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1. Motifs of Jewish Significance in the West Front FriezeMoving from left to right along the frieze, the first half of the frieze broadly covers themes of traditional Christian piety and stories from the New Testament, while those on the right cover themes from the Old Testament. The overall message of the West Front seems quite clear. There is a graphic warning of Hell for the unrepentant sinner and the promise of the reward of Heaven for the righteous and repentant. The Old Testament sequence then charts the story of sin, with the fall and expulsion of Adam and Eve. It continues with a long Noah sequence probably intended to highlight the promise of salvation for the repentant in the future, for Noah was long regarded by medieval Christians as prefiguring Christ and Christ's salvation, especially as God's covenant with Noah demonstrated God's promised good will to humanity. In medieval Christian thought, Noah's Ark symbolised the salvation found in the Christian Church, with the nave of a Christian church representing the navis (= Latin 'Ship'), or the Ark of Noah. In the earlier illustration (from a window elsewhere in the Cathedral) this point is made literally as the body of the Ark is in the form of a simple masonry church!
The first series of three panels on the extreme left side, cover the torments in Hell of the sins of Lust, Sodomy and Avarice. It then continues to explore the theme of salvation and repentance, with the 'Harrowing of Hell', the 'Elect in Heaven', the 'Bosom of Abraham', the 'Feast of Dives and Lazarus', and the 'Death of Lazarus', with 'Lazarus in Hell'.
The panels continue on the right side, with: the 'Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden', 'Adam Cultivating', 'Eve with Child and Spinning', 'God telling Noah to build the Ark', 'Noah building and preparing the Ark', (with a later insertion of 'Daniel in the Lion's Den' into this panel), the 'Disembarkation from the Ark' and 'God's covenant with Noah'. Around the south corner of the building is an additional scene with the Ark and Noah, partially covered over by masonry, with the final 'Giants and the Flood'.
Where the originals have been too eroded to be conserved, they have been faithfully reproduced and replaced. The much eroded originals are now on display inside the Cathedral itself (map, 1a). The originals would have been cartoon like as they were highly coloured, with rich pigments. Some remnants of rich pigmentation can still be seen on the Choir Screen. The recent renovation of the front of Amiens Cathedral and the use of a special laser projector at night to 'colour-in' the original colours, has revealed just how remarkable and colourful the medieval polychromatic Cathedral front would have been. Only part of the scheme on the front of the Cathedral survives and much is thought to have been lost.
Ten of the panels have Jewish associations, if the importance of the use of narrative sequence is taken into account. Three of the panels refer directly to Jewish traditions or legends.
2. The Bosom of AbrahamTo the north of the central door of the West Front (i.e. to left of the central door) is a newly-restored panel showing the 'Bosom of Abraham' which is between the 'Harrowing of Hell' and the story of 'Dives and Lazarus' in a corner. This scene, in which Abraham holds the souls of the dead before him, in a fold of cloth, with new souls being delivered by angels, draws on the Jewish tradition of Abraham being the gate-keeper to heaven which is an idea that has been drawn into Christian thought, though Christianity sees St. Peter, rather than Abraham, as the traditional gate-keeper of Heaven. In the story of 'Dives and Lazarus', Abraham is mentioned as welcoming Dives to Heaven, so its context may be primarily in relation to the 'Dives and Lazarus' panels, though its proximity to the 'Harrowing of Hell', where the saved souls are being brought out of Hell by Christ, might also allude to the Jewish notion of Abraham as the traditional gate-keeper of Heaven.
One feature of the 'Bosom of Abraham' is that it is 'democratic' in its representation of the souls in Abraham's bosom. They are shown without marks of social rank or distinction, which is in direct contrast to the panel of the 'Elect in Heaven' next to it, where clothes and symbols of rank are obvious. While it is impossible to demonstrate, it has been argued (as in the parallel case at Bourges) to denote a wider spiritual kinship and inclusivity respectful to Judaism.
3. Feast of Dives and Lazarus and Death of LazarusThe New Testament story of the 'Feast of Dives and Lazarus' and 'Death of Lazarus' (Luke 16:19-31) is opposite the 'Bosom of Abraham' in two panels, one showing the 'Feast of Lazarus' and the other the 'Death of Lazarus' with 'Lazarus in Hell'. The juxtaposition is deliberate as the Bosom of Abraham is mentioned in the story. Here the rich man lays his store in this life and suffers the pains of Hell when he dies, while the beggar at his gate, Dives, is received into the Bosom of Abraham when he dies. Lazarus asks Abraham if Dives can cool his tongue with water and when his request is turned down as impossible he implores Abraham to ask that Dives is sent to warn his brothers. However, the punch-line of the story is that Lazarus is told that if his brothers have not already listened to Moses and the Prophets, they would surely not listen to someone come back from the dead.
This panel and its story has an additional Jewish meaning. In that in the medieval period Lazarus was held to represent the Jews, and, Dives the Christians. In Christianity this story was interpreted to refer to the rejection of Jesus by 'the Jews' - if the rich man's relatives ('the Jews') will not listen to the prophets, how will they listen to someone returning from the dead ('Jesus')?
However, given that the panel is juxtaposed with the 'Bosom of Abraham' panel, it could be argued (as at Bourges) that this tempers the message of the Lazarus panel by referring to a common spiritual bond through Abraham.
4. The Labours of Adam and EveThe next panel shows the 'Labours of Adam and Eve', but instead of the usual depiction of Adam digging and Eve spinning, there are depicted instead two mysterious men, one older and one younger. The first digs with a spade, the second uses a hoe and plants can be seen growing upwards. The final element of the panel is the hand of God reaching down from Heaven with a small bag with unknown contents.
The answer to the puzzle of this strange scene is provided by an ancient Jewish legend dating back to between 1st and 4th century. This relates that, after the Expulsion, Adam and Eve were given seeds to grow for food as well as a gift of perfume. The frieze shows Adam (the older man) tilling the ground with his son Cain (the classic Biblical agrarian) and being given the gift of seeds and perhaps perfume by God.
Jewish tradition still keeps the idea of perfume as a comfort for the soul. In the Havdalah service, which concludes the Jewish Sabbath, the sniffing of spices from the small spice 'tower' is said to be a direct comfort and compensation to the soul for having descended back to the mundane sphere after the spiritual elevation of the Sabbath.
This essentially Jewish legend (identified by Zarnecki) crops up at Lincoln as it had entered the Christian mainstream through a Greek (and Latin) text, The Life of Adam and Eve.
The story of Noah told on the West Frieze takes up six of the surviving 17 panels and starts the most extensive narrative sequence of the entire frieze. There were originally at least seven panels telling the story, as one panel is clearly missing. It includes the panel with the most exciting and mysterious borrowing from Jewish legend. Lengthy treatments of the story of Noah are a rarity in medieval church sculpture.
In following the frieze along the right-hand side of the West Front, on from Adam and Eve, the first panel relating to the story of the Flood is reached.The series starts with God telling Noah to build and prepare the Ark (though this panel no longer visible as it was intruded with a panel showing 'Daniel and the Lion's Den' at a later date) followed by 'Noah's Disembarkation from the Ark' and 'God giving his Covenant to Noah'.
