Size of the original engraving, 4⅛ × 3¼ inches
In the Royal Print Room, Berlin
Chief among the engravers who show most clearly the influence of the Master of the Playing Cards is the Master of the Year 1446, so named from the date which appears in the Flagellation. His prints present a more or less primitive appearance, and were it not for this date, one might be tempted, on internal evidence, to assign them to an earlier period. In the Passion series, in particular, many of the figures are more gnome-like than human. Such creatures as the man blowing a horn, in Christ Nailed to the Cross, and the man pulling upon a rope, in the same print, recall to our minds, by an association of ideas, the old German fairy tales.
To his [Master of the Playing Cards.] latest and most mature period must be assigned the Man of Sorrows—in some ways his finest, and certainly his most moving, plate. Not only has he differentiated between the textures of the linen loin-cloth and the coarser material of the cloak; but the column, the cross with its beautiful and truthful indication of the grain of the wood, and the ground itself, all are treated with a knowledge and a sensitiveness that is surprising. The engraver’s greatest triumph, however, is in the figure of Christ. There is a feeling for form and structure, sadly lacking in the work of his successors, and his suggestion of the strained and pulsing veins, which throb through the Redeemer’s tortured limbs, is of a compelling truth.
Size of the original engraving, 5⅞ × 5¼ inches
In the Royal Print Room, Dresden
The technical method of the Master of the Playing Cards is that of a painter rather than of a goldsmith. There is practically no cross-hatching, and the effect is produced by a series of delicate lines, mostly vertical, laid close together. His plates are unsigned and undated, so that we can only approximate the period of his activity. That he preceded, by at least ten years, the earliest dated engraving, the Flagellation, by the Master of 1446, may safely be assumed, since in the manuscript copy of Conrad von Würzburg’s “The Trojan War,” transcribed in 1441 by Heinrich von Steinfurt (an ecclesiastic of Osnabrück), there are pen drawings of figures wearing costumes which correspond exactly with those in prints by the Master of the Playing Cards in his middle period. The Master of the Playing Cards is, therefore, the first bright morning star of engraving. From him there flows a stream of influence affecting substantially all of the German masters until the time of Martin Schongauer, some of whose earlier plates show unmistakable traces of an acquaintanceship with his work.
St. George and the Dragon is in his early manner. Here are plainly to be seen the characteristics of this first period—the broken, stratified rocks, the isolated and conventionalized plants, and the peculiar drawing of the horse, especially its slanting and half-human eyes. The Playing Cards, from which he takes his name, may safely be assigned to his middle period.
The streets and lanes of London within the walls were very nearly the same as they are at present, except for the great thoroughfares constructed within the last thirty years. That is to say, when one entered at Lud Gate and passed through Paul's Churchyard, he found himself in the broad street, the market place of the City, known as Chepe.
Which particular battle this picture is supposed to represent cannot be stated, since old Holinshed uses it over and over again for almost every naval engagement to which he makes reference right back as far as the Conquest. That cannon were not then in existence does not appear to trouble him at all. But we may take it as fairly representative of an action at sea in the times in which the historian lived and wrote.
(From a painting by Carpaccio)
Observe the capacious hull, the heavy mast, the way the sail is made fast in the middle as well as by the sheets at the corners, the crane for hoisting missiles to the top, and the darts ranged round it; also the way the main-yard is spliced in the middle.
The first great navigational feat that followed the invention of the compass was that performed by the Portuguese, Bartholomew Dias, who conceived the idea of reaching India by going around Africa, and sailed down the west coast of Africa as far as its southern end, later called the Cape of Good Hope. It was a tremendous undertaking, and it had tremendous results; for it demonstrated the possibilities of great ocean voyages, proved that the road to India was very long, and led to the expedition of Columbus, six years later. It was also a great invention, both in brilliancy of conception and excellence of execution, although Dias did not reach India.
The second great navigational feat was performed by Christopher Columbus in 1492. Before that time it was conceded by most men of learning and reflection that the earth was spherical; and it was realized that, if it was spherical, it might be possible by sailing to the westward to reach India, the goal of all commercial expeditions in that day. Columbus is not to be credited with the first conception of that possibility.
