THE MEDIEVAL PROJECT.
Limited print-reproductions of illustration for "The Golden Legend"
I love medieval art and architecture. I love medieval poems and stories too. But the most of all I love very famous and popular in the medieval age book : "The Golden Legend" by Jacobs da Varagine from around the year 1260.
There are many strong and strange characters, dragons, devils and obscure situations. Of course, good and truth always wins. Medieval people didn't have a narrow mind. Their fantasy was wonderful and amazing. Jacob gathered many stories about saints and put them in "The Golden Legend:".
These stories were read in the churches. To be honest I think that was a little strange.
I was, and I'm still inspired by the storys of "The Golden Legend"; the medieval manuscripts with my fresh look at the contemporary illustrations. I have created the illustrations for this book.
If you are interested in purchasing the prints or original illustrations, please email me. If you have any questions or need further information, please feel free to contact me.
HERE BEGINNETH THE LIFE OF S. JAMES THE MORE, AND APOSTLE, AND FIRST OF THE INTERPRETATION OF HIS NAME.
This James the apostle is said James the son of Zebedee, brother of S. John the Evangelist and Boanerges, that is the son of thunder, and James the More. He was said James, son of Zebedee, not only in flesh but in the exposition of the name, for Zebedee is interpreted giving or given, and James gave himself to God by martyrdom of death, and he is given to us of God for a special patron. He is said James, brother of John, not only by flesh but by semblance of manners. For they both were of one love and of one study and of one will. They were of one love for to avenge our Lord, for when the Samaritans would not receive Jesu Christ, James and John said: If it please thee Lord let fire descend from heaven and destroy them. They were of like study for to learn, for these two were they that demanded of our Lord of the day of judgment, and of other things to come. And they asked that one of them might sit at the right side of him and that other on his left side. He was said the son of thunder, because of the sound of his predication, for he feared the evil and excited the slothful, and by the highness of his preaching he did marvels in converting them to the faith; whereof Bede saith of S. John, that he thundered so high, that if he had thundered a little higher, all the world might not have comprised him. He is said James the More, like as that other James is said James the Less. First by reason of his calling, for he was first called of Jesu Christ, secondly by reason of familiarity, for Jesu Christ was seen to have greater familiarity with him than with the Less James. Like as it appeareth at the raising of the maid, and at his holy transfiguration. Thirdly, by reason of his passion. For among all the apostles he was the first that suffered death, and he may be said More because he was first called to be an apostle, so he was first called to the glory perdurable.
OF S. JAMES THE MORE, AND APOSTLE.
No1 JAMES MISSION IN SPAIN
James the apostle, son of Zebedee, preached after the ascension of our Lord in the Jewry and Samaria, and after, he was sent into Spain for to sow there the word of Jesu Christ. But when he was there he profited but little, for he had converted unto Christ's law but nine disciples, of whom he left two there, for to preach the word of God, and took the other seven with him and returned again into Judea
No2 JAMES V. HERMOGENES
...and returned again into Judea. Master John Beleth saith that he converted there but one man only, and when after he preached the word of God in Judea, there was an enchanter named Hermogenes with the Pharisees, which sent Philetus his disciple to S. James for to overcome him tofore all men, and to prove his preaching false. But the apostle overcame him tofore all men reasonably, and did many miracles tofore him. Philetus then returned to Hermogenes, and approved the doctrine of James to be true, and recited to him his miracles, and said that he would be his disciple, and desired and counselled Hermogenes in like wise to be his disciple. Then Hermogenes was wroth, and by his craft and enchantments he made Philetus in such wise that he might not move, and said: Now we shall see if thy James may save thee. Then Philetus sent his child to S. James and let him have knowledge hereof. Then S. James sent to him his sudary or keverchief and said: Say to him that our Lord redresseth them that be hurt, and unbindeth them that be empeshed; and as soon as he said so, and touched the sudary, he was unbound and loosed from all the enchanting of Hermogenes, and arose up and went joyfully to S. James. Then Hermogenes was angry, and called many devils, and commanded them that they bring to him S. James bound, and Philetus with him, for to avenge him on them, lest his disciples afterwards address them against him. Then when the devils came towards S. James, they cried, howling in the air, saying: James the apostle of God have pity on us, for we burn tofore our time come. To whom James said: Wherefore come ye to me? And they said: Hermogenes hath sent us to thee and to Philetus for to bring you to