, going to bed at midnight, or at dawn of day; and when
proceeding in this condition to bed, I went reeling along without a
light, and stumbling from side to side, like a man drunk with wine; I
was overcome by previous sorrow, the more so because after
long-continued work I saw my labour lost. And on entering my chamber I
found a fresh persecution awaiting me--the complaints of my wife--worse
than the first, and which now makes me wonder how it was I did not die
of grief.... I have been in such anguish that many and many a time I
fancied I was at death’s door.”

At last, despite all these obstacles, disappointments, physical and
mental suffering, the determined experimentalist succeeded in his
anticipations, and gave to the world those works he called _rustics_,
and which were so original and so beautiful that they had but to be seen
in order to invite attention, and to gain for him all the praise, as
well as the profit, he received.

We have just intimated it was at Saintes that Palissy, when in search of
immortal fame, underwent his rude apprenticeship. A short time after he
had attained these definite results, religious questions having caused
some disturbances in Saintonge, the Constable de Montmorency, who had
been sent to suppress the Huguenot rising, had an opportunity of seeing
Palissy’s works: he requested that he should be presented to him, and at
once declared himself his friendly protector. And we must take this word
protector in its widest sense, for the potter, who had zealously
embraced the doctrines of the Reformation, and who subsequently
preferred to be imprisoned for life rather than abjure his faith (if he
did not die in the Bastille, at least he was imprisoned there at the
time of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew), indeed required protection, as
much for the exercise of liberty of conscience as for carrying on his
artistic labours. After Montmorency had commissioned him to execute some
considerable works, which also gained him the patronage of several
important personages, he obtained for him the favour of royalty. Palissy
was summoned to Paris, and received the title of “inventeur des
rustiques figulines du roi et de la reine-mère”--Henri II. and Catherine
de Médicis. He was lodged in the Tuileries; and was not long there
before he became renowned, not only for his ceramic productions, but
also for his scientific knowledge.

In the recent building operations at the Tuileries, on digging a trench
in the garden, the workshop of Bernard Palissy was discovered; being
recognised by fragments and various pieces of enamelled pottery with
figures in relievo. Among these was found a large fragment of the dish
of Palissy, known under the name of the Baptismal Dish, on account of
the subject represented thereon. In July, 1865, while excavating in the
part of the palace where the “Salle des Etats” has been built, the
workmen discovered, below the level of the surface soil, two ovens for
baking pottery, in a tolerably good state of preservation. One contained
pieces of those muffles (_gazettes_) Palissy is said to have invented,
and which were employed in baking delicate pieces of work--imprints of
various kinds of ornaments, and figures in altorelievo: two of these
are described by Palissy himself in the “Devis d’une grotte pour la
royne, mère du roy” (“device of a grotto for the queen, the king’s
mother”), and which he thus indicates in the following sentence:--“I
should wish to make certain figures from nature, following her so
closely, even to the small hair in the beard and eyebrows, as to make
them the natural size.” These peculiarities are to be seen in the
fragments of the moulds which have been discovered. In the same page
Palissy says, “Also there would be another, composed completely of
sea-shells of different kinds; that is to say, the two eyes of two
shells, the nose, mouth, and chin, forehead and cheeks, all made out of
sea-shells, as well as even the remainder of the body.” This was found
in fragments, as also a hand moulded from nature, and holding a sword of
ancient make (Fig. 39). Among the fragments moulded from the naked and
the draped form, is the one which we give (Fig. 40); it is thus
described by Palissy:--“Also for the sake of astonishing mankind, I
wished to make three or four (figures) draped, and with their hair
dressed in quaint ways, whose dresses and head-dresses shall be of
divers linen, cloths, or striped materials so natural that no man would
think but it was the object itself which the workman had wished to

[Illustration: Fig. 38.--Ornamentation on Pottery by Bernard Palissy.]

We thus see how Palissy, called “Maître Bernard des Thuilleries,”
deserved the esteem of the sovereigns who desired he should be near

M. Jacquemart says of Palissy ware:--“It is remarkable in more ways than
one--for its white paste with a shade of yellowish grey, for its
hardness, and its infusibility, equalling that of fine earthenware or
pipe-clay. These give it a special character, that distinguishes it from
Italian productions, the clay of which is of a dirty and dusky red. The
enamel has great brilliancy; it is hard, and is not unfrequently wavy
(_tresaille_). The colours vary a little, but they are bright--pure
yellow, yellow ochre, indigo blue, grey blue, emerald green produced
from copper, yellow green, violet brown, and manganese violet. As for
the white, it is somewhat dull, and cannot be compared with Luca della
Robbia ware; wherefore the most persevering researches of Palissy, who
invented all the processes which he employed in his work, aimed at the
attainment of greater brilliancy. The under part of Palissy ware is
never of a uniform tone of colour; it is spotted or tinted with blue,
yellow, and violet brown.

[Illustration: Figs. 39 and 40.--Fragments of Figures on which the
moulds have been found in one of Palissy’s Ovens at the Tuileries.]

“It would be exceedingly difficult, not to say impossible, to enumerate
the various shapes he was able to give to his enamelled ware. Combining

[Illustration: Fig. 41.--Goblet, by Bernard Palissy. (Museum of the

himself all the artistic talent of his day, he was at the same time a
skilful designer and an intelligent modeller; and thus he discovered a
thousand resources for the display of elegance and richness; sometimes
in the multiplicity of relievos and in the outline of his vases,
sometimes in the mere application of colour.... In many of his
productions, particularly dishes and bowls, are seen natural objects
represented with astonishing truthfulness as to form and colour; nearly
all these are modelled from nature, and grouped with perfect taste; from
the lower surface, rippled by streams of water in which fish of the
river Seine are swimming, coiled reptiles rise gracefully from among
fossil shells (we must remember that Palissy was a geologist), found in
the tertiary strata of Paris; on the _marli_ (the sloping edge of the
dish), amidst delicate ferns arranged in masses, lizards, crayfish, and
large-bodied frogs climb and jump (Fig. 42). The accuracy of their
movements, the truth of tones produced by a limited variety of
colours--all indicate a close observer. We must not, however, form our
opinion of Palissy from these _rustic_ works alone, but also from his
vases, where he introduced all the ornamental richness of those times,
and on which he took a pleasure in developing all his fertility of
composition and his knowledge as a designer.... On this point Palissy
followed the same law to which all artists of the sixteenth century were
subject--he was a worker in precious metals. By their graceful
originality, their fringed (_frangées_) borders, their figured
accessories, these vases put us in mind of metal. How could it have been
otherwise? Was not Benvenuto Cellini at that time, we will not say the
object of all imitations, for this would be an insult to the skilful
artists of that period, but at all events the ideal towards which the
inspirations of others were directed? As regards the human figure,
Palissy’s constant endeavour was to approach the Italian type; and as
doubtless the school of Fontainebleau furnished him with most of his
models, in the greater part of his figures we trace that graceful
_elongation_ of form, that elegant simplicity, which, in the works of
Jean Goujon, fall into mannerism (Figs. 43 and 44).

“Palissy did not limit himself to the production of small and
moderate-sized vases for ornamenting sideboards, buffets, tables, and
brackets; he raised pottery to the most gigantic proportions in his
_rustiques figulines_, intended as ornaments for gardens, grottoes,
fountains, and the halls of stately mansions. The castles of Nesle and
of Chaulnes, of Reux and of Ecouen, and the garden of the Tuileries,
contained some remarkable specimens. All have perished with the
devastation of the buildings in which they stood; a single fragment of a
capital, preserved in the Museum of Sèvres, proves the truthfulness of
the writers of the sixteenth century regarding the monumental creations
of the potter of Saintes.

“After the death of Palissy, in 1589, the art which he had created
insensibly declined, until soon it almost completely disappeared in

This latter remark has reference to the style which was peculiarly of
Palissy’s own invention, and not to the production of ceramic works
generally; though the art failed not to give evidence of a certain

[Illustration: Fig. 42.--Enamelled Dish, by Bernard Palissy. (Museum of
the Louvre.)]

it employed as guides or models the fanciful examples of Italian ware,
in preference to the really masterly specimens of the French artist.
Among the different centres of manufacture which, at that period, were
deserving of notoriety, we must specially name Nevers, whence came
numerous examples characterised by subjects taken from biblical
narratives, as well as from Roman and contemporaneous times; Rouen,
where the manufacture probably was not of an earlier date than the
beginning of the seventeenth century, and which evidently had to provide
its full supply of dishes for the table when, owing to the heavy
expenses of war, the courtiers, following the example of Louis XIV.,
sent their plate to the mint, and “_se mirent en faïence_,” “took to
earthenware,” as Saint-Simon says. Lastly we have Montreuil-sur-Mer,
which, if we are to credit the specimens collected in the district by M.
Boucher de Perthes, one of our most learned antiquarians, possessed a
manufactory that produced some remarkable “open-work” vases.

[Illustration: Fig. 43.--Four-handled Water-jug. German ware of the
Sixteenth Century.]

[Illustration: Fig. 44.--Egg-shaped Coffee-pot. German ware of the
Sixteenth Century.]

Let us also mention the Dutch pottery, called _Delft ware_, which, in
the beginning of the seventeenth century, began to find a place on all
sideboards and dressers. According to M. Brongniart, these came from a
manufactory founded prior, perhaps, to the sixteenth century. We also
instance the fine earthenware, in relievo, manufactured with undoubted
ability in Germany, especially in the town of Nuremberg. In the Louvre
and in the Cluny Museums may be seen magnificent specimens of enamelled
slabs and vases of architectural forms, ornamented with figures.
Majolica was equally esteemed on the banks of the Rhine. Many specimens
are found, dating from the latest years of the sixteenth century, in
which identity of form or similarity of _sigles_ (earths or clays) to
primitive works had led to their being, at first, classified among
Italian majolica. However, the majority of these examples, ornamented
with escutcheons and arabesques, combined generally with Latin or German
inscriptions, bear on the reverse a cipher in Gothic letters, leaving no
doubt as to the artist’s country.

Now a word on a question we ought not to pass in silence, though it yet
remains unanswered, and doubtless will never be explained.

Why is this name of _faïence_ commonly given in France, almost from the
revival of the ceramic art, to the productions of the new industry? Some
say, “because Faenza was the first among Italian manufactories that
introduced, generally, painted and ornamented potteries into France,
where it acquired great reputation.” Others discover in France itself, a
small town called Faïence, near Fréjus, in Provence, “where the
manufacture of enamelled clays was in full activity before there was any
evidence of it elsewhere;” and thus it gave its name to the pottery
called _majolica_ by the Italians: this would be nothing less than to
deprive Luca della Robbia of the merit, if not of the invention, at
least of priority. Unfortunately for this last opinion, those who state
it cannot bring in support of their assertion any certain details of the
nature of the productions ascribed to that locality, and which by their
very celebrity ought to have been safe from destruction. Thus it is
evident there is here a point of dispute regarding which it is difficult
to form a decisive opinion.

Though, in a certain measure, lying out of the province to which our
observations have hitherto been limited, we have still to notice a small
group of productions which are known by connoisseurs under the title of
_faïences fines d’Henri II._; of these there are not more than forty
authenticated specimens. The locality of this manufacture, which seems,
so to speak, to have been isolated--for the ware is unlike any
contemporaneous productions--is quite unknown. “We only know,” says M.
Jacquemart, “that most of the examples came from the south-west of
France, from Saumur, from Tours, and especially from Thouars. As to the
date, it is indelibly inscribed on the vases, some having the salamander
of Francis I., others the arms of France with three crescents
interlaced, the emblem adopted by Henri II. They consist of cups, ewers,
drinking-vases, oval sugar-basins, salt-cellars, and candlesticks. The
form is ornate and pure, and is relieved by elegant mouldings. On the
clay--a yellowish white, and covered with a crystallized varnish, the
basis of which is lead, and consequently is transparent--wind bands of
yellow ochre bordered with dark brown, and interlaced with all the
inventive richness which characterized the period; small designs in
green, violet, black, and occasionally in red, enhance this decoration.”

Much search has been made, but, as yet, without any reliable result, for
the name of the artist to whom might be attributed the creation of these
works, and of the individual style they denote.

However this may be, if England claims the first application of
pipe-clay to fine earthenware, the French can, by showing her the
_faïence d’Henry II._, prove that, two hundred years before, an unknown
artist in France was setting an example in that art in which England now
prides herself.

[Illustration: Fig. 45.--Ornament of a Dish, Italian ware. (Collection
of M. le Baron Alph. de Rothschild.)]


     Arms of the Time of Charlemagne.--Arms of the Normans at the Time
     of the Conquest of England.--Progress of Armoury under the
     Influence of the Crusades.--The Coat of Mail.--The Crossbow.--The
     Hauberk and the Hoqueton.--The Helmet, the Hat of Iron, the
     Cervelière, the Greaves, and the Gauntlet; the Breastplate and the
     Cuish.--The Casque with Vizor.--Plain Armour and Ribbed
     Armour.--The Salade Helmet.--Costliness of Armour.--Invention of
     Gunpowder.--Bombards.--Hand-Cannons.--The Culverin, the
     Falconet.--The Arquebus with Metal-holder, with Match, and with
     Wheel.--The Gun and the Pistol.

The most ancient and authentic document that presents to us a just and
almost perfect idea of the arms in use towards the end of the eleventh
century, is the celebrated tapestry of Bayeux, of which we have already

It is sufficient to examine with some attention that complex and
illustrated narrative of the conquest of England in 1066, to learn what
was the general aspect of war at that period. But any one who has at all
studied the ancient historians and the annals of our earliest career as
a people, will not fail to recognise, as so many constituent parts
combining to form the equipment of war, most of those weapons that were
adopted among various races, the contests and the union of which was to
give birth to modern nations.

If we can rely on the testimony of some miniatures in manuscripts of the
time of Charlemagne, Roman customs are constantly recalled in the
costume and arms of the warriors of the eighth and ninth centuries (Fig.
46), “but with the modifications necessarily resulting from
contemporaneous corrupt taste,” as observed by M. de Saulcy, whom, it
may be remarked, we follow step by step, as it were, in the labours
which he has conscientiously devoted to the history of warlike arms;
“for at that time the helmets, the bucklers, and the swords had assumed
forms very unlike the models whereof they were supposed to be an
imitation. One can readily imagine that costume had become subjected to
the same sort of change as language, corrupted as this was by the
admixture of German manners with those of the nations subjected to

In the middle of the ninth century the Normans disembarking, possessed
themselves of Neustria, and introduced among the French nation, with
which they at first contended, and at length concluded a peace, an
entire series of defensive arms entirely novel in form, if not in their
nature. It is then, according to certain learned men, that warriors are
seen, in illustrated manuscripts, attired in dresses furnished with
small rings or iron scales, wearing pointed helmets, and using shields
cut horizontally above, and terminating at the base in a point more or
less sharp.

[Illustration: Fig. 46.--Gallo-Romano Soldiers. Fac-simile of Miniatures
in the MS. of Prudentius. (Imp. Library of Paris.)]

In the Bayeux tapestry we see the army of William that fought the battle
of Hastings composed of three different bodies of troops: the archers,
light infantry, armed with arrows and darts; foot-soldiers, or Heavy
infantry, using weightier arms, and clad in iron mail; and cavalry, in
the midst of which figures the Duke William (Fig. 47).

The costume exhibits little variety; only two sorts of accoutrements are
observable; one very plain, worn by men who have no helmet, is evidently
that of an inferior soldier; the other, covered with iron rings, not
interlaced, extends from the shoulders to the knees, and belongs only
to warriors whose head-dress is a narrow, conical helmet, more or less
sharply pointed, extending behind (_en couvre nuque_) to cover the nape
of the neck (Fig. 48), and in front provided with a metal protector for
the face, called the _nasal_.

Among the horsemen thus encased in iron, are some who have boots and
stirrups, others are without them, and even wear no spurs. Their shields
are convex, secured to the arm by a leather strap, generally circular at
top, and terminating in a point below. Some, however, are polygonal and
convex, and in the centre show a rather long point.

[Illustration: Fig. 47.--King William, as represented on his seal
preserved in England.]

[Illustration: Fig. 48.--Lancer of William’s Army.]

Offensive arms consist of swords, axes, lances, javelins, and arrows.
The swords are long, of uniform width nearly to the extremity which
comes abruptly to a point, and have heavy, strong hilts. The axes
exhibit no remarkable peculiarity. The spears terminate in an iron
point, probably sharpened, and equal in length to one-sixth of the
handle. We see also clubs, maces, and, finally, pronged staves (_bâtons
fourchus_), doubtless the earliest form of the weapon; these last were
subsequently called _bisaguë_, and, with maces and clubs, were
ordinarily used by serfs and peasants; the sword and the spear being
reserved for freemen.

The sling is not to be found in the hands of any warrior; but it is
remarkable that, in the border of the Bayeux tapestry, it is used by a
peasant aiming at a bird; from which it may be inferred that the sling
had become a mere weapon for field-sport. Moreover, this was also the
case with the bow among the French; which was again held in honour after
the advent of the Normans, especially since the latter could ascribe to
it their success at the battle of Hastings, where Harold, the opponent
of William, was killed by an arrow. Nevertheless, the statutes of the
Conqueror, who himself excelled with the bow, did not include that
weapon among those of the nobility.

From the conquest of the Normans to the Crusades, we scarcely find
anything worth notice, except the adoption of a very murderous implement
of war, which acquired the name of the flail, or armed whip (_fléau_, or
_fouet d’armes_); it was formed of iron balls studded with points, and
was attached to the end of a strong staff by small chains. But we come
to a period when the events which occurred in Asia had a considerable
influence on the arms and the military costume of Europe. The first and
principal of the importations due to those distant expeditions was that
of the coat of mail, then in common use among the Arabs, and which has
since been discovered in the sculptures of the period of the Sassanidæ,
a royal race that ruled over Persia from the third to the seventh

It is not affirmed that prior to the first crusade we had no knowledge
of iron chain-work, of which the Orientals made defensive helmets; but
we imitated it only in a heavy and clumsy manner. This armour, which was
of ponderous weight, and, besides, was far from rendering invulnerable
those who were burdened with it, had not displaced the _haubergeons_,
the _jacques de fer_, the _brigandines_, the _armures à macles_ (Fig.
49), (such were the names given to the cuirasses of leather and of cloth
covered with metal plates); but when such defensive armour came to be
better known, with all its original good qualities; and when we had
learned to make it according to the Oriental method, there was no
further delay in adopting that network of iron (_tricot_) at once
flexible, light, and, in some degree, impenetrable. However, since the
manufacture of ancient armour was more simple, and consequently less
costly, it was not altogether abandoned. It is only so late as the time
of Philip Augustus and Louis IX. (the thirteenth century) that the use
of coats of mail became general; to this some knights attached mail
hose, to protect the thighs, legs, and feet (Fig. 50).

In the reign of Louis le Gros (twelfth century) we see the first attempt
at a movable vizor adapted to the conical helmet of the Normans; and to
the same period must be referred the invention of the crossbow: or, it
may rather be said that a stock, or _arbrier_, was added to the bow,
which afforded greater facility for stretching the string, and also
aided in directing the arrow. This new weapon, after being exclusively
used in the chase, appeared in warfare; but, in 1139, Pope Innocent II.,
confirming the decisions of the Council of Lateran, which had condemned
it as too destructive, prohibited its use. The crossbow was not restored
to military equipments until the third crusade, under Richard Cœur de
Lion, who, having permitted his men to resume the weapon, was
subsequently assumed to have invented it.

[Illustration: Fig. 49.--Norman Archer.]

[Illustration: Fig. 50.--Jean Sansterre, as represented on his Seal.
Reproduced by Meyrick.]

During the first crusade, barons and knights wore a hauberk of links of
iron or steel. Every warrior had a helmet--silver-plated for royalty, of
steel for nobles, and of iron for the private soldiers. The crusaders
used the lance, the sword, a kind of dagger called _miséricorde_, the
club and the battle-axe, the sling and the bow.

In the windows which Suger, minister of Louis VII., caused to be painted
for the church of the abbey of Saint-Denis, and which represented the
principal events of the second crusade, we see the chiefs of the
crusaders still clothed in hauberks of links, or _macles_ (plates of
iron); the helmet is conical and without the nose-piece (_nasal_); and,
lastly, the buckler, formed like a scutcheon, covers the breast,
generally suspended from the neck by a leather thong.

Towards the middle of the twelfth century, the iron breastplate is said
to have been introduced; it was placed over the chest to support the
hauberk, the direct pressure of which being found detrimental to health.
But no description of it is to be met with in the romances of chivalry,
that furnish the best documentary evidence regarding the armour of the
twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

[Illustration: Fig. 51.--Helmet of Don Jaime el Conquistador (Armeria
Real, Madrid.)]

Under Philip Augustus, who, as we know, was one of the leaders of the
third crusade, the conical helmet assumed a cylindrical form; to this
was occasionally added a vizor called _ventail_, intended to protect the
face. Richard I., King of England, is represented on his seal with this
kind of helmet; level with the eyes and also at the height of the mouth
are two horizontal slits, which admit of seeing and breathing. Still the
use of the conical helmet without vizor or nose-piece was retained even
to the thirteenth century in Spain, as is proved by that worn by Jaime
I., King of Aragon (Fig. 51), which is preserved in the Armeria Real,
Madrid. It is of polished steel, is surmounted by a dragon’s head, and
portions of it are richly ornamented.

Thus in the third crusade the use of the “coat-of-arms” became
general,--a sort of overcoat, if we may so term it, of cloth or of silk
stuff, and the purpose of which, at first, was only to mitigate the
insupportable effect of the rays of an Eastern sun on metal armour. This
new garment soon served, moreover, when made of various colours, to
distinguish different nations marching under the standard of the Cross
(Fig. 52). It became really a dress of military splendour, was made of
the richest stuffs, and embroidered in gold or silver with excessive

[Illustration: Fig. 52.--Knight in his Hauberk (after Meyrick).]

The slingers, who had never been otherwise recruited than from the
lower orders, disappeared from the French armies after the reign of St.
Louis. As for the archers, those of England wore at that time, over the
hauberk, a leather jacket, adopted subsequently by the French archers,
and called _jacque d’Anglois_. An old author, in fact, thus mentions

   “C’étoit un pourpoint de chamois;
    Farci de bourre sus et sous;
    Un grand vilain jacque d’Anglois,
    Qui lui pendoit jusqu’aux genoux.”

The _jacque_ having become the fashion in France was soon recognised in
every kind of material more or less costly; it continued in use until
the end of the fourteenth century; Charles VI. wore one of black velvet
during a journey he made in Brittany.

[Illustration: Fig. 53.--Helmet of Hughes, Vidame of Chalons. (End of
Thirteenth Century.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 54.--Tournament Helmet, screwed on the Breastplate.
(End of Fifteenth Century.)]

The casque, or helmet, from that time enclosing the head entirely,
assumed, under St. Louis, the form of two truncated cones “réunis par
leurs grandes bases.” In addition to the helmet there was also worn at
that time the _chapel de fer_, which at first was only a simple cap
underneath the hood of the hauberk; but when, curtailing the hood, a
brim was added to the cap, it thus became a hat almost of the form of
the felts now in use. To protect the neck there was also attached to the
rim of the hat a tippet of mail, falling on the shoulders, and called
_camail_.[5] The iron cap then took


With and without vizors, from the Armeria Real at Madrid.]

the name of _coiffre_ or _cervelière_, and later it became a kind of
reversed pot concealing the entire head, and kept in position by its
weight only (Fig. 53).

[Illustration: Fig. 55.--Plain Armour of the Fifteenth Century, about
1460. (Museum of Artillery, Paris.)]

Again; there had for some time been manifested a movement which
gradually caused the knights to be entirely cased in iron. A king of
Scotland, contemporary with Philip Augustus, is represented on his seal
with a plate of armour intended to protect the elbow. The knee-cap
followed. Under Philip the Bold, successor of St. Louis, the iron
_grévières_ (greaves), or half leg-pieces, protecting the front of the
legs, were adopted. In the reign of Philip the Fair we have the first
example of an iron gauntlet with its fingers separate and jointed:
previously it was merely an inflexible piece covering the back of the
hand. About the same time the _cervelière_, either flat or spherical,
became pointed at the top, and took the name of _bassinet_; but this
bassinet was unlike the casque which, in the following century,
retained that name and was made completely closed. The exact period of
the transition from mailed armour to that of plain iron or steel, called
also plate-armour, dates from the first thirty years of the fifteenth
century (Fig. 55).

[Illustration: Fig. 56.--Convex Armour of the Fifteenth Century, said to
be that of Maximilian. (Museum of Artillery, Paris.)]

The annals of Florence contain a statute of 1315, requiring every
horseman serving in a campaign to have a helmet, a breastplate,
gauntlets, cuishes, and leg-pieces, all of iron; but in France and
England the whole of these pieces were not adopted until somewhat later.
In the reigns of Philip V. and Charles IV. we see the ventail of the
helmet with a grating, and the vizor opening with a hinge. The
bassinet, lighter than the helmet, was at first worn by the knight when
no hostile encounter was anticipated; but subsequently, and at an early
date, the vizor was added to the bassinet, as well as to the casque; and
then it became as much used as the helmet, which, towards the end of the
fourteenth century, was abandoned.

About the same period some portions of iron horse-armour began to make
their appearance. We find entered in the inventory of the armour of
Louis X., a _chanfrein_ (a plate of iron fastened on the horse’s

[Illustration: Fig. 57.--Crossbow Men protected by Shield-bearers.
Fifteenth Century. After a Miniature from the Chronicles of Froissart.
(MS. Bibl. Imp. de Paris.)]

The crossbow, for some time prohibited by ecclesiastical authority, was
the weapon most in use at the period spoken of; as having the double
advantage of being drawn with more power than the ordinary bow, and of
throwing its arrows to a longer distance with greater precision.
Historians say that at Crécy, in 1346, there were fifteen thousand
crossbow men in the French army. The Genoese were considered the most
skilful in Europe; and next, those of Paris. A manuscript in the
British Museum shows them wearing iron helmets, _brassières_,[6] and
leg-pieces; and for body-covering, jackets with long, hanging sleeves.
While the bowmen had both hands occupied in discharging their arrows,
shield-bearers were employed to protect them by means of large bucklers
(Fig. 57).

In the year 1338 the use of firearms is for the first time noted in
France. But we think it right to reserve all we have to say of these
modern offensive weapons until our history of the ancient system of
armour is finished. Considering the early imperfections of firearms, the
old system must have long continued, especially among combatants of
noble degree--for they affected contempt for the new warlike equipments,
by means of which personal valour became in a manner useless and could
no longer ensure victory in battle.

Under John the Good, that is, in the middle of the fourteenth century,
plain armour was generally adopted; the long coat of mail, heavier and
less convenient, was entirely abandoned; but chain-armour still covered
certain parts of the body not yet protected by iron plates. The
_bassinet_, then very pointed, was furnished with mail, covering the
neck and a portion of the shoulders. The upper part of the arm was
protected by a half-armlet, called the _épaulette_, but the lower part
was provided with mail.

Ornaments began to be introduced in armour in the reign of Charles V.;
until that time it had a simple and plain appearance. For instance, the
_camail_ of the _bassinet_ is embroidered on the shoulders with gold and
silver, and the point surmounting it is decorated with an imitation of
foliage--an ornament which, according to the “Chronicle of Du Gueslin,”
had the disadvantage of presenting a kind of handle to an opponent. The
cuirass, to which it was then deemed sufficient to impart a bright
polish, or to paint in ordinary colours, sometimes bright, sometimes
dark, began to be engraved and chased towards the end of the following

In the time of Charles VI. there was introduced, for the first time,
four or five flexible plates, called _faldes_, which protected the lower
part of the stomach without impeding the movements of the body. A little
later, _tassettes_ were added; they were attached to the top of the
thigh to guard the hips and the groin. It appears that at this period
the artisans of Milan, were especially renowned for the manufacture of
armour; for Froissart relates that Henry IV., King of England, when Earl
of Derby,[7] and preparing to enter the lists with the Duke of Norfolk,
requested armour from Galeas, Duke of Milan, who sent it with four
Milanese armourers. The swords and spears made at Toulouse and at
Bordeaux were also held in great repute; so also were the double-handed
swords in use from the middle of the thirteenth century, and
manufactured at Lubeck, in Germany. The steel helmets of Montauban were
also much in request.

Towards the commencement of the fifteenth century, engines of war,
distinct from those in which powder was used, had attained a remarkable
degree of perfection. When John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, marched
upon Paris, in 1411, there was with his army a considerable number of
machines called _ribaudequins_, a species of gigantic crossbow drawn by
a horse, and which with enormous strength threw javelins to a great

Under Charles VII., the breastplate of the cuirass was composed of two
parts: one covered the breast; the other, reaching to the hips,
protected the stomach, and was attached to the former by clasps and
leather straps. Generally the breastplate was convex.

Taught by the disastrous defeat of Agincourt,--where ten thousand men,
of whom eight thousand were of the nobility, had fallen, owing to the
precision and the celerity of the fire of the English archers,--Charles
VII. instituted in France the _franc archer_ (Fig. 58), who wore the
_salade_ and the jacket or _brigandine_, and carried the dagger, the
sword, the bow, the quiver or crossbow _garnie_. These archers were
exempt from all taxes or imposts; their equipments were declared not
distrainable for debts, and during war they received pay at the rate of
four livres a month.

The _salade_, a part of armour which has remained particularly
celebrated, and the name of which has been applied subsequently to
helmets of divers forms, is pre-eminently the helmet of the epoch of
Charles VII. At first it was a head-dress for war, composed of a simple
cap (_timbre_), that covered the top of the head, with a pendent piece
of metal of greater or less length at the back, which sometimes was made
for protecting the neck, and

[Illustration: Fig. 58.--Franc Archers (Fifteenth Century), from the
Painted Hangings of the Town of Rheims.]

sometimes to guard a portion of the shoulders. Towards the end of the
fifteenth century there was added to the salade a small vizor, that was
gradually lengthened downwards to near the upper lip, and in which a
narrow opening was then made for the sight. In the reign of Louis XII.
the salade received a chin-piece, the lower part of which was a
_gorget_, that surrounded and protected the neck. The top of the cuirass
had a cord, to which was attached the salade; and this helmet, so
different to the primitive salade, continued to bear the same name (Fig.

[Illustration: Fig. 59.--Knights in complete Armour, with the _Salade_.
(End of Fifteenth Century.) A Single Combat, taken from “The Triumph of
Maximilian,” by Burgmayer, after a drawing by Albert Dürer.]

The _brigandine_, recalling the early armour abandoned for the coat of
mail, was composed of small plates of steel or iron arranged on a strong
piece of leather, and stitched or fixed with wire, in the form of the
scales of a fish. A decree of Peter II., Duke of Brittany, issued in
1450, ordered the nobles to equip themselves as archers, or in
brigandine, if they knew how to use arrows; but otherwise, to be
provided with _guisarmes_, with good salades, and leg-armour; each noble
was to be attended by one _coustillier_, and to have two good horses.
The _guisarme_ was a sort of two-edged and pointed javelin. The
_coustillier_ was a foot-soldier, or a horseman, whose duty it was to
act as a servant to the nobleman, and to carry the _coustille_, a long,
slender sword, triangular or square, apparently resembling the foil in
our fencing-rooms.

[Illustration: Fig. 60.--Armour ornamented with Lions, supposed to be
that of Louis XII. (Museum of Artillery, Paris.)]

About this period French noblemen displayed much magnificence in the
adornment of the _chanfrein_ of their horses. For instance, we know that
at the siege of Harfleur, in 1449, the charger of the Count de Saint-Pol
had on its head a massive gold chanfrein, of the most delicate work,
valued at not less than twenty thousand crowns. In the same year, at the
siege of Bayonne, the Count de Foix entered the conquered city mounted
on a horse whose chanfrein of polished steel was enriched with gold and
precious stones to the value of fifteen thousand gold crowns.

Half a century later--that is, in the reign of Charles VIII. and that of
Louis XII.--chargers wore, besides the chanfrein, the _manefaire_,
protecting the neck, the _poitrail_, the _croupière_, the _flancois_,
which respectively covered the chest, the back, and the flanks of the
horse; and to these was added another piece of armour placed under the

Of the date of Louis XII., we still see embossed suits of armour
ornamented with fluting, sometimes blended with beautiful engraved work
executed in the metal by the use of aquafortis, or subjects in relievo
produced by embossing: ornamentation of this nature elevated the
equipments of the warrior to real works of art (Fig. 60).

Louis XII. was the first to admit Greek mercenaries into his army. These
were named _stradiots_; they tendered their military services equally to
both Turks and Christians. The armour of these troops consisted of a
cuirass with sleeves and gauntlets in mail, and over this a jacket; on
their head a vizorless helmet was worn. The stradiots were armed with a
large sword, called a _braquemart_, much resembling the Turkish sword,
but with a cross-handle; the sword and its scabbard were ornamented with
Grecian devices. They carried in addition several small arms at the
saddle-bow, and also a _zagaye_, a very long lance, tipped at both
extremities with iron.

At this period also was introduced the _pertuisane_,[8] the blade of
which, wider than that of the lance, formed a crescent immediately above
the handle.

There were at that time two kinds of cross-bows--one for discharging
bolts, the other for bullets. The bow was slung by means of a
_moulinet_, a kind of hand-winch.

Embossed and fluted armour was not the only kind used in France and in
Italy at the end of the fifteenth and the commencement of the following
century. The monuments in the former country of the time of Louis XII.,
and on the other side of the Alps, show how prevalent was a peculiar
description of plain armour, whereof the cuirass, which was longer than
that of the embossed armour, had a rib or raised line in the middle.
This rib, which completely altered the character of the cuirass, in that
it served to turn aside the thrust of the lance, became increasingly
distinctive as the seventeenth century drew near.

In the reign of Francis I. embossed and ribbed armour were equally

[Illustration: Fig. 61.--Damaskeened Armour of the end of the Sixteenth
Century. (Portrait of François, Duc d’Alençon, from Montfaucon’s “La
Monarchie Françoise.”)]

used (Fig. 61). In the Museum of Artillery, in Paris, is preserved the
armour which that king wore at the battle of Pavia. The body is longer
than in the cuirass of the preceding century, the rib in the centre is
more raised, the gusset of the shoulder-piece is made of several
movable plates, and of large size. The _casque_, a generic name given
since those times to all descriptions of head-armour, assumed a
comfortable and elegant shape, which was maintained as long as the use
of armour continued.

Another cuirass of the same date, still longer in the body, was made to
turn up towards the lower extremity, and then took an inward bend to fit
the hip. It was made with movable plates overlapping from below; this
allowed the wearer to stoop, which it was almost impossible to do when
the breast-piece and the back-piece were in one. Sometimes these plates
were only three or four in number over the stomach, and the others over
the breast were only represented, not genuine plates.

The armour called _à éclisse_, or _à écrevisse_, worn at a certain
period by the halberdiers, must not be passed over; it received this
name because the cuirass was made of horizontal plates (_éclisses_),
three or four inches in width, which, though they covered the entire
body, did not in any way impede its movements.

We must, however, refer to a peculiarity in this armour which prevented
its general adoption; it was that as the movement or “play” of the
_éclisses_ made it convenient to wear, so from this flexibility it was
found that the plates frequently became disconnected, and thus left a
part of the body defenceless. In making the _éclisses_ to overlap from
below, regard was had to the usual direction of a sword-cut or
dagger-thrust, which usually came from below; but there was all the more
danger from blows of the _martel_[9] and battle-axe, the stroke of which
weapon was directed downwards.

Bronzed armour came in about the middle of the sixteenth century, and
was somewhat commonly worn in 1558; it was introduced on account of its
being far more easily kept clean than polished steel. For the same
reason black armour was tried, but the engravings and chasings, the
gildings and damaskeenings were more effective on the greenish ground;
consequently black varnish was given up in favour of bronze. At the end
of the sixteenth century, and during the long civil wars which desolated
France, armour took a variety of shapes, and as regards ornamentation at
least, there was generally to be seen a strange medley of the style of
the previous century with that of the period (Fig. 61). However, the
decline of the use of armour, which became in a measure inevitable, was
at hand.

De la Noue, an eminent Huguenot officer of the time of Charles IX.,
says, in his “Discours Militaires”--“The penetrating power of pikes and
arquebuses has very naturally led to the adoption of armour stronger and
more capable of great resistance than formerly. It is now so heavy that
one is laden with anvils rather than protected by armour. Our
men-at-arms and light cavalry in Henry II.’s time presented a much finer
appearance, with their helmets, their brassarts, tassets,[10] and the
morion,[11] carrying the lance with a flag; their armour was not so
heavy but that a strong man was able to support its weight for
twenty-four hours; but those of the present day are so ponderous that a
young knight of thirty has his shoulders quite crippled.”

Thus, in endeavouring to make the resistance of armour keep pace with
the improvement in new warlike engines, they rendered it useless;
because the weight was intolerable, especially in warm weather, during
long marches, or in lengthened combats. Having vainly tried to make
suits of armour invulnerable, men began to leave off wearing such
portions as were of minor importance, which by degrees were entirely
discontinued. Under Louis XIII. we see armour undergoing further
modifications, but of fashion rather than of utility: finally, there is
every reason to think that the magnificent armour presented by the
Republic of Venice to Louis XIV., in 1668, and which is now to be seen
in the Museum of Artillery in Paris, was one of the latest sets made in

Let us now retrace our steps to examine a series of arms, the gradual
adoption of which was destined to completely change the art of warfare.

It is now the almost universal opinion that the invention of
gunpowder,--assumed to have been discovered in 1256, or at all events
its application to artillery, which first dates from 1280,--is due to
Berthold Schwartz, an Augustin friar, born at Fribourg. Some writers,
however, make these dates a century later, and affirm that powder and
cannons were first known from 1330 to 1380. Nevertheless, the employment
of artillery only became general during the wars of Charles-Quint and of
Francis I., that is, towards 1530, or two centuries after its

But perhaps in place of giving, as we have done, the unconditional
acceptation to the word _artillery_ which it now has, we ought perhaps
to have said artillery used with gunpowder; for long before the
invention of gunpowder the word _artillery_ was employed when speaking
of all machines or engines of war (Fig. 62). Thus in the middle of the
thirteenth century we find among the _personnel_ of the _artillery_ a
grand master of the crossbow men, masters of the engines, of the
cannoniers (the word _cannon_ was even then applied to the tube forming
one of the principal portions of an engine for hurling projectiles), and
in 1291 we see Philip the Fair appointing a grand master of the
artillery of the Louvre.

[Illustration: Fig. 62.--Engine for hurling Stones; taken from a
Miniature of the Chevalier au Cygne. (Bibl. Imp. de Paris, No. 340, S.

In order to follow methodically the progress of the manufacture of arms
such as we shall call novel, we will, in the first place, treat
separately of the engines of large calibre which were first employed,
and then of portable arms.

The earliest allusion to cannons in France is found in 1338, in an
account of the treasurer of war, wherein we read:--“To Henri de
Vaumechon, for buying powder and other necessaries for cannons,” which
had been used at the siege of Puy-Guilhem, in Périgord.

In Froissart, we next find that, in 1340, the inhabitants of Quesnoy,
when repelling the attack of the French, made use of bombards and cannon
which hurled huge bolts at the besiegers. But the statement of Villani,
that the English were indebted to the employment of artillery for the
victory of Crécy, in 1346, must be treated as a pure invention, because
it is certain that the firearms which may have been in use at that time
were in no way suited to field warfare; and that they were only employed
with the older engines in the attack and defence of fortresses. Not only
did their cumbrous weight and the rude construction of their carriages
render them extremely difficult of transport, but, intended as they were
to be employed as catapults, they were generally constructed for hurling
heavy projectiles, by causing these to describe a curved line, like
modern shells; and their shape is, in fact, much more like that of our
mortars than of cannon (Fig. 63).

[Illustration: Fig. 63.--Bombards on fixed and rolling carriages. (From
the MSS. 851 and 852, Bibl. Imp. de Paris.)]

“It would seem,” says M. de Saulcy, “that, in loading them, hollow
cylinders (_manchons_), or movable chambers, were used, in which the
charge was previously laid; and these fitted, by means of a wedge, into
the body of the piece. Sometimes these cylinders were at the side, and
formed a right angle with the axis of the piece, but usually they fitted
into the breech, of which they formed a prolongation.”

The name _bombards_, which we have just used, and which is derived, as
we may conclude, from the Greek _bombos_ (noise), was the first employed
for designating cannon; but these engines were so imperfect in
principle, and so feeble in power, that catapults, which had played so
signal a part in sieges during the Middle Ages, were used in preference
when very heavy projectiles had to be hurled (Fig. 64).

[Illustration: Fig. 64.--Mangonneau; an Engine of War of the Fifteenth
Century. (Miniature in the MS. 7,239, Bibl. Imp. of Paris.)]

Originally the piece rested, as it were, fixedly on a massive support;
but soon the means of sighting had to be considered; thus we see
depicted in early manuscripts pieces that could be moved up and down by
means of trunnions; or which were elevated or depressed for firing by a
sort of tail or long projection behind the tube; at other times the
muzzle of the cannon is sustained by a fork more or less buried in the
ground. This bombard, attached to a platform on wheels, received the
denomination of _cerbotana ambulatoria_; this last word conveying the
idea of the movability of the engine.

We have seen that projectiles were of stone, but there is no doubt that
from the fourteenth century they were also made of metal; that was
nothing new, for ancient engines of war, including the sling, threw
leaden balls and masses of red-hot iron. No doubt it was with the object
of giving the largest size possible to projectiles of artillery by means
of powder that stone was used; which, in the state of the art at that
time, was much better adapted than metal for large balls.

Christine of Pisa, who wrote in the time of Charles VI. the “Livre des
Faits d’Armes et de Chevalrie,” has left us a collection of very
interesting details of the condition of artillery used with powder,
which, as early as the fifteenth century, had become much more extended
than would be easily believed; moreover, in the descriptions this author
gives of armaments, or of narratives of battles, we almost always still
see catapults, the large cross-bows, &c., appearing by the side of
cannon; a certain proof that the use of powder found its equivalent in
more than one instance in the ancient means of the propulsion of

[Illustration: Fig. 65.--Earliest Models of Cannon. In the Tower of

Valturio, an Italian writer, whose treatise on military art was first
printed in 1472, has described and drawn all the engines of war then in
use. Cannons are not forgotten. We observe that the greater number of
these pieces have no longer any box forming a movable chamber; this
implies an important advance in the art of making them; but, on the
other hand, these cannons, bound with cords to a block of wood, or
resting on platforms, must have been very difficult to move.

At this period pieces of the largest calibre, which projected enormous
balls of stone, were more commonly called _bombards_; mortars, the very
short cannons throwing heated projectiles; cannons, pieces of medium
calibre carrying iron projectiles (Fig. 65); culverins, the long pieces
loaded with leaden balls, which, as well as the powder, were rammed in
with an iron rod; hand-cannons, or _bâtons à feu_ (Fig. 66), were in a
manner portable, for if they were handled by one man, it was never
without his having recourse to another for firing them.

This last-named term, _bâtons à feu_, like that of _cannon_, existed
before the invention of gunpowder. As swords and lances had often been
designated under the generic name of _bâtons_, it followed that the name
which implied arms in general should also be applied to the earliest
portable firearms. In ancient royal ordinances we even see the term
_gros bâtons_ used to designate large pieces of artillery.

[Illustration: Fig. 66.--Hand Cannon (or _Bâton à feu_), taken from a
piece of Tapestry belonging to the Church of Notre Dame de Nantilly,

According to M. de Saulcy, the most important improvement ever made in
artillery is certainly that which consisted in placing a gun with
trunnions on a carriage _à flasques_--upright beams of wood, between
which the gun can oscillate, and united by cross-pieces; this carriage
was mounted on wheels, and admitted of the gun being inclined by the
simple use of a wedge of wood placed under the breech. But, strangely
enough, it is most difficult to state precisely the date of this
improvement. Nevertheless, circumstances tend to the belief that it was
between 1476 and 1494--that is, during the reigns of Louis XI. and of
Charles VIII.--that they succeeded in making pieces of all calibres
carrying iron shot, and also in solidly fixing the trunnions, which not
only supported the weight, but also resisted the recoil of the cannon.
The carriages for these guns were mounted on wheels. From this period
the art of fortifying towns underwent a complete revolution, which
suddenly changed the whole system.

When, in 1494, Charles VIII. entered Italy to conquer the kingdom of
Naples, the French artillery produced universal admiration. The Italians
had only iron guns, drawn by bullocks in rear of the army, and more for
appearance than for use. After the first discharge it was some hours
before the gun was ready for a second. The French had lighter cannon of
bronze, drawn by horses, and moved with so much order that their
transport hardly delayed the march of the army; they planted their
batteries with incredible promptitude, considering the period, and the
rounds were as quickly delivered as they were well aimed. Cotemporaneous
Italian writers say that the French used almost exclusively iron shot,
and that the guns, both of large and small calibre, were admirably
balanced on their carriages.

Yet no single specimen, or even a drawing, of this remarkable artillery
has been handed down to us. The Museum of Artillery does, indeed,
possess one small piece, on which, between the trunnions and the breech,
is this inscription:--“Presented by Charles VIII. to Bartemi, Lord of
Pins, captain of the bands of artillery, in 1490.” This cannon presents
nothing remarkable in its construction, for we already recognise the
form, one that has scarcely varied since then, and which, it seems, was
definitely adopted under Louis XII. and Francis I. Of this period we
still have two magnificent bronze cannons. They were found at Algiers in
1830; the porcupine, the salamander, and the fleur-de-lys that ornament
them, made their origin known.

Artillery, which in the reign of Charles VIII. had become an important
arm, and had, besides, the prestige of success in Italy, became a
subject to which particular attention was given in succeeding reigns.
But, we again say, the true principles of manufacture and mounting were
already well ascertained, and only improvements in matters of detail
remained to be discovered.

The Armoury Real of Madrid contains a curious _dragonneau_,[12] cast at
Liège in 1503, which figured in the siege of Santander in 1511 (Fig.
67). The carriage, consisting of a single piece of carved oak, is by its
delicacy and finish worthy of sustaining this masterpiece of
bronze-work, which presents a double interest, first as regards art, and
then on account of the rapid advance already made in firearms; for this
_dragonneau_ has a double barrel, and is loaded at the breech.

[Illustration: Fig. 67.--Double-barrelled Dragonneau. Armoury Real of

Having arrived at this point, let us again retrace our steps, in order
to note, and rapidly follow from its origin, the progress of firearms.

The earliest of these used in the middle of the fourteenth century were
called hand-cannon, and were merely formed of an iron tube pierced with
a vent, without stock or lock.

A manuscript of that period represents a warrior who, standing on one of
those little movable towers then forming part of the siege _matériel_,
is shooting a stone with a gun of this description. The piece is resting
on the parapet. By the side a sling is placed with its stone--a
circumstance which indicates the relative power of the hand-cannon, as
no doubt each engine was to be used alternately. In another place is a
horseman holding a small gun with a prolongation; the muzzle is
supported by a prong fixed on the pommel of the saddle. Thus it was
impossible for him to take aim, and he applied the fire with his hand.

A little later, to prevent the effect of the recoil, there was added
below the barrel, a little short of the centre, a sort of hook, intended
to serve the purpose of checking the piece. When fired, it was supported
on a fork or on a wall; hence the name of _arquebuse à croc_, which took
the place of that of _canon à main_.

[Illustration: Fig. 68.--Arquebusier. Drawn and Engraved by J. Amman.]

The _arquebuse à croc_ sometimes weighed from fifty to sixty pounds,
measured from five to six feet in length, and in principle was chiefly
adapted for firing from a wall; it was lightened a little that it might
be used by foot-soldiers, who, however, never fired it without a fixed
or a movable rest.

The inconvenience of applying fire with the hand, which, moreover,
prevented the right direction of the missile, was soon partially
superseded by adapting to the barrel a stock to fire from the shoulder,
and a lock for a match, called a _serpentin_, which had only to be let
down to ignite the powder at the touch-hole. This was the matchlock
arquebus still used by certain Eastern nations in our time, and which
secured victory to the Spaniards at the battle of Pavia.

Although the matchlock arquebus, which was made lighter, and was then
called _mousquet_, continued to be the usual arm of infantry until the
time of Louis XIII., many serious objections to the use of the
_serpentin_ continued. It compelled the soldier always to have a lighted
match, or some means of striking a light. Besides, for nearly each shot
it was necessary so to regulate the match that the end of it, which was
placed in the head of the _serpentin_ (lock), should come exactly into
the priming-pan; then the priming-pan had to be opened; these operations
were, so to speak, impossible for mounted men, who at the same time had
to manage their horses.

[Illustration: Fig. 69.--Arquebus with Wheel and Match.]

About 1517 the Germans invented the screw-plate called _à
rouet_,--wheel-lock (Fig. 69).

To the Spaniards is due the merit of the improvement that followed, the
type of which is still in a measure perpetuated in our percussion guns;
which, in their turn, have just been replaced by the needle-gun. The
Spanish screw-plate, often called the _miquelet_ screw-plate, had on the
outside a spring, which pressed, at the extremity of its movable limb,
on one of the catches of the hammer; when the gun was cocked the other
catch pressed against a pin which projected from the inside and
traversed the screw-plate; this pin could be removed, and then the
spring acted on the hammer, which was no longer held back; the flint
(for at that time a flint was fitted to the gun) struck upon a ribbed
plate of steel forming part of the cover of the priming-pan, the action
of the flint on the plate produced the fire.

Among the arms in use during the sixteenth century was one called
_petrinal_ or _poitrinal_ (petronel), on account of the bent stock,
which rested on the chest. This short and heavy arquebus, which could
only throw balls, but of a very large size, to a short distance, was
usually suspended from the shoulder by a strap or a broad cross-belt.

Light troops were armed with these guns, and took the name of
_carabins_; from this the weapon was next called _carabine_--a
designation which since then has received quite another meaning.

[Illustration: Fig. 70.--Battle-axe and Pistol of the 16th Century.
(Museum of Artillery, Paris.)]

Then followed the _pistoles_ and the _pistolets_, thus named, it is
said, because they were invented at Pistoia; but, with other
etymologists, we can also believe that they owed the name to the fact of
their bore being of equal diameter with that of the _pistole_, a coin of
the time. The earliest pistols were made with wheels (_à rouet_), and
the barrel did not measure more than a foot in length. Subsequently they
varied in shape and in use; some were made which fired several shots in
succession, and in other cases they attempted to combine a pistol with
the dagger or the battle-axe. (Fig. 70, &c.) This is a notably fine

We must not forget to note, in what may be called _les armes de luxe_,
the joint application of the match-holder and the wheel to
highly-finished arms, this combination being available.

The screw-plate _à miquelet_, improved by French experiments, led to the
mechanism called flint-lock (_fusil_). There were also then pistols and
arquebuses with flint-locks, as formerly there had been pistols and
arquebuses with wheels. Subsequently the explanatory became the absolute
term, and the entire weapon was known as _fusil_.

[Illustration: Fig. 71.--Banner of the Sword-cutlers of Angers.]


     Horsemanship among the Ancients.--The Riding-horse and the
     Carriage-horse.--Chariots armed with Scythes.--Vehicles of the
     Romans, the Gauls, and the Franks: the Carruca, the Petoritum, the
     Cisium, the Plaustrum, the Basterna, the Carpentum.--Different
     kinds of Saddle-horses in the Days of Chivalry.--The Spur a
     distinctive Sign of Nobility: its Origin.--The Saddle, its Origin
     and its Modifications.--The Tilter.--Carriages.--The Mules of
     Magistrates.--Corporations of Saddlers and Harness-makers,
     Lorimers, Coachmakers, Chapuiseurs, Blazonniers, and

THE horse has been described by Buffon as “the noblest conquest made by
man.” Historians, both, sacred and profane, inform us that the conquest
dates from the most remote ages. In the Book of Job we have this
magnificent description:--“Then the Lord said, Hast thou given the horse
strength? hast thou clothed his neck with thunder? Canst thou make him
afraid as a grasshopper? the glory of his nostrils is terrible. He
paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength: he goeth on to meet
the armed men. He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither
turneth he back from the sword. The quiver rattleth against him, the
glittering spear and the shield. He swalloweth the ground with
fierceness and rage; neither believeth he that it is the sound of the
trumpet. He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle
afar off.” The sacred writer is here referring expressly to the fiery
animal trained for war, and obedient to the master who has trained him.

Xenophon, in his “Treatise on Horsemanship” and his “Instructor of
Cavalry,” and Diodorus in his “Histories,” are among the Greeks who
adduce the most numerous testimonies to the honour in which equestrian
exercises were held. Among the Latins, Virgil, in reference to the
funereal games celebrated by Acestes in honour of Anchises, tells us
that the Roman youth were taught equestrian art as practised by the
Trojans. The horse and chariot races, which took place at the solemn
games in Greece, have always been justly celebrated; as were those which
continued in Rome and in all the great cities of the Roman world until
the fifth or sixth century.

We are disposed to believe that the use of the saddle-horse and the
carriage-horse was introduced about the same time. But it seems that
chariots were rarely mounted by any but chiefs, who fought from that
ambulatory elevation while squires managed the horses.

[Illustration: Fig. 72.--The Carruca, or Pleasure-Carriage, drawn by a
Pair of Horses, dating from the Fifth to the Tenth Century. (Taken from
a MS. of the Ninth Century, in the Royal Library at Brussels.)]

To Cyrus the Great is ascribed the first idea of arming chariots with
scythes, which cut to pieces in every direction those who opposed the
progress of the vehicle, or who were thrown down by the violence of the
shock. The same war-carriages were found among the Gauls; for a king
named Bituitus, having been taken prisoner by the Romans, appeared in
his chariot armed with scythes in the triumphal procession of the
general who had conquered him.

[Illustration: Fig. 73.--Cart drawn by Oxen, end of the Fifteenth
Century. (Taken from the “Chroniques de Hainault,” MS. in the Royal
Library at Brussels.)]

Riding on horseback was not only practised, but was carried to the
highest degree of perfection, among the nations of antiquity; and the
use of chariots was, in former times, almost general in war and on
certain state occasions. The Romans, and in imitation of them the Gauls
who prided themselves on being skilful carriage-builders, had several
sorts of wheeled vehicles. Those adopted by the Romans and the Gauls,
but discountenanced by the Franks, who preferred to ride on horseback,
were the _carruca_, or _carruque_, with two wheels and a pair of horses
(Fig. 72), richly ornamented with gold, silver, and ivory; the
_pilentum_, a four-wheel carriage with a cloth canopy; the _petoritum_,
an open carriage suitable for rapid travelling; the _cisium_, a
basket-carriage drawn by mules, and used for long journeys; and finally,
various carts--the _plaustrum_, the _serracum_, the _benne_, the
_camuli_ (trucks), &c. These last, which were chiefly employed as
field-carts, continued in use even after pleasure-carriages had entirely
disappeared. There remained, however, independent of mule-litters, the
_basterna_ and _carpentum_, state-carriages of the Merovingian period,
but only queens and ladies of high rank, who were unequal to long
journeys on horseback, indulged in such means of locomotion, while
men--even kings and high personages--would have blushed to be conveyed
like “holy relics,” as picturesquely expressed by one of Charlemagne’s
courtiers; but certainly not at the period of the “lazy kings,” when, as
Boileau has well said,--

   “In Paris, four oxen, in pace soft and slow,
    Drew the indolent monarch, when airing he’d go.”

“Chivalry,” wrote M. le Marquis de Varenne, “the exercises of which were
the image of war, rendered horsemanship a new art always indispensable
in the education of the nobility; and _chevalier_ soon became synonymous
with a man of good birth.” “The Book of Facts,” by the “Bon Chevalier
Messire Jean le Maingre, called _Baucicaut_, Marshal of France,” written
in the beginning of the fifteenth century, enumerates the exercises
which a youth aspiring to the title of a gentleman had to
undergo:--“They endeavoured to leap (_sailler_) upon a charger, fully
armed; _item_, leaped, without placing the foot in the stirrup, on a
charger in all its armour; _item_, leaped from the ground a-straddle on
to the shoulders of a tall man on a large horse, seizing the man by the
sleeve with one hand, without other assistance; _item_, placing one hand
on the saddle-bow of a large charger, and the other near the ears,
taking him by the mane, and from the level ground jumping to the other
side (_côté_) of the charger.”

The Chevalier Bayard, while yet page to the Duke of Savoy, and only
seventeen years of age, performed, as his historian relates, wonders in
the meadows of Ainay, at Lyons, before King Charles VIII., “in leaping
on his charger,” and by his management of it creating a favourable
impression of his merits. This will suffice to show the estimation in
which horsemanship was held. No one was regarded as a valiant knight
until he had proved his prowess in jousts and tournaments (Fig. 74) in
the rank of squire. Although his functions were essentially those of
serving, a squire, who ranked higher than a page, was to the knight
rather an auxiliary and a companion than a servant. It was his duty to
carry the arms of the knight, to take charge of his table, his house,
and his horses. On the field of battle he remained in his rear, ready to
defend him, to lift him up if he were overthrown, and to provide him,
when necessary, with another horse or other arms. He guarded the
prisoners captured by the knight, and occasionally fought for him at his

The principal sign distinguishing knights from squires consisted in the
material of which their spurs were made--of gold for the former, of
silver for the latter. It is well known that, at the disastrous battle
of Courtray, the Flemings collected after the action, from the slain,
four thousand pairs of gold spurs; consequently, four thousand knights
of the army of Philip the Fair had fallen.

[Illustration: Fig. 74.--A Knight entering the Lists. (From a Miniature
in the “Tournois du Roi René.”)]

In order to _win his spurs_ (of gold)--an expression become
proverbial--it was indispensable that one who aspired to the honour
should perform some valiant deed, proving him worthy of being “dubbed,”
or armed as a knight. The ceremony of admission commenced by presenting
the spurs; and whosoever conferred the order of chivalry, were he king
or prince, condescended to put on and fasten the spurs for the
recipient. In pursuance of the same principle, when a knight, having
committed a fault or any cowardly act, had incurred blame or correction,
it was by deprivation of, or by changing his spurs, that his degradation
commenced. For a slight offence a herald substituted silver spurs for
those of gold, which lowered a knight to the grade of squire. But in a
case of “forfeiture,” as it was termed, an executioner or a cook cut off
the straps of his spurs, or they were struck off on a dunghill with an
axe: infamy was the future portion of him who had been subjected to that
public disgrace.

The privilege of wearing spurs was regarded as a mark of independence
and authority; so that when a noble tendered faith and homage to his
sovereign, he was obliged to take off his spurs in token of vassalage.
In 816, ere chivalry had been instituted, an assembly of lords and
bishops prohibited ecclesiastics from adopting the profane fashion of
wearing spurs then prevailing among the higher classes of the clergy.

The use of the spur appears to date from the most ancient times. The
origin of the word has been much disputed. From the time of Louis le
Débonnaire it was called _spuors_, which has become _sporen_ in Germany,
_sperane_ in Italian, _spur_ in English, _éperon_ in French. The Latins
called it _calcar_ (which originally signified cock’s spur), doubtless
from the form first given to the spur. That form has strangely varied
during centuries. The oldest known shape is that of the spur found in
the tomb of Queen Brunehaut, who died in 613, and which is simply like a
skewer. This seems to have long continued to be the form; but, from the
commencement of the thirteenth to the end of the sixteenth century, the
spur is seen in the form of a rose, or of a star with a turning rowel,
and was mostly fashioned in a very rich and delicate manner. At the
period when horses were clad in steel or leather, the spurs were
necessarily very long, in order to reach the animal’s flanks (Figs. 75
and 76). The spurs of Godfrey of Bouillon, which have been preserved
(their authenticity is more or less questionable), are in that style. In
the reign of Charles VII. the young nobles wore, rather for show than
for use, spurs the rowel of which was as large as the hand, and fixed at
the end of a metal stem half a foot long.

If, therefore, from time immemorial every mounted horse “felt the spur,”
there was at least a period when every sort of spur could not be
indiscriminately applied to the flanks of each individual of the equine
race. “There are,” says Brunetto Latini, a writer of the thirteenth
century, in his “Treasury of all Things”--a sort of encyclopædia of the
age--“there are horses of several kinds: chargers, or tall horses, for
the combat, whence the expression, ‘mounting the high horse;’ others,
for gentle exercise, use palfreys, which were also called amblers and
hackneys; others employ pack-horses, _courtants_ (cropped horses), to
carry a load (_somme_).” _Somme_ here signifies a burden, and this,
which we now call baggage, consisted of spare arms and hauberk, which a
knight was careful to take with him when he went to the wars. Mares and
_bât_-horses (horses carrying the _bât_, or load) were reserved for
agriculture and other field-purposes; and it was clearly on that account
that a knight was not allowed to ride them. To make a knight ride upon a
mare was, like the loss of his spurs, one of the most degrading
punishments that could be inflicted on him, and thenceforth “any one who
regarded his own honour would no more have touched that disgraced knight
than a shaven idiot (leper).”

[Illustration: Fig. 75.--German Spur.]

[Illustration: Fig. 76.--Italian Spur.]

[Illustration: Fig. 77.--A Knight armed and mounted for War. (Museum of
Artillery, Paris.)]

The horses of French knights were without ears or mane; those of the
Germans without tails. According to Carrion-Nisas, the armour of the
horse, and the style in which it was caparisoned, were the cause of
these mutilations. We have elsewhere remarked that if the men were cased
in steel their horses were not less heavily cuirassed (Fig. 77). The
entire armour and appointments of a horse were called the harness; the
plates of steel or leather (for leather also was often used) were called
_bardes_. We find enumerated, not only the articles of which the harness
consisted--_chanfrein_, _nasal_, _flancois_, &c.--but examples are cited
to denote the sumptuousness of this equipment of the horse. We need not,
however, dwell longer here on this subject, that refers more properly to
the manufacture of arms; but a few words must be said regarding the
saddle, which is, if we may use the expression, an implement of
horsemanship, and not a part of the armour.

The use of saddles seems to have been unknown in early times, and never
to have been introduced among certain nations which, by the way, were
most famous in the art of training the horse and making him serviceable.
The Thessalonians and the Numidians rode on the bare back, without
saddle or stirrups; seated firmly on the horse simply by the pressure of
the knees and the calf of the legs; a position which is still that of
the boldest riders in the East and in Africa. Hippocrates has ascribed
the common and severe diseases of the hips and legs which afflicted the
Scythians to the rider’s want of support on horseback. Galen makes the
same remark regarding the Roman legions, who only introduced the use of
a saddle about the year 340 of the Christian era. The Gauls and Franks
used neither saddles nor stirrups; but when steel armour was adopted, it
would have been impossible for knights to preserve an equilibrium
without the aid of a saddle, or to sustain the slightest shock to which
they were exposed, as armour rendered them in a manner rigid, or with
little flexibility on their large horses.

They therefore had recourse to a high, or rather a deep, saddle, closely
adhering to the thighs and loins, with large stirrups serving as
supports to the feet. The several parts of the armour being splendidly
ornamented, it followed that the saddles, which also were exposed to
view, were no more neglected than other ornaments of the animal.
Engraved and chased, they were also gilt and painted, and thus, with the
shield, helped to distinguish, by the “devices” they bore, the armed
warrior completely cased in his steel covering (Figs. 78 to 81).

As to stirrups, of which there certainly is no trace among the Greeks or
the Romans, it may be said they were coeval with the invention of
saddles. They made their appearance in the earliest days of the
Merovingian dynasty; and if we accept the German etymology which the
learned have offered (_streben_, to support one’s self), the name and
the object was introduced by the Franks into Gaul. However that may be,
they were no longer dispensed with, especially in war, and when the
weight of armour rendered their use necessary. They were of course very
large, very massive, and very clumsy in the days of chivalry. When they
diminished in size and weight they were wrought with more care, and
became objects of art, charged with ingenious ornaments, and embellished
with engraving, chasing, and gilding.

[Illustration: Figs. 78 and 79.--Tournament Saddles, ornamented with
Paintings, taken from the Armoury Real, Madrid. Sixteenth Century.
(Communicated by M. Ach. Jubinal.)]

In accordance with the opinion held by M. de la Varenne, we have already
ascribed the disuse of private carriages to the contempt with which the
Franks regarded a mode of conveyance deemed by them to be effeminate.
But, following the same author, we must observe that a reason might
also be discovered in the wretched condition into which, after the
decline of the Romans, those magnificent roads formed by them in all
their conquered provinces had fallen. In towns, moreover, the streets,
narrow, crooked, and with no regular direction, were very frequently so
many holes and quagmires. Philip Augustus I. had some of the streets of
Paris paved in that _lutèce_[13] which already, at the time of the Roman
conquest, had deserved the significant epithet of _miry_. The princes
and the nobles who, as Molière humorously makes Mascarilla say, feared
“to leave the impression of their shoes in mud,” and could not without
difficulty drive about the towns in carriages, consequently had recourse
to the horse or the mule. The ladies made use of them also; but very
frequently, if not carried in litters, they rode on a pillion behind the

[Illustration: Fig. 80.--The Caparison of the Horse of Isabel the
Catholic. (Communicated by M. Ach. Jubinal.)]

In the thirteenth century chariots reappeared; but the fashion did not
long prevail, for Philip the Fair discouraged them, in one of the
clauses of his sumptuary ordinance of 1294, by declaring that “no
citizen may have a chariot.”

The litter continued to be held in repute for processions; but queens
frequently rode on horseback. Isabel of Bavaria rode on a beautiful
palfrey, with her ladies and her maids also on horseback, on the
occasion of her entering Paris to espouse Charles VI. And when Mary of
England, who went to be married to Louis XII., made her entry into
Abbeville, she also, as Robert de la Marck relates, was mounted on a
palfrey, as were most of her ladies, “and the remainder in chariots; and
the king, riding a large, prancing bay horse, came to receive his bride,
with all the gentlemen of his household and of his guard on horseback.”
The meeting of Henry VIII. and Francis I. in the camp of the Field of
the Cloth of Gold, presented the most beautiful display that had ever
been seen of caparisoned horses, decorated and furnished with
unprecedented richness (Fig. 82).

[Illustration: Fig. 81.--Saddle-cloth. Sixteenth Century.]

Charles V., in consequence of frequent attacks of gout, was soon
compelled to renounce riding. When he went into the country, or on a
journey, he was generally followed by a litter and a chair. Mules bore
the litter, in which he could recline, while bearers carried the chair,
which was


From a Miniature in Froissart’s Chronicles, National Library, Paris.]

provided with a movable back; its four uprights could be fitted with a
sort of canopy of canvas or leather.

In 1457 the ambassadors of Ladislaus V., King of Hungary, presented to
Marie of Anjou, Queen of France, a chariot which excited the admiration
of the whole court and the inhabitants of Paris, “because,” as the
historian of the times says, “it was _branlant_ (suspended), and very

[Illustration: Fig. 82.--Henry VIII. in the Camp of the Field of the
Cloth of Gold (1520). From the Bas-reliefs of the Hôtel of the Bourg
Herolde at Rouen.]

It is difficult to reconcile the inference to be drawn from the
ordinance of Philip the Fair with the assertion of many historians, that
coaches first appeared in France only in the time of Francis I. The
point is still doubtful. Nevertheless, one may suppose historians to
mean that coaches, instead of being the only vehicles employed in Paris
in the time of Francis I., were but chariots of a grander and more
gorgeous description than any seen before that time. But we know for
certain that, during the Middle Ages, the horse and the mule were
generally ridden by everybody, by citizens and by nobles, by women and
by men. The horse-blocks fixed in the streets--too narrow evidently, if
not for one carriage, at least for two to pass each other--and the rings
fastened on doors sufficiently denote that it was so. The mule was
especially ridden by sedate men, such as magistrates and doctors, who
had to “amble” through the towns. “To take care of the mule,” a
proverbial expression signifying to wait impatiently, is derived from
the custom of lawyers’ servants remaining in the court of the Palace to
take charge of the riding-horses or mules belonging to their masters.

According to Sauval, the two first coaches seen in Paris, and which
called forth the wonder of the people, belonged, one to Queen Claude,
the first wife of Francis I.; and the other to Diana of Poitiers, his

[Illustration: Fig. 83.--Sedan-chair of Charles V. (Armoury Real,

The fashion was soon followed; so much so, that even where the sumptuary
laws were still regarded as efficient, we find parliament entreating
Charles IX. to prohibit the circulation of coaches (_coches_) through
the town. The magistrates continued, until the commencement of the
seventeenth century, to attend at the courts of justice on their mules.
Christopher of Thou, father of the celebrated historian, and first
President of Parliament, was the first who came thither in his carriage;
but only because he suffered from gout, for his wife continued to ride
on horseback, seated pillion-fashion behind a servant.

Henry IV. had only one carriage. “I shall be unable to go and see you,”
he one day wrote to Sully, “for my wife uses my coach (_coche_).” These
coaches were neither elegant nor convenient. For doors they were
provided with leathern aprons, which were drawn or opened for entrance
or exit, with similar curtains to protect against the rain or the sun.

Marshal Bassompierre, in the time of Louis XIII., had a glass coach made
for him, which was regarded as a real marvel: it originated the impulse
which has led to the productive era of modern coach-building.

Formerly there were in Paris, as appears from numerous documents,
several corporations representing the saddler’s trade. First came the
_selliers-bourreliers_, and the _selliers-lormiers-carrossiers_. The
privileges of the first secured to them specially the manufacture of
saddles and harness (collars and other articles for draught). The second
made also carriages, bridles, reins, &c. Another very ancient
corporation was that of the _lormiers-éperonniers_--“artisans,” says the
Glossary of Jean de Garlande, “whom the military nobles greatly
patronised, because they manufactured silvered and gilt spurs, metal
breastplates for their horses, and well-executed bits.” There were also
_chapuissiers_, who made saddle-bows and pack-frames for the beasts of
burden, which were mostly manufactured of alder-wood.

The _blazenniers_ and _cuireurs_ then covered with leather the packs and
the saddles prepared by the _chapuissiers_; and, finally,
saddle-painters were employed to ornament them, either in compliance
with fashion, which has always been omnipotent in France, or according
to the laws of heraldry, when intended for men of rank for purposes of
state or war.

[Illustration: Fig. 84.--Banner of the Corporation of the Saddlers of


     Its Antiquity.--The Trésor de Guarrazar.--The Merovingian and
     Carlovingian Periods.--Ecclesiastical Jewellery.--Pre-eminence of
     the Byzantine Goldsmiths.--Progress of the Art consequent on the
     Crusades.--The Gold and Enamels of Limoges.--Jewellery ceases to be
     restricted to Purposes of Religion.--Transparent Enamels.--Jean of
     Pisa, Agnolo of Sienna, Ghiberti.--Great Painters and Sculptors
     from the Goldsmiths’ Workshops.--Benvenuto Cellini.--The Goldsmiths
     of Paris.

In the remarks upon furniture, we were compelled to trespass on the
domain which we now again approach; for, having to trace the history of
secular and religious luxury, we cannot but frequently encounter the
goldsmiths and their splendid works. It will thus happen more than once
that we shall have to indicate briefly certain important facts already
described, in some details, in preceding chapters.

It is known that in old times, even the most remote, the goldsmith’s art
flourished. There is scarcely any ancient narrative which does not
allude to jewels; and every day the discovery of precious objects, found
in ruins and in tombs, still attests the high state of perfection the
art of gold and silver work had attained among races long since extinct.

The Gauls, when under Roman dominion, applied themselves successfully to
the business of the gold-worker. We may again say that the triumph of
the Christian religion, under Constantine the Great, while encouraging
the interior decoration of places of worship, added a fresh impulse to
the development of this beautiful art.

The popes succeeding St. Sylvester (who had stimulated the liberality of
Constantine) continued to accumulate, in the churches at Rome, the most
costly and massive articles of gold-work. Symmachus (498 to 514) alone,
according to a calculation made by Seroux d’Agincourt, enriched the
treasures of the basilicas to the amount of 130 pounds weight of gold,
and 1,700 of silver, forming the material of objects most finely
wrought. It was from the very court of the Greek emperors that the
examples of this magnificence were derived; for we hear St. John
Chrysostom exclaiming, “All our admiration is at present reserved for
the goldsmiths and the weavers;” and it is well known that in
consequence of his bold indiscretion in rebuking the extravagance of the
Empress Eudoxia, this eloquent Father of the Church expiated in exile
and persecutions his ardent zeal and his sincerity.

[Illustration: Fig. 85.--Gallic Bracelet, from a Cabinet of Antiquities.
(Imp. Library, Paris.)]

The brilliant specimens of the gold-work of the Visigoths, which, in
1858, were exhumed in the field of Guarrazar, near Toledo, and which
have been obtained for the Cluny Museum, throw a new light on the
monuments of that period. Far from indicating any original style, they
afford further proof that the barbarians who came from the North became
subjected, in the arts, to Byzantine influence. The most remarkable, not
only in its dimensions and extreme richness, but in the peculiarity of
its ornaments, is a votive crown, intended to be hung, according to the
custom of those times, in a sacred place--that of Recesvinthe, who
reigned over the Goths of Spain from 653 to 672. It is composed of a
large fillet, jointed, and formed of a double plate of the finest gold.
Thirty uncut sapphires and as many pearls, regularly alternating,
arranged in three rows and in quincunxes,[14] are seen on its exterior
circle. Chased ornaments occupy the spaces between the stones. The
votive crown of King Suintila, which we here reproduce (Fig. 86), is
fully as rich, and about thirty years older.


Found at Guarrazar. Seventh Century. (Museum of the Hotel Cluny) (Taken
from the work of M. Ferdinand de Lasteyrie.)]