5. The Giants at the Flood - Ringer's Chapel (map no. 2)The main interest is in the two panels of the Flood sequence, which are now to be found, around the original southwest corner of the Cathedral, displaced, indoors within the Ringer's Chapel. As one enters the Ringer's Chapel, the panel is located behind one's right shoulder, high up on the wall, on a level with a gallery. It can be seen adequately from floor level, but it is best seen from the high gallery, which is a long climb up the stairs. The panel can presently only be seen on the 'roof-top' tour of the Cathedral, or on other tours, or by special arrangement, as the chapel is usually locked.
The first of these panels is now largely obscured by masonry, but shows a figure of a man in front of the bow of the Ark. This appears to represent Noah being the last to exit the Ark, as his image is consistent with those of Noah in previous panels. However, since the panel is not complete one cannot be certain, but if it did, it would provide another reference to Jewish tradition, as it is made clear in Jewish sources that Noah waited for permission from God before he left the Ark. A similar scene also appears at Bourges.
The second of these two panels shows three men, with rising floodwaters lapping at their legs and reaching up to nearly submerged trees. At the furthest left the figure has a 'strongman belt', with a prominent disc, which was used to show those supernaturally gifted with strength. This denotes that all the men are Giants.
Such a Flood scene is unique, according to Zarnecki, and is a dramatic working of a Jewish legend written down in the 9th and 10th centuries. These men represent the Giants (Nephilim) of Genesis 6:4 the supernatural spawn of an illicit union between angels and the daughters of man. They had escaped the destruction already suffered by mere mortals, who had tried in their desperation to get into the Ark. The legend relates that these people were drowned having been repulsed by wild animals in the Ark.
The Giants, however, were too tall to drown and therefore mocked the threat of God's judgment, either by the waters above or below, as they thought themselves immortal. God's response was to make each drop of water of the deluge pass through the fires of Gehenna (Hell), before they fell to the Earth. Thus the Giants were scalded to death, from above and below, as a punishment for their temerity and symbolising the hot lusts that had originally caused their illicit conjugation with the daughters of men. At Bourges there is a giant figure reaching up to the Ark, with the embarked family of Noah looking out. Also, there are three scenes showing men, animals and giants drowning in the Flood. Some or all of these may have been Giants, as they are several times larger than the dead drowned cattle next to them.
It is likely that this particular scene was carefully chosen as part of the scheme of the frieze. It counterpoises this section of the frieze with the section at the opposite end, which includes the two sexual sins of lust and sodomy, but this time relates the punishment for lust to the immortal Giants (Gen: 6:4). Incidentally, at the conclusion of the story of Noah, Ham sins by looking on his naked father as he lay in a drunken stupor (Gen: 9, 20-22) and Ham's offspring is cursed for doing so. Some infer that Ham may have committed a homosexual act on Noah, hence Noah's reaction. Interestingly the Noah sequence at Bourges does depict this latter part of the story of Noah and it may be that this scene was at one time extant at Lincoln as well.
The transmission of this Jewish tradition to Lincoln's stonework does not seem to have been assimilated into the Christian mainstream beforehand, whilst the expulsion legend was. This suggests that it could have come direct from contact with Jewish tradition and perhaps even, a direct personal contact between the designers of the frieze and the Lincoln Jewish scholars.
The story of Noah is important in Judaism, as the seven principles found in the Covenant of Noah, are regarded as universal and binding on all humanity and faiths, enjoining the Nations to have faith in one God, and adopt principles of morality and justice. This covenant was the first universal covenant with all humanity and the first requirement on humanity to have faith in God. One imagines that if the designers of the frieze were conversant with esoteric Jewish legends, as they were, they would doubtlessly have been made aware of this wider significance of the story of Noah. Maybe the universal sense of humanity's relationship with God as depicted in the panel showing God making a covenant with Noah, is intended to link to the earlier 'Bosom of Abraham' panel, which perhaps contains a more universal depiction of humanity's spirituality.
6. Dean's Eye Window - Scenes of St Hugh of Avalon Burial and 'Jewish' Stars (map, no. 3)On the North side of the main transept is the mighty Dean's Eye Window of the 14th Century which is beautifully made of Grisaille glass. It is of Jewish interest as it shows both a scene of a burial of a bishop, which is possibly that of Hugh of Avalon, the Bishop of Lincoln, and a scene showing the translation of the body of a saint to a shrine, which could again be that of St Hugh of Avalon.
It may be recalled that Hugh of Avalon was very sympathetic to the Jewish community and was their saviour on at least two occasions in 1190, when he intervened in person to save both the Jews of Northampton and Lincoln from attack. In Northampton, he faced down a mob intent on mischief and mayhem against the Jewish community emanating from the impromptu shrine of the robber and anti-Semite, John of Stamford, who had just attacked Jews in Stamford. In the same year at Lincoln, he helped save the Jewish community from a marauding local mob when the community had to take refuge in the Castle.
On Hugh's death in 1200 there were unprecedented scenes of Jews publically grieving for their beloved bishop. This alone justifies our treatment of Hugh as an exceptional Christian figure in Anglo-Jewish history. It is related by contemporary chroniclers that the Jews ran weeping alongside the coffin and those who could not get close threw coins to demonstrate their grief.
The scene of St Hugh's coffin being carried into Lincoln by three kings and three archbishops is in the bottom lobe of the lowest of the four quatrefoils of the Dean's Eye Window. Remarkably, the figure on the very left appears black and is adorned with a heavy golden chain, or chain mail. This might refer to the story of the Jews following Hugh's body, as Jews were often depicted as black in contemporary pictures. This can be seen in the illumination from the Salvin Hours shown later, where some of the High Priest's attendants are black. It is also possible that an allusion is being made to the Black Magus who attended the Nativity, and is always depicted last in the line of Kings, or less likely, the black king and warrior, St Maurice, who is always depicted with chain mail.
Hugh was canonized in 1220, but his remains were only later translated to a tomb and shrine. Tradition suggests at least two temporary resting places in the Cathedral before his enshrinement. The saint's head was separated from his body at the time of his translation in 1280 and the swan came to be adopted as his emblem. Therefore the scene depicted in the Dean's Eye Window is an important reminder of one of the 12th century's leading philo-Semitic figures and the period in English history more favourable to Jews.
Another point of interest, in the lancets to the right of the main window, are the Stars of David. Professor Nigel Morgan believes that each of these late 13th-century stars are not in situ and that they originally appeared in the tracery oculi at the top of the north and south clerestory windows of the Angel Choir. The Angel Choir angels are believed to represent the last three Psalms of David (Psalms 148-150), so the stars may well have a Davidic, if not Judaic, meaning.
