Friday, April 9, 2010

Յորք: Street are gates, gates are bars and bars are pubs

Street are gates (from a viking word gata), gates are bars (from Anglo-Saxon barrier) and bars are pubs. In York...

Chris, our Goth guide, called back the phantoms of York through the history of '2000 years in 200 miles', as the catchy slogan of the City Wall read:

"Richard the Conqueror was an interesting man. He was horrendous, merciless... Interestingly enough, he was the only king who had never had any mistresses. He was faithful to his wife, and there's even a legend that the clergy were complaining about them holding hands in public. Of course, back then he was Richard the Bastard, Conqueror came later.

York has the 5% of stained windows in all of England. All Saints Church has the majority of original medieval stained glass in all of York. This one is really interesting. It is donated by a 15th century bell-maker. Back then rich people had to do something to go to Heaven, and many chose charity. This window shows the bell-maker's goodness, how he donates clothes to the poor, gives water (most probably beer, as water was so contaminated in the medieval times that even children were drinking beer) to the thirsty and bread to the hungry. All these scenes are framed with yellow bells, which are believed to have been white originally.

Here's another interesting glass. It shows the hierarchy of angels. There are nine orders of angels. We've got seraphim to usher the Pope and archbishops to Heaven. Then cherubim to lead theologists, and can you guess who the third group is? Clergy practicing church law. Then there come kings, other noblemen and everybody else. Archangels were actually the second from the last in the order, whereas we tend to think they're the most powerful angels.

This one. As you can see it's very different from the others. It's actually a medieval poem about the end of the world! Simple really, but scary. You can definitely see the skulls. The text is in old English. Incidentally, in the medieval times there were more women who could read than men. Historians offer different reasons. One, that women were encouraged to learn reading and math to keep record of their husbands property. Second, by educating women the church could fight against witchcraft. Reading the Bible would have saved women from heresy, to which they were believed to be more inclined than men."

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