It is of massive gold, ornamented with sapphires and pearls arranged in
rose-pattern, and set off by two borders similarly set with delicate
stones. But the originality of this precious gem consists in the letters
hanging as pendants from its lower border. These letters, open-worked,
are filled with small pieces of red glass set in gold; their combination
presents the following inscription:--“_Suintilanus Rex offeret_”
(offering of the King Suintila). Each of them is suspended from the
fillet by a chain with double links, sustaining a pendant of violet
sapphire, pear-shaped. Finally, the crown is suspended by four chains
attached to a circular top of rock-crystal.

[Illustration: Fig. 86.--Votive Crown of Suintila, King of the Visigoths
from 621 to 631. (Armoury Real, Madrid.)]

“Five of the crowns so fortunately discovered at Guarrazar,” says M. de
Lasteyrie, “have crosses. These, attached by a chain to the same
circular top, were evidently intended to remain suspended across the
circle of the crown.” The cross belonging to the crown of Recesvinthe is
by far the richest; eight large pearls and six sapphires, all mounted in
open-work, adorn the front. The four other crosses are of the form which
in heraldry is called _croix patée_; but they differ in size and in the
ornaments with which they are enriched.

We have already stated that the kings and grandees of the Merovingian
period displayed in their plate and in some of their state-furniture a
richness of gold-work the profuseness of which was ordinarily opposed to
good taste. We have seen at his work the celebrated Saint Eloi,
bishop-goldsmith; and we have mentioned not only his remarkable
productions, but also the enduring influence he exercised over a whole
historical period of art. Finally, we have observed that
Charlemagne--whose object seems to have been not only to imitate
Constantine, but to surpass him--endowed the churches magnificently with
works of art, without prejudice to the numberless splendours which his
palaces contained.

[Illustration: Fig. 87.--The Sword of Charlemagne. Preserved in the
Imperial Treasury at Vienna.]

According to a tradition, the loss of most of the beautiful objects of
gold-work belonging to that monarch may have been owing to the
circumstance that they were disposed around him in the sepulchral
chamber where the body was deposited after death; and the emperors of
Germany, his successors, may not have scrupled to appropriate those
riches, of which some rare specimens, particularly his diadem and sword,
are still preserved in the Museum of Vienna (Figs. 87 and 88).

Ecclesiastical display, notably extinct during the period of trouble and
suffering through which the Church passed in the seventh and eighth
centuries, and to which the power of Charlemagne was to put an end,
manifested itself in an extraordinary degree from that time. For
example, it was calculated that under Leo III., who occupied the
pontifical chair from 795 to 816, the weight of the plate which the Pope
gave to enrich the churches, amounted to not less than 1,075 pounds of
gold and 24,744 pounds of silver!

[Illustration: Fig. 88.--Diadem of Charlemagne. Preserved in the
Imperial Treasury at Vienna.]

To that period belongs the famous gold altar of the basilica of St.
Ambrose of Milan, executed in 835, by order of Archbishop Angilbert, by
Volvinius; and which, notwithstanding its immense intrinsic value, has
come down to our time. “The four sides of this monument,” says M.
Labarte, “are of extreme richness. The front, entirely of gold, is
divided into three panels by a border of enamel. The centre panel
represents a cross of four equal projections, formed by fillets of
ornaments in enamel, alternating with precious stones uncut but
polished. Christ is seated in the centre of the cross. The symbols of
the Evangelists occupy its branches. Three of the Apostles are placed in
each angle. All these figures are in relief. The right and left panels
contain each six bas-reliefs, the subjects of which are taken from the
life of Christ; they are encircled by borders of enamels and precious
stones alternately disposed. The two sides, in silver relieved with
gold, exhibit very rich crosses, treated in the same style as the
borders. The back, which is also of silver relieved with gold, is
likewise divided in three large panels; that in the centre contains four
medallions, and each of the others six bas-reliefs, of which the life of
St. Ambrose supplied the subjects. In one of the medallions of the
centre panel is seen St. Ambrose receiving the gold altar from the hands
of Archbishop Angilbert; in the other, St. Ambrose is giving his
benediction to Volvinius, the master goldsmith (_magister faber_), as he
is designated in the inscription transmitting to us the name of the
author of this work, of which no description can give an exact idea.”

It was not Italy alone which possessed skilful goldsmiths, and
encouraged them. We have in particular, among other enlightened and
active supporters of ecclesiastical gold-work, a succession of the
bishops of Auxerre, to whom must be added Hincmar, bishop of Rheims, who
caused a splendid shrine to be made for the relics of the illustrious
patron of his church. It was cased in plates of silver, and statues of
twelve bishops adorned its borders.

But, notwithstanding all its artistic magnificence, the jewellery of the
West could only appear to be the reflex of the wonders produced at the
same epoch by the goldsmiths of the East, or the Byzantines, to adopt a
term generally sanctioned.

One of the most curious specimens of Byzantine art, preserved in Russia,
is a gold reliquary lined with a plate of silver, in the centre of which
is an embossed representation of the Crucifixion. Above the head, on a
gilt nimbus, is an inscription in Greek, “Jesus Christ, King of Glory.”
This treasure, remarkable for its extreme finish, is covered with a
mosaic of precious stones of different colours, in partitions of gold;
the cross being quartered in enamel, with silver filigree. At the back
the names of the archimandrite Nicolos are engraved. It is a work of the
tenth century, and was found in the Iberian monastery on Mount Athos.

[Illustration: Fig. 89.--Byzantine Reliquary, in Enamel, brought from
Mount Athos. Tenth Century. (Collection of M. Sebastianof.)]

If rare specimens only of jewellery have come down to us of a date prior
to the eleventh century, this may be accounted for not merely by their
intrinsic value having indicated them to the uncivilised as fit objects
of plunder during the invasions which took place after the reign of
Charlemagne, but also, as we have elsewhere remarked, by the
re-introduction of church furniture, which was in some measure a
necessary result of renovated architecture. It was right to adapt the
style of plate to that of the edifice it was to adorn. The forms which
were then employed for various objects of church-service showed the
influence of the severe style derived from the original Byzantine type;
the latter, moreover, explained itself by the repute, especially in
metallurgy, enjoyed by the city of Constantine, to which the East
generally had recourse when taking in hand any work of importance.

The _German_ school particularly would acquire a Byzantine character,
owing to the marriage of the Emperor Otho II. with the Greek princess
Theophania (972)--an alliance which naturally bound the two empires in
closer ties, and attracted a considerable number of artists and artisans
to Germany from the East. Of the works of that period still in
existence, one of the most remarkable is the rich gold cover of the book
of the Gospels, now in the Royal Library, Munich; on which are executed,
in the embossed style, various bas-reliefs of great delicacy, and
designed with the purity at that time distinguishing the Greek school.

[Illustration: Fig. 90.--Altar of Gold, presented to the ancient
Cathedral of Basle by the Emperor Henry II., now in the Cluny Museum.]

The Emperor Henry II. was therefore welcomed (_bien-venu_), and, if one
may say so, well served by the condition of art in Germany, when,
elevated to the throne in 1002, and inspired by ardent piety, he sought,
by princely liberality to the churches, to surpass even Constantine and

[Illustration: Fig. 91.--Enamelled Shrine, in Limoges Work of the
Twelfth Century. (Museum of Cluny.)]

Charlemagne. It is to Henry that the Cathedral of Basle owes the
decorations of the altar, to which none can be compared for richness,
except that of Milan; yet without recalling it by its style, which has
lost every trace of the antique, and is a clearly-pronounced type of the
art which the Middle Ages were to create as their own. It is right to
mention also the crown of the sainted emperor, and that of his wife, now
preserved in the Treasury of the King of Bavaria; both are in six
jointed parts, making a circle; the former bears figures of winged
angels; the other, stalks with four leaves designed with correctness and
grace, and executed in a manner which evinces the greatest dexterity.
“Moreover,” says M. Labarte, “the taste for jewellery was then generally
diffused throughout Germany; and many prelates followed the example set
by the emperor. Willigis, the first Archbishop of Mayence, may be cited;
he endowed his church with a crucifix weighing 600 pounds, the several
parts of which were adjusted with such art that each could be detached
at the joints; and Bernward, Bishop of Hildesheim, who, like St. Eloi,
was himself a celebrated goldsmith, and to whom is ascribed a crucifix
enriched with precious stones and filigrees, and two magnificent
candelabra, which still constitute a portion of the treasures of the
church whereof he was the pastor.”

About the same period--that is, in the early days of the eleventh
century--a monk of Dreux, named Odorain, who had made himself famous in
France by his works in precious metals, executed a large number of
objects for King Robert, intended for the churches the monarch had

[Illustration: Fig. 92.--Shrine in Copper Gilt. (End of the Twelfth

It has been remarked in the preceding chapter, that the Crusades gave a
great impulse to the goldsmith’s art in Europe, in consequence of the
great demand for shrines and reliquaries intended for the reception of
the venerated remains of saints which the soldiers of the faith brought
back from their distant expeditions (Figs. 91 and 92). The offerings of
consecrated vessels and of altar-fronts were also multiplied. The Holy
Scriptures received cases and coverings which were so many splendid
works entrusted to the goldsmiths. To speak truly, had it not been for
the essentially religious direction which, at that period, certain
departments of luxury acquired by the Crusaders in the East had taken,
we might perhaps have seen the arts, that only in the West recommenced
a real existence, become extinguished, and in a manner perish in the
first burst of their revival.

It is chiefly to the minister of Louis le Gros, Suger, Abbot of
Saint-Denis, who died in 1152, that the honour of this consecration of
arts is due, for he distinctively proclaimed himself their protector; he
endeavoured to render legitimate their position in the State, by
opposing their pious aims to the too exclusive censures of St. Bernard
and his disciples.

Conjointly with the powerful abbot, there is deserving of special
mention a simple monk, Theophilus, an eminent artist who wrote in Latin
a description of the Industrial Arts of his time (_Diversarum Artium
Schedula_), and devoted seventy-nine chapters of his book to that of the
goldsmith. This valuable treatise shows us, in the most unmistakable
manner, that the goldsmiths of the twelfth century must have possessed a
comprehensiveness of knowledge and manipulation, the mere enumeration of
which surprises us the more now that we see industry everywhere tending
to an almost infinite division of labour. At that time the goldsmith was
required to be at once modeller, sculptor, smelter, enameller,
jewel-mounter, and inlay-worker. He had to cast his own models in wax,
as well as to labour with his hammer or embellish with his graver: he
had to make the chalice, the vases, and the pyx, for the metropolitan
churches, on which were lavished all the resources of art; and to
produce, by the ordinary process of punching, the open-work or the
designs of copper intended to ornament the books of the poor (_libri
pauperum_), &c.

The treasury of the Abbey of Saint-Denis still possessed, at the time of
the Revolution, several _chefs-d’œuvre_ produced by the artists whose
processes are described by Theophilus; especially the rich mounting of a
cup of Oriental agate, bearing the name of Suger, which it is believed
he used for the service of mass; and the mounting of an ancient sardonyx
vase, known as the cup of the Ptolemies, which Charles the Simple had
given to the abbey. Having been deposited, in 1793, in the Cabinet of
Medals, Paris, the mounting of the cup of the Ptolemies and the chalice
of Suger remained there until they were stolen in 1804.

Among the examples of that period still existing, and which,
conditionally, every one is permitted to inspect, we may distinguish,
with M. Labarte,--in addition to “the great crown of lights” suspended
under the cupola in the cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle, and the
magnificent shrine in which Frederick I. collected the bones of
Charlemagne,--in the Museum of the Louvre, a vase of rock-crystal
mounted in gold and embellished with gems, presented to Louis VII. by
his wife Eleanora; in the Cluny Museum, several candelabra; in the
Imperial Library in Paris, the covering of a Latin manuscript, numbered
622; a cup of agate onyx (Fig. 93), bordered with a belt of precious
stones raised on a groundwork of filigree; and the beautiful gold
chalice of St. Remy (Fig. 94), which, after having appeared in the
Cabinet of Antiquities, was restored in 1861 to the treasury of the
church of Notre-Dame, Rheims.

Severe forms and an elevated style were the characteristics of the
jewelled works of the eleventh and twelfth centuries; and, for the
principal elements of accessory embellishment, we most frequently see
pearls, precious stones, with enamelled divisions which, according to
the minute description of Theophilus, are only delicate mosaics whose
various coloured segments are separated by plates of gold.

[Illustration: Fig. 93.--A Drinking Cup, called Gondole, of Agate; from
the Treasury of the Abbey of Saint-Denis. (Cabinet of Antiquities, Imp.
Library, Paris.)]

In the days of St. Louis, a period of active and generous piety, there
was (an assertion which may appear hazardous after what we have said of
the zeal of preceding centuries) a remarkable accession to the number
and the splendour of the gifts and offerings of jewellery to the
churches. For instance, it was then that Bonnard, Parisian goldsmith,
assisted by the ablest artisans, devoted two years to the manufacture of
the shrine of

[Illustration: Fig. 94.--Chalice, said to be of St. Remy. (Treasury of
the Cathedral of Rheims.)]

St. Geneviève, on which he expended one hundred and ninety-three marks
of silver and seven and a half marks of gold; the mark weighing eight
ounces. The shrine, consecrated in 1212, was in the form of a little
church, with statuettes and bas-reliefs enriched with precious stones.
It was deposited in the French mint in 1793; but the spoil realised only
twenty-three thousand eight hundred and thirty livres. Half a century
earlier, the most celebrated German goldsmiths were engaged during
seventeen years upon the famous reliquary in silver gilt, called the
“Great Relics,” which the cathedral at Aix-la-Chapelle still possesses;
it was fabricated from the gifts deposited in that space of time by the
faithful in the poors’-box of the porch; an edict of the Emperor
Barbarossa having appropriated all the offerings to that object, “so
long as it remained unfinished.”

Moreover, that period, which may be regarded as denoting the zenith of
the goldsmith’s art for sacred purposes, is also that wherein occurred
the important transition which was to introduce into domestic life the
same lavishness so long devoted only to objects applicable to
ecclesiastical use. But, before entering upon that new phase, we ought
to mention, not without much commendation, the enamelled gold-work of
Limoges, which was greatly celebrated for several centuries. From the
Gallo-Romano period Limoges had acquired a reputation for the works of
its goldsmiths. St. Eloi, the great goldsmith in the time of the
Merovingian kings (Fig. 95), was originally from that country, and he
was working under Alban, a goldsmith, and master of the mint at Limoges,
when his reputation led to his being called to the court of Clotaire II.
The ancient Roman colony had retained its industrial speciality, and
during the Middle Ages was remarkable for the production of works of a
peculiar character, which are supposed to have been fabricated there
prior to the third century, if we may judge from a passage in
Philostratus, a Greek writer of that period.

This work consisted of a mixed style, inasmuch as the material forming
the ground of the work is copper; and, moreover, the principal effects
are due not less to the skill of the enameller than to the talent of the
worker in metal. The process of fabrication is very simple--that is, in
the way of description--yet the execution must have been extremely
protracted and minute.

“After having prepared and polished a plate of copper,” says M. Labarte,
whose account we transfer to our own pages, “the artist marked on it all
the parts which were to rise to the surface of the metal, in order to
produce the outlines of the drawing or of the figure he wanted to
represent; then, with gravers and scrapers, he dug deeply in the copper
all the space which the various metals were to cover. In the hollows
thus _champlevés_ (a word sometimes used to signify the mode of
producing this kind of work), he placed the material to be vitrified,
which was afterwards melted in a furnace. When the enamelled piece was
cold, he polished it by various means, so as to bring to the surface of
the enamel all the lines of the drawing produced by the copper. Gilding
was afterwards applied to the parts

[Illustration: Fig. 95.--Cross of an Altar, ascribed to St. Eloi.]

of the metal thus preserved. Until the twelfth century, only the
outlines of the drawing ordinarily rose to the surface of the enamel,
and the tints of the flesh, as well as the dresses, were produced by
coloured enamel; in the thirteenth century enamel was no longer used but
to colour the ground-work. The figures were entirely preserved on the
plate of copper, and the outlines of the drawing were then shown by a
delicate engraving on the metal.”

[Illustration: Fig. 96.--An Abbot’s Enamelled Crozier, made at Limoges.
(Thirteenth Century.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 97.--A Bishop’s Crozier, which appears to be of
Italian manufacture. (Fourteenth Century. Cathedral of Metz.)]

Between the enamels partitioned (_cloisonnés_) and the enamels
_champlevés_ the difference, as we can see, is only the first
arrangement of the divisions to receive the several vitrifiable
compositions. Making allowances for the influence of fashion, these two
styles of analogous works were held in almost equal estimation.
Nevertheless, it seems that the preference ought to be assigned to the
goldsmith’s art in Limoges, which, at a time when there was manifested a
demand for private reliquaries and collective offerings to the churches,
had this advantage over the other, that it was much less costly, and
consequently more accessible to all classes (Fig. 96). In the present
day there is scarcely a museum, or even a private collection, that does
not contain some specimen of the ancient Limousine[15] industry.

With the fourteenth century the splendour of the goldsmith’s art ceases
to display, as its exclusive object, ecclesiastical decoration and
embellishment; but it suddenly became so developed among the laity that
King John (of France) desiring, or pretending to desire, to restore it
to the exclusive line it had till then retained, prohibited by an
ordinance, in 1356, the goldsmiths from “_working_ (fabricating) gold or
silver plate, vases, or silver jewellery, of more than one mark of gold
or silver, excepting for the churches.”

But it is possible to issue ordinances in order to show the advantage of
evading them, and to benefit exclusively by the exception. This is what
appears to have then occurred; for, in the inventory of the treasury of
Charles V., son and successor of the king who signed the sumptuary edict
of 1356, the value of the various objects of the goldsmith’s art is
estimated at not less than nineteen millions. This document, in which
the greater number of the articles are described to the minutest detail,
would suffice in itself to exhibit a truthful historical view of the art
at that period; and, at all events, it affords a striking idea of the
artistic progress made in that direction, and of the extravagance to
which the trade was subservient.

When considering the subject of furniture in domestic life, we indicated
the names and the uses of several articles which were displayed on the
tables or sideboards--plateholders, ewers, urns, goblets, &c.; we also
adverted to the numerous and capricious forms they assumed--flowers,
animals, grotesque images; we need not, therefore, recur to the matter;
but we ought not to overlook the jewellery, of all sorts--insignia, or
ornaments of the head-dress, gems, clasps, chains and necklaces, antique
cameos (Fig. 98), which appear in the treasury of the King of France.

In treating of ecclesiastical furniture we, moreover, observed that the
goldsmith’s art, although devoting itself to secular ornaments,
nevertheless continued to work marvels in the production of objects for
ecclesiastical use; it would be mere repetition to support this
assertion by other examples.

[Illustration: Fig. 98.--An Ancient Cameo-setting of the time of Charles
V. (Cab. of Ant., Bibl. Imp., Paris.)]

But, dismissing those two questions, let a contemporary poet raise a
third, which deserves a place here. Eustache Deschamps, who died in
1422, equerry and usher-at-arms to Charles V. and Charles VI.,
enumerates the jewels and gems which the female nobility of the time
aspired to possess. “It was indispensable,” he says--

   “Aux matrones,
    Nobles palais et riches trônes;
    Et à celles qui se marient
    Qui moult tôt (bientôt) leurs pensers varient,
    Elles veulent tenir d’usaige ...
    Vestements d’or, de draps de soye,
    Couronne, chapel et courroye
    De fin or, espingle d’argent ...
    Puis couvrechiefs à or batus,
    A pierres et perles dessus ...
    Encor vois-je que leurs maris,
    Quand ils reviennent de Paris,
    De Reims, de Rouen et de Troyes,
    Leur rapportent gants et courroyes ...
    Tasses d’argent ou gobelets ...
    Bourse de pierreries,
    Coulteaux à imagineries,
    Espingliers (étuis) taillés à émaux.”

They desired, moreover, and said that they ought to have given to them--

   “Pigne (peigne) et miroir d’ivoire ...
    Et l’estui qui soit noble et gent (riche et beau),
    Pendu à chaines d’argent;
    Heures (livres de piété) me fault de Notre-Dame,
    Qui soient de soutil (delicat) ouvraige,
    D’or et d’azur, riches et cointes (jolies),
    Bien ordonnés et bien pointes (peintes),
    De fin drap d’or très-bien couvertes,
    Et quand elles seront ouvertes,
    Deux fermaux (agrafes) d’or qui fermeront.”

We thus see that, according to the above programme, the jewel-box of a
princess, or of a lady of rank, must have been really splendid.
Unfortunately for us, the specimens of these female ornaments of the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries are still more rare in collections
than objects of massive plate; and one is almost left to imagine their
appearance and their richness from the entries in inventories, that
chief source of information regarding the times of which the memorials
have disappeared.

It is there we see the costliness of the _fermails_, or clasps of cloaks
and copes, called also _pectoraux_, because they fastened the garments
across the breast; girdles, chaplets (head-dresses), portable
reliquaries, and other “little jewels (Fig. 99) _pendants et à pendre_,”
the fashion of which we have restored under the name of _breloques_, and
which represent every variety of object more or less whimsical. We see,
for instance, gold clasps representing a peacock, a fleur-de-lis, two
hands “clasped.” This one is embellished with six sapphires, sixty
pearls, and other large gems; that one with eighteen rubies, and four
emeralds. From a girdle of Charles V., which is made “of scarlet silk
adorned with eight gold mountings,” are suspended “a knife, scissors,
and a pen-knife,” ornamented in gold; the trinkets (pendants) represent
“a man on horseback, a cock holding a mirror in the form of a trefoil,”
or “a stag of pearls with enamelled horns;” or, again, a man mounted on
a double-headed serpent, “playing on a Saracenic horn” (of Saracen
origin). Finally, we remark that in reliquaries a fashion long
established was maintained, which consisted of forming them of a
statuette representing a saint (Fig. 100), or of a subject that
comprised his image, and to which were attached, by a small chain,
relics inlaid in a little tabernacle of gold or silver, preciously

[Illustration: Fig. 99.--Scent-box in Chased Gold. (A French Work of the
Fifteenth Century.)]

But now the fifteenth century opens out, and with it a period of tumult.
France suddenly beheld that impulse to industry paralyzed, which, to
prosper, requires a condition of affairs very different from sanguinary
civil dissensions and foreign invasion. Not only were the workshops
closed, but princes and nobles were more than once constrained to
appropriate the gorgeous decorations of their tables and their
collections of gems, to pay and arm warriors under their command, or
even to redeem themselves from captivity.

At that time the goldsmith’s art flourished in the neighbouring country
of Flanders, then quietly submissive to the powerful house of Burgundy,
which, with equal taste and liberality, encouraged the art, which had
installed itself in the principal cities. This was also an epoch of
magnificent productions

[Illustration: Fig. 100.--Reliquary, Silver-gilt, surmounted by a
Statuette of the Virgin with the Infant Jesus, representing Jeanne
d’Evreux, Queen of France. (Museum of Sovereigns, in the Louvre.)]

in that country, but not more than one or two examples remain; these are
attributed to Corneille de Bonte, who worked at Ghent, and was

[Illustration: Fig. 101.--The Ensign of the Collar of the Goldsmiths of
Ghent. (Fifteenth Century.)]

generally considered the most skilful goldsmith of his time (Figs. 101
and 102). However that may be, the style of the goldsmith’s art of the
fifteenth century continued, as in the two or three preceding centuries,
conformable to the contemporaneous style of architecture. For instance,
the shrine of Saint-Germain-des-Près, which was of that period, had the
form of a small ogivale[16] church; and some specimens still existing in
Berlin are of the Gothic character, the prevailing style of the edifices
of those times. But an influence was making itself felt that was not
long in entirely modifying the general aspect of the productions of the
trade we are considering. That transformation must have been promoted by
Italy; in the midst of which, in spite of intestine troubles and serious
contentions with other nations, a luxury and opulence prevailed. Genoa,
Venice, Florence, Rome, had long been so many centres where the Fine
Arts struggled for pre-eminence and inspiration. Among the majority of
the wealthy merchants who had

[Illustration: Fig. 102.--Escutcheon in Silver-gilt, executed by
Corneille de Bonte, in the Fifteenth Century. (Museum of the Hôtel de
Ville, Ghent.)]

become patricians of those gorgeous republics were found so many
Mæcenases, under whose patronage flourished great artists whom popes and
princes emulously countenanced. “From the moment,” says M. Labarte,
“when the Nicolases, the Jeans of Pisa, and the Giottos, throwing off
the Byzantine yoke, caused Art to emerge from languor and supineness,
that of the goldsmith could no longer find favour in Italy but by
maintaining itself on a level with the progress of sculpture, whose
daughter it was.[17] When we know that the great Donatello,--Philip
Brunelleschi, the bold architect of the dome of Florence,--Ghiberti, the
author of the marvellous doors of the Baptistery, had goldsmiths for
their earliest masters, we may judge what artists the Italian goldsmiths
of that period must have been.” The first in date is the celebrated Jean
of Pisa, son of Nicolas, who, brought from Arezzo in 1286, to sculpture
the marble table of the high-altar, and a group of the Virgin between
St. Gregory and St. Donato, desired to pay tribute to the taste of the
time by ornamenting the altar with those fine chasings on silver
coloured with enamels to which we give the name of translucid enamels in
relief; and also by designing a clasp or jewel with which he decorated
the breast of the Virgin. Both chasings and clasp are now lost.

To Jean (Giovanni) of Pisa succeeded his pupils Agostino and Agnolo of

In 1316 Andrea of Ognibene executed, for the Cathedral of Pistoia, an
altar-front, which has come down to us, and must have been followed by
more important works. Then come Pietro and Paulo of Arezzo, Ugolino of
Siena, and finally Master Cione,[18] the author of the two silver
bas-reliefs still to be seen on the altar of the Baptistery of Florence.
Master Cione, whose school was numerous, had for his principal pupils
Forzane of Arezzo and Leonardo of Florence, who worked on the two most
noted monuments of the goldsmith’s art which time and depredations have
respected--the altar of Saint-Jacques at Pistoia, and that same altar of
the Baptistery to which the bas-reliefs of Cione were afterwards
adapted. During more than a hundred and fifty years the ornamentation of
these two altars, of which no description can give an idea, was, if we
may so say, the arena wherein all the most famous goldsmiths met.

At the end of the fourteenth century Luca della Robbia, who, as we have
seen, distinguished himself in ceramic art, and afterwards Brunelleschi,
no less great as an architect than as a sculptor, came forth from the
studio of a goldsmith. At the same period shone Baccioforte and Mazzano
of Placentia, Arditi the Florentine, and Bartoluccio, master of the
famous sculptor Ghiberti, to whom we owe those doors of the Baptistery,
which Michael Angelo pronounced worthy of being placed at the entrance
to Paradise.

[Illustration: Fig. 103.--Shrine of the Fifteenth Century. (Collection
of Prince Soltykoff.)]

It is well known that the execution of these doors was, in 1400,
submitted to competition; and it may be said, in honour of the
goldsmith’s art, that Ghiberti, vying with the most celebrated
competitors--for among them were Donatello and Brunelleschi--owed his
triumph, perhaps, to the simple fact that he had treated, as it were by
habit, his model with all the delicacy of the goldsmith’s art. And it
must be added, and to the praise of the great artist, that although in
great reputation for sculptured works of the highest importance, he
adhered faithfully all his life to his first profession, and considered
it not derogatory even to manufacture jewellery. Thus, for example, in
1428 he mounted as a signet for Jean de Medicis, a cornelian said to
have belonged to the treasury of Nero, and he set it as a winged-dragon
emerging from a cluster of ivy leaves; in 1429, for Pope Martin V., a
button of the cope, and a mitre; and in 1439, for Pope Eugene IV., a
golden mitre, embellished with five and a half pounds weight of precious
stones,--its front representing Christ surrounded by numerous cherubs,
and at the back the Virgin in the midst of the four Evangelists.

During the forty years employed in the execution of the doors of the
Baptistery, Ghiberti continued to derive assistance from several
goldsmiths, who, so guided, could not fail in their turn to become
skilful masters.

The list would be long of goldsmiths who, by the single force of their
talents, or under the direction of renowned sculptors, competed during
two centuries in the production of the marvellous works with which the
churches of Italy are still crowded; and in fact it would be only a
monotonous detail, the interest of which can scarcely be enhanced by any
description we could give of their works. Nevertheless, we may cite the
most illustrious of them: for instance, Andrea Verrochio, in whose
studio Perugino and Leonardo da Vinci passed their time; Domenichino
Ghirlandajo, so called because when a goldsmith he had invented an
ornament in the form of garlands, of which the ladies of Florence were
passionately fond; he afterwards relinquished the hammer and the graver
for the painter’s pencil; Maso Finiguerra, who, reputed to be the
cleverest niello-worker of his time, engraved a _pax_, or paten, still
preserved in the cabinet of bronzes in Florence; it is acknowledged to
be the plate of the first engraving printed,--the Imperial Library of
Paris possesses the only early proof of it.

In 1500 was born Benvenuto Cellini, who was to be the embodiment of the
genius of the goldsmith’s art, and who raised it to the zenith of its
power. “Cellini, a Florentine citizen, now a sculptor,” as his
contemporary Vasari relates, “had no equal in the goldsmith’s art when
devoting himself to it in his youth, and was perhaps for many years
without a rival, as well as in the execution of small figures in full
relief and in bas-relief, and all works of that nature. He mounted
precious stones so skilfully, and decked them in such marvellous
settings, with small figures so perfect, and sometimes so original and
with such fanciful taste, that one could not imagine anything better;
nor can we adequately praise the medals which, when he was young, he
engraved with incredible care in gold and silver. At Rome he executed,
for Pope Clement VII., a fastening for the cope, in which he represented
with admirable workmanship the Eternal Father. He also mounted with rare
talent a diamond, cut to a point, and surrounded by several young
children carved in gold. Clement VII. having ordered a gold chalice with
its cup supported by the theological attributes, Benvenuto executed the
work in a surprising manner. Of all the artists who, in his own time,
tried their hands at engraving medals of the Pope, no one succeeded
better, as those well know who possess them or have seen them. Also to
him was entrusted the execution of the coins of Rome; and finer pieces
were never struck. After the death of Clement VII., Benvenuto returned
to Florence, where he engraved the head of Duke Alexander on the coins,
which are so beautiful that to this day several specimens are preserved
as precious antique medals; and rightly so, for in them Benvenuto
surpassed himself. At length he devoted himself to sculpture and to the
art of casting statues. He executed in France, where he was in the
service of Francis I., many works in bronze, silver, and in gold.
Returning to his native country, he was employed by the Duke Cosmo de
Medicis, who at once required of him several works in jewellery, and
afterwards some sculptures.”

Thus, Benvenuto is at the same time goldsmith (Fig. 104), engraver in
medals, and sculptor, and he excels in these three branches of the art,
as the productions which have survived him attest. Nevertheless,
unfortunately, the greater part of his works in the goldsmith’s art have
been destroyed, or are now confounded with those of his contemporaries,
upon whom Italian taste, combined with his original genius, had
exercised a powerful influence. In France there remains of his works
only a magnificent salt-cellar, which he executed for Francis I.; in
Florence is preserved the mounting of a cup in lapis-lazuli,
representing three anchors in gold enamelled, heightened by diamonds;
also the cover, in gold enamelled, of another cup of rock-crystal. But,
besides the bronze bust of Cosmo I., we may still admire, with the group
of Perseus and Medusa, which ranks among grand sculptures, the reduced
form, or rather the model of that group, which in size approaches
goldsmith’s work; and the bronze pedestal, decorated with statuettes, on
which Perseus is placed; works that enable us to see of what Cellini
was capable as a goldsmith. And, let us repeat, the influence which he
exercised over his contemporaries was immense, as well in Florence as in
Rome, as well in France as in Germany; and, had his work been thought
utterly worthless, he would remain not less justly celebrated for giving
an impulse to his time by imprinting on the art which he professed a
movement as fertile as it was bold.

[Illustration: Fig. 104.--A Pendant, after a design by Benvenuto
Cellini. Sixteenth Century. (Cabinet of Antiquities, Bibl. Imp.,

Moreover, in imitation of the monk Theophilus, his predecessor of the
twelfth century, Benvenuto Cellini, after having given practical
example, desired that the theories he had found prevailing, and those
which were due to his faculty for originating, should be preserved for
posterity. A treatise (“Trattato intorno alle otto principali Arti dell
‘Orificeria”), in which he describes and teaches all the best processes
of working in gold, remains one of the most valuable works on the
subject; and even in our days goldsmiths who wish to refer back to the
true sources of their art do not neglect to consult it.

The artistic style of the celebrated Florentine goldsmith is that of a
period when, by an earnest return to antiquity, the mythological element
was introduced everywhere, even in the Christian sanctuaries. The
character, which we may call autochthone,[19] of the pious and severe
Middle Ages, ceased to influence the production of plastic works, when
the models were taken from the glorious remains of idolatrous Greece and
Rome. The art which the religion of Christ had awakened and upheld
suddenly became again Pagan, and Cellini proved himself one of the
enthusiasts of the ancient temples raised in honour of the gods and
goddesses of Paganism; that is to say, under the impulse given by him,
and in imitation of him, the phalanx of artists, of which he is in a
manner the chief, could not fail to go far on the new road by which he
had travelled among the first.

When Cellini came to France he found, as he himself says in his book,
that the work consisted “more than elsewhere in _grosserie_” (the
_grosserie_ comprised the church plate, vessels, and silver images),
“and that the works there executed with the hammer had attained a degree
of perfection nowhere else to be met with.”

The inventory of the plate and jewels of Henry II., among which were
many by Benvenuto Cellini--the inventory prepared at Fontainebleau in
1560--shows us that, after the departure of the Florentine artist, the
French goldsmiths continued to deserve that eulogium; and to comprehend
of what they were capable in the time of Charles IX., it is sufficient
to recall the description, preserved in the archives of Paris, of a
piece of plate which the city had caused to be made to offer as a
present to the king on the occasion of his entry into his capital in

“It was,” says that document, “a large pedestal, supported on four
dolphins, and having seated on it Cybele, mother of the gods,
representing the mother of the king, accompanied by the gods Neptune and
Pluto, and the goddess Juno, as Messeigneurs the brothers, and Madame
the sister, of the king. This Cybele was contemplating Jupiter, who
represented our king, and was raised on two columns, the one of gold,
the other of silver, having his device inscribed--‘Pietate et Justitia.’
Upon this was a large imperial crown, on one side held in the beak of an
eagle perched on the croup of a horse on which Jupiter was mounted; and
on the other side supported by the sceptre he held--thus being, as it
were, deified. At the four corners of the pedestal were the figures of
four kings, his predecessors, all of the same name--that is, Charles the
Great, Charles V., Charles VII., and Charles VIII., who in their time
fulfilled their missions, and their reigns were happy, as we hope will
be that of our king. In the frieze of that pedestal were the battles and
the victories, of all kinds, in which he was engaged; the whole made of
fine silver, gilt with ducat gold, chased, engraved, and in workmanship
so executed that the style surpassed the material.”

[Illustration: Fig. 105.--Cup of Lapis-lazuli, mounted in Gold enriched
with Rubies, and a Figure in Gold enamelled. (Italian Work of the 16th

[Illustration: Fig. 106.--Vase of Rock-crystal, mounted in Silver-gilt
and enamelled. (Italian Work of the 16th Century.)]

That rare piece was the work of Jean Regnard, a Parisian goldsmith; and
the period when such works were produced was precisely that during which
religious wars were about to cause the annihilation of a great number of
the _chefs-d’œuvre_, ancient and modern, of the goldsmith’s art. The new
iconoclasts, the Huguenots, shattered and melted down, wherever they
triumphed, the sacred vessels, the shrines, the reliquaries. Then were
lost the most precious gold-wrought memorials of the times of St. Eloi,
of Charlemagne, of Suger, and of St. Louis.

At the same period Germany, where the influence of the Italian school
had made itself felt less directly, but which could not escape from its
impulse, possessed also, especially at Nuremburg and Augsburg,
goldsmiths’ workshops of high character; these furnished the empire, and
even foreign countries, with remarkable works. A new career opened to
the German goldsmiths when the cabinet-makers of their country had
invented those _cabinets_, whereof we have already said something
(_vide_ FURNITURE), and in the intricate decoration of which appear
statuettes, silver bas-reliefs, and inlay-work of gold and precious

The _treasuries_ and the museums of Germany have succeeded in preserving
many rich objects of that period; but one of the most rare collections
of the kind is that in Berlin, where, in substitution for the originals
in silver which have been melted down, are gathered a great number of
beautiful bas-reliefs in lead, and several vases in tin,--copies of
pieces of plate supposed to be of the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries. And on this point it may be remarked that the high price of
the material, together with the sumptuary laws, not always admitting of
the possession of gold or silver vases by the citizens, it sometimes
happened that the goldsmiths manufactured a table-service of tin, on
which they bestowed so much pains that these articles were transferred
from the sideboards of citizens to those of princes. The inventory of
the Count d’Angoulême, father of Francis I., alludes to a considerable
table-service of tin. Indeed, several goldsmiths devoted themselves
exclusively to this description of work; and, to this day, the tins of
François Briot, who flourished in the time of Henry II., are regarded as
the most perfect specimens of plate of the sixteenth century.

However that may be, after Cellini, and until the reign of Louis XIV.,
the goldsmith’s art did but follow faithfully in the footsteps of the
Italian master. Elevated by the impulse of the Renaissance, the art
succeeded in maintaining itself in that high position without, however,
any striking individuality discovering itself, until, in a century not
less illustrious than the sixteenth, new masters appeared and imparted
to it additional lustre and magnificence. These are named Ballin,
Delaunay, Julien Defontaine, Labarre, Vincent Petit, Roussel, goldsmiths
and jewellers of Louis XIV., who retained them in his pay, and lodged
them in the Louvre. It was for that prince they produced an imposing
collection of admirable works, for which Le Brun often furnished the
designs, and under an inspiration altogether French, abandoned the
graceful, though rather _fluette_ forms of the Renaissance, and gave to
them a character more diffuse and grand. Then, for a short time, every
article of royal furniture proceeded from the hands of the goldsmith.
But, alas! once more the majority of these marvels must disappear, as
happened to so many others. Even the monarch who had ordered them
despatched his acquisitions to the crucibles of the mint, when, the war
having exhausted the public treasury, he found himself compelled, at
least for example’s sake, to sacrifice his silver plate and to deck his
table with earthenware.

Having finished this sketch of the goldsmith’s art in general, it may
not be inappropriate to add a brief notice of the more special history
of the French goldsmiths, of which the wealthy corporation may be
considered not only as the most ancient, but as the model of all those
that were formed among us in the Middle Ages. But first, since we have
already referred to the exceptional part taken by the goldsmiths of
Limoges in the industrial movement of that period, we cannot proceed
further without noting another description of works, which, although
derived from the oldest examples, nevertheless gave, and with justice, a
kind of new lustre to the ancient city where the first goldsmiths of
France had distinguished themselves.

“Towards the end of the fourteenth century,” says M. Labarte, “the taste
for gold and silver articles having led to the disuse of plate of
enamelled copper, the Limousine enamellers endeavoured to discover a new
mode of applying enamel to the reproduction of graphic subjects. Their
researches led them to dispense with the chaser for delineating the
outlines of designs; the metal was entirely concealed under the enamel,
which, spread by the brush, formed altogether both the drawing and the
colouring. The first attempts at this novel painting on copper were
necessarily very imperfect; but the processes gradually improved, until
at length, in 1540, they attained perfection. Prior to that period, the
enamels of Limoges were almost exclusively devoted to the reproduction
of sacred subjects, of which the German school furnished the designs.
But the arrival of Italian artists at the court of Francis I., and the
publication of engravings of the works of Raphael and other great
masters of Italy, gave a new direction to the school of Limoges, which
adopted the style of that of Italy. Il Rosso and Primaticcio painted
cartoons for the Limousine enamellers; and then


Of Enamelled and Gilt Copper. German, latter part of Sixteenth

they who had previously worked only on plates intended to be set in
diptychs, on caskets, created a new species of goldsmith’s art. Basins,
ewers, cups, salt-cellars, vases, and utensils of all sorts,
manufactured with thin sheet-copper in the most elegant forms were
decorated with their rich and brilliant paintings.”

In the highest rank of artists who have rendered this attractive work
illustrious we must place Léonard (Limousin), painter to Francis I., who
was the first director of the royal manufacture of enamels founded by
that king at Limoges. Then followed Pierre Raymond (Figs. 107 to 110),
whose works date from 1534 to 1578, the Penicauds, Courteys, Martial
Raymond, Mercier, and Jean Limousin, enameller to Anne of Austria.

[Illustration: Figs. 107 and 108.--Faces of an Hexagonal Enamelled
Salt-cellar, representing the Labours of Hercules. Executed at Limoges,
for Francis I., by Pierre Raymond.]

With the remark that, at the end of the sixteenth century, Venice,
doubtless imitating Limoges, also manufactured pieces of plate in
enamelled copper, we return to our national goldsmiths.

This celebrated corporation could, without much trouble, be traced back
in Gaul to the epoch of the Roman occupation; but it is unnecessary to
search for its origin beyond St. Eloi, who is still its patron, after
having been its founder and protector. Eloi, become prime-minister to
Dagobert I.--thanks in some measure to his merits as a goldsmith, which
distinguished him above all, and gained him the honour of royal
friendship--continued to work no less at his forge as a simple artisan.
“He made for the king,” says the chronicle, “a great number of gold
vases enriched with precious stones, and he worked incessantly, seated
with his servant Thillon, a Saxon by birth, at his side, who followed
the lessons of his master.”

[Illustration: Fig. 109.--Interior base of a Salt-cellar, executed at
Limoges; with a Portrait of Francis I.]

This extract seems to indicate that already the goldsmith’s art was
organised as a corporation, and that it comprised three ranks of
artisans--the masters, the journeymen, and the apprentices. Besides, it
is clear that St. Eloi founded two distinct corporations of
goldsmiths--one for secular, the other for religious works, in order
that the objects sacred to worship should not be manufactured by the
same hands that executed those designed for profane uses or worldly
state. The seat of the former in Paris was first the Cité, near the very
abode of St. Eloi long known as the _maison au fèvre_, and surrounding
the monastery of St. Martial. Within the jurisdiction of that monastery
was the space comprised between the streets of La Barillerie, of La
Calandre, Aux Fèves, and of La Vieille Draperie, under the denomination
of “St. Eloi’s Enclosure.” A raging fire destroyed the entire quarter
inhabited by the goldsmiths, excepting the monastery; and the lay
goldsmiths went forth and established themselves as a colony, still
under the auspices of their patron saint, in the shadow of the Church of
St. Paul des Champs, which he had caused to be constructed on the right
bank of the Seine. The assemblage of forges and shops of these artisans
soon formed a sort of suburb, which was called _Clôture_, or _Culture
St. Eloi_. Subsequently some of the goldsmiths returned to the Cité; but
they remained on the Grand-Pont, and returned no more to the streets,
where the cobblers had established themselves. Moreover, the monastery
of St. Martial had become, under the administration of its first abbess,
St. Anne, a branch of the goldsmith’s school which the “Seigneur Eloi”
had established in 631 in the Abbey of Solignac, in the environs of
Limoges. That abbey, whose first abbot, Thillon or Théau--a pupil, or,
as the chronicle expresses it, a servant of St. Eloi--was also a skilful
goldsmith, preserved during several centuries the traditions of its
founder, and furnished not only models, but also skilful workmen, to all
the monastic ateliers of Christendom which exclusively manufactured for
the churches jewelled and enamelled plate.

[Illustration: Fig. 110.--Ewer in Enamel, of Limoges, by Pierre

However, the goldsmiths of Paris engaged in secular works continued to
maintain themselves as a corporation; and their privileges, which they
ascribed to the special regard of Dagobert for St. Eloi, were
recognised, it is said, in 768 by a royal charter, and confirmed in 846
in a capitulary of Charles the Bald. These goldsmiths worked in gold and
silver only for kings and nobles, whom the strictness of the sumptuary
laws did not reach. The Dictionary of Jean de Garlande informs us that,
in the eleventh century, there were in Paris four classes of workmen in
the goldsmith’s trade--those who coined money (_nummularii_), the
clasp-makers (_firmacularii_), the manufacturers of drinking-goblets
(_cipharii_), and the goldsmiths, properly so called (_aurifabri_). The
ateliers and the shop-windows of these last were on the Pont-au-Change
(Fig. 111), in competition with the money-changers, who for the most
part were Lombards or Italians. From that epoch a rivalry commenced
between these two trade guilds, which only ceased on the complete
downfall of the money-changers.

[Illustration: Fig. 111.--Interior of the Atelier of Etienne Delaulne, a
celebrated goldsmith of Paris, in the Sixteenth Century. Designed and
engraved by himself.]

When Etienne Boileau, Provost of Paris in the reign of Louis IX., wrote
in obedience to the legislative designs of the king, his famous “Livre
des Métiers,” to establish the existence of guilds on permanent
foundations, he had scarcely more to do than to transcribe the statutes
of the goldsmiths almost the same as those instituted by St. Eloi, with
the modifications consequent on the new order of things. By the terms of
the ordinances drawn up by Louis, the goldsmiths of Paris were exempt
from the watch, and from all other feudal services; they elected, every
three years, two or three _anciens_ (seniors) “for the protection of
the trade,” and these _anciens_ exercised permanent vigilance over the
works of their colleagues, and over the quality of the gold and silver
material used by them. An apprentice was not admitted as a master until
after ten years’ apprenticeship; and no master could have more than one
apprentice, in addition to those belonging to his own family. The
corporation, so far as concerned the fraternity with respect to works
for charitable and devotional purposes, had a seal (Fig. 116) which
placed it under the patronage of St. Eloi; but, with regard to its
industrial association, it imprinted on manufactured articles a _seing_,
or stamp, which guaranteed the value of the metal. The corporation soon
obtained, from Philip of Valois, a coat-of-arms, which conferred on it a
sort of professional nobility; and acquired, owing to the distinguished
protection extended to it by that king, a position which nevertheless it
did not succeed in preserving in the united constitution of the six
mercantile bodies; for, although it laid claim to the first rank on
account of its antiquity, it was forced, notwithstanding the undeniable
superiority of its works, to be contented with the second, and even to
descend to the third rank.

[Illustration: Fig. 112.--Stamp of Lyons.]

[Illustration: Fig. 113.--Stamp of Chartres.]

[Illustration: Fig. 114.--Stamp of Melun.]

[Illustration: Fig. 116.--Ancient Corporate Seal of the Goldsmiths of

[Illustration: Fig. 115.--Stamp of Orléans.]

The goldsmiths, at the time of the compilation of the code of
professions by Etienne Boileau, were already separated, voluntarily or
otherwise, from several trades which had long appeared in their train;
the _cristalliers_, or lapidaries; the gold and silver beaters; the
embroiderers in _orfroi_ (gold-fringe); the _patenôtriers_
(bead-stringers) in precious stones lived under their own regulations;
the _monétaires_ (bullion-dealers) remained under the control of the
king and his mint; the _hanapiers_ (drinking-cup makers), the
_fermailleurs_ (makers of clasps), the pewterers, boxmakers, inferior
artisans and others who worked in common metals, had no longer any
connection with the goldsmiths of Paris. But in the provinces, in towns
where the masters of a trade were insufficient to constitute a community
or fraternity having its chiefs and its own administration, it was
indispensable to reunite under the same banner the trades between which
there was the most agreement, or rather the least contrariety. Thus, in
certain localities in France and the Low Countries, the goldsmiths,
proud as they might be of the nobility of their origin, sometimes found
themselves united as equals with the

[Illustration: Fig. 117.--Arms of the Corporation of Goldsmiths of
Paris, with this device: “Vases Sacrés et Couronnes, voilà notre

pewterers, the mercers, the braziers, and even the grocers; and thus it
came to pass that they combined on their banners of fleurs-de-lis the
proper arms of each of these several trades. Thus, for instance, we see
the banner of the goldsmiths of Castellane (Fig. 118) united with the
retail mercers and tailors--it shows a pair of scissors, scales, and an
ell measure; at Chauny (Fig. 119), a ladder, a hammer, and a vase,
indicate that the goldsmiths had for compeers the pewterers and the
slaters; at Guise (Fig. 120), the association of farriers, coppersmiths,
and locksmiths, is allied with the goldsmiths by a horse-shoe, a mallet,
and a key; the brewers of Harfleur (Fig. 121) quartered in their arms
four barrels between the bars of the cross _gules_ charged with a goblet
of gold, which was the emblem of their associates the goldsmiths; at
Maringues (Fig. 122), the gold cup on a field _gules_ surmounts the
grocer’s candles.

These banners were displayed only on great public ceremonies, in solemn
processions, receptions, marriages, the obsequies of kings, queens,
princes, and princesses. Exempted from military service, the goldsmiths,
unlike other trade corporations, had not the opportunity of
distinguishing themselves in the militia of the communes. They,
nevertheless, occupied the first place in the state processions of
trades, and frequently filled posts of honour. Thus in Paris they had
the custody of the gold and silver plate when the good city entertained
some illustrious guest at a banquet; they carried the canopy above the
head of the king on his joyful accession; or, crowned with roses, walked
bearing on their shoulders the venerated shrine of St. Geneviève (Fig.

[Illustration: Fig. 118.]

[Illustration: Fig. 119.]

[Illustration: Fig. 120.]

[Illustration: Fig. 121.]

[Illustration: Fig. 122.]

In the wealthy cities of Belgium, where the corporations were queens
(_reines_), the goldsmiths, by virtue of their privileges, dictated the
law and swayed the people. No doubt in France they were far from
enjoying the same political influence; nevertheless, one of them was
that provost of merchants, Etienne Marcel, who, from 1356 to 1358,
played so bold a part during the regency of the Dauphin Charles. But it
was especially in periods of peace and prosperity that the goldsmith’s
art in Paris shone in all its splendour; then its banners incessantly
waved in the breeze for the festivals and processions of its numerous
and wealthy brotherhoods to the churches of Notre-Dame, St. Martial, St.
Paul, and St. Denis of Montmartre.

[Illustration: Fig. 123.--The Corporation of the Goldsmiths of Paris
carrying the Shrine of St. Geneviève. (From an engraving of the
Seventeenth Century.)]

In 1337 the number of the wardens of the goldsmith’s guild in Paris had
increased from three to six. They had their names engraved and their
marks stamped on tablets of copper, which were preserved as archives in
the town-hall. Every French goldsmith, admitted a master after the
production of his principal work, left the impression of his sign
manual, or private mark, on similar tablets of copper deposited in the
office of the guild; while the stamp of the community itself was
required to be engraved at the mint to authorise its being used. Every
corporation thus had its mark, which the wardens set on the articles
after having assayed and weighed the metal. These marks, at least in the
later centuries, represented in general the special arms or emblems of
the cities; for Lyons, it is a lion; for Melun, an eel; for Chartres, a
partridge; for Orleans, the head of Joan of Arc, &c. (Figs. 112 to 115).

[Illustration: Fig. 124.--Gold Cross, chased. (A French Work of the
Seventeenth Century.)]

The goldsmiths of France manifested, and with reason, a jealousy of
their privileges, it being more indispensable for them than for any
other artisans to inspire that confidence without which the trade would
have been lost; for their works were required to bear as authentic and
legal a value as that of money. Therefore, it may be understood that
they exercised keen vigilance over all gold or silver objects which were
in any way under their warranty: hence the frequent visits of the sworn
masters to the ateliers and shops of the goldsmiths; hence the perpetual
lawsuits against all instances of negligence or fraud; hence those
quarrels with other trades which arrogated to themselves the right of
working in precious metals without having qualified for it. Confiscation
of goods, the whip, the pillory, were penalties inflicted on goldsmiths
in contraband trade who altered the standard, concealed copper beneath
the gold, or substituted false for precious stones.

It, indeed, seems remarkable that while for the most part other trades
were subject to the control of the goldsmiths, the latter were
responsible only to themselves for the aggressions which they constantly
committed within the domain of rival industries. Whenever the object to
be manufactured was of gold, it belonged to the goldsmith’s trade. The
goldsmith made, by turns, spurs as the spur-maker; armour and arms, as
the armourer; girdles and clasps, as the belt-maker and the clasp-maker.
However, there is reason to believe that in the fabrication of these
various objects, the goldsmith had recourse to the assistance of special
artisans, who could scarcely fail to derive all possible advantage from
such fortuitous association. Thus, when the gold-wrought sword which
Dunois carried when Charles VII. entered Lyons in 1449, mounted in
diamonds and rubies, and valued at more than fifteen thousand crowns,
was to be made, the work of the goldsmiths probably consisted only of
the fashioning and chasing the hilt, while the sword-cutler had to forge
and temper the blade. In the same manner, when it was required to work a
jewelled robe, such as Marie de Medicis wore at the baptism of her son
in 1606, the robe being covered with thirty-two thousand precious stones
and three thousand diamonds, the goldsmith had only to mount the stones
and furnish the design for fixing them on the gold or silk tissue.

[Illustration: Fig. 125.--Pendant, adorned with Diamonds and Precious
Stones. (Seventeenth Century.)]

Long before Benvenuto and other skilful Italian goldsmiths were summoned
by Francis I. to his court, the French goldsmiths had proved that they
needed only a little encouragement to range themselves on a level with
foreign artists. But that patronage having failed them, they left the
country and established themselves elsewhere; thus at the court of
Flanders, Antoine of Bordeaux, Margerie of Avignon, and Jean of Rouen,
distinguished themselves. It is true that in the reign of Louis XII.,
whose exchequer had been exhausted in the Italian expeditions, gold and
silver had become so scarce in France, that the king was obliged to
prohibit the manufacture of all sorts of large plate (_grosserie_). But
the discovery of America having brought with it an abundance of the
precious metals, Louis XII. recalled his ordinance in 1510; and
thenceforth the corporations of goldsmiths were seen to increase and
prosper, as luxuriousness, diffused by the example of the great,
descended to the lower ranks of society. Silver plate soon displaced
that of tin; and before long personal display had attained such a
height, “that the wife of a merchant wore on her person more jewels than
were seen on the image of the Virgin.” The number of the goldsmiths then
became so great that in the city of Rouen alone there were in 1563 _two
hundred and sixty-five_ masters having the right of stamp!

[Illustration: Figs. 126 to 131.--Chains.]

[Illustration: Figs. 132 to 136.--Rings.]

To sum up this chapter. Until the middle of the fourteenth century it is
the religious art which prevails; the goldsmiths are engaged only in
executing shrines, reliquaries, and church ornaments. At the end of that
century, and during the one following, they manufactured gold and

[Illustration: Figs. 137 to 141.--Seals.]

plate, enriching with their works the treasuries of kings and nobles,
and imparting brilliant display to the adornment of dress. In the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the goldsmiths applied themselves
more to chasing, enamelling, and inlay-work. Everywhere are to be seen
marvellous trinkets--necklaces, rings, buckles, chains, seals (Figs. 124
to 142). The weight of metal is no longer the principal merit; the skill
of the workman is especially appreciated, and the goldsmith executes in
gold, in silver, and in precious stones, the beautiful productions of
painters and engravers. Nevertheless, the demand for delicate objects
had the disadvantage of requiring much solder and alloy, which
deteriorated the standard of metal. Then a desperate struggle commenced
between the goldsmiths and the mint--a struggle which was prosecuted
through a maze of legal proceedings, petitions, and ordinances, until
the middle of the reign of Louis XV. At the same time the Italian and
German goldsmiths making an irruption into France and introducing
materials of a low standard, the old professional integrity became
suspected and was soon disregarded. At the end of the sixteenth century
very little plate was ornamented: there is a return to massive plate,
the weight and standard of which could be easily verified. Gold is
scarcely any longer employed, except for jewels; and silver in a
thousand forms creeps into the manufacture of furniture. After
_cabinets_, covered and ornamented with carving in silver, came the
articles of silver furniture invented by Claude Ballin. But the mass of
precious metal withdrawn from circulation was soon returned to it, and
the fashion passed away. The goldsmiths found themselves reduced to
manufacture only objects of small size; and for the most part they
limited themselves to works of jewellery, which subjected them to less
annoyance from the mint. Besides, the art of the lapidary had almost
changed its character, as well as the trade in precious stones. Pierre
de Montarsy, jeweller to the king, effected a kind of revolution in his
art, which the travels of Chardin, of Bernier, and of Tavernier, in the
East had, so to say, enlarged. The cutting and mounting of precious
stones has not since been excelled. It may be said that Montarsy was the
first jeweller, as Ballin was the last goldsmith.

[Illustration: Fig. 142.--Chased and Enamelled Brooch, embellished with
Pearls and Diamonds. (Seventeenth Century.)]


     Modes of measuring Time among the Ancients.--The Gnomon.--The
     Water-Clock.--The Hour-Glass.--The Water-Clock, improved by the
     Persians and by the Italians.--Gerbert invents the Escapement and
     the moving Weights.--The Striking-bell.--Maistre Jehan des
     Orloges.--Jacquemart of Dijon.--The first Clock in Paris.--Earliest
     portable Timepiece.--Invention of the spiral Spring.--First
     appearance of Watches.--The Watches, or “Eggs,” of
     Nuremberg.--Invention of the Fusee.--Corporation of
     Clockmakers.--Noted Clocks at Jena, Strasburg, Lyons,
     &c.--Charles-Quint and Jannellus.--The Pendulum.

Among the ancients there were three instruments for measuring time--the
_gnomon_, or sun-dial, which is only, as we know, a table whereon lines
are so arranged as successively to meet the shadow cast by a gnomon,[20]
thus indicating the hour of the day according to the height or
inclination of the sun; the water-clock (_clepsydra_), which had for its
principle the measured percolation of a certain quantity of water; and
the hour-glass, wherein the liquid is exchanged for sand. It would be
difficult to determine which of these three chronometric modes can lay
claim to priority. There is this to be said that, according to the
Bible, in the eighth century before Christ, Ahaz, King of Judah, caused
a sun-dial to be constructed at Jerusalem; again, Herodotus says
Anaximander introduced the sun-dial into Greece, whence it passed on to
the other parts of the then civilised world; and that, in the year 293
before our era, the celebrated Papirius Cursor, to the astonishment of
his fellow-citizens, had a sun-dial traced near the temple of Jupiter

According to the description given by Athena (Athenæus?), the
water-clock was formed of an earthenware or metal vessel filled with
water, and then suspended over a reservoir whereon lines were marked
indicating the hours, as the water which escaped drop by drop from the
upper vessel came to the level. We find this instrument employed by most
ancient nations, and in many countries it remained in use until the
tenth century of the Christian era.

[Illustration: Fig. 143.--The Clockmaker. Designed and Engraved by J.

In one of his dialogues Plato declares that the philosophers are far
more fortunate than the orators--“these being the slaves of a miserable
water-clock; whereas the others are at liberty to make their discourse
as long as they please.” To explain this passage, we must remember that
it was the practice in the Athenian courts of justice, as subsequently
in those of Rome, to measure the time allowed to the advocates for
pleading by means of a water-clock. Three equal portions of water were
put into it--one for the prosecutor, one for the defendant, and the
third for the judge. A man was charged with the special duty of giving
timely notice to each of the three speakers that his portion was nearly
run out. If, on some unusual occasion, the time for one or other of the
parties was doubled, it was called “adding water-clock to water-clock;”
and when witnesses were giving evidence, or the text of some law was
being read out, the percolation of the water was stopped: this was
called _aquam sustinere_ (to retain the water).

The hour-glass, which is still in use to a considerable extent for
measuring short intervals of time, had great analogy with the
water-clock, but was never susceptible of such regularity. In fact, at
different periods important improvements were applied to the
water-clock. Vitruvius tells us that, about one hundred years before our
era, Ctesibius, a mechanician of Alexandria, added several cogged-wheels
to the water-clock, one of which moved a hand, showing the hour on a
dial. This must have been, so far as historical documents admit of
proof, the first step towards purely mechanical horology.

In order, then, to find an authentic date in the history of horology, we
must go to the eighth century, when water-clocks, still further
improved, were either made or imported into France; among others, one
which Pope Paul I. sent to Pepin le Bref. We must, however, believe that
these instruments can have attracted but little attention, or that they
were speedily forgotten; for, one hundred years later, there appeared a
water-clock at the court of Charlemagne, a present from the famous
caliph Aroun-al-Raschid, regarded, indeed almost celebrated, as a
notable event. Of this Eginhard has left us an elaborate description. It
was, he says, in brass, damaskeened with gold, and marked the hours on a
dial. At the end of each hour an equal number of small iron balls fell
on a bell, and made it sound as many times as the hour indicated by the
needle. Twelve windows immediately opened, out of which were seen to
proceed the same number of horsemen armed _cap-à-pie_, who, after
performing divers evolutions, withdrew into the interior of the
mechanism, and then the windows closed.

Shortly afterwards Pacificus, Archbishop of Verona, constructed one far
superior to all that had preceded it; for, besides giving the hours, it
indicated the date of the month, the days of the week, the phases of the
moon, &c. But still it was only an improved water-clock. Before horology
could really assume an historical date, it was necessary that for motive
power weights should be substituted for water, and that the escapement
should be invented; yet it was only in the beginning of the tenth
century that these important discoveries were made.

“In the reign of Hugh Capet,” says M. Dubois, “there lived in France a
man of great talent and reputation named Gerbert. He was born in the
mountains of Auvergne, and had passed his childhood in tending flocks
near Aurillac. One day some monks of the order of St. Benedict met him
in the fields: they conversed with him, and finding him precociously
intelligent, took him into their convent of St. Gérauld. There Gerbert
soon acquired a taste for monastic life. Eager for knowledge, and
devoting all his spare moments to study, he became the most learned of
the community. After he had taken vows, a desire to add to his
scientific attainments led him to set out for Spain. During several
years he assiduously frequented the universities of the Iberian
peninsula. He soon found himself too learned for Spain; for, in spite of
his truly sincere piety, ignorant fanatics accused him of sorcery. As
that accusation might have involved him in deplorable consequences, he
preferred not to await the result; and hastily quitting the town of
Salamanca, which was his ordinary residence, he came to Paris, where he
very soon made himself powerful friends and protectors. At length, after
having successively been monk, superior of the convent of Bobbio, in
Italy, Archbishop of Rheims, tutor to Robert I., King of France, and to
Otho III., Emperor of Germany, who appointed him to the see of Ravenna,
Gerbert rose to the pontifical throne under the name of Sylvester II.:
he died in 1003. This great man did honour to his country and to his
age. He was acquainted with nearly all the dead and living languages; he
was a mechanician, astronomer, physician, geometrician, algebraist, &c.
He introduced the Arab numerals into France. In the seclusion of his
monastic cell, as in his archiepiscopal palace, his favourite relaxation
was the study of mechanics. He was skilled in making sun-dials,
water-clocks, hour-glasses, and hydraulic organs. It was he who first
applied weight as a motive power to horology; and, in all probability,
he is the inventor of that admirable mechanism called escapement--the
most beautiful, as well as the most essential, of all the inventions
which have been made in horology.”

This is not the place to give a description of these two mechanisms,
which can hardly be explained except with the assistance of purely
technical drawings, but it may be remarked that weights are still the
sole motive power of large clocks, and the escapement alluded to has
been alone employed throughout the world until the end of the
seventeenth century. Notwithstanding the importance of these two
inventions, little use was made of them during the eleventh, twelfth,
and thirteenth centuries. The water-clock and hour-glass (Fig. 144)
continued exclusively in use. Some were ornamented and engraved with
much taste; and they contributed to the decoration of apartments, as at
present do our bronzes and clocks more or less costly.

[Illustration: Fig. 144.--An Hour-glass of the Sixteenth
Century,--French Work.]

History does not inform us who was the inventor of the striking
machinery; but it is at least averred that it existed at the
commencement of the twelfth century. The first mention of it is found in
the “Usages de l’Ordre de Cîteaux,” compiled about 1120. It is there
prescribed to the sacristan so to regulate the clock, that it “sounds
and awakens him before matins;” in another chapter the monk is ordered
to prolong the lecture until “the clock strikes.” At first, in the
monasteries, the monks took it in turn to watch, and warn the community
of the hours for prayer; and, in the towns, there were night watchmen,
who, moreover, were maintained in many places to announce in the streets
the hour denoted by the clocks, the water-clocks, or the hour-glasses.

The machinery for striking once invented, we do not find that horology
had attained to any perfection before the end of the thirteenth century;
but, in the commencement of the following it received its impulse, and
the art from that time continued to progress.

To give an idea of what was effected at that time, we will borrow a
passage from the earliest writings in which horology is mentioned; that
is, from an unpublished book by Philip de Maizières, entitled “Le Songe
du Vieil Pélerin:”--“It is known that in Italy there is at present
(about 1350) a man generally celebrated in philosophy, in medicine, and
in astronomy; in his station, by common report, singular and grave,
excelling in the above three sciences, and of the city of Padua. His
surname is lost, and he is called ‘Maistre Jehan des Orloges,’ residing
at present with the Comte de Vertus; and, for the treble sciences, he
has for yearly wages and perquisites two thousand florins, or
thereabouts. This Maistre Jean des Orloges has made an instrument, by
some called a _sphere_ or clock, of the movement of the heavens, in
which instrument are all the motions of the signs (zodiacal), and of the
planets, with their circles and epicycles, and multiplied differences,
wheels (_roes_) without number, with all their parts, and each planet in
the said sphere, distinctly. On any given night, we see clearly in what
sign and degree are the planets and the stars of the heavens; and this
sphere is so cunningly made, that notwithstanding the multitude of
wheels, which cannot well be numbered without taking the machinery to
pieces, their entire mechanism is governed by one single counterpoise,
so marvellous that the grave astronomers from distant regions come with
great reverence to visit the said Maistre Jean and the work of his
hands; and all the great clerks of astronomy, of philosophy, and of
medicine, declare that there is no recollection of a man, either in
written document or otherwise, who in this world has made so ingenious
or so important an instrument of the heavenly movements as the said
clock.... Maistre Jean made the said clock with his own hands, all of
brass and of copper, without the assistance of any other person, and did
nothing else during sixteen entire years, if the writer of the book, who
had a great friendship for the said Maistre Jean, has been rightly

It is known, on the other hand, that the famous clockmaker, whose real
name Maizières assumes to be lost, was called Jaques de Dondis; and
that, in spite of the assertion of the writer, he had only to arrange
the clock, the parts of which had been executed by an excellent workman
named Antoine. However this may be, placed at the top of one of the
towers of the palace of Padua, the clock of Jaques de Dondis, or of
“Maistre Jean des Orloges,” excited general admiration, and several
princes of Europe being desirous to have similar clocks, many workmen
tried to imitate it. In fact, churches or monasteries were soon able to
pride themselves on possessing similar _chefs-d’œuvre_.

Among the most remarkable clocks of that period, we must refer to that
of which Froissart speaks, and which was carried away from the town of
Courtray by Philip the Bold after the battle of Rosbecque in 1382. “The
Duke of Burgundy,” says our author, “caused to be carried away from the
market-place a clock that struck the hours, one of the finest which
could be found on either side the sea; and he conveyed it piece by piece
in carts, and the bell also. Which clock was brought and carted into the
town of Dijon, in Burgundy, was there deposited and put up, and there
strikes the twenty-four hours between day and night.”

It is the celebrated clock of Dijon which then as now was surmounted by
two automata of iron, a man and a woman, striking the hours on the bell.
The origin of the name of _Jacquemart_ given to these figures has been
much disputed. Ménage believes that the word is derived from the Latin
_jaccomarchiardus_ (coat of mail--attire of war); and he reminds us
that, in the Middle Ages, it was the custom to station, on the summit of
the towers, men (soldiers wearing the _jacque_) to give warning of the
approach of the enemy, of fires, &c. Ménage adds that, when more
efficient watchers occasioned the discontinuance of these nocturnal
sentinels, it was probably considered desirable to preserve the
remembrance of them by putting in the place they had occupied iron
figures which struck the hours. Other writers trace the name even to the
inventor of this description of clocks, who, according to them, lived in
the fourteenth century, and was called Jacques Marck. Finally, Gabriel
Peignot, who has written a dissertation on the _jacquemart_ of Dijon,
asserts that in 1422 a person named Jacquemart, clockmaker and
locksmith, residing in the town of Lille, received twenty-two livres
from the Duke of Burgundy, for repairing the clock of Dijon; and from
that he concludes, seeing how short the distance is from Lille to
Courtray, whence the clock of Dijon had been taken, that this Jacquemart
might well be the son or the grandson of the clockmaker who had
constructed it about 1360; consequently the name of the _jacquemart_ of
Dijon is derived from that of its maker, old Jacquemart, the clockmaker
of Lille (Fig. 145).

[Illustration: Fig. 145.--Jacquemart of Notre-Dame at Dijon, made at
Courtray in the Fourteenth Century.]

Giving to each of these opinions its due weight, we confine ourselves to
stating that, from the end of the fourteenth century to the beginning
of the fifteenth, numerous churches in Germany, Italy, and France
already had _jacquemarts_.

The first clock possessed by Paris was that in the turret of the Palais
de Justice. Charles V. had it constructed in 1370 by a German artisan,
Henri de Vic. It contained a weight for moving power, an oscillating
piece for regulator, and an escapement. It was adorned with carvings by
Germain Pilon, and was destroyed in the eighteenth century.

In 1389, the clockmaker Jean Jouvence made one for the Castle of
Montargis. Those of Sens and of Auxerre, as well as that of Lund in
Sweden, date from the same period. In the last, every hour two cavaliers
met and gave each other as many blows as the hours to be struck: then a
door opened, and the Virgin Mary appeared sitting on a throne, with the
Infant Jesus in her arms, receiving the visit of the Magi followed by
their retinue; the Magi prostrating themselves and tendering their
presents. During the ceremony two trumpets sounded: then all vanished,
to re-appear the following hour.

[Illustration: Fig. 146.--Clock with Wheels and Weights. Fifteenth
Century. (Cabinet of Antiquities, Bibl. Imp., Paris.)]

Until the end of the thirteenth century, clocks were destined

[Illustration: Fig. 147.--A portable Clock of the time of the Valois.]

to public buildings; or they at least affected, if we may say so, a
monumental character which precluded their admission into private
houses. The first clocks with weights and the flywheel made for private
use appeared in France, in Italy, and in Germany, about the commencement
of the fourteenth century; but naturally they were at first so costly
that only nobles and wealthy persons could obtain them. But an impulse
was given which led to the manufacture of these objects more
economically. In fact, it was not long before portable clocks were seen
in the most unpretentious abodes. This of course did not prevent the
production of expensive examples, either as regards ornamentation or
carving, or in placing the clock on costly pedestals or cases, within
which were suspended the weights (Fig. 146).

The fifteenth century has distinctly left its mark on the progress of
horology. In 1401 the Cathedral of Seville was enriched with a
magnificent clock which struck the hours. In 1404, Lazare, a Servian by
birth, constructed a similar one for Moscow. That of Lubeck, which was
embellished with the figures of the twelve Apostles, dates from 1405. It
is proper to notice also the famous clock which Jean-Galeas Visconti had
made for Pavia; and more especially that of St. Marc of Venice, which
was not executed until 1495.

The spiral spring was invented in the time of Charles VII.: a band of
very fine steel, rolled up into a small drum or barrel, produced, in
unrolling, the effect of the weights on the primitive movements. To the
possibility of enclosing that moving power in a confined space is due
the facility of manufacturing very small clocks. In fact, one finds in
certain collections, clocks of the time of Louis XI., remarkable not
only for the artistic richness of their decoration, but still more so
for the small space they occupy, although they are generally of very
complicated mechanism; some marking the date of the month, striking the
hour, and serving also as alarm-clocks.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to determine the exact date of the
invention of watches. But, in truth, we ought perhaps to regard the
watch, especially after the invention of the spiral spring, as only the
last step taken towards a portable form of clock. It is however true,
according to the statements found in Pancirole and Du Verdier by the
authors of the “Encyclopædia of Sciences,” that at the end of the
fifteenth century watches were made no larger than an almond. Even the
names Myrmécides and Carovagius are cited as those of two celebrated
artisans in such work. It was said that the latter made an alarm-watch
which not only sounded the hour required, but even struck a light to
ignite a candle. Besides, we know for certain that, in the time of Louis
XI., there were watches very small yet perfectly manufactured; and it is
proved that, in 1500, at Nuremberg, Peter Hele made them of the form of
an egg, and consequently the watches of that country were long known as
_Nuremberg eggs_.

We learn, moreover, from history that in 1542, a watch which struck the
hours, set in a ring, was offered to Guidobaldo of Rovere; and that in
1575, Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, bequeathed to his brother
Richard a cane of Indian wood having a watch placed in its head; and,
finally, that Henry VIII. of England wore a very small watch requiring
to be wound up only every eighth day.

It is not inappropriate here to remark that the time kept by these
little machines was not regular until an ingenious workman, whose name
has not come down to us, invented the fusee, a kind of truncated cone;
to the base of this was attached a small piece of catgut which, spirally
rolling itself up to the top, became fastened to the barrel that
enclosed the spring. The advantage of this arrangement is, that owing to
the conical form of the fusee, the traction of the spring acting as it
relaxes on a greater radius of the cone, it results in establishing
equilibrium of power between the first and the last movements of the
spring. Subsequently a clockmaker named Gruet substituted jointed
(_articulées_) chains for catgut; the latter having the great
disadvantage of being hygrometric and varying in tension with the state
of the atmosphere.

The use of watches spread rapidly in France. In the reigns of the
Valois, a large number were made of very diminutive size, to which the
clockmakers gave all sorts of forms, especially those of an acorn, an
almond, a Latin cross, a shell (Figs. 148 to 150). They were engraved,
chased, enamelled; the hand which marked the hour was very frequently of
delicate workmanship, and sometimes ornamented with precious stones.
Some of these watches set in motion symbolic figures, as well as Time,
Apollo, Diana, the Virgin, the Apostles, and the saints.

