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Arms and Armour in the

Carved Column Capitals in the Cloister of Monreale Cathedral near Palermo in Sicily, 1174 to 1182 AD

The purpose of this site it to link photographs of the capitals to an article about them which can be downloaded as a PDF:
"The Monreale Capitals And The Military Equipment Of Later Norman Sicily" by David Nicolle in Gladius, Vol 15 (1980): pp87-103

THE carved capitals of the Monreale Cathedral cloister near Palermo in Sicily are widely recognised as superb examples of south European Romanesque art. They have been discussed in relation to Romanesque carvings throughout Italy and southern France, and have been used to demonstrate the varying degrees of Islamic influence apparent in Sicilian and southern Italian sculpture. Their dating is reasonably certain: from 1174 to 1182 AD according to Jacquiot and King,l and from 1176 to 1189 AD according to G. H. Crichton.2 The Monreale capitals are thus the last in a series of three important Italo-Norman collections of carvings to show military scenes. The others are those above the north door of the church of San Nicola in Bari which may date from 1099 to l106 AD, and the portal above the north door of the church of La Martorana in Palermo from around 1140 to 1143 AD.

Figures 13-14 & 25-26. Knights fighting Infidels
Man with mace
European with Sword
Figure 1. European with Spear
Figure 2. European Infantry
Figure 3. European with knife
Figure 4. European with Face-mask Helmet
Figure 5. European with sword and shield
Figures 7 & 8. Sicilians with bow
Figure 10. Sicilian Swordsmen
Figure 11. European Infantry with Spear and Kite Shield
Figure 12. Herodís Guard
Figure 15. Saracens with Sword and Buckler
Figure 16. Philistines in the Story of Samson
Figure 17. European with Sword and Triangular Shield
Figure 18. Massacre of the Innocents
Figure 19. Negroid warriors with mace
Figure 20. Sleeping Soldiers at the Sepulchre
Figure 21. Herodís Soldiers
Figure 22. Massacre of the Innocents
Figure 23. Herodís Guard
Figure 24. Stag Hunters
Figure 28. Infantry with Round-Ended Sword
Figure 31. Infantry with Mace
Figure 35. Archer with Composite Recurve Bow
Figure 38. Warrior with Buckler
Killing a Serpent
Negroid with Knife, Sacrificing
Men with Knife and Shield or with Mace
Swordsman with Kite Shield Fighting a Beast
Warriors Fighting Mythical Beasts (A)
Warriors Fighting Mythical Beasts (B)

Cited Manuscripts & paintings:
Liber ad honorem Augusti sive de rebus Siculis, 1196, by Peter of Eboli
  • Figure 39 - Bohemian archers & Bavarian crossbowmen
  • Figure 40 - Assault by the Salerni on the Terracina Palace, Salerno
  • Figure 41 - Episode of the assault on Capua by Count Richard of Acerra
    Saint-Sever Apocalypse by Beatus of Liťbana, SW France, 1028-1072AD
    A Spearman in a Fresco from the Church of San Baudelio de Berlanga, Soria, Spain - 12th century
    Ivory book cover of Queen Melisende's Psalter, 12th century
    Fatimid Manuscript with Two Soldiers, Fustat, Egypt
    Fragment of a Fatimid Lustreware Plate with Spearman
    Fatimid Manuscript with 'Jazrafil who rides an Elephant', c. 1200 AD
    Camel Rider in The Painted Wooden Ceiling of the Cappella Palatina
    Carvings above the north door of the church of San Nicola in Bari-1099 to 1106 AD
    Carvings around the west door of the church of San Nicola in Bari, Italy, 1099 to 1106 AD
    A pair of warriors, one with closely curled and somewhat African hair & an archer in helmet with turban from Trani Cathedral, 1180s Bronze Doors made by Barisano da Trani
    Soldiers of Alfonso III of Asturias in Liber Testamentorum Eccleciae Ouetensis, Catedral de Oviedo, Spain
    Psalter Mount Athos, MS. Pantocrator 61, Byzantine, 9th century

  • An extract about the Carved Column Capitals in the Cloister of Monreale, Sicily, in Arms and Armour of the Crusading Era, 1050-1350, Western Europe and the Crusader States by David Nicolle, 1999.

    Other 12th Century Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers
    Other Illustrations from Muslim Influenced, Norman and Lombard Southern Italy and Sicily
    Index of Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers