Ecclesiastical garb and equipment?

Viking, Saxon, and Early Christian Irish cultures

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Ecclesiastical garb and equipment?

Postby carraig on Wed Jun 04, 2008 9:49 pm

It's a bit of a sub-topic to my previous as of yet incomplete crusade for A to Z viking period Gaelic kit, but I thought it would be better to make a separate topic for them monks and harlots, dah, rewind, I mean monks and nuns :lol:

The only depictions of Irish monks are in Giraldus' manuscript, depicting them in long tunics, hooded, with a separate mantle. The mantles are brownish and the tunics are off-white, yellowish, brown and similar.

This makes me ask - what about pre-Norman period? Are there any good depictions of clerics and monks?

What about their equipment? Many would be scribes or rubificators or did the illuminations, so parchment, quills and ink are common. At this stage, believe it or not, scribes didn't have desks or other such luxuries, most were writing with parchment on their lap (as I'm told at paleography classes at the University). But writing is another subject.

Now - weapons. Despite Cornwellian images of monks and priests believing their God will protect them from Danish and Norse swords, it seems logical, that at the time they could have some arms to defend themselves against heathens. However I'm not familiar with restrictions or lack of them, regarding weapons for clergy. Anyone?
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Re: Ecclesiastical garb and equipment?

Postby brendan on Thu Jun 05, 2008 9:07 am

you have raised a few issues:
  • Military capability of monasteries
  • Monastic garb in the pre conquest era
The whole "monks robes" bit came in with the religious orders(Augustinians etc). These mostly got here around the time of the Norman conquest.
Prior to that it is a bit hazey. We know for definite that the Tonsure of St John (From ear to ear front part of head is shaved) was preferred over the Tonsure of St Peter (circle at the top).
The depiction we have are mostly on monuments, manuiscripts etc and as a result are subject to the same concerns as "normal" clothing. However, you could assume that monks were more likely to dress in that sort of clothing, during rituals/ceremonies etc.
For colours I think that you are back to the colours that were appopriate for the monk's social status - which was measured based on his skillset.
I dont really have any info on nuns

military capability
There is strong evidence of monasteries having military power - Columcille was exiled for starting a war between 2 monasteries. There are other references but I havent got the specifics
Many monasteries were tightly linked to a neighbouring king. Essentially, the land was given by the king to the monastery BUT unlike elsewhere in Europe the king could not give the land, he could only give use of it. What this meant is that in a lot of cases the king was able to influence/decide on who would be abbot. This was often a close family member of the king.
Given this fact it is highly likely that the monastery could call upon military support from the neighbouring king.
Last edited by brendan on Thu Jun 05, 2008 9:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ecclesiastical garb and equipment?

Postby Andrea L Redden on Thu Jun 05, 2008 2:41 pm

Could some of the saints and angels in the Book of Kells be wearing whatever passed for ecclesiastical garb in Ireland at the time?

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Re: Ecclesiastical garb and equipment?

Postby brendan on Thu Jun 05, 2008 9:21 pm

That is what I was referring to about manuscript based sources. Certainly, it makes sense at one level. BUT this may only be how monks/priests dressed during religious ceremonies

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Re: Ecclesiastical garb and equipment?

Postby Andrea L Redden on Fri Jun 06, 2008 5:07 am

brendan wrote:That is what I was referring to about manuscript based sources. Certainly, it makes sense at one level. BUT this may only be how monks/priests dressed during religious ceremonies.

There is that. :(

So what other Irish manuscripts survive from before the Norman invasion? Have folio reproductions been produced of any of them and has anybody sat down and trolled through them for illustrations? I'm 17000kms away so I'm afraid I can't volunteer :cry:

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Re: Ecclesiastical garb and equipment?

Postby tri on Fri Jun 06, 2008 7:37 am

Check out 'The bishops' synod : (the first synod of St. Patrick) : a symposium with text, translation and commentary' edited by M.J. Faris. Its the text and discussion of the earliest recorded meeting of the Bishops in Ireland and the main points of discussion also include rules about clothing, hair styles, correct behaviour of monks etc.

It's been a long time since I've read this so the memory is a little hazy...it should be easy enough to get hold of in University libraries. If anyone is stuck for a copy I'll get it out again and stick up a summary when I get the chance.

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Re: Ecclesiastical garb and equipment?

Postby Seathrun on Wed Jun 11, 2008 12:42 am

I have been looking for processional crosses from the 10th c. Has anyone seen evidence in Ireland for these? I have seen other staff typle oblects in illustrations or carvings. I have not seen an actual cross find. I am interested in doing a brass casting of one. I have seen some wonderful ones from the eastern church for this time.
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Re: Ecclesiastical garb and equipment?

Postby brendan on Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:56 pm

Hmm, it strikes me that we should have a "next time you are in the museum can you check.." thread.
I thought straight off of the Cross of Cong but that is C12.

I think part of the problem may be that reliquaries etc were embellished over time by adding new bits.

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Re: Ecclesiastical garb and equipment?

Postby oleg on Wed Jun 11, 2008 9:11 pm

Seathrun wrote:I have been looking for processional crosses from the 10th c. Has anyone seen evidence in Ireland for these? I have seen other staff typle oblects in illustrations or carvings. I have not seen an actual cross find. I am interested in doing a brass casting of one. I have seen some wonderful ones from the eastern church for this time.
Seth



I'm not sure I get the term processional cross properly.
But I know so called Antrim Cross, around 800 AD.
More details from Hunt Museum website.
The Antrim Cross
Metal -- Copper alloy -- Bronze (cast), Glass -- Enamel
H 16.8 x W 16.4
HCA 627
Religious / ritual equipment
The Antrim Cross is a bronze cross with five equal arms. The cross has five pyramidal bosses each in the form of a truncated pyramid. The side of the pyramids are decorated with interlocking angular fields of yellow enamel, alternating with a similar-coloured design of an arrow within a truncated triangle. The pyramidal boss at the centre is taller and has angular enamelled panels on two of its four sides. The other two sides, back to back, differ in that they are decorated with an animal design, once fully enamelled between its raised outlines. The flat tops of the bosses are decorated with small squares of millefiori enamel. Rivet-holes in the separately cast base-plate show that this cross was attached to a flat surface, perhaps that of a house-shaped reliquary. The cross was found in County Antrim.


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Re: Ecclesiastical garb and equipment?

Postby Seathrun on Thu Jun 12, 2008 1:19 pm

Oh that would work too. I will look for more info on that one and may do it too. Thanks
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