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Medieval Town in Painting

Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Medieval Town by WaterKarl Friedrich Schinkel. Medieval Town by Water


In the Middle Ages all life events - miseries and joy, misfortune and luck, health and illness -- differed much more significantly than in present day. Adversity and poverty were more painful and frightening, there was nowhere to find solace. The contrast between sickness and health was more dramatic, darkness and cold in winter were a real scourge.
The difference between summer and winter felt more sharply, as well as between light and darkness, silence and noise.. The riches savored wealth and benefits with greater avarice and eagerness, distancing themselves from howling destitution.

Pieter Bout. A Town ScenePieter Bout. A Town Scene



All aspects of life were paraded in an arrogant and rude way. The noblemen and rich merchants moved about in glittering splendor of costumes and valuable weapons, rousing envy and fear. The beggars wailed and demonstrated their deformities on church porches. The lepers wandered in processions twirling their rattles. Marriages, funerals and executions were announced with loud cries, songs and music. Daily life aroused and inflamed the passions producing a sudden explosion of atrocious brutality or pious benignity.
There were not suburbs around a medieval town but surrounding walls with turrets.
However high and massive the stone houses of merchants and nobles might be, the churches majestically reigned over the city.

Jacob Grimmer. View of Kiel, 1578Jacob Grimmer. View of Kiel, 1578 (Jacob Grimmer (1525-1590) and Abel (1570–1619) were Flemish landscape and genre painters, father and son.)


Bells rang continuously. They were called by name - the bell Roland, the big Jacqueline, - and everyone understood the meaning of various ringing. The processions followed one after another, day after day, for weeks, in evil times as they often were - wars, epidemics, deaths of members of the royal family. In those days people used to fast, and all went barefoot - rich and poor citizens and children. Many carried torches or tapers.

Abel Grimmer. The Month of FebruaryAbel Grimmer.The Month of February


Executions were an important part of the people's life. Often the accused were princes, and then the public had more satisfaction when the justice was done.
Jean de Montaigu, one time royal favorite, wearing a fluffy dress and and boots with gold spurs, was beheaded in Paris and his body was left hanging,
Upon the special order of Louis XI, the head of maitre Oudart de Bussy, who refused a seat in Parliament, was dug up from the grave and displayed in the market square in Hesdin, covered with a red hood, trimmed with fur, according to the fashion in the Parliament.
They were spectacular plays with a moral.

Abel Grimmer. The Road to Cavalry, 1599Abel Grimmer. The Road to Cavalry, 1599

Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The Beggars, 1525Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The Beggars, 1525

Pieter Jansz Saenredam. The Old Town Hall in Amsterdam, 1657Pieter Jansz Saenredam. The Old Town Hall in Amsterdam, 1657

Jacob Isaackszon Van Ruisdael. Landscape with Church and village, 1665-70Jacob Isaackszon Van Ruisdael. Landscape with Church and village, 1665-70

Hartmann Schedel. View of the city of NurenbergHartmann Schedel. Nurenberg Chronicle. View of the city of Nurenberg, 1493

Abel Grimmer. Autumn, 1607Abel Grimmer. Autumn, 1607

Abel Grimmer. Carrying the Cross, 1593Abel Grimmer. Carrying the Cross, 1593

Abel Grimmer. Winter, 1607Abel Grimmer. Winter, 1607

David Teniers the Younger. Landscape in the suburbs of BrusselsDavid Teniers the Younger. Landscape in the suburbs of Brussels

Dirck Willemsz Stoop. Landscape with HuntsmenDirck Willemsz Stoop. Landscape with Huntsmen, 1651

Jacob Grimmer. AutumnJacob Grimmer. Autumn

Jacob Grimmer. SpringJacob Grimmer. Spring

Jacob Grimmer. WinterJacob Grimmer. Winter

Jacob Isaackszon Van Ruisdael. View of Benthiem CastleJacob Isaackszon Van Ruisdael. View of Benthiem Castle from the North, 1652

Pieter Stevens. Mountain Valley with Inn and CastlePieter Stevens. Mountain Valley with Inn and Castle, 1593

Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Effects of Good Government on the City Life LifeAmbrogio Lorenzetti. Effects of Good Government on the City Life Life, 1338-40

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