Brass of the Month
September 2006:Ringstead, Denmark
September's brass of the month is the first to show a brass to a king and queen. Surprisingly only four monumental brasses survive which commemorate royalty. Two can be found in England with one each in Germany and Denmark.
The English examples comprise a curious half-
In contrast, the brass at Ringsted to King Eric Menved of Denmark and his wife, Queen Ingeborg, who both died in 1319, is the earliest and arguably the finest Flemish brass to survive anywhere in the world. The memorial occupies a prominent position on a low brick plinth in the centre of the cathedral choir. Some 25 individual plates have been individually cast and assembled together to create and absolutely colossal rectangular sheet measuring 2.84m (112”) by 1.68m (66”) set in a slab of Tournai marble.
As was customary with Flemish-
The magnificent appearance of this memorial entirely obscures the unstable lives and times, which existed at this period. Eric’s father and grandfather were both assassinated while on the throne. It is thought that his grandfather, Christopher I (whose fine indent was recently rediscovered) was poisoned when taking communion at Ribe Cathedral. His father, Eric Gipping, succeeded to the throne at the age of 10 whilst Eric Menved was 12 when he was crowned in 1286. A bitter war with Norway dogged his reign for 25 years until peace was signed in 1310. However, by this time King Menved was fighting in Sweden where he became embroiled with the brothers of Queen Ingeborg. In the latter years of his life he undertook several military expeditions to restore Danish domination. His siege of Stralsund was unsuccessful but he did take possession of Rostock and Wismar. Menved was created Protector of Lübeck and enjoyed very close relations with this important Baltic port. Queen Ingeborg died on 15th August 1319 and he survived barely three months, dying on 13th November. Sadly all 14 children had already died leaving his disloyal brother, Christopher, to inherit the throne.
A substantial restoration of the brass was carried out in 1883 when several plates were replaced – essentially on the right hand side of the composition. In addition, the incised alabaster inlay for the king’s head and two minor parts of the queen’s were also replaced (see above). More recently conservation of the entire brass was completed in 1972.
Copyright: Martin Stuchfield
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Page last updated 31 August 2006