Skip to main content

Full text of "The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1: The Middle Ages"

See other formats

: The Juggler of otre Dé 
and the Medi yp of rae 
be) Ln, nhy 


Fixe we 



The Juggler of Notre Dame and 
the Medievalizing of Modernity 

Vol. 1: The Middle Ages 

Jan M. Ziolkowski 

Pe ulcers 


The text of this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (CC BY 
4.0). This license allows you to share, copy, distribute and transmit the text; to adapt the text and to make 
commercial use of the text providing attribution is made to the author(s), but not in any way that suggests 
that they endorse you or your use of the work. Attribution should include the following information: 

© 2018 Jan M. Ziolkowski 

Jan M. Ziolkowski, The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity. Volume. 1: The Middle Ages. 
Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers, 2018, 

Copyright and permissions for the reuse of many of the images included in this publication differ from the 
above. Copyright and permissions information for images is provided separately in the List of Illustrations. 

Every effort has been made to identify and contact copyright holders and any omission or error will be 
corrected if notification is made to the publisher. 

Further details about CC BY licenses are available at 

All external links were active at the time of publication unless otherwise stated and have been archived via 
the Internet Archive Wayback Machine at 

Digital material and resources associated with this volume are available at https://www.openbookpublishers. 

ISBN Paperback: 978-1-78374-433-6 

ISBN Hardback: 978-1-78374-434-3 

ISBN Digital (PDF): 978-1-78374-435-0 

ISBN Digital ebook (epub): 978-1-78374-436-7 
ISBN Digital ebook (mobi): 978-1-78374-437-4 
DOI: 10.11647/OBP.0132 

Cover image: The jongleur before the Virgin and Child. Miniature, thirteenth century. Paris, Bibliotheque 
nationale de France, MS Arsenal 3516, fol. 127r. Image courtesy of Bibliotheque nationale de France, Paris. 
All rights reserved. Cover design: Anna Gatti. 

All paper used by Open Book Publishers is SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative), PEFC (Programme for the 
Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes) and Forest Stewardship Council(r)(FSC(r) certified. 

Printed in the United Kingdom, United States, and Australia by Lightning Source 
for Open Book Publishers (Cambridge, UK) 


Note to the Reader 3 
Preface 5 
Overture 5 
The Story of a Story 6 
From Our Lady’s Tumbler to The Jongleur of Notre Dame 9 
1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady’s Tumbler 17 
The French Poem 17 
The Manuscripts 22 
Gautier de Coinci and Anonymity 25 
Picardy 33 
The Identity of the Poet 34 
The Bas-de-Page Miniature: Of Marginal Interest 38 
The Genre: Long Story Short 54 
The Table of Exempla, in Alphabetical Order 57 
The Latin Exemplum 59 
The Life of the Fathers 63 
True Story: Why the Story Succeeded 69 
2. Dancing for God 73 
The Tumbler 73 
Notre Dame versus Saint Mary 75 
The Equivocal Status of Jongleurs 79 
Trance Dance 90 
Jongleurs of God 96 
Holy Fools 99 

Fact or Fiction? 102 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 117 

The Order of Citeaux 117 
Cistercians and the Virgin 125 
Mother’s Milk 131 
Mary’s Head-Coverings 133 
Cistercian Lay Brothers 140 
Conversion Therapy 146 
The Language of Silence 149 
Gym Clothes 153 
Sweat Cloth 158 
The Weighing of Souls 162 
The Latin-Less Lay Brother and Our Lady 166 
4. Reformation Endings: A Temporary Vanishing Act 171 
What Makes a Story Popular? 171 
Walsingham, England’s Nazareth 177 
Madonnas of the World Wars 186 
Literary Iconoclasm 192 
Marian Apparitions 196 
5. A Troupe of Sources and Analogues 203 
King David’s Dancing 204 
The Widow’s Mites 210 
The Virgin’s Miraculous Images and Apparitions 216 
The Jongleur of Rocamadour 218 
The Holy Candle of Arras 225 
The Pious Sweat of Monks and Lay Brothers 232 
The Love of Statuesque Beauty 235 
The Holy Face of Christ and Virgin Saints 237 
Notes 247 
Notes to Preface 247 

Notes to Chapter 1 249 

Notes to Chapter 2 
Notes to Chapter 3 
Notes to Chapter 4 
Notes to Chapter 5 

Referenced Works 

List of Illustrations 




To Michel Zink 

Art and beauty and poetry are a portion of our mediaeval heritage. Our 
contribution to the knowledge of those times must be scholarly, first of 
all, but scholarship must be arrayed, as far as possible, in a pleasing form. 

—E. K. Rand 

Mary Garden as Jean the juggler in Jules Massenet’s Le jongleur de Notre Dame. 
Photograph by Aimé Dupont, 1909. 

Note to the Reader 

This volume is the first of a half dozen. Together, the six form The Juggler of Notre Dame 
and the Medievalizing of Modernity. The book as a whole probes one medieval story, its 
reception in culture from the Franco-Prussian War until today, and the placement of 
that reception within medieval revivalism as a larger cultural phenomenon. The study 
has been designed to proceed largely in chronological order, but the progression 
across the centuries and decades is relieved by thematic chapters that deal with topics 
not restricted to any single time period. 

This installment, entitled “The Middle Ages,” deals with the story in its medieval 
forms, with the nature of chief character as a dancer and lay brother, with the 
circumstances relating to the Reformation and Counter-Reformation that explain the 
disappearance of the narrative in the early modern period, and with possible sources 
and analogues, from the Bible on through saints’ lives. The second in the series, called 

“Medieval Meets Medievalism,” examines the reemergence of the narrative after its 
edition in 1873, its translation into English, and its recasting as a short story by Anatole 
France. Later volumes trace the story of the story down to the present day. 

The chapters are followed by endnotes. Rather than being numbered, these notes 
are keyed to words and phrases in the text that are presented in a different color. 
After the endnotes come the bibliography and illustration credits. In each volume-by- 
volume index, the names of most people have lifespans, regnal dates, or at least death 
dates. Significant topics and concepts are also indexed. 

One comment on the title of the story is in order. In proper French, Notre-Dame 
has a hyphen when the phrase refers to a building, institution, or place. Notre Dame, 
without the mark, refers to the woman, the mother of Jesus. In my own prose, the title 
is given in the form Le jongleur de Notre Dame, but the last two words will be found 
hyphenated in quotations and bibliographic citations if the original is so punctuated. 

All translations are mine, unless otherwise specified. 



If no one can walk backward into 
the future, can anyone walk forward 
into the past? 

Over the last half decade, an unattributed joke in French has made the rounds of the 
highways and byways on the internet. In it, two musicians, one Corsican and the other 
Breton, chat together in a club for violinists. Both instrumentalists pride themselves 
on their talents. The performer from the Mediterranean island brags, “Last week I 
played a concerto in the cathedral of Ajaccio, in front of six thousand spectators. You 
won't believe me, but I acquitted myself so well on my instrument that I moved the 
statue of the Holy Virgin to bawl her eyes out.” The entertainer from Brittany shakes 
his head and replies, “As for me, yesterday I played at the cathedral of Brest before an 
audience of more than ten thousand people. You won’t believe me, but at one point 
I saw Jesus detach himself from the cross and come to me. I stopped playing. In the 
dead silence, he said to me, ‘My son, I hope you know the music well.’ Surprised, 
I responded, ‘Lord, I know the score. Why do you say that to me?’ He answered, 

‘Because last week at the cathedral of Ajaccio, a pompous little Corsican played so 
badly that he caused my mother to wail.” 

Jests of this sort may circulate hither and yon for a while, then die out for a bit, only 
to return from the jocular grave to joyous rebirth and regrowth. Yet few ever prove 
themselves ready for the big time. Achieving broad visibility and long durability 
nowadays requires the narrative to be infiltrated somehow into a mass-media 
blockbuster of one kind or another, such as a chart-topping film or novel. Otherwise 
the tale will not make much headway when the tempo of life is frenetic and airtime 
is packed. 

For all the tenuousness of its current existence, the French joke makes a suggestive 
point of departure for the book before you. Its basic elements so typify the Middle 
Ages that no one should be startled to find that it was in fact recounted in medieval 

© 2018 Jan M. Ziolkowski, CC BY 4.0 

6 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Europe and that in a zigzag it transited across the space-time continuum from then 
and there to become today’s worldwide meme. 

The story’s humor is verbal. Even so, it presumes nonverbal performances by 
artists before Madonnas. The crucial actions, so to speak, take place within cathedrals 
consecrated to the Virgin. The punchline assumes that in her maternal capacity, Mary 
has special leverage over her son. The dialogue between the two European musicians 
takes as an ontological given either that images of the Mother of God and Christ may 
become animate or that the real beings for whom they are stand-ins may come as 
visitants associated with them. More simply, statues of Mary and Jesus are brought to 
life or the heavenly personages depicted in them descend to earth. 

With luck, the amusement of the brief account intrigues and predisposes you, dear 
reader or listener, enough that you want to learn more about our protagonist, the 
juggler of Notre Dame. He too enacts his routine before a Madonna in a church—but 
that is only part of the story. 

The Story of a Story 

In the introduction... I would have 
preferred to see a short overview of 
the history of the motif. 

— Arthur Langfors 

This book, six volumes in all, tells the story of a story. In a sense, the prose to come 
resembles a megafarm of the sort that sprawls across the Great Plains of North America. 
Conceive a mental picture of a vast acreage devoted to monoculture. The plant under 
single-crop cultivation is one narrative and its reception. Then again, all the words 
that follow offer much more than the story of a single story. Just as musicians learn, 
perhaps especially in consorts, from playing and replaying the same piece, and 
readers refine themselves and their understanding by reading and rereading, the 
enrichment on offer here is enhanced —cultivated—by perusing multiple versions of 
the same narrative. To think of a different geography and geology, these chapters 
map a planetwide archipelago of translations, adaptations, and performances that 
is formed by the evidence for the reception of one medieval tale and its descendants. 
Because the tale has been retold in many ways and because it relates to a host of 
other tales, the account presented here is not an exercise in pure monomania on my 
part. In fact, it leads in enough other zigs and zags to warrant comparison with The 
Thousand and One Nights. It takes us into other stories and histories, first contemporary 
with the original one and then surrounding it down to the present day. It offers up a 
succession of whodunits, although the mystery is not a murder but a miracle. As we 
watch the wonder unfolded again and again, we can never be certain what the upshot 

Preface 7 

will be in the final scene of each episode. Each chapter expands like the bellows of an 
accordion to become a different detective novel. 

The tale of the story is then, more accurately, the tale of the ebbing and flowing fate 
that befell the narrative as it was received by this and that author or artist and audience. 
As such, it mirrors the tale of the medieval period as it has been reconstructed by people 
who have come afterward. At the same time, its trajectory reflects the overall destiny of 
Gothic. The jongleur, our itinerant musician and juggler, flourished, at least relatively, 
in two texts from the Middle Ages. The first was a poem in a form of the language now 
called French. The second was a preaching exemplum—an edifying story—in Latin. 
To judge by all indications, the written expression of the story originated in France in 
the first half of the thirteenth century or conceivably a tad earlier. It sprang into being 
in roughly the same place and time as the architectural and artistic manner known as 
Gothic itself took shape. Both writing specimens date to the final third of the long era 
and grand social construct that for the sake of convenience we call the Middle Ages. 
Let us say that the period extends roughly from 500 to 1500. 

The relatively derisory evidence of textual transmission for both the French poem 
and the Latin prose suggests that before disappearing temporarily into the floss of a 
cultural cocoon, the tale lived on in these incarnations until the medieval era drew to 
a close. Perhaps a more apt choice of words would be chrysalis, since the hardened 
body of a butterfly pupa is better suited to the architecture of the great stone churches. 
In what has been called the Gothic survival, this construction style too persevered 
through the beginning of the sixteenth century, at which juncture it slipped largely 
out of both cultural consciousness and architectural practice. The narrative and the 
architecture alike succumbed to the wave of anti-Gothicism and antimedievalism that 
washed across Europe and its colonies in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, 
along with other reflexes of the Italian Renaissance. During the Reformation, the 
anonymous story plunged into obscurity, where it vegetated for a few successive 
centuries. It resurfaced or was recovered in the early 1870s. At that moment, it elicited 
a romantic gusto that contributed to its being remade time and time again, down 
to the present day, in paraphrases, literary reworkings, and operatic refashionings. 
Eventually it permeated many levels and genres of mass culture. Both the medieval 
text and some of the chief modern adaptations have been rated of the highest grade. 

The tale occupies a paradoxical position by being at once nowhere and everywhere, 
resembling the titular object in Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Purloined Letter.” In this 
short story from 1845, a document is plastered over by being hidden in open view. 
Our medieval narrative also, after having been a stock item in the storehouse of 
cultural literacy throughout much of the twentieth century, has now subsided from 
mass culture. For many reasons, a moment came, a switch was flicked. The sway of 
the tale had been unassailable, but suddenly language teachers and literary critics 
spoke of what in jurisprudence is called undue influence. More devastatingly, the 

8 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

narrative dropped precipitously from popular view. In the twenty-first century, it is 
no longer reenacted annually on live television at Christmas as it was in the 1950s, 
no longer retold constantly on radio programs as it was in the 40s, and no longer 
promoted as a regular feature on the opera circuit as it was from 1900 through 1930. 
For all that, the juggler of Notre Dame seems still to be widely encountered and 
remembered, even if only as a warm and fuzzy memory in the minds of today’s 
audiences. Everyone who comes across it appears to regard it as a personal find, the 
narrative equivalent of an objet trouvé. It is uncamouflaged. At the same time, it is 
a secret weapon. 

Examples of its hiding in plain sight are plenty but I will limit myself to two: 
Five years before my godmother passed away in 2009, I mentioned to her that I 
was studying a medieval story and its reception since the late nineteenth century. 
When I told her the kernel of the narrative, she mused a moment before dropping 
the title of a poem by W. H. Auden. Until that point—confession time—I had not run 
across “The Ballad of Barnaby.” As we will see in due course, the short stanzas by 
the great twentieth-century poet tell the same medieval story. A little more recently, 
I happened to be asked about my research by the longest-serving flight attendant in 
the world, a favorite person of mine on my weekly commuter hop. I prattled about 
the narrative for a couple of minutes. At first, she smiled blankly, but within an instant 
her mien changed completely. She recognized the tale as one preferred by her son 
when she read it to him decades earlier. To this day, he recalls it fondly. In short order, 
we pieced together that she had known the story in a children’s book written and 
illustrated by Tomie dePaola. 

The tale under discussion here is a love story, and this book of mine is a love story 
about it. Not all undying love is romantic, with billing and cooing. Even less is it 
necessarily erotic or a prologue to sex. All the same, in our hard-core world it is almost 
inevitable that even a guiltless juggler should be compelled to enter a seamy space in 
culture not too many inches removed from jiggle-booty videos. Before this book is 
finished, we will see the medieval narrative as it has been manipulated by filmmakers 
of porn—to explain, ancient carvings of the last-mentioned sort often showed a Greek 
or Roman god with the ramrod of an erect penis. Wait to learn how a representation 
of the juggler could possibly merit comparison with such a figure. 

In an interview about the movie of his novella Love Story, Erich Segal demurred 
when the reporter compared him with the jongleur. Although the author balked at the 
comparison, he went on in short order to reveal that he knew the tale and that telling 
it gave him a leg up in negotiations about the film. In fact, the juggler of Notre Dame 
served him in virtually the same way as it would have done a preacher in the Middle 
Ages. It seems that during the planning for the filming of the smash hit Love Story, 
the financers from the studio had decided to save a large sum of money by lopping 

Preface 9 

from the screenplay what has become one of its most famous moments. In this scene, 
the hero ice-skates at Wollman Rink in Central Park. To convince them to keep the 
segment, Segal had a half minute to make his pitch while climbing the stairs to their 
office. In those thirty seconds, he narrated the tale of the performer from the Middle 
Ages. Won over, they agreed to retain the episode. Thus, a pivotal scene in the film 
owes its presence to Segal’s invocation of the juggler’s spiritual love. 

Not only is this study about a story of love, it is also about a love of story. One 
emotion binds the protagonist of the medieval narrative to the Virgin. The affective tie 
is hitched by way of a Madonna in a crypt, before whom the lead character expresses 
his devotion by performing an acrobatic or juggling routine. This daily grind puts into 
action a heart-melting lyricism. His feeling is faith-based, but the humble attachment 
to Mary that is described in the narrative emanates from an era when religion was 
not as quarantined from the rest of life as many now experience it. The other love 
has less to do with the divine than with art itself. This consuming—and creating — 
passion ties to the jongleur every poet, illustrator, composer, and other creative soul 
who has remodeled the tale in literature, art, music, and other media. The makeover 
commences with the two medieval versions, resumes with the rediscovery of the 
story in the late nineteenth century, and stretches to the present day. Nor should 
researchers be omitted. From 1873 until this very moment, they have been inspirited 
by their own gusto for the narrative and more broadly for the Middle Ages. Propelled 
by that affection, they have transmitted it to the public, including fresh generations of 
artists, who have kept it living through rereading and creative reinterpretation. 

From Our Lady’s Tumbler to The Jongleur of Notre Dame 

The account of concern to us here has traveled under various aliases. The story is 
simplicity incarnate, but it also displays an astonishing plasticity. Most often, it has 
borne in English the titles Our Lady’s Tumbler and The Jongleur of Notre Dame. The 
two versions are closely related but not fungible. Many renderings of them have 
been deceptively simple in the number and nature of their narrative elements. The 
narrative can even be pruned at its barest minimum to the interior of a high-ceilinged 
Gothic church and a ball, by way of which the cover art to the program of an opera 
production summed up the whole narrative (see Fig. Pref.1 below). 

Not even a single human being is present. Gothic is familiar to everyone who has 
traveled in Europe, the Americas, and many other places around the globe that were 
once gripped by European imperialism or tied to its national cultures. The principal 
elements of the style instantiate the gist of medieval Christianity: the pointed arch 
conjures up a monastery, a cathedral of Notre Dame, or both. By visual metonymy, 
the sphere evokes the juggler himself. 

10 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 


Fig. Pref.1 Christie Grimstad, Le jongleur de Notre Dame, 2009. 
Ink pointillism, 28 x 35.6 cm. © Ken Fish. All rights reserved. 

Tracing how the tale of the juggler acquired these associations has its own inherent 
interest. More broadly, it takes us down a path toward appreciating how the Middle 
Ages have been recaptured since the late nineteenth century. The medieval period as 
we now know it was retrieved, reinvented, and reconceived by the nineteenth century 
as a counterbalance to industrial society. Since then, it has been reinvoked both 
architecturally and literarily at times of profound soul-searching, by both individual 
artists and whole cultures. Everyone knows that with each passing moment we 
venture beyond a new point of no return and that the event horizon lies behind us. 
In this sense, Gothic is gone—but that does not mean dead and gone. At least half 
of William Faulkner’s adage holds true: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” 
We may now have reached once again a juncture where the Middle Ages have an 
especially heightened relevance or meet needs that other times will not fill. 

The architecture of Gothic revivals cannot be ignored. In fact, it represents an 
essential aspect of the overall reinvention that the medieval period has undergone 
recurrently. In part, the story has thrived owing to the seductiveness of the built spaces 
in which the imaginations of the reader have pictured it taking place. Fathoming the 
juggler helps us to grasp the reasons for which the construction style predominated 
as it did. In turn, comprehension of the buildings assists in coming to terms with 
the performer in the literary texts. Gothic architecture and literature are the twin 
terminuses of a heavily traveled two-way street. They are not in discord; we are under 

Preface 11 

no obligation to pit them against each other in a game of rock-paper-scissors. Instead, 
they are constantly, ever-evolvingly interactive. In both edifices and texts, Gothic may 
be so often seen and so readily recognized that it needs to be defamiliarized for us to 
perceive it afresh. 

The wretched and yet transcendent jongleur himself stands beyond the 
intellectualism of polarities between print and oral, Reformation and medieval, 
and modernism and Middle Ages. He speaks to all of us who suffer the trials and 
tribulations of at least two anxieties. One makes us fear in the pit of our stomachs 
that our chosen occupation is insubstantial; the other fills us with fretfulness that 
our execution of it may not be even particularly authoritative or dignified. Relieving 
both worries, he shows us that art and physicality, acted out in the right spirit, can 
transfuse meaning into life and win accolades even in the afterlife. 

The most common English title, Our Lady’s Tumbler, is one translation of a French 
title, Del Tumbeor Nostre Dame, by which the medieval narrative was known when it 
was first brought back to light. From this story another has been crafted, a nineteenth- 
century adaptation called, again from the French, The Jongleur of Notre Dame. It recounts 
a miracle of the Virgin Mary. Such wonders were the abundant side shoots and suckers 
of medieval literature that sprouted from the much heftier trunk of hagiography, that 
is, saints’ lives and legends. Since the late nineteenth century, these two forms of the 
tale—Our Lady’s Tumbler and The Jongleur of Notre Dame—have undergone frequent 
amalgamation and adaptation. In close association, they have constituted an enduring 
component of culture in Western Europe, America, and even farther afield. Whereas 
most medieval narratives that have exercised much influence on modern culture have 
been familiar, at least patchily, since romanticism or even earlier, Our Lady’s Tumbler 
gamered attention only from 1873. 

Sometimes coming on the scene late can have upsides and confer advantages. 
From that year on, the story and its awesomely variegated progeny have held a place 
continuously in literature, as well as eventually in music, dance, radio, television, 
cinema, painting, sculpture, and other media. Scrutinizing the family tree of this one 
tale illustrates and validates the worth of the arts and humanities. This case study 
demonstrates how the world may be constructed creatively through language, art, 
music, movement, and other forms of human expression. Even just within the literary 
sphere (and that is a big “just’”), the narrative has found expression in a multitude 
of genres, which include cheap paperbacks, handwritten and printed pseudo- 
manuscripts, miniature books, bibliophilic editions, and children’s books, even 
pop-up books. 

Until the late twentieth century, the world of learning tended to keep apart many 
categories just mentioned, and to ignore or boycott popular and mass culture. Oral 
and written, folkloric and literary, low and high, image and text, children’s and adult, 
medieval and modern, and many other such either-or dualities were kept in place with 
far greater rigidity than has become the custom. Similarly, investigators speak now 

2 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

of literary reception rather than tradition. This change corresponds to a shift of focus 
from authors and their intentions to readers and their multiplicity of interpretations. 

For the breaking down of artificial balkanizations that were created and instituted 
long after the Middle Ages, I am thankful. Their evaporation enables us to wend our 
way freely across time, genre, and space. Scholarship needs the solidity of disciplines 
and fields, but at this point who would write off the attractions and values of building 
on them to attain vibrant multidisciplinarity and interdisciplinarity across areas? 
Disciplines and fields must be maintained so that we may acquire the expertise 
required for knowledge and wisdom, yet simultaneously, they must be resisted and 
transcended, so that culture may be understood holistically, across times, places, 
media, levels, and more. 

In my wanderings, I have lighted upon beauties in narrative and in lives touched 
and sustained by the story that would have escaped me. At the same time, the 
contemplation of later reformulations has granted insights into the medieval poem 
that would never have occurred to me otherwise. For all the marvels that human 
ingenuity has reached through science, we are still unable either to outleap our own 
mortality or to journey back or forward in time. Try as we may, we are bogged down 
more than knee-deep in the here and now. Yet this story has enabled me to achieve 
intimacy with individuals, some accomplished, others unremarkable, most large- 
hearted and next to none small-minded or mean-spirited, from across eight centuries 
or more. Among the many delights and duties of devotees to the humanities is to role- 
play as bounty hunters. First, we tail our prey. After nabbing them, we parade them 
in a perp walk before a broader public. Why? Because they are the “wanted, dead or 
alive” who can expand our appreciation of culture. 

Over the first few decades of the prolific aftermath that the medieval Our Lady’s 
Tumbler has engendered since the late nineteenth century, the reception of the narrative 
owed to its intrinsic qualities. The historical circumstances when it was received were 
marked by particularities that would have predisposed audiences to the significations 
they detected in it. In addition, the story’s heft has gained from the serendipity that a 
host of major scholars, authors, songsters, performers, and artists gravitated to it and 
reshaped it. Tracking the shifting fate of Our Lady’s Tumbler allows insights into not 
only the life and afterlife of medieval tales and modern preconceptions of the Middle 
Ages but also the very nature of story. 


The story I will tell extols humble zeal, which is how many who have fallen under its 
spell would like to characterize their own spirit in approaching Our Lady’s Tumbler. 
Nurturing a determination to be unshowy seems inherently self-subversive, but such 
undermining seems to be an essential element of being human. So, let us aspire to 
be modest but also to help wean this tale off life support. Fiction writers might hope 

Preface 13 

to save it by composing utterly different retellings. I will instead offer a study that 
surveys the theme from as many analytical vantage points as my own conceptual and 
cultural-historical capacities allow. Our combined efforts may yet help to confirm that 
the pen is mightier than the sword. 

The length of this study has not resulted from mere writing mania on my part, 
but rather from the multiplicity and richness of the issues involved in it. I cannot 
claim to have constructed a cathedral of learning, but I can argue that like some of 
the finest Gothic places of worship, this edifice of words and images has a complex 
structure in which each component predicates another. Great churches are cruciform, 
enforcing on worshipers and even on nonbeliever visitors an empathy with Christ 
through imitation of the crucifixion as they bring their bodies to the crossing of nave 
and transept. Yet the same houses of worship deposit upon the original story of Jesus 
many others, both precedents from the Hebrew Bible and successors from saints’ lives 
and other subsequent tales, told in stained glass, carvings, paint, and many of the 
other media that go into the making of cathedrals. So too you will find here, as you 
thumb through this volume, a very deliberate accumulation of what ideally will serve 
as purposeful variety. Decide for yourself whether it adds up to more than merely the 
sum of the parts. 

Our Lady’s Tumbler and The Jongleur of Notre Dame, like their title characters, may 
seem uncomplicated and timeless. People who are humble and devout risk being 
described as simple, which in turn can be conflated with simpleminded. The jongleur 
is no simpleton. For that matter, those who have created art or artisanship about him 
are not simplistic either. As for timeless, on each occasion these stories are retold, they 
mutate. Like the jumping gymnast of the story, they are whirligigs. Despite qualities 
that take them out of time, many changes in fact reflect transformations brought about 
constantly by the passage of days, months, and years. 

To rephrase what I wrote at the outset, the pages to follow unfold the unauthorized 
biography of a tale. Although the destiny of the story may be never-ending, and 
although my aspirations may be totalizing, this study of its life can be neither. All 
mortals, unlike some of the art they produce, have only a finite measure of vitality at 
their disposal. Thus, I must finish, for my own sake as well as yours. As loath as Iam 
to pull back from an enterprise that has taught me much and brought me unbroken 
joy, the moment has arrived to start the show-and-tell of what I have learned. Like any 
biographer who aspires to do his subject justice, I am filled with fervor to delineate a 
detailed picture. Even more, I ache to construct one that has all the three-dimensional 
immersiveness of an insight gained or even entered from multiple perspectives. The 
fancy word for this objective is perspectivism, the practice of viewing and analyzing 
a situation or object from different observation posts. 

This project, driven by an aim for holism, provides the ingredients for an infinity 
of close readings. The big-hearted soul who in the early thirteenth century left us our 

14 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

earliest extant manifestation of the narrative was already in the thick of an interchange 
between what has been called high and low culture. His poem perched at an interface. 
On the one side was the sometimes spicy, unrehearsed entertainment that was made 
available to the illiterate common folk. Indeed, the protagonist of his poem was 
himself a ruefully unlettered performer. On the other end of the spectrum stood the 
esoteric exercises of the educated and privileged elite, especially ecclesiastics such as 
monks. The result is a contradiction, a beautiful and learned text about monastic life 
that imparts how conventional prayer may be outstripped without Latin, chant, or 
liturgy. Alternatively, what prevails is the simplicity of the performer's thoughts and 
hopes: wishful thinking comes out on top. 

To elucidate, I will follow one-way lines of cause and effect, but the linear causalities 
will be braided together into complex bundles. I will toggle between text and context, 
with the added nuance that the text itself will change at every step of the way—as 
holds true of a human life history, since individuals develop in response to the 
environment that evolves around them. For all these reasons and more, digital devices 
have functioned for me as tools rather than interlocutors. As a humanist, I have been 
driven to converse with human beings—sometimes face to face with the living but 
more often via printed page, canvas, film, and other media with the dead or distant. 
The days, weeks, months, and years have heaped up like flakes in a heavy snowfall as 
I have picked up and put down the work. Each artist or interpreter has furnished me 
with another lens, sometimes microscopic, sometimes telescopic, that has amplified 
and clarified my vision and insight. I have been fascinated by learning about these 
other individuals and their perspectives. If I have been clumsy in interpreting them, I 
have at least tried: in our times, anxiety about past or present injuries done to others 
seems to encourage talking about things rather than people. Objects have become the 
preferred subjects. That is too bad, since in a time of materialism the consideration of 
humanity makes a nice counterweight to the preoccupation with materiality. Human 
beings win out over stuff and nonsense. 

This book grapples with two equal but opposite processes. One is the making 
modern of a medieval story; the other is the making medieval of the cultures that 
have received it. In what follows, a single miraculous tale supplies the vehicle for 
sharing and revelation. At the same time, The Jongleur of Notre Dame relates to what 
has happened to the Middle Ages themselves. It makes this one story a synecdoche, 
or a rich case in point, for the entire reception of the medieval period in modernity. 
The description and analysis that lie ahead tell and show (to transpose the usual 
idiom) a tale. They alternate between countless texts and contexts. The versions of 
the story and the cultures surrounding them interdigitate inextricably. I would like 
to resuscitate the narrative, while also applying it as a fulcrum for understanding 
the reception of the medieval era in general. 

Preface 15 

Accept then a heartfelt invitation to commute back and forth through time and 
space, as retailed in words and images. We will get underway by taking a very long 
stride into the Middle Ages—or at least into what they have been made by those who 
have sought to shuttle between them and their own times, and into what they appear 
to be to me. (I am resisting saying that our excursion takes us back, since that carries 
unfavorable connotations— medieval is not another word for backward.) Then, after 
taking that huge lunge to 1200, we will jump part of the way forward again toward 
the somewhat more proximate past of the late nineteenth century. And, from the 
1870s onward, we will take baby steps across time until our own day. 

As chance would have it, our appreciation of medievalism is much fuller and 
perhaps simpler up to our late nineteenth-century starting point of 1870 than afterward. 
That year makes a good dividing line for at least France and Germany, which acted 
out important roles in the reception of Our Lady’s Tumbler, since the Franco-Prussian 
War precipitated major changes in both. Even though Britain did not participate in the 
armed conflict, 1870 marked a seismic shift in its culture as well. As has happened ad 
nauseam since, the hostilities no sooner drove people apart than they made the world 
a smaller and more nodal place. Among other things, movements in art and culture 
spread like wildfire internationally, especially across the transatlantic plane. 

Strictly speaking, the reception portion of my book commences in 1873. Many 
medievalists are well acquainted with the reemergence of the medieval in the Gothic 
revival of the nineteenth century. Yet that eruption of revivalism is often understood 
to have fizzled out in failure precisely when my timetable starts. In the conventional 
scheme, the main renewal of medievalizing entered its twilight by 1880 and was 
extinct by 1900. As a result, the timeline of this probe may catch my colleagues in 
medieval—or medievalism— studies, ill- or even altogether unprepared. We are not 
trained to be aware of second- and third-wave medievalism. 


The tale of the performer has been for me a top-notch teacher and guardian angel—or 
acrobat. Alongside unnerving and subversive undercurrents that only enrich it, the 
story possesses a redemptive goodness that has made lengthy immersion in it nothing 
but a charm. 

This undertaking has also made me belatedly valorize the fragile durability of 
books. I have never considered myself an especial book lover—a bibliophile carries 
a gene for collecting that I lack. Rather, I have viewed myself as a craftsman in a 
profession that involves an untold array of tools, and printed matter forms a large and 
much-valued class among that panoply. Yet conducting the dragnet for this project 
has made me a bibliophile in the broadest and perhaps truest sense. 

The end result, these six volumes, has ensconced within itself aspects of my own 
fondness— for the tale, for medieval cultures, and for people in my life. l owe gratitude 

16 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

to all those who have fostered in me the thirst and perhaps even the knack for making 
the past come alive as I construe it. The Roman myth of Pygmalion is analogous only 
so far, since the object of my enthusiasm is not a narrative that I composed myself, 
but I will acknowledge that this story made me fall in love with a product of art. 
Whatever resemblance I may have to Pygmalion, however, I hope to bear less of one 
to Narcissus. I long to coax mute texts into speaking, not to coerce them into serving 
as ventriloquist’s dummies for my own self. 

The goodness of our medieval tale froths up in the foam of positive feelings and 
memories that the story often elicits from those who have been touched by it. Truth 
to tell, I have been delightedly startled again and again by the generosity of those 
whom I have consulted when foraging for information and materials. The repeated 
kindness of strangers has led me to conclude that the story is innately and infectiously 
constructive. The world needs more narratives like it, for a story can be improving, a 
tale can be a tonic: a treatment known as bibliotherapy exists, with good cause. To be 
less highfalutin, we refer routinely to feel-good stories. This is such a narrative. If any 
of its qualities have rubbed off on my project, enough to make this book instill warm 
feelings in the cockles of others’ hearts, that outcome gladdens me. 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of 
Our Lady’s Tumbler 

I find that I always get back to the 
twelfth century when left to myself. 

—Henry Adams 

The French Poem 

The poem often called Our Lady’s Tumbler, comprising 684 lines in 342 rhyming 
couplets, is held by common consensus to be a bright spot of French literature, 
among the most beautiful texts from the Middle Ages. Magnum opus though it 
may be, the piece poses quintessentially medieval puzzles. The tale it recounts has 
also come through to us in a later, no-frills Latin prose version. Rudimentary facts 
about interconnections between the poem and prose turn out not to be facts at all but 
moot points. When all is said and done, we can do nothing first except read, reason, 
and seek out hard evidence. Then we may proceed to formulate, substantiate, and 
evaluate hypotheses by trying them out in the proving grounds of public delivery. By 
taking precautions and implementing preventive measures against slipperiness, we 
can tiptoe around slippery-slope fallacies. Just by itself, the verse in Picard-flavored 
medieval French remains, in important regards, unexplored territory. Among the 
unknowns are authorship and precise date of composition. Even more mystifying 
is the exact relationship between the two actual written texts and any conjectural 
unwritten forms. Did an oral narrative stand behind the poem that is our earliest 
datum? Did one, either inspired by the poetic version or independent of it, lead to 
the later exemplum? At the end of the day, the only two foregone conclusions are the 
story itself and the manuscripts that transmit it. Both these diamond-hard certainties 
warrant close examination. 

Our Lady’s Tumbler has been termed a “stand-alone moralizing piece.” The tale it 
tells resembles a specific type of medieval literature known as an exemplum. Exempla, 

© 2018 Jan M. Ziolkowski, CC BY 4.0 

18 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

to use the plural, were illustrative stories that furnished entertainment in speeches. 
By doing so, they particularly enlivened sermons. Generally, they were pithy. While 
providing a modicum of mirth, the brief narratives, which like most rhetoric were 
protreptic, served as launch pads for edification. Often they impressed salutary or 
redemptive ethical lessons. Sometimes they afforded humdrum, concrete explanations; 
at other times they illustrated complex, abstract doctrinal issues. These exemplary 
tales can be heterogeneous in nature, but many purport to relate an actual event in 
the life of a real human being. That is, they are presented as being true. Thus, they can 
approximate closely what today we might categorize as anecdotes or, alternatively, 
legends. At the very least, they are usually plausible. Whether they actually happened 
is almost beside the point. 

Preaching became ever more prevalent after 1200. Inside the beehives of Cistercian 
monasteries, abbots were expected to utter daily homilies in chapter meetings to the 
monks under their oversight. Beyond this routine expectation, the same community 
kingpins were also to hold forth in church on festivities, when pontificating was the 
order of the day. Those feasts, of course, included the major Marian celebrations. The 
white monks, as those of this order were called, spread throughout Europe, into the 
Eastern Mediterranean and even beyond. They carried with them their sermons and 
exempla in speech and writing, and enriched their stock of such narratives with what 
they heard and read during their travels. The store of these little tales swelled. In 
the world outside the abbeys, sermonizing proliferated as clerics were reoriented to 
devote far greater time and energy to the moral welfare and spiritual life of laypeople. 
In the process, the clergy tasked with pulpiteering developed a taste for enlivening 
and enlightening their orations with engaging and edifying stories. Eventually 
the friars, too, became especially enmeshed in proselytizing among the laity. All 
these preachers, monastic, fraternal, and clerical, felt an imperative to grandstand 
and to find attention-grabbing tales that lent themselves to moralistic or religious 
interpretations—in a word, to preachiness. 

Both the theory and praxis of homiletics necessitated familiarity, both broad 
and deep, with exempla. Consequently, the requirements of would-be sermonizers 
opened up niches for new sorts of reference works. In these books, aspiring orators 
who sought out stories suited to specific themes could forage for ones that met their 
needs. They rooted around in exempla collections conveniently arranged in clusters 
by topic. Alternatively, they consulted systematic “arts of preaching.” Illustrative 
stories often turned up in the model speeches that were implanted in or grafted onto 
such manuals. The exempla became only more pervasive as this type of rhetoric took 
an ever stronger hold on oral and written culture alike. In those two cultures, the 
noun “sermon” carried a dual meaning. On the one hand, it referred to a declamation 
proclaimed aloud and live to an audience. The delivery could come from memory, 
improvisation, a written outline, or a full text. On the other hand, the word could 
denote a text copied in a manuscript for reading and consultation. 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady’s Tumbler 19 

Churchgoing listeners, whether monastic or lay, had far fewer reservoirs of 
diversion on which to draw than we have today. For them, the exemplum was a 
happy innovation that came into its own in the thirteenth century. It remained well 
liked throughout the remainder of the Middle Ages. Viewed from a higher altitude, 
this literary genre can be lodged within a broader framework. Even outside churches, 
the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries saw an explosion of both tales and tale- 
telling. To describe the trend toward fiction as a development of “story for story’s sake” 

would go too far. After all, many narratives had lessons or at least germs of wisdom 
to convey. Yet with or without morals, narrative mushroomed. The formulation 
“emancipation of story” may be the snappiest catchphrase that has been concocted 
to describe the proliferation of romances and “songs of heroic deeds,” fabliaux and 
so-called elegiac comedies, and fables and exempla. Like many others in society, 
preachers had to be good storytellers if they wished to compete and succeed. 

But let us turn inward from context to text. The poem of Our Lady’s Tumbler 
tells a stirring tale of a professional entertainer who specializes in dizzying double 
somersaults, light-footed leaps, and other such feats. In our terms this key figure 
might be called an acrobat, gymnast, or dancer. All three pursuits involve nonverbal 
bodily movements that are intentionally rhythmical, and all three follow patterned 
sequences. All three have interdependences between body and emotion, in strong 
contrast to the associations of linguistic expression with the mind and reason. Dance 
constitutes a symbolic form of communicating and representing. Its connection 
with symbolism elevates it. Yet it is also ineluctably physical, with the positives and 
negatives that corporeality entails. The hero of the poem is radically new, a role model 
who is simultaneously a roll model. 

Whatever name we assign to the profession and activities the tumbler transacts in 
the story, this simple layman tires of his existence as a secular performer. World-weary, 
he feels like a misfit, and he cannot stomach any more years of aimless wandering. 
From the medieval Christian perspective that he assumes, all his possessions are ill- 
gotten gains. In a sudden and definitive change of heart, and without any forethought, 
he repents by giving away his hard-earned money, horse, and clothes. He is game now 
to lead life pro bono. The entertainer aspires to cure his newly developed agoraphobia 
by yielding to claustrophilia. He joins a monastery as a lay brother, and he plunges in 
with a blank slate. The abbey is his spiritual promised land. Yet his notions of tabula 
rasa and a clean break prove to be illusory. All too soon, one form of hopelessness gives 
way to another. In his new environs, he realizes that he is far from his wheelhouse (or 
cartwheelhouse). He has no capability for singing or reading. Shortly, he despairs over 
his inefficacy. He cannot fulfill the duties of a regular monk—in fact, he is incapable 
even of deciphering the codes of monastic communication and conduct. After one life- 
changing transition, he needs another. This time he must invent a new life for himself, 
but within the inflexibilities of monasticism. 

20 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Eventually, the jongleur figures out a means for overcoming his life’s ennui. It 
dawns upon him that his priorities are all amiss. He needs to put the (cart)wheel 
before the horse: by recognizing in a way uniquely his own that the show must go on, 
he hybridizes his two ostensibly irreconcilable métiers. The physics of his devotion 
has its own space and time. To express himself in the only medium he can devise, the 
tumbler takes to slinking off to the crypt when the robed and hooded monks fulfill 
the canonical hours above. He leaves it to others to preach to the choir. Instead, in 
solitude he develops the custom of stripping down from his habit to his underclothes. 
Upon entering the abbey he divested himself figuratively of his property; now he 
does a literal divestment. In this array (or disarray), he venerates the Virgin Mary by 
enacting his devotions in solitude before an image of Our Lady. His reverence takes 
the shape of acrobatics. His physical exploits are intermingled with breast-beating, 
sighs, whimpering, and other indicia of penance. The moral of the story would appear 
to be “As you weep, so shall you reap.” The sequence culminates in genuflection 
before the Madonna. At the end of the whole-body workout (but perhaps especially 
the legwork), he collapses, not groveling, but parched and prostrate, lips chapped, 
lungs gasping for oxygen, his quadriceps heavy as lead. 

The story continues. Fellow monks have noticed the absenteeism of the tumbler, 
who supposedly abandoned the wandering without purpose in which he engaged 
professionally in the world outside. They remain unconvinced that despite now being 
at least nominally a monk of some species, he has not lost his bearings and reverted 
to his old ways. In their petty-mindedness, they suspect him of being shiftless. What 
does he do while they knuckle down to execute their duties by singing in choir? Could 
he be lounging, a laggard or loafer? Acting upon their suspicions, they trail him, ferret 
out his alibi, see his unorthodoxy in action, and disapprove. The lay brother believes 
that by tumbling, he is worshipping. Their reaction is dismissive: what they observe, 
they judge as “not a prayer.” Through them, the abbot is alerted to the unaccustomed 
and nonnormative behavior of the unwitting tumbler and spies upon him, at which 
moment he witnesses a miraculous visitant. Spoiler alert! The Virgin herself descends 
from heaven and, in her role as comforter, fans the tumbler. The scheming of the 
brethren has backfired. 

A while after this celestial encounter, the overwrought entertainer is summoned 
to a meeting in the abbot’s quarters. The lay brother is tied in knots with worry. Has 
he transgressed by riffing so radically on the regular worship? Has he committed 
not really but metaphorically a faux pas? Will his superior have him ejected from 
the abbey? Will he be defrocked for his frocklessness in the crypt? All these anxieties 
prove to be ungrounded. Instead of being reprimanded and penalized, he receives a 
commendation. In the view of his spiritual father, his dance routine gives evidence 
not of shirking but of supererogation: it is a balletic form of going above and beyond, 
except it takes place below ground. Relief washes over the tumbler. What happens 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady’s Tumbler 21 

next may seem a kind of physiological non sequitur. Beyond the physical drain 
of performing multiple times a day, he has been under insufferable psychological 
duress. The sudden turnabout from anxiety to reassurance and relaxation overloads 
his constitution, which has become damaged through overwork. He immediately 
falls ill and soon expires. In one sense, he has attained the release from life that is 
designated technically as quietus. Peace and salvation have been his goals, and now 
he has reached them. From another perspective, he has truly worked himself to death. 
He has achieved the ultimate in work-life imbalance. 

Thanks to another intervention by Mary, angels wrest the tumbler’s soul from 
demons who have swooped in to claim it as their own. Despite being the beneficiary 
of the Virgin’s leniency, in neither case does he witness the act himself. He cannot 
measure up to a saint. He has not died after being martyred nor after living an entire 
life of unpolluted virtue, from cradle to grave. At the same time, beyond the shadow of 
a doubt, the entertainer who has become a lay brother has won ringing endorsement 
from the Mother of God. Although he is rail-thin and worn to the nub by asceticism, 
what happens around him are not his own fatigue-induced hallucinations. The 
miracles may function to his maximum advantage, but they take place unbeknownst 
to him. Rather, they are genuine epiphanies to which others can testify. They are 
wonders for which impartial, even skeptical eyewitnesses can vouch. 

If we dissect the tale and seek to taxonomize it within present-day categories 
of literary genres, we might waver in classifying Our Lady’s Tumbler. The genre 
of the poem, if not altogether uncharacterizable, is problematic to characterize— 
but fortunately those who write literature have often been much less fussy about 
generic exactitude than those who criticize, historicize, and theorize it. We could 
sort the poem under the heading of short story, if we regard the account as fiction. 
Alternatively, we could class it as minor biography, if we buy that it was meant 
to be taken as a record of reality—a moment in history. We could compare it 
profitably with the Occitan literary form called vida, which presented in prose a 
brief life story of a troubadour. Then again, we could subsume it within one subset 
of writings about the saints. Hagiography encompasses writings on the lives and 
deaths of saints, their miracles, and the fate of their mortal remains. By this measure 
the French text fits squarely within the form—it recounts a miracle tale about the 
Mother of God, who is a saint even if the tumbler is not. To go a step further, it tells 
a double wonder: In the first instance, the Virgin intervenes to succor physically 
a devotee of hers. In the second, she tops her earlier assistance by interceding to 
save his eternal soul from hell for heaven. The poem is technically a soteriological 
Marian miracle tale, in which the Mother of God performs a wonder to redeem an 
individual. As such, it falls within a subgenre of miracles about Mary that is not 
attested definitively before the eleventh century. 

22 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

To return to familiar territory, the narrative unfolded in Our Lady’s Tumbler is an 
exemplum, just as the preamble to the poem declares. As might happen in a sermon, the 
tale concentrates our undivided attention upon reversals in stature. The tumbler has 
attained worldly success and prosperity, which he abandons. Within the monastery, 
he rates himself a total washout. Yet in the end, he manages to reach the ultimate of 
un- and otherworldliness. He attains recognition by securing a lifeline twice, both 
times courtesy of Mary. Our Lady’s Tumbler conjures up a hefty set of oppositions. It 
sets in competition the categories of lay and monastic, literate and illiterate, official 
and unofficial, public and private, liturgical and non- or paraliturgical, verbal and 
nonverbal, devout and blasphemous, and even aboveground and underground. 
Indeed, the list of such antonyms could be extended almost without end. What is 
more, the poem raises urgent questions about love, regarded at least nowadays as 
quite possibly the most powerful and mysterious aspect of human life, whether 
directed toward another person, God, or both. 

But we get ahead of ourselves by delving into such subtleties and shades of grey 
before dealing with more elementary issues. Prompted by the medieval text, our path 
must commence, whether we recognize it as such or not, with words preserved in 
ink on parchment. We must toe our way carefully, letter by letter, across and down 
painstakingly prepped and smoothed rectangles of cowhide. The manuscripts that 
transmit the text help us to hear the words and read the minds of people from the 
Middle Ages. A codex has an altogether different shape from a low-caliber revolver, 
yet if we seek out a smoking gun in the distant past of the Middle Ages, we need to 
start our search for the fumes by looking at the books made of animal skin. 

The Manuscripts 

Manuscripts can bear a deceptive resemblance to printed volumes, but by their 
very nature the first are handwritten (Latin manu “by hand,” scriptus “written’). 
Consequently, all such products are unique. No mass-produced items of this sort exist, 
any more than do assembly-line medieval cathedrals. No two styles of penmanship 
are the same. These objects, each one of a kind, pump the lifeblood of medieval studies, 
or at least fill the circulatory system for that vital force. In many respects, they were 
the vascular network of the Middle Ages themselves. They constitute the veins and 
arteries of the bloodstream through which medieval folk, especially the educated, have 
been best able to reach across the centuries and millennia and to communicate with 
us—and we with them. For all the skewing that results from their being the output of 
literate elites, such codices have always offered a sweet spot for access to the minds 
and hearts of many medieval people. By metonymy, they present medievalists an 
illusion that the era in which they specialize is remote but not intangible. Parchment 
leads to poetry and prose. Poems take us all the way to poets. 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady’s Tumbler 23 

Books made of vellum and its kin embody a massive societal commitment. The 
investment came partly in what might now be called “staff time.” Preparing an animal 
skin to create a proper writing surface, penning texts upon it by hand with quill and 
ink, and binding it into a codex were all labor-intensive processes, often requiring 
teams of specialists. This cursory conspectus elides many steps in the production of 
even the plainest of plain-vanilla manuscripts. The economic costs of materials were 
also real and mounted high. The pelts employed for parchment could have been used 
instead for fabricating clothing, buckets, harnesses, or any of the thousand other 
functions that leather fulfilled in the Middle Ages, which plastics or synthetic fabrics 
might serve today. Although the parchmenting process often renders the hide soft 
and smooth, the resultant material is tough. It may be scuffed, scratched, and snipped, 
but it can stand a lot. 

Where manuscripts now reside holds interest, but far more consequential than the 
libraries in which they sit today is where they originated and how they relate to one 
another. In total, five codices of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries preserve the 
verse work Our Lady’s Tumbler. The original, at least as it has been handed down to us, 
is recorded in a form of French marked with many features of the language spoken 
and written in Picardy, a territory in the northern part of France. It could be termed 
Franco-Picard. The relationship between the literary idiom now customarily called 
Old French and the living colloquials or dialects grouped under the name Picard 
remains heatedly debated. When the poem was composed, the pecking order of 
languages within France was not yet established. Picard has devolved into a regional 
tongue or dialect under the overall umbrella of Jangue d’oil, the language employed 
in the northern half of the country and other nearby areas, but in the early thirteenth 
century, the linguistic and dialectal spectrum looked very different. Whatever label 
we attach to what is now a patois, the important thing is that the text is, and had to be, 
in the vernacular. It tells of a leading character who is nonclerical, illatinate, illiterate, 
and unlearned. Without making a conscious effort, he contests the world that belongs 
to his Latin, literate, and learned confreres. Thus, it juxtaposes very deliberately at 
least two or three discourses and sets of values. 

The text’s prototypes have vanished. We do not have a rough draft that the poet 
wrote out himself or that he dictated to a scribe. We lack even the next stage of a 
clean and corrected version. But we possess one manuscript closely related to the lost 
original. The other four all seem to stand at two or more additional removes from the 
hypothetical author’s original, or holograph. The unconfirmed authorial fair copy is 
sometimes designated the urtext, a term taken from German. The affiliation of the 
handwritten versions has been set down graphically in a genealogical chart that is 
known as a stemma (see Fig. 1.1). 

24 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 


Fig. 1.1 Stemma of Our Lady’s Tumbler. Vector Art by Melissa Tandysh (2014) after Hermann 
Wachter, “Der Springer unserer lieben Frau,” Romanische Forschungen 11.1 (1901): 299. Image 
courtesy of Melissa Tandysh. All rights reserved. 

This kind of diagram is meant to isolate what is styled an archetype. This 
primogenitor sires a lineage of descendants, whose relative purity and propriety are 
to be spotlighted. Low-quality codices are black sheep (or cows, if the writing surface 
is vellum). We could take the metaphor further to call them bastards in the family 
tree. The propinquity of copies to the real or hypothetical original is determined 
by detecting what are called fallacies. Editors of texts, following the procedures of 
stemmatics, hunt down common errors that are shared by different manuscripts. By 
doing so, they narrow down how the varying texts preserved in the medieval books 
are related to one other. 

Textual edition and criticism prioritize the identification of supposed 
misapprehensions by those involved in writing out words by hand. To a degree, these 
two arts rest on an assumption that manuscripts and the scribes who produce them 
are error-prone. Consequently, they are often not enterprises that nurture positive 
and charitable thinking about the work of others. Philologists committed to such 
pursuits may go to great lengths in tallying errata. Over the centuries, the medieval 
copyists who have been put under the microscopes of these scholars have been on 
the receiving end of much obloquy for their real or alleged blunders. Helpless to 
defend themselves, they have been excoriated over and over again as stupid and 
slovenly bunglers. They have been taken to task especially for luckless efforts to 
make changes on the fly when they encountered wording that made no sense to them. 
Another consideration important for us to recognize is that the processes of editing 
and criticizing texts were held in the highest regard in the late nineteenth century, 
when nation-states were created and coalesced in Europe. Researchers contributed 
to the construction of nationhood by delivering to the public through the educational 
system the earliest literary expressions of national identities. First, they identified and 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady’s Tumbler 25 

concurred about texts worthy of being considered foundational. Then they located 
and validated the manuscripts most faithful to their originals so that they could 
constitute reliable editions. 

In the sort of genealogy that a stemma provides, letters from the Greek and Roman 
alphabets customarily serve to signify individual manuscripts. Each such designation 
is called a siglum. In this case the letter O represents the lost original or archetype, 
which transmitted the urtext. The letter a stands for an early exemplar that was made 
as a copy of the archetype, although it, too, has not lasted. The alpha and beta, a and 
6, that come below the Roman letter are two further exemplars that were copied from 
it. Neither of these is extant either; they also are hypothetical. Tangible and legible 
reality arrives in the next stage. From each of a and B, two handwritten versions were 
copied that survive. In each pair, the text of one shows signs of having been affected 
by consultation of one in the other couple. To indicate this crossover, the sigla of these 
two are joined by the dashed line that traces an arc between them. 

Of the five manuscripts that are not merely hypothetical but indeed exist, one has 
been deemed higher-ranking by all editors to date for the text it transmits. Its shelfmark, 
a notation that indicates its place in a collection, refers to the Arsenal library. Although 
far from infallible, the folios in this codex lack the major errors that are common to all 
the other codices that descend from the lost archetype, a. This text is largely without 
the omission or inversion of verses, faults in rhyme, mistakes in diction, and so forth 
that mar the other exemplars. This five-star copy has been assigned the letter F as 
its sighum in the stemma. In recognition of its superiority, it has been accorded a 
fork in the family tree all to itself. Alas, the prime quality of the text does not mean 
automatically that the manuscript has been passed down to us intact or even in sound 
condition. Fourteen folios have been vandalized. Most of the miniatures have been 
cut out, with attendant damage to many texts in the codex. What lingers of the art is 
the sad equivalent of the chalk on asphalt that outlines where the body of a homicide 
victim was found. But by exceedingly good fortune the image accompanying our 
tale remains mainly undamaged. The year in which the manuscript was written and 
assembled can be inferred from a piece of internal evidence. A perpetual calendar at 
the beginning commences with the year 1268. For readily recognizable reasons, we 
can conclude that the poem was composed before then—but by how long? To take on 
a still more intriguing question, by whom? 

Gautier de Coinci and Anonymity 

Our Lady’s Tumbler leads off a section in the Arsenal manuscript that mainly comprises 
miracles of the Virgin. Not one of the codices gives the faintest indication of authorship: 
in all five the poem is anonymous. The poet’s name may have been present in the 
archetype but gone missing between it and the earliest codex, or the author may have 
kept his identity a deliberate cipher. Anonymity would have been consonant with 
medieval Christian values as a fitting assertion of modesty. Such self-suppression 

26 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

would have been especially appropriate if the writer had been a monk. Remember 
that the central figure of the poem is likewise unnamed. Since the tale is all about 
modesty and simplicity, it is apt for both the poet and his protagonist to be nameless. 
For application to the Middle Ages, the Shakespearean question “What's in a name?” 
could be reformulated with equal relevance as “What's in namelessness?” The 
anonymity of the title character befits his humble occupation as well as his personal 
humility. For that matter, the anonymity of the poem itself could be construed as an 
apt touch of modesty. 

Despite the lack of an ascription, many translators and authors who have adapted 
the story have credited it unequivocally but wrongly to a specific northern French 
poet and musician in the Benedictine order (see Figs. 1.2 and 1.3). Particularly in 
France, this Gautier de Coinci has enjoyed favor and name recognition among literati 
far beyond the degree to which he has been translated and read. He was born in 
the village of Coinci-L’Abbaye, south of Soissons, probably in 1177 or 1178. Notre- 
Dame de Soissons was the abbey there, with a church dedicated to Mary. A good- 
sized portion of the monastery as it existed in the times of this monk withstood the 
hazards of time until the French Revolution (see Fig. 1.4). At that point the complex of 
buildings suffered a blindingly rapid demise, from which little now remains (see Fig. 
1.5). In Marian relics, the church possessed a slipper of the Virgin that became revered 
for the miracles associated with it. 

Fig. 1.2 Gautier de Coinci at work. Miniature by Fauvel Master, 1327. The Hague, 
Koninklijke Bibliotheek 71 A 24, fol. 49v. Image from Wikimedia Commons, https://commons. 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady’s Tumbler 27 

Fig. 1.3 Gautier de Coinci (detail). Miniature, 1260-1270. Brussels, Bibliotheque royale Albert I, 
MS 10747, fol. 3r. Image courtesy of Bibliotheque royale Albert I, Brussels. All rights reserved. 

ae ‘Sa% ‘gig — m z ee ity hat A ae DT 

Dour - Pa 
, A ed 



3 Ft ore 
eorvi s * te. 
Plervr Je. 

haw Coe 
CAT ue ¢ > 


SOISSONS XVIII* siécle. — Vue de l'Abbaye Notre-Dame et de son Eglise, prise du bord de la riviere. — Sadat 64S 
Cette abbaye de bénddictines fut fondée par saint Drousin, eveque de Soissons, avec le concours #Ebroin, en 47%? © 

660, L'église que lon yout etait siiuée sur la place Sasnt-Pierre. Sa tour ajourée était un chef-d'@uve dev oLaviilte 
legéreté architecturate. 

- . OF Bs eed 
de ed 1 Olommns env coro CAD LO wen Cote OE “4 

an ee ‘va GSES 

Fig. 1.4 Postcard depicting Notre-Dame de Soissons in the 
eighteenth century (Soissons, France: Nougaréde, 1903). 

PrP. 0. — Nougaréde, Svisdfns 

28 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Fig. 1.5 Ruins of Notre-Dame de Soissons. Fig. 1.6 Postcard depicting the Abbey of 
Photograph, 1938. Photographer unknown. Saint-Jean-des-Vignes (Paris: Levy Fils et 
Cie, early twentieth century). 

Fig. 1.7 Postcard depicting the cloisters at the Abbey of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes 
(Paris: Neurdein et Cie, early twentieth century) 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady’s Tumbler 29 

ai ep ast 

Fig. 1.8 L’Abbaye de Saint-Médard, Soissons. Engraving, date and artist unknown. 

Gautier grew up in a region tied particularly closely to the Mother of God. Sometime 
after 1143, a Latin author by the name of Hugh Farsit composed a prose collection of 
miracle stories, many of them connected with the local Madonna. He was a regular 
canon of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes, a monastery of Augustinian canons in Soissons (see 
Figs. 1.6 and 1.7), and his book of traditions about Mary from the vicinity records 
the miraculous healings she performed in this municipality during the fast-spreading 
epidemic of ergotism that swept over northern France in 1128. This outbreak is often 
identified by referring to the French victims as ardents “burning people.” The qualifier 
alluded to the discomfort that they experienced: the hot and bothered. 

At the age of fifteen or sixteen, Gautier himself entered as a novice monk into the 
Benedictine house of Saint Médard at Soissons in 1193 (see Fig. 1.8). He remained 
there for more than two decades. In 1214, he became prior of Sainte Léocade at Vic- 
sur-Aisne, a village within hailing distance of Soissons, and served there nearly twenty 
years. In 1233, he was appointed Grand Prior back at Saint-Médard, an office that an 
uncle of his had held. If he had been the author of Our Lady’s Tumbler, he would have 

30 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

had good cause to be impressed by the chilly crypt of Saint-Médard and to think of 
it as the venue for the tumbling of the lead character in the poem (see Fig. 1.9). The 
space would have been as striking then as it is today. The poet died in 1236, in the 
same monastery where he had begun his monastic calling. 

Fig. 1.9 The crypt of the abbey of Saint-Médard, Soissons. 
Engraving by Léon Gaucherel, date unknown. 

Between 1212 and 1236, Gautier composed two books of verse Marian miracles known 
as Miracles of Our Lady. This chronology means that he had two staging grounds for 
his poetic creation. Although he wrote the individual segments mostly in Vic-sur- 
Aisne, he began and finished them at Saint-Médard in Soissons. His text achieves an 
extraordinary range in its language and rhetoric, holds to a careful and goal-oriented 
plan, and puts on display a discriminating and satirical perspective on both the 
secular and ecclesiastical society of his day. Many of his versified tales touch at least 
in passing upon images of the Mother of God. In numerous instances he introduces 
Madonnas when they were not mentioned in the Latin sources upon which he draws. 
Eleven of his stories go so far as to involve such representations as characters within 
their narratives. If Marian miracle tales qualify as a specific literary genre, ones about 
statues or paintings of the Virgin form a distinct and multipart subgenre within it. 
Time and again, such narratives were associated with sites where relics of Mary were 
held, and where pilgrims devoted to her would come. 

Gautier’s Miracles of Our Lady were enormously popular, to judge by the total of 
114 extant manuscripts. This figure plants his composition squarely in the realm of 
bestsellers of the day, although none of the codices dates to his lifetime. A dozen of 
these copies contain extensive musical notation. Twenty-nine have the added drawing 
power of being beautifully illustrated. Likenesses of Madonnas and of Madonnine 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady’s Tumbler 31 

miracles constitute a salient feature of the codices. The depictions emphasize figures 
as they kneel in supplication before images of the Virgin. In the Byzantine world, the 
act of genuflection was intrinsic within the veneration of icons. In the West, it became 
anachronistic by the thirteenth century. In writing, Gautier verged on describing 
himself as a jongleur, or at least as a trouvere or minstrel of his lady, Notre Dame. The 
stance the poet takes in his text correlates nicely to the pose in which he is presented 
in one manuscript portrait, where he is portrayed as a musician in black Benedictine 
monastic garb. While bowing the fiddle-like stringed instrument called the vielle, he 
looks down at a big sheet of parchment with two facing folio sides of musical notation 
that lies on the bench beside him (see Fig. 1.10). Thus, like the hero of Our Lady’s 
Tumbler, he managed to combine in himself strains of minstrelsy and monasticism. 

Fig. 1.10 Gautier de Coinci. Miniature, 1260-1270. Brussels, Bibliotheque royale Albert 1, MS 
10747, fol. 3r. Image courtesy of Bibliotheque royale Albert I, Brussels. All rights reserved. 

32 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

When all is said and done, the fact that Gautier was a highly successful poet from 
Picardy who wrote extensively in verse on miracles of the Virgin does not suffice 
to ascribe to him the authorship of Our Lady’s Tumbler. For better or worse, we have 
become acclimated today to requests that we identify ourselves by our names and 
birthdates, commit to memory and reel off numbers that have been affixed to us by 
states and businesses, and even surrender to biometric analysis of our fingers, faces, 
eyes, or more. Naturally we expect the past to bestow upon us at least some of the 
same trivia about its authors. 

But here we must reconcile ourselves to the anonymity in which much medieval 
literature has been engulfed. Some authors cloaked themselves in this kind of 
impersonality by choice, for reasons of Christian humility or owing to differing 
conceptions of authorship. The indifference of scribes or the happenstances of sloppy 
transmission imposed namelessness upon others. In any case, the identity and 
individuality of authors mattered far less, or at least far differently, in the Middle 
Ages than now. Many works traveled under aliases. Along with Pseudo-, Anonymous 
was the most prolific of medieval authors. She or he composed Beowulf, The Song of 
Roland, and Aucassin et Nicolette, to name only three texts from the many that spilled 
out from the comucopia of anonymity. 

In the same company, the poet of Our Lady’s Tumbler has no name right now. Indeed, 
none is likely ever to be accorded that will win general agreement. In medieval times, 
stories tended to be treated as in the common domain, whether they surrounded 
legendary figures of late antiquity or the early Middle Ages such as Arthur and 
Charlemagne, were connected with the heroic wars and haphazard wanderings of 
classical myths relating to Troy and Thebes, or celebrated the travails and triumphs of 
saints. No conventions of copyright existed, let alone of royalties, and the conception 
of plagiarism differed starkly from our own. Both copyright and unacknowledged 
borrowing have been under constant renegotiation since the advent of personal 
computers. The authors, collectors, scribes, readers, and hearers of medieval literature 
appear often to have been untroubled about the fine points of authorial rights. 

Many authorless texts from the Middle Ages are subject to a high degree of textual 
variance. With each rewriting by a scribe, they have been affected by variations in 
dialect, minor changes in lexicon here and there, thoroughgoing expansion and 
contraction, and sometimes even more drastic redrafting. This sort of textual mobility, 
a hallmark of manuscript culture, is alien to the fixity that has become expected of 
printed texts. It has been described with an imported French word, mouvance. 

No deduction about the author of Our Lady’s Tumbler is unquestionable or 
unimpugnable, beyond the fact that a poet was at work—and a very fine one at that. 
Yet when all is said and done, the anonymity need not deal us as expositors a crippling 
blow. All is not lost. We can still gain some sense of him, and an even greater one of 
the characters in his Our Lady’s Tumbler. The challenge is to exercise caution and not, 
in our eagerness to know the writer, to draw any hasty inferences. The unnamed poet 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady’s Tumbler 33 

had his finger on the pulse of monasticism, but he need not have been a monk. He 
knew the minstrelsy, but he does not have to have been a minstrel himself. Regardless 
of his status, we have a fighting chance of determining the pecking order of human 
values in which he participated. In that valuation, the spiritual was privileged over the 
material. The ne plus ultra was to attain heaven through a mystical communion with 
the divine. But let us get both feet back on the ground, by examining the language and 
region with which the poet and poem are associated. 


Of the five medieval manuscripts, the earliest witness for Our Lady’s Tumbler survives 
from the second half of the thirteenth century. As mentioned, the poem has been 
described as being in Old French, the tongue spoken in the northern half of modern 
France and related regions from the ninth through the fourteenth centuries. Yet 
attaching this linguistic tag to the tale may oversimplify and distort the situation. 
The study of French in the Middle Ages, like that of most medieval languages, was 
established in the nationalistic atmosphere of the late nineteenth century. To serve 
the end of buttressing nation-states, the major languages of Europe that existed or 
were being willed into existence at that time were read back into the medieval past. 
The dialect that became modern French was in fact hardly the most important in 
the literary production of twelfth- and even thirteenth-century France, but its later 
centrality was retrojected upon it by the philologists who constructed the field of 
Romance philology. 

The patriarchs of Old French in the glory days of the field lived in a world of 
nationalism. Furthermore, their nation under the Third Republic revolved around a 
clearly defined and outsized capital city. If Paris was the axle, it was set into a hub, 
the greater Parisian region known as Ile-de-France. This conceptualization does not 
apply to the Middle Ages, but it was forced upon it by simultaneous anachronism 
and anatopism. By the late nineteenth century, dialects existed on the margins of 
a standardized official language, French. The concept of Old French assumes the 
existence of a similarly standard idiom already during the medieval period. 

By the touchstone of today’s population distribution, at the very northern tip of 
what is now France, Picardy may look peripheral. The territory is extrametropolitan, 
since it lies outside Paris. France has many cities but at the same time the country has 
been centralized for centuries now around the capital. The national transportation 
systems and governmental reporting structure may be visualized as a set of spokes 
radiating from what is now the City of Light and reaching out to the felly of the 
French frontiers. Yet this was not the organization of communication and power in the 
early thirteenth century, when Our Lady’s Tumbler was written. Localizing the poem 
in this northern area and in the Picard dialect likely means that the poet in fact was 
born, reared, and lived in that region. Those credentials place him at a long distance 

34 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

geographically from daily life where the events of Our Lady’s Tumbler reputedly 
occurred. Clairvaux was a monastery in Champagne. Among other things, it was 
the abbey of Saint Bernard, from its foundation as daughter house of Citeaux Abbey, 
mother house of the Cistercian religious order of monks and nuns, until Bernard’s 
death in 1153. The white monks sought to reignite strict observance of the Rule of 
Saint Benedict, framed in the day of the founder himself, and to hammer home self- 
sufficiency through manual labor, as early Benedictinism had done. 

Obviously, the poem cannot have been written after the earliest datable manuscript 
in 1268, but the earliest surviving record of a text can come from long after the time 
of its writing. In this case, a frequent conjecture suggests that the text was composed 
around 1200, or even in the late twelfth century. The most thoroughgoing analysis has 
pegged the dating approximately in the late third decade of the thirteenth century. 
The linchpin of this chronology rested upon resemblances to the poetry of Gautier de 
Coinci, who died in 1236. As to place of origin, the most cogent hypothesis has been 
that the poet settled as a white monk in Ponthieu, a feudal county in northern France. 
Yet this reasoning, close to being a sophism, capitulates to the fallacious argumentation 
that is called the thin edge of the wedge. The premise that the writer was a Cistercian 
arises from the glowing praise that he gives to retreat from the world. The supposition 
that he belonged to a community in this particular locality has only one toehold: he 
singles it out for mention once. Both inferences are tenuous at best. 

The Identity of the Poet 

In a way, the name of the poet is nearly extraneous. Even if we knew this one detail 
in isolation but had no certitudes about social class, educational background, or other 
life circumstances, we would be no better positioned for guesswork about how his 
biography could inform our interpretation of the work. The style and content of the 
poem are tantalizing, since they imply that its writer was as sure-footed a metrist as 
his protagonist was an athlete. Although incontestably literate, he does not have all 
his facts straight about Clairvaux, however. Still, he was reasonably well acquainted 
with monks and monasteries. His ready knowledge of monastic life has long led some 
readers to assume that he was likely a brother himself, but the groundwork for this 
assumption warrants close and careful appraisal. The delineation that we are given of 
the tumbler’s life among the lay brethren may be a touch misleading. No one in his 
capacity would have been allowed to rove daylong—or at least during all the eight 
canonical hours of prayer— without having set duties. Coenobites were closer to being 
battery hens than free-range chickens. 

At the same time, the author of Our Lady’s Tumbler also had deep involvement 
in the lay world outside the monastery. He comprehended the simultaneous awe 
and alienation that the laity felt before the wealth, sophistication, and foreignness of 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady’s Tumbler 35 

abbeys and life inside them. Nothing would have stopped a knowledgeable layman 
outside from writing of a lay brother’s experiences within a cloister. The poet tells a 
tale that gives no hint of being intended to establish or popularize a shrine, monastic 
or otherwise, as a pilgrimage site. Yet the poem could have been meant to disseminate 
the fame of the Cistercian order generally. More particularly, it could have served 
to highlight the contributions that lay brethren made inside the order, as well as 
to uphold the esteem in which they deserved to be held within it. Could the poet 
have been privy to the inner workings of both classes of brothers, from having taken 
the cloth only after having lived a relatively long life as a laic? The reality is that 
uncountable, not fictional medieval monks and friars found their monastic vocation 
and donned a habit only after having spent full lives in the world. 

An argument framed just about a century ago posited that the poet of Our Lady’s 
Tumbler was identical with the one who produced two other anonymous medieval 
French poems from the beginning of the thirteenth century, The Knight of the Barrel 
and The Hermit and the Jongleur, going so far as to posit Our Lady’s Tumbler to be a 
pendant to the latter. The case was built on strong similarities in language, versification 
(including rhymes), themes, and motifs. Both tales relate narratives that could be 
reckoned as exemplary in a twofold sense. First, they tell of characters who provide 
sterling examples to imitate and emulate. Second, they could easily be imagined as 
having been or as becoming exempla, those short tales used in sermons for illustrative 
purposes. Both stories have as their point of balance the theme of repentance. Although 
the penance takes place near religious figures, it does not require in either case a priest 
or mea culpa. 

The Knight of the Barrel is anything but a barrel of laughs; it is more like the medieval 
equivalent of a bucket list. Its outcome demonstrates the principle “Only tears will be 
weighed at the Last Judgment.” In this tale, a venerable hermit charges a cruel, impious, 
and blasphemous nobleman with filling from a rivulet a keg that he gives him (see Fig. 
1.11 below). After the water refuses to enter the under-hydrated container, the knight 
sets out a-wandering. At each spring or river he passes, he tries to fill the small vat. 
Only at the end of his existence does the nobleman return to the old solitary and shed a 
tear for his former life of misdeeds. This one sign of contrition is the defining moment 
in what is revealed to be the archetypal sob story. As it turns out, this single globule 
of liquid suffices miraculously to leave the little vessel waterlogged. The sole deposit 
from his lacrimation is the drop in the bucket that gives the lie to the proverbial turn 
of phrase. Just as Our Lady’s Tumbler compels its audience to ponder the nature of true 
devotion, so, too, The Knight of the Barrel impels its readers or listeners to contemplate 
the purport of penance (see Fig. 1.12 below). In modern figurative use, we describe a 
forgetful so-and-so as having a mind like a sieve, since by design this utensil normally 
fails to retain all its contents. In the medieval tale, one special barrel performs differently 
from usual ones, so that it may serve as a spiritual test. 

36 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Fig. 1.11 The Knight of the Barrel. Miniature, from an unidentified manuscript in the Bibliotheque 
nationale de France, Paris. Reproduced in Emile Abry et al., Histoire illustrée de la littérature francaise 
(Paris: Henri Didier, 1946), 32. 

Fig. 1.12 The Knight of the Barrel. Illustration by Pio Santini, 1946. Published in Jéréme and Jean Tharaud, 
Les contes de la Vierge (Paris: Société d’éditions littéraires francaises, 1946), between pp. 140 and 141. 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady’s Tumbler 37 

The second poem, The Hermit and the Jongleur, is extant in two additional versions. 
One of these adaptations is by a poet who has been held to be a Cistercian. The story 
had a rich afterlife in exempla as well. Thus, its transmission presents loose parallels 
to that of Our Lady’s Tumbler. 

In the opening three lines, the poet flags as his inspiration the genre known as 
Lives of the Fathers (citing its common Latin title overtly)—and the relationship 
is unambiguously one of source and influence. The title that this poem cites in the 
learned language corresponds nearly verbatim to that of the French Life of the Fathers, 
from which Our Lady’s Tumbler likewise claims to have drawn its story. 

The tale sketches a hermit who displays such devotion that God sends him his 
sustenance by way of an angel. Regrettably, being distinguished by this signal honor 
makes the loner grow self-important and insolent. Emboldened, he asks to be told 
who will accompany him in paradise. To his displeasure, the spirit relays God’s fiat: 
his companion will be a jongleur. In this instance, the performer turns out to be a 
fiddler. The ascetic puffs up indignantly that he has expended no inconsiderable 
efforts in his religious life; he does not appreciate being made to share his lot in the 
afterlife with a base entertainer. The messenger of God replies that by divine grace a 
repentant sinner can become rich in good works. The recluse then strikes out to find 
his promised companion. After leaving his abode and going to town, he encounters 
in the market place a poor but pious jongleur who has no means of earning his keep 
except with his stringed instrument and bow. After being upbraided by the skeptical 
solitary, the musician furnishes three examples of his virtuous conduct in the past. 
When the minstrel learns afterward from the hermit what has been foretold, he passes 
out. Upon regaining consciousness, he announces his intention to remain with the 
recluse. When the two return to the hermitage, its previous occupant finds himself 
locked out for his affront against God. An angel wafts down and signifies that the 
offense has been venial, but predicts that after three days the reclusive fellow will be 
pardoned. Yet one holdup arises: his companion will enter paradise before him. After 
two days and a night of prayer in penance, the fiddle-player becomes debilitated and 
dies. On the third day, the man of God also expires. Attendant spirits ferry their souls 
to paradise. 

The poem of The Hermit and the Jongleur is pious, but for whom was it intended? 
Likewise, who wrote it? It belongs to a clump of tales that has been labeled “the 
cycle of brotherhood.” The tag describes characters who are related, much as siblings 
would be. They share an aspiration to achieve perfection and to determine their 
salvation through their demeanor on earth. Yet they issue from disparate social strata 
and vocations. In all three cases, those of The Hermit and the Jongleur, The Knight of the 
Barrel, and Our Lady’s Tumbler, we the readers are left guessing whether the poet was 
a monk or not. Without a doubt, he was conversant with monastic life. For all that, he 
was under no contractual obligation to make his composition a versified customary: 
he does not have to detail hour by hour the practices of brothers. By the same token, 

38 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

in the imaginary landscape of his poem he was not constrained to abide exactly 
by the architecture of Cistercian churches. The author could have been a onetime 
professional entertainer but now a monk, formerly drilled to satisfy lay audiences but 
latterly dedicated to his monastic brethren. He would have known how to address 
both insiders, the cliquish cenobites within monasteries, and outsiders, such as 
prospective converts who came from professions as marginal as his had been. And 
he would have been intimate with the type of protagonist he portrayed in Our Lady’s 
Tumbler. The poem, like its hero, has a topsy-turvy quality that enables it to beckon to 
both the status quo and its revolutionary opposite. 

The Bas-de-Page Miniature: Of Marginal Interest 

Fig. 1.13 “Can I just look at the pictures?” © Paul Taylor. All rights reserved. 

Medieval literature plays out first and foremost, textually, artistically, musically, and 
otherwise, in the manuscripts that transmit the texts. The codices are often the sole 
equivalents we possess from the Middle Ages to printed books, audio-recordings, 
live performances, musical notation, illustrations, or most of the other media we take 
so much for granted nowadays. When those handwritten objects contain artwork, it 
should be vetted with the greatest care. In addition to its own inherent value and 
importance, it holds importance for its relationship to the text. Literary critics may use 
the written word to achieve interpretative liftoff, regarding the art as no more than 
an auxiliary element in the interpretative context. Art historians may do the opposite. 
To a degree, both are right. The two sets of experts contribute essential perspectives 
to an understanding and appreciation of what the codices furnish us. In some cases, 
medieval art and written work may be meticulously aligned. Often, but not always, 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady’s Tumbler 39 

the interpretation of the words dictates the pictures that are supplied. In other 
instances, the art leads a life of its own—text and image are on the same page literally 
but not metaphorically. That is the situation with the miniature accompanying our 
poem from the early thirteenth century. 

In the case of Our Lady’s Tumbler, the original text has motivated many modern 
literary imitations. Do we dare go so far as to call them knockoffs or even rip-offs? Be 
that as it may, some of these copies have been inspired directly by the medieval poem, 
while many more have been tied to it only unconsciously and indirectly. Alongside 
the literature, pictorial representations of the tale have also existed since the Middle 
Ages. Still, the precariousness of the early evidence for illustration must be underlined. 

Fig. 1.14 The jongleur before the Virgin and Child. An angelic hand delivers a towel from the heavens 
while a vielle lies at the Virgin’s feet. Miniature, thirteenth century. Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France, 
MS Arsenal 3516, fol. 127r. Image courtesy of Bibliotheque national de France, Paris. All rights reserved. 

As we have seen, a fivesome of medieval manuscripts transmits the text of the medieval 
French version. Of the five, just one contains a miniature by way of embellishment 
(see Fig. 1.14). The persistence of this single illustration hung on a thread in multiple 
ways. For a start, more than two dozen other paintings that should precede this 
specimen have gone missing by being sliced out of the manuscript at some point in 
its mysteriously checkered past, becoming nondigital clip art. It is the lucky survivor. 

40 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

If only it could talk, to tell its story as in the Book of Job: “I only am escaped alone 
to tell thee.” Another fragility of the artwork owes to its placement on the folio. It 
differs from most in its codex, and in fact from those in any whatsoever, by being 
unusually misaligned. It sits in what would otherwise have been the unwritten-on 
and unornamented void below the left column of text on the folio side, which in 
French is termed bas-de-page, designating the lower edge of a side of parchment. In 
illuminated manuscripts, embellishments and marginal illustrations often appear in 
this area, but only atypically would a miniature in a contained frame be put there in 
the border. This placement was avoided for a good practical reason: by being set at 
the foot of a page, a piece of this kind is subjected to increased wear and tear from 
handling and from trimming. (It has no margin of safety.) By being enclosed, such 
a painting stands out from unenclosed marginalia, which are far more commonly 
found in this location. The nonstandard placement was probably not prearranged. 
Rather, the item may have been an afterthought supplied only after the text had been 
written. The inference that this artwork was a late addition is fortified by the stylistic 
separateness of the portrayal. The brushwork was done by a different hand than that 
involved in all the other extant pictures from this codex. 

The artist has been associated with the one who participated in producing a copy 
of Chrétien de Troyes’s Perceval and its Continuations that may have been created 
in Arras. In this town in the northernmost region of France, an extremely famous 
miracle connected with two entertainers and involving a statue of the Virgin Mary 
was reputed to have taken place. Although the episode is not mentioned in our poem, 
it may help to explain why the miniature contains a depiction of the vielle. An artist, 
patron, or both would naturally have associated and conflated the tumbler-minstrel 
with the renowned pair of local jongleurs, promoted by a municipal confraternity. 
If the composition is viewed as a stage setting, the instrument is placed lower stage 
left. It lies at the bottom of a line that runs to the semiotically all-important position 
of upper stage right, where a supernal forearm extends a fabric toward the bowed 
acrobat. Is the fiddle meant to recall the professionals of the other stories? 

Within the text of the poem, the seminudity of the tumbler is provocative. In 
contrast, the illustrator painted the performer as anything but half-naked —the athlete 
is portrayed fully clothed. Indeed, the lithe figure even has his long garment cinched 
demurely at the waist and is shod in mid-calf boots. Were these touches the results of 
a purposeful prudery, to avoid showing even a lay brother in substantial undress, or 
do they demonstrate the irresistible attraction of the other story set at Arras, in which 
a minstrel would have been clad in his normal attire when sounding his fiddle? 

The process by which this illuminator worked is unascertainable. We cannot 
divine whether the medieval artist read or was read the text, had no direct exposure 
to it but at least was clued in about the gist of the narrative by being given a short 
and sweet summary, or was directed by a scribe or manuscript compiler to depict 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady’s Tumbler 41 

this scene without being told the tale in full. The placement of the miniature—very 
nearly at the foot of the page as it has now been trimmed—may have been motivated 
by the simple reality that the space was free, or it might equally have been prompted 
by the suitability of the position on the folio side to the standing that the performer 
would have had in society at the time, reflecting the ignoble societal associations that 
acrobats and dancers endured at the time when the illustration was painted. Within 
the artwork, the tumbler himself has his head positioned level with his own backside. 
He stands curved back upon himself, below the plinth on which the statue of the 
Virgin and Child begins. Thus, the representation conveys abasement both literal and 

In Romanesque statuary, we find jongleurs pictured in privileged places on facades, 
portals, and capitals throughout Europe, or at least from Germany and the south. In 
the Gothic period, only slightly later, the entertainers seem to have cascaded to lower 
orders, and slipped as well to a back seat within the iconographic hierarchy. Their 
images are now placed in subservient locations. For instance, they are depicted on 
the underside of the folding seats known as misericords, wooden carvings found in 
choir stalls, to say nothing of their place in miniatures and marginalia in manuscripts. 
Just as a lay convert has baser status than does a choir monk, so too the location of the 
image on the folio could be construed as signifying its humbler value. 

The English adjective humble derives from the Latin humus, for soil or ground. By 
setting the miniature at the farthest point from the top of the page, the artist or the 
person overseeing him may have intended to humiliate—put down—the humble 
tumbler. Strikingly, the angel, Virgin, and Child are positioned far above him. The 
tumbler is located before the statue of Mary and the infant Jesus on the altar, with 
his head at the height of his buttocks. This could be called making a rumpus, even 
though the last noun owes no etymological debt to the word rump. His head is 
cocked downward and groundward, and his line of sight is directed at his own 
hindquarters, rather than at the carving above him. Talk about low-profile! If the 
lower classes are supposed to aim at an ascent to the upper, what are we to make of 
a man who is the opposite of a social climber, with his head not far from the floor? 
Matters are made only worse by the fact that the ground is in a crypt, itself the 
lowest space within the building. 

Humbleness is one of the tumbler’s conspicuous traits. A nineteenth-century 
interpreter averred point-blank that the tale had been composed “to debase pride 
and exalt humility.” It is much likelier that the protagonist’s physical posture makes 
his meekness plain to see than that it conveys a message that we should damn the 
acrobat or dancer for ungodliness. The condemnatory alternative meaning can be 
found in an exemplum that compares a sinner with a jongleur who ambulates on 
his palms with his feet turned heavenward. Whereas human beings should do their 
best to keep their heavy-lidded eyes open on the supernal realms, entertainers 

42 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

subvert normal human bearing and do the opposite. In their upside-down stance, 
performers effectively trample what is heavenly, while fixing their heads and gaze, 
along with their hands, on the earthly. 

Another perspective is to view this liminal location as sitting outside the official 
realm of control over the elite and sacred. Instead, this position at the threshold 
sets the illustration within a space reserved for the least hoity-toity, popular or folk 
culture. In a sense, the miniature resides in a no-man’s zone. The bas-de-page is 
seldom occupied by miniatures, but often by marginal art. It can become a veritable 
freak show, depicting drolleries and grotesques such as fools, wild men, monkeys, 
monsters, and minstrels. One common form of marginalia that may offer a glimpse 
of real-life performances portrays two entertainers who show the bread and butter of 
their trade: a musician strums an instrument alongside a male or female acrobat who 
performs a somersault, flip, or handstand. These representations are always parked 
in the lowest register of the folio sides (see Figs. 1.15, 1.16 and 1.17). In codicological 
terms, art in this ribbon of parchment is comparable to carvings in wood or stone, such 
as misericords, chimeras, and gargoyles, that lay somewhat outside the controlled 
formulation of iconography. Consequently, the imagery is itself marginalized and is 
put beneath the text, in value as in position. The placement could bring home visually 
and symbolically the story’s revolutionary outlook on lay and monastic relations—to 
wit, the jongleur holds a questionable ranking even within the laity but with the help 
of Mary’s reaction to his sincere devotion, he turns out to be superior spiritually to 
the monks. Then again, such an interpretation could conceivably be overthinking. 
The miniature could have been put in the bas-de-page not through premeditation but 
through poor planning or mismanagement, which unwittingly saved it from damage 
when the other miniatures preceding it were excised. 

The image may be easier to appreciate closely in a black-and-white facsimile 
made in the early twentieth century, because in the meantime some degradation has 
taken place: part of the bas-de-page has been trimmed off (see Fig. 1.18). Occupying 
the bottom left quarter of the frame, the miniature shows the tumbler performing 
acrobatics by arching backward in a hoop. The depiction could offer the freeze-frame 
view of a gymnast in the middle of a backflip. A performer is captured in a similar 
circular pose, with his hands clasping his lower legs above the ankles, in a portion of 
a sculpted limestone pilaster that is now in The Cloisters (see Fig. 1.19). Then again, 
and perhaps likelier, the miniature need not be a split-second of seeming stillness 
that has been isolated from lightning-fast motion. It could portray a specific pose the 
acrobat has struck. It could show him not midway into a backward flip, but rather 
in the gymnastic position known today as a bridge. He is recurved, like the tusk of 
a wild boar or an elephant. Frozen in this posture like an (athletic) insect trapped in 
amber, he has bent backwards until both his soles and his palms rest upon the ground. 
Literally as well as metaphorically, he is no backslider. Instead, he is well grounded, 
levelheaded, and down-to-earth. 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady’s Tumbler 43 

Fig. 1.15 Musician and tumbler. Miniature by Petrus de Raimbaucourt, 1323. The Hague, Koninklijke 
Bibliotheek, 78 D 40, fol. 108r. Image courtesy of Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague. All rights reserved. 

O90 fi eto tit 08. Erervip niamerus filro 
reehiOath beseniaaticens G fine rtifanaé: 

.€ eer Too wn dient? 
a. is s deeet’ c1s, At OF Ut 

ners Er ogregabunna fis dae 

Fig. 1.16 Musician and tumbler. Miniature, late thirteenth century. Lausanne, Bibliotheque 
cantonale et universitaire de Lausanne, U 964, fol. 343v. Image courtesy of the Virtual Manuscript 
Library of Switzerland,, CC BY-NC. 

The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Fig. 1.17 Musicians, dancers, and tumblers. Miniature by Jehan de Grise, 1338-1344. Oxford, 
Bodleian Library, MS Bod. 264, fol. 90r. Image courtesy of the Bodleian Library, Oxford. All 
rights reserved. 



meu aed a 

Fig. 1.18 The jongleur before the Virgin and Child. Miniature, thirteenth century. Paris, 
Bibliothéque nationale de France, MS Arsenal 3516, fol. 127r. Monochrome facsimile, published in 
Alice Kemp-Welch, trans., Of the Tumbler of Our Lady & Other Miracles (London: Chatto & Windus, 

1908), frontispiece. 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady’s Tumbler 45 

Fig. 1.19 Portion of a pilaster with an acrobat, ca. 1150-1170, Lyonnais. Limestone, 
30.8 x 21 x 26.7 cm. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

In medieval manuscripts, text and image can be foils to each other. They can affirm 
in two separate media one and the same message; contrarily, they can set in conflict 
a couple of different perspectives. In this case, the kineticism of the acrobat in motion 
contrasts with the sedate stability of the text. By the same token, the mobility of the 
devotion that the lay brother performs is opposed to the static state of the monks as 
they stand rooted to their spots, singing the songs of the liturgical office in the choir 
somewhere above him. Yet the tumbler’s movement is not wobbly: his flipping back 
and forth is not like the flip-flopping in policy and backpedaling in rhetoric that are 
belittled in politics. He is at the midpoint of a happily steep learning curve. 
Paradoxically, the tumbler’s half-inverted stance calls to mind the likeness that 
Bernard of Clairvaux drew between the monks of his order, on the one hand, and 
jongleurs and tumblers on the other. The impressively athletic posture in which the 
performer has been caught has a sheer devotional aspect. We cannot forget that, after 
all, he bends over backward both literally and figuratively to please none other than 
the Virgin. If he is an athlete, he is (however unconventionally and even raffishly) 
an athlete of Christ. If he is masculine, his masculinity has no more machismo than 
does Jesus when hanging on the cross. At the same time, his pose approaches being 
Dantesque or infernal in its unnaturalness. Despite having no permanent deformity, 
he has misshapen himself temporarily. One commonplace, built upon Ovid's 
Metamorphoses, held that human beings were unique among the creatures of this 
world in their posture. They were formed to stand erect so that they could train their 
sight easily upon heaven. This natural inclination seems twisted in the stance of the 
tumbler, which is against the grain. As a result, he bears a resemblance to one of the 

46 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

monstrous races that captivated the imaginations of teratologists in the Middle Ages. 
Take, for example, the creatures called Blemmyes, who were believed to lack heads 
but instead to possess eyes and mouths in their stomachs (see Fig. 1.20). 



Fig. 1.20 Alexander the Great encounters Blemmyes. Miniature, ca. 1445. London, British Library, 
Royal 15 E. vi, fol. 21v. 

The miniature reflects knowledge on someone’s part of the text it accompanies, but 
even so it does not match it in a facile, one-to-one correspondence. The upper right 
quarter depicts a likeness of the Virgin. In Western European fashion, she is crowned 
in her guise as Queen of Heaven. Yet she is unhaloed. Seemingly seated, she has no 
visible throne or chair. She clings to a strapping infant Jesus, who sits on her left 
thigh. With nimbus but crownless, Jesus is here God made man rather than the king 
of the universe. Both Mary and Jesus lack the frontality of much sculpture from the 
twelfth century. Rather, they gaze sideways from us as viewers, toward a figure 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady’s Tumbler 47 

with a nimbus who floats down from a cloudlike projection at the center top of the 
miniature. Angelic but wingless, this being holds out and downward in his helping 
hands a thick towellike cloth with many rumples. This mega-serviette, probably of 
linen, is to be used for either wiping or ventilating the jongleur. Many later artists 
envisaged the item as a part of the headcloth, veil, sleeve, or hem of any garment worn 
by Mother of God herself (see Fig. 1.21). Here it is incontrovertibly a separate item. 
Both the Virgin and Child have their right forearms raised to the other figure. She is 
draped in a red mantle, and her right hand is splayed open fully. Jesus holds the ring 
finger and pinkie of his right hand curled down against his palm while extending the 
thumb, index, and middle finger in blessing. In his left hand, the child clutches an 
unidentified object. 

Fig. 1.21 The Virgin wipes sweat from the juggler’s brow. Illustration by Henry Morin, 1928. 
Published in Anatole France, Abeille / Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame / Les Pains noirs, ed. R. L. Graeme 
Ritchie (London: Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1928), 133. 

The scene’s construction conforms with other depictions of miraculous Marian 
images. The artist takes care to convey that the miracle is enacted not by the statue 
itself but by divine potency. The image that the tumbler honors is shown to remain a 
representation on the altar as the wonder takes place. But the staging as portrayed in 
the bas-de-page departs from these other portrayals in not showing a life-size Virgin 
who intervenes. In contrast, the figure emerging from the heavenly stratocumulus at 
the top looks to be a divine emissary of another sort, anything but hands-off. In the 
world of medieval miracles about Mary, no sky is completely overcast: every cloud, 
even the blackest thunderhead, has an angelic silver lining. 

The predominant background in the miniature is a dark blue. The color makes good 
sense: in medieval art, no one likes better than the Mother of God to come out of the 

48 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

blue to mediate salvation. Against the cobalt stands out what could almost be called 
a wallpaper of symbolism. These signs strongly resemble the rice symbol in Japanese 
typography, modern stylizations of the snowflake, and, most directly relevant, ancient 
forms of a textual mark that is still used today (see Fig. 1.22). The asterisk or star goes 
back ultimately to Byzantine images in which a so-called star-cross appears on the 
forehead or veil of the Virgin, or elsewhere on her person or garments. The token may 
well have signified the luminosity of the Madonna. The emblem also resembles one 
found in the fresco by Giotto on the vault of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, where 
Mary and the infant Jesus are encircled against an azure backdrop, with a gospel writer 
at each of the four corners (see Fig. 1.23). The miniaturist could have meant viewers 
to envisage the jongleur’s showstopper as taking place outside, against a starlit night 
sky. Likelier is that the illuminator had seen vaultings in chapels studded with stars, 
fleurs-de-lis, or other similar devices. A representative ceiling close to home would 
be the wondrous lower chapel of the Sainte Chapelle on the fle de la Cité in Paris, 
where at least as the nineteenth-century renovation has left the adornment overhead, 
asterisk management has been thrown to the wind (see Fig. 1.24). 

As mentioned, the jongleur is dressed more fully and modestly than the poem 
suggests. Does the clothing reflect concern for decorum? Although to all appearances 
untonsured, he also lacks the facial hair that was the most distinguishing physical 
feature of Cistercian lay brothers. Does the beardlessness typify the well-kempt self- 
presentation of entertainers at the time when the painter did his work? Professionally, 
the performer as painted here is not a specialist, restricted to the gymnastics he is 
caught doing. We can tell that he is a generalist in his entertainment abilities because 
a musical instrument is plainly depicted at the bottom right of the miniature. The 
unplayed device, a kind of wide-waisted violin, lies on a greenish mat at the foot of 
the dado-like altar (see Fig. 1.14). Has it been laid down at the foot of the altar as an 
offering, a sacrifice made by the tumbler? Its presence may hint that solo dances like 
that of the tumbler normally took place to the accompaniment of instrumental music, 
but that this performer could not do his solo routine and play simultaneously (see 
Fig. 1.25). In general, dancing has been often inextricable from stringed instruments. 
Think of the proverbial saying “If you want to dance, you must pay the fiddler.” Or 
consider the etymology of “jig.” Words in English and Romance languages from 
which it probably derives signify a kind of lively dance. A similar-sounding noun in 
German preserves the sense of violin. A conjectured relationship between the dance 
and the instrument has led to speculation, not very convincing, that the English term 

“gis” when denoting a live musical performance originated in a form of this name 
for a stringed instrument. Then again, the ostentatiously inactive instrument in the 
manuscript painting may not signal that dancing and fiddling go together. Rather, it 
could indicate exactly the opposite. It may be left aside so as not to mislead the reader 
into thinking that the solo tumbling is in any way analogous to lowly instrumental 
music, to the collective liturgical song in the choir above or, on a far higher level, to 
the heavenly music of the spheres or angels. 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady’s Tumbler 49 

Fig. 1.22 The Japanese komejirushi (“rice symbol”), 
so called for its similarity to the kanji for kome 
(“rice”) and used in Japanese writing to denote an 
important sentence or thought. Unicode U+203B. 
Vector art by Melissa Tandysh, 2014. Image courtesy 
of Melissa Tandysh. All rights reserved. 

Fig. 1.23 Giotto, Vault of Cappella degli 
Scrovegni, 1303-1306. Fresco. Padua, Capella 
degli Scrovegni. Image from Wikimedia 
Commons, https://commons.wikimedia. 

Fig. 1.24 Ceiling of the Lower Chapel of Sainte-Chapelle, Paris. Photograph by Benh Lieu Song 
(2007). Image from Wikimedia Commons, © Benh Lieu Song (2007), CC BY-SA 3.0, https:// 

50 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 



Rfvcte 10 Feartuth Gy Ke fidanuchditinuunic 

CriciieLe (Ant fetitint Garant: & 2 

Fig. 1.25 Fiddler and dancer. Miniature. Graz, Universitatbibliothek Graz, MS 32, fol. 106v. Image 
courtesy of Universitatsbibliothek Graz. All rights reserved. 

The vielle, a fiddle (and therefore by definition fretless), had four or five gut strings 
with a flattish bridge and frontal tuning pegs. It was played with a bow on the arm 
or shoulder. Here it occupies a position that can only be called low-key: it can be seen 
where the jongleur has laid it on the ground on what could be green tiles or a green 
rug beneath the statue of the Virgin and Child. Far less probably, another performer 
could have set it down there as an offering. Its function may be to provide visually 
what we cannot receive aurally, namely, the musical accompaniment that the painter 
took as a given for dance. The tumbler cannot have it in arm as he does his routine. He 
may not need it, since he has internalized the rhythmical grace of music. In any case, 
the instrument is left there intact as the minstrel performs himself into exhaustion. By 
the end, he is a wreck. In contrast, the proto-violin remains, well, fit as a fiddle. 

The vielle, a progenitor of the violin, became known in the Renaissance and baroque 
periods as a viol. It looks to have been roughly the size of a large modern viola. Later 
it also evolved bit by bit into a cranked contrivance more like a hurdy-gurdy, with a 
handle to turn. Simultaneously, it became associated with rustic performers in clogs, 
peasant dances, and songs in dialect (see Figs. 1.26 and 1.27). The stock-in-trade of 
medieval jongleurs in many regions of Europe, this kind of instrument is often shown 
in the hands of musicians playing to honor the Virgin. For example, a renowned 
manuscript from medieval Germany known as the Manesse Codex contains on one 
folio side a rollicking scene. A portrait of the vernacular lyric singer Frauenlob occupies 
the center (see Fig. 1.28). Sounding a vielle, the poet is flanked by four entertainers. 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady’s Tumbler 51 

He has above him to one side the emperor and to the other the Virgin herself. The 
representation of Frauenlob brings home that in the miniature accompanying Our 
Lady’s Tumbler the tumbler has set the musical instrument aside. With his salvation 
at stake, he is not going to fiddle around (and there is no second fiddle). At the time, 
much dance involving these entertainers may have presupposed instrumental music. 
Yet our performer has opted instead to act in silence. He cannot very well fiddle a tune 
to accompany a routine that overtaxes every fiber of his whole musculature. His body 
is his sole instrument, and he applies it to a ritual dance of his own devising. 

Fig. 1.26 Postcard depicting a musician and 
his vielle a roue, also known as a hurdy- 
gurdy (Le Puy-en-Velay, France: Margerit- 
Brémond, early twentieth century). 

Fig. 1.28 Frauenlob and his fellow 
performers. Miniature, 1300-1340. Heidelberg, 
Universitatsbibliothek, Bibliotheca Palatina, 
Cod. Pal. Germ. 848, fol. 399r. Image courtesy of 
Universitatsbibliothek Heidelberg, CC BY-SA 3.0. 

Fig. 1.27 Postcard depicting dancers and 
aman with a vielle a roue, also known as a 
hurdy-gurdy (L. Ferrand, 1911). 

52 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Since the early twentieth century, artists have not needed to travel to Paris to inspect 
the miniature firsthand. Rather, they have had access to it through facsimiles, 
photographs, and imitations. The bas-de-page that accompanies the medieval French 
poem in one codex has been reproduced repeatedly. For example, it showed up already 
as the frontispiece to the 1908 English translation of Our Lady’s Tumbler. Furthermore, 
modern book illustrations have been influenced heavily by the original artwork, the 
frontispiece reproduction of it just mentioned, and modern illustrations inspired by it 
either directly or indirectly. Thus, the jongleur illustrating the story in one medieval 
painting has had a robust afterlife. 

What does the miniature tell us about the understanding of the narrative, as told in 
the text, at the time when this codex was produced? From the outset, we must remind 
ourselves that the medieval book may have been made nearly a half century after the 
poem itself as we have it was composed. Consequently, ample room existed at that 
time for conflation and confusion between tales of an athletic jongleur and a musical 
one, since in the Middle Ages the two functions were often fulfilled by one and the 
same entertainer. The painter could have incorporated the fiddle simply because of 
the presupposition that most performers were multitalented, and that an acrobatic 
member of this profession would likely play a stringed instrument as well. Then again, 
the illuminator could have caught the drift of the story from the scribe or someone 
else, and in a slapdash way blended it with other narratives—for instance, miracles in 
which Mary responded to musical rather than gymnastic performances by jongleurs 
before Madonnas. In either case, the artist was notably unworried by any controversy 
over the presence of musical instruments in church. Even long before stormy debates 
over the appropriateness of organs in ecclesiastical settings, proto-viols were not at 
all universally welcomed. This presents another interpretation to explain the setting 
aside of the vielle: it signifies a renouncement of corporeal music to make way for 
spiritual music. The minstrel’s routine has no need of a physical instrument beyond 
his own body. When push comes to shove, all that is needed is to act in accordance 
with divine law and worship. 

An intriguing pair of carvings that may relate to Our Lady’s Tumbler can be found 
at Exeter in southwest England. They hover on the south side in the cathedral church 
of Saint Peter. One corbel, representing the Virgin carrying the Child in her arms, was 
badly damaged at some point, perhaps by iconoclasts (see Fig. 1.29). Opposite it, the 
second of these supporting projections depicts a minstrel playing a vielle (see Fig. 1.30). 
Above the music-maker, a tumbler either turns a somersault or walks upside down 
(see Fig. 1.31). In 1910, the experts who craned their necks to catalogue figural bosses 
on the ceilings and brackets on the upper levels of the interior architecture in this 
building were tentatively seduced by the notion that these projections might render 
in lapidary form the legend of the tumbler. They were apparently under the spell of a 
translation that had been published sixteen years earlier. Apart from this one possible 
allusion in medieval ecclesiastic art, the narrative in Our Lady’s Tumbler is otherwise 
unattested in Britain before the late nineteenth century. If not referential to our story, 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady’s Tumbler 53 

the two carvings at least suggest that the two jongleurs, the one an instrumentalist, 
the other a tumbler, perform in homage to the Virgin and Child. 

