Musée de Moyen Âge – Cluny

If you had asked me last week what was my favourite museum that I have ever visited – I would have answered the Musée de Moyen Âge (aka The Cluny Museum) in Paris. I’d been here twice before, and they have such a fabulous collection of medieval decorative artefacts all displayed in a gorgeous medieval building… it was always just a magical place to visit. In fact, The MET Cloisters in New York always felt a bit like it was trying to be this museum. The entrance to the Musée de Moyen Âge, as I remember it…

Let’s just say – it’s changed… A LOT. They’ve modernised. A medieval museum. For some unknown reason (likely something to do with getting people enthused and interested to come visit, and see really old things, and make it feel more interactive and more accessible to people* without any background or education in the Middle Ages) and well, to be completely honest, it feels like the entire place has lost its soul. (*notably: accessible to French speaking people – there was a map in various languages, and usually one large display board in French and English in each room, but most of the information plaques on individual objects were in French only). The entrance to the Musée de Moyen Âge as it is now:

Which is all very sad, but I tried to keep it to myself. Anyway, I was determined to see what I could and take as many pics as I could because fuck knows, you don’t see anything like this back home, ever. Downside of the no English plaques, is that I could only glean tidbits of information on the objects as I was looking at them; upside is that this prompted me to photograph a lot of the plaques so I could have a crack at translating them in Google later. So for some of these pics, there is going to be a bunch of info… and for others – none at all!

STUFF:

Pyxis (box) with scenes from the Life of Christ.
Byzantine Empire, early 6thC. Ivory bas-relief.
Resurrection of Lazarus, healing of the paralytic at Copernaum and of the man born blind, encounter with the Samaritan woman.

Christ in Majesty Known as the “Trébizonde Christ”.
Contantinople, early 6thC
Elephant Ivory bas-relief
Christ sits on a throne under a canopy, between St Peter, St Paul and two angels. On the lower register, angels walk towards a cross. This central plate of a large diptych (orginally from the collection of Martin le Roy), then of Marque de Vasselot), illustrates a moment in history when models from classical Antiquity were subtly adapted to Christian Byzantine iconography.

Liturgical Strainer with the name of St Albinus of Angers.
Frankish Kingdom. Late 6thC. Nielloed sliver and Rajasthani garnet (India).

Fibulae brooches. Frankish Kingdom 6th-7thC.
Gilded silver, gold, garnet and glassware. From the Abbey of Clairvaux, (Aubre, France).
Pin was discovered in the tomb of Guillaume de Joinville, archbishop of Reims (1219-1226).

Arcy-Sainte-Restitue site. Two multifoiled cloisonné fibulae (brooches). Guilted silver, garnet, cast glass.

Fibulae inthe form of an eagle and belt-buckle plate.
Visigothic Kingdom, late 6th century. Gilded bronze, garnet and cast glass.
From Castel in Valence d’Argen (Tarn-et-Garrone, France). These two items probably comes from the same burial site. Both the stylised eagles come with compartmental decor and raised dots on the surface of the belt buck plate (with Indian garnet) are characteristic of Visigothic Art. The eagle motif is frequen in the early medieval kingdoms, which were receptive to the Imperial Roman symbolism of this bird of prey.

Diptych. England – 8th century (left) Italy (rigth). 10thC. Elephant ivory
From the treasury of the cathedral of Beauvais (Oise, France)
The re-use of these plates sculpted on both sides resulted in the levelling of the obverse side, where scenes of the life of Christ in an insular style (from the British Isles) can still be deciphered. The reverse sides feature exotic or imaginary animals amidst foliage framed by acanthus leaves. This second phase of sculptural work could be from a workshop in the Southern Alps.

Altar front of the Basel Cathedral. Fulda or Bamberg? (present-day Germany), 1st quarter of the 11th century Repoussé and stamped gold on oak core, precious stones, pearls, glassware From the treasury of the cathedral of Basel (Switzerland)
This antependium used to decorate the front of an altar. Five arcades stand out against a background of foliage with birds and four-legged creatures. Each one hosts a holy figure: Christ surrounded by the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, and Saint Benedict (founder of the Benedictine rule), who is glorified by the inscription. At the feet of Christ kneel Holy Roman Emperor Henri Il, who commissioned this antependium for the cathedral of Basel, and his wife, Kunigunde. Detail below:

Treasure of Guarrazar – Visigothic Kingdom, 7 century
Gold, sapphire, emerald, amethyst, rock crystal, jasper. pearls and mother-of-pearl
From La Fuente de Guarrazar, near Toledo (Spain)
These votive crowns are ex votos. Chains holding crosses and pendants used to hang from them. These pendant letters (the R is on display here) spell the name of two donors. One of them was Visigoth King Receswinth, who reigned in Toledo from 653 to 672. These crowns were probably royal offerings to the cathedral of Toledo. The archaeological discovery of the treasure (now split between the Musée de Cluny and the Museo Arqueológico Nacional de Madrid revealed one of the most important finds of the medieval Iberian period.