him, and the angel of God hath bound us with chains of fire and tormenteth us. And James said: The angel of God shall unbind you and bring him to me bounden, but hurt him not. Then they went and took Hermogenes and bound his hands, and brought him so bound to S. James, and they said to Hermogenes: Thou hast sent us thither where we were strongly tormented and grievously bound. And then said they to S. James: Give to us power against him that we may avenge the wrongs and our embracements. And James said to them: Lo! here is Philetus tofore you, why take ye him not? They answered: We may not touch him, ne as much as a flea that is in thy couch. Then said James to Philetus: To the end that thou do good for evil, like as Christ bade us, unbind him. And then Hermogenes was all confused. And James said to him: Go thy way freely where thou wilt, for it appertaineth not to our discipline that any be converted against his will, and Hermogenes said to him: I know well the ire of the devils, but if thou give to me somewhat of thine that I may have with me, they shall slay me. Then S. James gave to him his staff. Then he went and brought to the apostle all his books of his false craft and enchanting for to be burnt. But S. James, because that the odour of the burning might do evil or harm to some fools, he made them to be cast into the sea. And after he had cast his books into the sea he returned, and holding his feet said: O thou deliverer of souls, receive me penitent, and him that hath sustained till now missaying of thee. And then began he to be perfect in the dread of God our Lord, so that many virtues were done by him afterward.
No3 JACOB'S DEATH
And when the Jews saw Hermogenes converted they were all moved of envy, and went unto S. James and blamed him because that he preached Christ crucified. And he approved clearly the coming and passion of our Lord Jesu Christ in such wise that many believed in our Lord. Abiathar, which was bishop that year, moved the people against him, and then they put a cord about his neck and brought him to Herod Agrippa. And when he was led to be beheaded by the commandment of Herod, a man having the palsy cried to him. And he gave him health and said: In the name of Jesu Christ, for whom I am led to be beheaded, arise thou and be all whole, and bless our Lord thy Maker. And anon he arose and was all whole. A scribe named Josias, which put the cord about his neck and drew him, seeing this miracle fell down to his feet and demanded of him forgiveness and that he might be christened; and when Abiathar saw that, he made him to be taken, and said to him: But if thou curse the name of Christ thou shalt be beheaded with him. To whom Josias said: Be thou accursed, and accursed be all thy Gods, and the name of our Lord Jesu Christ be blessed world without end. Then Abiathar commanded to smite him on the mouth with fists, and sent a message to Herod, and gat consent that he should be beheaded with James. And when they should be beheaded both, S. James desired a potful of water of him that should smite off their heads, and therewith he baptized Josias, and then anon they were both beheaded and suffered martyrdom. S. James was beheaded the eighth kalends of April on our Lady's day of the Annunciation, and the eighth kalends of August he was translated to Compostella. And the third kalends of January he was buried, for the making of his sepulchre was from August unto January, and therefore the church hath established that his feast shall be hallowed in the eighth kalends of August, whereas is most convenable time.
No4 JAMES V. LUPA
And as Master John Beleth saith, which made this translation diligently: When the blessed S. James was beheaded, his disciples took the body away by night for fear of the Jews, and brought it into a ship, and committed unto the will of our Lord the sepulture of it, and went withal into the ship without sail or rudder. And by the conduct of the angel of our Lord they arrived in Galicia in the realm of Lupa. There was in Spain a queen that had to name, and also by deserving of her life, Lupa, which is as much to say in English as a she-wolf. And then the disciples of S. James took out his body and laid it upon a great stone. And anon the stone received the body into it as it had been soft wax, and made to the body a stone as it were a sepulchre. Then the disciples went to Lupa the queen, and said to her: Our Lord Jesu Christ hath sent to thee the body of his disciple, so that him that thou wouldest not receive alive thou shalt receive dead, and then they recited to her the miracle by order; how they were come without any governaile of the ship and required of her place convenable for his holy sepulture. And when the queen heard this, she sent them unto a right cruel man, by treachery and by guile, as Master Beleth saith, and some say it was to the king of Spain, for to have his consent of this matter, and he took them and put them in prison. And when he was at dinner the angel of our Lord opened the prison and let them escape away all free. And when he knew it, he sent hastily knights after, for to take them, and as these knights passed to go over a bridge, the bridge brake and overthrew, and they fell in the water and were drowned.