It may be conceived that all these complicated works required numerous
craftsmen. It was therefore considered proper to unite these artisans in
a community. The statutes which they had received from Louis XI. in 1483
were confirmed by Francis I. They contained a succession of laws,
intended to protect at the same time the interests of members of the
corporation and the dignity of their profession.

No one was admitted as master but on proof of having served eight years
of apprenticeship, and after having produced a _chef-d’œuvre_ in the

[Illustration: CLOCK OF DAMASCENED IRON AND WATCHES Of the Fifteenth and
Sixteenth Centuries.]

house, or under the supervision, of one of the inspectors of the
corporation. The visiting inspectors, elected by all the members, as
well as by the trustees and the syndics, were authorised when
introducing themselves into the workshops, to look after the proper
construction of watches and clocks; and if it happened that they found
such as did not appear to be made according to the rules of art, they
could not only seize and destroy them, but also impose a fine on the
maker for the benefit of the corporation. The statutes also gave
exclusive right to the accredited masters to trade, directly or
otherwise, with all the stock, new or second-hand, finished or

[Illustration: Figs. 148 to 150.--Watches of the Valois Epoch.
(Sixteenth Century.)]

“Under the influence of these wise institutions,” M. Dubois remarks,
“the master-clockmakers had no fear of the competition of persons not
belonging to the corporation. If they were affected by the artistic
superiority of some of their colleagues, it was with the laudable desire
to contend with them for the first places. The work of one day, superior
to that of the preceding, was surpassed by that of the day following. It
was by this incessant competition of intelligence and knowledge, by this
legitimate and invigorating rivalry of all the members of the same
industrious community, that science itself attained by degrees the
zenith of the excellent and the sublime of the beautiful. The ambition
of workmen was to rise to the mastership, and they attained that only by
force of labour and assiduous efforts. The ambition of the masters was
to acquire the honours of the syndicate--that consular magistracy the
most honourable of all, for it was the result of election, and the
recompense of services rendered to art and to the community.”

Having thus reached the middle of the sixteenth century, and not wishing
to exceed the compass assigned to this sketch, we may limit ourselves to
the mention of some of the remarkable works produced during a century by
an art that had already manifested itself with a power never to be

The clock which Henry II. had constructed for the château of Anet has
long been regarded as very curious. Every time the hand denotes the
hour, a stag appears from the inside of the clock, and darts away
followed by a pack of hounds; but soon the pack and the stag stop, and
the latter, by means of very ingenious mechanism, strikes the hours with
one of his feet.

The clock of Jena (Fig. 151), which is still in existence, is not less
famous. Above the dial is a bronze head presumed to represent a buffoon
of Ernest, Elector of Saxony, who died in 1486. When the hour is about
to strike, the head--so remarkably ugly as to have given the clock the
name of the _monstrous head_--opens its very large mouth. A figure
representing an old pilgrim offers it a golden apple on the end of a
stick; but just when poor Hans (so was the fool called) is about to
close his mouth to masticate and swallow the apple, the pilgrim suddenly
withdraws it. On the left of the head is an angel singing (the arms of
the city of Jena), holding in one hand a book, which he raises towards
his eyes whenever the hours strike, and with the other he rings a

The town of Niort, in Poitou, possessed also an extraordinary clock,
ornamented with a great number of allegorical figures--the work of

[Illustration: Fig. 151.--Clock of Jena, in Germany. (Fifteenth

in 1570. A much more famous clock was that of Strasburg (Fig. 152),
constructed in 1573, and which was long considered to be the greatest of
all wonders. It was entirely restored in 1842 by M. Schwilgué. Angelo
Rocca, in his “Commentarium de Campanis,” gives a description of it. Its
most important feature was a moving sphere, whereon were represented the
planets and the constellations, and which completed its rotation in
three hundred and sixty-five days. On two sides of the dial and below it
the principal festivals of the year and the solemnities of the Church
were represented by allegorical figures. Other dials, distributed
symmetrically on the façade of the tower in which the clock is situated,
marked the days of the week, the date of the month, the signs of the
zodiac, the phases of the moon, the rising and setting of the sun, &c.
Every hour two angels

[Illustration: Fig. 152.--Astronomical Clock of the Cathedral at
Strasburg, constructed in 1573.]

sounded the trumpet. When the concert was finished, the bell tolled;
then immediately a cock, perched on the summit, spread his wings
noisily, and made his crowing to be heard. The striking machinery, by
means of movable trap-doors, cylinders, and springs concealed in the
interior of the clock, set in motion a considerable number of automata,
executed with much skill. Angelo Rocca adds that the completion of this
_chef-d’œuvre_ was attributed to Nicolas Copernicus; and that when this
able mechanician had finished his work, the sheriffs and consuls of the
city had his eyes put out in order to render it impossible for him to
execute a similar clock for any other city. This last statement is the
more deserving to rank among mere legends from the fact that,
independent of existing proof of the clock being made by Conrad
Dasypodius, it would be very difficult to prove that Copernicus ever
visited Alsace, or had his eyes put out.

A similar tradition is attached to the history of another clock still in
existence, and which was not less celebrated than that of Strasburg. We
refer to that of the Church of St. John at Lyons, made in 1598 by
Nicholas Lippius, a clockmaker of Basle; repaired and enlarged
subsequently by Nourisson, an artisan of Lyons. Only the horary
mechanism now acts; but the clock is not on that account neglected by
visitors, to whom the worthy attendants still repeat, in perfect faith,
that Lippius was put to death as soon as he had finished his
_chef-d’œuvre_. To show the improbability of this pretended penalty it
is sufficient to remark, with M. Dubois, that even in the sixteenth
century persons were not killed for the crime of making _chefs-d’œuvre_;
and there is, besides, proof that Lippius died in peace, and honoured,
in his native country.

To these famous clocks must be added those of St. Lambert at Liège, of
Nuremberg, of Augsburg, and of Basle; that of Medina del Campo, in
Spain, and those which, in the reign of Charles I., or during the
Protectorship of Cromwell, were manufactured and placed in England, at
St. Dunstan’s in London,[21] and in the Cathedral of Canterbury, in
Edinburgh, and in Glasgow, &c.

Before concluding, and to do justice to a century to which we have
assigned a period of decline, we are bound to acknowledge that some
years before the death of Cardinal Richelieu--that is to say, from 1630
to 1640--artists of ability made praiseworthy efforts to create a new
era in horology. But the improvements they had in view were directed
much more to the processes of the construction of the several parts
composing the clockwork of watches and clocks than to the beauty and
ingenuity of the workmanship. This was progress of a purely professional
character, in order to create a more ready and inexpensive supply; a
progress which we may regard as services rendered by art to trade. The
period of great constructions and delicate marvels was past. Ornamental
_Jacquemarts_ were no longer placed in belfries. Mechanical
_chefs-d’œuvre_ were no longer set in frail gems. The time was still far
off when, laying down the sceptre of that empire on which “the sun never
sets,” the conqueror of Francis I., retiring to a cloister, employed
himself in the construction of the most complicated clockwork. Charles
V. had as assistant, if not as teacher, in his work the learned
mathematician, Jannellus Turianus, whom he had induced to join him in
his retreat. It is said that he enjoyed nothing so much as seeing the
monks of Saint-Just standing amazed before his alarum watches and
automaton clocks; but it is also stated that he manifested the greatest
despair when obliged to admit it was as impossible to establish perfect
concord among clocks as among men.

In truth, Galileo had not yet arrived to observe and formulate the laws
of the pendulum, which Huygens was happily to apply to the movements of

[Illustration: Fig. 153.--Top of an Hour-Glass, engraved and gilt. (A
French Work of the Sixteenth Century.)]


     Music in the Middle Ages.--Musical Instruments from the Fourth to
     the Thirteenth Century.--Wind Instruments: the Single and Double
     Flute, the Pandean Pipes, the Reed-pipe, the Hautboy, the
     Flageolet, Trumpets, Horns, _Olifants_, the Hydraulic Organ, the
     Bellows-Organ.--Instruments of Percussion: the Bell, the Hand-bell,
     Cymbals, the Timbrel, the Triangle, the _Bombulum_,
     Drums.--Stringed Instruments: the Lyre, the Cithern, the Harp, the
     Psaltery, the _Nable_, the _Chorus_, the _Organistrum_, the Lute
     and the Guitar, the _Crout_, the _Rote_, the Viola, the _Gigue_,
     the Monochord.

The history of Music in the Middle Ages would commence about the fourth
century of our era. In the sixth century, Isidore of Seville, in his
“Sentiments sur la Musique,” writes as follows:--“Music is a modulation
of the voice, and also an accordance of several sounds and their
simultaneous union.”

About 384, St. Ambrose, who built the Cathedral of Milan, regulated the
mode in which psalms, hymns, and anthems should be performed, by
selecting from Greek chants those melodies he considered best adapted to
the Latin Church.

In 590, Gregory the Great, in order to remedy the disorder which had
crept into ecclesiastical singing, collected all that remained of the
ancient Greek melodies, with those of St. Ambrose and others, and formed
the antiphonary which is called the _Centonien_, because it is composed
of chants of his selection. Henceforward, ecclesiastical chanting
obtained the name of _Gregorian_; it was adopted into the whole of the
Western Church, and maintained its position almost unaltered down to the
middle of the eleventh century.

It is thought that originally the music of the antiphonary was noted in
accordance with Greek and Roman usage--a notation known as the
_Boethian_, from the name of Boethius the philosopher, by whom we are
informed that in his time (that is, about the end of the fifth century)
the notation was composed of the first fifteen letters of the alphabet.

The sounds of the octave were represented--the major by _capital_
letters, the minor by _small_ letters, as follows:--

Major mode      A    B    C   D    E    F    G
Minor mode      a    b    c   d    e    f    g

Some fragments of music of the eleventh century are still preserved, in
which the notation is represented by letters having above them the signs
of another kind of notation called _neumes_ (Fig. 154).

[Illustration: Fig. 154.--Lament composed shortly after the Death of
Charlemagne, probably about 814 or 815, and attributed to Colomban,
Abbot of Saint-Tron. (MS. de la Bibl. Imp., No. 1,154.)]

_Musical Notation expressed in Modern Signs, the Text and Translation of
the Lament on Charlemagne._

[Illustration: A so lis or tu us que ad oc ci du a Lit to ra ma ris plan
ctus pul sat pec to ra Ul tra ma ri na ag mi na tris]

[Illustration: ti ti a Te ti git in gens cum er ro re ni mi o Heu me do
lens plan go!

Fran ci Ro ma ni at que cun cti cre du li, Luc tu pun gun tur et mag na
mo les ti a in fan tes, se nes glo ri o si prin ci pes Nam clan git or
bis de trimentum Ka ro li Heu mi hi mi se ro!]

    A solis ortu usque ad occidua
    Littora maris, planctus pulsat pectora;
    Ultra marina agmina tristitia
      Tetigit ingens cum errore nimio.
        Heu! me dolens, plango.

    Franci, Romani, atque cuncti creduli,
    Luctu punguntor et magna molestia,
    Infantes, senes, gloriosi principes;
      Nam clangit orbis detrimentum Karoli.
        Heu! mihi misero!

    From the East to the Western shores,
    sorrow agitates every heart; and inland,
    this vast grief saddens armies.
      Alas! in my grief, I, too, weep.

    French, Romans, and all believers are
    plunged into mourning and profound
    grief: children, old men, and illustrious
    princes; for the whole world deplores the
    loss of Charlemagne.
      Alas! miserable me!

About the fourth century the _neumes_ were in use in the Greek Church;
they are spoken of by St. Gregory of Nazianzus. Certain modifications in
them were introduced by the Lombards and Saxons.

“They were specially in use from the eighth to the twelfth century,”
says M. Coussemaker, in his learned work, “Histoire de l’Harmonie au
Moyen Age,” “and consisted of two sorts of signs: some formed like
commas, dots, or small inclined or horizontal strokes, which represented
isolated sounds; others in the shape of hooks, and strokes variously
twisted and joined, expressing groups of sound composed of various

“These commas, dots, and inclined or horizontal strokes were the origin
of the long notes, the breve and the semibreve, and afterwards of the
square notation still in use in the _plain-chant_ of the Church. The
hook-shaped signs and the variously twisted and joined strokes gave rise
to the ligatures and connections of notes.

“From the eighth to the end of the twelfth century--that is, during one
of the brightest periods of musical liturgy--the _neumes_ were the
notation exclusively adopted over the whole of Europe, both in
ecclesiastical singing and also in secular music. From the end of the
eleventh century, this system of notation was established in France,
Italy, Germany, England, and Spain.”

The chief modification to which the notation of music was subject at the
end of the eleventh century is due to the monk Guido, of Arezzo. In
order to facilitate the reading of the _neumes_, he invented placing
them on lines, and these lines he distinguished by colours. The second,
that of the _fa_, was red; the fourth, that of the _ut_, was green; the
first and the third are only traced on the vellum with a pen. In order
that the seven notes should be better impressed upon the memory, he gave
as an example the three first lines of the Hymn of St. John the Baptist,
in which the syllables _ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la_, corresponded to the
signs of the gamut:--

   “_Ut_ queant laxis _Re_sonare fibris
    _Mi_ra gestorum _Fa_muli tuorum,
    _Sol_ve polluti _La_bii reatum,
    Sancte Joannes.”

The choristers, in singing this hymn, slightly raised the intonation of
each of the italicised syllables, which were soon adopted for indicating
six of the notes of the gamut. To supply the seventh, which was not
named in this system, the barbarous theory of _muances_ (divisions) was
introduced, and it was not until the seventeenth century the term _si_
was applied in France.

But after the commencement of the tenth century many individuals, and
especially poets, had invented rhythmical songs, which were entirely
different from those of the Church. “Harmony formed by successions of
various intervals,” as we are told by the author whom we have before
quoted, “obtained in the eleventh century the name of _discantus_, in
old French _déchant_. Francon de Cologne is the most ancient author who
makes use of this word. During the whole course of the eleventh century
the composition of melody was independent of harmony, and henceforth the
composition of music was divided into two very distinct parts. The
people, and poets and persons in high life, constructed the melody and
the words; but being ignorant of the science of music, they resorted to
a professional musician to have their inspirations written down. The
first were very justly called _trouvères_ (_trobadori_), the others the
_déchanteurs_, or harmonisers. Harmony was then only adapted for two
voices--a combination of fifths, and of movements in unison.

“In the twelfth century, the construction of melody continued to be in
the hands of poets. The _déchanteurs_ or harmonisers were the
professional musicians. Popular songs became very numerous. Troubadours
multiplied all over Europe, and the greatest lords deemed it an honour
to cultivate both poetry and music. Germany had her ‘master-singers,’
who were in request at every court. In France, the Châtelain de Coucy,
the King of Navarre, the Comte de Béthune, the Comte d’Anjou, and a
hundred others acquired a brilliant reputation by songs, of which they
composed both the words and the melody. The most celebrated of these
_trouvères_ was Adam de la Halle, who flourished in 1260.”

In the fourteenth century, the name of _counterpoint_ was substituted
for that of _déchant_; and in 1364, at the coronation of Charles V. at
Rheims, a mass was sung which was written in four parts, composed by
Guillaume de Machault, poet and musician.

Among the ancients the number of musical instruments was considerable,
but their names were even still more numerous, because derived from the
shape, the material, the nature and character of the instruments, all of
which varied infinitely, according to the whim of the maker or the
musician. Added to this, every country had its national instruments; and
as each in its own language designated them by descriptive names, the
same instrument appeared under ten different denominations, and a
similar name was applied to ten instruments. However, having nothing but
monumental representation to guide us, and in the absence of the
instruments themselves, an almost inextricable confusion arises.

The Romans carried back to their own country, as the results of
conquest, specimens of most of the musical instruments they found in use
in the countries subdued by them. Thus Greece supplied Rome with nearly
all the soft instruments of the class of lyres and flutes. Germany and
the northern provinces, being inhabited by warlike races, gave to their
conquerors the taste for loud-sounding instruments, such as trumpets and
drums. Asia, and Judæa especially, which had multiplied various kinds of
metal-instruments for use in their religious ceremonies, were the means
of naturalising in Roman music deep-toned instruments of the class of
bells and tom-toms (a kind of drum). Egypt introduced into Italy the
timbrel along with the worship of Isis. Byzantium had no sooner invented
the first pneumatic organs than the new religion of Christ took
possession of them for exclusive consecration to its service, both in
the East and in the West.

All the musical instruments of the known world had therefore taken
refuge, as it were, in the capital of the Roman empire; but their fate
was only to disappear and sink into oblivion after they had played their
part in the last pomps of that falling empire, and in the final
festivals of the ancient mythology. In a letter in which he specially
treats of “various kinds of musical instruments,” St. Jerome, who lived
from 331 to 420, speaks of those which were in use in his time for the
requirements of religion, war, ceremonial, and art. He mentions, in the
first place, the organ, and describes it as composed of fifteen brazen
pipes, two air-reservoirs of elephant’s skin, and twelve large sets of
bellows, “to imitate the voice of thunder.” He next specifies, under the
generic name of _tuba_, several kinds of trumpets: that which called the
people together, that which directed the march of troops, that which
proclaimed the victory, that which sounded the charge against the enemy,
that which announced the closing of the gates, &c. One of these
trumpets, the shape of which is rather difficult to gather from his
description, had three brazen bells, and _roared through four
air-conduits_. Another instrument, the _bombulum_, which must have made
a frightful uproar, was, as far as we can conjecture from the text of
the pious writer, a kind of peal of bells attached to a hollow metallic
column which, by the assistance of twelve pipes, reverberated the sounds
of twenty-four bells that were set in motion by one another. Next come
the _cithara_ of the Hebrews, in the shape of a triangle, furnished with
twenty-four strings; the sackbut, of Chaldæan origin, a trumpet formed
of several movable tubes of wood, fitting one into the other; the
psaltery, a small harp provided with ten strings; and lastly, the
_tympanum_, also called the _chorus_, a hand-drum to which were fixed
two metal flute-tubes.

[Illustration: Fig. 155.--Concert; a Bas-relief, taken from a Capital in
Saint-Georges de Boscherville, Normandy. (A Work of the Eleventh

A nomenclature of a similar kind, applying to the ninth century, exists
in a history of Charlemagne, in Latin verse, by Aymeric de Peyrac. This
shows as that, during the lapse of four centuries, the number of
instruments had been nearly doubled, and that the musical influence of
Charlemagne’s reign had made itself felt in the revival and improvement
of several instruments which had been formerly abandoned. This curious
metrical composition enumerates all the stringed, wind, and pulsatile
instruments which celebrated the praise of the great emperor, the
protector and restorer of music. The number of instruments specified
are twenty-four in number, among which we find nearly all those
mentioned by St. Jerome.

[Illustration: Fig. 156.--Concert and Musical Instruments. From a
Miniature in a Manuscript of the Thirteenth Century.]

The names, therefore, of musical instruments had passed through seven or
eight centuries without undergoing any kind of change than that
naturally resulting from variations in the language. But the instruments
themselves, during this long interval of time, had been often modified
to such extent that the primitive denomination not unfrequently appeared
to contradict the musical characteristics of the instrument to which it
still continued to be attached. Thus, the _chorus_, which had been a
four-stringed harp, and from its name seems to indicate a collection of
instruments, had become a wind-instrument.[22] So also the psaltery,
which was originally touched by a _plectrum_ (stick) or with the
fingers, now only gave forth its notes under the influence of a bow; an
instrument that had had twenty strings now only retained eight; another,
the name of which seemed to refer to a square shape, was rounded; those
primitively made of wood were now constructed of metal. There is reason
to believe that, generally speaking, these changes were made not so much
with the view of any musical improvement, properly so called, as with an
idea of gratifying the

[Illustration: Fig. 157.--The Tree of Jesse. The ancestors of Jesus
Christ are represented with Musical Instruments, and as forming a
Celestial Concert. (Fac-simile from a Miniature in a Manuscript Breviary
of the Fifteenth Century. Royal Library, Brussels.)]

fancy of the eye (Figs. 155 to 157). Scarcely any fixed rules for the
construction of musical instruments existed before the sixteenth
century, when learned musicians applied mathematical principles to the
theory of manufacture. Down to 1589 musical instruments were made in
Paris by workmen who were organ-makers, lute-makers, or even
coppersmiths, under the inspection and guarantee of the community of
musicians; but at this epoch the makers of musical instruments were
united in a trade corporation, and obtained, through the goodwill of
Henry III., certain privileges and special statutes.

As musical instruments have always been divided into three particular
classes,--stringed, pulsatile, and wind instruments,--we shall adopt
this natural division in passing under review the various kinds in use
during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. We shall not, however,
pretend to be always able to point out the precise musical value of
these instruments, for in several instances we have no knowledge of
them, except from representations more or less truthful.

The class of wind instruments comprised flutes, trumpets, and organs;
each of these was, however, subdivided into several very distinct kinds.
In the division of flutes alone, for instance, we find the straight
flute, the double flute, the side-mouthed or German flute, the Pandean
pipes, the _chorus_, the _calamus_, the bagpipes (_muse_ or _mousette_),
the _doucine_ or hautboy, the _flaïos_ or flageolet, &c.

The flute is the most ancient of musical instruments; even in the Middle
Ages no orchestra was considered complete which did not contain an
entire order of flutes, differing both in shape and tone. In principle,
the simple flute, or _flûte à bec_, consisted of a straight pipe of hard
and sounding wood, made in one piece, and pierced with four or six
holes. But the number of holes being successively increased to eleven,
and the pipe being enlarged to a length of seven or eight feet, the
result was that the fingers were unable to act simultaneously upon all
the openings; thus, in order to close the two holes farthest from the
mouthpiece, keys were attached to the body of the flute which the
instrumentalist acted on with his foot.

The simple flute, of greater or less length, is seen on the figured
monuments of every epoch. The double flute, which was equally in use,
had, as its name indicates, two pipes, generally of unequal lengths; the
_left-hand_ tube, which was the shortest and therefore called the
_feminine_, produced shrill sounds, while the _right-hand_, or
_masculine_, gave the low notes. Whether these two tubes were united or
were separate, this flute had always two distinct mouths,--although they
were often very close together--on which the musician played
alternately. The double flute (Fig. 158) was the instrument employed in
the eleventh century by the _jongleurs_ or jugglers as an

The side-mouthed flute, which was at first very little used, owed its
celebrity in the sixteenth century to the improvements it received from
the Germans, hence it acquired the name of the _German flute_ (Fig.

The _syrinx_ was nothing but the ancient Pandean pipes, composed
generally of seven tubes of wood or metal, gradually decreasing in
length; they were closed at the bottom, and at the top took the form of
a horizontal plane, which was touched by the lip of the musician as it
passed along (Fig. 159). In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the
syrinx, which must have produced very shrill and discordant music, was
generally made in the shape of a semicircle, and contained nine tubes in
a metallic case pierced with the same number of holes.

[Illustration: Fig. 158.--Double Flute, Fourteenth Century. (From
Willemin’s “French Monuments.”)]

[Illustration: Fig. 159.--Seven-tubed _Syrinx_, Ninth or Tenth Century.
(Angers MS.)]

The _chorus_, which in the time of St. Jerome was composed of a skin and
two tubes, one forming the mouth, the other the bell-end (Fig. 161),
must have presented a very great similarity to the modern bagpipes. In
the ninth century its shape had changed but little, except that we
sometimes find two bell-ends, and the membranous air-reservoir is in
some examples replaced by a kind of case made of metal or resonant wood
(_bois sonore_). Subsequently this instrument was transformed into a
simple dulcimer.

The _calamus_, called the _chalemelle_ or _chalemie_, which derived its
origin from the _calamus_ or reed-pipe of the ancients, became in the
sixteenth century a treble to the hautboy, the _bombarde_ being its
counter-bass and tenor, and the bass being executed on the _cromorne_.
There was, however, quite a group of hautboys. The _douçaine_ or
_doucine_, a soft flute, the great hautboy of Poitou played the parts of
tenor or of fifth. The length of the hautboy having been found
inconvenient, it was divided into pieces united in a movable cluster
(_faisceau_) known by the name of _fagot_. This instrument was
afterwards called _courtaut_ in France, and _sourdeline_ or _sampogne_
in Italy, where it had become a kind of bagpipe, like the _muse_ or
_estive_. The _muse de blé_ was a simple reed-pipe, but the _muse
d’Aussay_ (or _d’Ausçois_, district of Auch) was certainty a hautboy.
With regard to the bagpipes, properly so called, they generally bore the
name of _chevrette_, _chevrie_, or _chièvre_, on account of the skin of
which the bag was made. They were also designated by the names of
_pythaule_ and _cornemuse_, drone-pipe (Fig. 162).

[Illustration: Fig. 160.--German Musicians playing on the Flute and
Goat’s Horn. (Drawn and Engraved by J. Amman.)]

The _flaïos de saus_, or reed-flutes, were nothing but mere whistles,
such as village children are still in the habit of making in the spring;
but there were, says an ancient author, more than twenty kinds, “as many
loud as soft,” which were coupled by pairs in an orchestra. The
_fistule_, the _souffle_, the _pipe_, and the _fretiau_ or _galoubet_,
were all small flageolets played on by the left hand while the right
marked the time on a tambourine or with the cymbals. The _pandorium_,
which has been classed among the flutes without its shape and character
of tone being rightly determined, must have presented, at least at its
origin, some similarity of sound to the stringed instrument called
_pandore_ (_pandora_).

[Illustration: Fig. 161.--_Chorus_ with single Bell-end with Holes.
(Ninth Century, MS. of Saint-Blaise.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 162.--Bagpiper, Thirteenth Century. (Sculpture on
the Musicians’ Hall at Rheims.)]

Trumpets formed a much more numerous class than the flutes. In Latin
they were called _tuba_, _lituus_, _buccina_, _taurea_, _cornu_,
_claro_, _salpinx_, &c.; in French, _trompe_, _corne_, _olifant_,
_cornet_, _buisine_, _sambute_, &c. In most cases, however, they derived
their name either from their shape, the sound which they produced, the
material whereof they were made, or the use for which they were
specially intended. Thus, among military trumpets of copper or brass,
the names of some (_claro_, _clarasius_) indicating the piercing sound
which they produced; the names of others seem rather to refer to the
appearance of their bell-ends (Fig. 164), which imitated the head of a
bird, a horn, a serpent, &c. Some of these trumpets were so long and
heavy that a foot or stand was required to support them, while the
performer took the end in his mouth and blew through it with full power
of breath (Fig. 163.)

The shepherds’ horns, made of wood rimmed with brass, were a heavy and
powerful kind of speaking-trumpet, which in the eighth century the Welsh
herdsmen and those of the _landes_ of Cornouaille always carried with
them (Fig. 165.) When the barons or knights desired to convey any
signals rendered necessary either in war or hunting, they were in the
habit of using horns of a much more portable character, which were
suspended at their girdles; they used them, also, as drinking vessels
when occasion required. At first these instruments were generally made
of nothing but buffalo’s or goat’s horns; but when the fashion arose of
working delicately in ivory, they took the name of _olifant_, an
appellation destined to become famous in the old romances of chivalry,
in which the _olifant_ played a very important part (Fig. 166). To cite
only one example among a thousand, Roland, when overwhelmed by numbers
in the valley of Ronceveaux, sounded the _olifant_ in order to call
Charlemagne’s army to his aid.

[Illustration: Fig. 163.--Straight Trumpet with Stand. (Eleventh
Century. Cotton MS., British Museum.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 164.--Curved Trumpet. (Eleventh Century. Cotton MS.,
British Museum.)]

In the fourteenth century, according to a passage in a manuscript in the
Library of Berne, quoted by M. Jubinal, there were in bodies of troops
_corneurs_, _trompeurs_, and _buisineurs_, who played under certain
special circumstances. The _trompes_ sounded for the movements of the
knights, or men-at-arms; the _cornes_ for the movements of the banners
or the foot-soldiers, and the _buisines_, or clarions, when the entire
camp (_ost_) was to march. The heralds-at-arms, whose duty it was to
make the announcements or proclamations in the public ways, were in the
habit of using either long trumpets, called _à potence_, on account of
the forked stick whereon they were supported, or trumpets _à tortilles_
(serpentine), the name of which sufficiently indicates their shape.
Added to this, the sound of the trumpet or horn accompanied or
signalised the principal acts of the citizens both in public and private
life. During the meals of great men, the water, the wine, and the bread,
were heralded by sound of trumpet. In towns this instrument announced
the opening and closing of the gates, the opening and closing of the
markets, and the time of curfew, till the time when the horn and the
copper trumpet were superseded in this function by the bells in

[Illustration: Fig. 165.--Shepherd’s Horn. Eighth Century. (MS., British

[Illustration: Fig. 166.--Horn, or _Olifant_, Fourteenth Century. (From
Willemin’s “French Monuments.”)]

Polybius and Ammianus Marcellinus tell us that the ancient Gauls and
Germans had a great passion for large, hoarse-sounding trumpets. At the
time of Charlemagne, and still more in the days of the Crusades, the
intercourse that took place between the men of the West and the African
and Asiatic races introduced among the former the use of musical
instruments of a harsh and piercing tone. Then it was that the
Saracen-horns, made of copper, replaced the wooden or horn trumpets. At
the same period sackbuts, or _sambutes_ (Fig. 167), made their
appearance in Italy: in those of the ninth century, we find the
principle of the modern trombone. About the same epoch the Germans
introduced great improvements into the trumpet by adapting to it the
system of holes, which up to that time had been the characteristic of
flutes (Fig. 168).

[Illustration: Fig. 167.--_Sambute_, or Sackbut, of the Ninth Century.
(Boulogne MS.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 168.--German Musician sounding the Military Trumpet.
Drawn and Engraved by J. Amman.]

But among all the wind instruments of the Middle Ages, the organ was the
one most imposing in its nature, and destined to the most glorious
career. The only instrument of this kind known by the ancients was the
water-organ, in which a key-board of twenty-six keys corresponded to the
same number of pipes; and the air, acted upon by the pressure of water,
produced most varied sounds. Nero, it is said, spent a whole day
examining and admiring the mechanism of an instrument of this kind.

The water-organ, although described and commended by Vitruvius, was not
much in use in the Middle Ages. Eginhard speaks of one constructed, in
826, by a Venetian priest; and the last of which mention is made existed
at Malmesbury in the twelfth century. But this latter might be regarded
more in the light of a steam-organ; for, like the warning whistles of
our locomotives, it was worked by the effects of the steam of boiling
water rushing into brass pipes.

[Illustration: Fig. 169.--Pneumatic Organ of the Fourth Century.
(Sculpture of that date at Constantinople.)]

The water-organ was, in very early times, superseded by the pneumatic or
wind-organ (Fig. 169), the description of which given by St. Jerome
agrees with the representations on the obelisk erected at Constantinople
in the time of Theodosius the Great. We must, however, fix a date as
late as the eighth century for the introduction of this instrument into
the West, or at least into France. In 757, Constantine Copronymus,
Emperor of the East, sent to King Pépin a number of presents, among
which was an organ that excited the admiration of the court.
Charlemagne, who received a similar present from the same monarch, had
several organs made from this model. These were provided, according to
the statement of the monk of Saint-Gall, with “brazen pipes which were
acted on by bellows made of bull’s hide, and imitated the roaring of
thunder, the accents of the lyre, and the clang of cymbals.” These
primitive organs, notwithstanding the power and richness of their
musical resources, were of dimensions which rendered them quite
portable. It was, in fact, only in consequence of its almost exclusive
application to the solemnities of Catholic worship that the organ became
developed on an almost gigantic scale. In 951, there existed in
Winchester Cathedral an organ which was divided into two parts, each
provided with its apparatus of bellows, its key-board, and its
organist. Twelve bellows above, and fourteen below, were worked by
seventy strong men, and the air was distributed by means of forty valves
into four hundred pipes, arranged in groups or choirs of ten, each group
corresponding with one of the twenty-four keys of each key-board (Fig.

[Illustration: Fig. 170.--Great Organ, with Bellows and double
Key-board, of the Twelfth Century. (MS. at Cambridge.)]

In the ninth century, the German organ-makers acquired great renown. The
monk Gerbert, who, as we have already remarked, became pope under the
name of Sylvester II., and co-operated so efficiently in the progress of
the horological art, established in the monastery of which he was abbot
a workshop for the manufacture of organs. We must add, that all the
musical treatises written from the ninth to the twelfth century entered
into very considerable details concerning the arrangement and working of
this instrument. Nevertheless, the admission of the organ into churches
did not fail to meet with earnest opponents among the bishops and
priests of the day. But while some complained of the thunder and
rumbling of the organs, others appealed to the examples of king David
and the prophet Elisha. Finally, in the thirteenth century, the right of
placing organs in all churches was no longer disputed, and the only
question was, who could build the most powerful and most magnificent
instruments. At Milan was an organ the pipes of which were of silver; at
Venice some were made of pure gold. The number of these pipes was varied
and multiplied to an infinite extent, according to the effects the
instrument was required to produce. The mechanism was, generally
speaking, rather complicated, and the working of the bellows very
laborious. In large organs the key-board was made up of key-plates five
or six inches wide, which the organist, his hands defended by thickly
padded gloves, had to strike with his clenched fist in order to bring
out the notes (Fig. 171).

[Illustration: Fig. 171.--Organ with single Key-board of the Fourteenth
Century. (Miniature from a Latin Psalter, No. 175, Bibl. Imp., Paris.)]

The organ, which, as we have seen, was at first of a portable nature, in
some cases resumed its original dimensions (Fig. 172). It was then
sometimes called simply _portatif_ (hand-organ), and sometimes _régale_
or _positif_ (choir-organ). Raphael, in one of his famous pictures,
represents St. Cecilia singing sacred hymns, and accompanying herself on
a choir-organ.

[Illustration: Fig. 172.--Portable Organ of the Fifteenth Century.
(Miniature in Vincent de Beauvais’ “Miroir Historial,” MS. in the Bibl.
Imp., Paris.)]

The class of pulsatile instruments was formed of bells, cymbals, and

[Illustration: Fig. 173.--_Tintinnabulum_ or Hand-Bell of the Ninth
Century. (Boulogne MS.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 174.--The _Saufang_ of St. Cecilia’s at Cologne.
(Sixth Century.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 175.--Bell in a Tower of Siena. (Twelfth Century.)]

There can be no doubt that the ancients were acquainted with large
bells, hand-bells, and strung-bells (_grelots_). But we must ascribe to
the requirements of Christian worship the first introduction of the
bell, properly so called, formed of cast-metal (_campana_ or _nola_, the
first having been made, it is said, at Nola), which was employed from
the first in summoning the faithful to the public services. In the first
instance the bell was merely held in the hand and shaken by some monk or
ecclesiastic who stood in front of the church-door, or mounted a raised
platform for the purpose. This _tintinnabulum_ (Fig. 173), or portable
bell, subsequently passed into the hands of the public criers, the
societies of ringers, and those who rang knells for the dead, at a time
when most of the churches were provided with _campaniles_ or
bell-towers, wherein were hung the parish bells, which daily assumed
dimensions of increasing importance. These great bells, of which the
_Saufang_ of Cologne (sixth century) is an example (Fig. 174), were at
first made of wrought-iron plates laid one over the other, and riveted
together. But in the eighth century they began to cast bells of copper
and even of silver. One of the most ancient still existing is that in
the tower of Bisdomini at Siena (Fig. 175). It bears the date of 1159,
and is formed in the shape of a cask, being rather more than a yard
high: the sound it produces is very sharp. The combination of several
bells of various sizes naturally produced the peal or chime; this at
first consisted of an arch of wood or iron whereon were suspended the
bells, which the player struck with a small hammer (Fig. 176). The
number and classification of the bells becoming subsequently rather more
complicated, the hand of the chimer was superseded by a mechanical
arrangement. This was the origin of those peals of bells for which there
was such a demand in the Middle Ages, and of which certain towns are
still so proud.

The designations of _cymbalum_ and _flagellum_ were, in the first
instance, applied to small hand-chimes; but there were also regular
cymbals (_cymbala_ or _acetabula_), spherical or hollowed plates of
silver, brass, or copper. Some of these were shaken at the ends of the
fingers, or fastened to the knees or feet, so as to be put in motion by
the movement of the body. These small cymbals, or _crotales_, were a
kind of rattle (_grelots_), causing the dancers to make a noise in their
performance, as do the Spanish castanets, which in the sixteenth century
were called in France _maronnettes_, and were the same as the
_cliquettes_, or snappers, used by lepers in former days. Small
strung-bells became so much the fashion at a certain epoch that not only
was the harness of horses adorned with them, but they were suspended to
the clothes both of men and women, who at the slightest movement made a
ringing, tinkling noise, sounding like so many perambulating chimes.

The use of pulsatile instruments producing a metallic sound increased
greatly in Europe, especially after the return from the Crusades. But
even before this date the Egyptian timbrel was used in religious and
festival music; this instrument was composed of a circle whereon rings
were hung, which tinkled as they struck together when the timbrel was
shaken. The Oriental triangle was also used on these occasions; this was
almost the same then as it is at the present day.

The drum has always been a hollow case covered with a stretched skin,
but the shape and size of this instrument have caused great variations
in its name, and also in the way in which it was used. In the Middle
Ages it was called _taborellus_, _tabornum_, and _tympanum_. It
generally made its appearance in festal music, and especially in
processions; but it was not until the fourteenth century that it began
to take a place in military bands, at least in France; the Arabians,
however, have used it from the earliest ages. In the thirteenth century
the _taburel_ was a kind of tambourine, played on with only a
drum-stick; in the _tabornum_ we may recognise the military drum of the
present day; and the _tympanum_ was equivalent to our tambourine.
Sometimes, as seen in a sculpture in the Musicians’ Hall at Rheims, this
instrument was attached to the right shoulder of the performer, who
played upon it by striking it with his head, while at the same time he
blew through two metal flutes communicating with the inside of the drum
(Fig. 177).

[Illustration: Fig. 176.--Chime of Bells of the Ninth Century. (MS. de

[Illustration: Fig. 177.--_Tympanum_ of the Thirteenth Century.
(Sculpture on the Musicians’ Hall, Rheims.)]

We have now to speak of stringed instruments, the whole of which may be
divided into three principal classes: those played on by the fingers,
those that are struck, and those which are rubbed (_frottées_) by means
of some appliance.

As a matter of fact, there are some stringed instruments which may be
said to belong to all three of these classes, as all three modes of
playing upon them has been adopted either simultaneously or in

The most ancient are doubtless those that are played on by the fingers,
first among which, in right of its antiquity, we must name the lyre;
from this have sprung the cithern, the harp, the psaltery, the
_nabulon_, &c. In the Middle Ages, however, considerable confusion arose
from the fact that these original names were at the time often diverted
from their real acceptation.

The lyre, the stringed instrument _par excellence_ of the Greeks and
Romans, preserved its primitive form as late as the tenth century. The
strings were generally of twisted gut, but sometimes also of brass wire,
and varied in number from three to eight. The sounding-box, which was
always placed at the lower part of the instrument, was more often made
of wood than of either metal or tortoise-shell (Fig. 178).

[Illustration: Fig. 178.--Ancient Lyre. (Angers MS.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 179.--Lyre of the North. (Ninth Century.)]

The lyre was held upon the knees, and the performer touched or rubbed
the strings with one hand, either with the fingers or by means of a
_plectrum_. The lyre specified as “Northern” (Fig. 179), was certainly
the origin of the violin, to the shape of which it even then bore some
resemblance; it was fastened at the top, and had a _cordier_ at the end
of the sounding-board, as well as a bridge in the centre of the face of
the instrument.

The lyre was superseded by the psaltery and the cithern. The psaltery,
which never was furnished with fewer than ten, or more than twenty,
strings, differed essentially from the lyre and the cithern by the
sounding-board being placed at the top of the instrument. Psalteries
were made of a round, square, oblong, or buckler-shaped form (Fig. 181);
and sometimes the sounding-box was lengthened so as to rest upon the
shoulder of the musician (Fig. 180). The psaltery disappeared in the
tenth century and gave place to the cithern (_cithara_), a name which
had been at first applied to all kinds of stringed instruments. The
shape of the cithern, which in the days of St. Jerome resembled a Greek
_delta_ (Δ), varied in different countries, as is proved by the
epithets--_barbarica_, _Teutonica_, _Anglica_, which we find at
different times coupled with its generic name. In other places, in
consequence of these local transformations, it became the _nabulum_, the
_chorus_, and the _salterion_ or _psalterion_ (which latter must not be
confounded with the psaltery, a primary derivative of the lyre).

[Illustration: Fig. 180.--Psaltery to produce a prolonged sound. Ninth
Century. (MS. in the Bibl. Imp., Paris.)]

The _nabulum_[23] (Fig. 182) was made either in the shape of a triangle
with truncated corners, or of a semicircle joined at the two
extremities; its sounding-board occupied the whole of the rounded part,
and left but a very limited space for the twelve strings. The _chorus_
or _choron_, the imperfect representation of which in the manuscripts of
the ninth and tenth centuries calls to mind the appearance of a long
semicircular window or of a Gothic capital N, generally had one of its
sides prolonged, on which the performer leaned so as to hold the
instrument in the same way as a harp (Fig. 183).

[Illustration: Fig. 181.--Buckler-shaped Psaltery with many Strings.
(Ninth Century. Boulogne MS.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 182.--_Nabulum._ Ninth Century. (MS. d’Angers.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 183.--_Choron._ Ninth Century. (Boulogne MS.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 184.--_Psalterion._ Twelfth Century.]

The _psalterion_, which was in use all over Europe after the twelfth
century, and is thought to have originated in the East, where it was
found by the Crusaders, was at first composed of a flat box of sounding
wood, with two oblique sides; it assumed the shape of a triangle
truncated at its top, with twelve or sixteen metallic strings either of
gold or silver, which were played upon by means of a small bow of wood,
ivory, or horn (Fig. 184); subsequently the strings were made more
slender, the number being increased to as many as twenty-two; the three
angles of the sounding-box were cut off, and holes were made, sometimes
one only in the middle, sometimes one at each angle, and sometimes as
many as five, symmetrically arranged. The performer placed the
instrument against his chest, and held it so as to touch the strings
either with the fingers of the two hands, or with a pen or _plectrum_
(Fig. 185). This instrument, which in the representations of poets and
painters never failed to figure in celestial concerts, produced tones of
incomparable softness. The old romances of chivalry exhausted all the
phrases of admiration in describing the _psalterion_. But the highest
eulogium which can be passed on this instrument is that it formed the
starting-point of the harpsichord, or of the stringed instruments struck
or played on by means of mechanism.

[Illustration: Fig. 185.--Performer on the _Psalterion_. Fourteenth
Century. (MS. No. 703 in the Bibl. Imp. of Paris.)]

It is, in fact, thought that a kind of harpsichord with four octaves,
which in the fourteenth century was called _dulcimer_ or _dulcemelos_,
and is but imperfectly described, was nothing else than a _psalterion_,
with a sounding apparatus that assumed the proportions of a large box,
to which also a key-board had been adapted. This instrument, when it had
but three octaves, was called _clavicord_ or _manicordion_, and in the
sixteenth century produced forty-two to fifty tones or semi-tones: one
string expressed several notes, and this was effected by means of plates
of metal which, serving as a movable bridge to each string, either
increased or diminished the intensity of its vibration. The grand-pianos
of the present day unquestionably have their key-boards placed in the
same position as they were in the _dulcimer_ and _clavicorde_. The
earliest improvements in metallic stringed instruments constructed with
a key-board are due to the Italians; these improvements soon had the
effect of throwing the _psalterion_ into oblivion.

[Illustration: Fig. 186.--_Organistrum._ Ninth Century. (MS. de

In the ninth century a stringed instrument was in use the mechanism of
which, although not very perfect, evidently tended to an imitation of
the key-board applied to organs: this was the _organistrum_ (Fig. 186),
an enormous guitar pierced with two sound holes, and provided with three
strings set in vibration by a small winch; eight movable screws, rising
or falling at will along the finger-board, formed so many keys which
served to vary the tones. In the first instance two persons performed on
the _organistrum_--one turning the winch while the other touched the
keys. When its size was decreased it became the _vielle_ (hurdy-gurdy)
properly so called, which could be managed by one musician. It was at
first called _rubelle_, _rebel_, and _symphonie_; subsequently this last
name was corrupted into _chifonie_ and _sifonie_, and we may remark that
even now in certain districts of central France the _vielle_ still
bears the popular name of _chinforgne_. The _chifonie_ never found a
place in musical concerts, and fell almost immediately into the hands of
the mendicants, who solicited alms accompanied by the doleful and
somewhat discordant notes of this instrument, and thence obtaining the
name of _chifoniens_.

Notwithstanding all the efforts which were made to substitute wheels and
key-boards for the action of the fingers on the strings of instruments,
still those that were played on by the hand only, such as harps and
lutes, did not fail to maintain the preference among skilful musicians.

[Illustration: Fig. 187.--Triangular Saxon Harp of the Ninth Century.
(Bible of Charles le Chauve.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 188.--Fifteen-stringed Harp of the Twelfth Century.
(MS. in the Bibl. Imp., Paris.)]

The harp was certainly Saxon in its origin, although some have imagined
they could discover traces of it in Greek, Roman, and even Egyptian
antiquities. This instrument was at first nothing but a triangular
cithern (Fig. 187), in which the sounding-board occupied the whole of
one side from top to bottom, instead of being limited to the lower
angle, as in the primitive _cithara_, or confined to the upper part as
in the psaltery. The English harp (_cithara Anglica_) of the ninth
century differed but little from the modern instrument; the simplicity
and good judgment shown in its shape bear witness to the perfection it
had already attained (Fig. 188). The number of strings and the shape of
this instrument varied constantly from time to time. The sounding-box
was sometimes made square, sometimes elongated, and sometimes round. The
arms were sometimes straight and sometimes curved; the upper side was
often lengthened so as to represent an animal’s head (Fig. 189) and the
lower angle, on which the instrument rested on the ground, terminated in
a griffin’s claw. According to the miniatures in manuscripts, the harp
was of a size that the top of it did not extend higher than the head of
the performer, who played upon it in a sitting posture (Fig. 190). There
were, however, harps of a lighter character, which the musician bore
suspended from his neck by a strap, and played upon while standing up.
This portable harp was the one that may _par excellence_ be called
noble, and was the instrument on which the _trouvères_ accompanied their
voices when reciting ballads and metrical tales (Fig. 191). In the
romances of chivalry harpers are constantly introduced, and their harps
are ever tuned to some lay of love or war; we find this taking place as
well in the north as in the south. “The harp,” says Guillaume de

                  “tous instruments passe,
    Quand sagement bien en joue et compasse.”

[Illustration: Fig. 189.--Harpers of the Twelfth Century, from a
Miniature in a Bible. (MS. in the Bibl. Imp., Paris.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 190.--Harp-player of the Fifteenth Century. From an
Enamelled Dish found near Soissons, and preserved in the Bibl. Imp.,

In the sixteenth century, however, it began to fall into disfavour; it
was supplanted by the lute (Fig. 192), an instrument much used in the
thirteenth century, and by the guitar, which was brought into fashion in
France from Spain and Italy, and formed the delight both of the court
and private circles. At that time every great lord, imitating kings and
princesses, wished to have his lute or guitar player, and the poet
Bonaventure des Périers, _valet de chambre_ of Marguerite de Navarre,
composed for her “La Manière de bien et justement entoucher les Lucs et
Guiternes.” The lute and the guitar, which for about two centuries were
in high favour in what was called “chamber music,” have since the
above-named epoch scarcely been altered in shape. With certain
modifications, however, they gave rise to the _theorbo_ and the
_mandolin_, which never attained more than a transient or local favour.

[Illustration: Fig. 191.--Minstrel’s Harp, of the Fifteenth Century.
(MS. in the _Miroir Historial_ of Vincent de Beauvais.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 192.--Five-stringed Lute. Thirteenth Century. (MS.
in the Bibl. Imp., Paris.)]

Stringed instruments that were played on by means of bows were not known
before the fifth century, and belonged to the northern races; they did
not become prevalent in Europe generally until after the Norman
invasion. At first they were but roughly made and rendered indifferent
service to musical art; but from the twelfth to the sixteenth century,
these instruments were subject to many changes both in form and name,
and were brought to perfection according as the execution of musicians
also improved. The most ancient of these instruments is the _crout_
(Fig. 193), which must have produced the _rote_, so dear to the
minstrels and the _trouvères_ of the thirteenth century. The _crout_,
which is the instrument placed by tradition in the hands of the
Armorican, Breton, and Scotch bards,[24] was composed of an oblong
sounding-box, more or less hollowed out at the two sides, with a handle
fixed in the body of the instrument, in which were made two openings
that allowed the performer to hold it by the left hand and at the same
time to touch the strings; these, as a matter of principle, were only
three in number. Subsequently it had four strings, and then six--two of
which were played open (_à vide_). The musician played on it with a
straight or convex bow, provided with a single thread either of iron
wire or of twisted hair. Except in England, where the _crout_ was
national, it did not last beyond the eleventh century. It was replaced
by the _rote_, which was not, as its name (apparently derived from
_rota_, a wheel) would seem to intimate, a _vielle_ or _symphonie_. It
would be useless to seek for the derivation of the name of _rota_,
except in the word _crotta_, the Latin form of the term _crout_.

[Illustration: Fig. 193.--Three-stringed _Crout_ of the Ninth Century.
From a Miniature.]

[Illustration: Fig. 194.--King David playing on a _Rote_. From a Painted
Window of the Thirteenth Century. (Chapel of the Virgin, Cathedral of

In the earliest _rotes_ (Fig. 194), those made in the thirteenth
century, there is an evident intention of combining the two modes of
playing on the strings--rubbing with a bow and touching with the
fingers. The box, which was not hollowed out and rounded at the two
ends, was much deeper at the lower end, where the strings commenced,
than higher up, near the pegs, where these strings are sounded open
under the action of the finger, which reaches them through an aperture;
the bow acting on them near the string-bridge in front of the
sounding-holes. It must have been difficult to touch with the bow one
string alone, but it should be remarked that the harmonic ideal of this
instrument consisted in forming accords by consonances of thirds,
fifths, and eighths. The _rote_ was soon developed into a new
instrument, assuming the form that our violoncellos have almost exactly
retained. The box was increased in size, the handle was lengthened
beyond the body of the instrument, the number of strings was reduced to
three or four, stretched over a bridge, and the sounding-holes were made
in the shape of a crescent. From this time the _rote_ acquired a special
character it had not lost even in the sixteenth century, when it became
the bass-viol. This was its true destination. The size of the instrument
dictated the manner in which it was held, either on the knees or on the
ground between the legs (Fig. 195).

[Illustration: Fig. 195.--German Musicians playing on the Violin and
Bass-Viol. Drawn and Engraved by J. Amman.]

The _vielle_ or _viole_, which had no affinity except in shape with the
_vielle_ (hurdy-gurdy) of the present day, was at first a small _rote_
held by the performer against his chin or his breast, in much the same
way as the violin is now used (Fig. 196). The box, which was at first
conical and convex, became gradually oval in shape, and the handle
remained short and wide. It was, perhaps, this handle which terminated
in a kind of ornamental scroll in the shape of a violet (_viola_), that
originated the name of the instrument. The _viole_, just as the _rote_,
formed the accompaniment _obligato_ of certain songs; and among the
jugglers who played upon it good performers were rare (Figs. 197, 198).
Improvements in the _vielle_ came for the most part from Italy, where
the co-operation of a number of skilful lute-players was the means of
gradually forming the violin. Even before the famous Dnifloprugar, born
in the Italian Tyrol, had hit upon the model of his admirable violins,
the handle of the _vielle_ had been lengthened,

[Illustration: Fig. 196.--Oval _Vielle_ with Three Strings, of the
Thirteenth Century. (Sculpture on the Cathedral of Amiens.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 197.--Juggler playing on a _Vielle_, hollowed out at
the Sides. Fifteenth Century. (“Heures du Roi René,” MS. No. 159 in the
Bibl. Imp. of the Arsenal, Paris.)]

its sides hollowed out, and its strings had received a more extended
field of action by removing the stringer (_cordier_) from the centre of
the sounding-board

[Illustration: Fig. 198.--Player on the _Vielle_. Thirteenth Century.
(Taken from an Enamelled Dish at Soissons.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 199.--Angel Playing on a Three-stringed Fiddle.
Thirteenth Century. (Sculpture in the Cathedral of Amiens.)]

Henceforth the play of the board became more free and easy, the
performer was able to touch every string singly, and was in a position
to substitute effects more characteristic instead of the former
monotonous consonances.

[Illustration: Fig. 200.--Rebec, of the Sixteenth Century. From

[Illustration: Fig. 201.--Long Monochord played on with a Bow. Fifteenth
Century. (MS. of Froissart, in the Bibl. Imp., Paris.)]

England was the birthplace of the _crout_; France invented the _rote_,
and Italy the _viole_; Germany originated the _gigue_,[25] the name of
which may perhaps be derived from the similarity presented by the shape
of the instrument to the thigh of a kid. The _gigue_ was provided with
three strings (Fig. 199), and its special distinction from the _viole_
was, that instead of the handle being as it were independent of the body
of the instrument, it was a kind of prolongation of the sounding-board.
The _gigue_, which bore a considerable resemblance to the modern
mandolin, was an instrument on which the Germans were accustomed to work
wonders in the way of performance; according, at least, to the statement
of Adenès, the _trouvère_, who speaks with admiration of the
“_gigueours_ of Germany.” The _gigue_, however, entirely disappeared, at
least in France, in the fifteenth century; but its name still remained
as the designation of a joyous dance, which for a considerable period
was enlivened by the sound of this instrument.

Among the musical instruments of this class in the Middle Ages, we have
still to mention the rebec (Fig. 200), which was so often quoted by the
authors of the day, and yet is so little known, although it figured in
the court concerts in the time of Rabelais, who specifies it by the term
_aulique_, in contrast to the rustic _cornemuse_ (bagpipes).

We must, in conclusion, speak of the monochord (_monocordium_), which is
always mentioned by the authors of the Middle Ages with feelings of
pleasure, although it appears to have been nothing more than the most
simple and primitive expression of all the other stringed instruments
(Fig. 201). It was composed of a narrow oblong box, on each end of the
front-board were fixed two immovable bridges supporting a metallic
string stretched from one to the other, and corresponding to a scale of
notes traced out on the instrument. A movable bridge, which was shifted
up and down between the string and the scale, produced whatever notes
the performer wished to bring out. In the eighth century there was a
kind of violin or mandolin furnished with a single metallic string
played on with a metallic bow. Later still, we find a kind of harp
formed of a long sounding-box traversed by a single string, over which
the musician moved a small bow handled with a sudden and rapid movement.

The instruments we have named do not, however, embrace all those in use
in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. There certainly were others
which, in spite of the most intelligent investigations, and the most
judicious deductions, are now known to us only by name. As regards, for
instance, the nature and appearance of the _éles_ or _celes_, the
_échaqueil_ or _échequier_, the _enmorache_, and the _micamon_, we are
left to the vaguest conjectures.

[Illustration: Fig. 202.--Triangle of the Ninth Century. (MS. of


     Supposed Date of their Invention.--Existed in India in the Twelfth
     Century.--Their connection with the Game of Chess.--Brought into
     Europe after the Crusades.--First Mention of a Game with Cards in
     1379.--Cards well known in the Fifteenth Century in Spain, Germany,
     and France, under the name of _Tarots_.--Cards called _Charles the
     Sixth’s_ must have been _Tarots_.--Ancient Cards, French, Italian,
     and German.--Cards contributing to the Invention of Wood-Engraving
     and Printing.

The origin of playing-cards has for many years past formed a special
subject of investigation among scholars and antiquarians. For, however
trifling the matter may appear in itself, this curious point is
connected with two of the most important inventions of modern
times--engraving and printing.

We must not, however, take upon ourselves to assert too positively that
all the profound researches, persevering study, and ingenious deductions
which have been applied to the subject have entirely succeeded in
elucidating the question. Nevertheless, a certain degree of light has
been thrown upon it, by which we shall endeavour to profit.

The question is, at what date are we to fix the invention of
playing-cards, and to whom are we to attribute it? In order to solve
these queries, they must be divided; for, although the introduction of
playing-cards into Europe may not date back beyond the fourteenth
century, and the invention of our game of piquet may not have been prior
to the reign of Charles VII., it is at least asserted--(1st), that
playing-cards existed in India in the twelfth century; (2nd), that the
ancients played at games in which certain figures and numbers were
represented on dice or tablets; (3rd), that in comparatively recent
times the game of chess and the game of cards presented striking
affinities, proving the common origin of these two games--one connected
with painting, the other with sculpture.

If we are to believe Herodotus, the Lydians, in order to beguile the
sufferings of hunger during a long and cruel famine, invented nearly
every game, especially that of dice. Later authors ascribe the honour of
these inventions to the Greeks, when irritated at the tedious delays of
the siege of Troy. Cicero even mentions by name Pyrrhus and Palamedes as
the originators of the “games in use in camps” (_ludos castrenses_).
What were these games? Some say, chess; others, dice or knuckle-bones.

Certain very ancient specimens prove unquestionably that the Indian
cards were nothing but a transformation of the game of chess; for the
principal pieces in this game are reproduced on the cards, but in such a
way that eight players instead of two could take part in it. In the game
of chess there were only two armies of pawns, each having at its head a
king, a vizier (who was afterwards turned into a “queen”), a knight, an
elephant (which became a “bishop”), and a dromedary (afterwards a
“castle”). There can be no doubt that the course and arrangement of
these games were very different; but in both may be found an original
affinity in the fact that they recalled to mind the terrible game of
war, in which each adversary had to attack by means of stratagems,
combinations, and vigilance.

We have now learned from certain authority (Abel de Rémusat, _Journal
Asiatique_, September, 1822) that playing-cards, proceeding from India
and China, were, like the game of chess (Fig. 203), in the hands of the
Arabians and the Saracens at the commencement of the twelfth century. It
is therefore almost certain they must have been brought into Europe
after the Crusades, with the arts, traditions, and customs which the men
of the West then derived from their Oriental antagonists. There is,
however, every reason to believe that the use of cards spread but
slowly; for at an epoch when the civil and ecclesiastical authorities
were constantly issuing ordinances against games of chance, we do not
find that cards were ever the subject of legal proceedings, like dice
and chess.

The first formal mention made of playing-cards is found in a manuscript
chronicle of Nicolas de Covelluzzo, preserved in the archives of
Viterbo. “In the year 1379,” says the chronicler, “there was introduced
at Viterbo the game of cards, which comes from the country of the
Saracens, and is called by the latter _naïb_.” There is, in fact, a
German book, the “Jeu d’Or,” printed at Augsbourg in 1472, which
testifies to the fact that cards existed in Germany in the year 1300.
But, in the first place, this evidence is not contemporary with the fact
alleged; and, besides,

[Illustration: Fig. 203.--Chess-Players. Fac-simile of a Miniature of
the Thirteenth Century. (MS. 7,266, Bibl. Imp., Paris.)]

we may well suppose that the vanity of the Germans, which had attributed
to themselves the discovery of printing, desired, with about as much
reason, to appropriate also the invention of cards--that is, of
wood-engraving. We shall, therefore, act judiciously in paying but
little attention to this doubtful assertion, and hold to the account
given by the chronicler of Viterbo. But the latter, unfortunately,
furnishes us with no details as to the nature of these cards. Was the
game similar to that which is still extant in India? Or was it one
peculiar to the Arabs? These are questions which must remain unsolved.
The only facts presented to our notice are, that in 1379 cards made
their appearance in Europe, brought from Arabia, or the country of the
Saracens, and that their original name is given. The Italians for a long
time gave to cards the name of _naïbi_. In Spain they are still called
_naypes_. If it be understood that the word _naïb_ in Arabic signifies
“captain,” we shall see that the game in question was one of a military
character, like that of chess, and we shall be led to recognise in these
primitive cards the _tarots_ which were for a long time current in the
south of Europe.

In 1387, John I., King of Castile, issued an ordinance prohibiting to
play with dice, _naypes_, or at chess.

In the archives of the Audit Office, in Paris, there formerly existed an
account of the treasurer, Poupart, who states that, in 1392, he had
“paid to Jacquemin Gringonneur, painter, for three packs of cards in
gold and various colours, ornamented with numerous devices, to lay
before the lord the king (Charles VI.) for his amusement, 50 sols of
Paris.” This game, which seemed at first intended only for the amusement
of the king in his mental derangement, subsequently spread so much among
the people, that the provost of Paris, in an ordinance of January 22,
1397, issued a prohibition “to persons engaged in trade from playing at
tennis, bowls, dice, _cards_, and skittles, except on feast-days.” We
must remark that, twenty-eight years previously, Charles V., in a
celebrated ordinance which enumerates all the games of chance, did not
mention cards.

The “Red Book” of the town of Ulm, a manuscript register preserved in
the archives of that town, contains an ordinance dated in 1397, in which
is conveyed a prohibition of games with cards.

These facts are the only authenticated evidence which can be brought
forward with a view of fixing the approximate period of the introduction
of cards into Europe. Some authors have certainly imagined they were in
a position to determine an earlier epoch, but they have gone upon data
the value of which has since been destroyed by more thorough

In the fifteenth century there are evident traces both of the existence
and popularity of cards in Italy, Spain, Germany, and France. Their
names, colours, and emblems, their number and forms, were indeed
constantly changing, according to the country in which they were used
and the fancy of the players. But whether called _tarots_ or “French
cards,” they were in fact nothing but modifications of the primitive
Oriental cards, and an imitation more or less faithful of the ancient
game of chess.

Reckoning from the fifteenth century, we meet with cards in every
enumeration of games of chance; we find them also proscribed and
condemned in ecclesiastical and royal ordinances. The clergy, too,
raised their voices against them; but these measures did not prevent the
trade in

[Illustration: Figs. 204 and 205.--Jean Dunois, King Alexander, Julius
Cæsar, King Arthur, Charles the Great, and Godefroi de Bouillon. From
ancient coloured Wood-Engravings; prints analogous to the first
Playing-Cards of the Fifteenth Century. (Bibl. Imp., Paris, Department
of Manuscripts.)]

them from increasing, nor great attention to their improved manufacture.
Poets and romance-writers vied with each other in speaking of them; they
appeared in the miniatures in manuscripts, and also in the first
attempts at engraving on wood and copper (Figs. 204 and 205). And,
notwithstanding the fragile nature of the cards themselves, some have
been preserved which belong to the earliest years of the fifteenth

As we have already seen, cards had, in principle, been classed among the
number of childish games; but it may be safely asserted that this could
not have long been the case, else how could we explain the legal
strictures and the ecclesiastical anathemas of which they were the

St. Bernard, for example, speaking on the 5th of March, 1423, to the
crowd assembled in front of a church at Siena, inveighed with so much
energy, and fulminated with so much persuasion, against games of chance,
that all who heard ran at once and fetched their dice, chess, and
_cards_, and burnt them on the very spot. But, adds the chronicle, there
was a card-maker who, being ruined by the sermon of the saint, went to
seek him, and with a flood of tears said to him: “Father, I am a maker
of cards, and I have no other trade by which to live. By preventing me
from following my trade, you condemn me to die of hunger.” “If painting
is all you are capable of,” replied the preacher, “paint this picture.”
And he showed him an image of a radiating sun, in the centre of which
shone the monogram of Christ--I. H. S. The artisan followed his advice,
and soon made his fortune by painting this representation, which was
adopted by St. Bernard as his device.

Although in every direction similar censures were directed against
cards, they nevertheless did not fail to come much into fashion,
especially in Italy; and to have a considerable sale. Thus, in 1441, we
find the master card-makers at Venice “who formed a rather numerous
association,” claiming and obtaining from the senate a kind of
prohibitory order against “the large quantity of _painted_ and _printed_
cards which were made out of Venice and were introduced into the town,
to the great detriment of their art.” It is important to notice that
mention is made here of _printed_ as well as of painted cards. The fact
is, that at this date, not only did all the cities in Italy make their
own cards, but, in consequence of the invention of wood-engraving,
Germany and Holland exported a large quantity of them. We must also
point out that documents of the same date appear to establish a
distinction between the primitive _naïbi_ and cards properly so called,
without, however, affording any detailed characteristics of either. It
is, however, known that prior to the year 1419, one François Fibbia, a
noble of Pisa who died in exile at Bologna, obtained from the
“reformers” of this city, on the score of his being the inventor of the
game of _tarrochino_, the right of placing his escutcheon of arms on the
“queen _de bâton_,” and that of his wife’s arms on the “queen _de
denier_.” _Bâtons_, _deniers_, with _coupes_ and _épées_, were then the
suits of the Italian cards, as _carreau_ (diamond), _trèfle_ (club),
_cœur_ (heart), and _pique_ (spade), were those of the French cards.

No original specimen has been preserved of the _tarots_ (_tarrochi_,
_tarrochini_) or Italian cards of this epoch; but we possess a pack
engraved about 1460, which is known to be an exact copy of them. Added
to this, Raphael Maffei, who lived at the end of the fifteenth century,
has left in his “Commentaries” a description of _tarots_, which were, he
says, “a new invention,”--in comparison, doubtless, with the origin of
playing-cards. From these two documents--though they present some
differences--we may gather that the pack of _tarots_ was then composed
of four or five series or suits, each of ten cards, bearing consecutive
numbers, and presenting so many _deniers_, _bâtons_, _coupes_, and
_épées_, equal in number to that of the card. To these series we must
add a whole assortment of figures, representing the _King_, the _Queen_,
the _Knight_, the _Foot-traveller_, the _World_, _Justice_, an _Angel_,
the _Sun_, the _Devil_, a _Castle_, _Death_, a _Gibbet_, the _Pope_,
_Love_, a _Buffoon_ (Fig. 206), &c.

It is evident that _tarots_ were current in France long before the
invention of the game of piquet, which is unquestionably of French
origin; and among these _tarots_ we must class the cards that are called
those of Charles VI. (Figs. 207 and 208), and are now preserved in the
Print-Room of the Bibliothèque Impériale in Paris; these may be
considered as the oldest to be found in any collection, either public or
private. The Abbé de Longuerue states that he saw the pack with all its
cards complete; but only seventeen have been preserved to our day. These
cards are painted with delicacy, like the miniatures in manuscripts, on
a gilt ground, filled with dots forming a perforated ornamentation; they
are also surrounded by a silvered border in which a similar dotting
depicts a spirally twisted ribbon. This dotting is doubtless the _tare_,
a kind of goffering produced by small holes pricked out and arranged in
compartments, to which the _tarots_ owe their names, and of which our
present cards still retain a kind of reminiscence, in their backs being
covered with arabesques or dotted over in black or various colours.
These cards were about seven inches long and three and a half inches
wide, and were painted in distemper on cardboard ·039 inch thick. The
composition of them is ingenious and to some extent skilful, the drawing
correct and full of character, and the colouring or illumination

[Illustration: Fig. 206.--The Buffoon, a Card from a Pack of _Tarots_.
Fifteenth Century.]

Among the subjects they represent are some which deserve all the more
attention, because they can hardly fail to recall to mind a conception
somewhat similar to that of the “Dance of Death,” that terrible
“morality” which, dating from this epoch, was destined to increase more
and more in popularity. Thus, for instance, by the side of the
_Emperor_, who is covered with silver armour and holds the globe and the
sceptre, a _Hermit_ makes his appearance as an old man muffled in a cowl
and holding up an hour-glass, an emblem of the rapidity of time. Then we
have the _Pope_, who, with the tiara on his head, sits between two
cardinals; but _Death_ is also there, mounted on a grey horse with a
rough and shaggy coat, and sweeping down with his scythe kings, popes,
bishops, and other great men of the earth. If we see _Love_, represented
by three couples of lovers who embrace as they converse, while two
cupids dart at them their arrows from a cloud above; we also see a
_Gibbet_, on which hangs a gambler suspended by one foot, and still
holding in his hand a bag of money. An _Esquire_, clothed in gold and
scarlet, rides gallantly along, proudly waving his sword; a _Chariot_
bears in triumph an officer in full armour; a _Fool_ places his cap and
bells under his arm that he may count upon his fingers. Finally, the
last trumpets are waking up the dead, who come out of their graves to
appear at the Last Judgment.

[Illustrations: Fig. 207.--The Moon.

Fig. 208.--Justice.

(Cards taken from the Pack, said to be of Charles VI., preserved in the
Bibl. Imp., Paris.)]

Most of these allegorical subjects have been retained in the _tarots_,
which include, independent of the sixteen figures of our piquet-pack,
twenty-two cards, representing the _Emperor_, the _Lover_, the
_Chariot_, the _Hermit_, the _Gibbet_, _Death_, the _House of God_, the
_End of the World_, &c.

We should scarcely be justified in imagining that these _tarots_,
presenting as they did a picture of life so gloomily philosophical,
regarded from a Christian point of view, could have enjoyed any great
favour in the centre of a frivolous and corrupt court, devoted to little
else but _fêtes_, masquerades, and singing; this, too, at a time when
the State, a prey to every kind of intrigue, was falling into ruin, and
the voice of insurrection was surging up among a people burdened by
taxes, and decimated by pestilence and famine. On the other hand these
_tarots_ might well please the imagination of certain good people who,
having been deprived of their property in some of the disturbances
incidental to these times, could not fail to accept as a consolation
such emblematical representations of life and death. Artists of every
kind tried their best to reproduce them in all forms; and as these
designs found a place even in the ornaments of the female sex, it was
scarcely probable that playing-cards would form an exception.

We are in possession of the remains of two ancient packs of cards,
produced by means of engraved plates; they were discovered, like most
cards of this date which have come to light, in the bindings of books of
the fifteenth century. These cards, which belong to the reign of Charles
VII., are essentially French in their character. We find in them the
king, the queen, and the knave of each suit, as in our present pack of
piquet cards. In one of these ancient packs we notice, however, traces
of the Saracenic origin of the _naïbi_; the Mussulman “crescent” being
substituted for the “diamond,” while the “club” is depicted in the
Arabian or Moorish fashion; that is, with four similar branches. There
is also another peculiarity; the “king of hearts” is represented by a
kind of savage, or hairy ape, leaning upon a knotty stick. The “queen”
of the same suit is likewise covered with hair, and holds a torch in her
hand. The “knave of clubs,” who is well fitted to serve as an escort to
the “king” and “queen of hearts,” is also covered with hair, and carries
a knotty stick on his shoulder. We may, besides, notice the legs of a
fourth hairy personage among those which have been separated from their
bodies by the knife of the bookbinder. But, with the exception of these,
all the other personages are clothed according to the fashion or the
etiquette which prevailed at the court of Charles VII. The “queen of
crescents” is represented in a costume similar to that of

[Illustration: Fig. 209.--Charles VI. on his Throne, from a Miniature in
the MS. of the Kings of France. (Bibl. Imp., Paris.)]

Mary of Anjou, the wife of the king; or in that of Gérarde Grassinel,
his mistress. The representations of the kings, the hairy one excepted,
are identical with those we have of Charles VII. himself, or the nobles
of his suite. Their costume was a velvet hat surmounted by the crown
ornamented with fleurs-de-lis; a robe open in front and lined with
ermine or _menu vair_, a tight doublet, and close stockings. The
“knaves” are copied from the pages and sergeants-at-arms of the period;
one wears the plumed flat cap and long cloak; another, on the contrary,
is clad in a short dress, and stands erect in his close-fitting doublet
and tightly drawn breeches. The latter displays, written on a streamer
which he is unrolling, the name of the card-maker, “F. Clerc.” These are
certainly cards of French invention, or, at any rate, of French
manufacture; but what explanation are we to give of the presence of the
savage “king” and “queen,” and the “hairy knave,” among the kings,
queens, and knaves all dressed according to the fashion of the time of
Charles VII.? We may, perhaps, find a satisfactory reply by referring to
the chronicles of the preceding reign.

On the 29th of January, 1392, there was a grand _fête_ at the mansion of
Queen Blanche in honour of the marriage of a Chevalier de Vermandois
with one of the queen’s ladies. The king, Charles VI., had only just
recovered from his mental malady. One of his favourites, Hugonin de
Janzay, projected an entertainment in which the king and five lords were
to take a part. “It was,” says Juvénal des Ursins, “a masquerade of wild
men chained together, and all shaggy; their dress was made to fit close
to their body, and was rendered rough by flax and tow fastened on by
resinous pitch, greased so as to shine the better.” Froissart, who was
an eye-witness of this _fête_, says that the six actors in the _ballet_
entered the hall yelling and shaking their chains. As it was not known
who these maskers were, the Duke of Orleans, brother of the king,
wishing to find out, took a lighted torch from the hands of his servant,
and held it so close to one of these strange personages that “the heat
of the fire caught the flax.” The king was fortunately separated from
his companions, who were all burned, with the exception of one only, who
threw himself into a tub full of water. Although Charles VI. escaped
from this peril, he was deeply affected by the thought of the danger to
which he had been exposed, and the result was a relapse into his former

This fearful _ballet des ardents_ left such an impression on the minds
of people generally, that seventy years afterwards a German engraver
made it the subject of a print. Should we, then, be venturing on an
inadmissible hypothesis if we attribute to a cardmaker of this epoch the
idea of introducing the same subject in a pack of cards? which, as is
abundantly proved, was modified according to the whim of the artist. In
order to justify the costume of a female savage and the torch, which
are given to the “queen of hearts,” we must not forget that Isabel of
Bavaria, consort of Charles VI., is accused of having assisted in
devising this fatal masquerade, which was intended to get rid of the
king; and of having taken as her accomplice the Duke of Orleans, her
brother-in-law, who is said to have purposely set fire to the clothing
of these pretended wild men, among whom was the king.