Christian motifs in Coptic art- Derived from Aiguptios in Greek and then qibt in Arabic, the word “Copt” defines the Christian civilization of Egypt, from the official birth of Christianity in Egypt (Edict of Thessalonica, 383). In artistic expression, a remarkable syncretism is revealed between pagan and Christian iconography. On the tapestries, Dionysus can be seen alongside a bowed character and the patterns of the patted cross and Chi-Rho (christogram) appear. The liturgical braid, depicting an archangel, the Visitation and Zechariah, is a rare piece of Coptic embroidery.
Egypt 5-6thC Wool and linen

Themes related to the Greek god, Dionysus were regularly depicted on ornamental tapestries for clothing, as shown here on two fragments of shawls. The kantharos is an accessory of the god of wine and ecstasy, closely linked to the art of theatre and poetry. The son of a slain mothe (Semele, struck down by a jealous Hera), saved by his father (Zeus, who carried him to term sewn into his thigh), Dionysus also embodies, in a certain way, the idea of bursting forth from beyond the grave.
Choosing Dionysiac themes for clothing linked to the afterlife was therefore probably not without symbolism in the Coptic world.
Tapestries with kantharoi, Egypt, 4th century, Linen and wool

Casket with mythological and battles scenes, casket plaque with a warrior.
Constantinople, late 10-early 1F century Bone bas-relief (on a core of wood for the casket)
About 1000, Byzantine bone carvers created caskets with secular themes inherited from classical Antiquity, especially legendary battles or circus games. This casket stands out by the quality of its sculpture and the fact that it is complete.
It used to belong to Frédéric Spitzer, a major 19 -century collector.

Two oliphants – fragmentary with animal frieze; decorated with an animal frieze, the Ascension and Saints. Southern Italy, 12thC, elephant ivory.
From the abbeys of Saint-Pierre-Saint-Paul of Bèze (Côte d’Or, France) and Saint-Arnoul of Metz (Moselle, France). Taking its shape from its material, an elephant tusk, the oliphant is first and foremost a horn. In the Middle Ages, oliphants were often associated with legendary facts, such as the death of the hero in the Song of Roland. The luxurious quality of this type of object made it enter church treasuries as relics. This is the case of this one in Metz (which used to be part of the collection of Frédéric Spitzer), known as the “horn of Charlemagne”.

Panels of the window of the Life of saint Benedict – Monks witness the ascension of saint Benedict
Ornamental border
Ile-de-France, 1140-1144, coloured glass, grisaille, lead. From the abbey church of Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis, France), ambulatory chapel.
Two monks witness the ascension to heaven of Benedict, their brother, who just passed away. The scene represents the final episode of a stained glass ensemble devoted to the life of saint Benedict, the founder of the Benedictine Order. It was placed inside of geometric panels (here, two half-medallions), at the top of a window. Each window consists of different scenes, juxtaposed and superimposed on one another, framed by an ornamental border of. varying lengths and widths. This sort of organization will endure for a century.

Two colonnettes and three sections of colonnettes
Colonnette: spiral strips decorated with acanthus leave bases and top to tail bunches of palmettes / Lower section of a colonnette: couples of birds and griffins facing each other, superimposed in follage: sprawling bunches of palmettes (possibly a complementary element of the next item) / Upper section of a colonnette: couple of griffins facing each other and bird spreading its wings with foliage motifs; sprawling bunches of palmettes (possibly a complementary element of the previous item) / Lower section of a colonnette: naked figures superimposed between pairs of birds and griffins facing each other; superimposed naked fighters / Colonnette: spiral strips decorated with inhabited follage and sprawling bunches of palmettes Tle-de-France, about 1135-1140. Lutetian limestone (liais)
From the western facade of the abbey church of Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis, France), jambs of the north and south portals. These six colonnettes decorated the jambs of the church’s western portals. They were stripped during the French Revolution. The three sections shown here are the sole remains of two or three of them, cut out in the middle of the 1820s to be reused as supports for low railings inside the basilica.