No5 RUPTURE OF THE DRAGON
And when he heard that he repented him and doubted for himself and for his people, and sent after them, praying them for to return, and that he would do like as they would themselves. And then they returned and converted the people of that city unto the faith of God. And when Lupa the queen heard this, she was much sorrowful, and when they came again to her they told to her the agreement of the king. She answered: Take the oxen that I have in yonder mountain, and join ye and yoke them to my cart or chariot, and bring ye then the body of your master, and build ye for him such a place as ye will, and this she said to them in guile and mockage, for she knew well that there were no oxen but wild bulls, and supposed that they should never join them to her chariot, and if they were so joined and yoked to the chariot, they would run hither and thither, and should break the chariot, and throw down the body and slay them. But there is no wisdom against God. And then they, that knew nothing the evil courage of the queen, went up on the mountain, and found there a dragon casting fire at them, and ran on them. And they made the sign of the cross and he brake it on two pieces. And then they made the sign of the cross upon the bulls, and anon they were meek as lambs.
Then they took them and yoked them to the chariot, and took the body of S. James with the stone that they had laid it on, and laid on the chariot, and the wild bulls without governing or driving of any body drew it forth unto the middle of the palace of the queen Lupa. And when she saw this she was abashed and believed and was christened, and delivered to them all that they demanded, and dedicated her palace into a church and endowed it greatly, and after ended her life in good works.
Bernard, a man of the bishopric of Mutina, as Calixtus the pope saith, was taken and enchained and put into a deep tower, and called always the blessed S. James, so that S. James appeared to him and said: Come and follow me into Galicia, and then his bonds brake and S. James vanished away. And he went up into the high tower, and his bonds in his neck, and sprang down without hurting, and it was well sixty cubits of height. And as Bede saith: There was a man that had done a foul sin, of which the bishop doubted to assoil him, and sent him to S. James with a schedule in which the sin was written; and when he had laid the schedule upon the altar, on the day of S. James he prayed S. James, that by his merits his sin might be forgiven and defaced. And after, he opened the schedule and found the sin effaced and struck out. And then he thanked God and S. James.
WHY SANTIAGO MATAMOROS?
The appellation “Matamoros” comes from the legend of Clavijo’s Battle, where he led the discouraged Christian troops to a smashing victory against the Mohammedans. King Ramiro I defeated the troops of Abd ar-Rahman II at the Battle of Clavijo with the assistance of a knight on a white horse who fought by his side and who was considered to be the Apostle. This was the beginning of a myth that would make the Apostle the Patron-Saint of the Spanish Reconquista.
Historians agree nowadays that strictly speaking there was no Battle of Clavijo. Still, this Battle is a major event in the history of the Reconquista. What happened then? Was it all an invention?
Not really. The first mention of Clavijo is found in a twelfth-century document, long after the events. It was written by Pedro Marcio, a canon from the cathedral of Santiago, who claims to copy another document from the ninth century in which King Ramiro I makes a series of donations to Compostela as a thanks-giving offer after the battle. The document by Pedro Marcio has been subject to discussions due to its historical and chronological errors. In any case, it was taken as a truthful testimony at the time and is credited in other early histories of the Reconquista. For instance in De rebus Hispaniae, by Bishop Jiménez de Rada, in the thirteenth century.
WHAT HAPPENED AT CLAVIJO?
Let us travel in time to the middle of the ninth century in the north of Spain. Muslims have consolidated their supremacy over Spain, among other reasons, by converting much of the old Visigoth elite to Islam. Still, Galicia, parts of Leon, Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque area have not been subdued. In the Cantabrian coast, Christians are organizing themselves. These were poor territories; therefore, as the population grows, the move to the south and the take-over of the Douro Valley becomes imperative. Muslim interest in those northern territories was limited: the Douro valley was just a series of woodlands. The Moors were satisfied controlling the border and punishing Christian territory with occasional looting campaigns. Things are different in the eastern Christian area, at the confluence of La Rioja, Navarra, Aragon and Castile. This is a rich area crossed by trade routes dating back to Roman times. Navarra and Aragon are under Muslim control. But the embryo of the future Castile, a frontier land between Cantabria and Vizcaya opened to the south, is no longer under Muslim rule.
Asturias is then ruled by king Ramiro I (842-850), a man with a crusader’s determination. It is a short rule, dedicated to waging war against Arabs and Normans. Ramiro I, whose banner is a red cross on a white background, creates the first order of the Knights of Santiago. As from him, the monarchy will be hereditary, and not elective.