The second pack, or fragment of a pack, which is dated back to this
epoch, presents a similarity to our present cards of a yet more striking
nature, at least in the characters and costumes of the figures; although
the names and devices of the personages still are suggestive of their
Saracenic origin. We must remark, under this head, that for several
centuries the names coupled with the different personages were
incessantly varying. In this pack we find “kings,” “queens,” and
“knaves” of clubs, hearts, spades, and diamonds; the Saracenic crescent
has disappeared. The “kings” are all holding sceptres, and the “queens”
carry flowers. Everything in the representations is not only in harmony
with the fashions of the period, but in addition to this, there are no
violations either of the laws of heraldry or of the usages of chivalry.

According to tradition, this pack, the true piquet-pack, which
superseded the Italian _tarots_ and the cards of Charles VI., and soon
became generally used in France, was the invention of Etienne Vignoles,
called La Hire, one of the bravest and most active soldiers of that
period. The tradition has a right to our respect, for the mere
examination of this piquet-pack proves that it must have been the work
of some accomplished _chevalier_, or at least of a mind profoundly
imbued with the manners and customs of chivalry. But, without any wish
to exclude La Hire, who, as the historians say, “always had his helmet
on his head and his lance in his hand, ready to attack the English, and
never rested until he died of his wounds,” we are led rather to ascribe
the honour of this ingenious invention to one of his contemporaries,
Etienne Chevalier, secretary and treasurer to the king, who was
distinguished by his skill in designing. Jacques Cœur, whose commercial
relations with the East brought upon him the accusation of having “sent
arms to the Saracens,” might well have become the importer of Asiatic
cards into France, and Chevalier might then have amused himself by
applying devices to them or, as was then said, by _moralising_ or
symbolising them. In India it had been the game of the vizier and of
war; the royal treasurer turned it into a pack having reference to the
knight and chivalry. In the first place he placed on it his own armorial
bearings, the unicorn, which figures in several ancient packs of cards.
He did not forget the allusive arms of Jacques Cœur, and substituted
“hearts” for the _coupes_. He made the “clubs” imitate the heraldic
flower of Agnes Sorel; and also changed the _deniers_ into diamonds, or
arrow-heads (Fig. 210), and the _épées_ into spades, to do honour to the
two brothers Jean and Gaspard Bureau, grand-masters of artillery in

[Illustration: Fig. 210.--Ancient French Card of the Fifteenth Century.
(Bibl. Imp., Paris.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 211.--Specimen of a Pack of Cards of the Sixteenth
Century. (Bibl. Imp., Paris.)]

Etienne Chevalier, as the most skilful designer of emblems of the
period, was eminently capable of substituting, in playing-cards, ladies
or queens for the Oriental “viziers” or Italian “knights” which, on the
_tarots_, figured alone among the “kings” and “knaves.” We must,
however, repeat that we have no intention of depriving La Hire of the
honour of the invention, and only hazard a supposition in addition to
the opinion generally received.

These cards, which bear all the characteristics of the reign of Charles
VII., must be looked upon as the first attempts at wood-engraving, and
at printing by means of engraved blocks. They were probably executed
between 1420 and 1440, that is to say, prior to most of the known
xylographic productions. Playing-cards, therefore, served as a kind of
introduction or prelude to printing from engraved blocks, an invention
which considerably preceded the printing from movable characters.

When, however, we observe that so early as the middle of the fifteenth
century playing-cards were spread all over Europe, it is but natural to
imagine that some economical plan of manufacture had been discovered and
employed. Thus, as we have already mentioned, Jacquemin Gringonneur, in
1392, was paid fifty-six sols of Paris, that is about £7 1_s._ 8_d._ of
our present money, for three packs of _tarots_, painted for the King of
France. One single pack of _tarots_, admirably painted, about the year
1415, by Marziano, secretary to the Duke of Milan, cost one thousand
five hundred golden crowns (about £625); but in 1454, a pack of cards
intended for the Dauphin of France cost no more than five _sous of
Tours_ (about eleven or twelve shillings). In the interval between 1392
and 1454 means had been discovered of making playing-cards at a cheap
rate, and of converting them into an object of trade; mercers were
accustomed to sell them together with the “pins,” which then took the
place of copper and silver counters; hence the French proverb, “Tirer
son épingle du jeu” (to get out of a scrape).

Although the use of playing-cards continued to extend more and more, we
must not imagine that they had ceased to be the subject of prohibitory
and condemnatory ordinances on the part of the civil and ecclesiastical
authorities. On the contrary, a long list might be made of the decrees
launched against cards themselves and those that used them. Princes and
lords, as a matter of right, felt themselves above these prohibitions;
the lower orders and the dissolute did not fail to infringe them. It was
nevertheless the case, that in the face of these constantly-renewed
prohibitions, the manufacture of playing-cards could only be developed,
or rather perhaps be carried on, in some indirect mode. Thus, we find
the business at first was concealed, as it were, under that of a
stationer or illuminator. Not until December, 1581--that is, in the
reign of Henry III.--do we find the first regulation fixing the
statutes of the “master-cardmakers.” These statutes, confirmed by
letters patent in 1584 and 1613, remained in force down to the (French)
Revolution. In the confirmation of corporate privileges granted at the
latter date, it is laid down as a rule that henceforth master-cardmakers
should be bound to place their names, surnames, signs, and devices on
the “knave of clubs” (Figs. 212, 213) of every pack of cards. This
prescription appears to have done nothing more than legalise an old
custom--a fact which may be proved by an examination of the curious
collection of ancient cards in the Print-Room of the Bibliothèque
Impériale. We have already stated that for a period of many years the
names given to the various personages in the pack varied constantly,
according to the fancy of the cardmaker; a mere glance at the collection
just mentioned will confirm this assertion.

[Illustration: Figs. 212 and 213.--The “Knave of Clubs” in the Packs of
Cards of R. Passerel and R. Le Cornu. (Sixteenth Century. Bibl. Imp.,

The cards that might be styled those of Charles VII., which appear to us
to convey some reminiscence of the _ballet des ardents_, have no
inscription but the name of the cardmaker. But in the other pack of the
same date the “knave of clubs” bears as a legend the word _Rolan_; the
“king of clubs,” _Sans Souci_; the “queen of clubs,” _Tromperie_; the
“king of diamonds,” _Corsube_; the “queen of diamonds,” _En toi te fie_;
the “king of spades,” _Apollin_, &c. This collection of names reveals to
us the threefold influence of the Saracenic origin of playing-cards, the
ideas conveyed at that period to the mind by the reading of the old
romances of chivalry, and the effect of contemporary events. In fact, in
the ancient epics, _Apollin_ (or Apollo) is a deity by whom the Saracens
were accustomed to swear; _Corsube_ is a knight of Cordova (_Corsuba_).
_Sans Souci_ is evidently one of those _sobriquets_ which squires
acquired the habit of adopting at the time they were proving themselves
worthy of the title of knight. Roland, the mighty Paladin who died at
Roncevaux fighting against the Saracens, seems to have been placed upon
the cards in order to oppose the memory of his glory to that of the
infidel kings. The queen “_En toi te fie_” might well allude to Joan of
Arc. The queen “_Tromperie_” recalls to mind Isabel of Bavaria, who was
an unfaithful wife and a cruel mother; and, moreover, had betrayed
France to England. All these ideas are doubtless mere suppositions, but
such as a critical examination of a more minute and extended character
would perhaps succeed in changing into unquestionable certainties.

Next after the cards of the time of Charles VII. follow, as the most
ancient in point of date, two packs which certainly belong to the reign
of Louis XII. One of these packs does not bear any kind of legend; in
the other the “king of hearts” is called _Charles_; the “king of
diamonds,” _Cæsar_; the “king of clubs,” _Arthur_; the “king of spades,”
_David_; the “queen of hearts,” _Héleine_; the “queen of diamonds,”
_Judith_; the “queen of clubs,” _Rachel_; the “queen of spades,”
_Persabée_ (doubtless for Bathsheba).

In a pack of cards belonging to the reign of Francis I., the “king of
clubs” becomes _Alexander_, and the name of _Judith_ is transferred to
the “queen of hearts;” and for the first time (at least in the specimens
which have been preserved) some of the “knaves” bear special names--the
“knave of hearts” is _La Hire_, and the “knave of diamonds” _Hector of
Trois_ (_sic_).

A few years later, about the time of the battle of Pavia and of the
king’s captivity, the influence of Spanish and Italian fashions begins
to affect the legends on packs of cards. It is remarked that the “knave
of spades,” which presents nothing in the way of a legend but the name
of the cardmaker, is made to resemble Charles-Quint (Fig. 211). The
three other knaves bear the singular denominations of _Prien Roman_,
_Capita Fili_, and _Capitane Vallant_. The kings are: “hearts,” _Julius
Cæsar_; “diamonds,” _Charles_; “clubs,” _Hector_; “spades,” _David_. The
queens are: “hearts,” _Héleine_; “diamonds,” _Lucresse_; “clubs,”
_Pentaxlée_ (Penthesilea); “spades,” _Beciabée_ (Bathsheba).

In the reign of Henry II., the names given to the personages come much
nearer to the arrangement observed in our present cards. _Cæsar_ is the
“king of diamonds;” _David_, the “king of spades;” _Alexander_, the
“king of clubs.” _Rachel_ is the “queen of diamonds;” _Argine_, of
“clubs;” _Pallas_, of “spades.” _Hogier_, _Hector of Troy_, and _La
Hire_, are the “knaves” of “spades,” “diamonds,” and “hearts,”

At the time of Henry III., who devoted himself much more to regulating
the fashions than to governing his kingdom, and was the first to grant
statutes to the association of cardmakers, the pack of cards became the
mirror of the extravagant fashions of this effeminate reign. The “kings”
have the pointed beard, the starched collar, the plumed hat, the
breeches puffing out round the loins, the slashed doublet, and the
tight-fitting hose. The “queens” have their hair drawn back and crisped,
the dress close round the body, and made _à vertugarde_ (in the form of
a hoop-petticoat). We see a _Dido_, an _Elizabeth_, and a _Clotilde_,
make their appearance in the respective characters of “queens” of
“diamonds,” “hearts,” and “spades.” Among the kings figure
_Constantine_, _Clovis_, _Augustus_, and _Solomon_.

The valiant Béarnais[26] mounts the throne, and the cards still reflect
the aspect of his court. But soon _Astrea_ and a whole _cortége_ of
tender and gallant heroes begin to assume an influence over refined
minds, and we then find _Cyrus_ and _Semiramis_ as “king and queen” of
diamonds; _Roxana_ is the “queen of hearts” (Fig. 214), _Ninus_ the
“king of spades,” &c.

In the regency of Marie de Medicis, in the reign of Louis XIII., or
rather of Richelieu, in the time of Anne of Austria and Louis XIV.,
playing-cards continued to assume the character of the period, following
the whim of the court, or the fancy of the cardmaker. At a certain time
they began to take an Italian character. The “king of diamonds” was
called _Carel_; his queen, _Lucresi_; the “queen of spades,” _Barbera_;
the “queen of clubs,” _Penthamée_; the “knave of diamonds,” _capit.

A vast field of investigation would lie before us if, in tracing out the
detailed history of these numerous variations, we were to endeavour to
distinguish and settle the different causes which gave rise to them. One
fact must certainly strike any one devoting himself to such inquiry; he
would see that, in contradistinction to the changes which have affected
the personages on the cards and their names, a continuous state of
stability has been the characteristic of the four suits in the French
cards or the piquet-pack, which were adopted from the very commencement,
and that no attempt has ever been made against their arrangement and
nature. _Cœur_ (hearts), _carreau_ (diamonds), _trèfle_ (clubs), and
_pique_ (spades)--these were the divisions established by La Hire or
Chevalier, and they are still faithfully maintained in the present day,
although at various times endeavours have been made to define their
symbolical signification.

For a long time the opinion of Father Menestrier was the prevalent one;
that “hearts” were an emblem of the clergy or the choir (_chœur_);
“diamonds,” of the citizens, who had their rooms paved with square
tiles; “clubs,” of labourers; and “spades,” of military men. But
Menestrier was in egregious error. A much clearer view of the matter was
taken by Father Daniel, who, like all sensible interpreters, recognising
in cards a game of an essentially military character, asserted that
“hearts” denoted the courage of the commanders and soldiers; “clubs”
(_trèfle_--“trefoil”) the stores of forage; “spades” and “diamonds,” the
magazines of arms. This was a view which, as we think, comes much closer
to the real interpretation of the suits; and Bullet was still nearer the
mark when he recognised _offensive_ arms in “clubs” and “spades,” and
_defensive_ arms in “hearts” and “diamonds.” The first were the sword
and the lance; the second, the target and the shield.

But in order to do full honour to French cards, we must not exclude from
our attention the _tarots_, which preceded our game of piquet, and
continued to be simultaneously used even in France.

The Spanish and Italian cardmakers, who had been nearly always
established in France, made a large quantity of _tarots_ (Fig. 215); but
they made a certain concession to French politeness by substituting
“queens” for the “cavaliers” of their national game. We must remark
here, that even at the epoch of the conquests of Charles VIII. and Louis
XII., French cards with the four “queens” replacing the “cavaliers”
never succeeded in nationalising themselves in Italy, and still less in
Spain; on the contrary, the fact was that as regards this point of
fashion, the vanquished people obtained the advantage over their
conquerors, and the _tarots_ came into full favour among the victorious

[Illustration: Fig. 214.--Roxana, Queen of Hearts. (Specimen of the
Cards of the time of Henry IV.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 215.--Card of Italian _Tarots_, from the Pack of the
_minchiate_. (Collection of Playing-Cards, Bibl. Imp., Paris.)]

The Spaniards must certainly have received the Oriental _naïb_ from the
Moors and Saracens a long time prior to the introduction of this game
into Europe at Viterbo; but we have no written proofs which certify to
the existence of cards among the Saracens of Spain. The first document
in which they are mentioned is the edict of John I., of the date of
1387, to which reference has been made. Certain _savants_ have
endeavoured to ascertain the signification of the four suits of the
Spanish _naypes_, and have fancied that they could distinguish in them a
special symbolism. In their view, the _dineros_, _copas_, _bastos_, and
_spadas_, denoted the four estates which composed the population: the
merchants, who have the money; the priests, who hold the chalice or cup;
the peasantry, who handle the staff; and the nobles, who wear the
sword. This explanation, although ingenious, does not appear to us to be
based on any very solid foundation. The signs or suits of the numeral
cards were fixed upon in the East, and Spain as well as Italy merely
adopted them without taking much trouble to penetrate into their
allegorical meaning. The Spaniards became so addicted to this game that
they soon preferred it to any other recreation; and we know that when
the companions of Christopher Columbus, who had just discovered America,
formed their first settlement at St. Domingo, they almost instantly set
to work to make playing-cards out of the leaves of trees.

[Illustration: Figs. 216 and 217.--The “Three” and “Eight” of “Bells.”
German Cards of the Sixteenth Century. (Bibl. Imp. of Paris.

There can be no doubt that playing-cards very soon made their way from
Italy into Germany; but as they advanced towards the North they almost
immediately lost their Oriental characteristics and Saracenic name.
There is, in fact, no longer any etymological trace to be found in the
old German language of the words _naïb_, _naïbi_, or _naypes_. Cards
were called

[Illustration: Figs. 218 and 219.--The “Two of Bells” and the “King of
Acorns,” taken from a Pack of Cards of the Sixteenth Century, designed
and engraved by a German Master. (Bibl. Imp. of Paris. Print-Room.)]

_Briefe_, that is, letters; the game itself _Spielbriefe_, game of
letters; the earliest cardmakers were _Briefmaler_, painters of letters.
The four suits of the _Briefe_ were neither Italian nor French in
character; they bore the name of _Schellen_, “bells” (Figs. 216, 217,
218), or _roth_ (red), _grün_ (green), and _Eicheln_ (acorns) (Fig.
219). The Germans, in their love of symbolism, had comprehended the real
original signification of the game of cards, and although they
introduced many marked changes, they made it their study, at least in
principle, to preserve its military characteristics. Their suits
depicted, it is said, the triumphs or the honours of war--the crowns of
oak-leaves or ivy, the bells were the bright insignia of the German
nobility, and the purple was the recompense of their valiant warriors.
The Germans were careful not to admit ladies into the thoroughly warlike
company of kings, captains (_ober_), and officers (_unter_). The ace was
always the flag, the warlike emblem _par excellence_; in addition to
this, the oldest game was the _Landsknecht_, or lansquenet (Fig. 220),
the distinctive term of the soldier.

We are speaking here only of the earliest German cards, for, after a
certain date, the essential form and emblematical rules of the pack
depended on nothing but the fancy and whim of the maker or the engraver.
The figures were but seldom designated by a proper name, but often bore
devices in German or Latin. Among the collections of ancient cards we
find one pack half German and half French, with the names of the Pagan
gods. There are also several sets of cards with five suits (of fourteen
cards each), among others those of “roses” and “pomegranates.”

[Illustration: Fig. 220.--The “Two” of a Pack of German Lansquenet
Cards. (Bibl. Imp. of Paris.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 221.--Card from a Game of “Logic,” invented by Th.
Murner, and copied from his “Chartiludium Logices.” (Cracow, 1507.)]

The Germans were the first who entertained the idea of applying cards to
the instruction of youth; and, as it were, of moralising a game of
chance by making it express all the categories of scholastic science.
Thomas Murner, a Franciscan monk, and professor of philosophy, made in
1507 an attempt of this kind (Fig. 221.) He designed a pack of
fifty-two cards, divided into sixteen suits, corresponding to the same
number of scholastic treatises; each card is covered with so many
symbols that a description would resemble the setting forth of some
obscure riddle (_ténébreux logogriphe_). The German universities, which
were far from being dismayed at a little mysticism, were only the more
eager to study the arcana of grammar and logic while playing at cards.
Imitations of Murner’s cards were multiplied _ad infinitum_.

A game and pack of cards attributed to the celebrated Martin Schœngauer,
or to one of his pupils, must also be dated in the fifteenth century.
The cards are distinguished by their form, number, and design; they are
round in shape, and much resemble Persian cards, are painted on ivory
and covered with arabesques, flowers, and birds. This pack, only a few
pieces of which now exist in some of the German collections, was
composed of fifty-two cards divided into four numeral series of nine
cards each, and with four figures in each series--the king, the queen,
the squire, and the knave. The suits or marks are the “Hare,” the
“Parrot,” the “Carnation,” and the “Columbine.” Each of the aces
represents the type of the suit, and they bear philosophical devices in
Latin. The four figures of the “Parrot” suit are of African character;
those of the “Hare” are Asiatic or Turkish; those of the “Carnation” and
the “Columbine” belong to Europe. The “kings” and “queens” are on
horseback; the “squires” and “knaves” are so similar that it is
difficult to distinguish them, with the exception of the knaves of
“Columbine” and “Carnation” (Figs. 222 to 227).

The English also were in possession of playing-cards at an early date,
obtaining them through the medium of the trade which they carried on
with the Hanseatic towns and Holland; but they did not manufacture cards
before the end of the sixteenth century; for we know that in the reign
of Queen Elizabeth the Government retained in its own hands the monopoly
of playing-cards, “which were imported from abroad.” The English, while
adopting indiscriminately cards of a German, French, Italian, or Spanish
character, gave to the _valet_ the characteristic appellation of

[Illustration: Figs. 222 to 227.--German Round-shaped Cards, with the
Monogram T. W.

1. “King of Parrots.”

2. “Queen of Carnations.”

3. “Knave of Columbine.”

4. “Knave of Hares.”

5. “Three of Parrots.”

6. “Ace of Carnations.”

(Bibl. Imp. of Paris.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 228.--_La Damoiselle_, from a Pack of Cards engraved
by “The Master of 1466.” (Bibl. Imp. of Paris. Print-Room.)]

Wood-engraving, which was invented at the commencement of the fifteenth
century, and perhaps even before, must have been applied at the very
first and almost simultaneously to the reproduction of sacred pictures
and the manufacture of playing-cards. Holland and Germany have contended
for the honour of having been the cradle of this invention. Taking
advantage of this, they have also even thought themselves warranted in
laying claim to the credit of the original manufacture of cards;

[Illustration: Fig. 229.--The Knight, from a Pack of Cards engraved by
“The Master of 1466.” (Bibl. Imp. of Paris.)]

whereas the fact is that all they can claim is to have been the first to
produce them by some more expeditious method of making. According to the
opinion of several _savants_, Laurent Coster of Haerlem was only an
engraver of wood-blocks for cards and pictures, before he became a
printer of books. It certainly is a fact that wood-engraving, which was
for a long time limited to a few studios in Holland and Upper Germany,
owed a large share of its progress to the trade in playing-cards--one
which was carried on with such activity that, as we read in an old
chronicle of the city of Ulm, about the year 1397, “they were in the
habit of sending playing-cards in bales to Italy, Sicily, and other
southern countries, to exchange for groceries and various merchandise.”

A few years later, engraving on metal or copper-plate was employed in
producing playing-cards of a really artistic character, among which we
may mention those of “The Master of 1466” (Figs. 228 and 229), and by
his anonymous rivals. The pack of cards of this engraver exists only in
a small number of print-collections, and it is in every case incomplete.
As far as we can judge, it must have been composed of sixty cards,
consisting of forty numeral cards divided into five series, and twenty
picture-cards, being four to each series. The figures are the king,
queen, knight, and knave. The suits, or marks, present rather a strange
selection of wild men, ferocious quadrupeds, deer, birds of prey, and
various flowers. These objects are numerically grouped and tolerably
well arranged, so as to allow the numbers indicated to be distinguished
at first sight.

Thus, as we have seen, playing-cards made their way through Arabia from
India to Europe, where they first arrived about the year 1370. Within a
few years they spread from the south to the north of the latter country;
but those who, under the influence of a passion for play, had so eagerly
welcomed them, were far indeed from suspecting that this new game
contained within itself the germ of two of the most beautiful inventions
ever devised by the human mind--those of engraving and printing. There
can be no doubt that playing-cards were in use for many a long year, ere
the public voice had proclaimed the almost simultaneous discovery of the
arts of engraving on wood and metal, and of printing.

[Illustration: Fig. 230.--Coat of Arms of the Cardmakers of Paris.]


     Painting on Glass mentioned by Historians in the Third Century of
     our Era.--Glazed Windows at Brioude in the Sixth Century.--Coloured
     Glass at St. John Lateran and St. Peter’s in Rome.--Church-Windows
     of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries in France: Saint-Denis,
     Sens, Poitiers, Chartres, Rheims, &c.--In the Fourteenth and
     Fifteenth Centuries the Art was at its Zenith.--Jean Cousin.--The
     Célestins of Paris; Saint-Gervais.--Robert Pinaigrier and his
     Sons.--Bernard Palissy decorates the Chapel of the Castle of
     Ecouen.--Foreign Art; Albert Dürer.

We have already established the fact that the art of manufacturing and
colouring glass was known to the most ancient nations; and, says
Champollion-Figeac, “if we study the various fragments of this fragile
substance that have been handed down to our time, if we take into
consideration the varied ornamentation with which they are covered, even
the human figures which some of them represent, it would be difficult to
assert that antiquity was unacquainted with the means of combining glass
with painting. If antiquity did not produce what are now called
painted-windows, the real cause doubtless was because the custom of
employing glass in windows did not then exist.” Some few specimens of it
have, however, been found in the windows of the houses exhumed at
Pompeii; but this must have been an exception, for the third century of
our era is the earliest date in which traces are found in history of
window-glass being used in buildings; and we must bring down our
researches as late as the times of St. John Chrysostom and St. Jerome
(the fourth century) in order to find any reliable affirmation as to its

In the sixth century Gregory of Tours relates that a soldier broke the
glass-window of a church at Brioude in order to enter it secretly and
commit robbery; and we know that when this prelate caused the
restoration of the Church of St. Martin of Tours, he took care to fill
its windows with glass “of varied colours.” About the same time
Fortunatus, the poet-bishop of Poitiers, highly extols the splendour of
the glass-window of a church in Paris, the name of which he does not
mention; but the learned investigations of Foncemagne with reference to
the first kings of France inform us that the church built at Paris by
Childebert I. in honour of the Holy Cross and St. Vincent, as well as
the churches of Lyons and Bourges, were closed in with glass-windows. Du
Cange, in his “Constantinople Chrétienne,” describes the glass-windows
of the basilica of St. Sophia, rebuilt by Justinian; and Paul, the
Silentiary,[28] dwells with enthusiasm on the marvellous effect produced
by the rays of the sun upon this assemblage of various coloured glasses.

In the eighth century, the epoch at which the use of glass-windows was
becoming general, the basilica of St. John Lateran and the Church of St.
Peter at Rome possessed coloured glass-windows; and Charlemagne, who had
caused mosaics of coloured glass to be made in a large number of
churches, did not fail to avail himself of this kind of ornament in the
cathedral erected by him at Aix-la-Chapelle.

Up to this time the only method of making glass was in small pieces,
generally round, and designated by the name of _cires_, a number of
which by means of a network of plaster, wooden frames, or strips of
lead, were used to fill up the windows. This material being, however,
very costly, it could only be introduced into edifices of great
importance. Added to this, it can scarcely be a source of wonder if, at
a time when all branches of art had relapsed into a sort of barbarism,
and glass was only exceptionally employed in ordinary purposes, no one
thought of decorating it with painted figures and ornaments.

With regard to mosaic, either in marble or coloured glass, Martial,
Lucretius, and other writers of antiquity, mention it in their works.
Egypt had a knowledge of it even before Greece; the Romans were
accustomed to employ it in ornamenting the roofs and pavement of their
temples, and even their columns and streets. Some magnificent specimens
of these decorations have remained to our time, and they are considered
as inseparable from the architecture of the emperors.

Some have desired to attribute the custom of employing coloured glass in
mosaics to the rarity of coloured marbles. Would it not be a more
probable hypothesis that the simultaneous use of marble and glass for
this purpose was the result of improvements in the art of making
mosaics? for glass that, by metallic mixtures, may be brought to a
variety of colours, is much more easily adapted to pictorial
combinations than marble, the tints of which are the result of the
caprices of nature. Seneca, alluding to the use of coloured glasses in
mosaic, complains of people not being able “to walk except on precious
stones;” this shows how prevalent the use of rich mosaics had become in
Rome. But this art must have singularly fallen into decay, for the few
examples of the kind we now possess, which date from the first centuries
of Christianity, are marked with a character of simplicity that fully
harmonises with the rudeness of the artists of those times. Among these
specimens must be mentioned a pavement discovered at Rheims, upon which
are represented the twelve signs of the zodiac, the seasons of the year,
and Abraham’s Sacrifice; another on which are depicted Theseus and the
labyrinth of Crete, in juxtaposition with David and Goliath. It is,
moreover, known that there existed in the Forum of Naples a portrait in
mosaic of Theodoric, king of the Goths, who had caused a representation
of the Baptism of Christ to be executed, in the church of Ravenna, by
the same process. Sidonius Apollinaris, describing the excessive luxury
of Consentius at Narbonne, speaks of arches and pavements ornamented
with mosaics. The churches of St. John Lateran, St. Clement, and St.
George in Velabro, at Rome, still display mosaics of this period.
Lastly, Charlemagne caused the greater part of the churches constructed
by him to be ornamented with mosaics.

To return to glass-work, we find that in the time of Charles the Bald,
in 863, mention is made of two artisans, Ragenat and Balderic, who
became as it were the heads of the race of French glass-makers. We also
learn from the chronicle of St. Benignus of Dijon, that in 1052 there
existed in that church a “very ancient painted window,” representing St.
Paschasie, which was said to have been taken from the earlier church. We
have therefore a right to conclude that at this period the custom of
painting on glass had long been common.

In the tenth century glass-makers must have acquired some degree of
importance, for the reigning Dukes of Normandy of that era established
certain privileges in their favour; but, says Champollion-Figeac, “as
all privilege was the prerogative of the order of nobility, they
contrived to give them to noble families whose fortunes were precarious.
Four Norman families obtained this distinction. But although it was
understood that in devoting themselves to the trade these titled
individuals incurred no degradation, it was never said, as is commonly
believed, that the profession of this art conferred nobility; on the
contrary, a proverb arose which long continued in use, namely, that ‘in
order to make a gentleman glass-maker, you must first take a

Although painting on glass was from that time carried on with
considerable activity, in many cases it was still very far from being
accomplished by the processes which were destined to make it one of the
most remarkable productions of art. The application of the brush to
vitrifiable colours was not generally adopted. In the examples of this
period that remain to our days, we indeed find large _cives_ cast in
white glass, upon which characters were painted by the artist; but, as
the colour was not designed to be incorporated with the glass by the
action of fire, with a view to ensure the preservation of the painting,
another transparent but thick _cive_ was placed over the first and
closely soldered to it.

While glass-painting was thus seeking to perfect its processes, mosaic
work gradually declined. Only a very small number of mosaics of the
tenth and eleventh centuries exist at the present day, and these,
moreover, are very incorrect in design, and entirely wanting in taste
and colour.

In the twelfth century all the arts began to revive. The fear of the end
of the world, which had thrown mankind into a strange state of
perturbation, was dissipated. The Christian faith everywhere stirred up
the zeal of its disciples. Magnificent cathedrals with imposing arches
sprang up in various places, and the art of the glass-maker came to the
aid of architecture in order to diffuse over the interiors consecrated
to worship the light, both prismatic and harmonious, which affords the
calm, necessary for holy meditation. But though, in the painted windows
of this period, we are forced to admire the ingenious combinatian of
colours for the rose-work (rose-windows), the case is very different as
regards the drawing and colouring of the designs. The figures are
generally traced in rough, stiff lines on glass of a dull tint, which
absorbs all the expression of the heads; the entire drapery of the
costume is heavy; the figure is spoilt by the folds of

[Illustration: Fig. 231.--St. Timothy the Martyr, Coloured Glass of the
end of the Eleventh Century, found in the Church of Neuwiller (Bas-Rhin)
by M. Bœswillwald. (From the “History of Glass-Painting,” by M.

its vestments as if it were enclosed in a long sheath. This is the
general character of the examples of that period as they are known to us
(Fig. 231).

The painted windows which Suger made to adorn the abbey-church of St.
Denis, some of which exist in our days, date from the twelfth century.
The abbot made inquiries in every country, and gathered together at a
great expense the best artists he could find, in order to assist in this
decoration. The Adoration of the Magi, the Annunciation, the History of
Moses, and various allegories, are there represented in the chapel of
the Virgin and those of St. Osman and St. Hilary. Among the principal
pictures may be also observed a portrait of Suger himself at the feet of
the Virgin. The borders surrounding the subjects may be considered as
models of harmony and good arrangement of effect; but still the taste
shown in the selection and combination of colours is carried to the
highest point in the subjects themselves, the designs of which are very

In the Church of St. Maurice, at Angers, we find examples of a rather
earlier date--perhaps the most ancient specimens of painted windows in
France; these are the history of St. Catherine and that of the Virgin,
which, in truth, are not equal in merit, as regards execution and taste,
to the ancient windows of the Church of St. Denis.

We still have to mention some fragments contained in the Church of St.
Serge, and the chapel of the Hospital, in the town of Angers; also a
glass-window in the Abbey of Fontevrault; another in the Church of St.
Peter, at Dreux, in which is represented Queen Anne of Brittany. We
will, in conclusion, mention one of the windows of the choir in the
Church of the Trinity, at Vendôme; it represents the Glorification of
the Virgin, who bears on her forehead an aureola, the shape of which,
called _amandaire_,[29] has furnished archæologists with a subject for
long discussions; some being desirous of proving that this aureola,
which does not appear to be depicted in the same way on any other
painted window, tends to show that the works of the Poitevine
glass-makers, to whom it is attributed, had been subject to the
influence of the Byzantine school; others assert that the almond-shaped
crown is a symbol exclusively reserved for the Virgin. Before we proceed
to the examples handed down to us from the twelfth century, we must
mention some remains of glass to be seen at Chartres, Mans, Sens, and
Bourges (Fig. 232), &c. We may also add, as an incident not without
interest, that a chapter of the order of the Cistercians, considering
the great expense to which the acquisition of painted windows led,
prohibited the use of them in churches under the rule of St. Bernard.

[Illustration: Fig. 232.--Fragment of a Church-window, representing the
“Prodigal Son.” Thirteenth Century. (Presented to the Cathedral of
Bourges by the Guild of Tanners.)]

“The architecture of the thirteenth century,” according to the judicious
remarks of Champollion-Figeac, “by its style of moulding, which is more
slender and graceful than the massive forms of Roman art, opened a
wider and more favourable field for artists in glass. The small pillars
then projected, and extended themselves with a novel elegance, and the
tapering and delicate spires of the steeples lost themselves in the
clouds. The windows occupied more space, and likewise had the appearance
of springing lightly and gracefully upwards. They were adorned with
symbolical ornaments, griffins, and other fantastic animals; leaves and
boughs cross and intertwine with one another, producing that varied
rose-work which is the admiration of modern glass-makers. The colours
are more skilfully combined and better blended than in the windows of
the preceding century; and although some of the figures are still
wanting in expression, and have not thrown off all the stiffness which
characterised them, the draperies, at least, are lighter and better
drawn.” Examples of the thirteenth century which have remained to our
time are very numerous. There is at Poitiers some painted glass composed
of small roses, and chiefly placed in one of the windows in the centre
of the church and in the “Calvary” of the apse; at Sens, the legend of
St. Thomas of Canterbury is represented in a number of small medallions,
called _verrières légendaires_; at Mans is glass representing the
corporations of trades; at Chartres, the painted glass in the cathedral,
a work both magnificent and extensive, contains no fewer than one
thousand three hundred and fifty subjects, distributed throughout one
hundred and forty-three windows. At Rheims, the painted glass is perhaps
less important, but it is remarkable both for the brilliancy of its
colours and also for its characteristic fitness to the style of the
edifice. Bourges, Tours, Angers, and Notre-Dame in Paris, present very
beautiful specimens. The Cathedral of Rouen possesses, to this day, a
window which bears the name of Clement of Chartres, _master glazier_,
the first artist of this kind who has left behind him any work bearing
his signature. We must, in conclusion, mention the Sainte-Chapelle,
Paris, which is unquestionably the highest representation of what the
art is capable of producing. The designs of the windows in this last
edifice are _legendary_, and although some few inaccuracies may be
noticed in the figures, the fault is redeemed by the studied elegance of
the ornamentation and the harmony of colours, which combine to render
them one of the most consistent and perfect works of painting on glass.

In the thirteenth century “_grisaille_” first made its appearance; it
was quite a new style, and has been often since employed in the borders
and ornaments of painted windows. “_Grisaille_,”[30] the name of which
is to some extent sufficient to describe its aspect, was used
simultaneously with the mosaics of variegated glass, as we see in the
Church of St. Thomas, Strasbourg, in the Cathedral of Freybourg in
Brisgau, and in many churches of Bourges.

The large number of paintings on glass belonging to the thirteenth
century, which may still be studied in various churches, has given rise
to the idea of classifying all these monuments, and arranging them under
certain schools, which have been designated by the names of
_Franco-Norman_, _Germanic_, &c. Some have even gone further, and
desired to recognise in the style peculiar to the artists of ancient
France a Norman style, a Poitevin style (the latter recognisable, it is
said, by the want of harmony in the colours), &c. We can hardly admit
these last distinctions, and are the less inclined to do so, as those
who propound them seem to base their theories rather on the defects than
the good qualities of the artists. Besides, at a period in which a
nobleman sometimes possessed several provinces very distant from each
other--as, for example, Anjou and Provence--it might so happen that the
artists he took with him to his different residences could scarcely
fail, by the union of their various works, to cause any provincial
influences to disappear, and would finally reduce the distinction
between what is called the Poitevin style, the Norman style, &c., to a
question of a more or less skilful manufacture, or of a more or less
advanced improvement.

In the fourteenth century the artist in glass became separated from the
architect; although naturally subordinate to the designer of the
edifice, in which the windows were to be only an accessory ornament, he
wished to give effect to his own inspiration. The whole of the building
was subjected by him to the effect of his more learned and correct
drawing, and his purer and more striking colouring. It mattered little
to him should some part of the church have too much light, or not light
enough, if a flood of radiance deluged the apse or the choir, instead of
being gradually diffused everywhere, as in earlier buildings. He desired
his labour to recommend him, and his work to do him honour.

The court-poets, Guillaume de Machaut and Eustache Deschamps, celebrate
in their poems several works in painted glass of their time, and even
give some details in verse on the mode of fabricating them.

[Illustration: Fig. 233.--Legend of the Jew of the Rue des Billettes,
Paris, piercing the Holy Wafer with his Knife. (From a Window of the
Church of St. Alpin, at Châlons-sur-Marne. Fourteenth Century.)]

In 1347 a royal ordinance was proclaimed in favour of the workmen of
Lyons. The custom existed at that time of adorning with painted windows
royal and lordly habitations. The artists produced their own designs,
adapting them to the use that was made, in private life, of the halls
for which they were intended. Some of these windows representing
familiar legends adorned even the churches (Fig. 233).

Among the most important works of the fourteenth century, we must
mention in the first place the windows of the cathedrals of Mans,
Beauvais, Évreux (Fig. 234), and the rose-windows of St. Thomas at
Strasbourg. Next come the windows of the Church of St. Nazaire at
Carcassonne and of the Cathedral of Narbonne. There are, besides, in the
Church of St. John at Lyons, in Notre-Dame of Semur, in Aix in Provence,
at Bourges, and at Metz, church-windows in every respect worthy of

[Illustration: Fig. 234.--Fragment of a Window presented to the
Cathedral of Evreux by the Bishop Guillaume de Cantiers. Fourteenth

The fifteenth century only continues the traditions of the preceding
one. The principal works dating from this epoch begin, according to the
order of merit, with the window of the Cathedral of Mans, which
represents Yolande[31] of Aragon, and Louis II., King of Naples and
Sicily, ancestors of the good King René; after them we shall place the
windows of the Sainte-Chapelle, Riom; St. Vincent, Rouen; the Cathedral
of Tours; and that of Bourges, representing a memorial of Jacques Cœur,

The sixteenth century, although bringing with it, owing to religious
troubles, many ravages of new iconoclasts, has handed down to us a
variety of numerous and remarkable church-windows. We are, of course,
unable to mention them all; but it seems expedient--adopting the rule of
most archæologists--to divide them into three branches or schools, which
are actually formed by the different styles of the artists of that
epoch; the French school, the German school, and the Lorraine school
(Fig. 235), which partakes of the characteristics of the two preceding.

[Illustration: Fig. 235.--Allegorical Window, representing the “Citadel
of Pallas.” (Lorraine work of the Sixteenth Century, preserved in the
Library at Strasbourg.)]

At the head of the French school figures the celebrated Jean Cousin, who
decorated the chapel of Vincennes; he also made for the Célestins
monastery, Paris, a representation of Calvary; for St. Gervais, in
1587, the windows representing the “Martyrdom of St. Lawrence,” the
“Samaritan conversing with Christ,” and the “Paralytic.” In these works,
which belong to a high style of painting, the best method of
arrangement, vigorous drawing, and powerful colouring, seem to reflect
the work of Raphael. Windows in “_grisaille_,” made from the cartoons of
Jean Cousin, also decorated the Castle of Anet.

Another artist, named Robert Pinaigrier, who, although inferior to
Cousin, was much more fertile in production, assisted by his sons Jean,
Nicholas, and Louis, and several of his pupils, executed a number of
windows for the churches of Paris, of which the greater part have
disappeared: Saint-Jacques la Boucherie, the Madeleine, Sainte-Croix en
la Cité, Saint Barthélemy, &c. Magnificent specimens of his work still
remain at Saint-Merry, Saint-Gervais, Saint-Etienne du Mont, and in the
Cathedral of Chartres. Pinaigrier’s works in the decorations of châteaux
and the mansions of the nobility are perhaps equally numerous.

At this period several windows were made from the drawings of Raphael,
Leonardo da Vinci, and Parmigiano; it may also be remarked that two
patterns of the latter’s work were used by Bernard Palissy, who was a
glass-maker before he became an enameller, in forming windows in
“_grisaille_” for the chapel of the Château of Ecouen. For the same
place, following the style of Raphael, and from the drawings of Rosso,
called _Maître Roux_, Bernard Palissy executed thirty pictures on glass,
representing the history of Psyche, which are justly considered as
ranking among the most beautiful compositions of the epoch; but it is
not now known what has become of these valuable windows, which at the
Revolution were transported to the Museum of French Monuments.

They were, it is said, executed under the direction of Leonard of
Limoges, who, like all the masters of that school (Fig. 236), applied to
painting on glass the processes of enamelling, and _vice versâ_. In the
collections of the Louvre and of several amateurs, there are still
examples of his composition, on which he employed the best
glass-painters of his time; for he could not himself work on all the
objects that proceeded from his studios, and which were almost
exclusively destined for the king’s palace.

The French art of glass-working became cosmopolitan. It was introduced
into Spain and also into the Low Countries under the protection of
Charles V. and the Duke of Alba. It even appears to have crossed the
Alps; for we know that in 1512 a glass-painter of the name of Claude
adorned with his works the large windows of the Vatican; and Julius II.
summoned Guillaume of Marseilles to the Eternal City, the pontiff when
occupying the sees of Carpentras and Avignon having appreciated his
talent. We must not omit to mention, among the Flemish artists who
escaped this foreign influence, the name of Dirk of Haarlem (Fig. 237),
the most celebrated master in this art at the close of the fifteenth

[Illustration: Fig. 236.--St. Paul, an Enamel of Limoges, by Etienne

While French art was thus spreading over the continent, foreign art

[Illustration: Fig. 237.--Flemish Window (Fifteenth Century), half
life-size. Painted in Monochrome, relieved with yellow, by Dirk of
Haarlem. (Collection of M. Benoni-Verhelst, Ghent.)]

was being introduced into France. Albert Dürer employed his pencil in
painting twenty windows in the church of the Old Temple, in Paris, and
produced a collection of pictures characterised by vigorous drawing, and
warm and intense colouring. The celebrated German did not work
alone--other artists assisted him; and, notwithstanding the devastations
which took place during the Revolution, in many a church and mansion
traces of these skilful masters may still be found; their compositions,
which are generally as well arranged as they are executed, are marked
with a tinge of German simplicity very suitable to the pious nature of
the subjects they represent.

In 1600, Nicholas Pinaigrier placed in the windows of the Castle of La
Briffe seven pictures in “_grisaille_,” copied from the designs of
Francis Floris, a Flemish master, who was born in 1520. At this same
period Van Haeck, Herreyn, John Dox, and Pelgrin Rösen, all belonging to
the school of Antwerp, and other artists who had decorated the windows
of most of the churches in Belgium, especially St. Gudule in Brussels,
influenced either directly or indirectly the glass-painters of the east
and north of France. Another group of artists, the Provençals, imitators
of the Italian style, or rather perhaps inspired by the same luminary,
the sun of Michael Angelo, trod a similar path to that which Jean
Cousin, Pinaigrier, and Palissy had followed with so much renown. The
chiefs of this school were Claude, and Guillaume of Marseilles, who, as
we have just mentioned, carried their talent and their works into Italy,
where they succeeded in educating some clever pupils.

With regard to the school of Messin or Lorraine, it is principally
represented by a disciple of Michael Angelo, Valentin Bousch, the
Alsatian, who died in 1541 at Metz, where he had executed, since 1521,
an immense number of works. The windows of the churches of St. Barbe,
St. Nicolas du Port, Autrey, and Flavigny-sur-Moselle, are due to the
same school, in which Israel Henriet was also brought up; he became the
chief of a school exclusively belonging to Lorraine, at the time when
Charles III. had invited the arts to unite under the patronage of the
ducal throne. Thierry Alix, in a “Description inédite de la Lorraine,”
written in 1590, and mentioned by M. Bégin, speaks of “large plates of
glass of all colours,” made in his time in the mountains of Vosges,
where “all the herbs and other things necessary to painting” were found.
M. Bégin, after having quoted this curious statement, adds that the
windows which at that era were produced in the studios of Vosges, and
subsequently carried to all parts of Europe, constituted a very active
branch of commerce.

“Nevertheless,” says Champollion-Figeac, “art was declining. Christian
art especially was disappearing, and had almost come to an end, when
Protestantism stepped in and gave it the last blow; this is proved by
the window in the cathedral church of Berne, in which the artist,



     This magnificent window was given to the Church of St. Gudule by
     Francis I. and Eleanor of Spain, his wife, sister of Charles V.,
     and widow by her first marriage of Emmanuel the Great, King of

     The donors are represented kneeling, each one protected by his or
     her patron saint; the king is attended by St. Francis of Assisi,
     who is receiving in a vision the impress of the stigmata of Jesus
     on the Cross; the queen is accompanied by St. Eleanor, who holds in
     her hand the palm of the elect. This window is from a design by
     Bernard van Orley.

     Francis I. and Eleanor expended on the window two hundred and
     twenty-two crowns, or four hundred florins, an important sum in
     those days (1515-47).


Portion of a Stained Glass Window in the Church of St. Gudule at

Walter, dared to launch his satire against doctrine itself, and to
ridicule transubstantiation by representing a pope shovelling four
evangelists into a mill, from which come forth a number of wafers; these
a bishop is receiving into a cup in order to distribute them to the
wondering people. Any edification of the masses by the powerful effect
of transparent images placed, so to speak, between the earth and heaven,
soon ceased to be possible, and glass-painting, henceforth alienated
from the special aim of its origin, was destined also to disappear.”

[Illustration: Fig. 238.--Temptation of St. Mars, a Hermit of Auvergne,
by the Devil disguised as a Woman. Fragment of a Window of the
Sainte-Chapelle of Riom. Fifteenth Century. (From “Histoire de la
Peinture sur Verre,” by M. F. de Lasteyrie.)]


     The Nature of Fresco.--Employed by the Ancients.--Paintings at
     Pompeii.--Greek and Roman Schools.--Mural Paintings destroyed by
     the Iconoclasts and Barbarians.--Revival of Fresco, in the Ninth
     Century, in Italy.--Fresco-Painters since Guido of
     Siena.--Principal Works of these Painters.--Successors of Raphael
     and Michael Angelo.--Fresco in _Sgraffito_.--Mural Paintings in
     France from the Twelfth Century.--Gothic Frescoes of Spain.--Mural
     Paintings in the Low Countries, Germany, and Switzerland.

“Too frequently in conversational language and even in the writings of
grave authors,” says M. Ernest Breton, “the word _fresco_ is made
synonymous with mural painting in general. This confusion of terms has
sometimes caused the most fatal errors. The etymology of the word is the
best definition of the subject. The Italians give the name of paintings
_in fresco_ or _a fresco_, that is to say, _à frais_, or _sur le frais_,
to those works executed upon damp stucco into which the colour
penetrates to a certain depth. The ancient French authors, preserving
the difference existing between the Italian _fresco_ and the French
_frais_, wrote the word _fraisque_. At the present day Italian
orthography has prevailed, and with us this word has now more relation
to its etymology than its real signification.”

Whatever may be the common acceptation of the word, we must, in order to
keep within the limits of our subject, here only take into consideration
real frescoes, or in other words, works of art executed upon a bare
wall, properly prepared for the purpose, with which they are as it were
incorporated; for in the roll of art all are excluded from the catalogue
of mural paintings, rightly so called, which, although applied to walls
either directly or by the aid of panels or fixed canvas, are produced
otherwise than with water-colours, and used in such a manner as to
penetrate the special kind of plaster with which the wall had been
previously covered. We will mention as a striking example of this the
famous “Lord’s Supper” of Leonardo da Vinci, which has many times been
called a fresco (it is well known to have been painted upon the wall of
the refectory of Santa Maria della Gratia, at Milan), but is nothing but
a painting in distemper[32] on a dry partition--a circumstance,
by-the-bye, which has not a little contributed to the deterioration of
this magnificent work.

Fresco has long been considered the most ancient style of painting.
Vasari, who wrote in the middle of the sixteenth century, says in apt
terms that “the ancients generally practised painting _in fresco_, and
the first painters of the modern schools have only followed the antique
methods;” and, in our own day, Millin, in his “Dictionnaire des
Beaux-Arts,” asserts that the great paintings in the “Pœcile” of Athens
and the “Lesche” of Delphi, by Panænus and Polygnotus, spoken of by
Pausanias, were executed by this process; the same author also ranks
among frescoes the numerous paintings left by the Egyptians in their
temples and catacombs. “It was,” he remarks, “what the Romans called _in
udo pariete pingere_ (to paint on a damp wall); they say _in cretula
pingere_ (to paint on chalk) to designate water-colour painting on a dry

Some persons have considered the paintings found at Herculaneum and
Pompeii to be frescoes; nevertheless Winckelmann, who is an authority in
these matters, said, a hundred years ago, in speaking of those works,
“It is to be remarked that the greater part of these pictures were not
painted on damp lime, but upon a dry ground, which is rendered very
evident by several of the figures having scaled off in such a way as to
show distinctly the ground upon which they rest.”

The whole mistake has arisen from taking the expression “_in udo
pariete_,” found in Pliny, in too literal a sense; the error, which
might at all events have been dissipated by an attentive examination of
the examples themselves, would not have lasted long if the passage from
Pliny had been compared with a statement of Vitruvius, which informs us
that they applied to fresh walls uniform tints of black, blue, yellow,
or red, which were destined to form the grounds of paintings, or even
allowed them to remain plain, like our present coloured walls. The
employment of this process may also be easily recognised in the
paintings of Pompeii, where this uniform colouring has sometimes
penetrated nearly an inch into the stucco of the wall. On this ground,
when it was perfectly dry, ornamental subjects were painted either in
distemper or encaustic.

Thus, therefore, it is shown that the process of painting _in fresco_
was unknown to the ancients, and was invented by artists of succeeding
times; but it would be difficult to assign any precise date to this
invention; for however far we go back, we do not find any authors who
fix the epoch at which the new method was for the first time followed.
We are, therefore, compelled to notice the age of some particular
example which shows that the discovery had then taken place, without
being able to determine the exact date of its commencement.

Painting, which with the Greeks attained its greatest height in the
reign of Alexander, fell, says M. Breton, “with the power of Greece. In
losing its liberty, the country of the Fine Arts lost, too, the
perception of the beautiful.” At Rome, painting never reached the same
degree of perfection as it did in Greece; for a long time it was only
practised by men of the lowest rank and by slaves. A few patricians,
such as Amulius, Fabius _Pictor_ (painter), and Cornelius Pinus, were,
at the best, able to bring about only some slight revival. After the
twelve Cæsars, painting followed the movement of decadence which carried
away with it all the arts; like them, it received its death-blow in the
fourth century, on the day when Constantine, quitting Rome in order to
establish the seat of empire at Byzantium, took with him into his new
capital not only the best artists, but also a prodigious number of their
productions, and of those of the artists who preceded them. Several
other causes may also be mentioned as having led to the decline of art,
or to the destruction of examples which would now bear witness to its
power in remote ages. In the first place, there was the birth of
Christian Art, which rose on the ruins of Paganism; then, the invasion
of barbarians which took place in the fifth century; lastly, in the
eighth and ninth centuries, the fury of the Iconoclasts, or
Image-breakers, a sect at the head of which figured several emperors of
the East, from Leo the Isaurian, who reigned in 717, down to Michael
the Stammerer and Theophilus, who respectively ascended the imperial
throne in 820 and 829.

Even among the ignorant masses, to whom we owe the loss of so many
_chefs-d’œuvre_, were some individuals who formed honourable exceptions,
not only by opposing the devastations, but also by manifesting a
laudable conservative instinct. Cassiodorus tells us that Theodoric,
king of the Goths, re-established the office of _centurio nitentium
rerum_ (guardian of beautiful objects), instituted by the emperor
Constantius; and we know that the Lombard kings who succeeded this
prince and reigned in Italy for 218 years, although less zealous in the
culture of the arts, did not fail to honour and protect them. In Paul
the Deacon[33] we read that, in the sixth century, queen Teudelinde,
wife of Autharis and afterwards of Agilulphus, caused the valorous deeds
of the first Lombard kings to be painted on the _basilica_ that she had
consecrated at Monza under the name of St. John. Other paintings of the
same epoch may still be seen at Pavia. The Church of St. Nazaire at
Verona possesses in its crypt paintings spoken of by Maffei, which have
been engraved by Ciampini and Frisi: these must date back to the sixth
and seventh centuries. Lastly, they have recently found in the
subterranean chapel of the _basilica_ of St. Clement, in Rome, some
admirable mural paintings, which archæologists refer to the same epoch.

The Eastern artists, driven away by the persecutions of the Iconoclasts,
sought an asylum in Italy, where the Latin Church, obedient to the
prescriptions of the Council of Nice, seemed determined to multiply
sacred images as much as possible. The arrival of the Grecian artists in
the West was also singularly promoted by the commercial relations which
from that time were established between all points of the Mediterranean
shore and the maritime or mercantile towns of Italy--Pisa, Genoa, and
Venice. Thus was brought about the movement which, although taking place
on Italian soil, drew from an entirely Eastern source the inspiration of
the revival of the Fine Arts; thus was continued the so-called Byzantine
school, destined to be the foundation of all modern art.

In 817 some Greek artists, by order of Pope Pascal I., executed under
the portico of the Church of St. Cecilia in Rome a series of frescoes,
the subjects of which were taken from the life of the saint. To the same
school we are indebted for the sitting figures of Christ and His mother
(Fig. 239), in the old Church of Santa-Maria Trans-Tiberia, in Rome; the
large Madonna painted on the walls of Santa-Maria della Scala, Milan,
which, at the time when this church was destroyed and replaced by the
theatre of La Scala, was taken away and carried to the Church of
Santa-Fidelia, where it still remains; a series of portraits of the
Popes after St. Leo, a collection of which a large portion perished in
the fire of St. Paul-extra-Muros, Rome (Fig. 240); and lastly, the
paintings in the vaults of the Cathedral of Aquila.

[Illustration: Fig. 239.--Christ and His Mother. Fresco-Painting of the
Ninth Century, in the Apse of Santa-Maria Trans-Tiberia, Rome.]

“The works of these earliest painters,” observes M. Breton, “seem to
mark the transition from painting to sculpture: they are long figures as
stiff as columns, single or arranged symmetrically, forming neither
groups nor compositions, without perspective or effects of light and
shade, and having nothing to express their meaning than a sort of legend
proceeding out of the mouths of the characters. These frescoes, which
are so weak when looked at in an artistic point of view, are remarkable
for their material execution, being extremely solid in their
workmanship. It is astonishing to see the wonderful preservation of some
pictures of saints that adorn the pilasters of St. Nicholas in Treviso
and the walls of the church in Fiesole, whereon are preserved the
frescoes of Fra Angelico.”

Among the paintings remaining to our time, the first in which the
authors departed from the uniform style of the Byzantine masters are
those which adorn the interior of the ancient temple of Bacchus, now the
Church of St. Urban in the Campagna of Rome: there is nothing Grecian
either in the figures or draperies, and it is impossible not to
recognise in them an Italian pencil; the date, however, is 1011. Pesaro,
Aquila, Orvieto, and Fiesole, possess examples of the same epoch.

[Illustration: Fig. 240.--Portrait of the Pope Sylvester I.
Fresco-Painting in Mosaic, on a gold ground, in the Basilica of St.
Paul-extra-Muros, Rome.]

At last, in the thirteenth century, notwithstanding its fierce intestine
struggles, Italy, and especially Tuscany, witnessed the dawn of the sun
of the Fine Arts, which, after a long period of darkness, was to shine
with so much brilliancy over the whole world. Pisa and Siena, earliest
in the revival, gave birth respectively to Giunta and Guido
(Palmerucci), each of whom in his time acquired great renown; but the
only works of these artists which remain now, in the Cathedral of
Assisi, seem but to indicate a desire of progress without manifesting
any real advancement in art.

[Illustration: Fig. 241.--The Apostles in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Fresco by Berna, at San-Geminiano. (Fourteenth Century.)]

To Guido of Siena succeeds, but not immediately, the friend of
Petrarch, Simon Memmi, whose frescoes in the Campo Santo of Pisa
testify to his powerful genius, and denote the first remarkable stage of

In the collegiate church of San-Geminiano[34] may be still seen a fresco
by Berna (Fig. 241), an eminent master in the school of Siena, who died
in 1370.

Passing, but not without mention, Margaritone and Bonaventura
Berlinghieri, who were only the timid harbingers of a great
individuality, the Florentine school places in the first rank of its
celebrities Cimabue (1240-1300), justly regarded by the artistic world
as the true restorer of painting. Cimabue pointed out the path; Giotto,
his pupil, trod it. He took nature for his guide, and has been surnamed
“nature’s pupil.” Real imitation was the object of his endeavour, and as
he found this system marvellously applied in the beautiful antique
marbles which had already inspired, in the preceding century, the
sculptors John and Nicolas of Pisa, he made an earnest study of these
ancient _chefs-d’œuvre_. The impulse was given, and the Campo Santo of
Pisa shows us its first results in “The Dream of Life.”

For two centuries there was a slow but always progressive improvement,
owing to the industry of Buffamalco, Taddeo Gaddi, Orcagna, Spinello of
Lucca, and Masolino of Panicale. With the fifteenth century appeared Fra
Angelico of Fiesole (Figs. 242 and 246), and Benozzo Gozzoli; then
Masaccio, Pisanello, Mantegna, Zingaro, Pinturicchio, and lastly
Perugino, the Master of the divine Raphael. In the sixteenth century art
attained its culminating point. At this epoch Raphael and his pupils
painted the “Farnesina” and the “Stanze” and “Loggie” of the Vatican (it
is known that the two first pictures of the “Loggie” (Fig. 243) were
painted solely by the hand of Raphael); Michael Angelo alone executed
the immense expanse of the “Last Judgment,” and Paul Veronese painted
the ceilings of the palace of the Doges at Venice. Then Giulio Romano
covered with his works the walls of the Te palace at Mantua; Andrea del
Sarto, those of the “Annunziata” and “Dello Scalzo” at Florence. Daniel
of Volterra painted his famous “Descent from the Cross” for the Trinité
du Mont, Rome; at Parma, the Pencil of Correggio worked marvels on the
circle of the dome of the cathedral. Leonardo da Vinci, besides the
picture of the “Lord’s Supper,” which we before mentioned only to
exclude it from the

[Illustration: “THE DREAM OF LIFE.”


This fresco is by Andrea Cione, called Orcagna, a Florentine painter of
the fourteenth century, who executed for the Campo Santo of Pisa a
series of paintings which are still admired, representing the four
destinies of man:--“Death,” “Judgment,” “Hell,” and “Paradise.” Each of
these large compositions embraces several scenes; that which we give
belongs to the “Triumph of Death.”

Petrarch had just given to the world the concluding notes of his
funereal song, and the wish of the painter seems to have been to call to
life, in his fresco, the strange vision of the poet. The happy of this
world are here represented gathered together under cool shades and upon
carpets of verdure; gay lords are murmuring magic words into the ears of
the young ladies of Florence. Even quiet falcons on the wrists of the
lords seem captivated by this delicious music. Everything appears to
invite forgetfulness of the miseries of life,--the richness of the
vestments, the beautiful sky of Italy, the perfumes, the love-songs....
This is the “Dream of Life,” which “Death” is destined to dispel with
one sweep of his mighty wing.]

[Illustration: THE DREAM OF LIFE.

(After a Copy made for the Library of M Ambroise Firmin Didot.) From a
fresco Painting by Orcagna, in the Cloister of the Campo Santo of Pisa.
Fourteenth Century.]

number of frescoes, endowed the monastery of St Onofrio at Rome with a
magnificent Madonna, and the palace of Caravaggio, near Bergamo, with

[Illustration: Fig. 242.--Group of Saints, taken from the large Fresco
of “The Passion” in the Convent of St. Mark. Painted by Fra Angelico of

a colossal Virgin. It was, in short, the age of splendid productions in
mural painting, that in which the great Buonarotti exclaimed
when engaged in enthusiastic labour on one of his sublime
conceptions--“Fresco is the only painting; painting in oils is only the
art of women and idle and unenergetic men.” And yet, at least as regards
improvements in the process of execution, fresco had hardly reached its

In the seventeenth century the school of Bologna, after having for a
long time maintained a merely imitative style of art, shone forth with
independent light under the influence of the Carracci, who, summoned to
Rome, covered the walls of the Farnesian gallery with frescoes, to which
none others could be compared for brilliancy and powerful effect. As
much must be said of the works of their pupils: the “Martyrdom of St.
Sebastian,” in the Church of St. Mary of the Angels; the “Miracles of
St. Nil,” at Grotta-Ferrata, near Rome; the “Death of St. Cecilia,” at
Saint-Louis-des-Français, by Domenichino; “Aurora,” by Guercino, at the
Villa Ludovici; the “Chariot of the Sun,” by Guido, in the Rospigliosi
Palace, &c.

[Illustration: Fig. 243.--First Picture of the Loggie of Raphael--“God
creating the Heaven and the Earth.”]

Luca Giordano, a Neapolitan painter, founder of the gallery of the
Ricciardi Palace at Florence, and author of the frescoes in numerous
churches in Italy and Spain, must not be forgotten; and with him must
be mentioned Pietro da Cortona, of the Roman school, who especially
distinguished himself in the ceilings of the Barberini Palace, at Rome.

We still have to mention the fertile painters of the Genoese and
Parmesan schools--Lanfranc, Carloni, and Francavilla; but the hour of
decadence had come when these artists appeared; they had more boldness
than talent, they aimed at the majestic, but only succeeded in attaining
to the gigantic; their pencils were skilful, but their soul lacked
fervour and conviction; in spite of their efforts, fresco-painting
declined under their hands, and since that time has only decayed and
gradually sunk into oblivion.

We must not quit the classical ground of the Fine Arts without
mentioning a process of painting which is closely allied to fresco, and
bears the characteristic name of _sgraffito_ (literally, a scratch).
This style of painting, or rather of drawing (for the works had the
appearance of a large drawing in black crayon), was more generally used
for the exterior of buildings, and was produced by covering the wall
first with black stucco, then with a second layer of white, and
afterwards by removing with an iron instrument the second layer so as to
lay bare, in places, the black ground. The most important work executed
in this style is the ornamentation of the monastic house of the knights
of St. Stephen, at Pisa; this work is by Vasari, to whom also has been
attributed--but wrongfully--the invention of _sgraffito_, which was used
long before his time.

Hitherto we have chiefly confined our remarks to Italy and Italian
artists; however, in the consideration of them we have nearly summed up
our brief history of fresco. If we would look to France for any
remarkable works of this kind, we must refer to the epochs in which
Italy sent Simon Memmi to decorate the palace of the popes at Avignon,
and Rosso and Primaticcio to adorn that of the kings at Fontainebleau.
Prior to this, all we meet with are, at the most, a few primitive, not
to say barbarous, subjects, painted here and there, in distemper, by
unknown artists, on the walls of churches or monasteries. Among these
conventional examples it is, however, only just to distinguish some
pictures of powerful effect, if not in execution, at least for the ideas
they are intended to convey; we would speak of the “Dance of Death,” or
“Dance of the Dead,” like that which existed at Paris in the Cemetery of
the Innocents, and another still to be seen in the Abbey of Chaise-Dieu,
in Auvergne; legends more than

[Illustration: Fig. 244.--“Fraternity of the Cross-bowmen.”
(Fresco-Painting of the Fifteenth Century, in the ancient Chapel of St.
John and St. Paul, Ghent.)]

pictures, and philosophical compositions rather than manifestations of
art. Spain, too, has no reason to be proud of her national productions;
for, with the exception of the Gothic frescoes still existing in the
Cathedral of Toledo, representing the combats between the Moors and the
Toledans (pictures specially worthy of the attention of archæologists),
the only frescoes of Spanish origin we can mention are the paintings of
a few ceilings in the Escurial and in a chapter-room in the Cathedral of
Toledo; all the other frescoes must be attributed to Italian artists.

Whenever the northern artists, usually so cold and methodical in their
mode of operation, devoted themselves to mural painting, it seems to
have been necessary that they should enliven their temperament in the
sunny rays of a southern sky; for while in Holland and Belgium we notice
but few walls covered with decorative painting, we find a large number
of Italian churches and palaces which contain frescoes bearing the
signature of Flemish masters.

[Illustration: Fig. 245.--“Death and the Jew.” An episode from the
“Dance of Death.” Painted in 1441, in the Cemetery of the Dominicans,
Basle. (Facsimile from the Engraving of M. Mérian.)]

There was considerable excitement manifested a few years ago at the
discovery of the mural paintings in the ancient Chapel of St. John and
St. Paul, in Ghent (Fig. 244). These works are of the fifteenth
century, and although satisfactory enough as regards the design, they
derive more importance from the subjects which they represent than from
any merit of execution.

In speaking of Germany, we should not omit to mention the ancient “Dance
of Death” (Fig. 245), at Basle, in the cemetery of the Dominicans,
painted in the middle of the fifteenth century; also another “Dance of
Death” much more famous, and the façades of several houses, painted at
Basle by Holbein. We must also indicate the paintings with which (in
1466) Israel de Meckenheim covered the walls of a chapel of St. Mary of
the Capitol, at Cologne; and the frescoes of St. Etienne and St.
Augustine, at Vienna. But it does not follow, from this limited
enumeration of works, that Germany either created or followed any
special school.

[Illustration: Fig. 246.--Fra Angelico, of Fiesole.]


     The Rise of Christian Painting.--The Byzantine School.--First
     Revival in Italy.--Cimabue, Giotto, Fra Angelico.--Florentine
     School: Leonardo da Vinci, Michael Angelo.--Roman School: Perugino,
     Raphael.--Venetian School: Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese.--Lombard
     School: Correggio, Parmigianino.--Spanish School.--German and
     Flemish Schools: Stephan of Cologne, John of Bruges, Lucas van
     Leyden, Albert Dürer, Lucas van Cranach, Holbein.--Painting in
     France during the Middle Ages.--Italian Masters in France.--Jean

After its first weak manifestations in the dark shadows of the
Catacombs--the place of refuge to which the earliest believers had to
resort to celebrate their holy mysteries--Christian painting made its
first attempt to display itself in open day at the time when the new
faith found in Constantine the high protection of a crowned disciple.
But this art felt an instinctive repugnance to draw its inspirations
from works which had been created under the empire of decayed and
contemned creeds. In the completely spiritual worship of the true God,
it seemed but natural to seek for other types than those which had been
consecrated by the fancies of materialistic mythologies.

The school of _idea_, which was substituted for the school of _form_,
desired to owe nothing to its frivolous predecessor. It would have
considered it a reproach to give even the semblance of permanence to
reprobated traditions, and it set itself to work to create an art
completely new in all its features. The rule it laid down, therefore,
was to regard as non-existent the _chefs-d’œuvre_ which recalled to mind
the days of moral error; rejecting the inspiration to be derived from
the magnificent relics of the past, it resolved to commence an era of
its own, and to exist on its own ideas. Hence that principle of
energetic simplicity which, although it may have hindered art from
elevating itself to the perfection we call classical, had at least this
advantage, that it sought by gradual development to imprint on
Christian art a stamp of individuality from which it was to derive both
its power and its glory.

Thus, by the enthusiasm of faith, was called into existence that really
primitive School of Painting which has received the name of _Byzantine_;
because at the very time when it obtained the liberty of displaying
itself, Constantine, transferring the seat of empire to Byzantium,
necessarily took with him the body of artists of whom he was the
protector; because, too, as we have before observed, Byzantium
henceforth became for many centuries the sole focus whence light
radiated towards the West, which was now plunged in barbarism. We must,
therefore, go back to the Byzantine school, if we wish to trace to their
origin all the forms of European painting.

“Allegory,” says M. Michiels, “was the first language of Christian
painting; not only did it express typically the Evangelical teachings,
but the Divine personages themselves were metamorphosed into symbols.
Sometimes, for instance, Christ appeared in the form of a young
shepherd, bearing on his shoulders and carrying back to the fold a
wandering sheep; sometimes He was represented as the Orpheus of the new
faith, charming and taming ferocious animals by the sound of His
lute.... He also was made to assume the form of the lamb without spot,
or of a phœnix spreading its wings, the conqueror of death and the
spirits of darkness. Thus was the transition softened down; thus did
they escape the raillery of Pagans who would have turned into ridicule
the heroic sufferings and the glorious humiliations of the Son of man.
But this timidity could not long continue.... The council held at
Constantinople in 692 commanded that allegory should be repudiated, and
that the objects of their veneration should be displayed to the faithful
without the veil hitherto employed. Now was exhibited to view a
spectacle new indeed to men; a Deity crowned with thorns, enduring the
outrages of a vile populace, or stretched upon a cross and pierced with
a lance, turning His sad glance to heaven and wrestling with His agony.
The Greeks and Latins were but slow in adopting this mode of
representation, and did so with regret.... But the perception of moral
dignity was destined to eclipse the vain pomp of Pagan grandeur. The
generous sufferings of sacrifice were to become the greatest of all

“Christian painting, when once established as an art on the banks of the
Bosphorus, assumed a certain immobility of character. Forms, attitudes,
groups, and vestments--all were regulated by ecclesiastical
prescription. There was, as it were, an inflexible text-book, to which
artists were bound to submit. Delicacy of colouring and nobility of
attitude were the only things to recall the beauty of ancient art. Even
in our days the Greek and Russian painters follow a similar plan,
drawing and arranging their figures in the same manner as their
ancestors of the time of Honorius and the Palæologi.”

Even in the West the case was nearly the same, so long as the practice
of painting remained almost exclusively confined to artists coming from
Constantinople. Thus, in some celebrated manuscripts of the eighth and
ninth centuries we find compositions that give a very exact
representation of the state of the art in these remote times, though the
paintings themselves have been destroyed by the Iconoclasts. In fact,
during ten centuries it seemed that the Western races resisted any
expression of artistic individuality or invention. Throughout this long
period we find Greek painters the supreme arbiters of taste and
knowledge in the countries of Western Europe, forcing upon them their
own barren style, and teaching them their contracted perceptions. Art
among them seemed always to be but a mere instinct. Constant
immigrations took place which were continually leading them to every
point in Western Europe, but none of them ever brought anything novel in
art beyond what their predecessors had already introduced. If they took
root in a new country, the son repeated the works of his father. The
pupil took no means to enlarge his thoughts; he adopted as his model and
his ideal nothing but the work of his master, and the poor form of
tradition was continued without enthusiasm and without progress (Fig.
247). Genius is altogether wanting, or if its sacred spark sprung forth
from heaven, it was soon extinguished when it reached the earth for want
of a soul which could receive it, and be kindled by its fire. The Greek
masters doubtless affected some pride in the grandeur of their native
name, but they were none the less living proofs that the sources from
which flowed the inspiration of a Zeuxis, a Protogenes, or an Apelles,
had since those far-distant days been long dried up. The East had for
ever terminated its ancient character of artistic creation, and the most
it seemed destined to achieve during the Middle Ages was to preserve the
germ which the West was to bring again into active life.

Italy, and more particularly Tuscany, may lay claim to the honour of

[Illustration: Fig. 247.--“Baptism of King Clovis.” (Fragment of a
Painting on Canvas at Rheims. Fifteenth Century.)]

having witnessed, about the end of the thirteenth and the beginning of
the fourteenth century, the dawn of the great revival of artistic light.
The names of Giunta of Pisa, Guido of Siena, and Duccio, had, however,
already commenced the glorious list of Italian artists, who were the
first to endeavour to modify the immutable Greek manner. Their attempts,
no doubt, seem but insignificant, looking at the immense progress
subsequently accomplished; but, however slight it may appear to be, the
first step made beyond the beaten path which has been trodden for
centuries is often evidence of the most courageous daring.

The year 1240 witnessed the birth of Cimabue: as a young man, he became
enamoured of art by watching the labours of the Greek painters who had
been summoned to Florence to decorate the chapel of the Gondi. It was
purposed to make him a _savant_ and a lawyer; but he succeeded in
abandoning the pen in favour of the pencil, and, from the lessons of the
timid Byzantines, he soon became a master whose every thought was
henceforth devoted to the emancipation of an art that he found condemned
to a kind of immobility. Thanks to him, the expression of faces, which
up to that time had been entirely conventional in character, was
animated by a truer sentiment; the lines of drawing, which had been hard
and stiff, were broken up into well-ordered grace; the colouring,
hitherto dull and gloomy, assumed soft brilliancy and harmonious relief.
It is said that Cimabue’s _chef-d’œuvre_, the “Madonna” which is still
to be seen in the Church of Santa-Maria-Novella, was carried in
procession by the crowd to the place which it now occupies; the painter
was received with shouts, and, it is added, the joy of the people at the
sight of the picture was so great that the part of the city wherein
Cimabue’s studio was situated received, after this event, the name of
_Borgo Allegro_ (the Joyous Town). One day when Cimabue was in the
country, he noticed a young shepherd-boy who was amusing himself by
sketching on a rock the sheep he tended. The painter took charge of the
boy; he became his favourite pupil, and was the celebrated Giotto, who
happily persevered in the reform commenced by Cimabue. Giotto, the first
among the artists of his time, ventured to paint portraits, and
succeeded well in them. To him we owe our acquaintance with the real
features of his friend Dante; and we still admire, at least as
manifestations of an adventurous genius, the paintings he left in the
Church of Santa Clara at Naples, in the Cathedral of Assisi, and
especially in the Campo Santo at Pisa, where he painted in fresco the
history of Job.

