Medieval Bling

Dover CastleYes, I said medieval bling. Yes, I am sure that is exactly what I meant. No, the medieval world was not some gray drab world that lacked color. It does not take a super amount of intelligence to figure this all out if you give it just a little bit of thought. After all, when was it that the process of making those elaborate and oh so beautiful designs out of stained glass came to be?

You can take that process a bit further with the likes of the beginnings of the next era in Italy while things are still very medieval in Europe with the art and such, but that may be bending the lines a bit too much for some people. No one can argue the color that is represented in all the different coats of arms and banners of such splendor on the field – which were used to of course identify both the combatants household and who were allies, but also the individual to recognize honor that was achieved on the field.

That may itself pale to the recent restoration that was done on the Castle of Dover, that is about to be opened to the public in some way by the British Empire. Castles in particular give us this feeling of a gray, dark, dank world with which the medieval population was familiar. Keep in mind though that most of these castles during medieval times were appointed in large brocades of heavy fine cloth to both brighten the colors and ward off the thoughts of the cold and damp.

The Dover Castle was built some time ago and has went through several different time periods of renovation. Perhaps the greatest of these updates was the lavish spending that was done by Henry II. It was during his reign that the Archbishop, Thomas Beckett, was murdered by some of Henry’s followers at Canterbury. This of course led to some degree of indignation and a huge potential for uprising. Beyond that though, Canterbury itself become a symbol of the church and a point of pilgrimage, which include such visitors as the King of France. Henry, seeing the potential embarrassment this whole thing was causing him, outfitting the castle resplendently, purportedly spending more on it that any other castle during his reign.

After a couple of years of renovation to the tune of 2.5 million pounds and hundreds of craftsmen and meticulous research the castle is being opened in a full color splendor. Some of workers going through the spending Henry did on the castle as a “Elton John spending frenzy.” I will have to question some little bit of the color selection, but I think it is probably not far off, especially given the purpose of the renovations that were done by Henry. Enjoy the picture show and more information at the BBC.

** – picture above from the BBC article and slide show