Jean Haincelin (Maître de Dunois) et Maître de Jean Rolin
Heures de Simon de Varye, Paris, vers 1455
Parchment.
Los Angeles, The J. Paul Getty Museum, MS 7, La Haye, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, ms. 74 G 37 and 37a
L’ouvrage est d’abord réalisé à Paris, autour de 1455 par le Maître de Dunois (Jean Haincelin) et le Maître de Jean Rolin, pour un commanditaire non identifié.
Il passe rapidement à un second propriétaire, Simon de Varye, commis à l’argenterie de Charles VII.
La devise « VIE À MON DÉSIR » est l’anagramme de son nom. Simon de Varye fait adjoindre trois feuillets indépendants dus à Jean Fouquet.

Sainte Anne et ses filles – Miniature issue des
Heures d’Étienne Chevalier, Paris, vers 1452-1455.
Parchment. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, département des Manuscrits, NAL 1416
La miniature est issue du plus grand chef-d’œuvre enluminé par Jean Fouquet, les Heures d’Étienne Chevalier, aujourd hui démembrées, dont la plus grande partie est conservée au musée Conde de Chantilly. Le nom et le chiffre du commanditaire, trésorier de France outre-Seine et grand mécène de Fouquet, sont portés par les hommes sauvages. Mise en page comme un petit tableau, la scène montre sainte Anne et ses trois filles devant un panorama parisien.
La majorité des feuillets enluminés (40) du livre d’heures d’Étienne Chevalier est conservée au musée
Condé de Chantilly. En raison des dispositions testamentaires du duc d’Aumale qui les acquit en 1891, ils n’ont pu être prêtés à l’exposition. Celui-ci fit aménager spécialement le Santuario, dans son château de Chantilly, pour les présenter encadrés tels de véritables tableaux.

Jean Fouquet, Grandes Chroniques de France. Tours, vers 1415-1420 et 1455-1460
Parchment. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, département des Manuscrits, Français 6465.
Le manuscrit renferme la première histoire officielle de la monarchie en langue vulgaire dont les origines remontent au règne de Saint Louis. Ses 51 petites miniatures ont été confiées à Jean Fouquet qui y utilise d’amples points de vue et un goût pour l’exactitude documentaire des lieux représentés. Il est peut-être le fruit de la commande du roi ou d’un de ses proches.

Pierre du Billant, on a cardboard by Barthélemy d’Eyck
The Healing of the Blind Woman (orfroi fragment)
France, 1444. Polychrome silks, gold and silver threads. Cl. 23424
This embroidery panel was part of a chapel (set of ornaments and liturgical vestments) dedicated to the story of Saint Martin. It illustrates a posthumous miracle of his life, that of a young blind girl from Lisieux who came by boat to the basilica and who, regaining her sight, thanks the saint. Pierre du Billant , embroiderer to King René, works there on the cartoons of his stepson, Barthélemy d’Eyck: the squat canons with massive heads and thick lips, and the oblique glances are characteristic of the latter’s art.

Barthélemy d’Eyck
René d’Anjou, Traité de la forme et devis comme on fait un tournoi, dit Le Livre des tournois
Angers (?), vers 1462-1465 / Papier Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, département des Manuscrits, Français 2695

André d’Ypres (Maître de Dreux Budé) – Triptyque de Dreux Budé
Paris, vers 1450 0 Volet gauche : Le Baiser de Judas et l’Arrestation du Christ avec Dreux I Budé et son fils Jean Ill présentés par saint Christophe
Huile sur bois. Paris, musée du Louvre, département des Peintures, RF 2015-3

Exceptionnellement réunis, ces panneaux forment l’un des triptyques les plus ambitieux de l’art parisien du xve siècle à nous être parvenus. Il a été commandé par Dreux Budé, notaire et secrétaire du roi mais aussi prévôt des marchands, représenté sur le volet de gauche. Le retable est destiné à la chapelle qu il a fondée dans le chevet de l’église Saint-Gervais-Saint-Protais à Paris. Le peintre qui tire son nom de ces tableaux a été identifié à André d’Ypres. Usant des plis marqués et des corps graciles, ce dernier y montre une certaine allégeance à la leçon de Rogier van der Weyden. Il a peint ici le plus ancien tableau français conservé figurant une scène nocturne.

