Advertisement

Text and Textile: Lydgate’s Tapestry Poems

  • Claire Sponsler
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

In 1910, Eleanor Hammond remarked that the relationship in medieval culture between poetry and the decorative arts—and especially between tapestry and poetry—awaited a full historical examination.1 Nearly a century later, we’re still waiting. In the case of tapestry’s ties to verse, we might expect that etymology alone would have been a spur to investigation, given the common Latin roots (in textus and textura) for the vernacular terms for the making of stories and the making of cloth. Or that mythology, with its legend of Philomela, her tongue having been cut out, told her story through the medium of weaving, would have incited inquiry, especially given the story’s popularity throughout medieval Europe. Or, more compellingly, that the empirical evidence itself would have urged analysis. For although medieval tapestries have not survived in great numbers, not surprisingly given the essential fragility of textiles, enough did (and enough others are mentioned in accounts and records) to allow us to consider their implications as a specific kind of representational medium. Textile historians have, of course, written extensively about medieval tapestries, but not from the angle of their links to the narrative arts. Yet what is immediately apparent about many medieval tapestries is how often they reveal a propensity not only for using decorated cloth to present narratives but also, and more strikingly, for treating writing as a component of the pictorial display.

Keywords

Wall Hanging Pictorial Representation Performance Context Representational Mode Pictorial Display 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 2.
    For the history of medieval tapestry, see Achille Jubinal, Recherches sur l’usage et l’origine des tapisseries à personnages depuis l’antiquité jusqu’au XVIe siècle (Paris: Challamel et Cie., 1840);Google Scholar
  2. Jean Lestocquoy Deux siècles de l’histoire de la tapisserie, 1300–1500 (Arras: Commission départementale des monuments historiques du pas-de-Calais, 1978);Google Scholar
  3. and Roger A. d’Hulst, Flemish Tapestries From the Fifteenth to the Eighteenth Century, trans. Frances J. Stillman (New York: Universe, 1967).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Charles Kightly, “‘The Hangings About the Hall’: An Overview of Textile Wall Hangings in Late Medieval York, 1394–1505,” Medieval Textiles 28 (June, 2001): 3–6.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    For the inventory of Gloucester’s goods, which were seized in his castle of Pleshy, in Essex, in 1397, see Viscount Dillon and W. H. St. John Hope, “Inventory of the Goods and Chattels Belonging to Thomas, Duke of Gloucester,” The Archaeological Journal 54 (1897): 275–308. The inventory lists 15 items under the heading “Draps de Arras,” that is, wall hangings;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 10.
    The Dance of Death has been edited by Florence Warren, The Dance of Death, EETS os 181 (London: Oxford University Press, 1931).Google Scholar
  7. 13.
    Reginald Pecock, The Repressor of Over Much Blaming of the Clergy, ed. Churchill Babington, 2 vols., (London, 1860), 1:212.Google Scholar
  8. 19.
    Glynne Wickham, Early English Stages 1300–1600, 3 vols. (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1959), 3:125.Google Scholar
  9. see his John Lydgate: A Study in the Culture of the Fifteenth Century, trans. Ann E. Keep (London: Methuen, 1961), p. 100.Google Scholar
  10. 21.
    Lawrence M. Clopper, Drama, Play, and Game: English Festive Culture in the Medieval and Early Modern Period (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), p. 130.Google Scholar
  11. 22.
    A. S. G. Edwards, “Middle English Pageant ‘Picture’?” Notes and Queries 237 (1992): 25–26, quoting More’s text from the facsimile of the 1557 Rastell edition, introduced by K.J. Wilson (London, 1978), which was probably composed near the beginning of the first decade of the sixteenth century.Google Scholar
  12. 23.
    Margaret Connolly, John Shirley: Book Production and the Noble Household in Fifteenth-Century England (Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 1998), p. 191.Google Scholar
  13. 24.
    For Shirley’s biography, see Connolly, John Shirley, pp. 15–63. For Lydgate’s connection to Warwick, see Derek Pearsall, John Lydgate (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1970), pp. 160–71.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© E. Jane Burns 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claire Sponsler

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations