Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V07, Page 509 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: it!
COSTUME.) - - Akin to the crosses of knightly orders are those which figure as charges on coats of arms. The science of heraldry evolved a wonderful variety of cross-forms during the period it held sway in the middle ages. The different forms of cross used in heraldry are, in fact, so numerous that it is only the larger works on that subject which attempt to record them all. For such crosses see HERALDRY. In the middle ages the cross form, in one way or another, was predominant everywhere, and was introduced whenever opportunity offered itself for doing so. The larger churches were planned on its outline, so that the ridge line of their roofs pro-claimed it far and wide. This was more particularly followed in the north of Europe, but when it was first introduced is not quite certain. All the ancient cathedral churches of England and Wales are cruciform in plan, except Llandaff. The artistic skill and ingenuity of the medieval designer has produced cross designs of endless variety, and of singular FIG.Dq.—Cannebrossrog. of the elegance and beauty. Some of the most beautiful of these designs are the gable crosses of the old churches. Fig. 8 shows the west gable cross of Washburn church, Worcestershire; fig. 9 that of the nave of Castle Acre church, Norfolk; and fig. ro the east gable cross of Hethersett church in that county. They may be taken as good examples of a type of cross which is often of great beauty, but it is oveflooked, owing to its bad position for observation. Other architectural crosses, of great beauty of design, are those which occur on the grave slabs of the middle ages. Instances of a plainer type occur in Saxon times, but it was not till after the 11th century that they were fashioned after the intricate and beautiful designs with which our ancient churches are, as a rule, so plentifully supplied. Sometimes these crosses are incised in the slab, and almost as often they are executed in low relief. The long shaft of the cross is most commonly plain, but there are a very large number of instances in which this is not so, and in which branches, with leaf designs, are thrown out at intervals the entire length of the shaft. In some cases the shaft rises from a series of steps at its base, and in such a case the name of a Calvary cross is applied to it. Fig. 11, from Strad-sett church, Norfolk, and fig. 12 from Bosbury church, Hereford-shire, are good examples of the designs at the head of sepulchral crosses. Often, by the side of the cross, an emblem or symbol is placed, denoting the calling in life of the person commemorated. Thus a sword is placed to indicate a knight or soldier, a chalice for a priest, and so forth; but it would be travelling beyond the scope of this article to enter into a discussion as to such symbols. Of upright standing crosses, the Irish and Iona types are well known, and their great artistic beauty and elaboration and excellence of sculpture are universally recognized. These crosses are sometimes spoken of as " Runic Crosses " ; and the inter-lacing knotwork design with which many of them are ornamented is also at times spoken of as " Runic." This is an erroneous application of the word, and has arisen from the fact that some of these crosses bear inscriptions in Runic characters. Standing crosses, of different kinds, were commonly set up in every suitable place during the middle ages, as the mutilated bases and shafts still remaining readily testify. Such crosses were erected in the centre of the market place, in the churchyard, on the village green, or as boundary stones, or marks to guide the traveller. Some, like the Black Friars cross at Hereford, were preaching stations, others, like the beautiful Eleanor crosses at Northampton, Geddington and Waltham, were commemorative in character. Of these latter crosses, which marked the places where the funeral procession of Queen Eleanor halted, there were originally ten or more, erected between 1241 and 1294• They were placed at Lincoln, Northampton, Stony Stratford, Woburn, Dunstable, St Albans, Waltham and London (Cheapside and Charing Cross). The cross at Geddington differs in outline from those at Northampton and Waltham, and it is not recorded on the roll of accounts for the nine others, all of which are mentioned, but there is no real doubt that it commemorates the resting of the coffin of the queen in Geddington church on its way from Harby. These crosses, like the Black Friars cross at Hereford, are elaborate architectural erections, and very similar to them in this respect are the beautiful market crosses at Winchester, Chichester, Salisbury, Devizes, Shepton Mallet, Leighton