Stars of David were often used in Christian iconography and there are famous examples elsewhere, such as at the top of the Abbey gateway in Bury St Edmund's. The plain star is sometimes interpreted as a symbol of the Creator and the intersected star, as the Trinity. Christian pilgrims also used the Star of David as a pilgrim's mark, scratching it on the stones of pilgrimage churches as a mark to show that they had visited. However, it may be noted that they are more often found where there have been Jewish communities, though this is not a conclusive observation. However, whilst the Star of David may have served for a great many centuries as a Jewish symbol amongst several, its use as the definitive Jewish symbol is entirely modern and linked to the Zionist movement. In previous centuries a whole range of symbols was used to represent Judaism, but one of the most ancient was the Star and Crescent, which many might know better in the Islamic context, as well as the Menorah.
7. The Feretory and Magna Carta Facsimile (map, no. 4)In the passageway leading towards the Cloister and Chapter House, close to the Feretory (Dean's Verger Office) is a facsimile of the Lincoln copy of Magna Carta (1215). The original 1215 copy of Magna Carta, belonging to the Cathedral, is housed in a new building at the Castle.
The Feretory (along with the nearby entrance to the Chapter House) is related in tradition to be one of the early resting places of Bishop Hugh before his translation.
The Magna Carta facsimile is important specifically refers to the medieval Jews of England, but it does not increase their rights!
The Magna Carta is widely cited to be the basis of England's 'unwritten' constitution, in so far as it makes the following declaration of rights:
39: No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.
40: To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay justice and right.
In reality, its original significance was largely to do with the struggle between the Crown and barons - it represented a temporary truce between the two warring sides. Magna Carta was a peace treaty between King John and his rebellious barons, who were weary of supporting his military campaigns in France. They wanted to establish the principle that they should not be taxed by the king unjustly. But there were also clauses about the rights of widows of landed husbands, towns and trade.
It had little to do with the mass of the population but it did, crucially, recognise that there might be limits to the king's powers. Over time it came to exert a more powerful meaning. This is the source of its importance to the development of our representative democracy.
As for the Jews, the document (clauses 10 and 11) addresses the complex issue of debt. At a simple level the Magna Carta clauses protect the interests of minors and widows from the depredations of an inherited debt. However, they also worked to prevent the King from using the management of debts as a means of curbing baronial power. The barons often borrowed large amounts of money using their land as security from Jewish (and Christian) money lenders.
Therefore if a baron died and forfeited land was used to repay a large debt, his heirs could lose the basis of their power and the king could use any large baronial debt that fell into his hands to deliberately rein in powerful families. For this reason Jews were placed in an invidious position between the barons and the king and this is why the barons singled out Jewish communities for attack during the Barons' War and burnt records of their own debts.
Clauses 10 and 11 are the Jewish clauses of the Magna Carta.
(10) If anyone who has borrowed a sum of money from Jews dies before the debt has been repaid, his heir shall pay no interest on the debt for so long as he remains under age, irrespective of whom he holds his lands. If such a debt falls into the hands of the Crown, it will take nothing except the principal sum specified in the bond.
(11) If a man dies owing money to Jews, his wife may have her dower and pay nothing towards the debt from it. If he leaves children that are under age, their needs may also be provided for on a scale appropriate to the size of his holding of lands. The debt is to be paid out of the residue, reserving the service due to his feudal lords. Debts owed to persons other than Jews are to be dealt with similarly.
Until the recent Magna Carta celebrations the Jewish clauses were very little known, in what is arguably our most famous historical document. This illustrates how the Jewish narrative in our national history has been often muted or obscured.
8. The Vergers' Vestry - A Burial Place of St Hugh of Avalon (map, no. 5)The Chapel of St John, now the Vergers' Vestry, is in the corner of the northeast transept by the door to the slype and cloister. It is thought to be an early resting place of Bishop Hugh, beloved of the Jewish community, before the translation of his remains to the Angel Choir.
9. Miracles of the Virgin - Theophilus and the Virgin; the Miracle of the Jewish Boy of Bourges (map, no. 6)At the very north-eastern corner of the Cathedral and at the end of the North Choir Aisle, are panels of stained glass depicting the popular Miracles of the Virgin, which deal specifically with Jews.
These date from the early 13th century and coincide with a period where the Jews were being increasingly persecuted and the Church was struggling with the religious status of Jews. This led to the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290. The rising tide of persecution was caused by the anti-Semitic propaganda from continental Europe. Jews were linked in popular preaching, with the rising Anti-Christ. The Vatican increasingly propagated official hostility to Jews and exerted pressure on Church and State to curb usury and the freedoms of Jews. It also banned Jews and Christians having sexual relations. Furthermore, the launch of the Third Crusade and the crusading spirit led increased discrimination and to massacres of Jews across Europe.
Monks and clerics were also keen to popularise stories that showed Jews were hostile to the Virgin Mary. Two extreme versions of legends about Jews can be seen in these windows, which are a product of this storytelling. Some of manuscript sources of these stories are also still extant.
The first miracle is on the left-hand lancet of the window. The narrative moves from the bottom to the top of the window. It shows a Jew, identifiable by his pointed red Jew's Hat, as part of a complex story. In the legend, Theophilus, an archdeacon in Asia Minor, having been passed over to be promoted as bishop, enters into a pact with the Devil having used the services of a Jewish wizard to summon him. Having sold his soul to the Devil, through the Jewish middle-man, Theophilus is struck by remorse at his action, changes his mind and invokes the help of the Virgin Mary, who miraculously not only convinced God to forgive him, but also descends into Hell and persuades the Devil to renounce the pact.
In the original story, the Deacon dies very shortly after his rescue by the Virgin. In the initial scene at the bottom of the window, one can see that the Jew's Hat worn by the Jewish necromancer was contemporary Jewish headwear. Jews were made to wear the pointed hat in the 13th century, along with the Jewish identification badge, so that the rest of the Christian population would know who they were and to guard against Christians having sexual relations with Jews. Also, the Devil can be seen clutching a contract in the form of a scroll - it is probably no accident that it is high-lighted as all business dealings with Jews were recorded in contracts called Shetaroth written on pieces of parchment. There is probably intended some resemblance to the scrolls of Jewish Law as well. Scholarly analysis of the use of contemporary Jew's Hats in such art works is that they represent the last phase of an effort to increasingly identify, stigmatize and to demonise contemporary Jews as enemies of Christ and Christendom.
It worth noting the close similarity between the styling of the glass and the iconography of the slightly later Salvin Book of Hours of c. 1275. The Salvin Hours is based on books of hours in Lincoln and was probably owned by a rich woman of the city in the 13th century. The design of this Hours of the Virgin was borrowed from the monk's prayer book in Lincoln and may have been made in a workshop in Oxford (it resembles wall paintings there). The illumination depicted from the Salvin Hours, like the stained glass, also concerns itself with the diabolical treatment of Christians by Jews, though it uses much more grotesque anti-Semitic caricatures, but if we allow ourselves to read back from the imagery of the Salvin Hours, to the stained glass, it suggests that Theophilus potentially also symbolises Christians under the diabolic influence or power of the Jews. Both the glass and the Salvin Hours may derive from the same local monastic / diocesan cultural circle but also share wide-spread ideas in Europe.