D’après un carton de Jacques Daret – Délivrance de saint Pierre
Pays-Bas méridionaux, avant 1461. Laine et soie
Paris, musée de Cluny – musée national du Moyen Âge, CI. 1235
La tapisserie comporte aux quatre angles les armes de Guillaume de Hellande, évêque de Beauvais de 1444 à 1462, et du chapitre de la cathédrale Saint-Pierre de la même ville. Elle est le fruit de la commande de ce chapitre cathédral auprès de l’un des grands centres de tapisserie des Pays-Bas bourguignons. C’est le peintre d’origine tournaisienne Jacques Daret, formé dans l’atelier de Robert Campin, qui en a donné les cartons. C’est grâce à l’importation d’œuvres comme celle-ci que les nouveautés se diffusent dans le royaume de Charles VII.

This is what I meant when I said the museum had changed a lot… the artefacts and tapestries used to hang on the stone walls of the building, now the entire interior of the museum has white walls installed for the art to be viewed on, and it doesn’t feel Iike it is ‘in situ’ anymore.

Anges, Val de Loire, vers 1460-1470.
Pierre calcaire, traces de polychromie
Tours, musée des Beaux-Arts, inv. HG D 964.002.00001 et HG 968.028.0001
Portant les armes de Jean V de Bueil et de Jeanne de Montjean, ces deux anges (d’une série de quatre) proviennent du tombeau érigé par la famille de Bueil dans la collégiale Saint-Michel de Bueil-en-Touraine (Indre-et-Loire). Amiral de France en 1450, Jean de Bueil a joué un rôle important dans la reconquête du royaume par Charles VII. Stylistiquement proches du gisant d Agnès Sorel, ces anges montrent cependant une recherche d’animation plus marquée, avec des drapés épais et creusés, ou des cheveux agités de grosses mèches.

Panneau semé de fleurs de lis – France, deuxième tiers du xve siècle ?
Tapisserie, laine et soie. Paris, musée de Cluny-musée national du Moyen Âge, CI. 14361.

Guillaume Revel – Registre d’armes, dit Armorial Revel Moulins, vers 1450-1460.
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, département des Manuscrits, Français 22297

Reliquaire de la Sainte Épine,
Égypte, xexie siècle. Paris, vers 1420-1450. Cristal de roche, or fondu, ciselé, émaillé, perles, rubis
Reims, palais du Tau,inv. D-TAU1972000010 (dépôt de la CRMH Grand Est); classé au titre des Monuments historiques, le 28 février 1896

Médailles de Charles VII dites les Calaisiennes. Émissions entre 1451 et 1460.
Or, frappe. Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Département des Monnaies, Médailles et Antiques, SR 10, 14, 16, 17, 20, 21, 24 et 26. Ces monnaies, appelées improprement calaisiennes. (Calais ne fut pas repris aux Anglais avant 1558), célèbrent la reconquête politique et militaire du roi.

Peut-être commandées par ce dernier ou par un de ses grands officiers, elles constituaient très vraisemblablement des présents de haut prix récompensant alliances et soutiens fidèles. Elles furent frappées pendant la dernière décennie du règne du roi et mettent en avant dans les inscriptions bavardes ses succès militaires, ses réformes et sa légitimité autour de symboles exaltant la majesté royale (roi chevauchant ou trônant, écu armorié, croix).

Altarpiece of the Passion and Childhood of Christ
Hutch (central structure): Christ carrying the cross; the Crucifixion; the Deposition from the cross (upper part of the hutch); The Nativity; the Adoration of the Magi; on each side: angels presenting the instruments of the Passion (lower part of the hutch). Polychromed wood (oak)
Wings: The twelve standing apostles; below: busts of twelve prophets (inner face); The Annunciation; on both sides: saint presenting a donor; sainted bishop; below: the four evangelists (outer side)
Oil on wood (oak): Northern Ile-de-France (Beauvais?), around 1520-1530
From the church of Saint-Martial in Champdeuil (Seine-et-Marne, France)


The Treasure of Oignies is largely composed of reliquaries.
Many have been built to house the relics of the priory, including those of Marie d’Oignies. Reliquaries are receptacles for collecting the relics of saints and blessed people. Whether corporeal relics or contact relics (clothing and objects that have come into contact with them), relics are sometimes accompanied by authentic, small labels used to identify them. The sanctity of the relics is reflected on their containers. Some of them are designed from the outset to serve as reliquaries, while others are adapted for this purpose.
The Treasure of Oignies has a variety of types of reliquaries.
It has reliquary crosses, which are also Reliquaries of the Holy Cross, i.e. deemed to contain a fragment of the Cross of Christ. It also includes anatomical reliquaries: those of the feet of Saint James the Great and Saint Blaise, the reliquary of the rib of Saint Peter, and of the jaw of Saint Barnabas. There is also the curious bird-shaped reliquary of the Virgin’s milk, phylacteries and monstrance reliquaries that make the relics visible.