Buzzard, &c. Of churchyard crosses, as distinguished from memorial crosses in churchyards, one only is believed to have escaped in a perfect condition the ravages of time, and the fanaticism of the past. It stands in the churchyard of Somerby, in Lincolnshire (Tennyson's birthplace), and is a tall shaft surmounted by a pedimented tabernacle, on one side of which is the crucifixion, and on the other the figure of the Virgin and Child. Churchyard crosses may have been used as occasional preaching stations, for reading the Gospel in the Palm Sunday procession, and generally for public proclamations, made usually at the conclusion of the chief Sunday morning service, much in the same way that market crosses were used on market days as places for proclamations in the towns. Of the ecclesiastical use of the sign of the cross mention has already been made, and it is desirable to mention briefly one or two instances of the ecclesiastical use of the cross itself. From a fairly early period it has been the prerogative of an archbishop or metropolitan, to have a cross borne before him within the limits of his province. The question urged between the arch-bishops of Canterbury and York about the carrying of their crosses before them, in each other's province, was a fruitful source of controversy in the middle ages. The archiepiscopal cross must not be confused with the crozier or pastoral staff The latter, which is formed with a crook at the end, is quite distinct, and is used by archbishops and bishops alike, who bear it with the left hand in processions, and when blessing the people. The archiepiscopal cross, on the contrary, is always borne before the archbishop, or during the vacancy of the archiepiscopal see before the guardian of the spiritualities sede vacante. The bishop of Dol in Brittany, of ordinary diocesan bishops, alone possessed the privilege of having a cross borne before him in his diocese. Good illustrations of the archiepiscopal cross occur on the monumental brasses of Archbishop Waldeby, of York (1397), at Westminster Abbey, and of Archbishop Cranley, of Dublin (1417) in New College chapel, Oxford. The custom of carrying a cross at the head of an ecclesiastical procession can be traced back to the end of the 4th century. The cross was originally taken from the altar, and raised on a pole, and so borne before the procession. Afterwards a separate cross was provided for processions, but in poor churches, where this was not the case, the altar cross continued to be used till quite a late period. A direction to this effect occurs as late as 1829, in the Rituel published for the diocese of La Rochelle in that year. In England altar crosses were not very usual in the middle ages. As a personal ornament the cross came into common use, and was usually worn suspended by a chain flour the neck. A cross of this kind, of very great interest and beauty, was found about 1690, on the breast of Queen Dagmar, the wife of Waldemar II., king of Denmark (d. 1213). It is of Byzantine design and workmanship, and is of enamelled gold (fig. 13 shows both sides of it) ; on one side is the Crucifixion, and on the other side the half figure of our Lord in the centre, with the Virgin and St John the Evangelist on either side, and St Chrysostom and St Basil above and below. From the way in which such crosses were worn, hanging over the chest, they are called pectoral crosses. At the present day a pecto dal cross forms part of the recognized insignia of a Roman Catholic bishop, and is worn by him over his robes, but this official use of the pectoral cross is not ancient, and no instance is known of it in England before the Reformation. The custom appears to have taken rise in the 16th century on the continent. It was not unusual to wear cruciform reliquaries, as objects of personal adornment, and such a reliquary was found on the body of St Cuthbert, when his tomb was opened in 1827, but it was placed under, and not over his episcopal vestments, and formed no part of his bishop's attire. The custom or wearing a pectoral cross over ecclesiastical robes has, curiously enough, been copied from the comparatively modern Roman Catholic usage by the Lutheran bishops and superintendents in Scandinavia and Prussia; and in Sweden the cross is now delivered to the new bishop, on his installation in office, by the archbishop of Upsala, together with the mitre and crozier. Within the last generation the use of a pectoral cross, worn over their robes as part of the insignia of the episcopal office, has been adopted by some bishops of the Church of England, but it has no ancient sanction or authority.
End of Article: COSTUME
COSTUME (through the Fr. costume, from Ital. costum...

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.