On the right-hand side of the window, at its base, is another miracle of the Virgin involving Jews--the Miracle of the Jew of Bourges. Lincoln Cathedral provides a rare illustration of this old anti-Semitic fable and less well-known miracle of the Virgin. In a 13th century window, at Le Mans Cathedral, there are also examples of both the stories of the Jew Boy of Bourges and Theophilus. This legend recounts that a Jewish glassmaker of Bourges, enraged to discover that his son had attended church and communion and had had a vision of the Virgin Mary, threw him into a furnace; but the boy was saved unharmed by the miraculous intervention of the Virgin.
Two panels survive from the story and can be compared with the illustrated version of the story still extant in the manuscript tradition. In the oven scene, the Jew of Bourges is shown pitching his struggling son into the oven; the son is shown with little thin red legs. The second scene shows the boy having been plucked unharmed from the furnace by the Virgin Mary. The scene that initiates the drama, the Jewish boy taking communion, is now missing.
The story of the Jew of Bourges was at significant odds with the actual conditions of the contemporary Jewish community of Bourges. In the 12th century, the Jewish community of Bourges enjoyed peaceful and good relations with their Christian neighbours and avoided the anti-Semitism of Northern France. Furthermore, in c. 1211, William of Bourges became Deacon at Bourges Cathedral. He was a convert from Judaism and is thought to have influenced the designs at Bourges discussed earlier. The story of the Jew of Bourges was well-known in England from the 9th century, even though Jews had not arrived in England at that time. However, the early versions of the story were much more neutral towards the Jewish characters, with the focus being on the miraculous virtue of the Virgin, rather than on the perfidy of the Jews. By contrast, French Christian authors such as Gautier de Coincy (1177 - 1236), recast the stories to impute that the Jews hated the Virgin and cast doubt on her chastity and used them as anti-Semitic propaganda.
These windows are, despite the unpleasant themes they depict, a real barometer of the anti-Semitism of the 13th centuryand show how the position of contemporary Jews was being undermined by the Church itself. The starkness of the changes in attitude between the 12th and 13th centuries is no better indicated than by comparing the frieze on the West Front, which draws some of its depictions from Jewish traditions and may have been created with Jewish input, to this 13th century glass which serves to objectify contemporary Jews as an alien and hostile group.
The Cathedral provides information to assist with the precise locations of all the stained glass and sells a short tour of the stained glass as well as a survey of the glass, The Stained Glass of Lincoln Cathedral (Lincoln and London, 2012).
10. The Angel Choir - Site of the Head Shrine and Traditional Grave Site of St Hugh of Avalon (map, no. 7)The site of the shrine and burial place of St Hugh of Avalon, the friend of the Jews, is in the Angel Choir in the east end of the Cathedral, close to the windows depicting the Miracles of the Virgin. Hugh was canonised in 1220. The remains of the saint were translated there in 1280. His body and the original 'body' shrine is thought to be marked by an 18th century table-top tomb in the vicinity. His head was removed from his body at the same time and was placed in the Head Shrine yards away, the base of which is still in place. The house-shaped reliquary of the head shrine, which stood on the stone base, was removed during the Reformation. A modern shrine takes the place of the lost portions of the Head Shrine. There is also a tradition that at the Reformation the body was spirited away and buried in the entry to the Chapter House, but no evidence of a bishop's burial has been found there.
11. The Visceral Tomb of Queen Eleanor - Persecutor of Jews (map, no. 8)At the other side of the east end of the Cathedral is the restored tomb of Queen Eleanor containing her viscera. Queen Eleanor died at Harby, near Lincoln, and her body was embalmed at Lincoln before her transportation to London. It was decided to inter her entrails at the Cathedral, in a marble tomb with a gilded bronze effigy, perhaps as a pious propaganda symbol representing the piety and combined power of Edward I and his wife. Queen Eleanor, whose husband expelled the Jews of England in 1290, was an enemy of medieval Anglo-Jews. She played a role in their persecution, both in Lincoln, and throughout the realm and profited along with her husband from their confiscated property and debts. Edward I gave Eleanor debts which Christian landlords had owed to Jewish money lenders. She foreclosed on lands pledged for the debt, and both she and Edward were accused of the sin of usury and suffered hostility on this account before the 1290 Expulsion.
12. Moses with Horns - Stained Glass Windows, East Window South Aisle and Theophilus Window (map, no. 8)As mentioned above, the Cathedral is rich in Old Testament imagery. The figure of Moses, in scenes from Exodus, occurs in a number of the medieval and post-medieval windows around the Cathedral. What is noteworthy is that the figure of Moses is sometimes depicted with a pair of horns. In at least two scenes where Israelites / Jews are depicted with him, one of the Jews wears the contemporary 13th century pointed Jew's Hat, already mentioned in other 13th century stained glass.
The depiction of Moses with horns is controversial because right into the modern day, 'folk' anti-Semitism held that all Jews had horns. In this country, some Jews within living memory, have been asked with all earnestness where their horns were, and it was thought by the ignorant they were hidden under their hats or skull caps. I was told by an old man how he witnessed as a boy such a belief in action in the early 1900s. A farmer at a remote farm near Capel-y-ffin, hid in the house and sent out his son to meet and negotiate with a Rabbi wearing a black hat and coat, who had come to buy chickens for kosher slaughter. This was because he was terrified of seeing his horns and clearly thought he had a Satanic appearance. In 1940 the proprietor of the Crown Inn, in Brackley, Northamptonshire, asked a Jewish evacuee in all seriousness to let him feel his horns when he found out that he was Jewish. He was disappointed to be told that he had none!
The origin of this strange iconographic tradition is Christian, and largely rests on a reading of the Hebrew text of the Torah by St. Jerome, when he was translating the Bible into the Latin version that would come to be adopted by the Catholic Church for many centuries.
When Moses descended from Mount Sinai, the Hebrew of the Torah (Exodus: 34.29) states that he did not know that that his face shone ('keren') from the Divine encounter. Jerome translated this phrase into Latin as 'cornuta esset facies sua ex consortio sermonis Dei' - 'his face was horned from the conversation with the Lord.'
Since the term keren has variant meanings, including both 'horn' and 'radiance', one could understand the appearance of Moses, after his encounter with God, as either being 'radiant', or 'horned'. Both translations are justifiable, though 'radiant' is probably the correct reading. However, Jerome's choice of 'horned' was explained in his own gloss to the text, to emphasis the power, authority and redemption, of Moses, which was perfectly in key with the usage and imagery of 'horn' elsewhere in the OT. We find for example the phrase, 'keren yishi', 'My horn of redemption', in II Samuel 22:3 and Psalms 18:3.
However, from the 18th century, artists increasingly favoured showing Moses, either with a halo of light around his head, or in a combination of both readings of the Bible; horns of light. A fine 19th century example of the latter in painted glass can be seen in the Cathedral on the South Aisle close to the West end of the Cathedral.
While Jerome's reading of the Torah has justification, the use of this imagery in the subsequent history of the church has been deeply pernicious to the Jewish people. It has been, at the least, confusing, and has been deliberately used to lend power to the identification of Jews with the Devil. It may be noted that the horns of Moses are positioned in an identical fashion to the horns of the Devil - the examples of Moses in the Cathedral can readily be compared to the Devil in the Theophilus window, just yards away, and to many other contemporary depictions of the Devil.