© Arina-Hulbert'’s*estate 

Fig. 1.29 Damaged corbel of Exeter 
Cathedral. Photograph by Anna Hulbert, 
no date. Image courtesy of Anna Hulbert’s 
Estate. All rights reserved. 

Fig. 1.30 Corbel of Exeter Cathedral. 
Photograph by Anna Hulbert, no date. Image 
courtesy of Anna Hulbert’s Estate. 

All rights reserved. 



© pr ive reity of Exeter 

Fig. 1.31 Corbel of Exeter Cathedral, no date. Image courtesy of the 
University of Exeter. All rights reserved. 

54 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Beyond the medieval manuscript, the only certain allusion to the story that appears 
in ecclesiastical architecture is in a twentieth-century work of art in New York City. In 
the church of Saint Thomas, one panel illustrates a performance of Our Lady’s Tumbler 
(see Figs. 1.32 and 1.33). The oak carving, like the others in the chancel, was made as an 
offering of thanks for the armistice that ended World War I. All these wood sculptures 
were carved not too long after the identification, right or wrong, of the corbel at Exeter 
as relating to our story. In sum, the oaken figure in Saint Thomas stands as the proof 

of concept. It demonstrates the popularity of Our Lady’s Tumbler, not as the follow-up 
of an unsundered tradition from the Middle Ages, but as reinvigorated in the late 
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 

Figs. 1.32 and 1.33 Panel from the Church of Saint Thomas, New York City. Photograph by David 
M. Daniels, no date. Image courtesy of David M. Daniels. All rights reserved. 

The Genre: Long Story Short 

Perfectionism in the taxonomy of stories is a modern malady, or at least an affliction of 
professional literary critics. In the Middle Ages, authors and scribes apparently lived 
undeterred by any such obsession. Thus, they resort often, seemingly indiscriminately, 
to words that correlate to our “exemplum,” “legend,” and “miracle,” to cite only a 
few. Understandably, they do not apply the plethora of generic terminology that 
originated only after the medieval period. 

In many respects Our Lady’s Tumbler has ample claim to warrant being called a 
miracle, and more particularly a Marian one, like those of Gautier de Coinci. Then 
again, the miraculous aspect of the narrative pertains more to its contents than to its 
literary form. In any event, the story of the acrobat or dancer is nowhere labeled as a 
miracle within the text itself or within the manuscripts. If calling Our Lady’s Tumbler a 
miracle gives pause, we have even more reason to hold back from styling it a legend. 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady’s Tumbler 55 

This term, designating the biography of a saint, derives from the Latin legendum est 
or “it is to be read.” Such accounts of holy men were regular fare in places and on 
occasions where texts in the learned tongue were read aloud ceremonially, especially 
on the feast-days of given saints. Reading of this kind happened, for instance, in the 
installments that were recited in monastery refectories at mealtimes. One insuperable 
impediment prevents us from construing Our Lady’s Tumbler as a saint’s legend: the 
jongleur is not a saint or even saintly. Furthermore, the tale lacks the connection with 
pilgrimage that is evident in many legends, miracles, and exempla. 

For whom then was the poem composed? Was it to be plowed through by 
individuals or declaimed in cadenced voices before groups? By whom was it copied? 
To return to the question of literary form, what kind of literature was it? In modern 
terms, the story satisfies the generic criteria of a pious tale or, to use a modern French 
term, a pious récit. Both The Knight of the Barrel and The Hermit and the Jongleur have 
been categorized within this genre of short narrative. Stories in this category, which 
is associated particularly with the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, can be in prose, 
but are more often in verse. They bear a close resemblance to hagiography, and they 
draw often on the Life of the Fathers and Marian miracles. 

Pious tales are more reverent and less worldly cousins to fabliaux. Contrary 
to the tug of instincts some of us may feel, the two forms can overlap or even be 
coterminous. Our Lady’s Tumbler is in fact sometimes called a fabliau. If the designation 
is understood to mean nothing more than a tale in verse, Our Lady’s Tumbler can be 
classed more precisely as a pious fabliau. It must be noted that piety need not be 
identical with po-faced; a pious tale may in fact be comic as well as didactic. That said, 
the assertion does not carry much conviction that the apparent piety in Our Lady’s 
Tumbler is somehow laughable. 

Yet another literary type with which the pious tale deserves comparison is 
the exemplum, a brief story told to entertain and edify by setting an example or by 
exemplifying a moral lesson. Many pious tales are such illustrative stories that have 
been expanded and dramatized. Like exempla, they are designed to instruct. Exempla 
are meant to be repeated, revised, and remade. In this regard, they live up to their 
etymological relationship with the technique of “sampling” in today’s popular music: 
a portion of one audio recording is reused, almost like an instrument or component, 
in a different piece of music. 

The exemplum existed at the intersection of two distinct planes, amusement and 
didacticism. These stories throw open windows that allow us to look back upon two 
often distinct groups and processes in the Middle Ages—they convey the mentalities 
of those whose actions are described as well as of those whose writing framed that 
behavior within the discourses and values of Latinate, literate, ecclesiastical culture. 
Short narrative was one of the many rhetorical devices that medieval preachers, 
above all from the twelfth century on, enlisted to make their sermons more effective. 
They may have been especially reliant upon these devices when speaking before 
illiterate audiences of lay people. The entertainment of the tale helped to stave off 

56 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

yawns of boredom, while the edification worked to win over listeners to the ethical 
or theological doctrine being purveyed, particularly by epitomizing the recompense 
of good behavior, or punishment of bad. A loose nexus to legend exists, since the 
accounts are often based on recent incidents, actual or supposed. 

What does Our Lady’s Tumbler claim itself to be? This may turn out to be a trick 
question. The poem is identified in its preamble as an examplel, a “little example” or 
a “mini-exemplum.” The poet could have meant the noun in a broad-brush or generic 
sense, just as an “example.” After all, the word has that as its fundamental definition. 
Yet the likelier alternative is that the French refers here deliberately and explicitly 
to the specific oratorical and literary genre. While the medieval text is not, strictly 
speaking, an exemplum in a sermon, its narrative has that form at its very core. 

Like other categories of rhetoric, the exemplum is intended to persuade by its 
cogency. In Our Lady’s Tumbler, the narrative applies all the power of learned wordcraft 
toward the objective of suasion, but the persuasion ends up subverting the authority 
of learnedness itself. The protagonist who prevails does so despite his utter lack of 
learning. The prior and choir monks stand for one hegemony within medieval society: 
they are the literarily and liturgically literate class. Without any conscious effort, the 
tumbler confronts this status quo head-on. In some high-altitude circles, he would 
be called counter-hegemonic for his de facto commitment to dismantling hegemonic 
power. The irony of ironies is that the story of his quiet and unwitting opposition 
comes down to us in writing that is thoroughly salted with learning, liturgy, Latin, 
and literature. 

The exemplum is an autonomous literary genre. Yet it exists almost intrinsically 
to serve the construction of narrative in other genres. At the same time, we may 
commit a stark injustice by forcing this type upon the Procrustean bed of present-day 
literary-critical or -theoretical categories. To the Cistercians in the first century of their 
order, the form would have been anything but an abstraction. Rather, it would have 
occupied a space not unlike episodes in the Gospels: it recorded momentous aspects 
in the community life through which the monks sought redemption and expressed 
their shared values and aspirations, the ties that bind. Exempla offered means for 
tellers within the Cistercian order to inform their peers about their worldviews. 

The white monks were remarkably prolific in the exemplary genre, but nowhere 
more than at Clairvaux. The collections they assembled there were rife with exempla 
about the lay brothers known in Latin as conversi. The frequent appearance of such 
brethren in short illustrative texts should surprise no one. Presumably this Cistercian 
literature served to shape the conduct of the converts as well as to forge a body of 
basic beliefs and principles held in common by both the choir monks and them. 

Our Lady’s Tumbler is too long and too truly poetic to qualify narrowly as an 
exemplum. But sound reason exists to take the poet at his word when he suggests that 
the tale at its base originated in this genre. We may require no further evidence beyond 
the use of the term examplel to assure ourselves that the poet was well acquainted with 
preaching and perhaps even with the formal teaching of it in homiletics. If we do 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady’s Tumbler 57 

need more grist for our mill, we can consider that the poem enfolds within itself a 
miniature authorial sermon or homily. We should have no difficulty in appreciating 
either how easily the narrative could have grown out of an exemplum, or how readily 
it could have been distilled back into one. 

The Table of Exempla, in Alphabetical Order 

A Jesuit, Dominican, and Cistercian were stranded on a 
desert island. They came upon a magic lamp. After they 
rubbed it, a genie materialized and offered each of them a 
wish. When the Jesuit said that he wished to teach at the 
world’s most famous university, he vanished. When the 
Dominican announced that he wanted to preach in the 
world’s largest church, he disappeared. The Cistercian 
said, “I got my wish.” 

The heyday of medieval exempla stretched from the late twelfth through the 
fifteenth century. During these hundreds of years, the Church obligated preachers 
to pronounce more sermons and the laity to attend more of them. The narratives are 
sometimes handed down on their own, free-floating; alternatively, these tales may 
be incorporated individually or in small groups within other types of writing. In fact, 
they pop up in almost every genre written in the later Middle Ages. Finally, they 
may be corralled into systematic assemblages, first in learned language and later in 
colloquial, nonstandard (vulgar) tongues. 

In similar fashion, Our Lady’s Tumbler is documented first in relative seclusion, as 
an independent poem in a manuscript codex. Long thereafter, it is attested as one 
narrative within a specific type of prose collection. This alternation has held true 
in the subsequent fate not only of the medieval tale, narrowly defined, but also of 
adaptations made from it. The story has been both transmitted by itself and passed 
down in repertories with other short texts. How it transits from one medium to 
another, or even if the surviving evidence suffices to allow us to speculate about the 
routes of transmission—these questions demand thoughtful consideration. 

The same story related in Our Lady’s Tumbler is also preserved as an exemplum in 
the schematic Latin prose Table of Exempla, in Alphabetical Order. This reference work 
for preachers composing sermons was confected in the second half of the thirteenth 
century, about 1277. The compendium comprises more than three hundred illustrative 
anecdotes. They are schematized under 151 headings that traverse the Roman alphabet 
from the letter A all the way to X. The abecedarian arrangement facilitated the efforts 
of pulpiteers on the prowl for materials with which to embellish sermons that they 
draft. The headwords were intended to sum up the main themes of the exempla. 
Another bonanza to sermonizers was the table of contents, to which the title refers. 
Both alphabetization and tables of contents were thirteenth-century refinements in 
the organization of exempla collections. Both innovations owed specifically to the 

58 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

religious movement known as Franciscanism, since the members of this new order 
committed themselves particularly actively to preaching to the laity. These untried 
tactics contributed to an explosion of unprecedented formats that changed the look 
of manuscripts in the later Middle Ages. Many alterations expanded and enhanced 
the investigation and consultation of handwritten books through reference systems, 
indexes, and other aids to study and reference. 

The anonymous compiler of the Table of Exempla was probably a French Franciscan, 
quite possibly of rural origins. The fraternal connection may help to illuminate the 
purposes for which the anecdote about the tumbler was woven into the compilation. 
The friars minor had ample cause to be hospitable to the notion of religious devotion 
embedded in the basic narrative underlying Our Lady’s Tumbler. Their founder 
referred to himself as a “jongleur of God,” and was the subject of stories in which he 
performed stunts and behaved like jongleurs and jesters. 

Equally to the point, the followers of Saint Francis of Assisi made a policy of 
pursuing social engagement in large urban settings. This venue required them to 
practice preaching, especially in the vernacular languages, that would attract people’s 
notice. To this end, they needed the paraphernalia of skills, and tricks of the trade, 
of professional entertainers. Able sermonizers could give new meaning to the old 
injunction “practice what you preach”: they could help the audience members, even 
as they sat and listened, to picture the minstrel performing. Thus, the exemplum could 
achieve the slick effect of bringing the tumbler, at least in their listeners’ imaginations, 
from outside into the church. In the process, it could lure auditors away from the 
antics of real street entertainers in market squares and entice the same individuals into 
services, either out of doors on a thoroughfare or within formal ecclesiastical settings. 
The assembly could even have been spectators in the full sense. The speaker recounting 
the tale from the pulpit or on a piazza could have punctuated a recapitulation with 
gestures at reenactment, by feigning somersaults and other movements that would 
then taper off at the finish of the story. 

Franciscans delivering sermons would have found ready use for the narrative. They 
could have retold it to lay listeners to spur them on to the possibility of converting, 
becoming friars, and seeking redemption within that religious context. Whatever 
their specific objectives in repeating the exemplum, preachers from any order could 
have conveyed the gist of the tale about the jongleur to listeners who could and would 
never have waded through the text of the French poem. 

Whatever the most common medium of transmission was, whether textual or oral, 
we cannot know how many in the audiences would have recollected their experience 
of the narrative. The hermeneutic gap between what the preacher delivered and what 
the listeners recalled could have been imperceptible or unbridgeable. The story could 
have gone in one ear and out the other, or it could have made a life-altering impact. 
If it figured in many sermons with large congregations, it could have benefited from 
the closest equivalent that the Middle Ages had to mass communication. Then again, 
it could have been only sparsely used and known. 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady’s Tumbler 59 

The Latin Exemplum 

The source, properly so called, of the 
poet is still unknown. 

The gist of Our Lady’s Tumbler is relayed in an exemplum that is compartmentalized 
in the Table of Exempla under the rubric “Joy.” If we set aside the preoccupation of 
Our Lady’s Tumbler with penance and devotion, its placement under this heading 
is altogether appropriate, since gifted performers were thought to display and to 
engender jubilation. They could render joyful their audiences of both human attendees 
and heavenly onlookers, such as God, angels, and saints. Such euphoria has been 
expressed in life by the faithful whose commitment to dance has been documented 
extensively over the past century and a half. 

The essentials of the narrative in this Latin version from around 1277 are 
summarized telegraphically. 


ttle fin religiig éturve 
ropes ithe peep foros fi 1105 08 

igo ai crs ¥ 

ys ater Sie fae 
TEL Hum 
oe atacseae 
ped fuoliurerd-1B8men fier 

fap tolo Dm. 

Fig. 1.34 Excerpt from Liber exemplorum secundum ordinem alphabeti, chap. 49, no. 28, 
“Gaudium.” London, British Library, MS Additional 18351. Image courtesy of British Library, 
London. All rights reserved. 

The whole of the closely packed two-sentence original reads in translation as follows: 

A certain entertainer, forsaking the world, entered a religious order and, when he saw 
his peers singing Psalms, since he did not know his letters, thought how he could praise 
God with the others. For that reason, when the others sang their Psalms, he began to 
dance and leap for joy, and when asked why he did such things, replied, “I see everyone 
serving God in accord with his faculty, and for that reason I wish to celebrate God in 
accord with mine, as I know how.” 

The relationship between this later, roughly fifty-word exemplum in Latin prose and 
the earlier 684-line poem in medieval French verse cannot be established conclusively. 

60 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

One sure thing is that this in-a-nutshell version differs radically from the piece of 
poetry in more than length alone. The Madonna and Virgin are suppressed in favor 
of God. We hear nothing of the crypt, nothing of the venomous monks, nothing of 
the abbot, nothing of the miracle, nothing of the jongleur’s death, and nothing of his 
soul’s fate. 

Nearly a third of the short text comprises the closing utterance of the entertainer. 
The exemplum is sheer paradox, being made all of words but all about deeds. Then 
again, it embodies the famous principle of writing, “Show, don’t tell.” Its hero is a man 
who expresses himself most effectively through private acts. Yet here the physicality 
of the earlier tale is shucked to make room for an uncensored statement by the solo 
artist, almost like the moral to a fable. He has the last word—and then some. We 
know only a little about him. It is as if he entered the monastery —the order is not 
even specified—in a fugue state that made him an amnesiac. In our times, names are 
essential to being and identity, but, again, as in the vernacular verse, the tumbler and 
the poet resemble each other in their anonymity. The protagonist is notable in both 
the poem and exemplum for his namelessness. Lacking a name makes him even more 
exemplary. For being a nobody, or at least a no-name, he becomes an everyman. Does 
he have a specific identity at all, or is he incognito deliberately? Does his virtuousness 
support the argument that he is made up—that he must be fictitious because he is too 
good to be true? 

Fig. 1.35 Postcard depicting Thomas Frederick Crane (left) and David Hoy (right), ca. 1910. 
Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Archives. Image from Wikipedia, 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady’s Tumbler 61 

No evidence exists that would facilitate illuminating the interconnections between 
our two surviving attestations of the narrative. The exemplum is the merest scrap 
of a tale. In 1911 an American folklorist asked, “Is this prose story the hitherto 
undiscovered original of the French poem?” (see Fig. 1.35). The question is astute. The 
Latin in the Table of Exempla could transmit, even word for word, a text as the author 
of the French verse read it. Then again, the early twentieth-century researcher could 
have gotten it backwards. The prose from the late thirteenth-century compendium 
could be a distillation that the anonymous Franciscan made directly from reading the 
medieval French piece of poetry, or indirectly from hearing it performed verbatim or 
its contents related less punctiliously. 

Underlying the folklore scholar’s question is his conjecture that the medieval poet 
did not personally invent the fundamentals of the story as we have it. But accepting 
that hypothesis does not force the conclusion that the version passed down by the 
Franciscan author lay any closer to a notional original. Both the French versifier and 
the Latin prose writer could have been indebted to a common written source, without 
any intermediary; or another exemplum in the learned language could have predated 
the medieval French poem. The short Latin prose version could have inspired both 
Our Lady’s Tumbler and the exemplum. Then again, the poet and prose writer alike 
could have picked up the tale orally from sermons or some other form of anecdote. 
Possible explanations could be constructed in abundance if not ad infinitum, but 
potential shreds of proof for any of them are regrettably elusive. 

The likelihood is that both the French and the Latin survive, by a mere twist of 
fate, from a much larger multitude of lost versions, as the story pulsed back and 
forth between oral and written, popular and elite, lay and clerical, short and long, 
vernacular and Latinate. Both the poem and the prose are likely to have been under an 
obligation somehow to an exemplum that achieved diffusion through the Cistercian 
monastic order. Initially, such a tale would have been recounted by itself. A monk 
who heard or witnessed a miracle might relate it, others might press the point, and 
ultimately the head of an abbey might employ it in speaking with the brethren in the 
chapter house. It might be retold for hosts at another monastery. A choir monk could 
relate it to a lay brother, or vice versa. 

In a later stage, such exempla agglutinated within collections, often produced 
for and by the monasteries where many are thought to have originated. The white 
monks were great collectors and carriers of edifying and entertaining short narratives, 
especially those that bore on miracles relating to the particularities of their monasteries. 
During the period from roughly 1140 to roughly 1200, the Cistercians put together the 
stories of both monks and lay people, particularly lay brothers. When recapitulating 
what they had heard, the compilers presented the tales in succinct and straightforward 
Latin, with a minimum of rhetorical flourishes. These assemblers may be imagined as 
having relied heavily on oral reports and even on what we might call oral literature. 
They were prototypical oral historians. 

62 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

The activities of the Cistercian collectors coincided with the emergence of a new 
form of transmission for vernacular literacy in what were in those days the two 
principal tongues of France: Occitan (the language of Languedoc, including what 
was formerly known as Provencal) and what is now called French. The designation 

“minstrel manuscript” has been applied to simple codices, with texts invariably in 
single columns, written in the twelfth or thirteenth centuries. Such handwritten books, 
small and portable, could have been carried as manuals in the literal or etymological 
sense. The best-known exemplar of all the ones to which this name has been attached 
conserves the text of the famous French epic, The Song of Roland. In the past quarter 
century, the longstanding assumption has been rejected or at least strongly critiqued 
that such objects were produced by dictation from oral poets for their use in rehearsal 
or recitation. The extant texts are not actual working copies, and we must take pains 
not to project upon them romantic views of minstrels. At the same time, it has not 
been misconceived to seek connections between surviving medieval literature and the 
contents of oral performances that took place without being recorded or successfully 

From the mid-thirteenth century, the early Cistercian exempla collections were 
tapped by friars. Both Franciscan and Dominican tabulators of these illustrative stories 
resembled the white monks of the order’s first few decades in aiming at narrative 
brevity and rhetorical simplicity. Like many mendicants of his day, the anonymous 
author of the Table of Exempla drew systematically upon such accounts available 
from contemporaneous and earlier friars and Cistercians. The line of descent that 
has been laid out has emphasized the roles of first white monks and later fraternal 
orders. It demands little imagination to devise a mental image of an abbot relating 
the short narrative in the chapter house to choir monks, to motivate them to be kind 
to lay brothers. Alternatively, the same teller could recount the tale when recruiting 
prospective lay brethren. The story could spur them to act on their impulses by 
converting to join the Cistercians. 

The likeliest venue for the hypothetical lost exemplum is a Cistercian monastery, 
specifically the one at Clairvaux. As with so much else, we cannot be certain. 
Interestingly, many exempla associated with this order do seem to have emanated 
from that very abbey. As rotten luck would have it, the chief early collection of 
Claravallian anecdotes has not weathered the storms of time. Consequently, we can 
only speculate about whether our poem, set as it is in Saint Bernard’s institution, ever 
formed part of it. 

In all periods, the tale has lent itself remarkably to compression and subsequent 
re-expansion. Even visually, the whole of the story can be expressed by the most 
economical of metonymies. For example, one artist active in the early twenty-first 
century called the entire narrative to mind by illustrating an orb caught in the air at 
the top of a soaring pointed arch (see Fig. Pref.1). The ball stands in for other objects 
being juggled, but not pictured, by a likewise unrepresented juggler. The lancet recalls 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady's Tumbler 63 

a whole Gothic church, presumably a Notre-Dame, or even a cathedral dedicated to 
the Virgin, with a Madonna, though Mary too is not shown. In sum, the jongleur is 
reduced to the rounded geometry of a sphere; Our Lady, to the pointed one of a lancet. 

The Life of the Fathers 

More than any other literary genre, 
edifying Christian tales have 

been subjected over the course of 
centuries to successive re-readings. 
Many of them go back to the 
tradition of the Desert Fathers. 

Ah, scholarship—or should I say, ah, pedantry! Brace yourself, dear reader, for 
alternation between the titles Lives of the Fathers and Life of the Fathers. The inconsistency 
is deliberate and owes nothing to typographical errors. Let me do my best to unravel 
the tangled skein, so that we may tease apart the individual strands and make sense 
of them. By referring in French to Lives of the Fathers, the poem invokes as an ostensible 
source what may appear to be, to switch metaphors, no more than a red herring. 
Works in both French and Latin exist that could have been designated in this way in 
the thirteenth century, although nowadays the names in both languages are reserved 
for incomparably different texts. 

The fact that the tale of Our Lady’s Tumbler has turned up in none of them could 
lead to three conclusions. One is that the wellspring of the poem bubbled up in a 
version of Lives of the Fathers that has failed to survive. Another is that poet’s reference 
was calculated to be a false scent. If the citation was meant to be taken under such false 
pretenses, one reason could be that the author sought to keep under wraps his actual 
inspiration in another source, which either no longer exists or remains unidentified. 
The third interpretation could be that the writer of Our Lady’s Tumbler made up the 
story out of whole cloth, but succumbed to a characteristically medieval impulse by 
alleging that his fabrication had authoritative underpinning, as it was drawn from a 
respected work. 

A total of at least five French poems of the thirteenth century claim as their origin 
a text that may be either Lives of the Fathers in Latin or the related but distinct Life of 
the Fathers in French. Only The Hermit and the Jongleur has been tracked conclusively 
to an item in any such narrative treasury. In the other four, the citation of Lives of the 
Fathers appears to be a literary device to misguide readers. Two of them share with 
The Hermit and the Jongleur the feature of being both miracles and pious tales. The same 
combination occurs in both the French Life of the Fathers and the Miracles of Gautier 
de Coinci. Furthermore, the manuscripts of the French Life of the Fathers overlap 
substantially with those that transmit the Marian miracles of Gautier de Coinci. 

64 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Lives of the Fathers designates in the first instance a Latin collection that emerged in 
the last quarter of the fourth century and later, presumably based on Greek originals. 
The text amasses in ten books brief narratives that are comparable in a coarse way to 
the one about the jongleur. Such accounts are known as “spiritually beneficial” or 

“useful tales.” They are narratives, but at the same time they could be called spiritual 
exercises. More than a thousand such stories were recorded at the latest in the late 
fourth century, but some of them may have circulated orally long before then. At 
the other extreme of the chronological spectrum, most of the major collections in the 
genre had been put together by the beginning of the seventh century. Additional tales 
cropped up, singly and in clumps, for centuries afterward. 

The genre assembles traditions, running the gamut from completely developed 
biographies to much shorter dialogues, sayings, and anecdotes. Many of these materials 
relate to individual Christians who from the end of the third century withdrew from 
society to devote their lives to spiritual self-improvement and hyperascetic severity in 
the solitude of the wilderness. The so-called desert fathers at the heart of the collections 
were the earliest such figures from within Christianity. They inhabited the wilds of 
what we call the Mideast, especially the region around Thebes in Egypt, Judea, and 
Syria. All of them were hermits, in that they dwelled in wastelands. In Greek, the 
root of the word for “hermit” means “deserted,” “uninhabited,” or “solitary.” Initially 
they were solitaries, but eventually they lived mostly in ordered communities. Lives 
of the Fathers, which pertains to the early stages of development, admits stories of 
laypeople who do not reside in the sunbaked desert and whose concerns are not 
strictly religious but sometimes even inarguably secular. 

Lives of the Fathers exercised appreciable influence in the Middle Ages. In the 
beginning the work would have been particularly esteemed among monks. The 
monastic appreciation began early, since the Rule of Saint Benedict prescribes the 
text for collective reading after a sit-down dinner. Among Cistercians, recitation took 
place during balanced meals in the refectory as well as at the close of the day when 
the brethren huddled in the collation gallery. Lives of the Fathers belonged among the 
favored texts for reading aloud, since it affirmed to the monks the achievements and 
vicissitudes experienced by some of their earliest and most important role models, 
the desert fathers. But the reach of the collection was destined to extend far beyond 
the cloister. In time, it was translated into many European vernaculars. In French, 
versions of different portions from it were created in both verse and prose between 
the late twelfth and fifteenth century. 

In the literary history of medieval French, the title Life of the Fathers (differing by 
use of an initial singular rather than plural) refers most often to an agglomeration 
from the first half of the thirteenth century. This heavyweight piece of poetry 
from the Middle Ages enjoyed a lasting success. Its popularity is confirmed by the 
existence of more than fifty complete and partial manuscripts, from the thirteenth 
into the sixteenth century. The narratives contained in this verse compendium have 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady’s Tumbler 65 

often been subsumed within the genre of pious tale, although some of them bear a 
stronger resemblance to fabliaux. Although Life of the Fathers has a similar title and 
overlaps very loosely at the beginning with some material found in the Latin Lives of 
the Fathers, no part of the whole poem as it has come through in the spoken language 
is directly connected with the latter, or with related Latin compositions that deal with 
the sanctity of the desert fathers. The three main thrusts of the French text are toward 
the ascetic existence of those early fathers, aspects of monasticism, and miracles of the 
Virgin Mary. 

To get down to further nitty-gritty, the Life of the Fathers in the vernacular 
language comprises three collections. The first one has been attributed to a formerly 
anonymous author who has now been identified provisionally by majority opinion as 
one Ernoul Langny. Although well disposed toward the Cistercians, this individual 
is remarkably clear in suggesting that lay existence is in no wise inferior to monastic. 
In fact, it establishes that laymen may overshadow monks in their way of life. The 
poet is likely to have written near Paris in the 1220s or thereabouts. The second and 
third collections were added later to the first one. The additional stories that make up 
the second are probably to be dated shortly after the first was completed. They show 
signs of having originated in western Picardy. The third is later again. It may have 
come from the hand of a Franciscan. Thus, we can see familiar fellow-travelers, with 
white monks preparing the way for friars minor, and with a Picard connection. 

The forty-two tales in the first assemblage of tales take place mostly in Egypt 
in the days of the desert fathers. The prologue to each proffers a truth of Christian 
life or dogma, which is exemplified by the narrative. At the other end, an epilogue 
teases out the moral. The narratives in the other two collections are more often given 
a contemporary thirteenth-century setting, with their concluding commentary being 
shorter. Some of them tell miracles of the Virgin, unlike the stories in the first, set in 
olden times. For example, we have seen that The Tale of the Barrel, which is loosely 
related to Our Lady’s Tumbler, surfaces among these accounts. The lay brothers are 
heavily represented among the narratives included within the French Life of the Fathers. 
Yet neither the Latin Lives of the Fathers nor the French in any guise manifests any reflex 
of the legend that corresponds to the exemplum recounted in Our Lady’s Tumbler. All 
the same, the reference in our poem does not necessarily constitute false advertising. 
Instead, it may point to a tangential, rather than a straight-line, indebtedness. 

In seeking tales comparable to Our Lady’s Tumbler, we could look for other 
narratives about professional entertainers. Adhering to this criterion, we find that the 
French Life of the Fathers incorporates a tale about a minstrel. The story of the tumbler 
might be construed as a narrative that counters it. The forty-two episodes making up 
the French text are conventionally known by short titles that were assigned to them 
in 1884 by Gaston Paris, a scholar of language and literature who will appear often in 
this book. This episode goes by the name “Goliard.” The epithet originally applied to 
members of the medieval clergy, particularly students, who composed Latin squibs 

66 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

and drinking poems. In other words, goliards belonged to the same social stratum 
that included jongleurs. To speak in terms of present-day academic attire, they were 
tweedy, but their heavy-twill jackets sometimes had holes through which their 
elbows poked, rather than the leather patches that have become metonymous with 

“professor.” In this case, the story centers upon a bibulous cleric with a compulsive 
gambling problem and the French appellation of Lechefrite or “Grease Pot.” This 
malfeasant converts to become a Cistercian monk. His hidden intent is to pocket gold 
and silverware from the monastery and make off with it. Yet for twenty years, his 
conscience renders him unable and unwilling to carry through on either his initial 
intention to commit theft or his later resolution to leave the order. 

Although at the outset the goliard only feigns a resolve to be a monk, a miracle 
causes him to undergo a conversion that is both authentic and enduring. On one 
occasion, after holy orders have been conferred upon him, he decides to forsake the 
monastery once he has said Mass. His first objective is to officiate at the altar of the 
Virgin, so that Mary may protect him from temptation in the world outside; but the 
best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Just when the goliard-turned-priest 
elevates the host, the right hand of the infant Jesus, who is pictured in the altarpiece 
with his mother, reaches out and grabs it from him. No sooner has the would-be 
escapee lamented and prayed to the Virgin than Jesus returns the wafer and wine 
to him. After the penitent goes back to bed all sackcloth and ashes, the monk who 
assisted him at the altar reveals to his superior what happened. In turn, the abbot visits 
the onetime worldly wordsmith. Eventually the reformed monk, no longer a wannabe 
runaway, is himself elected to the highest office within the abbey, whereupon he dies 
and is granted entry into heaven. 

The tales of “Goliard” in the French Life of the Fathers and of the entertainer in Our 
Lady’s Tumbler are by no stretch of the imagination one and the same. Yet the overlap 
suffices to render it at least plausible that the author of the jongleur poem was not 
merely indulging himself in the supremely medieval whimsy of citing a spurious 
source with his mention (and perhaps significantly, in the plural form) of Lives of the 
Fathers. Both pieces of poetry gloss over inaccuracies about time and place by engaging 
in anachronism and, to resort to the corresponding term for a comparable spatial 
disjunction, anatopism. To be specific, both texts present tales that are identified as 
happening in medieval Cistercian monastic contexts, but as if the characters and 
events belonged to the Egyptian desert of the fathers from late antiquity. 

To turn to the two poems’ protagonists, both the tumbler and the goliard issue 
from marginal groups with reputations that are antithetical to those of monks; both 
convert to the Cistercian order, which is treated favorably by the poets; both undergo 
crises when performing before altars dedicated to the Virgin; both elicit motions from 
within representations of the Virgin that become animated; both become the focus 
of communiqués made by a fellow monk to the abbot; and both are admitted to the 
celestial realm at the close of the tales. Despite the risk of growing unctuous, it is 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady’s Tumbler 67 

worth mentioning in addition that both are connected pointedly with cooking fat. 
In Our Lady’s Tumbler, a strikingly oleaginous simile describes in animal terms the 
perspiration of the performer after he completes his routine to honor the Virgin: “Just 
as grease comes out on the spit so the sweat comes out of him... from his feet up to his 
head.” The image of the meat sizzling on the skewer underlines the carnality of the 
gesture that the minstrel makes in devotion to the Virgin. The goliard and eponymous 
character “Grease Pot” is related to oily matter through his very name. 

Then again, we may misjudge if we make the profession of the protagonist the 
benchmark for the degree of proximity between Our Lady’s Tumbler and any of the tales 
in the Latin Lives of the Fathers or French Life of the Fathers. The fact that an entertainer 
plays the foremost role in both stories may be a distraction. Instead, we should think 
about the progression of events in specific narratives that we compare. Evaluation in 
this spirit leads to the episode in Life of the Fathers that has been entitled “Miserere.” 
The tale is so called because it has at its nucleus the prayer for mercy known by this 
name. The Latin imperative miserere or “have pity” is the first word of Psalm 51. For 
the major moving parts of this narrative, this story would seem to have a common 
source with a miracle in Gautier de Coinci. 

In “Miserere,” a simple but goodhearted man makes up his mind to give up all 
his possessions and to join a holy hermit, which the solitary allows. The recent arrival 
prays repetitiously, using shaky phraseology in the learned language that does not 
follow the wording of the biblical verse as it should. Liking the text for its sincerity 
and humility, God causes a miraculous glow to gleam whenever the unflashy fellow 
worships. Unaware of God’s favor and the miracle, the recluse insists that the 
beginner use only the proper Latin. The miracle ceases, the man is distressed, and in 
his perturbation, he sickens. One half year later, the ascetic visits, discovers what has 
transpired, recognizes the piety of his former companion, and has him return to his 
earlier practice and phrasing. At this point the light resumes. The hermit witnesses the 
wonder. Duly awestruck, he remains with the man forever after. 

Finally, the reference to Lives of the Fathers in Our Lady’s Tumbler could have one more 
explanation. The poet may have intended to acknowledge that he was beholden not 
so much in content as in spirit. The tale of the tumbler shows a person, saintlike even 
if not a saint, who wins divine favor. He achieves this grace not through martyrdom 
but through conversion and staunch belief. To be precise, he expresses piety through 
humility in the face of public humiliation. Even the profuse sweating could be 
construed as referring to a hagiographic motif and implying the tumbler’s saintliness, 
by calling to mind the deacon Lawrence. When tortured by being placed upon a red- 
hot iron grille, this famous martyr of the third century reportedly responded only by 
telling his tormentors, “This side is done, turn me over.” Similarly, the tumbler makes 
himself into a human roast, but through the blistering heat of his own exertions rather 
through the effects of a torture device. Both men have the last laugh in their ordeals. 
At the end of his routines, the tumbler is prone. The position is reminiscent of the 

68 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

obeisance that is known technically now by the Greek meooKvvnotc, proskunesis. In 
this act of devotion, the worshiper bends down and kneels. In extreme cases, he lies 
face down. The Rule of Saint Benedict prescribed a humble posture of penance, with 
head and eyes glued to the ground, and body stretched out. Pride is the deadliest sin, 
and the self-debasement of humility affords an opportunity for avoiding the fall that 
the prideful are known to suffer. Portraits, even self-portraits, may be found in which 
monks are shown in such a position before the Virgin and Child (see Fig. 1.36). To take 
a remarkable instance, a manuscript of a chronicle contains by way of proem a self- 
depiction of its author in this stance. A large framed drawing portrays the historian 
(and artist) himself on his knees in deference before the Virgin and Child, shown 
enthroned. The picture is the medieval equivalent of a snapshot that catches Christ in 
motion as he presses his face against his mother’s, strokes her hair, and clambers up 
toward the apple she is holding. 

Fig. 1.36 Kneeling monk (Matthew Paris). Miniature by Matthew Paris, 1250-1259. 
London, British Library, MS Royal 14 C VII, fol. 6r. Image courtesy of British Library, London. 
All rights reserved. 

The self-abasement here is true to the word, since etymologically abasement refers 
to a lowering. The comportment ascribed by the painter to the worshipful monk is 
more characteristic of the heroic asceticism and devotion of the early centuries in the 
church. The performer in Our Lady’s Tumbler takes down the humility, or even self- 
humiliation, by one additional gradation. To be clad in the attire of a monk is already 
humble enough, but he strips down to the even lowlier layer of his underclothing. 
In attire as in all else, he becomes the opposite of vainglorious. While not wholly in 
the buff, he molts to a very exposed and defenseless state. In any event, the story of 
the tumbler’s redemption through humility conveys a message consistent with the 
biographies of the desert fathers. The gist is worth chewing over. People, especially 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady’s Tumbler 69 

odious ones, have always been inclined to misconstrue humility for softheadedness. 
Often they also commit an error by assuming that simplicity will be the kiss of death. 
So much the worse for them, because simplicity can be powerful. 

True Story: Why the Story Succeeded 

What garnered the story its modest success in the Middle Ages? A fact beyond 
speculation is that whatever the relative priority of the Latin, the medieval French, 
and any hypothetical versions no longer extant, the piece of poetry in the spoken 
language alone accounts ultimately for the impact of the tale from the late nineteenth 
into the twenty-first century. Here we are probably very fortunate that the author 
opted to express himself within the vernacular literary tradition. At the time when 
the poem was composed, most writers working in the learned tongue and its heritage 
would have felt obliged to pull out all the rhetorical stops. The results would have 
made a verse or prose version in the language of liturgy and learning less attractive 
to us. 

Yet the mere fact that Our Lady’s Tumbler was set down in French is not the whole 
story. From the twelfth century on, the laity was incited ever more strenuously by 
the clergy to attend church and hear sermons. On the supply side, the clerics were 
bidden to preach publicly far more often than had once been customary. The papal 
assembly of 1215 (Fourth Lateran Council) enjoined preachers to indoctrinate lay folk 
in virtuous living. As a result, the application of exempla became more entrenched, 
with the hard-minded aims of enticing listeners and holding their interest so that they 
would not slip away before the preaching had finished. Finally, it bears mentioning 
that from early in the second half of the twelfth century, the Cistercians were 
exceptionally active in collecting and employing exempla. A case has been made that 
they intended their digests of such stories for brethren in their order, as a means of 
corroborating collective identity, memory, and values. 

Of course, sermons had to vie with other forms of amusement. The types of 
entertainment furnished by professionals would have posed acute challenges to 
sermonizers. We must not forget that traveling preachers jockeyed with jongleurs 
for audiences. At times, sermonizers entered into rivalry with singers, dancers, and 
jugglers, as well as with very different performers of public speech-making (construing 
the word broadly) such as lawyers and heretics. Yet the two different groups were 
not always at each other’s throats. They may have journeyed together in company 
sometimes and would have by various avenues been familiar with each other’s 
techniques and practices. Because medieval churches were not merely official places 
of worship but also de facto social centers, most of these different professions plied 
their trades at least some of the time either outside the churches or even inside them. 
Under the circumstances, speakers would predictably have resorted to techniques 
we would associate today more with stand-up comedy in an open-mike club than 

70 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

with church, especially when they were delivering sermons before open-air crowds 
in cities. 

Entertainment and edification have always intersected. In English literary history, 
two anecdotes set in Anglo-Saxon times make the matter perfectly clear. One is a 
legend told in the twelfth century by the monk and historian William of Malmesbury 
about what allegedly took place four hundred years earlier, in the seventh century, 
when the abbot, bishop, and Latin author Aldhelm would attract audiences in 
Malmesbury by playing a proselytic pied piper. He would sing Old English lays on 
a bridge to listeners whom he would then lead to church. The other is a celebrated 
episode related in Bede’s Ecclesiastic History of the English People. In this blow-by-blow 
account in Latin, a simple herdsman named Czedmon cares for the animals at what is 
now known as Whitby Abbey during the abbacy of Saint Hilda. The herder is illiterate 
and therefore, it goes without saying, a layman. One evening, when the brethren 
croon to the strumming of a harp after dinner, this poor fellow absents himself out of 
the equivalent to stage fright on an amateur night. Like the tumbler, he feels shame at 
his inability in a skill possessed by the monks with whom he lives. Subsequently, he 
has a dream in which he is asked to sing of creation. Soon thereafter, he inaugurates 
Christian song in Old English oral-formulaic verse by performing a short encomium 
to God as creator of heaven and earth. On the following morning, he adds to his 
earlier composition. The foreman of the farm, after hearing of Ceedmon’s vision and 
gift, has him visit the abbess, who first puts his compositional acumen to the test and 
then has him take monastic vows. 

The animosity toward non-Christian pastimes is typified by the later Anglo- 
Saxon Alcuin, who in a Latin letter written in 797 denounces monks for regaling 
themselves with narratives about pagan protagonists, rather than Jesus Christ in his 
role as Messiah. Referring to one such hero, he asks, “Let God’s words be read at 
the episcopal dinner-table. It is right that a reader should be heard, not a harpist, 
patristic discourse, not pagan song. What has Hinield to do with Christ?” Yet in both 
the legend of Aldhelm and the anecdote of Caedmon, the non-Christian diversion 
is something to be set aside or transcended. The legendary Aldhelm seduces his 
auditors into leaving behind secular pleasantries. Ceedmon gains notice through the 
innovation of directing toward Christian ends the conventions of Old English verse- 
making, otherwise to be eschewed or at least forgotten. In fact, the herdsman passes 
muster as an old Germanic jongleur of God. He bears comparison with the tumbler in 
his dithering about the value of what he can offer in his devotion, as well as in his fix 
about participating in collective activity. 

In the relationship between the French and the Latin treatments of the tale, the 
vernacular verse of Our Lady’s Tumbler is less likely to have been informed by the 
prose of the learned language than vice versa. Alternatively, the two works could 
have been prompted by other sources, written, oral, or both. No evidence has come to 
light thus far to suggest that anyone paid the slightest heed to the story from when the 

1. The Medieval Beginnings of Our Lady’s Tumbler 71 

Latin prose fell out of fashion in the late fifteenth century. For reasons both linguistic 
and cultural, the medieval vernacular form could have ceased earlier to be readily 
intelligible. To all intents, the tale of Our Lady’s Tumbler and its Latin equivalent 
evanesce for four hundred years, until the late nineteenth century. 

In the Middle Ages, people had the desert fathers for inspiration and imitation. In 
the twentieth century, avid readers called their utmost favorites “desert island books.” 
These were readings that they fantasized they would take with them if marooned as 
castaways on an isolated atoll with only the smallest of libraries. The two gravitations, 
toward the fathers and islands, are not unrelated. Human beings crave a furlough 
from distractedness in direct proportion to their addiction it. We are at once extroverts 
and introverts, herd animals and lone wolves. The little story of the tumbler can tell us 
about both poles of our shared condition. In fact, medieval monasticism has much to 
teach on the same topic, since in a certain sense it constitutes a system of social solitude. 
Let us follow in the footsteps of the minstrel made monk, first into the entertainment 
world and then into the cloisters of the Middle Ages. 

2. Dancing for God 

I would only believe in a God that knew how 
to dance. [...] Now a God dances in me. 

—Friedrich Nietzsche 

To make sense of Our Lady’s Tumbler, we must transport ourselves to the Middle Ages. 
We have delved into the manuscripts, and we have begun to come to terms with the 
texts and the single image that they transmit. For all that, we have not advanced very 
far in decoding what the narrative portends. The words are never mere words. They 
constitute our best guides to the meanings that individual writers, their communities, 
and, even more broadly, their societies hoped to relay across the chasms of time and 
space to others—including, now, us. All the same, the verbalism is, at the risk of 
appearing flippant, only part of the story. To wrest the richest and deepest significance 
from the tale, we will be obligated to go beyond the strictly and solely lexical level. 
Through the lexicon and subject matter, we may identify and reconstruct discourses. 
In the poem and exemplum, we need to uncouple the conceptual framework of the 
entertainer from that of the monk. The two are overlaid, like electrochemical cells in a 
battery or conductors in a capacitor, to create the extraordinary electricity that the lay 
brother and jongleur in this tale discharges. 

The Tumbler 

Scribes in the Middle Ages manifested nearly the same indifference to transmitting 
exact titles as they did to pinning down exact authorship. The names of medieval texts 
were often not authorial, but concocted by scribes or readers. Thus, the manuscripts 
of Our Lady’s Tumbler divulge no consensus as to the original title, if one even existed. 
To the contrary, they identify the poem in five different ways. Each codex, to judge by 
the captions for our poem, tells a different story: 

© 2018 Jan M. Ziolkowski, CC BY 4.0 

74 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Of the Tumbler of Our Lady 

This Is about the Tumbler of Our Lady 

The Tale of the Jongleur 

Of a Minstrel Who Became a Monk to Whom Our Lady Showed Grace 
Of a Minstrel Who Served Our Lady by His Own Craft. 

The common element in all these combinations is a term for a professional entertainer, 
whether tumbler, jongleur, or minstrel. But exactly what sort of performer? Even 
more to the point, what manner of tale should we have in mind? Finally, what type of 
association with the Virgin should we envisage the protagonist having? After all, she 
is mentioned in four of the titles. Research is detective work. Let us become gumshoes 
ourselves, on a manhunt to understand the character who dies at the end of our story. 
In our medieval film noir, the blackness is the ink on folios of parchment. 

Various factors would have made advantageous a shift from a tumbler into a 
jongleur. The latter is usually lowlier in social status than the troubadour, but the two 
nonetheless share resemblances. One is that both could be instrumental musicians, 
singers, or both. Another is that both have an interesting connection with passion for 
women. The troubadour belongs to the system of courtly love, in which the beloved 
and unattainable lady is idolized. The jongleur here, at his most pious, is presented 
as a humble but sincere worshiper of the Virgin, who is embodied in a Madonna. He 
does everything, and gives his all, for the love of Mary alone. In the titles that four 
of the five manuscripts offer, this character is associated with the Mother of God. In 
other words, he too is a fool for love, but his inamorata is Mary. He dances attendance 
upon her and upon no one else. 

The most literal-minded transposition of the prevailing medieval title into present- 
day French would be Le tombeur de Notre Dame, word-for-word “The Tumbler of Our 
Lady.” The hitch with retaining this wording unmodified in the modern tongue lies in 
the element tombeur. While the verb tomber means “to fall,” for more than a century the 
derivative noun has come to connote in French not a tumbler, in the sense of acrobat, 
dancer, or acrobatic dancer, but rather a lady’s man, ladykiller, womanizer, cad, or 
bounder, for whom incautious women may fall, sometimes much to their subsequent 
remorse. Although the term is by no means an obscenity, and no one would be 
foulmouthed in using it, it carries a charge of moral disapproval and condemnation. 
Imagine if every time English speakers employed the word tumble, their thoughts 
turned to sexual intercourse, because of the euphemistic “a tumble in the hay.” Under 
such circumstances, they might shun the noun tumbler, which is the predicament that 
tombeur thrusts upon French-speakers today. The medieval verb is another matter, 
since it carried no such associations. 

The discomfort about transposing the original term from medieval French into the 
modern language can be inferred from a heading in a 1912 volume of French literary 

2. Dancing for God 75 

history. The caption leading into discussion of the medieval poem reads “Le Tombeur 
(Jongleur) de Notre-Dame,” and the following sentence glosses the word in question 
as “a tumbler or performer of tumbles.” To bat away objectionable associations of 
tombeur that ill befit a spiritual tale, the closest and otherwise most natural modern 
rendering of the thirteenth-century French has been unloaded in favor of Le jongleur 
de Notre Dame. The present-day title can be and has been rendered into English as 
The Jongleur of Notre Dame in the hybrid of the two languages that has been styled 
Frenglish. In this case, key noun is a loanword that can mean generally minstrel or 
particularly juggler. 

The situation in French hastened conflation of the medieval story with its fin- 
de-siecle adaptations by the Nobel Prize-winning author Anatole France and the 
once supremely successful songwriter Jules Massenet. We need not bid them au 
revoir, since we will encounter them again repeatedly. Their short story and opera, 
respectively, carry the title Le jongleur de Notre Dame. Thus, in French both sides of the 
narrative equation, medieval and medievalized, are known unvaryingly as Le jongleur 
de Notre Dame. In contrast, in English, despite occasional contamination across the 
divide, the medieval tale tends to be called Our Lady’s Tumbler, whereas the texts by 
the above short-story writer and musician are designated by the half-Anglicized title 
of Jongleur of Notre Dame. Modern authors have contrived myriad ways of ringing 
changes, mostly slight but some radical, upon each of these captions. 

Notre Dame versus Saint Mary 

At first blush, the other panel in the diptych-like title looks problem-free. No 
troubleshooting would appear to be called for. When used as a possessive, the medieval 
French Nostre Dame morphed into the modern de Notre Dame. Yet this other phrase too 
requires at least a little examination. Notre Dame designates the Virgin in her capacity 
as “Our Lady.” Even more often, it serves as shorthand for a religious foundation 
dedicated to her, with the cathedral of Paris being by far the best known. The more 
relevant matter is what led to the formulation Notre Dame in the first place. Despite its 
familiarity, it should not be taken for granted. French is unusual in calling Mary what 
it does, in having as many dedications of places, buildings, and institutions to her as 
it does, and in vaunting a cathedral named after her that has become emblematic of 
both Gothic architecture overall and particularly the city of Paris. Let us take a gander 
at all these aspects of the one seemingly simple phrase. 

The designation of the Virgin as “Our Lady,” from the Latin domina nostra, has 
hardly been universal in the Romance languages. Calling her Saint Mary was, and 
perhaps still is, more common (see Fig. 2.1). To take one well-known nautical example, 
Christopher Columbus’s largest ship was not christened Nuestra Sefiora, Spanish for 

76 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Our Lady. On the contrary, it was the Santa Maria—Saint Mary if translated into 
English. In French, usage has differed markedly—and the divergence from most 
other languages began early. Notre Dame may well have become current already in 
the eleventh century. To all appearances, the phraseology took strong hold first at 
Chartres in the second half of the twelfth century. From there, it seeped by linguistic 
drip-drip into other forms of Romance speech, such as Occitan and Catalan, at the 
expense of the formulations for “Saint Mary” in these tongues. 

Fig. 2.1 Edward Maran, The “Santa Maria,” 1492, 1892. Painting, reproduced on color print from 
original The Santa Maria, Nifia and Pinta (Evening of October 11, 1492). 

No one knows what bright soul coined the locution Notre Dame. (Nobody filed for 
exclusive rights to it.) The turn of phrase may have arisen among the laity rather 
than among ecclesiastics, as a means of marking the Virgin apart from other saints, 
including virgins, to accord her special credit for her uniqueness. By not being 
labeled “saint” she is elevated, not to the point of heading a matriarchy, but still head 
and shoulders above all others. The discrimination makes perfect sense, since she 
occupies a degree below that of Jesus Christ but above ordinary saints. At the same 
time, Mary was the most popular, in the fullest sense of the word, of holy women. 
Yet Notre Dame differs interestingly from, for instance, the Italian Madonna, which 
could be equated to “my lady” or “milady.” We may not stop to puzzle over why we 
say “your Majesty” as opposed to “my Lord,” but the possessive adjectives have been 
driven by specific forces. The plural in the French first-person possessive for “Our 
Lady” brought home that she belonged to everyone. The form “Our” may well reflect 
liturgical practices, in which the members of a church collectively invoke the Mother 

2. Dancing for God 77 

of God. The noun Dame had the simultaneous effect of coordinating the Virgin with 
feudalism. In French, Jesus Christ is Notre Seigneur, or “Our Lord.” By being called 

“Our Lady,” Mary is recognized in rank for being what she was, that is, the most 
powerful female in Christianity. In medieval society, women were ringed around by 
constraints, but the Mother of God knew no limitations: she had to shatter no stained- 
glass ceiling. Making her into a lady had the self-contradictory, but understandable 
effects of simultaneously ennobling, familiarizing, and humanizing her. As obligatory 
within the feudal system, the Virgin would indemnify her devotee as a lady would 
shield a vassal against all threats and arm-twisting. 

The upswing in the wording Notre Dame took place within a much larger swing, 
namely, the cult of Mary. This veneration began to proliferate in the eleventh century, 
and in the twelfth century reached in both lay and clerical piety a pinnacle from which 
it would not be dislodged for the rest of the Middle Ages. The high point turned 
out to be a mesa-like plateau. Devotion to the Virgin must be reckoned among the 
most instrumental forces in spiritual life and creative achievement from the twelfth 
through the fifteenth centuries. There is no hyperbolizing the number of sculptures, 
paintings, stained-glass windows, and other artworks created in honor of Mary, and 
no overstating the volume of hymns and stories composed on her behalf. This literary 
flowering coincided with the efflorescence of courtly love literature, in which the lady 
occupied an exalted place. The two developments would have supported each other, 
and would have initiated many-sided interplay. 

The Mother of God as elevated through mass devotion was manifold. At first the 
Virgin won favor through her relation to Christ. She enabled the Word to become 
flesh when she accepted her role in the Incarnation, as the human mother from 
whom the Son of God took his humanity. In her own humanness, she was later the 
grieving Mary. In this guise, she would become formalized as the Mater Dolorosa, or 

“Sorrowful Mother.” Even more particularly, her griefs would be numbered seven. In 
this connection, we should not overlook the parallels between the maternal Virgin 
as she keens over the deposed Christ, and the Mary who assuages the jongleur after 
he collapses before the Madonna. Eventually, the Mother of God won a clean sweep 
through her Assumption into heaven, which positioned her first for coronation and 
then for being seated on the right side of Jesus as the Virgin and Child in majesty. 
On a civic plane, Mary constituted a favored last-line defense for municipalities, 
in the first instance Constantinople. She earned this reputation after the siege of the 
Byzantine capital by Persians and Avars in 626. A progression becomes clear: she 
acquired status as the invincible defender and invulnerable protector of, first, the 
city, then the whole Eastern Roman Empire, and ultimately all Christendom. Despite 
having a power quotient that bordered on omnipotence, the Mother of God was 
not preempted from transitioning to being a merciful mediator. In her maternal 

78 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

capacity, she acted as a vigilant lookout for the best interests of humanity. As the 
Virgin of Mercy, she went from merely being Mother Confessor to playing an active 
role in motivating her son to absolve repentant sinners. Beyond the Marys in all 
these capacities burgeoned a multiplicity of other Virgins, including Madonnas that 
triggered local affection and devotion while generating miracles. In popular devotion, 
such images served as the focal points for personal and affective language that invoked 
the Mother of God as intercessor. In exchange for the worship, the Virgin traveled to 
and fro between heaven and earth with a facility disallowed to Jesus himself. She was 
especially approachable, and uniquely capable of working miracles. All these Marys 
traveled with a long train of miracle stories, sermons, popular literature, art works, 
and shrines. 

In modern French, Notre Dame has come to denote without distinction the Virgin 
Mary herself and a cathedral, since almost all such foundations in France are dedicated 
to her. After the bombing of Reims in World War I, an author spouted about the 
synecdoche with patriotic wholeheartedness: 

When we speak indifferently of “the Cathedral” or of “Notre-Dame” we do not confound 
the Palace with the Queen; we affirm that the Palace is the Queen’s, and that she is at 
home there; we mean to say that the Cathedral is her domain, her sanctuary, that one 
cannot separate the one from the other, that to touch the Cathedral is to touch Our Lady, 
and to violate the Cathedral is to violate Our Lady. 

What rendered Mary exceptional, and why was she worshiped so warm-bloodedly 
by so many? The special saving grace of Christianity was that the religion made 
monotheism approachable by incorporating a man within its divinity. For all that, in 
time the godhead became regarded as aloof and forbidding to the rank and file. At the 
top of the social hierarchy, emperors and kings were God’s anointed. In that capacity, 
they had a privileged relation to Jesus. In Christian iconography of the East, we find 
Christ Pantokrator. In Greek, the epithet means “almighty.” In the corresponding 
imagery of the West, we encounter Christ in Majesty, enthroned as ruler of the world. 
In contrast to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, the Mother of God 
seemed within reach to everyone, no matter how humble. The reforms of the Fourth 
Lateran Council in 1215 suggest that by then she was sought after more than ever to 
intercede with her offspring. One explanation was that the Church was not equipped 
to deliver the level of pastoral care demanded for the swelling numbers of needy 
Christians. Filling the gap, the Blessed Virgin could be counted upon to sway Jesus 
through her maternal influence. The underlying guideline was the common reality of 
life that a solicitous son can be prevailed upon to do anything for his mother. Thus, 
Mary assumed an unexcelled place within personal piety from which she shows no 
signs of being budged even today. 

2. Dancing for God 79 

The Equivocal Status of Jongleurs 
Not all those who wander are lost. 

—J.R. R. Tolkien 

It is high time to read beyond the title and to think about the protean character to 
whom it refers in its first part. In French as in English, jongleur can now designate 
performers of innumerable different complexions. It behooved the practitioners of 
this profession to wear many hats. In their versatility, they diverted their audiences, 
both lay and ecclesiastical, with displays of verbal, musical, and physical skill. Even 
a very approximate taxonomy of these entertainers ramifies into a many-branched 
family tree. As artists of the word, they composed, ad-libbed, or rattled off verses and 
told tales. To detail these activities in composition and delivery more specifically, a 
jongleur could be a singer or composer of love songs, comic narratives, heroic lays, or 
other narratives such as histories and saints’ lives. In the fullest sense of the expression, 
they would sing for their supper. 

What is more, jongleurs were actors. At the humblest level, they mimed and 
mummed in dumb shows. Likewise, they tried their hands (truly) as puppeteers. 
Then too, they served as buffoons, clowns, fools, and jesters. Beyond acting, they 
ventured before their audiences as musicians, singers and instrumentalists alike. In 
another direction, they could perform physically as acrobats, contortionists, dancers 
and dance masters, fire-eaters, gymnasts, jugglers, ropewalkers, stiltwalkers, and 
sword-dancers, -jugglers, and -swallowers. Among other things, they were conjurors 
and magicians. To go beyond the purely human, they tamed, trained, and exhibited 
animals, such as bears, dogs, and snakes, and they entered the fray as equestrians too. 
All told, it may sometimes seem harder to determine what they were not than what 
they were. They acted as the archetypal and ultimate crossover artists, prepared to do 
whatever would attract medieval thrill-seekers. 

The repertoires of such entertainers were not restricted merely to acts of physical 
adroitness such as acrobatics, prestidigitation, and juggling. Their stock-in-trade also 
had a verbal (and voluble) dimension. Indeed, these performers drew upon all the 
sorts of words and music associated with the wandering minstrels and court jesters 
who long ago became embedded in modern conceptions of medieval life (see Fig. 2.2). 
Although sometimes courtly, such figures were often related to discreditable places 
and activities, such as taverns and throwing dice. A jongleur could be a professional 
gambler, instrumentalist, or contortionist—or all of the above. Likewise, he could be 
a mountebank, an individual who would hop onto a long seat to do his act. The last 
designation, originating in the Italian imperative “climb on (the) bench!,” isametonymy 

80 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

that tends to imply an inn or alehouse, where the bare minimum of furniture would 
have been trestles, tabletops, and benches. We are not talking about fancy marquetry. 
In worlds without theaters, the altitude of such seating was often as close as actors 
and audiences could get to stages or circus rings. In time, the mountebank became as 
we know him today, a nomadic charlatan who stands atop an elevation, maybe even 
a plank on two sawhorses, not so much to enact an entertainment routine as to peddle 
a nostrum or some other overpriced product of quackery. 

Fig. 2.2 Postcard depicting court jesters (L. Vandamme et Cie, 1905). 

Guiraut de Calanson, often termed (with only flimsy support) a Gascon troubadour, 
frequented the courts of northern Spain. In the first two decades of the thirteenth 
century, he composed a dozen poems in Occitan that are extant today. In one of these 
compositions, he lays out the talent that a performer worthy of being called a jongleur 
should have. In enumerating an ideal repertoire, he touches upon the abilities to 
speak and rhyme wittily, be steeped in the Trojan legend, balance apples on the tips 
of knives, juggle, jump through hoops, and play multiple musical instruments. 

What can the etymology of jongleur tell us? The English is scrounged from the 
French, which in its turn is a direct blood relative of the Latin ioculator. By whatever 
name, the term denoted then a joker or jokester, usually professional. At its broadest, 
the word meant any kind of entertainer. The primary sense of the original noun in the 
learned language derived from iocus, meaning “game, play, or jest.” The English word 

“joke” comes from the same noun. In the Middle Ages, both the Latin and vernacular 
nouns became contaminated by association with a similar-sounding term of Germanic 
origin, jangler (babbler, chatterbox, gossip, liar, scandal-monger, calumniator). Yet the 
early medieval labor market did not allow many entertainers to specialize in the arts 
of speech alone. They learned to move among verbal, musical, and physical skills. 
Therefore the Latin noun gave rise in English not only to “joker” but also to “juggler.” 

Ioculator was but one item in the sprawling Medieval Latin nomenclature to 
indicate this ilk. In the ferocious Darwinian battleground that language can constitute, 

2. Dancing for God 81 

this noun rode roughshod over its closest predecessors and eventually displaced 
them. The results can be cross-checked in many European tongues, including 
English. Throughout Europe, the Latin word has progeny that go back to the Middle 
Ages. In contradistinction, the root of histrio survives mainly as a later and learned 
reintroduction from Greek, whence the adjective histrionic. Likewise, the stem of the 
other derivative from the same language, mimus, has become largely restricted to the 
ambit of mime-player. Finally, the Latin scurra has persisted solely as embedded in 
scurrilous and scurrility. As performers became more professionalized, stark shifts 
took place in the old meanings of words. In English, the most common derivative 
of the Latin ioculator became not a “joker” in general, but much more narrowly a 

“juggler.” In medieval French, it denoted above all entertainers who specialized in song. 
Similarly, the jester turned into a clown-like figure, even though the name originally 
implied an artist or teller of tales or stories. A gestour was a teller of gestes, or “stories.” 
From him descended the jester as we know him. Another Latin noun of the Middle 
Ages has been largely omitted so far. 

The ioculator had a major competitor in the ministerialis. The two, jongleurs and 
minstrels, were sometimes conflated. The medieval Latin ministerialis, better known 
now as minstrel, signified literally “of a little minister, servant,” but more commonly 

“minor court official.” In turn, the term in the learned language came from the noun 
ministerium for “service, office,” itself derived from minister. It signified the hireling 
of a lord, either secular or ecclesiastical, or prince. The French for “minstrel” derived 
from this Latin. The vernacular word soon referred to a person who had mastered a 
craft. The word to describe what a minister does is ministerium “ministry.” Mestier, the 
medieval French derivative of that noun, gives us métier. 

To slip from conflation to its opposite, a primary distinction has been predicated 
between jongleurs and trouveres. Cognates of these two terms exist in the language 
of southern France and other neighboring Mediterranean regions. In presentations of 
poetics in this other Romance tongue, the two groups are sometimes differentiated by 
stressing that the joglar performs, whereas the trobador invents or composes. By this 
standard, the two types of professionals were as distinct or indistinct as artisans from 
artists. The underlying premise is that the jongleur or joglar is a professional musician 
and singer, whereas the trouvere or trobador is a songwriter and lyricist—not quite 
gentlemen scholars, but much closer to them than the jongleurs. The last-mentioned 
were marginal beings whose social standing and reputation could be deemed equivocal, 
at best. They were edgy in every sense of the word: they specialized in brinkmanship, 
by operating at the margins. In contrast, trouveres could have achieved exalted status 
through their affiliation with noble courts. 

The dichotomy can apply as well to Latin. Cognates for trouveres and troubadours 
are not used there, but substantially the same line is drawn between functions. Clerics 
could concoct texts in Latin or even in vernacular languages, such as medieval French. 
Often, they relied upon lay entertainers to deliver them. In this schema, jongleurs 
perform orally in the vulgar tongue before lay audiences. All the same, we should not 

82 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

suppose that the writers in the Middle Ages who used these words upheld the nuance 
regularly. We should be even less disposed to credit that composers and performers 
themselves had fixed terminology to describe themselves. The relevance, or even 
existence, of such glib sociocultural distinctions between trouveres and jongleurs 
has been rightly challenged. The differences in meaning between the two are not 
nearly so straightforward and schematic as some would wish us to believe. Take the 
courts, for example, where minstrels and jongleurs are often discussed as if they were 
transposable. As the associations of their name suggest, minstrel is the diminutive of 
the noun minister. A minstrel can be then a minor official attached to a set retinue. To 
warrant being named what they were, they may have largely abandoned the rootless 
itinerancy that put wandering players into friction with the sedentariness and stability 
esteemed within much of medieval society. 

Another factor to weigh is a reshuffling that may have occurred over time. 
Troubadours who became impoverished may have cascaded many rungs to become 
jongleurs, while jongleurs who succeeded may have scaled the social ladder. Whatever 
the causes, over time the neat differentiation between troubadours and jongleurs 
seems to have become muddied. In 1274, a late troubadour penned a lengthy poem 
of supplication to King Alfonso X of Castile. In it, he asked that the inhabitants of 
his kingdom maintain bright-line distinctions between the two groups. This poet 
approved that the Castilians still discriminated among instrumentalists, imitators, 
troubadours, and even more reprehensible performers. In contrast, in Provence at 
the time, the troubadours had become déclassé and lost the cachet of their name, the 
supremacy that originated in their ability to compose. They were all called jongleurs 
without differentiation. 

Certain proclivities of jongleurs stand beyond dispute. For a start, these performers 
tended to be transients who subsisted and worked on peripheries. With their special 
privilege of laissez-aller, they existed at the fringes of princely and ecclesiastical 
courts, villages, and everywhere else they circulated. The marginality in which the 
entertainers were enveloped because of their profession meant that they were often 
considered disreputable—personae non gratae. Yet their rakishness was not an 
undiluted negative. For instance, they could venture into places where, and at times 
when, others could not. The protagonist of Our Lady’s Tumbler may have benefited 
from the carte blanche accorded jongleurs, at least when they appeared as characters 
in fiction. He seems to have enjoyed license to roam the monastery at will. 

When considering the medieval French poem, we must take note that the hero is 
not a street performer in straitened circumstances, however often grinding poverty 
and professional failure are assumed to be the case in post-medieval adaptations of the 
tale. On the contrary, the tumbler has proven himself to be a successful entrepreneur 
in entertainment. Unlike the visionaries who experienced many of the most important 
apparitions of Mary in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the dancer betrays no 
sign of enduring economic deprivation, political upheaval, or brewing war. What he 

2. Dancing for God 83 

does let drop is that he lives in a time of high religiosity, particularly when devotion 
to the Virgin enters consideration. 

Traditionally, jongleurs were expected to be multitalented. Yet no one individual 
could be a true jack-of-all-trades, thoroughly competent in all the arts that were 
ascribed to this class of entertainers. A little before 1215, Thomas of Chobham 
produced a vade mecum of practical theology on penance and confession for priests, 
which accrued wide favor. In it, the English-born but Paris-educated ecclesiastic 
distinguished among three classes of performers, referring to all of them generically 
as histriones. Thinking of ‘histrionic’ gives a clue. The first category in his taxonomy 
comprises those who specialize in what we might call physical comedy or burlesque. 
Part of their disgrace consists in their habit of disrobing to a level of attire (or should 
we Say non-attire?) that common folk found shocking, even horrid. These entertainers 
rate the lowest in Thomas’s hierarchy. The second of his groupings encompasses 
gossips, while the third comprises singers. The last two have in common that their 
tongues wag. He subdivided the vocalists in turn into two clusters, one praiseworthy 
and the other not worth a tinker’s damn. 

The ethical framework of this manual tags as bad those jongleurs who do not direct 
the body to spiritual goals. These lowlifes do not shrink from unabashed buffoonery 
in either words or deeds. In effect, they submit the spirit to the flesh. Still worse, they 
engage as agents provocateurs to sin. By engaging in obscene movements of the 
anatomy, they incite concupiscence in other people. From Genesis 1:27 on, we know 
that a person’s frame is made in God’s image. As such, the human body is not to be 
deformed. Neglectful of this divine analogue, acrobats writhe their limbs out of shape. 
By employing their physique to despicable ends, they have the look of streetwalkers. 
If the tumbler were truly like such gymnasts, he would resemble at best a harlot saint 
like Mary Magdalene or Thais before conversion. That is, he would earn his living by 
selling his body through enactment of base acts. Yet his solution differs, since he does 
not so much turn away from his profession by leaving it as redeem it by inventing a 
means of making the performance private and transcendent. 

As a caste, physical jongleurs deserve their comeuppance. They not only indulge 
in frivolity themselves, but even worsen matters by implicating others. Through 
their sensuality, they stimulate lustfulness and turpitude among their audience. 
But what can be said of good jongleurs? On the positive side, Thomas excepts from 
condemnation jongleurs who “sing the lofty deeds of princes and lives of saints, furnish 
solace when a person is sick or unsettled, and do not commit the disgraceful acts that 
male and female acrobats perform, as well as those who put on shameful shows.” 
This laudable type of trouper serves the aims of the Church and elicits wary approval 
above all for helping to propagate the cults of saints and pilgrimage. The approved 
kind restricts physicality to a sober-minded bearing and to the playing of musical 
instruments. To this top-flight echelon in his classificatory system the ecclesiastical 
writer grants careful but ungrudging approbation. In concluding his consideration, 

84 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

he relates an anecdote about a jongleur. This individual addresses himself to Pope 
Alexander III to test the waters about his fate in the afterlife. He wants to find out if he 
can win salvation. His holiness asks him if he knows another trade. Despite receiving 
a negative answer, the supreme pontiff assures his jumpy inquirer that he can live 
without fear so long as he avoids suggestive conduct or obscenity. 

In the Romance of Flamenca we again encounter three genera of jongleurs, but the 
taxonomy is not at all the same as in Thomas of Chobham. First come those who 
sing songs, lyric and narrative; then instrumentalists; and finally, physical performers. 
Before entering a monastery, the artist in Our Lady’s Tumbler would have been 
completely at home in this third cadre. By the same token, the acrobat in the medieval 
French poem belongs to the final one in Thomas’s three ranks of entertainers. His flair, 
like theirs, lies in the body. So far as we are given to know, our tumbler is an old hand 
solely in acrobatics, including what we would regard as dance. Indeed, we are told 
explicitly that he knew only to make his leaps and that he was incapable of anything 
else. He is not an odd-job man in the entertainment field. 

What accounts for the permafrost distrust and disregard in which performers, 
especially of the physical sort, were held? One pat answer would be that Christians in 
the Middle Ages were meant to leave the body behind, and not to dwell upon it. The 
anxieties of people across the centuries about the human plight of having an immortal 
spirit caged within a mortal frame were captured starkly in medieval debates. In 
the culture of the Middle Ages, body and soul were often presented as antithetical. 
Debate poems abound in which the two are pitted against each other. This makes 
sense, considering that the tension between them is a common and perhaps even a 
fundamental human dilemma. How do we reconcile two such different pulls upon 

In such exchanges, the soul often occupied a position of superiority over the body. 
It held the moral high ground. In other cases, the two were equally inculpated. Within 
the asceticism and body-denying spirit of medieval Christianity, it was questionable 
enough for the entertainer to have a sharpened sensitivity to his own body. How 
could the joy of dance qualify as asceticism? Even worse, spectators would have been 
inspired too by the tumbler to pay closer heed to their corporeality as human beings. 
Yet we must also remember that the acrobat kills himself through the mortification of 
his devotion. He makes his physicality the means to an end: his body serves as the 
instrument for the expression of his soul in worship. He makes the prison of the spirit 
into an escape hatch. 

Physicality thrusts the tumbler to the bottom of the scale for jongleurs and minstrels. 
It took a long time for the shame of his corporeality to be destigmatized. Generally, 
both kinds of artists are portrayed in vernacular literature as being able to sing and 
play the fiddle-like vielle or harp, as well as perhaps to tumble and perform acrobatics. 
A manuscript of the Old Spanish Canticles of Saint Mary portrays King Alfonso X 
the Wise on bended knee before Mary as he calls upon a gaggle of jongleurs, both 

2. Dancing for God 85 

instrumentalists and dancers, to join him in performing in her honor (see Fig. 2.3). 
The fragmentary Old Occitan epic Daurel and Beton depicts a professional jongleur 
named Daurel who possesses both skill sets, musical and athletic. Yet he refrains from 
imparting his gymnastic arts to his king’s son Beton, and instead gives him a boot 
camp in music and song alone. Implied is that the physical stunts would ill besuit the 
station of a nobleman. Whatever their menu of professional skills, jongleurs tended to 
be regarded with suspicion but not with universal condemnation. A more benevolent 
outlook upon them can be detected in a thirteenth-century poem by the troubadour 
Cerveri de Girona, which gives utterance to nail-biting about the spiritual salvation 
of jongleurs. After initially exhorting them to renounce their wrongful and debasing 
profession, the poet comes around to urging them instead to put their gifts at the 
disposal of the Virgin Mary. 

Me OG 6 oS 

> ae 
a umele 

C6 aco 


- oe 



Fig. 2.3 Musicians before the Virgin and Child, as depicted in the Cantigas de Santa Maria 
(Codice Rico). Madrid, Real Biblioteca del Escorial, MS T.1.1., fol. 170v. 

The tumbler has in common with the jongleur a mobility that was shared in medieval 
times almost uniquely by pilgrims and merchants. They could go it alone, or travel in 
troupes. When plural, they swarmed in a kind of proto-circus. For self-protection, they 
organized themselves ever more tightly by forming guilds and wearing a distinctive 
livery. The clothing remains with us in popular stereotypes of clowns and court jesters. 

86 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Jongleurs could move from the crossroads, central squares, and street corners of 
yokel villages to the halls of lordly castles, from the parvises of the saintliest cathedrals 
to the interiors of the seamiest brothels and bathhouses, and from everyman’s 
pilgrimage route to the choosiest cloisters. The itinerancy of the jongleurs could border 
on vagrancy. In a monastic context, steadfastness of place is often designated by the 
Latin expression stabilitas loci, by which the Rule of Saint Benedict stipulated staying put 
as one of its most sacrosanct principles. The vows of a Benedictine underlined stability 
of residence in a single monastery as one of a monk’s paramount duties. Brothers 
were supposed to abstract themselves from the world at large. By remaining stably in 
place, they would show the constancy that could elide the otherwise immeasurable 
space between divinity and humanity. Like the entertainers, the act of wandering 
elicited praise in some cases and uneasiness in others. The Latin expression homo 
viator, concretizing the conception of man as nomad, captures the article of faith that 
the human condition is to range between two worlds. The meandering has logically 
as its pendants the notions of pilgrim and pilgrimage. But not all drifters were created 
equal. Those brethren who moved about were condemned for their rambling and 
roving. Consequently, the monk who was remiss and failed to stay put in one place 
risked being degraded as a gyrovague. This term for a monastic defector melded a 
Greek root for a round plane figure and a Latin one for wandering. It has never been 
thought good to go in circles. The scholar who wheeled about from one venue to 
another held the shady status of being a wanderer or vagrant. The pilgrim might be 
righteous or not. The minstrel who accompanied the pilgrim also might be upstanding 
or not. 

When in the world, the jongleur in Our Lady’s Tumbler was a boundary-crosser. No 
container could hold him: he stretched limits, pushed the envelope, and expanded 
horizons. In contrast to a pious monk, he could epitomize instability. In some ways, 
he would have resembled a knight. He strayed about sometimes by himself as a 
knight errant would do, sometimes among troupes of peers. Yet his errancy was not 
construed as a redemptive quest. He led a vagabond life. He alternately straddled and 
transgressed, embodying the concept of liminality by crossing thresholds as he went 
from town to town on a hunt for income from performances. The society around him 
almost instinctively conflated physical waywardness with moral or spiritual error. 
Since to be errant and arrant are closely related not merely in etymology, he was 
more like an arrant knave than an errant knight. He incurred suspicion for being a 
desperado, a truant, or even a felon. 

At the end of the day, the jongleur was regarded as a weak prospect for experiencing 
an enduring conversion. He issued from a class seen as being especially prone to 
recidivism. When he first entered the monastery, the inveterate rambler would 
become by force of circumstances a stay-at-home —or this story’s medieval equivalent, 
a stay-in-monastery. In our story, the tumbler remained just as much of a wanderer, as 
he shuttled between the ground level or slightly elevated plane of the church where 

2. Dancing for God 87 

the monks carried out their devotions and the crypt below where he executed his 
performances. For all that, the entertainers had their good sides and strong suits. For 
instance, they could serve as cultural vectors across geographic boundaries and social 
barriers. In this function as intermediaries, they could carry culture from high to low 
and vice versa, ecclesiastical to secular and vice versa, region to region, language to 
language, and ethnic group to ethnic group. The performers transported stories and 
techniques across the lines that ran between such steely oppositions as lay and clerical, 
oral and written, Germanic and Romance, and worldly and religious. In a year-round 
open season, they lifted material and methods liberally from others, just as others 
drew at liberty from them. This unrestricted aspect of jongleur life is evident in the 
many dance steps with which the tumbler of Our Lady demonstrated familiarity. 
To judge by their names, he was exposed in his earthbound life to a rainbow of 
different regional styles in gymnastics. In mobility, the jongleurs bore a likeness to 
the wandering scholars who are often lumped together and called goliards. Yet our 
tumbler was no free-and-easy student. Whereas the prerequisite for academic status 
was Latin, he was unscathed by exposure to the learned tongue. If he had a universal 
language, it took the form of nonverbal communication in the use of body movements 
and gestures. 

Contrary to what many later variants of the story intimate, the protagonist of Our 
Lady’s Tumbler in its original medieval French verse reflex flourished in his career 
before entering the abbey. Prior to becoming involved in a miracle tale, he was not a 
failure but a success story. The geographic diffusion of the balletic steps or acrobatic 
moves enumerated in his practice suggests that he interacted with entertainers from 
far and wide. His routinized dance shows the cosmopolitanism of his trade as well as 
the breadth of his travels and the many ethnicities of his audiences. He was anything 
but a one-trick pony. Through whatever channels, he familiarized himself with 
movements indigenous to regions all over Western Europe. Relatively nearby, he was 
conversant with dance steps or gymnastic moves characteristic of Metz, Lorraine, and 
Champagne. Further afield, he alluded to Brittany, Spain, and Rome. The distribution 
may even imply that he traveled in person to these places. 

Yet since all the steps or moves named are otherwise unknown and unknowable, the 
real nature of the drill cannot be reconstructed. Though the play-by-play names names 
without inhibition, we have no frame of reference for them. We cannot discern how 
one national or regional style of sport or dance differed from another. To complicate 
matters further, we must even consider that the complex acrobatic or balletic cycle 
corresponds to no performance that a tumbler or dancer ever put on show. At the 
remove of many hundred years, we cannot analogize with confidence to any event 
in our experience. At one extreme would be calypso or cancan moves in freestyle 
dance competitions; at another, calisthenics before floor exercises in gymnastics. In 
any case, the supposed routine could be entirely the fancy of the poet, as a way of 
almost parodying the overwrought psalmody that goes on in monastic churches. 

88 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Finally, we have no idea how much the dance varies from one performance to the 
next. Is it mechanical and even robotic, or it is improvised anew in each instance— 
does the jongleur rejig his jig each time he does it? The “vault of Metz” is the first 
and last named regional move that he performs. Does he save for last the best leap 
or handspring of his imagination? How does his routine relate to the ritualism of the 
liturgical offices enacted by the monks above? 

Our Lady’s Tumbler has sundry associations with Picardy: its dialect contains 
features typical of the region; it has common ground with the miracles of Gautier 
de Coinci, who hailed from the heart of the area; it shares motifs with stories from 
such places as Arras; and so forth. In view of these factors, it is intriguing that in 
later centuries tumblers and jongleurs from Chauny earned special renown. The 
Picard town had its own Confraternity of Trumpet-Jongleurs. The guild staged its 
own festival and went on the road as well. But just as we may not discover much that 
is meaningful about the supposedly local dance moves that the tumbler made, we 
are unlikely ever to make great inroads in coming to grips with the particularities of 
Picard performers. No matter how fine-toothed the comb with which we check the 
ledgers, relevant information may well never emerge: however great the information 
explosion may be, not all facts will be at the tips of our fingers. 

A stock view in Western Europe held thatjongleurs were damned automatically, for 
the very fact of being jongleurs. A systematic exposition of the Christian faith presents 
a snatch of dialogue to this effect between its author Honorius Augustodunensis and 
one of his students. The pupil asks if these entertainers have any glimmer of hope 
for salvation. His master with the catchy Latin name replies with a stiff negative. The 
outlook of the churchman meshed with a perspective in which these performers were 
social outcasts. Often others of this type are mentioned pejoratively, with disapproving 
terms in French that became modern English /echer and ribald. 

Although the relationship of the jongleurs with the clergy was fraught, their 
standing shot up from the early Middle Ages to the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries. 
Subsequently, the entertainers who earned their keep in urban or at least curial 
settings attained a noticeably higher socioeconomic status. Though some remained 
squalid and marginal, an appreciable number came to have property and wealth. One 
of them was the tumbler in the original medieval poem, who was far from a penniless 
failure. The modern image of the jester relates to this intensifying fixity of place or, 
to be more accurate, milieu. One element in the evolution was the engagement of 
entertainers with courts and palaces, of both noblemen and ecclesiastical magnates, 
such as bishops. Jongleur and jester are nearly substitutable terms. An entertainer of 
this ilk was also attached to a set circle, in this case the entourage of a noble or king. 
After him, the professional buffoon arrived. Jongleurs and the Church had abundant 
reason to make common cause when they could. On the clerical side, monks and 
friars composed legends, increasingly in the vernacular, that they wanted delivered 
before the widest audience. Sometimes they would have profited from witnessing 
and appropriating the performance techniques of the jongleurs, to make their own 

2. Dancing for God 89 

preaching more appetizing. On the other side, professionals had every reason to 
ingratiate themselves with the clerics who policed many of the common spaces where 
the largest publics awaited them. 

By describing in loving detail the virtuosity of a resourceful entertainer, the 
preacher who resorted to the exemplum of the tumbler would have coopted some 
of what his competitors in entertainment had to offer. In effect, the stimulation of 
hearing an eloquent exemplum about a high-quality performance could have rivaled 
the experience of watching an actual performer in action: score one for the pulpiteer 
versus the puppeteer. The equivalence would have held especially strong if the sermon- 
giver employed gestures or movements to convey mimetically how the acrobat’s 
tumbling might have appeared. Along these lines, a parish priest is reported to have 
later called himself a “mime of Christ” in the inscription at his burial place. If true, 
this allegation would transmute the mimetic art into being an “imitation of Christ.” 
In this case, the jongleur would have mimed the elation of creation upon being saved. 
In an added Marian wrinkle, he achieved salvation through the grace of the Virgin. 
At the same time, one main thrust of the exemplum is to burnish the reputation of a 
professional entertainer who repudiated his profession and converted. By drawing 
upon the narrative, a sermonizer would have exalted religious devotion over more 
earthly pursuits. When a speaker related the story at the pulpit, he could claim for 
his narrative the full weight of institutional authority. Such church-sanctioned use 
is what the poet of Our Lady’s Tumbler assumes by referring to the tale as a “little 

Many valuations of jongleurs and their colleagues have come to light from the 
medieval period. Ambivalence about them percolates into plain sight in Gautier de 
Coinci. The poet of the Virgin takes pains to establish the veracity of the legends 
he relates. By doing so, he differentiates his narrative repertoire from the fallacious 
and fraudulent miracles retailed by footloose and fancy-free goliards and itinerant 
sermonizers. Gautier, nobleman turned Benedictine, monk promoted to abbot, was no 
jongleur himself. Nor, the odds would imply vigorously, was the author of Our Lady’s 
Tumbler. But both poets, alongside preachers who drew upon the exemplum for their 
sermons, had incentive to assert control over the sometimes reviled and sometimes 
dreaded members of their guild. They could do so by promulgating a view of what a 
proper entertainer—one who merited the approbation of no less than the Mother of 
God herself—should be and do. 

During the Reformation, all entertainers, both jongleurs generally and jugglers 
specifically, fell into even deeper disrepute than in the Middle Ages. Furthermore, 
jugglers and their skill became anti-Catholic slurs in England. Priests who officiated 
at Mass were likened to entertainers of this sort, as the Mass and transubstantiation 
were to their characteristic craft. The theologian John Wycliffe went so far as to smear 
such fathers with being “the devil’s jugglers.” In many parts of Europe a story with a 
jongleur as protagonist would have stood an even slimmer chance of eliciting favor 
during the sixteenth-century reform movement than in most earlier times. 

90 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Trance Dance 

So he became a dancer to God. 

—T.S. Eliot 

Dance and spiritual practice sometimes relate strongly to each other. No one how-to 
or do-it-yourself manual can tell everyone how to achieve transcendence through an 
altered state. For some, the best means of attaining an out-of-body experience comes 
through the body itself, through the ecstatic ritual of dance. The liturgy of Christian 
worship may seem excessively verbal and slow-moving, even stalled, but in every 
single one of its expressions it involves motions as well as words. We would not go 
too far to say that the prayer books of many denominations seek to formulate for 
worshipers a coherent message from both a choreography of ritualized steps and a 
content based on set texts. Analyzed against this backdrop, the juggler had landed 
in a quandary. As an illiterate lay brother, he was not permitted to participate in 
the sequence of motions, and he could not understand the foundational texts. The 
scriptures and formal ceremonies were unintelligible to him. Although not anti- 
intellectual, he was inalterably unintellectual. What was to be done? His achievement 
came in dreaming up a silver bullet all his own. His leggy liturgy was a worship 
with movements and language of his own creation. A clash and crisis follow, since 
his veneration through dance is initially indecipherable to the other monks. We have 
competing, mutually uncomprehending, and uninterpretable illiteracies, the one of 
texts and the other of dance. 

Despite the distinctly detail-oriented description that the poet of Our Lady’s 
Tumbler furnishes, we cannot reconstruct the tumbler’s jumps in their entirety. We are 
unable to state with assurance how a single move in it would look, or even to establish 
for sure whether the act was properly a dance, a gymnastic routine, a fusion of the 
two, or something different again. We do know that a multitude of religious systems, 
distributed widely across time and space, have allowed for the physical expression of 
ritual adoration—for sacred performance. In ancient Greece, the athletic competitions 
of the Olympic Games were tied so tightly to religious festivals in honor of Zeus that 
they ceased only when the Christian emperor Theodosius banned such pagan cults. 
In pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, ballgames constituted symbolic and ritual actions 
while they also served the purposes of politics and entertainment. In Buddhism, 
monks still dance to offer their bodies to the Buddha. 

This is obviously not to say that all dances have been accepted in any religion, and 
even less that any type of such rhythmic stepping has been rubber-stamped across 
the full religious spectrum. From the Fathers of the Church through the Middle Ages, 
Christianity showed itself highly disposed to condemn dancing. Many ecclesiastical 
councils and synods, as well as texts concerned with penance, leave the distinct 
impression that priests wished to extirpate dance. The taboos held with remarkable 
hardiness against any movement remotely resembling it during divine service, 

2. Dancing for God 91 

especially in sermons and sacred processions. By the same token, dancing elicited 
frowns and furrowed brows when it took place in hallowed sites, such as churches, 
churchyards, and cemeteries. By both timing and place, the conduct of the lay brother 
in Our Lady’s Tumbler was glaringly provocative to orthodox views within Christianity. 
In almost every way imaginable, but particularly in this one regard, he challenges 
the inelasticity of the dissociation that the Church sought to impose between lay and 
clerical culture. 

During the same span of a millennium and a half, Christians never stopped gyrating 
for long. Despite hostility to the medium, some of the recurrent denunciations themselves 
confirm that dancing took place. In fact, even priests engage in ritual dances sometimes. 
In special cases, the physical activity could lead to mystical experiences. Through 
balletic performance the tumbler could have attained a state of altered consciousness 
that is achieved through the manner of movement known as trance dance. This type 
of effortful motion facilitates entry into ecstasy. Such a condition of heightened being 
is achieved, above all, in religious rituals. A particularly ancient manifestation is the 
leaping for which the followers of the Greek god Dionysus were known in Greece. It 
was associated with the choral song or chant known as the dithyramb, which to this day 
is associated with wildness and irregularity. In dances associated with possession, the 
participants may undergo visitations from spirits that take hold of them. Incidentally, 
they may do spectacular feats beyond their normal abilities. 

The line between religious ritual and entertainment is often porous, especially in 
the case of fire-walking (see Fig. 2.4). As captured in an image of Fijian men from the 
1960s, this sort of religious ritual features barefooted people who lope unharmed over 
white-hot stones or coals. The tumbler’s performance resembles the custom of the 
Pacific islanders mainly in his ability to locomote through what a person in a normal 
state might have experienced as extreme discomfort. The joys of his movement and his 
worship are analgesic in the same way as religious ecstasy protects pyro-peripateticists. 

Medieval asceticism and mysticism abound in manifestations of devotion that 
originate in self-inflicted suffering. The order of white monks is devoted in large part to 
the expression of piety through penance. Their goal is to merit intercession, not merely 
for themselves but also for others. Cistercianism included its fair share of devotees 
who inflicted penitential pain upon themselves. Alongside exaltation and exultation, 
the lay brother would have braved with gritted teeth the pain of penitential prayer 
and worship. The tumbler’s self-imposed physical torment, although whipless, faintly 
resembles that of radicals in the late medieval movement known as flagellantism who 
lashed themselves with scourges or cat-o’-nine-tails (see Fig. 2.5). In turn, the European 
flagellants bring to mind the pious in the yearly ‘Ashura’ ritual in Twelver Shi‘ism, 
who march through the streets flogging themselves in remembrance of al-Husayn, 
the Prophet’s martyred grandson. Loosely similar to both groups, the gymnast puts 
himself on a treadmill of self-annihilation through physical expression of devotion. 
By continuing despite exhaustion, he kills himself through the enactment of his love 
for Mary, working or worshiping himself to death. In the story of Our Lady’s Tumbler, 

92 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

the acrobat suffers the reality suggested by the etymology of contrition, which derives 
ultimately from a Latin participle for “broken” or “ground down.” He is stomped 
down through the stamping of his own feet. 

Véritable Extrait de viande inet hed 
1 ays em 

cre bleu 

Pesogy la signature LIEBIG en 
sur l’étiquetie et le papier 

qui enveloppe les 



Fig. 2.5 Trade card depicting a flagellant procession in Avignon, 1574 
(London: Liebig’s Extract of Meat Company, 1903). 

2. Dancing for God 93 

The late Middle Ages and early modern era witnessed their own distinctive 
manifestations of dances in dazes. These phenomena peaked in number and intensity 
from the late fourteenth down through the seventeenth century. In these events, 
packs of people would go berserk and engage in a frenzied mass hysteria of dancing 
in the streets. Such manic episodes hinged upon collective dance that was associated 
with music, sometimes allegedly either precipitated or palliated by the playing 
of instruments (see Fig. 2.6). The causes of the flare-ups remain disputable. One 
explanation that has gained traction lays the blame on poisoning, the culprit being 
either toxins from infected foodstuffs or bites from spiders or scorpions. Another line 
of reasoning sees the illness as having no real physiological etiology. Instead, the 
impulse would be psychogenic or psychosomatic. Supposedly this balletic “monkey 
see, monkey do” on a grand scale resulted from shared stress. 

In contrast to the group dances of the laity, the tumbler’s performance is the solo 
act of an individual. So far as he is aware, his audience has just one member. His 
disporting is neither competitive nor spectator sport. Only the Virgin Mary watches 
him, through the proxy of the Madonna. He does not join others in ad hoc line dancing, 
but instead remains in solitude. What he does by himself is pray, but for his soliloquy 
he resorts not to verbose utterances, but to physical maneuvers. He apostrophizes 
the Virgin through his steps, without realizing that she sees and esteems what he 
accomplishes. Although not lonesome, the tumbler dances alone. The aloneness of his 
dance sets it far apart from collective dances, whether in rings or not. If such a thing 
as penitential dancing existed, it would be his atonement in this way. His dancing is 
also distinctive in not entailing possession by a spirit. On the contrary, it turns upon 

Fig. 2.6 Pieter Brueghel the Younger (attributed), The Pilgrimage of the Epileptics to Molenbeek, 
late sixteenth to early seventeenth century. Oil on panel, 29.2 x 62.2 cm. Image from Wikimedia 

94 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

performance before an image that leads to the appearance of a presence. But the balletic 
routine of the individual performer does set the stage for a death that makes him 
loosely comparable to the victims of the mass dance frenzies. He dances himself into 
oblivion. Before the tumbler dies, his practice results in a loss of self. Whether his state 
amounts to mania in any way equivalent to the madness of the maenads or bacchantes 
in Greek mythology remains open to debate. Likewise requiring further discussion 
is whether the leaping and falling match up with spiritual exaltation and depression. 
Is the leaper subject to mood swings in tandem with his physical undulation? One 
surety is that late in the game he suffers, both physical and psychological, prostration 
as he buckles before the Madonna. 

Christianity is the religion that enters the equation in Our Lady’s Tumbler and its 
diverse progeny. The tumbler coordinates his personal expression of devotion with 
the liturgical song of the monks who chant in the church above the crypt. Similarly, 
he aligns dance from the lay realm with monastic ritual. Both the liturgy and the 
performance of the tumbler prescribe movements that function as a language of signs. 
Even so, we must not assume that the jongleur’s routine could correspond reductively, 
step by step, to an utterance or a text. In part, dancers dance to express what cannot 
be conveyed verbally, rather than to translate verbal pronouncements into physical 
actions. In this case, the tumbler makes into motion the emotion that moves more 
learned monks to transact the set words and gestures of worship. 

The tumbler shares with the victims of dancing mania a compulsion to dance until 
he is emptied of all his cyclonic energy and crumples. Indeed, he could be said fairly 
to have danced himself into his grave. The outcome of self-immolation through this 
activity reappears in the nineteenth-century French ballet Giselle, or The Wilis, set in 
the Rhineland during the Middle Ages (see Fig. 2.7). Its star-crossed title character 
dies of a broken heart after catching wind that her lover is betrothed to another. The 
Wilis, who summon the peasant girl from her grave, target her beloved for execution, 
but her love extricates him from their grasp. In legend, these nightwalkers are the 
ghosts of young ladies who, having died before their wedding days, cannot remain 
at peace in their tombs. To fulfill the unbridled passion for dance that they could not 
sate during their lives, they dance in troupes at midnight. Woe betide the young man 
who meets these seductive spirits, since he must dance with them until he drops dead. 

To look beyond the motif of death through nonstop dancing, the routine of 
the jongleur anticipates approximately the enthusiastic vocalization and bodily 
movement that have been incorporated into the worship of various religions. For 
example, adherents of the American religious sect known as the Shakers sang and 
danced. Similarly, worshipers in some churches in the Southern United States engage 
in “praise dance” as a channel for sacred expression. Outside Christianity, the fevered 
steps of the tumbler bear comparison with the corkscrewing moves of dervishes. Such 
Muslim Sufi mystics wandered from place to place; stood apart from normal people 
in their dress, behavior, and language; and expressed their piety through a vigorously 

2. Dancing for God 95 

athletic mélange of music and motion. Like them, the jongleur loses himself in a 
physicality of bodily movements and touch (by Mary), but, alone when he does his 
routine, it constitutes at once a private ritual and a one-person festival. More especially, 
the apparition of the Virgin herself from heaven relates to the collective delusions 
in medieval dancing mania. Are the collapses of the tumbler merely the unintended 
outcome of overexertion, or are they the purposeful results of performances designed 
to achieve ecstasy through whirling? We would do well to recall the etymology in 
Old English of giddy, which referred literally to scatterbrained possession by a God, 
and dizzy, which meant “foolish” or “witless.” Older still is the Greek enthusiasm, 
from a word meaning “possessed by a god.” Thus, our God-filled character was not a 
madcap innovator in doing his vertiginous dance before the Madonna. 


Turée du Ballet de Giselle. 

Pareles de UF L.ESCUDIER. 


Paris Chez J MEISSOMNIER., 28, Rue Dauphine 

Fig. 2.7 Front cover of Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Théophile Gautier, Giselle, ou 
les Wilis, illus. Célestin Nanteuil (Paris: J. Meissonnier, 1841). Image courtesy of Bibliotheque 
nationale de France, Paris. All rights reserved. 

96 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

The tale does not advocate the abandonment of conventional worship. Rather, it 
reminds us that traditional veneration exists as a conduit for a spirit of reverence, 
devotion, love, joy, and hope. All of us must decide for ourselves where soul or mind 
begins, and where body stops. Likewise, we must determine, for both ourselves 
and the tumbler, what constitutes thought and feeling, reason and faith. Finally, we 
should cogitate about song and instrumentation. If music of any sort is set aside, the 
performance is a form of acrobatics; if the rhythm and melody are internalized, dance 
results. (Break dancing, which is often held to have originated in the mid-1970s, is only 
the latest and best-known style of acrobatic dancing, with its spinning headstands, 
fancy footwork, tumbling, and pantomime.) Laying down a boundary between the 
two can be ticklish, even impossible. 

Jongleurs of God 

The jongleur captured the 
theologians’ attention because he 
was an antitype of themselves. 

The pleasure principles in whichjongleurs were ensnared brought them inevitably into 
tension with Christianity, at least in fits and starts. Were they divine or diabolic forces? 
Was their artistry licit or illicit? The position of these performers was ambiguous. Often 
it was judged to be very negative, but sometimes more positive. For hundreds of years, 
churchmen, almost unanimously, voiced stentorian disapproval of such entertainers. 
Yet in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, dissenting murmurs of approval can be 
heard at the fringes of the loudly condemnatory chorus. Indeed, Church luminaries 
spoke of their own missions in life as resembling those of entertainers. As the jongleur 
relates to his earthly patrons, so too does the inspired devotee to his divine ones. 

Cistercian monks had a complicated self-image as God’s jesters. The foremost 
exponent of Cistercianism, Bernard of Clairvaux, was accused of having in his 
misspent youth devised minstrel-like ditties and suave melodies. He referred to 
himself, no doubt with a measure of irony, as an “acrobat of God.” In a letter dated 
around 1140, the celebrated saint-to-be presented monastic life as a kind of humbling 
game that pleases the Almighty even as it elicits stares and sniggers from men. 
Continuing, he contrasted the transcendence of spiritual exercise to the deformity 
of physical entertainment. The gymnasts are yogis who practice yoga in ashrams; 
the others are contortionists who bend themselves into pretzels to divert the public. 
In a world where values are upended, monks may appear to the worldly to cavort. 
Elsewhere they will seem to angels to enact a wonderful spectacle. 

Understandably, Bernard does not himself refer to spectacle here in describing the 
behavior of monks. The large-scale, public display that is implied by the concept of the 
spectacular is attested first in English in a 1340 psalter by Richard Rolle. Interestingly, 
the mystic writes of such showiness specifically when referring to the “hopping 
and dancing of tumblers.” The context he evokes is one familiar from present-day 

2. Dancing for God 97 

reenactments of medieval and Renaissance fairs, in which colorful gatherings of 
many people include such performers as jugglers, jesters, and other entertainers often 
popularly associated with the Middle Ages. 

To return to the passage by Bernard from two centuries earlier, the gist of his point- 
by-point description is that professionals, such as actual jongleurs and dancers, turn 
themselves wrong side up to provide pleasure to their terrestrial audiences. In contrast, 
monastic brothers exemplify humility and serve heaven. They engage in apparent 
frolic as sacred play. The Cistercian’s audacious simile is in no way inconsistent with 
the vitriolic verdicts against jongleurs and other traveling entertainers pronounced by 
him (even in this very snippet), as well as by other monks and clerics. Yet he opens a 
pathway to redemption for the professional performers that others who follow him 
see reason to maintain. After him, his fellow white monk Caesarius of Heisterbach 
speaks of unassuming souls whom he esteems to be “jongleurs of God and of the holy 
angels.” He describes folk without airs and graces, who upend worldly values. By 
the same token, they make what is reasonable seem nonsensical, and vice versa. To 
him, they are like gymnasts who twist themselves to ambulate with their heads down 
and their feet aloft. If we let our imaginations run wild, we can make out the gentle 
sound of their handfall (let us give footfall a sibling). In characterizing the simple 
man, Caesarius treads carefully among the many connotations of simplicity. He does 
not correlate the noun and concept completely with simplemindedness or vacuity. 
Similarly, he leaves implicit the notions of humility, ordinariness, and inexperience. 

Later, Saint Francis of Assisi transcended simile. He counseled his companions to 
eschew Latin books when preaching. Instead of putting on any airs of learnedness, 
he disguised himself as a beggar or busker, performed the medieval equivalent 
of air guitar by miming a jongleur fiddling, and trilled songs in French. This was 
one way of saying, “It’s showtime, folks!” All these behaviors had the goal, or at 
least the effect, of making the public titter at his expense. By extension from their 
founding father, the Franciscans collectively remain famed even today for having 
styled themselves provocatively jongleurs or minstrels of the Lord, of Christ, and of 
God. These pairings were oxymora that bordered on being blasphemous. Despite his 
miming, the Poor Man of Assisi made apparent that he was a God’s troubadour who 
juggled with words rather than physical acts (see Fig. 2.8). He took a bold roll of the 
dice by equating the words of songs such as lyrics and ballads with the Word of God, 
and vernacular entertainment with Latin preaching. In all cases Francis and the friars 
minor served as jesters of the divinity, not of the Church. They claimed divine rather 
than ecclesiastical sanction for their conduct. The ruler for whom they tumbled was 
God; the court, heaven. 

The first generation of the saint’s original stalwarts supposedly included Brother 
Juniper, who joined the friars in 1210. Known in time as “the jester of the Lord,” 
this legendary figure was renowned for simplicity and humility. At the same time, 
his radical humbleness caused him to be bracketed as a fool. Through pranks and 
practical jokes, hoaxes and hilarity, Brother Juniper defied social norms and sought 
to subvert them. In contrast, our tumbler abstracted himself from the conventions of 

98 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

the closed society that he entered within the abbey, and charted and piloted a course 
uniquely his own, without making the slightest effort to prescribe it to anyone else. 

Fig. 2.8 Film poster for Francesco, guillare di Dio, dir. Roberto Rossellini (Minerva Film, 1950). 
© Minerva Pictures. All rights reserved. 

