SMRG: September 14 meeting

Penelope Nash: A Curious Pointy Hat for a Twelfth Century Countess: Portraiture, Demeanour and Power

The examination of clothing, jewellery, gifts, and other material objects together with the deportment of the giver and of the receiver of such items, especially in how they are visually presented, is crucial in understanding the intentions of the participants.

  • What did Pepin’s and Charlemagne’s pointy hats symbolise?
  • What message did the Byzantine Empire want to send with the lavish gifts sent to the West?
  • Did Henry, dux of Bavaria (‘the Wrangler’), commission his portrait?
  • Was Empress Adelheid’s crown predominantly a material or a spiritual symbol?
  • Was Countess Matilda of Tuscany claiming royalty?

This paper puts into historical perspective selected artworks, created mostly between the eighth and early-twelfth centuries in Western Europe (the Carolingian, Ottonian and Salian periods), shows how important they can be in depicting and nuancing our understanding of the tensions and concerns of the people involved and leads into later depictions in the Renaissance.

Dr Penelope Nash is a historian of the European Middle Ages. She has published extensively on the ability of women to retain their wealth and power in the midst of the profound social changes of the eleventh century. Her recent book, The Spirituality of Countess Matilda of Tuscany, was published by Pàtron, Bologna, in 2021. She is an Honorary Associate of the Medieval and Early Modern Centre at the University of Sydney.

Time: Sep 14, 2022 07:15 PM AEST on Zoom.