In the Moses window under discussion, another factor also needs to be taken into consideration; the appearance of the contemporary 13th century 'horned' Jew's Hat on just one (rather than all) of the other Jewish figures. This makes the image even more ambiguousness and troubling. This same configuration is also seen in the other Moses window in the Cathedral, above the story of Theophilus. Here the Jewish figure wearing the hat is virtually identical in appearance, hat and all, to the diabolical Jewish wizard in the Theophilus narrative underneath. Furthermore, they have the same red colour as the Devil's face and horns. This suggests that the Jewish hats have a negative, possibly diabolical, meaning.
Many medieval Jews were forced to wear the identifying pointed Jew's Hat (along with the identifying Jewish badge) by Christian authorities. This hat, while from medieval Germany, may partly reference another ancient form of Jewish hat from Asia Minor, the soft pointed Phrygian hat favoured by Jews. As an item of apparel it was loaded with largely negative meanings for both Jews and Christians and richer Jews would often pay the authorities for permission to take off the identifying marks when travelling to avoid being attacked, though like the much later shtreimel hat, it may also have been an adopted symbol of identification by some Jews. While the appearance of the hat in this image with Moses might just be a visual short-hand to show that Moses is with the Israelites / Jews, the fact that only one of the figures wears the hat suggests this is less likely and may be loaded with a theologically and polemical meaning.
The pointed Jew's Hat originating in Germany in the early 13th Century. It was probably inspired by a combination of the influences of the horns of Moses, the medieval belief in the Mark of Cain, as well as negative treatments of scenes involving the anointing of David (and Aaron). Moving from the influence of the horns of Moses, already mentioned, the Mark of Cain is significant as a source of the horned hat, as Christians were aware of the rabbinical tradition that the Mark of Cain was a horn growing from Cain's fore-head; a mark which led him to being mistaken for a game animal and hunted down by a his myopic grandson, Lamech. Jews were constantly compared to Cain by Christian interpreters of the Bible and Bishop Grosseteste of Lincoln Cathedral also specifically referred to contemporary Jews as bearing the Mark of Cain. In regard to negative scenes concerning David's anointing by the 9th Century, Christian images emerged in Psalters depicting the anointing of David where the anointing horn is large and inverted like a hat on David's head. For example, the 9th century Stuttgart Psalter shows the anointing of David in just such a manner, so that the large inverted anointing horn looks part of it, and this and other illuminated Psalter texts, elide the metaphorical Biblical references to the 'horn of David' and 'raising the horn of David' with a physical portrayal of David with a horn.
In Robert Wistrich's volume on anti-Semitism and racism, it is claimed that, '... the literal understanding of horns in the Psalter inspired the horned hat (pileum cornutum) that Jews were forced to wear from the thirteenth century onwards. ... These hats vary in form but have one thing in common: a single point or hump which simultaneously covers and calls attention to the horn the Jew was believed to have. That these hats denote an identification with the devil is shown in thirteenth century illuminations in which there is no clear differentiation between a demon's single horn and pointed hats, also the Jews hat also appears in anti-Semitic adaptations of the Manticor, a terrible flesh-eating beast which sometimes had the head and hat of a Jew. By revealing the horn the Jews skilfully hide, these pointed hats acted as a Mark of Cain. The latter was itself sometimes interpreted as a horn since Cain was thought to be the son of the devil or to consort with him. He and his descendants often have horns or wear Jews' hats.'
This image may project a polemic and warning against Jews as diabolical agents and against the Old Covenant. This is seen clearly without qualification in the other glass close by where a Jewish wizard wears an identical hat. It is also replayed in the sculptures of 'Synagogue' and 'Church'. Other critics also believe that the traditional witches' hat, the alleged wear of the unfortunate group of women and outsiders, who were also persecuted by Church and State, was a straightforward re-purposing of the Jewish hat. Notably, the 'folk' anti-Semitic beliefs in Jew's horns mentioned earlier, almost exactly recapitulates these ideas, a thousand years later.
13. Choir Stalls with Openings of Psalms (map, no. 9)The Choir stalls are each headed with the opening of a Psalm which are sung progressively through the year. The Canons of Lincoln are assigned one or more of the Psalms of David at their installation, when they pledge to recite their assigned Psalms each day, 'if nothing hinders'. In this way, all of the Psalter is read each day.
14. The Tomb of Bishop Grosseteste - Hebraist and Persecutor of Jews (map, no. 10)The tomb of Bishop Grosseteste is also in the vicinity of the Choir, at the far south-east corner of the South East Transept. In Oxford, he was the Chancellor of the University and first Lector of the Franciscans. The Franciscans and the other mendicant orders were keen students of Hebrew and we know that English Christian Hebraists such as Herbert of Bosham of the 12th century specifically mention gleaning their oral sources from Jews, including Rabbis, as well as Jewish converts to Christianity and were keen to assimilate Jewish interpretations of the Bible. In both capacities Grosseteste was in contact with the Jewish community and intervened in the life of the community, sometimes approving repressive measures against Jewish communities, even while strongly promoting the study of Hebrew.
In 1222, just before he became Chancellor of the University of Oxford, he sent a letter (which still survives) to the University, urging the scholars there to study Hebrew and ordered the production of bi-lingual, inter-linear Hebrew and Latin parallel text Bibles to help clerics learn Hebrew. A number of these interlinear manuscripts, containing what is now called the Lincoln Superscript (Superscriptio Lincolniensis), still survive at Corpus Christi College in Oxford, tokens of a remarkable collaboration between Jewish and Christian scribes and scholars.
In the past scholars tended to portray Grosseteste's attitudes to actual Jews as in some ways enlightened, but this view has been revised. It seems he was at best ambivalent to Jews, though his views on Jews and their treatment were much more severe than contemporary Canon Law insisted. While Grosseteste forbade the out-right killing of Jews, but advised instead, a programme of onerous repression - Jews should be protected from death but forced to lead miserable lives. We know his views on Jews from a letter he wrote to Margaret de Quincey, the Countess of Winchester in circa 1231- 1232, concerning a recently expelled group of Jews from Leicester. The Jews of Leicester had been expelled from the centre of Leicester, by young Simon de Montfort. The Countess had welcomed the expelled Jews onto her lands in the suburbs of Leicester, which also fell under Grosseteste's jurisdiction. He advised her that the Jews' fate, as killers of Christ, was to be exiled and to be the captives of Princes. The Princes also had a duty to prevent Jews from being killed (as they essentially bore the Mark of Cain) and to enable them to live instead unhappy, meagre, lives by lawful, hard manual labour. They must be prevented from profiting from and enjoying an easy life from usury, or by oppressing Christians. Canon Law permitted Jews to lend at moderate rates of interest and opposed the expulsion of Jewish populations from Christian territory, stressing instead that Jews had a protected, albeit subordinate and very limited place, within Christian society. Grosseteste also asserted that Jews were essentially People of the Book as they were the bearers of Holy Scripture as well as the New Testament prophecy and that a remnant of the Jewish people would be saved at the end of days.