The example of Francis, building upon that of Bernard of Clairvaux, had a strong 
bearing upon the standing of jongleurs, at least in similes and metaphors. The Castilian 
poet Gonzalo de Berceo differentiated between two classes of artists in societal rank, 
presenting himself as a troubadour when singing to the Virgin, a jongleur when 
dealing with Saint Dominic of Silos. Nicolas de Biard was a mendicant preacher 
of the late thirteenth century in Paris who assembled two much-esteemed sermon 
collections. In one of them he likened confessors to jongleurs, or vice versa. 

Francis was not the only jongleur-like solitary who attracted enough champions to 
warrant founding a religious congregation in the early thirteenth century. Blessed John 
Buoni was another. He lived licentiously as a professional entertainer until suffering 
a near-fatal illness at around the age of forty. After that moment of truth, he saw the 
light in 1209. He turned into a true troglodyte, a bona fide hermit in an equally real 
grotto (see Fig. 2.9). Through his stringent asceticism he attracted hermitic acolytes. In 
1217, he formally established a following. His admirers became known as Boniti, after 
his cognomen. 

2. Dancing for God 99 

Jongleurs of God stand not too far from jongleurs of Notre Dame. What is 
Our Lady’s tumbler, if not such a minstrel of Mary? Like others of this kind, he 
consolidates two qualities that would seem mutually exclusive. Though humble to the 
core, he is still so self-assured that he rashly breaches the conformity and obedience 
required by monasticism and even by Catholicism. He throws caution to the wind 
and improvises an entire liturgy for himself, determined not by readings, chant, and 
hallowed movements and objects, but rather by a physical performance that he has 
devised from scratch. Contrary to the very basis of monasticism, he serves as his own 
drillmaster and taskmaster. Such pluck might seem dim-witted, but the apparent 
empty-headedness is holy. 

Fig. 2.9 John Buoni. Engraving by Adriaen Collaert after Maerten de Vos, 1585-1586. Published in 
Jan Sadeler, Solitudo, sive vitae Patrum Eremicolarum (Antwerp: Jan Sadeler, ca. 1590s). 

Holy Fools 

We are fools for Christ’s sake, but 
you are wise in Christ. 

—Paul the Apostle 

The distinction between faith and folly can be cut very finely. If truth be told, the 
dividing line may be invisible to the naked eye. The fool of God, also known as the 
holy fool, is an even more multifaceted and omnipresent conception from medieval 
Christianity down to the present day than is the acrobat of God. The two concepts are 
interrelated, and the figure of the jongleur has sometimes been superimposed upon 
that of the holy fool. 

100 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

From one end to the other in both time and space, the Middle Ages were anything 
but foolproof. That said, the notion of the fool of God or the fool for Christ became 
disseminated far more widely outside than inside Western Europe. The cultural 
importance of this type has loomed large, first in the Greek East and later in Russia. One 
of the first attested examples of such a character is the sixth-century Symeon of Emesa. 
Two other cases, both fools who happen to be nuns, are found in the Lausiac History, 
a major compendium of traditions about the desert fathers that enjoyed popularity 
through the East. Such figures often make idiots of themselves in public through (un) 
intentional absurdism. They engage in seemingly weak-minded behavior from which 
a clear-headed person would refrain. They dispose of all their possessions, sometimes 
even down to much or all their clothing. They express themselves in babbling or 
blustering twaddle that others may find inexplicable, meaningless, or even unhinged. 
Yet there is method to the madness. From one perspective, these religious fools may 
appear to profane the sacred. From another lookout point, they take to an extreme 
what is called in Latin imitatio Christi. That is, they humiliate themselves to imitate the 
humility and humiliation of Jesus. 

Within Western Europe, Saint Francis of Assisi stands out as the paragon of the holy 
fool, just as of the jongleur. His clowning had the collateral effect of illuminating the 
degree of his simplicity. The jongleur of God reportedly presented himself likewise 
as a slow-minded fool or jester of God. He and the first generations of Franciscans 
paralleled the tumbler in rejecting the finery and splendor of the conventional Church 
for lowness and abasement. For their stance, they earned regard as what Erasmus 
called “fools to the world.” 

Beyond the general homogeneity of the protagonist in Our Lady’s Tumbler and of 
holy fools, it bears noting that the exemplum resembles accounts of so-called hidden 
saints. These secret servants of God are typically retiring in their comportment. They 
slave at a humble vocation, their sanctity unrecognized by others. An archetype 
would be Saint Joseph, the carpenter. Such holy men are numerous in Byzantine 
hagiography. There we encounter individuals whose holiness goes undetected or is 
even mistaken for negative qualities, such as derangement. A lesson could be drawn 
from all these stories that communities are not always capable of the discernment 
required to tell apart a mere jongleur from one of God, or a fool from one of God. For 
instance, Daniel of Scetis, an Egyptian monk and abbot, tells the tale of Mark the Fool. 
This saint pretends to be demented and passes himself off as a raving lunatic. For 
eight years, he plays the role of a Robin Hood among fools by distributing to others 
what he begs and steals. It emerges that earlier he had lived fifteen years in a monastic 
community, before his eight years as a solitary. On the morning after the facts of his 
life have become known to the pope, Mark dies and subsequently his body emanates 
the odor of sanctity—a mystical scent of incorruption that was construed as a sign 
of saintliness. Another example is a narrative recounted in the vita of Daniel himself. 
While visiting a convent, he allegedly witnessed a sister there who to all appearances 
was sprawled intoxicated. That night the future saint and his disciple observed how 
the same nun would stand in prayer until a passerby appeared, at which point she 

2. Dancing for God 101 

would sag to the ground. They brought this behavior to the attention of the abbess, 
who realized rapidly that the alleged falling-down drunk was a hidden saint. When 
the report of the sister’s piety spread, she fled the nunnery. Still other tales in the 
genre have principals who are entertainers, apparently leading unseemly lives but in 
fact recognized by God as being on the side of the angels. 

The type of behavior that these individuals display is attested in Byzantine 
hagiography throughout the Middle Ages. A memorable case of such holy and high- 
functioning folly from the fourteenth century is Maximos. This man, a soon-to-be saint, 
acclaimed from childhood for his devotion to the Virgin, became a monk rather than 
enter into a marriage arranged for him by his parents. In Constantinople, he dwelled 
for a time in the gateway of the church of Saint Mary of Blachernae in the guise of a 
fool for Christ’s sake. Later, on Mount Athos, Maximos earned his colorful cognomen, 
the Hut-Burner, as a kind of auto-arsonist. Whenever he moved to anew dwelling for 
greater seclusion, he would torch his old hovel. 

Likewise worth mentioning are the later Russian descendants of the Byzantine 
hidden saints—the holy fools or fools in Christ—who are stock characters in first 
Muscovy and later Imperial Russia. In Western Europe, fools of God are far from 
unknown in French literature from the early thirteenth century. To cite only two 
examples, Life of the Fathers contains a story that goes simply by the short title “Fool,” 
and Gautier de Coinci wrote a miracle on the topic. 

Distinct from a saint who poses as a fool would be a court jester who has occasion 
to display miraculous piety. In 1878, the German author Gottfried Keller composed 
a poem based on a purportedly actual event of 1528. Entitled “The Fool of Count 
von Zimmern,” the piece describes how an entertainer of this sort was called upon 
to assist in the office when the chaplain was shorthanded. At the point when a bell 
was to be tolled, none was to be had, and so the joker improvised by shaking with all 
his might to jingle his fool’s cap, whereupon a golden glow shone out from the large 
lidded flagon that held the host for the Eucharist. 

In recent times a figure well worth examining in this conjunction is Dario Fo. His 
first major work after receiving the 1997 Nobel Prize in Literature was The Holy Jester 
Francis. Like the medieval saint, the modern Italian performer immersed himself in folk 
culture, popular theater, and oral tradition. Although the laureate wrote extensively, 
his texts presumed performance. He was himself styled a holy jester. His theater 
entailed mime and pantomime, song and dance, acrobatics, clowning, puppetry, and 
above all storytelling. Fo’s main stance was as a latter-day jongleur. Accordingly, 
he termed his one-man show “jonglery.” His objective was to demonstrate how 
culture belonging to the unempowered masses ha an inherent worth that has been 
either arrogated or effaced by the dominant cultures of the Church, aristocracy, and 
bourgeoisie. The Italian author’s conception of a subaltern jongleur suits the tale of 
the medieval tumbler well. In a way, the paradox of the spiritually inspired fool was 
hardwired within Our Lady’s Tumbler. The story is built upon the radical innovation 
and challenge that enabled lay brothers to serve within cenobitism. Of the various 
trials made in this direction, that of the twelfth-century Cistercians may well have 

102 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

been “the most successful and significant.” This experiment allowed the depiction of 
a man without education and culture, who lacked institutional or political muscle but 
possessed the power of boundless charisma. He was not a fool so much as a simple 
man of God, not a jester so much as a jongleur of God. 

The tumbler may have been a legend based on an otherwise unattested reality. 
Then again, he may have been fabricated as an exemplum to occupy a vacancy that 
real-life personages had not filled. In either case, he perpetuated the image of real-life 
holy fools who had preceded him. By the same token, he was a proto-Franciscan who 
anticipated equally actual jongleurs of God who would succeed him. Like all of them, 
he was a beatific ascetic. He blurred the absolute lines that some have sought to draw 
between religious and profane, as between monastic and secular. 

Fact or Fiction? 

Truth is stranger than fiction, but it 
is because Fiction is obliged to stick 
to possibilities; Truth isn’t. 

—Mark Twain 

The story of the jongleur poses fundamental and ultimately unanswerable questions, 
some of them along the lines of the old chicken-or-egg conundrum. Did the reports 
of saintly behavior rest on reality? Did Our Lady’s Tumbler monasticize or monkify a 
preexisting motif that storytellers had imagined and transmitted in written or oral 
literature? Or did it remodel an actual occurrence that played out within a monastery? 
Was it, then, history rather than story? How far did the tale lie from bona fide lived 
religion? By a process almost equivalent to convergent evolution, personal and social 
circumstances of all types have led in radically different cultures across time and 
space to astonishingly similar cases of performers who have dedicated their crafts to 
God. These peas in a pod deserve our full attention. 

In The City of God, Augustine, bishop of Hippo and later saint, quotes from a lost 
treatise On Superstition by Seneca the Younger. In the passage, the Roman philosopher 
lambastes a down-at-the-heels mime. Formerly at the top of his profession, the 
washed-up thespian, now in his declining years, performs daily on the Capitol in 
Rome with the expectation of pleasing the pagan gods. The old man seems to have 
subscribed to the belief that in the end, artists and artisans devote their achievements 
to the gods. Although the dotard may have been pressured by material needs to 
perform, no mention is made of payment by temple keepers or passersby. In effect, 
the worn-out entertainer enacts the routine in a spirit of “the show must go on.” Yet 
however humble the player, the spectator may be divine, in the person of Jupiter as 
worshiped in the sanctuary on the Capitoline Hill. 

Such a story as Seneca tells, and Augustine repeats, need not have been altogether 
fanciful. Professional actors may have rendered performances in honor of God, the 

2. Dancing for God 103 

Virgin, and others. Afterward, events may have ensued that came to be credited as 
miracles. Both the fragment quoted by Augustine and Our Lady’s Tumbler present 
performers who have withdrawn from their practices but who offer their acts in 
homage to divinities. Yet would the storyteller with whom Our Lady’s Tumbler 
originated have needed the provocation of either a written source or an actual 
performance by a jongleur to come up with his idea? To create any of the tales as we 
have them, would he have required such a propellant? 

Before answering these questions, we should consider one half dozen historically 
attested cases from western Christendom. One tells of a humble Spanish friar in the 
sixteenth century who was unwittingly seen prancing before a statue of the Virgin 
over the refectory door. Another concerns an Italian priest whose methods for drawing 
youths into the values of the Church included following and preceding prayer with 
presentations of juggling, acrobatics, and magic. The third relates to an incident in 
1935 that involved a female American trailblazer of modern dance, Ruth St. Denis. 
The fourth pertains to a French ballerina who turned nun. Once she took the habit, her 
longing to dance for God put her at odds with the ecclesiastical hierarchy later in the 
twentieth century. The fifth is a man who first came to live in a circus while a Jesuit. 
After leaving the Catholic religious order, he remained a clown with his troupe. The 
final—and most recent, bringing us into the twenty-first century —is an Italian lap- or 
pole-dancer. Although no longer gyrating or grinding, her persistence in dancing after 
her conversion to religion created hassles for her like those that the ballerina faced. 

The Church has demonstrated abiding ambivalence toward dance as an expression 
of devotion, not least within the setting of formal monastic institutions. The hierarchy 
has sought to devise and decree the proper forms of praise and prayer, and to make its 
decisions the pathway to miracles. Not all individuals have complied. Instead, some 
have chosen, not always consciously, to find or make rituals of their own. They have 
realized that even the mundane may be magical—that ordinary lives turn out to be 
filled with miracle whenever the people living them feel grateful for the ordinariness 
of their lives. If God moves in mysterious ways, so too do worshipers. 


Dancers are the athletes of God. 

To begin with our first attested instance, we have a sixteenth-century friar who began 
life as a Spanish rustic. An illiterate herdsman born in Aragon in 1540, Paschal Baylon 
was devoted to the Eucharist and the Virgin. Out of devotion to the latter, this future 
saint taught himself to read so that he could make use of the Little Hours of the 
Blessed Virgin Mary, the prayerbook most favored among laypeople. He adopted 
habits of going barefoot, fasting, and eating only simple fare. Not content merely with 
being ascetic, he wore beneath his shepherd’s cloak an imitation of a friar’s habit. In 
1564, at the age of 24, he was at long last granted his heart’s desire and allowed to 
enter the reformed Franciscan friary of the Blessed Virgin of Loreto in Valencia, where 

104 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

he distinguished himself as a lay brother by his sanctity, especially in love for the poor 
and in visions of the Eucharist. 

Most mainstream hagiography and all the iconography concerning Paschal focus 
on his attachment to the Eucharist. Secondarily, in popular devotion he is widely 
associated with cooking, above all in Mexico. In the Mexican state of Chiapas and in 
Guatemala he has tertiary associations in folk traditions with death, as a bony “King 
of the Graveyard.” Finally, the good friar is known for dancing. Holding special 
relevance to Our Lady’s Tumbler is an episode connected with the functions of the 
future saint in the communal kitchen and scullery. Despite his complete inexperience 
as a cook, the lowly man was put in charge of tending to the refectory. A beautiful 
statue of the Virgin stood above a doorway of the room. As refectorian, Paschal made 
sure always to deck the altar there with fresh-cut flowers. On feast days, he supplied 
candles. While attending to his duties by himself, he would sing quiet songs of praise 
to the Mother of God. Once a fellow Franciscan caught him in an unguarded moment 
as he gamboled in rhythmic steps of joy, by some accounts a rudimentary gypsy 
dance, moving forward and backward, before the statue. The image of Mary allegedly 
assumed a real body and blessed the saint. Dancing is also a motif in a tale about a 
journey by foot that the friar made as he returned from engaging with heretics on his 
return trip from Calvinist France. In at least one telling (see Fig. 2.10), he first prayed 
before his staff and thereafter broke into a jubilant jig. The given name Paschal draws 
attention to Easter. In contrast, the cognomen Baylon suggests a sense of “one fond of 
dancing.” If this is the case, the nickname could have come to him specifically thanks 
to his predilection for high-stepping in honor of the Virgin. 

Paschal’s cult has developed especially strong connotations with dance in the 
Philippines, where in the eighteenth century Spanish Franciscan missionaries in 
Obando built a church dedicated to him. Thanks to the interpretation of his second 
name as an epithet, the saint became associated with a ritual known as the “Obando 
Fertility Rites.” These feast days, which take place on the streets on three consecutive 
days in May, feature dancing by men, women, and children in traditional dance 
costumes. On each day, an image of the patron saint of the day heads the procession— 
in effect, as lead dancer. The first day of the Obando festival, the official feast day of 
Paschal, which falls on May 17, is dedicated to Paschal; the next is dedicated in honor 
of Saint Clare (whose regular feast day is August 11); and the third is to celebrate Our 
Lady of Salambao (see Fig. 2.11). Paschal is called in this conjunction “the dancing 
saint.” Some faithful believe that when accompanied by dance, prayer to him will be 
granted more readily. For these associations with rhythmic movement, he has been 
termed “a second jongleur de Notre-Dame.” 

Our second example goes in English by the name of Saint John Bosco. This holy 
man grew up fatherless and in poverty in Piedmont, in the north of what is today Italy. 
At the age of nine or ten, he had the first in a series of life-determining dreams. He 
first saw himself in a field with a knot of poor juvenile delinquents who played and 
cursed. Then, when he failed to stop the penniless urchins from misbehaving, a man 

2. Dancing for God 105 

of noble dress and bearing counseled him to win over the boys from vice to virtue 
through gentleness and softheartedness. Toward the end of the vision, a woman 
appeared. The guttersnipes turned into a pack of wild animals until she put out her 
hand, whereupon they changed into a flock of capering lambs. 



Fig. 2.10 San Pascual Bailon. Comic illustration, 1961. Published in Vidas ejemplares 7.113 
(November 15, 1961). 

Fig. 2.11 Statue of Our Lady of Salambao, Obando Church, The Philippines. Photograph by 
Ramon Velasquez, 2012. Image from Wikimedia Commons, © Ramon Velasquez (2012), CC 
BY-SA 3.0, 

106 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

John Bosco put into action the oneiric advice that had been offered him. Very literally, 
he practiced what he preached (see Figs. 2.12, 2.13 and 2.14). By watching traveling 
showmen he learned juggling, acrobatics such as tightrope walking, and magic tricks. 
Seizing the initiative, he made himself as teacher into the class clown. He would 
punctuate with prayers his activities in sleight of hand and as a physical performer. 
In effect, he refined circus stunts into a means of enticing young people to say the 
rosary and attend Mass (see Fig. 2.15). Conjuring maneuvers such as ostensibly 
changing pebbles into coins became a trademark of his repertoire. In addition, he 
made demonstrations of rough-and-ready skills the basis for lessons in basic theology. 
For example, he would plait three cords to become a single rope. This uncomplicated 
action would bring home the nature of the Trinity. 

In the decade that followed, the man who would become a saint left behind life as 
a shepherd to take the clerical collar. Eventually, Bosco founded the Society of Saint 
Francis de Sales. The Salesians, as the members of this order came to be known, were 
divided into three groups, namely, priests, seminarians, and lay brothers. The holy 
man, canonized in in 1935, is regarded as the patron of stage magicians. Abracadabra! 
On his feast day, Catholic illusionists sometimes show their veneration by offering 
displays of conjuring gratis to poor children. 

The third instance takes us forward to the mid-1930s. The modern dancer Ruth 
St. Denis had long cherished an interest in dance as a spiritual medium. She defined 
her performances as “religion-art.” In the wake of a broken marriage and financial 
meltdown, she poured herself ever more into integrating her art form and her 
spirituality. Toward this end, she founded a Society of Spiritual Arts, tantamount to a 
Church of the Divine Dance, which evolved into a performing ensemble. 

During the early part of this phase, St. Denis made a specialty of dances on 
Christian themes that were performed to the accompaniment of music in churches. 
The most important such composition was The Masque of Mary, which premiered in 
1934 in Riverside Church in New York. The dancer was introduced in the guise of 
the White Madonna (see Fig. 2.16). With thick makeup on her face and equally heavy 
paint on her finger- and toenails, and with veils wound around her, she posed on 
an altar. At the same time, the Angels of the Heavenly Host danced joyously around 
her. When their routine ended, she acted out what was effectively a sacred striptease 
by peeling back the layers of milky white to show her true colors: a gown of deep 
turquoise. Now as the Blue Madonna, she danced vignettes that illustrated the major 
moments in the Virgin’s life (see Figs. 2.17 and 2.18). In writing and speaking about 
the goal of the spectacle, St. Denis described the Mother of God as the incarnation 
of femininity and creative love, in terms not wholly incompatible with either Henry 
Adams, an American thinker of the generation preceding hers, or Sigmund Freud. No 
one will be nonplussed to hear that “Madonnas were the passion of her last years.” 

2. Dancing for God 107 






Fig. 2.12 Teresio Bosco, The Children’s Priest: St. John Bosco, illus. Alarico Gattia 
(Turin, Italy: Editrice L.D.C., 1988), 8. All rights reserved. 

108 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 



Fig. 2.13 Teresio Bosco, The Children’s Priest: St. John Bosco, illus. Alarico Gattia 
(Turin, Italy: Editrice L.D.C., 1988), 9. All rights reserved. 

2. Dancing for God 109 

Wah ke AWay 


ON THis y 





Fig. 2.14 Teresio Bosco, The Children’s Priest: St. John Bosco, illus. Alarico Gattia 
(Turin, Italy: Editrice L.D.C., 1988), 10. All rights reserved. 

110 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Aa gem 
po Saint 

and the Childrens Saint 

by @ 
Catherine Beebe 

Fig. 2.15 Front cover of Catherine Beebe, Saint John Bosco and the Children’s Saint Dominic Savio, 
illus. Robb Beebe (London: Vision Books, 1955). All rights reserved. 

2. Dancing for God 

Fig. 2.16 Ruth St. Denis as the White Madonna in The Masque of Mary (Riverside Church, New 
York). Photograph, date unknown. 

Fig. 2.17 Ruth St. Denis as the Madonna in The Masque of Mary. Photograph, 1934. 


112 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Fig. 2.18 Ruth St. Denis as the Madonna in The Masque of Mary. Photograph, 1934. 

One Sunday in 1935, St. Denis caused a stir by celebrating a religious dance before the 
altar in another jam-packed Manhattan church, with congregants pressed shoulder 
to shoulder. The occasion sparked scorching controversy, all because of pedicure. St. 
Denis’s decision to color her toenails led to huffing and puffing against dance very 
generally. In support of this physical activity as a form of worship, one writer cited first 
scripture and next, foreseeably, Anatole France. The French writer belongs among the 
fistful of authors and artists who have done most to make Our Lady’s Tumbler famous 
in a modern guise. 

For the fourth case, we have a much fuller dossier, thanks largely to the written 
reminiscences of the woman herself. As a two-year-old toddler in Paris, Mireille 
Negre boarded an elevator. When it departed, her left foot slipped through the metal 
framework at the bottom. As the lift ascended, this lower extremity of her body became 
lodged between the grille and the top of the entrance. Although fortunately spared 
the amputation of her left leg, she still lost two toes. At the age of four she was sent to 
begin studying classical dance, in hopes that the training would correct the limp she 
had developed. Despite her handicap, she made such progress that once she turned 
seven, her father put her forward at the National Opera (Opéra national) of Paris. 

The commitment of the Frenchwoman to dance became extraordinary, but so did 
her attraction to a devotional life. Negre came from a religious family, but she took 
spirituality to an extreme far beyond her kinfolk. At the age of twelve, she had an 
epiphany of sorts. As an adolescent, she achieved ever greater success in ballet at the 
National Opera. In 1965 she took a retreat in a convent and had the revelation of her 
religious calling, but for five years she temporized in indecision between a spiritual 
vocation and dance. In 1973, at the age of twenty-eight, she entered the Carmelites of 
Limoges on a probationary but extended basis (see Fig. 2.19). The liturgy of this order 
lays notable emphasis upon holidays associated with Mary. 

2. Dancing for God 113 


pees Se 
Fig. 2.19 Portrait of Mireille Negre. Photograph, 1973. Photographer unknown. 
© Argenta Images. All rights reserved. 

The almost fanatical Marianism of this religious society has not gone unquestioned. In 
the late Middle Ages the Carmelites were sometimes reproached for misrepresenting 
their relationship with Mary by disseminating half-truths and out-and-out lies about 
her. In one case in point, an antifraternal text from the very end of the fourteenth 
century charges that the brethren “make themselves out to be Mary’s men (so they 
tell people), / And lie about Our Lady many a long tale... .” The members of these 
brotherhoods and sisterhoods encompass friars, nuns, and layfolk. They may have 
been well suited to Negre in their capacity as the order of Thérése of Lisieux, because 
of the saint’s defining characteristics as well as her special connection with Mary. 
Known as “The Little Flower of Jesus,” this holy woman claimed to have experienced 
an apparition of the Virgin while still a child. At the age of fifteen she entered a 
Carmelite convent, in 1897 she died at the age of twenty-four, and in 1923 she was 
canonized. She incarnated naiveté and simplicity that are not worlds apart from 
qualities associated with the tumbler or jongleur, in both his medieval and modern 

For three of Négre’s ten years at Limoges, she embraced the combined contemplation 
and asceticism of the order happily, with Saint Teresa of Avila as her model. In the 
process, she was required to abdicate the body, and refraining from dance formed part 
of the abdication. The renunciation entailed modifying her ballerina’s posture and 
carriage. When caught striking a balletic pose while plying a broom in the refectory, 

114 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

she found herself chided by the mother superior. Despite the discouragement from 
above, the passion for dance would not leave Negre. Many Bible passages reminded 
her of the performing art, and with twinges of nostalgia she would hear during Mass 
words from scripture that referred to it: “I will dance for you, Lord, as long as I live.” 
When invited to serve as cantor, she replied that she could never do so, because she 
was “exasperated at not being able to pray for God by dancing for him.” For Négre, 
the leaps of ballet became degrees of rapture that could lead to union with the divine 
through love. Despite all the potential for joy, her reminiscences make no attempt to 
sweep under the carpet the painful sacrifices she made in forgoing her customary 
mode of asserting her identity. She establishes an equivalence between physical and 
verbal expression that recalls the tumbler, as indeed does much else in her account. 

During the remaining seven years of her decade within the religious society, 
Negre endured protracted tribulations marked by nervous breakdowns, bouts of 
anorexia, and the development of a triple scoliosis. Eventually, she left the Order of 
Carmel for the more complaisant Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary in Vouvant. 
Although the religious society to which she switched may have been less rigorous, the 
former ballerina’s ambition was unabated. On the contrary, she aspired to broaden 
the concept of spiritual self-consecration to Christ so that it would comprehend 
the dedication to Him of her body as a dancer. For her, God was the lord of the 
dance, and in her view, the art could be devout in consonance with the dictates of 
Christianity by entailing ascetic discipline while resulting in joyous ecstasy. In due 
course, the Church authorities came around to Negre’s viewpoint. The Carmelites 
permitted her to resume dancing. In 1986 she became consecrated as a sister. Since 
then she has danced in hallowed places, such as chapels and churches. She has even 
performed at Chartres, an archetypal cathedral of the Virgin. Since Vouvant, Neégre 
has choreographed the words of the liturgy. This experiment constitutes a fascinating 
parallel to the performance of the tumbler in the medieval French poem, who made 
his leaps correspond to the progression of the offices being performed in the choir 
above him. Just as the tumbler, versed in neither Latin nor monastic sign language, 
contrived to express himself through his acrobatics, so too this later Frenchwoman 
came to view ballet in linguistic terms. 

To what extent has Negre’s self-presentation been shaped by knowledge, filtered 
or unfiltered, of the tradition that originated in Our Lady’s Tumbler? She plants a seed 
when she presents herself, in her guise as “the protector of dancers,” to being “like 
the jongleur on the fagade of Notre-Dame of Paris, who used to represent for me the 
struggle of an artist who finds no recognition in the world.” This simile, which points 
to sculpture rather than literature, suggests an acquaintance with the story through 
secondary or back channels and not even through Anatole France. In fact, it would be a 
little hard to swallow that a professional dancer in France would not hear of the tale at 
one point or another. But it would be even more cockamamie to contend that a person 
would strive to replicate a story so far as to enter a nunnery for a decade—or to leave 

2. Dancing for God 115 

the same institution and return to a career of dancing. Both the story of the tumbler 
and the biography of Negre speak to clashing and yet compatible loves that have fired 
many artists, one of which passes under the name of art for art’s sake, while the other 
craves transcendence of mere art. Can dance and devotion go together? More to the 
point, can organized religion countenance the expression of prayer outside liturgy? 
The crux for this ballerina was her creed “I dance for God.” 

Our fifth example is Nick Weber, who was interested in both dramatic art and 
theology. After becoming a practiced clown, he was ordained as a Jesuit priest. Soon 
thereafter, he happened to see a medieval morality play, reconceived and enacted for 
a twentieth-century public. The experience became the germ of his idea to retool a 
traditional troupe, suited for the greatest show on earth, and to make its performances 
the vehicle for conveying Christian messages. Weber’s Royal Lichtenstein Circus 
traveled the United States for twenty-two years, from the summer of 1971 through 
1993. Eventually the founder returned to the lay state, but in the prolonged intermezzo 
he approached becoming at least in aspiration a twentieth-century Saint Francis. By 
seeking to demonstrate the credal compatibility of Christian faith with what could be 
called sacred comedy, he strove to fulfill in reality what Dario Fo has sometimes acted 
out in his performances. Weber’s clowning rested on two convictions. One was that 
comedy allows for the boisterous celebration of life. The other was that laughter does 
not diminish the expression of worship, but in fact offers an additional avenue for it. 

An Italian nun, Sister Anna Nobili, will serve as the sixth and final example of a 
real-life individual who has chosen to pray and worship through dance. Like most 
of her predecessors, her choice has generated both fascination and unease within the 
Catholic Church. Images of her in action have graced mass-circulation newspapers 
and magazines. Her tale has been told in on-screen interviews and set forth in a tell-all 
memoir with an Italian title meaning J Dance with God: The Sister Who Prays Dancing. 
The blurb on the cover of the paperback concludes by referring to her “true and 
mysterious acrobatics of the heart and soul.” 

Born in 1970, as a young woman Anna Nobili became a dancer who performed 
on raised platforms in bars, nightclubs, and discotheques of Milan. Although really a 
go-go dancer, she is described often as having been a lap dancer and stripper. In 1998, 
at the age of twenty-five, she left the dance floor and went on a three-day visit to Assisi. 
During those days, she had an epiphany under the inspiration of Saints Francis and 
Chiara. In a subsequent repudiation of the heavy guzzling and no-strings lovemaking 
in her former life, Nobili entered the order of Worker-Sisters of the Holy House of 
Nazareth. Rather than abandoning her previous calling altogether, she drummed up 
permission ten years later to open a school devoted to contemporary sacred dance. 
She continues to do so, in an operation called HolyDance. 

Nobili now runs the program with clearance from the local prelate in her diocese 
of Palestrina, near Rome. The episcopal backing has not prevented her from being 
controversial. Although she considers herself a ballerina for God, some find her 

116 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

ungodly. As Sister Anna Nobili, her participation in a public event at the Cistercian 
monastery of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, along with other celebrities such as the 
pop star Madonna, may have played a contributing role in an imbroglio in May of 
2011. The charges related especially to the monks’ handling of finances and liturgy, 
as well as their questionable behavior and moral discipline. Undeterred by such 
setbacks, Sister Anna has persisted in making many appearances on the small screen, 
disseminating her story in a book, and, above all, performing dance. She contends 
consistently that she has been driven from the beginning by a desire for love, but that 
it took her a long time to find that the truest love was love for God. 


What are we left to conclude about the French poem and Latin exemplum from the 
Middle Ages? Regardless of which came first, we confront the riddle of whether the 
earliest written form of the tale bore any relation to an actual incident in which a 
lay brother who had been an entertainer ever performed a devotional dance before 
an image of the Virgin Mary. Was the jongleur a mythic, legendary, or real goody 
two-shoes? As the saying goes, there are stranger things in reality than can be found 
in romances. The only finality is the ben trovato principle: “If it is not true, it is well 
conceived.” Even if not necessarily the record of a literal truth, the story still bears 
scrutiny. It rings true in a deeper sense. If situating the tumbler among his fellow 
medieval entertainers does not explain everything, then we will do well to pay heed 
next to his monastic context. 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 

He who labors as he prays lifts his 
heart to God with his hands. 

—Bernard of Clairvaux 

The Order of Citeaux 

Vox clamantis in deserto 

Our Lady’s Tumbler manifests vividly both strains and rapprochements that recurred 
between laity and clergy within medieval Christianity. It offers a mostly laudatory 
close-up of life among the white monks in the twelfth century. Its protagonist stands in 
deep awe of Cistercian monasticism. Despite all this, it demonstrates that at least this 
once, the layman goes the monks one better in devotion. The amateur prayer outwits 
(or outdoes) the unpaid professionals at their own game. The stresses heightened 
during the late Middle Ages, before finally scoring their most drastic effects in the 
temblor and aftershock known as the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter- 
Reformation. Our story, from roughly three centuries earlier, has at its hub issues that 
anticipate the shock waves to come in the later period. To be specific, it points out 
cognitive dissonances between the faith that was professed in Christ and apostolic 
life, and the attitudes encoded in daily life within leading religious institutions. Let us 
look closely at how the tale of the tumbler fits within Cistercianism. 

The medieval French poem that forms the cornerstone of this book tells of a 
prosperous minstrel who wearies of his secular lifestyle and its turpitudes. In response, 
he redistributes his worldly possessions, such as money, horse, and clothes, and joins 
the Cistercian monastery of Clairvaux as a convert. He is not said to enter a novitiate. 
The untested brother has the objective of devoting himself to God, or rather to his 
more approachable mediator, the Virgin Mary. The initial dilemma, if not tragedy, 
for the former performer is that he takes the step of committing to a new walk of life 
within a monastery without grasping what it entails. At the time of his conversion, he 
does not know that he should be concerned about his preparedness to be a brother, 

© 2018 Jan M. Ziolkowski, CC BY 4.0 

118 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

nor can he gauge realistically whether he has the wherewithal in cultural literacy and 
the psychological temperament for the monastic mode of life. Soon after his induction, 
he discovers to his consternation that he is out of his depth. He lacks the savoir faire 
and savoir dire to fulfill the services required of a monk. 

The value of the entertainer’s donations to the abbey could have been substantial. 
In the economy of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, jongleurs were often 
remunerated in kind rather than in cash. The objects that the minstrel conveys to the 
abbey are interesting, but when all is said and done, what he leaves behind matters 
less than what he takes on by embracing the specific brand of monkish life that the 
Cistercians represent. He goes from being at least modestly successful in the medieval 
entertainment world to being an underachiever and a nonentity as a monk in this 

Cistercianism was a new branch of monasticism that had been inaugurated in 
France at the very end of the eleventh century, around 1098. Although not a Crusade 
movement, it was established in sync with the first of those expeditions. Indeed, it 
absorbed many young men of the same sorts who were drawn to the movement 
across Latin Christendom to recoup the Holy Land for Christianity. From its 
inception, the order was tied closely to the Virgin, and it grew apace with the rise of 
Marianism in the twelfth century. It soon diffused throughout Europe. By 1200, the 
Cistercians tallied five hundred abbeys for monks and probably, grosso modo, the 
same number of convents for nuns. By the end of the thirteenth century, the white 
monks, as they were often styled, occupied approximately seven hundred houses. 
The explosive enlargement was not without growing pains. Eventually, envy over 
their ease in accumulating immense tracts of land and the resources that issued from 
them meant that the order incurred plenty of vilification, alongside praise. Even the 
monks themselves sometimes gave voice to fretfulness about what would be defined 
today as mission creep. 

For the site of their seminal “New Monastery,” the founder chose Citeaux, south 
of Dijon in France. Cistercianism promoted a radical reformation of Benedictine 
monasticism by emphasizing a literal, even fundamentalist interpretation of 
the celebrated sixth-century Rule of Saint Benedict of Nursia. The movement was 
formulated for frugality, in conscious reaction against the perceived immoderation 
of Benedictinism. Its aesthetic, in architecture, manuscript production, and all else, 
was deliberately humble. In fact, humility may well have been the most prominent of 
the values that the Cistercians professed. All branches of Christian coenobitism have 
had their own forms of law and order at their core, but the Cistercians were especially 
strict. Sundry dos and don’ts set these brethren apart from their confreres in longer- 
established orders. In contradistinction to the major older ones, the white monks 
did not acquiesce in child oblation (the practice of giving children to monasteries 
or convents), ran no schools, and expected postulants to have been educated before 
seeking entry. The last factor is intriguingly relevant to Our Lady’s Tumbler. 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 119 

7 een) ere oe i a 
F 48 LONGPONT. — Ancienne Abbaye de Citeaux, 'Eglise. — ND Phot. 

OS as oem ee rn 

Fig. 3.1 Postcard depicting l’Abbaye de Citeaux, Saint-Nicolas-les-Citeaux 
(early twentieth century). 

The original medieval buildings of Citeaux have all but disappeared, beyond rack and 
ruin. The place took its name ultimately from the Latin for “cistern,” a holding pen for 
runoff precipitation. Calling their venue after a catchment for rainwater acknowledges 
nicely its location amid the effluvia of low-lying swamps and swales. Benedictines— or, 
to use a name for the order after its tenth-century reform, Cluniacs— were montane: 
they tended to inhabit mountainous heights. They liked to be between a rock and a 
hard place. Whereas they sought out the highlands, Cistercians gravitated toward the 
lowlands (see Fig. 3.1). They were paludal and fluvial. Initially, they took as theirs 
the rural marshes and riverbanks, wetlands and boglands, basins and springs of 
France. Soon, they fanned out to similar environs elsewhere with high water tables, 
inhabiting neither terra firma nor open sea, making fens far and wide their own. The 
contrast between the two orders was embedded in an old aphorism that encapsulates 
the locations that their respective initiators purportedly favored: “Bernard loved the 
valleys, Benedict the hills.” Put differently, the white monks situated their monasteries 
with the goal of being siloed and freestanding. As their wasteland, the desert fathers of 
late antiquity had had windswept and sand-covered barrenness, especially in Egypt. 
For the Cistercians, Citeaux constituted their equivalent: drainage trumped dryness. 
Even so, they saw their home as harking back to the glory days of asceticism: one of 
their foundational texts from the early 1120s refers to the site in France as a desert. 
There they emulated the way of life that they believed the original inhabitants of such 

120 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

spaces had practiced in the third and fourth centuries, and aspired, like the earlier 
Christian hermits and monks, to simplicity, poverty, and chastity. 

Monasticism has at its heart an antinomy that is latent in the very noun monk. In 
fact, the etymological meaning of the word flatly contradicts the communal nature of 
the organization it customarily assumes. It derives from a Late Greek substantive for 

“single” or “solitary,” itself from the earlier “alone.” Ordinarily, however, the people 
dwelling in monasteries are anything but alone. On the contrary, as the rank and file 
of tightly organized religious communities, they have no choice but to be gregarious. 
In performing the liturgy and especially in chant, they act in synchrony as a team. 
They should share an esprit de corps. In hardheaded terms, monastic brothers are not 
alone at all. Rather, they live shoulder to shoulder. Even referring to them as brethren 
indicates that they are bound together in something larger, an elective extended 
family. In acknowledgment of this reality, they are known as cenobites, from a Greek 
word composed of elements that mean “common” and “life.” They form complex 
societies, with a social contract. Within these groups, specific liturgical duties are 
shared by individuals who also execute a varied range of specialized functions. They 
imprison themselves voluntarily in cells, perpetually in a self-imposed lockdown. Still 
more paradoxical than monks generally are the Cistercians particularly. Their order 
encompasses both withdrawal and engagement— both the wilderness and the world. 

All the paradox accords well with the situation of the tumbler. He barters away 
a life in which he is a loosely regulated, venturesome individualist. In place of 
such freedom, he takes on the millstone of rule-bound conformity to set hours and 
practices. When the swap proves to be untenable for him, he devises or improvises 
a fix that fuses individualism with communitarianism. Small wonder that his story 
would regain appeal in the modern world, which has displayed inconsistencies as 
keen as any ever before about the mutual rights and responsibilities of individuals 
and communities. 

Cistercian communes were meant to be secluded from the secular world. 
Architecturally, they achieved this objective through claustration—that is, they 
confined their members within cloisters. To the same end, the abbeys were 
situated in unpopulous regions so that the monks could worship God apart from 
the distractions and irritants of worldly activity, by conducting a celibate life of 
devotion and work. Thanks to their location in wildernesses, the brothers of this 
order often turn out to bear at least some sketchy likenesses to solitaries. Despite 
their sometimes cohering in communities, they can be antisocial or even (to push 
the point) downright misanthropic. After all, the noun “hermit” denoted originally 
a person who inhabited a desolate place in isolation. Heremum is Latin for “desert” 

or “wasteland,” a place in the middle of nowhere. Yet a fundamental difference 

remains between the two classes of religious. Whereas a hermit runs a one-man 
operation, a monk does anything but that. 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 121 

A monastery has a complex ecology. The hermitage stands in opposition to the 
abbey, where the foodchain is topped by the official who gives the institution its very 
name. The term abbot goes back ultimately to Aramaic. In the New Testament abba is a 
form for “father” that Jesus and Paul use in addressing God intimately. Whereas the 
nature of eremitic life is solitude, the word for the leader of a monastery presumes the 
collectivity of a family. It also presupposes patriarchy and paternalism (the question 
posed in the slang expression “Who’s your daddy?” has never required more than a 
split second for monks to answer). 

Within a Cistercian context, the heads of a handful of the oldest communities, such 
as Citeaux and Clairvaux, have additional special status as proto-abbots. That is, they 
could be considered “abbots plus” or superfathers (better than superdad). At the top 
of the paternalistic pecking order, they figure out how to administer love, including 
tough love, toward the end of helping individuals grow and communities cohere. 
The chief job requirement might be called prior knowledge, especially in the form 
of Menschenkenntnis or (to translate the German) people knowledge. These monastic 
managers are owed obedience. In the story of Our Lady’s Tumbler, the monk who 
sees the tumbler’s performance finds it both ridiculous and unnerving; he hastens 
to deprecate the incongruity that arises when the lay brother unclothes himself to 
show submission through dance to the pious solemnity of the Virgin (and presumably 
Child). Yet the head of the abbey refrains from joining a rush to judgment about the 
unconventional behavior of the erstwhile entertainer. In the end, the abbot models 
multiple lessons for the brethren under his charge. The most important may be a 
deeply Christian message of tolerance. In his wisdom, the superior of the monastery 
takes his time to watch and listen: he is all ears. He conveys that it is not right to 
devalue or condemn any form of worship based upon sincerity. Sincere devotion to 
God deserves understanding and even praise. 

The minstrel in the medieval French poem takes very seriously the final say of his 
superior. A little while after the principal of the monastery has sighted the display 
of miraculous favor by God’s mother in the crypt, he summons the tumbler to his 
office. The abject entertainer, who has bizarrely performed his lack of stature through 
a ritual of his own making, expects that he has committed a trespass and that he will 
be expelled from the abbey. Instead of making him an outcast, the kindhearted abbot 
bids him to recount his life story, from beginning to end. After hearing it, he assures 
the minstrel that he will be in good odor in their order—and they in his. 

What does this distinction between two communities mean? The tumbler is 
designated a convers, a word that could be translated loosely as “convert.” As such, he 
held a status not necessarily identical with a full conversion to monastic life. In some 
ways, the functions of a laic convert, and the position of the jongleur as such, speak 
to the abiding tension between the two views of monasticism, hermitic and cenobitic. 
Even more broadly, the lay brother carves out a no-man’s- or no-monk’s-land in two 

122 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

tripartite schemas that are often invoked to describe the warp and weft of medieval 

One framework comprises the three orders of the faithful, namely clerics, monks, 
and laymen. The other threesome comprehends those who pray (meaning clerics and 
monks), those who fight (the nobility), and those who work (peasants). Within this 
second triad, toil signifies above all agricultural labor in the production of food. The 
lay brother fits frictionlessly into none of the above slots. He embodies a radically new 
construct, as a layman, usually from the rural poor, who can shed the scarlet letter of 
being illiterate and lead a life that virtually guarantees salvation. The jongleur is an 
individualist, in leaving society outside as well as in striking out on his own within 
the monastery. First, he abandons the world. Then, after getting off to a halting start 
as a cenobite, he makes himself into a do-it-yourself recluse. 

With the intent of earning redemption or at least of showing penance, the former 
entertainer goes off to be at one with God, or rather with the Virgin. He breaks away 
from the communal liturgical offices to perform in camera his personal rituals of 
penance and devotion. In doing so, he enacts a solitude for which the white monks 
were known. Yet he achieves this end in a manner that would almost not have been 
permitted within the realities of Cistercian regulations governing both monks and lay 
brothers. In effect, he invents his own form of contemplative spirituality. He becomes 
a contradiction in terms. A recluse within a cenobitic community, he lives solitarily 
within a well-run organization that is structured around communal life. Such a 
paradox may have been lauded in eulogies on Clairvaux, but it is dubious that such 
nonconformity would have been countenanced in the actual day-to-day business of 
the monastery. 

Cistercianism could not have survived long, and could not have burgeoned with as 
much vim and vigor as it did, without the involvement of “converts” or lay brethren 
like the tumbler. The order specialized in first acquiring land that had hitherto been 
agriculturally unproductive and then fructifying those same fallow swamps, valleys, 
and springs. This was the turf war in which they engaged with the Benedictines and 
other religious societies. The monks dammed waterways with weirs to create fish 
ponds, channeled running water in millraces and flumes to power mills and presses, 
planted crops on new tillage, established vineyards, and herded sheep and made 
wool. For their establishments to be self-contained, managing all the temporalities and 
carrying out all the many agrarian tasks required a sizable work force. The so-called 
converts were the best solution to the chronic problems of being overstretched and 
understaffed. By enlisting extra help from such operatives, the full monks could have 
many hands available for manual labor without altogether sacrificing the proposition 
of uncompromising disengagement from the secular world. That said, the lay monks 
never outnumbered the so-called choir monks. The plus side to the care shown in 
keeping down their tally is that the order did not lose its founding focuses or values. 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 123 

A not-so-good drawback is that, if we allow ourselves anachronism by imposing 
present-day business administration upon the distant past, the organizational chart 
of a typical Cistercian foundation could have been regarded in present-day terms as 
top-heavy, with a preponderance of staff in administrative positions. Especially at 
times when the monasteries were undermanned, friction between the two groups was 
inevitable. To invoke a twentieth-century synecdoche, the tensions between lay and 
choir monks would have sometimes resembled the oppositions between blue-collar 
and white-collar workers. 

The categories of the convert monk and the lay brother were not always 
synonymous. At times, the Latin conversus was applied to any adult entrant into 
monastic existence. Such a full-grown joiner stood in contradistinction to the child 
oblate. In the learned language, the word for a convert implied a phrase that denoted 

“to the monastic way of life.” Within Cistercianism, the term evolved to signify a 
lay brother, usually of humble peasant stock. The monasteries did not hold to an 
open-door policy of accepting all would-be entrants, but they needed strong hands, 
sturdy backs, and stout shoulders, and the lay brethren contributed to monastic life 
first and foremost through heavy toil. The hardest work took place on the abbatial 
estates. These operations usually served agricultural purposes, as may be surmised 
from the usual name for such an estate, grange, which derives from a Latin adjective 
that relates to (and is cognate with) “grain.” Most often, lay brothers lent a hand 
with the grueling drudgery of food production. As farmhands, they provided the 
animal husbandry connected with sheep, grew vegetables and herbs, cleared land, 
and managed irrigation. In addition, they commonly ran the kitchens, infirmary, and 
guest-house. Their living conditions could not hold a candle to those of the full monks. 
Yet under the best of circumstances the two monastic sorts coexisted in mutual respect 
and interdependence. In a metaphor that drew upon specific personages in the Bible, 
the lay brother played the active role of Martha in executing physical labor, while the 
choir monk acted out the contemplative one of Mary. At least ideally, both types of 
brethren aspired to spiritual redemption, and both had equal claim to salvation. 

Choir monks were bound to perform the divine office in choir, to pray and study, 
and to do manual work. The first chore required, among other things, knowing by 
heart in Latin the hundred-and-fifty Psalms. As much as anything, the occupation of 
Psalm-singing marked these monks apart from the rest of society. It positioned them 
to be quasi-angelic. In contrast, lay brothers were exempted from liturgical practices 
that, nearly without exception, their counterparts in the choir were obliged to fulfill. 
Mostly illiterate, perhaps proud possessors of experiential knowledge but almost 
invariably intellectual vacuums where formal education entered the picture, these 
laymen were not called upon to engage in the so-called divine reading. Lectio divina, 
to use the customary Latin phrase, was a practice of unhurried scriptural reading, 
contemplation, and prayer that was cultivated by Benedictine monks and others. And 

124 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

thus, questions arise about whether the very existence of lay members implies that 
the equilibrium between the office and work, or between contemplative study and 
corporeal slog, had been lost unrectifiably. 

Even under the most auspicious circumstances, lay brothers would generally have 
been segregated physically from choir monks in worship as well as in the remainder 
of life. The monastery was a house with many rooms, and a large number of the most 
prestigious ones lay off limits to the conversi. Within the honeycomb of the monastery, 
lay monks had their own separate spaces in the church, the meeting place known as 
the chapter room, the dining hall called the refectory, and the dormitory (see Fig. 3.2). 
Typically, the domain of the lay brethren was situated in the west range of the cloister. 
Inside the church, they were not allowed access to the choir, where the regular monks 
performed the office. Instead, they were quarantined in stalls outside and to the rear 
of it. The separateness was enforced by a partition, such as a roodscreen. The balance 
between the dueling duties of the lay brothers to do manual labor and to participate in 
the liturgy was disputed. They were expected to execute only a shortened form of the 
office, since often at the set hours for prayer they were far from the monastic churches 
and carrying out the tasks that had to be done in the fields. The lay members also 
would not have been included in most all-hand meetings in the chapter house, where 
abbots delivered homilies: the monasteries were places where preaching was nearly 
always directed at the choir monks. 

Sacristy Chapterhouse Workroom 


Door to 


Warming room 

Monks’ Refectory 

Cloister <i 

Choir for 

lay brothers ms 
: Kitchen 


Lay brothers’ Refectory 

Fig. 3.2 Floor plan of a typical Cistercian monastery. Vector art by Melissa Tandysh, 2014. 
Image courtesy of Melissa Tandysh. All rights reserved. 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 125 

The reasons why monks of this higher class could have justifiably missed the office are 
few, but their lay counterparts had many more sound excuses. Bernard of Clairvaux, 
the great Latin preacher of Cistercianism and much else, reportedly uttered a sermon 
in praise of one such conversus. A busy farmworker, the poor soul in question failed 
to take part in the worship of Mary at the monastery in order to discharge other 
obligations on his to-do list, of which some necessitated his presence at a grange that 
was far off the beaten path. When lay brethren happened to be present at the main 
institution, they were to perform their version of the office silently. In the meantime, 
choir monks chanted theirs on the other side of the partition that ran between the two 
groups. Lay brothers differed, because they specialized in physical labor as contrasted 
with the opus Dei, or “work of God,” that took place in the choir. All the same, they 
were not meant to be second-best citizens. 

The Cistercians’ empathy for badlands and solitude remained strong across the 
centuries, but the breakout success of the order meant that very soon the marches of 
Citeaux were not the only place with which these monks were identified. Before long 
they became known equally, or even more, for Clairvaux. The “bright valley,” to put 
its name into English, was a beacon toward which Christians flocked from throughout 
the West. The abbot of the monastery there was Bernard, the most prominent exponent 
of Cistercianism. This saint in the making sought to place his foundation under the 
tutelary spirit of Mary. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the abbey acquired 
massive power from the trifecta of its associations with the white monks, Bernard, 
and the Virgin. 

Cistercians and the Virgin 


The theological term yperdulia combines two Greek words meaning “more than’ 
and “servitude.” It signifies service to the nth degree—super-service, as it were. It 
denotes the special veneration, next to the worship due to the Lord, to be paid to 
the Virgin in acknowledgment of her unique status as the Mother of God. Such 
ministrations to Mary sprang up in the Middle Ages. Among the many groups and 
individuals who aspired to render tribute of this kind, the Cistercians stood out for 
the intensity of their deference. The Virgin occupied the center of their universe (see 
Fig. 3.3). They consecrated themselves to her, and in return she acted as their hidden 
advantage. If the search for salvation had been a card game, she would have been 
their ace in the hole. 

In all their locations, the Cistercians were marked by their aspirations toward 
simplicity, asceticism, and holiness, and they strove toward all three goals at least 
partly in the name of Mary. We can be confident that the Madonna was the sole 
female presence in the otherwise all-male environment of most monasteries. What 

126 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

was she doing there? She exemplified monastic virtues, since she practiced asceticism 
and study. Like at least some of the monks, she remained a lifelong virgin. As all of 
them had taken a vow to be, she was chaste. Mary also specialized in intercession. 
This was likewise the remit of monks, especially white ones. In this capacity, she was 
the sovereign mediator, the special patron and point person for their whole order. 
Christianity is, by its very definition, Christocentric. Yet Jesus can be forbidding and 
fearful, even terrorizing, to the skittish. Here the intercessory role of the Virgin enters 
the picture or even (since images are at stake) becomes it. (In emergencies, she is 
the hotline to call. Better still, she is the switchboard operator.) She can be asked to 
approach Christ for any help that is needed. Jesus remains at the top in the hierarchy 
of the holy, but the Mother of God comes next, well before saints and incalculably far 
before ordinary people on earth. 

Fig. 3.3 Jehan Bellegambe, The Virgin Sheltering the Order of Citeaux, 1507. Oil on panel, 91 x 74 cm. 
Douai, Musée de la Chartreuse. Image courtesy of Musée de la Chartreuse, Douai. 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 127 

In this world, self-help or how-to guidance played no role, except in figuring out 
how best to beseech Mary for her intercession. She was the genie whose response to 
prayer would be “Your wish is my command.” Among the highest and rarest forms 
of devotion that faithful followers could promise was to consecrate themselves to the 
service of the Virgin. In a way the tumbler manifests this type of observance. Merely 
by joining the Cistercian order, he takes upon himself an institution-wide obligation 
to practice devotion to the Mother of God. Beyond any official responsibility, he 
undertakes a personal commitment by descending into the crypt to perform his 
routine in honor of her. 

In return for his dedication the tumbler seeks no specific recompense, least of all a 
miracle. Although the Virgin wipes or fans his sweat-beaded brow, we are not given 
to understand that he has any awareness of the gesture. He apparently has no idea 
that she has taken upon herself to be his guardian angel. From what we can judge, 
whatever she does is impalpable and immaterial to him. We learn only that others 
witness the boon he garners from Mary herself for the attentiveness he has displayed 
toward her Madonna. Such care in the fulfillment of obligations toward the Mother 
of God is a hallmark of lay brothers as they are portrayed by their advocates in the 
twelfth and thirteenth centuries. When the soul of the lay brother is wrested from the 
devil, thanks to Mary, the performer is already dead. Consequently, he does not know 
while still a mortal the premium he has earned. He has not received breast milk from 
the Mother of God, as legend would hold that Bernard of Clairvaux did, but he has 
been saved. In the process, the very nature of Christian worship has been demystified. 
The hocus-pocus of the liturgy has been set aside. 

The entertainer’s constancy is distinctive in its specific form of expression, but 
parallels the solitary worship of the Virgin by this Doctor of the Church. The saint’s 
trueheartedness to the Mother of God is well attested from sermons and prayers, 
and his voice, amplified by successors who only heightened the intensity of his 
Marianism, became a dominant one in the Mariology of his day. Both before and 
after him, Cistercian writers were passionate proponents of Mary. After championing 
the Blessed Virgin in his lifetime, Bernard was laid to rest before her altar. In his 
own afterlife, he achieved recognition for his dedication to the Mother of God from 
Dante, who chose the sainted white monk as his final lodestar in the Divine Comedy. 
Eight hundred years after his death, Bernard was memorialized for his inspirational 
relationship with the Virgin by being pictured with her on a commemorative stamp 
from the Vatican. 

Across the various orders, and across time, Christian monks and nuns have viewed 
Mary as embodying monastic virtues. Among the qualities in the Mother of God that 
Cistercians would have found resonant with their own values, humility and chastity 
are salient. Bernard, among others, admired the characteristic of humbleness in her 
above (or below) everyone else. Another trait of the Virgin that could have exercised 

128 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

special appeal to white monks is her uncommunicativeness. In the Gospels, she is 
nearly wordless, and in scenes and sermons of the Passion she is frequently sketched 
as expressing an unvoiced grief. Humility, chastity, and silence are all qualities 
associated in Cistercianism with lay brothers too. 

Without saying so, Our Lady’s Tumbler peels back the overlayer from the self- 
contradictions of the entire Western monastic tradition, especially as the Cistercians 
adapted and articulated it. It sets the stage for its audience, whether readers or listeners, 
to examine many major imponderables of monkish life. To single out four examples, 
it explores how much conformity to collective liturgy, as opposed to individual 
worship, life ina monastery requires, how individual seclusion relates to group living 
and praying, how much asceticism and physical expression of devotion the order 
calls for or allows, and how much the imperative to obedience within the priorities of 
such religious societies may be upstaged by allegiance to God and his intermediaries. 

Among its other distinguishing features, the Cistercian order has been marked 
since its very commencement by its fealty to the Virgin. Citeaux arose in a century 
that was stamped on all sides by confident dedication to the worship of Mary and 
unwavering trust in her. Even in a prevailing climate of fevered Marianism, even 
against a backdrop of such generally intense commitment to the Mother of God, the 
white monks were second to none. In a letter censorious of their liturgical innovations, 
the theologian Peter Abelard (d. 1142) commented upon the custom that these brothers 
maintained in consecrating all their churches to the Virgin. In the same spirit, the seals 
of most of their abbeys bore her image, first as their mediator with God and later as 
their special protector (see Fig. 3.4). These emblems, mostly of wax, featured within 
an architectural canopy in Gothic style an image of the Virgin, usually with Child. 

Fig. 3.4 Cistercian seal depicting the Virgin surrounded by devotees. 
Seal (modern cast from original), ca. 1300-1500. Paris, Archives nationales. 
© Genevra Kornbluth, 2011. All rights reserved. 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 129 

Mary was not decreed a queen by the pope until 1954, but the Middle Ages greeted 
her routinely in that capacity—and that reginal reverence held particularly true for 
the white monks. An early statute stipulated officially that every Cistercian church 
and cloister should be founded in honor of the “Queen of Heaven and Earth.” Not 
the faintest doubt exists that by this formulation the Mother of God is meant. The 
designation of the Virgin as Queen of Heaven and Earth had been conventional for a 
long time already. This status positioned her to operate as a unique conduit between 
the two realms. In an extension of this power, relics of her and of physical contact 
with her earthly self could also provide petitioners with a pipeline to God and all the 
holiness surrounding him on high. Madonnas, as images of her, could fulfill the same 
funneling function. 

The Virgin, along with these tokens of her, arbitrated between the simplicity of 
humble believers in the sublunary realm and the loftiness of God above. She was not 
unapproachable and unresponsive in her queenliness. On the contrary, she thrust 
herself forward as mediator. In medieval and theological terms, she came not as an 
accessory to the crime but as an intercessor for the sinner. The movements involved 
in Marian intercession were perceived to take place in both directions. Petitions from 
votaries on earth were relayed to Christ in heaven. Rebounding in the opposite course, 
expressions of divine grief, joy, and other emotions were transmitted from heaven 
through visions or animated images. Those celestial feelings could take palpable 
terrestrial form, with tears, milk, blood, and oil being four of the most common 
drippings that exuded from the Virgin, especially as represented in Madonnas. In the 
Middle Ages, virgin olive oil was not at all the same as today. 

Veneration of the Mother of God belonged among the paramount manifestations of 
Christian practice. To go further, it reigned supreme in that same class. Consequently, 
nothing is strange about the fact that the liturgies of the Cistercians were heavily 
Marian. Each of the daily offices features a special reflection on her vocation. Since the 
thirteenth century, each day in a monastery of white monks has been capped by the 
singing of “Hail, Holy Queen” as the final antiphon. This hymn praises the Virgin in 
her guise as Mother of Mercy who intercedes with the Lord. It can be difficult to know 
which personage is meant when a Mary is mentioned within a Cistercian context. A 
reference to a woman by this name could allude to the historical person, the Jewish 
woman who was the mother of Christ; to the patroness of the order, ever to be trusted 
to champion the life- and soul-saving of contrite sinners; to the buildings dedicated 
to her, especially in this case all Cistercian churches and most cathedrals; or to the 
mother Church as an institution. 

Since 1109, Cistercian monks have not worn the black vestments of the Benedictine 
order from which they branched off. Rather, they dress in ones of natural, unwhitened, 
and uncolored wool. The resultant hue is off-white, effectively a beige. For all that, the 
brethren have tended to be called white monks. In the Middle Ages, they were also 

130 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

known sometimes as gray monks. In either case, they were dyed in the wool for being 
undyed. Wherever we place the color of the Cistercians’ unbleached woolen habits 
on the chromatic spectrum, the most common explanation for the adoption of this 
lightness in preference to black was a specific of Marian symbolism. The color honors 
Mary’s purity and spotlessness. A hue unblemished by blackness is what immaculate 
conveys etymologically in the original Latin: unstained and ultraclean. 

The Cistercians wore clothing as white as a sheet—a modern and not a medieval 
one, since bed linens would not have had the incandescence often prized today for 
its connotation of cleanness. The whiteness betokened not ghostliness or fear, but 
virginal purity. More than once, they explained the color as bespeaking their service 
to the bright splendor of the Mother of God. In legend, the change from black to 
its opposite resulted directly from an apparition of the Virgin. One August morning, 
Mary made herself visible among the monks as they chanted matins. Not stopping at 
merely appearing, she went up to the second abbot of Citeaux and later Saint Alberic, 
and threw a white cowl over his shoulders (see Fig. 3.5). At this moment, the habits of 
all the other monks present also turned the same color. The bright cleanliness of Mary 
makes even more vivid her gesture of having a towel supplied to suck up the saline 
solution that sluices from the tumbler. 

Fig. 3.5 St. Alberic receives the Cistercian habit from the Virgin. Fresco, 1732-1752. Zirc, Zirc 
Abbey Church. Image from Wikimedia Commons, 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 131 

Bernard of Clairvaux, who championed the growing cult of the Virgin, has himself 
been described as Mary’s greatest devotee. Since the eight hundredth anniversary of 
his death, he has been called the Marian Doctor. By extension, the Cistercians have 
been styled collectively as missionaries of Marianism. The saint’s principal work of 
Mariology would be four homilies on the verse in Luke “The angel Gabriel was sent.” 
These circulated together under the title On the Praises of the Virgin Mother. Other 
homilies of his deal with Mary too. Bernard’s famous sermons on the Song of Songs 
identify the betrothed in that book of the Bible as the Mother of God. He articulates 
his commitment to her in a way analogous to the dynamics of courtly love. He came 
honestly by his cloisterly courtliness, since before becoming a monk he had been the 
son of a knightly family. By breeding and upbringing, he was destined to be versed in 
the culture and ethos of chivalry and chivalric love, with their distinctive ideology and 
poetry. Perhaps to buff Bernard’s Marian credentials, he was misassigned authorship 
of texts about the Blessed Virgin in the composition of which he had no hand. Thus, 
he was often wrongly credited with authorship of a beloved Latin liturgical hymn, 

“Hail, Star of the Sea,” which honors her. In a further miscue, he is sometimes still 
supposed to have composed the prayer to her known as the Memorare, while in fact it 
is apparently from the fifteenth century. 

By all accounts, Mary was as favorably disposed toward Bernard as he was toward 
her. According to many legends, she had a stand-by-her-man loyalty to the holy man. 
Sometimes statues of Our Lady pumped the affection of the Virgin toward him. Take, 
for instance, a Madonna in the Benedictine abbey of Affligem, a Belgian municipality. 
The image reputedly leaned down to receive the “Hail, Mary” of the saint-to-be as he 
prostrated himself at her feet one day in 1146. In return, she said “Greetings, Bernard.” 
The legendary episode allegedly prompted him to give the monastery his staff and 
chalice. This was far from the strangest case in which the Virgin and a Madonna 
bestowed their favor upon a devotee. 

Mother’s Milk 

The international advocacy group La Leche League, which took its name from the 
Spanish word for milk, claims on its website to have been inspired by a statue and 
shrine to “Our Lady of Happy Delivery and Plentiful Milk.” But Mary’s association 
with such health and bounty stretches back at least to the Middle Ages. The Virgin is 
often depicted in medieval images, particularly in paintings, with one breast exposed 
to feed the infant Jesus. The pose is known in iconography as the nursing Madonna. 
To judge by the reactions of twenty-first-century students, the most bizarre expression 
of attachment to the Mother of God may be a story that builds on the motif of nursing. 
Called the lactation of Bernard, this exchange between Mary and her preeminent 
Cistercian enthusiast takes filial devotion and recognition to the highest and most 
heart-to-heart degree. The saint asks to be placed, and is indeed put, on the level of a 
son sucking milk from the breasts of the Virgin as mother. 

132 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Fig. 3.6 Master I. A. M. of Zwolle, Saint Bernard Kneeling before the Virgin, ca. 1480-1485. 
Engraving, 32 x 24.1 cm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. Image from Wikimedia 

The accounts, none of them dating from before Bernard’s death, vary in the 
behavior that they identify as preceding the miracle. In some, the saint prays before 
a Madonna. This is possible, of course, although he and the early white monks 
issued pronouncements against images. Furthermore, no statue exists that can be 
demonstrated to have come from a Cistercian abbey before the thirteenth century. 
In other versions, the mellifluous doctor sees Mary in a vision. Regardless of what 
happens first, the aftermath is the same in all the accounts. The saint-to-be requests 
the Virgin to show herself as a mother. In response, she obliges by projecting a jet of 
milk from her breast through his open lips (see Fig. 3.6). The jet or droplets endow 
him with his wisdom and eloquence. Similar motifs surface repeatedly, not only in 
the twelfth century but even earlier and predictably later. They do not always pertain 
to Saint Bernard alone. Thus, the Virgin infuses her breast milk into the mouth of her 
aficionado Bishop Fulbert of Chartres, who promoted in that city the cult of Mary’s 
tunic. He collects in a vase and treasures three drops that cling to his face afterward. 
This element in the legend of Fulbert likely became the ultimate inspiration for most 
subsequent variations on the theme of Marian lactation. Such stories go back to the 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 133 

exemplum known as Roman charity, a very real demonstration that the milk of human 
kindness exists. In this legendary episode, a woman keeps more than her cards close 
to her chest: on the sly, she breastfeeds her father to spare him from a sentence to 
death by starvation. 

Later, the feature of Mary’s suckling a devotee spreads. In assorted miracle tales, 
she comes on scene with her best bedside manner to heal ailing people of one sort or 
another miraculously, by inviting them to feed at her breast. For instance, one cleric is 
taken by an angel to the other world, where the Virgin gives him her nipple. Another 
is saved from a throat tumor after she atomizes his face by spraying it with her breast 
milk. In a third case, a worshipper of hers is cured of his writer’s block by lactation. 
By the fourteenth century, the notion that the Mother of God formed this most special 
union with Bernard in her guise as nursing mother is solidly established among the 
traditional stories and iconography of the saint. 

Mary’s Head-Coverings 

The time has come for full disclosure of veiled references. Likewise, the moment is 
upon us for picking up for the first of many times the thread of an argument about 
textiles. Bernard was hardly the last Cistercian to do obeisance to the Virgin. To take 
just one example, Helinand of Froidmont (d. after 1229), himself a former jongleur or 
troubadour, composed sermons for Marian feasts. In his writings, he declared that his 
brethren in the Cistercian order “do homage to this great lady and avow everlasting 
service to her.” If Venn diagrams had existed in the Middle Ages, the categories of 
Cistercian and Marian would often have come close to total eclipse. The white monks 
were bound in a privileged rapport with Mary in myriad ways. To rehearse only one 
more instance, they are often presented in exempla as receiving special guardianship 
from the Virgin. Her intervention in the tale of the tumbler speaks to the willingness 
of the white monks to show ordinary monastic authority tempered or even subverted 
by her maternal power. The Mother of God was permitted to be the exception to the 

In art, Cistercian iconography gives graphic form to the notion of the special favor 
that the order enjoyed from the Virgin. One type of representation depicts the Mother 
of God as Our Lady of Mercy. In this capacity, she provided asylum to her faithful 
beneath her mantle. Before and beyond its strictly Cistercian lineage, the portrayal 
of “Mary of the Protective Cloak” was due ultimately to Byzantine literature and art. 
In the tenth century, Saint Andrew the Blessed witnessed a miraculous apparition 
in the Blachernae church in Constantinople. In this episode, the Virgin cloaked the 
congregants with her maphorion. A still of her stretching out this veil or robe came to 
signify the unfailing tutelage that she extended to her devotees. The sanctuary that 
the Mother of God afforded through her intercessions was celebrated in the liturgical 
feast of the Veil of Our Lady. 

134 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Depictions of Mary’s protection in Cistercian art give the motif a special torque. 
The diminutive figures who take refuge beneath the Virgin’s garment are all white- 
hooded monks (see Fig. 3.7). Like a posse of tots clinging to their mother’s shins, they 
are medieval mothers’ boys who have not the faintest desire to do whatever would 
have been the medieval equivalent of cutting the apron strings. The motif can be 
traced back to an episode in the Dialogue on Miracles by the Cistercian monk Caesarius 
of Heisterbach, eventually repeated by many others. In this incident, a brother had an 
eschatological vision in which he encountered Our Lady in the afterlife. In heaven, he 
could not find his fellows. In due course, the visionary queried the Mother of God. In 
response, she hiked her cloak to reveal the monks, lay brothers, and nuns of the order 
who were protected beneath it. 

Fig. 3.7 Master of the Life of the Virgin, The Virgin of Mercy, ca. 1463-1480. Tempera on oak panel, 
129.5 x 65.5 cm. Budapest, Szépmiivészeti Muzeum. Image from Wikimedia Commons, https:// 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 135 

In Our Lady’s Tumbler, the Virgin comes to assuage a lay brother whose sole mode 
of veneration is his body. In general, the tumbler clings fast to Cistercianism by 
making purgation and purification of his anatomy a means of penance. That said, 
his choice of bodily self-mortification is atypical. Yet however much outside the 
norm the performer’s conduct may fall, for Mary to weigh in and signal her approval 
is altogether appropriate. Her cult made a priority of the ways in which the very 
humanness of her physique brought salvation, through pregnancy, childbirth, and 
nursing. She constituted living proof that the corporeal frame need not be detested 
as solely sinful. On the contrary, the body could be a vehicle for the expression of 
goodness and virtue. 

The fanning or mopping of the tumbler with a textile belonging to the Virgin may 
ring a humbler change upon this popular motif. Two exempla, only crudely datable, 
constitute cases in point. To the best of our present knowledge, they are preserved 
first in the early 1600s in a book produced by a Jesuit. This volume is itself based on 
an anonymous collection that was printed first at the end of the fifteenth century, 
and compiled materials from earlier assemblages of exempla. In one exemplum, Mary 
appears to the dying in their final throes. With her little kerchief or handkerchief, she 
dries the sweat of mortality from them. In the other, she ventilates them. 

The text of Our Lady’s Tumbler leaves unspecified what the Virgin used to cool 
her devotee. She is said, with no further explanation, to be holding a cloth. In the 
French text, the textile is called a white towel. Both the etymology and meaning of 
the medieval vernacular noun used here are fraught. Touaille could denote a piece of 
fabric to be carried in the hand or worn on the head, including what we would call a 
napkin, hand towel, handkerchief, kerchief, veil, scarf, or rag. In Romance languages, 
the most vigorous living relatives are the Italian for tablecloth and table napkin. As 
the last two words suggest, the cloth could be meant for household use as well as for 
personal cleanliness. In English usage worldwide, the noun napkin has bifurcated. The 
split fossilizes the two potentials within it. It can denote either a sanitary napkin in 
feminine hygiene, or a table napkin or serviette. But let us not allow lexical semantics 
to distract us from the physical reality of the object in question. In the bas-de-page 
with the sole medieval illustration of the tale (see Fig. 1.17), the item in question 
looks very much like white terrycloth. No one is throwing in the towel, but it is being 
projected downward from a heavenly thunderhead by a haloed figure, perhaps an 
angel. The cloth has not come directly from the crowned Madonna and Child nearby, 
but instead presumably indirectly through their mediation. 

Could the fabric be of her own making? Like many women in premodern literature, 
Mary had an up-close-and-personal connection with textile production in her own 
life. As a girl, she reputedly dedicated six hours daily to weaving, with a regularity 
reminiscent of monasticism. More to the point, what is the material? The stuff could 
be a corner of her veil, the velvety sleeve of her dress, or soft goods of some other 
sort that would have been on or near her person. A modern viewer not grounded 

136 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

in Christian art may be surprised to realize that the Mother of God is customarily 
portrayed, particularly in Byzantine and Italian art, wearing a head-covering that 
resembles the hijab worn nowadays by some Muslim women as an expression of 
modesty. Often blue, brown, red, or purple, the cloth overspreads the head and chest. 
While not so extreme as the type of veil called the niqab that covers all the face apart 
from the eyes of its Muslim wearer, it can still be so extensive as to function effectively 
as a one-way window. The opposite of a blindfold, it wards off the gaze of others 
while allowing the wearer to see out. 

We may forget that in much medieval art the Virgin typically wore a multipurpose 
kerchief. Taken by itself, the last word derives from the French phrase meaning “head 
cover.” As the elements of the compound presuppose, such a fabric wraps around the 
skull and encircles the face as a scarf. In the kit of textiles and paper goods available 
to us today, the covering is largely restricted in its use to fulfilling the tasks that the 
original sense of the term conveys. The many purposes to which headgear could be 
put are fossilized etymologically in the near oxymoron of “handkerchief.” Parsed 
element by element, the noun would mean a head covering kept in hand. This item is 
then a cloth of a size, texture, color, and general appearance that could function as a 
headscarf or veil. In a pinch, or a sneeze, it could also meet other needs. Along similar 
lines, a cowboy’s bandana could serve as sweatband or neck-cloth, facemask or dust 
mask, tourniquet, or all-round handkerchief. It was a one-item ragbag. Nowadays, 
people will most likely use cloth towels for blotting or wicking away dampness, and 
disposable plies for facial hygiene. Whatever we call Mary’s fabric, she uses its edge to 
comfort the man who has danced madly in her honor: it is the lunatic fringe. 

In Marian iconography, the jumbo-sized veil is known as a maphorion (see Fig. 
3.8). This Greek term designates a head-covering in which noblewomen in Greece 
customarily enveloped themselves. These ladies were tradition-bound both literally 
and figuratively. The Virgin’s textile has been equated at different times also to a 
shawl, mantle, and outer robe. Often represented as a long length of cloth, it not only 
draped her head but beyond that fell in deep swags down her arms and chest to her 
knees or even ankles. One color renders the fabric Virginal: if blue is present, the dye 
is cast. In representations of the oversized veil, the garment is decorated at Mary’s 
forehead and shoulders with four pellets, positioned to suggest a cross. Later in the 
Middle Ages, the points were sometimes made stellar. Such foursomes of dots around 
stylized crosses may be discerned in the background of the miniature to illustrate 
the miracle in the story of the tumbler. The Mother of God was often associated 
with stars, but usually singly or in threes, to represent the threefold nature of her 
inviolate virginity. The unstated message of the four-star iconography in all cases 
may be that the Nativity led continuously to the Crucifixion, which brought salvation 
to humankind. 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 137 

Fig. 3.8 Virgin and Child enthroned between angels. Mosaic, sixth century. Ravenna, 
Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo, north wall. Image from Wikimedia, © José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro (2016), 
CC BY-SA 4.0, 

The maphorion serves multiple uses. Veneration of relics was deeply ingrained in 
medieval Christianity. After the Virgin’s death, the length of material doubled as 
her shroud. As Mary’s body was never found on earth, her grave-clothes became 
powerful for the immediacy that they granted to the purity and incorruptibility of 
her last corporeal presence before her Assumption into heaven. Such contact relics 
enjoyed lofty prestige and occupied a place of special privilege in the cult of Mary, 
since they granted the closest possible approach to an otherwise altogether absent 
body: they gave it a common thread. By a very easy to use and apply principle of 
transference, the fabric embodied her materiality. At the same time, the lack of bodily 
remains helped to make the Virgin the most universal among saints. She became 
present everywhere, capable of performing miracles anywhere. 

However we translate the Greek term, the textile in question was believed to 
have been found in the Holy Land at the latest in the fifth century. Initially, it was 
transferred, along with Mary’s girdle, to a church in Jerusalem; later, the cloth was 
moved to Constantinople, where it belonged to the glitz and glamour of the many 

138 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

major Marian relics possessed by the great capital city. The fabric was showcased in 
a chapel close by the seacoast that the Byzantine emperor and empress Leo I and his 
wife Verina added to the Church of the Blachernae. Together with the icon known as 
the Great Panagia, or “All-Holy,” the maphorion perished in a fire that destroyed the 
church in 1434, not even two decades before the fall of Constantinople in 1453. The 
waistband, ostensibly dropped as a token by the Virgin as she ascended from earth, 
survived the conflagration. It was preserved in a church in the Chalkoprateia quarter 
of the Byzantine metropolis, near Hagia Sophia. 

A tidal wave of Byzantine influence struck Latin Christendom in the twelfth and 
thirteenth centuries. Roman Catholics were immensely indebted to Eastern Marianism 
in things plundered, purchased, and imitated, as well as (to a degree) in practices 
emulated and replicated. Byzantium contributed substantially to the fascination with 
cloths and clothing connected with the Virgin in the cult of Mary in the medieval 
West. During the Crusades, ever more travelers had opportunities to see and hear of 
such relics. After the looting of Constantinople in 1204, many such valuables were 
carried to the West, or at least the claim was made that they had been taken there. 
In ways that warrant much further inquiry, the treasure trove of Marian textiles 
was greatly expanded by contact between the crusaders and the Byzantines. But the 
Fourth Crusade was not the very beginning. The acquisition of fabrics pertaining to 
the Mother of God had begun even earlier. 

The Church developed a vested interest in textiles of the Virgin. Mary was 
associated with many types of cloth, such as girdles, corsets, sashes, and veils. No 
pains were spared in procuring them, through diplomacy, trade, despoliation, 
theft, or manufacture. The most famous, the object of a flourishing relic cult, was 
undoubtedly the chemise, camisole, or “interior tunic” of the Mother of God at 
Chartres. Charlemagne acquired this trophy in the Holy Land. After he brought the 
precious item back to France, four armed sentinels guarded it twenty-four hours a day. 
The actual garment, by all accounts worn by the Virgin on the night she gave birth 
to Christ, was seldom seen directly but was depicted nonstop on locally produced 
leaden badges. These little images of the chemise were known by the diminutive 

“chemisettes.” The tokens were purchased and taken away by pilgrims to Chartres as 
travel trinkets, as proof and reminder of their visits. Another major item, sometimes 
identical and often confused with the chemise, was Mary’s veil. 

One of these cherished fabrics occasioned a brouhaha at Chartres after a blaze in 
1194. When the old cathedral was destroyed in the raging fire, this famous former 
possession of the Virgin’s was thought to be lost. Days after the all-clear was sounded, 
the prize was found by a rescue team and unearthed from the crypt. Along with a few 
monks, it had been interred there beneath rubble. Thanks to Mary, both the treasured 
thing and the pious people had been kept safe and sound. The poet of Our Lady’s 
Tumbler may have lived near a site with a relic of such a fabric. In that event, the poem 
may have helped to promote a cult associated with the cloth. The place need not have 
been Chartres, or for that matter anywhere else named in this book. 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 139 

Mary’s intimate apparel was often the focus of intense devotion from women who 
hoped to have a healthy childbirth at the end of uninterrupted pregnancies. Somewhat 
contrarily, a spotless towel, symbolizing purity, is also a Marian attribute. At times, the 
Mother of God is portrayed cuddling her divine infant in her lap with a linen blanket 
or handkerchief. The most influential image of her along these lines is the Virgin 
and Child from around 867 in the mosaic apse of Hagia Sophia (see Fig. 3.9). This 
representation belongs to the Byzantine genre known by the Greek epithet Theotokos, 
or “God-Bearer.” Because of Mary’s immaculateness, an undyed towel made an ideal 
symbol for her. Many textiles connected with her were reputedly without seams, in 
keeping with the seamlessness of her body. Her very physical structure as a living 
human being was a garment in which Jesus had been clothed. As his mother bore him 
during her pregnancy, so he wore her as a covering. 

Fig. 3.9 Virgin and Child enthroned. Mosaic, ninth century. Istanbul, Hagia Sophia, apse 
semidome. Image from Wikimedia Commons, © SBarnes (2007), CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons. 

140 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

If the trading in objects relating to Mary was heavy, ideas and stories flowed even 
more abundantly. The Virgin was an unica, but she came in almost as many forms 
as there were believers. The same observation holds true today as well. Both laymen 
and churchmen cherished her, but often very differently. The tumbler’s simple and 
unlearned attachment typifies what might have been encountered within a parish 
church, or even in the fields among country cousins. His determination to express 
his love through a solitary and purely physical ritual of his own making runs counter 
to monastic norms and rituals in all ways except frequency. Remarkably, his teeth- 
gritting mode of devotion outperforms all that the brethren do in the choir above him. 
The uneducated but passionately sincere lay brother smuggles his own peculiarly 
efficacious reverence for the Mother of God into the theologically more rarefied 
ambience of a Cistercian abbey. Now let us scrutinize the relationship between choir 
monks and lay brothers. 

Cistercian Lay Brothers 

No good deed goes unpunished. 

While Cistercians sported white habits, as distinct from the black ones worn by 
Benedictines, the two orders differed from each other in much more than the mere tint 
of their attire. Rather, they were distinguished by their attitudes toward the elemental 
injunction in the Rule of Saint Benedict to pray and work. The twofold imperative 
raised a very real challenge that put monks in jeopardy of being neither fish nor fowl 
in the fauna of faith. On the one hand, the obligation to prayer could be construed 
as service to God; on the other, the injunction to toil could be regarded as furnishing 
ministrations to the world. The disharmony between the two activities is self-evident. 
Christ, to quote a law unto himself, said clearly, “No one can serve two masters.” As 
a category, then, the lay brothers within the Cistercian order rendered perfect service 
to neither God nor the world. How imperfectly they fulfilled their duties could be a 
cause for sarcasm. The German Benedictine nun Hildegard of Bingen (d. 1179) was 
only one of many in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries who engaged in wordplay by 
positing that Cistercian converts were intrinsically perverts. 

By the time Our Lady’s Tumbler was composed, lay brethren were probably no 
longer at their high-water mark in numbers. Even so, the poem could have served 
not so much to proselytize for fresh-faced recruits to join their ranks as to remind 
the choir brothers of better days. In earlier times, newcomers from the laity had 
endued the monastic society with a devout simplicity. Later, the white monks may 
have worried that the same quality was being eroded by the twinned processes of 
clericalization and secular learning. The unlearned piety of lay brothers in the heroic 
age of the Cistercians would be preferable any day! At that point, the order was 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 141 

engaged in a boundary-pushing experiment in social engineering by bringing in laity 
to the extent that they did. The monasteries were not classless, but they tried at least 
to be egalitarian. 

From the abbacy of Alberic around 1120 on, the Cistercian order, as also later the 
Carthusians and Grandmontanes, relied extensively upon lay brothers. These members 
of the institution furnished a creatively drastic solution to the tension between prayer 
and work that had pervaded cenobitic monasticism since its establishment. They took 
vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, yet rather than concentrating upon chanting 
the hours, they funneled their energies toward manual, and usually agricultural, labor. 
In fact, they were strictly forbidden from becoming choir monks. At the same time, lay 
brethren were not altogether devoid of monklike obligations. For example, they were 
bound to the punishing Cistercian custom of silence, the white noise of the white 
monks. Most notably, they followed a simplified version of the office that they could 
enact while at work. Under the circumstances, their reputed proclivity to sleepiness is 
understandable. Run-down from physical toil and unable to parse the language and 
semantic code of the liturgy, they would have had good reason to grow heavy-lidded 
and to doze when they were constrained to sit in wordless stillness and attend the 
office in the monastery’s chapel. 

Fig. 3.10 Cistercian monks and conversi before the Virgin. Miniature. Wroclaw, Biblioteka Uniwersytecka, 
MS IF 413, fol. 145r. Image courtesy of Biblioteka Uniwersytecka, Wroclaw. All rights reserved. 

142 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

In physical appearance, lay brothers were differentiated from choir monks by a few 
distinct features. The main item in their clothing was a cloak or mantle, which in all 
likelihood lacked the cowl that betokened monastic status. The tumbler bore such a 
garment. In addition, lay brethren had no tonsure, a glabrous patch on the scalp where 
the hair was clipped or shorn. This characteristic haircut was a token of belonging for 
those men with clerical or monastic status. It signified imitation of the apostles. Much 
like a passport today, it entitled its bearers to a specific legal and civic status within 
society. Finally, lay members wore facial hair of not more than two fingers in length 
(see Fig. 3.10). The last characteristic led often to their being called “bearded brothers.” 
Not exactly groomed for success by not being close-shaven, they were clean-cut only 
in a metaphorical sense. 

As mentioned, lay brothers took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. 
Paradoxically, they were described as the equals, in everything except monkhood, 
of those who sang beyond the rood screen. The proviso of not possessing this status 
meant that the laity had no hope of being admitted to the ranks of the choir monks, 
who towered above them in the monastic hierarchy. They were not required, either 
before or after entry into monastic life, to be conversant in Latin, song, or the liturgy. 
Accordingly, it is altogether consonant with actual practice and reality that the lay 
brother in Our Lady’s Tumbler cannot chant, read, or understand Latin. He is excluded 
from the sociolect of the full brethren; rather than being simply a different dialect 
with its own jargon, the tongue they speak is a distinct language from the vernacular 
that he employs. In many respects, he makes himself incommunicado. This illiteracy 
means that most, if not all, Latin exempla about lay brothers reflect the viewpoint 
of the choir monks, who presumably had many preconceptions about them, not all 
complimentary. Thus a distinction between elite and nonelite, choir monks and lay 
brothers, was baked into Cistercian monasticism. 

Like education and culture, ignorance and stupidity are all too often conflated. Thus 
the mostly analphabetic lay brothers were wrongly assumed also to be simpleminded 
morons. In the Latin Middle Ages, not knowing Latin, being unlettered, and lacking 
formal education were regarded as intimately related and often interchangeable weak 
points. In modern European languages, the consequences of the interrelations among 
these categories remain enshrined in etymology to the present day. On the one hand, 
idiots are conversant only in their own idiom or speech. By their very nature, they 
are bereft of access to the schooling available in the learned tongue. On the other, 
even the unintelligent deserve acknowledgment for belonging within the Christian 
community—despite suffering intellectual deficiencies, the cretin, as its etymology 
indicates, is a Christian and not a non-Christian human being or even a beast. 

The simplicity of lay brothers could cuttwo ways, leading in one direction to sanctity 
and in the other to sheer folly. At times their simultaneous paucity of secular learning 
and plenitude of unpretentiousness could call to mind lay heroes of early monasticism, 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 143 

such as the desert fathers. Simplicity in this sense was a good thing, the opposite 
of duplicity and double-dealing not merely etymologically, but also semantically. 
A simple person was undivided, whole, and integral—everything but two-sided or 
two-faced. At other junctures, the undevious nature of lay brethren elicited snobbery 
from Cistercian abbots, and instead of administering care and oversight, they sneered. 
The order made its eagerness for recruits, including those who became lay brothers, 
a point of pride. Accordingly, the superiors of the monasteries were obliged to be 
evenhanded in dealing with new entrants incoming from lower social classes. They 
accepted the recruits, warts and all. The obligation went beyond mere administrative 
responsibility. In fact, it rose to a matter of spiritual life and death, since on the Day 
of Reckoning the monastic head was expected to render account for the monks in his 

What is meant when the protagonist is called a convert, in this case using the French 
singular? The term does not imply just that he has converted to monasticism and is 
on course to being accepted eventually as a fully developed choir monk. Rather, it 
signifies that he has been permitted to join as a lay brother. The innovation of this 
special subset among the white monks raises a host of issues. The word’s horizon 
was far more spacious than even the spread between the two preceding usages would 
suggest. Complicating matters, the Latin equivalent (and original) enveloped its own 
partly distinct semantic sweep. Furthermore, the reputation of the “convert” covered 
an even more imposing span, from a presupposition of humble holiness through 
suspicions of unseemliness. 

To oversimplify, let us pose four questions, without seeking to answer them right 
now. First, was a conversus, a lay convert in Latin, or convers, to use the corresponding 
but not exactly congruent French singular, a second-class citizen within the Cistercian 
context? That is to say, was he generally a Latin-less rustic of innately inferior status 
who was exploited for physical labor by monks who were his social superiors? Second, 
was he typically a bread-convert? That is, did he take up the burdens of his lot within 
(or without, as the case may be) the cloister mainly as a precondition to receiving a 
daily dole? (By becoming a lay brother, the typical twelfth-century peasant would 
have left behind the bottom of the hardscrabble feudal world and the elusiveness 
of a regular per diem of food. It is imaginable that the destitute would have been 
drawn by the magnetism of board and lodging in return for work, according to the 
same terms offered centuries later in workhouses.) Third, was he of markedly higher 
social and economic class than his blinkered education and culture might lead us to 
believe? In other words, could he have been unliterate, un-Latinate, and therefore 
more surely rooted in popular religion than in the Latin-based liturgy and theology, 
while possessing enough wealth to have been stung by the price of admission? (The 
Cistercians required lay brothers to forswear property.) And, fourth, if the manual 
labor of lay brethren in the agrarian work of the granges and fields was sanctified, 

144 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

what of other physical expressions of devotion? How much of a thorn in the side 
was it, during the salad days of what might be called lay Cistercianism, to winnow 
permissible from impermissible physicality in worship? Could Our Lady’s Tumbler 
speak to the crosscurrents of a dispute within the order over the very nature of piety? 

One feature lay brothers shared with full-fledged (or full-habited) choir monks 
was the fervor of their fidelity to Mary (see Fig. 3.11). Their adoration stands to reason, 
since in countless miracle stories the Mother of God was touted for her charity toward 
unchaste nuns and priests, light-fingered thieves and scoundrels, and other sundry 
reprobates. The tales showed her again and again in her guise as Lady of Mercy, 
rescuing from eternal fire and brimstone, perhaps especially at their deathbeds, 
individuals who had little or even nothing in their favor apart from their allegiance 
to her. Even that faithfulness might have been shown to her only fleetingly, perhaps 
just lately. Yet in the ultimate crisis of salvation or damnation, the Virgin intervened 
to ensure that in the weighing of souls, the balance tipped toward those faithful to her. 
This motif appears in Our Lady’s Tumbler, following upon the description of how after 
his death, when his body is laid out in the church for last rites and he lies in repose, 
the lay brother is treated as a choir brother would be. 

Fig. 3.11 The adoration of Mary. Stained glass window, ca. 1280. Wettingen, Kloster Wettingen, 
cloister, north walk. Image courtesy of Swiss National Library. All rights reserved. 

The largest and most ambitious omnium-gatherum of Cistercian stories is Conrad 
of Eberbach’s The Great Beginning of Citeaux. In the 1180s and 1190s, when the great 
monastery was evidently a hotbed of creation and exchange for exempla that pertained 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 145 

to the genesis of the order, its author spent time at Clairvaux. Conrad’s compendium 
is notable for arranging its illustrative anecdotes in a logical structure, and for making 
their morals easily identifiable to readers. The fourth book offers numerous narratives 
that recount the divine favor shown specifically to lay brothers. Miracle tales about 
brethren of that sort were ideal for the genre, since the stories graph intersections 
between learned and lay, clerical and secular, and literate and illiterate. The centrality 
of liturgy in the miracle of Our Lady’s Tumbler suggests that the tale took shape when 
the nature of veneration within the cult of Mary was developing and being negotiated, 
perhaps in novel directions. Such creative haggling was under way throughout Europe, 
but early Cistercian foundations such as Citeaux and Clairvaux saw as much of it as 
anywhere. They lived through what was tantamount to a heroic epoch in Marianism. 

One anecdote in Conrad’s text tells of a devoted lay brother who was obliged to 
tend a flock of sheep and therefore to miss the services for the vigil of the Assumption 
of the Virgin. In place of the formal liturgy, he recited the few prayers to Mary known 
to him. At least through the mid-twelfth century, converts were expected to know by 
heart only the Our Father, Apostles’ Creed, and Psalm 51. These three texts were their 
spiritual survival kit. By the time of Our Lady’s Tumbler, circumstances had not altered 
radically. “Hail, Mary,” the hymn in the learned tongue based on the angel Gabriel’s 
salutation to Mary, might have been added, but throughout their existence, most 
lay brothers remained innocent of Latinity. To the tumbler, even the paternoster— 
the Lord’s Prayer in Latin—seems the esoteric stuff of higher learning. Lacking the 
ancient language does not dishonor a conversus within the monastery or order. In the 
exemplum that Conrad relates, Bernard of Clairvaux himself was so impressed by the 
fervor of the lay brother who privileged his shepherding over the office that the saint 
incorporated the incident into a sermon as a lesson in obedience. 

In 1223, Caesarius of Heisterbach completed his Dialogue on Miracles (see Fig. 
3.12). In format, the text pairs a tyro who poses questions with a veteran monk who 
responds. The situation was well known to the author, who served as novice-master 
for some years in the monastery. The fictitious exchange purported to purvey actual 
spoken interactions recorded by Caesarius, as rapporteur. As such, the work was well 
positioned to draw upon both written and oral sources. The 746 medieval miracle 
stories were assembled a half century after the magnificent flowering of Cistercian 
exemplum literature began at Clairvaux. 

Caesarius’s extended conversation contains scores of tales in which lay brothers 
come on the scene. In most, these brethren elicit favor from God. The seventh book 
of this major collection is given over to miracles of the Virgin and relates more than 
five dozen visions of her. It includes an account of a conversus named Henry, from the 
cloister of Himmerod in Germany, who experienced a number of sightings of Mary. 
In one, he saw her enter the infirmary and bless invalids as they languished on their 
sickbeds. In another, he looked on as she materialized in the separate choir of lay 

146 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

monks, where she lingered before the devout but passed by the sluggish or drowsing. 
In every case, the visionary, whether a priest or cleric, lay brother, knight, or woman, 
is alone in discerning the Mother of God at the time of the apparition. Although the 
status of lay brethren varied from period to period, it was never automatically or 
intrinsically second-rate. The converts were not so much marginal as medial, going 
back and forth between clergy and laity. 

Fig. 3.12 Benedict of Nursia (left) and Caesarius von Heisterbach (right). Miniature, early 
fourteenth century. Diisseldorf, Universitatsbibliothek Diisseldorf, MS C-27, fol. 2r. 

Conversion Therapy 

In the Middle Ages the Latin noun conversio designated simultaneously retreat 
from the secular world and consecration of a spiritual life to God, within either the 
isolation of a hermitage or the community of a monastery. Consequently, it is not 
at all preposterous that a man such as the tumbler would be attracted to the notion 
of becoming a lay brother. Medieval historical sources and literature bristle with 
portrayals of jongleurs who convert, particularly late in life, to become hermits or 
monks. In the twelfth century, converts who elected to spend their last-chance final 
years among the Cistercians hailed from many slices of society. Rulers, noted laymen 
from various professions, and ecclesiastics from priests through abbots to primates— 
individuals from all these ranks and callings took on the habit of white monks. 

In the Latin Lives of the Fathers, the Egyptian desert father Paphnutius, who had 
been a disciple of Saint Anthony, is said to have converted a jongleur who had already 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 147 

become esteemed for his good deeds. A tradition attested from the early twelfth 
century held that such an entertainer built a hermitage dedicated to the patron of his 
native town. In turn, the site on a hill known as Publémont became the center of an 
abbey in Liege, in what is today Belgium. The late twelfth and thirteenth centuries 
provide numerous cases in which a performer saw the light and converted. Quasi- 
legendary would be the short life entitled The Monk of Montaudon (see Fig. 3.13). The 
man in question enters (no surprise here) a religious foundation at Montaudon. He 
subsequently becomes head, first of this otherwise unidentified priory and later of 
another near Villafranca in northern Spain, in the province of Navarre. Reportedly, he 
composes poetry but gives what he earns to his monasteries. Eventually, the monk is 
released from his vocation to join the court of King Alfonso II of Aragon, where he is 
appointed lord over the poetic society of Puy-Saint-Mary at Le-Puy-en-Velay. Sadly for 
our purposes, Saint-Mary has no relation to the Virgin: no tangible Marian connection 
is to be found. In other well-documented instances, poets and other entertainers 
converted to monasticism, including Cistercianism. A shining example would be the 
famed troubadour and later fanatic in the anti-Cathar Crusade, Folquet of Marseille. 
He disavowed his profession, repudiated his poems, torched the texts of them in his 
personal possession, and became a Cistercian. Eventually, he was elevated bishop of 
Toulouse (see Fig. 3.14). His songs included a dawn song in praise of the Virgin that 
Pope Clement IV, himself a former troubadour, certified. Folquet’s conversion was 
itself made the stuff of an exemplum. 

(Se gt. ys 

Fig. 3.13 The Monk of Montaudon. Miniature, Fig. 3.14 Folquet de Marseille. Miniature, 
thirteenth century. Paris, Bibliotheque nationale thirteenth century. Paris, Bibliotheque nationale 
de France, MS Fr. 854, fol. 135r. Image courtesy de France, MS Fr. 854, fol. 61r. Image courtesy 

of Bibliotheque nationale de France, Paris. of Bibliotheque nationale de France, Paris. 

148 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

A robust list can be constructed of other troubadours who became Cistercians. To take 
another instance, a man known as Guiot de Provins lived at the turn of the twelfth to 
the thirteenth century. While young, he studied in Arles and elsewhere in Provence. 
After serving as a court poet and composing love lyrics, he became a white monk 
at Clairvaux, but he was not there to stay. He left his life as a trouvere definitively 
four months later to enter Cluny. At the beginning of 1206, twelve years after taking 
up the habit, he completed the social satire known as Bible Guiot, or “Guiot’s Bible.” 
The roll call does not end with Guiot. Far from it! Helinand of Froidmont also put 
his career as a minstrel behind him to become a Cistercian at the monastery from 
which he takes his name. Jean Renart, the thirteenth-century author of the Old French 
romance Guillaume de Dole, may also have finished his days in an abbey. Perhaps the 
most pertinent of the many virtuosi among lyricists who converted to Cistercianism 
is the thirteenth-century Adam of Lexington, from Melrose in Scotland. To honor the 
Virgin, he passed his winter nights in playing the lute and singing before her altar 
in the abbey church. The Scot was an antibusker who would hand out provisions to 
others rather than solicit alms for himself. To give the gritty (or at least grainy) details, 
he would take a seat near the church doors and pore over the psalter with a basket of 
bread at the ready to allot to the helpless and needy. 

The decorum of conduct within houses of God now differs materially from what 
it was in the Middle Ages. The buildings served as places not merely of worship 
but also of congregation more broadly. Children were unruly, babies cried, mothers 
breastfed. Scuttlebutt would be exchanged, loudly. Mongrels barked and bayed, ran 
about nipping at each other, and even urinated on pillars. The churches were at once 
communal recreation centers and homeless shelters, providing soup kitchens and 
social services, as well as entertainment. Accordingly, in many regions of medieval 
Europe, it would not have struck anyone as odd that jongleurs frequented cathedral 
closes, churchyards, and even the interiors of cathedrals or larger churches, at least for 
certain types of performance. 

But what would reactions have been to a jongleur-become-monk who wished 
to ply his trade within cloisters or even inside a monastic church? The Cistercian 
General Chapter of 1199 passed a statute that in theory issued an all-inclusive call for 
the routine expulsion of monks who composed poetry. Given medieval perspectives 
on performance, recrimination could have been even stiffer against brethren who 
sought to engage post-conversion in gymnastics, instrumental music, or most other 
performing arts. Yet the world, even the rule-reverencing monastic one, can be an 
inconsistent place. Policies and practices are often at odds, sometimes noisily and 
sometimes tacitly. Not ten years after the passage of the statute, a brother of Clairvaux 
wrote a statement against versifying by monks that would have been fit for chiseling 
into a stone tablet. The only hitch was that the memorable line itself took the form of 
a verse in a poem by him. 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 149 

The Language of Silence 

There once was a very strict monastery. Its vow of silence 
forbade the brethren ever to utter a syllable—with one 
exception. Once every decade, each monk could say two 
words. After one brother spent ten years there, the prior 
asked him to speak. “Bed hard” was the reply. After the 
same stretch of time passed again, the monk said, “Food 
bad.” Following ten more years, the head asked again and 
heard, “I quit.” The prior responded, “That makes sense. 


All you ever do is complain.” 

Our Lady’s Tumbler grapples in part with themes of reading, lack of success in 
interpreting what is read, and misjudgings of signs—in other words, a failure to 
communicate. To go further, the poem expresses the limits of semiotics. Monasteries 
are loci of written and unwritten, even unspoken bylaws. At the same time, the story 
plays out behind a curtain of silence. The Cistercian recruit who is the protagonist 
cannot understand Latin or follow sign language —he finds himself at a loss for words 
and even for gestures. He chafes at his ignorance and consequent incompetence. Not 
being versed in the prestige language, he cannot chant or pray at times of worship. 
He goes from jongleur manqué to monk manqué—or the other way around. From his 
learning tour of the abbey, he learns at first nothing except that he has no learning 
to make him a contributor within the community. His secret escape, as a jester, is to 
scrabble his way to gestural expression, true body language. 

The medieval liturgy was a kind of schooling. In scholastic settings, repetition is 
the mother of learning. The opportunity and opportunism for acquiring competency 
by parroting newly acquired pieces of knowledge, or even just repeatedly witnessing 
the performance of acts and recitation of words by others, were especially great for 
lay brothers. Alas, the entertainer in the poem has a learning disability: he cannot find 
a way around his lack of Latinity. With an occluded view and an equally obstructed 
understanding of the rituals, he is a thwarted voyeur. Instead of being blocked out, he 
wishes to participate fully in them. 

To make matters worse, the tumbler cannot decipher even the special system of 
hand signs by which his confreres communicate when speaking aloud is taboo. Their 
signals are a semaphore that he has not been trained to decode. As it turns out, his 
plight is still more annoying. Incapable of talking the talk or even understanding it, he 
cannot grasp the mode and protocol of monastic silence either. Playing dumb without 
knowing what he is doing, he gets the silent treatment and has no idea what it means. 
He does not know when to keep quiet or for how long, and he is not fluent in the lingo 
of crying and caterwauling, moaning and mewling. He makes a transition from being 
a man of few words to being one of none, but he fails even in that drastic solution. In 

150 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

his self-imposed dumbfoundedness, he is devout and well meaning, but bumbling. He 
embraces elective mutism to mimic monks, but this only deepens his disheartenment. 
Then, vexed by his own inadequacies as a semiotician, he finds himself misread —his 
French (or Picard) leave from the offices in the choir is misinterpreted as a dearth of 
devotion, when the opposite is true. 

A word, or at least a sign, is needed to explain what the language of signs was. The 
Rule of Saint Benedict put a mute exclamation point on the importance of quiet, and 
Benedict recommended specifically that at table it would be preferable to indicate 
the unavailability of an item by using a sign rather than a word. A fixed system of 
gestures emerged a little at a time, with the evidence for so-called “signs of speaking” 
surfacing soon after the reformed Benedictine monastery of Cluny was founded. By 
muffling or muzzling the men within the monastery, the Cluniacs endeavored to 
mirror the quiet that prevailed in heaven. From then on, the lexicon of hand signs 
grew ever more extensive. Monks learned to give the finger—and then some. 

