Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index

  • Title: Lady in a Heraldic Mantle
  • Creator:
  • Description: This noblewoman’s identity is unknown because the inscription for her tomb has been lost. The heraldry on her mantle, rampant lions, proudly proclaims that she belongs to a magnate family, the most powerful group of nobles. The three wounds with drops of blood on the lions’ shoulders could be the arms of either the Bulbeck or Robsart family. Costume with heraldic devices was popular on 15th- and early 16th-century nobles’ tombs, with husbands wearing decorated tabards and wives dressed in figured mantles or robes, often with the natal families’ arms on their left side and their husbands’ on the right in the place accorded greater honor. See the tomb of Lady Catherine Howard (engraved circa 1535) for a similar heraldic mantle, but one that displays the arms of four families. Scholar Susan Crane argues that such symbolic clothing and the ritual performances which they marked served to define not just the family and the social group but also the person. There is further differentiation in this woman’s presentation: she wears a gable headdress covering her shoulders and a pleated barbe covering her neck. The barbe was prescribed for widows in mourning.
  • Source: Haverford College donated by David and Maxine Cook
  • Rights: Permission of Haverford College
  • Subject (See Also): Brass Rubbing Nobility Tomb Effigies
  • Geographic Area: British Isles
  • Century: 16
  • Date: 1535
  • Related Work: Photograph of the brass monument in St. Helen's Church Bishopsgate:
  • Current Location: Haverford College
  • Original Location: Bishopsgate, London, England. St. Helen’s Church
  • Artistic Type (Category): Brass rubbing
  • Artistic Type (Material/Technique): Heelball; Paper
  • Donor:
  • Height/Width/Length(cm): 25.4 cm/81.28 cm/
  • Inscription:
  • Related Resources: Grant, Francis J. Manual of Heraldry. John Grant, 1929;
    Sherlock, Peter. Monuments and Memory in Early Modern England. Ashgate, 2008.