Now, Gutenberg "worked" his invention so energetically that, with the assistance of Faust, Schaeffer and others, an exceedingly efficient system of printing books was in practical operation as early as 1455. The types were of metal, and were cast from a matrix that had been stamped out by a steel punch, and could therefore be so accurately fashioned that the type had a beautiful sharpness and finish. In addition, certain mechanical apparatus of a simple kind (printing presses) were invented, whereby the type could be satisfactorily handled, and impressions could be taken from them with accuracy and quickness.
News of the invention spread so rapidly that before the year 1500 printing presses were at work in every country of Europe. The first books printed were, of course, the works of the ancient authors, beginning with three editions of Donatus. These were multiplied in great numbers, and gave the first effective impulse to the spread of civilization from the Græco-Oriental countries, where it had been sleeping, to the hungry intellects of Europe.
Anelace (Also in French, alenas, alinlaz, analasse, anlace.) A broad knife or dagger worn at the girdle.
It was a well known weapon in he thirteenth century.
Dr. Martin Luther
Horse litters, carried between two horses, one in front and one behind, were used in early times by ladies of `rank`, by sick persons, and also on occasion to carry the dead. Similar vehicles of a lighter description, carried by men, were also in use.
William of Malmesbury states that the body of William Rufus was brought from the spot where he was killed in the New Forest in a horse-litter (a.d. 1100). When King John fell ill at Swineshead Abbey, in 1216, he was carried in a horse-litter to Newark, where he died. For a man who was in good health to travel in such a conveyance was considered unbecoming and effeminate. In recording the death, in 1254, of Earl Ferrers, from injuries received in an accident to his conveyance, Matthew Paris deems it necessary to explain that the Earl suffered from gout, which compelled him to use a litter when moving from place to place. The accident was caused by the carelessness of the driver of the horses, who upset the conveyance while crossing a bridge.
The illustration is copied from a drawing which occurs in a manuscript in the British Museum (Harl. 5256).
A hundred and fifty years later than Piers Plowman we get another picture of an English ale-house, by no less celebrated a poet. This famous house, the “Running Horse,” still stands at Leatherhead, in Surrey, beside the long, many-arched bridge that there crosses the river Mole at one of its most picturesque reaches. It was kept in the time of Henry the Seventh by that very objectionable landlady, Elynor Rummyng, whose peculiarities are the subject of a laureate’s verse. Elynor Rummyng, and John Skelton, the poet-laureate who hymned her person, her beer, and her customers, both flourished in the beginning of the sixteenth century. Skelton, whose genius was wholly satiric, no doubt, in his Tunning (that is to say, the brewing) of Elynor Rummyng, emphasised all her bad points, for it is hardly credible that even the rustics of the Middle Ages would have rushed so enthusiastically for her ale if it had been brewed in the way he describes.
The City of London’s oldest licensed inn is, by its own claiming, the “Dick Whittington,” in Cloth Fair, Smithfield, but it only claims to have been licensed in the fifteenth century, when it might reasonably—without much fear of contradiction—have made it a century earlier. This is an unusual modesty, fully deserving mention. It is only an “inn” by courtesy, for, however interesting and picturesque the grimy, tottering old lath-and-plaster house may be to the stranger, imagination does not picture any one staying either in the house or in Cloth Fair itself while other houses and other neighbourhoods remain to choose from; and, indeed, the “Dick Whittington”[Pg 6] does not pretend to be anything else than a public-house. The quaint little figure at the angle, in the gloom of the overhanging upper storey, is one of the queer, unconventional imaginings of our remote forefathers, and will repay examination.
A troop of mounted crossbowmen, of special skill and courage, usually formed the bodyguard of the king, and attended him in battle. Mounted crossbowmen
were largely employed on the Continent in the fourteenth, and first half of the
fifteenth century, and these men were usually allowed one and sometimes even
two horses apiece, besides being supplied, when on the march, with carts to
carry their crossbows and quarrels
They represent French soldiers at the defence of Rouen, 1419, shooting from behind the shelter of shields propped up in front of them.
Leonardo da Vinci, the great Italian artist and scientist, who lived in the fifteenth century, spent years experimenting with the idea of flying. He made a number of sketches of wings to be fitted to the arms and legs of man. His plan for a parachute was soundly worked out and his idea that the wings of a flying machine should be patterned after the wings of the bat found expression in the doped fabric covering of our early airplanes.