The Cistercian order, which took its cue from Benedictinism, was renowned for the 
lengths to which it elevated the monastic injunction against inane speechmaking and 
cultivated silence. The directive extended even to lay brothers. The white monks were 
to mind their own business and refrain from even whispering in the cloister, refectory 
(especially at mealtimes), dormitory, and infirmary. As part of the taciturnity that 
they were enjoined to practice, they also developed hand signs, contriving some 
specifically for communicating with lay brethren on the grange. The theologians and 
administrators of the order paid considerable attention to regulating where, when, 
and among whom the signals were to be practiced. Overall, the heavy reliance on sign 
language within Cistercianism was regarded with misgiving and maligned by many 
of their contemporaries. Visitors from outside the order perceived a potential for 
abuse in an excessive reliance on hand signs. Unregulated, the gestures could devolve 
into their own brand of volubility. According to non-Cistercian satirists, but also to 
regulators from within, the use of hand and finger movements was not restricted 
to necessary business but served to facilitate idle exchanges, even chitchatting and 
joking. Monks became much less taciturn and even talkative in their silence: at times 
it could be hard to get a sign in edgewise. 

In the Rule of Saint Benedict, the holy man established a daily cycle of monastic 
offices. The rotation, which established the circadian rhythm of the faith, mirrored 
a verse in the Psalms that called for lauds to be given seven times by day and once 
around midnight in each liturgical day (see Fig. 3.15). These canonical hours of prayer 
that make up the divine office are known as lauds, prime, terce, sext, none, vespers, 
and compline. The seven were raised to a total of eight by the addition of the night 
office, or vigils. Staggered to be celebrated punctually at roughly three-hour intervals, 
their fulfillment demanded waking in the deep of night and all but sleepwalking—a 
form of institutionally mandated somnambulism. 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 151 



Sunset Daybreak 

e Prime 

Fig. 3.15 St. Benedict’s monastic rotation. Vector art by Melissa Tandysh, 2014. 
Image courtesy of Melissa Tandysh. All rights reserved. 

Cistercianism and similar reform movements can be presented as rejecting Carolingian 
monastic traditions. Of their reactions, one ran against what the white monks 
perceived as an overgrowth of ritualism in the liturgies of mainstream Benedictine 
monasteries. Yet even the supposed restoration of the observance set forth in the 
Rule of Saint Benedict to its pristine and primitive form is too much for the erstwhile 
minstrel. Despite being streamlined, the cycle outpaces what a community member 
unseasoned in Latin, song, and ritual can manage. In lieu of the prescribed routine, 
he performs his own offices, a gymnastic improvisation loosely analogous to the later 
“Hours of the Virgin” that evolved among the laity. 

At first the tumbler is caught in a bind, since he has no abilities in either work or 
prayer. He feels that no one will sing his praises, because he lacks the savvy to fulfill 
the duties of a choir monk in Latin. Thus, he has no means of expressing his devotion 
except by remaining as quiet as a church mouse. Even in this self-abnegation he 
proves to be ignorant of the seemly occasions and measures for silence. Consequently, 
he finds himself the butt of wisecracks among his peers. Such tensions about on-the- 
job training must have arisen often when lay brothers included converts who were ill 
equipped for the grind they were expected to perform. Not only converted jongleurs, 
but converted clerics and nobles as well would have been unfamiliar with and 
mismatched for even the rudiments of agricultural labor. 

The hero seems predisposed to guilt. His ne’er-do-well feeling intensifies rather 
than wanes after his debut as a monk. He has gone from second-tier and sidelined 

152 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

in the world to being a runner-up within the monastery too. As he wrestles with 
his shortage of skills suited to abbey life, the entertainer seems on the verge of 
succumbing to despair. He hates the thought of being a putterer and (even worse) 
a leech, sucking away resources from the community without giving back anything 
in return. He would not have been unique: such aimlessness and listlessness, with 
an accompanying apprehension of pointlessness, often befell monks. The condition 
of soul-crushing weariness and wanness even had a name—the Latin technical term 
acedia, itself derived from a Greek noun meaning “lack of care.” Yet it does not denote 
what could be a happy state of “being carefree” from having a sinecure so much 
as “not caring.” Such numbness was also called the noontide demon or the sin of 
sloth. Whatever name we assign, it can become a tiredness of life. It anticipates the 
sort of ennui that at times has been deemed characteristic of modern existence. Such 
anesthetized lethargy bears no small resemblance to degrees of clinical depression. 
This deadened state as diagnosed today also frequently entails in its sufferers a dread 
of being good for nothing. The miracle in Our Lady’s Tumbler depicts a man racked by 
such deadness, self-doubt, and despair. He overcomes these afflictions triumphantly, 
thanks not to medication in the form of antidepressants, but to the godsend of 
heavenly intervention in his earthly world. Immortality and mortality crisscross, as 
do hope and hopelessness. 

Despondency of the sort that the performer endured mustnot have been uncommon 
among the Cistercian brethren, both choir monks and lay brothers. Members of 
the second group lived and labored in harsh conditions that may not always have 
corresponded well with what they had imagined beforehand. One anecdote set in 
Clairvaux describes a lay brother at a grange who cried at not being permitted to 
participate in the liturgy for the feast of Mary. While he wept, the Virgin appeared in 
a vision to tell him that he ought to take part in the devotions with the choir monks. 
Thereupon, he heard a choir of angels singing the office. Another story describes a 
lay brother who would sigh before the altar, since the number of times he could take 
communion was strictly limited. A third exemplum tells of a lay brother who when 
asked to explain his melancholy, clarified that he knew he would be denied entry to 
paradise for not saying his prayers as he had formerly done while among the laity. 
Eventually, this doleful soul drowned himself in the millpond. 

Christianity has contained since the earliest days a strain known as apophatic or 
negative theology. Designated in Latin as the way of negation or denial, this approach 
requires describing God solely by spelling out what may not be said of him. The 
tumbler is the ultimate apophatist, since he concludes by abnegating speech about God 
altogether. Maintaining the most restrained and rigorous silence, he utters nothing 
in either Latin or the vernacular. The poem becomes a quagmire of reading and 
interpreting, hogtied reading and interpreting, and misreading and misinterpreting. 
The entertainer cannot follow Latin or sign language. He cannot devise a mode of 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 153 

communication that rises to the level of God, even as mediated through the more 
obliging channel of Mary. When he seeks to remedy his insufficiencies by performing, 
his colleagues misunderstand his absence from the conventional office for this 
purpose. Eventually, the performer casts off his dejection and finds a getaway route 
out of the apophatic bind. Instead of constraining himself to privation, he employs the 
idiom of dance. He validates in his own unique way that actions speak louder than 
words. Instead of paralyzing himself with the fearfulness that comes from expressing 
veneration directly to God, he resorts to the Virgin through her Madonna. 

Bernard of Clairvaux famously harangued against sculptural art in the cloisters, 
but he favored the presence of books there. The gymnast finds his own way to make 
of bodily movement a private text. He makes acrobatics his own kind of Bible of the 
Poor. Long before choreographers devised a system for recording movements in 
dance, the tumbler creates a liturgy through his physical moves. By the same token, 
he achieves the wondrous feat of staying in rhythm chronologically with the other 
monks while performing his devotions. Although out of sync spatially with his peers 
in where he does his worship, he transcends them through the efficacy of his balletic 


Gym Clothes 

One old saw declares, “Clothes make the man.” Another holds, “The habit does not 
make the monk.” Does the second saying suggest that a male not in the monastic 
uniform may still be a monk, or only that a person who dons it may not make the 
grade as one? Let us turn now to the tumbler’s clothing (or scantiness of it). As his 
fellow monks in the choir above fulfill their liturgical duties, he peels off his cowl 
and other outer garments and enacts an elaborate gymnastic sequence in the crypt 
to honor the Mother of God. What exactly was he wearing, when he dressed in next 
to nothing? The text and the illumination are at variance. In medieval art, men who 
strip down to their most intimate underclothing are depicted as having on a filmy 
undergarment that covers their lower body. Not so our performer, when he performs 
his strange equivalent of rolling up his sleeves for hard work. 

We learn that the entertainer has on nothing but a “little coat” that serves as hardly 
more than a shirt. The coatlet that constitutes his undergarb could be pictured as a 
short smock or kirtle or, to resort to a shade more familiar term, a short nightshirt. 
Perhaps we should go so far as to envisage something along the lines of a romper, 
the one-piece outer garment worn by a young child. In all cases, the item would have 
had a T-shaped cut with an oval neckline, so that it could enclose parts of the arms, 
the whole torso, and a mite below the midriff and upper thighs. Whatever we call it, 
the de facto jumpsuit would have concealed enough of his body in a critical situation 
to be decent (even though he was not expecting to be seen by anyone terrestrial, just 

154 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

celestial, and he was most certainly not out to air any dirty linen). That said, his outfit 
would not normally have been sufficiently long to provide seemly covering for the 
active movements in which he reportedly engaged. 

The nightshirt-like item would shield mainly the trunk and above. For the 
nether limbs, men could rely on linen breeches and fabric hose on their shanks. The 
Cistercians elicited many sniggers because they refrained from sporting such coverings 
except when they served at the altar. The white monks were as distinctive for their 
underwear (or lack thereof) as for their outerwear. Remember the metonymy that 
gave them one of their principal names. Being whispered about as the brethren who 
wore no undergarments was a gossipy equal-and-opposite reaction to the designation 
of “white monks.” The practice of not bothering to wear underpants under clothes 
is known now in slang as “going commando,” but in the Middle Ages it could have 
been called “going Cistercian.” 

The Latin author Walter of Map (d. ca. 1210) offers a slurring explanation in the 
anecdote-ridden Latin prose of his twelfth-century De nugis curialium (Courtiers’ 
Trifles). In it, the habit of dispensing with underclothes was allegedly intended to 
maintain coolness in the sexual organs, for fear that flashes of heat would stimulate 
their possessors to lechery—an alternative etiology for “some like it hot.” Whatever 
the real rationale for forgoing the lowest layer of clothing, non-Cistercians rolled into 
the aisles in sidesplitting laughter at the hazards of accidental exposure to which 
white monks were purportedly prey. Thus, the same Map recounts the scurrilous 
anecdote of a hapless member of the order who inadvertently mooned King Henry 
II of England. While scrambling from the path of the oncoming royal cavalcade, the 
poor unfortunate fell head over heels. With nothing covering his bottom, he went 
once more into the breach (but breechless) and exposed his posterior to the monarch. 
In these cases of a bottom-up process gone awry, the covering the monks failed to 
wear was breeches. They dispensed with unmentionables altogether, opting not to be 
encumbered even by a shortened form that extended only so far as the upper thighs. 

The tale of the tumbling lay monk in the French poem and Latin exemplum is 
not concerned with exhaustively documenting the practices of the order regarding 
monastic unmentionables, as engrossing as such an investigation could have been. 
Rather, it brings into higher resolution the peculiarities of an individual. To go further, 
it concentrates on the minimalism of clothing and not on the absence of underthings. 
Thus, the story lacks any clear-cut connection with the Cistercian sartorial convention 
against undergarments. That is probably a good thing, because if it had one, we would 
have to delve into the issue of the order’s policy on underclothing for lay brothers, 
which may well have been different and more lenient than for the choir monks. 

The tumbler’s near nakedness as he goes about his business contrasts with the 
wealth he waived upon entering the monastery, since the tangibles of a successful 
jongleur included without fail a sumptuous wardrobe. Clothing forms part of the 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 155 

stock in trade for professional entertainers. In their compositions, those who compose 
and perform songs and poems, like medieval jongleurs, strike a pose of operating 
within a well-developed sartorial economy. At work, they petition, even beg, their 
patrons for cloaks. At play, they win and lose such items in gambling. 

Yet the wardrobe that jugglers of words earn for their craft stands far apart from the 
representations in art of the physical entertainers as they do their routines. Medieval 
performers of the physical sort were known for their scandalously insufficient attire. 
In practical terms, it made sense for the gymnastic jongleurs to strip in preparation for 
their acts. Both gymnast and gymnasium are built upon the Greek adjective gumnos, or 

“naked,” by way of a verb meaning “to exercise naked.” The various words reflect the 
reality that the backbreaking movements of gymnastics require skintight and scanty 
clothing, or even none at all. The medieval legends of Alexander the Great perpetuated 
knowledge of the so-called gymnosophists or “naked wise men” of long-ago India, 
who among other things eschewed conventional dress to achieve greater purity of 
thought (see Fig. 3.16). The tumbler resembled them in keeping little under wraps: he 
lives by a principle of unveiled truth. Millennia later, similar claims for the spiritual 
and epistemic benefits of shedding clothes continue to be advanced by nudists and 
naturists. Anatomized etymologically, the designation gym suit is a contradiction in 
terms—an antithesis of the first order. The only suit on view in ancient gymnasia was 
the birthday suit. 

The jongleur of Our Lady’s Tumbler is atypical to the extreme in the sartorial 
sacrifices that he makes unprompted. Upon becoming a monk, he relinquishes 
his entire collection of worldly clothes. Whether he wears breeches beneath or not 
at the commencement of his acrobatic routine of performing for the Madonna is a 
footnote (or a note on some other body part) best left to the imagination, but the light 
clothing heightens the physicality of his skills as a dancer-acrobat. At the end of his 
self-inflicted ordeal, the physical crumpling of his nearly unclothed person can call to 
mind the Passion of Christ or the martyrdom of any number of saints. Having been 
stripped down for at least part of the torture that culminated in the cross, Jesus was 
shown consistently as dressed in next to nothing for the Crucifixion and Deposition. 
The four soldiers who crucified him took his clothes and divided them in four shares 
among them, leaving him with only his undergarment (see Fig. 3.17). After he was 
taken off the cross, Jesus had on next to nothing when cradled for the last time by 
his mother. Thus, being nearly undressed was part of the overall sacrificial offering. 
At the same time, it belonged to the deliberate humiliation to which Jesus was 
subjected, and which he embraced. The humbling imposed by involuntary nakedness 
becomes a routine part of legends of saints, perhaps particularly virgin martyrs. Such 
harassments can be depicted with a meticulousness that might strike a viewer today 
as verging on pornographic. 

156 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

I ure que mae SF ce maaly mae que plue eftont G 
e eb. o3 Dit WE striae Sd 

| fart yucifone cfc contiume alee 
ee mcire Be COW | fane Gi Mine if fermnble yuc icf 
© poses fue toute We We mauk Ke yuck peculy feo k 
B Aholce font a efche A: fomnent ne Loulort fouffiy ficome wane 
Puce et quclee filly Heuw net oli?! font fam maladie batadlee pilleneh A } 
Tent compte ® Keun su peuple | fr coxtucte omfion cé ative fc ance e 
qs lee aomvit afr guc ine foil hei sama on pa fermblablee Sont noue aace 

Fig. 3.16 Alexander the Great encounters gymnosophists in India. Miniature by Maitre Francois, 
1475-1480. The Hague, Museum Meermanno, MS 10 A 11, fol. 93v. Image courtesy of Museum 
Meermanno, The Hague. 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 157 

Fig. 3.17 The crucifixion of Christ, with soldiers shown casting lots at the foot of the cross. 
Miniature by Queen Mary Master, 1310-1320. London, British Library, MS Royal 2 B VIL, fol. 256v. 
Image courtesy of the British Library, London. 

Outside the context of martyrdom, being in the buff or close to it was viewed 
negatively in the Middle Ages. To be seen unclothed by accident was customarily 
found ridiculous and comic in medieval culture. The tumbler’s look may verge on 
black comedy. For him to be nearly nude in the presence of the Virgin may also raise 
gender issues, just as his virtual nakedness near fully clad monastic brothers may 
point to a difference in status between entertainers (as a subset of lay brothers) and 
monks. Yet the juggler’s gym suit signals on a textile level his true simplicity. In this 
sense, his minimal attire outshines even monastic garb; his nakedness is not merely 
virtual but even virtuous. In the end, the poet need not have been scoring any special 
point, either comic or commendatory. The reality of athletic performance would have 
required jongleurs in the world outside the cloister to strip down, which could have 
contributed to the poor reputations accorded them by the Mrs. Grundys of their day. 

To view the tumbler’s disrobing from an utterly different vantage point, the 
medieval commentary tradition, in both exegesis of the Bible and interpretation of 
secular writings, emphasized peeling away protective layers of the surface text to 
arrive at the hidden meaning of subtexts. Tropes developed to express the hermeneutic 
process. Thus, interpreters could winnow to separate wheat from chaff, crack shell to 
reach kernel, shuck husks to get at the ear of corn (had Europe had maize), and so 

158 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

forth. Two comparisons, ever present in the twelfth century, involved the Latin terms 


signifying “wrapper, 
At the same time, the tumbler’s appearance nudges the scene close to the borderline 

covering,” or “envelope.” 

of the sexuality and even promiscuity that are sometimes detectable in miracles of 
the Virgin. Sexual sinners are far from abnormal among those saved by Mary. The 
whorish meretrix, “prostitute” in the learned language, could be spared thanks to the 
virginal mediatrix, the Latin qualifier of the Virgin in her capacity as mediator between 
earthly sinners and heavenly redeemer. As the junction where God and humanity 
intersected, the Mother of God was ideally suited to help individual human beings 
and her child meet each other halfway. By interceding with her son and being heard 
by him, she has access to the heavenly father who can bring a magic solution through 

As the chant rises, the tumbler’s leaps and skips grow more arduous. He coordinates 
his physical devotions with the verbal and musical worship of the monks in the church 
above him. In straining to execute his service, he goes so far as to extemporize hitherto 
unseen and unattempted new moves for the Virgin. Finally, the heavy-breathing 
exertion causes him to collapse, sweat-slicked from head to foot. A simile that likens 
the wetness exuding from him to fat oozing from meat on a spit may bring home how 
he treats his fleshly self like a dray animal. In this self-inflicted physical mortification, 
the tumbler resembles Arnulf, a lay brother from the Cistercian monastery at Villers in 
Belgium, whose life was celebrated in the second decade of the thirteenth century by 
the monk Goswin of Bossut. According to the macabre minutiae, the masochistically 
inclined, devout brother scourged his body with all manner of homemade devices to 
cause himself exquisite pain. Another lay brother from the same institution afflicted 
his flesh to the point where a witness likened him to one of the desert fathers. In 
any case, the entertainer’s sweatiness in Our Lady’s Tumbler is reemphasized in a later 
performance, when his perspiration dribbles down into the middle of the crypt. In his 
one-man sweatshop, we can picture the paving stones whitened by the salt from the 
effusion of sweat and tears. Let us scrape a sample and submit it to a little testing in 
the laboratory of language and literary history. 

Sweat Cloth 

The convert makes a habitual routine of his impromptu ritual. Mystified by his 
absence during the canonical hours, one of the brethren shadows the former jongleur 
stealthily, spies upon his acrobatic dance, and, finding it comic, induces the leader of 
the abbey to join him as an onlooker. The guffaw he intended was not a “laugh with” 
of shared joy, but a “laugh at” of jeers, heckling, and tongue-clucking. Yet the last 
laugh ends up being on the tattletale. When the dance ends, he and the abbot see the 
statue of Mary come to life, descend, and dry the tumbler by fanning him with a cloth. 

What are we to make of the sweat that exudes from the lay brother? What did the 
damp signify, and how would it have been viewed? Madonnas in crypts have often 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 159 

served females. Women have put their faith in such images to be magical solutions, 
expecting them to act as fertility drugs, take the edge off pain in childbirth, ensure 
successful delivery, and fix diseases of the reproductive and sexual organs. Yet let 
us not forget that the jongleur is male. His manliness is particularly apparent in his 
bedraggled wetness. The aphorism holds that “royals glow, women perspire, and 
men sweat.” By this measure the jongleur belongs among the sweatiest of the sweaters. 
In medical jargon, he could be diagnosed as hyperhidrotic. Apparently, he has pores 
like fire hydrants. The perspiration could further betoken the physicality that makes 
so very lowly the tumbler’s type of profession and performance. In this event, the 
Virgin’s gesture could be tantamount to a healing touch. It cures the gymnast of the 
corporeality that threatens to debar him not merely from monasticism but even more 
grievously from salvation. 

As we know by now, the Madonna’s treatment for the entertainer’s condition 
in Our Lady’s Tumbler is to apply a textile. Whatever functions the object may have 
fulfilled earlier, in this scene it is pressed into use for sopping or fanning. A person 
communicating in Latin would have called it a sudarium, or “sweat cloth,” which refers 
to the liquid that such fabrics mop up. A modern Italian would designate it instead as 
a fazzoletto, or “facecloth,” which goes back ultimately to the noun for face, from where 
people most often wipe sweat. The associations between sweat cloths and athletics fall 
entirely within the realm of the ordinary in today’s world. The religious context for 
such pieces of fabric within Christianity may be less familiar. For centuries, wrangles 
have raged over a crazy quilt (so to speak) of relics that have been designated at one 
time or another by the above-mentioned sudarium. The Gospel of John provides a 
major basis for the subsequent interest in such artifacts. The writer makes no mention 
of a sweat-soaked textile in the entombment of Jesus. Yet in describing the empty 
sepulcher, he refers to both nondescript linens and a cloth of this specific type that 
had been upon his head. The original Greek word is soudarion, a borrowing from the 
language of the Western Romans. 

Various items designated as sweat cloths have been revered as relics of Christ. One 
would be the facecloth of Oviedo in northern Spain. At the risk of casting a pall upon 
this discussion, burial cloths must be mentioned. They are intimately related to face- 
and sweat cloths. Most famously, the shroud of Turin, a much-controverted length of 
linen that bears the image of a man and that has been alleged to be the winding cloth 
from the burial of none other than Jesus himself (see Fig. 3.18), remains the subject of 
debate to the present. So too does the image of Edessa, an imprint allegedly left on a 
cloth by the visage of Christ while still living. This likeness of Jesus was in effect the 
first icon. 

Any discussion of perspiration that involves the Christian savior cannot help 
but call to mind the visuality and viscerality of the episode involving Veronica (see 
Fig 3.19), whose very name speaks to her function. Perhaps a hybrid form from two 
languages, the compound may fuse a Latin adjective for “true” and a Greek noun, 


scrambled by metathesis during Latinization, for “icon,” “image,” or “likeness.” In 

160 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Fig. 3.18 The Shroud of Turin (original on left, processed negative by Dianelos Georgoudis on 

right). Image from Wikimedia Commons, © Dianelos Georgoudis (2014), CC BY-SA 3.0, https:// 

Fig. 3.19 Martin Shongauer, Saint Veronica, 
ca. 1480. Engraving. Washington, D.C., 
National Gallery of Art, Rosenwald 
Collection. Image courtesy of the National 
Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. 

Fig. 3.20 Hans Memling, Saint Veronica, 
ca. 1470-1475. Oil on panel, 31.2 x 24.4 cm. 
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, 
Samuel H. Kress Collection. Image courtesy of 
the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 161 

legend, a woman of Jerusalem by this name (so the story goes) held a veil, cloth, 
or piece of linen to Jesus’s countenance as he carried the cross to his crucifixion on 
Calvary (see Fig. 3.20). With it she wiped away sweat, blood, and gore. By being 
pressed to Christ’s features, the swatch became a life mask. From his bodily fluids, it 
received a miraculous imprint that reproduced his features (see Fig. 3.21). The story 
goes that Veronica presented the textile to the Roman emperor Tiberius. To this day, a 
piece purporting to be this very item is held in the basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican. 
In iconography, it is sometimes borne by two angels. (In Our Lady’s Tumbler the towel 
is gripped in one, perhaps angelic, hand that reaches down with it to swab or fan the 
tumbler’s brow.) 

In a nod to her truly iconic name, the cloth of Veronica is known today as the 
vernicle, a Western Christian equivalent of a depiction of Jesus’s face that had its own 
name and story, both connected with the Greek East. The mandylion, as this other 
image was called, was supposedly painted by one of Christ’s contemporaries. The 
legend held that the portrait by this painter was brought to Edessa at the request of 
the monarch there, Abgar the Black. In the tenth century, the object was moved to 
Constantinople. It disappeared from the capital city of the Eastern Romans during the 
sack that occurred in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade. Its subsequent whereabouts 

Fig. 3.21 Martin Shongauer, The Bearing of the Cross with Saint Veronica, ca. 1480. 
Engraving, 16.5 x 11.8 cm. Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art. Courtesy of the National 
Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. 

162 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

have been the stuff of much conjecture. It has been associated with various textile 
relics owned and displayed later in the West, some of which still exist. The Western 
cloth of Veronica vaporized the whole problem of iconicity, since it was not a painting 
by an artist but the direct impression that the countenance of the Christian savior left 
upon a cloth. In the legend, the textile had been applied to the front of his head as an 
act of charity by the woman after whom it was named. Thus, it belonged squarely 
among images that were designated by a Greek adjective that means “not handmade”: 
the fabric was manufactured, but not the face represented upon it. In this quality it 
can be compared with the shroud of Turin. 

The material was also designated by the Latin word that later evolved via French 
into the English “towel.” In Our Lady’s Tumbler the equivalent noun in the vernacular 
describes the textile the Virgin wields. This same word also denotes a holy cloth 
inserted in a piece of wood that was purchased by King Louis IX of France in 1247. 
This relic was conveyed to the Sainte-Chapelle, the royal “Holy Chapel” located in the 
heart of Paris. It may have been identical with the mandylion. The item employed to 
comfort the tumbler could have been either a thick and absorbent fabric designed to 
sponge away sweat or a thinner strip from a bigger piece of clothing. In either case, 
the stuff must not be underappreciated. Thanks largely to contacts with the so-called 
cult of the Mother of God in Constantinople, textiles insinuated themselves into the 
fabric of life, death, and afterlife in the medieval West. Their cultural resonance at the 
time was anything but threadbare. 

The Weighing of Souls 

No pain, no gain. 

After the abbot has seen the monkish acrobat in action, nothing happens for a while 
to rupture the ritual. But eventually the leader of the community bids the tumbler to 
meet with him. A summons from a person higher in the hierarchy can be overawing, 
along the lines of a subpoena — literally an injunction to come “under penalty.” Being 
dragged into the boss’s office or into a judge’s chambers is not often a good thing. 
The lay brother shows up in a fright for the interview with his superior. He is not 
braced for a David-and-Goliath fight of lone laic against “the man.” Instead, he is 
scared nearly to death that he is to be drummed out of the cloister. The outcome is 
not what he expects. Quite the contrary: he finds himself praised —a monastery is just 
the place for his cultlike devotion. Upon realizing that he is not in trouble, he goes 
weak in the knees and swoons from what might be diagnosed medically as orthostatic 
hypotension. At least in the case of the enervated entertainer, the physiological 
effects of breakneck change from grave apprehensiveness to intense relief are dire. 
Furthermore, they are compounded by exhaustion from untold days of repeated 
performances in the crypt. The result overwhelms his debilitated constitution. The 
initial fainting spell is only the first symptom of a more drastic turn for the worse. The 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 163 

burdens, both physical and spiritual, have overtaxed the brother and take a dreadful 
toll. After a swift decline, he dies. His only hope for salvation rests upon the Virgin: 
she remains, as she has been all along, his sole exit strategy. When the jongleur’s 
soul departs from his body to transit from the vale of tears (at death, human beings 

“give up the ghost” — literally, they breathe out their spirit), Mary must release it from 
damnation by wresting it from the talons of demons. These agents of Satan thought to 
claim the tumbler’s spirit as theirs because of blemishes in the life he had led before 
entering the abbey. The performer is saved and ends up on the side of the angels, but 
only after a white-knuckle prelude in which punishment seems the likelier outcome. 
Salvation could not come in more nip-and-tuck a fashion than this. 

Although the sequence of events in which a celestial forearm handed down a towel 
from within a cumulus would seem to end with the jongleur on cloud nine, we are 
shown only that the mediation of the Virgin induces God or an angelic agent to spare 
him from perpetual torment. The hand is related to what is known technically as a 
manus Dei or dextera Dei. In Christian art, the motif of the divine (right) hand went back 
to late antiquity and the early Middle Ages. A full-length depiction of God as a human 
figure would have crossed the red line of the Second Commandment. Instead, the 
representation of a hand or hand and forearm symbolized the deity’s intervention in 
human affairs. The hand reminds the viewer that in medieval theology, God performs 
all miracles. 

The aphorism that “death is the great equalizer” has been in circulation since the 
mid-nineteenth century at the latest. Such thinking would have been utterly foreign 
in the Middle Ages. Existence then was a cliffhanger until the very end. The episode 
of Our Lady’s Tumbler calls to mind scenes in art of the act that is called technically by 
the Greek compound psychostasis. Meaning “soul-weighing,” this operation is a stock 
element in Christian eschatology. When Jesus Christ presides at the Last Judgment, 
the Archangel Saint Michael weighs out a soul’s good and bad deeds on the pans 
of a scale to determine whether it will be damned or redeemed (see Fig. 3.22). In 
this endgame, Satan had anything but a take-no-prisoners outlook: he wanted all the 
hostages he could get. In iconography, such scenes often involve the spiritual part of 
a human being portrayed as a miniature body that is hotly contested by angels and 
demons. Vignettes of this sort record a last-minute (or just past the last minute) out- 
of-body experience. The immortal essences of lucky people are saved by the better 
angels of their natures — often, as in this case, with a little moonlighting by the Mother 
of God. Alongside all her other obligations, she has nearly unique powers to tip the 
balance in favor of those who have sinned. This capacity of hers explains why Mary is 
to die for. The tumbler has not yet evolved into the juggler he will become in the late 
nineteenth century, but she neutralizes gravity and renders him as weightless as any 
of the juggling clubs in his descendant’s legerdemain: he floats to heaven, wafted by 
divine agents. 

The motif of soul-weighing is alluded to once in a version of the story of the 
jongleur produced in 1906, on one folio side of a book that features pseudomedieval 

164 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

artwork to accompany the text. It depicts the juggler as a monk, about to be borne 
aloft by attendant spirits who have his arms in a death grip. To the side, a demon, 
clutching the deceased’s one-piece undergarment, gives us a black look (see Fig. 3.23). 
The tumbler is not automatically sanctified. To gain salvation, his soul still requires 
intercession by way of the Madonna. Only after her intervention can her proxies truly 
spirit him away, and only after it does even the sky cease to be the limit: he reaches 
the empyrean. 

In a quintessential Marian miracle tale, the Virgin saves the day, or at least the 
sinner, during the grace period between death and heaven or hell. She intervenes, not 
a moment too soon, to enfranchise from the devil a wrongdoer who has committed 
either a specific or a repeating pattern of transgressions. She can do so by serving as 
an eleventh-hour character witness, but often she steps in even when the malefactor 
seems unsalvageable. The story of the jongleur differs from this typical formula more 
than a jot and tittle. Although Mary performs her customary soteriological function 
by sparing an individual after death, the real miracle take place when she arranges for 
the same evildoer to be comforted during his mortal life—and so the medieval painter 
fittingly chooses for the sole illumination of the poem the scene with the “towel.” Our 
eyes are directed away from the celestial realm until the very end of the story. At that 
juncture, it intrudes epiphanically, so that we may not forget the afterworld to follow 
the present one, the hereafter to arrive after the here and now. 

The protagonist of Our Lady’s Tumbler is a secular who has not been deeply 
monkified. In fact, he secularizes the liturgy more than the abbey monasticizes him. 
He privatizes the customarily collective action of monks as they observe the canonical 
hours. In effect, he is an early adopter in embracing the practice of dedicating personal 
worship to Mary. In many miracle tales, individual devotion to the Virgin laicizes the 
regimen that was executed in the daily liturgical round of monks and many in the 
clergy. At each of the canonical hours, the devotee carries a special load for the Mother 
of God. This aping of monasticism by laypeople has come to be called the Little Office 
or the Hours of the Virgin. A story about a cleric of Pisa is the most famous one in 
which a worshiper sings the hours in private and in secret. After being browbeaten by 
his family into marrying, he is confronted in his wedding bed by Mary and motivated 
by her to return to her service. Such exclusive reverence, even more powerful when it 
took place before a Madonna, would become a potent feature of lay piety during the 
later Middle Ages. 

We are never told of any specific act committed by the tumbler that would qualify 
as a major or even a minor sin—a delict or peccadillo. The jongleur seems instead to 
be the object of finger-pointing for the very nature of his premonastic profession and 
way of life. Another possible fly in the ointment would be his postmonastic inability 
to contribute to the abbey-wide team effort to express veneration in established ways 
of worship. In any case, his off-the-cuff liturgy turns out to outclass what the choir 
monks themselves manage to achieve. The similarities with other Marian miracle 
tales resume when Our Lady’s Tumbler depicts the Virgin interceding on behalf of this 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 165 

Fig. 3.22 The archangel Michael and the act of psychostasis. Mural, fifteenth century. Burgos, 
Iglesia de San Nicolas de Bari. Image courtesy of Ramon Muniz. All rights reserved. 

Fig. 3.23 The juggler is lifted up by angels, rescued from the clutches of a demon. 
Illustration by Henri Malatesta, 1906. Published in Anatole France, 
Le jongleur de Notre-Dame (Paris: F. Ferroud, 1906), 9. 

166 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

humble stalwart against conventional institutional hierarchy and jurisdiction. The 
Mother of God is a populist, and the jongleur-become-lay-brother is one of her people. 

The Latin-Less Lay Brother and Our Lady 

A young clergyman asks his bishop, “May I smoke 

while praying?” In response, he receives a definitive no. 
Later, the clergyman scolds an older colleague whom 

he observes puffing on a cigarette while praying. “You 
shouldn’t smoke while praying! I asked the bishop, and he 
said I couldn't!” The older padre replied, “That's strange. 
When I asked the bishop if I could pray while smoking, he 
told me that it was fine to pray anytime!” 

The story of the tumbler promotes holiness, but it hardly glorifies monks and clerics. 
If anything, it goes into rapture over a lay convert who outdoes the fully qualified 
brethren around him through his meek profession of piety. While they enact the 
refined rarefication of Latin chant in the choir above him, the layman engages in a 
complementary, or competing, physical performance in the crypt below them. 

Our Lady’s Tumbler confronts its audience with a state of play that would not have 
been conceivable before the twelfth century: a laic with no grasp of Latin or liturgy 
has the wherewithal to outrun the professional supplicants, that is, the monks. The 
unlettered man merits salvation through an act of reverence that is not only not Latin- 
based, but is indeed not even verbal at all. His performance is infralinguistic. After 
finding no suitable register for himself within the world of Latinity, he ventures 
outside to fashion a new one all his own. Not bilingual, he has the liability of being 
tongue-tied, but the edge of being anything but two-tongued. Despite lacking all 
access to diglossia and the learned language, in the end the jongleur is not rocked onto 
his spiritual back foot by lacking book knowledge. The tale is at once deeply pious 
and deeply seditious. It exalts monasteries, while concurrently privileging an illiterate 
and Latinless lay convert. It favors deed over word, the simplicity of complete silence 
over the subtlety of sign language. It can be construed as an encouragement to piety, 
with the message that no matter how nonintellectual and ill-respected a profession 
may be, its practitioner has a ray of hope for redemption through devotion to the 
Virgin. All the same, it can be taken equally well as impugning the hollowness of 
rituals or the meanness of those who subscribe to them. The lay brother becomes a 
lightning rod, but what comes out of the blue is not a thunderbolt that strikes him 
dead. The real issue may not be the aberrance of his worship in the crypt but the 
emptiness of the formal liturgy in the choir up above. Like grace, prayer seems not to 
happen by committee but in solitude. 

Mary helped to open a fissure in the fracturing social system that is known as the 
three orders of society. In this tripartite schema, two groups counted for their salvation 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 167 

on the rituals of the pray-ers, namely, the monks and clerics. These dependents 
were the laborers who produced food and the warriors who provided defense. The 
lay brothers fell into a gray area. They viewed their labor itself as a means both of 
glorification to honor God and, in turn, of salvation. They straddled the line between 
the prayers and the workers, in that their menial tasks became spiritual exercises. They 
created a new answer to the old question of what constitutes satisfactory veneration. 
In effect, they achieved a redefining moment of both work and worship, by making 
grunt work itself a form of piety. Yet in Our Lady’s Tumbler, the convert is given direct 
access to his own redemption, without having to bank upon the praying class. He 
needs no mediation beyond what the Virgin furnishes. 

By being written in medieval French, the poem could be parsed as reversing an 
antiquated hierarchy by preferring the vernacular over the learned language. Yet 
Our Lady’s Tumbler takes its revolution beyond the merely linguistic by validating 
fictionally the movements of a layman’s body over the entire semiotics, verbal and 
gestural, of monks. At the outset, the brother is handicapped by not coming up to 
scratch on either side of the monastic equation that balanced contemplation and 
action. The disequilibrium between the two pursuits was a sore point in the twelfth 
century, encapsulated in the Latin imperatives ora, or “pray,” and labora, or “work.” (In 
modern terms, the two commands lead in opposite directions: prayer is relationship- 
oriented, with the other party being divine; work is task-oriented.) The pairing of the 
two injunctions captures much about the spirit of Benedictinism, even though the 
phrase is nowhere to be found in the Rule of Saint Benedict. In fact, the pseudomotto 
has not been traced any earlier than a nineteenth-century book on Benedictine life. 
The lateness makes sense, since imposing the two endeavors upon the same class of 
individuals conflicted automatically with the so-called three orders of society. 

In Our Lady’s Tumbler, the jongleur must make his labor his toil and vice versa. The 
inextricability of the two activities of prayer and work is made clear coincidentally 
by a variation in the manuscripts for the text of one line. Three manuscripts present 
a reading that can be translated “as he did not know how to pray otherwise.” Taking 
matters to the exact opposite pole, two others transmit wording that leads to the 
English “as he did not know how to work otherwise.” 

As a minstrel, the tumbler was bound by the very name of his occupation to the 
notion of serving. A person’s art and service have always been closely related. The 
sticking point is that the tumbler is unfit for the new type of helping hand he hopes 
to lend—especially since the organ he would need most to ply as a monk would be 
his tongue. He does not control the language and words that are a prerequisite to 
the standard prayer and liturgy presumed by the monastic office, and the skills he 
commands are not regarded as appropriate substitutes for more typical forms of toil 
within a monastery. It is all very well to speak of the dignity of work, but do the 
exertions of the jongleurs truly constitute labor? Yet despite these shortfalls, by the 
end he has vindicated his idiosyncratic tertium quid of self-expression. In plain English, 

168 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

he has staked out for himself a new middle course between two already known ways 
for expressing himself. 

During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries Mary reaches her peak, partly courtesy 
of her very accessibility through prayer. Our Lady’s Tumbler is aligned more with 
popular religion than with formal theology, in that it presents the Mother of God 
not so much in her role as an intercessor as in her guise as a power in her own right. 
But the Madonna of the medieval French poem is, like all Madonnas, an artistic 
representation of Mary. The backdrop against which she is depicted is a Cistercian 
monastery and its church. This institution conjures up the hierarchy within organized 
religion at its most orthodox. Churches had been dedicated to the Blessed Virgin since 
the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore or “Saint Mary Major” in Rome, as early as 432. 
In much of Western Europe, the Mother of God underwent a surge of veneration in 
the Carolingian period. This was the time, preceding and succeeding Charlemagne, 
that prevailed from the mid-eighth century through the late tenth. For all of that, the 
cult of the Virgin experienced no efflorescence then on the level of the resurgence that 
held sway from the twelfth century on. 

Among ecclesiastics, the monastic orders generally and the Cistercian monks 
particularly displayed undivided loyalty to the Mother of God during what is often 
called the long twelfth century. This chronological period extends from approximately 
as early as 1050 to as late as 1230. Of the many lay syndicates outside the Church that 
cultivated a relation of their own to the Virgin, professional entertainers, especially 
composers of song, stand out. An ardent courtly lover and love poet has one sort 
of relationship to a standoffish beloved lady; a Mary-fixated trouvere another to the 
Mother of God. It would be ill advised to draw facile likenesses between the two 
types of association. But for all that, it would be even more erroneous to disregard 
connections between the two roles. The tumbler has been wont to perform for large 
audiences, but he has also become familiar for a pas de deux in which he dances alone 
with an unseen Mary. 

Our Lady’s Tumbler is shot through with an oddly relevant tension between the 
communal, rule-based devotion of the choir monks, who chant in church within a 
monastery dedicated to the Virgin, and the personal, highly irregular obeisance to her 
of the jongleur. The differences between the liturgy of the monks and the leaps of the 
lay brother are instantly graspable. But what distinguishes the entertainer’s love from 
a courtly lover’s? A private love binds the gymnast to Mary, not to an earthbound 
mistress as a aristocratic love poet might celebrate. Furthermore, the performer's 
passion articulates itself not in courtly song but instead in a balletic billet doux. The 
dance is not as simple as it may seem at first blush. For one thing, it must be appreciated 
as an extension of the silence to which the laic so touchingly consigns himself, for 
want of articulateness in words or signs. Concomitantly, and contrapuntally, the 
bodily movement is a form of language. Indeed, it ties together a most physical act by 

3. Cistercian Monks and Lay Brothers 169 

human beings with the loftiest principles of the universe, the cosmic dance of the stars, 
celestial objects, and time itself as viewed from a terrestrial perspective. In the eyes 
and ears of heaven, all the operations of the cosmos are a language enunciated and 
comprehended without any trace of babel. God understands what the juggler means 
by his every movement, the same as he does the complex moves and music of the sun, 
moon, and planets. The English journalist and playwright Frederic Vanson (see Fig. 
3.24) condenses this cosmology as the concluding message in the heroic couplets of 
his 1978 Our Lady’s Tumbler: 

The moral of this story? Let us say 

That Jesus also has his dancing day, 

Who dances in the heavens and the seasons, 
Who dances in the thoughts of proper reasons, 
Who, to prove us far more than husks of clay, 
Dances the sun itself on Easter Day? 

Fig. 3.24 Frederic Vanson, age 70. Photograph by Kurt Mitherell, 2012. All rights reserved. 

4. Reformation Endings: 
A Temporary Vanishing Act 

What Makes a Story Popular? 

Mind the gap. 
—Warning phrase on the London 
Underground (1969-) 

Our Lady’s Tumbler has been described in ways that make its narrative seem anything 
but time-bound. Yet the timelessness has hardly been unqualified and unobstructed. 
As it turns out, the narrative has not been immune to the repercussions of cultural 
change. For as much as one half millennium, it apparently went unrepeated in any 
form—untold, unsung, unpainted, and unwritten. In all candor, the tale underwent a 
death and long interment, before the investigators of literary history exhumed it and 
reactivated it inside the Frankensteinian operating theater of philology. From there, 
artists, especially an author, a composer, and a diva, wheeled it out on its gurney 
for recuperation and rehabilitation so that it could reenter the world triumphantly 
once again, as a kind of medieval revenant. Never count this story out: each time the 
jongleur has pulled a vanishing act, he has popped up again—a humanized bolt from 
the blue, a loose cannon in the literary canon. 

What makes a tale gain or lose popularity? Many storytellers, whether oral poets, 
dramatists, or screenplay writers, have wrestled with this question, and laid bets on 
the answer. Some have elected, or at least professed, not to care. In the case of Our 
Lady’s Tumbler, we must wonder why a narrative would enjoy modest success for a 
couple of centuries from around 1200 before vanishing from sight for roughly five 
hundred years. Despite being anything but a hollow man, the gymnast went out not 
with a bang but with a whimper. In the late Middle Ages, he performed a centuries- 
long disappearing act. 

© 2018 Jan M. Ziolkowski, CC BY 4.0 


172 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 


Terms and phrases such as “Our Lady’s Tumbler” and “Jongleur de Notre Dame’ 
may now be keyboarded into search engines. Algorithms enable nearly instantaneous 
trawls through corpora of digitized texts that encompass a restricted but still 
meaningful fraction of all writings published in English over the past two centuries. 
The quantity suffices for generating line graphs that track the relative frequency of both 
titles across time (see Figs. 4.1 and 4.2). The results show visually the diachronically 
rising and falling cultural impact of individual translations, literary and musical 
compositions, performers, and more. With the help of such graphic aids, we can 
correlate upward and downward spikes. We can map the increasing and decreasing 
effects of translations into modern languages and other artistic developments, such as 
Anatole France’s adaptation, Jules Massenet’s opera, and Mary Garden’s arrogation of 
the leading role in the opera to herself. When comparable tools become available for 
data mining in earlier bodies of literary resources, what patterns will the ripple effects 
reveal to us? So far as is now known, only two versions of our story survive from the 
Middle Ages. The French one bears a different title in each of the five manuscripts. 
Our textual repository could swell slightly with the discovery of a new version or 
two, and I would not be surprised if someday a hitherto-unknown exemplum came 
to light. In the much-quoted words of Alexander Pope, hope springs eternal. Yet even 
in the most felicitous circumstances, we will never possess enough medieval evidence 
of Our Lady’s Tumbler to permit credible statistical analysis. The margin of error is too 
high. Literature from long ago does not always even allow the geometric certainty 
that two points determine a line. Words may be made into big data, but in the end, 
poetry and story —like all art—defy datification. 

BB Jongleur de Notre Dame 



1800 1820 1840 1860 1880 1900 1920 1940 1960 1980 


Fig. 4.1 Google Books Ngram data for “Jongleur de Notre-Dame,” showing a sharp rise in the 
first decades of the twentieth century and then a steady decline. Vector art by Melissa Tandysh, 
2014. Image courtesy of Melissa Tandysh. All rights reserved. 


4, Reformation Endings: A Temporary Vanishing Act 173 

BB Our Lady's Tumbler 
0.000000 100% 
1800 1820 1840 1860 1880 1900 1920 1940 1960 1980 2000 
+ of February 2016 

Fig. 4.2 Google Books Ngram data for “Our Lady’s Tumbler.” As with “Jongleur de Notre-Dame,” 
the phrase peaks before 1920; unlike “Jongleur,” the decline is more fitful, dropping deepest only 
after 1980. Vector art by Melissa Tandysh, 2014. Image courtesy of Melissa Tandysh. 

All rights reserved. 

The thin dribble of the narrative into written culture before the Reformation indicates 
much in its own right. Even before the first millennium, Marian miracles were 
established in Byzantium. These tales became archetypes on which subsequent 
adaptations were based in the West. The more different the versions in circulation, 
the less likely a story was to ebb away altogether, either permanently or temporarily, 
without being retrieved and reanimated. In contrast to the French poem, we have only 
two versions of our Latin narrative, the one in a very cursory exemplum. The exiguity 
of transmission made the survival of the story insecure. 

Rather than seek vainly for information that pertains specifically to Our Lady’s 
Tumbler, we would do better to probe by comparison and analogy what we can learn 
from the sizable medieval literature of Marian miracles. The distribution of this 
trove across regions, languages, and literary traditions may procure at least some 
enlightenment. We discover speedily that the impetus toward collecting miracles ran 
particularly strong in England in the twelfth century. Yet it did not evidence itself 
commensurately in the mother tongues. In fact, the meager residue of miracles of 
Our Lady in medieval English and Anglo-Norman pales alongside the multitude in 
Anglo-Latin versions and even alongside ones in other Western European vernaculars. 

The outpouring of literature, at its most intense from the late twelfth through the 
thirteenth century, matched a devotion to Mary that cut across geographical, linguistic, 
and social boundaries. Around the time Our Lady’s Tumbler was set down in writing, 
Louis IX ruled as king of France. His piety was legendary, and he was canonized in 
1297. With good reason, he is commonly designated merely as Saint Louis. Every 
day he heard the offices of Our Lady. On Tuesdays and Saturdays, the Mass was 
dedicated to her. On the vigils of the four principal feasts of the Virgin, the king would 

174 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

mortify his flesh. Two of the six times a year on which he took communion were 
feasts of Mary. Finally, he made pilgrimages to Marian shrines such as Chartres and 

The Middle Ages and early modernity overlap in multiple ways. The periodization 
that differentiates between them deserves to be tested and refined. In fact, it has been 
so sharply faulted that some would favor scrapping any hope of a meaningful division. 
All the same, the two periods still constitute distinct time zones in the evolution of 
European culture. Many systems rest on gradations that can be at variance, but even 
so we rely upon them. In this case, the separateness of the medieval and early modern 
worlds appears strongly in religion, not only in those regions where Protestantism 
threw down the gauntlet to Catholicism. 

During the Reformation, the whole world of faith implied in Our Lady’s Tumbler 
was desecrated and deserted, deteriorated passively from dereliction, endured active 
destruction, or underwent some composite of such sea changes. In England, one 
important aspect of the dismantling has become known formally as the dissolution 
of the monasteries. In the late 1530s, close to one thousand Catholic religious 
houses were disbanded at the instigation of King Henry VII. Among the manifold 
consequences, much of medieval material and textual culture hung by a thread or 
was even lost. In many places, the iconoclasm of the switch in religions obliterated 
imagery that had accumulated for centuries. In architecture, the outcome was 
what Ralph Adams Cram, an early twentieth-century American apologist for the 
preceding medieval culture (and pre-Reformation Catholic religion), could describe 
as “the eviscerated, barren, and protestantized cathedrals.” Thus, a reality wrought 
by Reformation and civil war prompted William Shakespeare to allude to “bare 
ruin‘d choirs where late the sweet birds sang.” Throughout England, the churches of 
monasteries and abbeys were dispossessed and devastated in rapid-fire succession, 
with the disappearance of both the physical trappings of Catholic Christianity and 
the human presence of chanting monks. 

True, the changes took hold to varying degrees in different locales. The baring 
and the ruining were not ubiquitous. In fact, the spectrum could be large within a 
country such as Germany where a geographical division emerged between Catholics 
and Protestants. For all that, in general Protestantism of the time acquired an anti- 
Marian accent. Concomitantly, the Reformation had the effect of diminishing the 
prominence of the Virgin in Christianity. Even in what remained a mainly Catholic 
region such as France, medieval culture came under a cloud. More than buildings 
were affected. In confronting the cult of the saints, the reformers felt bound to 
reshape or eradicate shrines, relics, images, and miracle tales. Protestants were 
anti-pilgrimage. A logical extension of the same compulsion was to obliterate the 
narratives underpinning them. Those who disavowed Catholicism had to confront 
and calumniate all these interrelated phenomena without granting a special 
dispensation for the worship of Mary. The Mother of God was not given a free pass 
in the sectarian violence—on the contrary. 

4, Reformation Endings: A Temporary Vanishing Act 175 

Protestant zones, and Catholic hot spots located close to the battle lines between 
the factions, came to the boil. It became increasingly dangerous there to claim to have 
witnessed a Marian apparition. The wrath of the Inquisition could be threatened, and 
supposed visionaries were executed. At the same time, the cultures that came to be 
bracketed within the catchall designation of the Middle Ages became suspect too. 
Afterward, it took a long time to overcome the lingering reserve and even disdain 
for the period. By the seventeenth century, French highbrows could be found who 
expressed admiration for medieval times and affinity for its literature. But their 
attraction skewed toward knights and the major protagonists of heroic poetry, not 
toward monks and monasteries. 

The most intemperate reformers in England, Germany, and elsewhere, such 
as Calvinists, were intent on extirpating from popular culture and discourse all 
saints, but foremost among them the Virgin. They challenged the extremely slender 
scriptural, and in fact primarily apocryphal, evidence undergirding some of the 
beliefs and worship that had burgeoned around Mary. They paid the mother of Jesus 
her due as the Mother of God, and recognized that she conceived as a virgin, but they 
emphasized more vehemently than the Catholics the preeminence of Christ, and they 
denied that the Virgin had escaped from original sin. To accord Mary more attention 
was Romanism, papism, and idolatry. 

The Mother of God had been associated especially with lilies, but now the 
flower show was over. After being in full bloom in the late Middle Ages, the plants 
were fading fast. The second of the Ten Commandments enjoins the faithful from 
worshiping graven images. Out of antipathy to idols, the reformers systematically 
uprooted, tore asunder, and even incinerated the traditional cult and images of Mary 
like so many overgrown weeds. 

This recrudescence of iconoclasm within Christianity deprived the faithful of 
the direct engagement that Madonnas facilitated with the characters and events of 
the New Testament. At the same time, it ruled out the danger of ignorant believers 
becoming confounded and regarding the objects themselves as inherently divine, 
rather than as stepping-stones toward the divine. Along with the Virgin, the rabble- 
rousing reformers got rid of monastic orders, many of which had cherished a special 
devotion to her. Where monasticism was outlawed, monasteries fell into abeyance 
and monks disappeared. Additionally, the reform movement contributed to the 
demise of jongleurs, not because of Mary but because the leaders of the Reformation 
harbored general reservations about entertainment and art of all sorts. The reformers 
were antitheatrical and therefore perforce antijongleur. 

English Protestants, whose religion acquired the backing of the state, achieved 
success in their full-force and head-on assaults on the cult of the Virgin. England had 
bestowed upon the Mother of God a favor second only to that for Christ himself; in 
fact, the entire country had earned recognition as “Mary’s dowry” in acknowledgment 
of its especial devotion to her. Two and a half centuries earlier, a bishop of Exeter 
had mandated that every church in his diocese should contain an image of the 

176 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Virgin, but now Madonnas incurred acute risk. Depictions of her and of other saints 
caused consternation because of their anthropomorphism. The importation of the 
Italian madonna, or “my lady,” to designate a picture or statue of Mary is attested 
in England first in 1644, well after Protestantism had asserted a firm grasp there. By 
then such images were alien and foreign. They were talismanic, objects possessing 
extraordinary powers, whose veneration was dissonant with the anti-idolatrous and 
antisuperstitious tenets of Christianity. 

In the fundamentalist process of editing the Virgin back to the rather faint contours 
she had in scripture, the iconoclast reformers felt obliged to wipe out the images of 
Mary around which para- and postbiblical traditions had ramified into a primordial 
jungle. Wooden figures of the Mother and Child, enclosed often in tabernacles, 
were a fixture of most English parish churches, as medieval inventories confirm. 
Of all these numberless Madonnas, only one from the early thirteenth century has 
survived. A particularly painful episode to contemplate is the iconophobic (or miso- 
iconic) vandalization of the Lady Chapel attached to Ely Cathedral (Fig. 4.3). Today 
the space is strikingly austere, its niches bald of statuary. The sole representation 
only accentuates both the neat-as-a-pin beauty and the unrelieved bareness. In 1541, 
reformers beheaded nearly all the dozens of brightly colored statues and smashed 
almost every single stained glass window that illustrated the biblical typology of the 
Mother of God and her life story. In 1643, William Dowsing, as commissioner with the 
charge of destroying “monuments of idolatry and superstition,” carried out a further 
round of iconoclasm, with close attention to image of the Virgin Mary. 

Tae a> 



Fig. 4.3 Lady Chapel, Ely Cathedral. Photograph by Max Gilead, 2010. Image from Wikimedia 
Commons, © Maxgilead (2010), CC BY-SA 3.0, 
File: DSCF0563,_UK,_Ely,_Cathedral, Lady_Chapel.jpg 

4, Reformation Endings: A Temporary Vanishing Act 177 

Another notorious episode took place in England in 1538, when zealots effectively 
imprisoned cult statues of the Virgin in a large storage closet known as Thomas 
Cromwell's wardrobe of beds. Eventually, they put these images on trial. The 
reformers were not swayed by the defense mounted on behalf of the admittedly tight- 
lipped sculptures. Instead, they publicly executed them by burning. The punishment 
approached state-sanctioned murder. The objects of wood and stone themselves were 
almost living heretics. By having their statuesque feet put to the fire, they were treated 
with no more and perhaps even less respect than what was due to common criminals. 
The point was iconoclastic, to demolish the worship of idols. In that context, the 
effigies were lightning rods that took a hit for the whole Catholic Church. 

Yet inadvertently this treatment of the images by the firebug fanatics perpetuated 
the very assumptions that it sought to end. In the process, it conceded to them the status 
of living beings: they were old flames in more than one sense. To the executioners, the 
broiling of the representations was retributive justice. To their impassioned devotees, 
the mass cremation must have seemed tantamount to martyrdom. Cult statues of the 
Virgin were hauled in from such sites as Cardigan, Caversham, Coventry, Doncaster, 
Ipswich, Lynn, Penrhys, Southwark, Willesden, and Worcester. Then this rogues’ 
gallery was raked over the coals so that Mary could go out in a blaze. To take one out 
of alphabetical order, a final Madonna hailed from the most hallowed late medieval 
English shrine of Our Lady, Walsingham in north Norfolk. Along with her sanctuary, 
she deserves further discussion. 

Walsingham, England’s Nazareth 

The demolition of the shrine and the dispersal of its contents at Walsingham was a 
singularly earth-shattering act of ruination. The Holy House and church surrounding 
it have been reconstructed from their image as transmitted in the wax seals of the 
medieval abbey. Despite all the care, in the replication the originals have been 
reduced to the merest facade of what they once were (see Fig. 4.4). Reappearances can 
be deceiving. 

The chapel had an elaborate foundation legend. In the account as recorded much 
later, a Saxon noblewoman and widow experienced three times in 1061 a vision in 
which the Virgin first transported her mystically in a true flight of fancy to the Holy 
House of the Annunciation in Nazareth. Then, the Mother of God bade her to honor 
the announcement of the Incarnation by erecting in Walsingham an exact replica of 
the home. It would not be easy for her to determine the building site and achieve the 
construction. For her pains, the visionary was assured that when built, the shrine 
would enable all those who sought succor there from Mary to receive it. The prediction 
came true. Between the mid-twelfth century and 1538, Walsingham became one of the 
most heavily frequented sanctuaries to the Blessed Virgin in England and even in the 
Christian world. The connection with the unveiling of the birth of Jesus meant that 

178 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

the Latin prayer known as the Hail Mary was held in special reverence at the chapel 
and later at the priory on the spot. Among many relics, the holy place was particularly 
renowned for a phial that allegedly contained milk from the Mother of God. 

Fig. 4.4 The remains of Walsingham Priory, Norfolk. Photograph by John Armagh, 2011. Image 
from Wikimedia Commons, © JohnArmagh (2011), CC BY-SA 3.0, http://commons.wikimedia. 

Fig. 4.5 The Walsingham Virgin and Child. Seal (obverse), late twelfth to early thirteenth century. 
Cambridge, Archives of King’s College. Image courtesy of King’s College, Cambridge. 

4, Reformation Endings: A Temporary Vanishing Act 179 

Most germane to the story of Our Lady’s Tumbler is that the Holy House in Walsingham 
contained a wooden majesty, with Mary on a throne with the infant Jesus seated 
on her lap. The effigy may have been a Black Virgin or Black Madonna, so called 
because of its dark hue, an artistic application to the Mother of God of the “I am 
black but comely” image of the Bride in the biblical Song of Solomon—the closest 
that the Middle Ages came to the late twentieth-century trope of “black is beautiful.” 
In any event, the carving was annihilated close to a half millennium ago. Yet despite 
its disappearance hundreds of years before now, we can still form a picture of the 
Walsingham statue thanks to a representation of it on a seal from the late twelfth or 
early thirteenth century (see Fig. 4.5). Other portrayals are found on the badges of 
lead or pewter that were retailed as souvenirs to pilgrims. Such tokens could prove 
that a person had completed a pilgrimage to a given destination. In addition, they 
could convey the grace of the Virgin to those who encountered them. Other similar 
keepsakes included pewter flasks. These vessels contained water from the holy wells 
that were located not far from the shrine. In many regards, these objects functioned 
as amulets. 

The foot traffic of pilgrims to what became the Augustinian priory grew extremely 
heavy in the late Middle Ages. Walsingham developed into the principal Marian 
destination in England. The growth in movement gave rise to a rat-a-tat drumbeat of 
criticism even before the Reformation. In 1356, the Archbishop of Armagh delivered a 
sermon in which he denounced worship by those who failed to distinguish between 
a Madonna and the Virgin Mary in heaven herself. By his lights, images of this sort 
included the representations of Saint Mary at Lincoln, Newarke in Leicester, and 
Walsingham. Further, he charged the custodians of such holy places with fomenting 
miracles so as to pad their own coffers. A chronicler described how the Lollard 
iconomachs slurred the Virgin of Walsingham by calling her in vernacular English 

“the Witch of Walsingham.” These followers of John Wycliffe protested against the 
custom of referring to the cult image as “our dear Lady of Walsingham” rather than as 
“our dear lady of heaven.” Likewise, they condemned it as “vain waste and idle to trot 
to Walsingham rather than to each other place where an image of Mary is.” To such 
dissenters, an image is an image is an image: local images and relic cults have no point. 

The Renaissance humanist Erasmus gives a detailed picture of Walsingham and 
his observations when he made a pilgrimage to the site in the summer of 1512, in 
appreciation of the success that the Church scored against the schismatic King Louis 
XII of France. The Dutchman’s portrayal of his experience is far from altogether 
positive. He characterizes the community as depending wholly on revenue from 
pilgrims. His account of their moneymaking machine is acerbic and sharp-tongued, 
with flashes of hilarious comedy. His hard-edged description of the shrine gives vent 
to his distaste for the popular devotion of the late Middle Ages. In his finickiness, 
he shrank back from the physicality of the practices that the canaille pursued. Thus 
he conjures up vividly, and mostly not flatteringly, the lighting, smells, and even 

180 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

tactile qualities of the objects and spaces involved in the expression of lay piety. In 
other words, he executes the mental process of sensory integration, by which he 
makes meaning from information collected by his senses. This is what common sense 
is all about. He describes the windowless chamber where the image was domiciled, 
probably with curtains or a canopy billowing around it. This separate space was the 
original Holy House, which by Erasmus’s time had been encased in a far larger chapel. 
In it, the light of shimmery candles reflected from scores of gold and jewel objects, 
alongside masses of humbler oblations. Erasmus gives us to believe that despite all 
the blazing tapers, the inner sanctum offered to the spirit more heat than light. 

As a pilgrimage site, Walsingham may be usefully compared with Loreto. The 
Italian town is by many accounts home to the Holy House. This structure purports to be 
the home in Nazareth in which Mary was born and raised, received the Annunciation, 
and lived during the childhood and after the ascension of Jesus. The little building 
has drawn pilgrims since at the latest the fourteenth century. It was transported, so 
the story goes, from the Virgin’s hometown on the wings of angels to rescue it from 
infidels. The timing may not be purposeless. The movement began only three years 
after 1291. That date saw the toppling of Acre, the tail end of the crusader kingdoms 
in the Holy Land. The retreating campaigners could have transported with them from 
Nazareth stones from the edifice where the angel Gabriel broke the news to Mary that 
she would conceive and become the Mother of God. Alternatively, they could have 
brought back the trauma of having abandoned the house and other important sites 
to the Muslims. They could have assuaged at least partially the hurt of loss through 
wish-fulfillment, in the fantasy of the angelic levitation. 

Whatever the historical realities of the building and its move, the Holy House 
offered within the bounds of the European landmass a destination for Christian 
pilgrims who could no longer venture safely into the Holy Land after the collapse 
of the crusader states. It became notable in the late fifteenth century. After the 
destruction of Walsingham, it had every basis on which to surge in popularity. At first, 
the Holy House was a simple edifice. The chief adornments were a statue of the Virgin 
beside an altar and a blue-painted ceiling spangled with golden stars. Eventually, 
the domicile was enclosed within a larger building, and the image of Mary shifted 
to a plush, jewel-lined niche. This Madonna is held to have been a Black Virgin. A 
holy card from 1899 illustrates the scene in tacky pastel colors, with a German legend, 

“Miraculous Transportation of the Holy House to Loreto” (see Fig. 4.6). 

Despite undeniable parallels between Walsingham and Loreto, the two shrines 
diverged in major ways. For one, the scale of the Holy House of Nazareth in the Italian 
hilltown differed substantially from the one in England. In contrast, the dimensions of 
the Santa Casa (to use the Italian name for the stone building in Loreto) corresponded 
reasonably closely to those of the fourteenth-century Slipper Chapel in Walsingham 
(see Fig. 4.7). This other church, so called because it marked the point at which 
pilgrims removed their shoes to trudge in their stocking feet to the Holy House itself, 
was located about a mile south of Walsingham proper. 

4. Reformation Endings: A Temporary Vanishing Act 181 

Fig. 4.6 Postcard depicting the miraculous transfer of the Holy House of Loreto 
(Milan, Italy: Tipografia Santa Lega Eucaristica, 1899). 

Fig. 4.7 Postcard depicting Slipper Chapel, Walsingham (Norwich, UK: Jarrold & Sons, 
early twentieth century). © Jarrold & Sons. All rights reserved. 

182 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

The pilgrims to the settlement in Norfolk included royalty, who made sumptuous 
gifts for the maintenance of the staff as well as for the adornment of the sanctuary. As 
elsewhere, candle devotion was central to the cult of the Virgin at Walsingham. By 
no mere coincidence, the statue of Our Lady there was taken away to be consumed 
by fire in the aftermath of a royal injunction in 1538, “Forbidding the Placing of 
Candles before Images and Other Superstitious Practices.” Tapers figured largely in 
the monarchs’ generosity to the shrine. King Henry III, the first royal to come, paid 
at least thirteen visits, with the initial one in 1226. In 1240, for the feast of the Virgin’s 
Conception, he ordered two thousand votives to be burned there and at Bury St. 
Edmunds. In 1246, he commissioned a golden crown to be placed upon the head 
of the Madonna at Walsingham. In 1251, he spent the feast of the Annunciation on 
pilgrimage there, and made the gift of both two silver candlesticks and a valuable 
chasuble of red samite. King Edward I betook himself to the shrine twice, the second 
time on Candlemas Day in 1296. The candlelight can be pictured easily that would 
have coruscated when the feast of this holiday was celebrated. King Henry VII came 
no fewer than four times. King Henry VIII of England, who was responsible for the 
demise of the statue and much else in the community, paced barefoot two miles to 
reach the site in 1511, made lavish donations there, and kindled a candle before the 
Madonna in March 1538. 

The character Avarice in William Langland’s late fourteenth-century personification 
allegory Piers Plowman takes a pledge that reflects the author’s reprobation of the 
motivations that propelled pilgrims to make the trek to Walsingham. The mention 
of a peregrination there had a special cachet. Of course, worshipers also journeyed 
to other sites relating to the Virgin in England as well as on the continent. For 
example, rich documentation survives on Marian pilgrimage in late medieval and 
early modern Germany. Such voyages eventuated in an unalterable syllogism: 
pilgrimages led to shrines, and such holy places (above all, ones connected with 
Mary) centered upon images. For the reformers, the counter-syllogism was patent: to 
end such veneration, desacralize its objectives. The corollary was equally unmissable: 
to desecrate sanctuaries, destroy Madonnas. In the Reformation, modernizing meant 

Toward the end of 1538, the reformist bishop of Worcester Hugh Latimer (see 
Fig. 4.8) notoriously decreed that the image of the Virgin in his diocese—and others, 
including the one at Walsingham — should be charred. Latimer addressed the letter in 
question to none other than to Thomas Cromwell, chief minister of King Henry VIII. 
The bishop’s aspiration was soon fulfilled. The incineration of the carvings, and the 
shutting down of all shrines in England, were concomitants to the suppression and 
dissolution of the monasteries. Henry VIII ordered these draconian acts in 1536 and 
1539, and Cromwell oversaw them as agitator-in-chief. The aftereffects included the 
abandonment and devastation of many abbeys. The figure of Our Lady of Walsingham 
was abducted to be put to the torch; the swank sanctuary was first despoiled of its 

4, Reformation Endings: A Temporary Vanishing Act 183 

gold and silver ornaments and then dismantled; and the priory and its dependencies 
were largely razed and abandoned. The sites and image of Our Lady that can be seen 
today are anything but original. Rather, they have resulted from a Marian revival in 
Britain that has been supported by the papacy since the late nineteenth century. 

Fig. 4.8 Unknown artist, Hugh Latimer, late sixteenth century. Oil on panel, 55.9 x 41.9 cm. 
London, National Portrait Gallery. Image courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London. 
All rights reserved. 

The Madonnas that have been enumerated were neither the first nor the only ones to 
suffer the fate of destruction. When the impetus to remake the fabric of the Church 
was taken very literally, many others were denuded of their garments, irreparably 
mangled, or even summarily destroyed in expressions of iconoclasm by the riffraff. In 
England, a hard-edged campaign was waged against what was regarded as Mariolatry, 
the according to Mary of worship due to God and God alone. 

The first bout of statue-tory abuse extended to the removal in 1535 of an Our Lady’s 
girdle, worn by expectant mothers to help them in their pregnancies and especially 
in childbirth. Often effigies suffered radical mastectomies in which their breasts 
were stabbed or hacked off. Their arms were severed and their faces defaced. The 
representations of the infant Jesus that they held were cut away. In 1581, for instance, 
the Virgin and Child along with other figures were subjected to what might be called 
holy (or unholy) vandalism wrought upon the Cheapside Cross in London. In a 
renovation, the Madonna was replaced by a semi-nude image of the Roman goddess 
Diana. Later, the Mary was reinstalled but after twelve nights she was de-crowned, 
beheaded, and shorn of her offspring. Another relatively late manifestation of the 

184 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

iconoclasm came in 1578, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, nearly two decades 
after she succeeded her Catholic half sister Mary to the throne in 1559. While touring 
Norfolk near Thetford, the ruler made what was presented as being a chance discovery. 
In a hay house, she happened upon an image of Our Lady that she considered an idol, 
and she had it carbonized. 

The sixteenth century lacked most of the devices that are for the taking today to 
record and document such barbarism visually. Yet around 1570, an unknown artist 
captured a scene of iconoclasm within a picture painted with oil paints. The panel 
depicts the young King Edward VI receiving the blessing of a bedridden Henry VIII 
and the Pope, who along with the monks to his right is being crushed by the Bible 
(see Fig. 4.9). Through a window, reformers are visible outside. The two nearest tug 
on ropes to tip and overthrow a statue of the Virgin and Child. Not only in England 
did what could be called Mariaphobia express itself in anti-Marian iconoclasm. In 
Germany, one excruciating act of such Madonna mayhem put in the crosshairs not a 
statue but a painting. An artwork of the Virgin and Child by the artist Hans Holbein 
the Elder suffered destruction in the cathedral in Augsburg in 1537. In some locations, 
images of Mary became the objects of literal tugs-of-war between opposing factions of 
Protestant reformers and Roman Catholics. 

What have been nicknamed “cults of battered Marys” arose. All over Europe, 
Protestant hooligans would subject to misuse and mutilation Madonnas that would 
be rescued and sometimes repaired by Catholic handymen of holiness. Thus, specific 
representations of Our Lady endured abuse in Paris repeatedly, in Geneva, and in the 
English College Chapter of Valladolid (see Fig. 4.10). Mistreatment of a similar sort was 
supposedly meted out to depictions of the Virgin during conflicts between Catholics 
and Protestants in the nineteenth century in England. By the mid-seventeenth century, 
a census of images would have found their number and distribution pared back 
sharply because of iconoclastic reformers. 

In the 1650s, a Jesuit tallied over one thousand Marian shrines, providing for each a 
brief history and an engraving of its Madonna (see Figs. 4.11 and 4.12). The four-digit 
headcount is remarkable. As a sequel, the author drew up a discrete index containing 
a subsection listing wounded Virgins, as well as taxonomies of weapons wielded 
against them, portions of the likenesses that suffered thuggery, types of damage, and 
kinds of action taken by Mary in response to the contusions. A roll call taken in the 
early nineteenth century in France would have tabulated another sharp drop, since 
the French Revolution brought about the destruction of the effigies and relics that 
had outlasted the Reformation. Across the ages, Madonnas that have demonstrated 
a special capacity to withstand persecution have become the objects of popular 
devotion, legends, and superstitions. We will see medieval images that demonstrated 
impressive skills as proto-survivalists, but for the present let us focus on the twentieth 
and twenty-first centuries. 

4. Reformation Endings: A Temporary Vanishing Act 185 

Fig. 4.9 Unknown artist, King Edward VI and the Pope, ca. 1575. Oil on panel, 62.2 x 90.8 cm. 
London, National Portrait Gallery. Image courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London. All 
rights reserved. 

Fig. 4.10 Nuestra Senora de la Vulnerata. Statue, sixteenth century. Valladolid, Real Colegio de San 
Albano. Photograph by Rubén Ojeda, 2010. Image from Wikimedia Commons, © Rodelar (2010), 
CC BY-SA 4.0, 

186 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Re "€ Societate TI 


Figs. 4.11 and 4.12 Title page and title illustration of Wilhelm Gumppenberg, Atlas Marianus sive de 
imaginibus Deiparae per orbem christianum miraculosis, vol. 1 (Ingolstadt, Germany: Haenlin, 1657), with 
Virgin and Child on the Holy House, and beams showing its westward movements. 

Madonnas of the World Wars 

A man is ready to leap to his death from a tall building. 

An Irish policeman barrels up and yells, “Don’t do it! 
Think of your mother!” The man answers, “My mother’s 
dead; I am going to do it.” The cop says, “What about 

your father?” “He left when I was a baby.” The cop goes 
down the list with no success until finally he shouts, 

“Don’t jump! Remember the Blessed Virgin!” The would-be 
suicide asks, “Who is that?” The officer answers, “Jump, 
Protestant! You're blocking traffic!” 

Mary is an obvious dividing line between Protestants and Catholics. After the 
Reformation, the disparity between the two branches of Christianity sharpened. 
Among other changes, different regions became distinguished by the absence or 
presence of the Virgin on street corners, in statues or paintings. To Protestants, the 
sight of such images grew to be unfamiliar in every respect, whereas to Catholics in 
many places, these representations were unexceptional and even humdrum in daily 
life. In 1859, Henry Adams commented upon the “old road-side saints, crucifixes and 

4, Reformation Endings: A Temporary Vanishing Act 187 

Madonnas” that he encountered in the German region of Franconia, which he would 
never have seen in New England. During World War I, such sculptures and pictures 
belonged to the religious paraphernalia of Catholicism that took doughboys from the 
United States and their equivalents from other predominantly Protestant countries by 
surprise. Those soldiers who had been born and bred Catholic were more accustomed 
to the trappings of Marianism. 

On both the front lines and the home front in France, Catholic Germany, and 
elsewhere, people were likelier in wartime to turn for comfort to the Mother of God 
than at any time since the years surrounding the Franco-Prussian war. Military 
conflict, political tension, and economic desperation have often furnished a powerful 
recipe for sightings of the Virgin and for miracles associated with her and with her 
representation in Madonnas. Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal was the foremost case 
in point. A cult arose there from appearances of Mary to three shepherd children that 
took place once a month over one half year in 1917. This manifestation of the Virgin 
was later made the basis for what became effectively a Marian Cold Warrior, since for 
the first few decades in the second half of the twentieth century the message of Fatima 
was construed as a denunciation of Communism and the Soviet Union. 

Particularly awesome in the apocalyptic land- and cityscapes of World War I were 
postbellum representations of images that appeared to have been spared divinely 
from mangling or burning after bombardment. For instance, a statue miraculously 
unaffected by the fracas of warfare was the Mary of Igny, a thirteenth-century jewel 
in the crown, which came through without a scratch despite all the harm inflicted 
upon Reims cathedral by bombs and fire in September 1914 (see Fig. 4.13). Another 
such representation was a carving of Notre Dame of Lourdes that stood on the altar 
of the Holy Virgin in the church of Bouchoir in Picardy, which was shelled in the 
Battle of the Somme (see Fig. 4.14). On a postcard the caption explains: “The shrapnel 
exploded in the war and destroyed everything in front of the statue. The Virgin was 
touched by neither the shrapnel nor the stones that came loose all around her head.” 

A third survivor was a gilded Madonna, sometimes called the “Divine Shepherdess,” 
that crowned the basilica of Notre-Dame de Brebieres. This sizable house of God was 
built in the modest town of Albert in Picardy at the end of the nineteenth century to 
replace the parish church that had grown too cramped to accommodate pilgrims. The 
worshipers who descended upon the basilica were caught up in the Marian fervor 
connected with the sites of apparitions of the Mother of God at La Salette and Lourdes. 
This sanctuary became an objective because it housed the Black Virgin after which 
it was named. The Madonna in question is so called after the small community of 
Brebieres. The noun, meaning “pastures,” derives from the French brebis, or “sheep.” 
The onomastic lore is not beside the point. After all, legend held that this representation 
of Notre Dame was unearthed in a field near the town by a shepherd whose flock kept 
returning to the same patch of tufts of verdant grass. When the herdsman clawed at 
the sod with a hoe, the tool banged upon a statue of the Virgin and Child that had 
been buried there. 

188 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Fig. 4.13 Postcard depicting a damaged thirteenth- _ Fig. 4.14 Postcard depicting a ruined chapel of 
century statue of the Virgin after the bombardment the church of Bouchoir, with the miraculously 
of Reims (Paris: H. George, 1914). unharmed Virgin in the background (ca. 1915). 

The sculpture atop the basilica was different and unusual, since it depicted Mary 
holding the infant Jesus aloft to God. The dome supporting it was struck in howitzer 
and mortar shelling by German artillery in 1914, during the Battle of the Somme (see 
Fig. 4.15). Despite being hit, the artwork was not destroyed. Nor did it plummet to the 
earth, but dropped more than ninety degrees to dangle slightly below parallel to the 
ground. From its posture it become world-famous as the Leaning or Golden Virgin 
of Albert (see Fig. 4.16). To many members of the military, the representation was 
part and parcel of their first exposure to Catholicism, whose beliefs, practices, and 
expressions seemed exotic and alien. The combatants developed many interpretations 
of the Madonna’s circumstance. Apparently her stance could mean almost anything, 
except nothing. To one, she looked to be leaning down to snag the Child, like a fallen 
infantryman. To others, she was presenting him as a sacrifice or as a peace offering 
to expedite the close of the war. To saltier wits, the destabilized statue looked like 
a flunking phallus as it flopped flaccidly at less than half mast. Not accepting that 
sometimes a statue lolling below the horizontal is just a statue lolling below the 
horizontal, she was dubbed the “Lady of the Limp.” 

4, Reformation Endings: A Temporary Vanishing Act 189 

267 — La Basilique de Notre-Dame de Brebiéres: 
Vue prise de la rue Jeanne d'Harcourt 
aprés le bombardement du 29 Septembre 1916 
The Basilica of N.-D, de Brebiéres 
after several bombardment — Sept. 1914, 

Fig. 4.15 Postcard depicting the “Golden Virgin of Fig. 4.16 Postcard depicting the “suspended 
Albert” dangling atop the Basilique de Notre-Dame Virgin of Albert Cathedral” (London: 
de Brebieres (Amiens, France: G. Lelong, ca. 1914). Pictorial Newspaper Co., ca. 1914). 

Soldiers on both sides subscribed widely to two related conventions, too recent 
and too male to be termed old wives’ tales. One was that the battle royale would end 
when the statue finally fell. The other held that the side to bring her down would lose 
in the conflict. Neither superstition was borne out. What was the upshot, so to speak? 
To begin with ballistics, the Virgin remained attached to the dome until annihilated 
by British heavy guns in 1918. The war stretched out for a little while, and the Allies 
carried the day. In the meantime, the mangled Madonna had not fifteen minutes of 
fame but four years of it. During that stretch, it became known worldwide through 
postcards dispatched from the battlefront to the home front. Many belligerents saw 
the statue in its partly unglued condition and shared the experience with far-off 
friends and family in their own countries by mailing images. Eventually a replica, no 
longer drooping, was put back in place when the basilica was reconstructed from 1927 
to 1931. 

World War I did not mark the end of miraculously preserved Marian images. 
In World War II, a thirteenth-century wooden Madonna in the nave of the parish 
church at La Gleize in Belgium was the only item in the war-scarred building to stay 

190 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

unscathed when the town was leveled in 1944 during the bruising Battle of the Bulge 
(see Fig. 4.17). Nearly seventy years later, in October 2012, Hurricane Sandy struck the 
spit of land in Queens, New York, known as Breezy Point. Its gusting wind and storm 
surge left tremendous havoc in their wake. Torrential rains gave way to even worse. 
The windblown and waterborne disrepair was compounded by the conflagration that 
burned uncontrolled afterward. One house at the corner of Oceanside Avenue and 
Gotham Walk was among the more than one hundred homes fried to ashes. Even so, 
the site became a cause for hope. Amid all the rubbish from the destruction, a statue 
of the Virgin that had been placed in a niche in the garden was somehow left upright 
and intact (see Fig. 4.18). Whether by fluke or by miracle, the future will no doubt also 
have its share of Marys uninjured after catastrophes, and those images too will be 
made rallying points for survivors. 

Fig. 4.17 Statue of the Virgin in the ruins of Le Gleize Church, Belgium, after the Battle of the 
Bulge. Photograph, 1945. Washington, D.C., Archives of American Art, Thomas Carr Howe papers, 
1932-1984. Image courtesy of the Archives of American Art, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved. 

4. Reformation Endings: A Temporary Vanishing Act 191 

Fig. 4.18 A Madonna statue among the wreckage of Hurricane Sandy 
in Breezy Point, New York. Photograph by Mark Lennihan, 2012. 
Image courtesy of the Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

192 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Literary Iconoclasm 

To return to the Reformation: in those regions where effigies of the Virgin were 
destroyed, a commensurate effacement of stories about her would have taken place. 
Sometimes the clampdown probably took place through the handling or mishandling 
of manuscripts by the reformers. A 1535 letter to Thomas Cromwell from a royal 
commissioner lists among items seized from a monastic library during a visitation “a 
book of Our Lady’s miracles, well able to match the Canterbury Tales; such a book 
of dreams as you never saw, which I found in the library.” The only record of a 
Marian miracle text to be so confiscated, this missive to the Vicar General— despite its 
reference to Chaucer—leaves unclarified whether the volume is long or short, Latin 
or vernacular, prose or verse; nor do we come to know what fate it endured. The 
invocation of the Canterbury Tales, along with the categorization of the miracles as 
a dreambook, signal the letter writer’s belief that legends of Mary are nothing more 
than vaporous fiction. 

The disappearance of the tales may not be described as bonfires of virginities or 
even just of images. Unwritten or seldom written narratives are erased not by torches 
or sledgehammers, but through suppression and silence. All the same, tales that center 
on devotion to images will fare poorly in times of image-breaking. Theologians may 
draw fine distinctions between veneration rendered to images, known technically 
as iconodulia, and outright worship of images, or iconolatry, but others would not 
necessarily find much relevance in such casuistry. To them, the two practices look very 
similar, if not even synonymous. Furthermore, the goal of iconoclasm was not merely 
to rid churches of physical representations, but to rewire the devotional system within 
which they functioned. Nor did the assault on iconodulia and iconolatry stop there. 
The likenesses might be turned to cold cinders and smoldering embers; the liturgies 
associated with them might be discarded and outlawed—for all that, it took much 
longer and more sustained efforts to sear recollection and to scour mental images of 
them from minds. 

An Elizabethan ballad concluded with two lugubrious stanzas of valediction to the 
Walsingham Madonna. The lines decried the satanic sin that moved in to occupy the 
spiritual space vacated by the destruction of the image. Still greater impact came from 
a ballad that recorded the story of the disappearance. The song places special emphasis 
on miracles of healing and revivification that the carving enabled. One of Cromwell’s 
agents, Sir Roger Townsend, wrote to him about a woman whose chattiness about the 
sculpture brought unpleasant consequences down on her. She gossiped about what 
he regarded as a “false tale of a miracle done by the Image after it had been carried 
away.” For this jabbering, she received the penalty of being placed in the stocks and 
then drawn around the marketplace in a cart with a paper hat on her head to identify 
her as a “reporter of false tales.” Even so, the Lord Protector’s henchman remained 
of two minds. Had he extirpated the memory of the Walsingham Madonna or not? “I 
cannot help but perceive that the aforesaid image is not yet out of some of their heads.” 
One of the crania at issue belonged to another local lady who also was convinced, 

4, Reformation Endings: A Temporary Vanishing Act 193 

even after the statue had been taken down and transported to London, that it had 
wrought a miracle. Like the above-mentioned teller of falsities, this poor Mariophile 
got more than a mere rap on the knuckles: she was put in the pillory on market day at 
Walsingham and then carted around to be pelted with snowballs. 

Language was affected as well by the ruthless about-face. Obviously, the learned 
language of Latin would have been laundered of many features associated with the 
Catholic Church, but the vernacular did not escape untouched either. Any major 
alteration of a society requires modifications of speech and writing, both high and 
low. Reformers wished to scotch the invocation of saints, including the Mother of 
God, so as to train the sights of the faithful upon God and Christ. The commoners of 
the late Middle Ages prayed most often to the Virgin. To exemplify how improper and 
unbecoming such invocations could be, Erasmus derided the prayers of a mercenary 
who had impudently called upon Mary, “Blessed Virgin, give me rich spoils.” In fact, 
the Dutch scholar went so far as to quote putative direct appeals from the Mother of 
God herself in a letter against the shameless and unprincipled entreaties lodged with 
her. Folks who invoked Mary aloud in prayer were reproved, and subtle changes were 
wrought in the psalter to constrict the powers ascribed to the Virgin. The eradication 
of saints from language would find its most telling confirmation in an exception to 
the rule. According to a widely accepted etymology, the slang expletive bloody is a 
minced oath that originated in the phrase “by Our Lady.” From the measureless sea 
of saints’ invocations, only this one dysphemism survived. It remained in existence 
only because its very meaning and provenance became unrecognizable, its vestiges of 
religiosity trumped by its coincidental blot of vulgarism. 

On a narrative level, a similar bowdlerization may have played out in some 
stories by replacing Mary and other saints either with nothing at all or with figures 
sanitized to be presentable within a Protestant context. Mainly what happened was 
the expunction that results from censorship, both self-imposed and otherwise. The 
sorts of narratives that would once have commanded respect and awe came to be 
derided. The atmosphere would have brought Marian miracle tales at full tilt to 
oblivion. For example, the Protestant bishop John Bale heaps mockery upon a vision 
that was reputedly experienced in 1470 by the Dominican theologian Alanus de Rupe. 
Female virgin saints are often supposed to undergo mystical marriages, in which 
Christ appears to them and places a ring upon their fingers as a sign that he is taking 
them as mystical brides. That is all very well, but in this case Blessed Alanus claimed 
in writing to have received a house call from the Virgin, who placed a ring on his 
finger, encircled his neck with a necklace braided of her hair, and presented him with 
a rosary (see Fig. 4.19). Bale’s restatement of the events puts a different, salacious, 
even tawdry spin on the symbiosis between the Roman Catholic theologian and a 
touchy-feely Mary. In the English churchman’s interpretation of Alanus’s account of 
the episode, the Mother of God came to the friar’s cell and made her gifts to him so 
that they might plight their troth. Then the proceedings take a decidedly deviant turn. 
Alanus first fondles his visitor's breasts, then engages in sexualized breast-feeding, 
and finally progresses to actual coitus, all somehow without de-virginating the Virgin. 

194 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Fig. 4.19 Guido Reni, Madonna col Bambino in gloria e i santi Petronio, Francesco, Ignazio, 
Francesco Saverio, Procolo e Floriano, 1631-1632. Oil on silk, 390 x 220 cm. Bologna, Pinacoteca 
nazionale di Bologna. Image from Wikimedia Commons, 

In Protestant theology, saints, among whom Mary was foremost, lost their stature 
as mediators between God and people. Since Christ alone fulfilled that function, the 
Mother of God was decentered as the object of special devotion. In the Middle Ages, 
the Virgin stood supreme as mediator above all others. By the thirteenth century, her 
ascendancy made her almost a fourth person of the Trinity. For centuries afterward, 
she retained this lofty status, to the abiding scandal of non-Catholics. Even in the mid- 
nineteenth century, a Protestant magazine in England reported on an Irish immigrant 
who allegedly considered Mary to be a member of the Trinity. 

This same elevated status was reflected in the reverence the Mother of God received 
throughout the later Middle Ages in her images, Madonnas. Protestant reformers 
condemned the cult of the Blessed Virgin as a form of respect gone too far—as 
adoration that verged on adulation and idolatry. In Catholic theology, the Ecumenical 
Council of Trent, which extended from 1545 to 1563, brought reform. Most relevantly, 
it reaffirmed the importance of the veneration of saints, particularly the cult of Mary. 
At the same time, the Council laid great emphasis on the legitimate use of images, 
including those of the Virgin. It emphasized that honor shown to the representations is 
referred to the prototypes represented by them. The faithful do not worship, petition, 
or trust the Madonna itself, but rather the Mother of God represented by it. Even in 
northern Europe Mary was never altogether ousted among Catholics as happened to 
a great degree in Protestantism. Yet despite the Trentine reform, she was nonetheless 
sometimes shunted aside in favor of a Christocentric viewpoint. 

4, Reformation Endings: A Temporary Vanishing Act 195 

Some jongleurs would have suffered the same diminishment, if not demise, as 
befell the Virgin, Madonnas, and texts about her. The reason is not far to see. The 
performers would have been linked with the pilgrims and preachers who teamed up 
to spread her cult. In effect, the entertainers belonged to the whole, vast pilgrimage 
industry that reformers were keen to exterminate. This is why around 1546, the English 
clerk William Thomas fawns upon King Henry VIII for having investigated the many 
malfeasances of the friars, whom Thomas calls jugglers. The tumbler and his like had 
been popular at certain times because the Virgin and he had been believed in tandem. 
Now the equal and opposite came true. He became unpopular as Marian miracles fell 
into disbelief and as Mary herself faded from the ubiquity she had achieved between 
the twelfth century and the late Middle Ages. 

Among Protestants, Mary held an ambiguous position. Her cult was roundly 
castigated. As an object of study and devotion, English writers strikingly avoided her 
for hundreds of years after the Reformation. The publication in 1827 of John Keble’s 
Christian Year marks the commencement of the Marian revival in nineteenth-century 
England. To look at the situation somewhat differently, in many places the Virgin was 
largely excluded from the transition that led from manuscript to print culture. Miracle 
tales dropped out of vogue just as the presses began to bring forth torrents of books. 
Yet even within Protestantism, the Mother of God was not universally thrust aside as 
almost all other saints were cast away. A cleavage is perceptible between Lutheranism, 
in its defense of Mary, and Calvinism, in its assaults on her. Martin Luther, who 
himself owned an image of the Virgin and Child, argued that iconoclasts should spare 
Madonnas, since they could serve as devotional aids. At the same time, the German 
reformer commented with disapproval on images that depicted the lactation of 
Bernard of Clairvaux, in which the so-called Marian Doctor is represented receiving 
a spurt of milk from the Virgin’s breast. Thanks to Luther’s generally supportive 
outlook, Marian images continued to be fabricated and displayed in some places. Even 
so, they came with the caveat, explicit in inscriptions or implicit in doctrine, that the 
Mother of God was to be honored but not worshiped. The emphasis on reverencing 
her was codified in Luther’s writing. In a commentary he opined at length about the 
type of veneration and lauds to be given to the Virgin. She is cherished most truly by 
honoring the Almighty. If esteem and praise are accorded to her, the objective is to 
attain God through it. 

For all the support that the reformer offered, Lutherans have retained their 
discomfort with freestanding statues of Mary as potentially idolatrous. The lingering 
worry about the verisimilitude of this three-dimensional form of Madonna may help 
to explain why in the one recent retelling of our tumbler’s story for children by a 
Swedish artist and author, the carving is replaced by a painting. For that matter, in 
its title the book makes no mention of the Mother of God, the Virgin, or a Madonna, 
and the illustrations on its dust jacket avoid representing any of them as well. These 
omissions need not be driven explicitly by religion, but by general cultural context. 
Sweden has been predominantly Lutheran since the sixteenth century. Outside a 

196 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

denominational context, the self-serving inconsistency of Christian views on idolatry 
has long attracted remark within the framework of world religions: “We sneer when 
we read of some Indian spinning tops before his child god Krishna, but we weep over 
the story of the jongleur de Notre Dame and await with sympathy the Madonna’s 
approval of his pathetic juggling.” 

Marian Apparitions 

The tale of Our Lady’s Tumbler belongs to a vast complex of medieval narratives and 
images connected with the intervention of heaven upon earth through appearances of 
Mary. In fact, it falls within the far larger category of Marian apparitions. At the latest 
tally, counted down to the present day, more than 2,500 have been reported. Visions, 
shrines, relics, and images of the Virgin interact with each other in constantly varying 
but often intersecting ways. If Mary and Madonnas have been shrouded in clouds of 
misgivings within a large part of Christianity since the Reformation, so too have been 
attitudes toward phantasms of the Virgin. Direct physical experiences of her, such as 
seeing her, hearing her, and being touched by her, were everywhere in the medieval 
period, as for example at Loreto and Walsingham, but they have been primarily a 
Catholic phenomenon since then. The basics of an official policy emerged only long 
after the Middle Ages in the writings of the future Pope Benedict XIV (see Fig. 4.20). 

Fig. 4.20 Pierre Subleyras, Benedictus XIV, eighteenth century. Oil on canvas. 
Palace of Versailles. Image from Wikimedia Commons, https://commons. 

Marian apparitions remain objects of fascination and perplexity, as much within 
the Catholic Church as without. What passes muster as an apparition? A definition, 
probably unhelpfully short, would be that it is a private revelation. A longer version 
would hold it to be a type of vision in which someone claims to see a person, being, or 
object that would not normally be apprehensible to the visionary. The degree to which 

4. Reformation Endings: A Temporary Vanishing Act 197 

such sightings are corporeal or incorporeal can be hard to gauge. When manifestations 
of this kind are not documentably physical and leave no material traces, they may be 
differentiated from statues that move or crybaby paintings that shed a monsoon of 
tears or blood. 

Many iterations of the story of the jongleur are unusually elliptical about the 
relationship between the Madonna, which is an image, and the Virgin herself. The 
ambiguity only increases because we are left in limbo as to whether the performer 
himself or just the onlooking monks witnesses the apparition, whether either the 
animation of the image or the appearance of Mary has happened before, or whether 
the miracle (or is it two?) has been performed to teach a lesson to the monk-voyeurs. 

The overwhelming majority of Marian apparitions have become unwanted 
stepchildren of the Church. Even so, the most successful ones resulted in the foundation 
of sanctuaries that are magnets for pilgrimage. An early instance would be the showing 
of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico (see Figs. 4.21 and 4.22). (The location in the 
New World has significance, since it places the miracles far from the friction between 
Catholics and Protestants in Europe. The natives who were converted because of it 
knew nothing of iconoclasm within Christianity, only of Christian militancy against the 
idols of pre-Christian religions—heathenism.) According to official accounts, a maiden 
appeared on the morning of December 9, 1531 to Juan Diego. The Virgin directed this 
native American convert to Christianity to collect blossoms from the top of the nearby 
eminence. Despite the wintry season, he found Castilian roses flowering there. At least 
since the Middle Ages these beauties have been associated with Mary, as have lilies. 
Both blooms have insinuated themselves, sometimes with sub rosa stealth, into many 
versions of the narrative about the juggler of Our Lady. 





Fig. 4.21 Juan Diego’s image of Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, 1531. Mexico City, Nueva 
Basilica de Nuestra Sefiora de Guadalupe. Image from Wikimedia Commons, https://commons. Virgen_de_guadalupel jpg 

198 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Fig. 4.22 Postcard depicting Nuestra Sefora de Guadalupe 
(Zurich: Kunzli Hermanos y Cias, early twentieth century). 

The Mother of God arranged the colorful harvest in Juan Diego’s tilma, or “cloak.” 
When he opened the mantle before the archbishop, the petals fell out. What is more, 
the fabric of the garment was discovered to bear the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. 
The miraculous pictorial representation on the cloth has been revered ever since in 
the Chapel of the Virgin Mary in Tepeyac, which was constructed for mounting and 
displaying it. The depiction relates intriguingly to the so-called Black Virgins of earlier 
centuries, since the complexion of this Madonna is dark, often brought home in mass- 
produced images through the addition of black eyelashes. The Virgin of Guadalupe is 
sometimes designated affectionately among Spanish speakers as La Morenita, literally 
“the Little Moor,” to suggest by extension “the Little Dark One.” 

After the Virgin of Guadalupe, a gap of a few centuries ensues in high-profile Marian 
apparitions. A later example is Our Lady of Lourdes in France, connected especially 
with the showing of Mary on February 11, 1858 to Bernadette Soubirous. A third case 
is that of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, as noted above, based on appearances of the 
Mother of God to three shepherd children, with the central visionary being a ten-year- 
old shepherdess. Their sightings took place on the thirteenth day of six sequential 
months, beginning on May 13 and ending on October 13, 1917 (see Figs. 4.23, 4.24 
and 4.25). This vision exhorted the young ones who saw her to be conscientious in 
reciting their rosaries, and even called herself Our Lady of the Rosary. Each of these 
pilgrimage sites attracts millions of visitors per annum. A tale containing the germ of 

4, Reformation Endings: A Temporary Vanishing Act 199 

Fig. 4.23 Postcard depicting Our Lady of Fatima Fig. 4.24 Postcard depicting Our Lady of 
appearing before shepherd children (Porto, Fatima (Porto, Portugal, 1967). 
Portugal: V. Matos Trigo, 1960s). 

ewan + 

e Te e wy. 

Fig. 4.25 Postcard depicting Our Lady of Fatima 
(Zurich: Hermanos S. A., early twentieth century). 

200 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

this pattern, with a Madonna and an apparition, as does Our Lady’s Tumbler, would 
have been by its very nature out of bounds within Evangelical denominations. 

If it is painless to see why Our Lady’s Tumbler could not survive in Protestant regions, 
the explanation for why the story dropped out of vogue in Catholic regions may seem 
harder to fathom. Then again, consider a paradox that makes the tale profoundly 
unsettling. Our Lady’s Tumbler could not be more deeply imbued with organized 
religion. After all, the events take place within a monastery and all its chief characters 
save one are monks. At the same time, that one exceptional individual, not just a 
mere layman but even the humblest sort of one, attains direct contact with the sacred. 
Furthermore, his interaction is unmediated by a priest or any other representative 
of the Church—apart, of course, from the mediation of the mediator par excellence, 
the Virgin Mary herself. If we make the improbable leap of drawing an analogy 
based on present-day corporations, we could put the dilemma into the tracery of an 
organizational chart. By the vow of obedience, a monk, even a lay brother, in a matrix 
structure would report formally to the abbot as manager, but also to God and through 
God to others such as Mary. The tumbler’s relationship with Mary would be a solid 
line, that with the man who heads his abbey dotted. The ecclesiastical hierarchy 
stipulated the reverse. 

Our Lady’s Tumbler is about prayer, devotion, and worship. Simultaneously, it 
illustrates how those acts do not require learning, Latin, or priests. In contradistinction, 
it implies that praying has the objective of transcending mere linguistic signification 
and verbal pronouncement so as to achieve silent communion. In rallying words to 
conjure up the movements of an acrobatic dancer, the poem has enormous graphic 
power. Yet in its content and outcome, it subverts its own potential as a text by flatly 
denying or at least depreciating the very importance of writing and even language 
more broadly. Ultimately, the narrative’s message is that to be saved, the only 
necessity is to curry favor with the Mother of God, whose intercession can accomplish 
anything. As a rule, the Virgin never forsakes a votary. Obeisance done to her is done 
at the same time to the Child, through whom grace and salvation come, since Mary’s 
prayers to her son carry a special weight. The infant Jesus is not mentioned in the 
medieval French poem, nor even Mary’s status as mother. All the same, they are both 
singularly important. They are left unsaid only because they are givens. 

The tumbler does not know his catechism, or at least not his monastery’s Latin 
one. What is more, he has the insouciance to reach out directly in worship to the 
Virgin, by performing a trifling act, the only form of devotion feasible for him. Yet 
his personalized trivial pursuit turns out to succeed far better than all the elaborate 
liturgy of his fellow monks. He undergoes a deeply personal conversion, and he 
expresses his reverence through a faith based on experience. His sincerity is deemed 
meet and proper by Mary, who bestows her renowned clemency on him. The lesson 
is a typically Protestant one: when everything is taken into account, what matters is 
inner spirit rather than outer formalism. In the words of an American historian who 

4, Reformation Endings: A Temporary Vanishing Act 201 

studied life in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, “the story implies that the interior 
spiritual disposition of the believer, more even than his external behavior, defined 
the character of true holiness.” Thus, Our Lady’s Tumbler anticipates later pietist 
movements within Christianity that focus on the efforts of lay people to achieve 
individual sanctity by leading a consistent Christian life. So far, so good, except for 
two provisos. The first is that we are accorded almost no insight into the tumbler’s 
innermost thoughts and feelings; the second is that the validation of this ground rule 
comes after a supremely un-Protestant miracle involving an image. For these reasons 
and others, the story may have been superficially too Catholic for a Reformation era 
but too latently Protestant, or at a minimum too popular in its underlying religious 
presuppositions, for a Counter-Reformation. It ran the risk of serving neither the 
reformers nor the counter-reformers. To round off the problems that the narrative 
posed, both groups would have clucked their tongues over the salience within it of 
such a questionable activity as dance. 

Such inferences would clarify not only why this of all tales wilted away but also 
why, in general, apparitions of the Virgin would have failed to win backing from the 
Church in the centuries immediately following the Reformation. The showings that 
have become entrenched in Catholicism came much later, such as those at Lourdes 
in 1858, Fatima in 1917. By the same token, sites that had been suppressed were 
revived during the same period: Walsingham has been rebuilt only since the Catholic 
revival of the nineteenth century. To remain in Britain, it has been observed that in the 
nineteenth century, just a few Catholic churches there possessed a Madonna before 
Victoria became queen. Representations of Mary returned only under the influence 
of the Gothic revival, spearheaded by the English architect and tastemaker Augustus 
Welby Northmore Pugin (often confused or conflated with his similarly named 

One other point merits mention. Our Lady’s Tumbler is deeply preoccupied with 
the nature of offering. In other words, the tale is concerned with the type of gift that 
can win acceptance. It transmits at least two messages about giving. First, an offer is a 
private matter between individual Christians and their God. Second, it has nothing to 
do with physical property or financial instruments. The story makes sense for use by 
churchmen to incentivize prayer, to encourage conversion to lay monasticism, and to 
achieve various other ends. If, on the other hand, eliciting donations is a priority, this 
exemplum is not necessarily the logical first choice. 

In the short run (although we are discussing a centuries-long stretch) Mary, 
Madonnas, and exempla about apparitions of her were displaced or suppressed. No 
facile invocation of the aphorism “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” can 
explain away the few hundred years that present neither a text nor even a citation, 
reference, or allusion to fan hope that Our Lady’s Tumbler was known to anyone at 
all. In literature, unpopularity in its most hard-baked form can lead to ostracism so 
complete that the exclusion is tantamount to extinction. But a door remained open at 

202 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

least a crack for the prospective later return of Mary, Marian images, and masterpieces 
about her apparitions and miracles. Gothic as an architectural style and tales from the 
original Gothic era (not that they were yet “Gothic tales”) did not die out altogether 
in the early sixteenth century. Rather, they hid in open view, awaiting archaeological 
rediscovery and excavation. The story may have all but died. Then again, no text 
preserved in manuscripts ever is eliminated entirely. Works of literature seldom 
vanish into thin air. 

