The Missing Pages of “Emblems of Youth” (HUM303)

You know one day I’m going to be a master of basic technology. In the mean time here are the missing pages from the “Emblems of Youth” pdf:


dotal. They were ideological, militant, and must be studied as such. The silences of imagery are always eloquent.

Its loquacity speaks volumes too. So far as the aristocracy was concerned, medieval iconography was not quiet at all, but highly talkative. Young princes and noblemen abound, and the way in which they are represented raises all the problems relating to the depiction of youth. In particular, it helps distinguish two age groups, in which adolescents remained separate from young adults. In the world of chivalry, for example, the difference between aspiring knights or squires and young knights who have recently been invested is an essential one, which the image always takes into account. They may be very close in age, even of the same age, but they derive from two entirely different universes. The former still belong to the mobile, multiform world of valets (in the noble sense that old French lent this word). Their emblematic hero was Perceval: a Perceval who has not yet been knighted, a rough-hewn, simple, frank, rather stupid adolescent, but of such an innocence that he later becomes one of the three knights chosen for the quest for the Holy Grail. The latter category is personified by the figure of Gawain, nephew of King Arthur, a more mature and courtly character, more cunning too, certainly more aware of life’s difficulties. Awaiting his uncle’s inheritance-Arthur and Guinevere are a sterile couple-he is not yet married or enfeoffed. This does not prevent him from making numerous female conquests, however, like most of the young knights of the Round Table.4

Perceval and Gawain personify two different types of aristocratic youth. Accordingly, medieval imagery treats them differently. Perceval is still almost a child; he does not possess the full panoply of clothing and military equipment needed by a knight; his gestures are awkward, his coat of arms is monochromic.s Gawain is already a man, in the virile sense, but still a young man who cannot aspire to the privileges and attributes of virilitas plena; that is, of maturity. Gawain is often presented in tandem with his uncle, King Arthur, and in showing them side by side an image could emphasize all that separates the young man from the mature man. Postures, gestures, attitudes, dimensions, colors, clothes, objects: everything may serve to distinguish uncle from nephew. It is impossible to confuse the two. The same is true of the two other uncle-nephew pairings often seen: Charlemagne and Roland, Mark and Tristan. Nephews of kings are not yet kings. They are, however, models of princely youth, courtly and valiant.

Yet the most abundant corpus of young men furnished by medieval iconography is not that of knights and princes, be they real or literary, but that of the Bible and the lives of saints. Remarkable young people abound in the Scriptures, and imagery naturally accords them a predominant place: Joseph and his brothers; David before his coronation; Jeroboam as Solomon’s intendant; Daniel and the three young Hebrews cast into the blazing fiery furnace; the adolescent Saul, witness to the martyrdom of Stephen; the pharoah’s daughter who saves Moses; Dinah; Thamar; Salome; sons and daughters of every description, from Adam’s children to those of the New Testament, all mobilized by history, the Passion, and the parables of Christ (the prodigal son, the wise and foolish virgins, and many others).

Angels were young men of a particular type. But representations of them may constitute an almost archetypal image of youth-not from a social point of view, obviously, but from a doctrinal, even aesthetic viewpoint. As for saints, they easily constitute the most numerous group of young people, one that justifies numerical, almost statistical, research, and most of the following remarks are based on this group. Moreover, the iconography of young saints must be compared with that of divine figures shown during their life on earth. Christ and the Blessed Virgin are everpresent models-particularly Christ, who was always young in his earthly existence.

Any study of the iconography of young people in the Middle Ages must reckon with the imbalances in documentation. Not only the sociological and typological imbalances just mentioned, but also and in particular the chronological ones (there are far more images for the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries than for the high Middle Ages), and the geographical and technical ones. Each researcher uses the collection of images most familiar and accessible to him, and the choice of corpus necessarily determines the results of the study. As for the present contribution, while I examined numerous categories of images, I nonetheless gave priority to