Giotto died in 1336, but he left behind him to continue his work, Taddeo
Gaddi, Giottino, Stefano, Andrea Orcagna, and Simon Memmi, who were
each destined to open out some new path in art. In the Campo Santo at
Pisa we may see how great was the power of the genius of these masters,
especially of Andrea Orcagna (1329-1389), who has there represented,
with an equal measure of beauty and of sombre and terrible energy, the
“Dream of Life,” facing the “Triumph of Death.” Taddeo Gaddi remained a
fervent disciple of his master, and continued his delicate accuracy of
design, and the living freshness of his colouring. Stefano succeeded him
in the boldness of his compositions, in his studious knowledge of the
nude, and of perspective effect which had been hitherto neglected.
Giottino inherited his serious inspirations. Memmi endeavoured to recall
his mystical and graceful sentiment. Orcagna, who was at once painter,
sculptor, architect, and poet, seemed to possess in turn all the
qualities which his fellow-disciples had shared among them, and could
represent with equal success the terrors of the infernal regions and the
visions of heaven.

The progress of which these painters had constituted themselves the
apostles was not carried out without exciting some opposition. In
addition to the Greek masters, who naturally felt compelled to contend
with the innovators, certain individuals were found among the Italian
artists who energetically embraced the party of the past. We will only
mention one, Margaritone of Arezzo, who wore out his long life in a
useless devotion to a cause which was already lost; even his name we
should not have particularised, if it had not been that the art owed him
some gratitude for the service he rendered it, by substituting the use
of canvas prepared for painting instead of panels of wood, which had
hitherto been exclusively employed.

The Florentine school (for thus we call the group of artists who trod in
the footsteps of Cimabue and Giotto) had for its representative, at the
beginning of the fifteenth century, Giovanni of Fiesole, surnamed _Fra
Angelico_, the personification of enthusiasm in artistic sublimity;
whose works, too, resemble so many hymns of adoration. Born in the year
1387, and inheriting great wealth, he was endowed with a contemplative
mind, and, ignorant of the talent which inspired him, he sought oblivion
from the world in the garb of a Dominican, little suspecting that glory
awaited him in the very depth of his humility. At first, as a kind of
pious recreation, he covered with miniatures several pages of
manuscripts; next, his companions in the cloister requested him to
paint a picture. He obeyed, feeling convinced that the inspiration which
stirred within him was a manifestation of the Divine spirit, and it was
with the most artless simplicity that he referred to this celestial
origin the _chef-d’œuvre_ which proceeded from his hands. His reputation
spread far and wide. At the invitation of the head of the Christian
Church, he repaired to Rome in order to paint one of the chapels of the
Vatican. And when the pontiff, full of enthusiasm at his talent, wished
to confer upon him as a reward the dignity of archbishop, Angelico
retired modestly to his cell in order to devote himself without
interruption to that art which was to him a continual prayer, and a
perpetual soaring up to that heavenly country on which he unceasingly
meditated with all the unutterable feelings of the elect.

About the same era as the “seraphic monk,” who died full of years in
1455, appeared Tomaso Guidi, for whom a kind of unconsciousness of
everyday life had obtained the ironical _sobriquet_ of Masaccio (the
Stupid); who, however, astonished the world by his works to such extent
that it was said concerning them, “those of his predecessors were
_painted_, but his were _living_.” Masaccio was one of the first (and
this fact shows how slowly art may progress even in bold hands) to place
in his pictures firmly on the soles of their feet figures presenting a
full front, instead of making them stand upon their great-toes, as his
predecessors had done from a want of knowledge of the requisite
foreshortening. Masaccio died in 1443.

Philippo Lippi, who devoted himself more specially to the study of
nature, both in the human physiognomy and also in the accessory details
of his works, marks as it were the last stage of the art, when it
approached the state of full vigour in which it was to manifest the
whole extent of its power. We are now at the end of the fifteenth
century, and the masters of the _great masters_ are in existence. It was
Andrea Verrochio who, at the sight of an angel which Leonardo da Vinci,
his pupil, had painted in one of his works, for ever abandoned his
pencil. It was Domenico Ghirlandajo who, jealous of the superior
qualities which he recognised in his pupil, the youthful Buonarotti, not
only endeavoured, but succeeded in diverting his talents, at least for a
time, to sculpture. It was Fra Bartolommeo (1469-1517) who was affected
with such profound grief at the death of his friend Savonarola, that he
embraced a monastic life. Baccio della Porta (such was the name of the
Brother) was a very great painter (Fig. 248); the vigour and

[Illustration: Fig. 248.--“The Patriarch Job.” A Painting on Panel, by
Fra Bartolommeo. Fifteenth Century.

(In the Gallery at Florence.)]

harmony of colouring which he showed, especially in his last
productions, has sometimes caused them to be attributed to Raphael, with
whom he was for some time united in the bonds of friendship. But we must
not confine ourselves to characterising the works of one single group of
artists; for, although the revival took its rise on the banks of the
Arno, it spread far and wide beyond those limits. Added to this, Giotto,
when visiting Verona, Padua, and Rome, left in each place the still
resplendent traces of his presence. When Fra Angelico went to adorn the
Vatican, his genius spread around it a fruitful irradiation which
everywhere dimmed the ancient renown of the Byzantine painters who had
hitherto prevailed in the Italian cities.

At Rome we find flourishing in succession Pietro Cavallini, whom Giotto
had instructed during the sojourn of the latter in the Eternal City;
Gentile da Fabriano, who drew his inspiration from Fra Angelico; and
Pietro della Francesca, who has been regarded as the originator of
perspective. We next meet with Pietro Vannucci, called Perugino, who was
born in 1446; it was owing to nothing but the force of his genius and
his character that he became one of the most celebrated masters of his
time. At the close of his career, Perugino had the honour of initiating
into the practice of his art Raphael Sanzio of Urbino, who was in his
own day, as he still is, the prince of painting.

At Venice a body of pioneers, still more numerous and compact, prepared
the way for the new era, destined to be made illustrious by Titian,
Tintoretto, and Paul Veronese. We will mention also Gentile and Jacopo
Bellini; the former was incessantly absorbed in investigating the
theories of an art which he nevertheless exercised with all the
_abandon_ of an inspired genius; the latter constantly devoted himself
to the combination of power and grace; and, at the age of seventy-five
years, seemed to regain a second youth in following with happy boldness
the example of his pupil Giorgione.[35] This painter, who was born in
1477, and died in 1511, introduced all kinds of innovations in respect
to design and colouring, and was the master of Giovanni da Udine,
Sebastian del Piombo, Jacques Palma, and Pordenone, fellow-pupils and
sometimes rivals of the three great artists by whose works the Venetian
school was to mark its individuality.

At Parma a local school was represented by Antonio Allegri, called
Correggio, born in 1494; and by Francesco Mazzuoli, called Parmigianino,
born in 1503.

In other places, too, talents of a vigorous or of a graceful character
were developed, but we can only cast a comprehensive glance on this
memorable artistic epoch, and are unable to offer a detailed review of
the artists and their works. And what further luminaries of art could we
wish to embrace in our summary after having displayed in it, shining, so
to speak, at one and the same epoch, Leonardo da Vinci (Fig. 249),
Michael Angelo, Raphael, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, Correggio, and

[Illustration: Fig. 249.--Portrait of Leonardo da Vinci, from a Venetian
Engraving of the Sixteenth Century.]

Four principal schools compete with one another--the Florentine school,
the characteristics of which are truth of design, energy of colouring,
and grandeur of conception; the Roman school, which seeks its ideal in
the skilful and sober judgment of its lines, the dignity of its
compositions, propriety of expression and beauty of form; the Venetian
school, which occasionally neglected correctness of drawing, and devoted
itself more to the brilliancy and magical effect of colour; lastly, the
school of Parma, which is distinguished especially by its softness of
touch and by its knowledge of light and shade. All such estimations of
the different qualities of these various groups must not, however, be
looked upon as in any way absolute.

As chiefs of the first school we have two men, each of whom presents to
us one of the richest organisations and the most widely extending genius
which human nature has, perhaps, ever produced; these were Leonardo da
Vinci and Michael Angelo, both of whom were sculptors as well as
painters; and also architects, musicians, and poets. We will first speak
of Leonardo da Vinci, whose style presents two very distinct epochs; the
first tending to vigour in the shadows, to a mistiness in reflected
lights, to a general effect produced by a certain oddness, or rather by
a strange representation of truth; a combination of qualities which, as
M. Michiels says, makes Leonardo the “most northerly of the Italian
painters” (Fig. 250). His second style, “clear, serene, and precise,”
transports us into a “completely southern sphere.” But some secret
influence drew the artist so forcibly towards his earlier manner, that
he returned to it at an advanced age in painting the famous portrait of
Mona Lisa, which adorns the gallery of the Louvre. We must not forget
the fact that we have to attribute to Pope Leo X. the great revival of
the arts, and especially of painting, in Italy at the commencement of
the sixteenth century.

“In Michael Angelo,” still to quote the words of M. Michiels, “science,
power, grandeur, and all the more severe qualities are combined. No
vulgar artifice and no affectation. The painter was imbued with a
sublime ideal of majestic types from which nothing was able to divert
him. He felt as if there were existing in himself a whole population of
heroes, whom, by the aid of painting and sculpture, he endeavoured to
withdraw from their mental concealment, and to embody in incarnate
forms. His personages scarcely seem to belong to our race; they appear
to be creatures worthy of some more spacious world, to the proportions
of which their physical vigour and their moral energy would well
respond. The very women do not possess the grace of their sex; we might
fancy them valiant Amazons well capable of mastering a horse or of
crushing an enemy. This great man’s object was neither to charm nor to
please; his delight rather was to astonish and to strike with admiration
or terror; but it is this very excess of power which enabled him to win
the approbation of all.”

[Illustration: Fig. 250.--The Holy Family, by Leonardo da Vinci, from
the Picture in the Museum at St. Petersburg.]

Next we have Raphael, _il divino Sanzio_, as he was called by his
numerous admirers, whose genius was constantly attaining to grandeur by
means of simplicity, and to power by means of reserve. Michael Angelo
always seems as if he were only able to represent a limited portion of
his gigantic conceptions on the wall he covered with his designs; but it
was sufficient for Raphael to place some tranquil figure on a narrow
square of canvas, and we have before us the bright image of the most
perfect and delicious inspiration. He created for himself a heaven which
he peopled with the purest and most venerated types of the human race;
and a light, as from on high, beams with regal splendour on these
graceful visions. In Raphael, even more than in Leonardo da Vinci, it
seemed as if two artists of equal sublimity succeeded one another. At
first we have the charming dreamer who, in the fresh enthusiasm of his
early youth, creates Madonnas, artless daughters of the earth in whose
look and countenance a sacred light shines in all its ineffable purity;
next he is the master full of the deepest science, for whom the real
beauties of creation have no concealment; who, in representing nature,
succeeded in transforming to her the magnificent ideal of which his own
soul appears to have received the impression from association with the
divine regions.

“The principal characteristic of Raphael,” still following the very just
remarks of M. Michiels, “is the universality of his fame. It becomes
almost painful to hear the vulgar crowd constantly repeating a magic
name, the true signification of which they do not understand.” As the
spoiled child of fortune, the creator of Virgins and “The
Transfiguration,” he is almost without detractors from his fame; and it
is impossible to reckon the number of his admirers. “One circumstance in
his life affords us an emblem of his destiny. Having sent to Palermo the
famous canvas of the ‘Spasimo,’[36] a tempest overwhelmed the ship which
carried it; but the waves seemed to respect the _chef-d’œuvre_. After
having drifted more than fifty leagues through the sea, the box which
enclosed the precious production floated gently on shore at the port of
Genoa. The picture was in no way injured. The Sicilian monks, for whom
it was intended, did not fail to claim it; and since that time, thanks
to the mercy of the waves, it attracts to the foot of Etna numerous
pilgrims to the shrine of genius.”

At Venice, we first have Titian, the painter of Charles V. and Francis
I. “The genius of Titian,” says Alexander Lenoir, “is always great and
noble. No painter has ever produced flesh-colours so beautiful and
life-like. In Titian there is no apparent tone; the colouring of his
flesh is so well blended, that it seems as difficult to imitate as the
model itself. Add to his pictures their truth and expression of action,
and the elegance and richness of the drapery, and we shall have some
idea of the great works which he left behind him.”

Next Jacques Robusti presents himself, who, from the profession of his
father was surnamed Tintoretto (the Dyer). He was at first a pupil of
Titian, who, it is said, from motives of jealousy, dismissed him from
his studio; but the fervour of uninterrupted labour was all that
Tintoretto required in order to mature the most productive talent. “The
drawing of Michael Angelo, and the colouring of Titian”--such was the
ambitious motto he wrote over the door of his humble _atelier_, and we
are almost justified in stating that he was enabled, by force of study
and labour, to fulfil his aspirations, if we look only at some of his
pieces executed before a certain fever of exuberant production had
seized upon and necessarily weakened his vigorous talents. To form some
estimate of the extent to which Tintoretto was impelled by this impulse
of creation, we may recollect that even Paul Veronese reproached him
with being unable to restrain himself--Veronese, the most indefatigable
of producers!

With regard to the latter, his works are characterised not only by the
number of figures in them, but also by the striking brilliancy of the
_mise en scène_. Although he multiplies his actors, they are grouped in
perfect order; although he paints a multitude, he knows how to avoid a
crowd. Notice how a feeling of life profusely pervades the whole of his
vast pictures of important events; an idea of space is everywhere given;
everywhere light plays a powerful part, and imagination has full scope.
He is the painter _par excellence_ of feasts and ceremonies: at once
pompous and natural, his copiousness is only equalled by his dazzling
facility; and we are compelled to forgive the errors with which he
mingles on the same canvas the religious ideas of sacred subjects and
the profane splendour of modern times.

What shall we say about Correggio? There is no methodical scale by which
to measure grace; and there is no formula laid down of delicious
softness. But if, at the Louvre, we examine his “Antiope asleep,” we
shall not soon forget the fascinating power of the old Allegri

From Correggio to Parmigianino the distance is of the kind that
admiration can easily fill up. It was said of the latter that he had
more the appearance of an angel than of a man; and the Romans of his
own day used to add that the spirit of Raphael had passed into his body.
In more than one instance his genius was kindled by the sun of
Correggio, and ripened in the studios of Michael Angelo and Raphael; but
in addition to this, his flexible and varied talent enabled him to find
a place by himself between these two masters. “St. Francis receiving the
Stigmata,” and “The Marriage of St. Catherine,” which he painted before
he had attained his eighteenth year, are still regarded as equal to the
_chefs-d’œuvre_ signed by Allegri. It is well known that a “St.
Margaret,” executed by Parmigianino fifteen years later for a church at
Bologna, was placed by Guido in the same rank as the “St. Cecilia” of

By the side of, or after, these famous men, in whom the glory of Italian
painting seems to have brilliantly culminated, how many noble names
still remain to be cited; how many remarkable names are there still to
mention, even among those who, in following the glorious path opened out
for them by the great masters, began to show glimpses of the earliest
symptoms of decay, exhaustion, and lassitude! It does not form a part of
our plan to dwell upon the various phases of this decadence; but before
we glance at the last sparks of light which were shed forth, we must not
forget the fact that the Italian pleiades were not exclusively
privileged to illumine the artistic horizon.

It is certainly the case that all over Europe the Byzantine tradition
had been the sole possessor of the throne of art since the earliest
centuries of the Middle Ages. In Germany as in Italy, in France as in
the countries bounding it on the north, we find nothing but the same
school displaying the dead level of its inflexibility. At various
epochs, however, certain feeble attempts at independence were here and
there manifested; but these aspirations were at first generally
isolated, and therefore transient in their character. Finally, however,
as if the hour of revival had been simultaneously agreed upon at all
points of the intellectual world, these desires for emancipation
manifested themselves in a corresponding effort to reject the former too
absolute form, and to substitute the element of life for the principle
of conventionality.

In Spain a strange combat was waging on the soil itself, for the
possession of which two hostile races, two irreconcilable faiths, were
in fierce contention. The Mahometan built the Alhambra, the halls of
which were destined to be subsequently adorned by a Christian pencil. In
the paintings that enliven the arches of this marvellous edifice an art
is manifested which is both simple and grand in its character; but in
this one undertaking it appears to have exhausted the share of vitality
time had awarded to it; for immediately afterwards it seems to have died
away. If, however, any fresh masters of the art of painting appeared on
the Iberian soil, they had sought in Italy the flame of inspiration, or
some mighty art-pilgrim visited their country. We must come down to a
later epoch, from the consideration of which we are now precluded, in
order to meet with an Herrera, a Ribera, a Velasquez, or a Murillo, the
glory of whom, although comparatively late, may perhaps hold its own by
the side of the great Italian schools, but cannot pretend to eclipse
them. Among the predecessors of these real and distinct individualities,
we will, however, mention the following:--Alonzo Berruguete, born in
1480, at once painter, architect, and sculptor; he was a pupil of
Michael Angelo, in whose works he often took a share; Pedro Campagna,
born in 1503, who studied under the same master--his _chef-d’œuvre_ is
still admired in the Cathedral of Seville; Luis de Vargas, born in 1502,
who was able in many points to appropriate the secrets of Sanzio, from
whom he appeared to have received lessons; Morales, whose paintings are
still admired for the harmony of their lines and the delicacy of their
touch; Vicente Juanes, whose purity of design and sober vigour of
colouring obtained for him the title (certainly by some exaggeration of
praise) of the “Raphael of Valencia;” lastly, Fernandez Navarette, born
in 1526, who, perhaps less hyperbolically, was surnamed the “Spanish
Titian;” and Sanchez Coello, born about 1500, who, excelling in
portraits, has handed down the likenesses of some celebrated personages
of his time.

In Germany and the Low Countries we find similar traces of the feeling
of regeneration actuating the minds of artists at a much earlier period.
The first name which presents itself to us beyond the Rhine is that
mentioned in the Chronicle of Limburg, of the date of 1380. “There was
then at Cologne,” says the chronicler, “a painter named Wilhelm.
According to the masters, he was the best in all the countries of
Germany; he has painted men of every description as if they were alive.”
We have nothing left of the works of this artist except some panels
without signature, which, in consideration of the date they bear, are
attributed to him; an examination shows that, considering the epoch at
which he lived, Wilhelm might justly be looked upon as a creative
genius. He was succeeded by his most talented pupil, _Maître_ Stephan. A
triptych of his work may be seen at the Cathedral of Cologne,
representing “The Adoration of the Magi,” “St. Gereon,” “St. Ursula,”
and “The Annunciation.” This work, which exhibits charming finish as
well as harmonious simplicity, is sufficient evidence that its author
was possessed of much natural ability as well as a certain extent of
knowledge; and if we make it our study to seek out the relics of the
artistic movement of the period, we can in no way feel surprise at
seeing that the influence of this early master made itself felt in a
very extended radius.

But at this epoch, that is, at the commencement of the fifteenth
century, in a city of Flanders, a new luminary made its appearance,
which was destined to eclipse the brilliancy of the somewhat weak German
innovation. Two brothers, Hubert and John van Eyck, together with their
sister Margaret, established themselves in the “triumphant city of
Bruges,” as it is called by an historian; and very soon all the Flemish
and Rhenish regions resounded with the name of Van Eyck, their works
being the only representations which were admired and followed; and even
in those early days it was a title of glory to form a part of their
brilliant school.

John, the younger of the two brothers, was the one to whom renown more
particularly attached (Fig. 251). He is reputed to have been the
inventor of oil-painting; but all he did was to improve the methods
employed. Nevertheless, tradition tells us that an Italian master,
Antonello of Messina, made a journey to Flanders, with the object of
finding out the secret of John Bruges (by which name Van Eyck is often
called); and that he subsequently circulated it throughout the Italian
schools. Be this as it may, John of Bruges, apart from any similarity in
manner (for it was by the force of his colouring, as much as by his new
theories of composition, that he succeeded in revolutionising the old
school of painting), may be considered as the Giotto of the North; but
we must add that the effects of his attempts were much more rapidly
decisive. At one leap, so to speak, the somewhat cold painting of the
Gothic school decked itself with a splendour which left but little for
the future Venetian school to achieve beyond it; with one flight of
genius, stiff and methodical conceptions became imbued with suppleness
and vital action. Finally, we have the first notable sign of the true
feeling of an art combining science and grace--a knowledge of anatomy
is shown in the life-like flesh and under the brilliant draperies. There
is, however, a considerable distance, which cannot fail to be remarked,
separating the two reformers of art whose names we have just brought
together. One, Giotto, desired to grasp the real in order to make it
conduce to the triumph of the ideal; while Van Eyck only accepted the
ideal because he had as yet been unable to apprehend the deepest secrets
of the real. All the other masters are but as the fruit yielded by the
school of the great Florentine, and by those which the descendants of
the Flemish masters were destined to produce. At Ghent, we still have as
an object of admiration, an altar-piece, a _chef-d’œuvre_ of Van Eyck;
it is an immense composition, some portions of which have been removed;
but at first it did not contain less than three hundred figures,
representing the “Adoration of the Paschal Lamb by the Virgins of the

[Illustration: Fig. 251.--“The Holy Virgin, St. George, and St. Donat.”
By John van Eyck. (Museum at Antwerp.)]

John van Eyck resided for some time at the court of Portugal, whither he
had been sent by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, to delineate

[Illustration: “ST. CATHERINE AND ST. AGNES.”


On the left of the picture is seen St. Catherine of Alexandria holding
in her hands the instruments of her punishment--the _wheel_, which is
broken into fragments, and the _sword_ which decapitated her; below her
is the head of the Emperor Maxmilian II., who ordered her martyrdom.

On the right is St. Agnes, and a _lamb_, the emblem of her innocence and

The _ring_ St. Agnes is presenting to St. Catherine denotes the bond
which unites the two virgin-martyrs, and attests that both are worthy to
be spouses of Jesus Christ.]


Painting attributed to Margaret Van Eyck. (M. Quedeville’s

the features of his _fiancée_, the Princess Elizabeth (1428). The
influence exercised by his labours is thought to have brought about that
tendency to brilliancy and realism which, after its first manifestation
in the earliest Spanish manner, gave way before the encroachments of
Italian genius, only to reappear in all its power in the great national

Among the best pupils that Van Eyck left behind him at Bruges, we must
not omit the name of Hugo van der Goes, whose works are rare.

Roger van der Weyden, of whose paintings but few are now extant, was the
favourite pupil of John of Bruges, and the master of Hemling, whose
reputation was destined to equal, if not to surpass, that of the chief
of his school. “Hemling,” says M. Michiels, so eminent a judge on this
subject, “whose most ancient picture bears the date 1450, possesses more
sweetness and grace than the Van Eycks. His figures charm by an ideal
elegance; his expression never exceeds the limits of tranquil feeling
and agreeable emotion. Quite contrary to John van Eyck, he prefers the
slender and rich character of the Gothic (Fig. 252) to the heaviness and
scanty detail of Roman architecture. His colouring, although less
vigorous, is softer; the water, the woods, the sites, the grass, and the
distances of his pictures cause a dream-like feeling.”

A kind of instinctive reaction was manifested in the pupil, but the
master was not altogether forgotten. We shall, however, find elsewhere
the effects of his direct influence; but in order not to have to return
to the school of Bruges, we will first mention Jerome Bosch, who,
contrary to his countryman Hemling, sought after opposition of effects
and singularities of invention; and next Erasmus, the great thinker and
writer, who was also a painter in his day;[37] lastly, Cornelius
Engelbrechtsen, the master of Lucas van Leyden, born in 1494. The latter
was as famous with the pencil as with the graving tool, and introduced
into all his works a powerful and sometimes strange originality which
caused him to be looked upon as the first painter of “_genre_.” Lucas
van Leyden must close our list of the artists who opened out the paths
which were destined to be followed, though with many a diversity of
method and of style, by Breughel, Teniers, Van Ostade, Porbus, and
Schellincks. At the head of these masters was subsequently to rise the
magnificent Rubens, and the energetic Rembrandt, the king of the
palette, the great chief of the school, who

[Illustration: Fig 252.--“St. Ursula.” By Hemling.]

towers loftily over all his pupils, Gerard Dow, Ferdinand Bol, Van
Eckhout, Govaert Flinck, &c., as well as over his imitators and
contemporaries--Abraham Bloemaert, Gerard Honthorst, Adrian Brauwer,
Seghers, &c.

When the Van Eycks made their appearance, German art--which, under the
impulse of Stephan of Cologne, had appeared as if destined to direct the
movement--allowed itself to be led away and influenced by the Flemish
school, without, however, entirely divesting itself of the individual
characteristics which are, to some extent, inherent in the region
wherein it flourished. In Alsatia, we see the style peculiar to the
school of Bruges showing itself in Martin Schön (1460); in Suabia, it
had as its interpreter Frederick Herlen (1467); at Augsburg, it was old
Holbein; at Nuremberg, it was first Michael Wohlgemuth, and after him
Albert Dürer (1471), whose vigorous individuality did not fail to
reflect the temperament of the Van Eycks.

“The works of Albert Dürer present a singular combination of the
fantastic and the real (Fig. 253). The principal tendencies peculiar to
the character of the northern mind are always to be found in them. The
thoughts of the artist are always transporting him into a world of
abstraction and chimeras; but the ever-present consciousness of the
difficulties of life under the cold northern sky always draws him back
to the details of existence. On the one hand, therefore, he seems to
love philosophical, and even supernatural subjects; but, on the other,
the minute details of his execution bind him down to earth. His models,
his action, his positions, the muscular development of his nude
subjects, the innumerable folds of his draperies, the expression which
he gives to joy, grief, and hatred, all seem to bear a manifest
character of exaggeration. Added to this, he is deficient in grace; a
rudeness entirely northern in its character closes the path to any of
the softer qualities of art. The panels of Albert Dürer all seem to have
a touch of the antique barbarism of the Germanic hordes. He himself was
in the habit of wearing his hair long, like the ancient German kings.
Upon the whole, however, his beautiful colouring, the skilful firmness
of his drawing, his grand characteristics, his depth of thought, the
poetry, often terrible, of his composition, place him in the first rank
of masters” (Michiels).

While Albert Dürer was endeavouring to combine in his works every type
of the strangest character, Lucas van Cranach made it his study

[Illustration: Fig. 253.--“Jesus Crowned with Thorns,” painted on Wood
by Albert Dürer; a Fac-simile traced from the original of the same size.
(In the Collection of M. de Quedeville.)]

to represent with no less success pleasant legends or the most charming
realities. He is the painter of artless youths, aerially veiled, and of
sportive and enchanting virgins; and if some antique scene is created by
his delicate and original pencil, it seem, to be metamorphosed by a
happy facility into something that appears to have the character of a
German reminiscence (Fig. 254).

[Illustration: Fig. 254.--“Princess Sibylla of Saxony,” by Lucas van
Cranach. (Suermondt Collection.)]

Between these two masters, so equally endowed with power in their
respective lines of art, the great Holbein takes his place, as if
embodying the rather abrupt vigour of the one, and the sentimental
delicacy of the other. This painter’s artistic career was carried out
almost entirely in England, but the character of his genius belongs
unquestionably to the country where he left behind him his “Dance of
Death,” a piece of tragic raillery justly held to be the most wonderful
among all the creations of fancy.

Albert Dürer, who died in 1528, and Lucas van Cranach, and Holbein, who
died in 1553,[38] were destined to create a race of painters, and a host
of successors were soon at work. But the movement, which was impeded by
troubles of a religious character, died away in the terrible convulsions
of the Thirty Years’ War, and was never again renewed.

The era in which German art seemed all at once to decline was that
wherein the Italian school flourished in full splendour, and exercised
an unrivalled influence over every European country occupied by the
Latin races. France yielded all the more readily to this foreign
influence, because the Papal court at Avignon had already given an
asylum to Giotto in the first place, and afterwards to Simon Memmi; both
of whom, and especially the last, have left master-like traces of their
presence on French soil.

As a matter of fact, although French painting, regarded in the light of
a national art, cannot boast of having spontaneously produced, as a
thing of home-growth, any of those essays of complete independence of
which Germany and Italy are so proud; the memorials of French art at
least bear witness that, during the long reign of Byzantine tradition,
it never ceased to struggle with some force under the yoke; at a time,
indeed, when Italy and Germany themselves seemed, on the contrary, to
bear the burden with the most submissive servitude.

The tenth century, in becoming subject to the influence of a foolish but
heartfelt terror (the fear of the end of the world), marked a period of
fatal obstruction to every kind of effort, and progress died away; but
if we look beyond this we shall perceive that, from the earliest days of
the monarchy, painting was held in honour, and painters themselves
afforded proofs of power, if not of genius. We shall, for instance, find
that the basilica of St. Germain-des-Prés, built by Childebert I., had
its walls decorated with “elegant paintings.” We shall find Gondebaud,
the son of Clotaire, himself handling the pencil and “painting the
walls and roofs of oratories.” In the reign of Charlemagne, we discover
the texts which the bishops and priests were compelled to paint on “the
whole interior surface” of their churches, in order that the charm of
the colouring and of the compositions might aid the fervour of faith in
the congregations. But all this is but evidence recorded in the pages of
the ancient chronicles. We have other testimony derived from works still
existing, on which a judgment may be practically passed. Some frescoes
discovered at St. Savin, in the department of Vienne, and at
Nohant-Vicq, in the department of Indre, which must be attributed to the
eleventh and twelfth centuries, attest, in all their rude simplicity,
the efforts of a thoughtful art, and specially bear the stamp of a true
spirit of independence.

The Sainte-Chapelle, in Paris, by its painted windows and the mural
paintings of its crypt, asserts the real vitality of an artistic
feeling, which only waited for the signal of a bolder spirit to rise to
loftier things. Moreover, if other examples are wanting, there are
manuscripts, on the ornamentation of which the most skilful painters
have concentrated their powers, that would suffice to point out the
tendencies and artistic standard of every succeeding age. (See the
article on MINIATURE-PAINTING.) However little we may consult history,
we scarcely ever fail to discover traces of certain groups of artists
whose names or works have survived. Thus, a series of paintings
preserved in the Cathedral of Amiens, as well as the “Sacre de Louis
XII.” and the “Vierge au Froment,” in the museum at Cluny, prove to us
the existence, at the end of the fifteenth century, of the school of
Picardy, which possessed skill in composition, combined with a feeling
for colour and a certain knowledge of handling. Thus, too, the
researches of the learned have traced out the laborious career of the
Clouet family, sung by Ronsard and others, but whose works are almost
entirely lost; thus, also, we find the names of Bourdichon, Perréal,
Foucquet, who worked for Louis XI. and Charles VIII., and that of the
peaceful King René of Provence, who thought it not beneath his dignity
to make himself the practical chief of a school whose nameless
productions are still scattered over the south of France.

With the sixteenth century commenced the age of the great Italian
painters. In 1515, Francis I. persuaded Leonardo da Vinci to come to
France, and to afford the example of his wonderful genius. But the
illustrious creator of “La Gioconda” (the famous portrait of Mona
Lisa), burthened with years and worn out with work, visited France as if
only to draw his last breath (1519). Andrea del Sarto, the graceful
pupil of the severe Michael Angelo, came to France in 1517; but, after
having painted for his royal protector a few pictures, among which was
the magnificent “Charity” in the Louvre, he again repaired to the
Italian soil, to which his unhappy marriage recalled him to his doom.

In 1520 Raphael died, at the age of only thirty-seven years. Giulio
Pippi (called _Giulio Romano_), Francis Penni (called _il Fattore_), and
Perino del Vaga, whom he named as his heirs and charged with the
completion of his unfinished works, did their best to replace the
illustrious dead. For a short time it might have been thought that the
inspiration of the master still remained with his pupils; but soon a
separation of this group of artists, who had found their principal power
in unity of thought, took place; and, fifteen or twenty years after the
tomb had closed on Raphael, the tradition of his school was nothing more
than a glorious ruin.

Michael Angelo, who died in 1563, was destined to have a longer career;
but it was only to become a witness of the rapid decadence of the great
movement he had helped to call forth. After Daniele di Volterra, the
painter of the “Descent from the Cross,” which is classed among the
three most beautiful works that Rome possesses; after Vasari, who
possessed a double title to celebrity as a skilful painter and the
historian of the Italian schools; after Rosso, whose renown subsequently
suffered at the court of France; and Bronzino, who sought success in
taste and delicacy; the school of the great Buonarotti produced nothing
but works which seemed to wander from exaggeration to bad taste. The
dwarfs who attempted to walk in the footsteps of the giant were soon
exhausted, and only succeeded in rendering themselves ridiculous.

The Venetian school, the great masters of which did not become extinct
before the end of the sixteenth century, had its period of decadence at
a later epoch; this will not come under our consideration. The Lombard
school, which, by the deaths of Correggio and Parmigianino, had been
left without its chiefs before the middle of this century (1534 and
1540), seemed for a moment as if it would disappear as it had risen. But
in Michael Angelo Caravaggio (Fig. 255) it met with a powerful master,
who was able for some time to arrest the progress of its decadence.

[Illustration: Fig. 255.--“The Tribute Money.” Picture by Caravaggio
(Sixteenth Century), in the Florence Gallery.]

We have as yet done little more than hint at the presence of Rosso, or
_Maître Roux_, at the court of France. He came in 1530, at the
invitation of Francis I., to decorate the Palace of Fontainebleau. “His
engraved work,” says M. Michiels, “shows him to be a feeble and
pretentious man, devoid both of taste and inspiration, who exhibited
laboured refinement in the place of vigour, mistaking want of proportion
for grandeur, and absence of truth for originality. Being nominated by
the king as Canon of the Sainte-Chapelle, he had as his assistants
Leonard, a Fleming, the Frenchmen Michel Samson and Louis Dubreuil, and
the Italians Lucca Penni, Bartolommeo Miniati, &c. But in 1531,
Primaticcio arrived from Mantua, and a contest arose henceforth between
them.... Le Rosso having ended his days by suicide, Primaticcio remained
master of the field. His most talented pupil decorated under his
direction the magnificent ball-room. Primaticcio painted with less
exaggeration and more delicacy and elegance than Rosso; but still he
formed one of that troop of awkward and affected copyists who
exaggerated the errors of Caravaggio.... His empire of forty years’
duration, in the midst of a foreign population, was, however, an
undisturbed one. Henry II., Francis II., Charles IX., and Catherine de
Medicis, showed him no less favour than Francis I. He died in 1570,
loaded with honours and riches.

“The number of French artists who allowed themselves to be influenced by
the Italian method was considerable. At last a man of more vigorous
character arose who would not permit false taste to rule him, and
adopted all the improvements of modern art, without following in the
footsteps of court favourites. His talents inaugurated a new period in
the history of French painting. We are speaking of Jean Cousin, who was
born at Soucy, about 1530; he adorned with his compositions both glass
and canvas, and was, in addition, a skilful sculptor. His famous picture
of the “Last Judgment,” in the Louvre, suggests a high opinion of him.
The colouring is harsh and monotonous, but the drawing of the figures
and the arrangement of the piece prove that he had the habit of thought
and also of reckoning on his own powers and of seeking out novel
dispositions, producing effects hitherto unknown.”

The beautiful composition we introduce here (Fig. 256) is taken from M.
A. Firmin Didot’s “Notice sur Jean Cousin,” in which a large number of
other subjects are reproduced; some of them may have been

[Illustration: Fig. 256.--Composition by Jean Cousin. First Sketch of
his “Last Judgment,” from a Wood-Engraving in the Romance of “Gérard
d’Euphrate.” Paris, 1549. (Cabinet of M. A. F. Didot.)]

engraved by the painter himself. Like Albert Dürer and Holbein, Jean
Cousin did not disdain to apply his talents to the ornamentation of

Jean Cousin is generally looked upon as the real chief of the French
school. After him, and by his side, we must place the Janets,[39] who
although of Flemish origin, are actually French in their style and the
character of their pictures. The most celebrated of them, François
Clouet, portrayed, with a realism full of elegance and distinction, the
nobles and beautiful ladies of the court of Valois.

[Illustration: Fig. 257.--Sketch of the Virgin of Alba. Chalk-drawing by

We should here close our remarks, were it not that we might be accused
of an important omission in this review of the principal schools. For
nothing has been said of the Bolognese school, whose origin, though not
its maturity, belongs to the epoch we have made our study. But the
material circumstances we now mention must be our justification:
although the school of Bologna gave signs of its existence in the
thirteenth century, and under the impulse of Guido, Ventura, and Ursone,
showed itself to be industrious, active, and numerous; and also in the
fourteenth century, under that of Jacopo d’Avanzo and Lippodi Dalmasio;
yet it died away, reviving only at the commencement of the sixteenth
century, again to become extinct after the death of the poetic
Raibolini, called _Francia_, without having produced any of those great
individualities to whose glory alone we are compelled to devote our

We must, however, confess that this school, which suddenly retrieved its
position at a time when all other schools were in a state of complete
decadence, found three illustrious chiefs instead of one, and acquired
the singular glory of resuscitating, by a kind of potent eclecticism,
the _ensemble_ of the noblest traditions. But it was not till the latter
part of the sixteenth century that Bologna witnessed the opening by the
Carracci of that studio whence were destined to proceed Guido, Albano,
Domenichino, Guercino, Caravaggio, Pietro of Cortona and Luca
Giordano--a magnificent phalanx of men who, by their own works and the
force of their example, were to become the honour of an age into which
it does not form a portion of our task to follow them.



     Origin of Wood-Engraving.--The St. Christopher of 1423.--“The
     Virgin and Child Jesus.”--The earliest Masters of
     Wood-Engraving.--Bernard Milnet.--Engraving in _Camaïeu_.--Origin
     of Engraving on Metal.--The “Pax” of Maso Finiguerra.--The earliest
     Engravers on Metal.--Niello Work.--_Le Maître_ of 1466.--_Le
     Maître_ of 1486.--Martin Schöngauer, Israel van Mecken, Wenceslaus
     of Olmutz, Albert Dürer, Marc Antonio, Lucas van Leyden.--Jean
     Duret and the French School.--The Dutch School.--The Masters of

Almost all authors who have devoted themselves to investigate this
subject have asserted, but doubtless very erroneously, that engraving on
metal was naturally derived from engraving on wood. Nevertheless, any
one who gives but a slight consideration to the difference existing
between the two processes must be led to the belief that the two arts
must result from two distinct inventions. In wood-engraving, the
impression is, in fact, formed by the portions of the block which are in
relief; while in engraving on metal, the incised strokes give the lines
of the print. Now, no one who has any knowledge of professional matters
can for a moment doubt that, in spite of the similar appearance of the
productions, there is a radical difference in the starting-points and
modes of execution of these two methods.

We certainly must consider it probable that the appearance of prints
produced by wood-engraving may have suggested the idea of seeking to
obtain a similar or better result by some other process; but that a
process should be assimilated, as if by affiliation, to another
diametrically opposed to it is a view we do not feel called upon to
accept without reservation.

Be this as it may, certain authors look upon wood-engraving as having
been invented in Germany at the commencement of the fifteenth century.
Others have derived it from China, where it was in use in the year 1000
of our era. Others, again, propound the opinion that the art of printing
stuffs by means of engraved blocks was employed in different parts of
Asia, to which it had been imported from ancient Egypt, at a period long
before it was first thought of in Europe. These hypotheses being
admitted, the whole question reduces itself into an inquiry as to the
way in which the art made its entrance into Western Europe in the first
half of the fifteenth century; this being the earliest date at which we
find engravings made in Germany, France, and the Low Countries.

[Illustration: Fig. 258.--“The Virgin and Infant Jesus.” Fac-simile of a
Wood-Engraving of the Fifteenth Century. (Bibl. Imp., Paris.)]

The most ancient _dated_ impression known of a cut engraved on wood is a
St. Christopher, without either mark or name of its author, bearing a
Latin inscription and the date of 1423. This specimen is so roughly
engraved, and in drawing is so faulty, that it is only natural to assume
it must be one of the earliest attempts at wood-engraving. There is,
however, an engraving in the Imperial Library, Paris, representing the
Virgin holding the Child Jesus seated in her arms (Fig. 258), which may
perhaps be considered an earlier specimen than the St. Christopher. The
back of the niche is a kind of mosaic, formed of diamond-shaped
quadrilaterals; the _aureolæ_ and ornaments of the niche are coloured a
yellowish brown. There is, however, one singularity in this engraving
which testifies to its great antiquity; it is printed on paper made of
cotton, and is unsized, and the impression sinks so deeply into it that
it may be seen nearly as well on the back of the print as on the front.
We must not omit to mention another engraving, preserved in the Royal
Library, Brussels; this is also a “Virgin with the Child Jesus,”
surrounded by four saints (Fig. 259). It is a composition of a somewhat
grand style, and does not agree very well with the date, MCCCCXVIII.,
which is seen at the foot of the print.

We must, doubtless, attribute to nearly the same time some specimens of
playing-cards,--these we have already mentioned when dealing specially
with this subject; and also a series of figures of the Twelve Apostles
with Latin legends, underneath which are the same number of phrases in
French, or rather in the ancient dialect of Picardy, reproducing the
whole text of the Decalogue; one of these xylographic plates may be seen
in the chapter on “PRINTING.” In these engravings each figure is
standing up, clothed in a long tunic, and covered with a wide mantle;
the ink, so to speak, is bistre, and the mantles are coloured, red and
green alternately. The Apostles all bear the symbolical sign which
distinguishes them, and are surrounded with a long fillet, whereon is
traced in Latin the sentence of the Creed attributed to each, and one of
the ten Commandments. St. Peter, for instance, has for his motto this
French sentence, “Gardeis Dieu le roy moult sain;” St. Andrew, “Ne
jurets point son nome en vain;” St. John, “Père et Mère tosjours
honoras;” St. James the Greater, “Les fiestes et dymeng, garderas,” &c.

There are other engravings belonging to the middle of the fifteenth
century which make known the fact that the art of engraving was
practised by several artists in France; and that without doing any

[Illustration: Fig. 259.--“The Virgin and Child.” A Wood-Engraving of
the Fifteenth Century(?). (Bibl. Roy., Brussels.)]

to Germany we can attribute several anonymous works to French masters.
But we must in any case claim the very characteristic works of an
engraver named Bernard Milnet. In the engravings of this master there
are neither lines nor cross-hatching; the ground of the print is black;
the lights are

[Illustration: Fig. 260.--“St. Catherine on her Knees.” Fac-simile of an
Engraving on Wood, by Bernard Milnet, called the “Master with the dotted
backgrounds.” (Bibl. Imp., Paris.)]

formed by an infinite number of white dots varying in size according to
the requirement and taste of the artist. This engraver does not appear
to have had any imitators; and, to tell the truth, his mode of operation
must have presented many difficulties in execution. There are only six
known specimens of his work--a “Virgin with the Child Jesus,” “St.
Catherine Kneeling” (Fig. 260), the “Scourging of Christ,” a group of
“St. John, St. Paul, and St. Veronica,” a “St. George,” and a “St.

Although engravings of this time are now extremely rare, it does not
necessarily follow that they were equally scarce at the dates when they
were executed. M. Michiels, in his “Histoire de la Peinture en Flandre,”
says that, “according to ancient custom, on feast-days the Lazarists,
and others belonging to religious orders who were accustomed to nurse
the sick, carried in the streets a large wax candle ornamented with
mouldings and glass-trinkets, and distributed to the children
wood-engravings illuminated with brilliant colours, and representing
sacred subjects. There must, therefore, have been a considerable number
of these engravings.”

In the sixteenth century wood-engraving, improved by the pupils of
Albert Dürer, and especially by John Burgkmair (Fig. 261), was very
extensively developed; and the art was then practised with a superiority
of style which left far behind the timid attempts of the preceding

The works of most of the wood-engravers of this period are anonymous;
nevertheless, the names of a few of these artists have survived. But it
is only by an error that, in the nomenclature of the latter, certain
painters and designers, such as Albert Dürer, Lucas van Leyden, and
Lucas van Cranach, have long been made to figure. There are
wood-engravings which do actually bear the signatures or monograms of
these masters; but the fact is, that the latter were often in the habit
of drawing their designs on the wood, as is frequently the practice with
artists in our own day; and the engraver (or rather the _formschneider_,
form-cutter, to employ the usual expression), in reproducing the
composition drawn with a pencil or pen, has copied also the signature
which the designer of the subject added. An error often committed by
writers may be thus easily set right.

We must not quit the subject of wood-engraving without mentioning
engraving in _camaïeu_; a process of Italian origin, in which three or
four blocks, applying in succession to the print uniform tints of more
or less intense tones, ultimately produced engravings of a very
remarkable effect, imitating drawings with the stump or the pencil. At
the commencement of the sixteenth century several artists distinguished
themselves in this

[Illustration: Fig. 261.--The Archdukes and High Barons of Germany
assisting, in State Costume, at the Coronation of the Emperor
Maximilian. A fragment taken from a large collection of Engravings,
entitled the “Triumph of Maximilian I.,” by J. Burgkmair. (Sixteenth

mode of engraving, especially Ugo di Carpi, who worked at Modena about
the year 1518; Antonio Fantuzzi, a pupil of Francis Parmigianino, who
accompanied and assisted Primaticcio at Fontainebleau; Gualtier, and
Andrew Andreani; and lastly, Bartholomew Coriolano, of Bologna, who
would have been the last engraver in this style, were it not for Antonio
M. Zanetti, a celebrated Venetian amateur, who was still nearer to us in
point of date. Two or three Germans, John Ulrich in the sixteenth, and
Louis Buring[40] in the seventeenth, century, also made some engravings
in _camaïeu_, but only with two blocks: one giving the design of the
subject with the outline and cross-hatching, the other introducing a
colour, usually bistre, on which all the lights were taken out, so as to
leave the ground of the paper white. These specimens imitated a
pen-and-ink drawing on coloured paper, and finished with the brush or

We must now go back to the year 1452, which is generally fixed upon as
the date of the invention of engraving on metal (Fig. 262).[41] When
discussing the subject of “Goldsmith’s Work,” we mentioned, among the
pupils of the illustrious Ghiberti, Maso Finiguerra, and stated that
this artist had engraved on silver a “Pax” intended for the treasury of
the Church of St. John. Certain writers having recognised in a print now
in the Imperial Library of Paris, and also in another print in the
Library of the Arsenal, an exact impression of this engraving, were led
to attribute to the celebrated Florentine goldsmith the honour of an
invention in which he might perhaps have had no share at all. Possibly
this process of printing off an impression, which was a very natural
thing to do, had been actually practised by goldsmiths long before
Finiguerra; they wished, doubtless, to preserve a pattern of their
_niello-work_, or to see how it progressed in its various stages. The
proofs, thus taken off by hand, having been lost, Finiguerra may have
been considered the originator of a method which he only applied as a
matter of course to his goldsmith’s work. The two circumstances--that
the plate is made of silver and not of any common metal, and that it may
be classed among the numerous _nielli_, engraved plates of decorative
goldsmith’s work, which have been handed down to us and are of even
earlier dates--will alone suffice, in our opinion, to dispose of the

[Illustration: Fig. 262.--The Prophet Isaiah, holding in his hand the
saw which was the instrument of his martyrdom. (Fac-simile from an
Engraving on Copper by an unknown Italian Master of the Fifteenth

idea that this work was expressly executed in order to furnish
impressions on paper. It was nothing but chance that in this case
introduced the name of Finiguerra, which would not have become known in
this connection, if it had not been for the preservation of two ancient
impressions of his _niello-work_; while those taken from other and
perhaps older plates had been destroyed. Thus the date, or the asserted
date, of the invention of engraving on metal was fixed by the
ascertained date of the piece of goldsmith’s work.

Be this as it may, the print of the “Pax,” or rather of the
“Assumption,” engraved by Finiguerra, does not fail, in the opinion of
all writers and amateurs, to bear the title of the earliest print from
metal; a title to which it has a perfect right, and in thus regarding it
we are induced to give a brief description of the subject represented in
the engraving. Jesus Christ, seated on a lofty throne and wearing a cap
similar to that of the Doges, places, with both his hands, a crown on
the head of the Virgin, who, with her hands crossed upon her breast, is
seated upon the same throne; St. Augustine and St. Ambrose are kneeling;
in the centre, below, and on the right, several saints are standing,
among whom we can distinguish St. Catherine and St. Agnes; on the left,
in the rear of St. Augustine, we see St. John the Baptist and other
saints; lastly, on both sides of the throne a number of angels are
blowing trumpets; and, above, are others holding a streamer, on which we
“Mary is taken up into Heaven. Hail, army of angels!”

The first of the impressions of this _niello_ found its way into the
Royal Library with the Marolles Collection, bought by Louis XIV. in
1667: the other was discovered only in 1841, by M. Robert Dumesnil, who,
in the Library of the Arsenal, was turning over the leaves of a volume
containing engravings by Callot and Sebastian Le Clerc. This latter
impression, though taken on inferior paper, is nevertheless in a much
better state of preservation than the other; but the ink is of a greyer
hue, and one might readily fancy that, as M. Duchesne, the learned
writer, asserts, it was printed before the final completion of the

In support of the opinion which we before indirectly expressed, that the
practice of taking impressions from engraved plates of metal might well
be a kind of fortuitous result of a mere professional tradition
incidental to the goldsmith’s art, we may remark that most of the
engravings which have been handed down to us as belonging to the era
fixed upon for the invention of engraving, are the work of Italian
goldsmith-engravers. More than four hundred specimens of this date have
been preserved; among the artists we must mention Amerighi, Michael
Angelo Bandinelli, and Philippo Brunelleschi, of Florence; Forzoni
Spinelli, of Arezzo; Furnio, Gesso, Rossi, and Raibolini, of Bologna;
Teucreo, of Siena; Caradosso and Arcioni, of Milan; Nicholas Rosex, of
Modena, of whose work we have three _nielli_ and more than sixty
engravings; Antonio Pollajuolo, who engraved a print called the “Fight
with Cutlasses,” representing ten naked men fighting; lastly, the most
skilful of the metal-chasing goldsmiths after Finiguerra, Peregrino of
Cesena, who has left his name and his mark on sixty-six _nielli_.

[Illustration: Fig. 263.--Fac-simile of a _Niello_ executed on Ivory,
from the original design of Stradan, representing Columbus on board his
Ship, during his first Voyage to the West.]

More special mention must be made of Bartholomew Baldini, better known
under the name of Baccio, to whom we owe, in addition to some large
engravings both of a sacred and of a mythological character, twenty
vignettes designed for the folio edition (1481) of Dante’s “Inferno;” of
Andrea Mantegna, a renowned painter, who himself engraved many of his
own compositions; and of John van der Straet, called _Stradan_ (Fig.
263), who executed at Florence many remarkable plates.

We find in Germany an engraver who dates several of his works in the
year 1466, but on none of them has he left more than his initials, E. S.
This has not failed to tax the ingenuity of those who would establish
his individuality in some authentic way. Some have agreed to call him
Edward Schön or Stern, on account of the stars he frequently introduces
into the borders of the vestments of his figures; one asserts that he
was born in Bavaria, because in a specimen of his works is the figure of
a woman holding a shield emblazoned with the arms of that country;
another believes him to have been a Swiss, because he twice engraved the
“Pilgrimage of St. Mary of Einsiedeln,” the most celebrated in the
country. But those amateurs who, upon the whole, think more of the work
than the workman, are content to designate him as _the Master of 1466_.

This engraver has left behind him three hundred examples, most of them
of small dimensions, among which, independently of sundry very curious
compositions, we must notice two important series, namely, an _Alphabet_
composed of grotesque figures (Fig. 264), and a pack of _Numeral Cards_,
the greater part of which are in the Imperial Library.

At almost the same epoch Holland also presents us with an anonymous
engraver, who might be called _the Master of 1486_, from the date on one
only of his engravings. The works of this artist, whose manner exhibits
a powerful and original style, are very rare in any collections not
belonging to the country in which he worked. The Cabinet of Engravings
at Amsterdam possesses seventy-six of them, while that of Vienna has but
two, that of Berlin one only, and that of Paris six, among which we may
remark “Samson sleeping on the knees of Delilah,” and “St. George,” on
foot, piercing with his sword the throat of the dragon which menaced the
life of the Queen of Lydia.

We have still three comparatively celebrated engravers to mention before
reaching the epoch at which Marc Antonio Raimondi in Italy, Albert Dürer
in Germany, and Lucas van Leyden in Holland, all simultaneously

Martin Schöngauer, for some time designated by the name of Martin Schön,
who died at Colmar in 1488, was a good painter as well as a skilful
engraver. More than one hundred and twenty specimens of his work are
known, the most important of which are--“Christ bearing his Cross,” “The
Battle of the Christians” (waged against the infidels by the apostle
St. James), both very rare compositions of large size; the “Passion of
Jesus Christ,” the “Death of the Virgin,” and “St. Anthony tormented by
Demons,” one proof of which, it is said, was coloured by Michael Angelo.
We must add (and this circumstance shows again the kind of direct
relation which we have already noted as existing between engraving and
goldsmith’s work), that Martin Schöngauer also engraved a pastoral staff
and a censer, both of very beautiful workmanship.

[Illustration: Fig. 264.--Fac-simile of the letter N from the “Grotesque
Alphabet,” engraved by the “Master of 1466.”]

Israel van Mecken (or Meckenem), supposed to be a pupil of Francis van
Bocholt, as he worked at Bocholt previous to the year 1500, is, of all
German engravers of this epoch, the one whose works are most extensively
known. The Cabinet of Engravings in the Imperial Library, Paris,
possesses three volumes of his engravings, containing two hundred and
twenty-eight superb examples; among these we must especially notice a
composition engraved on two plates of the same height; “St. Gregory
perceiving the Man of Sorrows at the Moment of the Mass.” We must
confine ourselves to the mention, in addition, of his “St. Luke painting
the Portrait of the Virgin;” “St. Odile releasing from Purgatory, by his
prayers, the Soul of his Father, Duke Etichon;” “Herodias” (Fig. 265);
and “Lucretia killing herself in the presence of Collatinus and others,”
which last is the only subject this artist has taken from profane

We mention Wenceslaus of Olmutz, who was engaged in engraving from the
year 1481 to 1497, with the especial object of describing an allegorical
print due to his _burin_; it may serve to give a notion of the fantastic
tendency impressed on the ideas of the day by the religious dissensions
which arose at this epoch between several princes of Germany and the
court of Rome. This print, or rather this graphic satire, most of the
allusions in which are now lost to us, represents the monstrous figure
of a woman entirely naked, seen in profile and turning to the left, her
body covered with scales, with the head and mane of an ass; her right
leg terminates in a cloven foot, and the left in a bird’s claw; her
right arm is terminated by the paw of a lion, and the left by a woman’s
hand. The back of this fantastic being is covered with a hairy mask, and
in the place of a tail she has the neck of a chimera, with a deformed
head from which darts a serpent’s tongue. Above the engraving is
written, “_Roma Caput Mundi_” (“Rome the head of the world”). On the
left hand is a three-storied tower, upon which a flag adorned with the
keys of St. Peter is floating. On the château is written, “_Castelagno_”
(Castle of St. Angelo); in the foreground is a river, upon whose waves
is traced the word “_Tevere_” (the Tiber); lower still is the word
“_Ianrarii_” (January), below the date 1496: on the right, in the
background, is a square tower, upon which is written, “_Tore Di Nona_”
(Tower of the Nones); on the same side, in front, is a vase with two
handles, and in the centre of the lower part the letter W, the
monogrammatic signature of the engraver. Our interest in this plate is
increased by the date it bears; for, being engraved by means of

[Illustration: Fig. 265.--“Herodias,” a Copper-plate Engraving, by
Israel van Mecken.]

_aquafortis_, it proves that Albert Dürer is wrongfully regarded as the
inventor of this mode of engraving, more expeditious than with the
_burin_, as the oldest _aquafortis_ work of Albert Dürer is dated 1515,
that is to say, nineteen years later than that of Wenceslaus of Olmutz.

We now come to three great artists who, at a period in which the art of
engraving had made the most remarkable progress, availed themselves of
it for producing works which eminently characterise each master

Albert Dürer, born at Nuremberg in 1471, was a vigorous painter, and was
not less remarkable for the productions of his _burin_ and
etching-needle. We do not intend to describe all his works, though all
are worthy of notice, but must content ourselves with mentioning “Adam
and Eve standing by the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil,” a small
plate of delicate workmanship and admirable perfectness of design; the
“Passion of Jesus Christ,” in a series of sixteen plates; “Christ
praying in the Garden of Gethsemane,” the first work executed by this
master by means of _aquafortis_, then a new method, which, being less
soft than the _burin_, gave rise to an idea not dispelled for some time,
that this print and several others were engraved on iron or tin; several
figures of the “Virgin with the Infant Jesus,” which are all remarkable
for expression and simplicity, and have received odd _sobriquets_ on
account of some accessory object which accompanies them (for instance,
the “Virgin with the pear, butterfly, ape,” &c.); the “Prodigal Son
keeping Swine,” a composition in which the painter himself is
represented; “St. Hubert praying before the Cross borne by a Stag” (Fig.
266), a very rare and beautiful plate; the “Chevalier and his Lady;”
lastly, the “Chevalier of Death,” a _chef-d’œuvre_, dated 1515, and
representing Francis of Sickingen, who was destined to be the firmest
supporter of Luther’s Reformation.[42]

Marc Antonio Raimondi, born at Bologna about the year 1475, was first a
pupil of Francis Raibolini, and afterwards of Raphael,[43] whose style
he often

[Illustration: Fig. 266.--“St. Hubert praying before the Cross borne by
a Stag.” Engraved by Albert Dürer.]

followed, and in his compositions did his utmost to imitate his pure and
noble manner. Everything in his designs is ideally true, and all is
harmonious in the _ensemble_ of his works. Most of his engravings still
existing are very much sought after, and as any description we could
give would only convey but an imperfect idea of the excellence of these
works, the strongest testimony in favour of their merit will be to
mention the high prices given for certain prints by this master at the
public sale which took place in 1844. For example:--“Adam and Eve,” a
print after Raphael, 1,010 francs (£40); “God commanding Noah to build
the Ark,” from the same master, 700 francs (£28); the “Massacre of the
Innocents,” 1,200 francs (£48); “St. Paul preaching at Athens,” 2,500
francs (£100); the “Lord’s Supper,” 2,900 francs (£116); the “Judgment
of Paris,” which is regarded as the _chef-d’œuvre_ of Marc Antonio,
3,350 francs (£134); three pendentives of the “Farnesina,” 1,620 francs
(£64 10s.), &c. Subsequently, these enormous prices have been even

Lucas van Leyden, born in 1494, and, like Albert Dürer, a clever painter
as well as skilful engraver, has left about eighty plates, the most
remarkable of which are “David playing the Harp before Saul;” the
“Adoration of the Magi;” a large “Ecce Homo,” engraved by the artist at
the age of sixteen; a “Peasant and Peasant-woman with a Cow;” the “Monk
Sergius killed by Mahomet;” the “Seven Virtues;” a plate called the
“Little Milkmaid,” very rare; lastly, a “Poor Family travelling,” of
which only five proofs are known; they were bought for sixteen louis
d’or by the Abbot of Marolles, when he formed his cabinet of prints,
which became one of the richest additions to the Imperial Library.

In a befitting rank below these famous artists we may class a French
engraver, Jean Duret, born at Langres in 1488, who was goldsmith to
Henri II., and executed several beautiful allegorical plates on the
intrigues of the king and Diana of Poitiers, as well as twenty-four
compositions taken from the Apocalypse; also Pierre Woeiriot (or
Voeiriot), an engraver and goldsmith of Lorraine, born in 1531, who
produced numerous fine works down to the end of the century; the most
famous of them, designated by the name of the “Bull of Phalaris” (Fig.
267), represents the tyrant of Agrigentum shutting up human victims
destined to be burnt alive in a brazen bull.

There were at work in Italy at the same epoch Augustine of Musi

[Illustration: Fig. 267.--“Phalaris, Tyrant of Agrigentum, causing
Victims destined to be burnt alive to be shut up in a Brazen Bull.”
Engraved by P. Woeiriot. (French School of the Sixteenth Century.)]

(Agustino de Musis, called the Venetian), Giacomo Caraglio, the
Ghisis,[44] Eneas Vico; in Germany, Altdorfer (Fig. 268), George
Pencz,[45] Aldegrever, Jacque Binck, Bartel and Hans Sebald Beham (Fig.
269), who are designated under the collective name of the “Little
Masters;” in Holland, Thierry (Dirk) van Staren.

[Illustration: Fig. 268.--“Repose of the Holy Family.” Engraved by A.

In the course of the sixteenth century engraving reached its culminating
point, and at that time Italy and Germany no longer took the lead in
this branch of art, for the most skilful and renowned masters then
belonged to Holland and France.

Those of Holland were Henry Goltzius (or Goltz), born in 1558, and his
pupils Matham and the Mullers, whose vigorous gravers might remind one
of brilliant effects of colour without any loss of purity of design; the
two brothers, Boetius and Scheltius Bolswaert, so called from their
native town Bolswaert, born in 1580 and 1586 respectively; Paul Pontius
and Lucas Vorsterman, both born in 1590, whose engravings so well
represent the _chiaroscuro_ and colour of Van Dyck and Jordaens.

In France was Jacques Callot, born in 1594, whose works were both
numerous and original, and enjoyed a somewhat popular celebrity; among
them the most worthy of remark are the “Temptation of St. Anthony,” the
“Fair of the Madonna d’Imprunette,” “The Garden” and the “Parterre,”
both scenes in Nancy; as well as several series, such as the “Miseries
of War,” &c. There were also Michael Lasne, born in 1596, who engraved a
number of historical portraits; and Etienne (Stephen) Baudet, who
reproduced eight large landscapes after Poussin.

[Illustration: Fig. 269.--“Ferdinand I., Brother of Charles V.” Engraved
by Bart. Beham in 1531.]

A separate notice is reserved for Jonas Suyderoef, born at Leyden in
1600, who, by combining the graver, the etching-needle, and aquafortis,
gave an exceptional character to his works. Among the two hundred
engravings by this master the most admired are the “Treaty of Munster,”
after Terburg; and the “Burgomasters of Amsterdam receiving the News of
the Arrival of Queen Mary of Medicis,” after De Keyser.

We are now touching closely upon, even if we have not already exceeded,
the limits to which we are prescribed by the scope of our notices; but
as the history of engraving does not present, like that of so many other
arts, the spectacle of a grievous decadence after a period of
brilliancy, we cannot without regret come to a conclusion, when mention
might still be made of many distinguished names among the engravers of
every country.

We should also scarcely be able to pass on to another subject without
having alluded to those men whose works belong, indeed, to the following
epoch, but the date of whose birth connects them with that we are
considering. We could not, in fact, assume to have treated of engraving
had we passed over in silence Van Dyck, Claude Lorraine, and Rembrandt
(Fig. 270), those greatest of masters who were equally celebrated for
painting and engraving. In truth, perhaps, we could not say anything of
them which would not be superfluous.

Who is not acquainted with at least some few works by Van Dyck? This
celebrated pupil of Rubens has left in painting as many masterpieces as
canvases; and in engraving he knew how to give to his etching-needle so
much _verve_ and spirit, that his prints are perfect models to follow,
and have never been surpassed. Who is there that does not admire the
landscapes of Claude Lorraine, which are equally remarkable for the
light diffused over them, and the misty atmosphere that tempers its
brilliancy? We all know this master produced, as if for recreation,
certain engravings which for truth and melancholy (_mélancolic_) are
hardly surpassed by his marvellous paintings. And how can we speak of
Rembrandt without seeming to be commonplace? For his fertile and varied
talent no difficulty ever seemed to exist; a theme, the most simple and
common in appearance, becomes in his hands the basis of a masterly
conception; nature, to which he seemed to lend a new life, while seizing
upon its most striking realities, was for him an inexhaustible source of
powerful compositions.

The mention of these artists on the threshold of an epoch into which we

[Illustration: Fig. 270.--“Portrait of John Lutma, Goldsmith of
Groningen.” Designed and Engraved in aquafortis by Rembrandt.]

are precluded from following them, must suffice to convey some idea of
the height that art had attained during this century. We will, however,
enumerate after them a few names among foreign engravers. The Flemish
artists, Nicolas Berghem and Paul Potter, both great animal-painters,
have left some prints in aquafortis for the possession of which amateurs
contend; Wenceslaus Hollar, the Englishman,[46] engraved “The Queen of
Sheba,” after Veronese; to Cornelius Visscher, a Dutchman, we owe the
famous “Seller of Ratsbane;” and to Stefano della Bella, of Florence,
the “View from the Pont-Neuf, Paris.” Rupert, the Prince-Palatine
(nephew of Charles I. of England), was the inventor of the mezzo-tinto,
or black style of engraving; and William Faithorne, an Englishman,
engraved several portraits after Van Dyck. France also presents to our
notice some justly celebrated names. The views of towns by Israel
Silvestre, of Nancy, are very beautiful; François de Poilly, of
Abbeville, reproduced several pictures by Raphael; Jean Pesne, of Rouen,
himself a painter, engraved especially after Poussin; Antoine Masson, of
Orleans, has left a print of the “Pilgrims of Emmaus,” after the picture
by Titian, which is regarded as a _chef-d’œuvre_. Lastly, Robert
Nanteuil, of Rheims, the famous portrait-painter, engraved Péréfixe,
Archbishop of Paris, four times; the Archbishop of Rheims five times;
Colbert six times; Michel Le Tellier, Chancellor of France, ten times;
Louis XIV. eleven times, and Cardinal Mazarin fourteen times.

[Illustration: Fig. 271.--“The Holy Virgin.” Engraved by Aldegrever in


     Origin of Christian Sculpture.--Statues in Gold and
     Silver.--Traditions of Antique Art.--Sculpture in
     Ivory.--Iconoclasts.--Diptychs.--The highest Style of Sculpture
     follows the Phases of Architecture.--Cathedrals and Monasteries
     from the Year 1000.--Schools of Burgundy, Champagne, Normandy,
     Lorraine, &c.--German, English, Spanish, and Italian
     Schools.--Nicholas of Pisa and his Successors.--Position of French
     Sculpture in the Thirteenth Century.--Florentine Sculpture and
     Ghiberti.--French Sculptors from the Fifteenth to the Sixteenth

It is an indisputable fact that the epoch in which the Emperor
Constantine, by receiving baptism, effected the triumph of Christianity,
developed a kind of revival in the movement of the decorative arts, the
ideas of which were then exclusively directed to the exaltation of the
new faith. To construct numerous basilicas, to adorn them magnificently,
and by means of the chisel to embody in a material form the spiritualism
of the Gospel, were the objects of this pious monarch. Gold and silver
were the less spared, as marble was considered too common a substance in
which to represent the sacred personages of the divine hierarchy. At
Constantinople, in the basilica constructed by Constantine, there was
represented, on one side of the apse, a seated figure of our Saviour
surrounded by His twelve disciples; on the other side, Christ was
represented also sitting on a throne and accompanied by four angels, who
had precious stones of Alabanda, inlaid, to represent their eyes. All
these figures were life-size, and made of silver _repoussé_; each one
weighing from ninety to a hundred and ten pounds. In the same church, a
canopy representing the Apostles and cherubim in relief, of polished
silver, weighed more than two thousand pounds. But these splendours were
even eclipsed by those of the font of porphyry in which Constantine
received baptism from the hands of Bishop Sylvester. The part whence the
water flowed away was adorned with massive silver over an extent of five
feet, and for the purpose three thousand pounds of this precious metal
were employed. In the centre, columns of gold supported a lamp of the
same metal weighing fifty-two pounds, in which, during the feast of
Easter, two hundred pounds of perfumed oil were burnt. The water was
poured into the font through the image of a lamb of solid gold, weighing
thirty pounds. On the right was a life-size representation of our
Saviour, weighing a hundred and seventy pounds; on the left was a statue
of John the Baptist of the same size; while seven hinds of silver placed
around the font, and pouring water into the basin, harmonised in their
dimensions and materials with the other figures.

[Illustration: Fig. 272.--Altar of Castor (a Gallo-Roman Sculpture),
discovered in 1711 under the Choir of Notre-Dame, Paris.]

We would not assert that these works, pompously enumerated by
Anastasius, the Librarian, corresponded in purity and elevation of style
with the richness of the materials employed; for we know, on the
contrary, that in order to comply with the wishes of the powerful
emperor, artists were found who, by simple substitution of heads,
attributes, or inscriptions, converted without any scruple a Jupiter
into God the Father, or a Venus into a Virgin. The large cities were not
as yet depopulated of the innumerable crowd of statues which adorned
them; and it was only in provinces far from the metropolis that the
images of the false gods were buried under the fragments of their
overthrown temples (Figs. 272 and 273).

In fact, before the art had adopted, or rather created, the system of
Christian symbolism, it was absolutely necessary to borrow the elements
of its existence from the glorious materials of the past, and even to
imitate the works of Pagan art.

In Greece more than elsewhere--and by Greece we include
Constantinople--statuary preserved, under Constantino and his earliest
successors, a certain degree of power which we might call original. The
design still adhered to beautiful forms, and, in the arrangement of
subjects, the principles of the ancients were for a long time applied,
as if instinctively. Although artists no longer studied nature, they
were, at all events, surrounded by excellent models, which guided them
with somewhat imperious rule.

[Illustration: Fig. 273.--Altar of Jupiter Ceraunus (Gallo-Roman
Sculpture), discovered in 1711, under the Choir of Notre-Dame, Paris.]

We have already seen that, among the barbaric chiefs who invaded the
empire of the Cæsars and seated themselves on the Imperial throne of
Rome, were some who, at a certain period, professed to be, if not the
protectors of the Fine Arts, which had then sunk into torpor, at least
the preservers of the Greek and Roman monuments belonging to the noblest
epoch of Art. The statues were no longer broken down; the inscriptions
and bas-reliefs ceased to be mutilated; the triumphal arches (Fig. 274),
the palaces, and the theatres, were respected, or, rather, were left
standing. But a kind of deadness had come over the artistic world, and a
few sympathetic manifestations of this kind were not sufficient to
reanimate its enervated spirit; it was necessary that the period of
repose should be fully accomplished--a period which, in the views of
Providence, was perhaps a phase of profound contemplation or preparatory

Nevertheless, although the art which gives life to marble and bronze--a
high style of sculpture--was in a stationary or retrograde state, the
lower kind, which we may call domestic, preserved some degree of
activity. For instance, it was then the custom for great personages to
send as presents diptychs of ivory, on the outer face of which were
carved bas-reliefs recalling some memorable event. Monarchs, on their
accession, were in the habit of conferring diptychs of this kind on the
governors of provinces and bishops; and the latter, in order to testify
to the good understanding existing between the civil and religious
authorities, placed the diptych on the altar. A marriage, a baptism, or
any success, gave occasion for the presentation of diptychs. For two
centuries artists lived on nothing but this kind of work. It needed
events of some very extraordinary character to cause the production of
any monument of real sculpture.

[Illustration: Fig. 274.--Restoration of a Roman Triumphal Arch, with
its Bas-reliefs.]

In the sixth century the cathedrals of Rome, Trèves, Metz, Lyons,
Rhodez, Arles, Bourges, and the abbeys of St. Médard at Soissons, St.
Ouen at Rouen, and St. Martin at Tours, are mentioned as remarkable; and
yet the walls of these edifices were nothing but bare stone, without
either ornament or sculpture. “To become living stones,” says M. J.
Duseigneur, “they had to wait for another age. The whole of the
ornamentation was exclusively applied to the altar and the baptismal
font. The tombs even of great personages present the most primitive
simplicity.” (Fig. 275.)

Ancient Gaul, in spite of its disasters, still retained, in certain
parts of its territory, men, or rather groups of men, in whose hearts
the cultivation of Art still remained a living principle. This was the
case in Provence, round the archbishops of Arles; in Austrasia (Metz),
near the throne of Brunehaut; in Burgundy, at the court of King Gontran.
Most of the works and even the names of these artists are now lost; but
history has recorded the movement, which was, as it were, a happy link
destined to abbreviate the solution of continuity in artistic tradition.

[Illustration: Fig. 275.--A Stone Tomb, of one of the first Abbots of
St. Germain-des-Prés, Paris.]

At the time when Greek art, in its degenerate state, had sunk down into
a department of mere goldsmith’s work, casting over Europe only a pale
and feeble light; when artists, in representing sacred or profane
subjects, contented themselves with simple medallions of bronze, gold,
or silver, which were generally inserted in a shrine, or suspended on
the walls; across the seas Byzantine art was springing into life; an art
which blended Hellenic reminiscences with Christian sentiment.

In the eighth century, the epoch of the uprising of the Iconoclasts
against images of all kinds, Byzantine sculpture had acquired certain
well-marked characteristics: rigidness of outline, meagreness of form,
elongation of the proportions, combined with great profuseness of
costume; all was the expression of saddened resignation and costly
grandeur. The monumental statuary of this age has, however, almost
entirely disappeared, and we should be nearly destitute of any accurate
record as to the state of Art for a period of several centuries, were it
not for numerous diptychs which, to some extent, supply this want. Many
of these sacred diptychs were exquisitely wrought. Gori, in his “Trésor
des Diptyques,” written in Latin and published at Florence in 1759,
divides these monuments into four classes: diptychs intended to receive
the names of the newly baptised; those wherein were written the names of
the benefactors of the church, sovereigns, and popes; and those destined
to preserve the memory of the faithful who had died in the bosom of the
church (Fig. 276). Their outward surface generally represented some
scene taken from the Evangelists, in which Christ was especially
depicted as young and beardless, his head glorified with a nimbus
without a cross. The more these representations were condemned, the more
they who paid respect to them endeavoured to perpetuate their use. The
Greek artists, being unable to find a livelihood in their own country,
made their way into Italy in such numbers that the popes Paul I., Adrian
I., and Pascal I., erected monasteries to receive them. Owing to the
influence of this immigration, Art, which in the West was germinating in
an undecided state between a weak style of originality and an awkward
mode of imitation, was compelled to assume a character of its own, and
this necessarily was the Byzantine character; that is, a manner which
was firm, clear, and, in general, impressed with a certain imposing
nobility of style. This style attained all the more success by its being
illustrated by very eminent artists, whom Charlemagne patronised as
fully adequate to the magnificence of his ideas; and also because the
richness of ornament which this style combined with its work was likely
to render it pleasing to the populace.

