In Wolfram’s Willehalm (cf.141,5ff.), the protagonist signals his displeasure at his reception in the French court by refusing to stand for King Louis and provocatively laying his sword across his lap. Critics have argued that Wolfram was inspired to use this sword gesture here (which is also featured in other epic poems) by the scene in Das Nibelungenlied (cf.1780), in which Hagen remains seated and puts Siegfried’s sword over his knees as Queen Kriemhild approaches. There are, however, differences in the symbolic significance of this act in these two episodes, and this paper will attempt to ascertain how Wolfram has (re-)functionalised the sword here as a cultural artefact.
Historically, horses have been associated with power and gender roles in the Middle Ages. This association is carefully characterized in literature, used as a way to make a statement by masculinizing some, while feminizing others. My paper explores how romances use horses as material objects to establish power and assumed gender roles. I argue that analysis in the depiction and use of horses allows scholars to interpret a more accurate response to the literature. In doing so, medievalists will gain a new understanding of materialism and gender roles in romances.
During the last quarter of the 15th century, luxury armors were deployed as objects of display that could demonstrate princely power or signify its obliteration. Plate armors were fitted exactly to their wearers’ measurements, and were, therefore, perfect impressions of his body. In this way, armors approximated wearers’ presences and echoed Platonic conceptualizations of memory as a wax tablet upon which mnemonic images could be impressed or inscribed. Through case studies from the Burgundian-Habsburg spheres of Charles the Bold and Maximilian I, this paper will analyze armor’s power as a manifestation of identity and materialization of memory for late medieval viewers.