The hunting dresses, as they appeared at the commencement of the fifteenth century, are given from a manuscript of that time, in the Harleian Collection.
Persons of `rank` were taught in their childhood to relish such exercises as were of a martial nature, and the very toys that were put into their hands as playthings, were calculated to bias the mind in their favour. On the opposite page the reader will find two views of a knight on horseback, completely equipped for the just; four wheels originally were attached to the pedestal, which has a hole in the front for the insertion of a cord. The knight and his horse are both made with brass; the spear and the wheels are wanting in the original, but the hole in which the spear was inserted, still remains under the right arm, and it is supplied upon the print by something like it placed in the proper situation. This curious figure was probably made in the fifteenth century.
The man represented may be readily separated from the horse, and is so contrived as to be thrown backwards by a smart blow upon the top of the shield or the front of his helmet, and replaced again with much ease: two such toys were requisite; each of them having a string made fast in the front of the pedestal, being then placed at a distance in opposition the one to the other, they were violently drawn together in imitation of two knights tilting; and by the concussion of the spears and shields, if dexterously managed, one or both of the men were cast to the ground.
Of physical games archery was the most practised. This was the national physical exercise, one which had helped the English soldiers to gain a great reputation for themselves, as at Agincourt (1415). At York the "butts," where men practised archery, were outside the city walls.
The different kinds of religious men have already been mentioned from archbishops and abbots to the scurrilous impostors who used a religious exterior to rob poor people, at whose expense they lived well a wandering, loose, hypocritical life. In York, there were monks and friars, cathedral, parochial, and chantry priests, and clerks. The monastic life was a recognised profession.
They pursued their course until two in the morning, when from the Pinta, which generally sailed ahead, the thundering signal was heard, the order being that a gun should be fired as soon as land hove in sight. It was indeed land at this time. It lay before them, now dimly seen, about two leagues distant. The joy which Columbus and his crew felt at the sight, surpasses the power of description. It is difficult, even for the imagination, to conceive the emotions of such a man, in whose temperament a wonderful enthusiasm and unbounded aspiration prevailed, at the moment of so sublime a discovery. Utterance was given to his intense feelings by tears, and prayers, and thanksgivings.
The Faculty of Theology, besides its dean, who was the senior doctor, chose every other year a syndic, whose business it was to administer the private business of the company. The Decree Faculty had only a dean selected by seniority in the grade of doctor, and the Faculty of Medicine had a dean elected every year
from amongst the doctors in practice. Deans and proctors, to the number of seven, formed the higher tribunal of the University. The Faculty of Arts had, therefore, a clear majority of its own upon this tribunal ; it had, moreover, assumed for itself the exclusive right of nominating the rector or supreme head of the University, and he was bound to be a member of the faculty.
Grand Initial, designed by pen (end of Fifteenth Century), representing Types of Students, in one of the Manuscript Registers of the German Nation.
Columbus watching for land
Joan of Arc
The illustration is from the valuable MS. Life and Acts of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick. The present is part of a fight before Calais, in which Philip Duke of Burgundy was concerned on one side, and Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, Richard Earl of Warwick, and Humphrey Earl of Stafford on the other.
Another of these guilds was the ancient company or fraternity of minstrels in Beverley, of which an account is given in Poulson’s “Beverlac”. When the fraternity originated we do not know; but they were of some consideration and wealth in the reign of Henry VI., when the Church of St. Mary’s, Beverley, was built.
The picture is of a royal dinner of about the time of our Edward IV., “taken from an illumination of the romance of the Compte d’Artois, in the possession of M. Barrois, a distinguished and well-known collector in Paris
A woodcut of the fifteenth century, from a manuscript life of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, in the British Museum; the subject is the presentation of the pilgrim earl to the pope, and it enables us to bring into one view the costumes of pope, cardinal, and bishop.
A group of musical instruments from one of the illustrations of “Der Weise König,” a work of the close of the fifteenth century.
Monumental Brass of Alderman Field and his Son, a.d. 1474
The last cut is taken from the painted glass at Tournay of the fifteenth century, and represents marchands en gros. This illustration of a warehouse with the merchant and his clerk, and the men and the casks and bales, and the great scales, in full tide of business, is curious and interesting.