In 1873, the tumbler was discovered in the cryogenic vat of a manuscript, a one- 
man iceblock but still capable of being brought back to life. Since that time the big 
names on the medical team that took charge of his case have been, with surprising 
frequency, unbelievers, Catholics lapsed into libertinism, Protestants without a solid 
background in Marianism, and even Jews. Yet at the same time, many others who 
helped to keep the tumbler in good trim and the juggler on his way were practicing 
adherents of Roman Catholicism, who sometimes had the special zeal that comes 
from recent conversion. Thus, the tumbler was revitalized in the late nineteenth 
century and later benefited in equal measure from the faithful and the faithless. To 
understand, we will need to observe microscopically those who raised him from the 
dead (or unliving, to be more precise) and how they accomplished it. 

5. A Troupe of Sources and Analogues 

It would be interesting, from the point of view of the 
folklorist, to try to find parallels to the chief motif on 
which this legend is founded—namely, the notion that 
Heaven regards with favour the most trivial and lowly 
offerings, nay, even such as may appear abject and sinful 
to men on earth. 

The poet of the original Our Lady’s Tumbler may have encountered the quiddity of the 
tale and recycled it from stories in oral circulation, including exempla. We will never 
pin down to everyone’s liking even roughly how many such narratives he had heard 
or read. Yet we would be guilty of a serious infelicity if we refrained from speculating 
about what the author may have owed to literary traditions behind and around him. 
We would do well to consider Christian and especially Cistercian accounts that could 
have inspired him. At the same time, it would be idiocy to undervalue the possible 
contribution of the writer’s own imagination. After all, he drew on not only oral and 
written literature, but also on life experiences and informed perspectives that he had 
gained in the school of hard knocks. Thus, we have a dilemma in evaluating the degree 
of originality in the anonymous poet. The human capacity to imagine is boundless. 
Nonetheless, many themes that at first appear unique to a specific individual or 
culture turn out upon close examination to have occurred independently to others. 
For a periscope that grants views into what the poet could have felt or seen, we 
could do far worse than to look at other reports, both fictitious and not, of comparable 
behavior from other cultures. We would serve our interests well by seeking out 
accounts of episodes in which individuals act in ways that cry out to be compared 
with the tumbler. Such records can help us with the challenge of such questions as: 
Did a tumbler ever actually exist who performed before a Madonna? Did the poet 
hear a story of a real man like the acrobat? Did he invent him? Or did he tap into a 
true-seeming fiction created by an earlier author about a performer like the gymnast? 
The scrapbook of possible sources and analogues to follow makes no claim to 
be encyclopedic. The clippings in it, gathered in from the Hebrew scripture, New 
Testament, and medieval legends and miracles, constitute only part of the panorama. 

© 2018 Jan M. Ziolkowski, CC BY 4.0 

204 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

They supplement the real-life histories that have already been provided of actual 
individuals, from antiquity to the present day, who have elected to express through 
their performance arts their devotion to God. They anticipate tales to come that are 
tied to Christmas in Christian tradition as well as to the high holy days in Jewish 
tradition. Indubitably, the basis of comparison could be multiplied by thorough 
trolling for oral and written literature from other parts of the world, such as South 
and East Asia. Whatever the omissions, the comparative scaffolding established here 
represents at least a start. 

King David’s Dancing 

She liked the story of David, who danced before 
the Lord, and uncovered himself exultingly. Why 
should he uncover himself to Michal, a common 
woman? He uncovered himself to the Lord. 

—D. H. Lawrence 

David, of slingshot fame, was second king over Israel and Judah, thanks in part to 
his having proved his mettle in hand-to-hand combat and his moral fiber in other 
capacities. He was also a poet, singer, and musician of the first order (see Fig. 5.1). 
Almost half of the Psalms in the Bible have been transmitted with an ascription to him. 
His attainments as a performer were familiar in the Middle Ages and were associated 
with the figure of the jongleur. At the same time, he was recognized also as a dancer. 
The medieval tumbler’s gymnastics before the image of the Virgin show parallels 
to the prancing of King David in his linens before the ark of the covenant in Holy 
Writ. Features of the single extant miniature that accompanies the text of Our Lady’s 
Tumbler in one manuscript have helped to bring home the resemblances: in both cases, 
men in possibly inappropriate clothing behave before altars in surprising ways, not 
fully accepted by close members of their communities. Both the posture and dress or 
undress of the gymnast in the illustration call to mind David. 

The ark was a chest that contained the two stone tablets inscribed with the Ten 
Commandments. It had been taken from a battlefield by the Philistines, and its return 
to Jerusalem delighted David. In the vignette before the ark, three verses pertain 
suggestively to the story of the tumbler, and bottle the kinetic energy of the king’s 
performance. They bring home his near-nakedness as well as his athleticism and sheer 
joy in whirling. The context makes crystal clear that although he is among others, his 
ecstatic dance is solo. The passage also records how David's wife, Michal, turns up 
her nose at his exhibition. She is the female onlooker. When she scolds him for his 
dancing, the king replies: “I will both play and make myself meaner than I have done, 
and I will be little in my own eyes, and with the handmaids of whom thou speakest, 
I shall appear more glorious.” In punishment for her chiding about his sacred dance, 
she is rendered sterile. 

5. A Troupe of Sources and Analogues 205 

All the physical features in David’s dance were sometimes conjured up 
in medieval visual images of the scene, particularly in manuscript art. In one 
representation from the first half of the twelfth century, the sovereign is presented 
arched backward in a circle. This stance is designated technically as a bridge, and 
jongleurs were commonly depicted in such a pose. A moralized Bible emphasizes 
the contrast between the prophet, whose kingliness is signified by his crown, and 
his spouse, who averts her gaze and makes a sweepingly dismissive gesture with 
her left arm (see Fig. 5.2). 

S edinlege dyin 

dee ae maree T comerms ta. die. ae nocre 

Fig. 5.1 King David the harpist. Miniature, Fig. 5.2 King David dancing. 

fourteenth century. Dublin, Trinity College, Miniature. Vienna, Osterreichische 

MS 53, fol. 151r. Image courtesy of Trinity Nationalbibliothek, Cod. 
College, Dublin. All rights reserved. Vindobonensis 2554, fol. 44r. 

The whole episode of David’s dancing is too thorny to be reduced to a dichotomy 
between a regal king (and what else could one be?) and his derisive consort. On 
the contrary, it acquired various kinds of charge. In the first half of the eleventh 
century, one monk overlaid the actual performances of real-life entertainers in his 
day upon the biblical ruler. He describes how the seer “sounds the lyre before the 
ark of the Lord, dances naked, plays, and walks about upside-down.” A century later, 
the Cistercian preacher Bernard of Clairvaux calls upon the auditors of a sermon to 
heed the spirit of joy and wisdom in which the monarch performs his two actions of 
dancing and rebuking. In one tercet in the Divine Comedy, Dante singles out David’s 
humility for emphasis. The leader’s humbling of himself would have seemed all 

206 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

the more extraordinary to medieval readers or viewers, since by frisking around in 
scanty clothing he put himself on a level with jongleurs and other socially marginal 

Politically, the transportation of the ark to Jerusalem signaled the union of the 
northern and southern tribes under the single kingship or monarchy of David. This 
circumstance explains why the potentate is customarily represented wearing his 
crown prominently, no matter how hyperkinetic he is depicted as being. On the 
Christological plane, the regal status was particularly relevant to medieval Christians. 
Allegorically, the taking of the ark can be likened to the capture of Jesus by the Jews. 
Most frequently, the special chest was aligned with the Virgin. Its triumphal entry 
into David’s earthly city came to be regarded as prefiguring Mary’s entrance into 
the heavenly Jerusalem or as foretelling the advent of Christ into the earthly one 
before the Passion. A retelling of The Juggler of Our Lady ona little more than a single 
page in a heavily illustrated and highly religious weekly for Catholic children from 
1949 follows loosely the story as it was spun in an early twentieth-century opera. It 
describes the jongleur as being primarily a fiddle player (see Fig. 5.3) but as dancing 
in the crucial scene, “like David before the ark of the covenant—do we not so call the 
Virgin Mary?” 

In the Middle Ages the episode of David’s dancing was assimilated fast and furious 
to the motif of the jongleur of God. In a Spanish text written or at least overseen by 
King Sancho IV the Brave of Castile, who ruled from 1284 to 1295, an exemplum draws 
on the Bible to recount how the prophet bounded around the ark like an entertainer, 
with a cithara in hand. When his wife inveighs against him for comporting himself 
in this manner before his servants, he responds that he feels no stigma. As a jongleur 
of God, he depreciates himself in the presence of his creator. A metrical paraphrase 
of Psalm 44, known after the first word in the Latin as Eructavit, exists in medieval 
French. This poem presents the biblical ruler not merely as a jongleur but even as a 
wise one. When we consider attitudes in the Middle Ages, attaching that epithet to 
such a professional almost risked being an oxymoron. 

Translating Greek that means more precisely “he uncovers himself like one of the 
naked dance performers,” the Latin of the Vulgate for the final phrase of 2 Kings 
(2 Samuel) 20 could be translated into English as “one of the buffoons” or even 

“one of the jongleurs.” Was David then taken to be a prototype of Saint Francis as a 
jongleur of God? Later expositors had to decide whether by virtue of being Davidic 
the dancing constituted legitimate spiritual jubilation, or whether it deviated wildly 
and distracted from genuine godliness. Religious dance is so widespread as to seem 
almost universal, and yet dancing, especially within or in proximity to churches, has 
often been demeaned within Christianity as being inherently immodest, overly sexual, 
and unsuited to worship. 

In the very beginning of the twentieth century, Maurice Léna, who devised the 
libretto for Massenet’s opera Le jongleur de Notre Dame, drew an immediate connection 
between the biblical prophet David and the medieval jongleur Jean. When the 


5. A Troupe of Sources and Analogues 

Au temps jadis, quand il y avait encore des princes 
et des seigneurs, des ménestrels ou troubadours al- 
laient de chateau en chateau pour faire entendre 
leurs chansons qu'ils accompagnaient de !a_ vielle. 
Non seulement ils chantaient, mais faisaient mille 
tours d’adresse pour distraire leur noble auditoire. 
C'est pourquoi on ad nommait aussi baladins ou jon- 

L’un d’entre eux se trompa et frappa a la porte 
d'un couvent. [] y fut bien accueilli, car les moines, 
trés hospitaliers, voient en chaque voyageur une 
image de Jésus parcourant Jes chemins de la Judée. 

Pour les remercier, le jongleur offrit de chanter 
les poémes de gloire ct d'amour dont il régalait or- 
dinaisement les seigneurs et les dames des cours sei- 

— Mon fils, lui dit alors le Prieur du Couvent, je 
yous remercie de votre bonne intention. Mais votre 
art, si remarquable qu'il soit, ne peut cependant 
égayer des moines qui ont renoncé & tous les plaisirs 
du monde. Les chants de guetre ne conviennent pas 
aux serviteurs du Dieu de paix. Quant aux poémes 
d’amour, nous ne voulons entendre que ceux qui 
chantent les beautés de Notre-Dame Marie, Mére de 
Jésus, qu'on ne célébre pas avec dés paroles profa- 
nes. Reposez-vous done paimi nous, et quand vous 
aurez repris vos forces vous pourrez poursuivre votre 

xk * 

Ces paroles paternelles ct sages touchérent [ame 
du jongleur. Il pensa que les moines qui chantaient 
chaque jour, et méme la nuit, les louanges du Sei- 

ot Jésus et de Madame Marie, consacraient leur 

& des maitres bien plus grands que ceux aux- 
quels lui-eméme s’adressait, Ii se sentit pressé par la 
force intérieure de Ja grace A faire comme eux. Aus- 
si, aprés avoir -vécu quelques jours dans ce couvent, 
alla-t-il se prosterner aux pieds du Pare Prieur, lui 
demandaat la faveur d'étre recu au noviciat. 

On ui fit subir un temps d’essai. I] était pieux et 
docile, et, bien qu'il edt beaucoup de peine, n‘étant 
plus assez jeune, pour apprendre le Jatin, il fut ad- 
mis dans la communauté. Il fit son noviciat et pro- 
nonca ses vecux, prometiant solennellement de vivre 
dans Ja*pauvreté, !a pureté et l'obéissance, d’obser- 
ver la Régle de l’Ordre et Ja constitution du monas- 

Mais il comprenait toujours fort mal le latin des 
hymnes et des psaumes, et il en souffrait cruellement, 
craignant, le pauvyre homme, que sa priére ne fit 
agréable & Dieu. 


Il s‘humiliait successivement devant tous les fré- 
res qui, de Ja cuisine au jardin, s‘exercaient, chacun 
selon son talent, & bien servir Dieu en servant Jeurs 


— Mon frére, lui disait le cuisinier, ne vous déso- 
lez pas. Moi non plus. je ne sais pas Je latin. Je fais 
cuire les legumes et les macaronis : ce n'est pas dif- 
ficile, mais c’est tout ce que je sais faire. Chacun 
doit faire ce qu'il peut @ la place ot Dicu I'a mis. 
Moi, frére Boniface, j'ai été chargé par mon Supé- 
rieur de ceite humble tache et je mets tout mon 
amour a l'accomplir. Ainsi mes fréres sont déchar- 

gés du souci de savoir ce qu'ils mangeront et peu- 
vent, sans autte préoccupation, chanter au bon Dieu 
de beaux chants en latin, pour eux, pour moi, pour 
tout le monde. 

Pareillernent lui parlait frére Eusébe, le jardinier 
qui ne savait que planter ses choux, frére Hilarion 
qui soignait Ja porcherie et la basse-cour, frére Cré 
pin qui ressemelait les souliers, frére Ange qui cou- 
sait les vétements, et tous, et tous, heureux de servir 
& quelque chose et humbles de sie servir qu’a cela. 

ae a ae 

— Chacun fait ce qu'il sait, se répétait l’ancien 
jongleur. Mais moi je ne sais rien faire. Du moins 
rien d'utile... 

Il pensa a sa vielle, suspendue au grenier, couver- 
te de poussiére. Grelottant de fievre, car i} était 
malade, il alla la chercher, se rendit & l'église. 

— Pour Madame Marie, songeait-il, je vais chan- 
ter les chants qui égayaient jadis les dames des cha- 

Fig. 5.3 “Le jongleur de Notre Dame.” Printed in Le Croisé: Organe belge 
de la croisade eucharistique 23.5 (October 1949): 76. 


208 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

entertainer dances, the Prior quotes from scripture the verse “Unto his vomit, the dog 
has turned again.” We have transitioned from eructation to emesis. In other words, 
he accuses the erstwhile performer of backsliding to his old ways—a gag reflex, in 
multiple senses. The other monks rant at the newcomer’s impiety and sacrilege for 
dancing, and call out for him to be anathematized, expelled, or executed. Only Brother 
Boniface, the bon-vivant chef at the monastery who befriends and protects Jean, leaps 
to the defense of his fellow lay brother. The potbellied cook, salt of the earth as befits 
his profession, does so in part by invoking none other than King David. 

More than a half century later, and probably independently of Massenet, Duke 
Ellington revealed similar intuitions in the program note for the Concert of Sacred 
Music. This was the first of three full-evening jazz suites that he composed for a big 
band, complemented by a full choir, vocal soloists, and dancers. His cogitation in this 
First Sacred Concert pertains directly to his own creativity and devotion. As nearly the 
last of its parts, it contains a piece for full band, choir, and solo tap dancer entitled 

“David Danced before the Lord with All His Might.” In his comments, the jazz musician 
connected first the juggler of our story with the biblical prophet, and then the act of 
juggling with drumming, instrumentalism, dancing, and other nonverbal expressions 
of a person’s temperament during worship. The performance of this song featured 
dancing by a tap master, visible in the film. The distinctive rat-a-tat of tap dance, like a 
solo of scat singing performed by feet shod with metal-plated soles, is plainly audible 
in the sound track. The Third Sacred Concert contains the track “Every Man Prays in 
His Own Language.” Ellington once expanded upon these words by adding, “and 
there is no language that God does not understand.” Close associates of the composer 
have reported that he was inspired by the Juggler of Notre Dame in both the overall 
series of sacred concerts and in this particular piece. 

The dance of King David before the ark may underlie a motif concerning the 
girlhood of Mary in the late fourth-century Protevangelium of James. This “first 
Gospel,” to break down the first word of the title into its two Greek elements, is an 
extraordinarily influential apocryphon. Among other things, the Protogospel helps 
considerably to flesh out the extremely sparse treatment of the Mother of God in the 
New Testament. In turn, the text was expanded in later accretions to these books of 
the Christian Bible. Its most notable successor would be the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, 
probably datable to the first quarter of the seventh century. This Latin paraphrase tells 
of the Virgin’s parents, birth, and life. Such accounts developed to plug many gaps in 
the canonical Bible and thus to satisfy the otherwise unfulfilled curiosity of believers. 
The Protevangelium is devoted in the main to Mary’s biography, including her infancy, 
and family relations before the Nativity. The apocryphal account is ascribed to 
a certain James, who was probably meant to be Jesus’s half-brother, the son of his 
father Joseph by a former marriage. Despite this ascription, the composition probably 
took shape—or at least began to do so—in the second half of the second century. The 
earliest manuscript is of the early fourth century, but it was not rediscovered and 
made accessible in the West until long afterward. 

5. A Troupe of Sources and Analogues 209 

The seventh chapter of Pseudo-Matthew describes how at the age of three Mary was 
taken by her parents Joachim and Anna to be presented in the temple in Jerusalem. 
By devoting her to God, her father and mother rendered thanks for the blessing 
of parenthood. Upon being placed on the third step of the altar, the little girl felt 
impelled by the same sort of sacred ecstasy or holy high spirits that had overcome 
David before the ark. Like a sacralized Shirley Temple, she performed a little shimmy. 
Then (the jig was up) she scampered up the rest of the fifteen steps on her own 
without any unusual behavior. The future Mother of God remained as a temple virgin 
until she was twelve. Both the dance on the staircase and the service in the sanctuary 
corroborate the inference that she descended directly from the lineage of David. 
Whereas Michal greeted David’s prancing with derision, all those present to witness 
Mary’s fancy footwork take delight and show wonder in it. Although a relatively low- 
stakes element in the story, the little dance would have been mentioned occasionally 
when commemorating the Presentation of the Virgin in the temple. But evidence that 
the girl’s jaunty hopping had any broad impact is elusive. The scene was represented 
seldom in art, if at all. Among the few images that depict the Mother of God’s ascent 
of the steps, only a fresco in the Duomo at Prato may make even a faint gesture at 
alluding to the episode—and not even by showing her dancing but by showing her 
at the point in the ascent where she could have stopped to do so (see Fig. 5.4). In this 
composition, her back foot is about to leave the third step as she races up the stairway 
toward the priest. 

Fig. 5.4 Paolo Uccello, Presentazione di Maria al Tempio, ca. 1435. Fresco. Prato, Duomo di Prato. 
Image from Wikimedia Commons,,_ 

210 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

The situational parallels between King David’s nimble-footed exultation before 
the ark and the agile performance of the humble tumbler before the statue of the 
Virgin have struck various readers independently over the centuries. Despite any 
similarities, Our Lady’s Tumbler is by no stretch of the imagination merely a calque 
upon one scene in the Bible. Even the specific moment when the tumbler enacts his 
routine is not necessarily modeled upon the prophet’s wild prancing. Rather, it has 
about it an archetypal quality that ties it to stories from cultures elsewhere in the 
world and time. In fact, the stark chasm in social stature between a lofty biblical king 
and a lowly medieval performer argues against a cozy association between them. 

The Widow’s Mites 

Underlying all these stories, a common spirit affirms that God will receive with 
appreciation even the humblest gift from the humblest person. The only codicil is that 
the pittance be proffered with sincerity. The distillate of this idea can be found in the 
New Testament account of the widow’s mites. Jesus witnesses the incident when it 
happens in the Temple in Jerusalem, and expounds upon it (see Fig. 5.5). Mites are 
little coins of the least valuable denomination, minted of a base metal such as bronze 
or copper. The woman’s pair of two such coppers, although minute in comparison 
with the presents of others, gains scope when measured against her net wealth: they 
are all she possesses. By tendering just two pieces of small change, the exceedingly 
poor widow utterly bankrupts herself. As a consequence, the proportionate value of 
her donation to God tops by far the large amounts of money contributed by richer folk. 

Fig. 5.5 Alexandre Bida, The Widow’s Mite, 1874. Etching. Published in Edward Eggleston, 
Christ in Art; or, The Gospel Life of Jesus: With the Bida Illustrations 
(New York: Fords, Howard, & Hulbert, 1874), 293. 

5. A Troupe of Sources and Analogues 211 

Our Lady’s Tumbler sets within the framework of dance, gymnastics, and juggling 
the same issues that are embedded in both biblical episodes, first of David’s dance 
and later of the widow’s mites. The resemblance between the medieval tale and the 
incident in the Gospels, although limited to their shared spirit rather than extending 
to the motif of dancing, appears to have struck at least one later interpreter. In 1918, 
the Irish writer Bernard Duffy published a coming-of-age novel entitled Oriel. Among 
other things, the book describes a priest, Dean James Joseph MacMahon. The fourth 
chapter, set in the novelist’s hometown, is narrated by an altar boy. References to 
Our Lady’s Tumbler neatly frame this section. Near the beginning of the chapter, the 
Dean subjects the youth to sweet-natured raillery about his dreams for the future. In 
the process, MacMahon admits that in his own adolescent days he had cherished 
an ambition to be a traveling entertainer who specialized in gymnastics. Somewhat 
earlier the good cleric had asked what the boy intended to be when he grew up. The 
young man had given two answers that in their antitheticality had made the priest 
double up in gales of laughter: “I think I’ll be a bishop” and “I think—I think a clown 
in a circus.” In the incident that caps the chapter, Oriel, who has been tasked with 
manning the collection box, feels shamefaced at having no coins to drop in. Instead 
of pocket money, he thinks himself virtuous for contributing an enameled button. 
The Dean, not knowing who made this deposit, admonishes the congregation sternly. 
After the boy confesses, the ecclesiastic responds by telling the story of Our Lady’s 
Tumbler, which he finds apt for both of them because of their youthful aspirations. As 
the chapter closes, the older churchman concludes that “the value of an offering is to 
be gauged only by the spirit in which it is offered.” 

Such expressions of devotion may well up from many different drives within 
individuals, including dancers. Not all acts of dancing as performances of faith need 
to have had a text or ritual as provocation or inspiration. After all, they can arise from 
nearly universal human impulses. Thus, in a work of scholarship printed in 1923, an 
academic author on dance vouched for “the literal truth” of two related anecdotes, 
in which small children performed rhythmic steps or simple gymnastics before God 
or Jesus. Many physical performances have the aim of showing off, not solely for the 
Virgin. With complex anachronism, a volume of literary history brought out in 1948 
referenced the jongleur of Notre Dame in describing an escaped French prisoner of war 
during the Napoleonic Wars. With his companions, the fugitive staged a performance of 
athletic feats, including jumping hurdles: “It’s the story of the jongleur of Notre Dame. 
The episode is one of the prettiest. The war then had these oases, or these pauses.” 

Beyond reflexes that may occur to this or that type of person almost irrespective of 
the century or culture, we cannot rule out the specificity of local traditions. Christian 
qualms about dance were severe. Despite them, regional folklore and folkways retained 
their resilience. For all the gnawing doubts, this form of expression may have been 
accorded a place in quasi-religious rituals outside formal worship or even in the liturgy 
itself. Such customs can be onerous to recover from ancient and medieval times, since 
the literate who could set them down in writing were often either condescendingly 

212 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

uninterested in or actively antipathetic to them. On the whole, the ecclesiastical 
authorities managed to keep the practice out of churches and liturgical contexts, or to 
squelch it if it had somehow insinuated itself there anyway. Yet the suppression was 
never complete, especially outside houses of worship. Spain and Spanish-speaking 
America have a celebration called the Festival of the Crosses or May Cross in which 
dance often plays a role. A Spanish print from around 1875 captures a couple dancing 
in a courtyard before seated onlookers (see Fig. 5.6). In 1920, a researcher made an 
aside that referred to many Spanish children disporting themselves before the May 
altars in their own homes, in a ritual loosely comparable to a Maypole dance. How far 
back such rituals reach is at this point, and will abide forevermore, a matter of wide- 
open guesswork rather than absolute historical certainty. 

Fig. 5.6 Dancers celebrate Cruz de Mayo in Spain. Albumen print. Illustration by J. Turina, 1875. 

The medieval tale demonstrates dash and daring in depicting dance positively, as 
the object of reward from the Virgin herself. In contrast, in the Middle Ages, dancing 
was often presented by churchmen as a profane pastime, and was condemned for 
its deleterious character. Stephen of Bourbon, French Dominican of the thirteenth 
century, declared, “The devil is the inventor of carolers and dancers.” The best-known 
and longest-lived of anti-balletic exempla tells of the cursed dancers of Kélbigk. On 
Christmas Eve of 1017 or thereabouts, these women and men allegedly violated 
an interdiction against dance within church space during a service. To be specific, 
they made a racket as they danced in the round and sang in the churchyard. In so 
doing, they disturbed the Mass in their small town. When the parish priest shushed 
them, they turned a deaf ear (see Fig. 5.7). Ignored by the merrymakers, the minister 
eventually called upon God, pronounced a malediction, and execrated them. Through 
the pox he put on them, the miscreants were given a kind of homeopathic punishment 
for their profanity. For transgressing the sanctity of the space and ignoring the good 
father, they were prevented for an entire year from leaving the yard and from ceasing 

5. A Troupe of Sources and Analogues 213 

Fig. 5.7 The cursed dancers of Kélbigk. Etching, 1674. Artist unknown. Published in Johann 
Ludwig Gottfried, Historische Chronick oder Beschreibung der Merckwiirdigsten Geschichte, vol. 1 
(Frankfurt, Germany: Merian, 1674), 505. Image courtesy of Universitatsbibliothek Diisseldorf. 

to sing and dance. After this living purgatory, the legend maintained that they were 
permitted to return to normal life. The tale is sometimes held to relate to ecclesiastical 
anxiety as ballads and carols spread at full bore. Christian ambivalence about dance 
appears nowhere more remarkably than in a short story by the Swiss author of poetry 
and fiction, Gottfried Keller (see Figs. 5.8 and 5.9). Entitled “The Little Legend of 
Dance,” the tale is the last of his Seven Legends from 1872. All of these accounts have 
settings in early Christianity. This narrative, based on one preserved in Gregory the 
Great’s Dialogues, recounts an episode in the life of Saint Musa. As a young lady, the 
future holy woman was reputed to have had only one fallibility: she suffered from 
an intractable mania for dance (see Figs. 5.10 and 5.11). She indulged her passion 
everywhere, even when walking to the altar or before the church door. Keller reports 
that once “when she found herself alone in the church, she could not refrain from 
executing some balletic moves before the altar, and, so to speak, dancing a pretty 
prayer to the Virgin Mary.” 

At this juncture an elderly gentleman appeared, and she took a long and elaborate 
whirl with him. At the end, he introduced himself as King David himself, and he 
pledged her eternal bliss in cavorting (see Fig. 5.12). His only rider to the agreement 
was that for the rest of her life in the material world she renounce her hedonism, 
including dancing, and that she give herself over instead to penance and devotion. 
Musa consented to this stipulation, returned home, and took up an anchoritic existence 
in which she forwent all pleasures, most especially the balletic ones. Before too long, 
the girl fell ill and died, whereupon she enjoyed the delights of gamboling that the 
prophet had promised her (see Fig. 5.13). 

214 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Fig. 5.8 Gottfried Keller, age 54. Photograph Fig. 5.9 Gottfried Keller. Photograph, before 
by Jean Gut, 1873. 1929. Photographer unknown. 
Be rar « 
“i 2 ad) der Wuf 

te, de8 beiligen « 
em wer Wiufe 

curse weak, al My | pene rin unter der 

ape sh | eed, Outer Leute 4 


CF} | Ye FA fie ein an 
Ne : Soe fh ve) Jungfraulein 
ppt Weep Ser Wiutter € 
sh fig diente, 
\ einer Leiden 
ih wegt, namlic 
,ner wunbesr 
sa Canszlu(t, . 
afi, wenn oas Hind 
Fig. 5.10 Title page of Gottfried Keller, Fig. 5.11 Musa dancing. Drawing by Hannes 

Das Tanzlegendchen (Berlin-Charlottenburg, M. Avenarius, 1919. Published in G. Keller, Das 
Germany: Axel Juncker, 1919). Tanzlegendchen, 9. 

5. A Troupe of Sources and Analogues 215 

Fig. 5.12 Musa speaks with King David. Drawing by Hannes M. Avenarius, 1919. Published in Gottfried 
Keller, Das Tanzlegendchen (Berlin-Charlottenburg, Germany: Axel Juncker, 1919), 13. 




Fig. 5.13 Musa dances in heaven. Drawing by G. Traub, 1921. Published in Gottfried Keller, 
Sieben Legenden (Munich, Germany: Franz Hanfstaeng]l, 1921), 139. 

216 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

The Virgin’s Miraculous Images and Apparitions 

The Gospels do not brim with details of Mary’s life history, beyond the facts that she 
was a maiden who married Joseph, accompanied him to Bethlehem, and bore Jesus 
after conceiving miraculously. For her role in this procreation, the Virgin was hailed 
at the Council of Ephesus in 431 CE by the Greek epithet Theotokos, meaning literally 

“God-Bearer” but interpreted often as “Mother of God.” This edict helped to ramp 
up Marian devotion. In addition, it led eventually to recognition of Constantinople 
as the Theotokoupolis, or “City of the God-Bearer.” Legends and miracles gradually 
arose that documented subsequent interventions of the Virgin in the lives of human 
beings. The Mother of God steps on stage as the mediator of God’s mercifulness and 
as the surest advocate for uneasy souls. She proves able and willing to work miracles 
to spare almost any sinner who resorts to her. Narratives of miracles wrought by 
Mary are not unknown in the earlier Middle Ages in Western Europe, and in fact the 
contribution of what is now France to the stockpile of Marian miracle tales began 
early, in the writings of Gregory of Tours. But they metamorphosed into a major 
literary phenomenon only in the twelfth century and later, extant first in Latin prose 
and later in Latin verse and vernacular verse. Once again, the French-speaking region 
contributed in an outsized fashion. 

The making of a miracle literature required extensive efforts. Monks, clerics, and 
performers gathered stories. In the process, they sometimes conducted the medieval 
equivalents of oral history or news interviews. Occasionally they may have spun the 
tales largely out of their own fancies. In any case, they were not aided in their work 
by recording devices beyond stylus and wax tablet, pen and parchment, or other such 
tools for note-taking. Since the wonders were often preserved and transmitted at first 
separately, others later bundled them into more or less coherent groupings. Later 
still, vernacular poets translated or adapted written collections from Latin or from 
unwritten intermediaries. In Marian miracles, both the quality and quantity of the 
prose and verse generated in the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries rate as nothing 
short of astounding. This holds true of texts in both the learned language and the 

The wonders of most saints, set down posthumously, were attached to specific, 
physical shrines. The written accounts were customarily presented as historical 
documents, serving primarily to shore up the case for officially canonizing the martyr 
or virgin responsible for them. In contrast, the miracles of the Virgin were unhampered 
by the cumbersome dictates of papal canonization, since her sainthood was already 
unequivocal. Instead, they were generally literary compositions not tied to a single 
place. As the genre surpassed most other forms of hagiography, the Marian collection 
soaked up miracles that had been associated previously not with the Mother of God 
but with other saints. 

5. A Troupe of Sources and Analogues 217 

Suppliants sometimes sought to be healed through the intercession of Mary —they 
could read and hear of many therapeutic miracles. All the same, her wonders tend 
much less to emphasize remission and recovery from physical ailments than salvation 
from what could be styled spiritual dilemmas. Finally, considerably fewer relics of the 
Virgin existed than of many other major saints, since her body had been taken into 
heaven at the Assumption. Although nail trimmings and hair ringlets are to be found, 
remains of direct contact with her generally came through relatively paltry pieces of 
clothing and drops of milk. Counteracting that scantiness, the Mother of God barged 
into the real world long after death through frequent apparitions. Many sightings 
took place thanks to images, either icon-like paintings on panels or representations in 
the round — that is, statuary standing free with all sides shown. 

The assemblages of miracles that are known best today are in the spoken languages. 
To list only three examples, our thoughts turn first to the Miracles of Our Lady in 
medieval French verse, from about 1220, by the Benedictine monk Gautier de Coinci. 
A second would be the Miracles of Our Lady in Castilian verse, from about 1230, by 
Gonzalo de Berceo, secular priest of Rioja. He has just title to being the first Spanish 
poet known by name. His poem was based on a Latin text that may have been of 
Cistercian origin. A third would be Songs of Saint Mary in Galician-Portuguese, from 
about 1250, by King Alfonso X the Wise of Castile and Leon. This is to say nothing of 
various anonymous collections. These compendia amass hundreds upon hundreds 
of legends—for instance, King Alfonso the Wise’s anthology alone comprehends 360. 

Compounding the impressive bulk of narrative is the effort invested sometimes 
in making the manuscripts vehicles for all the media that were capable of being 
recorded at the time. Thus, the most luxurious of the extant codices of the Songs has 
folio sides that are segmented into six panels, each of which exhibits a snippet of text 
accompanied by an illustration. A substantial proportion of the total word count, and 
number of the illuminations in the manuscript, is devoted to miracles that revolve 
around living images of the Virgin. The representations were icons and statues that 
somehow or other become animate. Further supplementing and enhancing wordcraft 
and artwork is musical notation. Yet even this kind of accounting evokes only a small 
corner of the picture. To cite the old aphorism, the whole is greater than the sum of 
its parts in these collections. Beyond being encyclopedias of the miraculous, the texts 
express passionate love for Mary. Furthermore, none of them merely translates a Latin 
source word for word. Rather, they interject commentary, both explicit and implicit, 
that delves into social issues that would not have occurred to or been relevant to the 
churchmen who wrote in the learned language. They reached audiences across the 
societal spectrum. Thus, the Songs may well have been intended for a courtly audience, 
whereas the Miracles may have been designed for performance before pilgrims as they 
partook of the hospitality of a monastery. 

218 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

The Jongleur of Rocamadour 

Analogues that manifest a near kinship, both chronologically and culturally, with Our 
Lady’s Tumbler can be detected in other Marian exempla and miracles. The earliest is 
probably a twelfth-century occurrence recorded first in the anonymous Latin prose 
Miracles of Saint Mary of Rocamadour. This narrative offers evidence for the importance 
of literature in writing down miracles and thereby promoting pilgrimage to specific 
locales. Later this specific shrine wonder relating to the Virgin received treatment 
in Old French verse by Gautier de Coinci. At the outset of his own version, the 
vernacular poet acknowledged his intimate familiarity with the prose in the learned 
language. Last but not least, the account was rendered into Galician-Portuguese by 
(or under) King Alfonso the Wise (see Fig. 5.14). The tale recounts an episode that is 
alleged to have befallen a jongleur from the German Rhineland community of Sieglar. 
According to the story, this Peter Iverni made music on his vielle in praise of the Virgin 
before the miracle-working statue of her in the sanctuary at the basilica of Saint Mary 
in Rocamadour in France. The element roc- in the place name, akin to English “rock,” 
refers to a crag. Considerable speculation has been made about the exact identity of 
the Amadour or Madour whose cognomen completes the toponym. He is often taken 
to have been an early Christian hermit who was ostensibly a retainer in the household 
of the Virgin, and was dispatched later across the seas from the Holy Land to the 
Alzou gorge, as a missionary to Gaul. 

On this occasion Peter prayed to the Mother of God that, if gratified by his 
production of songs and melodies, she should reward him with either a consecrated 
taper from among those that combusted around her statue, or a piece of wax from it. 
That is to say, he petitioned for the turnaround of the usual pattern in which a devotee 
of the Virgin would bestow a votive candle upon her. In a trice, the petitioner’s wish 
came true. In repayment for the service done her, Mary prompted a taper to levitate 
and descend upon his musical instrument. In wonderment, an overflow crowd of 
pilgrims witnessed the airborne wax with its lighted wick. The episode filled them 
with hope. Like Peter, the worshipers performed pilgrimage and veneration. In him, 
they had a role model for the success of such performances in eliciting miracles. 

At this point the story is still far from over. The official in control of caring for 
the church was a monk. Upon noticing the marvelous event, this Gerard grew 
irritated. Taking the fiddler unjustly to be a sorcerer, the testy sexton flounced over 
to the musician, seized the taper, and replaced it near the statue. Both the levitation 
and the confiscation were repeated, which made the official only more fed up: he 
had a meltdown. When the Mother of God caused the burning wick with its wax 
to boomerang and to alight on the musical instrument a third time, the miracle was 
proven definitively to be legitimate and celebration ensued. The bystanders who 
witnessed the wonder exclaimed in a lovefest for God (see Fig. 5.15). The jongleur, 
crying for joy, restored the votive. Every year thereafter, so long as Peter lived, he 

5. A Troupe of Sources and Analogues 219 

venadohnals de 

a a 

pany ee aah sents ta maa Pee 

oP eek 7 au “1 sey - 
Toth a Seale rp 

po soph Hi eaten, ve mer. ton pansnio tga 
ieee te oe 

Fig. 5.14 Musical performers before the Virgin, as depicted in the Cantigas de Santa Maria 
(Codice Rico). Madrid, Real Biblioteca del Escorial, MS T.I.1., fol. 14v. Image courtesy of 
Real Biblioteca del Escorial, Madrid. 

220 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

returned to the site of the original miracle to offer the Virgin a candle weight of more 
than a pound. The moralization that follows the narrative emphasizes that the monks 
and clerics tasked with singing would do well to emulate the red-blooded devotion 
of the jongleur in praying to God and his mother, in thanking them, and in extolling 

Fig. 5.15 A taper miraculously alights upon a jongleur’s vielle, prompting wonder from 
bystanders. Illustration by Pio Santini, 1946. Published in Jér6me and Jean Tharaud, Les contes de 
la Vierge (Paris: Société d’éditions littéraires francaises, 1946), between pp. 130 and 131. 

Reports of miracles entailing candles were not uncommon. The chapels and images 
that drew pilgrims, petitioners, and performers would have often been illuminated 
by the light of tapers. The flickering could readily have produced the impression of 
movement, and witnesses could easily have included individuals capable of singing, 
narrating, miming, or writing what was supposed to have happened. Sometimes it 
takes little imagination to guess how a press of wonder-hungry onlookers could have 
construed a normal occurrence as being miraculous. Take, for example, the monastery 
of Jesse, where a carpenter saw a statue of the Virgin and Child come to life. One night, 
the votive placed before the image relit itself twice and did not cease to burn after the 
beadle had doused it. 

5. A Troupe of Sources and Analogues 221 

The location of the miracle at Rocamadour is apropos, since in the second half of the 
twelfth century and the early thirteenth century this site became a famed pilgrimage 
destination. If their health permitted, pilgrims were meant to proceed on their knees 
during the homestretch, the final steep ascent from the thoroughfare up to the shrine. 
In 1170, King Henry II of England made the trek there in search of cures for physical 
maladies and political misfortunes. Of relevance for our literary purposes, Caesarius 
of Heisterbach, the Cistercian author of exempla, was moved to enter his cloister as 
part of a conversion process that involved a pilgrimage to this sanctuary in 1199. At the 
same time, it bears note that the jongleur in this miracle manifests no desire to enter the 
monastery in the locale. Rather, he remains from beginning to end a layman. Ina further 
difference from Our Lady’s Tumbler, he is not a dancer or gymnast but an instrumentalist 
and singer. Additionally, he both requests and observes the miracle that takes place. 

The Virgin herself is not reputed to have made any appearances at Rocamadour, 
although the shrine possessed a sample of her treasured milk. All the same, her image 
in the house of worship there elicited particularly strong attachment and (as we have 
seen) was ascribed miraculous powers (see Fig. 5.16). The Madonna at Sainte-Marie 
of Rocamadour is a wooden image of the Virgin and Child. The composition is not 
unusual for the period, since it depicts Mary supporting the infant Jesus on her left knee. 
This type of statue, with its very formal posture, is known as a maiestas, or “majesty.” An 
alternative name for the Mother of God in the same pose is “throne of wisdom.” 


Sissi te Poet 

Fig. 5.16 Postcard depicting Rocamadour’s “Chapelle miraculeuse” (Saint-Céré, France: J. Vertuel, 1977). 

222 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

If the Rocamadour Madonna’s austere composition conforms to the compositional 
norms of its day, it displays a relatively rare feature in its coloration. As the statue now 
exists, Mary is portrayed as having swarthy skin (see Fig. 5.17). For obvious reasons, 
a representation of this sort is known as a Black Virgin or Madonna. Such dark-hued 
images in the round are customarily treated as distinct phenomena from ones that are 
not black. Although paintings in which the Mother of God has a blackened hue may 
also be designated likewise as Black Madonnas, it makes sense to examine the pictural 
and sculptural media separately. The best known of such paintings would be an icon, 
that is, a depiction on wood. The original was supposedly made of wax mingled with 
the ashes of martyred Christians. This artwork was preserved in a Marian shrine 
located in the section of Constantinople, modern Istanbul, that was called Blachernae. 
From its location the depiction became known technically as the Blachernitissa. In 
Byzantine coins issued between 1055 and 1057, a representation of the Virgin has 
an inscription identifying her by this designation. The difficulty lies in ascertaining 
whether the numismatic type corresponds with the famous image or with another 
icon or some other sort of decoration in the church of Blachernae (see Fig. 5.18). 

Fig. 5.17 The Black Madonna of Rocamadour. Photograph by Martin Irvine, no date. 
Image courtesy of Martin Irvine. All rights reserved. 

5. A Troupe of Sources and Analogues 223 

Fig. 5.18 Mary as Blachernitissa on Byzantine coinage. Coin (obverse), two-thirds miliaresion of 
Constantine IX Monomachos, 1075-1077. Washington, D.C., Dumbarton Oaks Research Library 
and Collection. Image courtesy of Joe Mills. All rights reserved. 

Mysterious in their misty origins and murky meanings, the Black Virgins have 
exercised a special fascination since the Middle Ages. The color coding that Western 
societies have often imposed upon their citizens has been extended to their statuary. 
Among the caveats in order, one is that the demographics of such Madonnas have 
changed. Not all representations categorized as having this color today were dark 
at all or as black when they were first created or earlier mentioned. The chromatic 
change has taken place in the opposite direction as well: the Church has sometimes 
replaced, without ado, older Black Virgins with newer white ones. Then again, older 
does not mean original: what has darkened may have once been lighter. Candle soot 
and other grime, natural and unnatural aging of paint and other materials, additional 
layers of varnish, and replacement of lighter with darker images have all produced 
modifications. In any event, for a millennium the most important of these dusky 
Madonnas as a pilgrimage destination has been the Black Virgin at Santa Maria 
de Montserrat. Located less than fifty miles from Barcelona as the crow flies, the 
Benedictine abbey was founded there in 1025. The site’s jagged-edged topography 
gave rise to the name “sawed mountain” of both mount and monastery in the 
language of the region, Catalan. Various hypotheses have been advanced to explain 
the coloration of these Madonnas. For example, what could be called the “holy 
smoke” theory holds that these images could have grown discolored inadvertently. 
They could have been fumigated by the acrid fumes of candles and lamps in ordinary 
worship, or by pungent fire when churches burned. (If so, the carvings have become 
hidden behind a permanent smoke screen.) Since many legends surrounding them 
claim that they were unearthed mysteriously by animals or shepherds in the wild, 
their color could have resulted from exposure to the elements or burial. Alternatively, 
they could have been intended to be black from their creation, to acknowledge the 
swarthiness of women who were familiar where they were originally carved. In some 
cases, they could have been fabricated from material that was naturally dusky from 
the beginning, while in others, they could have been made of wood that darkened as 
it aged. Whatever the reason for the blackness, the Black Virgin of Rocamadour was 

224 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

made the totem of the site. The figure was recorded first in the seal of the Benedictine 
priory and later in the special lead token that pilgrims sewed as a badge onto clothing 
and hats (see Fig. 5.19). 

Fig. 5.19 A pilgrim’s badge depicting the Black Madonna and child. 
Metal badge, late twelfth to early thirteenth century. 

Although the parallelism is inexact, the miracle of Rocamadour shows many parallels 
to Our Lady’s Tumbler. In both stories a lay entertainer merits the special favor of the 
Virgin by putting on a show before a Madonna within a famous institution dedicated 
to her, the Mother of God accepts the service, and an insentient object moves 
miraculously to signal her amiable disposition toward him. Also, in both narratives 
the professional has an antagonist from the religious establishment where he delivers 
his performance, in one case a sacristan and in the other a monk. In the last stage, 
the performer is vindicated. Both tales signal that ecclesiastics have no monopoly on 
the quality of veneration. With her discernment, Mary may grant her favor to the 
sincerity of a layman over the soul-destroying professionalism of a monk or cleric. 
Iconographically, representations of the jongleur can form eye-catching tableaux. The 
fiddler cradling his instrument can echo the Madonna dandling the Child. 

Small wonder that in one of the five manuscripts of the medieval French Our 
Lady’s Tumbler, our poem follows immediately upon a version of this Rocamadour 
miracle tale by an anonymous poet. The analogies between the tales of Peter Iverni 
and the nameless tumbler are strong. In fact, during the early twentieth-century 
heyday of Our Lady’s Tumbler—when literary, operatic, and even cinematic 
re-creations of the story were ubiquitous—a French daily cultural newspaper ran 
an account of the Rocamadour miracle on its front page, under the headline “The 
Jongleur of Our Lady: The True Legend.” In the English-speaking world, an early 

5. A Troupe of Sources and Analogues 225 

volume of translations from medieval French contains Our Lady’s Tumbler as well 
as Gautier de Coinci’s version of the Rocamadour tale. But why stop dead with just 
this one parallel? Another close analogue is to be found. Set within an even larger 
framework, Gautier’s miracle and Our Lady’s Tumbler can be seen to flank another 
spellbinding narrative that belongs very much in the same company, the miracle 
of the Holy Candle of Arras. If nothing until now has kindled your interest, this 
scintillating version should make the sparks fly. 

The Holy Candle of Arras 

It is better to light a candle than 
curse the darkness. 

Fig. 5.20 Holy card depicting the miracle at Arras (Bruges, Belgium, ca. 1890). 

Above all, in the motif of the taper and in the character of the jongleur, the story about 
the miracle of the performer before the Madonna of Rocamadour relates loosely but 
intriguingly to the Marian miracle of the Holy Candle of Arras (see Fig. 5.20). This 
other wonder set up a ménage a trois that triangulated the Virgin and two entertainers. 
The events recounted in the legend reputedly took place in the opening years of the 
twelfth century, but they are not documented in extant texts until more than a half 
century later. The action in the story centers upon the northern French city within 

226 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

the bosom of a region called the Artois. In both the municipality and the region, the 
Picard dialect prevailed. The general backdrop is a citizenry beleaguered by a plague 
of ergotism. This poisoning, with cramps, spasms, and gangrene as its chief symptoms, 
is recognized now to result from consumption of rye and other cereals contaminated 
by ergot. In the Middle Ages, what caused this fungal disease stayed in doubt. The 
populace felt even more at a loss about workable medical treatments than it did about 
the causes. As a result, many concluded that the pestilence inflicted divine retribution 
for sin: sweet justice. They believed that one of the best remedies lay in appealing to 
Mary for mercy through her intercession with Christ. 

The chief characters in the miraculous tale are two jongleurs. They became 
implacable enemies after the one, Pierre (but often called by the stage name Norman), 
slew the brother of the other, Itier (see Fig. 5.21). The Virgin, a beauty dressed in white, 
manifested herself to them in separate but simultaneous visions, instructing them to 
betake themselves to Arras, which was ravaged by ergotism (see Figs. 5.22 and 5.23). 
They were to find Bishop Lambert in her church there, iron out their differences before 
him, and keep vigil on Saturday. At midnight, a woman was to appear and give them 
a taper, which became known as the Holy Candle. The cylinder, alight with heavenly 
fire, would drool wax. In a kind of homeopathic medicine, when diluted in water the 
drippings could be drunk or drizzled to heal those burning from ergot poisoning. 

Fig. 5.21 “Normand kills Itier’s brother in a Fig. 5.22 “In a vision, Itier receives the order 
quarrel.” Illustration, 1853. Published in Auguste to go to Arras.” Illustration, 1853. Published 
Terninck, Notre-Dame du Joyel, ou Histoire légendaire in A. Terninck, Notre-Dame du Joyel, ou Histoire 

et numismatique de la chandelle d’Arras... (Arras, légendaire et numismatique de la chandelle 

France: A. Brissy, 1853), 111. d’Arras..., 111. 

5. A Troupe of Sources and Analogues 227 

Fig. 5.23 “Normand receives the same order.” Fig. 5.24 “Normand makes his prayer at the door 
Illustration, 1853. Published in A. Terninck, of the cathedral.” Illustration, 1853. Published in A. 
Notre-Dame du Joyel, ou Histoire légendaire et Terninck, Notre-Dame du Joyel, ou Histoire légendaire 

numismatique de la chandelle d’Arras..., 111. et numismatique de la chandelle d’Arras..., 111. 

Fig. 5.25 “The Bishop Lambert reconciles Itier Fig. 5.26 Mary appears to the bishop and 
with Normand.” Illustration, 1853. Published in A. jugglers. Illustration, 1876. Published in Le 
Terninck, Notre-Dame du Joyel, ou Histoire légendaire et Monde illustré (1876), 356. 

numismatique de la chandelle d’Arras..., 113. 

228 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

On the following day, both men made a beeline as bidden to the Artesian cathedral 
of Notre-Dame. Norman arrived first (see Fig. 5.24). Upon hearing his claim, the 
prelate believed that the fellow was being true to his trade. Since jongleur is cognate 
with joker, Norman must have been jesting. Then Itier showed up and explained his 
identical experience and mission. Even so, Lambert remained leery. In his view, the 
two entertainers were colluding in a prank. Itier, who had not known that Norman 
had undergone the same vision, made clear that he would not be in the least inclined 
to pair up with his colleague. In fact, he exclaimed acrimoniously that he would like 
to run Norman through with a sword for having killed his sibling. At this juncture, the 
two foes were poised to settle their differences of opinion through physical violence. 
Happily, Lambert soon had them holding out olive branches: what threatened to 
become mano a mano became instead a handshake (see Fig. 5.25). 

What happens next flies in the face of the old adage “The lights are on, but no one is 
at home.” As all three men prayed in the church, Mary wafted down from the heights 
of the choir, cradling in her hand a candle flaming with heavenly fire (see Figs. 5.26 and 
5.27). She gave the cylinder to them. With water in which they had dripped drops from 
the taper (see Fig. 5.28), the three began at once zealously to cure the infirm (see Figs. 
5.29 and 5.30). The legend of this thriller held that on the first night, with excitement 
truly at a fever pitch, 144 of the afflicted were healed. In this account, the jongleurs do 
not play or perform to achieve the miracle, and the Virgin’s intercession comes about in 
a vision rather than by moving through the go-between of an image. 

aN Nir 

Fig. 5.27 “The Holy Virgin brings the miraculous Fig. 5.28 “The bishop blesses the water where 
candle.” Illustration, 1853. A. Terninck, the drops of the candle fall.” Illustration, 1853. A. 
Notre-Dame du Joyel, ou Histoire légendaire et Terninck, Notre-Dame du Joyel, ou Histoire légendaire 

numismatique de la chandelle d’Arras..., 113. et numismatique de la chandelle d’Arras..., 113. 

5. A Troupe of Sources and Analogues 229 



Fig. 5.29 “Healing the sick.” Illustration, Fig. 5.30 Interior view of the Cathédrale d’Arras. Drawing, 1853. 
1853. Published in A. Terninck, Notre- Published in A. Terninck, Essai historique et monographique sur 
Dame du Joyel, ou Histoire légendaire et lV'ancienne Cathédrale d’Arras (Paris and Arras, France: La Société 

numismatique de la chandelle d’Arras..., 113. de Saint-Victor, a Plancy [Aube], 1853), between pp. 42 and 43. 

After the curative miracle, Itier and Norman allegedly started a society. Called the 
Brotherhood of the Holy Candle, this lay religious guild was instituted so that its 
members could serve as watchmen for the waxy relic. They also commemorated 
the miracle, which of necessity entailed honoring the Virgin (see Fig. 5.31). The 
confraternity of jongleurs existed from around 1175 until 1792. Without going into the 
particulars of this group, it is worth pointing out that guilds for minstrels took firm 
shape only long after the twelfth century. Gradually, such performers became more 
settled through attachment to royal courts and to the households of other notables. 
As they became less transient, they gained regular incomes and took to wearing 
distinctive livery. Such costumes remain with us in popular images of clowns and 
jesters. To house the candle, the members of this fraternal organization eventually 
constructed the chapel of Notre Dame des Ardents. In the Latin form of her name, 
this Mary is likewise Our Lady of the Fevered. She is customarily portrayed with 
a taper. The Latin designation of the group is written out so as to emphasize in its 
final two letters VM, the initials of Virgin Mary (see Fig. 5.32). Alongside the chapel 
stood a distinctive stone tower, which became popular as a pilgrimage site (see Fig. 
5.33). The medieval structure was built to have the aptly tapered cylindrical form of a 
candle. The construction survived until pulled down by a mob during the iconoclastic 
upheaval of the French Revolution. 

230 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 



Fig. 5.31 The Holy Candle. Miniature, fourteenth century. Private collection. Reproduced in 
Auguste Terninck, Notre-Dame du Joyel, ou Histoire légendaire et numismatique de la chandelle d’Arras 
(Arras, France: A. Brissy, 1853), 99. 

Cerne VM 


Domina Nostra Ardentium. 

Fig. 5.32 “Domina Nostra Ardentium.” Illustration, 1910. Published in Cavrois de Saternault, 
Histoire du Saint-Cierge d’Arras et de la Confrérie de Notre-Dame des Ardents, 3rd ed. (Arras, France: 
La Société du Pas-de-Calais, 1910), frontispiece. 

5. A Troupe of Sources and Analogues 231 

Fig. 5.33 “Vue perspective d’une partie de la petite place d’ Arras, vis a vis l’hdtel-de-ville.” 
Drawing by Joseph Victor David, 1773. Reproduced in Cavrois de Saternault, Histoire du Saint- 
Cierge d’Arras et de la Confrérie de Notre-Dame des Ardents, 3rd ed. (Arras, France: La Société du 
Pas-de-Calais, 1910), 41. 

For what it is worth, there would not be much challenge in formulating a Freudian 
interpretation here. The large actual candles, the reliquary, and the lapidary tower 
from the Middle Ages are all phalliform. Furthermore, the language of Marian 
miracles and Marian devotion is hardly destitute of amatory elements to connect male 
devotees with a highly feminine Mary. But sometimes, to ring a change upon the 
famous saying ascribed again and again to Sigmund Freud, a candle is just a candle. 
Or, to take the thought as formulated by the American horror novelist Stephen King, 
“Sometimes a cigar is just a smoke and a story’s just a story.” 

The confraternity has a neatly twofold nexus with Our Lady’s Tumbler. Both the 
professional occupation of the performers who made up the guild and the Marian 
nature of the miracle at the root of their foundation legend make unsurprising that 
the Festival of Our Lady of the Fevered is conflated to this day with the “jongleurs de 
Notre Dame.” What further relevance does the foundation legend for the confraternity 
of jongleurs at Arras have for Our Lady’s Tumbler? When the poem was composed, 
such entertainers still lacked any formal organization or institution to support them 
collectively—they were cats waiting to be herded. In early medieval society they 
had been marginalized and often cast out. They belonged to a seamy underbelly 

232 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

that encompassed beggars, ladies of the night, and petty criminals. In the fullness of 
time, jongleurs turned sedentary, professionalized, and concentrated on skills that 
qualified them as minstrels—a term that they would have had good reason to prefer 
when describing themselves. Simultaneously, they moved by degrees toward being 
able to establish group identities along the lines of other craftsmen. In so doing, they 
naturally modeled their new professional unions on those found in existing crafts. 
In other words, they formed guilds. In their case, they were devoted to the shared 
pursuit of waxing poetic. In the transitional period between peripheralization and 
institutionalization, the jongleurs still had no mechanism for achieving individual 
stability within a collective. This lacking may explain why so many performers of 
this type entered monasteries, first especially Cistercian ones and later Franciscan 
friaries. Such groups afforded them a field day, their only means of belonging to a 
fixed collectivity. The tale of Norman and Itier may be untangled not only as a Marian 
miracle, but equally as a social parable that urges overcoming individual differences 
for the common good. The explication could even be stretched to produce a reading 
of the story as a foundation myth for what would be considered today unionization. 
Thejongleurs in the tale of Arras are musicians, who could find overlapping interests 
and bond together to protect them. By comparison, the physical performers remained 
poor pariahs. Within the monasteries too, former entertainers faced condemnation 
if they could not segue from bodily movement to voice and instruments in their 
performances. One lesson latent in Our Lady’s Tumbler is the mistrust of physical self- 
expression and entertainment. The Virgin showed herself far more understanding 
than did the monks about the antics of the converted tumbler. Medieval churches, 
especially cathedrals, witnessed many forms of conduct that would appear decidedly 
incongruous and indecorous today. Particularly where pilgrims congregated, 
much behavior that nowadays would be permissible only on the streets played out 
instead within places of worship. But the dividing line between the acceptable and 
unacceptable may have run between music—even instrumental music—and dance. 

The Pious Sweat of Monks and Lay Brothers 

Genius is one percent inspiration, 
ninety-nine percent perspiration. 

—Thomas Alva Edison (1903) 

Beyond the miracle of Peter Iverni or that of the holy legend of Arras, other exempla 
and legends relate to Our Lady’s Tumbler not by having as the central character a 
professional entertainer but by involving a specific narrative motif. For instance, 
an exemplum attested in no fewer than five different versions shows Mary as she 
comforts those who are sweating. We have seen how the legendary Veronica sought 
to take the edge off the suffering of Jesus when he was en route to the crucifixion and 
came away with a miraculous memento that became the main motif of the episode. 

5. A Troupe of Sources and Analogues 233 

Here, the wonder is the Virgin’s activity in succoring monastic devotees as they ooze 
sweat or sniffle tears from the relevant glands. Where miracles induced by perspiration 
enter the picture, medieval authors and audiences imposed no compulsion to take the 
proverbial grain of salt. 

One form tells of a twelfth-century brother of Clairvaux. This Rainald would 
watch admiringly as his fellow Cistercians toiled in the fields. Even brethren of noble 
birth pitched themselves into the task. Once he had a vision in which the Virgin, her 
cousin Elizabeth, and the follower of Jesus named Mary Magdalene paid a visit to the 
brothers as they labored in the meadows. Another version of the same story relates 
that the miracle took place while the white monks of Clairvaux were reaping in the 
valley. The Virgin, her mother Anne, and Mary Magdalene swooped down in a great 
flood of light (here the meaning of the toponym Clairvaux in French merits mention: 

“Bright Valley” or “Valley of Light”). After making their free-fall, the three women 
wiped the sweat from the brows of the harvesting brethren and fanned them with the 
arms of their garments. In a much later telling, a long-in-the-tooth knight who had 
become a brother at Clairvaux saw one of the three, a beautiful young woman, greet 
each brother, give him a kiss and hug, and sopped the sweat from his sautéed brow 
with a linen cloth. In the thirteenth century, a monk of Villers in Brabant witnessed 
the Virgin, in the company of Mary Magdalene, fan the toiling brethren and pat away 
their perspiration with her sleeve. 

At the Cistercian abbey of Heisterbach near Cologne in the Rhineland, Caesarius 
claims to have been so deeply moved upon first hearing this exemplum that in response 
he entered the monastery. In his account, the Virgin Mary visited with Anne as the 
monks of the abbey worked in the fields. The two saintly women daubed the men’s 
brows and dispatched a breeze to cool them. Between 1219 and 1223 Caesarius served 
as master of novices. During this stretch he composed his own collection of miracles, 
chock-full of exempla (746 of them). The twelve books, entitled “Great Dialogue of 
Visions and Miracles,” are presented as a dialogue between a probationer and the 
author himself, in his magisterial capacity (see Fig. 3.12). Through the illustrative 
stories, the writer aimed ultimately to contribute to the training and formation of 
monks, with all due attention to the special circumstances of lay brothers too. He 
devoted the seventh book to tales relating to Mary. Ample room existed for strong 
overlap between the exempla incorporated into such collections and records of 
apparitions of the Virgin to Cistercians. Eight such apparitions are known to have 
befallen the brethren of Clairvaux alone in the second half of the twelfth century. The 
Mother of God visited the “bright valley” continually. 

Beyond the five interrelated exempla, in other cases the Virgin also undertakes an 
antiperspirant role. One appears in the medieval French verse of Gautier de Coinci. 
His voluminous Miracles of the Virgin extends over roughly 30,000 verses. In this 
poem he tells of one miracle involving a Carthusian brother which exhibits many 
striking similarities to Our Lady’s Tumbler. The poet relates this tale very briefly. With 

234 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

the omission of the moralizing coda, it totals a mere sixty-five verses. To date, the 
exact relationship between the two miracles has not been unsnarled, although Gautier 
seems likely to have known and been inspired by some form of Our Lady’s Tumbler. 
Probably he read or heard a version along the lines of what has survived. Then again, 
he may have encountered an iteration of it that was never written down. In this case, 
the meager synopsis in the Latin exemplum could well be only the tip of an iceberg of 
tellings and retellings, and writings and rewritings, that has melted out of our grasp. 
The author himself claims at the outset to have read a version of the miracle about the 
Carthusian, but if a text existed, it too has evaporated. 

In Gautier’s miracle, a monk of the order in question remains in church after all the 
daily and nightly offices. There he devotes himself with intensity and persistence to 
mortifications of prayer and devotion. In each session he prostrates himself on bared 
knees fifty to a hundred times as he prays before an image of the Virgin. Despite 
having peeled off the leggings that would have shielded his joints, he exerts himself 
so much that runnels of sweat stream from him. One of the brethren spies on him 
one night to see what he does in the chapel after the office. At the end of the ritual, 
his fellow monk sees Mary dismount from heaven to stroke with a snow-white veil 
the perspiring face of the devout Carthusian. After revealing to the prior and to his 
devout comrade the miracle that he witnessed, the brother dies. A second episode 
is recorded in the Song of the Knight and the Squire, by Jehan de Saint-Quentin. The 
poet, a self-described clerk, composed songs in Picard that deal with many topics, but 
especially frequently with Marian miracles. He seems often to have followed oral or at 
least otherwise unattested sources. In the poem under consideration, a castellan, the 
commander of the castle, looks on unperceived at a poignant scene. The Virgin dries 
with her kerchief the teardrops welling from the eyes of a repentant knight while he 
gets down on his knees before her. A related third form of the legend is transmitted 
by Gautier de Coinci. This one pertains to the icon of Our Lady of Saydnaya, a city 
in the mountains near Damascus in Syria. The convent to which the icon belonged 
supported a cult that was a going concern in the late twelfth century. The miracle tells 
of a Carthusian whose extreme devotion elicits a similar display of compassion from 
the Virgin. In this case, the monk kneels so long in prayer on bare knees before the 
Madonna that wetness courses down from his brow. At this, Mary comes down from 
heaven to dry his face with her soft, snow-white hand towel. 

These many other miracles of the Virgin add both inevitability and mystery to 
the successful formula of Our Lady’s Tumbler. Probably loosely under the influence 
of the Veronica legend, the idea arose that the Mother of God might concern herself 
with assuaging the toils—or, more particularly, the sweat and tears—of mere mortal 
monks as they executed either fieldwork or choir devotions. Her governing principle 
appears to have been “no sweat.” On a higher plane, another component in the story 
was Sheer love. The sheerness refers partly to fabric, while the affection derives its 
exceptionality from being directed to a statue. 

5. A Troupe of Sources and Analogues 235 

The Love of Statuesque Beauty 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 

In Our Lady’s Tumbler the protagonist conducts the strangest of charm offensives. He 
strips down to the lowest and most intimate layer of clothing as he exerts himself to 
the utmost to be obsequious to the woman he adores. The proverbial saying “worse 
for wear” seems here to find its inverse in the concept of being “better for not wearing.” 
The scene, when described in this bare-bones way, brings to mind other acts between 

The incident is also curiously reminiscent of another famous Marian miracle, 
recounted by Gautier de Coinci and others. In it a youth, seeking a secure place for 
his engagement ring before engaging in an athletic event, deposits it on the finger 
of a statue of the Virgin. He finds the image “so fresh and beautiful... a thousand 
times more beautiful than she who gave this ring” that he plights his troth of lifelong 
service. He is soon set to renege upon his pledge. On the night after he has uttered his 
official “till death do us part,” the Virgin intervenes as an animate anti-aphrodisiac 
and interposes herself between him and his bride. The double-cross does not aim 
for Mary to consummate the wedding in place of the newlywed woman—in other 
words, the substitution is not the motif known as the bed trick. Rather, it amounts 
to a means of preserving chastity. The story ends with the young man joining the 
monastery, as he had pledged. In this tale, an adolescent takes the habit after an 
encounter with a Madonna, who turns out to be both seducing and sedating. The 
sequence of events conforms to a narrative line used much earlier by similar accounts 
in which fabric and sweat are not always key components. Ultimately, the Marian 
tale appropriates elements from these other accounts, which have the boy becoming 
affianced to a sculpture of Venus. Many versions of the Venereal tale, including some 
that transmogrify earlier ones, have been told over the centuries. The most famous 
may be the 1837 short story “The Venus of Ille” by Prosper Mérimée (see Fig. 5.34). 
Eventually, the miracle has loose analogues in reality. In some cases, a young man 
would make an oath of celibacy by donning a ring and putting an identical one on a 
carving of the Virgin. 

The still bigger picture is stories, such as the legend of Pygmalion, in which a man 
falls in love with a sculpture. Loosely related too are equal and opposite tales, in 
which to beguile her beloved a woman assumes the guise of an effigy. The archetype 
here would be the myth of Pasiphaé, a daughter of the sun god Helios, who is hexed 
to fall in love with a bull. To copulate with the beast, she enters a wooden cow that 
her beloved bovine mounts. The cross-species coupling and very real insemination 
achieved by the ploy of this decoy leads to the birthing of a monstrous hybrid, the 

236 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Fig. 5.34 Front cover of Prosper Mérimée, La Vénus d’Ille / La double méprise / Les dmes du purgatoire, 
illus. Mario Labocetta (Paris: Nilsson, 1930). 

Fig. 5.35 Postcard depicting the Volto Santo in the church of St. Martin, Lucca 
(Milan, Italy: Cesare Capello, early twentieth century). 

5. A Troupe of Sources and Analogues 237 

Love of manmade representations remains with us. The ability of individual sculptors 
to hew marble into lifelike form may have dwindled from the glory days of ancient 
Greece and Rome, but machines enable the mass manufacture of ever more realistic 
and even hyperreal three-dimensional replicas. Stories of inflatable dolls, mannequins, 
and robots proliferate, to say nothing of narratives in which disembodied simulations 
of human characters play leading roles. Yet these other tales of images evidence only 
superficial overlap with medieval Western ones. Our investigations need to turn 
elsewhere for further analogues to Our Lady’s Tumbler. 

The Holy Face of Christ and Virgin Saints 

If we venture beyond miracles attributed specifically to the Virgin Mary, or rather to 
thaumaturgic images of her, the most relevant parallel emerges in a wonder ascribed to 
the Holy Face. This statue hangs upon a crucifix at the church of Saint Martin in Lucca 
(see Fig. 5.35). It became the object of the first cult devoted to a carving of Jesus on the 
rood. This wooden pictorialization shows the crucified Christ triumphant, wearing 
an ankle-length tunic, This specific representation of him standing against the cross 
became popularly renowned, being mentioned already as the habitual oath (“by the 
Face at Lucca”) of King William Rufus in the late eleventh century. Three hundred years 
later it is still assumed to be common knowledge. At one point in Dante’s Commedia, 
demons cry out to a sinner from the sculpture’s adoptive hometown: “This is no place 
for the Holy Face!” Piers Plowman, the eponymous pilgrim in William Langland’s 
late fourteenth-century alliterative poem, vows by it that at least metaphorically 
his pilgrimage consists in plowing. As such mentions certify, the image was widely 
revered throughout Western Europe. Among other things, the Lucchese artifact is 
attested over a large area on pilgrims’ badges of lead. 

Medieval legend maintained that the statue’s countenance was crafted by an angel, 
whereas all the rest was sculpted by Nicodemus. The story merits being put into 
an easily assimilated recapitulation. According to the Gospel of John, this Pharisee 
became a disciple of Jesus. After the crucifixion, he assisted Joseph of Arimathea in 
deposing Christ from the cross and laying him in the tomb. Thereafter he set out, at 
the urging of God, to shape an image of the Christian savior on the crucifix. While 
the would-be sculptor slept, a divine emissary completed the face. Nicodemus hid 
the precious sculpture in a cave, where it remained closeted for centuries. The larger 
than life-size effigy of cedar was miraculous not merely in its creation but also in 
its subsequent transportation. It reputedly arrived in Lucca in the eighth century 
thanks to the enterprise of two Italian bishops (see Fig. 5.36). A procession known as 
the Illumination of the Holy Cross still takes place annually. In it, participants carry 
lighted candles through the streets to the church. 

The rich dossier of miracles about the Holy Face contains one highly relevant to Our 
Lady’s Tumbler. This legend originated in the twelfth century, to judge by its style and 
content. In the key Latin form, a poor young man from Gaul stops on a pilgrimage to 
Jerusalem to see the carving in Lucca. Praying and weeping amid the great huddle of 

238 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

pilgrims as they make offerings, he thinks that he will confer on her his only good in 
a no-charge performance: he will sing hymns to the Holy Rood while accompanying 
himself on the musical instrument, a fiddle, he has on his arm. As a sign of favor to 
the suppliant, God demonstrates his appreciation by causing the figure of the Holy 
Face to look down at the musician and to let fall a silver slipper from its right foot into 
his lap. After leaving the chapel with the footwear, the unnamed young man returns 
with it, but the miracle is confirmed by the circumstance that it will no longer fit on 
the foot of the image. The plight is a near opposite of the pivotal episode in Cinderella. 

Fig. 5.36 Postcard reproduction of Vincenzo Barsotti’s L’arrivo a Lucca del Volto Santo (Lucca, Italy: 
Archivio di Stato, early twentieth century). 

The unique medieval French telling of this miracle appears in a large mishmash of 
verse texts that was probably compiled by a monk of the Benedictine monastery 
of Saint Bertin in France. The date of composition has been disputed. The crucial 
personage in the account is a minstrel often named Jenois, who plays in vain to earn 
his sustenance. Although seven hundred people pass by him, no one treats him to 
even one coin. Then, he enters the church where the Holy Face had only recently 
arrived. After finding out that the image represents Jesus Christ, he begins to sing 
to the accompaniment of his string instrument, the vielle (see Fig. 5.37). The poem 
remains reticent about the controversy over the playing of musical instruments of 
any sort within the church. Whether fiddles or organs, everything beyond the human 
voice (and even at times it too) has been suspect. In any case, the performance sets in 
motion a miracle. First, the sculpture, inspired by the Holy Ghost, becomes animate. 

5. A Troupe of Sources and Analogues 

a Ply 
; DS) i phate phir mqueno 
fee (agnair Dicu aroulu parm 
A rade demontteer parle (anit wile 
momteltemart. Wns runes 2. 

Spiel nis Us parcics france Whore 
4 alee uaticee Le (anne Ccpuldne cribeeafalan. ct 

_ ff pure — autore “ee foyis Oy Dire drat - 

Fig. 5.37 Jenois before the Holy Face. Miniature, fifteenth century. Vatican, 
Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Palatinus Latinus 1988, fol. 1r. 

= == 1 — rt q 
WX ls eae 
¥ aad i ‘| y a BS ; * r 

es Ts 3 = Ties. : 4 


240 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Then, it loosens one of its feet from the nails holding it to the cross, stretches it out, 
and kicks the shoe, encased in silver and gold and encrusted in precious stones, to 
the jongleur. When the young man goes off to eat, the bishop enjoins him to return, 
but tells him that he may keep the trove if the miracle is repeated. At this point, the 
image fills with spite, loses its temper, takes back the foot covering, and orders that it 
not be taken from the jongleur unless with substantial reparation, which is provided. 
Jenois is now able to dine and offers a repast to the poor of the city, to whom he also 
allocates the wealth he has acquired. Afterward follows what qualifies as a celebratory 
outcome only in the unusual confines of medieval hagiography. The performer 
resumes his pilgrimage, but is captured by pagans, tortured, and decapitated. His 
body is subsequently venerated in Rome. 

In all its forms, the story has encoded within it an argument to validate largesse 
to entertainers in recompense for their performances, at least when they sing on 
pious topics. This dimension of the tale is discussed unreservedly in the medieval 
French Aliscans. This long “song of heroic deeds” from the second half of the twelfth 
century tells of the pitched battle and bloodletting from which it takes its name. At 
one point in the narrative, an itinerant jongleur endeavors to elicit generosity from his 
audience by singing an editorial. He exhorts noblemen not to listen to entertainers of 
his sort unless they stand ready to open their wallets. To prove his point, he cites the 
beneficence of the Holy Face of Lucca. All ought to cherish performers for the joy they 
seek and their love of singing. A wayfaring professional could also take the episode 
to heart as betokening the miracles that God could deign to perform for even the 
humblest spectators. 

Not everyone was willing to take the miracle tale on faith and deem it plausible. 
Overt incredulity is recorded at the latest by the beginning of the thirteenth century. 
The nagging doubts are likely only to have been magnified when the story underwent 
a still stranger transmogrification at a later stage. However improbable the sex change 
may seem, the person crucified was alleged to have been a king’s daughter. To avoid 
a forced marriage that would necessitate her violating the vow of chastity she had 
taken, the nubile girl prayed for help from heaven. Whether she was dysphoric at 
her physiological sex or not, we cannot know. Yet she was horrified by the prospect 
of married life. She spared herself from a wedding by undergoing extemporaneously 
a partial transgender transformation. In what is known clinically as hirsutism, the 
damsel suddenly sprouted such scruffy and unkempt facial hair that she became 
unmarriageable. Her condition made her the medieval anticipation of the later 
standard in two-bit sideshows, the bearded lady. At this point the would-be suitor 
soured on the idea of monogamy (at least with her) and withdrew his proposal. The 
father flew into a rage and put his own daughter to the cross. The account goes on to 
merge with that of the Holy Face, with a further miracle involving a jongleur and the 
shoe from the image of the martyred (and bearded) virgin. The jury is still out on the 
reasons for which these disparate motifs would have originated and amalgamated. 
Face up to it: if ever a case called for a close shave by Occam’s razor, this would be 

5. A Troupe of Sources and Analogues 241 

the one. Of the many accounts, the most representative one may be the most famous. 
In 1812 the Brothers Grimm incorporated a version into the first edition of their 
so-called fairy tales, drawing upon a collection of exempla from 1700. In this version, 
the woman in question is called Saint Kummernis, meaning “care” or “anxiety” (see 
Fig. 5.38). Among sundry other names that have been attached to the mostly female 
leading character, Wilgefortis supposedly derives from the Latin signifying “strong 
maiden.” The tale is widely attested between the mid-fourteenth and mid-nineteenth 
centuries: approximately one thousand records of it survive in texts and images. The 
best-known representation may be a 1507 woodcut produced in Augsburg by Hans 
Burgkmair the Elder. The artwork juxtaposes a narrative in text and an image that 
shows the fiddler kneeling before the Holy Face, identified as “The Image at Lucca” 
(see Fig. 5.39). The legend continued to be illustrated for centuries in art, even folk 
art. A last major expression of the tale was literary, in an 1816 ballad. Here, the poet 
assigned to Saint Cecilia the place formerly spoken for by Kummernis. In the poem, 
an impecunious violinist moves an image of Cecilia so deeply that the saint tosses him 
her golden shoe. Although this gesture leads to his being sentenced to death, he is 
saved from execution when she also bestows upon him the matching item of footwear 
(see Fig. 5.40). 

Fig. 5.38 Unknown artist, St. Kiimmernis, 1678. Oil on panel. Museum im Prediger, Schwabisch 
Gmiind. Image from Wikimedia Commons, 


_. Mirabilis deus in fanetis fais 
Got wiircke wunderbare ving tn feinen hailigen 

: eee atnobayo 
nifcbenn humiges 
tocbter ore was (cbdn 
‘yno rocyF. Darumb ain 
Dayoniicler kimeg ir 5a 
ginem gemabel begeret 
Das yeni) Lae ee 
sort layd. wann fy bere 
Soroulrsoditye aincm 
gemabel Das thetirem 
wRter sored Der leger fy 
gtfengenn Do ratte f 
got in Der gefangkn: 
en rio batt yn bas crir 
$3 bilif hdm.oa3 gefcbs 
ecb. vand hom got sau 
tn dtc gefanchnuf yard 
mditkt ly. Do begerct fy 
ae er fy verranodle in 
(ibe geitale. oay fy hat 
nom ouff erorrich gcuiel 
fonder 'M ait, Wao 
Dad rr ty Mcbec wie fy 
gm om beiten gewicl, Do 
vervoandcle cr [y vnno 
Dae ir vatter fack. froge 
er fy worumb fy alfolae 
be.00 fpracb ty. 2am 
gmobil ocnwb mir cof 
a rediet bab. bott mub 
alfo geinacber. mann fy 
volt funfl kainen dann 
Den gchreus igtcn got. 
Do crsurnet ir voter vei 
[pracbe. Duma auch 
om hrewts Merbenn ric 
trin Gor. O¢e mwas fF wil 
lig.wnd Harb om krcuts 
md roc fy an rafter in a 
kumerauf ynd anfeebrung dem ham (ys bil in einen ndeten. Dad baift mt ramen kuminte 
‘yud roiregenant {ane komernuf. end ligtin boland m atner hircbin genant Nouberg. Do ham 
ainormes syer lin fur das bilo ond Sey get lo lang bef ym Das gecreutsiger bild ann lows 
febucb gab Den nam er wno crag yn 3a ainem goloicbmud ynd wolt yn verkaulfen Do ipract> 
per golofcbmio.icb hauff fern nit. villeicbt baftou yn gcftolen, Do antwartcr.nam.das gekrew 
fyiger bilo bar mur pn horet ficb nat daran nd fieng yn end rolt ynbcm ken, Dobe 
gcret Der Serger D6 man Fo woiD<r 3 Dom bild fret. dae thet man. ynd rbet ocm bilo Den le 
Din febiich widcranden ger get er POIDEr oie Yor. Do licF Das hreutsger Dild den (cb 
eider berab valle. Dee waroda gerger gar fro. wnd Danchet got vad fant kumeruus. 

Fig. 5.39 St. Kimmernis. Woodcut by Hans Burgkmair, 1507. Augsburg. Image from Wikimedia 

Fig. 5.40 A fiddler plays before the Virgin, with a crowd assembled. 
Drawing by Herman Kanckfuss, 1871. 

5. A Troupe of Sources and Analogues 243 

Loosely related to the story of Kummernis is an 1884 painting by the Swiss symbolist 
painter Arnold Bocklin (see Fig. 5.41). Called The Hermit or The Fiddling Hermit, the 
painting depicts an old solitary playing the fiddle before a simple Madonna, as little 
angels who look on applaud him and chuckle. More closely connected is a text entitled 

“The Miracle” that was published in a German newspaper in 1899. The author leaves 
muzzy whether the piece is a folktale, legend, or fiction. He sets the action in an 
indeterminate but presumably Italian locale. The young protagonist is a lazy Pietro, 
with a sister named Manuela. Otherwise unaccomplished, the good-for-naught young 
man could turn somersaults, stand on his head, and walk on his hands. As the result 
of a romantic unhappiness, his sibling took her own life. Lacking the wherewithal 
to pay for her burial, her do-nothing brother was at his wit’s end. He resorted to a 
Madonna, whom he propitiated by making the only offering he could: he walked 
on his hands. In return he received the miracle of hearing a gold coin clink upon the 
church floor stones. When the pastor became aware that the Virgin had authorized (or 
even authored) this wonder, he was persuaded to bury Manuela even though she had 
sinned by committing suicide. The story, if in any of its elements not entirely fictitious, 
offers a noteworthy example of a legend in the making. 

The chances of conflation between the miracle of the slipper and the tale of Our 
Lady’s Tumbler have been compounded in German. In that language, the two narratives 
have been name-twins. Sometimes the miracle of the slipper is called simply by the 
noun equivalent to The Minstrel or The Jongleur (see Fig. 5.42). More misleadingly, the 
title The Dancer of Our Lady has been used to designate both legends. Consider the 
case of Friedrich Hedler, who made a specialty of Marian and related material in his 
theatrical oeuvre after World War II. One of his plays, printed in 1950, was titled thus 
(see Fig. 5.43), which might awaken a reasonable expectation that it would deal with 
the story of Our Lady’s Tumbler. Such is not the case. Instead, the text tells of a young 
man whose playing of a flute persuades a statue to give him its golden shoes so that 
he can purchase a wedding band. 

In 1954, the story of the golden footwear, under a different title, is found once 
again in a German collection called The Miracle of the Golden Shoes and Other Legends. 
The volume also includes a tale with the title “The Minnesinger of Our Dear Lady.” 
Unexpectedly and confusingly, this is a lightly fictionalized account of episodes from 
the life of the eleventh-century poet, Hermann the Cripple of Reichenau, well known 
for having composed the Marian prayer “Loving Mother of the Savior.” In the same 
year, the well-shod narrative surfaces in the United States in a basic German reader 
entitled Tell Me Something! The story, here called “The Minstrel of Our Dear Lady,” is 
presented as having originated in the Rhine River valley in the Middle Ages. To be 
specific, the tale is set in Mainz, Germany. This locale points ultimately to the poem 

“The Poor Minstrel” by Guido Gorres, first brought out in 1836, entitled “The Poor 
Minstrel.” Its whose action takes place in the same Rhineland city. Yet we cannot be 
sure whether the anthologist knew the nineteenth-century poem, for he acknowledged 
nothing about his source or sources. Despite the book’s title, we are left wishing in 
vain to be told something more. 

244 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

The essential contours of the miracle narrative about the golden shoes remain 
impressively constant across the ages. A minstrel who has fallen on hard times 
performs on his violin in a little chapel before a statue of the Virgin and Child. The 
Mother of God cracks a smile, her son beckons to her with both arms outstretched, 
and to satisfy him Mary lets the golden shoe on her left foot drop before the minstrel. 
When the entertainer takes it to a goldsmith, he is suspected of larceny. The judge 
condemns him to death by hanging. On the way to the gallows, the performer asks as 
his last wish to play the fiddle before the sculpture. By doing so, he manages to cheat 
the hangman in an unconventionally happy ending. All happens exactly as before, 
except that this time the shoe falls from the Madonna’s right foot. The convicted man 

Fig. 5.41 Arnold Bocklin, Der Einsiedler, 1884. Painting. Berlin, Museum Alte Nationalgalerie. Image 
from Wikimedia Commons, 

5. A Troupe of Sources and Analogues 245 

is now recognized as blameless, is led away triumphantly in a throng, succeeds in his 
performing thereafter, and is granted a little house of his own. 

The path of Our Lady’s Tumbler is a major highway in comparison with the minor 
byways of the many other stories we have encountered thus far. Although hold-ups 
can stop or slow motion to a crawl, and the types of conveyance can change, we at 
least have an easier time determining who were the first travelers, and what arteries 
they followed as they made their passage. The moment has come to bob ahead past 
the bottleneck of early modern times to the early 1870s, when the medieval tale was 
rediscovered and brought back to life. All the central agents of the resuscitation can be 
identified —in the first instance, they were the literary scholars known as philologists. 


Fig. 5.42 “Der Spielmann.” Illustration by Fig. 5.43 Front cover of Friedrich Hedler, 

Wilhelm Schafer, 1925. Published in Fritz Der Tanzer unserer Lieben Frau: Ein Spiel nach 
Schlo&, ed., Legenden: Alte Erzahlungen in der altfranz6sischen und altdeutschen Motiven, 

Dichtung unserer Zeit (Sannerz, Germany: illus. P. J. Paffenholz (Munich, Germany: 

Eberhard Arnold, 1925), 35. Buchner, 1950). 


Art and beauty and poetry. E. K. R[and], “Editor's Preface,” Speculum 1 (1926): 3-4, at 4. 

Notes to Preface 


unattributed joke. The incidentals (the regional origins of the two musicians, the specific 
cathedrals where they played, etc.) vary in different texts, but the most common form has the 
particulars as retold here. The earliest versions date to the summer of 2011. 

the Virgin. Our Lady of the Assumption. 

The Story of a Story 

In the introduction. Arthur Langfors, review of E. Lommatzsch and M. L. Wagner, eds., Del 
Tumbeor Nostre Dame, in Romania 48 (1922): 288-90, at 290. 

reflexes of the Italian Renaissance. W. D. Robson-Scott, The Literary Background of the Gothic Revival 
in Germany: A Chapter in the History of Taste (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965), 3-17; Thomas 
Cocke, “The Wheel of Fortune: The Appreciation of Gothic since the Middle Ages,” in Age 
of Chivalry: Art in Plantagenet England, 1200-1400, ed. Jonathan Alexander and Paul Binski 
(London: Royal Academy of Arts, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1987), 183-91. 

my godmother. Mary Koenig Weigand. I use the word godmother figuratively, not literally. 

reception. Reception here signifies the ways in which later periods have received and re-created 
a literary work. Earlier generations might have spoken instead of sources and influences. Such 
was their means of charting the cosmic chain of being that leads down to the latest copy from 
the earliest, whether we are fortunate enough or not to possess the original. 

flight attendant. Bette Nash, whose likely status as the world’s oldest flight attendant, with 
sixty years of service, has been discussed in various media, including newspapers, magazines, 
television, and online resources. 

Erich Segal. “Rencontre avec Erich Segal,” L’Express, March 29, 1971. 

© 2018 Jan M. Ziolkowski, CC BY 4.0 

248 Notes to Preface 

From Our Lady’s Tumbler to The Jongleur of Notre Dame 
from the French. Le jongleur de Notre Dame. 
writing mania. | refer to the fugue state called furor scribendi in Latin. 

medievalism. In analyzing medievalism in French literature, Janine Dakyns stops at 1870: see 
Dakyns, The Middle Ages in French Literature 1851-1900 (London: Oxford University Press, 1973). 
In English historiography, the same year is also frequently a dividing line, e.g., R. C. K. Ensor, 
ed., England, 1870-1914, Oxford History of England, vol. 14 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1936). 
It is presented as a decisive demarcation in David Matthews, Medievalism: A Critical History 
(Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2015). 

movements in art and culture. See, for example, John Steegman, Victorian Taste: A Study of the 
Arts and Architecture from 1830 to 1870 (London: Nelson, 1970); Walter Edwards Houghton, The 
Victorian Frame of Mind, 1830-1870 (New Haven, CT: Published for Wellesley College by Yale 
University Press, 1957). 

conventional scheme. Kenneth Clark, The Gothic Revival: An Essay in the History of Taste (London: 
Constable, 1928), 214. 

Notes to Chapter 1 — The French Poem 249 

Notes to Chapter 1 

back to the twelfth century. Henry Adams, Letter to Charles M. Gaskell, Paris, October 9, 1899, in 
LHA 5: 41-43, at 42. 

The French Poem 

Our Lady’s Tumbler. Del Tumbeor Nostre Dame, in the original medieval French (literally, Of the 
Tumbler of Our Lady). 

from the Middle Ages. Pierre Kunstmann, ed. and trans., Vierge et merveille: Les miracles de Notre- 
Dame narratifs au Moyen Age (Paris: Union générale d’éditions, 1981), 11-12. 

quintessentially medieval puzzles. The most comprehensive presentation is in Paul Bretel, Le 
Jongleur de Notre-Dame, Traductions des classiques du Moyen Age, vol. 64 (Paris: Honoré 
Champion, 2003), which provides a translation into modern French, a text of the Old French, 
and a commentary, as well as the text of Anatole France’s story. A scholarly translation into 
English with the original en face can be found in Everett C. Wilkie Jr., trans., “Our Lady’s 
Tumbler,” Allegorica: A Journal of Medieval & Renaissance Literature 4 (1979): 81-120. 

stand-alone moralizing piece. Adrian P. Tudor, “Preaching, Storytelling, and the Performance of 
Short Pious Narratives,” in Performing Medieval Narrative, ed. Evelyn Birge Vitz et al. (Cambridge: 
D. S. Brewer, 2005), 141-53, at 141. 

the friars, too. David Jones, trans., Friars’ Tales: Thirteenth-Century Exempla from the British Isles 
(Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2011). 

arts of preaching. The Latin for these manuals is artes praedicandi. 
songs of heroic deeds. In French, chansons de geste. 
comedies. In Latin, comoediae. 


exempla. G. T. Shepherd, “The Emancipation of Story in the Twelfth Century,” in Medieval 
Narrative: A Symposium, ed. Hans Bekker-Nielsen et al. (Odense, Denmark: Odense University 
Press, 1979), 4-57. 

physical. For two inspirational guides to this vast topic, see Peter Brown, The Body and Society: 
Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity, Lectures on the History of Religions, 
New Series, vol. 13 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988); Caroline Walker Bynum, The 
Resurrection of the Body in Western Christianity, 200-1336, Lectures on the History of Religions, 
New Series, vol. 15 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995). 

underclothes. A light cotelle or tunic. 
acrobatics. Lines 135-36: “they serve by chanting, and I will serve by tumbling.” 
The sequence culminates. Lines 163-67. 

vida. See The Vidas of the Troubadours, trans. Margarita Egan, Garland Library of Medieval 
Literature, Series B, vol. 6 (New York: Garland Publishing, 1984). 

250 Notes to Chapter 1 — The Manuscripts 

miracles about Mary. Guy Philippart, “Le récit miraculaire marial dans l’Occident medieval,” 
in Marie: Le culte de la Vierge dans la société médiévale, ed. Dominique Iogna-Prat et al. (Paris: 
Beauchesne, 1996), 563-90, at 574. 

The Manuscripts 

No mass-produced items of this sort exist. The closest would be manuscripts produced by the 
pecia system. Yet our derivative piecemeal speaks to the difference between it and machine-age 

five codices. Hermann Wachter, “Der Springer unserer lieben Frau,” Romanische Forschungen 11.1 
(1901): 223-88, at 299. The five manuscripts are Chantilly, Musée Condé (formerly Bibliotheque 
et archives du Chateau), MS 475 (previously 1578), fols. 190-196; Paris, Bibliotheque nationale 
de France, Arsenal MS 3516, fols. 127ra—128vb; Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France, Arsenal 
MS 3518, fols. 89r-93r; Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France, MS frangais 1807, fols. 142-146; 
and Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France, MS nouvelles acquisitions frangaises 4276, fols. 

a form of French. Charles Théodore Gossen, “Considérations sur le franco-picard, langue 
littéraire du Moyen Age,” Les dialectes belgo-romans 13 (1956): 97-121. 

langue d’oil. The French could be translated “the language of oui.” Most often it is contrasted 
to langue d’oc, “the language of oc.” In both cases, the words in the native language were the 
common way of expressing the affirmative “yes.” 

common errors. For the broader intellectual consequences of this focus on error, see Seth Lerer, 
Error and the Academic Self: The Scholarly Imagination, Medieval to Modern (New York: Columbia 
University Press, 2002). 

Arsenal library. Since 1934, the Arsenal collection has belonged to the National Library of France 
in Paris. Bibliotheque nationale de France, Arsenal MS 3516, fols. 127ra—128rb. 

major errors. On the errors in the archetype a, see Wachter, “Der Springer unserer lieben Frau,” 

Gautier de Coinci and Anonymity 

miracles of the Virgin. The standard early description of the manuscript and its contents is Henry 
Martin, Catalogue des manuscrits de la Bibliotheque de l’Arsenal, 9 vols. (Paris: E. Plon, Nourrit, 
1885-1895), 3: 395-405, at 399. The closest study of this one codex is Claudia Guggenbihl, 
Recherches sur la composition et la structure du ms. Arsenal 3516 (Basel, Switzerland: A. Francke, 
1998), 270, on fols. 127ra—139re. Guggenbiihl’s invaluable study touches upon Our Lady’s 
Tumbler repeatedly, especially at pp. 122 (on the table of contents), 131, 225, 354, 371. 

unequivocally but wrongly. The error has continued to be made even recently: see Christophe 
Ghristi and Mathias Auclair, La belle époque de Massenet (Montreuil, France: Gourcuff Gradenigo 
Editions, 2011), 160. 

translated and read. For one prominent case, see Erhard Lommatzsch, “Anatole France und 
Gautier de Coincy,” Zeitschrift fiir romanische Philologie 58 (1938): 670-83, repr. in idem, Kleinere 
Schriften zur romanischen Philologie (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1954), 126-38. 

Notes to Chapter 1 — Gautier de Coinci and Anonymity 251 

Coinci-L’Abbaye. The place of Gautier’s birth, and the spelling of its name, have been debated: 
see Louis Allen, “The Birthplace of Gautier de Coincy,” Modern Philology 33 (1936): 239-42. 

dedicated to Mary. As far as the association with the Mother of God is concerned, the name of 
Notre Dame (“Our Lady”) says it all. 

slipper. Anne L. Clark, “Guardians of the Sacred: The Nuns of Soissons and the Slipper of the 
Virgin Mary,” Church History 76 (2007): 724-49. 

Hugh Farsit. Hugo Farsitus, Libellus de miraculis beatae Mariae virginis in urbe Suessionensi, in PL 
179: 1777-800. For analysis, see Gabriela Signori, Maria zwischen Kathedrale, Kloster und Welt: 
Hagiographische und historiographische Anniherungen an eine hochmittelalterliche Wunderpredigt 
(Sigmaringen, Germany: Jan Thorbecke, 1995), 125-51. 

discomfort. It is known technically as burning dysesthesia. 

books of verse Marian miracles. Miracles de Nostre Dame. They encompass fifty-eight narratives, 
of which thirty-five are in book 1, twenty-three in book 2. In addition, the miracle collection 
contains two sermons, eighteen songs, and five prayers. The whole amounts to a total of 
roughly 35,500 octosyllabic lines. 

language and rhetoric. On the language and rhetoric, see Tony Hunt, Miraculous Rhymes: The 
Writing of Gautier de Coinci, Gallica, vol. 8 (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2007). 

images of the Mother of God. Jean-Marie Sansterre, “La Vierge Marie et ses images chez Gautier 
de Coinci et Césaire de Heisterbach,” Viator (English and Multilingual Edition) 41.1 (2010): 147-78, 
at 150-51. 

representations as characters. Anna Russakoff, “The Role of the Image in an Illustrated Manuscript 
of Les Miracles de Notre-Dame by Gautier de Coinci: Besancon, Bibliotheque municipale 551,” 
Manuscripta 47.1 (2004): 135-44, at 138. 

subgenre. Philippart, “Le récit miraculaire marial,” 566-67. 

extant manuscripts. Kathryn A. Duys, assisted by Kathy M. Krause and Alison Stones, “Gautier 
de Coinci’s Miracles de Nostre Dame: Manuscript List,” in Gautier de Coinci: Miracles, Music, and 
Manuscripts, ed. Kathy M. Krause and Alison Stones, Medieval Texts and Cultures of Northern 
Europe, vol. 13 (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2006), 345-66. 

musical notation. Gautier de Coinci, Les chansons a la Vierge, ed. Jacques Chailley, Publications 
de la Société francaise de musicologie, First Series, vol. 15 (Paris: Heugel, 1959); Kathryn Duys, 

“Manuscripts that Preserve the Songs of Gautier de Coinci’s Miracles de Nostre Dame (Listed by 
Date and Siglum),” in Krause and Stones, Gautier de Coinci, 367-68. 

Likenesses of Madonnas. See, for example, Christine Lapostolle, “Images et apparitions: 
Illustrations des Miracles de Nostre Dame,” Meédiévales 2 (1982): 47-66; Russakoff, “Role of the 
Image,” 135-44; Sansterre, “La Vierge Marie et ses images”; Nancy Blake, “Images of the Virgin 
Mary in the Soissons Manuscript (Paris, BNF, nouv. acq. fr. 25451),” in Krause and Stones, 
Gautier de Coinci, 253-77; Alison Stones, “Notes on the Artistic Context of Some Gautier de 
Coinci Manuscripts,” “Appendix ITI: Illustrated Miracles de Nostre Dame Manuscripts Listed by 
Sigla,” and “Appendix IV,” in Krause and Stones, Gautier de Coinci, 65-98, 369-96. 

genuflection. An act designated in Greek as proskunesis (also prostration or bowing). 

252 Notes to Chapter 1 — Picardy 

describing himself. 1 Miracle 11, 2315-17, cited by Hunt, Miraculous Rhymes, 49: “Car troveres ne 
sui je mie / Fors de ma dame et de m’amie / Ne menestrex ne sui je pas.” 

vielle. Also often viele, with a single 1. 

parchment. The parchment here is a bifolium, which in a manuscript signifies the equivalent of 
two sheets, side by side, that have not been cut—the equivalent of four pages in a printed book. 

minstrelsy and monasticism. See Kathryn A. Duys, “Minstrel’s Mantle and Monk’s Hood: The 
Authorial Persona of Gautier de Coinci in His Poetry and Illuminations,” in Krause and Stones, 
Gautier de Coinci, 37-63. 

does not suffice. For example, the wrong ascription has been made by Sheldon Christian, Our 
Lady’s Tumbler: A Modern Miracle Play (Portland, ME: Anthoensen Press, 1948), viii; Henri 
Marmier, Le bateleur de Notre-Dame (d’aprés Gautier de Coincy) (Paris: H. Piazza, 1951), 9-14. 

has been described. Paul Zumthor, Essai de poétique médiévale (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1972). 

gain some sense of him. Female poets existed, but they were greatly outnumbered by male ones. 
Furthermore, the details of monastic life suggest strongly that the person who wrote the poem 
was a man. 


dialect that became modern French. See especially Bernard Cerquiglini, Une langue orpheline (Paris: 
Minuit, 2007). 

1268. In scholarly parlance, that year represents the terminus ante quem, signifying the date 
before which the composition of a work must be situated. 

around 1200. In fact, the year of 1200 was emblazoned confidently on the cover of the 1920 
standard edition. For the most reliable and succinct details about the text and its constitution, 
see Erhard Lommatzsch and Max Leopold Wagner, eds., Del tumbeor Nostre Dame: Altfranzésische 
Marien-legende (um 1200), Romanische Texte zum Gebrauch fiir Vorlesungen und Ubungen, vol. 
1 (Berlin: Weidmannsche Buchhandlung, 1920). 

thoroughgoing analysis. The study in question was produced by an American scholar of 
medieval French language and literature who brought out his dissertation five years later in 
1925. See Louis Allen, De l’hermite et del jougleour: A Thirteenth Century “Conte Pieux.” Text, with 
Introduction and Notes, Including a Study of the Poem’s Relationship to “Del Tumbeor Nostre Dame” 
and “Del Chevalier au Barisel” (Paris: Joseph Solsone, 1925), 53 (between 1223 and 1233). See 
also Louis Karl, “La légende de 1l’Ermite et le Jongleur,” Revue des langues romanes 63 (1925): 
110-41. Few of Allen’s contemporaries took note of the case that he built: for one exception, 
see the slightly skeptical stance of Joseph Morawski, “Mélanges de littérature pieuse, III: Les 
miracles de Notre-Dame en vers frangais,” Romania 64 (1938): 454-88, at 457. Among later 
scholars, one who acknowledged Allen’s reasoning was Wilkie, “Our Lady’s Tumbler,” 83. 
For having brought home—nearly nine decades later—its validity, much credit is due to Earl 
Jeffrey Richards, “La devotion mariale et la politique a deux temps: Le Tumbeor Nostre Dame et 
Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame d’ Anatole France,” in La Vierge Marie dans la littérature francaise: Entre 
foi et littérature / Actes du colloque international Université de Bretagne-Sud, Lorient, 31 mai—ler juin 


Notes to Chapter 1 — The Identity of the Poet 253 

2013, ed. Jean-Louis Benoit (Lyon, France: Jacques André éditeur, 2014), 233-42, at 238. I leave 
aside the resemblances between Our Lady’s Tumbler and the sermons of William of Auvergne 
that have been posited by Richards, “La devotion marial,” 239. On William, Richards points 
to Pierre Boglioni, “Peuple et culture populaire chez Guillaume d’Auvergne,” in Mensch und 
Objekt im Mittelalter und in der friihen Neuzeit: Leben, Alltag, Kultur. Internationaler Kongress, 
Krems an der Donau, 27. bis 30. September 1988, ed. Gerhard Jaritz, Osterreichische Akademie der 
Wissenschaften, Sitzungsberichte: Philosophisch-Historische Klasse 568, Verdffentlichungen 
des Instituts fiir Realienkunde des Mittelalters und der Friihen Neuzeit, vol. 13 (Vienna: Verlag 
der Osterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1990), 193-222. 

retreat from the world. The desirability of retreat from the world is mentioned at lines 13, 16, 
275-78, 510, while Ponthieu is named at 620. See Allen, De l’hermite et del jougleour, 54. 

The Identity of the Poet 

likely a brother himself. Maurice Léna, “Massenet (1842-1912),” Le Meénestrel, no. 4422, 83.4 
(January 28, 1921): 33-34, at 33. 

Could the poet. If so, he would have been a real-life antecedent for the Franciscan friar William 
of Baskerville in Umberto Eco’s 1980 novel and the 1986 film The Name of the Rose, or for the 
Welsh Benedictine detective, Brother Cadfael, in the mystery novels written between 1977 and 
1994 by Ellis Peters, and in the subsequent television series starring that character. Such a man 
would not have been unique. 

The Knight of the Barrel. The original titles are respectively Le chevalier au barisel and De l’hermite et 
del jougleour. Brian Levy, “L’ironie des métiers, ou le récit chiasmique: A propos du conte pieux 
de l’Ermite et du Jongleur,” Reinardus: Yearbook of the International Reynard Society / Annuaire de la 
Société internationale renardienne 5 (1992): 85-107. 

pendant. Allen, De l’hermite et del jougleour, followed by Tudor, “Preaching, Storytelling,” 151. 

repentance. The theme of penitence has been seen also to connect Our Lady’s Tumbler (for mutual 
illumination rather than because of any putative shared authorship) with another anonymous 
text, Robert le Diable. For a comparison, see Elisabeth Gaucher, “Le ‘jeu’ de la pénitence au 
XIIe siecle: Robert le Diable et le Jongleur de Notre-Dame,” in Regards étonnés de l‘expression de 
Valtérité a la construction de l’identité: Mélanges offerts au professeur Gaél Milin (Brest, France: Amis 
de Gaél Milin, 2003), 261-71. 