This was hardly a sympathetic position. In another incident he scarcely seemed to protect the Jews of Oxford, when they has been attacked by a mob of 45 Oxford clerics. The clerics were then arrested by the Sheriff and imprisoned in the royal castle for robbery and assault. Far from condemning the culprits, Grosseteste successfully claimed jurisdiction over the 45 students and released them all without charge on the grounds of insufficient evidence of felony.
At his death bed, piqued by the greed of the Italian Cahorsin, he conceded that the Jewish methods of charging interest, were to be preferred as the Jews were happy to be paid exactly what they were owed, whereas the Cahorsin always took the full amount of the interest, even if the loan was repaid early.
15. South Choir Aisle - The Shrine of Little Hugh and the Lincoln Blood Libel (map, no. 11)The remains of the 'shrine' attributed by tradition to Little Hugh, the alleged victim of the Lincoln 'blood libel', are in the South Choir Aisle, adjacent to
A unique form of religious persecution, the 'Blood Libel' or 'ritual child murder allegation', arose in England for the first time in Norwich in the 12th century when the body of a boy was found in the depths of Thorpe Woods outside of the city. Periodically, Medieval English Jews were falsely accused of 'ritual child murder' by local Christians. It was usually claimed they tortured and killed little Christian boys in a mockery of Christ's crucifixion, and that they used their blood for magical purposes. The idea of Jews attacking children for blood may have been partly derived and adapted from East Anglian rural folklore, where evil fairies, called 'Pharisees', lived underground and sucked the blood of children. The children were probably the victims of accidents or lawless violence, while the accusers' motives are now generally accepted to have been for financial, political, or religious gain. It set a pattern for future persecution.
In Lincoln, in 1255, 'Little Hugh' was found dead near the Lincoln Jewry. The Jews were accused of ritual child murder, not by popular hue and cry, but five weeks later at the instigation of John of Lexington, the brother of Bishop Robert Lexington (1254-58). He had travelled from the North, with the deeply impoverished King, who was desperately raising funds to pay to the Pope for his son Edmund to be crowned King of Sicily, partly by pardoning murderers for cash. Henry III was under threat of excommunication if he did not pay the money to the Pope. Lexington supported by the King secured a forced confession from Copin the Jew, who was then killed despite having been promised a pardon for his confession. In consequence 91 Jews were imprisoned in the Tower of London. Eighteen were summarily executed by the King, for the temerity of requesting a trial by Jury and not trusting the mercy of the King. The rest (including a convert to Judaism called John) were eventually released due to the intervention of the Friars. The boy was then venerated as a local saint (but never canonized) after a miracle was claimed, and he was enshrined in the Cathedral until the Reformation. There is little evidence that the shrine was popular and some doubt that there was ever a proper cult of Hugh.
The King was clearly the prime mover in the Blood Libel, aided and abetted by John of Lexington and probably also by the Papal Nuncio. He took the lead in choreographing the rapid events over 2-3 days in Lincoln, leading to the confession and condemnation of the Jews. He was the main financial beneficiary. The Papal Nuncio, Rostand Masson, was apparently present with the King throughout the events as part of his retinue. Seven days afterwards he declared Henry's son, King of Sicily. Therefore it seems that the Jews ofLincoln were sacrificed for the King's Sicilian business. The motives of the Bishop and the Cathedral cannot be accurately determined, though they played their role in supporting and not resisting the drama. Joe Hillaby asserts that John of Lexington's actions were extraordinarily timely and fortuitous in assisting his brother the Bishop in his task to magnify the existing cult of Hugh of Avalon and the task of building the Angel Choir, as well as establishing the new cult of the 'Little Hugh'.
The boy martyr was later celebrated in numerous ballads and songs as well as in Chaucer's 'Prioress's Tale' (Canterbury Tales). The gruesome lyrics of the 'Ballad of Little Sir Hugh' (but usually without mention of any explicit Jewish identity of the alleged perpetrators) are still performed today in folk music circles, frequently without any explanation or apology. As such, 'Blood Libels' became one of the most pernicious and enduring of all anti-Semitic fabrications, spreading through Europe and beyond, even up to the present day.
During the 1290s, soon after the general expulsion of the Jews from England by Edward I, the remains of Little Hugh were translated to a new shrine intruded into the South Choir Aisle Screen, but there is little evidence that the cult was ever a success. The architectural evidence (as interpreted by Stocker and Hillaby) suggests that Edward I had a significant role in its construction. Two out of four original coats of arms on the shrine were Edward's, and we know that he made a gift to the shrine in 1299 / 1300. The style of the shrine seems to be modelled on the architectural tabernacles for the statues on the original 12 Queen Eleanor crosses, erected by Edward I on the path and resting places of his wife's body, on its way to London from Lincoln, rather than upon usual sepulchral design. It seems entirely likely that the shrine was intended to be linked to the visceral tomb of Queen Eleanor, at the end of the same aisle in the Cathedral. Hillaby asserts that the shrine may have also been intended as a symbol and a piece of royal propaganda, to deflect hostility from Edward and his wife who trafficked in Jewish debts, and to build on the gratitude of the nation in his subsequent action as 'defender' of Christianity in expelling the Jews in 1290.
The original plinth and raised back panel of the shrine of the c. 1290s still survive. There are also two broken stumps of the former canopy at the back that made what would have been part of a panel at the side of a small side arch forming the upper structure of the shrine. There are still visible traces of rich green and blue pigment used to decorate parts of the shrine. At the end of the 19th century it was said that there were remnants of gilding as well.
The pierced base of the shrine has gone, along with its ornate canopy, with tall side pinnacles, niches, and the decorative finial with a niche illustrated in Dugdale's drawing. These were all removed in the Civil War. It seems that there was also a figure of Little Hugh in the shrine. Overall the shrine was a tall monument, reaching at least up to the top of the choir wall, if not higher.
In 1736 the painted, freestone figure of a little boy, about 20 inches high, still existed and was recorded by an antiquarian, Smart Lethieullier. It was by tradition part of the original shrine. The figure was supposed to bear the marks of crucifixion. The head had by that time been broken off and it had been removed from the shrine and was in 'a by-place just behind the High Altar, where we found it covered with dust and obscurity'.
In 1791, the tomb was opened, when the Cathedral paving was renewed. The remains of Little Hugh were found in a stone coffin just below the paving and seen for the first time since the Middle Ages. The boy was apparently four feet and two inches tall and was thought to have a rather long thin face. No doubt modern forensic work, if available, would have been able to say something about the circumstances of his death. The skeleton provided a refutation of one allegation, as his teeth had not been smashed, as alleged in the blood libel stories.
A careful examination of the surroundings of the shrine shows other significant features. The former upper superstructure of the shrine was skillfully and well integrated into the screen wall of the choir and looks as if it had been carefully planned and positioned so as to be a focus of the aisle in which it stands, even though it was not part of the original design. An impression is gained that the canopy may have been rested, afterwards, above, and onto, an existing tomb, which was itself much more crudely inserted into the Choir wall. It rested on and above the base and back of the tomb (the surviving elements) and was structurally separate, and not built in one piece, which is why the dismantling of the canopy at the Reformation did not destroy the tomb beneath.