The royal palaces of Aix-la-Chapelle, Goddinga, Attiniacum, and
Theodonis Villa, and the monasteries of St. Arnulph, Trèves, St. Gall,
Salzbourg, and Prüm felt the salutary influence which Charlemagne
exercised on all kinds of Art. Prior to 1793, in these various
localities precious remains were still to be seen, reaching back to the
eighth century; they testified to the fact that, apart from Byzantine
influence, and bearing the impress of a simple Christian sentiment,
sculpture still clung, owing to Lombard ascendancy, to some of the grand
traditions of antiquity.

This union of principles gave rise to a number of works bearing a
remarkable character. The foundation of the abbeys of St. Mihiel
(Lorraine), Isle-Barbe (near Lyons), of Ambernay and Romans; the
erection of several of the great monasteries in Alsace, Soissonnais,
Brittany, Normandy, Provence, Languedoc, and Aquitaine; the construction
of the

[Illustration: Fig. 276.--Diptychs in Carved Ivory of the Eleventh
Century. (M. Rigollot’s Collection, Amiens.)

     The first compartment represents St. Remy, Bishop of Rheims,
     healing a paralytic; the second, St. Remy healing a sick man by the
     invocation of the sacrament on the altar; the third, St. Remy,
     assisted by a holy bishop, baptising King Clovis in the presence of
     Queen Clotilda, and receiving from the Holy Spirit the sacred

important churches of Metz, Toul, Verdun, Rheims, Autun, &c.; the
restorations which took place at the abbeys of Bèze, St. Gall, St.
Benignus of Dijon, Remiremont, St. Arnulphe-lès-Metz, and Luxeuil, were
of sufficient importance to occupy an immense number of artists,
architects, and sculptors, who, like the monk Gundelandus, abbot of
Lauresheim, handled the compasses and the mallet with as much authority
as the crucifix. Nothing could equal the splendour of some of the
monasteries, which were perfect centres of genius and skill, in which
all the Fine Arts united were a mutual assistance to one another;
directed, perhaps, by a master who was himself inspired by a feeling for
elevated production (Fig. 277).

Nevertheless, the smaller examples of sculpture and carving constituted
the principal work of the artists of the eighth century. In the
execution of any larger objects they were deterred by a dread of the
Iconoclasts, who still continued their course of destruction, neither
was it much less after the death of Charlemagne, owing to the civil wars
and invasions which, in every direction, put a stop to or ruined
architectural works. A shrine or an altar might perhaps be saved, but a
church-front or doorway could not be protected; and the hereditary
hatred with which princes pursued one another did not fail to be wreaked
on their effigies. At that time there were neither artists nor monks;
every one became a soldier, and the common peril gave some energy to our
alarmed ancestors.

When these invasions had almost come to an end in Europe, the very
disasters they had caused assisted to some extent the progress both of
architecture and sculpture. In the first place there sprang up a
complete order of new buildings, originated by the need that arose for
fresh edifices for the purpose of public worship; the Church, having a
thousand disasters to repair, built or restored a number of monasteries
which assumed a decided character of individuality. The cathedrals of
Auxerre, Clermont, Toul, the Church of St. Paul at Verdun, the abbeys of
Montier-en-Der and of Gorze, of Munster, Cluny, Celles-sur-Cher, &c.,
were specially adorned with the sculptural characteristics of this
epoch. Crucifixes in high relief were multiplied, the introduction of
which into monumental sculpture did not take place before the
pontificate of Leo III. In the arched recesses over doorways
representations of the good and the bad were placed opposite to one
another; the worship of the Virgin was celebrated in all kinds of
artistic productions; and, in short, sculpture was displayed everywhere
with an extraordinary amount of richness. Nothing escaped, so to speak,
its luxurious growth: _ambons_,[47] seats, arches, baptismal fonts,
columns, cornices, bell-turrets, and gargoyles--everything, in short,
testified that sculpture and stone were now in full harmony. Almost all
the figures were then represented as clothed in the Roman style, with a
short tunic, and the chlamys clasped upon the shoulder; this still
continued to be the court-costume, and consequently the only one
suitable to the representation of the exalted followers of Christianity.

[Illustration: Fig. 277.--Bas-relief in the Abbey-Church of St. Denis; a
reproduction of the ancient Statue of Dagobert I., destroyed in the
Ninth Century.]

It is worthy of remark that the monuments of this age are generally
wanting both in dates and the name of the sculptor. Not more than five
or six of the principal artists or directors of artistic works of the
period are mentioned by name in any historical records. Among them,
however, are Tutilon, a monk of Saint-Gall, who at once poet, sculptor,
and painter, ornamented with his works the churches of Mayence and Metz;
Hugues, Abbot of Montier-en-Der; Austée, Abbot of St. Arnulph, in the
diocese of Metz; Morard, who, with the co-operation of King Robert,
rebuilt, towards the end of the tenth century, the old church of St.
Germain-des-Prés, at Paris; lastly, Guillaume, Abbot of St. Benignus, at
Dijon, who took under his direction forty monasteries, and became chief
of a school of Art, as well as their head on religious matters. The
doorways of the churches of Avallon, Nantua, and Vermanton, executed at
this epoch, bear witness to the rigour of an improved taste; and it may
be well said that this abbot Guillaume, who for a long series of years
directed a number of artists, who also in their turn became chiefs of
schools, exercised as powerful an influence on French art as Nicholas of
Pisa on Tuscan art in the following century.

But although it embraced within its influence a very extended sphere,
the school of Burgundy did not fail to find on the ancient Gallic soil
very skilful and industrious rivals. The districts of Messin, Lorraine,
Alsace, Champagne, Normandy, and the Ile-de-France, in short all the
various centres of the South, possessed numerous artists, each of whom
impressed on their works their own special character of individuality.

While all this activity was prevailing in France, Italy had as yet taken
so insignificant a part in the revival of Art, that in 976 Peter
Orseolo, Doge of Venice, having formed the idea of rebuilding the
basilica of St. Mark, was compelled to summon from Constantinople both
architects and artists.

A period of check to any progress took place in France, however, just as
in all the rest of Europe, when, at the approach of the year 1000, the
whole population became subject to an ideal dread that the end of the
world was at hand; but when this date was once passed, every school of
art set vigorously to work, and the most remarkable monuments of
Romanesque architecture sprang up throughout Europe in every direction.

Then it was that the artists of Burgundy built and ornamented, among
other churches and monasteries, the Abbey of Cluny, the apse of which
consisted of a bold cupola, supported by six columns thirty-six feet in
height, of

[Illustration: Fig. 278.--Tomb of Dagobert, executed by order of St.
Louis, in the Abbey-Church of St. Denis. It represents the King carried
away by Demons, after his death, towards the Infernal Bark, from which
he is rescued by Angels and the Fathers of the Church. (Thirteenth

Cipolin and Pentelican marble, with captials, cornices, and friezes,
carved painted, and decorated with bronze. In Lorraine they worked at
the cathedrals of Toul and Verdun, and the abbey of St. Viton. In the
diocese of Metz Gontran and Adélard, celebrated abbots of St. Trudon,
covered Hasbaye with new buildings. “Adélard,” says a chronicler,
“superintended the construction of fourteen churches, and his outlay was
so great that the imperial treasury would scarcely have sufficed for
it.” In Alsace, the cathedral at Strasbourg and the two churches of
Colmar and Schelestadt simultaneously arose, and in Switzerland the
Cathedral of Basle. These magnificent edifices are still standing to
show the vigour and majestic simplicity with which the art of sculpture
was then able to embody its ideas; and, by lending its aid to
architecture, to manifest, so to speak, the faith which actuated it. It
was in this century that Fulbert, Bishop of Chartres, who was doubtless
a sculptor also, superintended the restoration of his church, the
splendour of which is still open to the admiration of all. Art, too, did
not less distinguish herself in the decoration of certain additions made
at that time to edifices already existing. The doorways of the churches
of Laon, Châteaudun, and St. Ayoult of Provins, grand works of the
earliest years of the twelfth century, yield the palm only to the
splendid external ornamentation of the Abbey of St. Denis, executed
between the years 1137 and 1180. The Abbot Suger, who was himself an
eminent artist, does not name any of the sculptors to whose care this
important task was committed. We are equally ignorant as to the
sculptors of the statues of Dagobert and of Queen Nanthilde, his wife;
and also as to the artists of a large golden crucifix, the foot of which
was enriched with bas-reliefs, and the figure of Christ, that presented,
says Suger, “an expression really divine.” The names of the sculptors of
the cathedral church of Paris are likewise concealed from our
admiration. One might suppose that a body of artists fired with the same
inspiration, and with a common sentiment both in thought and action, had
there assembled to design their works; some sculpturing in marble the
sarcophagus of Philip of France; some peopling the rood-loft and the
apse with tall figures and a long gallery of Biblical subjects; others
decorating the façade and exterior with statues, all of every
diversified character, but yet all appearing to unite in the expression
of the same feelings and the same faith (Fig. 279).

In the twelfth century, the Burgundian artists continued their

[Illustration: Fig. 279.--External Bas-relief of Norte-Dame, in Paris,
representing Citizens relieving Poor Scholars. (The work of Jean de
Chelles. Date 1257.)]

work. The tomb of Hugues, Abbot of Cluny; the doorway of the monastery
of St. Jean, that of the Church of St. Lazare at Autun; the nave and the
west front of Semur-en-Auxois, are all of this school, and of this

The school of Champagne raised to the memory of Count Henry I., in the
Church of St. Etienne, at Troyes, a tomb surrounded with forty-four
columns of gilded bronze, surmounted by a slab of silver on which were
placed, in a recumbent position, the statues of the Count and of one of
his sons; bas-reliefs, in bronze and silver, representing the Holy
Family, the celestial court, angels, and prophets, surrounded this
monument. The tomb of Count Henry was a triumph of sculpture in metal;
and, at that time, surpassed all other tombs in France, just as the
Cathedral of Rheims was destined, ere long, to excel all others.

In Normandy we find the same enthusiasm, the same zeal, the same skill
in Art; and there, at least, we learn the names of some of the artists:
Otho, the builder of the Cathedral of Séez; Garnier, of Fécamp;
Anquetil, of Petit-Ville, &c. The masons and sculptors, too, formed at
this epoch a numerous and powerful corporation.

In the South, Asquilinus, Abbot of Moissac, near Cahors, ornamented with
fine statues the cloister and front of his church, and affixed to the
sides of the apse a Crucifixion so skilfully carved, that it was
believed to have emanated from some divine hand (“ut non humano, sed
divino artificio facta”). In Auvergne, Provence, and Languedoc, many
other important works of sculpture were executed. But the chief
masterpiece of all, which combines the different styles of the southern
schools, is the famous Church of St. Trophimus of Arles, the front of
which, where the breadth and grace of the Greek style is allied with the
purest Christian simplicity, carries back the imagination to the
brightest epochs of the art.

Towards the end of the eleventh and the commencement of the twelfth
century, the sculptors’ studios of the districts of Messin and Lorraine
were in full activity. Several magnificent churches having been
destroyed by fire, particularly that of Verdun, the whole population
assisted, either with money or labour, in the restoration of these
edifices. It was a perfect artistic crusade, in which several bishops
and abbots, who were clever artists as well as spiritual chiefs, took
the lead in the movement.

In Alsace, art asserted its position in the magnificent Cathedral of
Strasbourg,[48] a kind of challenge thrown out to the artists on the
other side of the Rhine, who were unable, even at Cologne, to carry an
edifice to such an


Statues formerly at the Entrance of the Church of Notre Dame at Corbeil.
Twelfth Century.]

enormous height, or to adorn it with such a diversified multitude of
statues. Although belonging more especially to the thirteenth century,
it may be taken as the starting-point of the prodigious works executed
by an association of freemasons, who have marked with their hieroglyphic
signatures the stones of this edifice, as of all others executed by them
in the valley of the Rhine, from Dusseldorf to the Alps.

We are, however, led to believe that Germany also did not fail to be
subject to the influence of this artistic school, for among contemporary
monuments are several in a style which manifestly testifies to the
effects of the neighbouring country of Alsace.

Flemish art of that time is exemplified by the Church of St. Gudule at
Brussels, the style of which is especially rich with decorations
borrowed from churches on the banks of the Rhine, the Moselle, the
Sarre, and the Upper Meuse.

If we include in one comprehensive glance French, German, and Flemish
sculptural works, we shall recognise in all, notwithstanding the
predominance of any particular school, one original and special type.
The characteristics of this are elongated faces with a calm,
contemplative, and penitent expression; stiffness of attitude, and a
kind of ecstatic immobility, rather than any glow of animation;
draperies with small narrow folds and close-fitting, as if wetted;
pearled fringes or ribbons, set off with gems (Fig. 280). We see statues
of lofty proportions reared up; representations of various personages
are multiplied on the tombs; Greek art is disappearing and its learned
theories are giving way before Christian sentiment; thought is obtaining
the mastery over mere form; symbolism makes its appearance and becomes a

[Illustration: Fig. 280.--Statue said to be of Clovis I., formerly in
the porch of St. Germain-des-Prés, Paris. (Twelfth Century.)]

But let us turn our eyes towards Italy. Venice had scarcely raised her
lofty dome ere Pisa aspired to have one also. Many a Tuscan ship,
launched upon the sea for conquests of a new kind, brought from Greece
an infinity of monuments, statues, bas-reliefs, capitals, friezes, and
various fragments; and the Tuscan people, the best organised race in
Europe for fully appreciating all the beauty of form, were called upon
to draw their inspiration from the relics of ancient works of Art. The
enthusiasm became general. In 1016, Buschetto, regarded as the first
architect of his time, undertook the building of the Cathedral of Pisa,
where ancient fragments are still conspicuous amid the works of more
modern creation: a kind of holographic testament the benefit of which
the followers of the art of Phidias have thus handed down to posterity.
The pupils of Buschetto, accepting the impulse of his masterly hand and
reproducing his ideas, soon spread all over the peninsula, and the
cathedrals of Amalfi, Pistoia, Siena, and Lucca arose, the Byzantine
character of which differed from the Lombard style presented by the
Cathedral of Milan. One might almost have fancied that the bosom of the
earth brought forth statues which, as if by enchantment, peopled every
pedestal; and that from heaven descended the ray which animated them
with their sublime expression. The art of casting in bronze, hitherto
almost unknown in Italy, became naturalised there as much as the art of
carving in stone.

While in the West the Arts were making such a spring, in the East they
had relapsed into the lowest stage of debasement, at the period when
Byzantium was simultaneously threatened by the Bulgarians and the
Crusaders; although for a time they had appeared to revive, owing to the
zeal of Basil the Macedonian, Constantine VIII., and some of their
successors. Eastern sculpture disappeared when the Latins sacked the
ancient capital of the first Christian emperor (1204).

At the approach of the thirteenth century, which was destined to be the
great age of Christian architecture and sculpture, artists no longer
looked, as they had hitherto done, towards Byzantium, they depended on
themselves; and although some hesitation might still be felt, they found
all round them models they could imitate, traditions they could follow,
and masters to whom they could listen. Christian art had now an
independent existence, and the various schools asserted their styles in
a way which became every day more clear, more powerful, and more

“The style of the head of Christ at Amiens” (Fig. 281), says M.
Viollet-le-Duc, writing on this subject, “fully deserves the attention

[Illustration: Fig. 281.--“The _Beau Dieu d’Amiens_;” a Statue of Christ
in the Front of the Cathedral of Amiens. (Thirteenth Century.)]

sculptors. This carving is treated in the same way as the Greek heads
called Eginetic. There is the same simplicity of model, the same purity
of outline, the same style of execution, at once broad and delicate. It
well represents the features of Christ as a man: a blending of sweetness
with firmness, a gravity devoid of sadness.”

This is not the place to assert any minute comparisons between different
manners and styles; even the bare enumeration of the many monuments to
which this fervent age gave birth might prove wearisome. We call it a
“fervent age,” and fully are we justified, for, at a time when a whole
world of artist-sculptors of ornaments and figures were devoting
themselves to the most delicate and marvellous works of sculpture (Fig.
282), none seemed desirous of displaying his own personal distinction.
We find, for instance, numerous sculptors setting aside all claim to
individual merit, and carrying this self-denial so far that, instead of
their own names, they inscribed that of the Virgin Mary on the carvings
of the churches which they had enriched with their finest works: “Hoc
panthema pia cælaverat ipsa Maria.”

In Germany, Christian art became specially enthroned in Saxony; and
Dresden, which has been justly styled the German Athens, can date back
her architecto-sculptural adornments to the tenth century. On the banks
of the Rhine, at Cologne, Coblentz, and Mayence, we find again the
school of Saint-Gall, which, having been planted in 971, under the
auspices of Notker, Bishop of Laodicea, left its stamp, during a period
of two centuries, in a series of remarkable works.

England, as early as the seventh century, had called to her aid some of
the French “masters in stone” and best workmen, and she subsequently
continued to do so for the building and ornamentation of her finest
religious edifices. William of Sens, a very skilful artist (_artifex
subtilissimus_), proceeded, in 1176, to rebuild Canterbury Cathedral.
Norman and French artists also restored the abbeys of Croyland and
Wearmouth, and York Cathedral, already enriched with Byzantine and
French sculpture.

Spain and Portugal, the soil of which had long been the theatre of an
inveterate conflict between two races embracing two irreconcilable
religions, were destined to inherit from these very struggles the
creation of a singularly characteristic style of art. In adopting the
Byzantine style, the Moors had deprived it of its character of simple
earnestness, and made it to harmonise with the tendencies of their
refined sensualism. Even when Christian art was able to exercise an
undivided rule, it could not fail to be influenced by the buildings
erected by the Moors; and the fact that this alliance of architectural
and sculptural styles succeeded in producing masterpieces is well
attested by the cathedrals of Cuenca, Vittoria, and some portions of
those of Seville, Barcelona, and Lugo in Galicia.

[Illustration: Fig. 282.--Statues in the South Porch of Bourges
Cathedral. (Twelfth Century.)]

Sicily and the kingdom of Naples followed the movement made in other
countries of Europe; but here, again, was felt the influence of various
foreign importations. Some of them were of Greek origin, coming from
Byzantium; some northern, from Normandy, and perhaps also from Germany;
most, however, from Spain, and especially from the important school of

“Nicolas of Pisa,” says Emeric David, “was born towards the end of the
twelfth century, in a town then peopled with Greek masters and the
pupils of those masters, and full of Greek monuments of every age; a
town which might be called altogether Greek. He had the good sense to
disdain the productions of his own time and to devote himself to the
more elevated contemplation of the _chefs-d’œuvre_ of ancient Greece.
This proof of undoubted discernment, and a high degree of taste on his
part, could not but lead to very marked progress. But a premature study
of the antique is not so sure a guide to the desired end as the
contemplation of nature, to which Guido of Siena, his contemporary, and
a little later Cimabue and Giotto, taught perhaps by his errors,
assiduously applied themselves.” There can, however, be no doubt that
the first development of Christian sculpture in Italy must
unquestionably be referred to Nicolas of Pisa. He had, nevertheless,
some rivals who were well worthy of competing with him. Among these were
Fuccio, sculptor of the magnificent tomb of the Queen of Cyprus, in the
Church of San Francesco at Florence; and also Marchione of Arezzo, who
in 1216 carved his name over the doorway of the church of that town.
Giovanni of Pisa, son of Nicolas, who sculptured many beautiful works at
Arezzo, Pistoia, and Florence, and even surpassed himself in the Campo
Santo at Pisa, perhaps the most remarkable monument in Christian Europe,
has been placed by some far below his father in rank as a sculptor, on
account of an accusation made against him of having abandoned the Greek
style. But this renunciation was, in fact, a real trait of genius, and
actually constitutes his glory; for, by neglecting form to some extent,
he was enabled to carry religious idealism and power of expression to
its very highest limits. We must, therefore, consider Giovanni and
Margaritone, pupils of Nicolas; Andrea Ugolino, pupil of Giovanni;
Agnolo and Agostino of Siena; and the celebrated Giotto, who was at once
architect, sculptor, and painter, as real regenerators of the art.
Indeed, we might call these great artists the creators of Christian
sculpture in Italy--that art in which simultaneously shone forth
seriousness of composition, grace and ease of attitude, simplicity of
imitation, elevation of sentiment; in short, all the great harmonies of
a style which seemed to breathe forth a hymn of love and faith.

Thanks to the studios of Agnolo and Agostino, Siena, a small town which
calls to mind the ancient Sicyone, so weak in a political point of view
and yet so learned and polished, was for some time the rival of Pisa, up
to the period when Florence absorbed the artistic splendour of the two
cities. Florence, as the home of the Arts, became the centre of
radiation, whence artists took their flight over the whole of Italy, and
from Italy spread among all the nations of Europe.

Towards the end of the thirteenth century, the churches of Florence, on
which the fraternities combined their efforts, and some of the civil
buildings of this rich and flourishing city, were filled with statues.
The foundation of the municipal palace in 1282, and that of the
cathedral in 1298, made these two wonderful edifices real museums of
sculpture, in which, among the works of Eastern artists, those of
Giovanni of Arezzo and Giotto are distinguished. Agostino and Agnolo of
Pisa executed at that time some magnificent examples at Santa Maria in
Orvieto, San Francisco in Bologna, and in the subterranean Church of
Assisi, &c. Lastly, Andrea of Pisa, a contemporary of Giotto, as he died
only in 1345, extracted from antiquity all that Christian sculpture
could borrow from it; that is, he combined sublimity both of form and
expression. At Pisa, the chancel of Santa Maria a Ponte; at Florence,
the campanile and the high-altar of Santa Maria de’ Fiori, and a door of
San Giovanni; in the Cathedral of Pistoia, the tomb of Cino, are all of
them so many masterpieces; above which, however, the old Pisan master
proudly classed the works of his son Nino. This young artist, who carved
the monument of the Scaligers at Verona, became, in fact, the worthy
follower of the school which recognised Andrea as its chief. Jacopo
della Quercia and Niccolo Aretino enriched also with magnificent works
the towns of Siena, Lucca, Bologna, Arezzo, and Milan, as well as
Florence. But when, in 1424, the tomb closed over Jacopo della Quercia,
the lofty destinies of the art seemed to come to a termination, and soon
rapidly declined. In Venice, at the death of Filippo Calendario, which
occurred in 1355, Italian sculpture had already lost much of its
nobility and vigour of style.

Italian sculpture (Fig. 283), as remarked by Emeric David, raised
itself to the height of the sublime by merely striving after a simple
and exact imitation of nature. It was by the same course of action that
French sculpture always emulated its Transalpine rival; but, in order to
attain the same end, the imitation followed a different path. In Italy,
Art raised itself to the ideal by an attentive study of Greek forms;
while on this side of the Alps, when sentiment required it, form was, if
not sacrificed, at least neglected. French art showed more respect for
the orthodoxy of Christian thought; she did not introduce into the
sanctuary of the Holy of Holies any of those profane and material ideas
that might have been inspired by the marbles of Greece. In spite of the
pointed architecture which everywhere prevailed, French sculpture,
replete with a certain eloquent unction, preserved for a considerable
period the Byzantine style in the appearance of the head and in the
delicacy of draperies; without, however, altogether renouncing its
individuality of character, and without ceasing to seek for models
peculiar to its own soil.

[Illustration: Fig. 283.--Bas-relief on one of the Bronze Gates of St.
Peter’s at Rome, representing the Coronation of the Emperor Sigismund by
Pope Eugène IV., in 1433. (Sculpture of the Fifteenth Century.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 284.--Statuette of St. Avit, in the Church of
Notre-Dame de Corbeil, demolished in 1820.

(Eleventh Century.)]

Unfortunately for the personal glory of the French sculptors, the
historians of the time have scarcely taken the trouble to record their
names. In order to discover but a few of them, learned men of modern
days have been compelled to undertake laborious researches; while many,
and those the most remarkable--worthy, no doubt, to be compared with the
greatest Italian artists--are and must remain ever unknown (Fig. 284).
The Italians were more fortunate; to them Vasari, their rival and
contemporary, has raised a lasting monument. In French art, the list of
the sculptors of so many masterpieces must come to a close when we have
mentioned Enguerrand, who, from 1201 to 1212, commenced the Cathedral
and the Church du Buc, at Rouen, and had for his successor Gautier de
Meulan; Robert de Coucy, chief of the body of artists who, in 1211,
caused the Cathedral of Rheims to rise loftily from the earth; Hugues
Libergier, who rebuilt the ancient basilica of St. Jovin; Robert de
Luzarches, the founder, in 1220, of the Cathedral of Amiens, continued
after his death by Thomas de Cormont and his son Regnault; Jean, Abbot
of St. Germain-des-Prés, who in 1212 undertook the Church of St. Cosme,
Paris; that of St. Julien le Pauvre being restored and adorned with
sculpture at the same date, from the designs of the abbot and the
“brethren” of Longpont (Fig. 285); Jean des Champs, who in 1248 worked
at the ancient Cathedral of Clermont; lastly, the two Jeans de
Montereau, who at one time as military architects, at another as
sculptors of sacred subjects, were at the command of St. Louis, and
produced some extraordinary works both of construction and sculpture.

Alsace manifested no less enthusiasm than France for the new
architectural system, and sculpture was also subject to a similar
development. From Basle to Mayence, the slopes of the Vosges and the
long valley of the Rhine, became full of edifices enriched with
sculpture and peopled with statues. Erwin of Steinbach (who died in
1318), assisted by Sabina, his daughter, and William of Marbourg, were
the most renowned masters in these parts.

[Illustration: Fig. 285.--Bas-relief formerly over the Doorway of St.
Julien le Pauvre, Paris, representing St. Julien and St. Basilissa, his
wife, conveying in their boat Jesus Christ under the figure of a Leper.

(Thirteenth Century.)]

The extraordinary advance that French sculpture made in this age was
assisted--if not as regards the higher style of work, which could do
without this help, at least in respect to the minor details of the
art--by the institution of the fraternities of the _Conception
Notre-Dame_. In many towns the sculptors of images and the painters, the
moulders, the _bahutiers_, or carvers in wood, horn, and ivory (Fig.
286), were all united under the same banner. In Germany and Belgium also
existed _hanses_, or guilds, which were in direct communication with
those of Alsace, and who accepted as guides French artists of known
ability; as, for instance, Volbert and Gérard, architect-sculptors, who
were simultaneously engaged in the construction of the Church of the
Holy Apostles, Cologne.

[Illustration: Fig. 286.--Fragment of a small Reredos, in carved Bone
(Fourteenth Century).

Presented by Jean, Duc de Berry, Brother of Charles V., to the church of
the ancient Abbey of Poissy.

(Museum of the Louvre.)]

With respect to the works commenced or finished in the fourteenth
century, the only difficulty is to make a choice among these wonderful
monuments of Art; which, however, must be looked upon as the last
manifestations of Christian art, properly so-called. We must, however,
point out the polychrome sculptures of Chartres, of St. Remy, Rheims;
St. Martin, Laon; St. Yved, Braisne; St. Jean des Vignes, Soissons; of
the Chartreux, Dijon. In this ducal city we find, in 1357, Guy le Maçon,
a celebrated

[Illustration: Fig. 287.--“Le Bon Dieu,” in the old Chapel of the
Charnier des Innocents, Paris.

(Fifteenth Century.)]

sculptor; at Bourges, about the same date, Aguillon, of Droues; at
Montpellier, between 1331 and 1360, the two Alamans, John and Henry; at
Troyes, Denisot and Drouin of Mantes, &c. Beyond France, Matthias of
Arras, in 1343, laid the foundations of the Cathedral of Prague, which
was to be continued and finished by another French artist, Pierre of
Boulogne. Arrested as our attention must be by the statues and
bas-reliefs which were multiplied under the porches, in the niches (Fig.
287), and on all the tombs, we can cast but a very cursory glance on the
immense number of wood-carvings, figures in ivory, and movable pieces of
sculpture, executed by artists who may be divided into two very
distinct classes, the Norman and the Rhenish; all of other schools
appear to have been nothing but imitators of these.

In 1400 the _Maître_ Pierre Pérat, architect of three cathedrals, who
was at once both civil engineer and sculptor, and one of the greatest
masters of whom France can boast, died at Metz, where he was interred
with all the honours due to his wonderful talents. Just at the same time
a memorable competition was opened at Florence. The object in view was
to finish the doors of the Baptistery of St. John. The formal
announcement of the competition, which was made all over Italy, did not
fail to call forth the most skilful artists. Seven of these were
selected, on account of their renown, to furnish designs: they consisted
of three Florentines--Filippo Brunelleschi, Donatello, and the
goldsmith, Lorenzo Ghiberti; Jacopo della Quercia of Siena; Nicolo
Lamberti d’Arezzo; Francesco da Valdambrina; and Simone da Colle, called
_de’ Bronzi_. To each of these competitors the republic granted one
year’s salary, on condition that, at the end of the period, each of them
should furnish a panel of wrought bronze of the same size as those of
which the doors of St. John were to be composed. On the day fixed for
the examination of the works, the most celebrated artists of Italy were
summoned. Thirty-four judges were selected, and before this tribunal the
seven models were exhibited, in the presence of the magistracy and the
public. After the judges had audibly discussed the respective merits of
the works, those of Ghiberti, Brunelleschi, and Donatello were
preferred. But to whom of the three was the palm to be awarded? They
hesitated. Then Brunelleschi and Donatello retired apart and exchanged a
few words; after which one of them, commencing to address the assembly,
said:--“Magistrates and citizens, we declare to you that in our own
judgment Ghiberti has surpassed us. Award him the preference, for our
country will thus acquire the greater glory. It is less discredit to us
to make known our opinion than to keep silence.”

These doors, at which Ghiberti worked for forty years, with the
assistance of his father, his sons, and his pupils, are perhaps the
finest work we have in sculptured metal.

At the date when Lorenzo Ghiberti, Donatello, Brunelleschi, and their
pupils were the representatives of Florentine sculpture, the French
school also produced its masters and its works of Art. Nicholas Flamel,
the famous

[Illustration: Fig. 288.--“St. Eloi, Patron of Goldsmiths and Farriers.”
A Sculpture of the Fifteenth Century, in the Church of Notre-Dame
d’Armançon, at Semur, Burgundy.]

writer (_écrivain_) of the parish of St. Jacques la Boucherie,
ornamented the churches and mortuary chapels of Paris with mystical and
alchemical (_alchimiques_) sculptures, of which he was the designer if
not the actual artist. Thury executed the tombs of Charles VI. and
Isabelle of Bavaria; Claux Sluter, author of the “Ruits de Moïse,” at
Dijon, assisted by James de la Barre, multiplied the works of monumental
sculpture in Burgundy (Fig. 288). In Alsace, under the impulse of King
René, himself an artist, the sculptor’s art produced examples bearing
the impress of a remarkable individuality. In the district of Messin,
Henry de Ranconval, his son Jehan, and Clausse, were distinguished. In
Touraine, Michael Columb executed the tomb of Francis II., Duke of
Brittany; Jehan Juste, that of the children of Charles VIII., as
introductory to the mausoleum of Louis XII., which he executed between
1518 and 1530, for the basilica of St. Denis; a German, Conrad of
Cologne, assisted by Laurent Wrine, master of the ordnance to the king,
cast in metal the effigy for the tomb of Louis XI. In Champagne appeared
Jean de Vitry, sculptor of the stalls of the Church of St. Claude
(Jura); in Berry, Jacquet Gendre, _master-mason_ and _figure-maker_ for
the Hôtel de Ville, Bourges, &c.

At the end of the same century, Peter Brucy, of Brussels, exercised his
art at Toulouse; the inspiration of the Alsacian artists was developed
in the magnificent sculpture of Thann, Kaisersberg, and Dusenbach; while
Germany, achieving but a late independence, sheltered the faults of her
early genius under the illustrious names of Lucas Moser, Peter Vischer,
Schühlein, Michel Wohlgemuth, Albert Dürer (Fig. 289), &c.

In sculptural works, as in every other branch of art, historical
sentiment and faith seemed to die out with the fifteenth century.
Mediæval art was subjected to protest; the desire seemed to be to
re-create beauty of form by going back to the antique; but the
emphatically Christian individuality was no longer reached, and this
pretended _renaissance_, in which even earnest minds were induced to
gratify themselves, only served to exhibit the feeble efforts of an
epoch that sought to reproduce the glories of a vanished age. In the
time of Charles VIII. and Louis XII., Lombarde-Venetian art, the
affected and ingenious imitation of the Greek style, was introduced into
France; it suited the common people, and pleased mediocre intellect. The
sculptors who came at that period to seek their fortunes at the court of
the French kings worked exclusively for the aristocracy, and vied with
one another in adorning, with an ardent infatuation for Italian art, the
royal and aristocratic palaces which were being built or restored in
every direction, such as the Châteaux of Amboise and Gaillon. But they
failed to do any injury to French artists, who still remained charged
with the works of sacred sculptures; and their style became but
slightly, if at all, influenced by this foreign immigration. Even
Benvenuto Cellini himself failed to exercise much effect on the vigorous
schools of Tours, Troyes, Metz, Dijon, and Angers; his reputation and
his works never passed, so to speak, beyond the limits of the court of
France, and the brilliant traces they

[Illustration: Fig. 289.--“St. John the Baptist preaching in the
Desert.” Bas-relief in Carved Wood by Albert Dürer.

(Brunswick Gallery.)]

left behind them were confined to the school of Fontainebleau. Ere long,
some zealous artists from all the principal centres of the French
schools left their country and betook themselves to Italy; among these
were Bachelier of Languedoc, Simon and Ligier Richier of Lorraine,
Valentine Bousch of Alsace, and Jacques of Angoulême, who had the honour
of a victory over his master, Michael Angelo, in a competition of
statuary (many of the former artist’s works now exist in the Vatican);
Jean de Boulogne, and several others. Some of them, after they had
become celebrated on the other side of the Alps, returned to their
native country, bringing back to it their own native genius matured by
the lessons of the Italians. There was, therefore, always a French
school that preserved its individual characteristics, its generic good
qualities and defects, which are so well represented in the sculptures
of the Hôtel du Bourgtheroulde, Rouen (Fig. 290).

[Illustration: Fig. 290.--Bas-relief of the Hôtel du Bourgtheroulde,
Rouen, representing a Scene in the Interview between Francis I. and
Henry VIII., on the Field of the Cloth of Gold.]

Michael Angelo was born on the 6th of March, 1475, and died on the 17th
of February, 1564, without having shown any signs of decadence; greater,
possibly, by his genius than by his works, he is the personification of
the Renaissance. It would be, perhaps, irreverent to say that this age
was an age of decay; we might fear of desecrating the tomb of Buonarotti
if we laid to his charge that his grand boldness led ordinary talents
astray; and it is not a pleasant subject of thought that, influenced by
two currents of ideas--one coming from Italy, the other from
Germany--the art of the century operated to its own suicide. When the
very soil itself seemed to be shaken, and the Christian pedestal which
had formed both its grandeur and power overturned, what could be done
in the way of opposition to the downfall of Art by Jean Goujon, Jean
Cousin (Fig. 291), Germain Pilon, François Marchand, Pierre Bontemps,
those stars of French sculpture in the sixteenth century?

[Illustration: Fig. 291.--Statue in Alabaster of Philip Chabot, Admiral
of France, by Jean Cousin. Formerly in the Church of the Célestins,
Paris, now in the Museum of the Louvre.]

A final manifestation of the old religious feeling was, however,
apparent in the tombs of the Church of Brou, designed by Jean Perréal,
the great painter of Lyons, executed by Conrad Meyt, and carved by
Gourat and Michael Columb; also in the mausoleum of Francis II., carved
by Columb and his family; in the sepulchre of St. Mihiel (Fig. 292) by
Richier; of the _Saints de Solesme_, in the tombs of Langey du Bellay,
and of the Chancellor De Birague, by Germain Pilon, &c. But fashion and
the prevailing taste now required from artists nothing but profane and
voluptuous compositions, and they adopted this line of Art all the more
readily, seeing, as they did every day, most beautiful works of
Christian sculpture mutilated by a new tribe of Iconoclasts, the
Huguenots, who seldom showed mercy to the figured monuments in Catholic
churches. The stalls of the Cathedral of Amiens, by Jean Rupin, the
rood-loft by Jean Boudin, and a number of other works of the same kind,
testify to the irruption of the Greek style, its implantation in
religious art, and its hybrid association with pointed architecture. It
is, however, only due to our sculptors of the sixteenth century to say,
that when they sacrificed themselves to the requirements of their age
in imitating the masterpieces of Italy, they approached the natural
grace of Raphael much closer than

[Illustration: Fig. 292.--“The Entombment,” by Richier, in the Church of
St. Mihiel (Meuse). (Sixteenth Century.)]

Cellini, Primaticcio, or any of the other Italian artists who were
settled in France; that they combined in the best possible way the
mythological expression of the ancients with our modern ideas, and
that, thanks to them, France is enabled to point with pride to a natural
art, original and independent, which has been handed down to our days in
direct succession by Sarrazain, Puget, Girardon, and Coysevox.

[Illustration: Figs. 293, 294.--Gargoyles on the Palace of Justice,
Rouen. (Fifteenth Century.)]


     The Basilica the first Christian Church.--Modification of Ancient
     Architecture.--Byzantine Style.--Formation of the Norman
     Style.--Principal Norman Churches.--Age of the Transition from
     Norman to Gothic.--Origin and Importance of the _Ogive_.--Principal
     Edifices in the pure Gothic Style.--The Gothic Church, an Emblem of
     the Religious Spirit in the Middle Ages.--Florid
     Gothic.--Flamboyant Gothic.--Decadency.--Civil and Military
     Architecture: Castles, Fortified Enclosures, Private Houses, Town
     Halls.--Italian Renaissance: Pisa, Florence, Rome.--French
     Renaissance: Mansions and Palaces.

When the Christian family, humble and persecuted, was beginning to form
itself into congregations; when it was forbidden to consecrate any
special edifice to the performance of the services of its religion--a
religion which opposed to the gorgeous ceremonies of polytheism the most
austere simplicity--any refuge might have seemed good enough which
offered to the faithful the means of assembling themselves together in
security; any retreat must have appeared sufficiently ornamented which
would recall to the disciples of the crucified Saviour the mournful
events preceding the glorification of that Divine sacrifice. But when
the religion proscribed one day found itself on the next the religion of
the State, things changed.

Constantine, in the mighty ardour of his zeal, wished to see the worship
of the true God efface in pomp and in magnificence all the solemnities
of the heathen world. In expelling the idols from their temples, the
idea could not have suggested itself of using these buildings for the
new religion, because they were generally of excessively limited
dimensions, and the plan on which they were built would have but
indifferently answered the requirements of the Christian ceremonial.
What was necessary for these services was principally a spacious nave,
in which a large congregation could assemble to hear the same word, to
join in the same prayer, and to intone the same chants. The Christians
sought, therefore, among the edifices then in existence (Fig. 295), for
such as would best answer these purposes. The _basilicas_ presented
themselves; these buildings served at once as law-courts and places of
assembly for tradesmen and money-changers, and were generally composed
of one immense hall, with lateral galleries and tribunes adjoining it.
The name of _basilica_, derived from the Greek word _basileus_ (a king),
was given them, according to some writers, from the fact that formerly
the kings themselves used to administer justice within their walls;
according to others, because the basilica of Athens served as a tribunal
of the second archon, who bore the title of king; whence the edifice was
called _stoa basiliké_ (royal porch), a designation of which the Romans
preserved only the adjective, the substantive being understood.

[Illustration: Fig. 295.--Basilica of Constantine, at Trèves,
transformed into a Fortress in the Middle Ages.]

“The Christian basilica,” says M. Vaudoyer, in his learned treatise on
architecture in France, “was most certainly an imitation of the heathen
basilica; but it is of importance to observe that from one cause or
another the Christians, in the construction of their basilicas, very
soon substituted for the Grecian architecture of the ancient basilicas a
system of arches reposing directly on isolated columns, which served as
their supports; a perfectly new contrivance, of which there existed no
previous example. This new mode of construction, which has generally
been attributed to the want of skill in the builders of this period, or
to the nature of the materials they had at their disposal, was, however,
to become the fundamental principle of Christian art; a principle
characterised by the breaking up of the range of arches, and by the
abandonment of the system of rectilinear construction of the Greeks and

“Indeed, the arcade, which had become the dominant element of Roman
architecture, had nevertheless remained subject to the proportions of
the Greek orders, of which the entablature served as an indispensable
accompaniment; and from this medley of elements so diverse was produced
the mixed style which characterises the Greco-Roman architecture. But
the Christians, in separating or breaking up the arcade, in abandoning
the use of the ancient orders, and in making the column the real support
of the arch, laid the foundations of a new style, which led to the
exclusive employment of arches and vaults in Christian edifices. The
Church of St. Sophia at Constantinople, built by Justinian in the middle
of the sixth century, affords the most ancient example of this system of
construction by arches and vaults in a Christian church of large

Transported to the East, the Latin style there assumed a new character,
owing especially to the adoption and generalisation of the cupola, of
which there were some examples in Roman architecture, but only as an
accessory; whereas, in what is called Byzantine architecture, this form
became dominant, and, as it were, fundamental; thus, at all periods and
at each time that the architectural influence of the East made itself
felt in the West, we see the cupola introduced into buildings. The
Church of St. Vital at Ravenna affords, in its plan (Fig. 296) and in
its general appearance, an example of this influence, which is quite

Edifices of Latin architecture, properly so called, are rare, we might
almost say that they have all disappeared (Figs. 297 and 298); but if
some churches in Rome, whose foundation dates back to the fifth and
sixth centuries, can be considered as specimens of this first period of
Christian art, it is in the arrangement of the plan much more than in
the details of execution, which for a long subsequent time since have
been united with the work of later periods.

In the days when Christianity was so triumphantly established as to have
no fear nor scruple to utilise, in the construction of its churches, the

[Illustration: Fig. 296.--Church of St. Vital, at Ravenna. Byzantine
style. (Sixth Century.)]

of the ancient temples, it generally happened that the architect,
conforming himself to new requirements, endeavoured, by a prudent return
towards the traditions of the past, to avoid those striking
incongruities which would have deprived of all their value the
magnificent materials he had at his disposal. Hence arose a style still
undecided; hence mixed creations, which it will suffice merely to
mention. Then we must not forget--to say nothing of the case in which,
as in the old Roman city, Christian basilicas might be built with the
marble of heathen sanctuaries--the monuments of this same Rome were
still the only models that presented themselves for imitation. Finally,
for this architecture which the Christian religion was to create as its
own, it was obvious there would be an infancy, an age of groping in the
dark and of uncertainty; and at length that there should be a separation
from the past, and a gradually experienced feeling of individual
strength. (Fig. 299.)

This infancy lasted about five or six centuries; for it was only about
the year 1000 that the new style--which we see at first made up of
“recollections” and weak innovations--assumed an almost determinate
form. This is the period called Norman,[49] which, according to M.
Vaudoyer, has left us some monuments that are “the noblest, the
simplest, and the severest expression of the Christian temple.”

[Illustration: Fig. 297.--The Church of St. Agnes, at Rome, Latin style
(Fifth Century). Restored and debased in the Seventeenth Century.]

[Illustration: Fig. 298.--The Church of St. Martin, at Tours (Sixth
Century). Rebuilt or restored in the Eleventh Century.]

“Three years after the year 1000, which was supposed was to be the last
year of the world,” says the monk Raoul Glaber, “churches were renewed
in nearly every part of the universe, especially in Italy and in Gaul,
although the greater number were still in a condition good enough to

[Illustration: Fig. 299.--Remains of the Church of Mouen, in Normandy.
Architecture of the Fifth or Sixth Century.]

no repairs.” “It was to this period, that is to say, the eleventh
century,” adds M. Vaudoyer, “must be assigned the greater number of the
ancient churches of France, grander and more magnificent than all those
of preceding centuries; it was then, also, the first associations of
builders were formed, whereof the abbots and the prelates themselves
formed a portion, and which were essentially composed of men bound by a
religious vow; the Arts were cultivated in the convents, the churches
were built under the direction of bishops; the monks co-operated in
works of all kinds.... The plan of the Western churches preserved the
primitive arrangement of the Latin basilica--that is, the elongated form
and the lateral galleries; the most important modifications were the
lengthening of the choir and of the galleries, or of the cross, a free
passage established round the apse (Fig. 300); and, lastly, the
combination of chapels, which grouped themselves around the sanctuary.
In the construction the isolated columns of the nave are sometimes
replaced by pillars, the spaces between which are filled up with
semicircular arches,

[Illustration: Fig. 300.--Notre-Dame, Rouen, ogival style. (Thirteenth

and a general system of vaulted roofs is substituted for the ceilings
and timber roofs of the ancient Latin basilicas.... The use of bells,
which was but sparingly adopted in the East, contributed to give to the
churches of the West a character and an appearance quite their own, and
which they owe particularly to those lofty towers that had become the
essential part of their façade.”

The façade itself is generally of great simplicity. We enter the edifice
by one of three doors, above which runs, in most cases, a little gallery
formed of very small columns close to each other, supporting a range of
arcades; and these arcades are often ornamented with statues, as we find
in the church of Notre-Dame at Poitiers, which--together with the
churches of Notre-Dame des Doms, at Avignon; of St. Paul, at Issoire; of
St. Sernin, at Toulouse; of Notre-Dame du Port, at Clermont, &c.--may be
considered as one of the most complete specimens of Norman architecture.

In churches of this style, as for instance those of St. Front, at
Périgueux; of Notre-Dame, at Puy en Velay; of St. Etienne, at Nevers,
are seen also some cupolas; but we must not forget that the Byzantine
architects, whose migrations towards the West were constantly taking
place at this period, could not fail to leave traces of their
wanderings, and we must acknowledge that, especially in our own country
(France), where Oriental influence was never more than partial, the
union of the two architectonic principles produced the happiest results.
The Cathedral of Angoulême, for example, is justly regarded as one of
the edifices in which Oriental taste harmonises the best with the Norman

At the beginning of this period, the bell-towers were of very little
importance; but gradually we find them rising higher and higher, and
attaining to great elevations. Some cathedrals on the borders of the
Rhine, and the Church of St. Etienne at Caen, are examples of the
extraordinary height to which these towers were built. In principle, we
may add, there was only one bell-tower (Fig. 301); but it generally
happened that two were given to churches built or restored after the
year 1000: St. Germain-des-Prés had three bell-towers--one over the
portal, and one at each side of the transept; certain churches had four
and even five bell-towers.

Norman bell-towers are generally square, exhibiting, in stories, two or
three ranges of round-arched arcades, and terminating in a pyramidal
roof resting on an octagonal base. The Abbey of St. Germain d’Auxerre
possesses one of the most remarkable bell-towers of the Norman style;
then come, although built subsequently to the principal edifice, those
of the Abbaye aux Hommes, at Caen.

[Illustration: Fig. 301.--Ancient Church of St. Paul-des-Champs, at
Paris, founded, in the Seventh Century, by St. Eloi. Restored and in
part rebuilt in the Thirteenth Century.]

The sun’s rays penetrated into the Norman church first through the
_oculus_,[50] a vast round opening intended to admit light into the
nave, and situated above the façade, which generally rose in the form of
a gable above one or several rows of small columns on the exterior. A
series of lateral windows opened on the side-aisles of the edifice;
another was pierced on a level with the galleries; and a third between
the vaulted arches of the nave.

The crypt, a sort of subterranean sanctuary, which generally contained
the tomb of some beatified saint, or of some martyr to whom the edifice
was dedicated, formed very often an integral part of the Norman church.
The architecture of the crypt, which had for its ideal object to recall
to the mind the period when the offices of the Christian religion were
performed in caverns and in catacombs, was generally of a massive and
imposing severity, well suited to express the sentiment which must have
presided over the earliest Christian buildings.

The Norman style, that is to say, the primitive idea of Christian
architecture, freed from its remaining servility to the antique, seems
to have caught a glimpse of the definitive formula of Christian art.
Many a majestic monument already attested the austere power of this
style; and perhaps a final and masterly inspiration would have sufficed,
perfection being attained, to cause the researches of the _maîtres
d’œuvre_,[51] made as they felt their way forward, to cease of
themselves. Already, too, as a sign of maturity, Norman edifices,
instead of remaining in the somewhat too unadorned simplicity of the
first period, became gradually ornamented, till in time they resembled,
from their base to the summit, a delicate work of embroidery. It is to
this florid Norman style, which in France reigns especially to the south
of the Loire, that the charming façade of the Church of Notre-Dame de
Poitiers (Fig. 302) belongs, which we have already cited as a perfect
type of the Norman style itself; the façade of St. Trophimus, at Aries
(Figs. 303 and 304), an example in the general arrangement of which the
same character of original unity does not prevail; and that of the
Church of St. Gilles, which M. Mérimée cites as the most elegant
expression of the florid Norman.

In short, let us repeat it, the Norman style, grandiose in its
austerity, still quiet and compact even in its richest phantasy, was on
the eve of _individualising_ for ever, perhaps, Christian architecture;
its rounded arches, uniting their full soft curves to the simple
profiles of columns, robust even in their lightness, seemed to
characterise at one and the same time the

[Illustration: Fig. 302.--Notre-Dame la Grande of Poitiers (Twelfth

elevated calm of hope and the humble gravity of faith. But lo! the
_ogive_ sprang up; not, indeed, as certain authors have thought they
were right in affirming, from an outburst of spontaneous invention, for
we find the principle and the application of it not only in many
edifices of the Norman period, but even in the architectural
contrivances of the most remote times. And it happened that this simple
breaking up of the round arch, this “sharpness” of the arch, if we may
use the expression, which the Norman builders had skilfully utilised,
giving more of slenderness or graceful strength to vaults of great
extent, became the fundamental element of a style which, in less than a
century, was to shut the future to a tradition dating from six or eight
centuries, and which could with justice pride itself on the most
beautiful architectural conceptions. (Fig. 305.)

[Illustration: Fig. 303.--Tympanum of the Portal of St. Trophimus, at
Arles (Twelfth Century).]

From the twelfth to the thirteenth century the transition took place.
The Norman style, which is distinguished by its round arch, maintained
the struggle with the Gothic style, of which the ogive is the original
mark. In the churches of this period we find also, with regard to the
ground-plan of edifices, the choir assuming larger dimensions,
necessitated no doubt by increased ceremonials in the services. The
Latin cross, which was the ground-plan whereon up to this time the
greater number of sanctuaries were built, ceased to indicate as
precisely as heretofore its outlines; the nave was raised considerably
in height, the lateral chapels were multiplied, and often broke the
perspective of the side-aisles; bell-towers assumed greater importance,
and the placing of immense organs above the principal entrance gave rise
to a new system of elevated galleries in this part of the building.

[Illustration: Fig. 304.--Details of the Portal of St. Trophimus, at
Arles. (Twelfth Century.)]

The churches of St. Remy, Rheims; of the Abbey of St. Denis; of St.
Nicholas, Blois; the Abbey of Jumiéges; and the Cathedral of
Châlons-sur-Marne, are the principal examples of the architecture of the
mixed style.

[Illustration: Fig. 305.--Cloister of the Abbey of Moissac, Guyenne.
(Twelfth Century.)]

It should be remarked that for a long while, in the north of France, the
pointed arch had prevailed almost entirely over the round arch, at the
time when, in the south, Norman tradition, blended with the Byzantine,
still continued to inspire the builders. Nevertheless, the demarcation
cannot be rigorously established, for, at the time when edifices of the
purest Norman style showed themselves in our (French) northern counties
(as, for example, the Church of St. Germain-des-Prés, and the apse of


Thirteenth Century.]

St. Martin-des-Champs, Paris), we find, at Toulouse, at Carcassonne, at
Montpellier, the most remarkable specimens of the Gothic style. At last
Gothic architecture gained the day. “Its principle,” says M. Vitet, “is
in emancipation, in liberty, in the spirit of association and commerce,
in sentiments quite indigenous and quite national: it is homely, and
more than that, it is French, English, Teutonic, &c. Norman
architecture, on the contrary, is sacerdotal.”

And M. Vaudoyer adds: “The rounded arch is the determinate and
invariable form; the pointed arch is the free and indefinite form which
lends itself to unlimited modifications. If, then, the Pointed style has
no longer the austerity of the Norman, it is because it belongs to that
second phase of all civilisation, in which elegance and richness replace
the strength and the severity of primordial types.”

It was, moreover, at this period that architecture, like all the other
arts, left the monasteries to pass into the hands of lay architects
organised into confraternities, who travelled from place to place, and
thus transmitted the traditional types; the result of this was that
buildings raised at very great distances from each other presented a
striking analogy, and often even a complete similitude to each other.

There has been much discussion not only on the origin of the pointed
arch, but also as to the beauty and excellence of its form. According to
some it was suggested by the sight of many arches interlaced, and only
constituted one of those fantastical forms which an art in quest of
novelty adopts; others, among whom is M. Vaudoyer, attribute to it the
most remote origin, by making it result quite naturally in the first
attempts at building in stone,--“from a succession of courses of stone
so arranged that each overhung the other;” or else in wooden
constructions, “from the greater facility there was in forming with
beams a pointed rather than a perfectly rounded arch;” others consider
the adoption of the Pointed style, as we said above, as nothing but a
proof of the religious independence succeeding the rigid faith of
earlier days. A third opinion, again, is that of M. Michiels, who looks
on the Pointed style as in some sort an inevitable result of the
boldness of the Norman, and who considers the Gothic, of which it is the
characteristic, as “expressing the spirit of a period when religious
feeling had attained its most perfect maturity, and Catholic
civilisation produced its sweetest and most agreeable fruits.”

[Illustration: Fig. 306.--Mayence Cathedral. Rhenish Norman. (Twelfth
and Thirteenth Centuries).]

Whatever may be the merits of these different opinions, into the
discussion of which we need not enter, it is now generally assumed that
the Pointed style, properly so called, sprang up first within the limits
of the ancient Ile-de-France, whence it propagated itself by degrees
towards the southern and eastern provinces.

M. Michiels, agreeing on this point with the celebrated architect
Lassus, points out that it would be as difficult to attribute the
creation of this style to Germany as to Spain. It was in the thirteenth
century that the finest Gothic buildings appeared in France; while in
Germany, except the churches built, as it were, on the French frontier,
we find nothing at that period but Norman churches (Fig. 306); and it is
reasonable to suppose that, if we owed the general adoption of the
pointed arch to Spain, the introduction of it would have been gradually
made through that part of the country situated beyond the Loire, where,
however, the Norman style continued to be in great favour when it was
almost entirely abandoned in the north of France.

A century sufficed to bring the Pointed style to its highest perfection.
Notre-Dame (Fig. 307) and the Sainte-Chapelle, in Paris; Notre-Dame,
Chartres; the cathedrals of Amiens (Fig. 308), Sens, Bourges, Coutances,
in France; those of Strasbourg, Fribourg, Altenberg, and Cologne, in
Germany, the dates of whose construction succeed each other at intervals
from the first half of the twelfth to the middle of the thirteenth
century, are so many admirable specimens or types of this art, which we
may here call relatively new.

To know to what marvellous variety of combinations and effects, by
merely modifying it in height and breadth from its original type, this
pointed arch, which, taken by itself, might appear the simplest of
forms, can attain, one must have passed some time in dividing into the
different parts of which it is composed, by an accurate examination of
its _tout ensemble_, such an edifice as Notre-Dame, Paris, or as the
Cathedral of Strasbourg; the first of which attracts attention by the
sustained boldness of its lines, strong as they are graceful; the
second, by its perfectly bold independence, seeming, as it does, to
taper away as by enchantment, in order to bear to a surprising height
the evidence of its incomprehensible temerity.

We must rise in thought above the edifice to grasp the plan of its first
conception; we must, from below, study it on all sides to perceive

[Illustration: Fig. 307.--Notre-Dame, Paris (Twelfth and Thirteenth

View of the principal Façade before the restoration executed by Messrs.
Lassus and Viollet-le-Duc.]

[Illustration: Fig. 308.--Interior of Amiens Cathedral. (Thirteenth

with what art its various parts are arranged, grouped, placed at certain
intervals from each other; we must seek to discover the contrivance by
virtue of which the immense _évidage_ (sloping) of numerous buttresses,
the height of the towers, the retiring of the laterals, and the curve of
the apse are harmonised; we must enter the church and stand in its nave,
with its interminable delicate ribs--how many clusters of small columns
extend above the slender pillars!--we must contemplate the beautiful
fancies of the rose-windows, which by their many-coloured glass sober
down the glare of the light passing through them; we must gain the
summit of those towers, those spires, and from them command the dizzy
extent of aërial

[Illustration: Fig. 309.--Capital of a Column in the Abbey of St.
Geneviève (destroyed), Paris.

(Eleventh Century.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 310.--Capital of a Column in the Church of St.
Julien the Poor (destroyed), Paris.

(Twelfth Century.)]

space, and the landscape stretching out around them below; we must
follow attentively with our eye the strikingly bold outlines which the
turrets, the ornamented gables, the _guivres_, the tops of the
bell-towers trace upon the sky. This done, we should yet have paid but a
brief tribute of attention to these prodigious edifices. What, then, if
we wished to devote sufficient time to the ornamentation of the details
(Figs. 309 to 312)? if we desired to obtain a tolerably exact idea of
the people from the statues which swarm from the porch to the pinnacle,
and of the _flora_ and _fauna_, real or ideal, that give movement to
every projection or animate every wall? if one counted on success in
finding out the key to all the crossings and intersections of the
lines, of the well-adjusted conceptions which, while they deceive the
eye, contribute to the majesty or the solidity of the whole? if,
finally, we were most careful not to lose any one of the multifarious
thoughts that have been fixed in the stones of the gigantic edifice? The
mind becomes confused; and certainly the effect produced by so much
imagination and so much enterprise, by so much skill and taste,
wonderfully elevates the soul, which searches with more love after the
Creator when it sees such a work proceeding from the hands of the

[Illustration: Fig. 311.--Vestige of the Architecture of the Goths at
Toledo. (Seventh Century.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 312.--Capital in the Church of the Célestins
(destroyed), Paris. (Fourteenth Century.)]

When you approach the Gothic church, when you stand beneath its lofty
roof, it is as if a new country were receiving you, possessing you,
casting around you an atmosphere of subduing reverie in which you feel
your wretched servitude to worldly interests vanishing away, and you
become conscious of more solid, more important ties, springing up in
you. The Deity whom our finite nature can figure to ourselves seems in
fact to inhabit this immense building, to be willing to put himself in
direct communion with the humble Christian who approaches to bow down
before Him. There is nothing in it of the human dwelling-place--all
relating to our poor and miserable existence is here forgotten; He for
whom this residence was constructed is the Strong, the Great, the
Magnificent, and it is from a paternal condescension that He receives us
into His holy habitation, as weak, little, miserable. It is the ideal of
the faith which is realised; all the articles of the belief in which we
have been brought up are here embodied before our eyes; it is, lastly,
the chosen spot where the meeting of mortal nothingness and Divine
Majesty is quietly accomplished.

The Christianity of the Middle Ages had then been able to find in the
Gothic style a tongue as tractable as it was energetic, as simple as it
was ingenious, which, for the pious excitement of souls, was to declare
to the senses all its ineffable poetry. But as the unbounded faith, of
which it was the faithful organ, was on the next dawn of its most ardent
aspirations about to decline, so this splendid style was almost as soon
to lose its vigour, and to exhaust itself in the unrestrained
manifestation of its power.

Springing into existence with the warm enthusiasm of the first Crusades,
the Pointed style seems to follow in its different phases the decline of
faith in the time of these adventurous enterprises. It began by a
sincere outburst, and was produced by a bold, unshackled genius; then a
factitious or reflected ardour gave birth to elaborateness and
mannerism; then the fervent zeal and the artistic sentiment dwindled
away: this is the decadency.

Gothic art raised itself in less than a century to its culminating
point; within two centuries more it was to reach the fatal point where
it would begin to decline. The thirteenth century saw it in all its
glory, with the edifices we have mentioned; in the fourteenth it had
become the Florid or _Rayonnant_ Gothic, which produced the churches of
St. Ouen at Rouen, and of St. Etienne at Metz. “Then,” says M. A.
Lefèvre, one of the latest historians of architecture, “no more walls;
everywhere open screen-work supported by slender arcades; no more
capitals, rows of foliage imitated directly from nature; no more
columns, lofty pillars ornamented with round or bevelled mouldings. As
yet, however, there was nothing weakly in its extreme elegance; slim and
delicate without being gaunt, the Florid style did not in the least
disfigure the churches of the thirteenth century, which it bounded and

“But after the _Rayonnant_ Gothic came the _Flamboyant_, which, always
under the pretext of lightness and grace, denaturalises the ornaments,
the forms, and even the proportions of the architectural members. It
effaces the horizontal lines which used to give two stories to the
windows of the nave, fills up the nave with irregular compartments,
_cœurs_, _soufflets_, and _flammes_; suppresses the angles of the
pillars and sharpens the mouldings; leaves even to the most massive
supports nothing but an undulating, vanishing, impalpable form, where
shadow cannot fix itself; changes the lancet-arches into braces, or into
flat-arched vaults more or less depressed, and the florid ornamentation
of the pinnacles into whimsical scrolls. It reserved all its riches for
accessory or exterior decorations, stalls, pulpits, hanging key-stones,
running friezes, rood-screens, and bell-towers. Visible decadency of the
whole corresponds with great progress in details.” (Fig. 313.)

The churches of St. Wulfran, Abbeville; of Notre-Dame, Cléry-sur-Loire;
of St. Riquier; of Corbeil; and the cathedrals of Orleans and of Nantes,
may be cited as the principal specimens of the _Flamboyant_ style, and
as the last notable manifestations of an art which thenceforward
diverged more and more from its original inspiration. The middle of the
fifteenth century is generally fixed as the limit beyond which the
handsome Gothic buildings that still rose were no longer, in any degree,
the normal productions of their period, but were felicitous copies or
imitations of works already consecrated by the history of the art.

A remark may here be made showing to what extent religious feeling
predominated in the Middle Ages; it is that at the very moment when the
Norman and Gothic architects were designing and producing so many
marvellous habitations for the Deity, they seemed to bestow scarcely any
attention on the construction of comfortable or luxurious dwellings for
man, even those destined for the most exalted personages of the State.
In proportion as this sentiment of original faith lost its intensity,
Art occupied itself more and more with princely and lordly habitations.
The middle class was the last favoured by this progress, and the feeling
of their position as citizens had taken the place of a zeal exclusively
pious; so we find the “town-halls” absorbing the splendour and elegance
of which private houses remained destitute; these being generally built
of wood and plaster, and in the heart of the towns, so close together
that they seemed to be disputing for light and air.

[Illustration: Fig. 313.--Saloon of the Schools, Oxford. (Fourteenth

Everywhere, during the Middle Ages, rose the church--the home of peace;
but everywhere also towered up at the same time the castle, that
characterised the permanent state of war in which feudal society lived,
delighted, and gloried.

“The castles of the richest and most powerful nobles,” says M. Vaudoyer,
“consisted of irregular, uncomfortable buildings, pierced with a few
narrow windows, standing within one or two fortified enclosures, and
surrounded by moats. The donjon, a large high tower, generally occupied
the centre, and other towers, more or less numerous, flanked the walls,
and served for the defence of the place.” (Fig. 314). “These castles,”
adds M. Mérimée, “generally present the same characteristics as the
ancient _castellum_; but a certain ruggedness, a striking quaintness in
plan and execution, bear witness to a personal will, and that tendency
to isolation which is the instinctive sentiment of the feudal system.”

[Illustration: Fig. 314.--Ancient Castle of Marcoussis, near
Rambouillet. (Thirteenth Century.)]

In most of the buildings destined for the privileged classes, it seems
as if it were deemed unnecessary that care should be taken to secure
harmony of form. The decorative style of the period showed itself
chiefly in the interior of some of the principal apartments, the
habitable quarters of the lord of the castle and of his family. There
were vast fireplaces with enormous chimney-corners surmounted by
projecting mantelpieces; the vaulted roof was ornamented with pendents
of various devices, and with painted or carved escutcheons. Narrow
closets, contrived in the walls, served as sleeping places. The
embrasures of the windows pierced in the excessively thick walls formed
so many little chambers, raised a few steps above the floor of the room
to which they admitted light. Stone seats ran along each side of these
embrasures. Here the inmates of the tower generally sat when the cold
did not oblige them to draw near to the fireplaces. (Figs. 315 and 316.)

[Illustration: Fig. 315.--Staircase of a Tower.]

[Illustration: Fig. 316.--Pointed Window with Stone Seats.

(Thirteenth Century.)]

With the exception of these slight sacrifices made to the comforts of
life, everything in the castle was arranged, contrived, and disposed
with a view to strength and resistance; and yet it cannot be denied
that, unintentionally, the builders of these silent (_taciturnes_)
edifices have many a time--aided often, it is true, by the picturesque
sites which encircle their works--attained to a majesty of height and a
grandeur of form truly extraordinary.

If the Norman church expresses with gentle severity, and the Gothic
church with sumptuous fancy, the important and sublime doctrines of the
Gospel, we must equally allow that the castle, in some sort, loudly
proclaims the stern and uncivilised notions of the feudal authority of
which it was at once the instrument and the symbol.

[Illustration: Fig. 317.--The Castle of Coucy in its ancient state.

(From a Miniature taken from a Manuscript of the Thirteenth Century.)]

Placed, in most cases, on natural or artificial eminences, it is not
without a sort of eloquent boldness that the towers and the donjons
shoot into the air, succeed each other at intervals, command and support
each other. It is frequently not without a sort of fantastic grace that
the walls scale the rising ground, making an infinity of the strangest
bends, or coiling themselves about with the supple ease of a serpent.

[Illustration: Fig. 318.--The Castle of Vincennes, as it was in the
Seventeenth Century.]

Evidently, if the castle raises its gloomy head high into the air, it
has no other object in doing so than to secure to itself the advantages
of distance and height; but not the less on that account does it stand
out on the sky a grand object. The masses of its walls unsymmetrically
pierced with sombre loop-holes present an abrupt and naked appearance;
but the monotony of their lines is picturesquely broken by the
projection of overhanging turrets, by the corbels of the machicolated
arches, and by the embrasures of the battlements.

A vast amount of civilisation still exists for him who recalls the past
in the multitude of ruins which were the witnesses of bloody feudal
divisions; and we must add to the system of isolated castles that often
commanded the most deserted valleys, the apparatus of strength and
defence of cities and towns--gates, ramparts, towers, citadels, &c.,
immense works which, although inspired solely by the genius of strife
and dissension, did not fail nevertheless, in many instances, to combine
harmony and variety of detail with the general grandeur of the whole.

[Illustration: Fig. 319.--Tour de Nesle, which occupied the site of the
Exchange on the banks of the Seine, Paris.

(From an Engraving of the Seventeenth Century.)]

We may cite, as examples of architecture purely feudal, the castles of
Coucy (Fig. 317), Vincennes (Fig. 318), Pierrefonds, the old Louvre, the
Bastille, the Tour de Nesle (Fig. 319), the Palais de Justice,
Plessis-les-Tours, &c.; and as specimens of the fortified town in the
Middle Ages, Avignon and the city of Carcassonne. Let us add that
Aigues-Mortes, in Provence; Narbonne, Thann (Haut-Rhin), Vendôme,
Villeneuve-le-Roi, Moulins, Moret (Fig. 320), Provins (Fig. 321), afford
yet again the most characteristic remains of analogous fortifications.

[Illustration: Fig. 320.--Gate of Moret. (Twelfth Century.)]

While the nobles, jealous and suspicious, sheltered themselves in the
shadow of their donjons built with many strategical contrivances and of
substantial materials; while the large and small towns were surrounded
with deep moats, high walls, impregnable towers, the most primitive
simplicity presided over the construction of private dwellings. Stone
hardly ever, and brick but seldom, figured among the number of the
materials employed. Sawed or squared timbers serving as ribs, mud or
clay filling up the interstices, were all that was at first required for
the erection of houses as small as they were comfortless, and following
each other in irregular lines along the narrow streets. The beams of
the corbels, it is true, began to be adorned with carvings and
paintings, the façades with panes (glass) of different colours; but we
must reach the last half of the fifteenth century before we see the
resources of architecture applied to the erection and ornamentation of
private houses. Moreover, faith was already growing weak; and no longer
was it possible to direct all the resources of an entire province to the
honour of the Deity by the erection of a church; the use of gunpowder,
by revolutionising the art of war, came to lessen, if it did not
annihilate, the vast strength of walls; the decline of feudalism itself
had commenced; and, lastly, the enfranchisement of corporations gave
rise to a perfectly new order of individuals who took their place in
history. We must refer to this period the house of Jacques Cœur,
Bourges; the Hôtel de Sens, Paris (Fig. 322); the Palais de Justice,
Rouen; and those town-halls in which the belfry was then considered as a
sort of palladium, in whose shade the sacred rights of the community
sheltered themselves. It is in our (French) northern towns--St. Quentin,
Arras, Noyon; and in the ancient cities of Belgium--Brussels (Fig. 323),
Louvain, Ypres, that these edifices assume the most sumptuous character.

[Illustration: Fig. 321.--Gate of St. John, with Drawbridge, Provins.
(Fourteenth Century.)]

In Germany, where for a time it reigned almost exclusively, Gothic art
established the cathedrals of Erfurt, of Cologne, Fribourg, and of
Vienna; then it died away in the growth of the _Flamboyant_ style. In
England, after having left some magnificent examples of pure
inspiration, it found its decline in the attenuated meagreness and the
complicated ornamentation of the style called _Perpendicular ogival_. If
it penetrated also into Spain, it was to contend with difficulty against
the mighty Moorish school, which had too many imposing _chefs-d’œuvre_
in the past to surrender without resistance the country of its former
triumphs (Fig. 324). In Italy it clashed not only with the Latin and
Byzantine schools, but also with a style that, just beginning to form
itself, was soon to dispute with it the empire of taste, and to dethrone
it in that very land which had been its cradle. The cathedrals of
Assisi, of Siena, of Milan, are the splendid works in which its
influence triumphed over local traditions and over the _Renaissance_
that was preparing to follow; yet we must not think that it succeeded
even there in rendering itself absolutely the master, as it had done on
the Rhenish or British territories. Sacrifices were made in its favour;
but these sacrifices did not amount to an entire immolation.

[Illustration: Fig. 322.--Doorways of the Hôtel de Sens, at Paris; the
last remaining portion of the Hôtel Royal de

Saint-Pol, built in the reign of Charles V. (Fourteenth Century.)]

When we use the word _Renaissance_, we seem to be speaking of a return
to an age already gone by, of the resurrection of a period that had
passed away. It is not strictly in this sense that the word must be
understood in the present instance.

[Illustration: Fig. 323.--Belfry of Brussels (Fifteenth Century), from
an engraving of the Seventeenth Century.]

Inheriting from of old the artistic temperament of Greece, rather than
spontaneously creating of herself any style, Italy, among all the
nations of Europe, was the country which had most successfully resisted
the profound

[Illustration: Fig. 324.--Interior of the Palace of the Alhambra, at
Granada.--(Thirteenth Century.)]

darkness of barbarism, and the first on which the light of modern
civilisation shone.

At the period of this new dawn of genius, Italy had only to ransack the
ruins its first magnificence had bequeathed it to find among them
examples it might follow; moreover, it was the time when the active
rivalry of its republics caused all the treasures of ancient Greece to
flow into it. But while it derived inspiration from these abundant
manifestations of another age, it never entertained the idea of
abandoning itself exclusively to a servile imitation; it had--and in
this consists its chief title to glory--while giving a peculiar
direction to the revivals of the antique, the good sense to remain under
the poetic influence of that simple and congenial art which had consoled
the world during the whole continuance of that protracted infancy of a
civilisation which was at last advancing with rapid strides towards
perfect manhood.

From the twelfth century, Pisa gave an impetus to the art by building
its Duomo, its Baptistery, its Leaning Tower, and the cloisters of its
famous Campo Santo; so many admirable works forming an era in the
history of modern art, and in a brilliant manner opening the career on
which so many distinguished men were to enter, rivalling each other in
invention, in science, and in genius. In these monuments the union of
Oriental taste with the traditions of ages gone by created an
originality as grand as it was graceful. “It is,” as M. A. Lefèvre
points out, “the Antique without its nudity, the Byzantine without its
heaviness, the fervour of the Western Gothic without its ghastliness”

In 1294 the magistrates of Florence passed the following decree,
charging the architect, Arnolfo di Cambio, to convert into a cathedral
the church, till then of little importance, of Santa Maria de’
Fiori:--“Forasmuch,” they said, “as it is in the highest degree prudent
for a people of illustrious origin to proceed in their affairs in such
manner that their public works may cause their grandeur and wisdom to be
acknowledged, the order is given to Arnolfo, master-architect of our
town, to make plans for repairing the Church of Santa Maria with the
greatest and most lavish magnificence, so that the skill and prudence of
men may never invent, nor ever be able to undertake, anything more
important or more beautiful.”

Arnolfo applied himself to his task, and conceived a plan which the
shortness of human life did not allow him to carry out; but Giotto

[Illustration: Fig. 325.--Interior of the Basilica of St. Peter’s,

him, and to Giotto succeeded Orcagna, and to Orcagna, Brunelleschi, who
designed and almost completed that Duomo, of which Michael Angelo said
it would be difficult to equal, and impossible to surpass, it.