Only tears will be weighed. Emile M. Cioran, Tears and Saints, trans. Ilinca Zarifopol-Johnston 
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 6. 

this tale. For the text, see Félix Lecoy, ed., Le chevalier au barisel: Conte pieux du XIIIe siecle. Edité 
d‘aprés tous les manuscrits connus, Les classiques francais du Moyen Age, vol. 82 (Paris: Honoré 
Champion, 1955). The poem has been translated into modern French, Italian, Spanish, and 
English. For the French, see Le chevalier au barisel: Conte pieux du XIIIe siécle, trans. Annette 
Brasseur, Traductions des classiques francais du Moyen Age, vol. 23 (Paris: Honoré Champion, 
1976); Italian, I cavaliere e l’eremita, ed. and trans. Franco Romanelli, Biblioteca medievale, vol. 
4 (Parma, Italy: Pratiche, 1987); and Spanish, Le chevalier au barisel de anonimo, ed. and trans. 
Miguel Angel Garcia Peinado and Ricardo Redoli Morales, Analecta Malacitana Anejo, vol. 46 
(Malaga, Spain: University of Malaga, 2003). 

254 Notes to Chapter 1 — The Identity of the Poet 

Both it and the other text have been translated at least once into English, together with 

“The Tumbler of Our Lady,” but in a virtually inaccessible book that was printed in a run of 

only twenty-six copies: Wilson Lysle Frescoln (1912-1997), trans., Old French Contes Dévots 
(Wallingford, PA: Press of the Cheerful Snail, 1962), no page numbers. 

For interpretation, see Jean-Charles Payen, “Structure et sens du Chevalier au Barisel,” Le 
Moyen Age 77 (1971): 239-62, and Franco Romanelli, “Le Chevalier au Barisel: L’acculturazione 
dei cavalieri tra lo spazio dell’aventure e il tempo della confessione,” Medioevo romanzo 11.1 
(1986): 27-54. 

two additional versions. One was composed from approximately 1216 to 1218 by Jean de Blois, 
also known as Jean de La Chapelle. The other, Conte du Baril or “The Tale of the Barrel,” is 
closely related to two later reflexes. One is a Latin exemplum in the “Mirror of Laymen”: see 
no. 121, in Le speculum laicorum: Edition d’une collection d’exempla, composée en Angleterre a la 
fin du XIlle siécle, ed. Jean-Thiébaut Welter (Paris: A. Picard, 1914), 27. The other comprises 
later French versions that descend directly or indirectly from Life of the Fathers: see “Del halt 
home qui empli le barrillet d’une lerme” [Baril], 19 [18], ed. Félix Lecoy, La Vie de Peres, 3 vols. 
(Paris: Société des anciens textes francais: A. et J. Picard, 1987-1999), 1: 288-300. For details and 
analysis, see Lecoy, Le Chevalier au Barisel, XVII-XXII; Jean-Charles Payen, “Y a-t-il un repentir 
cistercien dans la littérature francaise médiévale?” Citeaux 12 (1961): 120-32, at 126-31. 

held to be a Cistercian. More than eighty years ago Jean de Blois was identified by his editor as 
a monk of Blois. See Le conte dou barril, poéme du XIIle siécle par Jouham de la Chapele de Blois, ed. 
Robert Chapman Bates, Yale Romanic Studies, vol. 4 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 
1932). This identification was contested by Louise W. Stone, “Sur le Conte du Baril de Jean de 
Blois,” Romania 59 (1933): 24-40, at 25-35. Bates reaffirmed his stand in “Le Conte dou Barril par 
Jean de Blois et le Tournoiement d’Enfer,” Romania 62 (1936): 359-75, at 361n3. 

afterlife in exempla. For references, see Elisabeth Pinto-Mathieu, La Vie des Péres: Genése des contes 
religieux du XIIle siecle (Paris: Honoré Champion, 2009), 830, no. 19. 

source and influence. Karl, “La légende de l’Ermite et le Jongleur,” 123: “En vitis patrum un haut 
livre / Qui les bons essample nous livre / Nous raconte d’un saint hermite...” (“In the Vitas 
patrum, a lofty book that furnishes us good exempla, we are told of a saintly hermit”). 

paradise. The account related in The Hermit and the Jongleur resembles another story, that of the 
provost of Aquileia, composed in the mid-fifteenth century by Jean Miélot. This other narrative 
is attested in two medieval French forms. The one in Life of the Fathers (pp. 13724-14177) tells of 
an ascetic who after many years of fasting and prayer in solitude yields to the sin of pride. He 
prays to learn from God who is his peer in piety. It raises his hackles to be told that his equal on 
earth is not a recluse but rather the provost of Aquileia, whom he then resolves to see with his 
own eyes. Upon arriving at the Italian city, he crosses paths with this very man who is on his way 
out (see Fig. n.1). From him, he receives a ring to present to the official’s wife, who is to treat him 
exactly as she would her own husband. From this moment, the hermit is shown how the dutiful 
laic resists earthly temptations. At table, everyone but the provost’s spouse and the hermit is 
served the finest food and drink. She and he share a bed. She attempts twice to seduce him, but 
on each occasion insists that he plunge into an ice-cold bath. In the final accounting, the solitary 
realizes that to live abstemiously in the world measures up fully to an existence as a religious. 
He returns to his hermitage, implores forgiveness, and earns heaven for his soul when he dies. 

the cycle of brotherhood. Karl, “La légende de |’Ermite et le Jongleur,” 110. 

Notes to Chapter 1 — The Bas-de-Page Miniature: Of Marginal Interest 255 

Fig. n.1 The Hermit and the Provost. Miniature, fourteenth century. Paris, Bibliotheque nationale 
de France, MS frangais 25440, fol. 54v. Image courtesy of Bibliotheque nationale de France, Paris. 
All rights reserved. 

The Bas-de-Page Miniature: Of Marginal Interest 

sliced out. Alison Stones, Gothic Manuscripts, 1260-1320, 2 vols. in 4 (London: Harvey Miller, 
2013-2014), 2: 501-5, at 501-3 for the excised miniatures. 

placement. The miniature is found in Paris, Bibliotheque de l’Arsenal, MS 3516, folio 127r (dated 
1268). It has been discussed in two fine studies by Johann-Christian J. A. Klamt, Een gebaar 
van deemoed: De interpretatie van een middeleeuwse miniatuur (Utrecht, Netherlands: Faculteit der 
Letteren, Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht, 1988), and ““Le tumbeor de NotreDame’—Gaukler in Demut,” 
Zeitschrift fiir Kunstgeschichte 60 (1997): 289-307. The highest-quality color reproduction of it to 
date has been in Sylvie Barnay, Le ciel sur la terre: Les apparitions de la Vierge au Moyen Age (Paris: 
Cerf, 1999), 54. It has also been reproduced as the frontispiece of Agata Sobczyk, Les jongleurs 
de Dieu: Sainte simplicité dans la littérature religieuse de la France médiévale (Lask, Poland: Oficyna 
Wydawnicza Leksem, 2012). 

stylistic separateness. Stones, Gothic Manuscripts, 2: 503. 

created in Arras. Alison Stones, “The Illustrated Chrétien Manuscripts and Their Artistic Context,” 
in Les manuscrits de Chrétien de Troyes | The Manuscripts of Chrétien de Troyes, ed. Keith Busby et 
al., 2 vols., Faux titre, vols. 71-72 (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1993), 2: 227-322, at 241. 

256 Notes to Chapter 1 — The Bas-de-Page Miniature: Of Marginal Interest 

iconographic hierarchy. For a concise overview, see Jan Svanberg, “Acrobata,” in Enciclopedia 
dell‘arte medievale, 12 vols. (Rome: Istituto della enciclopedia italiana, 1991-2002), 1: 126-30. On 
the frequency of acrobatic jongleurs in French art of the twelfth century, Svanberg relied on 
Emile Male, L’art religieux du XIle siecle en France: Etude sur les origines de l’iconographie du Moyen 
Age (Paris: A. Colin, 1922), translated as Religious Art in France, the Twelfth Century: A Study of the 
Origins of Medieval Iconography, Bollingen Series 90.1 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 
1978), and Henri Focillon, “Sculpture romane: Apdotres et jongleurs (études de mouvement),” La 
revue de l'art ancien et moderne 55 (1929): 13-28. In older scholarship, particular note should be taken 
of Arthur Watson, “Tumblers,” The Reliquary and Illustrated Archaeologist: A Quarterly Journal and 
Review Devoted to the Study of Early Pagan and Christian Antiquities of Great Britain, 9 (1903): 186-202. 
Svanberg’s own book remains the fullest presentation of information: Jan Svanberg, Gycklarmotiv 
i romansk konst och en tolkning av portalrelieferna pa Hairja kyrka, Kung]. Vitterhets-, historie och 
antikvitets akademien: Antikvariskt arkiv, vol. 41 (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1970). 

nineteenth-century interpreter. Louis Petit de Julleville, Histoire de la langue et de Ia littérature 
francaise des origines a 1900, 8 vols. (Paris: A. Colin, 1896-1899), 1: 40. 

exemplum that compares a sinner with a jongleur. Stephen of Bourbon, Tractatus de diversis materiis 
praedicabilibus, ed. Jacques Berlioz, 3 vols., Corpus Christanorum Continuatio Mediaevalis, 
vols. 124-124B (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2002-2015), 1: 335 (book 1.8, lines 692-95), 532-33 

freak show. The most convenient repertory remains Lilian M. C. Randall, Images in the Margins 
of Gothic Manuscripts, California Studies in the History of Art, vol. 4 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: 
University of California Press, 1966), 134, 135 (jongleur, juggling). The most provocative study, 
in all senses of the adjective, is Michael Camille, Image on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval 
Art (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992). For reviews of the scholarship, see 
Lucy Freeman Sandler, “The Study of Marginal Imagery: Past, Present, and Future,” Studies 
in Iconography 18 (1997): 1-49; Anja Grebe, “The Art of the Edge: Frames and Page-Design 
in Manuscripts of the Ghent-Bruges-School,” in The Metamorphosis of Marginal Images: From 
Antiquity to Present Time, ed. Nurith Kenaan-Kedar and Asher Ovadiah (Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv 
University, The Yolanda and David Katz Faculty of the Arts, Dept. of Art History, 2001), 
93-102; Laura Kendrick, “Making Sense of Marginalized Images in Manuscripts and Religious 
Architecture,” in A Companion to Medieval Art: Romanesque and Gothic in Northern Europe, ed. 
Conrad Rudolph (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2008), 274-94. 

One common form. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, MS 78 D 40, fol. 108r; Lausanne, 
Bibliotheque cantonale et universitaire, MS U 964 (Biblia Porta), fol. 343v; Oxford, Bodleian 
Library, MS Bodley 264, fol. 90r (ca. 1338-1344). 

sculpted limestone pilaster. Dated ca. 1150-1170, from the Lyonnais in France. 

mobility. In a sense I extend the contention that jongleurs in Romanesque sculpture represent 
movement in contrast to the rigidity surrounding them: see Walter Cahn, “Focillon’s Jongleur,” 
Art History 18.3 (1995): 345-62. 

Metamorphoses. 1.84. 

stand erect. Hans Walther, ed., Proverbia sententiaeque Latinitatis Medii Aevi: Lateinische 
Sprichworter und Sentenzen des Mittelalters in alphabetischer Anordnung, 6 vols., Carmina Medii 
Aevi posterioris Latina, vol. 2.1-6 (Gottingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1963-1969), 
nos. 22635 (3: 988), 20438a (3: 674). 

Notes to Chapter 1 — The Bas-de-Page Miniature: Of Marginal Interest 257 

monstrous races. John Block Friedman, The Monstrous Races in Medieval Art and Thought, 2nd ed. 
(Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1999), 301 (with listings passim). 

Queen of Heaven. On Mary as Queen, see Gabriel M. Roschini, “Royauté de Marie,” in Maria: 
Etudes sur la Sainte Vierge, ed. Hubert Du Manoir de Juaye, 7 vols. (Paris: Beauchesne, 1949-— 
1964), 1: 603-18. 

a figure with a nimbus. In both Jewish and Christian art from late antiquity and the early Middle 
Ages, the injunction against idolatry meant that God was seldom depicted as a full human 
figure. Yet divine intervention or approval could be signified, with the compromise of only 
partial aniconicity, through the synecdoche of a detached right hand. In Christian theology, all 
miracles are the work of God, and the hand of God (manus Dei, in Latin) reminds the viewer of 
this silent partner in thaumaturgy. 

towellike cloth. Anatole France, Abeille, Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame, Les Pains noirs, ed. R. L Greeme 
Ritchie, illus. Henry Morin (London: Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1928), 133. 

extending the thumb. In reference to the Western tradition this gesture is known formally as “the 
Latin benediction” (benedictio Latina): see Betty J. Bauml and Franz H. Bauml, eds., A Dictionary 
of Worldwide Gestures, 2nd ed. (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1997), 143-45. The name for the 
gesticulation can be a misnomer, since nearly the same position of the fingers is conventional in 
Eastern Orthodoxy too (see Fig. n.2). 

Fig. n.2 Christ Pantokrator, sixth century. Mosaic. Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna. Image from 
Wikimedia Commons, 

another sort. On the norms in other representations of Madonnas who become animate, see Michael 
Camille, The Gothic Idol: Ideology and Image-Making in Medieval Art (Cambridge: Cambridge 
University Press, 1989), 233—but compare Russakoff, “Role of the Image,” 140-42, 144. 

258 Notes to Chapter 1 — The Bas-de-Page Miniature: Of Marginal Interest 

star-cross. Chr. Konstantinides, “Le sens théologique du signe ‘croix-étoile’ sur le front de la 
Vierge des images byzantines,” in Akten des XI. internationalen Byzantinistenkongresses, Miinchen, 
1958, ed. Franz Délger and Hans-Georg Beck (Munich, Germany: C. H. Beck, 1960), 254-66. 

fresco. Ca. 1305. 

similar-sounding noun in German. In English, jig; in modern French gigue, Italian and Spanish 
giga. The German is Geige. 

green tiles. In medieval color symbolism, green was sometimes associated with the devil. See D. 
W. Robertson, “Why the Devil Wears Green,” Modern Language Notes 69.7 (1954): 470-72. 

viol. It was known in Italian as viola (whence the modern-day violin), spelled also viuola and 
in numerous similar ways, and in German as Fidel (fiddle). For basic information, see Nigel 
Wilkins, Music in the Age of Chaucer, Chaucer Studies, vol. 1, 2nd ed. (Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: 
D. S. Brewer, 1995), 150-51. 

Manesse Codex. Made in Zurich, ca. 1300-1340, also known as the “large Heidelberg Lieder 

Frauenlob. Universitatsbibliothek Heidelberg, Codex Palatinus Germanicus 848, fol. 399r. The 
poet’s nickname, meaning “praise of Our Lady” or “praise of women” in German, designates 
Heinrich von Meifsen (Eng., Henry of Meissen), born in Meifsen and educated in the cathedral 
school there. 

Virgin herself. Barbara Newman, Frauenlob’s Song of Songs: A Medieval German Poet and His 
Masterpiece (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006). 

reproduced repeatedly. Alice Kemp-Welch, Of the Tumbler of Our Lady & Other Miracles Now 
Translated from the Middle French (London: Chatto & Windus, 1908), reprinted a year later in the 
series King’s Classics (London: Chatto & Windus, 1909). It was then published with omission 
of the first word, Of, from the title and without indication of translator or date (New York and 
London: G. P. Putnam’s Songs The Knickerbocker Press, [n.d.]). Later, the whole folio side was 
reproduced in Maurice Vloberg, La légende dorée de Notre Dame: Huit contes pieux du Moyen Age 
(Paris: D.-A. Longuet, 1921), between pp. 192-93, and printed fifty years later in Henri-Paul 
Eydoux, Saint Louis et son temps (Paris: Larousse, 1971), 156, from which it was reprinted twice 
by Klamt, first in Een gebaar van deemoed, plate 1, and later in “Le tumbeor,” fig. 1 (p. 291). In 
the old reproductions, the miniature is better preserved than in the latest digitization obtained 
from the Bibliotheque de I’ Arsenal. 

modern illustrations. The most recent illustrator who sought out the manuscript itself appears 
to have been Barbara Cooney, in preparation for her 1961 picture book, The Little Juggler. In 
her research, she collected photographs of Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France, Arsenal MS 
3516, fols. 127ra—128rb. She had the lower portion of the first folio side reproduced on the back 
of the dustcover. 

minstrel’s routine. Without reference to Our Lady’s Tumbler, see Isabelle Marchesin, “Les jongleurs 
dans les psautiers du haut Moyen Age: Nouvelles hypotheses sur la symbolique de I’histrion 
médiéval,” Cahiers de civilisation médiévale 41.162 (1998): 127-39. 

Notes to Chapter 1 — The Genre: Long Story Short 259 

pair of carvings. Both are corbels carved ca. 1311-1326, in the time of Bishop Stapledon, on the 
vaulting shafts of the great piers that face each other in the crossing and east bay of the nave. 
They still carry two layers of medieval paint, which gives a sense of their original polychromy. 
The extremely useful cathedral website indicates that the two corbels are among “the most 
intricately painted sculptures in the Cathedral. The first painting had the tumbler in scarlet, 
and the minstrel’s fiddle off-white including the peg-box which was outlined in black; the red 
strings stopped short of it, the tail-piece and bow were green and the hairs of the bow black. In 
the repainting, the tumbler became a deep blue, with elaborate embroideries. The tumbler has 
particoloured shoes and stockings. His belt is gold. The minstrel has a similar loose garment 
(note the slit dividing the front): it is white, edged with gold, and embroidered. His fiddle has 
four painted cross-shaped sound holes.” 

supporting projections. In the system of letters and numbers that has been conventional for more 
than a century to designate keystones and carvings in the cathedral, these two corbels are K 
and K’ respectively. The designation system dates back to E. K. Prideaux and G. R. Holt Shafto, 
Bosses & Corbels of Exeter Cathedral: An Illustrated Study in Decorative & Symbolic Design (Exeter, 
UK: Commin; London: Chatto & Windus, 1910), who discuss these corbels at 197-200 and 

translation. By P. H. Wicksteed. 

allusion. A medieval wall-painting in the sacristy of the Finnish town of Hattula has been 
interpreted as a juggler juggling for Mary. True, the performer is attired in a small smock, as 
may well be the case in Our Lady’s Tumbler. The stumbling block is that the figure in the wall- 
painting is indeed juggling, whereas the jongleur in the medieval French poem is described as 
performing a dance or gymnastic routine, but not as juggling. So far as we can deduce from 
existing evidence, a juggler did not become part of the story until it was reworked in modern 
French literature, first as a poem and then as a short story in the last decade of the nineteenth 
century. See Helena Edgren, Mercy and Justice: Miracles of the Virgin Mary in Finnish Medieval 
Wall-Paintings, Suomen Muinaismuistoyhdistyksen aikakauskirja, vol. 100 (Helsinki: Suomen 
Muinaismuistoyhdistys, 1993), 109-15, 204-5. 

New York City. Saint Thomas Parish at Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street is the fourth church to be 
built on the site. It was designed by the architectural firm of Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson. 

church of Saint Thomas. The panel is located in the front tier of the choir stalls at the altar end of 
the kneeling rail on the north side: see Saint Thomas Church (New York: The Church, 1965), 34; 
J. Robert Wright, Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue (Grand Rapids, MI: W. B. Eerdmans, 2001), 
161. This woodwork was fabricated across the Atlantic by the Boston firm of Irving and Casson, 
after designs by none other than Bertram Goodhue. 

The Genre: Long Story Short 

it is to be read. Legenda or legendum est. 

feast-days of given saints. Hippolyte Delehaye, The Legends of the Saints, trans. Donald Attwater 
(New York: Fordham University Press, 1962), 8. 

260 Notes to Chapter 1 — The Genre: Long Story Short 

pious tale. In French, conte dévot or conte pieux. For succinct definitions, see J. A. Cuddon, 
Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory, 5th ed. (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013), 
154; Urban T. Holmes, “Conte dévot,” in The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, ed. 
Roland Greene, 4th ed. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012), 302. The poem is thus 
classed by Walter Morris Hart, The Short-Story, Medieval and Modern: Syllabus and Bibliography, 
University of California Syllabus Series, vol. 57 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of 
California Press, 1915), 6. 

fabliau. For example, Léon Gautier, Les épopées francaises: Etude sur les origines et l’histoire de la 
littérature nationale, 2nd ed., 4 vols. (Paris: Societé génerale de librairie catholique / H. Welter, 
1878-1892), 2: 222 (“fableau”); Louis Bethléem et al., Les opéras, les opéras-comiques et les opérettes 
(Paris: Revue des Lectures, 1926), 332-36, at 332 (“fableau”); André Lagarde and Laurent 
Michard, Moyen Age: Les grands auteurs francais du programme, Collection Textes et littérature, 
vol. 1 (Paris: Bordas, 1962), 108-10, at 108. 

pious fabliau. Fabliau pieux: Otakar Novak, La littérature francaise des origines a la fin du XVIIle 
siecle, Opera Universitatis Purkynianae Brunensis, Facultas philosophica, vol. 195 (Brno, Czech 
Republic: Universita J. E. Purkyne, 1974), 28. 

comic. Adrian P. Tudor, “Nos rions de vostre bien: The Comic Potential of Pious Tales,” in Grant 
risee? The Medieval Comic Presence / La Présence comique médiévale. Essays in Memory of Brian ]. 
Levy, ed. idem and Alan Hindley, Medieval Texts and Cultures of Northern Europe, vol. 11 
(Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2006), 131-50, at 132. 

laughable. Edmond Faral, Les jongleurs en France au Moyen Age, Bibliotheque de I’ Ecole des hautes 
études, 4e section, Sciences historiques et philologiques, vol. 187 (Paris: Honoré Champion, 
1910), 157n2. 

exemplum. For definitions and overviews, see Claude Bremond and Jacques Le Goff, 
L’“exemplum,” Typologie des sources du Moyen Age occidental, vol. 40 (Turnhout, Belgium: 
Brepols, 1982); Jacques Berlioz and Marie Anne Polo de Beaulieu, eds., Les exempla médiévaux: 
Nouvelles perspectives, Nouvelle bibliotheque du Moyen Age, vol. 47 (Paris: Honoré Champion, 

expanded and dramatized. Jacques Monfrin, “L’exemplum médiéval: Du latin aux langues 
vulgaires,” in Berlioz and Polo de Beaulieu, Les exempla médiévaux, 243-65, at 264. 

mentalities. The term mentality refers to an approach that is associated with the theory 
and practice of medieval French historical studies in France in the 1970s and 1980s. For a 
convenient introduction, see Aaron J. Gurevich, “Medieval Culture and Mentality according 
to the New French Historiography,” European Journal of Sociology / Archives européennes de 
sociologie / Europdisches Archiv fiir Soziologie 24.1 (1983): 167-95. 

many rhetorical devices. It has even been speculated that the exemplum was a fertile source for 
the later novella. See Salvatore Battaglia, “Dall’esempio alla novella,” Filologia romanza 7 (1960): 
21-84. Like the pious tales, exempla could be intimately related to fabliaux. See Brian J. Levy, 

“Le fabliau et l’exemple: Etude sur les recueils moralisants anglo-normands,” in Epopée animale, 
fable, fabliau: Actes du IV Colloque de la Societé Internationale renardienne, Evreux, 7-11 septembre 
1981, ed. Gabriel Bianciotto and Michel Salvat (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1984), 

Notes to Chapter 1 — The Table of Exempla, in Alphabetical Order 261 

preamble. “In the lives of the ancient fathers, / the contents of which are good, / we are told a 
little exemplum. /I do not say that people have not heard / equally nice ones many times, / but 
this one is not so flawed / that it does not do good to tell it. / So I want to speak to you and to 
tell / of a minstrel, what happened to him.” 

little exanrple. The medieval French diminutive derives from Latin exemplum “exemplum, moral 
example, anecdote, illustration.” 

Clairvaux. Brian Patrick McGuire, “The Cistercians and the Rise of the Exemplum in Early 
Thirteenth Century France: A Reevaluation of Paris BN MS lat. 15912,” Classica et mediaevalia: 
Revue danoise de philologie et d’histoire 34 (1983): 211-67, at 225-26, 230-32, 257, repr. in idem, 
Friendship and Faith: Cistercian Men, Women, and Their Stories, 1100-1250, Variorum Collected 
Studies Series, vol. 742 (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate Publishing, 2002), no. 5. 

Cistercian literature.On the Cistercians and exempla, see James France, Separate but Equal: Cistercian 
Lay Brothers, 1120-1350, Cistercian Studies Series, vol. 246 (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 
2012), xix-xxiv, 199-230, 325-32. On Clairvaux as a center of Cistercian exemplum production, 
see Stefano Mula, “Geography and the Early Cistercian Exempla Collections,” Cistercian Studies 
Quarterly 46 (2011): 27-41. 

authorial sermon. Lines 293-314. 

The Table of Exempla, in Alphabetical Order 

Table of Exempla. Latin title, Tabula exemplorum secundum ordinem alphabeti. The full title is often 
given as Tabula exemplorum adaptacionum secundum ordinem alphabeti ordinata: see Jean-Thiébaut 
Welter, ed., La Tabula exemplorum secundum ordinem alphabeti: Recueil d’exempla compilé en France 
a la fin du XIlle siécle (Paris: Occitania, 1926). For concise information, see Jean-Thiébaut Welter, 
Liexemplum dans Ia littérature religieuse et didactique du Moyen Age (Paris: E. H. Guitard, 1927), 
294-97; Isabelle Rava-Cordier, “Tabula exemplorum,” EdM, 13: 139-43. The Table of Exempla 
enjoyed a robust transmission of more than twenty manuscripts from its time of composition 
into the fifteenth century. 

reference work. On such alphabetical reference-books, see H. G. Pfander, “The Mediaeval Friars 
and Some Alphabetical Reference-Books for Sermons,” Medium Aevum 3 (1934), 19-29. 

about 1277. Definitely between 1261 and 1292, possibly specifically around 1277. This resource as 
it survives is considered today to be the abridged form of the older Book of Likenesses and Exempla 
(Latin title, Liber de similitudinibus et exemplis). See Lynn Thorndike, “Liber de Similitudinibus et 
Exemplis (MS. Berne 293, Fols. 1r-75v),” Speculum 32 (1957): 780-91. 

151 headings. The collection has keywords from the Latin accidia (“sloth”) to Xristus (Christ). 
The chief source is Tractatus de diversis materiis predicabilibus, compiled in the mid-thirteenth 
century by the French Dominican inquisitor, Stephen of Bourbon. A concatenation of more than 
three thousand exempla that remained unfinished at Stephen’s death, the Tractatus was the first 
systematic collection of exempla, arranged according to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. 

alphabetization. Lloyd W. Daly, Contributions to a History of Alphabetization in Antiquity and the 
Middle Ages, Collection Latomus, vol. 90 (Brussels: Latomus, 1967). 

262 Notes to Chapter 1 — The Latin Exemplum 

tables of contents. Tables of contents were closely related to subject indexes: on the evolution of 
both, see Richard H. Rouse and Mary A. Rouse, Preachers, Florilegia and Sermons: Studies on the 
Manipulus florum of Thomas of Ireland, Studies and Texts, vol. 47 (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of 
Mediaeval Studies, 1979), 11-23. 

Franciscanism. Jean-Claude Schmitt, “Recueils franciscains d’exempla et perfectionnement des 
techniques intellectuelles du XIIIe au XVe siécle,” Bibliothéque de l’Ecole des Chartes 135 (1977): 

gestures at reenactment. Tudor, “Preaching, Storytelling,” 152. 

preachers from any order. In closing, I will disclose a frustrating riddle. For this tale, the anonymous 
author of the Table of Exempla was claimed by its nineteenth-century editor to have drawn upon 
Stephen of Bourbon: see Welter, La Tabula exemplorum, xxxii (see xxix—xxx for explanation of the 
abbreviations). From his own tally of exempla in the manuscript at the Bibliotheque nationale 
de France (MS lat. 15970), Welter assigned the number 1649 to this exemplum as it appears in 
Stephen’s Tractatus de diversis materiis predicabilibus. But the exemplum has not been printed 
in the Tractatus volumes that have appeared to date in Corpus Christianorum Continuatio 
Mediaevalis 124-125B (ed. Jacques Berlioz et Jean-Luc Eichenlaub [Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 
2002, 2006]), and Jacques Berlioz assures me that he has found nothing similar to the tale of the 
jongleur even in the as-yet unpublished portion of the Tractatus. 

The Latin Exemplum 

still unknown. Anonymous, “Chronique,” review of Hermann Wachter, Der Springer unserer 
lieben Frau, in Romania 29 (1900): 159. 

Joy. In Latin, Gaudium. The exemplum is classified in Frederic C. Tubach, Index Exemplorum: 
A Handbook of Medieval Religious Tales, Folklore Fellows Communications, vol. 204 (Helsinki: 
Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia / Academia scientiarum fennica, 1981), 219, no. 2780, “Jester, 
dancing during chants.” It is omitted from the tables in Les exempla médiévaux: Introduction a 
Ia recherche. Suivie des tables critiques de I’’Index exemplorum” de Frederic C. Tubach, ed. Jacques 
Berlioz and Marie Anne Polo de Beaulieu (Carcassonne, France: GARAE/Hesiode, 1992), 175-80. 

entertainer. In Latin, ioculator. 

he did not know his letters. This observation means not merely that the erstwhile jongleur was 
analphabetic and hence illiterate, but also that he was ignorant of Latin and Latin texts. 

as I know how. My transcription (and translation): “Quidam ioculator seculum relinquens 
intrauit religionem et cum uideret socios suos psallere, quia litteras ignorabat, cogitauit qualiter 
[Welter quomodo] posset cum aliis laudare Deum. Unde, aliis psallentibus, incepit bal[lJare 
[et] tripudiare et cum [Welter omits cum] inquisitus fuisse cur talia faceret, respondit: “Video 
unumquemque de suo [officio] seruire Deo, ideo de meo sicut scio uolo Deum festiuare.” See 
Catalogue of Romances in the Department of Manuscripts in the British Museum, 3 vols. (London: 
Printed by Order of the Trustees, 1883-1910), vols. 1-2, ed. H. L. D. Ward, and vol. 3, ed. J. A. 
Herbert, at 3: 417, which summarizes, on the basis of London, British Library, MS Additional 
18351, Liber exemplorum secundum ordinem alphabeti, chapter 49 (no. 28), “Gaudium.” The Latin 
is also quoted in Tabula exemplorum secundum ordinem alphabeti, no. 87, in Welter, La Tabula 
exemplorum, 27-28, and later in Morawski, “Mélanges de littérature pieuse. I,” 456-57. 

Notes to Chapter 1 — The Life of the Fathers 263 

American folklorist. Thomas Frederick Crane, “Mediaeval Story-Books,” Modern Philology 9 
(1911): 225-37, at 231. On Crane’s career, see Jack Zipes, “Introduction, Thomas F. Crane: The 
Uncanny Career of a Folklorist,” in Thomas Frederick Crane, Italian Popular Tales (Santa Barbara, 
CA: ABC-CLIO, 2001), ix—xxiii. 

the compilers. On miracle collecting in England during this period, see Rachel Koopmans, 
Wonderful to Relate: Miracle Stories and Miracle Collecting in High Medieval England (Philadelphia: 
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011), 4, 112-38. 

minstrel manuscript. The most widespread original term was the French manuscrits de jongleurs, 
qualified as volumes a l’usage des jongleurs. The corresponding German is Jongleurhandschriften. 

The Song of Roland. Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Digby 23, known as the Oxford Roland. 
dictation. Andrew Taylor, “The Myth of the Minstrel Manuscript,” Speculum 66 (1991): 43-73. 

tapped by friars. McGuire, “Cistercians and the Rise of the Exemplum.” For more recent 
investigations, see Victoria Smirnova et al., eds., The Art of Cistercian Persuasion in the Middle 
Ages and Beyond: Caesarius of Heisterbach’s “Dialogue on Miracles” and Its Reception, Studies in 
Medieval and Reformation Traditions, vol. 196 (Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2015), 161-210. 

earlier friars and Cistercians. Schmitt, “Recueils franciscains d’exempla,” 11. 

The Life of the Fathers 

More than any other literary genre. Michel Stanesco, “Le bruit de la source: Les contes chrétiens et 
la resonance d’éternité,” in Translatio litterarum ad penates / Das Mittelalter Ubersetzen: Ergebnisse 
der Tagung von Mai 2004 an der Université de Lausanne / Traduire le Moyen Age. Actes du colloque 
de l'Université de Lausanne (mai 2004), ed. Alain Corbellari and Catherine Drittenbass (Lausanne, 
Switzerland: Centre de traduction littéraire, 2005), 331-44, at 333. 

drawn from a respected work. Vloberg, La légende dorée, 234. 
both miracles and pious tales. Allen, De l’hermite et del jougleour, 11-12. 

overlap substantially. Adrian P. Tudor, “Telling the Same Tale? Gautier de Coinci’s Miracles de 
Nostre Dame and the First Vie des Péres,” in Krause and Stones, Gautier de Coinci, 301-30, at 304-7. 

Latin collection. The collection is often associated with the name Heribert Rosweyde, whose 
printing of it was reprinted in PL 73-74. The predictable nominative form of this title would be 
Vitae patrum, but it is commonly known by the Vulgar Latin form Vitas patrum, which has the 
same meaning, but with the first word in a different morphological state—the accusative plural 
of the first-declension Latin noun vita, “life,” instead of the nominative plural. 

useful tales. Respectively, the Greek duyyyoets WuXwePEdcic (often with the words in reverse 
order), the Latin narrationes animae utiles. For an index of these tales, see John Wortley, “A 
Repertoire of Byzantine ‘Beneficial Tales,” For a 
concise discussion of the genre, see John Wortley, “Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell in 
Byzantine ‘Beneficial Tales,”” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 55 (2001): 53-69, at 53-54. 

Iate fourth century. In the Greek History of the Monks in Egypt. The customary title is the Latin 
Historia monachorum in Aegypto. 

264 Notes to Chapter 1 — The Life of the Fathers 

chronological spectrum. A kind of midway point would be the Pratum spirituale (Spiritual 
Meadow) by the Byzantine monk and ascetic John Moschus, whose edifying stories include 
some in which the Virgin plays a decisive role, and others in which holy fools are the central 
figures. See Henry Chadwick, “John Moschus and His Friend Sophronius the Sophist,” Journal 
of Theological Studies n.s. 25 (1974): 41-74, at 65-66, 71-72. 

centuries afterward. In the Greek East the genre reached its terminus in the eleventh century, in 
the massive dossier known as the Synagoge (Assembly) by Paul Euergetinos. 

Rule of Saint Benedict. The Rule of Saint Benedict, ed. and trans. Bruce L. Venarde, Dumbarton 
Oaks Medieval Library, vol. 6 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011), 144—45 (chap. 

desert fathers. Terryl N. Kinder, Cistercian Europe: Architecture of Contemplation, Cistercian Studies 
Series, vol. 191 (Grand Rapids, MI: W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002), 135. 

versions. For example, an anonymous Anglo-Norman version in verse was dedicated to the 
Templar Henri d’Arci. Later, Wauchier de Denain and an anonymus of Champagne wrote 
versions in prose. 

Life of the Fathers. In French, Vie des Peres. 

agglomeration. It comprehends seventy-four pious tales, for a total of more than thirty thousand 
octosyllabic verses. For a short introduction to the collection and the unjust disregard it has 
suffered, see Adrian P. Tudor, “The One That Got Away’: The Case of the Old French Vie des 
Peres,” French Studies Bulletin 16.55 (1995): 11-15. 

related Latin compositions. Such as the Verba seniorum (Words of the elders). 

laymen may overshadow monks. I see the poem as taking a stand more robustly in favor of the 
laity than Jean Charles Payen considers typical for miracles and exempla: see his Le motif du 
repentir dans Ia littérature francaise medieval, Publications romanes et francaises, vol. 98 (Geneva: 
Droz, 1967), 556. 

1220s or thereabouts. Another date mentioned is 1241. 

lay brothers. Paul Bretel, Les ermites et les moines dans la littérature francaise du Moyen Age (1150- 
1250), Nouvelle bibliotheque du Moyen Age, vol. 32 (Paris: Honoré Champion, 1995), 56. 

reflex of the legend. The claim to have Vie des Péres as source is common to at least five thirteenth- 
century French poems, only one of which in fact has an established relationship with a tale in 
the collection: see Allen, De l’hermite et del jougleour, 11. Allen’s detailed arguments to support 
his view that the three poems he discusses had the same author have not been assessed over the 
past eighty years, so far as I can judge. On Vie des Péres, the classic study remains, much more 
than a century later, Edouard Schwan, “La Vie des Anciens Peres,” Romania 13 (1884): 233-63. 
For the most recent research (especially the forty-one tales of the first series, from around the 
1220s), see Adrian P. Tudor, Tales of Vice and Virtue: The First Old French “Vie des Peres,” Faux titre, 
vol. 253 (Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2005). On its authorship, see Adrian P. Tudor, 
“Past and Present: The Voice of an Anonymous Medieval Author,” Mediaevalia 24 (2003): 19-44. 

Notes to Chapter 1 — True Story: Why the Story Succeeded 265 

short titles. Gaston Paris gave them their names in a note to Schwan, “La Vie des anciens péres,” 

the story. Lines 11884-12231, in Lecoy, La Vie des Peres, 2: 60-72. The episode is recapitulated and 
analyzed by Tudor, Tales of Vice and Virtue, 226-27, 229-36. Pinto-Mathieu, La Vie des Péres, 831, 
no. 26, notes that Stephen of Bourbon offers a distant parallel: see Albert Lecoy de la Marche, 
Anecdotes historiques, légendes et apologues, tirés du recueil inédit d’Etienne de Bourbon, dominicain du 
XIlle siécle (Paris: Librairie Renouard, H. Loones, successeur, 1877), 448-49. 

spurious source. I compiled a list of parallels before becoming aware of Tudor, Tales of Vice and 
Virtue, 236, who comments simply upon “an interesting analogy to be drawn with the Tumbeor 
Nostre Dame.” 

feet up to his head. Lines 234-36. 

Miserere. Verses 2743-3116. For a glossed edition of this episode, see Claudio Galderisi, Diegesis: 
Etudes sur la poétique des motifs narratifs au Moyen Age, de la Vie des Peres aux lettres modernes 
(Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2005), 181-94. 

a miracle in Gautier de Coinci. 1 Miracle 18, “De un provoir qui toz jors chanoit Salve, la messe de 
Nostre Dame.” See Tudor, “Telling the Same Tale?,” 307. 

Rule of Saint Benedict. Venarde, Rule of Saint Benedict, 150-51 (chap. 44.1-8). 

self-depiction. Called Historia Anglorum (History of the English), produced at the Benedictine 
abbey of Saint Albans between 1250 and 1259 by Matthew of Paris, who was a monk there. 

framed drawing. London, British Library, MS Royal 14. C. VII, fol. 6. 

redemption through humility. On conversion as a theme in Vie des Péres, see Michel Zink, Poésie et 
conversion au Moyen Age (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 2003), 203-50. 

True Story: Why the Story Succeeded 

less attractive to us. A twentieth-century scholar who devoted much of his career to the study of 
twelfth- and thirteenth-century Latin arts of poetry came out forthrightly in hypothesizing that 
the best Old French poems would have been devalued if they had been put into the high-brow 
rhetoric that scholastic practices favored. He faulted pedants who would not leave well enough 
alone, and who would ruin vernacular French texts by embellishing them, dilating them, and 
making them static. Charles Sears Baldwin, “Cicero on Parnassus,” Publications of the Modern 
Language Association 42 (1927): 106-12, at 112: “These pedagogues would have recommended 
embellishing the eloquence of Aucassin and Nicolete at the expense of the story, dilating the 
Tumbeor de Notre Dame, and making the Chatelaine de Vergi static.” 

sermons. Beverly Mayne Kienzle, ed., The Sermon, Typologie des sources du Moyen Age 
occidental, vols. 81-83 (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2000). 

the application of exempla. Jean-Claude Schmitt, Précher d’exemples: Récits de prédicateurs du Moyen 
Age (Paris: Stock, 1985). 

266 Notes to Chapter 1 — True Story: Why the Story Succeeded 

collecting and employing exempla. Stefano Mula, “Twelfth- and Thirteenth-Century Cistercian 
Exempla Collections: Role, Diffusion, and Evolution,” History Compass 8.8 (2010): 903-12. 

rivalry. Jacques Berlioz and Marie Anne Polo de Beaulieu, “The Preacher Facing a Reluctant 
Audience according to the Testimony of Exempla,” Medieval Sermon Studies 57.1 (2013): 16-28, 
at 26-28. 

familiar with each other's techniques and practices. Maria Dobozy, Re-Membering the Present: The 
Medieval German Poet-Minstrel in Cultural Context, Disputatio, vol. 6 (Turnhout, Belgium: 
Brepols, 2005), 120-42. 

William of Malmesbury. William of Malmesbury, The Deeds of the Bishops of England (Gesta 
Pontificum Anglorum), trans. David Preest (Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 2002), 227-28; idem, De 
gestis pontificum Anglorum, ed. N. E.S. A. Hamilton (London: Great Britain Public Record Office, 
1870), 336: “Denique commemorat Elfredus, carmen triviale, quod adhuc vulgo cantitatur, 
Aldelmum fecisse; aditiens causam qua probet rationabiliter tantum virum his qua videantur 
frivola institisse. Populum eo tempore semibarbarum, parum divinis sermonibus intentum, 
statim, cantatis missis, domos cursitare solitum. Ideo sanctum virum, super pontem qui rura 
et urbem cantinuat, abeuntibus se opposuisse obicem, quasi artem cantitandi professum. 
Eo plusquam semel facto, plebis favorem et concursum emeritum. Hoc commento sensim 
inter ludicra verbis Scripturarum insertis, cives ad sanitatem reduxisse; qui si severe et cum 
excommunicatione agendum putasset, profecto profecisset nichil.” 

Ecclesiastic History of the English People. Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People (Historia 
ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum), ed. and trans. Bertram Colgrave and R. A. B. Mynors (Oxford: 
Clarendon Press, 1969), 414-21 (book 4, chap. 23 [22]). On the episode, see John D. Niles, 

“Bede’s Caedmon, ‘The Man Who Had No Story’ (Irish Tale-Type 2412B),” Folklore 117.2 (2006): 
141-55; Joaquin Martinez Pizarro, “Poetry as Rumination: The Model for Bede’s Caedmon,” 
Neophilologus 89.3 (2005): 469-72. 

Christian song in Old English. A nine-line Old English poem, conventionally entitled “Caedmon’s 
Hymn,” survives. For detailed information, see Cadmon’s Hymn: A Multimedia Study, Archive 
and Edition, ed. Daniel Paul O’Donnell, Series A, vol. 7 (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, in association 
with SEENET and the Medieval Academy, 2005). It may preserve the very lines recited by the 
herdsman to Abbess Hilda. 

a Latin letter written in 797. Epistolae Karolini aevi 2, ed. Ernst Dummler, Monumenta Germaniae 
Historica: Epistolae, vol. 4 (Berlin: Weidmann, 1895), 183 (no. 124): “Verba Dei legantur in 
sacerdotali convivio: ibi decet lectorem audiri, non citharistam, sermones patrum, non carmina 
gentilium. Quid Hinieldus cum Christo?” On this passage, see Donald A. Bullough, “What 
Has Ingeld To Do with Lindisfarne?” Anglo-Saxon England 22 (1993): 93-125, at 124 for the 
translation quoted here. Hinield (or Ingeld) is familiar from mentions in both the heroic epic 
Beowulf and another Old English poem that deals with Germanic heroes, Widsith. 

Notes to Chapter 2 — The Tumbler 267 

Notes to Chapter 2 
Now a God dances in me. Friedrich Nietzsche, Also Sprach Zarathustra (Part 1:7). 

discourses. This designation, one of the most ill-defined in current critical terminology, refers 
to the conceptual frameworks that underlie and surround social practices, customs, and 

The Tumbler 

Of the Tumbler of Our Lady. The titles in French are to be found in Wachter, “Der Springer unserer 
lieben Frau,” 223-24: “Del tumbeor nostre dame,” “C’est du tumeeur nostre dame,” “Le conte 
dou jugleur,” “D’un menestrer qui se rendi moynes a qui nostre dame fit grace,” and “D’un 
menestrel qui servoit nostre dame de son propre mestier.” 

tombeur. Within the poem itself, the Old French noun tumeor is employed once to mean “dancer,” 
while the verb tumer “to dance,” from which it derives, is used repeatedly. The two words (with 
and without “b”) are tumer and tumber/tomber. Despite having distinct etymologies, they were 
soon conflated and became transposable. Their crossed destinies are apparent in the equivalence 
of tombeor in the title and tumeor in the text. They are roughly synonymous with other verbs of 
heterogeneous etymology in Old French to which the poet resorts in describing rhythmic or 
artful movement: saillir, from Latin salire “leap, spring, jump”; baler, most immediately from 
Late Latin ballare “to dance,” but ultimately from Greek ballein “to throw”; espringuier, from Old 
Frankish springen “to spring”; treper, deriving from Germanic “trippén, related to Old English 
treppan “to tread, trample,” Middle Dutch trippen “to skip, hop,” and modern English “to 
trip.” The verb espringuier generated the noun espringeor, closely related in meaning to tombeor. 
On the lexicon relating to dance, see Fritz Aeppli, Die wichtigsten Ausdriicke fiir das Tanzen in 
den romanischen Sprachen, Beihefte zur Zeitschrift fiir romanische Philologie, vol. 75 (Halle, 
Germany: Max Niemeyer, 1925), with specific reference to Our Lady’s Tumbler at pp. 50, 68, 70. 

The medieval verb. It may be compared with the Old English tumbian, attested only twice, in 
both instances to describe the dance of Salomé in the New Testament episode recounted in 
the Gospel of Mark. See Eric Stanley, “Dance, Dancers and Dancing in Anglo-Saxon England,” 
Dance Research: The Journal of the Society for Dance Research 9.2 (Autumn 1991): 18-31, at 19, 25 (on 
the West Saxon and Kentish Gospels), 30n17. The verb may emphasize somehow the acrobatic 
nature of the dance. 

The relation between the Old French and the Old English forms remains murky, despite their 
suggestive similarity. On the French, see Walther von Wartburg, ed. Franzésisches etymologisches 
Worterbuch: Eine Darstellung des galloromanischen Sprachschatzes (Bonn, Germany: Schroeder, 
1922-2003), 13.2: 403-9, 17: 384-86. 

a tumbler or performer of tumbles. Emile Abry, Charles Audic, and Paul Crouzet, Histoire illustrée 
de Ia littérature francaise, précis méthodique (Paris: H. Didier, 1912), 33: “Un tombeur ou faiseur 
de tours.” 

Notre Dame. The last two words are now and again hyphenated, since purists in French 
have sometimes designated the Virgin Mary as Notre Dame, but called churches and other 
institutions dedicated in her honor Notre-Dame (such as the cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris). 
Despite the straightforwardness of the theory, practice has often been inconsistent. 

268 Notes to Chapter 2 — Notre Dame versus Saint Mary 

Notre Dame versus Saint Mary 

universal in the Romance languages. Paule Bétérous, “Quels noms pour Marie dans les collections 
romanes de miracles de la Vierge au XIIle siecle,” in La Vierge dans Ia tradition cistercienne: 
Communications présentées a la 54e session de la Société francaise d'études mariales, abbaye Notre-Dame 
d’Orval, 1998, ed. Bernard-Joseph Samain and Jean Longere (Paris: Médiaspaul, 1999), 175-92. 
For a paragraph on the most general context across languages, see Marina Warner, Alone of All 
Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1976), 153-54. 

her relation to Christ. The theology of Jesus’s nature and person is known as Christology. 
accepted her role. See Luke 1:38. 

siege of the Byzantine capital. The episode has been reinterpreted most radically by Bissera V. 
Pentcheva, “The Supernatural Protector of Constantinople: The Virgin and Her Icons in the 
Tradition of the Avar Siege,” Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 26.1 (2002): 1-41. 

to violate the Cathedral. Maurice Landrieux, The Cathedral of Reims: The Story of a German Crime, 
trans. Ernest E. Williams (London: Kegan Paul Trench, Trubner, 1920), 109-10 (with change of 
“outrage” to “violate” twice at the end). 

The Equivocal Status of Jongleurs 

Not all those who wander. “All That Is Gold Does Not Glitter,” a poem in J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord 
of the Rings, vol. 1, The Fellowship of the Ring, book 1, chap. 10; book 2, chap. 2. 

protean character. The best general source on the definition and classification of jongleurs 
remains Faral, Les jongleurs, 1-24, 66-86. 

wear many hats. Faral, Les jongleurs, 1. For a later exploration of the issue, see Tito Saffioti, I 
giullari in Italia: Lo spettacolo, il pubblico, i testi (Milan, Italy: Xenia Edizioni, 1990), 11-19. 

artists of the word. Juan Paredes Nunez, “El juglador contador de cuentos,” in La juglaresca: Actas 
del I Congreso Internacional sobre la juglaresca, ed. Manuel Criado de Val, Historia de la literatura 
hispanica desde sus fuentes, vol. 7 (Madrid: EDI-6, 1986), 115-21. 

buffoons, clowns, fools, and jesters. Heather Arden, Fools’ Plays: A Study of Satire in the Sottie 
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), 16-18. 

wandering minstrels. A standard monograph on medieval jongleurs remains Faral, Les jongleurs, 
which touches in passing on our story (p. 157n2) and on the diversity of performing skills 
among jongleurs (p. 1). Another discussion of jongleurs that refers to “The Tumbler of Our 
Lady” can be found in G. K. Chesterton, St. Francis of Assisi (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 
1923), 77-80 (chap. 5, “Le jongleur de Dieu”). 

discreditable places and activities. Decrees of the Fourth Lateran Council 16, in Decrees of the Ecumenical 
Councils, ed. and trans. Norman P. Tanner, 2 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University 
Press, 1990), 1: 243, 243*. As a decree of the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 held, “Clerics should 
not practice callings or business of a secular nature, especially those that are dishonourable. 
They should not watch mimes, entertainers and actors. Let them avoid taverns altogether, 

Notes to Chapter 2 — The Equivocal Status of Jongleurs 269 

unless by chance they are obliged by necessity on a journey. They should not play at games of 
chance or of dice, nor be present at such games.” 

climb on (the) bench!. Monta in banco! The noun can be correlated with the French saltimbanque or 
Italian saltimbanco, from the imperative “leap on (the) bench!” (salta in banco!). 

one of these compositions. The relevant snippet from the poem Fadet joglar is quoted and translated 
into French by Edmond Vander Straeten, La musique au Pays-Bas avant le XIXe siécle: Documents 
inédits et annotés, 8 vols. (Brussels: G.-A. van Trigt, 1867-1888), 4: 236-37. The standard editions 
of the passage are Wilhelm Keller, “Das Sirventes Fadet joglar des Guiraut von Calanso: Versuch 
eines kritischen Textes,” Romanische Forschungen 22 (1905): 99-238, at 144-47, and Francois 
Pirot, Recherches sur les connaissances littéraires des troubadours occitans et catalans des XIle et XIIIe 
siécles: Les “sirventes—ensenhamens” de Guerau de Cabrera, Guiraut de Calanson et Bertrand de 
Paris, Memorias de la Real Academia de Buenas Letras de Barcelona, vol. 14 (Barcelona: Real 
Academia de Buenas Letras, 1972). 

etymology of jongleur. The Old Occitan (or Provengal) is joglar, Old French jogleor and joculer, 
modern French jongleur, Spanish juglar, Galician jogral, Italian giullare and gioculare, Old English 
géogelere, jugelere, and jogler, Old High German gougalari, Middle Dutch gokelaer. The German 
word Spielmann, meaning literally “game-man,” was calqued on the Latin and its derivatives 
in Romance languages. 

The English word “joke”. Oxford Latin Dictionary, ed. P. G. W. Glare, 2 vols., 2nd ed. (Oxford: 
Oxford University Press, 2012), 1: 1059. 

contaminated. For the catchy assertion that “jongleur is the scion of a haplologic cross-breeding 
with jangler,” see Raphael Levy, “The Etymology of Franco-Italian: Cubler,” Italica 29.1 (1952): 
49-52, at 49. 

jangler. In medieval orthography, janglere or jangleeur. Alan Hindley et al., Old French-English 
Dictionary (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 375 (for “jangleor”). On the 
presumed interference, see Oscar Bloch and Walther von Wartburg, Dictionnaire étymologique de 
Ia langue francaise, 5th ed. (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1968), 351: “jongleur.” Joglerre 
is the subjective or nominative case and jogleor is the objective or oblique case in Old French. 
For concise information on the development of the word, see Bloch and Wartburg, Dictionnaire 
étymologique, 351. For a more searching examination, see Raleigh Morgan Jr., “Old French 
jogleor and Kindred Terms: Studies in Mediaeval Romance Lexicology,” Romance Philology 7 
(1953-1954): 279-325. 

verbal, musical, and physical skills. The Medieval Latin ioculator meant, both broadly and loosely, 
entertainer; musician, minstrel, actor, mime, buffoon, conjurer, jester, juggler”: see Dictionary of 
Medieval Latin from British Sources, ed. R. E. Latham, 17 vols. (London: Published for the British 
Academy by Oxford University Press, 1975-2013), 1503. 


sprawling Medieval Latin nomenclature. To give a modest selection, other terms were (to offer in 
alphabetical order a lexical smorgasbord) fabulator, goliardus, histrio, mimus, ministrellus, saltator, 
and scurra. In Old French, corresponding words are jogleor and menestrel (later modified into 
menestrier, with a suffix that aligns it advantageously with the names of other professions), in 
Middle High German spilman. 

270 Notes to Chapter 2 — The Equivocal Status of Jongleurs 

eventually displaced them. The comparable jacks-of-all-trades histrio, mimus, and scurra lost much 
ground in the medieval period to the benefit of the jongleur and minstrel. 

sometimes conflated. On differentiating between jongleur and minstrel in French, see Silvere 
Menegaldo, Le jongleur dans Ia littérature narrative des XIléme et XIléme siécles: Du personnage au 
masque, Nouvelle bibliotheque du Moyen Age, vol. 74 (Paris: Honoré Champion, 2005), 15-17, 

minor court official. Bretel, Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame, 114-15, 123; John Southworth, The English 
Medieval Minstrel (Woodbridge, UK and Wolfeboro, NH: Boydell, 1989), 3. 

ministerium. Latin ministerialis, from minister (attendant or servant), Old French menestrel or 
menestrier, Modern French ménétrier. Bloch and Wartburg, Dictionnaire étymologique, 402, 
indicate that the word minstrel acquired pejorative associations in the Middle Ages as a result 
of having been applied to poets and musicians, that it dropped out of use before the sixteenth 
century, and that it was revived in the nineteenth. 

minstrel. Old French menestrel. 

jongleurs and trouveres. For a critical analysis of the distinction, see Giuseppe Noto, II giullare e 
il trovatore nelle liriche e nelle biografie provenzali, Scrittura e scrittori, vol. 13 (Alessandria, Italy: 
Edizioni dell’Orso, 1998). For a description in English that was particularly influential in 
America of the 1950s and 1960s, see Will Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization, vol. 
4 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1950), 1054-55. 

language of southern France. This language is Old Occitan, persistently still called Provencal, to 
the frustration of those who explain that the language was not confined to the geographical 
extent of present-day Provence. 

rightly challenged. L. M. Wright, “Misconceptions concerning the Troubadours, Trouveéres and 
Minstrels,” Music & Letters 48 (1967): 35-39. More recently, see Joseph Harris and Karl Reichl, 

“Performance and Performers,” in Medieval Oral Literature, ed. Karl Reichl (Berlin: De Gruyter, 
2016), 141-202, at 180-81. 

abandoned the rootless itinerancy. Eventually they became associated with music. For another 
perspective, see Constance Bullock-Davies, Menestrelorum multitudo: Minstrels at a Royal Feast 
(Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1978). 

poem of supplication. Declaratio, lines 168-91. See Valeria Bertolucci Pizzorusso, “La Supplica di 
Guiraut Riquier e la risposta di Alfonso X di Castiglia,” Studi mediolatini e volgari 14 (1966): 
9-135; Joseph Linskill, Les epitres de Guiraut Riquier, troubadour du XIIe siecle, Association 
internationale d’études occitanes, vol. 1 (London: AIEO, 1985), 167-245, at 225-26, with notes 
on 235-37, 243. For broad context, see Miriam Cabreé, Cerveri de Girona and His Poetic Traditions, 
Coleccién Tamesis, Serie A, Monografias, vol. 169 (London: Tamesis, 1999), 55-59, and, in 
Catalan, Cerveri de Girona: Un trobador al servei de Pere el Gran, Blaquerna, vol. 7 (Barcelona: 
Publicacions i edicions de la Universitat de Barcelona, 2011), 88-91. 

instrumentalists, imitators, troubadours. He writes joglars, remendadors, segriers, and cazuros. 

jongleurs. For jongleurs, he writes joglars. 

Notes to Chapter 2 — The Equivocal Status of Jongleurs 271 

existed at the fringes. John W. Baldwin, Masters, Princes, and Merchants: The Social Views of Peter 
the Chanter and His Circle, 2 vols. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1970), 1: 198-204. 

characters in fiction. On such fictions, see Menegaldo, Le jongleur dans Ia littérature narrative. 

devotion to the Virgin. For examination of the jongleur in connection with this issue, see Viviane 
Cunha, “O topos do jogral no acervo mariano medieval,” Revista do CESP 31.45 (January-June 
2011): 167-87. 

Thomas of Chobham. The toponymical element in his name is known alternately as Chabham, 
Cobham, and Cabham. On his life, see Joseph Goering, “Chobham, Thomas of (d. 1233x6),” 
in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), s.n.; online 
edition, May 2005, 

vade mecum of practical theology. On the influence of his treatise, see Helen F. Rubel, “Chabham’s 
Penitential and Its Influence in the Thirteenth Century,” Publications of the Modern Language 
Association of America 40 (1925): 225-39. 

three classes of performers. Thomas of Chobham, Summa confessorum, ed. F. Broomfield, Analecta 
mediaevalia Namurcensia, vol. 25 (Leuven, Belgium: Nauwelaerts, 1968), 291-92 (6.4 [Distinctio 
4, De officiis penitentium”] Questio 2a [“De histrionibus”]): “When prostitutes and performers 
come to confession, penance must not be given to them unless they abandon such practices 
altogether, because otherwise they cannot be saved... . Butit is to be observed that there are three 
sorts of performers. For some distort and transfigure their bodies through indecent acrobatics 
or coarse gestures, or by laying bare their bodies indecently, or by putting on frightful costumes 
or masks, and all are worthy of damnation unless they abandon their trades. There are also 
other performers who work not at all but curiously meddle (2 Thessalonians 3:11), not having 
a fixed abode, but they gad about the courts of grandees and speak slander and vileness about 
those who are not present. Such people are worthy of damnation, because the Apostle forbids 

‘with such a one to eat’ (1 Corinthians 5:11). And such people are called vagabond men-about- 
town, inasmuch as they are useful for nothing but devouring and slandering. There is also a 
third type of performers who have musical instruments to delight people, but there are two 
types of them. For some frequent public drinking fests and lusty gatherings to sing lusty songs 
there, to stir men to lust, and such people are worthy of damnation just as the others are. But 
there are also others who are called jongleurs who sing chansons de geste and lives of the saints 
and bring solace to men either in sickness or distress and do not engage in undue crudeness as 
do male and female acrobats and others who play in unseemly masks and cause themselves to 
seem as if they are apparitions through enchantments or in some other way. If however they 
do not engage in such conduct but sing to the accompaniment of their instruments chansons 
de geste and other useful topics to bring solace to men as has been said, such performers can 
well be tolerated, as Pope Alexander [III] said when a certain jongleur asked of him whether he 
could save his soul while in his profession. The pontiff asked him if he knew how to earn his 
living in another manner. Upon receiving a negative reply from the jongleur, he allowed him to 
live from his trade, so long as he abstained from all lustiness and scandalousness.” 

Discussed by Faral, Les jongleurs, 67n1; Jacques Le Goff, “Meétiers licites et métiers illicites 
dans l’occident médiéval,” in idem, Pour un autre Moyen Age (Paris: Gallimard, 1977), 89-126, 
at 101; Jacques Le Goff, Time, Work, and Culture in the Middle Ages, trans. Arthur Goldhammer 
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), 65. Both Thomas of Chobham and Peter the 
Chanter, Summa de sacramentis et animae consiliis (summa on the Sacraments and Counsels of the 

272 Notes to Chapter 2 — The Equivocal Status of Jongleurs 

Soul, from ca. 1191 or 92-1197), ed. Dugauquier, 3 (2a): 177, are examined by John W. Baldwin, 
“The Image of the Jongleur in Northern France around 1200,” Speculum 72 (1997): 635-63, at 644. 

physical comedy or burlesque. Summa confessorum, 6.4.2a, ed. Broomfield, 291: “Quidam enim 
transformant et transfigurant corpora sua per turpes saltus vel per turpes gestus, vel denudando 
corpora turpiter, vel induendo horribiles loricas vel larvas, et omnes tales damnabiles sunt nisi 
reliquerint officia sua” (“Certain ones transform and transfigure their bodies through shameful 
jumps or gestures, or in shamefully stripping naked or donning frightful masks; and all such 
ones deserve damnation, if they do not abandon their practices”). Quoted in Faral, Les jongleurs, 

lustfulness and turpitude. In his criticism, Thomas followed Peter the Chanter, who is conjectured 
to have been his teacher. See Peter, Summa de sacramentis et animae consiliis, ed. Jean-Albert 
Dugauquier, 5 vols. in 3, Analecta mediaevalia namurcensia 4, 7, 11, 16, 21 (Leuven, Belgium: 
Nauwelaerts, 1954-1967), part 3, 2a: 177 (§ 211, lines 140-41): “Quidam enim cum ludibrio 
et turpitudine sui corporis acquirunt necessaria, et deformant ymaginem Dei” (“For certain 
ones obtain the necessities with mockery and debasement of their body, and they disfigure the 
image of God”). 

excepts from condemnation. Summa confessorum, 6.4.2a, ed. Broomfield, 292: “Sunt autem alii qui 
dicuntur ioculatores qui cantant gestas principium [sic] et vitas sanctorum et faciunt solatia 
hominibus vel in egritudinibus suis vel in angustiis suis et non faciunt nimias turpitudines sicut 
faciunt saltatores et saltatrices et alii qui ludunt in imaginibus inhonestis et faciunt videri quasi 
quedam phantasmata per incantationes vel alio modo.” By gestas principium is presumably 
meant chansons de geste. Quoted in Faral, Les jongleurs, 67n1. For a study of such interdictions, 
see Carla Casagrande and Silvana Vecchio, “L’interdizione del giullare nel vocabolario clericale 
del XII e del XIII secolo,” in II Teatro medievale, ed. Johann Drumbl (Bologna, Italy: Il Mulino, 
1989), 317-68. 

Romance of Flamenca. The Romance of Flamenca: A Provencal Poem of the Thirteenth Century, ed. 
Mario E. Porter, trans. Merton Jeome Hubert (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1962), 
58-59 (lines 612-17): “While one with mannequins contrives / Good sport, another juggles 
knives. / One tumbles, while another leaps / And somersaults, yet nimbly keeps / His feet. Some 
dive through hoops. Each man / Performs his stunt as best he can.” 

we are told explicitly. Verses 25-28. 

Debate poems. The standard reference remains Théodor Batiouchkof, “Le débat de l’ame et du 
corps,” Romania 20 (1891): 1-55, 513-78. Batiouchkof’s categorization of the genre has been 
disputed by Michel-André Bossy, “Medieval Debates of Body and Soul,” Comparative Literature 
(1976): 144-63. 

Canticles of Saint Mary. Cantigas de Santa Maria. 

Daurel and Beton. Paul Meyer, ed., Daurel et Beton: Chanson de geste provencale, Société des anciens 
textes francais (Paris: Firmin Didot, 1880), 41 (section 32, lines 1208-10); Janet Shirley, trans., 
Daurel and Beton: A Twelfth-Century Adventure Story (Felinfach, UK: Llanerch, 1997), 58: “Next 
he took his harp and played two lays, then entertained them on the viol, and gave a display 
of leaping and tumbling (‘Sauta e tomba’).” Compare Arthur S. Kimmel, ed., A Critical Edition 
of the Old Provencal Epic Daurel et Beton, University of North Carolina Studies in the Romance 
Languages and Literatures, vol. 10 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1971). 

Notes to Chapter 2 — The Equivocal Status of Jongleurs 273 

instead gives him a boot camp. Meyer, Daurel et Beton, 48; trans. Shirley, section 37, lines 1419- 
21: “At seven years old Beton could play the viol well, also the citole, and was a fine harpist.” 
This discrepancy between the two passages was remarked upon by Glunnis M. Cropp, “The 
Disguise of ‘Jongleur,” Journal of the Australasian Universities Language and Literature Association 
65.1 (1986): 36-47. 

thirteenth-century poem. See Kurt Lewent, “Old Provengal Saig ‘Hangman’ and Two Poems 
on Jongleurs by Cerveri de Girona,” Modern Language Quarterly 7 (1946): 411-44, at 421 
(interpretation), 434-36 (text and translation of Sirventes, incipit “Juglar, prec vos, ans que 
mortz vos aucia”; here, stanza 5, lines 25-30), and 442-44 (commentary): “I am blaming you, 
brethren, for no other reason than that I should like you to give up that false brotherhood and 
praise Saint Mary; for it is she that [sic] defends and watches and guides the world and all of us, 
and by singing songs in her praise one could exorcise the one who, without her, would easily 
lead us astray.” 

stabilitas loci. The phrase stabilitas loci is untapped in the Rule, but stabilitas and the corresponding 
adjective stabilis appear repeatedly: Venarde, Rule of Saint Benedict, 18-19 (chap. 1.11), 36-37 
(chap. 4.78), 186-89 (chap. 58.9, 17), 194-95 (chap. 60.9), 196-97 (chap. 61.5). 

pilgrim and pilgrimage. The Latin terms are peregrinus and peregrinatio. See Gerhart B. Ladner, 
“Homo Viator: Mediaeval Ideas on Alienation and Order,” Speculum 42 (1967): 233-59. 

gyrovague. On gyro- and vagus, see J. Kevin Newman, “Gyrovagues in Dante and St. Benedict,” 
American Benedictine Review 54 (2003): 414-19. 

vagrant. The Latin word is vagans. 

he could epitomize instability. Paul Zumthor, La lettre et la voix de la “littérature” médiévale (Paris: 
Editions du Seuil, 1987), 72: “Au coeur d’un monde stable, le ‘jongleur’ signifie une instabilité 
radicale; la fragilité de son insertion dans |’ordre féodal ou urbain ne lui laisse qu’une modalité 
d’intégration sociale: celle qui s’opére par le jeu.” In primary texts, see Pseudo-Hugh of Fouilloy, 
De bestiis et aliis rebus, in PL 177, 13-56 (book 1, chap. 45), at 46B: “Hujusmodi homines vix 
possunt stabiles” (“People of this sort can scarcely be stable”). 

He led a vagabond life. Lines 10-12. 

prone to recidivism. Pseudo-Hugh of Fouilloy, De bestiis et aliis rebus, 46D: “Sed et joculatores, 
ante conversionem leves, cum ad conversionem veniunt, saepius usi levitate, leviter recedunt” 
(“Jongleurs are frivolous people before they are converted. If they are ever made to repent, they 
often fall back into the easy-going life they are used to”). Both this and the preceding quotation 
from Pseudo-Hugh are cited by Wolfgang Kemp, The Narratives of Gothic Stained Glass, trans. 
Caroline Dobson Saltzwedel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 138. 

intermediaries. Martine Clouzot, “Un intermédiaire culturel au XIIle siecle: Le jongleur,” Bulletin 
du centre d'études médiévales d’Auxerre| BUCEMA Hors-série 2 (2008), 

body movements and gestures. The study of such expression is called kinesics. 

the real nature of the drill. Since the Cistercians have been connected with ring dancing, it would 
be tempting to speculate that the sequence followed a circular pattern. See Annette Kehnel 
and Mirjam Mencej, “Representing Eternity: Circular Movement in the Cloister, Round 
Dancing, Winding-Staircases and Dancing Angels,” in Self-Representation of Medieval Religious 

274 Notes to Chapter 2 — The Equivocal Status of Jongleurs 

Communities: The British Isles in Context, ed. Anne Miller and Karen Stéber, Vita regularis. 
Abhandlungen, vol. 40 (Berlin: Lit, 2009), 67-97. 

Chauny. For discussion passim, see Georges Lecocg, Histoire du théatre en Picardie depuis son origine 
jusqu’a la fin du XVIe siécle (Paris: H. Menu, 1880). The key evidence is Rabelais, Gargantua, 1.24, 
where the character Gargantua and his tutor “went to see the jugglers, conjurers, and sellers of 
quack remedies, and noted their antics, their tricks, their somersaults, and their smooth words, 
attending especially to those from Chauny in Picardy, for they are great babblers by nature, and 
fine reciters of stories on the subject of green monkeys.” Trans. J. M. Cohen (London: Penguin, 
1955), 93. 

systematic exposition. The text is Elucidarium (in English, “Elucidator”). It is so called because 

“St elucidates the obscurity of various things.” For the text, see Honorius Augustodunensis, 
Elucidarium, in PL 172, 1148CD (2.188): “[Discipulus: Habent spem joculatores? Magister:] 
Nullam: tota namque intentione sunt ministri Satanae, de his dicitur: deum non cognoverunt; 
ideo Deus sprevit eos, et Dominus subsannabit eos, quia derisores deridentur” (“None. For by 
their entire application they are the ministers of Satan, of whom it has been said: They knew not 
God; therefore God has despised them and God shall deride them”). At the close of the Master’s 
response, the most relevant biblical quotation is Psalms 2:4. 

lecher and ribald. Willem Noomen, Le jongleur par lui-méme: Choix de dits et de fabliaux, Ktemata, 
vol. 17 (Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, 2003), 5-6. The definitions of the two Old French words are 
from Hindley et al., Old French-English Dictionary, 390 (lecheor “debauchee, glutton, rake”), 533 
(ribaut “rogue, scoundrel”). 

relationship of the jongleurs with the clergy. Carla Casagrande and Silvana Vecchio, “Clercs et 
jongleurs dans la société médiévale,” Annales: Histoires, sciences sociales 34.5 (1979): 913-28. 

their standing shot up. Baldwin, “Image of the Jongleur”; Faral, Les jongleurs, 44-60; Christopher 
Page, The Owl and the Nightingale: Musical Life and Ideas in France (1100-1300) (Berkeley and Los 
Angeles: University of California Press, 1990), 19-33. 

property and wealth. On the spectrum, see Gretchen Peters, “Urban Minstrels in Late Medieval 
Southern France: Opportunities, Status and Professional Relationships,” Early Music History 
19 (2000): 201-35. On the marginality, see Wolfgang Hartung, Die Spielleute: Eine Randgruppe in 
der Gesellschaft des Mittelalters, Vierteljahrschrift fiir Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte: Beihefte, 
vol. 72 (Wiesbaden, Germany: Franz Steiner, 1982), with coverage at p. 13 of Our Lady’s Tumbler. 

professional buffoon. The last-mentioned character was attested as “clown” first in English after 
the Middle Ages in the mid-sixteenth century and only subsequently in French and other 
Western European languages. 

mime of Christ. Hermann Reich, Der Kénig mit der Dornenkrone (Leipzig, Germany: B. G. Teubner, 
1905), 31 (mimus Christi). 

imitation of Christ. In Latin, imitatio Christi. 

itinerant sermonizers. Kunstmann, Vierge et merveille, 31, translating a passage in the coda to one 
of Gautier de Coinci’s Miracles. 

Notes to Chapter 2 — Trance Dance 275 

anti-Catholic. A major flashpoint in discussion of such satire has been discussed in Tracey 
Sedinger, “And yet woll I stiell saye that I am I’: Jake Juggler, the Lord’s Supper, and Disguise,” 
English Literary History 74.1 (2007): 239-69; Beatrice Groves, ““One Man at One Time May Be in 
Two Placys’: Jack Juggler, Proverbial Wisdom, and Eucharistic Satire,” Medieval and Renaissance 
Drama in England 27 (2014): 40-57. Have no fear, fellow scholars: the quotation within the title 
is [sic]. 

the devil’s jugglers. Paul Whitfield White, Theatre and Reformation: Protestantism, Patronage, and 
Playing in Tudor England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 126 (“the divels 

Trance Dance 

he became a dancer to God. T. S. Eliot, “The Death of Saint Narcissus,” in idem, Poems Written in 
Early Youth (London: Faber & Faber, 1967), 34-35 (text), 42-43 (note). 

prayer books of many denominations. Here I transfer to Christianity observations made about 
Judaism by Lawrence A. Hoffman, Beyond the Text: A Holistic Approach to Liturgy (Bloomington: 
Indiana University Press, 1987), 71. 

Theodosius banned such pagan cults. In 393. 

disposed to condemn dancing. See Louis Gougaud, “Danse,” in Dictionnaire d’archéologie chrétienne 
et de liturgie (Paris: Letouzey, 1920), 4.1: 248-58; E. Louis Backman, Religious Dances in the 
Christian Church and in Popular Medicine, trans. E. Classen (London: Allen & Unwin, 1952), 
154-61; Yvonne Rokseth, “Danses cléricales du XIIIe siécle,” in Melanges 1945, vol. 3: Etudes 
historiques, Publications de la Faculté des Lettres de Strasbourg (Paris: Société d’édition Les 
Belles Lettres, 1947), 93-126: Gianfranco D’Aronco, Storia della danza popolare e d’arte, con 
particolare riferimento all’Ttalia (Florence: L. S. Olschki, 1962), especially 113-37; J. G. Davies, 
Liturgical Dance: An Historical, Theological, and Practical Handbook (London: SCM Press, 1984), 
19-28; Jeannine Horowitz, “Les danses cléricales dans les églises au Moyen Age,” Le Moyen-Age 
95.2 (1989): 279-92. 

texts concerned with penance. Particularly penitentials, texts that listed sins and prescribed 
penances for them. 

extirpate dance. In general, see Alessandro Arcangeli, “Dance and Punishment,” Dance Research: 
The Journal of the Society for Dance Research 10.2 (1992): 30-42. On prohibitions, see Louis Gougaud, 

“La danse dans les églises,” Revue d’histoire ecclésiastique 15 (1914): 5-22, 229-45; Horowitz, “Les 
danses cléricales,” 279; Stith Thompson, Motif-Index of Folk-Literature: A Classification of Narrative 
Elements in Folktales, Ballads, Myths, Fables, Mediaeval Romances, Exempla, Fabliaux, Jest-Books, and 
Local Legends, 6 vols., 2nd ed. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1955-1958), C 51.1.5 

“Tabu: Dancing in Churchyard.” With specific regard to the medieval French poem, see Jessica 
Van Oort, “The Minstrel Dances in Good Company: Del tumbeor nostre dame,” Dance Chronicle 
34 (2011): 239-75. 

even priests engage in ritual dances. Davies, Liturgical Dance, 36-57. 

276 Notes to Chapter 2 — Trance Dance 

ecstasy. Erika Bourguignon, “Trance Dance,” in International Encyclopedia of Dance, ed. Selma 
Jeanne Cohen et al., 6 vols. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 6: 184-88; Barbara 
Ehrenreich, Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy (New York: Metropolitan Books, 
Henry Holt, 2006), 5-6. 

Dionysus. Dionysus was equivalent to the Roman Bacchus. The followers of Dionysus included 
bacchantes and maenads. 

penitential pain. France, Separate but Equal, 182-84. 

with gritted teeth. Bretel, Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame, 37-38, 41, 145, emphasizes the body as a 
means of redemption, and as a cause of exaltation and exultation. Sobczyk, Les jongleurs de Dieu, 
126-28, rejects this emphasis. Along similar lines, see also Gaucher, “Le ‘jeu’ de la pénitence,” 

flagellantism. On flagellants, see Backman, Religious Dances, 161-70. 

mass hysteria. Known variously as choreomania, danseomania, or dancing mania, plague, or 
rage; epidemic dancing; Saint Vitus’s or Saint John’s dance; or Tarantism. 

solo act of an individual. On the choreography of medieval solo dance, see Walter Salmen, “Zur 
Choreographie von Solotaénzen in Spielen des Mittelalters,” in Mein ganzer Kérper ist Gesicht: 
Groteske Darstellungen in der europdischen Kunst und Literatur des Mittelalters, ed. Katrin Kroll and 
Hugo Steger, Rombach Wissenschaft: Reihe Litterae, vol. 26 (Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany: 
Rombach, 1994), 343-55. On the iconography, see Gabriele Busch-Salmen, Ikonographische 
Studien zum Solotanz im Mittelalter, Innsbrucker Beitrage zur Musikwissenschaft, vol. 7 
(Innsbruck, Austria: Musikverlag Helbling, 1982), esp. 16, on Our Lady’s Tumbler. 

dances himself into oblivion. The motif of an individual who dances to death is found in Hans 
Christian Andersen’s “The Red Shoes” (made into a strong underlying element in a 1948 film), 
but there the compulsion is diabolic: a woman is cursed to dance by the red shoes she dons. 

aligns. The story resembles time as it operated in the Middle Ages, as an intersection of the 
iterative and the one-time, the diurnal round and the special, the immovable and the movable 

dancing mania. J. F. C. Hecker, The Dancing Mania of the Middle Ages, trans. B. G. Babington, Burt 
Franklin Research and Source Works Series, vol. 540 / Selected Essays in History, Economics, 
and Social Science, vol. 169 (New York: Burt Franklin, 1970), 1. 

Giselle, or The Wilis. Giselle, ou Les Wilis, two acts with music by Adolphe Adam, choreography 
by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, first performed in Paris in 1841. The libretto by Jules-Henri 
Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Théophile Gautier rested upon a legend recounted by the German 
poet Heinrich Heine. The Wilis are themselves drawn from Slavic tradition. 

The Wilis. In Slavic and especially South Slavic mythology that is attested already in medieval 
sources, the vily are beautiful nymphlike spirits who have the power of flight. Associated with 
the mountains and waters, they overlap with the female water spirits known as rusalki, who 
amused themselves on land sometimes and who tickled to death or drowned their victims. 

Notes to Chapter 2 — Jongleurs of God 277 

Shakers. They are known more fully as the Shaking Quakers. 

sang and danced. Edward Deming Andrews, The Gift to Be Simple: Songs, Dances and Rituals of the 
American Shakers (New York: J. J. Augustin, 1940); Robert P. Emlen, “The Shaker Dance Prints,” 
Imprint: Journal of the American Historical Print Collectors Society 17.2 (Autumn 1992): 14-26. 

praise dance. See Karen Clemente, “Dance as Sacred Expression,” Journal of Dance Education 8.2 
(2008): 37-38; Avis Hatcher-Puzzo, “Popular to Proficient: Cultivating a Contextual Appreciation 
of Dance on a Rural Historically Black College Campus,” Journal of Dance Education 14.2 (2014): 

dervishes. Ahmet T. Karamustafa, God’s Unruly Friends: Dervish Groups in the Islamic Later Middle 
Period, 1200-1550 (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1994), 20, 73, 74. 

collective delusions. Hecker, Dancing Mania of the Middle Ages, 2. 

Jongleurs of God 
captured the theologians’ attention. Kemp, Narratives of Gothic Stained Glass, 137. 

murmurs of approval. Compare Faral, Les jongleurs, 25-43, 44-60; Helen Waddell, The Wandering 
Scholars (London: Constable, 1927), Appendix E, “Councils relating to the ‘clericus vagus’ or 

‘joculator”; and J. D. A. Ogilvy, ““Mimi, scurrae, histriones’: Entertainers of the Early Middle 
Ages,” Speculum 38 (1963): 603-19. 

God's jesters. John Saward, Perfect Fools: Folly for Christ’s Sake in Catholic and Orthodox Spirituality 
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980), 58-79 (“God's Jesters: The Cistercians”). 

ditties and suave melodies. Apologia Berengarii Pictavensis contra Sanctum Bernardum Claraevallensem 
abbatem et alios qui condemnaverunt Petrum Abaelardum, in Rodney M. Thomson, “The Satirical 
Works of Berengar of Poitiers: An Edition with Introduction,” Mediaeval Studies 42 (1980): 
89-138, at 111: “quem audiuimus a primis fere adulescentiae rudimentis cantiunculas mimicas 
et urbanos modulos fictitasse.” 

acrobat of God. Saltator domini: see Jean Leclercq, “Le theme de la jonglerie chez S. Bernard et ses 
contemporains,” Revue d’histoire de la spiritualité 48 (1972): 385-400; Jean Leclercq, “Le theme 
de la jonglerie dans les relations entre saint Bernard, Abélard et Pierre le Vénérable,” in Pierre 
Abélard—Pierre le Vénérable: Les courants philosophiques, littéraires et artistiques en Occident au 
milieu du XIle siecle. Abbaye de Cluny, 2 au 9 juillet 1972, ed. René Louis et al., Actes et mémoires 
des colloques internationaux du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, vol. 546 (Paris: 
Editions du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1975), 671-84; Zink, Poésie et conversion, 

letter dated around 1140. Letter 87, ad Ogerium §12, in Bernard of Clairvaux, Opera, ed. J. Leclerq 
et al., 8 vols. in 9 (Rome: Editiones Cistercienses, 1957-1977), 7: 224-31, at 231, lines 111-18 (= PL 
182, 217): “Nam revera quid aliud saecularibus quam ludere videmur, cum, quod ipsi appetunt 
in hoc saeculo, nos per contrarium fugimus, et quod ipsi fugiunt, nos appetimus, more scilicet 
ioculatorum et saltatorum, qui, capite misso deorsum pedibusque sursum erectis, praeter 

278 Notes to Chapter 2 — Jongleurs of God 

humanum usum stant manibus vel incedunt, et sic in se omnium oculos defigunt. Non est hic 
ludus puerilis, non est de theatro, qui femineis foedisque anfractibus provocet libidinem, actus 
sordidos repraesentet, sed est ludus iucundus, honestus, gravis, spectabilis, qui caelestium 
spectatorum delectare possit aspectus” (“For in fact what else do we seem to worldly people 
to do than to play, when what they desire in this world, we on the contrary flee, and what they 
flee we strive for, like jongleurs and tumblers, who contrary to human usage stand or proceed 
on their hands with head downward and feet raised upward, and thus rivet upon themselves 
everyone’s eyes. This is not a childlike game, not from the stage, to elicit lust with shameful, 
womanly contortions and to represent vile activities. On the contrary, it is a joyful game, decent, 
serious, and admirable, which can delight the sight of heavenly onlookers”). The letter was 
addressed to a canon regular named Ogier of Mont Saint-Eloi (and unrelated to his fellow 
Cistercian Ogier of Locedio). For another translation, see Letter 90, “To Oger, a Canon Regular,” 
in Bruno Scott James, trans., The Letters of St Bernard of Clairvaux (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian 
Publications, 1998), 129-35, at 135. The passage has been quoted often, notably by Jean Leclercq, 

“Yoculator et saltator’: Saint Bernard et l'image du jongleur dans les manuscrits,” in Translatio 
studii: Manuscript and Library Studies Honoring Oliver L. Kapsner, ed. J. G. Plante (Collegeville, 
MN: St. John’s University Press, 1973), 124-48; Meyer Schapiro, Romanesque Art (New York: 
George Braziller, 1977), 9; Camille, Image on the Edge, 59. 

attested first in English. Earliest use at least according to the citations in the Oxford English 

hopping and dancing of tumblers. “Hoppynge & daunceynge of tumblers and herlotis, and ober 

sacred play. The Latin word ludus that is employed here could encompass an immense ambit. If 
a book can be considered a passage, the locus classicus is Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens: A Study 
of the Play-Element in Culture (London: Routledge and K. Paul, 1949). 

jongleurs of God and of the holy angels. Caesarius, Dialogus miraculorum, ed. Joseph Strange, 2 vols. 
(Cologne: J. M. Heberle, 1851), 1: 360 (distinctio 6, capitulum 8); for an English translation of 
which, see The Dialogue on Miracles, trans. H. Von Essen Scott and C. C. Swinton Bland, 2 vols. 
(London: G. Routledge, 1929), 1: 414, with the word jester(s) changed to jongleur(s): “Simplex 
quandoque mimo vel ioculatori comparatur. Sicut illorum [illius] verba vel opera in eius [libri 
eorum] ore vel manibus, qui ioculator non est, saepe displicent, et poena digna [digni] sunt 
apud homines; quae tamen ab eis dicta vel facta, placent: ita est de simplicibus. Ut sic dicam, 
ioculatores Dei sunt sanctorumque angelorum simplices. Quorum opera, si hi qui simplices non 
sunt, quandoque facerent, haud dubium quin Deum offenderent, qui in eis, dum per simplices 
fiunt, delectatur” (“The simple man is often compared to an actor or jongleur, for as their words 
or actions would often be displeasing in the mouth or hands of one who is not a jongleur, and 
would be worthy of punishment, yet when the same things are said or done by jongleurs they 
give pleasure; and so it is with the simple-minded. If I may put it in such a way, the simple- 
minded are the jongleurs of God and the holy angels. But if their deeds are sometimes done 
by those who are not simple-minded there is no doubt that they are displeasing to God who 
delights in them when they are done by the simple”). 

humility, ordinariness, and inexperience. Chrysogonus Waddell, “Simplicity and Ordinariness: 
The Climate of Early Cistercian Hagiography,” in Simplicity and Ordinariness, ed. John R. 
Sommerfeldt, Studies in Medieval Cistercian History, vol. 4 (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian 
Publications, 1980), 1-47, at 8-9. 

Notes to Chapter 2 — Jongleurs of God 279 

minstrels of the Lord. Ioculatores domini is not documented before its use in Legenda Perusina of 
1320-1312. On the expression, see Raoul S. Manselli, Francesco d’Assisi (Rome: Bulzoni, 1980), 
145-53. The degree to which the phrase has become associated with Francis may be gauged from 
its use in titles. For example, the most famous film about the saint is undoubtedly “Francesco, 
giullare di Dio” (1950, known in English as “The Flowers of Saint Francis,” “Francis, God’s 
Fool,” and “Francis, God's Jester”), directed by Roberto Rossellini, screenplay by Federico 
Fellini (1920-1993). At least two books flaunt the phrase in their titles: André Séailles, Francois 
d’Assise ou le jongleur de Dieu (Brussels: Desclée De Brouwer, 1971) and Henri Queffélec, Francois 
d’Assise: Le Jongleur de Dieu (Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1982). G. K. Chesterton’s fifth chapter is 
entitled “Le Jongleur de Dieu” in his St. Francis of Assisi. 


Brother Juniper. Fra Ginepro, in Italian. On him, see Aviad Kleinberg, Flesh Made Word: Saints 
Stories and the Western Imagination, trans. Jane Marie Todd (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of 
Harvard University Press, 2008), 225-38. 

defied social norms. Described repeatedly in Fioretti di san Francesco (Little flowers of Saint 
Francis) and Vita di frate Ginepro (Life of Brother Juniper): see La Vita di frate Ginepro (testo latino 
e volgarizzamento), ed. Giorgio Petrocchi, Scelta di curiosita letterarie inedite 0 rare dal secolo 
XII al XIX, vol. 256 (Bologna, Italy: Commissione per i testi di lingua, 1960). 

two classes of artists. Berceo uses the terms trovador and joglar. For his guise as joglar of Saint 
Dominic, see Vida de Santo Domingo de Silos (The Life of Saint Dominic of Silos), book 2, stanza 
289: “Querémosvos un otro libriello comengar, / e de los sus milagros algunos renungar, / los 
que Dios en su vida quiso por él mostrar, / cuyos joglares somos, él nos dene guiar” (“We want 
to begin another little book, / and make known to you some of his miracles, / those God willed 
to show through him while he lived; / may He whose minstrels we are deign to guide us”): 
compare book 3, 759. The translation can be found in The Collected Works of Gonzalo de Berceo in 
English Translation, trans. Jeannie K. Bartha et al., Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 
vol. 327 (Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2008), 259, 314. 

sermon collections. Sermon on All Saints’ Day (incipit “Laudate Dominum in sanctis eius”), Paris, 
Bibliotheque nationale de France, MS lat. 13953, folio 145r: “Ioculatores, id est confessores qui 
Dominum et sanctos mouent ad risum et leticiam optimis uerbis et factis suis, quorum unus 
legit in ecclesia, alter cantat, alter romanizat, id est ‘enromiante’ id est exponendo latinum in 
romano laicis scilicet predicando” (“Jongleurs, these are confessors who occasion laughter 
and joy from God and the saints by the excellence of their words and actions. One does the 
reading at church, another sings, another speaks in vernacular, which is to say that what is in 
Latin, he sets forth in vernacular for the laity in his preaching”). Quoted and cited by Nicole 
Bériou, “Introduction,” in Prédication et liturgie au Moyen Age: Etudes réunies, ed. idem and 
Franco Morenzoni, Bibliotheque d’histoire culturelle du Moyen Age, vol. 5 (Turnhout, Belgium: 
Brepols, 2008), 7-22, at 13n24. 

Blessed John Buoni. From Romagna, he is also known as Johannes Bonus, Giovanni Bono, 
Giambono, Zanibono, and Zannebono. His feast day falls on October 23: see Acta Sanctorum, 
October, “Dies 22,” 9: 698-99. For a more approachable account, see “October,” ed. Peter Doyle, 
in Butler’s Lives of the Saints, ed. David Hugh Farmer and Paul Burns, 12 vols. (Collegeville, MN: 
Liturgical Press, 1995-2000), 160-61. For the relevant texts and Italian translations, see Vita di 
Giovanni Bono, ed. Mario Mattei, Vite dei santi dell’Emilia Romagna, vol. 5 (Cesena, Italy: II 
ponte vecchio, 2004). 

280 Notes to Chapter 2 — Holy Fools 

Holy Fools 
fools for Christ's sake. Paul the Apostle, in 1 Corinthians 4:10. Compare 1:18, 23, 25. 

fool of God. On the fool of God, see Saward, Perfect Fools; Thomas Lederer, “Fools and Saints: 
Derision and Regenerative Laughter,” Comitatus 37 (2006): 111-45. 

fool for Christ. Alexander Y. Syrkin, “On the Behavior of the ‘Fool for Christ’s Sake,” History of 
Religions 22 (1982): 150-71 and Youval Rotman, Insanity and Sanctity in Byzantium: The Ambiguity 
of Religious Experience (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016). 

Symeon of Emesa. Symeon flourished sometime between the middle and end of the sixth century. 
Emesa is the modern-day Homs, in Syria. He is known from a brief account in the sixth-century 
Evagrius Scholasticus and a detailed one in the seventh-century Leontios of Neapolis. For the 
English of the latter, see Derek Krueger, Symeon the Holy Fool: Leontius’s Life and the Late Antique 
City, Transformation of the Classical Heritage, vol. 25 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University 
of California Press, 1996). Leontius was the first to use the phrase “fool for Christ.” For further 
information, see Vsevolod Rocheau, “Saint Siméon Salos: Ermite palestinien et prototype des 
‘Fous-pour-le-Christ,”” Proche-Orient chrétien 28 (1978): 209-19. 

Lausiac History. The Lausiac History was named after Lausus (or Lausos), who commissioned it. 
This eunuch became the imperial chamberlain at the court of Emperor Theodosius II (r. 408-450). 

(unintentional absurdism. E. Poulakou-Rebelakou et al., “Holy Fools: A Religious Phenomenon 
of Extreme Behaviour,” Journal of Religion and Health 53.1 (2014): 95-104. This article offers in 
condensed form comprehensive information on different traditions of holy fools. 

Saint Francis of Assisi. The Assisi Compilation (1244-1260) 18, in Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, 
ed. Regis J. Armstrong et al., 3 vols. (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 1999-2001), 2: 118-230, 
at 132-33, relates Francis’s claim at the chapter of Mats (dated often to 1221): “God has called 
me by the way of simplicity and showed me the way of simplicity... . He wanted me to be 
a new fool in the world.” Francis’s status as a fool of God has become deeply entrenched in 
modern biographies of him, cf. Chesterton, St. Francis of Assisi, 106: “It was a solid objective fact, 
like the stones in the road, that he had made a fool of himself. And as he stared at the word 

‘fool’ written in luminous letters before him, the word itself began to shine and change”; 107-8: 

“When Francis came forth from his cave of vision, he was wearing the same word ‘fool’ as a 
feather in his cap; as a crest or even a crown. He would go on being a fool; he would become 
more and more of a fool; he would be the court fool of the King of Paradise.” 

fools to the world. Literally, the Latin mundi moriones means “fools of the world.” Erasmus, “The 
Rich Beggars” (“Ptokhoplousioi”), in Opera omnia (Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing 
Company, 1969-<2017>), Ordo 1, 3 “Colloquia” (ed. L.-E. Halkin, F. Bierlaire, and R. Hoven 
[1972]), 389-402, at 397. 

individuals whose holiness goes undetected. Lennart Rydén, “The Holy Fool,” in The Byzantine Saint: 
University of Birmingham, 14th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, ed. Sergei Hackel, Studies 
Supplement to Sobornost, vol. 5 (San Bernardino, CA: Borgo, 1983), 106-13; Derek Krueger, 
“Tales of Holy Fools,” in Religions of Late Antiquity in Practice, ed. Richard Valantasis (Princeton, 

Notes to Chapter 2 — Holy Fools 281 

NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000), 177-86; Bernard Flusin, “Le serviteur caché ou le saint 
sans existence,” in Les vies des saints a Byzance: Genre littéraire ou biographie historique. Actes du 
Ile colloque international “Hermeneia,” Paris, 6-7-8 juin 2002, ed. Paolo Odorico and Panagiotis 
A. Agapitos, Dossiers byzantins, vol. 4 (Paris: Centre d’études byzantines, néo-helléniques et 
sud-est européennes, E.H.S.S., 2004), 59-71. 

Scetis. Modern-day Wadi al-Natrun, then a monastic center, in the desert of the northwestern 
Nile Delta. 

Mark the Fool. In Greek oxAdc (transliterated salos or salds), with the accent on the final syllable. 

pretends to be demented. The story, entitled De Marco salo (On [...] Mark), is no. 3 in “Vie et 
récits de l’Abbé Daniel de Scété,” ed. Léon Clugnet, Revue de l’orient chrétien 5 (1900): 49-73, 
370-91, at 60-62; no. 2 in Saint Daniel of Sketis: A Group of Hagiographic Texts, ed. and trans. Britt 
Dahlman, Studia Byzantina Upsaliensia, vol. 10 (Uppsala, Sweden: Uppsala University, 2007); 
trans. Krueger, “Tales of Holy Fools.” The story has been classified as no. 2255 in Bibliotheca 
Hagiographica Graeca, ed. Francois Halkin, 3rd ed., Subsidia Hagiographica, vol. 8a (Brussels: 
Société des Bollandistes, 1957), and as no. 2099z (compare nos. 2254-55) in Novum auctarium 
Bibliothecae Hagiographicae Graecae, ed. idem, Subsidia Hagiographica, vol. 65 (Brussels: Société 
des Bollandistes, 1984), which correspond to Wortley, “Repertoire,” W468. Transliterated by a 
purist with fidelity to best practice, Scetis would be Skéetis. 

Another example. The story, entitled De virgine quae ebrietatem simulabat, is no. 7 in Clugnet, “Vie 
et récits,” 69-70. The same tale has been subsumed in Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca, no. 2101, 
and Wortley, “Repertoire,” W461. See also Sergei Arkad’evich Ivanov, “From ‘Secret Servants 
of God’ to ‘Fools for Christ’s Sake’ in Byzantine Hagiography,” in The Holy Fool in Byzantium 
and Russia, ed. Ingunn Lunde (Bergen, Norway: [Universitetet i Bergen, Russisk institutt], 1995), 
5-17, at 10-11; idem, Holy Fools in Byzantium and Beyond, trans. Simon Franklin (Oxford: Oxford 
University Press, 2006). 

other tales in the genre. Ivanov, “From ‘Secret Servants of God,” 188-89. 

Maximos. [Kausokalybites (“of the burning hut”)] of Mount Athos, whose biography is recorded 
in four saints’ lives: see Halkin, Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca, nos. 1236z, 1237, 1237c, 1237f. 
Two of these are included in Holy Men of Mount Athos, ed. Richard P. H. Greenfield and Alice- 
Mary Talbot, Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library, vol. 40 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University 
Press, 2016), 369-439 (by Niphon), 441-567 (by Theophanes). 

church of Saint Mary of Blachernae. As its name predisposes us to believe, this great church was 
associated with the Virgin. It was located in the northwestern section of Constantinople, in the 
suburb known as Blachernae. 

holy fools. The key Russian term is iurodivyi. 

stock characters. Ewa M. Thompson, Understanding Russia: The Holy Fool in Russian Culture 
(Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1987). 

Fool. Tale 10, in Fou, dixiéme conte de la Vie des péres: Conte pieux du XIIle siécle, ed. Jacques 
Chaurand, Publications romanes et frangaises, vol. 117 (Geneva: Droz, 1971). 

282 Notes to Chapter 2 — Holy Fools 

Gautier de Coinci wrote a miracle. Gautier de Coinci, Les miracles de Notre Dame, ed. V. Frédéric 
Koenig, 4 vols., Textes littéraires francais, vols. 64, 95, 131, 165 (Geneve: Droz, 1955-), 3: 74-106 
(book 1, miracle 37 [D. 39: “D’un escommené”]; Le miracle d’un excommunié, trans. Annette 
Llinarés Garnier, Traductions des classiques du Moyen Age, vol. 92 (Paris: Honoré Champion, 
2013). For analysis, see Huguette Legros, “Les fous de Dieu,” in “Sia parlé par moult ruiste vertu”: 
Mélanges de littérature médiévale offerts a Jean Subrenat, ed. Jean Dufournet, Colloques, congress 
et conferences sur le Moyen Age, vol. 1 (Paris: Honoré Champion, 2000), 339-53. She returns to 
the topic in her recent book, idem, La folie dans la littérature médiévale: Etude des représentations de 
Ia folie dans Ia littérature des XIIe, XIIIe et XIVe siécles (Rennes, France: Presses universitaires de 
Rennes, 2013). 

Gottfried Keller composed a poem. The original episode was recorded in the sixteenth-century 
family chronicle known as the Zimmern Chronicle (1519-1566). 

The Fool of Count von Zimmern. Gottfried Keller, “Der Narr des Grafen von Zimmern,” in Sémtliche 
Werke in sieben Biinden, ed. Thomas Boning and Gerhard Kaiser, 7 vols., Bibliothek deutscher 
Klassiker, vol. 3 (Frankfurt, Germany: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1985-1996), 1: 718-19. For 
interpretation, see Gerhard Kaiser, “Inkarnation und Altarsakrament: Ein nichtchristliches 
Gedicht tiber die Mese und was es Christliches sagt. Zu Gottfried Kellers ‘Der Narr des Grafen 
von Zimmern,” Zeitschrift fiir Theologie und Kirche 94 (1997): 253-62. 

large lidded flagon. The cup is known as a ciborium. For the source, see Zimmerische Chronik, ed. 
Karl August Barack, 4 vols. (Tiibingen, Germany: Litterarische Verein in Stuttgart, 1869), 2: 585 
(in 1528): the fool is identified as Michele, serving Count Johannes Werner von Zimmern. 

The Holy Jester Francis. Lu santo jullare Francesco, ed. Franca Rame (Turin, Italy: Einaudi, 1999), 
33-37 (Italian and dialect, in facing-page format). 

immersed himself. Antonio Scuderi, “Dario Fo and Oral Tradition: Creating a Thematic Context,” 
Oral Tradition 15 (2000): 26-38. 

holy jester. Antonio Scuderi, “Unmasking the Holy Jester Dario Fo,” Theatre Journal 55.2 (2003): 

jonglery. The Italian for jongleur is giullare, for jonglery is giullarata. The most obvious evidence 
would be pieces such as Dario Fo, La giullarata con Concetta Pina e Cicciu Busacca (Verona, Italy: 
Bertani, 1975), and Mistero buffo: Giullarata popolare (Turin, Italy: Einaudi, 2003). See Scuderi, 

“Unmasking.” On Fo as a medievalizer, see Louise D’Arcens, “Dario Fo’s Mistero Buffo and the 
Left-Modernist Reclamation of Medieval Popular Culture,” in Medieval Afterlives in Popular 
Culture, ed. Gail Ashton and Daniel T. Kline (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), 57-70; 
idem, Comic Medievalism: Laughing at the Middle Ages, Medievalism, vol. 4 (Cambridge: D. S. 
Brewer, 2014), 68-87. 

arrogated or effaced. The framework he assumes derives from Antonio Gramsci and Mikhail 
Bakhtin, among others, and it posits subaltern masses of lower classes, which are oppressed 
by hegemonic elites. 

the most successful and significant. Conrad Greenia, “The Laybrother Vocation in the Eleventh 
and Twelfth Centuries,” Cistercian Studies 16 (1981): 38-45, at 43. 

Notes to Chapter 2 — Fact or Fiction? 283 

Fact or Fiction? 
Truth is stranger than fiction. Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897), chap. 15. 
The City of God. De civitate Dei. 
On Superstition. De superstitione. 

performs daily. “A leading pantomime actor of great experience, grown old and decrepit, used 
to put on his act every day on the Capitol, as if the gods still took pleasure in his performance 
now that human beings had abandoned him.” For a translation of the passage, see Augustine, 
Concerning the City of God against the Pagans, trans. Henry Bettenson (Harmondsworth, UK: 
Penguin Books, 1972), 250. 
The parallel to De civitate Dei 6.10 was first drawn in Francesco Novati, “L’archimimus di 
Seneca ed il tombeor Nostre Dame,” Romania 25 (1896): 591, and later reexamined by G. SamSalovié, 
“Del tumbeor Nostre Dame,” Ziva antika / Antiquité vivante 10 (1960): 320. In the retelling of the 
Old French by the latter, the jongleur dies at the end of performing and supplicating. A monk 
witnesses the death and brings the abbot, who explains that the dancer's activity pleased God 
more than any other. 

the show must go on. A similar impulse may explain another historical anecdote. In 211, a mime 
play is interrupted when the alarm is sounded of an approaching enemy. The crowd first rushes 
to arms and later returns to the performance, where the spectators find that in their absence 
the mime has continued dancing to the accompaniment of a flute player. See Sextus Pompeius 
Festus, De verborum significatione, ed. W. M. Lindsay, in Glossaria latina, 5 vols. (Paris: Société 
anonyme d’Edition “Les Belles lettres,” 1926-1931), 4: 93-506, at 419 (item 436), “Salva res <est; 
saltat> senex,” discussed by Paul Veyne, Le pain et le cirque: Sociologie historique d’un pluralisme 
politique (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1976), 392, 499-500 (n58). 

cases from western Christendom. The odds are good that if we wished to track down instances 
from other traditions, they could be found readily. For Muslim examples, see Fritz Meier, Abii 
Sa‘td-i Abii l-Hayr (357-440/967-1049): Wirklichkeit und Legende, Acta Iranica, vol. 11 (Leiden, 
Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1976), 256-59. 

