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Coral, silver leafed venetian glass bead, plastic centerpiece

Lion Heart

  • I was at the University of Freiburg studying the Knight’s Tale, the first of the Canterbury Tales. I found that the crusader knight represents himself as pious, but can also be understood as a self-interested mercenary.

    What actually happened during the Crusades?

    I sat down with a Great Course on the Crusades and an array of beads.



    In this piece, the rear disk has rich earth tones I associate with the middle east. The front disk is red and white, which are the colors worn by the crusaders. Those who went on crusade each had their reasons.

    King Richard (“The Lion Hearted”) went on the 3rd crusade in 1190.

    What a driven life filled with adventure, expediency, grandeur, scheming, blood, and perhaps faith! He fought many battles against his counterpart, Salah ad-Din, and got within sight of Jerusalem. The two men were deep in struggle, but admired each other and took their nobility seriously. During one battle, when Salah ad-Din’s horse was injured, Richard pulled back his troops and sent Salah ad-Din one of his own excellent stallions. Another time, when Salah ad-Din heard that Richard had taken ill, he sent him a large fruit basket. It sounds a lot like what Shakespeare would eventually write in Coriolanus and Aufidius.


    Existential scheming and struggle with another person and culture can coexist with surprising chivalry and harmonies. Colors, lines, forced relationships, love, bondage….


    At other times, such as in the crusader sack of Constantinople or the Children’s Crusades, internal moral turpitude and incivility seem to define the existential struggle.


    Dangling from the brooch are pieces of venetian glass and coral.

    Venitican demand for treasure is the reason the 4th crusade (in 1204) went and sacked Constantinople, then dispersed with the loot.

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