A Sanctified Black: Maurice
DOI link for A Sanctified Black: Maurice
A Sanctified Black: Maurice book
The program for the decoration of the Cathedral of Magdeburg, undertaken about 1240-50, included a surprising departure in St. Maurice's iconography: until then represented as white, he became a black man. Nor was this an ephemeral phenomenon. With few exceptions, the saint was portrayed as black until the sixteenth century in Magdeburg, Halle, and Halberstadt. At least we are led to this conclusion by the information now
available to us. 1 The working hypothesis which emerges is that a command from the emperor caused St. Maurice to be depicted as a black in Magdeburg, the city where his relics were enshrined. In this first period the iconography of the black saint was influenced by the fluctuations of imperial power, which waned during the Great Interregnum and rose again, enhanced in strength and prestige, only with Charles IV. Behind the politics of the emperors, the strategy of Magdeburg and its archbishops was active, both city and prelates turning the new iconographic theine to their own advantage, especially in the fifteenth century. Finally, in the sixteenth, Cardinal Albert of Brandenburg took it over. The fact is, however, that before clear, definitive conclusions can be reached in this field, a lengthy, comparative chronological and geographical investigation of all types of representation of St. Maurice, black or white, from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century, will have to be made.