Dancers are the athletes of God. This saying is often identified, without any source, as a quotation 
from Albert Einstein. 

sixteenth-century friar. Known as Pascual Bailo6n in Spanish, often called “The Saint of the 
Eucharist,” he is sometimes designated simply by a diminutive of his first name, Pascualito. 
His feast day is May 17. For concise and reliable biographical information, see Niccolo Del 
Re, “Pasquale Baylén,” in Bibliotheca sanctorum, 13 vols. (Rome: Istituto Giovanni XXIII nella 
Pontificia Universita lateranense, 1961-1970), 10: 358-63. His life story was written by his 
fellow Franciscan and superior, Father Juan Ximenez. See Juan Ximenez (Jiménez), Chronica 
del B. Fray Pasqual Baylon (Valencia, Spain: Iuan Crysostomo Gariz, 1601). The abbreviated 
Latin translation of the original Spanish vita by Father Ximenez can be found in Acta Sanctorum 
(May 4, 1866): 48-132; the episode to follow is at p. 53A, section 17. For uncritical biographies 
(all three of them often reprinted), see Louis-Antoine de Porrentruy, The Saint of the Eucharist: 
Saint Paschal Baylon, Patron of Eucharistic Associations, trans. Oswald Staniforth (London: R. & 
T. Washbourne, 1908); Autbert Groeteken, Paschalis Baylon: Heiligenbild aus Spaniens goldenem 
Jahrhundert (Cincinnati, OH: Verlag des “Sendbote,” 1912); Innocenzo Russo, Vita di s. Pasquale 
Baylon francescano (Naples, Italy: Federico & Ardia, 1931). 

284 Notes to Chapter 2 — Fact or Fiction? 

attachment to the Eucharist. This aspect is symbolized by the ostensory and the chalice. 

King of the Graveyard. In Spanish, San Pascualito, also known as San Pascualito Muerte (Saint 
Paschal Death) and El Rey San Pascual (King Saint Paschal). As the “King of the Graveyard,” 
Paschal is represented as a skeleton with a crown, cape, or both. 

known for dancing. Ivan Innerst, Saints for Today: Reflections on Lesser Saints (San Francisco: 
Ignatius, 2000), 18. On the conventional iconography, see Maria Chiara Celletti, in Bibliotheca 
sanctorum, 10: 363-64. 

blessed the saint. “El pastor de Torrehermosa,” section 68, “La danza de los gitanos,” in San 
Pascual: Boletin informativo de las obras del templo 17.168 (July-August 1965). The episode is 
recounted in Ximenez, Chronica. 

broke into a jubilant jig. The caption reads: “Then, full of joy, he sang and danced like a 
madman....” The voice bubble exclaims, in reference to the Eucharist with the veneration of 
which Paschal became celebrated: “Let all mortals eat fruit by which they will live, which is 
God underneath the bread.” 

Baylon. The name has been construed as having in its first syllable a stem that derives from the 
Spanish verb bailar “to dance.” Its second syllable is the augmentative —6n, with an affective 
meaning — expressing a liking. See Eric O’Brien, “Omer Englebert’s The Last of the Conquistadors, 
Junipero Serra: A Critical Appraisal,” The Americas 13 (1956): 175-85, at 179. 

Obando. In the province of Bulacan, on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. 

church dedicated to him. The church is first documented in 1754 as being called Iglesia de San 
Pascual Baylon del Pueblo de Ovando. 

Our Lady of Salambao, Our Lady of Salambao is an image of the Virgin (now in the church of San 
Paschal) that was reportedly found by two brothers inside their fishing net (salambao) in 1793. 

the dancing saint. Both traits may be investigated by searching for Pascual Baylon and “the 
dancing saint.” This association seems to be endemic in the Philippines. 

a second jongleur de Notre-Dame. Butler’s Lives of the Saints, ed. Herbert J. Thurston and Donald 
Attwater, 4 vols. (Westminster, MD: Christian Classics, 1981), 2: 335. 

Saint John Bosco. In Italian, Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco. 

say the rosary and attend Mass. John Bosco, Memoirs of the Oratory of Saint Francis de Sales from 1815 
to 1855: The Autobiography of Saint John Bosco, trans. Daniel Lyons, with notes and commentary 
by Eugenio Ceria et al. (New Rochelle, NY: Don Bosco Publications, 1989), chap. 3 (“The Young 
Acrobat”), 27-29, 29-31 (notes). An Italian biography by Eugenio Pilla is entitled II piccolo 
giocoliere, 4th ed., Fiori di cielo, vol. 38 (Bari, Italy: Paoline, 1967). 

lay brothers. The lay brothers are known as coadjutors. 

dance as a spiritual medium. Ruth St. Denis, An Unfinished Life: An Autobiography (New York: 
Harper & Brothers, 1939), 57: “But without any question I was at that time a kind of dancing 
ritualist. The intensities of my spiritual life had found a focus of action in exactly the same 
way that another earnest young person would enter the church.” She has become indelibly 
associated with dance as an expression of religion. For example, an account of her life story 

Notes to Chapter 2 — Fact or Fiction? 285 

by Suzanne Shelton is entitled Divine Dancer: A Biography of Ruth St. Denis (Garden City, NY: 
Doubleday, 1981); a book by Janet Lynn Roseman that studies her art is called Dance Was Her 
Religion: The Sacred Choreography of Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis and Martha Graham (Prescott, 
AZ: Hohm Press, 2004); and a documentary on her (a Mentor-St. Ives production, produced 
by Edmund Penney and Gertrude Marks, directed by Edmund Penney, written by Edmund 
Penney and Charles Curran) bears the title The Dancing Prophet (Derry, NH: Chip Taylor 
Communications, 1999). 

founded a Society of Spiritual Arts. Jane Sherman and Christena Schlundt, “Who’s St. Denis? What 
Is She?,” Dance Chronicle 10.3 (1987): 305-29, at 318. 

made a specialty of dances on Christian themes. Suzanne Shelton, “St. Denis, Ruth,” in Cohen et 
al., International Encyclopedia of Dance, 5: 490-98, at 497; Shelton, Divine Dancer, 241-43 (on a 
possible connection through Norman Bel Geddes with Max Reinhardt’s The Miracle); Sandra 
Meinzenbach, “Tanz ist eine Sprache und eine Schrift des Géttlichen”: Kunst und Leben der Ruth St. 
Denis, Beitrage zur Tanzkultur, vol. 8 (Wilhelmshaven, Germany: Florian Noetzel, 2013), 200-5. 

The dancer was introduced. The introduction came after an organ prelude and Gospel readings. 

the incarnation of femininity and creative love. St. Denis, Unfinished Life, 365: “The White Madonna 
is the total being of woman, passive, waiting, hidden behind the heavy veil of time. She is the 
being of creative love.” For interpretation, see Kimerer L. La Mothe, “Passionate Madonna: The 
Christian Turn of American Dancer Ruth St. Denis,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 
66.4 (1998): 747-69. 

Madonnas were the passion of her last years. Shelton, Divine Dancer, 268. Quoted by La Mothe, 
“Passionate Madonna,” 748. 

One Sunday in 1935. February 25, 1935. 

religious dance. A rhythmic interpretation of the Psalms, it was entitled When I Meditate on Thee in 
the Night-Watches. Soignée in a white, black, and red outfit, she proceeded through motions that 
she stated symbolized “the gradual ascent of man’s soul from the moment he acknowledges his 
need of spiritual light to the final radiation.” See “Ruth St. Denis Dances before Church Altar” 
(Associated Press), The Stamford Daily 87.5, February 25, 1935. 

Manhattan church. The church was Central Presbyterian, which had been constructed in Gothic 
revival style between 1920 and 1922 at the corner of 64th Street and Park Avenue, on the Upper 
East Side. 

scorching controversy. Rachel K. McDowell, “Dance by Ruth St. Denis in Church Stirs Up a 
Presbyterian Row: Denominational Leader Presses for Disciplinary Action against Those 
Responsible for Her Appearance at Service in Park Avenue Chancel,” The New York Times, 
February 28, 1935, 21. 

huffing and puffing. In “Dancing Before the Lord,” The Morning Oregonian, February 26, 1935, 8, 
a journalist opined against the rush to condemn: “An ingrained and lingering puritanism, not 
yet completely exorcised by our liberal and irreverent times, induces us to look askance on the 
dance as an aid to religion.” 

one writer. “Dancing Before the Lord,” The Morning Oregonian, February 26, 1935, 8. On the 
puritanical reaction to the dance, see Shelton, Divine Dancer, 244. 

286 Notes to Chapter 2 — Fact or Fiction? 

Mireille Negre. Her story can be read most fully in Mireille Negre, with Mireille Taub, Une 
vie entre ciel et terre (Paris: Balland, 1990). Accounts can be found also in Jean-Roger Bourrec, 
Mireille Négre, “alliance” (Paris: Desclée De Brouwer, 1984); Mireille Negre and Michel Cool, Je 
danserai pour toi (Paris: Desclée De Brouwer, 1984); Mireille Negre, Danser sur les étoiles (Paris: 
Balland, 1993). 

achieved ever greater success. Eventually she danced in the corps de ballet, and ultimately she 
became the first dancer. 

Carmelites. Known in full as the Order of the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, this 
religious society owe its name to having been founded on Mount Carmel in the Holy Lands 
during the Crusades. Since the thirteenth century its members have been recognized within the 
Church as having a distinctively Marian devotion, under the Virgin’s special protection in her 
capacity as the Mother of God or God-Bearer. See Christopher O’Donnell, “Maria nel Carmelo,” 
in Dizionario carmelitano, ed. Emanuele Boaga and Luigi Borriello (Rome: Citta Nuova, 2008), 

holidays associated with Mary. James Boyce, “Maria nella liturgia carmelitana,” in Boaga and 
Borriello, Dizionario carmelitano, 546-49. 

many a long tale. My translation of Pierce the Ploughman’s Crede, lines 48-49, in John Scattergood, 
“Pierce the Ploughman’s Crede: Lollardy and Texts,” in Lollardy and the Gentry in the Later Middle 

Ages, ed. Margaret Aston and Colin Richmond (Stroud, UK: Sutton, 1997), 77-94, at 87: “Thei 

maketh hem Maries men (so thei men tellen), / and lieth on our Ladie many a longe tale.” 

striking a balletic pose. The pose in question was an arabesque, in which the dancer balances on 
one leg with the other unbent at the knee and extended back. 

the passion for dance. Her narrative of the time is replete with pronouncements of devotion to 
both God and dance. Negre, Une vie, 119: “I kept alive over a long period the secret of dance, 
and if I had to sign in my own hand a love letter to God, my words would be: ‘Your dancer, 
forever.’... God would speak to me of dance: ‘Our God is lord of the dance, he whose spirit 
hovers over the waters.” Negre’s devotion to dance as a devotional outlet calls to mind a much 
earlier female mystic, Mechthild of Magdeburg, who made dance a metaphor in her appeals 
to God, with the most striking concision in a poem that has been entitled “I Cannot Dance”: “T 
cannot dance, Lord, unless you lead me. / If you want me to leap with abandon, / You must 
intone the song. / Then I shall leap into love, / From love into knowledge, / From knowledge 
into enjoyment, / And from enjoyment beyond all human sensations. / There I want to remain, 
yet want also to circle higher still.” Mechthild of Magdeburg, Das flieSende Licht der Gottheit, ed. 
Hans Neumann, 2 vols., Miinchener Texte und Untersuchungen zur deutschen Literatur des 
Mittelalters, vols. 100, 101 (Munich, Germany: Artemis Verlag, 1990), 1: 28-29 (book 1, section 
44); The Flowing Light of the Godhead, trans. Frank Tobin, Classics of Western Spirituality, vol. 92 
(New York: Paulist Press, 1998), 59. 

IT will dance for you, Lord. Negre, Une vie, 84: “Je danserai pour Toi, Seigneur, tant que je dure.” 
exasperated at not being able to pray for God. Negre, Une vie, 114-15. 

painful sacrifices. Negre, Une vie, 148: “I had renounced dance, made an abstraction of my body, 
tolerated the worst sufferings that a dancer could know: in the name of God, I had accepted 

Notes to Chapter 2 — Fact or Fiction? 287 

protracted tribulations. Negre, Une vie, 85. 
Order of the Visitation. It was founded in 1610. 

dedication to Him of her body as a dancer. Negre, Une vie, 159, 179: “Dance always has a purpose; 
mine is to offer myself to Him.” 

God was the lord of the dance. Neégre, Une vie, 167. 

consecrated as a sister. Negre, Une vie, 123 (the chapter is entitled “A virgin, consecrated to 
dance”), 177. 

choreographed the words of the liturgy. Negre, Une vie, 133 (cf. 147). 

ballet in linguistic terms. Negre, Une vie, 184: “Classical dance is a wonderful tool for expressing 
Christian spirituality, for making of one’s body a language for understanding and dialogue... . 
Dance is also a school of tolerance, since its language is universal and can be understood by 
everyone, whatever their creed or origins.” 

jongleur on the facade of Notre-Dame. Neégre, Une vie, 98. It is hard to know which sculpture Neégre 
has in mind. 

transcendence of mere art. It should come as no wonder that the cataract of publications by Negre 
includes a coauthored volume on the relationship between art and life. See Mireille Negre and 
Eric de Rus, L’art et la vie (Toulouse: Carmel, 2009). A recent book by her is a meditation upon 
the Gospels entitled Dance with Jesus. See Mireille Negre, with Michel Cool, Danse avec Jésus: 
Mireille Négre médite et illustre l’Evangile (Paris: Salvator, 2014). 

I dance for God. Her convictions regarding dance are summarized simply but nicely in a French 
weekly for children, Fripounet 52, December 28, 1983-January 4, 1984, 28-29. 

Nick Weber. Nick Weber, The Circus That Ran Away with a Jesuit Priest: Memoir of a Delible Character 
(Indianapolis, IN: Dog Ear Publishing, 2012). 

sacred comedy. M. Conrad Hyers, The Comic Vision and the Christian Faith: A Celebration of Life and 
Laughter (Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press, 1981). 

I Dance with God. Anna Nobili, with the assistance of Carolina Mercurio, Io ballo con Dio: La suora 
che prega danzando (Milan, Italy: Mondadori, 2013). 

Worker-Sisters of the Holy House of Nazareth. In Italian, Suore Operaie della Santa Casa di Nazareth. 

imbroglio. Nick Squires, “Lap Dancer Turned Nun Angers Pope,” The Telegraph, 26 May 2011, 

[f it is not true, it is well conceived. Proverbial at least since the sixteenth century, it is best put in 
Italian: Se non é vero, é ben trovato, and by authors as famous as Giordano Bruno, Gli eroici furori 
(book 2). For further information, see Michael Cole, “Se Non é Vero, é Ben Trovato,” Intellectual 
History Review 24.3 (2014): 429-39. 

288 Notes to Chapter 3 — The Order of Citeaux 

Notes to Chapter 3 

He who labors as he prays. “Qui orat laborat, cor levat ad Deum cum manibus,” in pseudo-Bernard 
of Clairvaux, Ad sororem de modo bene vivendi. 

The Order of Citeaux 

Vox clamantis in deserto. These words are drawn from the Vulgate Latin translation of the Gospel 
of Mark 1:1-3 and of the Gospel of John 1:22-23 in reference to John the Baptist, which in turn 
quotes Isaiah 40:3. 

remunerated in kind. Clothing and horses were frequent tokens of largesse from wealthy patrons. 
Poets mention them often as coveted perquisites. 

plenty of vilification. David Knowles, The Monastic Order in England (Cambridge: Cambridge 
University Press, 1940), 662-78; David Neil Bell, ed. and trans., “De grisis monachis: A Goliardic 
Invective against the Cistercians in London, B. L., Cotton Vespasian A.XIX,” Studia monastica: 
Commentarium ad rem monasticam investigandam 41 (1999): 243-59. The attackers included clerics 
such as Gerald of Wales and Walter Map. 

the founder. The founder was Abbot Robert of the Benedictine abbey of Molesmes in Burgundy, 
who was persuaded to undertake this innovation by two fellow monks, Alberic and Stephen 

cistern. The Latin place name Cistercium is related to the noun cistellum. The English word 
“cistern” belongs to the same family of words. 

paludal and fluvial. Kinder, Cistercian Europe, 81-88. There were obvious exceptions: we will 
encounter more than once a monk named Helinand of Froidmont. The place name means “cold 

Bernard loved the valleys. “Bernardus valles, colles [alternately, montes] Benedictus 
amabat, / Franciscus vicos [alt., “Moenia Franciscus” or “Franciscus oppida”], magnas [alt., 
magnus, celebres] Ignatius [Dominicus] urbes” (Bernard loved valleys, Benedict hills, Francis 
villages, and Ignatius the big cities). See Anselme Dimier, Stones Laid before the Lord: A History 
of Monastic Architecture, trans. Gilchrist Lavigne, Cistercian Studies Series, vol. 152 (Kalamazoo, 
MI: Cistercian Publications, 1999), 51-52. The maxim merits comparison with the saying of 
Confucius that “The wise delight in water; the humane delight in mountains”: Analects, trans. 
Annping Chin (New York: Penguin, 2014), book 6.23. 

desert. Exordium parvum, 3, in Chrysogonus Waddell, ed., Narrative and Legislative Texts from Early 
Citeaux (Brecht, Belgium: Citeaux commentarii cistercienses, 1999), 421 (eremum). See Benedicta 
Ward, “The Desert Myth: Reflections on the Desert Ideal in Early Cistercian Monasticism,” in 
One Yet Two: Monastic Tradition East and West. Orthodox-Cistercian Symposium, Oxford University, 
28 August-1 September, 1973, ed. M. Basil Pennington, Cistercian Studies Series, vol. 29 
(Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1976), 183-99. 

alone. Ménakhos, from monos. 

individualism with communitarianism. Two strands of scholarship have credited the long twelfth 
century with an unprecedented appreciation of individuality. One has emphasized the quality 

Notes to Chapter 3 — Cistercians and the Virgin 289 

as it appears in literature, the other as it comes to the fore in religious sensibilities. The poem 
about the tumbler straddles both categories: in this literary work, he creates a paradoxically 
solo community within a monastery. It bears recalling that his individuality has nothing to 
do with personality in a modern sense, of which he puts on display none. On the scholarship, 
see Caroline Walker Bynum, “Did the Twelfth Century Discover the Individual?,” Journal of 
Ecclesiastical History 31 (1980), 1-17, reprinted in Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the 
High Middle Ages (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1982), 82-109. 

The term abbot. The word has reached us by way of first Greek and then Latin. 
Jesus and Paul. The three instances are in Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15, and Galatians 4:6. 
the oldest communities. Other monasteries in this category are La Ferté, Morimond, and Pontigny. 

convers. Jean Batany, “Les convers chez quelques moralistes des XIle et XIIIe siecles,” Citeaux: 
Commentarii cistercienses 20 (1969): 241-59, at 242. 

eulogies on Clairvaux. William of Saint Thierry, Vita sancti Bernardi (also known as Vita prima), 
book 1, chap. 8, 35, in PL 185, 225-68, at 247C—248B. 

convert monk. The Latin terms are monachus conversus and monachus laicus or illitteratus, 
respectively. See Constance H. Berman, “Distinguishing between the Humble Peasant Lay 
Brother and Sister, and the Converted Knight in Medieval Southern France,” in Religious and 
Laity in Western Europe, 1000-1400: Interaction, Negotiation, and Power, ed. Emilia Jamroziak and 
Janet Burton, Europa Sacra, vol. 2 (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2006), 263-83. 

to the monastic way of life. Ad conversionem. 

metaphor. For the larger context, see Giles Constable, “The Interpretation of Mary and Martha,” 
inidem, Three Studies in Medieval Religious and Social Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University 
Press, 1995), 1-141. 

Lectio divina. Duncan Robertson, Lectio divina: The Medieval Experience of Reading, Cistercian 
Studies Series, vol. 238 (Trappist, KY: Cistercian Publications, 2011). 

separate spaces. Dimier, Stones Laid before the Lord, 45. 

a sermon. Exordium magnum Cisterciense, sive, Narratio de initio Cisterciensis Ordinis, ed. Bruno 
Griesser, Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis, vol. 138 (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 
1994), 255-57 (4.13) (in 1961 edition, 238-39). 

Cistercians and the Virgin 
hyperdulia. Huper and douleia, respectively. 

point person for their whole order. Gabriela Signori, ““Totius ordinis nostri patrona et advocata’: 
Maria als Haus und Ordensheilige der Zisterzienser,” in Maria in der Welt: Marienverehrung im 
Kontext der Sozialgeschichte 10.-18. Jahrhundert, ed. Claudia Opitz et al., Clio Lucernensis, vol. 2 
(Zurich: Chronos, 1993), 253-73. 

service of the Virgin. Pierre-André Sigal, L’homme et le miracle dans la France médiévale, XIe—XIe 
siécle (Paris: Cerf, 1985), 107-15. 

290 Notes to Chapter 3 — Cistercians and the Virgin 

Marianism. For a concise introduction, bibliography, and anthology in translation, see Luigi 
Gambero, Mary in the Middle Ages: The Blessed Virgin Mary in the Thought of Medieval Latin 
Theologians, trans. Thomas Buffer (San Francisco: Ignatius, 2005), 131-41. 

Cistercian writers. Albert van Iterson, “L’ordre de Citeaux et le Coeur de Marie,” Collectanea 
ordinis cisterciensium reformatorum 20 (1958): 219-312; 21 (1959): 97-120; Norbert Mussbacher, 
“Die Marienverehrung der Cistercienser,” in Die Cistercienser: Geschichte-Geist—Kunst, ed. 
Ambrosius Schneider et al. (Cologne, Germany: Wienand, 1977), 165-82. 

Divine Comedy. Paradiso, 31.100-102: “E la regina del Cielo, ond’io ardo / tutto d’amor, ne fara 
ogne grazia, / pero ch’i’ sono il suo fedel Bernardo” (“And the queen of Heaven, for whom 
I burn / All from love, will grant us every grace, / Because I am her faithful Bernard”). To 
Bernard, Dante also assigns the culminating prayer to the Virgin in the final canto of the same 
concluding canticle, Paradiso (33.1-39), in his masterpiece. 

Bernard, among others. On Bernard of Clairvaux and Mary, see Jean Leclercq, “Saint Bernard 
et la dévotion médiévale envers Marie,” Revue d‘ascétique et de mystique 30 (1954): 361-75. On 
Mary’s humility, see Bernard of Clairvaux, “Dominica infra octavam Assumptionis B. V. Mariae 
sermo,” in PL 183, 429-38, at 435A, and the German monk (and bishop of Eichstatt) Philip 
of Rathsamhausen, Expositio super Magnificat, ed. Andreas Bauch, Das theologisch-aszetische 
Schrifttum des Eichstitter Bischofs Philipp von Rathsamhausen (1306-1322) (Eichstatt, Germany: 
Verlag der Katholischen Kirche in Bayern, 1948), 178-250, at 214. 

unvoiced grief. Donna Spivey Ellington, From Sacred Body to Angelic Soul: Understanding Mary in 
Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 
2001), 197-201. 

Humility, chastity, and silence. France, Separate but Equal, 164-66, 200-207 (humility); 211-15 
(silence); Edmond Mikkers, “L’idéal religieux des freres convers dans l’ordre de Citeaux aux 
12e et 13e siecles,” Collectanea ordinis Cisterciensium reformatorum 24 (1962): 113-29, at 127-28 

fealty to the Virgin. See a monk of Sept-Fons, “Citeaux et Notre Dame,” Jean-Baptiste Auniord, 

“Citeaux et Notre Dame,” and Robert Thomas, “Autres Cisterciens,” in Maria: Etudes sur la 
Sainte Vierge, ed. Hubert Du Manoir de Juaye, 7 vols. (Paris: Beauchesne, 1949-1964), 2: 579-83, 
583-613, 614-24; Stephan Beissel, Geschichte der Verehrung Marias in Deutschland wihrend des 
Mittelalters: Ein Beitrag zur Religionswissenschaft und Kunstgeschichte (Freiburg im Breisgau, 
Germany: Herder, 1909), 195-213; Janet Burton and Julie Kerr, The Cistercians in the Middle 
Ages (Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 2011), 127-33; Howard Haeseler Lewis, “The Cistercian Order 
and the Virgin in the Twelfth Century” (AB Honors thesis, Harvard University, 1956). For an 
anthology of texts relating to Mary in English translation, see E. Rozanne Elder, ed. and trans., 
Mary Most Holy: Meditating with the Early Cistercians (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 

Peter Abelard. Letter 10, in Letters of Peter Abelard, beyond the Personal, trans. Jan M. Ziolkowski 
(Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2008), 85-98, at 94. 

seals. Pierre Bony, “An Introduction to the Study of Cistercian Seals: The Virgin as Mediatrix, 
Then Protectrix on the Seals of Cistercian Abbeys,” in Studies in Cistercian Art and Architecture, 
vol. 3, ed. Meredith Parsons Lillich, Cistercian Studies, vol. 89 (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian 

Notes to Chapter 3 — Cistercians and the Virgin 291 

Publications, 1987), 201-40. The tendency was made obligatory in 1335 by a ruling of Pope 
Benedict XII: see Joseph-Marie Canivez, ed., Statuta capitulorum generalium ordinis Cisterciensis 
ab anno 1116 ad annum 1786, 8 vols., Bibliotheque de la Revue d’histoire ecclésiastique, vol. 9 
(Louvain, Belgium: Bureaux de la Revue, 1933-1941), 3: 411 (for 1335, 2). 

every Cistercian church and cloister. On cloisters, see Exordium Cistercii et Summa Cartae caritatis 
(The beginning of Citeaux and the summa of the Charter of Charity), chap. 9, “On the Dedication 
of the Cloister,” in Les plus anciens textes de Citeaux: Sources, textes et notes historiques, ed. Jean de 
la Croix Bouton and Jean Baptiste Van Damme, Citeaux: Commentarii cistercienses: Studia et 
documenta, vol. 2 (Achel, Belgium: Abbaye cistercienne, 1974), 121 (“in honore reginae coeli et 
terrae”). On churches, see the Cistercian statutes “of 1134” that were compiled shortly before 
the mid-twelfth century, in Canivez, Statuta, 1:17 (Statuta ord. cisterciensis 1134,18 “in memoria 
eiusdem caeli et terrae reginae sanctae Mariae”), and Waddell, Narrative and Legislative Texts, 
463 (Instituta generalis capituli 18 “Quod omnia monasteria in honore beatae Marie dedicentur”: 
“in memoria eiusdem caeli et terrae reginae sanctae Mariae”). 

liturgies of the Cistercians. The monks lavished care upon the celebration of the four Marian 
holidays then in existence: the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin or Candlemas, on February 
2; the Feast of the Annunciation, on March 25; the Assumption of Mary, on August 15 (and 
the Octave of the Assumption, on August 22); and the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 
on September 8: see Goffredo Viti and Malachia Falletti, “La devozione a Maria nell’Ordine 
Cistercense,” Marianum: Ephemerides Mariologiae 54.1-2, no. 143 (1992): 287-348. 

daily offices. On the offices, note the prescription of the Commemoratio beatae Mariae and the Horae 
beatae Mariae virginis: Viti and Falletti, “La devozione a Maria,” 305-9. See also Burton and Kerr, 
Cistercians in the Middle Ages, 127. 

Hail, Holy Queen. Latin “Salve, regina”: Viti and Falletti, “La devozione a Maria,” 296, 311-14. 

they explained the color. Adam of Perseigne, “102 Sermo V. in Assumptione B. Mariae,” in PL 
211, 733C-744B, at 739D: “O quantus debet esse in meis candor cordium, et morum puritas, 
(20) qui et candore habitus et titulo nominis virginalis lilii albedinem imitantur! Albi nimirum 
monachi dicuntur, non modo quod albedine vestium fulgeant, sed quod candoris virginei 
ministri spirituales existant.” 

Saint Alberic. Feast day, January 26. Acta sanctorum. 
Marian Doctor. Latin Doctor Marianus or Doctor Marialis. 

missionaries of Marianism. For this characterization of Bernard, see Miri Rubin, Mother of God: A 
History of the Virgin Mary (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009), 121.On Doctor Marianus, 
see Dorothee Lauffs, “Bernhard von Clairvaux,” in Marienlexikon, ed. Remigius Baumer and 
Leo Scheffczyk, 6 vols. (St. Ottilien, Germany: EOS, 1988-1994), 1: 445-50, at 445. On Doctor 
Marialis, see Henri Barré, “Saint Bernard, docteur marial,” Analecta Sacri Ordinis Cisterciensis 9 
(1953): 92-113. For the Cistercians, see Walter Delius, Geschichte der Marienverehrung (Munich, 
Germany: E. Reinhardt, 1963), 157-58. 

The angel Gabriel was sent. Luke 1:26, in Latin, Missus est angelus Gabriel. 

On the Praises of the Virgin Mother. Latin De laudibus virginis matris. 

292 Notes to Chapter 3 — Mother’s Milk 

dynamics of courtly love. Hilda C. Graef, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, 2 vols. 
(Westminster, MD: Christian Classics, 1990), 1: 235-41. 

Hail, Star of the Sea. Latin Ave, maris stella. It is actually the work of the eighth-century Ambrosius 
Autpertus. For the definitive study of the hymn, see Heinrich Lausberg, Der Hymnus Ave maris 
stella, Abhandlungen der Rheinisch-Westfalischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, vol. 61 
(Opladen, Germany: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1976). 

Memorare. The title is an imperative in the learned language for “Remember!”: The Catholic 
Prayerbook: From Downside Abbey, ed. David Foster (Edinburgh, UK: T & T Clark, 2001), 153: 

“Remember, O most merciful Virgin Mary, that it has never been heard that anyone who ran 
to your protection, entreated your help, and sought your intercession has been abandoned. 
Heartened with this faith, I run to you O Virgin of Virgins, Mother, I come to you, I stand asa 
grieving sinner before you. Mother of the Word, do not spurn my words; but hear and hearken 
to me favorably. Amen.” The translation is mine. 

Greetings, Bernard. Salve, Bernarde. 

Mother's Milk 

nursing Madonna. Mary in this guise can be designated in Latinate terminology as the Madonna or 
Virgo Lactans, in Greek as panagia galaktotrophousa. This is not the place to examine the broadest 
implications of the motif, which has strong relevance to female spirituality. In this connection, 
the milk could be tied to the blood of Christ in the Eucharist as well as to the motif of the gore 
that comes forth when his side is lanced during the crucifixion. On the parallel between milk 
and blood, see Caroline Walker Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of 
Food to Medieval Women (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1987), 270-71. 

the saint prays before a Madonna. Purportedly in the church of Saint Vorles at Chatillon-sur-Seine, 
involving a statue known as Notre-Dame du Chateau. The event was celebrated annually on 
January 29. See Patrick Arabeyre, “La lactation de saint Bernard a Chatillon-sur-Seine: Données 
et problemes,” in Vies et légendes de saint Bernard de Clairvaux: Création, diffusion, réception 
(XIXe-XXe siécles). Actes des Rencontres de Dijon, 7-8 juin 1991, ed. idem et al. (Citeaux, France: 
Commentarii Cistercienses “Présence Cistercienne,” 1993), 173-97. 

no statue exists. Bernd Nicolai, “Die Entdeckung des Bildwerks: Frilhe Marienbilder und 
Altarretabel unter dem Aspekt zisterziensischer Frommigkeit,” in Studien zur Geschichte der 
europdischen Skulptur im 12.-13. Jahrhundert, ed. Herbert Beck and Kerstin Hengevoss-Diirkop 
(Frankfurt, Germany: Henrich, 1994), 29-43. 

show herself as a mother. The imperative monstra te esse matrum (show yourself to be a mother) 
quotes verbatim a verse in Ave maris stella, the aforementioned hymn to Mary that is from the 
ninth century or earlier. For the text and translation, see Peter G. Walsh, with Christopher 
Husch, One Hundred Latin Hymns: Ambrose to Aquinas, Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library, vol. 
18 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012), 200-203 (at stanza 4.1). 

projecting a jet of milk. The development of the legend and its iconography have been treated 
together in Léon Dewez and Albert van Iterson, “La lactation de saint Bernard: Légende et 
iconographie,” Citeaux in de Nederlanden 7 (1956): 165-89; Jacques Berlioz, “La lactation de 
saint Bernard dans un ‘exemplum’ et une miniature du Ci nous dit (début du XIVe siécle),” 
Citeaux: Commentarii Cistercienses 39.3-4 (1988): 270-84; Brian Patrick McGuire, “Bernard and 

Notes to Chapter 3 — Mary’s Head-Coverings 293 

Mary’s Milk: A Northern Contribution,” in idem, The Difficult Saint: Bernard of Clairvaux and 
His Tradition, Cistercian Studies Series, vol. 126 (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1991), 
189-225; Cécile Dupeux, “La lactation de saint Bernard de Clairvaux: Genese et évolution d’une 
image,” in L’Image et la production du sacré: Actes du colloque de Strasbourg, 20-21 janvier 1988, 
organisé par le Centre d’historique des religions de l'Université de Strasbourg II, Groupe “Théorie et 
pratique de l’image cultuelle,” ed. Francoise Dunand et al. (Paris: Méridiens Klincksieck, 1991), 
165-93; idem, “Saint Bernard dans l’iconographie médiévale: L’exemple de la lactation,” in 
Arabeyre et al., Vies et légendes de saint Bernard de Clairvaux, 152-66; James France, “The Heritage 
of Saint Bernard in Medieval Arts,” in A Companion to Bernard of Clairvaux, ed. Brian Patrick 
McGuire (Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2011), 305-46, at 329-35. For an archive of 119 images, see 
James France, Medieval Images of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Cistercian Studies Series, vol. 210 
(Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 2007), CD/ROM “Lactatio.” 

Saint Bernard alone. For a broad overview, see Warner, Alone of All Her Sex, 192-205; for a synoptic 
list of examples, see Dewez and Iterson, “La lactation de saint Bernard,” 168. 

this legendary episode. The most important early record of the story, in which the woman is Pero 
and her father Cimon, appears in Valerius Maximus, Factorum ac dictorum memorabilium. 

assorted miracle tales. Barnay, Le ciel sur Ia terre, 35. 

nursing mother. Mary in the manifestation of nursing mother is often styled in Latin as mater 

Mary’s Head-Coverings 

sermons for Marian feasts. On Helinand’s Marian sermons, see Rubin, Mother of God, 154-57; 
Beverly Kienzle, “Mary Speaks against Heresy: An Unedited Sermon of Hélinand for the 
Purification, Paris, B.N. ms. Lat. 14591,” Sacris erudiri 32 (1991): 291-308; more generally, on the 
special devotion of the Cistercians to Mary, see Rubin, Mother of God, 149-57. 

everlasting service to her. “Sermo II, I in Natali Domini,” in PL 212, 486-96, at 495C: “magnae 
huic Dominae faciunt homagium, et ejus servitutem perpetuam profitentur.” Another white 
monk addressed his brother as, “You, monk of the Mother of God, who have arrived in the lot 
of the Order of Mary.” See Ogier of Locedio (Oglerius de Tridino), Tractatus in laudibus sancte 
Dei genetricis, in Beati Oglerii de Tridino Abbatis Monasterii Locediensis ord. Cist. in divec. Vercell: 
Opera quae supersunt, ed. Giovan Battista Adriani (Turin, Italy: Augustae Taurinorum, 1873), 
46: “Tu monache Matris Domini qui in sorte Ordinis Mariae venisti.” For a full translation, see 
Ogier of Locedio, In Praise of God’s Holy Mother: On Our Lord’s Words to His Disciples at the Last 
Supper, trans. D. Martin Jenni, Cistercian Fathers Series, vol. 70 (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian 
Publications, 2006). 

subverted by her maternal power. Caroline Walker Bynum, Jesus as Mother, 154-59. 

Our Lady of Mercy. Alternatively, Our Lady of Pity. The corresponding Latin is Mater 
Misericordiae; the French, Vierge de Misericorde; the German, Schutzmantelmadonna. The classic 
reference is Paul Perdrizet, La Vierge de Miséricorde: Etude d’un théme iconographique, Bibliotheque 
des Ecoles francaises d’Athénes et de Rome, vol. 101 (Paris: A. Fontemoing, 1908). For recent 
reappraisals, see Christa Belting-Ihm, “Sub matris tutela”: Untersuchungen zur Vorgeschichte 
der Schutzmantelmadonna, Abhandlungen der Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften, 
Philosophisch-Historische Klasse, Jahrgang 1976, vol. 3 (Heidelberg, Germany: Carl Winter, 

294 Notes to Chapter 3 — Mary’s Head-Coverings 

1976), 131-46; Sylvie Barnay, “Une apparition pour protéger: Le manteau de la Vierge au XIIIe 
siecle,” Cahiers de recherches médiévales et humanistes 8 (2001): 13-22; Sonja Reisner, “Sub tuum 
praesidium confugimus’: Zur Instrumentalisierung von Visionen und Wunderberichten in der 
dominikanischen Ordenshistoriographie am Beispiel der Schutzmantelmadonna,” Acta Antiqua 
43.3 (2003): 393-405. 

beneath her mantle. For the motif in general (often designated by the German Schutzmantelmaria), 
see Perdrizet, La Vierge de Miséricorde; Alois Thomas, “Schutzmantelmaria,” in Die Gottesmutter: 
Marienbild in Rheinland und in Westfalen, ed. Leonhard Kiippers (Recklinghausen, Germany: 
Bongers, 1974), 227-42; Barnay, “Une apparition pour protéger,” 13-22. For the Byzantine 
backdrop, see Belting-Ihm, “Sub matris tutela.” 

Constantinople. Bissera V. Pentcheva, “The Virgin of Constantinople: Power and Belief,” in 
Byzantine Women and Their World, ed. Ioli Kalavrezou (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Art 
Museums, 2003), 112-38, at 115. 

white-hooded monks. James France, “Cistercians under Our Lady’s Mantle,” Cistercian Studies 
Quarterly 37.4 (2002): 393-414. 

an episode in the Dialogue on Miracles. On the origins of this tradition, see McGuire, “Cistercians 
and the Rise of the Exemplum,” 227-29. The first telling of it as an exemplum is in Dialogus 
miraculorum 7.59 (ed. Strange, 2: 79-80): see Reisner, “Sub tuum praesidium confugimus.”” 

anonymous collection. Johannes Maior, ed., Magnum speculum exemplorum (Douay, France, 1611), 
an expanded version of the anonymous Speculum exemplorum that was printed first in 1481. 

dries the sweat. Maior, Magnum speculum exemplorum, 285-86 (“Dives 1”). 
ventilates them. Maior, Magnum speculum exemplorum, 84-85 (“Bona injuste acquisita 8”). 
white towel. Une touaille blance. 

medieval vernacular noun. Harri Meier, “Fortschritt und Riickschritt in der etymologischen 
Forschung: Als Beispiel: die Herkunft der romanischen Familie von ital. tovaglia,” in Italic and 
Romance Linguistic Studies in Honor of Ernst Pulgram, ed. Herbert J. Izzo, Amsterdam Studies in 
the Theory and History of Linguistic Science, Series 4, Current Issues in Linguistic Theory, vol. 
18 (Amsterdam: Benjamins, 1980), 103-11. The corresponding term in Latin was mappa. It was 
an ancient lexical import from Punic, a language that went extinct in late antiquity. It likewise 
meant “napkin” (a derivative of it) or “towel,” but eventually also denoted a cloth dropped 
into an arena to mark the start of games. Later it became a term for “map,” which also derives 
from it. 

table napkin. Tovaglia and tovagliolo. 

personal cleanliness. Frangoise Piponnier, “Linge de maison et linge de corps au Moyen Age: 
D’aprés les inventaires bourguignons,” Ethnologie francaise 16 (1986): 239-48. 

Mary had an up-close-and-personal connection. See Libri de natiuitate Mariae: Pseudo-Matthaei 
Euangelium (Gospel according to Pseudo-Matthew), ed. Jan Gijsel, Corpus Christianorum Series 
Apocryphorum, vol. 9 (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 1997), 333 (chap. 6.1). 

Notes to Chapter 3 — Mary’s Head-Coverings 295 

overspreads the head and chest. Barnay, Le ciel sur la terre, 202-5. 
head cover. The French phrase is couvre chef or cuerchief. 

cloth towels. Unfortunately, neither lexical development nor the premodern cultural history 
even in the English-speaking world receive any attention in Helen Gustafson, Hanky Panky: An 
Intimate History of the Handkerchief (Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 2002). 

The Virgin’s textile. For the fullest information, see Annemarie Wey] Carr, “Threads of Authority: 
The Virgin Mary’s Veil in the Middle Ages,” in Robes and Honor: The Medieval World of Investiture, 
ed. Stewart Gordon (New York: Palgrave, 2001), 59-93. 

made stellar. Konstantinides, “Le sens théologique”; George Galavaris, “The Stars of the Virgin: 
An Ekphrasis of an Ikon of the Mother of God,” Eastern Churches Review 1 (1966-1967): 364-67. 

Assumption. The Assumption of the Virgin corresponds to the Dormition of the Theotokos in the 
Greek Orthodox Church. 

transferred. Norman H. Baynes, Byzantine Studies and Other Essays, ed. R. A. Humphreys and 
A. D. Momigliano (London: Athlone Press, 1955): 240-48 (“The Finding of the Virgin’s Robe”). 

Constantinople. John Wortley, “The Marian Relics at Constantinople,” Greek, Roman, and 
Byzantine Studies 45 (2005): 171-87; Stephen J. Shoemaker, “The Cult of Fashion: The Earliest 
‘Life of the Virgin’ and Constantinople’s Marian Relics,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 62 (2008): 53-74. 

tidal wave. On Byzantine influence as a tidal wave, see Wilhelm Koehler, “Byzantine Art in the 
West,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 1 (Dumbarton Oaks Inaugural Lectures, November 2nd and 3rd, 
1940) (1941): 62-87, at 79, 86. 

chemisettes. Chemisette now refers to a distinct article of women’s clothing that was common in 
the late Victorian era. Similar to a dickey, it covered the lower neck and upper chest, when worn 
over a bodice that would otherwise have left those areas exposed. 

pilgrims to Chartres. E. Jane Burns, “Saracen Silk and the Virgin’s Chemise: Cultural Crossings 
in Cloth,” Speculum 81 (2006): 365-97, at 366-68, 374-75, 391-95, which corresponds roughly to 
idem, Sea of Silk: A Textile Geography of Women’s Work in Medieval French Literature (Philadelphia: 
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), 156-84; Brian Spencer, Pilgrim Souvenirs and Secular 
Badges (London: Stationery Office, 1998), 225-27. 

Mary's veil. Carr, “Threads of Authority,” 59-93. 

brouhaha at Chartres. Marcel Joseph Bulteau, Monographie de la cathédrale de Chartres, 2nd ed., 3 
vols. (Chartres, France: R. Selleret, 1887-1892), 1: 105-8. 

spotless towel. For instance, it is pictured in the background of a famous painting on wood behind 
an altar: see Margaret B. Freeman, “The Iconography of the Merode Altarpiece,” Bulletin of 
the Metropolitan Museum of Art 16 (December 1957): 130-39, at 132. More broadly, see George 
Ferguson, Signs and Symbols in Christian Art (New York: Oxford University Press, 1954), 182. 

during her pregnancy. Carr, “Threads of Authority.” 

296 Notes to Chapter 3 — Cistercian Lay Brothers 

Cistercian Lay Brothers 
No one can serve two masters. Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13. 
wordplay. On the wordplay, see Batany, “Les convers,” 246-48; France, Separate but Equal, 269-71. 

heroic age of the Cistercians. James France, “The Cistercian Community,” in The Cambridge 
Companion to the Cistercian Order, ed. Mette Birkedal Bruun (Cambridge: Cambridge University 
Press, 2013), 80-86, at 85. 

lay brothers. Latin fratres laici. 


members of the institution. See Jacques Dubois, “The Laybrothers’ Life in the Twelfth Century,’ 
Cistercian Studies 7 (1972): 161-213; France, Separate but Equal. The bibliography of scholarship 
in other languages leading up to these two is extensive, with notable resources being Othon 
Ducourneau, “De I’institution et des us des convers dans l’Ordre de Citeaux (XIle-XIIle 
siécles),” in Saint Bernard et son temps, 2 vols. (Dijon, France: Association bourguignonne des 
sociétés savantes, 1929), 2: 139-201; Jean Leclercq, “Comment vivaient les freres convers,” in I 
Laici nella “Societas Christiana” dei secoli XI et XII: Atti della terza Settimana internazionale di studio, 
Mendola, 21-27 agosto 1965, Pubblicazioni dell’Universita: Contributi Serie 3/varia 5, Miscellaea 
del Centro di studi medioevali, vol. 5 (Milan, Italy: Societa editrice vita e pensiero, 1965), 
183-261; Jean A. Lefevre, “L’évolution des Usus conversorum de Citeaux,” Collectanea ordinis 
Cisterciensium reformatorum 17.2 (1955): 66-96. 

custom of silence. Chrysogonus Waddell, “The Place and Meaning of the Work of God in Twelfth- 
Century Cistercian Life,” Cistercian Studies 23.1 (1988): 25-44, at 33-39. 

good reason. Leclercq, “Comment vivaient les freres convers,” 170. 
bore such a garment. Line 137. 

facial hair. For portrayals of medieval Cistercian lay brothers with their beards, see James France, 
The Cistercians in Medieval Art, Cistercian Studies Series, vol. 170 (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian 
Publications, 1998), 122-38, figs. 77-99. On the specific nature of the facial hair, see France, 
Separate but Equal, 76-84. 

bearded brothers. In Latin, fratres barbati. 
cannot chant, read, or understand Latin. Line 155. 
illiteracy. On their illiteracy, see France, Separate but Equal, 57-75. 

simpleminded morons. Usus conversorum, ed. Lefevre, “L’évolution des Usus conversorum,” 65-97, 
with the edition 84-97, here at 86. See Bretel, Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame, 110. On the educational 
level and culture of the lay brothers, see Clemens Van Dijk, “L’instruction et la culture des 
fréres convers dans les premiers siecles de l’ordre de Citeaux,” Collectanea Ordinis Cisterciensium 
Reformatorum 24 (1962): 243-58. 

simplicity of lay brothers. On the simplicity of the lay brothers, see France, Separate but Equal, 3; 
Mikkers, “L’idéal religieux des freres convers,” 125-27; and especially Sobczyk, Les jongleurs de 
Dieu, who takes under consideration repeatedly the medieval poem of interest to us here. 

Notes to Chapter 3 — Cistercian Lay Brothers 297 

snobbery. In the Latin, see Usus conversorum, Prologue 3, in Chrysogonus Waddell, Cistercian Lay 
Brothers: Twelfth-Century Usages with Related Texts, Citeaux: Commentarii cistercienses: Studia et 
Documenta, vol. 10 (Brecht, Belgium: Citeaux: Commentarii cistercienses, 2000), ed. 56, trans. 
164: “Some [of our abbots] hold them [the lay brothers] in contempt because of their innate 
simplicity.” In the French, Us des convers, prologue: “S’il sunt simple et sans clergie, tant ont il 
plus besoig de no cure de no porveance.” See Bretel, Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame, 107. 

the monks in his charge. Brian Patrick McGuire, “Taking Responsibility: Medieval Cistercian 
Abbots and Monks as Their Brother’s Keepers,” Citeaux: Commentarii cistercienses 39.34 (1988): 
249-68, repr. in idem, Friendship and Faith, no. 6. 

convert. Bretel, Les ermites et les moines, 32-54. The category of convert is bound up with those 
of layman, illiterate, and more, and overlaps at times with lay brother: see Leclercq, “Comment 
vivaient les freres convers.” 

the Latin equivalent. Bretel, Les ermites et les moines, 54-67. 
second-class citizen. Del tumbeor Nostre Dame, lines 54, 65, 391. 

exploited for physical labor. Berman, “Distinguishing between the Humble Cistercian Lay Brother 
and Sister, and the Converted Knight in Southern France,” 263-83. 

fidelity to Mary. For an illustration of a lay brother kneeling before Mary in an early thirteenth- 
century manuscript, see France, Cistercians in Medieval Art, 137, fig. 88. 

the Virgin intervened. Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, c. 
1400-c. 1580 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992), 319. 

last rites. France, Separate but Equal, 154-58. The representation of the death ritual in the medieval 
poem matches approximately what is documented for Benedictine monks: see Frederic S. 
Paxton, The Death Ritual at Cluny in the Central Middle Ages / Le rituel de la mort a Cluny au Moyen 
Age central, Disciplina monastica, vol. 9 (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2013). For Cistercian 
practices, see Megan Cassidy-Welch, Monastic Spaces and Their Meanings: Thirteenth-Century 
English Cistercian Monasteries, Medieval Church Studies, vol. 1 (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 
2001), 228-32. 

The Great Beginning of Citeaux. Exordium magnum Cisterciense, ed. Griesser. 

One anecdote. Exordium magnum Cisterciense, ed. Griesser, 255-57 (4.13); Anthelmette Piébourg, 
trans., Le grand exorde de Citeaux, ou Récit des débuts de l’Ordre cistercien, Citeaux: Studia et 
documenta, vol. 7 (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 1997), 236-38; E. Rozanne Elder, ed., and Paul 
Savage and Benedicta Ward, trans., The Great Beginning of Citeaux: A Narrative of the Beginning of 
the Cistercian Order; The Exordium Magnum of Conrad of Eberbach, Cistercian Fathers Series, vol. 
72 (Trappist, KY: Cistercian Publications, 2012), 344-47. 

Our Father. Pater noster. 
Apostles’ Creed. Credo in Deum (I believe in God), etc. 

Psalm 51. Usus conversorum, chap. 11. Alternately, Psalm 50, beginning Miserere mei, Deus (Have 
mercy on me, O God). 

298 Notes to Chapter 3 — Conversion Therapy 

Our Lady’s Tumbler. See line 32. 

Hail, Mary. Ave Maria. 

salutation to Mary. Recorded in Luke 1:28. 

stuff of higher learning. Lines 57-67. 

exemplum. Caesarius of Heisterbach recounts this celebrated anecdote twice. 
Dialogue on Miracles. Dialogus miraculorum. 

written and oral sources. Brian Patrick McGuire, “Written Sources and Cistercian Inspiration 
in Caesarius of Heisterbach,” Analecta Cisterciensia 35 (1979): 227-82; and “Friends and Tales 
in the Cloister: Oral Sources in Caesarius of Heisterbach’s Dialogus Miraculorum,” Analecta 
Cisterciensia 36 (1980): 167-247, repr. in idem, Friendship and Faith, nos. 1, 2. 

medieval miracle stories. The text known previously as Liber visionum et miraculorum (Book of 
visions and miracles) was assembled at Clairvaux between 1171 and 1179: see Olivier Legendre, 
ed., Le Liber visionum et miraculorum: Edition du manuscrit de Troyes (Bibl. mun. ms. 946) (thesis, 
Ecole des Chartes, 2000). Its title has now been emended: see idem, ed., Collectaneum exemplorum 
et visionum Clarevallense e codice Trecensi 946, Exempla medii aevi, vol. 2/Corpus Christianorum 
Continuatio Mediaevalis, vol. 208 (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2005). For discussion, Brian 
Patrick McGuire, “A Lost Clairvaux Exemplum Collection Found: The ‘Liber Visionum et 
Miraculorum’ Compiled under Prior John of Clairvaux,” Analecta Cisterciensia 39 (1983): 26-62, 
repr. in idem, Friendship and Faith, no. 4. 

scores of tales. There are eighty-three chapters in all. 

book. Caesarius, Dialogus miraculorum, Distinctio 7, “De sancta Maria,” ed. Strange, 2: 1-80; 
idem, Dialogue on Miracles, trans. Scott and Bland, 1: 453-546. 

sightings of Mary. Caesarius, Dialogus miraculorum, Distinctio 7, Capitula 12-13, ed. Strange, 2: 
15, trans. Scott and Bland, 1: 469-70. 

Conversion Therapy 

portrayals of jongleurs. The first to point out this phenomenon and to cite examples was Faral, 
Les jongleurs, 157n2. 

final years. Anselme Dimier, “Mourir a Clairvaux!” Collectanea ordinis Cisterciensium reformatorum 
17 (1955): 272-85. 

Lives of the Fathers. Vitae Patrum, in PL, 73: 1170. 

such an entertainer. Named Gondran or Goderan, he is the supposed founder of Saint-Gilles 
in Septimania. See Hubert Silvestre, “Goderan, le fondateur de l’abbaye liégeoise de St-Gilles, 
était-il un jongleur provencal?” Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique 55 (1960): 122-29. Silvestre rejects 
the foundation for the legend, while paying attention in passing to the credence given it in the 
Middle Ages and later. 

Notes to Chapter 3 — Conversion Therapy 299 

an abbey in Liege. See Gaston Paris, “Introduction,” in La vie de saint Gilles par Guillaume de 
Berneville: Poéme du XIle siécle d’aprés le manuscrit unique de Florence, ed. idem and Alphonse Bos 
(Paris: Firmin Didot, 1881), lxxiv. 

The Monk of Montaudon. This text supplies nuggets that may be combined with other oddments 
of biographical information to be gleaned from the monk’s poetry. On Lo Monges de Montaudon, 
a vida in Old Occitan, see Egan, Vidas of the Troubadours, 69-71. The poet himself is now identified 
as Peire de Vic from Auvergne, a troubadour of noble birth. On him and his poems, see Michael 
J. Routledge, ed. and trans., Les poésies du moine de Montaudon (Montpellier, France: Centre 
d’études occitanes de l’Université Paul Valéry, 1977); Jean-Lucien Gandois, Le troubadour Pierre 
de Vic: Moine de Montaudon, XIle-XIIle s. La vie, l’‘homme et l’ceuvre, Mémoires de |’ Académie 
des Sciences, Belles-Lettres et Arts de Clermont-Ferrand 2nd series, vol. 61 (Clermont-Ferrand, 
France: Académie des sciences, belles lettres et arts de Clermont-Ferrand, 2003). 

what he earns. As prize for his poetry, the monk is awarded a sparrow hawk. 
no relation to the Virgin. Rather, the name corresponds to the Latin Marius, a male saint. 

Folquet of Marseille. On his conversion, see Nicole M. Schulman, Where Troubadours Were Bishops: 
The Occitania of Folc of Marseille (1150-1231) (New York: Routledge, 2001), 37-62. 

Folquet’s conversion. See Warner, Alone of All Her Sex, 149-50; Stephen of Bourbon, Tractatus de 
diversis materiis praedicabilibus, ed. Berlioz, 71. 

other troubadours. Jean de la Croix Bouton, “Citeaux,” in Robert Bossuat et al., Le Moyen Age, 
ed. Genevieve Hasenohr and Michel Zink (Paris: Fayard, 1992), 300-307, at 304, on Bertran 
d’Alamanon, Bernart de Ventadorn, Bertran de Born, Perdigon, and Gausbert de Puycibot; 
M.-Jér6me du Halgouet, “Poetes oubliés,” Collectanea Ordinis Cisterciensium Reformatorum 20 
(1958): 128-44, 227-42. 

Guiot de Provins. Despite his conventional name, Guiot may have been from the relatively small 
region then known as France, which occupied only a north-central portion of what is now the 
country by the same name. 

Bible Guiot. For more information, see Jean Batany, “Les moines blancs dans les Etats du Monde 
(XIIe-XIVe siecles),” Citeaux: Commentarii cistercienses 15 (1964): 5-25; idem, “Les convers,” 

Helinand of Froidmont. Jenny Lind Porter, ed. and trans., The Verses on Death of Helinand of 
Froidmont, Cistercian Fathers Series, vol. 61 (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1999). 

finished his days in an abbey. This possibility rests on a disputed interpretation of the final two 
lines: see Jean Renart, Le Roman de la Rose, ou, de Guillaume de Dole, ed. Félix Lecoy, trans. Jean 
Dufournet, Champion Classiques. Moyen Age, vol. 24 (Paris: Honoré Champion, 2008), 414-15 
(lines 5654-5655). Jean Renart’s text is entitled Le Roman de La Rose, but it is called by the other 
title to forestall confusion with the more famous Romance of the Rose by Jean de Meun and 
Guillaume de Lorris. 

Adam of Lexington. “The Chronicle of Melrose,” in The Church Historian of England, 4.1, ed. and 
trans. Joseph Stevenson (London, 1854), repr. in Medieval Chronicles of Scotland: The Chronicles of 
Melrose and Holyrood, Llanerch facsimile (Felinfach, UK: Llanerch, 1988), 7-124, at 96. 

300 Notes to Chapter 3 — The Language of Silence 

he would take a seat. Julie Kerr, Life in the Medieval Cloister (New York: Continuum, 2009), 36n38. 

monks who composed poetry. William D. Paden, “De monachis rithmos facientibus: Hélinant de 
Froidmont, Bertran de Born, and the Cistercian General Chapter of 1199,” Speculum 55 (1980): 


statement against versifying. Jean Leclercq, “Les divertissements poétiques d’Itier de Vassy,’ 
Analecta Sacri Ordinis Cisterciensis 12 (1956): 296-304, at 304: “Flere decet monachum, non 
fabricare metrum” (“It suits a monk to weep, not to craft verse”). 

The Language of Silence 

schooling. Evelyn B. Vitz, “Liturgy as Education in the Middle Ages,” Medieval Education 20.16 
(2005): 7-20. 

system of hand signs. On this language, see Walter Jarecki, “Die Ars signorum Cisterciensium 
im Rahmen der metrischen Signa-Listen,” Revue Bénédictine 93 (1988): 329-99; idem, “Die 
zisterziensische Zeichensprache unter besonderer Beriicksichtigung der Loccumer Quellen,” 
Jahrbuch der Gesellschaft fiir Niedersdchsische Kirchengeschichte 88 (1990): 27-40; Scott G. Bruce, 

“The Origins of Cistercian Sign Language,” Citeaux: Commentarii cistercienses 52 (2001): 193-209; 
idem, Silence and Sign Language in Medieval Monasticism: The Cluniac Tradition c. 900-1200, 
Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 
2007), 144-48. 

monastic silence. On monastic silence, see Paul F. Gehl, “Competens silentium: Varieties of 
Monastic Silence in the Medieval West,” Viator 18 (1987): 125-60. For the overall Christian 
context, see Diarmaid MacCulloch, Silence: A Christian History (New York: Viking, 2013). 

crying and caterwauling, moaning and mewling. Lines 73-75. Like Bretel in his commentary, 
Sobczyk, Les jongleurs de Dieu, 127n19, construes the lamentation in lines 211-212 as meaning 
not that the tumbler’s sole form of prayer was weeping, but rather that he was moved to tears 
by his recognition that his sole form of prayer was dancing. 

the importance of quiet. On silence, see Rule of Saint Benedict, chaps. 6, 38.5-7 (and on signs in 
preference to words), 42, 48.5, 52.2 (ed. and trans. Venarde, 42-43, 134-35, 144-45, 160-61, and 

signs of speaking. Latin signa loquendi. 

even to lay brothers. Bruce, Silence and Sign Language, 162-65; Wim Verbaal (and is this a case 
of nomen omen?), “Oleum de saxo durissimo: Bernard of Clairvaux’s Poetics of Silence,” in 
Understanding Monastic Practices of Oral Communication, ed. Steven Vanderputten, Utrecht 
Studies in Medieval Literacy, vol. 21 (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2011), 319-35. The silence 
of lay brothers is presented as virtuous by Caesarius of Heisterbach, Dialogus miraculorum, ed. 
Strange 2: 95, trans. Scott and Bland, 2: 18-19 (Distinctio 8, Capitulum 17). For broad background 
(but without consideration of Our Lady’s Tumbler), see Uwe Ruberg, Beredtes Schweigen: In 
lehrhafter und erzdhlender deutscher Literatur des Mittelalters (Munich, Germany: Fink, 1978); 
pages 93-118 provide information on Greco-Roman, biblical, and Christian traditions of silence. 

Notes to Chapter 3 — Gym Clothes 301 

signals were to be practiced. Gregor Miller, “Die Zeichensprache in den Kléstern,” Cistercienser 
Chronik 21 (1909): 243-46; Bruce, “Origins,” 203-4. The urgency of controlling signing is 
apparent not only in Cistercian customaries and other such texts, but also in their exempla 
collections. For instance, Caesarius of Heisterbach relates a tale of a monk who as punishment 
for overindulging in signs and speech suffered the horrors of hell, only to be revitalized so that 
he could admonish his brethren (Caesarius of Heisterbach, Libri VIII Miraculorum 2.32, “De 
converso de Dus, qui a mortuis suscitatus, que in penis viderat, declaravit”): Alfons Hilka, ed., 
Die Wundergeschichten des Caesarius von Heisterbach, 3 vols., Publikationen der Gesellschaft fiir 
rheinische Geschichtskunde, vol. 43 (Bonn, Germany: P. Hanstein, 1933-1937), 3: 115-16. 

daily cycle of monastic offices. See Venarde, Rule of Saint Benedict, 164 (chap. 16.5, on Psalm 118/119). 
acedia. First conveyed in English by the now obsolete word accidie. 

characteristic of modern existence. For example, see Aldous Huxley, “Accidie,” in Essays New and 
Old (New York: George H. Doran Company, 1927), 47-53. 

clinical depression. Siegfried Wenzel, The Sin of Sloth: Acedia in Medieval Thought and Literature 
(Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1967); Stanley W. Jackson, “Acedia the Sin 
and Its Relationship to Sorrow and Melancholia,” in Culture and Depression: Studies in the 
Anthropology and Cross-Cultural Psychiatry of Affect and Disorder, ed. Arthur Kleinman and Byron 
Good (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1985), 43-62. 

not being permitted to participate. 1 am indebted to Megan Cassidy, “Non conversi sed perversi: The 
Use and Marginalisation of the Cistercian Lay Brother,” in Deviance and Textual Control: New 
Perspectives in Medieval Studies, ed. Megan Cassidy et al., Melbourne University Conference 
Series 2 (Parkville, Australia: History Dept., University of Melbourne, 1997), 34-55, at 45 and 
55n84. This article was revised and incorporated in Cassidy-Welch, Monastic Spaces, 191. 

strictly limited. Leclercq, “Comment vivaient les freres convers,” 171n120. 

A third exemplum. Cassidy, “Non conversi sed perversi,” 46 and 55n86; Cassidy-Welch, Monastic 
Spaces, 190-91. 

way of negation. Via negativa or via negationis. 

against sculptural art. Conrad Rudolph, The “Things of Greater Importance”: Bernard of Clairvaux’s 
Apologia and the Medieval Attitude toward Art (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 

Gym Clothes 

little coat. The French words used are cotele in line 140 (diminutive of the source of English coat), 
chemise in line 142 (from which English chemise). 

principal names. Batany, “Les moines blancs,” 17-18. 

De nugis curialium. Walter Map, De nugis curialium: Courtiers’ Trifles, ed. and trans. M. R. James, 
rev. C. N. L. Brooke and R. A. B. Mynors (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983), 100-103 (Distinctio 
1, Capitulum 25). 

302 Notes to Chapter 3 —- Gym Clothes 

the order's policy on underclothing for lay brothers. The most comprehensive treatment of the 
clothing worn by lay brothers is France, Separate but Equal, 84-87. Lay brothers wore a very 
basic outfit of a robe with capuce, belt, socks, and footwear. Brothers who had special duties 
as smiths or herdsmen were authorized additional extra garments. Nothing is said about 

cloaks. A classic study is Therese Latzke, “Der Topos Mantelgedicht,” Mittellateinisches Jahrbuch 
6 (1970): 109-31. 

such items. On the clothing of jongleurs, see Noomen, Le jongleur par lui-méme, 11-12. 
only his undergarment. John 19:23. 

pornographic. For the most extreme development of this equation, see Bill Burgwinkle and Cary 
Howie, Sanctity and Pornography in Medieval Culture: On the Verge (Manchester, UK: Manchester 
University Press, 2010). 

medieval culture. Ernst Robert Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, trans. Willard 
R. Trask, Bollingen Series, vol. 36 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990), 433-35. 

difference in status. On implications of naked jongleurs in art to questions of gender relations 
and social status, see Elizabeth Moore Hunt, “The Naked Jongleur in the Margins: Manuscript 
Contexts for Social Meanings,” in The Meanings of Nudity in Medieval Art, ed. Sherry C. M. 
Lindquist (Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2012), 85-102 and ix (list of illustrations). 

medieval commentary tradition. A very useful overview of terminology and metaphors remains D. 
W. Robertson, Jr., “Some Medieval Literary Terminology, with Special Reference to Chrétien de 
Troyes,” Studies in Philology 48 (1951): 669-92, repr. in idem, Essays in Medieval Culture (Princeton, 
NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980), 51-72. A thorough treatment in German is offered by 
Hennig Brinkmann, Mittelalterliche Hermeneutik (Tubingen, Germany: Niemeyer, 1980), 169-98. 

Latin terms. Integumentum and involucrum: see Marie-Dominique Chenu, “Involucrum: Le 
mythe selon les théologiens médiévaux,” Archives d’histoire doctrinale et littéraire du Moyen Age 
22 (1955): 75-79; Winthrop Wetherbee, Platonism and Poetry in the Twelfth Century: The Literary 
Influence of the School of Chartres (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1972), 36-48; 
Brian Stock, Myth and Science in the Twelfth Century: A Study of Bernard Silvester (Princeton, NJ: 
Princeton University Press, 1972), 49-62. 

coordinates. Lines 225-226. 
new moves. Line 217. 
sweat-slicked. Lines 234-236. 

Goswin of Bossut. Martha G. Newman, “Disciplining the Body, Disciplining the Will: Hypocrisy 
and Asceticism in Cistercian Monasticism,” in Asceticism and Its Critics: Historical Accounts and 
Comparative Perspectives, ed. Oliver Freiberger (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 91-115, 
at 91-92, especially at n2. A key passage is Goswin of Bossut, Vita Arnulfi, book 1, chaps. 2-6 
(10-21), in Acta sanctorum, June, vol. 7, 606-31 (Antwerp), 558-79 (Paris); in English, Goswin of 

Notes to Chapter 3 — Sweat Cloth 303 

Bossut, Send Me God: The Lives of Ida the Compassionate of Nivelles, Nun of La Ramée, Arnulf, Lay 
Brother of Villers, and Abundus, Monk of Villers, trans. Martinus Cawley, Medieval Women, vol. 6 
(Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2003), 125-205, at 132-40. 

one of the desert fathers. Gesta Sanctorum Villariensium 26, in Monumenta Germaniae Historica: 
Scriptores 25, ed. Georg Waitz (Hannover, Germany: Hahnsche Buchhandlung, 1880), 234, lines 
43-44 (“Hic carnem suam adeo castigavit, quod qui videret eum Arsenium se vidisse putare 
potuit vel unum ex antiquis heremi cultoribus”), cited by Newman, “Disciplining the Body,” at 

dribbles down. Lines 400-402. 

Sweat Cloth 

come to life. On stories from the Middle Ages about statues of the Virgin that come to life, the 
locus classicus is Paull [sic] Franklin Baum, “The Young Man Betrothed to a Statue,” Publications 
of the Modern Language Association 34 (1919): 523-79. The motif has been explored further in 
its medieval context by Berthold Hinz, “Statuenliebe: Antiker Skandal und mittelalterliches 
Trauma,” Marburger Jahrbuch fiir Kunstwissenschaft 22 (1989): 135-42; Camille, Gothic Idol, 220- 
41, 383-85 (notes). 

sudarium. A sudarium, also mentioned in the Gospel of John (see below), was seen in Jerusalem 
about 680 by Arculf, whose report on it appears in Adomnan, De locis sanctis, 9, ed. Denis 
Meehan, Scriptores Latini Hiberniae, vol. 3 (Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 
1958), 52-55. 

Gospel of John. John 20:6-7. 
alleged. Others are held in Compiegne and Cadouin, both in France. 
hybrid form. It joins together vera and icon. 

this very item. Hans Belting, Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image before the Era of Art, 
translated by Edmund Jephcott (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 215-24. 

one of Christ's contemporaries. The contemporary was Ananias, also known as Hannan. See 
Andrea Nicolotti, From the Mandylion of Edessa to the Shroud of Turin: The Metamorphosis and 
Manipulation of a Legend, Art and Material Culture in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, vol. 1 
(Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2014). 

not handmade. Acheiropoeieton. 
towel. The Latin is toella, cognate with French touaille. 

a holy cloth. See Jannic Durand and Marie-Pierre Lafitte, eds., Le trésor de la Sainte-Chapelle (Paris: 
Réunion des musées nationaux, 2001), 37, 71. 

identical with the mandylion. See Nicolotti, From the Mandylion, 191-93. 

304 Notes to Chapter 3 — The Weighing of Souls 

The Weighing of Souls 

angels and demons. For orientation, see Rosa Giorgi, Angels and Demons in Art, ed. Stefano Zuffi, 
trans. Rosanna M. Giammanco Frongia (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2005), 217-19; 
Laura Rodriguez Peinado, “La Psicostasis,” Revista digital de iconografia medieval 4.7 (2012): 11-20. 
For specifics, see Leopold Kretzenbacher, Die Seelenwaage: Zur religiésen Idee vom Jenseitsgericht 
auf der Schicksalswaage in Hochreligion, Bildkunst und Volksglaube, Buchreihe des Landesmuseums 
fiir Karnten, vol. 4 (Klagenfurt, Austria: Verlag des Landesmuseums fiir Karnten, 1958). For 
careful analysis of the Marian psychostasis, see Catherine Oakes, Ora pro nobis: The Virgin as 
Intercessor in Medieval Art and Devotion (London: Harvey Miller, 2008), 129-66. 

a cleric of Pisa. Kati Ihnat, “Marian Miracles and Marian Liturgies in the Benedictine Tradition 
of Post-Conquest England,” in Contextualizing Miracles in the Christian West, 1100-1500: 
New Historical Approaches, ed. Matthew M. Mesley and Louise E. Wilson, Medium Aevum 
Monographs, vol. 32 (Oxford: The Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literature, 
2014), 63-97, at 78-79. 

against conventional institutional hierarchy. David A. Flory, “The Social Uses of Religious 
Literature: Challenging Authority in the Thirteenth-Century Marian Miracle Tale,” Essays in 
Medieval Studies 13 (1996): 61-69. 

The Latin-Less Lay Brother and Our Lady 

tripartite schema. In Latin, the three classes are, respectively, Iaboratores, bellatores, and oratores. 
This distinctively medieval expression of the trifunctional framework familiar from various 
other Indo-European cultures has been traced back most notably to Adalbero of Laon, Poéme 
au roi Robert, ed. Claude Carozzi, Les Classiques de l’histoire de France au Moyen Age, vol. 32 
(Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1979). In modern scholarship, the essential reference is Georges Duby, 
The Three Orders: Feudal Society Imagined, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Chicago: University of 
Chicago Press, 1980). 

nineteenth-century book. By Maurus Wolter, the German abbot of a Benedictine monastery: see 
M. D. Meeuws, “Ora et Labora: Devise bénédictine?,” Collectanea Cisterciensia 54 (1992): 193-214. 

one line. At line 212, the three manuscripts with “Que ne sot orer altrement” are A, D, and E; the 
two with “Que ne sot ovrer altrement,” B and C. See Bretel, Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame, 85 (note 
on text of line 212), 126. 

reaches her peak. In the boundless literature on medieval Marianism, a very accessible treatment 
that has deservedly won the status of a classic is Warner, Alone of All Her Sex. Among more 
recent general studies, another book that has been paid widespread attention is Rubin, Mother 
of God. 

long twelfth century. See John D. Cotts, Europe’s Long Twelfth Century: Order, Anxiety and 
Adaptation, 1095-1229 (Houndmills, Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). 

cosmic dance. James L. Miller, Measures of Wisdom: The Cosmic Dance in Classical and Christian 
Antiquity, Visio: Studies in the Relations of Art and Literature, vol. 1 (Toronto: University of 
Toronto Press, 1986). 

Notes to Chapter 4 — What Makes a Story Popular? 305 

Notes to Chapter 4 

What Makes a Story Popular? 

anything but time-bound. For example, “Some stories are so worthwhile that they belong to every 
age and every generation.” Vincent Arthur Yzermans, Our Lady's Juggler (St. Paul, MN: North 
Central, 1974), 1. 

archetypes. Philippart, “Le récit miraculaire marial,” 569. 

other Western European vernaculars. For dual-language versions of medieval English miracles 
with facing modern English translations, see Adrienne Williams Boyarin, ed. and trans., Miracles 
of the Virgin (Peterborough, Ontario, Canada: Broadview, 2015). For a late but important version 
in English, see Peter Whiteford, ed., The Myracles of Oure Lady: Ed. from Wynkyn de Worde’s 
Edition (Heidelberg, Germany: Carl Winter Universitatsverlag, 1990). For an overview of what 
survives in Middle English, see Thomas D. Cooke, “Tales,” in A Manual of the Writings in Middle 
English, 1050-1500, ed. Albert E. Hartung, 11 vols. (New Haven, CT: Connecticut Academy 
of Arts and Sciences, 1993), 9: 3177-258, 3501-51. One of the most beautiful and best known 
Middle English versions is Geoffrey Chaucer's tale of the Prioress in the Canterbury Tales. Latin 
authors from England included Dominic of Evesham, Anselm of Bury, William of Malmesbury, 
the Canterbury monk known often as Nigel de Longchamps or Nigel Wireker, Roger of Ford, 
and John of Garland. See R. W. Southern, “The English Origins of the Miracles of the Virgin,” 
Medieval and Renaissance Studies 4 (1958): 176-216; A. G. Rigg, History of Anglo-Latin Literature, 
1066-1422 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 35, 104, 172. The successors in the 
vernaculars came first in France and later in Spain, where substantial collections took shape. 

The Latin digests of miracle tales tend to be labeled simply Mariale (“Marian”), a Latin neuter 
adjective. In titles of Latin works the masculine form is sometimes used instead, assuming the 
noun liber “book” as the unexpressed substantive. 

feasts of Mary. The Assumption and the Purification. 

pilgrimages. See Nicholas Vincent, “King Henry III and the Blessed Virgin Mary,” in The Church 
and Mary: Papers Read at the 2001 Summer Meeting and the 2002 Winter Meeting of the Ecclesiastical 
History Society, ed. R. N. Swanson, Studies in Church History, vol. 39 (Woodbridge, UK and 
Rochester, NY: Published for the Ecclesiastical History Society by the Boydell Press, 2004), 
126-46, at 126. 

some would favor. Most voluminous is Brian Cummings and James Simpson, eds., Cultural 
Reformations: Medieval and Renaissance in Literary History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 
2010). More recent is Ronald Hutton, ed., Medieval or Early Modern: The Value of a Traditional 
Historic Division (Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars, 2015). Most approachable 
is the essayistic Jacques Le Goff, Must We Divide History into Periods?, trans. M. B. DeBevoise 
(New York: Columbia University Press, 2015). An old classic that well repays reading is Wallace 
K. Ferguson, The Renaissance in Historical Thought (Cambridge, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1948). 

protestantized cathedrals. Ralph Adams Cram, My Life in Architecture (Boston: Little, Brown, 
1936), 130. The damage experienced by English cathedrals during the sixteenth and seventeenth 
centuries and the evolution in their constitution and financing as institutions are examined 
in two magisterial books by Stanford E. Lehmberg: The Reformation of Cathedrals: Cathedrals in 

306 Notes to Chapter 4 — What Makes a Story Popular? 

English Society, 1485-1603 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988), and Cathedrals under 
Siege: Cathedrals in English Society, 1600-1700 (University Park: Pennsylvania State University 
Press, 1996). 

bare ruin‘ choirs. Sonnet 73. 

Catholics and Protestants. Bridget Heal, The Cult of the Virgin Mary in Early Modern Germany: 
Protestant and Catholic Piety, 1500-1648 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007). 

worship of Mary. Alain Joblin, “Les Protestants, Marie et le culte marial,” in La dévotion mariale 
de l’an mil a nos jours, ed. Bruno Béthouart and Alain Lottin (Arras, France: Artois Presses 
Université, 2005), 323-36. 

supposed visionaries were executed. Diarmaid MacCulloch, “Mary and Sixteenth-Century 
Protestants,” in The Church and Mary: Papers Read at the 2001 Summer Meeting and the 2002 Winter 
Meeting of the Ecclesiastical History Society, ed. R. N. Swanson, Studies in Church History, vol. 
39 (Woodbridge, UK and Rochester, NY: Published for the Ecclesiastical History Society by the 
Boydell Press, 2004), 191-217; Barnay, Le ciel sur la terre, 172-73. 

knights. Nathan Edelman, Attitudes of Seventeenth-Century France toward the Middle Ages (New 
York: King’s Crown, 1946), 85-276, devotes close to two hundred pages to knights and other 
heroes, especially Charlemagne, Saint Louis, and Jeanne d’Arc, but only two (191-93) to 
religious subjects. 

Ten Commandments. Exodus 20. 

second only to that for Christ himself. Edmund Waterton, Pietas Mariana Britannica: A History 
of English Devotion to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of God. With a Catalogue of Shrines, 
Sanctuaries, Offerings, Bequests, and Other Memorials of the Piety of Our Forefathers, 2 vols. (London: 
St. Joseph’s Catholic Library, 1879). Waterton is particularly good on destroyed Madonnas. 

Mary’s dowry. The Latin epithet used was dos Mariae. 

image of the Virgin. Bishop Peter Quinel (or Quivel) of Exeter, Synodal Statutes for the Diocese 
of Exeter, April 16, 1287, 12, “De ecclesiarum ornamentis et eorum custodia”: see F. M. Powicke 
and C. R. Cheney, eds., Councils and Synods with Other Documents Relating to the English Church, 
2 vols. in 4 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964), 2.2: 982-1059, at 1006 (“ymago beate virginis”). 

first in 1644. The Compact Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 
1991), Madonna 2.b. 

one from the early thirteenth century. From Langham Church in Essex: see Jonathan Alexander 
and Paul Binski, eds., Age of Chivalry: Art in Plantagenet England, 1300-1400 (London: Royal 
Academy of Arts, 1987), 303, no. 249. 

beheaded. Gary Waller, The Virgin Mary in Late Medieval and Early Modern English Literature and 
Popular Culture (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 12. See also Anne Stanton, “On 
the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral” (MA thesis, University of Texas, Austin, 1987). 

mass cremation. Some of these lost Madonnas have been studied individually. One very close 
study is Stanley Smith, The Madonna of Ipswich (Ipswich, UK: East Anglian Magazine, 1980). 

Notes to Chapter 4 — Walsingham, England’s Nazareth 307 

Walsingham. Ronald C. Finucane, Miracles and Pilgrims: Popular Beliefs in Medieval England (New 
York: St. Martin’s, 1995), 204-5. 

Walsingham, England’s Nazareth 

foundation legend. H. M. Gillett, Walsingham: The History of a Famous Shrine, 2nd ed. (London: 
Burns Oates & Washbourne, 1950), is a helpful guide. The most recent general overview is 
Walsingham: Pilgrimage and History. Papers Presented at the Centenary Historical Conference, 
23rd—27th March 1998 (Walsingham, UK: R. C. National Shrine, 1999). The fullest premodern 
account is in a ballad (op. cit., 82-85). 

noblewoman and widow. Named Richeldis of Faverches. 

Holy House. By the designation Holy House was meant the home of the Holy Family where 
Mary had been when she received the visit from God’s messenger, the angel Gabriel. 

mid-twelfth century. On the dating of the shrine at Walsingham, see Mary Clayton, The Cult of 
the Virgin Mary in Anglo-Saxon England, Cambridge Studies in Anglo-Saxon England, vol. 2 
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 139-41. 

Hail Mary. In Latin, Ave Maria. 

milk. Sixty-nine holy places throughout Europe claimed to possess such relics, with samples 
of this precious liquid or of stones impregnated with it. None of these sites was more famous 
than the English. See Paule-Vincenette Bétérous, “A propos d’une des légendes mariales les 
plus répandues: Le ‘lait de la Vierge,”” Bulletin de l’Association Guillaume Bude, 4th ser., 3 (1975): 
403-11, at 405. On the stone galactite, see F. de Mély, “Les reliques du lait de la Vierge et la 
galactite,” Revue archéologique 15 (January-June 1890): 103-16. 

Song of Solomon. 1:5. 

seal. See, for example, Ean Begg, The Cult of the Black Virgin, 2nd ed. (London: Arkana, 1996), 

flasks. The flasks are known technically as ampullae. For further information, see Spencer, Pilgrim 
Souvenirs, 135-48; Scilla Landale, “A Pilgrim’s Progress to Walsingham,” in Walsingham, 13-37, 
at 27-28. 

Archbishop of Armagh. Richard Fitzralph. 

failed to distinguish. G. R. Owst, Literature and Pulpit in Medieval England: A Neglected Chapter in 
the History of English Letters and of the English People (Cambridge: University Press, 1933), 141, at 
n2, citing London, British Library, Landsdowne MS 393, fols. 105v—106. 

pad their own coffers. Owst, Literature and Pulpit, 141, at n3. Both passages are treated by William 
R. Jones, “Lollards and Images: The Defense of Religious Art in Later Medieval England,” 
Journal of the History of Ideas 34 (1973): 27-50, at 29. 

chronicler. Henry Knighton, Chronica de eventibus Anglie a tempore regis Edgari usque mortem regis 
Ricardi Secundi, in Henry Knighton’s Chronicle, 1337-1396, ed. and trans. G. H. Martin (Oxford: 
Clarendon Press, 1995), 292-99, at 296-97. 

308 Notes to Chapter 4 — Walsingham, England's Nazareth 

our dear lady of heaven. Owst, Literature and Pulpit, 145. 

vain waste and idle. Reginald Pecock, The Repressor of Over Much Blaming of the Clergy, ed. Churchill 
Babington, Rolls Series, 2 vols. (London: Longman, Green, Longman, & Roberts, 1860), 1: 194. 
Both this and the preceding are cited by Jones, “Lollards and Images,” 35, at nn42-43. 

Erasmus. For translations of the text (one of his famous Colloquies, composed between 1523 and 
1526 while he was studying in Cambridge, and published in 1526), see Erasmus, Peregrinatio 
religionis ergo (A pilgrimage for religion’s sake), in Pilgrimages to Saint Mary of Walsingham and 
Saint Thomas of Canterbury, trans. John Gough Nichols (Westminster, UK: John Bowyer Nichols 
and Son, 1849), 11-43; idem, Colloquies, trans. Craig R. Thompson, 2 vols., Collected Works of 
Erasmus, vols. 39-40 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997), 619-50 (translation), 650-74 
(notes). For discussion, see Gary Waller, Walsingham and the English Imagination (Farnham, UK: 
Ashgate, 2011), 65-85. 

pilgrimage. Thanks to the account that he left of his expedition, we have the texts of the Latin 
prayer that he pronounced while kneeling at the shrine. Likewise, we can peruse the Greek ode 
he had inscribed on a plaque as a votive offering, despite his grave doubts that the canons on 
site would have the linguistic wherewithal to appreciate what he wrote. See Gillett, Walsingham, 
46-48; Landale, “Pilgrim’s Progress,” 18. 

Loreto. In the Marche region of Italy, not far from Ancona. The town takes its name from 
the clump of laurel trees into which an entire home is supposed to have been miraculously 
transferred from afar. 

Holy House. In Italian, Santa Casa, known alternatively as the House of the Angelic Salutation. 

transported. It was supposedly carried first to Tersatto in Dalmatia on March 10, 1293, later 
to a forest in Recanati on December 10, 1294, and, finally, to its present location in Loreto in 
December of 1295. 

larger building. Sanctuario della Santa Casa, the Sanctuary of the Holy House. 
Black Virgin. Begg, Cult of the Black Virgin, 242. 

Slipper Chapel. Landale, “Pilgrim’s Progress,” 82-83. 

Superstitious Practices. Landale, “Pilgrim’s Progress,” 33. 


Henry III. Vincent, “King Henry III,” 133-34, mentions ten, while Landale, “Pilgrim’s Progress,’ 
17, writes of “about 13 visits.” 

Candlemas Day. Gillett, Walsingham, 30-31. 

four times. In 1487, 1489, 1498, and 1506: see J. P. Dickinson, The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham 
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1956), 41-42. 

demise of the statue. John Phillips, The Reformation of Images: Destruction of Art in England, 1535— 
1660 Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1973), 74-75; Finucane, Miracles 
and Pilgrims, 205. 

Piers Plowman. William Langland, Piers Plowman, ed. Walter W. Skeat, 2 vols. (Oxford: Oxford 
University Press, 1886), 1: 148-49 (B. Passus 5.230-31; compare A. Passus 5.144—45): “But wenden 

Notes to Chapter 4 — Walsingham, England’s Nazareth 309 

to Walsyngham, and my wyf als, / And bidde the rode of Bromholme brynge me out of dette”); 
trans. J. F. Goodridge (Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1959), 67: “And Ill make a pilgrimage to 
Walsingham, with my wife as well, and pray to the Rood of Bromholm to get me out of debt.” 
The Rood of Bromholm, at the Cluniac priory of Saint Andrew near Norfolk, was reputedly 
made from fragments of the True Cross. Pilgrims would stop at the Priory to worship it. 

Marian pilgrimage. Ludwig Hiittl, Marianische Wallfahrten im siiddeutschdsterreichischen Raum: 
Analysen von der Reformations- bis zur Aufklirungsepoche (Cologne, Germany: Béhlau, 1985). 

bishop of Worcester. First Catholic and then Anglican. 

decreed. Sermons and Remains of Hugh Latimer, Sometime Bishop of Worcester, Martyr, 1555, ed. 
George Elwes Corrie, Parker Society, vol. 19 (Cambridge: University Press, 1845), 393-395 
(Letter 31), at 395: “She hath been the Devil’s instrument to bring many (I fear) to eternal fire: 
now she herself, with her old sister of Walsingham, her younger sister of Ipswich, with their 
other two sisters of Doncaster and Penrice, would make a jolly muster in Smithfield; they would 
not be all day in burning.” Contrast text in Gillett, Walsingham, 64. 

Marian revival. Sean Gill, “Marian Revivalism in Modern English Christianity: The Example 
of Walsingham,” in The Church and Mary: Papers Read at the 2001 Summer Meeting and the 2002 
Winter Meeting of the Ecclesiastical History Society, ed. R. N. Swanson, Studies in Church History, 
vol. 3 (Woodbridge, UK and Rochester, NY: Published for the Ecclesiastical History Society by 
the Boydell Press, 2004), 349-57. 

iconoclasm. Phillips, Reformation of Images. See Leopold Kretzenbacher, “Das verletzte Kultbild: 
Voraussetzungen, Zeitschichten und Aussagewandel eines abendlandischen Legendentypus,” 
Sitzungsberichte, Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-Historische Klasse, 1977, Heft 
1 (Munich, Germany: Verlag der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, in Kommission 
bei C. H. Beck, 1977). 

removal in 1535. Charles Wriothesley, A Chronicle of England during the Reigns of the Tudors, from 
A.D. 1485 to 1559, ed. William Douglas Hamilton, 2 vols., Camden Society Publications 11, 20 
(Westminster, UK: Printed for the Camden Society, 1875-1877), 1:31. 

cut away. Waller, Virgin Mary, 14. 
shorn of her offspring. Phillips, Reformation of Images, 144. 

Elizabeth I. Margaret Aston, England’s Iconoclasts (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988), 318; Patrick 
Collinson, “Pulling the Strings: Religion and Politics in the Progress of 1578,” in The Progresses, 
Pageants, and Entertainments of Queen Elizabeth I, ed. Jayne Elisabeth Archer et al. (Oxford: 
Oxford University Press, 2007), 122-41, at 129-30. 

Hans Holbein. Heal, Cult of the Virgin Mary, 119. 
Paris. In 1528, 1545, and 1551. 
Geneva. In 1532. 

Valladolid. In 1600. The Valladolid image had been relabeled Nuestra Senora de la Vulnerata or 
Santa Maria Vulnerata (Wounded Saint Mary) after having been victimized during the English 

310 Notes to Chapter 4 — Madonnas of the World Wars 

raid on Cadiz in 1596. For the information in this paragraph, see MacCulloch, “Mary and 
Sixteenth-Century Protestants,” 198-99. 

conflicts between Catholics and Protestants. John Singleton, “The Virgin Mary and Religious 
Conflict in Victorian Britain,” The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 43.1 (1992): 16-34, at 25. 

Jesuit. Wilhelm Gumppenberg, Atlas Marianus sive de imaginibus Deiparae per orbem christianum 
miraculosis, 1st ed., 2 vols. (Ingolstadt, Germany: Haenlin, 1657); 2nd ed., 2 vols., Atlas Marianus 
quo Sanctae Dei Genitricis Mariae imaginum miraculosarum origines duodecim historiarum centurtis 
explicantur (Munich: Johannes Jaecklin, 1672). 

four-digit headcount. One noteworthy dimension of the total is the paucity of overlap with 
Madonnas that are touched upon anywhere in the present book. 

discrete index. Idea Atlantis Mariani (Trent, Italy: Ex typog. Caroli Zanetti, 1655), 31-36 (chap. 3, 
index 5). 

Madonnas. Joan Carroll, Miraculous Images of Our Lady: 100 Famous Catholic Portraits and Statues 
(Rockford, IL: Tan Books and Publishers, 1993). 

Madonnas of the World Wars 

street corners. Edward Muir, “The Virgin on the Street Corner: The Place of the Sacred in Italian 
Cities,” in Religion and Culture in the Renaissance and Reformation, ed. Steven E. Ozment, Sixteenth 
Century Essays and Studies, vol. 11 (Kirksville, MO: Sixteenth Century Journal Publishers, 
1989), 25-40. 

Henry Adams. Henry Adams, Letter to Charles F. Adams Jr., Niirnberg, July 3, 1859, in LHA 1: 
49-52, at 51. 

Bouchoir. The caption has the name of the municipality misprinted as Bouchois. 
Divine Shepherdess. La Divine Bergere. 
Notre-Dame de Brebieres. Black Virgin. Begg, Cult of the Black Virgin, 167. 

statue. The sculpture became the object of devotion for Saint Colette, who won exaltation from 
prostrating herself before the altar of Notre-Dame de Brebieres, and of pilgrimage for others, as 
well as the basis for the foundation of a confraternity. 

mortar shelling. Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory (New York: Oxford University 
Press, 1975), 131-35. On the destruction, see Alphonse Gosset, Une glorieuse mutilée: Notre-Dame 
de Brebiéres, Albert (Somme) (Paris: Blanchard, 1919), repr. as Notre-Dame de Brebiéres, a Albert 
(Inval-Boiron, France: Vague verte, 2011); Pierre Laboureyras, La destruction d’une cité picarde 
et d’une basilique mariale: La ville d’Albert avant et pendant la guerre, 1914-1915 (Amiens, France: 
Grau, 1916; repr. Paris: Le Livre d’histoire-Lotisse, 2012). 

Lady of the Limp. Fussell, Great War, 44. 

La Gleize. Robert M. Edsel, The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest 
Treasure Hunt in History (New York: Center Street, 2009), 173-76, 214-19. 

Notes to Chapter 4 — Literary Iconoclasm 311 

Literary Iconoclasm 

letter to Thomas Cromwell. Dr. Richard Layton, in G. H. Cook, Letters to Cromwell and Others on the 
Suppression of the Monasteries (London: J. Baker, 1965), 38. This letter, written August 7, is found 
in the Cromwell Correspondence (Public Records Office), xx: “a bowke of or lades miracles 
well able to mache the canterberie tailles. Such a bowke of dremes as ye never saw wich I 
fownde in the librarie.” 

lugubrious stanzas. Gillett, Walsingham, 86-87, at 87: “Weep, weep, O Walsingham, / Whose dayes 
are nightes, / Blessings turned to blasphemies, / Holy deedes to dispites. / Sinne is where our 
Ladye sate, / Heaven turned is to helle; / Sathan sitte where our Lord did swaye, / Walsingham, 
oh, farewell!” 

a ballad. Printed in 1496 by Richard Pynson, the twenty-one verses have come to be known in 
recognition of him as the Pynson Ballad. 

out of some of their heads. Waller, Virgin Mary, 3; Gillett, Walsingham, 65-66; Aston, England’s 
Iconoclasts, 29. The original text reads “I cannot perceive butt the seyd Image is not yet out of 
sum of their heddes.” 

pelted with snowballs. The National Archives, State Papers 1/157, fol. 67, in Letters and Papers, 
Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII, 21 vols. in 37 (London: Longman, Green, 
Longman and Roberts, 1862-1932; rept. Vaduz: Kraus Reprint, 1965), 15: 28, no. 86, cited by G. 
W. Bernard, The Late Medieval English Church: Vitality and Vulnerability before the Break with Rome 
(New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012), 147. 

God and Christ. Heal, Cult of the Virgin Mary, 53-54. 

most often to the Virgin. Eamon Duffy, Faith of Our Fathers: Reflections on Catholic Tradition 
(London: Continuum, 2004), 101 (apparently an error for 110, cited by Waller, Virgin Mary, 31). 

rich spoils. Erasmus, Colloquies, trans. Thompson, 289-90. I have changed “booty” to “rich spoils.” 
subtle changes. See Thomas S. Freeman, “Offending God: John Foxe and English Protestant 
Reactions to the Cult of the Virgin Mary,” Studies in Church History 39 (2005): 228-38, at 228-32. 

bloody. In the distended bibliography, a relatively recent and thorough treatment is by Stefania 
Biscetti, “The Diachronic Development of Bloody: A Case Study in Historical Pragmatics,” in 
English Historical Linguistics 2006: Selected Papers from the Fourteenth International Conference on 
English Historical Linguistics, 3 vols., vol. 2: Lexical and Semantic Change, ed. Maurizio Gotti et al., 
Amsterdam Studies in the Theory and History of Linguistic Science, Series 4, Current Issues in 
Linguistic Theory, vols. 295-97 (Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2008), 53-74. 

John Bale. With no specific reference to the present context, see Cathy Shrank, “John Bale and 
Reconfiguring the ‘Medieval’ in Reformation England,” in Reading the Medieval in Early Modern 
England, ed. Gordon McMullan and David Matthews (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 
2007), 179-92. 

presented him with a rosary. John Bale, Scriptorvm illustriu[m] maioris Brytannie, quam nunc Angliam 
& Scotiam uocant: Catalogus (Basel, Switzerland: apud I. Oporinum, 1557-1559), 624-25: “The 
Blessed Virgin entered the cell of Alanus although it was shut and, fashioning a ring out of her 

312 Notes to Chapter 4 — Literary Iconoclasm 

hair for him, betrothed herself to the friar, that she kissed him, and gave him her breasts to be 
fondled and milked and, finally, that she gave herself to him as familiarly as a wife customarily 
does to her husband.” See Freeman, “Offending God,” 233-34 (with information on other 
accounts of the same episode). 

mediator. Mary Vincentine Gripkey, The Blessed Virgin Mary as Mediatrix in the Latin and Old 
French Legend Prior to the Fourteenth Century (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America, 

Irish immigrant. Sheridan Gilley, “Protestant London, No-Popery and the Irish Poor, II: 1850- 
1860,” Recusant History 11 (1971-1972): 21-46, at 43. 

Madonnas. Jacques Le Goff, Saint Louis (Paris: Gallimard, 1996), 425, 772; trans. Gareth Evan 
Gollard (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2009), 335, 632. 

cult of Mary. Contrast Heal, Cult of the Virgin Mary, 5, 148. 

great emphasis. The Council of Trent, Twenty-Fifth Session, “On the Invocation, Veneration, and 
Relics, of Saints, and on Sacred Images” (December 4, 1563), in The Canons and Decrees of the 
Sacred and Oecumenical Council of Trent, ed. and trans. J. Waterworth (London: Dolman, 1848), 

shunted aside. Michael P. Carroll, Madonnas That Maim: Popular Catholicism in Italy since the 
Fifteenth Century (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), 106. 

William Thomas. William Thomas, The Pilgrim: A Dialogue on the Life and Actions of King Henry the 
Eighth, ed.J. A. Froude (London: Parker, Son, and Bourn, 1861), 43: “[H]is Highness had found 
out the falsehood of these jugglers, who led the people unto this idolatry of worshipping of 
saints, believing of miracles, and going on pilgrimage here and there (as unto this hour you see 
it used here in Italy).” 

Mary held an ambiguous position. Joblin, “Les protestants.” 
Marian revival. Singleton, “Virgin Mary,” 28-29. 
A cleavage is perceptible. Heal, Cult of the Virgin Mary, 145. 

Martin Luther. On Luther's attitudes concerning the Virgin Mary, see Peter Newman Brooks, “A 
Lily Ungilded? Martin Luther, the Virgin Mary and the Saints,” Journal of Religious History 13 
(1984-1985): 136-49; Hans Diifel, Luthers Stellung zur Marienverehrung, Kirche und Konfession: 
Ver6ffentlichungen des Konfessionskundlichen Instituts des Evangelischen Bundes, vol. 13 
(G6ttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1968). 

commented with disapproval. Diifel, Luthers Stellung, 235. 

honored but not worshiped. The principle was summed up in a Latin superscription, Maria 
honoranda, non adoranda, which in 1619 was appended to an image of Mary as queen of heaven 
that was restored and put on display anew in the Lutheran city of Zittau, in southeast Saxony. 
Hans Carl von Haebler, Das Bild in der evangelischen Kirche (Berlin: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 
1957), 37. 

Notes to Chapter 4 — Marian Apparitions 313 

commentary. In 1520-1521 he composed a “little exposition of the Magnificat,” a Marian hymn 
known likewise as the Song of Mary or the Canticle of Mary. The hymn was based on Luke 
1:46-55. He maintained that a person should honor Mary as she herself wished and as she 
expressed it in the Magnificat. See Sermon on the Mount and the Magnificat, in Luther’s Works, 
ed. Jaroslav Pelikan, 55 vols. (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia, 1955-1986), vol. 21; The Magnificat: 
Luther’s Commentary, trans. A. T. W. Steinhaeuser (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 1967). 

potentially idolatrous. Heal, Cult of the Virgin Mary, 82-83. 

recent retelling. Helena Olofsson, Gycklarpojken (Stockholm: Rabén & Sjégren, 2000); trans. Kjersti 
Board, The Little Jester (New York: R and S Books, 2002). 

We sneer. Henry Warrum, Some Religious Weft and Warp (Indianapolis, IN: Hollenbeck, 1915), 
3. The sentence is preceded by “Idolatry is the worship of idols or images either as gods, the 
sanctuaries of gods, or the symbols of gods, and is man’s effort to reduce the abstract to the 
concrete in order to establish closer communion with the unknown. Images and icons still have 
their place in the religions of civilization.” 

Marian Apparitions 

medieval narratives and images. For a beautiful treatment of both medieval texts and art, the 
reader can do no better than to consult Barnay, Le ciel sur la terre. 

latest tally. René Laurentin and Patrick Sbalchiero, Dizionario delle “apparizioni” della vergine 
Maria (Rome: ART, 2010). 

official policy. Finality came in 1734-1738, in a five-volume treatise written by the archbishop of 
Bologna, just a few years before his election as Pope Benedict XIV. See Prosper Lambertini, De 
servorum Dei beatificatione, et beatorum canonizatione (On the beatification and canonization of the 
servants of God). 

fascination and perplexity. A little more than a decade ago, a book probed both sightings of the 
Virgin and official ecclesiastical investigations of such phenomena, including the appearance of 
the Virgin to six young people in 1981 in the village of Medjugorje, in what is today Bosnia and 
Herzegovina, and to others in Scottsdale, Arizona. See Randall Sullivan, The Miracle Detective 
(New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2004). 

Our Lady of Guadalupe. On the development of the cult down to the present day, see David 
A. Brading, Mexican Phoenix: Our Lady of Guadalupe, Image and Tradition across Five Centuries 
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001). 

official accounts. The apparition, which took place at a location called the hill of Tepeyac, in Villa 
de Guadalupe, a northern suburb of Mexico City, was described in two accounts published 
in the 1640s. It became the object of official fact-checking in 1723. However, it led to formal 
beatification of the visionary only in 1990 and sanctification in 2002. 

associated with Mary. Barnay, Le ciel sur la terre, 124-28. 

314 Notes to Chapter 4 — Marian Apparitions 

black eyelashes. The phenomenon is so widespread that it has even received literary treatment: 
see Sandra Cisneros, Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories (New York: Random House, 1991), 
114-15 (“Anguiano Religious Articles Rosaries Statues Medals Incense Candles Talismans 
Perfumes Oils Herbs”). 

La Morenita. The same nickname, in the form La Moreneta, is used for the Black Madonnna of 

shepherdess. Her name was Lucia dos Santos. 

millions of visitors. Carroll, Madonnas That Maim, 2. On apparitions deemed false, see Vraies et 
fausses apparitions dans I’Eglise, ed. Bernard Billet et al. (Paris: P. Lethielleux, 1973). 

American historian. David Herlihy, Medieval Culture and Society (New York: Harper & Row, 1968), 

Walsingham. For the modern history, see Dominic Janes and Gary Waller, eds., Walsingham 
in Literature and Culture from the Middle Ages to Modernity (Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2010); in a 
nutshell, John Milburn, The Mariological Lectures (London: Society of Mary, 1998), 1-6. 

Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin. Singleton, “Virgin Mary,” 20. 

Notes to Chapter 5 — King David’s Dancing 315 

Notes to Chapter 5 

It would be interesting. Herman Oelsner, “A Story by Anatole France,” The Academy 55 (November 
5, 1898): 218. 

King David’s Dancing 

She liked the story of David. D. H. Lawrence, The Rainbow, ed. Mark Kinkead-Weekes (Cambridge: 
Cambridge University Press, 1989), 170 (chap. 6, “Anna Victrix,” of the pregnant Anna Brangwen, 
who dances naked before the mirror in her bedroom, out of exultation at her pregnancy). 
Lawrence also discussed this episode in David's life in an essay entitled “The Crown” that he 
wrote at roughly the same time. See D. H. Lawrence, Phoenix II: Uncollected, Unpublished, and 
Other Prose Works, ed. Warren Roberts and Harry T. Moore (New York: Viking, 1968), 365-415, 
at 380. 

figure of the jongleur. Martine Clouzot, Le jongleur: Mémoire de l'image au Moyen Age. Figures, 
figurations et musicalité dans les manuscrits enluminés (1200-1330) (Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang, 
2011), 219-304. 

vignette before the ark. The entire passage is 2 Kings (= 2 Samuel) 6.13-23. The dancing is also 
mentioned at 1 Chronicles 13.8 and 15.2729. The Douay-Rheims Bible, produced for Catholics 
at roughly the same time as the King James Bible, follows closely the Latin of the Vulgate Bible 
that Jerome had assembled more than a millennium earlier, in the fourth century. The early 
seventeenth-century English of the Douay-Rheims reads: 

2 Kings (2 Samuel) 14. And David danced with all his might before the Lord: and David 
was girded with a linen ephod. 

16. And when the ark of the Lord was come into the city of David, Michal the daughter 
of Saul, looking out through a window, saw king David leaping and dancing before the 
Lord: and she despised him in her heart. 