Arnolfo, Giotto, Orcagna, Brunelleschi--does it not suffice to cite
these great names for us to form an idea of the movement going on at
this period? and which was soon to produce Alberti, Bramante, Michael
Angelo, Jacques della Porta, Baldassare Peruzzi, Antonio and Juliano de
Sangallo, Giocondo, Vignola, Serlio, and even Raphael, who, when he
liked, was as mighty an architect as he was a marvellous painter. It was
in Rome that these princes of the art congregated together, as the
splendours of St. Peter’s (Fig. 325), to mention only one of their grand
creations, still attest; so, it is from this city that henceforward
light and example are to come.

In the style which this masterly phalanx created, the Latin rounded arch
regained all its ancient favour, and united itself to the ancient
orders, which became intermingled, or, at any rate, superposed. The
ogive was abandoned, but the columns to decorate their capitals, and the
entablatures to give more grace to their projections, borrowed a certain
fantastical style which yielded in nothing to the ogival; the Grecian
pediment reappeared, changing sometimes the upper lines of its triangle
into a depressed semicircle; lastly the cupola, that striking object
which was the characteristic feature of the Byzantine style, became the
dome, whose ample curve defied, in the daring heights whereto it rose,
the wonders of the Perpendicular Gothic.

The Italian _Renaissance_ was now accomplished, the Gothic age at an
end. Rome and Florence sent in every direction their architects, who, as
they travelled far from these metropolises of the new style, were once
more subjected to certain territorial influences, but who knew how to
make the tradition of which they were the apostles triumphant. It was
then that France inaugurated in its turn a Renaissance peculiar to
herself; it was then that, under the reign of Charles VIII., after his
expedition into Italy, began, with the Château de Gaillon, a long
succession of edifices, which in many cases yielded neither in richness
nor in majesty to the works of the preceding period. Under Louis XII.
rose the Château de Blois, and the Hôtel de la Cour des Comptes, Paris,
a splendid building destroyed by fire in the eighteenth century. Under
Francis I., Chambord (Fig. 326), Fontainebleau, Madrid (near Paris),
magnificent royal “humours,” contended in

[Illustration: Fig. 326.--Château de Chambord, with its Ancient Moat.
(Seventeenth Century.)]

elegance and grace with the châteaux of Nantouillet, Chenonceaux, and
Azai-le-Rideau; and with the manor-house of Ango, near Dieppe, all
sumptuous, lordly mansions; the old Louvre, the palace of kings, the
cradle of monarchy, was regenerated under the care of Peter Lescot; the
Hôtel de Ville, Paris, still bears witness to the varied talent of
Dominique Cortona, who, as M. Vaudoyer said of him, “justly understood
that, in building for France, he should act in a perfectly different
manner to that in which he would have acted in Italy.” Under Henry II.
and Charles IX. this activity continued, and the architects who sought
their inspirations in Grecian and Roman antiquity, as much as in the
_souvenirs_ of the Italian Renaissance, delighted in loading all the
elegant and graceful buildings with ornaments, with bas-reliefs, and
with statues, which they seemed to carve in the stone, as delicately
wrought as a piece of goldsmith’s work. Philibert Delorme built for
Diana of Poitiers the Château d’Anet, that architectural jewel whose
portico, transported piece by piece at the time of the revolutionary
disorders, now decorates the court of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts; Jean
Bullant built Ecouen for the Constable Anne de Montmorency; and the
architect d’Anet undertook, by order of Catherine de Medicis, the
construction of the Palace of the Tuileries, which, by a sort of
exigency resulting from its particular destination, seemed typically to
characterise the style of the French Renaissance.

[Illustration: Fig. 327.--Porte de Hal, Brussels. (Fourteenth Century.)]

We must not burden with details this summary of one of the most
important branches of art. The history of architecture is among those
vast domains which demand either a short epitome or a thoroughly deep
investigation. The epitome being alone consistent with the plan of our
work, we must confine ourselves to its limits; but we may, perhaps, be
allowed to think that the few rapid pages thus devoted to the subject
have inspired the reader with the desire of penetrating farther into a
study which is capable of offering him so many agreeable surprises, so
many rational delights.



     Parchment in Ancient Times.--Papyrus.--Preparation of Parchment and
     Vellum in the Middle Ages.--Sale of Parchment at the Fair of
     Lendit.--Privilege of the University of Paris on the Sale and
     Purchase of Parchment.--Different Applications of
     Parchment.--Cotton Paper imported from China.--Order of the Emperor
     Frederick II. concerning Paper.--The Employment of Linen Paper
     dating from the Twelfth Century.--Ancient Water-Marks on
     Paper.--Paper Manufactories in France and other parts of Europe.

Although most authors who speak of parchment attribute the invention of
it, on the testimony of Pliny, to Eumenius, king of Pergamus
(doubtlessly from the etymology of the word by which it was designated,
viz., _Pergamena_), it seems to be proved, according to Peignot, that
the use of it is much more ancient, and that its origin is utterly lost.
Certainly, in many passages of the Old Testament we find a Hebrew Word,
in Latin _volumen_, which can only be understood to mean a roll formed
of prepared skin or of the leaves of papyrus, and it is consequently
evident that the Jews, from the time of Moses, wrote the tables of the
Law on rolls of parchment.

Herodotus says that the Ionians called books _diphthera_ (διφθἑρα, a
prepared hide), because, at a time when the _biblos_ (βἱβλος, the inner
bark of the papyrus) was scarce, they wrote on skins of goats or of
sheep. Diodorus Siculus affirms that the ancient Persians wrote their
annals on skins, and we must suppose that Pliny’s assertion refers only
to some improvements the King of Pergamus had made in the art of
preparing a material that could supply the place of papyrus, which
Ptolemy Epiphanius would no longer allow to leave Egypt. The absolute
deficiency of papyrus raised into activity the fabrication of parchment,
and soon so large a quantity was seen to flow into Pergamus that this
town was considered as the cradle of the new trade, already so
flourishing. There were then books of two kinds, the one in rolls
composed of many leaves sewed together, on one side of which only was
there writing; the others, square-shaped, were written upon both sides.
The grammarian Crates, ambassador of Eumenius at Rome, passed as the
inventor of vellum.

Ordinary parchment is the skin of a goat, sheep, or lamb, prepared in
lime, dressed, scraped, and rendered smooth by pumice-stone. Its
principal qualities are whiteness, thinness, and stiffness; but the work
of the currier must have been formerly very imperfect, for Hildebert,
Archbishop of Tours in the eleventh century, tells us that the writer,
before beginning his occupation, “was in the habit of clearing away from
the parchment, with the aid of a razor, the remains of fat and other
gross impurities, and then with pumice-stone to make the hair and
tendons disappear:” this almost amounts to affirming that the scribes
bought the hide undressed, and, by an elaborate preparation, made them
fit for proper use. Virgin parchment, which in its grain and colour
resembles vellum, was made of the skins of those lambs and goats which
had been clipped. Vellum, more polished, whiter, more transparent, is
made, as its name indicates, of the hide of the calf.[52]

It is probable that with the Romans, papyrus, considering the facility
they had of procuring it for themselves, was more frequently used than
parchment, which, at first, was rare and costly. But parchment, more
durable and of greater resistance than papyrus, was reserved for the
transcription of the most important works. Cicero, who had many books on
parchment in his magnificent library, said that he had seen the “Iliad”
copied on a scroll of _pergamena_ which went into a nut-shell. Many of
Martial’s epigrams prove to us that in the time of this poet books of
such kind were still more numerous. Unfortunately, there remains to us
no writing on parchment dating from this distant period. The Virgil in
the Vatican, and the Terence at Florence, are of the fourth and fifth
century of our era. Admitting that time destroys all, and also that the
work of the rude tribes on many occasions assisted this natural cause of
destruction, we must not forget that at certain periods, to supply the
place of new parchment when it was scarce, a plan had been devised of
making the parchment rolls which had already been used for manuscripts
serve again

[Illustration: Fig. 328.--Miniature of the Ninth Century, representing
an Evangelist who is transcribing with the _Calamus_, on Parchment, the
Sacred Text, of which he is receiving the revelation.

(Bibl. de Bourgogne, Brussels.)]

for a similar purpose, either by scraping and rubbing them with
pumice-stone, or by boiling them in water or soaking in lime. There is
no doubt but the scarceness and the dearness of parchment was the cause
of the loss of very many excellent works. Muratori cites, for example, a
manuscript of the Ambrosian Library, of which the writing, dating from
eight or nine centuries back, had been substituted for another of more
than a thousand years old; and Maffei informs us that the employment of
ancient parchment scraped and washed became so general, in the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, throughout Germany, that the
Emperors put a stop to this dangerous abuse by issuing an order to the
notaries to use nothing but parchment “quite new.”

[Illustration: Fig. 329.--View of the Ancient Abbey of St. Denis and its

Generally, the quality of parchment serves to determine the date of its
manufacture. The vellum of manuscripts till the middle of the eleventh
century is very white and thin; the parchment of the twelfth century is
thick, rough, and brownish, which often shows it has been scraped or
washed. The greater number of fine manuscripts are on

[Illustration: Fig. 330.--Seal of the University of Paris (Fourteenth
Century), after one of the Dies preserved in the Collection of Medals in
the Imperial Library, Paris.]

virgin parchment, which from its nature was suited to the delicacies of
calligraphy and illumination. Moreover, we see from a statute of the
University of Paris, dated 1291, that the parchment trade had attained
at that period to considerable development; so, as a protection against
the frauds and deceptions which might result from the great competition
of traders in it, and to insure a good article being furnished to
students and artists, a special privilege was granted to the university,
which, in the person of its rector, had not only the right of
inspection, but also the refusal of all parchment bought in Paris, no
matter whence it had come. Besides which, at the fair of Lendit, which
was held every year at Saint-Denis, on the domains of the abbey (Fig.
329), and at the fair of Saint-Lazare, the rector likewise caused the
parchment brought to them to be examined, and the merchants of Paris
could not purchase any till the king’s agents, those of the Bishop of
Paris, and the masters and scholars of the university, had provided
themselves with what they required (Fig. 330). Let us add that the
rector was paid a duty on all parchment sold, and the result of this
tax was the only source of income attached to the rectorship in the
seventeenth century.

Although white parchment seems to be the best suited for writing, the
Middle Ages, following the example of antiquity, gave to the material
various tints, especially purple and yellow. The purple was chiefly
intended to receive characters of gold or silver. The Emperor
Maximinius, the younger, inherited from his mother the works of Homer
inscribed in gold on purple vellum; and parchment tinted in this way
was, during the first centuries, one of the prerogatives reserved for
princes and the great dignitaries of the Church. It is remarkable that
the barbarism of the seventh and eighth centuries did not diminish the
favour in which these luxurious manuscripts were held. Little by little,
however, the custom (of writing the entire work in gold or colours)
dwindled away. Scribes began by colouring a few pages only in each
volume, then some margins or frontispieces; and lastly this decoration
was restricted to the heads of chapters, or to words to which great
prominence was to be given, or to capital letters. The _rubricatores_
(literally, writers in red), workmen who performed this operation, came
in time to be mere painters of letters or _rubrics_ (so called because
they were originally painted red), of whose assistance, however, the
first printers availed themselves to _rubric_ or colour the initials of
missals, Bibles, and law books.

The dimensions or sizes of our books at the present day have their
origin in the sizes of the parchment in olden times. The entire skin of
the animal, cut square and folded in two, represented the “in-folio,”
which, moreover, varied in length and breadth; and we have every reason
to suppose that paper, from the day it was invented, followed the
ordinary sizes of the folded parchment.

As to the dimensions of the parchment employed for diplomas, they varied
according to the time, the brevity of the matter, or the nature of its
employment. Among the ancients, who wrote only on one side of the
parchment, the skins were cut in bands joined together so as to form
_volumes_ or rolls, which were unrolled as their contents were read.
This custom was preserved for public and judicial acts for a long time
after the invention of the square book (_codex_) had caused the
_opisthographic_ writing to be adopted, by which is to be understood
writing on both sides of the page. In principle, only the final formulæ,
or the signatures, were written on the back of the document. By degrees
people adopted the practice of writing on the back as well as the front
of the page; but it was not till the sixteenth century that this custom
became general.

[Illustration: Fig. 331.--Seal of the King of La Basoche. (This title
was suppressed, with all its prerogatives, by Henry III.)]

Judicial acts, composed sometimes of many skins sewed together, came in
time to form rolls of twenty feet in length; to such extreme proportions
did they reach, though at first they were so small in size that their
limited dimensions are truly incredible; for in 1233 and 1252 we find
contracts of sales of two inches long by five inches wide, and in 1258 a
will written on a piece of parchment of two inches by three and a half.
It was by way of compensating for the great cost of parchment that
opisthographic writing was adopted and rolls were put aside; and the
name alone remains as applied to the _rolls_ of procedure. The size that
leaves should assume was also fixed, according to the different uses for
which they were intended. For instance, the leaves of parliamentary
documents were nine inches and a half long by seven and a half wide;
those of the council, ten by eight; those of finance and of private
contracts, twelve and a half by nine and a half; letters of pardon,
under the king’s hand, were to be on entire skins squared, two feet two
inches by one foot eight inches in diameter.

[Illustration: Fig. 332.--The Paper-Maker, drawn and engraved in the
Sixteenth Century by J. Amman.]

But while the use of parchment was still strictly employed in the
chancellor’s offices and the tribunals, where the _basoche_ (a
brotherhood of lawyers of all grades) considered it as one of their most
lucrative privileges (Fig. 331), it had for a long while ceased to be
used anywhere else. Paper, after having during many centuries competed
with parchment, at last almost entirely replaced it (Fig. 332); for if
less durable, it had the great advantage of costing much less. Formerly
nothing but the ancient papyrus of Egypt was known, and it was made use
of concurrently with parchment till there was brought into Europe,
towards the tenth century, cotton paper, which is generally believed to
be a Chinese invention, and which was at first called _Grecian
parchment_, because the Venetians, who introduced it into the West, had
found it in use in Greece.

Actually, this paper was at first of a very inferior quality, coarse,
spongy, dull, and subject to the attacks of damp and worms; so much so
that the Emperor Frederick II. issued, in 1221, an order declaring null
and void all documents written on it, and fixing the term at two years
by which all were to be transcribed on parchment.

The use and the knowledge of the process of manufacturing paper from
cotton soon led to the fabrication of paper from linen or rags. It is,
however, impossible to say when and where it was accomplished--the
assertions and the testimonies on this point are so contradictory. Some
think that the paper was brought from the East by the Spanish Saracens;
others say it came from China; these affirm it has been employed since
the tenth century; those, that we can only find specimens of it as far
back as the reign of St. Louis.

[Illustration: Fig. 333.--Water-Marks on Paper, from the Fourteenth to
the Fifteenth Century.]

At any rate, the most ancient writing on paper made of rags known at the
present day is a letter from Joinville to Louis X., dated 1315; we may,
moreover, mention with certainty, as written on linen paper, an
inventory of goods belonging to a certain Prior Henry, who died in 1340,
which is preserved at Canterbury, and many authentic writings, dating
back as far as 1335, preserved in the British Museum, London. The first
paper-manufactory established in England was, it is said, at Hertford,
which dates only from 1588; but important paper-manufactories existed in
France from the reign of Philippe de Valois, that is, from the middle of
the fourteenth century; particularly at Essonne and at Troyes. The paper
which came from these manufactories bore generally, in the paper itself,
different marks (Fig. 333) called water-marks, such as a bull’s head, a
cross, a serpent, a star, a crown, &c., according to the quality or
destination of the paper. Many other countries in Europe had also
flourishing paper-manufactories in the fourteenth century. From this
period we find, indeed, a large number of documents written on paper
made of rags, the use of which thus preceded by about a century the
invention of printing.

[Illustration: Fig. 334.--Banner of the Paper-Makers of Paris.]


     Manuscripts in Olden Times.--Their Form.--Materials of which they
     were composed.--Their Destruction by the Goths.--Rare at the
     Beginning of the Middle Ages.--The Catholic Church preserved and
     multiplied them.--Copyists.--Transcription of
     Diplomas.--Corporation of Scribes and
     Booksellers.--Palæography.--Greek Writings.--Uncial and Cursive
     Manuscripts.--Sclavonic Writings.--Latin Writers.--Tironian

Let the reader refer to the chapters on PARCHMENT and BINDING, and he
will find a few remarks on the purely material part of manuscripts; we
may, then, here treat this question very summarily; and for that purpose
we shall avail ourselves of the remarkable work of J. J.

When writing was once invented, and had passed into general use in
civilised society, the choice of substances suited for its reception,
and to fix it in a durable manner, was very diversified, although
depending on the nature of the text to be written.

People wrote on stone, on metals, on the bark and leaves of many kinds
of trees, on dried or baked clay, on wood, on ivory, wax, linen, the
hides of quadrupeds, on parchment, the best of these preparations; on
papyrus, which is the inner bark of a reed growing in the Nile; then on
paper made of cotton; and lastly, on paper made from hemp and flax,
called rag paper. The Roman world had adopted the use of papyrus, which
was a very important branch of commerce at Alexandria. We find proof of
this in the writers of antiquity: St. Jerome bears witness to it as far
as regards the fifth century of our era. The Latin and Greek emperors
gave their diplomas on papyrus. Popes traced their most ancient bulls
upon it. The charters of the kings of France of the first race were also
issued on papyrus. From the eighth century parchment contended with
papyrus; a little later cotton paper also became its competitor, and the
eleventh century is generally fixed on as the period when papyrus was
entirely superseded by the new materials appropriated to the
preservation of writing.

For writing on papyrus the brush or reed was employed, with inks of
different colours; black ink was, however, most generally used. There
grew on the banks of the Nile, at the time when the reed furnished
papyrus, another sort of reed, stiffer and also more flexible, and
admirably suited for the manufacture of the _calamus_, an instrument
supplying the place of the pen, which was not adopted before the eighth

The size of manuscripts was in no way subject to fixed rules, there were
volumes of all dimensions; the most ancient on parchment are, in
general, longer than they are broad, or else are square; the writing
rests on a line traced with the dry point of the _calamus_, and
afterwards with black-lead; the parts making up a volume are composed of
an indeterminate number of leaves; a word or a figure, placed at the
bottom of the last page of each part and at the end of the volume,
serves as a _catchword_ from one fasciculus to another.

The emperors of Constantinople used to sign in red ink the acts of their
sovereignty; their first secretary was the guardian of the vase
containing the cinnabar (vermilion), which the emperor alone might use.
Some diplomas of the kings of France of the second race are signed in
the same manner. In valuable manuscripts, great use was made of golden
ink, especially when the parchment was dyed purple; but red ink was
almost always employed for capital letters or for the titles of books,
and for a long time after the invention of printing the volumes still
had the _rubrics_ (_ruber_, red) painted or beautifully executed with
the pen.

The greater number of rich manuscripts, even when they contained the
text of some ancient secular author, were destined to be presented to
the treasuries of churches and abbeys, and these offerings were not made
without great display: the book, whatever its contents might be, was
placed on the altar, and a solemn mass was celebrated on the occasion;
moreover, an inscription at the end of the work mentioned the homage
which had been paid for it to God and to the saints in paradise.

We must not forget that in this time of almost universal ignorance, the
Church was the only depository of literature and science; she sought
after those heathen authors who could instruct her in eloquence that
might be employed in advancing the faith, almost as much as she sought
for sacred books; it was not rare even to see Christian zeal exalting
itself so far as to find prophets of the Messiah in writers very
anterior to the doctrines of Christ. Thus the best Greek and Latin
manuscripts of profane authors are the work of monks, as were the Bibles
and the writings of the Fathers of the Church. The rules of the most
ancient brotherhoods recommended the monks who could write and who
wished to please God to re-copy the manuscripts, and those who were
illiterate to learn to bind them. “The work of the copyist,” said the
learned Alcuin to his contemporaries, “is a meritorious work, which is
profitable to the soul, while the work of the ploughman is profitable
only to the belly.”

At all periods of history we find mention made of certain celebrated
manuscripts. We will not go so far back as the Greek traditions relating
to the works of Homer, of which some copies were ornamented with a
richness that has, probably, never been surpassed. In the fifth century
St. Jerome possessed twenty-five parts of the works of Origen, which
Pamphilus the Martyr had copied with his own hand. St. Ambrose, St.
Fulgentius, Hincmar, Archbishop of Rheims, men as learned as they were
pious, applied themselves to reproducing with their own hands the best
ancient texts. A copyist by profession was called _scriba_, _scriptor_;
the place in which they generally worked was called _scriptorium_. The
capitularies against bad copyists were frequently renewed. “We ordain
that no scribe write incorrectly,” we find in the collection of Baluze.
We read in the same collection, in 789, “There shall be good Catholic
texts in all monasteries, so that prayers shall not be made to God in
faulty language.” In 805, “If the Gospels, the Psalter, or the Missal
are to be copied, only careful middle-aged men are to be employed;
verbal errors may otherwise be introduced into the faith.” There were,
moreover, _correctors_ who rectified the work of the copyists, and
attested the work, on the volumes, by the words _contuli_, _emendavi_
(“I have collated, I have revised”). A copy of Origen’s works has been
mentioned, corrected by the hand of Charlemagne himself, to whom is also
attributed the introduction of full stops and commas.

The same care presided over the preparation of royal charters and
diplomas; the referendaries or chancellors drew them up and
superintended their despatch; the principal officers of the crown
intervened, as guarantors or witnesses to them, and these acts were read
publicly before they were signed and sealed. Notaries and witnesses
guaranteed the authenticity of private charters.

As long as printing did not exist in France, the corporation of scribes,
copyists of charters, and copyists of manuscripts, which counted among
them booksellers, was very numerous and very influential, since it was
composed of graduates of the university that patronised them and placed
them among the number of its indispensable agents. He who desired to
become a bookseller had to give proof of his instruction and of his
ability; he was obliged to take an oath “not to commit any deception,
fraud, or evil thing which might damage or prejudice the university, its
scholars and frequenters, nor to rob nor speak ill of them.” Besides
which he was compelled to deposit a sum of fifty francs (_livres
parisis_) as caution-money.

The rules imposed on scribes and on booksellers were always very strict,
and this severity was only too justly occasioned by the abuses that
existed, and by the scandalous disorder of the people who exercised
these professions. In the year 1324 the university published this
order:--“There will be admitted only people of good conduct and morals,
sufficiently acquainted with the book trade, and previously approved by
the university. The bookseller may not take a clerk into his service
till that clerk has sworn, before the university, to exercise his
profession according to the ordinances. The bookseller must give to the
university a list of the works which he sells; he must not refuse to let
a manuscript to whomsoever may wish to make a copy of it, on payment of
the indemnity fixed by the university. He is forbidden to let out books
that have not been corrected, and those students who find an incorrect
copy are requested to denounce it publicly to the rector, so that the
bookseller who has let it out may be punished, and that the copy may be
corrected by _scholares_ (learned men or scholars). There shall be every
year four commissioners chosen to fix the price of books. One bookseller
shall not sell a work to another bookseller before he has exposed the
work for sale during four days. In any case the seller is obliged to
register the name of the purchaser, to describe him, and to state the
price for which the book was sold.”

From century to century this legislation underwent variations, according
to the ideas of the times: and when the printing-press came, in the
middle of the fifteenth century, to change the face of the world, the
corporation of _scribes_ rose at first against the new art which was to
ruin them. “But at last,” says Champollion-Figeac, “they submitted, and
temporary measures were recommended to the public authorities for the
defence of an ancient order of things which could not long resist the

Now let us go back to the first centuries of the Middle Ages, to resume
the question from a palæographic point of view.

The languages and literature of modern Europe are all Greek or Latin,
Sclavonic or Gothic; these four great families of peoples and of
languages have existed in spite of the vicissitudes of politics. Such is
the basis whereon must be found all the researches by which we are to
establish the origin and nature of the writing peculiar to each

The Greeks of Constantinople taught writing to the Sclavonic race, and
with it the Christian faith. The most ancient Greek writing (we speak of
the Christian era only) was the _capital_ writing, regular and
well-proportioned; as it became general it was simplified more and more.
After this sort of writing, examples of which are found only on stone or
bronze, we come to the writing called, although we do not know why,
_uncial_,[53] which, was the first step towards the Greek _cursive_

_Uncial_ writing was employed, in Greek manuscripts, up to the ninth
century; we may observe the transition from the _uncial_ to the
_half-uncial_, and from the _half-uncial_ to the _minuscule_.[54] In the
tenth century manuscripts in minuscule became very abundant--the
tachygrapher’s (ταχὑς, quick, and γρἁφω, I write), or the partisans of
quick writing, gained the day; the caligraphers (καλὁς, beautiful, and
γρἁφω I write) desired to follow their example. These employed a great
deal of time in painting the initials of running letters: the new
method, which produced more in the same space of time, easily got into
favour; the caligraphers abandoned the uncial and adopted the minuscule
characters connected together, which combined good forms with greater
facility of execution. Thenceforward, the uncial was no longer employed
except for the titles or headings of books.

Among the fine specimens of this epoch which have been preserved, we may
mention, in the Imperial Library of Paris, a Book of the Gospels, called
Cardinal Mazarin’s, and the Commentaries of Gregory Nazianzus; at the
Laurentinean Library, Florence, are a Plutarch and a Book of the
Gospels, written with gold ink in large and massive minuscule cursive
characters; and lastly, a book of ecclesiastical offices, belonging also
to the Imperial Library in Paris, and which bears this superscription in
Greek:--“Pray for Euthymus, a poor monk, priest of the monastery of St.
Lazare. This volume was finished in the month of May, Convocation S, in
the year 6515,” a date which, according to the computation of the Greek
Church, corresponds to the month of May of the year 1007 of the
Christian era.

To the twelfth century is assigned the beautiful Greek manuscript which
was afterwards given to Louis XIV. by Chrysanthes Noras, Patriarch of
Jerusalem; to the thirteenth century belongs another manuscript, in very
small cursive letters, ornamented with portraits, presented by the
Emperor Palæologos to St. Louis. It was only in the fourteenth century
that manuscripts half Latin and half Greek, appeared. Lastly came Ange
Végèce, of Corfu, who, towards the middle of the fifteenth century, made
for himself, as a Greek caligrapher, such a reputation that he gave, it
is said, rise to the proverb, “_Écrire comme un ange_.”

The Greek alphabet, when it penetrated into the countries of the north
with the Christian religion and civilisation, underwent important
modifications. On the right bank of the Danube, in ancient Mœsia,
Ulphilas, the descendant of a Cappadocian family formerly taken prisoner
by the Goths, invented, in the fourth century, the alphabet bearing, on
that account, the name of _Mœso-Gothic_, and which is of Greek origin,
with a mixture of Latin characters and other peculiar signs. This
writing is heavy, without being elegant; differing, as if by an instinct
of nationality, from the types which it imitates. The Mœso-Gothic
manuscripts are, however, very rare; only two or three being known.

The Sclavonic writing, which is also a daughter of Greece, has a history
nearly similar to that of the Mœso-Gothic. When the people of this
family were converted to Christianity, they were brought over to it by
Greek Christians, and the Patriarch Cyril, in the ninth century, became
their teacher; he taught them, how to write (which they never knew till
then), and it was the Greek alphabet they adopted, adding to it,
however, a few new signs, so that they might be able to express the
sounds peculiar to their language. Sclavonic manuscripts are positively
numerous in public libraries. We find them in Paris, Bologna, and Rome,
but above all in Germany, and in the country under the dominion of the
Muscovite. One of the most celebrated is that belonging to the town of
Rheims, and which is known by the name of “Texte du Sacre,” because a
tradition (an erroneous one, however) asserts that the kings of France,
at the time of their coronation at Rheims, took the oaths on this book,
which was said to be written by the hand of St. Procopius. The Sclavonic
manuscripts in general recommend themselves less by the elegance of
their execution than by the richness of their bindings.

The actual Russian alphabet is but an abridgment of the alphabet called
the _Cyrilian_, reduced to forty-two signs by the Emperor Peter I.; so
that the Sclavonic nations knew two _Cyrilian_ alphabets, the ancient
Sclavonic for the liturgical writings, and the modern Sclavonic, or
Russian, in general use. Of the first no manuscripts exist earlier than
the eleventh century of our era.

The manuscripts of the Latins are, without doubt, more numerous and more
varied, because the Latin Church is more extensive, and because Roman
civilisation spread itself over a larger number of European provinces.
At the head of the manuscripts of the Latin writing is placed a fragment
of papyrus, found in Egypt, on which is inscribed an imperial edict for
the annulment of a sale of property, agreed upon in consequence of some
violence committed by a certain man named Isidore; the date of this
document has been fixed as the third century. For the fourth century we
have the “Virgil,” with miniatures, which we mention elsewhere
(MINIATURES OF MANUSCRIPTS), and a “Terence,” both belonging to the
Vatican Library, and both written in capital letters; in the latter,
however, they are irregular, and called, on that account, _rustic

To the same period we must refer the “Treatise on the Republic,” by
Cicero, which has but lately been found in a volume from which the
previous writing had been effaced, as was often the case (see PARCHMENT
AND PAPER), in order to make room for the new writing. For the fifth
century we have a second “Virgil,” with miniatures, which passed from
the library of the Abbey of St. Denis into that of the Vatican. The
“Prudence,” which the Imperial Library of Paris still possesses, is a
very fine manuscript of the sixth century, written, in rustic capitals,
quaint but elegant.

Two other kinds of writing were, at the same period, in use among the
Latins; this same rustic capital, ceasing to be rectangular, and rounded
in its principal strokes, became the uncial; and for that very reason
being much more expeditious, was reserved especially for the copying of
works; while the cursive, although sometimes employed for manuscripts,
was used chiefly in letter-writing. Of the first of these two writings,
the uncial, we have two fine specimens of the sixth century in the
“Sermons” of St. Augustine, on papyrus (Fig. 336), and in a Psalter of
St. Germain-des-Prés, written in letters of silver on purple vellum,
both of which now belong to the Imperial Library, Paris.

In the same century, we find a kind of writing called _half-uncial_,
which became more and more expeditious by the change made in certain of
its forms. There was then also a Gallican uncial, the form of which we
can see in the manuscript said to be by St. Prosper (Imperial Library,
Paris); and an uncial of Italy, among which figure the Bible of
Mont-Amiati, at Florence; the palimpsest[55] Homilies of the Vatican,
and the admirable Book of the Gospels at Notre-Dame, Paris (Fig. 337).

The most ancient style of cursive writing, employed in charts and
diplomas, is to be seen in the deeds known by the name of _charters of
Ravenna_, from the name of the town in which they were first discovered.
We may consider as analogous to these the writing of the Acts of our
early kings, very difficult to read on account of the exaggerated manner
in which the thin strokes join the letters together, and by the
indefinite forms of the up and down strokes. We give a fragment (Fig.
338) taken from an original chart, on parchment, of Childebert III. We
see what the same writing had become in 784 by Fig. 339, copied from an
original capitulary of Charlemagne.

To the same period belongs the employment, in ordinary use among
chancellors and notaries, of a writing completely tachygraphic; it is
composed of ciphers, one of which took the place of a syllable or a
word. This writing was called _Tironian_, because the invention of it is
attributed to Tiro, Cicero’s freed-man, who made use of it in
tachygraphing, or, as we should now say, stenographing (short-hand), the
speeches of the illustrious orator. Fig. 340 is taken from a psalter of
the eighth century, of which the text is transcribed with the
tachygraphic characters of that period.

The name of _Visigothic_ is given to the writing of manuscripts executed
in the south of France and in Spain during the rule of the Goths and the
Visigoths; this writing, still rather Roman, is generally round and
embellished with fanciful strokes, which render it agreeable to the eye.

We also find in Italy the _Lombardic_, in use for diplomas till the
twelfth century.

The beautiful manuscripts on purple vellum are of the time of
Charlemagne, when luxury in the arts showed itself in all forms. There
is in the Imperial Library, Paris, a magnificent volume, which came from
the ancient domain of Soubise, that contains the Epistles and Gospels
for all the festivals of the year: the execution of this work is
perfect; the gigantic capital letters, of Anglo-Saxon form, are
coloured, and rendered still richer by being dotted with gold.

A valuable manuscript of the “Tractus Temporum” of the Venerable Bede, a
manuscript posterior by more than two hundred years to the author, who
lived in the beginning of the eighth century, affords a specimen of one
of the varieties of minuscule writings, which in France was called the
_Lombardic writing of books_, because it was in use during the reign of
the Lombard kings beyond the Alps; it is more difficult to read than the
Roman, though similar in form, because the words are not separated. A
beautiful manuscript of “Horace” (Imperial Library, Paris), which
presents a mixture of the different kinds of Roman writing of the
period, is attributed to the same century. We have in Fig. 341 an
elegant ornamental capital, taken from a manuscript, “Commentaries of
St. Jerome,” also in the Imperial Library. We find specimens of writing
of Anglo-Saxon origin, capital letters, and running text, in many books
of the Gospel.

The diplomatic writing of the tenth century is here represented by a
charter of the king, Hugh Capet, from which we borrow Fig. 342; it must
have been issued between 988 and 996. In this fragment, the first line
only is composed of characters very elongated, close together, mixed
with some capital letters and some singular forms. It bears witness to
the fact that the fine Merovingian writing had then singularly

In the eleventh century the minuscule of manuscripts was characterised
by its angular forms, which caused it to receive the name of _Capetian_.
Then the Capetian, exaggerated in its tendency towards its strokes and
angles, became the _Ludovician_, which announces the thirteenth century,
and characterises the reign of St. Louis.

[Illustration: Fig. 335.--Scribe or Copyist, in his Work-room,
surrounded by Open Manuscripts, and Writing at a Desk.

(From a Miniature of the Fifteenth Century.)]

However, manuscripts of the thirteenth century abound, and the history
of the writing of the period of St. Louis and of the three centuries
succeeding it, may be summed up in these words:--“The Capetian writing
called _Ludovician_, when it had come to differ still more from the
beautiful forms of the writings of Charlemagne’s time or the renovated
Roman, was more and more deformed, and these successive degradations
became so complicated that the writing, in the seventeenth century,
resulted in being perfectly illegible. Thus can be generalised all the
precepts relative to the state of writing, in the manuscripts and the
charters in France, for this period of three hundred years” (Fig. 343).

It was, however, the era of the richest manuscripts, that in which was
brought to perfection the art of ornamenting them, when the pencil of
the miniature-painter and the pen of the caligrapher, conjointly,
produced some masterpieces (Fig. 344). This was also the time when the
corporation of writers became numerous and powerful (Fig. 335). One of
the most distinguished members of this society was that Nicholas Flamel,
about whom so many fabulous legends have been invented. We give, as a
specimen of his magnificent cursive writing (Fig. 345), the fac-simile
of one of the _ex libris_ inscriptions he placed at the beginning of all
the books belonging to Duke Jean de Berry, whose secretary and
_bookseller_ he was.[56]

In other countries than France, in Germany especially, Gothic writing
was easily diffused. German manuscripts differ little from those of
France. We observe only that German writing continued to be very fine
till the middle of the thirteenth century, at which period it became
irregular, angular, and bristling with sharp points.

That which has just been said of Germany in particular is naturally
applicable to East and West Flanders, and to the Low Countries. During
the fifteenth century, under the impulse given by the Dukes of Burgundy,
whose influence we have already mentioned, the most important
chronicles, the best histories then extant, were magnificently
transcribed in that beautiful Gothic minuscule, thick, massive and
angular, which was called _lettre de forme_; and we find it again in
some ancient editions of the end of the fifteenth century (Fig. 346),
and of the beginning of the sixteenth.

In more northern countries the _Runic_ alphabet was made use of, to
which for a long while a marvellous origin was attributed, but which the
Benedictines justly regarded as an imitation, or rather as a corruption,
of the Latin alphabet. There exist in the _Runic_ language inscriptions
on stone and on wood, some manuscripts on vellum, and Irish books on
parchment and on paper.

In the south, the writing seems constantly to have reflected the lively
and frank spirit of its inhabitants, among whom was perpetuated the
profound impress of the old Roman civilisation. The minuscule continued
as high as it was long, thin, and distinct; even when it was altered by
the influence of the Gothic, it was still beautiful, and, above all,
legible, as we may be convinced of by examining a fine manuscript
entitled “Specchio della Croce” (“Mirror of the Cross”), of the
thirteenth century; and a precious manuscript of Dante, of the
fourteenth century, both belonging to the Imperial Library, Paris.

We may adopt for Spain the same opinions as for Italy. There was in
that country also writing of great merit, handed down from the Romans,
which received, as we have already said, the name of _Visigothic_. The
Visigothic writing of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, of the
eleventh especially, is a minuscule of the most graceful kind. But
Gothicism, by the _Capetian_ and the _Ludovician_ coming in as
intermediate agents, at last corrupted this elegant and delicate
writing, as we see in the collection of Spanish troubadours, formed by
order of John II., King of Castile and Leon, about 1440; a celebrated
manuscript in the Imperial Library, Paris.

Into England, where the Anglo-Saxon type reigned supreme, the Norman
conquest introduced the French writing in charters and manuscripts. And
lastly, among the writings called national, we must again mention that
of Ireland, of which there are fine examples remaining; but upon
examination they prove to be nothing but a variety of the Anglo-Saxon.
It is said to have been in use since the sixth century; and we find that
in spite of divers conquests it continued to be employed till the
fifteenth century. It was even known and employed in France, although it
by no means recommends itself by its elegance, as is attested, among
other manuscripts, by that of the “Homilies of St. Augustine,” in the
Imperial Library, Paris, which is supposed to belong to the eighth

Here our summary review of palæographic examples at different periods of
the Middle Ages comes to an end. We might follow up our investigations
on this point, even after the time when the printing-press was invented,
since manuscripts are found of the reign of Louis XIV.; but they were
nothing but fanciful inutilities; each century, in order to show itself
in its true light, should follow the instincts and the inspirations
which belong to it.


[Illustration: Fig. 336.--Writing of the Sixth Century, with Capital
Letters, from a Manuscript, on Papyrus, of the “Sermons of St.

(Imperial Library, Paris.)

TEXT.--_Spes nostra e[st] non de isto tempore, neque de mundo est, neque
in ea felicita[te...._

TRANSLATION.--Our hope is not of this time, nor is it of the world, nor
in that felicity.]

[Illustration: Fig. 337.--Title and Capital Letters of the Seventh
Century, from a Book of the Gospels of Notre-Dame, Paris. (Imperial
Library, Paris.)

TEXT.--_Incipit præfatio._

TRANSLATION.--Here begins the Preface.]

[Illustration: Fig. 338.--Writing of the end of the Seventh Century,
after a Diploma of Childebert III., for the Gift of a Villa to the Abbey
of St. Denis. (This Fac-simile gives only the half of the length of the


    _Childeberthus rex_
    _Se oportune beneficia ad loca sanctorum quod pro juvamen servorum...._
    _Et hoc nobis ad eterna retributione pertenire confidemus. Ideoque...._

[Illustration: Fig. 339.--Writing of the Eighth Century, from a
Capitulary of Charlemagne, addressed to Pope Adrian I. in 784.

(Imperial Library, Paris.)

TEXT.--_Primo Capitulo. Salutant vos dominus noster, filius vester,
Carolus rex [et filia vestra domna nostra Fastrada, filii et] filæ
domini nostri simul, et omnis domus sua._

_II. Salutant vos cuncti sacerdotes, episcopi et abbates, atque omnis
congregatio illorum [in Dei servicio constituta etiam, et universus]
populus Franconum._

TRANSLATION.--I. Our lord, your son, King Charles [and your daughter our
Lady Fastrada, salute thee, also the sons and] daughters of our Lord,
and all his house.

II. All the priests, bishops, and abbots salute thee, as also the whole
congregation [of those who are established in the service of God, and
the whole] of the French people.]

[Illustration: Fig. 340.--Tironian Writing of the Eighth Century, from a
Latin Psalter. (Imperial Library, Paris.)

TEXT.--_Exsurge, Domine, in ira tua et exaltare in finibus inimicorum
meorum, et exsurge, Domine Deus meus, in precepto quod mandasti; et
sinagoga populorum circomdabit, te, et propter hanc in altum regredere._

TRANSLATION.--Arise, O Lord, in thine anger, lift up thyself because of
the rage of mine enemies: and awake for me to the judgment that thou
hast commanded.

So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about: for their
sakes therefore return thou on high.--(Psalm vii. 6, 7.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 341.--Writing of the Tenth Century, after a
Manuscript of the “Commentaries of St. Jerome.”

(Imperial Library, Paris.)

TEXT.--_Qui nolunt inter epistolas Pauli eam recipere quæ ad Filemonem
scribitur aiunt non semper apostolum nec omnia Christo in se loquente
dixisse. Quia neque_ ...

TRANSLATION.--Those who are unwilling to receive among the epistles of
St. Paul that which is written to Philemon, deny that the Apostles spoke
everything and at all times under the inspiration of Christ. Because
neither ...]

[Illustration: Fig. 342.--Diplomatic Writing of the Tenth Century, from
a Charter of Hugh Capet. (Archives of the Empire.)

This Fac-simile gives only half the length of the lines.

TEXT (completely restored.)--_In nomine sanctæ et individuæ Trinitatis,
Hugo gratia Dei Francorum rex. [Mos et consuetudo regum prædecessorum
nostrorum semper exstitit ut ecclesias Dei sublimarent et justis
petitioni]bus servorum Dei clementer faverent, et oppression[em eorum
benigne sublevarent, ut Deum propitium] haberent, eujus amore id
fecissent. Hujus rei grati[a, auditis clamoribus venerabilis Abbonis
abbatis] monasterii S. Mariæ, S. Petri et S. Benedicti Flori[acensis et
monachorum sub eo degentium, nostram] presentiam adeuntium, pro malis
consuetudi[nibus et assiduis rapinis_ ...

TRANSLATION.--In the name of the holy and indivisible Trinity, Hugh, by
the grace of God, King of the Francs.

The custom and habit of the kings our predecessors has always been to
honour the churches of God, and to show themselves mercifully favourable
to the just petitions of the servants of God, and to deliver them kindly
from oppression, so that God might be propitious to them, for the love
of whom they thus acted. For this cause, having heard the complaints of
the venerable Abbon, Abbot of the Monastery of Our Lady, St. Peter and
St. Benedict, of Fleury-sur-Loire, and those of the monks living under
his direction, and who came into our presence, on account of the bad
customs and continual rapines ...]

[Illustration: Fig. 343.--Cursive Writing of the Fifteenth Century,
after an Original Letter, taken from “Recueil des Lettres de Rois.”

(Imperial Library, Paris.)

TEXT.--_Messeigneurs et freres, si tres humblement que faire puis a voz
bonnes graces me recommande. Messeigneurs, j’ay receu, voz lettres par
le present porteur: ensemble la requeste et arrest de la court par
icelle ensuivy. J’ay le tout communiqué a messeigneurs les generaulx de
Langue doil et Normandie, et nous avons souuant esté ensemble. Ilz
trouuent bien estrange, aussi font daultres, qui zelent le bien et
honneur de la chambre ausquelz pareillement_ ...

TRANSLATION.--My lords and brothers, I commend myself as humbly as
possible to your good graces. My lords, I received your letters by the
bearer of this, together with the petition and the decree of the court
accompanying them. I communicated the whole to my lords the generals of
La Langue d’Oil and of Normandy, and we have often conferred together on
the matter. They think it very strange, as do others also, who are
zealous for the good and the honour of the chamber, to which equally

[Illustration: Fig. 344.--Writing of the Fourteenth Century, after a
Manuscript of “L’Histoire Romaine;” being a paraphrase of the text of
Valerius Maximus. (Imperial Library, Paris.)

TEXT.--_Eadem, &c._--GLOSE. _Ceste histoire touche Titus Liuius ou quint
liure. Pourquoy il est assauoir que ou temps que les Gals auoient prise
Romme et assis le Capitole, si comme il est dit deuant, il y auoit
dedens le Capitole un jeune homme qui auoit non Gayus Fabius qui estoit
de la lignie des Fabiens. Et pour auoir la congnoissance de ceste lignie
est assauoir aussi que il y ot asses pres de Romme jadis une cite qui
estoit appelee Gabinia: laquele cite apres moult de inconueniens se
rendi a Romme par tel conuenant que il seroient citoiens de Romme._

TRANSLATION.--Eadem, &c.--GLOSE. Livy, in his fifth book, touches on
this history. We must know that at the time when the Gauls had taken
Rome and besieged the Capitol, as was said above, there was in the
Capitol a young man named Caius Fabius, and who was of the Fabian race;
and to know this race we must also know that there was formerly near
Rome a town called Gabinia; which town, after many vicissitudes,
surrendered to Rome, on the condition that all its inhabitants should be
considered as citizens of Rome.]

[Illustration: Fig. 345.--Fac-simile of the Inscription _Ex libris_,
&c., in the beginning of a Manuscript executed by John Flamel, Scribe
and Librarian to the Duke de Berry, at the end of the Fourteenth

(Imperial Library, Paris.)

TEXT.--_Ceste Bible est a Monseigneur le Duc de Berry._


TRANSLATION.--This Bible belongs to Monseigneur the Duke de Berry.


NOTE.--The Duke de Berry, John, brother of King Charles V., and uncle to
King Charles VI., was a great amateur of fine books. He spent very large
sums in having manuscripts copied and illuminated. The Imperial Library,
Paris, preserves a large number of the most valuable of them.]

[Illustration: Fig. 346.--Writing of the Fifteenth Century, after the
First Page of a Breviary. (Royal Library, Brussels.)

TEXT.--_Sabbato in aduentu Domini, ad vesperas, super psalmos antiphona,
Benedictus, psalmus, ipsum cum ceteris antiphonis et psalmis. Infra

_Ecce dies veniunt, dicit Dominus, et suscitabo Dauid germen._

TRANSLATION.--On Saturday in Advent, at vespers, before the psalms
chanted alternately, (comes) the hymn Benedictus, with the other
antiphons and psalms. After the lesson ...

“Behold the days are coming, saith the Lord, and I will restore the seed
of David.”]

[Illustration: Fig. 347.--Design of a Caligraphic Ornament taken from a
Charter of the University of Paris.

(Fifteenth Century.)]


     Miniatures at the Beginning of the Middle Ages.--The two “Vatican”
     Virgils.--Painting of Manuscripts under Charlemagne and Louis le
     Débonnaire.--Tradition of Greek Art in Europe.--Decline of the
     Miniature in the Tenth Century.--Origin of Gothic Art.--Fine
     Manuscript of the time of St. Louis.--Clerical and Lay
     Miniature-Painters.--Caricature and the Grotesque.--Miniatures in
     Monochrome and in Grisaille.--Illuminators at the Court of France
     and to the Dukes of Burgundy.--School of John Fouquet.--Italian
     Miniature-Painters.--Giulo Clovio.--French School under Louis XII.

Contemporaneous, almost, with the idea which first caused oral
traditions, chronicles, speeches, and poetry to be collected together
under the form and name of _book_, is the art of ornamenting manuscripts
with miniatures. Our intention is not to go back to the sources--as
obscure as they are distant--of that art, but only to point out its
principal phases of improvement or of decay during the Middle Ages.

The most ancient known miniatures date from the very commencement of
that period which is generally called the Middle Ages; that is to say,
from the third and fourth centuries. These paintings, of which there
exist but two or three specimens in the libraries of Europe,
nevertheless offer, in their correctness and masterly beauty, the great
characteristics of ancient Art. The most celebrated are those of the
“Virgil,” preserved in the Vatican Library (Fig. 348), a manuscript long
celebrated among learned men for the authenticity of its text. Another
“Virgil,” of the date of about a century later, and which, before its
presentation to the Pope, was one of the most beautiful ornaments of the
ancient library of the Abbey of St. Denis, in France, contains paintings
not less remarkable in respect of colour, but very inferior as far as
drawing and the style of the compositions are concerned. These two
incomparable examples are sufficient in themselves to show the state of
the painting of manuscripts at the beginning of the Middle Ages.

[Illustration: Fig. 348.--Miniature taken from the “Virgil” in the
Library of the Vatican, Rome.

(Third or Fourth Century.)]

The sixth and seventh centuries have left us no books with miniatures;
the utmost we find at that period are some capital letters embellished
by caligraphy. In the eighth century, on the contrary, the ornaments
were multiplied, and some rather elegant paintings can be pointed out;
the fact is, under the reign of Charlemagne a movement of renovation
took place in the Arts as in literature: the Latin writing, which had
become illegible, was reformed, and the style of painting manuscripts
assumed something of the form of the fine antique examples still extant
at that period. (Fig. 350.)

[Illustration: Fig. 349.--Painted Capital letters, taken from
Manuscripts of the Eighth or Ninth Century.]

[Illustration: Fig. 350.--Border, taken from a Book of the Gospels of
the Eighth Century. (Library of Vienna).]

If we would have an idea of the heaviness and the ungraceful character
of the writing and of the ornaments which accompanied it before the
period of Charlemagne, it will suffice to examine Fig. 349. “It was then
quite time,” says M. Aimé Champollion-Figeac, “that the salutary
influence exercised by the illustrious monarch made itself felt in the
Arts as well as in letters.” The first manuscripts which seem to bear
witness to this progress are first a sacramentary, said to be that of
Gellonius, the allegorical paintings of which are of great interest in
the history of Christian symbolism; and a Book of the Gospels, now in
the Louvre: the latter is said to have belonged to the great emperor
himself, and we reproduce one of the paintings from it (Fig. 351). We
may mention, as of the ninth century, many Books of the Gospels, in one
of which, given by Louis le Débonnaire to the Abbey St. Médard de
Soissons, the purest Byzantine style shows itself; then the Bible called
the “Metz” Bible, in which are paintings of large dimensions, remarkable
for the felicitous groupings of the figures and for the beauty of the
draperies. One of these miniatures excites an interest quite peculiar,
inasmuch as King David, who is represented in it, is but a copy of an
ancient Apollo, round whom the artist has personified Courage, Justice,
Prudence, &c.

Let us mention still further two Bibles and a book of prayers, the last
containing a very fine portrait of the king, Charles the Bald, to whom
it belonged; and lastly, two books really worth attention, on account of
the delicacy and freedom of the outline drawings, for the attitudes of
the characters represented, and for the draperies, which resemble those
of ancient statues. These books are a “Terence,” preserved in the
Imperial Library, Paris, number 7,899 in the catalogue; and a
“Lectionary of the Cathedal of Metz,” from which the

[Illustration: Fig. 351.--Miniature from the Book of the Gospels of

(Manuscript in the Library of the Louvre.)]

border (Fig. 352) is taken. While in France the art of painting
manuscripts had progressed so much as to produce some perfect models of
delicacy and taste, Germany had never got beyond the simplest
compositions, as we see in the “Paraphrase on the Gospels,” in Theotisc
(the old Teutonic language), belonging to the Library of Vienna.

[Illustration: Fig. 352.--Border of a Lectionary in the Cathedral of
Metz. (Ninth Century.)]

The artistic traditions of the ancients in the ninth century are
attested by the manuscripts of Christian Greece, whereof the Imperial
Library, Paris, possesses many magnificent specimens, at the head of
which we must place the “Commentaries of Gregory Nazianzus,” ornamented
with an infinite number of paintings, in which all the resources of
ancient art are applied to the representation of Christian subjects
(Fig. 353). The heads of the characters portrayed are admirably
expressive, and of the finest style; the colouring of the miniatures is
warm and soft; the costumes, the representations of buildings and of the
accessories, offer, moreover, very interesting subjects of study.
Unfortunately, these paintings were executed on a very crumbling
surface, which has in many places peeled off: it is sad to see one of
the most precious monuments of Greek and Christian Art in a deplorable
state of dilapidation.

The masterpiece of the tenth century, which again is due to the artists
of Greece, is a “Psalter, with Commentaries,” belonging also to the
Imperial Library (number 139 among the Greek manuscripts), a work in
which the miniature-painter seems not to have been able to disengage
himself from the Pagan creeds in illustrating Biblical episodes. Two
celebrated manuscripts of the same time, but executed in France, and
preserved in the same collection, show, by the stiffness and
incorrectness of the drawing, that the impetus given by the genius of
Charlemagne had abated: these are the “Bible de Noailles,” and the
“Bible de St. Martial,” of Limoges (Fig. 355).

To speak truly, if in France there was a decadency, the Anglo-Saxon and
Visigothic artists of this period

[Illustration: Fig. 353.--Miniature of the Ninth Century, extracted from
the “Commentaries of Gregory Nazianzus,” representing the consecration
of a Bishop. (Large folio Manuscript in the Imperial Library, Paris.)]

were also very inferior, to judge from a Latin Book of the Gospels of
the tenth century painted in England (Fig. 356); it, however, proves
that the art of ornamenting books had degenerated less than that of
drawing the human figure. Another manuscript with paintings, called
Visigothic, containing the Apocalypse of St. John, gives, in its
fantastic ornaments and animals, an example of the strange style adopted
by a certain school of miniature-painters.

[Illustration: Fig. 354.--Fac-smile of a Miniature drawn with the pen,
taken from a Bible of the Eleventh Century. (Imperial Library, Paris.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 355.--Border taken from the Bible of St. Martial of
Limoges. (Tenth Century.)]

Germany now began to improve in the art of painting miniatures. It owed
this happy result to the emigration of Greek artists, who came to the
German court to take refuge from the troubles of the East. The progress
accomplished in this part of Europe shows itself in the drawing of the
figures of a German Book of the Gospels of the beginning of the eleventh
century, a work very superior to that of the Teutonic Book of the
Gospels just referred to. The border of which we give a fac-simile in
Fig. 357 shows also a certain degree of improvement; it is taken from a
Book of the Gospels of the same period, preserved in the Royal Library,

[Illustration: Fig. 356.--Border taken from a Book of the Gospels in
Latin, executed in England. (Tenth Century.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 357.--Border taken from a Book of the Gospels of the
beginning of the Eleventh Century. In the Royal Library, Munich.]

But in France, to foreign invasions and to misfortunes of all kinds,
which, since the death of Charlemagne, had afflicted the country, was
added the terror caused by the general expectation that the world was
coming to an end at the expiration of the first millennial. People were,
therefore, otherwise employed than in ornamenting books. Accordingly,
this epoch is one of the most barren in religious or other paintings.
Fig. 358 represents the last degree of abasement in this art. Nothing in
the world could be more barbarous, nor farther removed from all
sentiment of the beautiful, and even from the instinctive idea of
drawing. Ornamentation, however, remained sufficiently good, although
under very heavy forms, as the Sacramentary of Æthelgar, which is
preserved in the Library of Rouen, shows (Fig. 359). The decadency,
however, seems to have come to a stop in France towards the end of the
eleventh century, if we judge of the art from paintings, executed in
1060, and contained in a Latin manuscript, bearing the number 818, in
the Imperial Library.

[Illustration: Fig. 358.--Miniature taken from a Missal of the Beginning
of the Eleventh Century.

(Imperial Library, Paris, No. 821.)]

In the manuscripts of the twelfth century, the influence of the Crusades
made itself already felt. At this period, the East regenerated in some
sort the West in all that concerned arts, sciences, and literature. Many
examples witness that the painting of manuscripts was not the last to
undergo this singular transformation. Everything the imagination could
invent of the most fantastic was particularly brought into play to give
to the Latin letters a peculiar character--imitated, moreover, from the
ornaments of Saracenic architecture. This practice was even applied to
public acts and documents, as Fig. 360 proves; it represents some of the
initial letters in the “Rouleau Mortuaire” of St. Vital. Callot, in his
“Temptation of St. Anthony,” has, we think, imagined nothing stranger
than the figure we give; a demon standing on the back of Cerberus forms
the vertical line in the letter T; while two other demons, whose feet
are in the mouth of the first, form the two lateral branches of the

[Illustration: Fig. 359.--Border taken from the Sacramentary of
Æthelgar. (Rouen Library.)]

In the thirteenth century, Saracenic or Gothic art universally
prevailed. Everywhere figures assumed gaunt, elongated forms;
coats-of-arms invaded the miniatures; but the colouring was of
marvellous purity and brightness; burnished gold, applied with the
greatest skill, stood out from blue or purple backgrounds which even in
our own day have lost nothing of their original freshness.

[Illustration: Fig. 360.--Initial Letters extracted from the “Rouleau
Mortuaire” of St. Vital, Twelfth Century.

(Imperial Archives of France.)]

Among the most remarkable manuscripts of this century we must mention a
Psalter in five colours, containing the French, Hebrew, and Roman
versions, with some commentaries (Imperial Library, No. 1,132 _bis_).
One should analyse the greater number of subjects depicted in this
manuscript to understand all their importance; we will mention only that
among them are sieges of towns, Gothic fortresses, interiors of Italian
banking-houses, various musical instruments, &c. There is, perhaps, no
other manuscript which equals this in the richness, the beauty, and
multiplicity of its paintings: it contains ninety-nine large miniatures,
independently of ninety-six

[Illustration: Fig. 361.--Facsimile of a Miniature of a Psalter, of the
Thirteenth Century, representing warlike, scientific, commercial, and
agricultural Works. (Imperial Library, Paris.)]

medallions representing divers episodes suggested by the text of the
Psalms (Fig. 361). After this psalter we must place the Breviary of St.
Louis, or rather of Queen Blanche, formerly preserved in the Arsenal
Library, Paris, and now in the Musée des Souverains; a celebrated
manuscript which has, on folio 191, this inscription: “C’est le Psautier
monseigneur St. Loys, lequel fu à sa mère.”[57] But the volume is not
rich in large miniatures. We observe in it, however, a calendar
ornamented with small subjects very delicately executed, representing
the labours appropriate to each month, according to the seasons of the
year. The character of the paintings exhibits a style anterior to the
reign of Louis IX.; and it is supposed, indeed, that this book first
belonged to the mother of that king.

We must now mention another Psalter, which was actually used by St.
Louis; as is proved not only by an inscription at the beginning of the
volume, but still further by the fleurs-de-lis of the king, the arms of
Blanche of Castile, his mother, and perhaps also _les pals de gueules_
of Margaret of Provence, his wife. Nothing can equal the beautiful
preservation of the miniatures in this volume, which contains
seventy-eight subjects, with as many explanatory texts in French. The
heads of the characters, though almost microscopic, have nevertheless,
generally, a fine expression.

[Illustration: Fig. 362.--A Border taken from a Gospel in Latin, of the
Thirteenth Century.

(Imperial Library, Paris.)]

The “Livre de Clergie,” which bears the date of 1260, merits far less
attention: so does the “Roman du Roi Artus,” No. 6,963, in the Imperial
Library, Paris, executed in 1276. But we must point out two of the most
beautiful examples of this period, a Book of the Gospels in Latin, No.
665 in the Supplement, Imperial Library, from which we have borrowed an
elegant border (Fig. 362), and the “Roman du Saint-Graal,” No. 6,769,
also in the Imperial Library.

Italy was then at the head of civilisation in everything; it had
particularly inherited the grand traditions of painting which had gone
to sleep for ever in Greece only to wake up again in Europe.

[Illustration: Fig. 363.--Facsimile of a Miniature of the Thirteenth
Century, representing a scene of an old Romance: the beautiful Josiane,
disguised as a female juggler, playing a Welsh air on the _Rote_
(Fiddle), to make herself known to her friend Bewis. (Imperial Library,

Here we must introduce a remark, the result of a general examination of
the manuscripts bequeathed to us by the thirteenth century; namely, that
the miniatures in sacred books are much more beautifully and carefully
executed than those of the romances of chivalry and the chronicles of
the same period (Figs. 363 and 364). Must we attribute this superiority
to the power of religious inspiration? Must we suppose that in the
monasteries alone clever artists met with sufficient remuneration?
Before answering these questions, or rather as an answer to them, let us
remember that in those days religious institutions absorbed nearly all
the social intellectual movement, as well as the effective possession of
material riches, if not of territorial property. Solely occupied with
distant wars or intestine quarrels which impoverished them, the nobles
were altogether unable to become protectors of literature and Art. In
the abbeys and convents were lay-brethren who sometimes had taken no
vow, but whose fervent spirits, burning with poetical imagination,
sought in the monastic retreat redemption from their past sins: these
men of faith were happy to consecrate their whole existence to the
ornamentation of a single sacred book destined for the community which
gave them in exchange all the necessaries of life.

[Illustration: Fig 364.--The Four Sons of Aymon on their good Steed,
Bayart. From a Miniature in the Romance of the “Four Sons of Aymon,” a
Manuscript of the Thirteenth Century. (Imperial Library, Paris.)]

This explains the absence of the names of the miniature-painters in
ancient manuscripts, particularly in those which are written in Latin.
However, when romances and chronicles in the vulgar tongue began to come
into fashion, artists of great talent eagerly presented themselves to be
engaged by princes and nobles who wished to have this sort of books
ornamented; but the anonymous which these lay artists generally
preserved is explained by the circumstance that in most cases they were
considered only as artistic assistants in the lordly houses where they
were employed, and in which they fulfilled some other domestic duty; for
instance, Colard de Laon, the favourite painter of Louis of Orleans, was
also valet-de-chambre to this prince; Pietro Andrea, another artist,
doubtless an Italian, to judge from his Christian name, was
gentleman-usher; and we see this

[Illustration: Fig. 365.--Miniature taken from the “Roman de Fauvel”
(Fifteenth Century), representing Fauvel, or the Fox, reprimanding a
Widow who has married again, and to whom is being given a Serenade of
Rough Music.

(Imperial Library, Paris.)]

same painter “sent from Blois to Tours, to procure certain matters for
the accouchment of Madame the Duchess;” or again, “from Blois to
Romorantin, to inquire after Madame d’Angoulesme, who was reported to be
very unwell.”

Certain artists, however, who then took the modest name of illuminators,
lived entirely by their profession; working at _tableaux benoîts_
(blessed pictures), or popular paintings, which were sold at the
church-doors. Others, again, were paid assistants of the recognised
painters to princes or nobles; and the anonymous was quite naturally
imposed upon them by their subordinate position, if not by the simple
modesty which was for a long time the accompaniment of talent. In the
fourteenth century the study of miniatures is peculiarly interesting, on
account of the scenes of public and private life, of manners and
customs, we find reproduced in them. Portraits after life, _d’après le
vif_, as they were called in those days, made their appearance; and
caricature, at all times so powerful in France, already began to show
itself with a daring which, occupying itself with the clergy, women, and
chivalry, stopped only before the prestige of royalty.

The miniatures of a French manuscript, dated 1313 (Imperial Library,
Paris, No. 8,504, F. L.), deserve to be mentioned, especially on account
of the various subjects they represent; for, besides the ceremony of the
reception of the King of Navarre into the order of chivalry, we see in
it philosophers discussing, judges administering the law, various scenes
of conjugal life, singers accompanying themselves on divers instruments
of music, villagers engaged in the labours of country life, &c. We must
mention also a manuscript of the “Roman de Fauvel,” in which is
especially prominent the very original scene of a popular concert of
rough music, by masked performers, given, according to an old custom, to
a widow who had married a second time (Fig. 365).

The period during which Charles V. occupied the throne of France is one
of those that produced the finest specimens of manuscript-painting. This
monarch, the founder of the Royal Library, was an admirer of illustrated
books, and had accumulated, at great cost, a large collection in the
great tower of the Louvre. A royal prince, whom we have already
mentioned as being excessively devoted to artistic luxuries, was the
rival of Charles V. in this respect: this was his brother, the Duke Jean
de Berry, who devoted enormous sums to the purchase and production of

[Illustration: Fig. 366.--Border taken from a Prayer-book belonging to
Louis of France, Duke of Anjou, King of Naples, of Sicily, and of
Jerusalem. (Fourteenth Century.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 367.--Miniature taken from “Les Femmes Illustres,”
translated from Boccacio. (Imperial Library, Paris.)]

Even under Charles VI. this impulse did not abate, and the art of
painting manuscripts was never in a more flourishing condition. The
border taken from the “Livre d’Heures,” or prayer-book, of the Duke
d’Anjou, uncle of the king (Fig. 366), is an example of this. We might
mention, as specimens of illustrated works of this period, the book of
the “Demandes et Réponses,” by Peter Salmon, a manuscript executed for
the king, and ornamented with exquisite miniatures, in which all the
characters are true historical portraits, beautifully finished.
Nevertheless, the masterpieces of the French school at this period show
themselves in the miniatures of two translations of Boccacio’s “De
Claris Mulieribus” (“Beautiful Women”) (Fig. 367).

[Illustration: Fig. 368.--Miniature of the Psalter of John, Duke of
Berry, representing the Man of Sorrow, or Christ, showing the Sign of
the Cross. (Imperial Library, Paris.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 369.--Border taken from the Bible called Clement
VII.’s. (Fourteenth Century.)]

At that time two new styles appeared in the painting of manuscripts:
miniatures _en camaïeu_ (in one colour only), and miniatures _en
grisaille_ (in two colours, viz., a light colour shaded, generally with
brown). Of the first kind, we may instance “Les Petites Heures” of John,
Duke de Berry (Fig. 368), and “Les Miracles de Notre-Dame.”

Germany did not in this respect rise to the height of France; but
miniature-painting in Italy progressed more and more towards perfection.
A remarkable specimen of Italian art of this period is the Bible called
Clement VII.’s (Fig. 369), which is preserved in the Imperial Library,
Paris. But there exists one more admirable still in the same
establishment, so rich in curiosities, of the manuscript of “The
Institution of the Order of the Holy Ghost,” an order of chivalry
founded at Naples in 1352, by Louis de Tarento, King of Naples, during a
feast on the day of Pentecost; it is in this superb manuscript, executed
by Italian or French artists, may, perhaps, be found the most exquisite
miniatures of that day (Fig. 370); especially remarkable are the
beautiful portraits in _camaïeu_ of King Louis and his wife, Jane I.,
Queen of Naples. A valuable copy of the romance of “Lancelot du Lac,” of
the same date, recommends itself to the attention of connoisseurs by a
rare peculiarity: one can follow in it the successive operations of the
painter in miniature; thus are presented to us consecutively the
outline-drawing, then the first tints, generally uniform, executed by
the illuminator; next the surface on which the gold is to be applied;
then the real work of the miniature-painter in the heads, costumes, &c.

[Illustration: Fig. 370.--Miniature from a Manuscript of the Fourteenth
Century, representing Louis de Tarento, second Husband of Queen Jane of
Naples, instituting the Order of the Holy Ghost.

(Imperial Library, Paris.)]

France, in spite of the great troubles which agitated her, and the wars
she had to maintain with foreign powers during the fifteenth century,
saw, nevertheless, the art of the painter improve very considerably. The
fine copy of Froissart in the Imperial Library, Paris (Fig. 371), might
alone suffice to prove the truth of this assertion. The name of John
Foucquet, painter to King Louis XI., deserves to be mentioned with
eulogy, as that of one of the artists who contributed most to the
progress of painting on manuscripts. Everything thenceforward announced
the Renaissance which was to take place in the sixteenth century; and if
we wish to follow the onward progress of art from the beginning of the
fifteenth century till the time


Miniature from Froissart’s Chronicles in the National Library, Paris.]

[Illustration: Fig. 371.--Border taken from “Froissart’s Chronicles,” a
French Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century. (Imperial Library, Paris.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 372.--Border taken from an “Ovid.” An Italian
Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century. (Imperial Library, Paris.)]

of Raphael, it is in the miniatures of manuscripts we shall find the
best evidences of it. Let us observe, by the way, that the Flemish
school of the Dukes of Burgundy exercised great influence over this
marvellous art for a period of more than a century. Spain was also
progressing; but it is to the Italian artists we must, from that time
forward, look for the most remarkable works. The Imperial Library of
Paris possesses many manuscripts which bear witness to the marked
improvement in miniature-painting at this period; among others an “Ovid”
of the fifteenth century (Fig. 372); but in order to see the highest
expression of the art, we must examine an incomparable copy of Dante’s
works, preserved in the Vatican, a manuscript proceeding from the hands
of Giulio Clovio (Fig. 373), an illustrious painter, pupil and imitator
of Raphael: his miniatures are remarkable for beauty.

[Illustration: Fig. 373.--Miniature, painted by Giulio Clovio, of the
Sixteenth Century, taken from Dante’s “Paradise,” representing the Poet
and Beatrice transported to the Moon, the abode of Women devoted to
Chastity. (Manuscript in the Vatican Library, Rome.)]

Lastly, in the reign of Louis XII., the complete regeneration of the
Arts was effected. We should, however, mention that at this period
there were two very distinct schools: one whose style still showed the
influence of ancient Gothic traditions, the other entirely dependent on
Italian taste. The Missal of Pope Paul V. emanated from this last school
(Fig. 374).

[Illustration: Fig. 374.--Border taken from the Missal of Pope Paul V.
(An Italian Manuscript of the Sixteenth Century.)]

This immense progress, which showed itself simultaneously in France and
in Italy by the production of many original works, seems to have
attained its climax in the execution of a justly celebrated manuscript,
known by the name of “Heures d’Anne de Bretagne” (Fig. 375). Among the
numerous pictures which decorate this book of prayers, many would not be
unworthy of Raphael’s pencil: the expression in the face of the Virgin
Mary is, with many others, remarkable for its sweetness; the heads of
the angels have something divine in them; and the ornaments which occupy
the margin of each page are composed of flowers, fruits, and insects,
represented with all the freshness and brilliancy of nature. This
inimitable masterpiece was, like a sort of sublime testament, to mark
the glorious boundary-line of an art which must necessarily degenerate
now that the printing-press was causing the numerous class of scribes
and illuminators of the Middle Ages to disappear. It has never revived
since, but at intervals; and then more to meet the requirements of fancy
than to be of any real use.

A few manuscripts adorned with miniatures of the end of the sixteenth
century may still be mentioned, especially two “Livres d’Heures”
(prayer-books) painted in _grisaille_, which

[Illustration: Fig. 375.--Miniature from the Prayer-book of Anne de
Bretagne, representing the Archangel St. Michael.

(Musée des Souverains.)]

belonged to Henry II., King of France (now in the Musée des Souverains),
and the “Livre d’Heures,” executed for the Margrave of Baden by a
painter of Lorraine or of Metz named Brentel (Fig. 376), who, however,
did nothing

[Illustration: Fig. 376.--Miniature in the “Livre d’Heures” belonging to
the Margrave of Baden, representing the Portrait of the blessed Bernard
of Baden, who died in the odour of Sanctity, on July 15, 1458.

(Imperial Library, Paris.)]

but put together designs copied from the great masters of Italy and
Flanders. There were, nevertheless, good miniature-painters in France up
to the seventeenth century, to illustrate the manuscripts executed with
so much taste by the famous Jarry and the caligraphers of his school.
The last manifestation of the art shines forth, for example, in the
magnificent “Livre d’Heures” presented to Louis XIV. by the pensioners
of the Hôtel des Invalides, a remarkable work, but yet unworthy to
appear by the side of the “Livre d’Heures d’Anne de Bretagne,” which the
painter seems to have adopted as his model.

[Illustration: Fig. 377.--Escutcheon of France, taken from some
Ornaments in the Manuscript of the “Institution of the Order of the Holy
Ghost.” (Fourteenth Century.)]


     Primitive Binding of Books.--Bookbinding among the
     Romans.--Bookbinding with Goldsmith’s Work from the Fifth
     Century.--Chained Books.--Corporation of _Lieurs_, or
     Bookbinders.--Books bound in Wood, with Metal Corners and
     Clasps.--First Bindings in Leather, honeycombed (_waffled_?) and
     gilt.--Description of some celebrated Bindings of the Fourteenth
     and Fifteenth Centuries.--Sources of Modern Bookbinding.--John
     Grollier.--President De Thou.--Kings and Queens of France
     Bibliomaniacs.--Superiority of Bookbinding in France.

As soon as the ancients had made square books, more convenient to read
than the rolls, binding--that is to say, the art of reuniting the leaves
stitched or stuck (_ligati_) into a movable back, between two square
pieces of wood, ivory, metal, or leather--bookbinding was invented. This
primitive binding, which had no other object than that of preserving the
books, no other merit than than of solidity, was not long ere it became
associated with ornament, and thus put itself in relation with the
luxury of Greek and Roman civilisation. Not contented with placing on
each side of the volume a little tablet of cedar-wood or of oak, on
which was written the title of the book (for books were then laid flat
on the shelves of the library), a piece of leather was stretched over
the edge to preserve it from dust, if the book was valuable, and the
volume was tied up with a strap passed round it many times, and which
was subsequently replaced by clasps. In certain instances the volume was
enveloped in thick cloth, and even enclosed in a case of wood or
leather. Such was the state of bookbinding in ancient times.

There were then, as now, good and bad bookbinders. Cicero, in his
letters to Atticus, asks for two of his slaves who were very clever
_ligatores librorum_ (bookbinders). Bookbinding, however, was not an art
very generally known, for square books, notwithstanding the convenience
of their shape, had not yet superseded rolls; but we see, in the Notices
of the Dignities of the Eastern Empire (“Notitia Dignitatum Imperii),
written towards 450, that this accessory art had already made immense
progress; since certain officers of the empire used to carry, in the
public ceremonies, large square books containing the administrative
instructions of the emperor: these books were bound, covered with green,
red, blue, or yellow leather, closed by means of leathern straps or by
hooks, and ornamented with little golden rods disposed horizontally, or
lozengewise, with the portrait of the sovereign painted or gilt on their
sides. From the fifth century goldsmiths and lapidaries
ornamented binding with great richness. And so we hear St. Jerome
exclaiming:--“Your books are covered with precious stones, and Christ
died naked before the gate of his temple!” “The Book of the Gospels,” in
Greek, given to the basilica of Monza by Theodelinda, queen of the
Lombards, about 600, has still one of these costly bindings.

A specimen of Byzantine art, preserved in the Louvre, is a sort of small
plate, which is supposed to be one of the sides of the cover of a book;
on it we find executed in bas-relief the “Visit of the Holy Women to the
Tomb,” and several other scenes from the Gospels. In this example the
beauty of the figures, the taste which dictated the arrangement of the
draperies, and the finish in the execution, furnish us with evidence
that, in the industrial arts, the Greeks had maintained till the twelfth
century their pre-eminence over all the people of Europe.