Phylacteries of Saint Hubert
Oignies workshop, circa 1230-1235. Gilded silver, filigree, stones and rock crystal on wooden core
Coll. Fondation

Cradle of devotion – “Jesus’ Rest” and its storage box
Southern Netherlands, around 1500. Oak, ivory, metal alloy
Devotion to the crèche is attested as early as the 2nd century. This miniature cradle, which still preserves its storage box decorated with coat of arms, belongs to a group of devotional objects popular from the 15th century in monastic communities as well as in the private sphere. The small bells chime when the cradle is rocked.

Four tapestries – Tapestry cycie on seigneurial life
Paris (P), early 15 century. Wool and silk
This ensemble of millefieur tapestries (set against a background of floral motifs) represents the activities of the elite of the late Middle Ages: taking walks, bathing with music, embroidery, reading and spinning. Lacking a sign of ownership and reusing the same figures, it was likely woven prior to purchase, to be presented to potential buyers sure to be impressed by its bucolic décor.

Board game box, France, about 1500.
Stained bone and walnut wood, ebony, ivory.
Made with noble materials, this game box executed in France is one of the oldest known. The pawns and pieces, made of ivory, bone or wood, came from Europe and were designed at various times.
It contained at least six different games, testifying to the taste for entertainment in the Middle Ages.
Some of these games are still familiar to us, such as chess and tric-trac (a kind of backgammon), while others have disappeared: nine-men’s morris, “fox and geese”, tourniquet, and glick (the ancestor of poker).

Lidded hexagonal salt cellar. Italy, 1370. Pewter.

Drinking horn in the shape of a griffin’s claw – Germanic countries, about 1500.
Horn, engraved and gilded copper.
This bull’s horn, mounted in a precious metal setting, rests on eagle talons that evoke a griffin, a legendary animal that is half-eagle, half-lion. Saint Corneille, a pope, was said to have received a claw from a griffin he cured. Transformed into a drinking cup, the claw was believed to detect poison in drinks. A sign of wealth, this object may have decorated a table or dresser where precious dinnerware was displayed.

Pavise – Portcullis. Germanic countries, 1st quarter of the 16th century. Wood.

Pavise – David and Goliath. Bohemia, about 1480. Wood, fabric, leather, paint.
This pavise, whose lower part is missing, was used during the Hussite wars, as a tool in the context of an entirely original military organisation. Pavisiers (who earned more than other foot soldiers) held the shields in place, while pike men stood behind them. They could sustain heavy cavalry charges and successfully repel them.

Targe – Maltese Cross and roses. Germanic countries, last quarter of the 15thC, wood, paint.
This small targe was used in “courtesy” jousting (a joust à plaisance, as opposed to joust à outrance, or grudge matches, where opponents could fight to the death), or even during simple demonstrations.
During jousting, it would be held to the left armpit, protecting it while marking the target on which the opponent should break his lance.

Two cups and a dish. Manises, early 16th century Ceramic with metallic lustre.
Though purchased together, the cup on the right and the dish above it do not necessarily go together. They nonetheless share similarities with the other cup, like their golden lustred decor and the choice of a pseudo-heraldic motif for their ombilics (central circles in relief). The base of the cups features a motif resembling musical notes, called solfa. The care taken with the plant motifs and the harmony of colours with metallic highlights are in line with vessels created in Valencia from the late 15th century, when blue disappeared in favour of golden monochrome, accentuating a likeness to metalware. The gadroons (moulding in relief) reinforce the similarity to copper dishware.

Marten head – northern Italy, late 15th or 16th century Gilded copper, glass, bone.
This object, composed of a copper mount enclosing the head of a marten (animal associated with fertility) was likely placed at the end of a fur, as shown by the fastening holes in the metal. “Lice furs” in the form of martens, sables, foxes or beech martens, meant to serve as lice traps, were worn over the shoulder or attached to a belt. Certain furs were adorned with rock crystal and precious stones on their extremities.

Reliquary-monstrance. Lombardy region (Italy),
last quarter of the 15th century Cast, embossed, engraved and gilded copper, painted enamel, glass.

