two things tagged “medieval”

“The Dance Around the May Pole”

I bought this print at a thrift store a decade ago because it looked ‘nice’ and warm and I loved the colors. It’s an innocent celebration at a glance and from a distance, and a total bacchanal when you examine its scenes up close.

The Dance Around the May Pole by Peter Bruegel

I never knew who painted it until now. It’s Pieter Bruegel the Elder (not to be confused with the Younger) who “was the most significant artist of Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting, a painter and printmaker from Brabant, known for his landscapes and peasant scenes (so called genre painting); he was a pioneer in making both types of subject the focus in large paintings.” (Source.) I’m glad that’s settled.

The Medieval Friendzone

A young Elizabeth I found herself on the throne of England immediately “besieged by suitors” to whom she made “no firm promises” but sent very nice-sounding letters. One such suitor was a young Eric XIV of Sweden. He was so thirsty, he offered to come to England to visit her. That’s when she fired off this missive on the 25th of February, 1559.

Elizabeth I to King Eric XIV of Sweden

Translation:

Most Serene Prince, our very dear Cousin,

A letter truly yours both in the writing and sentiment, was given us on 30 December by your very dear brother, the Duke of Finland. And while we perceive therefrom that the zeal and love of your mind towards us is not diminished, yet in part we are grieved that we cannot gratify your Serene Highness with the same kind of affection. And that indeed does not happen because we doubt in any way of your love and honour, but, as often we have testified both in words and in writing, that we have never yet conceived a feeling of that kind of affection towards any one. We therefore beg your Serene Highness again and again that you be pleased to set a limit to your love, that it advance not beyond the laws of friendship for the present nor disregard them in future… I have always given both to your brother, who is certainly a most excellent Prince and deservedly very dear to us, and also to your ambassador likewise, the same answer with scarcely any variation of the words, that we do not conceive in our heart to take a husband but highly commend the single life, and hope that your Serene Highness will not longer spend time in waiting for us.

Source