The Queen's BuckleLesson
A Reliable Text?
In the History Museum in Stockholm there is an exhibition called Sweden’s History. Among many things a large buckle of gold inlayed with gemstones is displayed. The text says:
"In 1335 King Magnus married Blanka of Namur (in present-day Belgium). The large buckle is made in Paris in the beginning of the 14th Century and may have been a part of the Queen’s dowry. It was found several hundred years later by an eel fisherman in Motala stream by Kimstad outside Norrköping."
Read the texts below relating to the buckle. Make notes and think about whether the display text gives a truthful description of the object. A few questions to help you along:
- Which source seems most reliable?
- Do you think that one of the sources is more/less reliable?
- Why do you think so?
- What do we really know about the buckle? Write down the facts.
Jonas Hallenberg, National Antiquarian (1818)
Found the 4 September 1818 in Motala stream, between the lakes Roxen and Glan, downstream Kimstad mill, by the mine owner Gabriel Gabrielsson at Stora Boda, about seven or eight fathoms (c. 13 metres) from land.
It is less likely to have belonged to a priest, because of the non-Christian images. But is was not unheard of with priestly ornaments without religious images.
The buckle must be from the 15th or the 16th Century.
It could have belonged to Bishop Petrus Benedictus in Linköping, because it has symbols for the Polish kingdom (the eagle), Östergötland (the griffin) and Småland (the lion). Benedictus was loyal to King Sigismund of Poland-Sweden and was Bishop of Östergötland and Småland. Its location in the stream could be related to the blood bath in Linköping in 1600.
Oscar Montelius, National Antiquarian (1912)
Big, circular, magnificent buckle of gold. Later part of the 14th Century.
Found the 4 September 1818 in Motala stream, between the lakes Roxen and Glan, downstream Kimstad mill, by the mine owner Gabriel Gabrielsson at Stora Boda.
String instruments of the type depicted were known in the 14th Century. Animals, like the eagles, lions and griffins, are often found on works from the same Century. The entire style of the piece concurs with the later part of the 14th Century.
Albeit several of the images embellishing our buckle might be inappropriate in a Christian church, there can be no doubt that this extraordinary piece was intended for a Bishop or another high church official.
Carl af Ugglas, Art historian (1933)
Buckle for a priest’s robe.
Originally probably belonging to Linköping Cathedral (found in Motala stream by Kimstad mill, Östergötland). Found at the abovementioned site in Motala stream 1818. Redeemed from the finder, mine owner Gabriel Gabrielsson, Stora Boda, for 166 Ducats, 1 Riksdaler, 12 Shilling, 6 Rune pieces.
Swedish manufacture (?) Early or middle 14th Century.
Dick Harrison, Professor of History (2012)
The buckle is often slovenly called the Motala Buckle, although it was never found in Motala. In Motala stream, however. The finder was Gabriel Gabrielsson. He was out eel fishing at Kimstad mill in 1818 when he saw the unexpected catch.
A warning is in place: most that is told about the buckle is guesswork. The fact that it was made by a goldsmith in Paris, is one of them.
Another commonly reoccurring fact is that the buckle once belonged to Queen Blanch (Blanka) of Namur, Magnus Eriksson’s Queen. That the wearer was wealthy is obvious, but we have no other clue to her identity.
Well worth noting is that we have no evidence that the buckle was lost in the water in the 14th Century. It might have found its way into Motala stream at a far later date.
It was found in Motala stream by Kimstad mill in Norrköping municipality a summer morning 1818 by the farmer Gabriel Gabrielsson when he searched his eel nets.
It is believed to be manufactured in the 14th Century, probably in France.
How this golden buckle found its way into Motala stream, we will never know. Nor will we know in what mysterious ways this treasure found its way there or who the original owner was.
The buckle’s imagery is entirely worldly, without the slightest indication of ecclesiastical use, but it has been believed to be a Bishop’s robe buckle.
One theory is that it has belonged to Queen Blanka of Namur, married to the Swedish King Magnus Eriksson.
Antikrummet Blogspot (2012)
Its popular name is the Motala Buckle and kept at the History Museum. It is speculated that it once belonged to Queen Blanka of Namur, who became our Queen in 1335. There is a legend that she once rode to her son’s wedding and the buckle was lost somewhere by Motala stream. They searched and searched for the buckle, but eventually gave up.
Peter Wiberg, musician and writer (2019)
As far as known this magnificent dress buckle is the only remaining possession after Queen Blanche. Manufactured in a Paris workshop sometime in the first half of the 14th Century, a unique work by a goldsmith.
County Östergötland Homepage (2021)
One of the most fantastic finds in Östergötland was made in 1818 when Gabriel Gabrielsson raised his longline by Kimstad mill in Motala stream. Together with the 16 eels, he got an almost two decimetre large gold buckle strewn with gold figures and colourful gemstones.
The buckle can be dated to the beginning of the 14th Century and is most likely a French goldsmith’s work. We do not know who owned the buckle or how it came into the stream. Maybe it was the bishop’s, maybe it belonged to a wealthy lady? One suggestion is that it belonged to Queen Blanka, Blanche of Namur, that is, and it was donated to the church and therefore transferred to Munkeboda.
Places of Interest
Several places in the vicinity of the find site has been mentioned as connected to the buckle. The common denominator is that they are places where high ranking priests or rich individuals have lived. In the menu in the top left corner you will find all locations on the map.
The mine owner Gabrielsson found the buckle about 13 metres downstrem of Limstad mill.
A possible reason for the buckle's finding site may have been that the person who lost it was persecuted, either by the person who owned the buckle or by someone who wanted it. Or possibly it was dropped in the dark, so that no one saw it. It may also have been a deliberate act to avoid others getting hold of it.
The site is first mentioned 1288 and has had a "kungsgård", a royal estate, for centuries.
There have been some form of church in Linköping since the 11th Century.
If the buckle have been worn by a wealthy priest/bishop in the 14th Century some Bishops of Linköping might be of interest:
Karl (Bishop between 1306 and 1336), Petrus Torgilsson (1342-1351), Nils Marcusson (1352-1372), Gottskalk Falkdal (1373-1374), Nils Hermansson (1375-1391) and Knut Bosson (1391-1436).
Henrik Tidemansson was ordained Bishop in Linköping 1465.
The ruin recieved its name Henriksborg in the 1940's. No documents supports the assuption that the castle was commissioned by Bishop Henrik Tidemansson in Linköping.
The buckle might have belonged to the owner of Henriksborg.
Munkeboda ruin is most likely the remains of a stone house from the 14th Century. It is not clear who had the house built, nor why it was built. The name Munkeboda is noted from 1373.
The buckle could have belonged to the owner of Munkeboda.
The monastery was active between the 12th and the 16th Century. The gold buckle might have belonged to a priest or an abbess.
A Challenge for You
With the available information it is now time for you to write a text to the buckle. The current display text has 51 words. Try to keep your text fewer than 60 words. Some important things to remember are:
- Who are you writing for? (It might decide how difficult your text can be.)
- What is the most important part of the information? (Put it first or last in your text, not in the middle.)
- How do you want the reader to feel about the object? (You could use value-charged words or stress/omit certain aspects of information.)
Compare your finished text with someone else. Explain your work process and your reasoning.