Man-at-Arms and Archer of the Fifteenth Century
Knight of the Fifteenth Century
The woodcut represents “howe a mighty Duke chalenged Erle Richard for his lady sake, and in justyng slewe the Duke and then the Empresse toke the Erle’s staff and bear from a knight shouldre, and for great love and fauvr she sette it on her shouldre. Then Erle Richard made one of perle and p’cious stones, and offered her that, and she gladly and lovynglee reseaved it.” The picture shows the Duke and Earl in the crisis of the battle.
Bedesmen - In time of Henry VII
The group represents the abbot and some of the monks, and behind them some of the bedesmen, each of whom has the royal badge—the rose and crown—on the shoulder of his habit, and holds in his hand his rosary, the symbol of his prayers.
The illustration is a very interesting street-view of the fifteenth century. Take first the right-hand side of the engraving, remove the forest of picturesque towers and turrets with their spirelets and vanes which appear over the roofs of the houses (in which the artist has probably indulged his imagination as to the effect of the other buildings of the town beyond), and we have left a sober representation of part of a mediæval street—a row of lofty timber houses with their gables turned to the street.
In the illustration, reproduced from Mr. Wright’s “Domestic Manners of the English,” we have a curious picture of a dance, possibly in the gallery, which occupied the whole length of the roof of most fifteenth-century houses; it is from a MS. of fifteenth-century date.
In all these instances the minstrels are on the floor with the dancers, but in the latter part of the Middle Ages they were probably—especially on festal occasions—placed in the music gallery over the screens, or entrance-passage, of the hall.
Representation of a man extracting the jewel from a toad's head; two "jewels", already extracted are seen dropping to the ground. From the "Hortus Sanitatis," published in 1490.
There is no doubt whatever that Vespucci made a voyage in 1499-1500, along with Alonzo de Ojeda and the great pilot Juan[Pg 109] de la Cosa, but whether this may be styled his first or his second must be left to the intelligence of the reader, for the historians are at odds themselves, and it might seem presumptuous in the biographer to assume to decide.
In a pamphlet accompanying "the earliest known globe of Johann Schöner," made in 1515, the new region is described as the "fourth part of the globe named after its discoverer, Americus Vespucius, who found it in 1497." Vespucci did not find it, and he never made the claim that he discovered more than is given in his letters; but this misstatement by another caused him to be accused of falsifying the dates of his voyages in order to rob Columbus of his desserts.
Amerigo Vespucci was born in Florence, March 9, 1451, just one hundred and fifty years after Dante was banished from the city in which both first saw the light. The Vespucci family had then resided in that city more than two hundred years, having come from Peretola, a little town adjacent, where the name was highly regarded, as attached to the most respected of the Italian nobility. Following the custom of that nobility, during the period of unrest in Italy, the Vespuccis established themselves in a stately mansion near one of the city gates, which is known as the Porta del Prato. Thus they were within touch of the gay society of Florence, and could enjoy its advantages, while at the same time in a position, in the event of an uprising, to flee to their estates and stronghold in the country.
Routes of the discoverers
Taken from the marble bust on his monument at Genoa
Time-chart A.D. 800-A.D. 1500
Europe at the Fall of Constantinople
Oldest known image of Columbus
The First Voyage of Columbus
The Parliament of Paris--or Great French Parliament, as it was called by Philip V. and Charles V., in edicts of the 17th of November, 1318, and of the 8th of October, 1371--was divided into four principal chambers: the Grand Chamber, the Chamber of Inquiry, the Criminal Chamber, and the Chamber of Appeal. It was composed of ordinary councillors, both clerical and lay; of honorary councillors, some of whom were ecclesiastics, and others members of the nobility; of masters of inquiry; and of a considerable number of officers of all ranks
Jeanne de Bourbon, Wife of Charles V
From a Statue formerly in the Church of the Célestins, Paris.
A fact worthy of remark is, that whilst male attire, through a depravity of taste, had extended to the utmost limit of extravagance, women's dress, on the contrary, owing to a strenuous effort towards a dignified and elegant simplicity, became of such a character that it combined all the most approved fashions of female costume which had been in use in former periods.
