Ring Brooch

1350-1450 (made)
Ring Brooch thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The inscriptions on this ring brooch combine two powerful invocations: the names of the Magi or Three Kings with the phrase 'Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews'. In the Nativity story, the Three Kings Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar came from the East to bear gifts for the newborn Christ. Their relics were housed in Cologne Cathedral, which became an important pilgrimage site. Invoking the names of the Kings was believed to protect against epilepsy, known as the ‘falling sickness’.

The phrase 'Ihesus Nazarenus' or Jesus of Nazareth, used independently, was a protection against sudden death. The significance of 'Ihesus Nazarenus' as a charm is explained in the The Revelations of the Monk of Evesham quoted by Joan Evans (1922, 128-9). A goldsmith in Purgatory declared that it was:

" a remedye against sudden death. Trewly and verily and the crysten pepulle wolde wryte dayly on her forhedys and aboute the placeys of her herte wyth her fynger or in any other wyse, these ii wordys that conteyneth the mysterye of the helthe and salvacyon of mankynde that ys to wytte and to says JESUS NAZARENUS"

This jewel therefore served not only to fasten a garment, the pin (now missing) passed through the loose weave of fabric and held in place by the weight of the garment but also as a protection against spiritual and earthly dangers.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Gold, hollow cast and engraved.
Brief Description
Gold ring brooch with black letter inscriptions and decorated with foliage and a crown. Inscribed in Latin 'Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews' and with the names of the Three Kings. England or France, 1350-1400.
Physical Description
Ring brooch, gold, hollow-cast. Engraved on one side with an inscription in black letter 'ihesus nazaren[us] rex udoeoru[m]' (Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews), the inscription beginning with a star and ending with a sprig of foliage. On the other side the black letter inscription on a background that has been cut away, presumably to hold enamel., the inscription with the names of the three Magi 'iaspar: melchior: baltazar / M' (Caspar, Melchior, Balthazar) the inscription begins and ends with foliage, and the 'M' is separated from the rest of the inscription by a crown.The pin is missing.
Dimensions
  • Diameter: 2.9cm
Marks and Inscriptions
  • ihesus nazaren[us] rex iudeoru[m] (Latin, black letter script)
  • iasper: melchior: balthazar / M (Black letter script)
Credit line
Given by Dame Joan Evans
Production
Possibly made in England or France
Subjects depicted
Summary
The inscriptions on this ring brooch combine two powerful invocations: the names of the Magi or Three Kings with the phrase 'Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews'. In the Nativity story, the Three Kings Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar came from the East to bear gifts for the newborn Christ. Their relics were housed in Cologne Cathedral, which became an important pilgrimage site. Invoking the names of the Kings was believed to protect against epilepsy, known as the ‘falling sickness’.



The phrase 'Ihesus Nazarenus' or Jesus of Nazareth, used independently, was a protection against sudden death. The significance of 'Ihesus Nazarenus' as a charm is explained in the The Revelations of the Monk of Evesham quoted by Joan Evans (1922, 128-9). A goldsmith in Purgatory declared that it was:



" a remedye against sudden death. Trewly and verily and the crysten pepulle wolde wryte dayly on her forhedys and aboute the placeys of her herte wyth her fynger or in any other wyse, these ii wordys that conteyneth the mysterye of the helthe and salvacyon of mankynde that ys to wytte and to says JESUS NAZARENUS"



This jewel therefore served not only to fasten a garment, the pin (now missing) passed through the loose weave of fabric and held in place by the weight of the garment but also as a protection against spiritual and earthly dangers.
Bibliographic Reference
Lightbown, Ronald. Medieval European Jewellery: with a catalogue of the collection in the Victoria & Albert Museum. London: Victoria & Albert Museum, 1992. cat. 19. p. 496.
Collection
Accession Number
M.38-1975

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record createdDecember 15, 1999
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