The evidence suggests that an original tomb of Little Hugh was significantly embellished to become a major feature of the south side of the Cathedral and in its day represented not only the cult of Little Hugh, but garnered a royal meaning and patronage as well and was quite imposing in its improved state after 1290.
The Cathedral for many years placed a notice by the shrine of Little Hugh to explain its meaning, but it is easy for the casual visitor to completely miss the remains. The notice has its own history and has evolved over the years. Before 1959, a notice largely repeated the traditional libel. But in 1959, it was replaced by the then Dean, the Rev D.C. Dunlop, who was reported by the Daily Telegraph as saying that the Chapter did not wish, 'to see things that are not true up on the walls of the Cathedral' and that a new notice would correct the record. This new notice, cancelling the libel, remained in place for a good many years, but recently has been further revised and then improved again, most recently through a collaboration project between the Cathedral and the Jewish community.
Between July 2008 and September 2009, the notice was entirely re-written in an interfaith collaboration, by Professor Brian Winston (for the Lincoln Jewish Community), Carol Bennett (for the Cathedral) and Marcus Roberts (JTrails) as part of the JTrails Jewish heritage project in Lincoln, working in the first instance with the Lincoln Jewish Community. The American academic Elisa van Court had criticised the wording of the existing signage in 1997 and again in a publication in 2006. The new plaque refers to 'Little Hugh' without referring to him as 'Saint' since he was never officially recognised as such by Rome. Calling him a 'saint' confers false credibility for the blood libel in Lincoln. The new signage also draws notice to the terrible consequences for the medieval Jewish community (the most notable omission in the original signage as high-lighted by van Court) and the contemporary relevance of the shrine. The new notice is the result of excellent interfaith relations between the communities and a desire to show the real significance of the Lincoln Blood Libel today.
16. The Night Owls, Serpents and Dragons - South Choir Aisle, West Portal (map, no. 12)The status and medieval meaning of the shrine of Little Hugh and the Cathedral's contemporary 13th century relations to Jews, may also be indicated by nearby symbolic figures that would have been evident to the medieval clerics. On entering the gate to the South Choir Aisle, from the Nave, there is a highly decorated capital on the left, at the threshold. Easily visible, on the capital, are two very sweet owls, looking down at passers-by.
These owls have a specific Jewish meaning in Christian bestiaries. They appear to be 'night-owls', termed 'noctua' in medieval bestiaries, or 'little owls' (Athene noctua) in modern ornithology. These owls like to roost in cavities and holes in walls, unlike the Common Owl ('Bubo' in the bestiaries). Some examples of noctua are shown as paired owls in illuminations (see, Bodleian Library, MS. Bodley 764, Folio 73r.). Here they represent the redemption of Christ, who had chosen to be born a Jew and though he was killed by Jews he seeks out all sinners, including Jews. The medieval Aberdeen Bestiary says this of the night-owl;
'In a mystic sense, the night-owl signifies Christ. Christ loves the darkness of night because he does not want sinners - who are represented by darkness - to die but to be converted and live. ... The night-owl lives in the cracks in walls, as Christ wished to be born one of the Jewish people... But Christ is crushed in the cracks of the walls, because he is killed by the Jews. ... Christ shuns the light in the sense that he detests and hates vainglory. ... In a moral sense, moreover, the night-owl signifies to us not just any righteous man, but rather one who lives among other men yet hides from their view as much as possible. He flees from the light, in the sense that he does not look for the glory.'
Elsewhere, the use of the common owl (Bubo) has been used particularly as a virulent anti-Semitic image, representing the spiritual blindness of the Jews, shunning the light of the Gospels, but also generally to indicate loathsome sinners who have, '... given themselves up to the darkness of sin and those who flee from the light of righteousness and given themselves up to the sloth of sin.' (Rabanus). While the identification of owls with both Jews and sinners is largely synonymous, it has been observed that owl decorations are often particularly present where there were medieval Jewish communities nearby. Common owls are frequently shown with human faces, with large hooked nose-like-beaks, horns and in one case, even cloven feet (all deliberate medieval Jewish stereotypes, though the horns may in some cases have been naturalistic depictions). They were said to live in their own filth (another anti-Semitic stereotype) and are shown being attacked by other (Christian) birds. A tiny figure of a common owl (but without explicit Semitic characterization) and other grotesque figures are to be found close by at the central door which leads from the nave to the Choir itself.
On the same column, underneath its capital, to the left of the night owls, are enigmatic multiple representations of winged serpents / dragons surrounded by a vine. From a particular point on top of the capital, a single serpent lies almost concealed at either end of the base of a vine that garlands the archway from one side to the other. In medieval bestiaries the distinction between serpents and dragons is often ambiguous and the meanings somewhat interchangeable. The Lincoln examples appear to be winged serpents (Jaculi). However, the Aberdeen Bestiary suggests that dragons are just mighty serpents, when it states, 'The Devil is like the dragon; he is the most monstrous serpent of all...'
The Lincoln examples of multiple serpents / dragons resemble those among the spandrel sculptures at Bourges. The latter seem to help us with the identity and meaning of the Lincoln figures. At Bourges, they are integral to the Genesis series of spandrel sculptures connected with the story of the Fall. Eve is tempted by the winged serpent to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge in the Garden of Eden and so this figure relates to temptation and sin. This serpent has the same knotted tail as the Lincoln examples and the meaning of these serpents sits well with the adjacent figures of the owls representing Jews and Sinners at Lincoln. The knotted tail has a particular significance. The Aberdeen Bestiary tells us again that, 'The dragon's strength lies not in its teeth but its tail, as the Devil, deprived of his strength, deceives with lies those whom he draws to him. The dragon lurks around paths along which elephants pass, as the Devil entangles with the knots of sin the way of those bound for heaven and, like the dragon, kills them by suffocation; because anyone who dies fettered in the chains of his offences is condemned without doubt to hell.'
On the opposite side of the portal are more winged serpents / dragons of the same kind and as mentioned already, the two sides of the portal are linked by the garland of the vine with the same single winged serpent at either end of garland base, though the vine on the other side issues forth in grapes. The repeated motif of serpents in this case is enigmatic because each winged serpent eating grapes is being simultaneously attacked by men (or angels) with swords.
One interpretation of this motif, which links the serpents on both sides of the portal at Lincoln, derives from the sculptures at Bourges and a Jewish legend. At Bourges there are depictions of a figure, framed by vines, facing forwards with arms extended towards threatening serpentine figures on the right and below. Jennings interprets these figures at Bourges as referring to several Jewish sources relating to the fallen angels in Genesis. Jennings especially cites the post-Biblical legend of Samael, where a spirit named Samael opposes the creation of the first man and, falling out of favour with God, descends from heaven on a serpent and immediately plants a vine which later tempts Adam, so the figure in this case is likely to be Adam being tempted with the vine, or Samael instigating the temptation. In linked Jewish traditions, he also sends the serpent who tempts Eve to eat of the forbidden tree, a legend that certainly seems to fit the sequence at Bourges and helps identify the primary human or angelic figure throughout the whole series.
