Power, Memory, and Allegiance

Coats of Arms of Bishops and a Pope in Western Estonia

In: East Central Europe
Author: Anu Mänd 1
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  • 1 Tallinn University

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A dozen limestone reliefs with the coats of arms of a bishop and a bishopric have survived from the churches and castles of late medieval Livonia (a historical region roughly corresponding to present-day Estonia and Latvia). This article discusses a selection of those reliefs in western Estonia, in the two centers—Haapsalu and Kuressaare—of the former Saare-Lääne Bishopric. In earlier scholarship, these reliefs have been studied from the perspective of architectural history and connected with the construction or reconstruction of the buildings. The article will offer a different perspective and investigate the role of the reliefs in the context of symbolic communication, rituals of power, and visual commemoration. In the chapel of the Kuressaare castle, there is also a relief with the coat of arms of Pope Leo x, which raises the questions of who commissioned it, when, and why.

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