Thursday, 3 March 2016

The furniture at the Engelanderholt klaarbank - Part 2

The previous post on the klaarbank dealt with the benches and the ceremonial chair of the duke/stadhouder of Guelders. In this post I will continue with the remaining furniture at the klaarbank.

The table of the registrar and writer

Left: The side of  the table ; detail from the sketch by Master Aelbert (Photo copyright Gelders Archive, detail of 529-003).

A typical 16th century table for a writer or steward would be one where the table board is also used as a lid for a box that could hold important papers and money pouches. These tables were especially popular in Germany and called 'Kastentisch'. However, given the    size of the table used at the klaarbank (3 by 6 feet, roughly 1 by 2 meters) this is not likely. The table top would be too big and too heavy to be feasible as a lid for a box underneath.

Two writing tables (Kastentisch). Left: An opened lid showing the different boxes inside. 15th centur.y Historisches Museum Basel, Switzerland. Height 77 cm, width 79 cm, length 102 cm. Image scanned from Otto von Falke - Deutsche Mobel des Mittelalters und der Renaissance. Right: Late 16th century oak writing table with (top) panels from linden wood and (lower) from pinewood. Height 80 cm, width 99 cm, length 106 cm. Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Neuremberg, Germany. Image scanned from F. Windisch-Graetz - Mobel Europas von der Romnaik bis zum Spatgotik.

If we look closely at the rather sloppily drawn table side on the sketch, there seems to be two oblique legs that are connected to each other at the top and the bottom with a horizontal beam. This looks a bit like a fixed trestle-style table, that also was found throughout 16th century Germany. The Duchy of Guelders - with the klaarbank - is relatively close to Germany and such tables could be found here as well.

The apostle Johannes writing at a fixed trestle table.  A copperplate engraving by Johannes Wierix from 1579 from a book by Nicolaes de Clerck. Image from Rijsksmuseum, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

A long fixed trestle table from the Rathaus in Goslar, Germany. The table top has a breadboard end. Image scanned from Otto von Falke - Deutsche Mobel des Mittelalters und der Renaissance.

Left: A scribe working at a fixed trestle table ('wangentisch'), oil painting on a pine panel from the Mömpelgarder Altar, Kunsthistorisches museum, Vienna, Austria. Painted around 1536 by Heinrich Füllmaurer. Right: A simple fixed trestle table from pinewood. Burg Kreuzenstein near Vienna, Austria. 15-16th century. Height 77 cm, width 96 cm, length 106 cm. Image scanned from Otto von Falke - Deutsche Mobel des Mittelalters und der Renaissance.

This kind of table has a simple construction, in which the two trestles are connected to each other by 1 to 4 beams with mortise and tenon joints which are fixed by wedges. The table top consists of several boards which are usually connected at both ends with a breadboard. The underside of the table top has two bars that are fixed to the table top by concealed dovetails. These bars secure the tabletop to the trestles with loose pins. Taken together, it is an easily removable and transportable table. The only limitation could be the length of such a table. Long tables with a thin tabletop have a tendency to sag in the middle, though the long table from Goslar shows a remedy for this.

The proposed table for the registrar at the klaarbank (© St. Thomas Guild).

The chair of the sheriff

Left: Detail of the plan of the klaarbank 592-0001. The top shows the position of the Ducal chair and the stairs. Directly below in the middle of the row of benches the word 'drost' (sheriff) is shown with a backrest of a seat.

On closer inspection of the plan of the klaarbank, between the two sides of the first bench for the nobility, there appears to be a chair. We first mistook this as part of a row of steps leading up to the Ducal chair. The plan, however, shows a semicircular line, as with the seat of the duke. Moreover, the word 'drost' is written here, so it likely represents the seat of the sheriff of the Veluwe county.

The office of the sheriff is of lower esteem than that of the Duke, but more important than the other participants (seated on benches). Therefore, it seems more likely that the seat of the sheriff represents a simpler type of armchair, instead of a second high boxed chair. Armchairs, during the 16th century in the Netherlands, usually have a leather seat and backrest which is attached to an open frame using brass or gold plated nails. The leather of the backrest can be richly decorated, e.g. with heraldic signs. This type of chair is probably also brought from the ducal inventory, like the high chair of the duke.

Left: An early 17th century oak armchair with leather upholstery from the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The armrests and the backrest have carved lions. Right:A 16th-century armchair with leather upholstery in the town hall of Lübeck, Germany. The backrest is heavily decorated with the arms of the town.

The sauvegarde

Left: The sauvegarde hanging above the Ducal high chair. Detail from 529-002.

A sauvegarde (safeguard) is a letter of protection granted by a ruler, such as the Duke/Stadholder of Guelders, that provided a group of people or an institution (such as a monastery or a place of justice) a protection from persecution and violence. A kind of sanctuary or asylum. In order to show that a building and its residents were under the protection of such a sauvegarde, a clearly recognizable sign was attached to the structure. A sauvegarde often showed the heraldic shield of the person that provided the protection. Also the klaarbank contained a sauvegarde, which was hanging above the ducal chair. 

Left: Sauvegarde of Charles V in the rectory of St. Peter's Church, Den Bosch, the Netherlands (1593). Photo copyright Stadsarchief 's-Hertogenbosch, No. 0,048,668. 8. Right: Another image of a sauvegarde found on internet.

A sauvegarde letter granted by the Duke of Leicester in 1586 to the area around Dongen, the Netherlands. 
The letter is preserved in the archive of Oosterhout, the Netherlands.

To create the sauvegarde for the klaarbank a commission was given to an artist, Mr. Johan Houten. He was also paid for drawing the design and painting of the final object. The accounts concerning the sauvegarde have been preserved. The design of the sauvegarde would have included, among others, the arms of Guelders and the Veluwe county.

Detail of one of the accounts involving the sauvegarde. Photo by E. de Jonge, Gelderland Archive, inventarisnrs. 1729 and 1743.

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