The significance of the sword-wielding figures could be redemptive and Lynn Broughton suggests they may well allude to the final battle of the heavenly angelic hosts against Satan and his angels. '... Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not... and the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil...' (Rev. 12:7-9).
This suggests that the iconography on the portal is about the dangers of sin and temptation, its angelic-diabolical origins (but with the promise of an ultimate apocalyptic victory over evil), and the original sin of Adam and Eve (with the figure of Samael linking their fall to the fall of the Angels). Jews are equated as the archetypal sinner, though as a group they are potentially not immune to the redemptive power of Christ. This doorway marks the transition to the most sacred portion of the Cathedral, where the acceptance of the sacrament epitomised the ultimate saving grace of Christ.
If this is correct, the use of a Jewish legend in the context of the shrine of Little Hugh may not be entirely enigmatic and remarkable, as it must be remembered that these Jewish midrashim were exegetical devises designed to fill some of the logical gaps in explaining the Biblical text. They may have appealed to clerics in a similar fashion in an era where extracanonical writings of both Jewish and Christian origin were still respected.
In the largely illiterate medieval world, religious symbols and figures played an important role for the worshipper or pilgrim. They often narrated complex stories and religious and theological ideas, which would have been readily understood by illiterate worshippers. Even small parish churches often contain a series of figures throughout the building based on Bible themes or even aspects of Classical pagan mythology that had acquired specific Christian meanings.
17. 'Church and Synagogue' - The Judgment Porch (map, no. 13)More symbolism with reference to Jews is to be found in the Judgment Porch on the south exterior wall of the Cathedral. Medieval pilgrims probably passed through this porch on route to shrines, such as those of Little Hugh and 'Great' St Hugh of Avalon in the Angel Choir and elsewhere. In this porch is a life-size female figure representing the Church Triumphant, holding a model of a church. She stands on a plinth supported by either an angel, or maybe the Archangel Michael. Opposite, on the other side of the porch, is the figure of defeated Synagogue (see page left), which is held up on the back of a figure of a bearded medieval Jew (possibly representing Moses), wearing the Jewish badge of the Middle Ages, the double tablets of the Law on his breast that Jews in England were forced to wear from 1222. Thus, for the medieval pilgrim following this route, they would have seen an apparently reassuring and triumphal Christian imagery relating to the spiritual victory of the Church over the Synagogue, this symbolism being a theological rebuke to Jews and Judaism.
This example at Lincoln displays an up-right bearing, similar to the figures of Synagogue from the ceiling of the Chapter House at York Minster and Synagogue in the Abingdon Apocalypse (1270). By contrast, some European and other English examples, have a more bowed and dejected appearance showing the total triumph of Church. At least one example, the Ashridge Petrus Comestor, succeeds in literally demonizing Synagogue; here the Devil is the actual veil over Synagogue's eyes.
Therefore, in this case the imagery might not indicate straight opposition to Judaism. Since Synagogue is depicted in the place of honour to the right of Christ in the porch, and she is not fully downcast (though she does have broken emblems of power and would have had a veil representing Jewish spiritual blindness to the true spiritual interpretation of the Law), it might denote some respectful status to Synagogue. It may also allude to the theology of St. Paul which accepts that the Church is 'in-grafted' into the 'true vine' of Israel.
This depiction of Synagogue may indicate some respect to Jewish Law, as a foundation of Christian revelation, with the Law now an adornment to the New Covenant. There may be additional evidence for this, if the supporting figures for Church and Synagogue are the Archangel Michael and Moses respectively, since Michael is the ultimate judge and weigher of souls and Moses was the greatest Jewish law maker.
However, this positive interpretation can be countered by the fact that much of the other 13th century imagery at the Cathedral struggles to assimilate the status of Jews and of the Law, with Bishop Grosseteste also clearly advocating a punitive Christian supersessionism and antagonism to the Law in his writings that gives Jews an entirely subject status. The meaning of this Synagogue could also be used to represent all proscribed activities, groups and heresies.
18. The Cathedral Library and Archives (off Cloisters, near map no. 4)The Cathedral has a number of items of Jewish significance in its collections, including a part of a 13th century medieval Starr, or Hebrew contract, relating to land at Great Paxton near St Neots (see back-cover). This may be the only medieval Hebrew contract in the possession of the Cathedral. The signature of the Jewish money lender is contained in the oval cartouche at the bottom of the document.
The Cathedral has a very rare copy of Menasseh ben Israel's petition to Cromwell, which he brought with him to England on his first visit in 1655. It was derived from his original book 'Hope of Israel' and urged the readmission of the Jews to England. It found favour with Cromwell.
Amongst the Cathedral Library's early printed books are a number of printed Hebrew Bibles and polyglot Bibles, in Hebrew, Greek and Latin. Some Jewish writers are represented, such as the Hellenistic Jew Philo Judaeus, and a 16th century Jewish scholar, Joannes Isaac 'the Levite'. There are books by 17th century Jewish authors, such as Samuel Coen and a 17th century edition of Moses ben Maimon (Maimonides), as well as a broadside about the Temple of Solomon by Jacob Judah Aryeh. Representing the 18th century are works by Christian Hebrew scholars, such as Benjamin Kennicott (Canon of Christ Church, Oxford), John Taylor D.D. (English dissenting preacher) and Robert Lowth (Bishop of London).
For information on becoming a reader, please see the Lincoln Cathedral website: http://lincolncathedral.com/library-education/readers/.
19. The Bishop's Palace (south of Cathedral)While the Bishop's Palace is no longer in the care of the Cathedral and diocese, it is important to include it in a tour of the Cathedral as a vital Jewish link. The Bishop's Palace is down the hill and south of the Cathedral and is managed by English Heritage. It is documented in a medieval chronicle that Chesney built the extensive Palace with money with a loan of £300, borrowed from one of Lincoln's most famous Jews, Aaron. This money also contributed to the building of a Bishop's residence in London, on the site of the Old Temple of the Knights Templar. This was thought to be one of Aaron's first loans and was secured on church plate and ornaments and had to be redeemed by one of Chesney's successors.
The Palace complex is a 12th century fortress and an impressive cleric's home. It was also one of the most important buildings in the country as it was used to administer the 'super' diocese of medieval Lincoln which took in a vast swath of the country from the Humber to the Thames.
The earliest record of the site was in a charter of 1135 - 1138, from the reign of King Stephen, when there may have been some sort of residence on the site. Chesney purchased the land and started building in circa 1155. He built a hall range over an undercroft on the east side of the Kitchen Court, though historians say that only the south wall can be 'firmly attributed to Chesney'. Bishop Hugh took over afterwards. Recent archaeology shows that of the South Wall, only a few elements actually date from Chesney's building work, as much was destroyed by the earthquake of 1185.
The surviving portions are thought to be the guardrobe at the eastern corner of the south wall, some of the footings between the guardrobe and the Kitchen Range and part of the south wall of the Kitchen Range itself. The south end of the kitchens, with the extant portions of wall, is depicted. The Palace was then built in four phases. The Palace was sacked during the Civil War and then abandoned.