Papal rings in the name of Popes Paul II (1464-1471) and Sixtus IV (1471-1484)
Central Italy, 2d half of the 15th century Gilded copper alloy, rock crystal; red foil (CI. 9192)
Inscriptions: PIA/PA PAULO; P[A]PA SIXTUS.
These imposing rings, adorned with symbols of the evangelists, each bear the name of a pope. One of them also displays Pope Sixtus IV’s coat of arms (CI.9192). They were worn on top of gloves (by papal legates?). Some sixty of these rings dating to the 15′ century have survived to this day.

I will take the ring…

As is customary in the SCA, during the Reign of Leofric I and Sabine II a cypher was created to bestow upon those who had helped and assisted us during Our tenure. Given King Leofric is a master jeweller and in possession of particularly fine skills, he decided to create an Anglo-Saxon ring that We could gift to those wonderful Gentles who assisted Us through our crazy Covid reign.

We worked together on the design and Leofric handmade the master ring, that a mould was then created from. Once the rings were all cast and completed, from the moment I first held one in my hand… my immediate response was, ‘I really NEED to throw this ring into the Thames for a happy mudlarker to find!’ His work was stunning as per usual, and it was a beautiful recreation of a 9/10thC Anglo Saxon ring.

I had no notion of when I might next be in the UK, but had decided one was destined for the Thames when I did finally make it abroad again.  As luck would have it, a trip was unexpectedly arranged not long after our international borders were opened… and barely two short months after these rings were created, I found myself back in England. As fortune (and my itinerary) would have it, I did not once manage to get into the centre of London and instead found myself happily sojourning in the countryside for the days I spent there instead.

Seeing I had (somewhat deliberately) avoided the hustle and bustle of the city, I recruited my dear friend, Kev Z to take on the commission of tossing the cypher ring into the Thames on my behalf. This morning, three days after my return to Australia, while enjoying my habitual heatpack and a cup of tea, I receive the following messages from the gorgeous Kev, to whom the ring was entrusted to its destination…

“I have a small tale to tell you…
We boarded the tube into central London, bound for the Millennium Bridge…And arriving at London Bridge, in the shadow of Southwark Cathedral, we wandered through Borough Market…Passed a ship once sailed by the favourite of a great Queen…To a place where great tales of romance and betray have been told for immortal centuries…And onto a bridge…Watched by a great spire…

The final resting place.

I had asked Kev if he might film a small clip of himself tossing the ring into the Thames from the Millennium Bridge such that I might share with Leofric – and instead he took me on a delightful little adventure through London, and shared a poem as he completed his commission.

Kev, you gorgeous (gorgeous!) man, thank you ever so much for this – I had not envisaged how my whimsical request would be turned into such a thoughtful and memorable journey, but I should have known that your beautifully poetic and artistic soul was never going to unceremoniously dump the ring into the Thames, like a tourist throwing a coin into a well!

I really do hope that some happy (and potentially confused?!) mudlarker might one day find it, and that they might somehow contact Lochac, saying, “WTF?!”  🙂

Kev’s poem:

Thief

Ten thousand treasures
Strewn beneath dust
An arid garland
of abundance,
How many fortunes
blessed me.
A deluge of gold
Flowed through
these hands
Spilling in
brilliant cascade
Rare and remarkable,
So many jewels
Tumbled from these
graceless palms
Clumsy in their gathering,
Tarnished by a softly
oiled touch
Their glamour gifting
me glow
To melt into air
Dispersed upon
lonely darkness.

Treasures they remain,
Every one
Whilst these spoiling
hands inelegant linger.

Niall’s Iron Chain

There has been quite a bit of curiosity about the Iron Chain that was bestowed upon Jarl Niáll at Coronation… Please see the text below for the words that were shared at the time of presentation regarding the history and intent of the award:

Good populace, We beg your indulgence, for We have a tale that We would share with you all… a letter of Our Gratitude, an Unusual Quandry and an Extraordinary Request.

“DEAR…? During this reign, We have found in Our midst, a singularly unusual Gentle who is a citizen of Our Fine Kingdom of Lochac. This Gentle is one We would see showered with accolades for His exceptional personal virtues of courtesy, grace and chivalry; His uncommon valour, exceptional bravery and Laudable sense of
Honour – attributes which he exhibits in Our Society, as well as in His Mundane Life.