Christian Spain lives under the constant threat of Muslim power. A threat which is particularly dramatic in the primitive Castilla, the area between Alava, La Rioja and La Bureba (Burgos), in the east of the kingdom, where Muslim pressure is stronger. That is the scenario of our story.
Legend has it that at the time, the powerful Muslim rulers had imposed a yearly, shameful tribute to Christians: the hundred maidens. In return, the Muslims would not attack the kings who agreed to the pact. This tribute dated back to the year 738, when king Mauregato accepted it. Since then, successive Christian kings had fought to abolish it.
Ramiro I bitterly resented that humiliation and under the banner of the Cross summoned the Christian knights. He himself led the group and marched against the Muslims to the most critical area: La Rioja, the upper half of the Ebro valley. The Moors were then entangled in the frequent quarrels with the Spanish convert Muslims ruling Navarre and had a large army. The chronicles say that the Moorish army was lead by none other than the Emir Abderraman II in person.
When Christians arrived at Najera and Albelda, they were surprised to find an innumerable Moor army, made of both Andalusian and Moorish troops. The Christians fought bravely, but were rooted by the crushing superiority of the Moorish troops. The knights were forced to take refuge in Clavijo Castle, in Monte Laturce, on May 23, 844. We can imagine the Christian troops exhausted and on the brink of despair. It was then when, half asleep, King Ramiro had a vision. This is his account, according to Pedro Marcio (I have simplified the original text, written in ancient Spanish):
I was still sleeping, when the blessed Santiago, protector of the Spaniards, appeared to me. I asked who he was. He assured me to be Santiago, the blessed Apostle of God. Astonished as I was, the blessed Apostle told me:
“Did not you know that my Lord Jesus Christ, while distributing the other provinces in the world to my brothers, the other apostles, luckily entrusted me the guardianship of all Spain and placed it under my protection? (…) Keep your courage, because I will come to assist you tomorrow, God willing, to vanquish all that big crowd of enemies surrounding you. However, many of your soldiers will be destined for eternal rest and will receive the crown of martyrdom during your struggle for the name of Christ. And so that there is no doubt you will see me dressed in white on a white horse, holding in my hand a white banner. Therefore, at dawn, after receiving the sacrament of penance with the confession of sins, after receiving the Communion of the Body and Blood of the Lord in the Mass, do not be afraid to challenge the Saracens’ squadrons, invoking God’s name and mine, and taking for certain they will fall to the edge of the sword “.
Having said all that, the pleasant vision of the Apostle of God disappeared.”
It is not necessary to say how much this narrative resembles that of Jihad, the way of Allah, the total war against the infidel.
Ramiro quickly told everyone about his vision: knights, bishops, artisans… At dawn, Christian troops, sure of their victory, attacked the Saracens. For the first time some Spaniards used “Santiago” as a war cry. In the heat of the battle, a great white knight, with a white banner on a white horse, struck the field like a ray of light, to tilt the victory on the crusaders’ side. On May 25, in the town of Calahorra, the king vowed to Santiago in gratitude, inviting all Christians in the peninsula to go on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, carrying offerings to the Apostle.
The Way to Compostela
This legendary account of the Battle of Clavijo has been rejected on historical grounds. No official sources and chronicles of the time refer to Clavijo. The first accounts start much later. However, the Cronica Najerense refers to king Ramiro’s campaigns against the Arabs. Moreover, Muslim chronicles from Abderraman II refer to some Moorish campaigns against Alava. Perhaps most important: they agree on frequent fighting around the area in question. In particular, Astur-Leonese sources record that Ordoño I, son of Ramiro I, sieged the city of Albelda and established his base at Mount Laturce, the place where legend locates the Battle of Clavijo. Archaeological findings leave no doubt: there was a lot of fighting around Albelda.
There was, indeed, a battle in Albelda or, more precisely, two: one in 852 and another in 859. The context of both was the control of the corridors in the east of Christian Spain. But the Christian king leading those battles was not Ramiro (as in the legend), but his son Ordoño, and the rival was not Abderraman II, but Musa II, of the House of Banu Qasi, a powerful hispano-gothic family who converted to Islam. The first battle was won by the Muslims, just as in the Clavijo legend. But the second one was won by the Christians — also as in the legend. The legend condenses into twenty-four hours of struggle by Ramiro what could actually have been a seven-year offensive lead by his son Ordoño.