The statue of Queen Jeanne de Bourbon, wife of Charles V., formerly placed with that of her husband in the Church of the Célestins at Paris, gives the most faithful representation of this charming costume, to which our artists continually have recourse when they wish to depict any poetical scenes of the French Middle Ages
Notary and Sbirro (policeman)--From two Engravings in the Bonnart Collection.
Interior of Italian Kitchen.
From the Book on Cookery of Christoforo di Messisburgo, "Banchetti compositioni di Vivende," 4to., Ferrara, 1549.
It was only in the course of the sixteenth century that the name of potage ceased to be applied to stews, whose number equalled their variety, for on a bill of fare of a banquet of that period we find more than fifty different sorts of potages mentioned.
Hanging to Music. (A Minstrel condemned to the Gallows obtained permission that one of his companions should accompany him to his execution, and play his favourite instrument on the ladder of the Gallows.)--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in Michault's "Doctrinal du Temps Présent:" small folio, goth., Bruges, about 1490.
Gipsies Fortune-telling.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the "Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster: in folio, Basle, 1552.
During the fifteen days which they spent at Bologna a number of the people of the town went to see them, and especially to see "the wife of the duke," who, it was said, knew how to foretell future events, and to tell what was to happen to people, what their fortunes would be, the number of their children, if they were good or bad, and many other things
German Knights (Fifteenth Century). from Drawings by Albert Durer.
The Entry of Louis XI. into Paris
From the "Chroniques" of Monstrelet, Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century
Doge of Venice
Costume before the Sixteenth Century.
Charlotte of Savoy second Wife of Louis XI.
The executioner did not hold the same position in all countries. For whereas in France, Italy, and Spain, a certain amount of odium was attached to this terrible craft, in Germany, on the contrary, successfully carrying out a certain number of capital sentences was rewarded by titles and the privileges of nobility
The Infant Richard crucified by the Jews, at PontoiseFrom a Woodcut, with Figures by Wohlgemuth, in the "Liber Chronicarum Mundi:" large folio, Nuremberg, 1493.
The Jewish Procession going to meet the Pope at the Council of Constance, in 1417.--After a Miniature in the Manuscript Chronicle of Ulrie de Reichental, in the Library of the Mansion-house of Basle, in Switzerland.
"How the King-at-Arms presents the Sword to the Duke of Bourbon."--From a Miniature in "Tournois du Roi René," Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century (Imperial Library of Paris).
Costumes of Bourgeois or Merchant, of a Nobleman, and of a Lady of the Court or rich Bourgeoise, with the Head-dress (escoffion) of the Fifteenth Century.--From a Painted Window of the Period, at Moulins (Bourbonnais), and from a Painting on Wood of the same Period, in the Musee de Cluny.
-Costumes of a Mechanic's Wife and a rich Bourgeois in the latter part of the Fifteenth Century.--From Windows in the Cathedral of Moulins (Bourbonnais).
Supreme Court, presided over by the King, who is in the act of issuing a Decree which is being registered by the Usher.--Fac-simile of a Miniature in Camareu of the "Information des Rois," Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, in the Library of the Arsenal of Paris.
Woman under the Safeguard of Knighthood, allegorical Scene.--Costume of the End of the Fifteenth Century, from a Miniature in a Latin Psalm Book (Manuscript No. 175, National Library of Paris).
Nicholas Flamel and Pernelle, his Wife, from a Painting executed at the End of the Fifteenth Century, under the Vaults of the Cemetery of the Innocents, in Paris.
Merchant Vessel in a Storm.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the "Grand Kalendrier et Compost des Bergers," in folio: printed at Troyes, about 1490, by Nicolas de Rouge
After a miniature of "The Three Ages of Man", a ms. of the fifteenth century attributed to Estienne Porchier. (Bibl. of M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot.)
The scene is laid in one of the saloons of the castle of Plessis-les-Tours, the residence of Louis XI; in the player to the right, the features of the king are recognisable.
How to allure the Hare."--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript of Phoebus (Fifteenth Century).
Due on Wines
To add to these already excessive rates and taxes, there were endless dues, under all shapes and names, claimed by the ecclesiastical lords. And not only did the nobility make without scruple these enormous exactions, but the Crown supported them in avenging any act, however opposed to all sense of justice; so that the nobles were really placed above the great law of equality, without which the continuance of social order seemed normally impossible.