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Boris R.





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PostPosted: Sun 17 Oct, 2010 3:07 am    Post subject: meaning of trampled lion in effigies         Reply with quote

Does the constant image of a lion under the feet of a praying knight has a special symbolic meaning?



Somehow, i always took for granted it symbolises bravery, but now when i think of it more there seems to be some other animals than lions, dogs or even dragons (besides St. George's depictions).
Can someone spill the beans, please

Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Oct, 2010 4:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As far as I have gathered, the beasts symbolize, well, the Beast. It is a sign of triumph against the sinful human nature. You sometimes find them at the base of columns in churches as well.
"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Boris R.





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PostPosted: Sun 17 Oct, 2010 5:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:
As far as I have gathered, the beasts symbolize, well, the Beast. It is a sign of triumph against the sinful human nature. You sometimes find them at the base of columns in churches as well.


Basically it means that the knight in question lived a pure and pious life? Cool, haven't thought of that - . -

Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sun 17 Oct, 2010 6:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Check out our Featured article on Monumental Brasses. You see men with dogs, lions, etc. at their feet. At one point, the beast was thought to signify how the person died. A lion might have meant they died in battle, a dog meant at home, something else meant at home (or not on the battlefield) as a result of battle wounds. But that doesn't hold true. Also, you see women and civilians with these animals as well.
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Glen A Cleeton




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Oct, 2010 9:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Has the use of the lions in effigy been found outside of England?

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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
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PostPosted: Sun 17 Oct, 2010 10:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adding a link here to a Google book regarding foot supports of effigies. There is another volume of Brewer's out there with a lot less to read.

http://books.google.com/books?id=aNUUAAAAIAAJ

Early secular effigies in England: the thirteenth century By H. A. Tummers

The search was lions in effigy, as I wandered through a general internet search.

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GC
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Douglas S





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PostPosted: Mon 18 Oct, 2010 2:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
Also, you see women and civilians with these animals as well.

You mean they never died in combat? (Devil's advocate here....)
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Mon 18 Oct, 2010 6:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Douglas S wrote:
Chad Arnow wrote:
Also, you see women and civilians with these animals as well.

You mean they never died in combat? (Devil's advocate here....)


Douglas,
Of course women and civilians died in combat. Happy But you're missing the point. My point (which was also made in myArmoury's article on Monumental Brasses) is that not everyone with a particular animal died in the way that animal would indicate. So assuming a lion is indicative of death in battle (I may be wrong on that but work with me here...), there are plenty of effigies of people with lions (knights, civilians, and women) who didn't die on the battlefield.

Also, the OP was about knights so I felt it was necessary to mention that these animals appear in non-knightly contexts as well.

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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Mon 18 Oct, 2010 6:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't know what it was intended to symbolize, but it carries some pretty clear underlying imagery of dominance. Dominance in general and power over nature in particular. In an age where people had much less control over the world than we do today, this might have meant even more than it would to us today, denoting the special power of the nobility.

The medieval nobility were also big into hunting. People today still kill big things and then pose for photos with their foot on top of the beast. I'm not saying this is the same thing, just that the underlying sentiment is similar.

Of course that's a psychological, not historic perspective, but I think that human nature does not change so much.
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John Hickey




Location: Melbourne
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PostPosted: Sat 01 Oct, 2011 7:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:
As far as I have gathered, the beasts symbolize, well, the Beast. It is a sign of triumph against the sinful human nature. You sometimes find them at the base of columns in churches as well.


I have no support for this but I keep stumbling across a psalm when I'm trying to find more info on this imagery which I'm inclined to think supports the lion underfoot as a religious symbolism, thought it might help someone.

Psalm 91:13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

The psalm is all about god protecting a devout believer from all dangers. The use of beasts underfoot in memorial iconography might have been to promote the idea that the persons spirit had been given to the protection of god etc.

As I said I have little to support this as a theory but it made sense to me so thought I'd throw my two cents in, maybe it will help someone who is better at the research side of things.
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Eugeny Davidov




Location: Chelyabinsk Russia
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PostPosted: Sat 01 Oct, 2011 7:30 am    Post subject: meaning of trampled lion in effigies         Reply with quote

The lion in medieval symbolism means devil. There is well known definition in Bible that the devil walks on earth like snarling lion (don't remember exact place). So trampled lion means that knight spend his life as good christian having trampled the devil and prepared to meet the God in Heaven.
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