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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 28 Feb, 2006 1:21 pm    Post subject: The Right To Keep and Arm Bears         Reply with quote

Gotta love historic artwork as it pertains to our field of study....Here are just a couple of smaller versions of the large-size gems posted by our Russian colleagues here: http://www.bern.ru/v2/?t=gallery&i=null&ig=33

The first of these is allegorical and depicts soldiers as bears for reasons unkwown to me. I've never seen it before, and it's now a new favorite. The second is just a head-scratcher. Why a fish skeleton? What's the message? Does it relate to the shield-owner's name in some way? Is it intended to intimidate the opponent ("Hey, I'm going to eat you like I ate this fish!")? Is it a philosophical commentary on the hardships of long months of campaigning ("I Stink, Therefore I Am")? The woman depicted here doesn't seem to know, either, as she's making the universal sign for "What did you buy now?" Some of you may have seen this in your own home.



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-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Tue 28 Feb, 2006 1:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Could be a parody, reffering to someone who's emblem was a Fish ... "We are doing so badly, even the heraldic fish has been eaten..." :P

Seriously, who knows? In peripheral areas, like norway or switzerland, people just painted whatever they felt like on their shields... from their initials to moor's heads, to, well , number one

"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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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 28 Feb, 2006 1:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That's another great art resource! Thanks, Elling!
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Wolfgang Armbruster





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PostPosted: Tue 28 Feb, 2006 2:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, the city is called "Bern", which is derived from "Bär" (=bear). You can see the city's coat of arms in the first pic, which features a bear. So the next logical step would be to portray Bernese troops as bears (for whatever reason :P).

Here's the big version: http://www.bern.ru/v2/?t=view_photo&ig=33...;f=227.jpg

The text says: Allegorisches Bild als Titelblatt zum Laupenkrieg.

Translation: Allegorical Picture as a title page for the Laupen War

Find out more about the battle of Laupen here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Laupen


Talking about bears: Urs is a very popular swiss name. Guess what it means Wink

I'll try to find out more about the second picture.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 28 Feb, 2006 2:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks, again! The fish image is similar to another that does have a German caption. In that case, it's simply a family portrait.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Wolfgang Armbruster





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PostPosted: Tue 28 Feb, 2006 2:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hmmm, the fish could also be a religious symbol. The fish was (and still is) an early symbol of christianity after all.

I have to say that the pictures in this chronicle are very accurate on arms and armour. It's definitely a 15th century chronicle judging from the armour-styles. You can see people wearing sallets and kettle-hats with bevors as well as visored bascinets. Another hint that these two helmets were worn side by side for some time.
Another intersting thing is that a lot of soldiers are wearing almost sword-sized baselards in addition to their longswords. On some pictures the typical fishtail-pommels on longswords are clearly visible.
On some pictures you can even see falchion/messer-style weapons, but the baselard-sword seems to have been much more popular among the swiss.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 28 Feb, 2006 6:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Can be taken as proof from period sources of Armed Bears. Eek! So Walt Disney was factually accurate portraying talking animals. These must also be the ancestors of Yogie Bear.

So if swords could cleave helms easily according to period sources, talking bears organized in armies are historically accurate. ( Just messing with you guys. Razz Razz Razz )

The fact that we currently see no European villages filled with talking bears must be due to some 16th century Pogrom that slaughtered them all. ( More fuel for liberal p.c. guilt trips: The senseless slaughter of the talking bears. Razz Razz Razz )

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Tue 28 Feb, 2006 8:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wolfgang Armbruster wrote:
Well, the city is called "Bern", which is derived from "Bär" (=bear). You can see the city's coat of arms in the first pic, which features a bear. So the next logical step would be to portray Bernese troops as bears (for whatever reason :P).


This was my thought as well. I was in Bern several years ago, and I recall they had a legend that supposedly dated back to before the Renaissance that if the bears ever left Bern that the city would fall. Because of this they actually have a little pen where two bears are always taken care of in the city.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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