In those days the binding of ordinary books was executed without any
ornamentation, this being reserved for sacred books. If, in the
treasures of churches, abbeys, and palaces, a few manuscripts covered
with gold, silver, and precious stones were kept as relics, books in
common use were simply covered in boards or leather; but not without
much attention being given to the binding, which was merely intended to
preserve the volumes. Many documents bear witness to the great care and
precision with which, in certain monasteries, books were bound and
preserved. All sorts of skins were employed in covering them when they
had been once pressed and joined together between boards of hard wood
that would not readily decay: in the North, even the skins of seals and
of sharks were employed, but pig-skin seems to have been used in
preference to all others.

[Illustration: PANEL OF A BOOK COVER.

Bas-relief in Gold Repoussé. Ninth Century. (in the Louvre.)]

It must be admitted that we, perhaps, owe to their rich bindings, which
were well calculated to tempt thieves, the destruction of a number of
valuable manuscripts when towns or monasteries were sacked; but, on the
other hand, the sumptuous bindings with which kings and nobles covered
Bibles, the Gospels, antiphonaries,[58] and missals, have certainly
preserved to us very many curious examples that, without them, would by
degrees have deteriorated, or would not have escaped all the chances of
destruction to which they were exposed. It is thus, for instance, that
the famous manuscript of Sens has descended to us, which contains “La
Messe des Fous,” set to music in the twelfth century; it is bound
between two pieces of ivory, with bas-relief carvings of the fourth
century, representing the festivals of Bacchus. All great public
collections show with pride some of these rare and venerable bindings,
decorated with gold, silver, or copper, engraved, chased, or inlaid with
precious stones or coloured glass, with cameos or antique ivories (Fig.
378). The greater number of rich books of the Gospels mentioned in
history date back as far as the period of Charlemagne, and among these
we must mention, above all, one given by the emperor himself to the
Abbey of St. Riquier, “covered with plates of silver, and ornamented
with gold and gems;” that of St. Maximinius of Treves, which came from
Ada, daughter of Pepin, sister of Charlemagne, and was ornamented with
an engraved agate representing Ada, the emperor, and his sons; and
lastly, one that was to be seen as late as 1727 in the convent of
Hautvillers, near Epernay, and which was bound in carved ivory.

Sometimes these sumptuous volumes were enclosed in an envelope made of
rich stuff; or, in pursuance of an ancient custom, a casket not less
gorgeously decorated than the binding, contained it. The Prayer-book of
Charlemagne, now preserved in the Library of the Louvre, is known to
have been originally enclosed in a small casket of silver gilt, on which
were represented in relief the “Mysteries of the Passion.”

These books, however, bound with goldsmith’s work, were not those that
were chained in churches and in certain libraries (Fig. 379), as some
volumes still in existence show, with the rings through which passed the
chain that fastened them to the desk. These _catenati_ (chained books)
were generally Bibles and missals, bound in wood and heavily ornamented
with metallic corners; which, while placed at the disposition of the
faithful and of the public in general, their owners wished to guarantee
against being stolen.

[Illustration: Fig. 378.--Binding in Gold, adorned with precious Stones
which covered a “Book of the Gospels” of the Eleventh Century,
representing Jesus Crucified, with the Virgin and St. John at the Foot
of the Cross.

(Musée du Louvre).]

We must not forget to mention, among the most beautiful bindings of the
eleventh and twelfth centuries, the coverings of books in enamelled
copper (Fig. 380). The Museum of Cluny possesses two plates of incrusted
enamel of Limoges, which must have belonged to one of these bindings:
the first has for its subject the “Adoration of the Magi;” the other


Serving as a Book Cover, “l’Office des fous.”. (In the Library of

represents the monk Etienne de Muret, founder of the order of Grandmont
(in the twelfth century), conversing with St. Nicholas. The Cathedral of
Milan contains in its treasury the covering of a book still more ancient
and much richer, about fourteen inches long by twelve inches wide, and
profusely covered with incrusted enamel, mounted and ornamented with
polished, but uncut, precious stones of various colours.

[Illustration: Fig. 379.--Library of the University of Leyden, in which
all the Books were chained, even in the Seventeenth Century.]

But all these were only the work of enamellers, goldsmiths,
illuminators, and clasp-makers. The binders, or bookbinders properly so
called, fastened together the leaves of books, and placed them between
two boards, which they then covered with leather, skin, stuff, or
parchment; they added to these coverings sometimes leathern straps,
sometimes metal clasps, sometimes hooks, to keep the volume firmly
closed, and almost always nails, whose round and projecting heads
preserved the flat surface of the binding from being rubbed.

In the year 1299, when the tax was imposed upon the inhabitants of Paris
for the exigencies of the king, it was ascertained that the number of
bookbinders then actually in the town amounted only to seventeen, who,
as well as the scribes and booksellers, were directly dependent on the

[Illustration: Fig. 380.--Large Painted Initial Letter in a Manuscript
in the Royal Library, Brussels, showing the arrangement of the Binding,
in enamelled Metal, of a book of the Gospels. (Ninth or Tenth

University, the authorities of which placed them under the surveillance
of four sworn bookbinders, who were considered the _agents_ of the
University. We must except, however, from this jurisdiction the
acknowledged bookbinder to the “Chambre des Comptes,” who, before he
could be appointed to this office, had to make an affirmation _that he
could neither read nor write_.

In the musters, or processions, of the University of Paris, the
bookbinders came after the booksellers. To explain the relatively small
number of professed bookbinders, we must remember that at this period
the majority of scholars bound their own books, as divers passages of
ancient authors prove; while the monasteries, which were the principal
centres of bookmakers, had one or many members of their community whose
special function it was to bind the works written within their walls.
Tritheimius, Abbot of Spanheim at the end of the fifteenth century, does
not forget the bookbinders in the enumeration he makes of the different
employments of his monks:--“Let that one,” says he, “fasten the leaves
together, and bind the book with boards. You, prepare those boards; you,
dress the leather; you, the metal plates, which are to adorn the
binding.” These bindings are represented on the seal of the University
of Oxford (Fig. 381), and on the banners of some French corporation of
printers and booksellers (Figs. 382 and 386).

The metal plates, the corners, the nails, the clasps with which these
volumes were then laden rendered them so heavy that, in order to enable
the reader to turn over the leaves with facility, they were placed on
one of those revolving desks having space for many open folios at the
same time, and which were capable of accommodating many readers
simultaneously. It is said that Petrarch had caused a volume containing
the “Epistles of Cicero,” transcribed by himself, to be bound so
massively, that as he was continually reading it, he often let it fall
and injured his leg; so badly once that he was threatened with
amputation. This manuscript in Petrarch’s handwriting is still to be
seen in the Laurentian Library at Florence; it is bound in wood, with
edges and clasps of copper.

The Crusades, which introduced into Europe many luxurious customs, must
have had great influence on bookbinding, since the Arabs had for a long
while known the art of preparing, dyeing, stamping, and gilding the
skins they employed to make covers for books: these covers took the name
of _alæ_ (the wings), no doubt from the resemblance between them and
the wings of a bird of rich plumage. The Crusaders having brought back
from their expeditions specimens of Oriental binding, our European
workmen did not fail to turn their brilliant models to account.

[Illustration: Fig. 381.--Seal of the University of Oxford, in which is
a Book bound with Corners and Clasps.]

An entire revolution, moreover, which had taken place in the formation
of royal and princely libraries, was to produce a revolution in binding
also. Bibles, missals, reproductions of ancient authors, treatises on
theology, were no longer the only books in common use. The new language
had given rise to histories, romances, and poems, which were the delight
of a society becoming more and more polished every day. For the pleasure
of readers, the gallant of one sex and the fair of the other, books were
required more agreeable to the eye, and less rough to the touch, than
those used for the edification of monks or the instruction of scholars.
And first of all were substituted, for the purpose of manuscripts, sizes
more portable than the grave folio. Then fine and smooth vellum was used
for writing, and books were covered in velvet, silk, or woollen stuffs.
Moreover, paper, a recent invention, opened up a new era for libraries;
but two centuries were to elapse before pasteboard had entirely taken
the place of wooden covers.

It is in the inventories, in the accounts, and in the archives of kings
and princes, we must look for the history of bookbinding in the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries (Fig. 383). We shall limit ourselves
to giving a description of some costly bindings, taken from the
inventories of the magnificent libraries of the Dukes of Burgundy and of
Orleans, now partly destroyed, and partly scattered about among the
great public collections of France and other countries.

[Illustration: Fig. 382.--Banner of the Corporation of
Printers-Booksellers of Angers.]

Belonging to the Dukes of Burgundy, Philip the Bold, Jean sans Peur, and
Philip the Good, we see a small Book of the Gospels and of the “Heures
de la Croix” (a kind of prayer-book), with “a binding embellished with
gold and fifty-eight large pearls, in a case made of camlet, with one
large pearl and a cluster of small pearls;” the romance of the “Moralité
des Hommes sur le Ju (jeu) des Eschiers” (the game of chess), “covered
in silk, with white and red flowers, and silver-gilt nails, on a green
ground;” a Book of Orisons, “covered in red leather, with silver-gilt
nails;” a Psalter, “having two silver-gilt clasps, bound in blue, with a
golden eagle with two heads and red talons, to which is attached a
little silver-gilt instrument for turning over the leaves, with three
escutcheons of the same arms, covered with a red velvet _chemise_.”[59]

[Illustration: Fig. 383.--Fragment of an engraved and stamped Binding in
an unknown Material (Fifteenth Century), representing the mystical Chase
of the Unicorn, which is taking refuge in the lap of the Virgin.

(Public Library, Rouen.)]

The _chemise_ was a sort of pocket in which certain valuable books were
enveloped. The “Heures de St. Louis” (St. Louis’s Prayer-book), now in
the Musée des Souverains, is still in its _chemise_ of red sandal-wood.

Belonging to the Duke of Orleans, brother of Charles VI., we find
Végèce’s book, “On Chivalry,” “covered in red leather inlaid, which has
two little brass clasps;” the book of “Meliadus,” “covered in green
velvet, with two silver-gilt clasps, enamelled with the arms of his
Royal Highness;” the book of Boèce, “On Consolation,” “covered in
figured silk;” “The Golden Legend,” “covered in black velvet, without
clasps;” the “Heures de Notre-Dame,” “covered in white leather.”

The same inventories give an account of the prices paid for some
bindings and their accessories. Thus, in 1386, Martin Lhuillier, a
bookseller at Paris, received from the Duke of Burgundy 16 francs
(equivalent to about 114 francs French money of the present time), “for
binding eight books, of which six were covered in grained leather;” on
Sept. 19, 1394, the Duke of Orleans paid to Peter Blondel, goldsmith, 12
livres 15 sols, “for having _wrought_, besides the duke’s silver seal,
two clasps” for the book of Boèce; and on Jan. 15, 1398, to Émelot de
Rubert, an embroideress at Paris, 50 _sols tournois_, “for having cut
out and worked in gold and silk two covers of green Dampmas cloth, one
for the Breviary, the other for the Book of Hours of the aforesaid
nobleman, and for having made fifteen markers (_sinets_) and four pair
of silk and gold straps for the said books.”

The old style of thick, heavy, in some sort armour-plated, binding,
could not exist long after the invention of printing, which, while
multiplying books, diminished their weight, reduced their size, and,
moreover, gave them a less intrinsic value. Wooden boards were replaced
by compressed cardboard, nails and clasps were gradually laid aside, and
stuffs of different kinds no longer used; only skin, leather, and
parchment were employed. This was the beginning of modern binding; but
bookbinders were as yet but mechanics working for the booksellers, who,
when they had on their premises a bookbinding-room (Fig. 384), assumed,
in their editions, the double title of _libraire-relieur_
(bookseller-bookbinder) (Fig. 385). In 1578, Nicholas Eve still placed
on his books and his sign-board, “Bookseller to the University of Paris
and Bookbinder to the King.” No volume was sold unbound.

From the end of the fifteenth century, although bookbinding was always
considered as an adjunct to the bookseller’s shop, certain amateurs who
had a taste for art required richer and more _recherché_ exteriors for
their books. Italy set us the example of beautiful bindings in morocco,
stamped and gilt; imitated, however, from those of the Koran and other
Arabian manuscripts, which Venetian navigators frequently brought back
with them from the East. The expedition of Charles VIII. and the wars of
Louis XII. introduced into France not only Italian bindings, but Italian
binders also. Without renouncing, however, at least for the _livres
d’heures_, the bindings ornamented with goldsmith’s work and gems,
France had very soon binders of her own, surpassing those who had been
to them as initiators or masters. Jean Grollier, of Lyons, loved books
too much not to wish to give them an exterior ornamentation worthy of
the wealth of knowledge they contained. Treasurer of War, and Intendant
of the Milanese before the battle of Pavia, he had begun to create a
library, which he subsequently transported into France, and did not
cease to enlarge and to enrich till his death, which happened in 1565.
His books were bound in morocco from the Levant, with such care and
taste that, under the supervision of this exacting amateur, bookbinding
seemed to have already attained perfection.

[Illustration: Fig. 384.--Bookbinders’ Work-room, drawn and engraved in
the Sixteenth Century, by J. Amman.]

Princes and ladies of the court prided themselves on their love of books
and the desire to acquire them; they founded libraries, and encouraged
the works and inventions of good bookbinders who produced masterpieces
of patience and ability in decorating the covers of books, either with
enamelled paintings, or with mosaics made of different pieces inlaid, or
with plain gildings stamped on the surface with small irons. It would be
impossible to enumerate the splendid bindings in all styles that the
French bookbinders of the sixteenth century have left us, and which have
never been surpassed since. The painter, the engraver, and even the
goldsmith, co-operated with the bookbinder in his art, by furnishing him
with designs for ornaments. We now see reappearing some plates obtained
from hot or cold dies, representing various subjects, and the designs
from which they were taken, reproduced from those that had been in
fashion towards the beginning of the sixteenth century, were often drawn
by distinguished artists, such as Jean Cousin, Stephen de Laulne, &c.

[Illustration: Fig. 385.--Mark of William Eustace (1512), Bookseller and
Binder, Paris.]

Nearly all the French kings, especially the Valois, were passionately
fond of splendid bindings. Catherine de Medicis was such a connoisseur
of finely-bound books, that authors and booksellers, who eagerly
presented her with copies of their works, tried to distinguish
themselves in the choice and beauty of the bindings which they had made
expressly for her. Henry III., who appreciated handsomely-bound books no
less than his mother, invented a very singular binding, when he had
instituted the Order of “Penitents;” this consisted of death’s heads and
cross bones, tears, crosses, and other instruments of the Passion, gilt
or stamped on black morocco leather, and having the following device,
“Spes mea Deus” (“God is my hope”), with or without the arms of France.

It is impossible to associate these superb bindings with the usual and
common work executed at the booksellers’ shops, and under their
superintendence. Some booksellers of Paris and of Lyons, the houses of
Gryphe and Tournes, of Estienne and Vascosan, paid a little more
attention, however, than others of the fraternity, to the binding of
books which they sold to the reading public; they adopted patterns of
dun-coloured calf, in compartments; or white vellum, with fillets and
arabesques in gold, fine specimens of which are now very rare.

At this period Italian bookbinding had reached the most complete state
of decadency, while in Germany and other parts of Europe the old massive
bindings,--bindings in wood, leather, and parchment, with fastenings of
iron or brass,--still held their ground. In France, however, the
binders, whom the booksellers kept in a state of obscurity and
servitude, had not even been able to form themselves into a guild or
fraternity. They might produce masterpieces of their art, but were not
allowed to append their names to their works; and we must come down as
far as the famous _Gascon_ (1641) before we can introduce the name of
any illustrious bookbinder.

[Illustration: Fig. 386.--Banner of the Corporation of
Printers-Booksellers of Autun.]


     Who was the Inventor of Printing?--Movable Letters in Ancient
     Times.--Block Printing.--Laurent Coster.--_Donati_ and
     _Specula_.--Gutenberg’s Process.--Partnership of Gutenberg and
     Faust.--Schoeffer.--The Mayence Bible.--The Psalter of 1457.--The
     “Rationale” of 1459.--Gutenburg prints by himself.--The
     “Catholicon” of 1460.--Printing at Cologne, Strasbourg, Venice, and
     Paris.--Louis XI. and Nicholas Jenson.--German Printers at
     Rome.--_Incunabula._--Colart Mansion.--Caxton.--Improvement of
     Typographical Processes up to the Sixteenth Century.

Fifteen towns have laid claim to the honour of being the birthplace of
printing, and writers who have applied themselves to search out the
origin of this admirable invention, far from coming to any agreement on
the point in their endeavours to clear up the question, have only
confused it. Now, however, after many centuries of learned and earnest
controversy, there only remain three antagonistic propositions, with
three names of towns, four names of inventors, and three different
dates. The three places are Haarlem, Strasbourg, and Mayence; the four
inventors, Laurent Coster, Gutenberg, Faust, and Schoeffer; the three
dates which are assigned to the invention of printing are 1420, 1440,
1450. In our opinion these three propositions, which some try to combat
and destroy by opposing each to the other, ought, on the contrary, to be
blended into one, and combined chronologically in such a manner as to
represent the three principal periods of the discovery of printing.

There is no doubt that printing existed in the germ in ancient times;
that it was known and made use of by the ancients. There were stamps and
seals bearing legends traced the wrong way, from which positive
impressions were obtained on papyrus or parchment, in wax, ink, or
colour. We are shown, in museums, plates of copper or of cedar-wood,
covered with characters carved or cut out in them, which seem to have
been intended for the purpose of printing, and which resemble the block
plates of the fifteenth century.

[Illustration: Fig. 387.--Ancient Wood-block Print, cut in Flanders
before 1440, representing Jesus Christ after his Flagellation.
(Delbecq’s Collection, Ghent.)]

Something very much like the process of printing in movable type is
described by Cicero in a passage in which he refutes the doctrine of
Epicurus on the creation of the world by atoms: “Why not believe, also,
that by throwing together, indiscriminately, innumerable forms of
letters of the alphabet, either in gold or in any other substance, one
can _print_ with these letters, on the ground, the _Annals_ of Ennius?”
The movable letters possessed by the ancients were carved in box-wood or
ivory; but they were only employed for teaching children to read, as
Quinctilian testifies in his “Oratorical Institutions,” and St. Jerome
in his “Epistles.” There was then only wanting a fortunate chance to
cause this carved alphabet to create the typographic art fifteen
centuries earlier than its actual birth.

[Illustration: Fig. 388.--Fac-simile of an Engraving on Wood, by an
ancient Flemish Engraver (about 1438); which was inserted, after the
manner of a Miniature, in a Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century,
containing Prayers for the use of the People. (Delbecq’s Collection,

“The art of taking impressions once discovered,” says M. Léon de
Laborde, “and applied to engraving in relief, gave rise to printing,
which was only the perfection to which a natural and rapid progression
of attempts and efforts would naturally lead.” “But it was only,” adds
M. Ambroise-Firmin Didot, “when the art of making paper--that art
familiar to the Chinese from the beginning of our era--spread in Europe
and became generally known, that the reproduction, by pressing, of
texts, figures, playing-cards, &c., first by the tabular process,
called _xylography_ (block-printing), then with movable types, became
easy, and was consequently to appear simultaneously in different

[Illustration: Fig. 389.--Wood-block, cut in France, about 1440,
representing an Image of St. James the Great, with one of the
Commandments as a Text. (Imperial Library, Paris, Collection of

But, at the end of the fourteenth century, at Haarlem, in Holland,
wood-engraving had been discovered, and consequently _tabular
impression_, with which the Chinese, it is said, were already acquainted
three or four hundred years before the modern era. Perhaps it was some
Chinese book or pack of cards brought to Haarlem by a merchant or a
navigator, that revealed to the cardmakers and printsellers of the
industrious Netherlands a process of impressing more expeditious and
more economical. Xylography began on the day when a legend was engraved
on a wood-block; this legend, limited at first to a few lines, very soon
occupied a whole page; then this page was not long in becoming a volume
(Fig. 387 to 389).

Here is an extract from the account given by Adrian Junius, in his Latin
work entitled “Batavia,” of the discovery of printing at Haarlem,
written in 1572:--“More than one hundred and thirty-two years ago there
lived at Haarlem, close to the royal palace, one John Laurent, surnamed
Coster (or governer), for this honourable post came to him by
inheritance, being handed down in his family from father to son. One
day, about 1420, as he was walking after dinner in a wood near the town,
he set to work and cut the bark of beech-trees into the shape of
letters, with which he traced, on paper, by pressing one after the
other upon it, a model composed of many lines for the instruction of his
children. Encouraged by this success, his genius took a higher flight,
and then, in concert with his son-in-law, Thomas Pierre, he invented a
species of ink more glutinous and tenacious than that employed in
writing, and he thus printed figures (_images_) to which he added his
wooden letters. I have myself seen many copies of this first attempt at
printing. The text is on one side only of the paper. The book printed
was written in the vulgar tongue, by an anonymous author, having as its
title ‘Speculum nostræ Salutis’ (‘The Mirror of our Salvation’). Later,
Laurent Coster changed his wooden types into leaden, then these into
pewter. Laurent’s new invention, encouraged by studious men, attracted
from all parts an immense concourse of purchasers. The love of the art
increased, the labours of his workshop increased also, and Laurent was
obliged to add hired workmen to the members of his family, to assist in
his operations. Among these workmen there was a certain John, whom I
suspect of being none other than Faust, who was treacherous and fatal to
his master. Initiated, under the seal of an oath, into all the secrets
of printing, and having become very expert in casting type, in setting
it up, and in the other processes of his trade, this John took advantage
of a Christmas evening, while every one was in church, to rifle his
master’s workshop and to carry off his typographical implements. He fled
with his booty to Amsterdam, thence to Cologne, and afterwards to
Mayence, where he established himself; and calculating upon safety here,
set up a printing-office. In that very same year, 1422, he printed with
the type which Laurent had employed at Haarlem, a grammar then in use,
called ‘Alexandri Galli Doctrinale,’ and a ‘Treatise of Peter the
Spaniard’ (‘Petri Hispani Tractatus’).”

This account, which came, indeed, rather late, although the author
referred to the most respectable authorities in support of it, met at
first with nothing but incredulity and contempt. At this period the
right of Mayence to be considered the birthplace of printing could only
be seriously counterbalanced by the right Strasbourg had to be so
considered. The three names of Gutenberg, of Faust, and of Schœffer were
already consecrated by universal gratitude. Everywhere, then, except in
Holland, this new testimony was rejected; everywhere the new inventor,
whose claim had just been made for a share of the honour, was rejected
as an apocryphal or legendary being. But very soon, however, criticism,
raising itself above the influences of nationality, took up the
question, discussed the account given by Junius, examined that famous
“Speculum” which no one had yet pointed out, proved the existence of
xylographic impressions, sought for those which could be attributed to
Coster, and opposed to the Abbé Tritheim (or Trithemius), who had
written on the origin of printing from information furnished by Peter
Schœffer himself, the more disinterested testimony of the anonymous
chronicler of Cologne in 1465, who had learned from Ulric Zell, one of
Gutenberg’s workmen, and the first printer of Cologne in 1465, this
important peculiarity:--“Although the typographic art was invented at
Mayence,” says he, “nevertheless the first rough sketch of this art was
invented in Holland, and it is in imitation of the ‘Donatus’ (the Latin
syntax by Cœlius Donatus, a grammarian of the fourth century, a book
then in use in the schools of Europe), which long before that time was
printed there; it is in imitation of this, and on account of it, that
the said art began under the auspices of Gutenberg.”

If Gutenberg imitated the “Donatus,” which was printed in Holland before
the time he himself printed at Mayence, Gutenberg was not the inventor
of printing. It was in 1450 that Gutenberg began to print at Mayence
(Fig. 390); but from as early a date as 1436 he had tried to print at
Strasbourg; and, before his first attempts, there had been printed in
Holland,--at Haarlem, and Dordrecht,--“Specula” and “Donati” on wooden
boards; a process known by the name of _xylography_ (engraving on wood),
while the attempts at _typography_ (printing with movable type) made by
Gutenberg entirely differed from the other; since the letters, engraved
at first on steel points (_poinçons_), and afterwards forced into a
copper matrix reproduced by means of casting in a metal more fusible
than copper the impress of the point on shanks (_tiges_) made of pewter
or lead, hardened by an alloy (Fig. 391).

Now, a rather singular circumstance comes to corroborate what was said
by Adrian Junius. A Latin edition of the “Speculum,” an in-folio of
sixty-three leaves, with wood engravings in two compartments at the head
of each leaf, consists of a mixture of twenty xylographic leaves, and of
forty-one leaves printed with movable type, but very imperfect, and cast
in moulds which were probably made of baked earth: an edition of a
Dutch “Speculum,” in folio, has also two pages in a type smaller and
closer than the rest of the text. How are we to explain these anomalies?
On the one hand, a mixture of xylography and typography; on the other, a
combination of two different kinds of movable type. My hypothesis is, if
indeed the details given by Junius, open to suspicion as they are, be
correct, that the dishonest workman who, according to his own account,
stole the implements

[Illustration: Fig. 390.--Fac-simile of a Page of the most ancient
Xylographie “Donatus” (Chapter on Prepositions), printed at Mayence, by
Fust and Gutenberg, about 1450.]

employed in the workshop of Laurent Coster, and who must have acted with
a certain amount of precipitation, contented himself with carrying off
some forms of the “Speculum” just ready for the press. The type employed
for twenty or twenty-two pages was sufficient to serve as models for a
counterfeit edition, and also for a book of small extent, such as the
“Alexandri Galli Doctrinale,” and the “Petri Hispani Tractatus.” It is
probable that the Latin and Dutch editions of the “Speculum” were both
entirely composed, set up, and prepared for the text to be struck off,
when the thief took at hazard the twenty-two forms, which he determined
to turn to account, at any rate as a model for the counterfeit edition
he intended to publish. In cast-iron type, these forms could not have
weighed more than sixty pounds; in wooden type, not half as much; if we
add to these the composing-sticks, the pincers, the galleys, and other
indispensable elements of the trade, we shall find that the booty was
not beyond the strength of a man to carry easily on his shoulders. As
for the press, about that there could be no question, since the
impressions produced at Haarlem were made with a pad and by hand, as is
still the case with playing-cards and prints.

[Illustration: Fig. 391.--Portrait of Gutenberg, from an Engraving of
the Sixteenth Century.

(Imperial Library of Paris, Print Room.)]

It remains now to discover who was this John who appropriated the secret
of printing, and took it from Haarlem to Mayence. Was it John Fust or
Faust, as Adrian Junius suspected? Was it John Gutenberg, as many Dutch
writers have alleged? or was it not rather John Gensfleisch the elder, a
relation of Gutenberg, as, from a very explicit passage of the learned
Joseph Wimpfeling, his contemporary, the latest defenders of the Haarlem
tradition think? The question is still undecided.

The “Speculum,” however, is not the only book of the kind which

[Illustration: Fig. 392.--Fac-simile of the Twenty-eighth Xylographic
Page of the “Biblia Pauperum;” representing, with Texts taken from the
Old Testament, David slaying Goliath, and Christ causing the Souls of
the Patriarchs and Prophets to come out of Purgatory.]

had appeared in the Low Countries before the period assigned to the
discovery of printing in Holland. Some of these were evidently
xylographic, others show signs of having been printed with movable type
of wood, not of metal. All have engravings of the same character as
those of the “Speculum,” especially the “Biblia Pauperum” (“Poor Men’s
Bible”) (Fig. 392), the “Ars Moriendi” (“The Art of Dying”) (Fig. 393)
the “Ars Memorandi” (“The Art of Remembering”), which had a very wide

However this may be, Laurent Coster, notwithstanding the progress he had
made with his invention, was certainly ignorant of its importance. In
those days the only libraries were those belonging to convents and to a
few nobles of literary acquirements; private individuals, with the
exception of some learned men who were richer than their fellows,
possessed no books at all. The copyists and illuminators by profession
were employed exclusively in reproducing “Livres d’Heures”
(prayer-books), and school books: the first were sumptuous volumes,
objects of an industry quite exceptional; the second, destined for
children, were always simply executed, and composed of a few leaves of
strong paper or parchment. The pupils limited themselves to writing
passages of their lessons from the dictation of their teachers; to the
monks was assigned the task of transcribing, at full length, the sacred
and profane authors. Coster could not even have thought of reproducing
these works, the sale of which would have seemed to him impossible, and
he at first fell back upon the “Specula,” religious books which
addressed themselves to all the faithful, even to those who could not
read, by means of the stories or illustrations (_images_) of which these
books were composed; then he occupied himself with the “Donati,” which
he reprinted many times from xylographic plates, if not with movable
type, and for which he must have found a considerable demand. It was one
of these “Donati” that, falling under the eyes of Gutenberg, revealed to
him, according to the “Chronique de Cologne,” the secret of printing.

This secret was kept faithfully for fifteen or twenty years by the
workmen employed in his printing-house, who were not initiated into the
mysteries of the new art till they had served a certain time of
probation and apprenticeship: a terrible oath bound together those whom
the master had considered worthy of entering into partnership with him;
for on the preservation of the secret depended the prosperity or the
ruin of the inventor and his coadjutors, since all printed books were
then sold as manuscripts.

[Illustration: Fig. 393.--Fac-simile of the fifth Page of the first
Xylographic Edition of the “Ars Moriendi,” representing the Sinner on
his Death-bed surrounded by his Family. Two Demons are whispering into
his ear, “Think of thy treasure,” and “Distribute it to thy friends.”]

But while the secret was so scrupulously maintained by the first Dutch
printer and his partners, a lawsuit was brought before the superior
court of Strasbourg which, though the motives for it were apparently but
of private interest, was nevertheless to give the public the key to the
mysterious trade of the typographer. This lawsuit,--the curious
documents relating to which were found only in 1760, in an old tower at
Strasbourg,--was brought against John Gensfleisch, called Gutenberg (who
was born at Mayence, but was exiled from his native town during the
political troubles, and had settled at Strasbourg since 1420), by George
and Nicholas Dritzehen, who, as heirs of the deceased Andrew Dritzehen,
their brother, and formerly Gutenberg’s partner, desired to be admitted
as his representatives into an association of whose object they were
ignorant, but from which they no doubt knew their brother expected to
derive some beneficial results. It was, in short, printing itself which
was on its trial at Strasbourg towards the end of the year 1439; that
is, more than fourteen years before the period at which printing is
known to have been first employed in Mayence.

Here is a summary, as we find them in the documents relating to this
lawsuit, of the facts stated before the judge. Gutenberg, an ingenious
but a poor man, possessed _divers secrets_ for becoming rich. Andrew
Dritzehen came to him with a request that he would teach him _many
arts_. Gutenberg thereupon initiated him into the art of _polishing
stones_, and Andrew “derived great profit from this secret.”
Subsequently, with the object of carrying out _another art_ during the
pilgrimage of Aix-la-Chapelle,[60] Gutenberg agreed with Hans Riffen,
mayor of Lichtenau, to form a company, which Andrew Dritzehen and a man
named Andrew Heilman desired to join. Gutenberg consented to this on
condition that they would together purchase of him the right to a third
of the profits, for a sum of 160 florins, payable on the day of the
contract, and 80 florins payable at a later date. The agreement being
made, he taught them the _art_ which they were to exercise at the proper
period in Aix-la-Chapelle; but the pilgrimage was postponed to the
following year, and the partners required of Gutenberg that he should
not conceal from them any of the _arts and inventions_ of which he was
cognisant. New stipulations were entered upon whereby the partners
pledged themselves to pay an additional sum, and in which it was stated
that the _art_ should be carried on for the benefit of the four
partners during the space of five years; and that, in the event of one
of them dying, _all the implements of the art, and all the works already
produced_, should belong to the surviving partners; the heirs of the
deceased being entitled to receive no more than an indemnity of 100
florins at the expiration of the said five years.

Gutenberg accordingly offered to pay the heirs of his late partner the
stipulated sum; but they demanded of him an account of the capital
invested by Andrew Dritzehen, which, as they alleged, had been absorbed
in the speculation. They mentioned especially a certain account for
_lead_, for which their brother had made himself responsible. Without
denying this account, Gutenberg refused to satisfy their demands.

Numerous witnesses gave evidence, and their depositions for and against
the object of the association show us a faithful picture of what must
have been the inner life of four partners exhausting themselves and
their money in efforts to realise a scheme the nature of which they were
very careful to conceal, but from which they expected to derive the most
splendid results.

We find them working by night; we hear them answering those who
questioned them on the object of their work, that they were
“mirror-makers” (_spiegel-macher_); we find them borrowing money,
because they had in hand “something in which they could not invest too
much money.” Andrew Dritzehen, in whose care the _press_ was left, being
dead, Gutenberg’s first object was to send to the deceased’s house a man
he could trust, who was commissioned to unscrew the press, so that the
pieces (or _forms_), which were fixed closely together by it, might
become detached from each other, and then to place these forms in or on
the press “in such a manner that no one might be able to understand what
they were.” Gutenberg regrets that his servant did not bring him back
all the forms, many of which “were not to be found.” Lastly, we find
figuring among the witnesses a turner, a timber-merchant, and a
goldsmith who declared that he had worked during three years for
Gutenberg, and that he had gained more than 100 florins by preparing for
him “the things belonging to printing” (_das zu dem Trucken gehoret_).

_Trucken_--printing! Thus the grand word was pronounced in the course of
the lawsuit, but certainly without producing the least effect on the
audience, who wondered what was this occult _art_ which Gutenberg and
his partners had carried on with so much trouble, and at such great
expense. However, it is quite certain that, with the exception of the
indiscretion, really very insignificant, of the goldsmith, Gutenberg’s
secret remained undiscovered, for it was supposed it had to do with the
_polishing of stones_ and the manufacture of _mirrors_. The judge, being
informed as to the good faith of Gutenberg, pronounced the offers he
made to the plaintiffs satisfactory, decided against the heirs of Andrew
Dritzehen, and the three other partners remained sole proprietors of
their process, and continued to carry it out.

If we study with some attention the documents relating to this singular
trial at Strasbourg, and if we also notice, that our word _mirror_ is
the translation of the German word _spiegel_ and of the Latin word
_speculum_, it is impossible not to recognise all the processes, all the
implements made use of in printing, with the names they have not ceased
to bear, and which were given to them as soon as they were invented; the
forms, the screw (which is not the _printing_-press, for they printed in
those days with the _frotton_, or rubber, but the frame in which the
types were _pressed_), the lead, the work, the art, &c. We see Gutenberg
accompanied by a turner who made the screw for the press, the timber
merchant who had supplied the planks of box or of pear wood, the
goldsmith who had engraved or cast the type. Then we ascertain that
these “mirrors,” in the preparation of which the partners were occupied,
and which were to be sold at the pilgrimage of Aix-la-Chapelle, were no
other than the future copies of the “Speculum Humanæ Salvationis,” an
imitation more or less perfect of the famous book of illustrations of
which Holland had already published three or four editions, in Latin and
in Dutch.

We know, on the other hand, that these “Mirrors” or “Specula” were, in
the earliest days of printing, so much in request, that in every place
the first printers rivalled each other in executing and publishing
different editions of the book with illustrations. Here, there was the
reprint of the “Speculum,” abridged by L. Coster; there, the “Speculum”
of Gutenberg, taken entirely from manuscripts; now it was the “Speculum
Vitæ Humanæ,” by Roderick, Bishop of Zamora; then the “Speculum
Conscienciæ,” of Arnold Gheyloven; then the “Speculum Sacerdotum,” or
again, the voluminous “Speculum” of Vincent de Beauvais, &c.

It cannot now any longer be assumed that Gutenberg really made mirrors
or looking-glasses at Strasbourg, and that those pieces “laid in a
press,” those “forms which came to pieces,” that lead sold or wrought by
a goldsmith, were, as they wished it to be supposed, only intended to be
used “for printing ornaments on the frames of looking-glasses!”

[Illustration: Fig. 394.--Interior of a Printing-office in the Sixteenth
Century, by J. Amman.]

Would it not have been surprising that the pilgrims who were to visit
Aix-la-Chapelle on the occasion of the grand jubilee of 1440, should be
so anxious to buy ornamented mirrors? As to the art “_of polishing
stones_,” which Gutenberg had taught at first to Andrew Dritzehen, who
derived from it “_so much profit_,” having anything to do with printing
was, no doubt, also questionable; but we have not been able to solve the
enigma, and wait to clear up the difficulty till a new _incunable_
(_incunabula_, “a cradle,” the word is applied to the first editions
ever printed) is discovered, the work of some Peter (πἑτρος “a stone”)
or other; as, for example, the Latin sermons of Hermann de Petra on the
Lord’s Prayer; for Gutenberg, when speaking of _polishing stones_, might
have enigmatically designated a book he was printing; just as his
partner, in answer to the judge, after having raised his hand on high
and sworn to give true evidence, could call himself _a maker of
mirrors_, without telling a falsehood, without committing perjury. The
secret of printing was to be religiously kept by those who knew it.

In short, it results from all this that Gutenberg, “an ingenious man and
a man of invention,” having seen a xylographie “Donatus,” had
endeavoured to imitate it, and had succeeded in doing so, the secret
being confided to Andrew Dritzehen; that the other _arts_, which
Gutenberg at first kept to himself, but which he subsequently
communicated to his partners, consisted in the idea of substituting
movable type for tabular printing; a substitution that could only be
effected after numerous experiments had been made, and which were just
about to be crowned with success when Andrew Dritzehen died. We may then
consider it as nearly certain that printing was in some sort discovered
twice successively--the first time by Laurent Coster, whose small
printed books, or books in letterpress (_en moule_), attracted the
attention of Gutenberg; and the second time by Gutenberg, who raised the
art to a degree of perfection such as had never been attained by his

It was after the Strasbourg lawsuit between the years 1440 or 1442, as
stated by many historians, that Gutenberg went to Holland, and there
became a workman in the establishment of Coster; this is asserted in
order that they might be able to accuse him of the theft which Junius
has laid to the account of a certain man whose name was John. Only--and
the coincidence is not, in this case, unworthy of remark--two unedited
chronicles of Strasbourg and the Alsatian Wimpfeling relate, almost at
the same time, a robbery of type and implements used in printing, but
mentioning Strasbourg instead of Haarlem, Gutenberg instead of Laurent
Coster, and naming the thief John Gensfieisch. But, according to the
Strasbourg tradition, this John Gensfieisch the elder, related to and
employed by Gutenberg, robbed him of his secret and his tools, after
having been his rival in the discovery of printing, and established
himself at Mayence, where, by a just visitation of Providence, he was
soon struck blind. It was then, adds the tradition, that in his
repentance he sent for his former master to come to Mayence, and gave up
to him the business he had founded. But this last part of the tradition
seems to savour too much of the moral deductions of a story; and as it
is very improbable, moreover, that two thefts of the same kind were
committed at the same period, and under the same circumstances, we are
inclined to believe that the John mentioned by Junius was, in fact,
Gutenberg’s relative, who went to Haarlem to perfect himself in the art
of printing, and robbed Coster; for there really existed at Mayence, at
the time mentioned, a John Gensfleisch, who might have printed, before
Gutenberg went to join him there, the two school books, “Doctrinale
Alexandri Galli,” and “Petri Hispani Tractatus.” This is rendered still
more probable from the fact that, after search had been long made for
these books, which were absolutely unknown when Junius mentioned them,
three fragments of the “Doctrinale,” printed on vellum with the type of
the Dutch “Speculum,” were at length found.

However, Gutenberg had not succeeded with his printing at Strasbourg.
When he quitted the town, where he left such pupils as John Mentell and
Henry Eggestein, he removed to Mayence, and established himself in the
house of _Zum Jungen_. There he again printed, but he exhausted his
means in experiments, alternately taking up and laying aside the various
processes he had employed--xylography, movable types of wood, lead, and
cast iron. He used, for printing, a hand-press which he had made on the
same principle as a wine-press; he invented new tools; he began ten
works and could finish none. At last, his resources all gone, and
himself in a state of despair, he was just going to give up the art
altogether, when chance sent him a partner, John Fust or Faust, a rich
goldsmith of Mayence.

This partnership took place in 1450. Fust, by a deed properly drawn up
by a notary, promised Gutenberg to advance him 800 gold florins
for the manufacture of implements and tools, and 300 for other
expenses--servants’ wages, rent, firing, parchment, paper, ink, &c.
Besides the “Specula” and “Donati” already in circulation, which
Gutenberg probably continued to print, the object of the partnership was
the printing of a Bible in folio of two columns, in large type, with
initial letters engraved on wood; an important work requiring a great

A caligrapher was attached to Gutenberg’s printing establishment, either
to trace on wood the characters to be engraved, or to _rubricate_ the
printed pages; in other words, to write in red ink, to paint with a
brush or to illuminate (_au frottou_) the initials, the capital letters,
and the headings of chapters. This caligrapher was probably Peter
Schœffer or Schoiffer, of Gernsheim, a small town in the diocese of
Darmstadt, a clerk of the diocese of Mayence, as he styles himself, and
perhaps a German student in the University of Paris; since a manuscript
copied by him, and preserved at Strasbourg, is terminated by an
inscription in which he testifies that he himself wrote it in the year
1449, in “the very glorious University of Paris.” Schœffer was not only
a literary man, but was also a man of ingenuity and prudence
(_ingeniosus et prudens_). Having entered Gutenberg’s establishment, on
whom Fust had forced him, in 1452, to take part in the new association
they were then forming, Schœffer invented an improved mould with which
he could cast separately all the letters of the alphabet in metal,
whereas up to this time they had been obliged to engrave the type with a
_burin_. He concealed his discovery from Gutenberg, who would naturally
have availed himself of it; but he confided the secret to Fust, who,
being very experienced in casting metals, carried out his idea. It was
evidently with this cast type, which resisted the action of the press,
that Schœffer composed and executed a “Donatus,” of which four leaves,
in parchment, were found at Treves in 1803, in the interior of an old
bookcover, and were deposited in the Imperial Library of Paris. An
inscription in this edition, printed in red, announces formally that
Peter Schœffer alone had executed it, with its type and its initial
letters, according to the “new art of the printer, without the help of
the pen.”

That was certainly the first public disclosure of the existence of
printing, which up to this time had passed off its productions as the
work of caligraphers. It seems that Schœffer thus desired to mark the
date and to appropriate to himself the invention of Gutenberg. It is
certain that Fust, allured by the results Schœffer had obtained,
secretly entered into partnership with him, and, in order to get rid of
Gutenberg, profited by the power which his bond gave him over that
unfortunate individual. Gutenberg, summoned to dissolve the partnership
and to return the sums he had received, which he was quite incapable of
paying, was obliged, in order to satisfy the demands of his pitiless
creditor, to give up to him his printing establishment with all the
materials it contained; among them was included this same Bible, the
last leaves of which were, perhaps, in the press at the moment when they
robbed him of the fruits of his long-protracted labours.

Gutenberg evicted, Peter Schœffer, and Fust, who had given Schœffer his
daughter in marriage, completed the great Bible, which was ready for
sale in the early months of 1456. This Bible, being passed off as a
manuscript, must have commanded a very high price. This accounts for the
non-appearance on it of any inscription to show by what means this
immense work had been executed; let us add that in any case we may well
suppose Schœffer and Fust were not willing to give to Gutenberg a share
of the glory which they dared not yet appropriate to themselves.

[Illustration: Fig. 395.--Fac-simile of the Bible of 1456 (1 Samuel xix,
1-5), printed at Mayence by Gutenberg.]

The Latin Bible, without date, which all bibliographers agree in
considering as that of Gutenberg, is a large in-folio of six hundred and
forty-one leaves, divided into two, or three, or even four volumes. It
is printed in double columns, of forty-two lines each in the full pages,
with the exception of the first ten, which consisted of only forty or
forty-one lines (Fig. 395). The characters are Gothic; the leaves are
all numbered, and have neither _signatures_ nor _catchwords_. Some
copies of it are on vellum, others on paper. The number of copies which
were printed of this Bible may be estimated at one hundred and fifty--a
considerable number for that period. The simultaneous publication of so
many Bibles, exactly alike, did not contribute less than the lawsuit of
Gutenberg and Fust to make known the discovery of printing. Besides
which, Fust and his new partner, although they had mutually agreed to
keep the secret as long as possible, were the first to reveal it, in
order to get all the credit of the invention for themselves, when public
rumour allowed them no longer to conceal it within their

It was then they printed the “Psalmorum Codex” (Collection of Psalms),
the earliest book bearing their names, and which fixed, in a manner, for
the first time, a date for the new art they had so much improved. The
_colophon_, or inscription at the end of the “Psalmorum Codex,”
announces that the book was executed “without the help of the pen, by an
ingenious process, in the year of our Lord, 1457.”

This magnificent Psalter, which went through three editions without any
considerable alterations being made in it in the space of thirty-three
years, is a large in-folio volume of one hundred and seventy-five
leaves, printed in red and black characters, imitated from those used in
the liturgical manuscripts of the fifteenth century. There exists,
however, of the rarest edition of this book but six or seven copies on
vellum (Fig. 396).

From this period printing, instead of concealing itself, endeavoured, on
the contrary, to make itself generally known. But it does not as yet
seem to have occurred to any one that it could be applied to the
reproduction of other books than Bibles, psalters, and missals, because
these were the only books that commanded a quick and extensive sale.
Fust and Schœffer then undertook the printing of a voluminous work,
which served as a liturgical manual to the whole of Christendom, the
celebrated “Rationale Divinorum Officiorum” (“Manual of Divine
Offices”), by William Durand, Bishop of Mende, in the thirteenth
century. It suffices to glance over this “Rationale,” and to compare it
with the coarse “Specula” printed in Holland, to be convinced that in
the year 1459 printing had reached the highest degree of perfection.
This edition, dated from Mayence (_Moguntiæ_), was no longer intended
for a small number of buyers; it was addressed to the entire Catholic
world, and copies of it on vellum and on paper were disseminated so
rapidly over the whole of Europe as to cause the belief, thenceforward,
that printing was invented at Mayence.

[Illustration: Fig. 396.--Fac-simile of a page of the Psalter of 1459,
second edition, or the second copy that was struck off. Printed at
Mayence, by J. Fust and P. Schœffer.]

The fourth work printed by Fust and Schœffer, and dated 1460, is the
collection of the Constitutions of Pope Clement V., known by the name of
“Clementines”--a large in-folio in double columns, having superb initial
letters painted in gold and colours in the small number of copies still

But Gutenberg, though deprived of his typographic apparatus, had not
renounced the art of which he considered himself, and with reason, the
principal inventor. He was, above all, anxious to prove himself as
capable as his former partners of producing books “without the help of
the pen.” He formed a new association, and fitted up a printing-office
which, we know by tradition, was actively at work till 1460, the year
wherein appeared the “Catholicon” (a kind of encyclopædia of the
thirteenth century), by John Balbi, of Genoa, the only important work
the printing of which can be attributed to Gutenberg (Fig. 397), and
which can bear comparison with the editions of Fust and Schœffer.
Gutenberg, who had imitated the Dutch “Donati” and “Specula,” doubtless
felt a repugnance at appropriating to himself the credit of an invention
he had only improved; accordingly, in the long and explicit anonymous
inscription placed at the end of the volume, he attributed to God alone
the glory of this divine invention, declaring that the “Catholicon” had
been printed without the assistance of reed, _stylus_, or pen, but by a
marvellous combination of points, matrices, and letters.

[Illustration: Fig. 397.--Fac-simile of the “Catholicon” at 1460,
printed at Mayence by Gutenberg.]

This undertaking brought to a happy termination, Gutenberg, no doubt
weary of the annoyances incident to business, transferred his
printing-office to his workmen, Henry and Nicholas Bechtermuncze,
Weigand Spyes, and Ulric Zell. Then, having retired near to Adolphus
II., elector and archbishop of Mayence, where he occupied the post of
gentleman of the ecclesiastical court of that prince, he contented
himself with the modest stipend attached to that office, and died at a
date not authentically determined, but which cannot be later than
February 24, 1468. His friend, Adam Gelth, erected in the Church of the
Récollets at Mayence, a monument to his memory, with an epitaph styling
him formally “the inventor of the typographic art.”

Fust and Schœffer did not the less continue to print books with
indefatigable ardour. In 1462 they completed a new edition of the Bible,
much more perfect than that of 1456, and of which copies were probably
sold, as were those of the first edition, as manuscripts, especially in
countries where, as in France, printing did not already exist. It seems
that the appearance in Paris of this Bible, (called the Mayence Bible),
greatly excited the community of scribes and booksellers, who saw in the
new method of producing books, _without the aid of the pen_, “the
destruction of their trade.” They charged, it is said, the sellers of
these books with magic; but it is more probable the latter were
proceeded against, and condemned to fine and imprisonment, for having
omitted to procure from the University authority for the sale of their
Bible; such permission being then indispensable for the sale of every
kind of book.

In the meantime the town of Mayence had been taken by assault and given
up to pillage (October 27, 1462). This event, in consequence of which
the printing-office of Fust and Schœffer remained shut up for two years,
resulted in the dissemination over the whole of Europe of printers and
the art of printing. Cologne, Hamburg, and Strasbourg appear to have
been the first towns in which the emigrants established themselves.

When these printers left Mayence, and carried their art elsewhere, it
had never produced any book of classic literature; but it had proved by
important publications, such as the Bible and the “Catholicon,” that it
could create entire libraries, and thus propagate, _ad infinitum_, the
masterpieces of human genius. It was reserved for the printing-office of
Fust and Schœffer to set the example in that direction, and of printing
the first classical work. In 1465, Cicero’s treatise “De Officiis,”
issued from the press of these two faithful associates, and marked, as
we may say, the commencement of the printing of books for libraries,
and with so great success that in the following year a new edition of
the treatise was published, in quarto.

At this period, Fust himself came to Paris, where he established a dépôt
of printed books, but left the management of the concern to one of his
own fellow-countrymen. This person dying soon afterwards, the books
found in his house, being the property of a foreigner, were sold by
right of forfeiture, for the king’s benefit. But upon the petition of
Peter Schœffer, backed up by the Elector of Mayence, the King, Louis
XI., granted to the petitioners a sum of 2,425 golden dollars, “in
consideration of the trouble and labour which the said petitioners had
taken for the said art and trade of printing, and of the benefit and
utility which resulted and may result from this art to the whole world,
as well by increasing knowledge as in other ways.” This memorable decree
of the King of France bears date April 21, 1475.

We must mention, however, that about the year 1462, Louis XI.,
inquisitive and uneasy at what he had heard of the invention of
Gutenberg, sent to Mayence Nicholas Jenson, a clever engraver, attached
to the mint at Tours, “to obtain secret information of the cutting of
the points and type, by means of which the rarest manuscripts could be
multiplied, and to carry off surreptitiously the invention and introduce
it into France.” Nicholas Jenson, after having succeeded in his mission,
did not return to France (it was never known why), but went to Venice
and established himself there as a printer. It would seem, however, that
Louis XI., not discouraged at the ill success of his attempt,
despatched, it is said, another envoy, less enterprising but more
conscientious than the first, to discover the secrets of printing. In
1469, three German printers, Ulric Gering, Martin Crantz, and Michael
Friburger, began to print in Paris, in a room of the Sorbonne, of which
their fellow-countryman, John Heylin, named De la Pierre, was then the
prior; in the following year they dedicated to the king, “their
protector,” one of their editions, revised by the learned William
Fichet; and in the space of four years they published about fifteen
works, quartos and folios, the majority being printed for the first
time. Then, when they were forced to leave the Sorbonne, because John de
la Pierre, who had returned to Germany, had no longer authority over the
institution, they set up in the Rue Saint-Jacques a new printing
establishment, whose sign-board was the “Soleil d’Or,” from which,
during the next five years, were issued twelve other important works.

The Sorbonne then, like the University, was the cradle and the
foster-mother in Paris of the art of printing, which soon attained to a
nourishing condition, and produced, during the last twenty years of the
fourteenth[61] century, numerous fine books of history, poetry,
literature, and devotion, under the direction of the able and learned
Pierre Caron, Pasquier Bonhomme, Anthony Vérard, Simon Vostre (Fig.
398), &c.

After the capture of Mayence, two workmen, who had been dismissed from
the establishment of Fust and Schœffer, Conrad Sweynheim and Arnold
Pannartz, carried beyond the Alps the secret that had been confided to
them under the guarantee of an oath. They remained for a time in the
Convent of Subiaco, near Rome, in which were some German monks, and
there they organised a printing apparatus, and printed many fine
editions of Lactantius, Cicero, St. Augustine, &c. They were soon
invited to Rome, and met with an asylum in the house of the illustrious
family of Massimi; but they found an opponent in the city in one of
their own workmen from the convent, who had come to Rome and engaged
himself as printer to the cardinal John of Torquemada. Henceforward
sprang up between the two printing establishments a rivalry which showed
itself in unparalleled zeal and activity on both sides. In ten years the
greater number of the writings of the ancient Latin authors, which had
been preserved in manuscripts more or less rare, passed through the
press. In 1476 there were in Rome more than twenty printers, who
employed about a hundred presses, and whose great object was to surpass
each other in the rapidity with which they produced their publications;
so that the day soon arrived when the most precious manuscripts retained
any value only because they contained what had not been already made
public by printing. Those of which printed editions already existed were
so universally disregarded, that we must refer to this period the
destruction of a large number. They were used, when written on
parchment, for binding the new books; and to this circumstance may be
attributed the loss of certain celebrated works which printing in nowise
tended to preserve from the knife of the binder.

While printing was displaying such prodigious activity in Rome, it was

[Illustration: Fig. 398.--Fac-simile of a page of a “Livre d’Heures”
printed in Paris, in 1512, by Simon Vostre.]

not less active in Venice, where it seems to have been imported by that
Nicholas Jenson whom Louis XI. had sent to Gutenberg, and whom for a
long time even the Venetians looked on as the inventor of the art with
which he had clandestinely become acquainted at Mayence. From the

[Illustration: Fig. 399.--The Mark of Gérard Lecu, Printer at Gouwe

[Illustration: Fig. 400.--The Mark of Fust and Schœffer, Printers.
(Fifteenth Century.)]

year 1469, however, Jenson had no longer the monopoly of printing in
Venice, where John de Spire had arrived, bringing also from Mayence all
the improvements Gutenberg and Schœffer had obtained. This art having
ceased to be a secret in the city of the Doges, great

[Illustration: Fig. 401.--Mark of Arnold de Keyser, Printer at Ghent.


competition arose among printers, who flocked to Venice, where they
found a market for their volumes which a thousand ships carried to all
parts of the world. At this period important and admirable publications
issued from the numerous rival printing establishments in Venice.
Christopher Waltdorfer, of Ratisbon, published in 1471 the first edition
of the “Decameron” of Boccaccio, of which a copy was sold for £2,080 at
the Roxburgh sale; John of Cologne published, in the same year, the
first dated edition of “Terence;” Adam of Amberg reprinted, from the
Roman editions, “Lactantius” and “Virgil,” &c. Finally, Venice already
possessed more than two hundred printers, when in 1494 the great Aldo
Manuzio made his appearance, the precursor of the Estiennes,[62] who
were the glory of French printing. From every part of Europe printing
spread itself and flourished (Figs. 399 to 411); the printers, however,
often neglected, perhaps intentionally, to date their

[Illustration: Fig. 402.--Mark of Colard Mansion, Printer at Bruges.

[Illustration: Fig. 403.--Mark of Trechsel, Printer at Lyons. (1489.)]

productions. In the course of 1469 there were only two towns, Venice and
Milan, that revealed, by their dated editions, the time at which
printing was first established within their walls; in 1470, five
towns--Nuremberg, Paris, Foligno, Treviso, and Verona; in 1471, eight
towns--Strasbourg, Spires, Treviso, Bologna, Ferrara, Naples, Pavia, and
Florence; in 1472, eight others--Cremona, Felizzano, Padua, Mantua,
Montreuil, Jesi, Munster, and Parma; in 1473, ten--Brescia, Messina,
Ulm, Bude, Lauingen, Mersebourg, Alost, Utrecht, Lyons, and St. Ursio,
near Vicenza; in 1474, thirteen towns, among which are Valentia (in
Spain) and London; in 1475, twelve towns, &c. Each year we find the art
gaining ground, and each year an increase in the number of books newly
edited, rendering science and literature popular by considerably
diminishing the price of books. Thus, for example, at the beginning of
the fifteenth century, the illustrious Poggio sold his fine manuscript
of “Livy,” to raise money enough to buy himself a villa near Florence;
Anthony of Palermo mortgaged his estate in order to be able to purchase
a manuscript of the same historical writer, valued at a hundred and
twenty-five dollars; yet a few years later the “Livy,” printed at Rome
by Sweynheim and Pannartz, in one folio volume on vellum, was worth only
five golden dollars.

[Illustration: Fig. 404.--Mark of Simon Vostre, Printer at Paris, in
1531, living in the Rue Neuve Nostre-Dame, at the Sign of St. John the

[Illustration: Fig. 405.--Mark of Galliot du Pré, Bookseller at Paris.

The largest number of the early editions resembled each other, for they
were generally printed in Gothic characters, or _lettres de
somme_--letters which bristled with points and angular appendices. These
characters, when printing was only just invented, had preserved in
Holland and in Germany their original form; and the celebrated printer
of Bruges, Colard Mansion, only improved on them in his valuable
publications, which were almost contemporaneous with Gutenberg’s
“Catholicon;” but they had already under-gone in France a semi
metamorphosis in getting rid of their angularities and their most
extravagant features. These _lettres de somme_ were then adopted under
the name of _bâtarde_ (bastard) or _ronde_ (round), in the first books
printed in France, and when Nicholas Jenson established himself in

[Illustration: Fig. 406.--Mark of Philippe le Noir, Printer, Bookseller,
and Bookbinder, at Paris, 1536, living in the Rue St. Jacques, at the
sign of the “Rose Couronnée.”]

[Illustration: Fig. 407.--Mark of Temporal, Printer at Lyons, 1550-1559,
with two devices; one in Latin, “And in the meanwhile time flieth,
flieth irreparably;” the other in Greek, “Mark, or know, Time.” (Observe
the play upon the words _tempus_, καιρὁς and Temporal.)]

he used the _Roman_, which were only an elegant variety of the _lettres
de somme_ of France (Gothic characters). Aldo Manuzio, with the sole
object of insuring that Venice should not owe its national type to a
Frenchman, adopted the _Italic_ character, renewed from the writing
called cursive or _de chancellerie_ (of the chancellor’s office), which
was never generally used in printing, notwithstanding the fine editions
of Aldo. Hereafter the Ciceronean character was to come into use, so
called because it had been employed at Rome in the first edition of the
“Epistolæ Familiares” (Familiar Letters) of Cicero, in 1467. The
character called “St. Augustinian,” which appeared later, likewise owes
its name to the large edition of the works of St. Augustine, published
at Basle in 1506. Moreover, during this first period in which each
printer engraved, or caused to be engraved under his own directions,

[Illustration: Fig. 408.--Mark of Robert Estienne, Printer at Paris,

“Do not aspire to know high things.”]

[Illustration: Fig. 409.--Mark of Gryphe, Printer at Lyons, 1529.

“Virtue my Leader, Fortune my Companion.”]

the characters he made use of, there was an infinite number of different
types. The _register_, a table indicative of the quires which composed
the book, was necessary to point out in what order these were to be

[Illustration: Fig. 410.--Mark of Plantin, Printer, at Antwerp, 1557.

“Christ the true Vine.”]

[Illustration: Fig. 411.--Mark of J. Le Noble, Printer at Troyes.

and bound together. After the _register_ came _the catchwords_, which,
at the end of each quire or of each leaf, were destined to serve an
analogous purpose; and the _signatures_, indicating the place of quires
or of leaves by letters or figures; but signatures and catchwords
existed already in the manuscripts, and typographers had only to
reproduce them in their editions. There was at first a perfect identity
between the manuscripts and the books printed from them. The typographic
art seems to have considered it imperative to respect the abbreviations
with which the manuscripts were so encumbered as often to become
unintelligible; but, as it was not easy to transfer them precisely from
the manuscripts, they were soon expressed in such a way, and in so
complicated a manner, that in 1483 a special explanatory treatise had to
be published to render them intelligible. The punctuation was generally
very capriciously presented: here, it was nearly _nil_; there, it
admitted only of the full stop in various positions; the rests were
often indicated by oblique strokes; sometimes the full stop was round,
sometimes square, and we find also the star or asterisk employed as a
sign of punctuation. The new paragraphs, or breaks, are placed
indifferently in the same line with the rest of the text, projecting
beyond it or not reaching to it.

[Illustration: Fig. 412.--Border from the “Livre d’Heures” of Anthony
Vérard (1488), representing the Assumption of the Virgin in the presence
of the Apostles and Holy Women, and at the bottom of the page two
Mystical Figures.]

The book, on leaving the press, went, like its predecessor the
manuscript, first into the hands of the _corrector_, who revised the
text, rectifying wrong letters, and restoring those the press had left
in blank; then into the hands of the _rubricator_, who printed in red,
blue, or other colours, the initial letters, the capitals, and the new
paragraphs. The leaves, before the adoption of signatures, were numbered
by hand.

At first, nearly all books were printed in folio and quarto sizes, the
result of folding the sheet of paper in two or in four respectively; but
the length and breadth of these sizes varied according to the
requirements of typography and the dimensions of the press. At the end
of the fifteenth century, however, the advantages of the octavo were
already appreciated, which soon became in France the sex-decimo, and in
Italy the duo-decimo.

[Illustration: Fig. 413.--Border taken from the “Livre d’Heures” of
Geoffroi Tory (1525).]

Paper and ink employed by the earliest printer seem to have required no
improvement as the art of printing progressed.

[Illustration: Fig. 414--“Livre d’Heures,” by Guillaume Roville (1551),
a composition in the style of the school of Lyons, with Caryatides
representing female Saints semi-veiled.]

The ink was black, bright, indelible, unalterable, penetrating deeply
into the paper, and composed, as already were the colours, of oil-paint.
The paper, which was certainly rather grey or yellow, and often coarse
and rough, had the advantage of being strong, durable, and was almost
fit, in virtue of these qualities, to replace parchment and vellum, both
of which materials were scarce and too expensive. Editors contented
themselves with having struck off on _membrane_ (a thin and white
vellum) a small number of copies of each edition; never exceeding three
hundred. These sumptuous copies, rubricated, illuminated, bound with
care, resembling in every respect the finest manuscripts, were generally
presented to kings, princes, and great personages, whose patronage or
assistance the printer sought. Nor was any expense spared to add to
typography all the ornaments which wood-engravings could confer upon it;
and from the year 1475, numerous illustrated editions, of which an
example was found in the first “Specula,” especially those printed in
Germany, were enriched with figures, portraits, heraldic escutcheons,
and a multitude of ornamented margins (Figs. 412 to 415). For more than
a century the painters and engravers worked hand in hand with the
printers and booksellers.

[Illustration: Fig. 415.--Border employed by John of Tournes, in 1557,
ornamented with Antique Masks and Allegorical Personages bearing Baskets
containing Laurel Branches.]

The taste for books spread over the whole of Europe; the number of
buyers and of amateurs was every day increasing. In the libraries of
princes, scholars, or monks, printed books were collected as formerly
were manuscripts. Henceforth printing found everywhere the same
protection, the same encouragements, the same rivalry. Typographers
sometimes travelled with their apparatus, opened a printing-office in a
small town, and then went on elsewhere after they had sold one edition.
Finally, such was the incredible activity of typography, from its origin
till 1500, that the number of editions published in Europe in the space
of half a century amounted to _sixteen thousand_. But the most
remarkable result of printing was the important part it played in the
movement of the sixteenth century, from which resulted the
transformation of the arts, of literature, and science; the discoveries
of Laurent Coster and of Gutenberg had cast a new light over the world,
and the press made its appearance to modify profoundly the conditions of
the intellectual life of peoples.

[Illustration: Fig. 416.--Mark of Bonaventure and Abraham Elsevier,
Printers at Leyden, 1620.]



[1] _Dorserets_, covers to backs of chairs, beds, &c.

[2] Richard I., surnamed _Sans-peur_, third Duke of Normandy,
was natural son of William I., and grandson of Rollo. He died in

[3] Charles le Brun, a distinguished painter of the French school,
flourished during the seventeenth century. The son of a sculptor, who
placed him under Simon Vouet, the young artist made such progress
that at the age of fifteen he painted a remarkable picture, “Hercules
Destroying the Horses of Diomede,” which brought him at once into
public notice. Le Brun’s patron, the Chancellor Seguier, sent him to
Italy, with an introduction to Nicholas Poussin, whose pure and correct
taste, however, seems to have had little influence on the French
artist, who, though possessing an inventive and somewhat elevated
genius, often showed himself a mannerist.--[ED.]

[4] “Historical Topography of Ancient Paris in the district of the
Louvre and Tuileries.” By Berty and Legrand.

[5] Probably an abbreviation, or corruption, of

[6] Or _brassarts_--pieces to protect the upper part of the

[7] This title is not chronologically correct. Henry of Bolingbroke
had been created Duke of Hereford nearly a year before his intended
combat with Norfolk, at Coventry, in 1398; when the king, Richard II.,
interfered, and banished both nobles from the kingdom.--[ED.]

[8] _Anglicè_, partisan--a kind of pike or lance.--[ED.]

[9] _Martel-de-fer_--a weapon combining a hammer and pick; used by
cavalry in the Middle Ages, to damage and destroy armour. It was
generally hung at the saddle-bow.--[ED.]

[10] _Tassets_--parts of the cuirass.

[11] _Morion_--a kind of helmet, usually worn by

[12] So called, it may be presumed, from its form and

[13] Latin, _Luteus_--muddy.--[ED.]

[14] Quincunx order is a method of arranging five objects, or pieces,
in the form of a square; one being in the centre, and one at each

[15] _Limousine_--a term applied to enamelling, and derived, as some
writers assume, from Leonard Limousin, a famous artist in this kind of
work, resident at Limoges. It is, however, more probable it came from
the province Limousin, or Limosin, of which Limoges was the capital;
and that Leonard acquired the surname of Limousin from his place of
birth or residence; just as many of the old painters are best known by

[16] _Ogivale_--a term used by French architects to denote the Gothic
vault, with its ribs and cross-springers, &c. It is also employed
to denote the pointed arch.--GWILT’S _Encyclopædia of

[17] This is a literal rendering of the text of M. Labarte; but the
artists to whom allusion is made were only two, Niccola and Giovanni,
sculptors and architects of Pisa. According to Vasari, Niccola, father
of Giovanni (Jean or John), first worked under certain Greek sculptors
who were executing the figures and other sculptural ornaments of the
Duomo of Pisa and the Chapel of San Giovanni.--[ED.]

[18] Andrea di Cione Orcagna.--[ED.]

[19] _Autochthone_--relating to the aboriginal inhabitants
of a country: the use of the word here is not very intelligible.--[ED.]

[20] _Gnomon_--literally the upright piece of wood or metal which
projects the shadow on the plane of the dial.--[ED.]

[21] This clock, as many readers doubtless know, was removed
some years ago, when St. Dunstan’s Church, in Fleet Street, was

[22] The reader will notice a discrepancy between this description
of the _chorus_ and that given in a preceding paragraph. We have
retained both, mainly because it is now impossible to determine what
the instrument really was: no mention of it appears in any book we have

[23] _Nabulum_--a name evidently derived from the Hebrew word _nebel_,
generally translated in the Scriptures as a psaltery.--[ED.]

[24] The Welsh or Scotch _Crwd_.--[TR.]

[25] In German _Geige_, “fiddle.”--[TR.]

[26] Henry IV., born at Pau, in the Béarn.--[ED.]

[27] The English “knave” is only our old equivalent for the German
_knabe_, and had originally the same meaning of _servant_; it is also
nearly similar in sense to the French _valet_.--[TR.]

[28] _Paul, the Silentiary_, is so named from holding in the court of
Justinian the office of chief of the Silentiarii, persons who had the
care of the palace. He wrote a poem on the rebuilding of St. Sophia,
at Constantinople, which was translated from Greek into Latin, and
published with notes, by Du Cange, of Paris, in 1670. It is this to
which M. Lecroix refers in the text.--[ED.]

[29] _Amandaire_--almond-shaped. Strictly speaking, the aureola is the
nimbus of the whole body, as the nimbus is the aureola of the head. In
Fairholt’s “Dictionary of Terms in Art” is an engraving showing a saint
standing in the centre of an almond-shaped aureola--[ED.]

[30] _Grisaille_--white and black.--[ED.]

[31] Probably Alfonso is thus designate!.--[ED.]

[32] This is obviously a misconception. Lanzi, alluding to the
picture, says, “Had Leonardo desired to follow the practice of his
age in painting in distemper, the art at this time would have been in
possession of this treasure. But being always fond of attempting new
methods, he painted this masterpiece upon a peculiar ground, formed of
distilled oils, which was the reason that it gradually detached itself
from the wall,” &c. And a later authority, Kugler, thus writes: “The
determination of Leonardo to execute the work in oil-colours instead of
fresco, in order to have the power of finishing the minutest details in
so great an undertaking, appears to have been unfortunate.” Distemper
differs from fresco in that it is painted on a dry, and not a damp,
wall; but in both the vehicle used is of an aqueous, and not an oily,

[33] Deacon of the Church at Aquila, and afterwards attached to
the court of Charlemagne. Paul, who died about the year 799, was
distinguished as a poet and historian.--[ED.]

[34] Or San-Gemignano, a small town between Florence and

[35] Giorgione studied under Giovanni Bellini, younger brother of
Gentile, and son of Jacopo. M. Lacroix does not even mention Giovanni
Bellini, though he is generally esteemed before his father and brother,
besides being the master of two of the greatest painters of the
Venetian school, Titian and Giorgione; who, however, soon cast aside
the antiquated style of their early instructor.--[ED.]

[36] The famous picture, an altar-piece, representing “Christ bearing
his Cross,” known by the name of _Lo Spasimo di Sicilia_, from its
having been painted for the convent of Santa Maria della Spasimo at
Palermo, in Sicily. It is now in the Museum of Madrid.--[ED.]

[37] We can find no authority to support this statement.--[ED.]

[38] Holbein died of the plague which prevailed in London in

[39] This name is generally written Jeannet, and, according to Wornum’s
“Epochs of Painting,” seems to have been applied indiscriminately
almost to the two painters, Jehannet or Jehan Clouet, father and
son. M. Lacroix appears also to include François under the same
general cognomen; which, indeed, appears to have been a species of

[40] _Buziack_ is the name by which this old wood-engraver is generally

[41] The legend which accompanies this engraving is in old Italian;
it relates to the famous prophecy of Isaiah as to the birth of Christ
(Isaiah vii. 14).

[42] We presume this plate to be that commonly known among collectors
of prints as “Death’s Horse;” it represents a knight on horseback
followed by Death. The best impressions of this plate are prior to the
date 1513. It is also called “The Christian Knight,” and “The Knight,
Death, and the Devil.”--[ED.]

[43] That Marc Antonio studied painting under Raphael, as is here
implied, is more than doubtful, though he engraved a very large number
of his various compositions, and was highly esteemed by the great

[44] Giovanni B. B. Ghisi; Giorgio and Adams, his two sons; and Diana,
his daughter.--[ED.]

[45] This engraver, generally known by the single name of
George, usually signed his plates with the surname Peins or

[46] He was born at Prague, although most of his works were executed in

[47] Ambons--a kind of pulpit in the early Christian

[48] Strasbourg spire is 468 feet in height, the highest in the world.
Amiens, the next, a mere _flèche_, is 422 feet.--[TR.]

[49] M. Lacroix uses the word _Romane_ throughout, with reference
to this style of architecture: we have adopted _Norman_ as that
most commonly associated with it, and because it is a generic term
comprehending Romanesque, Lombardic, and even Byzantine.--[ED.]

[50] _Oculus_ (eye).--This word is not known in the vocabulary of
English architects; but it is evidently intended to signify a circular

[51] Officers who had jurisdiction over, and were inspectors of, works
of masonry and carpentry.

[52] The word is derived from _vellus_, which merely signifies the skin
of any beast, not of a calf only.--[ED.]

[53] The word is derived from the Latin _uncialis_, and is applied to
letters of a round or hook-shaped form: such were used by the ancients
as numerals, or for words in abbreviated inscriptions.--[ED.]

[54] _Minuscule._--Less or little. The term is evidently here intended
to distinguish small letters from capitals.--[ED.]

[55] _Palimpsest_--a kind of parchment from which anything written
could easily be erased.--[ED.]

[56] Librarian probably; though _libraire_ means only a bookseller,
_bibliothécaire_ being the French for a librarian.--[TR.]

[57] _Translation_: “This is Monseigneur St. Louis’ Psalter, which
belonged to his mother.”

[58] _Antiphonaries_--books containing the responses, &c., used in
Catholic church-services.--[ED.]

[59] “Garni de deux fermaulx d’argent, dorez, armoiez d’azur à une
aigle d’or à deux testes, onglé de gueulles, auquel a ung tuyau
d’argent doré pour tourner les feuilles, à trois escussons desdites
armes, couvert d’une chemise de veluyau vermeil.”

[60] Probably this “pilgrimage” refers to some one of the great
European Councils or Diets held in the city during the Middle Ages, as
were Congresses in later times.--[ED.]

[61] _Sic_; but it should evidently be the fifteenth

[62] _Anglicè_, Stephens, by which name this illustrious family of
scholars and printers is most popularly known in England. They were ten
in number, who flourished between 1512 and about 1660. Anthony, the
last distinguished representative of the family, died in poverty at the
Hôtel Dieu, Paris, in 1674, at the age of eighty-two.--[ED.]

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