Sadly, We found Ourselves faced with an Unusual Quandry as there is no fitting Award that exists in Our Kingdom that would appropriately mark the deeds of this Extraordinary Gentle. The singularly
honourable person of whom We speak is Niáll inn Orknevski, Duke of the Kingdom of Lochac and mundanely a high-ranking Commander with the Australian Border Forces

*Let Jarl Niáll be bought before Us *

Within the Society, the valiant and selfless deeds of this Honourable man are but little known – with the exception of one occasion where he saved a woman from choking at a local feast. For those who
never heard of this deed, Niáll noticed a commotion across a candlelit feasting hall and saw a Gentle in obvious distress. He strode across the room, took charge of the situation, lifted the afflicted gentle to her feet and performed a Heimlich manoeuvre to clear her airway, thus saving her life. We dread to think how an incident of this nature may have played out had He not been present and in possession of a
particular level-headedness in a crisis. We relate this story as but one example to convey how Niáll is, and continues to be, an Asset to Our Society.

However heroic this rescue may have been, it is actually His mundane deeds that We wish to draw Your attention towards. Niáll has worked in law enforcement of diverse types over the years, where he has
variously been responsible for coordinating border management across
numerous multicultural stakeholders throughout the Australia/Pacific arena. Additionally, he has extensive experience in investigations, counter-proliferation and immigration. Indeed he has applied all these skills to Our Society’s benefit as well, having acted for two years as Deputy Kingdom Seneschal, in charge of investigations.

In September 2021 (which now seems ever so long ago!) Niáll was called upon to be Forward Commander in a very particular response operation responsible for the evacuation of the entire Australian Cohort
from Afghanistan, which included a large number of Australian civilians and refugees. As part of His execution of these duties, He unexpectedly found himself responsible for the extraction of a number
of unaccompanied minors. His role in the rescuing of these children from an uncertain fate under a pernicious foreign power, is such that We cannot provide much detail – the exact nature of the work executed by Niáll is not widely known and We are not able to paint a clearer picture for the Wider Populace due to the nature of His work. The only reason We are privy to the personal cost that Niall faced to
secure these children – is because We recently have had the unusual Honour of assisting Him in updating His curriculum vitae.

Niáll’s conduct during the Operation went far and above His remit in his role as Forward Commander. We are fortunate He and his team were returned safely to Us, and We are all surely grateful that through
his service there are families and children living safely in Australia today because He is the sort of person who does not think twice about putting himself between Innocent Children and Dangerous Men.

Niáll does not readily speak of this trial, (nor should anyone press him to), but having known him for many years, We can say that for some time, this experience noticeably changed him.

Which brings Us to Our Unusual Request… We would from the depths of Our ever so humble heart, recommend unto Your Most Gracious Majesties King Sven and Queen Rauokinn of An-Tir, this extraordinary
Gentle for Your Consideration. Though He be distant from Your Lands, We believe that this remarkable Soul is deserving of admission to An Tir’s famed Order of the Iron Chain, for He is the very epitome of
everything this Order stands for. We know it is not common to bestow awards to Gentles across Kingdoms in this manner, particularly during these Plaque Years when Wayfaring is difficult to impossible, but it would be the singular greatest Honour of Our Reign if We were
able to see this award home to such a worthy recipient should You find Our petition agreeable.

Yours in Service to the Crown and
Kingdom of Lochac,
Queen Sabine”

For any who may be unaware, the Order of the Iron Chain is a polling order established in An Tir in AS 12 (mundanely 1978) it has been bestowed but 17 times in the 44 years since its inception, to recognise rare acts of selfless bravery in a mundane and/or Society setting.

“Niáll, it is therefore Our very great honour and privilege to announce that on the 23rd day of April, Anno Societatis 56, at Honor War held at the College of Lyons Marche, Their Most Gracious and Undoubted
Majesties King Sven and Queen Rauokinn of An Tir, did admit Niall inn Orkneyski, Duke of Lochac, resident of Politarchopolis and Noble member of the Ravning, to An Tir’s prestigious Order of the Iron Chain.

Assembled populace, Pray join Us in offering three of your heartiest cheers for the newest member and only the 18th Gentle in the last 44 years, to be admitted to the famed Order of the Iron Chain of An
Tir!

For Niáll inn Orkneyski, Hip hip, HUZZAH!”


Niáll inn Orkneyski was admitted to the Order of the Iron Chain
By King Svenn & Queen Rauokinn of Antir at Honor War, Held in the College of Lyons Marche, (Clarkston, WA, USA).
The award was conveyed through the hands of King Leofric I and Queen Sabine II at the last court of Their Reign in the Barony of Borders Cros May 7th, Anno Societatis 57

Lochac Order of Grace – Lokki Rekkr

I am delighted to be bestowing this award today, though I do regret that the Plague has meant it is being awarded in absentia.

