Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 10204
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Kornbluth , Genevra A.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: The Susanna Crystal of Lothar II: Chastity, the Church, and Royal Justice [The author considers the iconography of the Susanna Crystal (which illustrates the Old Testament story) and its relation to contemporary Lotharingian politics. Title note supplied by Feminae.].
  • Source URL: Gesta (Full Text via JSTOR) 31, 1 (1992): 25-39. Link Info target = '_blank'>Gesta (Full Text via JSTOR) 31, 1 (1992): 25-39. Link Info
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Art History- Decorative Arts Iconography Lothar Crystal Lothar II, King of Lotharingia Susanna (Biblical Figure) in Art
  • Geographic Area: France;Germany
  • Century: 9
  • Related Resources:
  • Primary Evidence: Sculpture; London, British Museum, Department of Medieval and Later Antiquities, 55.12-1.50. Commonly referred to as the Susanna Crystal.
  • Illustrations: Eight Figures. Figure One Susanna Crystal, 855-869; reverse, negative reversed, actual size (London, British Museum). Figure Two Susanna Crystal, scene four, Daniel. Figure Three Susanna Crystal, scene two, the elders send for Susanna. Figure Four Susanna Crystal, scene five, Daniel accuses an elder of sinfulness. Figure Five Susanna Crystal, scene six, Daniel condemns the elders. Figure Six Susanna Crystal, scene eight, Susanna declared innocent by a judge. Figure Seven Susanna Crystal, reconstruction of scene eight (drawing by the author). Figure Eight Susanna Crystal, scene eight, detail of judge.
  • Table: Appendix 1 describes the events and inscriptions depicted on the Susanna Crystal. Appendix 2 describes the Susanna Cycles. Appendix 3 offers a reconstruction of the damaged scene eight (see Figure Seven).
  • Abstract: The meaning of the ninth-century Susanna Crystal has never been satisfactorily explained. Lauer’s 1908 hypothesis connects the gem with the attempted divorce of Lothar II. Carolingian polemic literature and commentaries on Daniel 13 suggest three broader interpretations: Susanna herself is Ecclesia, or she is an example of Chastity, or the entire episode is an illustration of just judgment. The last of these is most fully supported by the object. The cycle on the crystal includes and compositionally emphasizes the summoning of Susanna (not normally illustrated), and carefully differentiates between interrogation and condemnation. A judge and public viewers are added to the biblical narrative. All of these features stress the proper functioning of legal judgment. The added judge resembles a Carolingian king, and a prominent inscription (LOTHARIVS REX FRNCORVM ME FIERI IVSSIT) draws attention to the patronage of Lothar II (855-869). The unusual wording of this inscription stresses Lothar’s position, his role as patron, and the link between him and his people. Just judgment is frequently cited in Carolingian theoretical works as one of the most important characteristics of the ideal king. The Susanna Crystal may claim this important royal virtue for Lothar II. [Reproduced by permission of the International Center of Medieval Art].
  • Author's Affiliation: Youngstown State University
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 1992.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: Not Available
  • Material/Technique :
  • Rights: