by Jane Welch Williams
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Hardcover - 263 pages (May 1993)
At Chartres Cathedral, for the first time in medieval art, the lowest register of
stained-glass windows depicts working artisans and merchants instead of noble
and clerical donors. Jane Welch Williams challenges the prevailing view that
pious town tradesmen donated these windows. In Bread, Wine, and Money, she
uncovers a deep antagonism between the trades and the cathedral clergy in
Chartres; the windows, she argues, portray not town tradesmen but trusted
individuals that the fearful clergy had taken into the cloister as their own serfs.
Williams weaves a tight net of historical circumstances, iconographic traditions,
exegetical implications, political motivations, and liturgical functions to explain
the imagery in the windows of the trades. Her account of changing social
relationships in thirteenth-century Chartres focuses on the bakers, tavern
keepers, and money changers whose bread, wine, and money were used as
means of exchange, tithing, and offering throughout medieval society. Drawing
on a wide variety of original documents and scholarly work, this book makes
important new contributions to our knowledge of one of the great monuments
of Western culture.
Reviewer: A reader from Denver, Colorado October 22, 1998
I had Jane Welch Williams as an art history professor at the University of
Arizona. She knew her subject so well, and loved to share her knowledge with
others. History wasn't just something that happened long ago, it was
something real. She passed away this Spring, she will be missed.