Our modern medieval society has been built as the embodiment of the courtly ideals of honour and integrity, courtesy and Grace. We can live these ideals by being kind, sincere and genuine in Our interactions with the community around us. Too often, this means exemplifying a conduct that sometimes we feel is sadly lacking in Our modern lives. Even under the very easiest of circumstances, Our best selves can inadvertently be buried under the strain of modern and mundane commitments.

The ability to face adversity with grace, courtesy and honour is a an even more uncommon virtue. I wish to speak to you of one who has shown Us exactly that virtue.

During my previous reign, We encountered an extremely stressful and difficult situation where the confidentiality of a grievance procedure had been breached.  Our procedures for complaints and grievances are by necessity, confidential – to protect the dignity and privacy of those who may find themselves victims of poor behaviour, and to protect the reputation of any being complained against from premature reputational harm.  Are our procedures perfect?  Certainty not… but We promise you, there are a team of hard working and well-intentioned Gentles charged with overseeing this less than pleasant aspect of Our Society. They are extremely diligent in their duties and take great care of each and every incident brought to their attention.

Unfortunately, this particular confidentiality breach led to widespread condemnation of an individual before to the facts and the minutiae of the investigations, or the formal outcomes of the complaint process were able to be released.  The result saw one of Our populace widely and publicly criticized, and the administrative arm of the Society left somewhat powerless to take any action to rectify this.  Given this happened under my previous tenure as Queen – I have felt a heavy responsibility for this situation.

The Gentle of whom I speak is the Honourable Lord Lokki Rekkr of Aneala. I did not know Lokki at all prior to travelling to Aneala in Nov AS54. When I did finally meet with him, I was and continue to be, impressed by the graciousness and the generosity of spirit that he has displayed throughout this situation. When faced with numerous slings and arrows, Lord Lokki expressed himself humbly and with uncommon grace and courtesy. His countenance at the time was one of sadness – not for himself and the attacks he was enduring, but for unknowingly having left such an impact on someone in his past. He had thought the apologies he had offered at the time, had been accepted and was visibly pained to discover that wasn’t the case.

To be completely honest, I think I expected to be met by a young man feeling aggrieved at being lambasted so publicly, but instead I was met with mature member of our populous who displayed an extraordinary grace, courtesy and empathy, even under the weight of this enormous stressor.  Surprisingly, he repeatedly took pains to defend his detractor’s right to speak their version of events, and would not allow any within his earshot to speak a single bad word against them. 

Ever since, I have been somewhat awed at the courtesy, grace, integrity, and honour that he displayed in the face of this adversity – I somewhat suspect that I might not have been able to face a situation such as this, with half so much of his grace, courtesy, or generosity. His conduct for the last decade in Our Kingdom has been exemplary – he is as chivalrous and gentlemanly as any Knight of Lochac. There is no doubt in my mind that he is a role model to his Barony and a positive influence in Our Society. I believe him to be a good man, with a good heart and would therefore see him awarded with one of the most precious gifts in my favour – the Lochac Order of Grace.

12th Night Coronation – Mordenvale

Unto the fair Populace of Lochac does Niáll and Sabine send this missive of fond farewell.

Today has seen Our Heirs, Theuderic and Engelin elevated to their Proper Place as Rightful King and Queen of Lochac.

We are extraordinarily honoured to have been able to serve the Kingdom over the last half a year and are confident that Our Successors will be a boon to this, our Great Kingdom.

We wish to thank our Royal Household for their hard work and support throughout our reign – but more particularly we wish to thank them for their friendship, their time and their good company.

Thank you also to the various Kingdom Officers, event stewards and administrators who work so closely with the Crown to assisted us in performing our sworn duties. We also would thank the various Orders of Peerage for their excellent counsel – your advice and support was much appreciated, and enabled us to recognise many fine gentles throughout the Kingdom.

Thank you too, to the friendly and welcoming Populace who attended events with us over the last six months – it has been our honour and privilege to serve you as your King and Queen. The memories we have created together will definitely stay with us.

Yours with great affection, and as ever in Service to the Crown of Lochac… Long live King Theuderic! Long live Queen Engelin! And long live the fine Gentles of Lochac!

Jarl Niáll inn Orkneyski
&
Countess Sabine du Bourbonnais