The historical controversy goes on. But the fact is that after the second battle of Albelda, Christian power in the area was strengthened, and the attempt by Muslims to build a stronghold in La Rioja was foiled. Ordoño immediately proceeded to defend the area by massive repopulation. It is equally true that Santiago, since then, has always been invoked by the Spaniards in distress.
Is it, then, history… or legend? Legend, certainly, but legend that soon became history. And a legend that since then has been part of the Spanish historical consciousness. The question now is: will Santiago Matamoros once more assist the current multiculti priests, who feel ashamed of his feats and hide him as an inconvenient, poor relative?
HERE BEGINNETH THE LIFE OF ST. NICHOLAS THE BISHOP.
Nicholas is said of Nichos, which is to say victory, and of laos, people, so Nicholas is as much as to say as victory of people, that is, victory of sins, which be foul people. Or else he is said, victory of people, because he enseigned and taught much people by his doctrine to overcome vices and sins. Or Nicholas is said of Nichor, that is the resplendour or shining of the people, for he had in him things that make shining and clearness. After this S. Ambrose saith: The word of God, very confession, and holy thought, make a man clean. And the doctors of Greece write his legend, and some others say that Methodius the patriarch wrote it in Greek, and John the deacon translated it into Latin and adjousted thereto many things.
No1 CHILDHOOD OF ST. NICHOLAS
Nicholas, citizen of the city of Patras, was born of rich and holy kin, and his father was Epiphanes and his mother Johane. He was begotten in the first flower of their age, and from that time forthon they lived in continence and led an heavenly life. Then the first day that he was washed and bained [bathed], he addressed him right up in the bason, and he would not take the breast nor the pap but once on the Wednesday and once on the Friday, and in his young age he eschewed the plays and japes of other young children. He used and haunted gladly holy church; and all that he might understand of holy scripture he executed it in deed and work after his power.
No2 THE GIFT OF GOLD FOR THE THREE DAUGHTERS
And when his father and mother were departed out of this life, he began to think how he might distribute his riches, and not to the praising of the world but to the honour and glory of God. And it was so that one, his neighbour, had then three daughters, virgins, and he was a nobleman: but for the poverty of them together, they were constrained, and in very purpose to abandon them to the sin of lechery, so that by the gain and winning of their infamy they might be sustained. And when the holy man Nicholas knew hereof he had great horror of this villainy, and threw by night secretly into the house of the man a mass of gold wrapped in a cloth. And when the man arose in the morning, he found this mass of gold, and rendered to God therefor great thankings, and therewith he married his oldest daughter. And a little while after this holy servant of God threw in another mass of gold, which the man found, and thanked God, and purposed to wake, for to know him that so had aided him in his poverty. And after a few days Nicholas doubled the mass of gold, and cast it into the house of this man. He awoke by the sound of the gold, and followed Nicholas, which fled from him, and he said to him: Sir, flee not away so but that I may see and know thee. Then he ran after him more hastily, and knew that it was Nicholas; and anon he kneeled down, and would have kissed his feet, but the holy man would not, but required him not to tell nor discover this thing as long as he lived.
ST. NICHOLAS IS CHOSEN BISHOP OF MYRA
After this the bishop of Mirea died and other bishops assembled for to purvey to this church a bishop. And there was, among the others, a bishop of great authority, and all the election was in him. And when he had warned all for to be in fastings and in prayers, this bishop heard that night a voice which said to him that, at the hour of matins, he should take heed to the doors of the church, and him that should come first to the church, and have the name of Nicholas they should sacre him bishop. And he showed this to the other bishops and admonished them for to be all in prayers; and he kept the doors. And this was a marvellous thing, for at the hour of matins, like as he had been sent from God, Nicholas arose tofore all other. And the bishop took him when he was come and demanded of him his name. And he, which was simple as a dove, inclined his head, and said: I have to name Nicholas. Then the bishop said to him: Nicholas, servant and friend of God, for your holiness ye shall be bishop of this place. And sith they brought him to the church, howbeit that he refused it strongly, yet they set him in the chair. And he followed, as he did tofore in all things, in humility and honesty of manners. He woke in prayer and made his body lean, he eschewed company of women, he was humble in receiving all things, profitable in speaking, joyous in admonishing, and cruel in correcting.