• Anu Mänd
Keywords: Medieval Gravestones in Estonia, Epigraphy, Ecclesiastical Dignitaries, Culture of Commemoriaton, Iconography of Sepulchral Monuments


The article discusses three late medieval grave slabs in Estonia, which are decorated with full fgures and represent ecclesiastics of diferent ranks. By examining their visual appearance, including the inscriptions and coats of arms, some of the general trends in the production and decoration of local tombstones can be outlined and a contribution made to the discussion of the role of such monuments in the late medieval culture of commemoration. One of the slabs, actually a fragment, came to light during the archaeological excavations of the Tartu Cathedral in 2008. Its inscription added a completely new name to the list of clerics known from medieval Tartu. The monument belonged to the vicar Stephanus de Velde, who died in 1428 or 1438. The others two grave slabs are located in the Cathedral of Tallinn. One of them, belonging to an unidentifed bishop, can be dated to the frst third of the 16  century. The other marks the grave of Georgius (Jurgen) Bardin, a canon in the Tallinn and Saare- Lääne (Ösel-Wiek) dioceses, who died in May 1525. An important function of these monuments was to be a witness to status. The identity of the deceased was perpetuated through the proper attire and symbols, but also through the family coat of arms and the name and occupation stated in the inscription. The large and elaborately decorated grave slabs were prestigious objects, which were meant not only to mark the tomb but also to visually commemorate the deceased, to invite the viewers to contemplate on death, salvation and resurrec- tion, and to evoke intercessory prayers.


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Author Biography

Anu Mänd
Anu Mänd is senior research fellow at the Institute of History of Tallinn University. She has published several monographs, including Urban Carnival: Festive Culture in the Hanseatic Cities of the Eastern Baltic, 1350– 1550 (Brepols, 2005), based on her Ph.D. dissertation. Her main research interests are in the social and cultural history of medieval Livonia. She is currently working on altars and altarpieces, guilds and confraternities, gender and memoria.