20. And David returned to bless his own house, and Michal the daughter of Saul coming 
out to meet David, said: How glorious was the king of Israel to day, uncovering himself 
before the handmaids of his servant, and was naked, as if one of the buffoons should 
be naked. 

kinetic energy. The Hebrew verb kirker denotes “whirling” or “pirouetting.” 

manuscript art. For a listing, see Colum Hourihane, ed., King David in the Index of Christian 
Art (Princeton, NJ: Index of Christian Art, Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton 
University, in association with Princeton University Press, 2002), 118-21. For analysis, see 
Adelheid Heimann, “A Twelfth-Century Manuscript from Winchcombe and Its Illustrations: 
Dublin, Trinity College, MS. 53,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 28 (1965): 86-109; 
Herbert Schade, “Zum Bild des tanzenden David im friithen Mittelalter,” Stimmen der Zeit 
172.4 (1963): 1-16; Sandra Pietrini, “La santa danza di David e il ballo peccaminoso di Salomé: 
Due figure esemplari dell’imaginario biblico medievale,” Quaderni Medievali 50 (2000): 45-73; 
Julia Zimmermann, ““histrio fit David...’: K6nig Davids Tanz vor der Bundeslade,” in Kénig 
David, biblische Schliisselfigur und europiische Leitgestalt: 19. Colloquium (2000) der Schweizerischen 

316 Notes to Chapter 5 — King David's Dancing 

Akademie der Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaften, ed. Walter Dietrich and Hubert Herkommer 
(Freiburg, Switzerland: Universitatsverlag, 2003), 531-61. 

one representation. Dublin, Trinity College Library, MS 53, fol. 151r (accompanying Psalm 1). 
The manuscript is a so-called double psalter, in which the two most important Latin texts of 
the Psalms are presented in parallel columns. The psalter, dated 1130-1140, is thought to have 
come from the Benedictine monastery of Winchcombe. See Zimmermann, “‘histrio fit David,” 
fig. 1. 

walks about upside-down. Leclercq, “ 

Joculator et saltator,” 147, quoting Drogo of Bergues (in 

Bernard of Clairvaux. Sermones de diversis 41.6, in Bernard of Clairvaux, Opera, 6.1: 248-49; ed. 
Leclercq, Rochais, and Talbot, trans. Pierre-Yves Emery, Sources chrétiennes, vol. 518 (Paris: 
Cerf, 2007), 2: 236-71, at 252-53: “Respice David ante arcam Domini hilariter saltantem, quam 
sapienter superbientis feminae reprimat indignationem: Ludam, inquit, et vilior fiam ante 
conspectum Domini” (“Consider David dancing joyously before the Lord’s ark, and how 
wisely he restrains the indignation of his haughty wife”). 

Dante. Purgatorio 10.64-66: “Li precedeva al benedetto vaso, / trescando alzato, l’umile 
salmista, / e piu. e men che re era in quel caso” (“There, going before the blessed vessel, / his 
robe hitched up, was the humble Psalmist, / and on that occasion he was both more and less 
than king”). 

prefiguring Mary's entrance. For the Virgin, see Gaston Duchet-Suchaux and Michel Pastoureau, 
La Bible et les saints: Guide iconographique, 2nd ed. (Paris: Flammarion, 1994), 120; for Christ, see 
Ferguson, Signs and Symbols, 64. 

do we not so call the Virgin Mary?. Le Croisé: Organe belge de la croisade eucharistique 23.5 (October 
1949): 77. The original quotation is “Alors le moine jongleur dansa, comme David devant l’Arche 
d’alliance—n/appelle-t-on pas ainsi la Vierge Marie?” 

Spanish text. The book, generally agreed to have been completed in 1293, is now conventionally 
entitled Castigos e documentos para bien vivir ordenados del Rey Don Sancho IV (Teachings and 
writings for right living arranged by King Sancho IV), ed. Agapito Rey, Indiana University 
Publications: Humanities Series, vol. 24 (Bloomington: Indiana University, 1952). For the 
exemplum, see the ed. by Pascual de Gayangos, in Escritores en prosa anteriores al siglo XV, 
Biblioteca de autores espanioles, vol. 51 (Madrid: M. Rivadeneyra, 1860), 1: 79-228, chap. 17 at 
127 (“come joglar con una citole en la mano”). 

jongleur of God. In Spanish, juglar de Dios. 

a wise one. L’“Eructavit” antico-francese: Secondo il ms. Paris B.N. fr. 1747, ed. Walter Meliga, 
Scrittura e scrittori, vol. 6 (Alessandria, Italy: Edizioni dell’orso, 1992), 123 (Eructavit 235): 

“Joglerres soi, sages e duiz” (jongleur, wise and learned). On this passage, see Zink, Poésie et 
conversion, 161. 

one of the buffoons. Unus de scurris. The noun that has been translated as “buffoon” here is scurra 
(whence the etymological root of the adjective “scurrilous”), which is glossed at least once as 
“jongleur.” See Die Reichenauer Glossen, 2 vols., ed. Hans-W. Klein and Andre Labhardt, Beitrage 

Notes to Chapter 5 — King David’s Dancing 317 

zur romanischen Philologie des Mittelalters, vol. 1 (Munich, Germany: Hueber and M. Fink, 
1968-1972), 1: 97, line 1103: “Scurris: ioculator.” 

dancing. Davies, Liturgical Dance. 
Unto his vomit. Proverbs 26:11, 2 Peter 2:22. 

invoking none other than King David. “Before the Ark of our God King David danced. / We do not 
read that David from grace was driven.” Alternatively, “Before the ark danced King David. /I 
believe that David was no pagan.” From Le Jongleur de Notre Dame (The Juggler of Notre Dame): 
Miracle Play in Three Acts, trans. Charles Alfred Byrne (New York: Charles E. Burden 1907), 27. 

Duke Ellington. The American jazz pianist, orchestra leader, and composer Edward Kennedy 
“Duke” Ellington. 

three full-evening jazz suites. It was performed originally in San Francisco on September 16, 1965, 
in Grace Cathedral, and recorded later from a performance in Manhattan on December 26, 1965, 
at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. The second Sacred Concert, which premiered at the 
cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York on January 19, 1968, concluded with a different 
piece that expressed a similar devotion, Praise God and Dance. When Ellington’s funeral was 
held in Saint John the Divine on May 27, 1974, excerpts from the Sacred Concerts were played: 
see The Duke Ellington Reader, ed. Mark Tucker (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 377. 

his own creativity and devotion. Duke Ellington Reader, 371-72: “It has been said once that a man, 
who could not play the organ or any of the instruments of the symphony, accompanied his 
worship by juggling. He was not the world’s greatest juggler but it was the one thing he did 
best. And so it was accepted by God. I believe that no matter how highly skilled a drummer or 
saxophonist might be, that if this is the thing he does best, and he offers it sincerely from the 
heart in—or as the accompaniment to—his worship, he will not be unacceptable because of lack 
of skill or of the instrument upon which he makes his demonstration, be it pipe or tom-tom. If 
a man is troubled, he moans and cries when he worships. When a man feels that that which 
he enjoys in this life is only because of the grace of God, he rejoices, he sings, and sometimes 
dances (and so it was with David in spite of his wife’s prudishness).” For another pairing of 
David and the Jongleur a few years earlier, see Alan H. Morriss, “A Twentieth-Century Folk 
Mass,” Musical Times 98, no. 1378 (1957): 671-72, at 672. 

David Danced before the Lord. The title is from a verse of the Bible (2 Kings 6:14), as we have seen, 
which describes how King David danced before the ark of the Covenant as it was brought into 
Jerusalem. As recorded on December 26, 1965, this piece is the nine-minute track 10. 

tap master. In introducing one performance, Ellington described the dancer as “the most 
superleviathonic, rhythmaturgically syncopated tapsthamaticianisamist.” The performance of 
Dr. Bunny Briggs on this occasion “broke new ground for modern tap dancing on the concert 
stage”: see Constance Valis Hill, Tap Dancing America: A Cultural History (New York: Oxford 
University Press, 2010), 206. 

Third Sacred Concert. Duke Ellington Reader, 371. For discussion, see Thomas Lloyd, “The Revival 
of an Early ‘Crossover’ Masterwork: Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts,” Choral Journal 49.11 
(May 2009): 8-26, at 9. 

318 Notes to Chapter 5 — King David's Dancing 

this particular piece. Bill Hall, “Jazz-Lewd or Ludens?,” in Creative Chords: Studies in Music, 
Theology and Christian Formation, ed. Jeff Astley and Timothy Hone (Leominster, Herefordshire: 
Gracewing, 2000), 194-209, at 203. 

Protevangelium of James. The Greek noun protevangelion (“first gospel”) could be rendered almost 
synonymously as Protogospel. 

apocryphon. The apocrypha are, as the Greek adjective for “secret” or “hidden things,” 
noncanonical texts that complement scripture. 

sparse treatment. The presence of Mary in the Bible is concentrated in the accounts of Christ’s 
infancy in Matthew and Luke. The earliest of the three Synoptic Gospels, Mark, names Mary 
just once (Mark 6:3), Matthew mentions Mary five times, and Luke provides more evidence 
in his Gospel. In Matthew, Mary is silent, whereas in Luke she speaks four times. Outside the 
Synoptic Gospels, John brings up Mary twice. The Acts of the Apostles, the earliest text that 
mentions the Christian church, refers to her only a single time (Acts 1:14). 

Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew. For a concise introduction, see Luigi Gambero, Mary and the Fathers 
of the Church: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Patristic Thought (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1999), 33-42. 

gaps in the canonical Bible. Mary Clayton, The Apocryphal Gospels of Mary in Anglo-Saxon England 
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998). 

seventh chapter. Protevangelium Jacobi (Protevangelium of James), in New Testament Apocrypha, 
ed. Wilhelm Schneemelcher, trans. R. McL. Wilson, 2nd ed., 2 vols. (Cambridge: James Clarke; 
Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1991-1992), 1: 429 (7.3): “[T]he Lord God put grace 
upon the child, and she danced for joy with her feet, and the whole house of Israel loved her.’ 
For background information, see 1: 421-25, and especially Hans-Josef Klauck, Apocryphal 
Gospels: An Introduction, trans. Brian McNeil (London and New York: T & T Clark, 2003), 65-72. 

The fifteen steps, but not the little jig after the third step, are mentioned in William Emmet 
Coleman and James Boyce, eds. and trans., Officium presentationis Beate Virginis Marie in 
Templo / Office of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Which is Celebrated on the 21st Day of 
November. Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France, MS latin 17330, fols. 7r-14r, Wissenschaftliche 
Abhandlungen / Musicological Studies, vol. 65/ Historiae, vol. 5 (Lions Bay, Canada: Institute 
of Mediaeval Music, 2001), 7, 9. The episode of the dancing has apparently not survived in 
either medieval or Byzantine art: see Jacqueline Lafontaine-Dosogne, “Iconographie comparée 
du cycle de l’Enfance de la Vierge a Byzance et en Occident, de la fin du [Xe au début du XIIle 
s.,” Cahiers de civilisation médiévale 32.128 (1989): 291-303. 


lineage of David. The genealogy in Luke 3:23-38 is taken by some to be Mary’s, by others to be 

Presentation. The Presentation is commemorated traditionally on November 21. Such celebration 
began perhaps as early as 730 (but no later than 1150) in the East, where it is one of the Twelve 
Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church, and in the late fourteenth century (although known 
earlier) in the West. 

fresco. By Paolo Uccello, from around 1435. 

Notes to Chapter 5 — The Widow’s Mites 319 

Prato. In Tuscany. An association of the painting with the episode in the Protevangelium has 
been rejected by José Maria Salcador Gonzalez, “La Presentacién de Maria en el Templo en la 
pintura italiana bajomedieval: Analisis de cinco casos,” Espéculo: Revista de estudios literarios 44 
(March-June 2010). 

The Widow’s Mites 

Jesus witnesses the incident. Gospel of Mark, 12:41-44: “And Jesus sitting over against the treasury 
beheld how the people cast money into the treasury, and many that were rich cast in much. 
And there came a certain poor widow, and she cast in two mites, which make a farthing. And 
calling his disciples together he saith to them, Amen I say to you: this poor widow hath cast in 
more than all they who have cast into the treasury. For all they did cast in of their abundance; 
but she of her want cast in all she had, even her whole living.” The Vulgate Bible: Douay-Rheims 
Translation, ed. Edgar Swift and Angela M. Kinney, 6 vols. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University 
Press, 2010-2013), 6: 259. Compare Luke 21:1-4. 

novelist’s hometown. Carrickmacross, a town in County Monaghan, Ireland. 

dreams for the future. Bernard Duffy, Oriel (Dublin: Talbot Press, 1918), 45: ““Have you decided 
yet,’ he asked, smiling, as they left the church, ‘whether your life is to be sublime or ridiculous?’ 
This reference to the ambitions he had disclosed to the bishop made Oriel blush, and in his 
shyness he could find no answer. ‘Come now,’ said the Dean, ‘there’s nothing to be ashamed of. 
Why when I was your age I wanted to be an itinerant tumbler. So you see we have something 
in common.” The bishop is none other than Dean James. For a reprint of the chapter with 
brief background information, see Bernard Duffy, “Portrait of a Parish Priest,” Clogher Record 
3 (1975): 269-81. 

I think I'll be a bishop. Duffy, Oriel, 38-39. 
the value of an offering. Duffy, Oriel, 64-68. 

small children. W. O. E. Oesterley, The Sacred Dance: A Study in Comparative Folklore (New York: 
Macmillan, 1923), 23: “A little girl, not exceeding five years, was dancing before a picture of the 
Madonna and Child; after her dance she turned to her mother and said: ‘Do you think the Baby 
Jesus liked to see me dance?’ It is not quite easy to say in this case in how far the purpose was 
to please the ‘Baby Jesus,’ and in how far the perfectly natural and innocent purpose was to 

‘show off’ before Him: probably both motives were combined. But the second is purely one of 

‘showing off.’ A child of about three, a boy this time, kept on jumping as high as he could in the 
field; presently his father heard him say: ‘See, God, how high I can jump!” 

volume of literary history. Emile Henriot, Courrier littéraire: XIXe siécle, vol. 1: Autour de 
Chateaubriand (Paris: Marcel Daubin, 1948), 31: the hero in question is Captain Gervais (1779- 
1858), nom de guerre of Etienne Béniton. 

Festival of the Crosses. In Spanish, Fiesta de las Cruces. 
May Cross. Cruz de Mayo. 

plays a role. On May 3. 

320 Notes to Chapter 5 — The Virgin’s Miraculous Images and Apparitions 

Spanish print. An albumen print. Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida produced a painting, as well as 
preliminary studies, on the same theme. 

researcher. J. B. Trend, “The Dance of the Seises at Seville,” Music & Letters 2 (1921): 10-28, 
at 28. For fuller information on the May dance, see José Manuel Fraile Gil and Eliseo Parra 
Garcia, El mayo y su fiesta en tierras madrilerfias, Biblioteca basica madrilena, vol. 10 (Madrid: 
Comunidad de Madrid, Consejeria de Educacion y Cultura, Centro de Estudios y Actividades 
Culturales, 1995). 

dancing was often presented. On positive portrayal, see Van Oort, “Minstrel Dances.” On 
condemnations, see Arcangeli, “Dance and Punishment,” 30-42. 

Stephen of Bourbon. De luxuria 461, in Lecoy de La Marche, Anecdotes historiques, 397, in Aeppli, 
Die wichtigsten Ausdriicke, 47n56, 77n181. 

their small town. In the German region of Saxon-Anhalt. 

ceasing to sing and dance. Thompson, Motif-Index, no. C 94.1.1 (compare C 51.1.5 “Tabu: Dancing 
in Churchyard”); Tubach, Index Exemplorum, no. 1419. The episode was investigated first in 
detail by Edward Schréder, “Die Tanzer von Kolbigk,” Zeitschrift fiir Kirchegeschichte 17 (1897): 
94-164, and later exhaustively (although also very speculatively) by Ernst Erich Metzner, 
Zur friihesten Geschichte der europiischen Balladendichtung Der Tanz in Kélbigk: Legendarische 
Nachrichten, Gesellschaftlicher Hintergrund, historische Voraussetzungen, Frankfurter Beitrage zur 
Germanistik, vol. 14 (Frankfurt, Germany: Athenaéum Verlag, 1972). Metzner’s book includes 
the Latin originals of the three oldest accounts, alongside ample commentary and interpretation. 
For the best balance between thoroughness and brevity (with extensive bibliography), see Rolf 
Wilhelm Brednich, “Tanzersage,” in EdM 13: 201-4. 

The Little Legend of Dance. In German, “Das Tanzlegendchen.” In idem, Sédmtliche Werke in acht 
Banden, 8 vols. (Berlin: Aufbau, 1958-1961), 5: 409-16. See also Sémtliche Werke: Historische- 
kritische Ausgabe, ed. Walter Morgenthaler (Frankfurt, Germany: Stroemfeld; Zurich: Verlag 
Neue Ziircher Zeitung, 1996-2012), 7: 421-27. For an English translation, see Gottfried Keller, 

“A Legend of the Dance,” in Seven Legends, trans. Martin Wyness (London: Gowans & Gray, 1911), 
98-105, and Gottfried Keller, The People of Seldwyla and Seven Legends, trans. M. D. Hottinger 
(London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1930), 294-300. 

Seven Legends. In German, Sieben Legenden. 

Gregory the Great’s Dialogues. Trans. Odo John Zimmerman, The Fathers of the Church, vol. 39 
(Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1959), 211-12 (book 4, chap. 18). 

The Virgin’s Miraculous Images and Apparitions 

Theotokos. Corresponding to the Latin Deipara. For brief overviews of the theology connected 
with this conception of Mary, see Jaroslav Pelikan, Mary through the Centuries: Her Place in the 
History of Culture (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1996), 55-65; Sarah Jane Boss, “The 
Title Theotokos,” and Richard Price, “Theotokos: The Title and Its Significance in Doctrine and 
Devotion,” in Mary: The Complete Resource, ed. Sarah Jane Boss (London: Continuum, 2007), 
50-55 and 56-74, respectively. 

Notes to Chapter 5 — The Jongleur of Rocamadour 321 

City of the God-Bearer. The patriarchate acquired this status because it boasted eventually not 
only many precious relics of Mary but fully 117 churches and monasteries dedicated to her. See 
Cyril Mango, “Constantinople as Theotokoupolis,” in Mother of God: Representations of the Virgin 
in Byzantine Art (Milan, Italy: Skira, 2000), 17-25. 

soaked up miracles. For this absorption, the ugly but serviceable neologism “Marialization” has 
been minted. See Philippart, “Le récit miraculaire marial,” 566. 

taken into heaven. On the complex and much-debated evolution of doctrines relating to this 
aspect of Mary, see Henry Mayr-Harting, “The Idea of the Assumption in the West, 800-1200,” 
in The Church and Mary: Papers Read at the 2001 Summer Meeting and 2002 Winter Meeting of the 
Ecclesiastical History Society, ed. Robert Norman Swanson, Studies in Church History, vol. 39 
(Woodbridge, UK: Boydell Press, 2004), 86-111. 

Miracles of Our Lady in medieval French verse. Miracles de Nostre Dame. 

Miracles of Our Lady in Castilian verse. Milagros de Nuestra Senora, in Collected Works of Gonzalo de 
Berceo, trans. Bartha et al., 13-141. 

Cistercian origin. See Patricia Timmons and Robert Boenig, Gonzalo de Berceo and the Latin 
Miracles of the Virgin: A Translation and a Study (Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2012), 3. 

Songs of Saint Mary. Cantigas de Santa Maria. For an English translation, see Kathleen Kulp-Hill, 
trans., Songs of Holy Mary of Alfonso X, the Wise: A Translation of the “Cantigas de Santa Maria,” 
Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, vol. 173 (Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval 
and Renaissance Studies, 2000). 

illustration. On the images, see Jacques Le Goff, “Le Roi, la Vierge, et les images: Le manuscrit 
des ‘Cantigas de Santa Maria’ d’Alphonse X de Castille,” in Rituels: Mélanges offerts a Pierre- 
Marie Gy, o.p., ed. Paul De Clerck and Eric Palazzo (Paris: Cerf, 1990), 385-92. 

living images. Alejandro Garcia Avilés, “Imagenes ‘vivientes’: Idolatria y herejia en las ‘Cantigas’ 
de Alfonso X el Sabio,” Goya: Revista de arte 321 (2007): 324-42; Jean-Marie Sansterre, “L’image 

‘instrumentalisée’: Icons du Christ et statues de la Vierge, de Rome a I’Espagne des Cantigas de 
Santa Maria,” in Hagiographie, idéologie et politique au Moyen Age en Occident: Actes du colloque 
international du Centre d’études supérieures de civilisation médiévale de Poitiers, 11-14 septembre 2008, 
ed. Edina Bozéky, Hagiologia, vol. 8 (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2012), 463-76. 

performance before pilgrims. San Millan de la Cogolla. 

The Jongleur of Rocamadour 

other Marian exempla and miracles. An individual specimen from this genre of compilations 
is sometimes designated by the Latin term Mariale. This specific collection, attested in eight 
manuscripts, comprises 126 Marian miracles. The text was composed around 1172 by a monk 
in the priory of Rocamadour, in south-central France, but it refers to miracles occurring before 
1166. For the Latin Miracula Sancte Marie Rupis Amatoris, book 1, miracle 34, see Edmond Albe, 
ed. and trans., Les Miracles de Notre-Dame de Rocamadour au douziéme siécle, rev. 2nd ed. Jean 
Rocacher (Toulouse: Le Pérégrinateur, 1996), 142-45; Marcus Graham Bull, trans., The Miracles 
of Our Lady of Rocamadour: Analysis and Translation (Woodbridge, UK: Boydell Press, 1999), 

322 Notes to Chapter 5 — The Jongleur of Rocamadour 

writing down miracles. See Signori, Maria zwischen Kathedrale, 202-28; idem, “The Miracle Kitchen 
and Its Ingredients: A Methodical and Critical Approach to Marian Shrine Wonders (10th to 
13th Century),” Hagiographica 3 (1996): 277-303. 

shrine wonder. For the Old French, see Gautier de Coinci, Les Miracles de Nostre Dame, 4: 175-89 
(2.21: “Dou cierge qui descendi au jougleour”), which supersedes the text in Reino Hakamies, 
Deux miracles de Gautier de Coinci, d’un vilain qui fut sauvé pour ce qu'il ne faisoit uevre le samedi 
et du cierge que Nostre Dame de Rochemadour envoia seur la viele au jougleour qui vieloit et chantoit 
devant s’ymage publiés d’aprés cing manuscrits, Suomalaisen Tiedeakatemian toimituksia, B, 
vol. 113:1 (Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Kirjapaino, 1958). In my recapitulation I 
follow the French; in the Latin the object that moves is not a taper, but instead (apparently) a 
piece of wax. For analysis, see Anna Drzewicka, “La viele du coeur: Une metaphore musicale 
de Gautier de Coinci,” in Contez me tout: Mélanges de langue et littérature médiévales offerts a 
Herman Braet, ed. Catherine Bel et al., La république des lettres, vol. 28 (Leuven, Belgium: 
Peeters, 2006), 175-89. 

Galician-Portuguese. For the concise account, see Alfonso X the Wise, Cantigas de Santa Maria, ed. 
Walter Mettmann, 3 vols. (Madrid: Castalia, 1986-1989), 1: 75-77 (no. 8); trans. Kulp-Hill, 13-14. 

Sieglar. The place name is spelled multifariously, as for example Sygelar, Sigelar, and Siegelar, 
in medieval and modern texts alike. It is in the diocese of Cologne. 

Rocamadour. The French commune is located in a gorge above the river Alzou, a tributary of the 
Dordogne, in the diocese of Cahors. 

Amadour. Henri Fromage, “Rocamadour: Qui est (A)madour?” Bulletin de la Société mythologie 
francaise 161 (1991): 5-14. 

official in control of caring for the church. The medieval equivalent of the facilities director, he held 
the monastic office of sacristan. 

crying for joy. As in the title of the Latin exemplum about the jongleur, the word used here is 

after the beadle had doused it. Dialogus miraculorum, book 7, chap. 46, ed. Strange, 2: 64-65; trans. 
Scott and Bland, 2: 528-30, at 529. On such miracles, see Jaap van Moolenbroek, Mirakels 
historisch: De exempels van Caesarius van Heisterbach over Nederland en Nederlanders, Middeleeuwse 
studies en bronnen, vol. 65 (Hilversum, Netherlands: Verloren, 1999), 113-14. 

King Henry II. Emma Mason, “‘Rocamadour in Quercy above All Other Churches’: The Healing 
of Henry II,” Studies in Church History 19 (1982): 39-54. 

Caesarius of Heisterbach. Dialogus Miraculorum, book 1, chap. 17, ed. Strange, 1: 24-25; trans. Scott 
and Bland, 1: 25-26. 

wooden image. Jacques Juillet, Rocamadour: Symboles et histoire, 2nd ed. (Grenoble, France: Le 
mercure dauphinois, 2005). 

Black Virgin. In French, Vierge Noire. For English-speakers, the most widely available account 
and census of such images is probably Begg, Cult of the Black Virgin; see especially p. 216 on 

Notes to Chapter 5 — The Jongleur of Rocamadour 323 

Rocamadour. A Jungian, Begg promotes a theory that the phenomenon had pagan origins and 
that it came to the West during the Crusades, thanks to the Templars. His evidence must be 
verified on a case-by-case basis. The best short account is Sarah Jane Boss, “Black Madonnas,” 
in idem, Mary, 458-75. 

The most convenient compilation and exposition of information in French is Sophie Cassagnes- 
Brouquet, Vierges noires (Rodez, France: Editions du Rouergue, 2000). Cassagnes-Brouquet cites 
repeatedly a 1550 census of Black Virgins in France, which tallied 190. She provides (on pp. 17 
and 20) helpful maps to indicate the geographic distribution of such statues. A count today 
would be difficult, since older Black Virgins have been stolen, deliberately removed by the local 
ecclesiastical authorities, or spirited away for other reasons, while copies or alleged copies of 
now lost ones have appeared in many locations. 

icon. Anicon by this name survived in Russia until 1941. The panel belonged to the iconographic 
type known as Hodegetria, from the Greek for “she who shows the way.” It represented 
the Virgin Mary as she holds the infant Jesus while pointing to him as the way of salvation. 
Byzantine depictions of the Virgin and Child in this pose exercised a great influence upon 
Italian panel painting, which used the golden highlighting known technically as chrysography. 
See Jaroslav Folda, Byzantine Art and Italian Panel Painting: The Virgin and Child “Hodegetria” and 
the Art of Chrysography (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015). 

Blachernitissa. It is also known as Theotokos of Blachernae, Virgin of the Sign, or Our Lady of 
Blachernae. A catch is that no representation of the Byzantine image from the Middle Ages that 
has been explicitly labeled Blachernitissa depicts Mary holding the infant Jesus. Instead, the 
figures show her in a praying posture that is designated technically (from the Latin participle 
for praying) as orans or orant. Sometimes the Virgin has a medallion of the Christ Child that is 
inscribed within her breast or that levitates upon it. 

Byzantine coins. Vasso Penna, “The Mother of God on Coins and Lead Seals,” in Mother of God: 
Representations of the Virgin in Byzantine Art, ed. Maria Vassilaki (Milan, Italy: Skira, 2000), 
209-17, at 211. 

the Church has sometimes replaced. For a recent controversy, see Benjamin Ramm, “Which Past 
Should We Preserve?” The New York Times, September 2, 2017, C1, C6. 

less than fifty miles from Barcelona. In Catalonia, in the northeastern region of the Iberian peninsula. 

lead token. The token was called in Latin sportula, in French sportelle. Both words derive ultimately 
from Latin sporta, referring to the pilgrim’s scrip, pouch, or purse to which they were attached. 
On these objects, see Ludovic de Valon, “Iconographie des sportelles de Rocamadour,” Bulletin 
de Ia Société des études littéraires, scientifiques et artistiques du Lot 51 (1930): 1-30; Esther Cohen, 

“In haec signa: Pilgrim-Badge Trade in Southern France,” Journal of Medieval History 2.3 (1976): 
193-214; Jean Rocacher, “Les sportelles de Rocamadour (enseignes de pélerinage),” Bulletin de 
Ia Société des études littéraires, scientifiques et artistiques du Lot 106 (1985-1986): 269-88; Gilbert 
Foucaud and Régis Najac, “Sur deux sportelles de Rocamadour trouvées a Capdenac-le-Haut,” 
Bulletin de la Société des études littéraires, scientifiques et artistiques du Lot 125.4 (2004): 303-5. For 
illustrations, see Jean Rocacher, Rocamadour: Un prétre raconte la roche mariale (Paris: Editions de 
l’Atelier, 1999), 25, and especially Spencer, Pilgrim Souvenirs, 234-37. 

324 Notes to Chapter 5 — The Holy Candle of Arras 

On pilgrimage to Rocamadour in the twelfth century, see Jean Rocacher, “La Vierge Marie 
dans le pélerinage de Rocamadour,” in Marie et le Limousin: Actes de la journée d‘études organisée 
a Seilhac le 9 aotit 1991, ed. Sophie Cassagnes et al., Mémoires et documents sur le Bas-Limousin, 
vol. 12 (Ussel, France: Musée du pays d’Ussel; Paris: Diff. de Boccard, 1992), 53-83. 

In both stories. Allen, De l’hermite et del jougleour, 51. 

a version of this Rocamadour miracle tale. “D’un jongleur a cui Nostre Dame envoia son sierge,” 
which begins “La douce mere au creator / A l’eglise a Rochemadour... .” 

anonymous poet. Chantilly: Le cabinet des livres. Manuscrits, 3 vols. (Paris: Librairie Plon, 1900- 
1911): 2: 56 (nos. 68-69). 

The True Legend. “Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame: La véritable légende,” Comedia 17, no. 3893, 
August 15, 1923, front page. The newspaper, then influential, has been defunct since World 
War II. 

Gautier de Coinci’s version. Kemp-Welch, Of the Tumbler 127-37. A German translation, also based 
on the mid-nineteenth-century Poquet edition, was made by Erhard Lommatzsch, Geschichten 
aus dem alten Frankreich (Frankfurt, Germany: J. Knecht, 1947), 113-18, notes 216-17. 

Holy Candle of Arras. Gustave Cohen, “La Sainte Vierge dans la littérature francaise du Moyen 
Age,” in Maria: Etudes sur la Sainte Vierge, ed. Hubert Du Manoir de Juaye, 7 vols. (Paris: 
Beauchesne, 1949-1964), 2: 17-46, at 24-28. 

The Holy Candle of Arras 

Holy Candle. Known in French as the Sainte Chandelle. 

This other wonder. The miracle was studied by Faral, Les jongleurs, 133-42; Adolphe Henri 
Guesnon, La Confrérie des jongleurs d’Arras et le tombeau de l’évéque Lambert (Arras, France: Cassel, 
1913); and, most recently and insightfully, Carol Symes, A Common Stage: Theater and Public Life 
in Medieval Arras (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2007), 85-92. For popular coverage, see 
Claude Esil, “Les jongleurs de Notre-Dame: Arras, la féte des ardents,” La France a table 110 
(October 1964). 

opening years of the twelfth century. Perhaps not too long before 1115, during the episcopacy of 
Lambert de Guines, who served as bishop of Arras from 1093 to 1115. 

half century later. The earliest and fullest written records of the miracle are found in a Latin text 
that was supposedly composed between 1175 and 1200, and in a French version that, at least in 
its present form, had to have been composed after 1237. Whatever we decide about the date of 
its original composition, the official prose account was recorded in a Latin charter drawn up in 
May of 1241. The original of the charter is no longer extant, but late fifteenth-century evidence 
attests to its existence. On the dating, see Symes, Common Stage, 85-86. For information on the 
manuscripts and editions and for presentation of the texts alongside each other, see Roger 
Berger, Le nécrologe de la Confrérie des jongleurs et des bourgeois d’Arras (1194-1361), Commission 
départementale des monuments historiques du Pas-de-Calais: Mémoires, vols. 11.2, 13,2 (Arras, 
France: [Commission départementale des monuments historiques du Pas-de-Calais], 1963— 
1970), 137-56. A briefer account is in Faral, Les jongleurs en France, 133-42. The latest terminus 
post quem would be when a fourteenth-century minstrel refers to the miracle: Jean de Condé, 

Notes to Chapter 5 — The Holy Candle of Arras 325 

Dit des Jacobins et des Fremeneurs (Song of the Dominican and Franciscan friars), dated 1313; for 
which, see La messe des oiseaux et le Dit des jacobins et des fremeneurs, ed. Jacques Ribard, Textes 
littéraires francais, vol. 170 (Geneva: Droz, 1970). For brief discussion, see Wilkins, Music in the 
Age of Chaucer, 143. 

ergotism. The disease is known variously as le mal des ardents (the malady of the burning, or 
fevered) in French, ignis sacer (holy fire) in Latin, and Saint Anthony’s or Saint Martial’s fire in 
English. A form of ergotism caused by ergot poisoning, this affliction resulted from ingesting 
alkaloids produced by a fungus (in the Linnaean nomenclature, Claviceps purpurea) on grains 
such as rye. Long-term consumption of fungus-ridden foodstuffs, especially infested rye 
bread, resulted in disease, which in turn led to both convulsive and gangrenous symptoms, 
with the latter being associated with a burning skin condition. The ergot contained a natural 
hallucinogen, the psychoactive ingredient of which is lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). See 
Jacques Devalette et al., La peste de feu: Le miracle des Ardents et l’ergotisme en Limousin au Moyen 
Age, Les cahiers d’ Archéa, vol. 3 (Limoges, France: Archéa, 1994). 

Itier. Normand was a native of Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise, while Itier hailed from Brabant. 
Brotherhood of the Holy Candle. In French, Confrérie de la Sainte Chandelle. 

confraternity of jongleurs. It was also known more fully as the Brotherhood of Jongleurs and 
Burghers of Arras (Confrérie des Jongleurs et des Bourgeois d’Arras) and as the Charity of Our Lady 
of the Fevered of Arras (Charité de Notre Dame des Ardents d’Arras). See Berger, Le nécrologe de la 
confrérie; L. B. Richardson, “The ‘Confrérie des jongleurs et des bourgeois’ and the ‘Puy d’Arras 
in Twelfth and Thirteenth Century Literature,” in Studies in Honor of Mario A. Pei, ed. John 
Fisher and Paul A. Gaeng, Studies in the Romance Languages and Literatures, vol. 114 (Chapel 
Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1972), 161-71; Catherine Vincent, “Fraternité révée et 
lien social fortifié: La confrérie Notre-Dame des Ardents a Arras (début du XIIle siécle-XVe 
siécle),” Revue du Nord 337 (2000), 659-79. For useful tidbits of antiquarianism (and images), 
see also Louis Cavrois de Saternault, Histoire du Saint-Cierge d’Arras et de la Confrérie de Notre- 
Dame des Ardents, 3rd ed. (Arras, France: Imprimerie de la Société du Pas-de-Calais, 1910). Such 
confraternities were religious associations that brought together individuals of the same social 
class, often of the same profession, who agreed to abide by the statutes of the group and to 
support its other members. In return for an entrance fee and annual dues, this organization 
connected its members with the church and saw to the support of the impoverished and the 
burial of the deceased. 

One activity of the confraternity, the foundation of which is documented around 1175, was 
to present plays: a member was Adam de la Halle, the author and composer of the famous early 
French play with music, The Play of Robin and Marion (Jeu de Robin et Marion), composed in 1282 
or 1283. Not much is to be made of the fact that the woman’s name Marion is a variant of the 
French Marie (Mary). 


guilds for minstrels. Wilkins, Music in the Age of Chaucer, 126. 
Our Lady of the Fevered. Domina nostra ardentium. 

pulled down by a mob. For a depiction of the destruction as it took place, see Charles de Linas, La 
Confrérie de Notre-Dame des Ardents d’Arras (Paris: Didron, 1857), plate between pp. 56 and 57. A 
very different replacement in Romanesque revival style, sadly banal in contrast to the original, 
was completed and consecrated in 1876 (see Fig. n.3). 

326 Notes to Chapter 5 — The Holy Candle of Arras 

Fig. n.3 Consecration of the new Cathédrale d’Arras. Illustration, 1876. 
Published in Le Monde illustré (1876), 356. 

reliquary. Linas, La Confrérie, frontispiece. 

the language of Marian miracles. Philippart, “Le récit miraculaire marial,” 580. 

a story's just a story. Stephen King, 11/12/16: A Novel (New York: Pocket Books, 2011), 52. 
Festival of Our Lady of the Fevered. Féte de Notre Dame des Ardents. 

conflated to this day. Esil, “Les jongleurs de Notre-Dame,” 29-30. 

establish group identities. Kay Brainerd Slocum, “Confrérie, Bruderschaft and Guild: The Formation 
of Musicians’ Fraternal Organisations in Thirteenth- and Fourteenth-Century Europe,” Early 
Music History 14 (1995): 257-74. 

guilds. On the precise nature of the guilds, see Wilkins, Music in the Age of Chaucer, 138 (he 
identifies the Confrérie des Jongleurs et des Bourgois d’Arras as “probably merely a benefit society” 
and the Confrérie de Notre Dame des Ardents as “really a religious guild”). 

segue from bodily movement. John Baldwin, Masters, Princes, and Merchants, 1: 198-204, posits that 
the change from bodily to musical performance was favored during the thirteenth century. 

Notes to Chapter 5 — The Pious Sweat of Monks and Lay Brothers 327 

within places of worship. To take but one example, the French vernacular verse La vie de saint 
Thomas Becket, by Guernes de Pont-Sainte-Maxence, was recited at the tomb of the saint in the 
cathedral at Canterbury. See Guernes de Pont-Sainte-Maxence, A Life of Thomas Becket in Verse: 
La Vie de saint Thomas Becket, trans. Ian Short, Mediaeval Sources in Translation, vol. 56 (Toronto: 
Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2013). 

The Pious Sweat of Monks and Lay Brothers 

Genius is one percent inspiration. Although attributed traditionally to Edison, the quotation 
has a disputed origin and wording. See 

five different versions. For further information, see Albertus Poncelet, “Miraculorum B. V. Mariae 
quae saec. VI-XV latine conscripta sunt index,” Analecta Bollandiana 21 (1902): 241-360, no. 576; 
Tubach, Index Exemplorum, 265, no. 3404: “Monks of Clairvaux harvesting” (Tubach connects the 
exemplum with another motif, p. 386, no. 5114: “Virgin, Blessed, collects drops of sweat. The 
Virgin Mary collected drops of sweat from hardworking monks and nuns”); France, Separate but 
Equal, 42-43; McGuire, “Lost Clairvaux Exemplum Collection Found,” 38-41. 

twelfth-century brother of Clairvaux. Herbert of Clairvaux (died ca. 1198), Liber miraculorum, in PL 
185: 1273-36, at 1273-75 (1.1). See Michael Casey, “Herbert of Clairvaux’s Book of Wonderful 
Happenings,” Cistercian Studies 25 (1990): 37-64, at 49-50 (with Engl. trans.). 

Bright Valley. Likewise, Clara Vallis in Latin. The etymology is explained gracefully in passing in 
Wilhelm Preetorius, Der Ténzer unserer lieben Frau (Zurich: Die Waage, 1964), on the third and 
fourth unnumbered pages. 

wiped the sweat. The same miracle story appeared earlier in Conrad of Eberbach, Exordium magnum 
Cisterciense, 3.13, 2nd ed. Griesser (1994), 161-64; ed. Griesser (1961), 176-77; Collectaneum 
exemplorum 4.16 [90]: ed. Legendre, 289 (text), 409-10 (sources); and London, British Library, 
MS Additional 15,723 (late twelfth century), for which, see Ward, Catalogue of Romances, 2: 629. 

much later telling. This much later version is by a fifteenth-century German Dominican, Johannes 
Herolt (d. 1468), called Discipulus: Miracle 6, in Miracles of the Blessed Virgin Mary, ed. C. C. 
Swinton Bland (London: Routledge, 1928), 23. See Guy Philippart, “Les miracles mariaux de 
Jean Herolt (1434) et la Legenda aurea,” Le moyen francais 32.1 (1993): 53-67; Philippart, “Le récit 
miraculaire marial,” 578. 

monk of Villers. Abundus of Villers, as related by Goswin of Bossut, “Life of Abundus,” in 
Martinus Cawley, Send Me God (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2003), 234. 

first hearing this exemplum. Caesarius heard the exemplum in 1199 as told by Gevard, abbot of 

dispatched a breeze to cool them. Caesarius, Dialogus miraculorum, book 1, chap. 17: ed. Strange, 1: 
24-25; trans. Scott and Bland, 1: 25-26. 

chock-full of exempla. On exempla in Caesarius, see Jaap van Moolenbroek, “Over exempels, 
wonderen en visioenen in het werk van Caesarius van Heisterbach,” Millennium: Tijdschrift voor 
middeleeuwse studies 12.1 (1997): 15-29. 

328 Notes to Chapter 5 — The Love of Statuesque Beauty 

Great Dialogue of Visions and Miracles. Dialogus magnus visionum atque miraculorum. 
Eight such apparitions. Laurentin and Sbalchiero, Dizionario, 170-72. 

In this poem. For the original text, see Gautier de Coinci, Miracles, ed. Koenig, 4: 412-17 (2.31: 

“De un moigne de Chartrose”). For discussion and translation (into modern French), see 
Gautier de Coinci, Cing miracles de Notre-Dame, trans. Jean-Louis Gabriel Benoit, Traductions 
des classiques du Moyen Age, vol. 78 (Paris: Honoré Champion, 2007), 139-51. For appraisal 
of the resemblances between Gautier’s miracle and Our Lady’s Tumbler, see especially trans. 
Benoit, 139-40, 143; Bretel, Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame, 13-14, 18-19. This miracle was omitted 
from Adolfo Mussafia’s source study of Les Miracles de Nostre Dame, on the grounds that Gaston 
Raynaud, in “Le Miracle de Sardenai,” Romania 11 (1882): 519-37; 14 (1885): 82-93, had sourced 
the miracle with which it is transmitted. As poor luck would have it, Raynaud does not deal 
at all with the miracle of the Carthusian monk. See Adolfo Mussafia, Uber die von Gautier de 
Coincy beniitzten Quellen, Denkschriften der kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften in 
Wien, philosophisch-historische Classe, vol. 44.1 (Vienna: In Commission bei F. Tempsky, 1894), 

fellow monk sees Mary. Identified solely as a “virgin” or “maiden” (pucele). 

Song of the Knight and the Squire. Jehan de Saint-Quentin, “Le dit du chevalier et de l’escuier,” in 
Dits en quatrains d’alexandrins monorimes de Jehan de Saint-Quentin, ed. Birger Munk Olsen (Paris: 
Société des anciens textes francais, 1978), 68-76. 

third form of the legend. Gautier de Coinci, Miracles, ed. Koenig, 4: 378-411 (2.30: “Miracle 
Nostre Dame de Sardenay”). On the worship of the icon, see Bernard Hamilton, “Our Lady of 
Saidnaiya: An Orthodox Shrine Revered by Muslims and Knights Templar at the Time of the 
Crusades,” in The Holy Land, Holy Lands, and Christian History, ed. Robert Norman Swanson, 
Studies in Church History, vol. 36 (Woodbridge, UK: Published for the Ecclesiastical History 
Society by the Boydell Press, 2000), 207-15; Benjamin Z. Kedar, “Convergences of Oriental 
Christian, Muslim, and Frankish Worshippers: The Case of Saydnaya,” in De Sion exibit lex et 
verbum domini de Hierusalem: Essays on Medieval Law, Liturgy and Literature in Honour of Amnon 
Linder, ed. Yitzhak Hen (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2001), 59-69, and in The Crusades and 
the Military Orders: Expanding the Frontiers of Medieval Latin Christianity, ed. Zsolt Hunyadi 
and Jozsef Laszlovszky (Budapest: CEU, 2001), 89-100; Michele Bacci, “A Sacred Space for a 
Holy Icon: The Shrine of Our Lady of Saydnaya,” in Hierotopy: The Creation of Sacred Spaces in 
Byzantium and Medieval Russia, ed. Alexei Lidov (Moscow: Indrik, 2006), 373-87. 

hand towel. In French, touvaille: Abbé Alexandre-Eusébe Poquet, ed., Les miracles de la sainte 
Vierge, traduits et mis en vers par Gautier de Coincy (Paris: Parmantier, Didron, 1857), cols. 647-672, 
at 669, line 922. 

The Love of Statuesque Beauty 

another famous Marian miracle. Pinto-Mathieu, La Vie des Peres, 793-818; Camille, Gothic Idol, 

bed trick. See Wendy Doniger, The Bedtrick: Tales of Sex and Masquerade (Chicago: University of 
Chicago Press, 2000). 

Notes to Chapter 5 — The Holy Face of Christ and Virgin Saints 329 

elements from these other accounts. For the broadest perspective, see Theodore Ziolkowski, 
Disenchanted Images: A Literary Iconology (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1977), 18-77. 
We will return to the Marian tales in Chapter 18. 

The Venus of Ille. This is a tale that Marcel Proust said he was not allowed to read: see Bernard 
de Fallois, ed., Contre Sainte-Beuve (Paris: Gallimard, 1954), 238. 

The Holy Face of Christ and Virgin Saints 
Holy Face. In Italian, Volto Santo. 

Lucca. An Italian commune in Tuscany. On the origins and spread of the cult, see Diana Webb, 

“The Holy Face of Lucca,” Anglo-Norman Studies: Proceedings of the Battle Conference 9 (1987): 
227-37. With specific reference to the tale of the jongleur and the Madonna at Lucca, see Valeria 
Bertolucci Pizzorusso, La Vergine e il Volto: Il miracolo del giullare (Lucca, Italy: M. Pacini Fazzi, 
2009). More generally, see Chiara Frugoni, “Una proposta per il Volto Santo,” in II Volto Santo: 
Storia e culto. Catalogo della mostra (Lucca, 21 ottobre-21 dicembre 1982), ed. Clara Baracchini and 
Maria Teresa Filieri (Lucca, Italy: Maria Pacini Fazzi, 1982), 15-48. 

ankle-length tunic,. The garment is designated in Latin by the term colubium. 
This is no place for the Holy Face!. Inferno 21.48: “Qui non ha luogo il Santo Volto.” 
Piers Plowman. Piers Plowman 6.103. 

the image was widely revered. Spencer, Pilgrim Souvenirs, 254-55. In the process, images of it became, 
and have stayed, influential in iconography. See Reiner Hausherr, “Das Imerwardkreutz und 
der Volto-Santo Typ,” Zeitschrift fiir Kunstwissenschaft 16 (1962): 129-67; idem, “Volto Santo,” 
in Lexikon der christlichen Ikonographie, ed. Engelbert Kirschbaum, 8 vols. (Freiburg, Germany: 
Herder, 1968-1976), 8: 471-72; Jerzy Golos, “The Crucified Female and the Poor Fiddler: The 
Long Life of a Legend,” RIdIM/RCMI Newsletter 11.1 (Spring 1986): 8-10; Olimpia Gotdys, “Ein 
mysteridser Spielmann: Zu den kulturgeschichtlichen Aspekten der ‘Spielmanns-Ikonographie’ 
in den Volto-Santo-/Kiimmernis-Darstellungen vom 13. bis zum 20. Jahrhundert,” Music in Art 
33.1-2 (Spring—Fall 2008): 149-67. 

Gospel of John. 3:1 and 19:39. 

deposing Christ from the cross. Relatio Leboini 1, in Bibliotheca hagiographica Latina antiquae et mediae 
aetatis, ed. Société des Bollandistes, Subsidia Hagiographica, vol. 6, 2 vols. (Brussels: Société 
des Bollandistes, 1898-1901), 1: 629 (no. 4236). For discussion, see Corine Schleif, “Nicodemus 
and Sculptors: Self-Reflexivity in Works by Adam Kraft and Tilman Riemenschneider,” The Art 
Bulletin 75.4 (1993): 599-626, at 608-10; Michele Camillo Ferrari, “Imago visibilis Christi’: Le 

‘Volto Santo’ de Lucques et les images authentiques au Moyen Age,” in La visione e lo sguardo nel 
Medioevo—View and Vision in the Middle Ages, SISMEL Edizioni del Galluzzo, 2 vols. Micrologus: 
Natura, scienze e societa medievali/Nature, Sciences and Medieval Societies: Rivista della Societa 
internazionale per lo studio del medio evo latino 6 (1998): 29-42. 

arrived in Lucca. To this day, the cross is situated in the same Tuscan city, in a chapel of the 
cathedral of San Martino. The chapel was built in 1484 to house it in the right-hand nave. 

Illumination of the Holy Cross. In Italian, Luminara di Santa Croce. 

330 Notes to Chapter 5 — The Holy Face of Christ and Virgin Saints 

takes place annually. On the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, each September 13. 

miracles about the Holy Face. For edition and for dating on stylistic basis, see the still foundational 
work by Gustav Schniirer and Joseph M. Ritz, Sankt Kiimmernis und Volto Santo: Studien und 
Bilder, Forschungen zur Volkskunde, vols. 13-15 (Diisseldorf, Germany: L. Schwann, 1934), 133, 
and, in addition, Michele C. Ferrari, “Identita e imagine del Volto Santo di Lucca,” in La Santa 
Croce di Lucca: Storia, tradizioni, immagini. Atti del convegno, Villa Bottini, 1-3 marzo 2001 (Lucca, 
Italy: Dell’ Acero, 2003), 92-102, at 97. 

let fall a silver slipper. In Thompson, Motif-Index, the gesture is subsumed as motif D1622.3: 
“Saint’s image lets golden shoe (ring) fall as sign of favor to suppliant.” This motif is closely 
related to D1622.2: “Image of Virgin bows to indicate favor.” 

the miracle is confirmed. Schniirer and Ritz, Sankt Kiimmernis, 159-78; Peter Spranger, Der Geiger 
von Gmiind: Justinus Kerner und die Geschichte einer Legende (Schwabisch Gmiind, Germany: 
Stadtarchiv, 1980; 2nd ed. 1991). 

Saint Bertin. In Saint-Omer, France. Wendelin Foerster, “Le saint vou de Luques,” Romanische 
Forschungen 23.1 (1907): 1-55. The account is given in the prologue to a work known as La 
Vengeance Jhesu Christ (ca. 1430) by Eustache Marcade. 

Jenois. His name probably derives from that of an early Christian martyr named Genesius. 

encrusted in precious stones. Bejeweled half-shoes of silver were an uncommon adornment but 
are known from the wardrobe of Madonnas elsewhere, as in the English town of Ipswich 
(where the Madonna no longer exists) and in the Italian town of Nettuno: see Smith, Madonna 
of Ipswich, 23. 

substantial reparation. The most complex and radical explanation has been prompted by the 
parallel to Cinderella in the motif of the shoe. See Jean-Claude Schmitt, “Cendrillon crucifiée: 
A propos du Volto Santo de Lucques,” in Miracles, prodiges et merveilles au Moyen Age. Actes 
des congreés de la Société des historiens médiévistes de l’enseignement supérieur public. XXVe Congres, 
Orléans, juin 1994, Série Histoire ancienne et médiévale, vol. 34 (Paris: Publications de la 
Sorbonne, 1995), 241-69; idem, “Réalité matérielle et réalité symbolique: A propos du soulier de 
Christ,” in “Pictura quasi fictura”: Die Rolle des Bildes in der Erforschung von Alltag und Sachkultur 
des Mittelalters und der friihen Neuzeit, ed. Gerhard Jaritz, Internationales Round-Table-Gesprach 
Krems an der Donau, vol. 3 (Vienna: Osterreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1996), 

song of heroic deeds. In French, chanson de geste. 

singing an editorial. Aliscans, ed. Claude Régnier, trans. Andrée Subrenat and Jean Subrenat, 
Champion classiques. Moyen Age (Paris: Honoré Champion, 2007), 328-31 (4821-31 [4759-69]): 

“T can well tell you and assert as true: a nobleman should not listen to a jongleur if he does not 
wish, by God, to give of what he has, for the jongleur does not know another way of working 
for his living... You can verify by the Holy Face of Lucca, which threw down to him its shoe... 
We ought to love jongleurs greatly: they seek out joy, and love to sing it” (my translation). 

Overt incredulity. Boncompagno da Signa, Rhetorica antiqua (or Boncompagnus): no citation is 
provided by Gustav Schniirer, “Die Spielmannslegende,” in Die Gérresgesellschaft im Jahre 
1914: Jahresbericht und Abhandlungen der Herren Birkner, Biichi, Ehses, Riicker, Schniirer (Cologne, 
Germany: J. P. Bachem, 1914), 78-90, at 83. 

Notes to Chapter 5 — The Holy Face of Christ and Virgin Saints 331 

stranger transmogrification. The bibliography on the tale is extensive. Key studies are Schniirer 
and Ritz, Sankt Kiimmernis; Spranger, Der Geiger von Gmiind; Regine Schweizer-Viillers, Die 
Heilige am Kreuz: Studien zum weiblichen Gottesbild im spdten Mittelalter und in der Barockzeit, 
Deutsche Literatur von den Anfangen bis 1700, vol. 26 (Bern, Switzerland: P. Lang, 1997). For 
a good distillation in English of what is known and what has been hypothesized, see Ilse E. 
Friesen, The Female Crucifix: Images of St. Wilgefortis since the Middle Ages (Waterloo, Canada: 
Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2001), 35-45. In German, the standard encyclopedia entry is 
Peter Spranger, “Kiimmernis,” in EdM, 8: 604-7. 

Brothers Grimm. The Brothers Grimm, Kinder- und Hausmdrchen (repr. Gottingen, Germany: 
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1986; Ist ed. 1812-1815), 2: 293-94 (no. 66: “Die heilige Frau 
Kummernis”) and xxxxix (notes). In the overall count of the Grimm’s tales, this one is reckoned 
no. 152a (and may be compared with no. 139). In the standard system of folktale tale types, this 
one is now subsumed as ATU 706 D: “Kiimmernis,” according to the standard classification 
system, ATU. The same motif also appeared in the Brothers Grimm, Deutsche Sagen, ed. Hans- 
Jorg Uther, 3 vols. (Munich, Germany: Diederichs, 1993), 1: 269-70 (no. 330: “Die Jungfrau mit 
dem Bart”). In this instance they followed Johannes Praetorius, Gazophylaci Gaudium: Das ist, Ein 
Ausbund von Wiindschel-Ruthen, oder sehr lustreiche und ergetzliche Historien von wunderseltzamen 
Erfindungen der Schédtze Wiinschelruthe (Leipzig, Germany: Ritzsch, 1667), 152-53. See Johannes 
Bolte and George Polivka, Anmerkungen zu den Kinder- und Hausmarchen der Briider Grimm, 5 
vols. (Leipzig, Germany: Dieterich’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1913-1932), 3: 241. 

collection of exempla from 1700. Entitled Ovum paschale novum, oder, Neugefirbte Oster-Ayr (new 
Easter egg or newly colored Easter eggs) das ist, Viertzig geistliche Discurs auff den H. Ostertag 
und Ostermontag, by the Catholic preacher and parish priest Andreas Strobl (Salzburg, Austria: 
M. Haan, 1694), 216-17, who drew in turn upon Benignus Kybler, Wunder-Spiegel, oder géttliche 
Wunderwerck auss dem Alt- und Neuen Testament zu einem beyhiilfflichen Vorrath allerhand Predigen 
(2 vols. [Munich, Germany: In Verlegung Johan Wagners: Johann Hermanns von Geldern; 
gedruckt bey Sebastian Rauch, 1678-1682], 1: 505). On the sources of the exemplum in the 
latter, see Renate Vollmer, Die Exempel im “Wunderspiegel” des P. Benignus Kybler S.J. von 1678, 
ed. Wolfgang Briickner und Lenz Kriss-Rettenbeck, Verdffentlichungen zur Volkskunde und 
Kulturgeschichte 35 (Wiirzburg, Germany: Bayerische Blatter fiir Volkskunde, 1989), 31, no. 

Kummernis. This corresponds to the more common Kiimmernis, with an umlaut. 

sundry other names. She is known also in English as Saint Uncumber, which derives in turn from 
the Middle Dutch Ontkommer, signifying “freedom from care” (from the negative prefix ont- 
and the noun kommer). Names in other languages are: Liberata in Italian and Librada in Spanish, 
presumably implying something similar to the German, since both mean “freed” in Italian and 
Spanish. The French Débarras is similar, since it denotes “riddance.” 

strong maiden. Latin, virgo fortis. For Wilgefortis, see Acta Sanctorum (July), 5: 63. For iconography 
and history, see Friedrich Gorissen, “Das Kreuz von Lucca und die H. Wilgifortis/Ontcommer 
am unteren Rhein: Ein Beitrag zur Hagiographie und Ikonographie,” Numaga 15 (1968): 122-48. 

The tale is widely attested. Hans-Jorg Uther, Handbuch zu den “Kinder- und Hausmiairchen” der Briider 
Grimm: Entstehung, Wirkung, Interpretation, 2nd ed. (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2013), 457. See also 
Friesen, Female Crucifix, 9-18 (on Volto Santo), 47-62 (on Ontkommer and Uncumber), 63-80 (on 
Wilgefortis), 81-110 (on Kummernis). On the iconography, see Marco Paoli and Carla Simonetti, 

332 Notes to Chapter 5 — The Holy Face of Christ and Virgin Saints 

“L’iconografia del Volto Santo in codici e stampati,” in Il Volto Santo: Storia e culto. Catalogo della 
mostra (Lucca, 21 ottobre—21 dicembre 1982), ed. Clara Baracchini and Maria Teresa Filieri (Lucca, 
Italy: Maria Pacini Fazzi, 1982), 49-58. 

The Image at Lucca. In German, “Die Bildnus [sic] zu Luca.” The woodcut is labeled “Sant 
Kiimernus.” For information and reproduction, see Hans Burgkmair, Das graphische Werk: 
1473-1973 (Augsburg, Germany: Stadtische Kunstsammlungen, 1973), no. 38, catalogue no. 39. 

folk art. Koraljka Kos, “St. Kitimmernis and Her Fiddler (An Approach to Iconology of Pictorial 
Folk Art),” Studia Musicologica 19 (1977): 251-66. 

1816 ballad. Entitled Der Geiger zu Gmiind (The fiddler of Gmiind) by the Swabian poet Andreas 
Justinus Kerner. 

Saint Cecilia. The writer had been inspired to compose his poem by seeing a representation of 
Kummernis with an accompanying account of the legend. 

image of Cecilia. In a chapel in Gmiind. 

matching item of footwear. The ballad, still known today, enjoyed surges of popularity in the 
past. The German painter Hermann Knackfuss produced an engraving of this version as a 
book illustration that was printed in 1871, at the time of the Franco-Prussian War: Hermann 
Knackfu&, “Der Geiger zu Gmiind Buchillustration,” in Alte und Neue Welt: Illustrierte Katholische 
Monatsschrift zur Unterhaltung und Belehrung 5 (1871): 308, reproduced at p. 103 as fig. 49. 

The Hermit. Der Einsiedler or Der geigende Eremit: Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen, 
Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Inv. Nr. A I 363), 90 x 69 cm (oil on wood): see Rolf Andree, Arnold 
Bocklin: Die Gemiéilde, 2nd ed. (Basel, Switzerland: F. Reinhardt; Munich, Germany: Hirmer, 
1998), 457 (no. 384). The painting’s relevance as an analogue to the juggler tale was pointed out 
first in 1898 by Oelsner, “A Story by Anatole France,” 218. 

The Miracle. Kurt Elbau, “Das Wunder,” Liibeckische Anzeigen 149, Morgen-Blatt, no. 393, August 
6, 1899, 3. Cited by August Andrae, “Das Weiterleben alter Fablios, Lais, Legenden und anderer 
alter Stoffe,” Romanische Forschungen 16 (1904): 321-53, at 327. 

the noun. See Wilhelm Schafer, “Der Spielmann,” in idem, Erzdhlende Schriften, vol. 2: Rheinsagen 
(Munich, Germany: Miiller, 1918), 73-74; repr. in Legenden: Alte Erzihlungen in der Dichtung 
unserer Zeit, ed. Fritz Schlo&, 29-30 (Sannerz, Germany: Gemeinschafts-Verlag, 1923), and ed. 
Fritz Schlo&, 34-36 (with Scherenschnitt on 36) (Sannerz, Germany: Eberhard Arnold, 1925). 

The Dancer of Our Lady. The German is Der Ténzer unserer lieben Frau. To take four examples 
from across more than four decades, this was the case with the 1921 adaptation of the tale as a 
play by Franz Johannes Weinrich, the 1922 translation of the Old French into German by Carl 
Sigmar Gutkind, a 1963 setting of the story to electronic music composed in 1963 by Konrad 
Boehmer for a ballet that was performed a year later, and the 1964 scissor-art version of the 
story by Wilhelm Preetorius. 

The sixty-minute composition by Boehmer was commissioned by the Wuppertal ballet 
company (Wuppertaler Biihnen) during a spell when the composer was active in the West 
German Broadcasting Company (WDR) in Cologne. The music was recorded in the broadcaster's 
electronic studio and was performed by the ballet company on January 30, 1964. The ballet was 
by Erich Walter and Heinrich Wendel, with soloists Inge Koch and André Doutreval. See Konrad 

Notes to Chapter 5 — The Holy Face of Christ and Virgin Saints 333 

Boehmer, Doppelschldge: Texte zur Musik, vol. 1: Texte zur Musik: 1958-1967, ed. Stefan Fricke 
and Christian Grtin, Quellentexte zur Musik des 20./21. Jahrhunderts, vol. 12 (Saarbrticken, 
Germany: Pfau, 2009), 158-59. 

Friedrich Hedler. Friedrich Hedler, Der Tiinzer unserer lieben Frau: Ein Spiel nach altfranzdsischen 
und altdeutschen Motiven (Munich, Germany: Buchner, 1950). The cover has a woodcut by P. 
J. Paffenholz, and the foreword indicates that the accompanying music (formerly available 
through the publisher) was by Erwin Mausz. Hedler had been an opponent of Goebbels within 
the Rosenberg faction of the National Socialists: see Friedrich Hedler, “Wiedergeburt der 
Schauspielkunst aus dem Geist der Dichtung,” Bausteine 2 (1934): 97-103. Works with the same 
German title that tell instead the story of Our Lady’s Tumbler have been written by Wilhelm 
Preetorius and Franz Johannes Weinrich, as well as the translation by Curt Sigmar Gutkind in 

The Miracle of the Golden Shoes. Maria Dutli-Rutishauer, Das Wunder der goldenen Schuhe und 
andere Legenden, illus. Johannes Wohlfahrt (Rottenburg/Neckar, Germany: Pfeilerverlag, 1954). 

Loving Mother of the Savior. Dutli-Rutishauer, Das Wunder der goldenen Schuhe, 65-68: Alma 
redemptoris mater. 

Tell Me Something!. Henry Blauth and Kurt Roderbourg, Erzdhl mir was! (Boston: Ginn, 1960), 
126-33 (“Der Spielmann unserer lieben Frau”). 

The Poor Minstrel. “Der arme Spielmann,” in Festkalendar von Frz. Graf Bocci, G. Gérres und ihren 
Freunden, 10 (Munich: Cotta, and Vienna: Mechitaristen, 1836), 6. Cited by Schniirer, “Die 
Spielmannslegende,” 89-90. 



EdM_ Enzyklopidie des Marchens: Handworterbuch zur historischen und vergleichenden 
Erzahlforschung. 15 vols. Berlin: De Gruyter, 1977-2015. 

LHA The Letters of Henry Adams, ed. J. C. Levenson et al. 6 vols. Cambridge, MA: Harvard 
University Press, 1982-1988. 

PL Patrologiae cursus completus, Series latina, ed. J.-P. Migne. Paris, 1844-1880. 

Referenced Works 

Abry, Emile, Charles Audic, and Paul Crouzet. Histoire illustrée de la littérature francaise, précis 
meéthodique. Paris: H. Didier, 1912. 

Acta Sanctorum. 68 vols. Antwerp: Joannem Mevrsium, 1643-1944, 

Adalbero of Laon. Poéme au roi Robert, ed. Claude Carozzi. Les classiques de l'histoire de France 
au Moyen Age, vol. 32. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1979. 

Adam of Perseigne. “102 Sermo V. in Assumptione B. Mariae.” In PL 211, 733C-744B. 

Adomnan. De locis sanctis, ed. Denis Meehan. Scriptores latini Hiberniae, vol. 3. Dublin: Dublin 
Institute for Advanced Studies, 1958. 

Adriani, Giovan Battista, ed. Beati Oglerii de Tridino abbatis monasterii Locediensis ord. Cist. in divec. 
vercell. opera quae supersunt. Turin, Italy: Augustae Taurinorum, 1873. 

Aeppli, Fritz. Die wichtigsten Ausdriicke fiir das Tanzen in den romanischen Sprachen. Beihefte zur 
Zeitschrift fiir romanische Philologie, vol. 75. Halle, Germany: Max Niemeyer, 1925. 

Albe, Edmond, ed. and trans. Les miracles de Notre-Dame de Rocamadour au douziéme siécle, ed. 
Jean Rocacher. Rev. 2nd ed. Toulouse, France: Le Pérégrinateur, 1996. 

Alexander, Jonathan, and Paul Binski, eds. Age of Chivalry: Art in Plantagenet England, 1300-1400. 
London: Royal Academy of Arts, 1987. 

336 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Alfonso X the Wise. Cantigas de Santa Maria, ed. Walter Mettmann. 3 vols. Madrid: Castalia, 
1986-1989. Trans. Kathleen Kulp-Hill, Songs of Holy Mary of Alfonso X, the Wise: A Translation 
of the “Cantigas de Santa Maria.” Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, vol. 173. 
Tempe, Arizona: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2000. 

Aliscans, ed. Claude Régnier, trans. Andrée Subrenat and Jean Subrenat. Champion classiques. 
Moyen Age. Paris: Honoré Champion, 2007. 

Allen, Louis. “The Birthplace of Gautier de Coincy.” Modern Philology 33 (1936): 239-42. 

—. De I’hermite et del jougleour: A Thirteenth Century “Conte Pieux.” Text, with Introduction and 
Notes, Including a Study of the Poem’s Relationship to “Del Tumbeor Nostre Dame” and “Del 
Chevalier au Barisel.” Paris: Joseph Solsone, 1925. 

Andrae, August. “Das Weiterleben alter Fablios, Lais, Legenden und anderer alter Stoffe.” 
Romanische Forschungen 16 (1904): 321-53. 

Andree, Rolf. Arnold Bécklin: Die Gemiélde. 2nd ed. Basel, Switzerland: F. Reinhardt; Munich, 
Germany: Hirmer, 1998. 

Andrews, Edward Deming. The Gift to Be Simple: Songs, Dances and Rituals of the American Shakers. 
New York: J. J. Augustin, 1940. 

Arabeyre, Patrick. “La lactation de saint Bernard a Chatillon-sur-Seine: Données et problemes.” 
In Vies et légendes de saint Bernard de Clairvaux: Création, diffusion, réception (XIXe-XXe siécles). 
Actes des Rencontres de Dijon, 7-8 juin 1991, ed. idem, Jacques Berlioz, and Philippe Poirrier, 
173-97. Citeaux, France: Commentarii Cistercienses “Présence Cistercienne,” 1993. 

—, Jacques Berlioz, and Philippe Poirrier, eds. Vies et légendes de saint Bernard de Clairvaux: 
Création, diffusion, réception (XIXe-XXe siécles). Actes des Rencontres de Dijon, 7-8 juin 1991. 
Citeaux, France: Commentarii Cistercienses “Présence Cistercienne,” 1993. 

Arcangeli, Alessandro. “Dance and Punishment.” Dance Research: The Journal of the Society for 
Dance Research 10.2 (1992): 30-42. 

Arden, Heather. Fools’ Plays: A Study of Satire in the Sottie. Cambridge: Cambridge University 
Press, 1980. 

Armstrong, Regis J., J. A. Wayne Hellmann, and William J. Short, eds. Francis of Assisi: Early 
Documents, 3 vols. Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 1999-2001. 

Aston, Margaret. England’s Iconoclasts. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988. 

Augustine. Concerning the City of God against the Pagans, trans. Henry Bettenson. Harmondsworth, 
UK: Penguin Books, 1972. 

Auniord, Jean-Baptiste. “Citeaux et Notre Dame.” In Maria: Etudes sur la Sainte Vierge, ed. Hubert 
Du Manoir de Juaye, 2: 583-613. 7 vols. Paris: Beauchesne, 1949-1964. 

Bacci, Michele. “A Sacred Space for a Holy Icon: The Shrine of Our Lady of Saydnaya.” In 
Hierotopy: The Creation of Sacred Spaces in Byzantium and Medieval Russia, ed. Alexei Lidov, 
373-87. Moscow: Indrik, 2006. 

Backman, E. Louis. Religious Dances in the Christian Church and in Popular Medicine, trans. E. 
Classen. London: Allen & Unwin, 1952. 

Baldwin, Charles Sears. “Cicero on Parnassus.” Publications of the Modern Language Association 
42 (1927): 106-12. 

Bale, John. Scriptorvm illustriu[m] maioris Brytannie, quam nunc Angliam & Scotiam uocant: 
Catalogus. Basel, Switzerland: apud I. Oporinum, 1557-1559, 

Bibliography 337 

Baldwin, John W. “The Image of the Jongleur in Northern France around 1200.” Speculum 72 
(1997): 635-63. 

—. Masters, Princes, and Merchants: The Social Views of Peter the Chanter and His Circle. 2 vols. 
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1970. 

Barack, Karl August, ed. Zimmerische Chronik. 4 vols. Tubingen, Germany: Litterarische Verein 
in Stuttgart, 1869. 

Barnay, Sylvie. “Une apparition pour protéger: Le manteau de la Vierge au XIIle siecle.” Cahiers 
de recherches médiévales et humanistes 8 (2001): 13-22. 

—. Le ciel sur la terre: Les apparitions de la Vierge au Moyen Age. Paris: Cerf, 1999. 

Barré, Henri. “Saint Bernard, docteur marial.” Analecta Sacri Ordinis Cisterciensis 9 (1953): 92— 

Bartha, Jeannie K., Anette Grant Cash, and Richard Terry Mount, trans. The Collected Works of 
Gonzalo de Berceo in English Translation. Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, vol. 
327. Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2008. 

Batany, Jean. “Les convers chez quelques moralistes des XIIe et XIIle siécles.” Citeaux: 
Commentarii cistercienses 20 (1969): 241-59. 

—. “Les moines blancs dans les Etats du Monde (XIIe-XIVe siécles).” Citeaux: Commentarii 
cistercienses 15 (1964): 5-25. 


Bates, Robert Chapman. “Le Conte dou Barril par Jean de Blois et le Tournoiement d’Enfer.’ 
Romania 62 (1936): 359-75. 

—, ed. Le conte dou barril, poéme du XIIe siecle par Jouham de la Chapele de Blois. Yale Romanic 
Studies, vol. 4. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1932. 

Batiouchkof, Théodor. “Le débat de l’ame et du corps.” Romania 20 (1891): 1-55, 513-78. 
Battaglia, Salvatore. “Dall’esempio alla novella.” Filologia romanza 7 (1960): 21-84. 
Bauch, Andreas. See Philip of Rathsamhausen. 

Baum, Paull [sic] Franklin. “The Young Man Betrothed to a Statue.” Publications of the Modern 
Language Association 34 (1919): 523-79. 

Baumer, Remigius, and Leo Scheffczyk, eds. Marienlexikon. 6 vols. St. Ottilien, Germany: EOS, 

Bauml, Betty J., and Franz H. Bauml, eds. A Dictionary of Worldwide Gestures. 2nd ed. Lanham, 
MD: Scarecrow Press, 1997. 

Baynes, Norman H. Byzantine Studies and Other Essays, ed. R. A. Humphreys and A. D. 
Momigliano. London: Athlone Press, 1955. 

Bede. See Colgrave, Bertram. 
Begg, Ean. The Cult of the Black Virgin. 2nd ed. London: Arkana, 1996. 

Beissel, Stephan. Geschichte der Verehrung Marias in Deutschland wahrend des Mittelalters: Ein 
Beitrag zur Religionswissenschaft und Kunstgeschichte. Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany: 
Herder, 1909. 

Bell, David Neil, ed. and trans. “De grisis monachis: A Goliardic Invective against the Cistercians 
in London, B.L., Cotton Vespasian A.XIX.” Studia monastica: Commentarium ad rem monasticam 
investigandam 41 (1999): 243-59. 

338 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Belting, Hans. Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image before the Era of Art, trans. Edmund 
Jephcott. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994. 

Belting-Ihm, Christa. “Sub matris tutela”: Untersuchungen zur Vorgeschichte der 
Schutzmantelmadonna. Abhandlungen der Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften, 
Philosophisch-Historische Klasse, Jahrgang 1976, vol. 3. Heidelberg, Germany: Carl Winter, 

Benignus Kybler. Wunder-Spiegel, oder géttliche Wunderwerck auss dem Alt- und Neuen Testament 
zu einem beyhiilfflichen Vorrath allerhand Predigen. 2 vols. Munich, Germany: In Verlegung 
Johan Wagners: Johann Hermanns von Geldern: gedruckt bey Sebastian Rauch, 1678-1682. 

Berger, Roger. Le nécrologe de la Confrérie des jongleurs et des bourgeois d’Arras (1194-1361). 
Commission départementale des monuments historiques du Pas-de-Calais: Mémoires, 
vols. 11.2, 13.2. Arras [Commission départementale des monuments historiques du Pas-de- 
Calais], 1963-1970. 

Bériou, Nicole. “Introduction.” In Prédication et liturgie au Moyen Age: Etudes réunies, ed. idem 
and Franco Morenzoni, 7-22. Bibliotheque d’histoire culturelle du Moyen Age, vol. 5. 
Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2008. 

Berlioz, Jacques. “La lactation de saint Bernard dans un ‘exemplum’ et une miniature du Ci 
nous dit (début du XIVe siecle).” Citeaux: Commentarii cistercienses 39.3-4 (1988): 270-84. 

—, ed. Stephen of Bourbon, Tractatus de diversis materiis praedicabilibus. 3 vols. Corpus 
Christanorum Continuatio Mediaevalis, vols. 124-124B. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2002— 

—, and Marie Anne Polo de Beaulieu, eds. Les exempla médiévaux: Introduction a la recherche. 
Suivie des tables critiques de I’ “Index exemplorum” de Frederic C. Tubach. Carcassonne, France: 
GARAE/Hesiode, 1992. 

—, and Marie Anne Polo de Beaulieu, eds. Les exempla médiévaux: Nouvelles perspectives. Nouvelle 
bibliotheque du Moyen Age, vol. 47. Paris: Honoré Champion, 1998. 

—, and Marie Anne Polo de Beaulieu. “The Preacher Facing a Reluctant Audience according to 
the Testimony of Exempla.” Medieval Sermon Studies 57.1 (2013): 16-28. 

Berman, Constance H. “Distinguishing between the Humble Peasant Lay Brother and Sister, 
and the Converted Knight in Medieval Southern France.” In Religious and Laity in Western 
Europe, 1000-1400: Interaction, Negotiation, and Power, ed. Emilia Jamroziak and Janet Burton, 
263-83. Europa Sacra, vol. 2. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2006. 

Bernard of Clairvaux. “Dominica infra octavam Assumptionis B. V. Mariae sermo.” In PL 183, 

—. Miscellaneous Sermons, trans. Conrad Greenia and Hugh McCaffery. Collegeville, MN: 
Cistercian Publications, 2010. 

—. Opera, ed.J. Leclerq, C. H. Talbot, and H. M. Rochais. 8 vols. in 9. Rome: Editiones Cistercienses, 
1957-1977; ed. idem, trans. Pierre-Yves Emery. Sources chrétiennes, vol. 518. Paris: Cerf, 

Bernard, G. W. The Late Medieval English Church: Vitality and Vulnerability before the Break with 
Rome. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012. 

Bernard-Griffiths, Simone, Pierre Glaudes, and Bertrand Vibert, eds. La fabrique du Moyen Age 
au XIXe siecle: Représentations du Moyen Age dans la culture et Ia littérature francaises du XIXe 
siecle. Romantisme et modernités, vol. 94. Paris: Honoré Champion, 2006. 

Bibliography 339 

Bertolucci Pizzorusso, Valeria. “La Supplica di Guiraut Riquier e la risposta di Alfonso X di 
Castiglia.” Studi mediolatini e volgari 14 (1966): 9-135. 

—. La Vergine e il volto: Il miracolo del giullare. Lucca, Italy: M. Pacini Fazzi, 2009. 

Bétérous, Paule-Vincenette. “A propos d’une des légendes mariales les plus répandues: Le ‘lait 
de la Vierge.” Bulletin de l’Association Guillaume Bude 4th ser., 3 (1975): 403-11. 

—, Paule. “Quels noms pour Marie dans les collections romanes de miracles de la Vierge au XIIIe 
siecle.” In La Vierge dans la tradition cistercienne: Communications présentées a la 54e session 
de la Société francaise d’études mariales, abbaye Notre-Dame d’Orval, 1998, ed. Bernard-Joseph 
Samain and Jean Longere, 175-92. Paris: Médiaspaul, 1999. 

Bethléem Louis et al. Les opéras, les opéras-comiques et les opérettes. Paris: Revue des lectures, 1926. 

Bibliotheca hagiographica Latina antiquae et mediae aetatis, ed. Société des Bollandistes. Subsidia 
Hagiographica, vol. 6. 2 vols. Brussels: Société des Bollandistes, 1898-1901. 

Bibliotheca sanctorum. 13 vols. Rome: Istituto Giovanni XXIII nella Pontificia Universita 
lateranense, 1961-1970. 

Billet, Bernard et al., eds. Vraies et fausses apparitions dans l’Eglise. Paris: P. Lethielleux, 1973. 

Biscetti, Stefania. “The Diachronic Development of Bloody: A Case Study in Historical 
Pragmatics.” In English Historical Linguistics 2006: Selected Papers from the Fourteenth 
International Conference on English Historical Linguistics, vol. 2: Lexical and Semantic Change, 
ed. Maurizio Gotti, Marina Dossena, and Richard Dury, 53-74. Amsterdam Studies in the 
Theory and History of Linguistic Science. Series IV, Current Issues in Linguistic Theory, 
vols. 295-297. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2008. 

Blake, Nancy. “Images of the Virgin Mary in the Soissons Manuscript (Paris, BNF, nouv. acq. 
fr. 25451).” In Gautier de Coinci: Miracles, Music, and Manuscripts, ed. Kathy M. Krause and 
Alison Stones, 253-77. Medieval Texts and Cultures of Northern Europe, vol. 13. Turnhout, 
Belgium: Brepols, 2006. 

Blauth, Henry, and Kurt Roderbourg. Erzihl mir was! Boston: Ginn & Co., 1960. 

Bloch, Oscar, and Walther von Wartburg. Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue francaise. 5th ed. 
Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1968. 

Boaga, Emanuele, and Luigi Borriello, eds. Dizionario carmelitano. Rome: Citta Nuova, 2008. 

Boehmer, Konrad. Doppelschlége: Texte zur Musik, vol. 1: Texte zur Musik: 1958-1967, ed. Stefan 
Fricke and Christian Griin, 158-59. Quellentexte zur Musik des 20./21. Jahrhunderts, vol. 12. 
Saarbriicken, Germany: Pfau, 2009. 

Boglioni, Pierre. “Peuple et culture populaire chez Guillaume d’Auvergne.” In Mensch und 
Objekt im Mittelalter und in der friihen Neuzeit: Leben, Alltag, Kultur. Internationaler Kongress, 
Krems an der Donau, 27. bis 30. September 1988, ed. Gerhard Jaritz, 193-222. Osterreichische 
Akademie der Wissenschaften, Sitzungsberichte: Philosophisch-Historische Klasse 568, 
Ver6ffentlichungen des Instituts fiir Realienkunde des Mittelalters und der Friihen Neuzeit, 
vol. 13. Vienna: Verlag der Osterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1990. 

Bolte, Johannes, and George Polivka. Anmerkungen zu den Kinder- und Hausmérchen der Briider 
Grimm. 5 vols. Leipzig, Germany: Dieterich’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1913-1932. 

Bony, Pierre. “An Introduction to the Study of Cistercian Seals: The Virgin as Mediatrix, Then 
Protectrix on the Seals of Cistercian Abbeys.” In Studies in Cistercian Art and Architecture, 
vol. 3, ed. Meredith Parsons Lillich, 201-40. Cistercian Studies, vol. 89. Kalamazoo, MI: 
Cistercian Publications, 1987. 

340 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Bosco, John. See John Bosco. 
Boss, Sarah Jane, ed. Mary: The Complete Resource. London and New York: Continuum, 2007. 

Bossy, Michel-André. “Medieval Debates of Body and Soul.” Comparative Literature (1976): 

Bourguignon, Erika. “Trance Dance.” In International Encyclopedia of Dance, ed. Selma Jeanne 
Cohen et al., 6: 184-88. 6 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. 

Bourrec, Jean-Roger. Mireille Negre, “alliance.” Paris: Desclée De Brouwer, 1984. 

Bouton, Jean de la Croix. “Citeaux.” In Robert Bossuat, Louis Pichard, and Guy Raynaud de 
Lage, Le Moyen Age, ed. Genevieve Hasenohr and Michel Zink, 300-307. Paris: Fayard, 1992. 

—, and Jean Baptiste Van Damme, eds. Les plus anciens textes de Citeaux: Sources, textes et notes 
historiques. Citeaux: Commentarii cistercienses: Studia et documenta, vol. 2. Achel, Belgium: 
Abbaye cistercienne, 1974. 

Boyarin, Adrienne Williams, ed. and trans. Miracles of the Virgin. Peterborough, Ontario, Canada: 
Broadview, 2015. 

Boyce, James. “Maria nella liturgia carmelitana.” In Dizionario carmelitano, ed. Emanuele Boaga 
and Luigi Borriello, 546-49. Rome: Citta Nuova, 2008. 

Brasseur, Annette, trans. Le chevalier au barisel: Conte pieux du XIIle siécle. Traductions des 
classiques francais du Moyen Age, vol. 23. Paris: Honoré Champion, 1976. 

Brednich, Rolf Wilhelm. “Tanzersage.” In EdM, 13: 201-4. 

Bremond, Claude, and Jacques Le Goff. L’“exemplum.” Typologie des sources du Moyen Age 
occidental, vol. 40. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 1982. 

Bretel, Paul. Les ermites et les moines dans la littérature francaise du Moyen Age (1150-1250). 
Nouvelle bibliotheque du Moyen Age, vol. 32. Paris: Honoré Champion, 1995. 

—. Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame. Traductions des classiques du Moyen Age, vol. 64. Paris: Honoré 
Champion, 2003. 

—. “Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame, un miracle pour enfants?” In Grands textes du Moyen Age a 
l’usage des petits, ed. Caroline Cazanave and Yvon Houssais, 277-97. Annales Littéraires de 
l'Université de Franche-Comté, n° 869, série Littéraires, vol. 23. Besancon, France: Presses 
universitaires de Franche-Comté, 2010. Repr. in idem, Littérature et édification au Moyen 
Age: “Mult est diverse ma matyre,” 477-96. Essais sur le Moyen Age, vol. 56. Paris: Honoré 
Champion, 2012. 

Brinkmann, Hennig. Mittelalterliche Hermeneutik. Tubingen, Germany: Niemeyer, 1980. 

Brooks, Peter Newman. “A Lily Ungilded? Martin Luther, the Virgin Mary and the Saints.” 
Journal of Religious History 13 (1984-1985): 136-49. 

Brothers Grimm, The. Deutsche Sagen, ed. Hans-Jorg Uther. 3 vols. Munich, Germany: 
Diederichs, 1993. 

—. Kinder- und Hausmiairchen. Repr. Gottingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1986; Ist ed. 

Brown, Peter. The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity. 
Lectures on the History of Religions, New Series, vol. 13. New York: Columbia University 
Press, 1988. 

Bibliography 341 

Bruce, Scott G. “The Origins of Cistercian Sign Language.” Citeaux: Commentarii cistercienses 52 
(2001): 193-209. 

—. Silence and Sign Language in Medieval Monasticism: The Cluniac Tradition c. 900-1200. Cambridge 
Studies in Medieval Life and Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. 

Bull, Marcus Graham, trans. The Miracles of Our Lady of Rocamadour: Analysis and Translation. 
Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 1999. 

Bullock-Davies, Constance. Menestrelorum multitudo: Minstrels at a Royal Feast. Cardiff: 
University of Wales Press, 1978. 

Bullough, Donald A. “What Has Ingeld to Do with Lindisfarne?” Anglo-Saxon England 22 
(1993): 93-125. 

Bulteau, Marcel Joseph. Monographie de la cathédrale de Chartre. 3 vols. 2nd ed. Chartres, France: 
R. Selleret, 1887-1892. 

Burgkmair, Hans. Das graphische Werk: 1473-1973. Augsburg, Germany: Stadtische 
Kunstsammlungen, 1973. 

Burgwinkle, Bill, and Cary Howie. Sanctity and Pornography in Medieval Culture: On the Verge. 
Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2010. 

Burns, E. Jane. “Saracen Silk and the Virgin’s Chemise: Cultural Crossings in Cloth.” Speculum 
81 (2006): 365-97. 

—. Sea of Silk: A Textile Geography of Women’s Work in Medieval French Literature. Philadelphia: 
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014. 

Burton, Janet, and Julie Kerr. The Cistercians in the Middle Ages. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 2011. 

Busch-Salmen, Gabriele. Ikonographische Studien zum Solotanz im Mittelalter. Innsbrucker 
Beitrage zur Musikwissenschaft, vol. 7. Innsbruck, Austria: Musikverlag Helbling, 1982. 

Bynum, Caroline Walker. Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval 
Women. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1987. 

—. Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages. Berkeley and Los Angeles: 
University of California Press, 1982. 

—. The Resurrection of the Body in Western Christianity, 200-1336. Lectures on the History of 
Religions, New Series, vol. 15. New York: Columbia University Press, 1995. 

Byrne, Charles Alfred, trans. Le Jongleur de Notre Dame: Miracle Play in Three Acts. New York: 
Charles E. Burden, 1907. 

Cabré, Miriam. Cerveri de Girona and His Poetic Traditions. Coleccién Tamesis, Serie A, 
Monografias, vol. 169. London: Tamesis, 1999. Catalan trans., Cerveri de Girona: Un trobador 
al servei de Pere el Gran. Blaquerna, vol. 7. Barcelona: Publicacions i edicions de la Universitat 
de Barcelona, 2011. 

Caesarius, Dialogus miraculorum, ed. Joseph Strange. 2 vols. Cologne: J. M. Heberle, 1851. Trans. 
H. Von Essen Scott and C. C. Swinton Bland, The Dialogue on Miracles. 2 vols. London: G. 
Routledge, 1929. 

Cahn, Walter. “Focillon’s Jongleur.” Art History 18.3 (1995): 345-62. 

Camille, Michael. The Gothic Idol: Ideology and Image-Making in Medieval Art. Cambridge: 
Cambridge University Press, 1989. 

342 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

—. Image on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 

Canivez, Joseph-Marie, ed. Statuta capitulorum generalium ordinis Cisterciensis ab anno 1116 ad 
annum 1786. Bibliotheque de la Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique, vol. 9. 8 vols. Louvain, 
Belgium: Bureaux de la Revue, 1933-1941. 

Carr, Annemarie Weyl. “Threads of Authority: The Virgin Mary’s Veil in the Middle Ages.” In 
Robes and Honor: The Medieval World of Investiture, ed. Stewart Gordon, 59-93. New York: 
Palgrave, 2001. 

Carroll, Joan. Miraculous Images of Our Lady: 100 Famous Catholic Portraits and Statues. Rockford, 
IL: Tan Books and Publishers, 1993. 

Carroll, Michael P. Madonnas That Maim: Popular Catholicism in Italy since the Fifteenth Century. 
Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. 

Casagrande Carla, and Silvana Vecchio. “Clercs et jongleurs dans la société médiévale.” Annales: 
Histoires, Sciences Sociales 34.5 (1979): 913-28. 

—. “L’interdizione del giullare nel vocabolario clericale del XII e del XIII secolo.” In II Teatro 
medievale, ed. Johann Drumbl, 317-68. Bologna, Italy: Il Mulino, 1989. 

Casey, Michael. “Herbert of Clairvaux’s Book of Wonderful Happenings.” Cistercian Studies 25 
(1990): 37-64. 

Cassagnes-Brouquet, Sophie. Vierges noires. Rodez, France: Editions du Rouergue, 2000. 

Cassidy, Megan. “Non conversi sed perversi: The Use and Marginalisation of the Cistercian Lay 
Brother.” In Deviance and Textual Control: New Perspectives in Medieval Studies, ed. idem, 
Helen Hickey, and Meagan Street, 34-55. Melbourne University Conference Series, vol. 2. 
Parkville, Australia: History Dept., University of Melbourne, 1997. 

Cassidy-Welch, Megan. Monastic Spaces and Their Meanings: Thirteenth-Century English Cistercian 
Monasteries. Medieval Church Studies, vol. 1. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2001. 

Castigos e documentos para bien vivir ordenados del Rey Don Sancho IV, ed. Agapito Rey. Indiana 
University Publications: Humanities Series, vol. 24. Bloomington: Indiana University, 1952; 
ed. Pascual de Gayangos. In Escritores en prosa anteriores al siglo XV, 1: 79-228. Biblioteca de 
autores espanioles, vol. 51. Madrid: M. Rivadeneyra, 1860. 

Cawley, Martinus. Send Me God. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2003. 
Cerquiglini, Bernard. Une langue orpheline. Paris: Minuit, 2007. 

Chadwick, Henry. “John Moschus and His Friend Sophronius the Sophist.” Journal of Theological 
Studies n.s. 25 (1974): 41-74. 

Chanter, Peter. See Peter Chanter. 
Chantilly: Le cabinet des livres. Manuscrits. 3 vols. Paris: Plon, 1900-1911. 

Chaurand, Jacques, ed. Fou, dixiéme conte de la Vie des péres: Conte pieux du XIIe siécle. Publications 
romanes et frangaises, vol. 117. Geneva: Droz, 1971. 

Chenu, Marie-Dominique. “Involucrum: Le mythe selon les théologiens médiévaux.” Archives 
d’histoire doctrinale et littéraire du Moyen Age 22 (1955): 75-79. 

Chesterton, G. K. St. Francis of Assisi. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1923. 
Chobham, Thomas of. See Thomas of Chobham. 

Bibliography 343 

Christian, Sheldon. Our Lady’s Tumbler: A Modern Miracle Play. Portland, ME: Anthoensen Press, 

“Chronique.” Review of Hermann Wachter, Der Springer unserer lieben Frau. In Romania 29 (1900): 

Cioran, Emile M. Tears and Saints, trans. Ilinca Zarifopol-Johnston. Chicago: University of 
Chicago Press, 1995. 

Cisneros, Sandra. Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories. New York: Random House, 1991. 

Clark, Anne L. “Guardians of the Sacred: The Nuns of Soissons and the Slipper of the Virgin 
Mary.” Church History 76 (2007): 724-49. 

Clark, Kenneth. The Gothic Revival: An Essay in the History of Taste. London: Constable, 1928. 

Clayton, Mary. The Apocryphal Gospels of Mary in Anglo-Saxon England. Cambridge: Cambridge 
University Press, 1998. 

—. The Cult of the Virgin Mary in Anglo-Saxon England. Cambridge Studies in Anglo-Saxon 
England, vol. 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990. 

Clemente, Karen. “Dance as Sacred Expression.” Journal of Dance Education 8.2 (2008): 37-38. 

Clouzot, Martine. “Un intermédiaire culturel au XIIIe siécle: Le jongleur.” Bulletin du centre 
d'études médiévales d’ Auxerre - BUCEMA, Hors-série 2 (2008), 

—. Le jongleur: Mémoire de l’image au Moyen Age. Figures, figurations et musicalité dans les manuscrits 
enluminés (1200-1330). Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang, 2011. 

Clugnet, Léon, ed. “Vie et récits de Il’ Abbé Daniel de Scété.” Revue de l’Orient Chrétien 5 (1900): 
49-73, 370-91. 

Cocke, Thomas. “The Wheel of Fortune: The Appreciation of Gothic since the Middle Ages.” 
In Age of Chivalry: Art in Plantagenet England, 1200-1400, ed. Jonathan Alexander and Paul 
Binski, 183-191. London: Royal Academy of Arts, with Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1987. 

Cohen, Esther. “In haec signa: Pilgrim-Badge Trade in Southern France.” Journal of Medieval 
History 2.3 (1976): 193-214. 

Cohen, Gustave. “La Sainte Vierge dans la littérature francaise du Moyen Age.” In Maria: Etudes 
sur la Sainte Vierge, ed. Hubert Du Manoir, 2: 17-46. 7 vols. Paris: Beauchesne, 1949-1964. 

Coinci, Gautier de. See Gautier de Coinci. 
Cole, Michael. “Se Non é Vero, é Ben Trovato.” Intellectual History Review 24.3 (2014): 429-39. 

Coleman, William Emmet, and James Boyce, eds. and trans. Officium presentationis Beate Virginis 
Marie in Templo — Office of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Which is Celebrated on 
the 21st Day of November: Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France, MS Latin 17330, fols. 7r-14r. 
Wissenschaftliche Abhandlungen — Musicological Studies, vol. 65/ Historiae, vol. 5. Lions 
Bay, Canada: Institute of Mediaeval Music, 2001. 

Colgrave, Bertram, and R. A. B. Mynors, ed. and trans. Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English 
People (Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum). Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969. 

Collinson, Patrick. “Pulling the Strings: Religion and Politics in the Progress of 1578.” In The 
Progresses, Pageants, and Entertainments of Queen Elizabeth I, ed. Jayne Elisabeth Archer, 
Elizabeth Goldring, and Sarah Knight, 122-41. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. 

Confucius. Analects, trans. Annping Chin. New York: Penguin, 2014. 

344 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Conrad of Eberbach. Exordium magnum Cisterciense, sive, Narratio de initio Cisterciensis Ordinis, 
ed. Bruno Griesser. Series Scriptorum s. ordinis Cisterciensis, vol. 2. Rome: Editiones 
Cistercienses, 1961; ed. Griesser. Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis, vol. 138. 
Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 1994. 

Constable, Giles. “The Interpretation of Mary and Martha.” In idem, Three Studies in Medieval 
Religious and Social Thought, 1-141. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. 

Cook, G. H. Letters to Cromwell and Others on the Suppression of the Monasteries. London: J. Baker, 

Cooke, Thomas D. “Tales.” In A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, 1050-1500, ed. Albert E. 
Hartung, 9: 3177-3258, 3501-3551. 11 vols. New Haven, CT: Connecticut Academy of Arts 
and Sciences, 1993. 

Corrie, George Elwes, ed. Sermons and Remains of Hugh Latimer, Sometime Bishop of Worcester, 
Martyr, 1555. Parker Society, vol. 19. Cambridge: University Press, 1845. 

Cotts, John D. Europe’s Long Twelfth Century: Order, Anxiety and Adaptation, 1095-1229. 
Houndmills, Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. 

Cram, Ralph Adams. My Life in Architecture. Boston: Little, Brown, 1936. 
Crane, Thomas Frederick. “Mediaeval Story-Books.” Modern Philology 9 (1911): 225-37. 


Cropp, Glunnis M. “The Disguise of ‘Jongleur. 
and Literature Association 65.1 (1986): 36-47. 

Cuddon, J. A. Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. 5th ed. Malden, MA: Wiley- 
Blackwell, 2013. 

Journal of the Australasian Universities Language 

Cummings, Brian, and James Simpson, eds. Cultural Reformations: Medieval and Renaissance in 
Literary History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. 

Cunha, Viviane. “O toposdo jogral no acervo mariano medieval.” Revista do CESP 31.45 (January— 
June, 2011): 167-87. 

Curtius, Ernst Robert. European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, trans. Willard R. Trask. 
Bollingen Series, vol. 36. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990. 

D’Arcens, Louise, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Medievalism. Cambridge: Cambridge 
University Press, 2016. 

—. Comic Medievalism: Laughing at the Middle Ages. Medievalism, vol. 4. Cambridge: D. 5S. Brewer, 


—. “Dario Fo’s Mistero Buffo and the Left-Modernist Reclamation of Medieval Popular Culture.’ 
In Medieval Afterlives in Popular Culture, ed. Gail Ashton and Daniel T. Kline, 57-70. New 
York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. 

D’Aronco, Gianfranco. Storia della danza popolare e d‘arte, con particolare riferimento all’Ttalia. 
Florence: L. S. Olschki, 1962. 

Dahlman, Britt, ed. and trans. Saint Daniel of Sketis: A Group of Hagiographic Texts. Studia 
Byzantina Upsaliensia, vol. 10. Uppsala, Sweden: Uppsala University, 2007. 

Dakyns, Janine R. The Middle Ages in French Literature, 1851-1900. London: Oxford University 
Press, 1973. 

Daly, Lloyd W. Contributions to a History of Alphabetization in Antiquity and the Middle Ages. 
Collection Latomus, vol. 90. Brussels: Latomus, 1967. 

Bibliography 345 

Davies, J. G. Liturgical Dance: An Historical, Theological, and Practical Handbook. London: SCM 
Press, 1984. 

Del Re, Niccolo. “Pasquale Baylén.” In Bibliotheca sanctorum, 10: 358-64. 13 vols. Rome: Istituto 
Giovanni XXIII nella Pontificia Universita lateranense, 1961-1970. 

Delehaye, Hippolyte. The Legends of the Saints, trans. Donald Attwater. New York: Fordham 
University Press, 1962. 

Delius, Walter. Geschichte der Marienverehrung. Munich, Germany: E. Reinhardt, 1963. 

Devalette, Jacques, Bernadette Barriere, Georges Comet, and Patrice Conte. La peste de feu: 
Le miracle des Ardents et l’ergotisme en Limousin au Moyen Age. Les cahiers d’Archéa, vol. 3. 
Limoges, France: Archéa, 1994. 

Dewez, Léon, and Albert van Iterson. “La lactation de saint Bernard: Légende et iconographie.” 
Citeaux in de Nederlanden 7 (1956): 165-89. 

Dickinson, J. P. The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 

Dimier, Anselme. “Mourir a Clairvaux!” Collectanea ordinis Cisterciensium reformatorum 17 
(1955): 272-85. 

—. Stones Laid before the Lord: A History of Monastic Architecture, trans. Gilchrist Lavigne. Cistercian 
Studies Series, vol. 152. Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1999. 

Discipulus. See Johannes Herolt. 

Dobozy, Maria. Re-Membering the Present: The Medieval German Poet-Minstrel in Cultural Context. 
Disputatio, vol. 6. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2005. 

Doniger, Wendy. The Bedtrick: Tales of Sex and Masquerade. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 

Doyle, Peter, ed. “October.” In Butler’s Lives of the Saints, ed. David Hugh Farmer and Paul 
Burns, 160-61. 12 vols. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1995-2000. 

Drzewicka, Anna. “La viele du coeur: Une metaphore musicale de Gautier de Coinci.” In Contez 
me tout: Mélanges de langue et littérature médiévales offerts a Herman Braet, ed. Catherine Bel, 
Pascale Dumont, and Frank Willaert, 175-89. La république des lettres, vol. 28. Leuven, 
Belgium: Peeters, 2006. 

Du Manoir de Juaye, Hubert, ed. Maria: Etudes sur la Sainte Vierge. 7 vols. Paris: Beauchesne, 

Dubois, Jacques. “The Laybrothers’ Life in the Twelfth Century.” Cistercian Studies 7 (1972): 

Duby, Georges. The Three Orders: Feudal Society Imagined, trans. Arthur Goldhammer. Chicago: 
University of Chicago Press, 1980. 

Duchet-Suchaux, Gaston, and Michel Pastoureau. La Bible et les saints: Guide iconographique. 2nd 
ed. Paris: Flammarion, 1994. 

Ducourneau, Othon. “De l’institution et des us des convers dans l’Ordre de Citeaux (XIIe- 
Xe siecles).” In Saint Bernard et son temps, 2: 139-201. 2 vols. Dijon, France: Association 
bourguignonne des sociétés savantes, 1929. 

Diifel, Hans. Luthers Stellung zur Marienverehrung. Kirche und Konfession: Veréffentlichungen 
des Konfessionskundlichen Instituts des Evangelischen Bundes, vol. 13. G6dttingen, 
Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1968. 

346 The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity: Volume 1 

Duffy, Bernard. Oriel. Dublin: Talbot, 1918. 
—. “Portrait of a Parish Priest.” Clogher Record 3 (1975): 269-81. 
Duffy, Eamon. Faith of Our Fathers: Reflections on Catholic Tradition. London: Continuum, 2004. 

—. The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, c. 1400-c. 1580. New Haven, CT: Yale 
University Press, 1992. 

Diimmler, Ernst, ed. Epistolae Karolini aevi 2. Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Epistolae, vol. 
4. Berlin: Weidmann, 1895. 

Dupeux, Cécile. “La lactation de saint Bernard de Clairvaux: Geneése et évolution d’une image.” 
In L’Image et la production du sacré: Actes du colloque de Strasbourg, 20-21 janvier 1988, 
organisé par le Centre d’historique des religions de l'Université de Strasbourg II, Groupe 

“Théorie et pratique de l'image cultuelle,” ed. Francoise Dunand, Jean-Michael Spieser, and 
Jean Wirth, 165-93. Paris: Méridiens Klincksieck, 1991. 

—. “Saint Bernard dans l’iconographie médiévale: L’exemple de la lactation.” In Vies et légendes 
de saint Bernard de Clairvaux: Création, diffusion, réception (XIXe-XXe siecles). Actes des 
Rencontres de Dijon, 7-8 juin 1991, ed. Patrick Arabeyre, Jacques Berlioz, and Philippe 
Poirrier, 152-66. Citeaux, France: Commentarii Cistercienses “Présence Cistercienne,” 1993. 

Durand, Jannic, and Marie-Pierre Lafitte, eds. Le trésor de la Sainte-Chapelle. Paris: Réunion des 
musées nationaux, 2001. 

Durant, Will. The Age