Between Imagination and Reality: the Apocalyptic Warfare in Illustrated Medieval Manuscripts.

Иванов, Ивелин (2014) Between Imagination and Reality: the Apocalyptic Warfare in Illustrated Medieval Manuscripts. Сб. с материали от интензивна програма „Стандарти на всекидневието през Средновековието и Новото време”. Ред К. Мутафова, Н. Христова, И. Иванов, Г. Георгиева. Велико Търново: „Фабер”, 2014, т. III, с. 294-308. ISBN 978-619-00-0176-8

  The author focuses the analysis on the image of the apocalyptic warfare in 13th – 14th c. apocalypses which are relatively neglected as information sources on the warfare of the period. According to the author, despite the fact that ‘reading’ the images is a relatively new but quite beneficial method for studying illuminated medieval manuscripts there is still little written on visual image of war and warfare. A number of illustrated English apocalypses of the 13th – 14th c. period can also be found among those manuscripts. At the end, the author Ivelin Ivanov formulates the following conclusions. First,some of the analysed manuscripts and images could be connected with the representation of a clash between legitimate and illegitimate authorities followed by knights and other, common warriors. From this point of view a certain part of the miniatures gives the impression of a riot or a feud. Generally, that could be interpreted as a riot against a legal authority in the 12th-13th cc. political reality. Following this point of view,the author mentions the continuation of an apocalypse from the end of the 13th c. in which we find vivid evidence for the destructive power of the knighthood and the substantial role of the Church and the Episcopacy in its restrain. The story is closely connected with the didactic character of the Revelation of St John for the knightly class which must to come after the supreme seigneur : God, Christ, The Church, and the bishop. The other positions (following and fighting for the kings who are aggressive to the Church for example) brings to an destruction of the soul and the body, both. At the same time other images could be interpreted in the light of guerra or bellum because of the fact they represent a picture of a collision, a total war between the armies of Christendom and the warriors of the beast and the Antichrist. Finally, the author points out that the analyzed images supply the researcher with interesting information about different categories of warriors, their weaponry and social background. The differences between knights and common soldiers are obvious but they do not reflect only social and military hierarchy. Their message is that the clash with the Antichrist is not just a battle, it is a total war or guerre mortelle in which all those capable of carrying arms should rise against the powers of Evil. Here we could find remnants an old military system or bann in which the volunteer corps is summoned only in cases of an external intrusion. That is why some of the images represent the knighthood as an avant-garde while the masses consist of free commoners. Ivelin Ivanov underlines, that this could help to explain the abundant presence of ‘non-nobles’ and ‘non-knightly’ weaponry among the armies of Christ and that is where the uniqueness of the studied apocalypses lies. Although seemingly far from war and warfare at first sight, they are a source of valuable information and the comparative analysis of the 13th – 14th cc. apocalyptic literature could fill in part of the blanks in Medieval Studies.
 medieval Apocalyptic manuscripts, Apocalyptic warfare, bellum, guerra, feud, tex-image analysis

 Ивелин Иванов

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