ALBRECHT DÜRER’S ONLY IRISH DRAWING-Happy St. Patty’s day!

Durer albrecht irish drawing 1421 sex gallowglass ireland
THE ONLY truly IRISH drawing Albrecht made in 1521

WHY IS DUERER DRAWING IRISHMEN?

This is a very strange drawing that Albrecht Duerer did in 1521 while still in Antwerp setting up his new art shop headquarters in Antwerp, after attending the coronation of Charles V as Holy Roman Emperor and having achieved getting back his pension promised to him by Charles’ grandfather, the former Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian.

WHAT MAKES THIS DRAWING STRANGE?

First, we must note that this IS a drawing that was part of his own personal sketchbook.  It also has his authenticated writing on it.  It is dated 1521 and the writings are translated as “The two men on the left are soldiers, the three men on the right are peasants, and they come from the land beyond England, Ireland.”

QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS

The first odd thing that comes to mind in this drawing is that it is an encoded one, and did Duerer actually get to see Irishman as they were dressed this way or was he making up in his head what he thought Irishmen, especially soldiers, should have looked like to him.

Secondly, the drawing was part of a sketchbook and thus, it is a reasonable assumption to make, that this sketch book would have been kept for future reference for other artwork, and yet he encodes this drawing.  Why would he do such a thing?  Who would have been his target audiences to get his message(s)?

Third, he specifically indicates that the two figures on the left are soldiers and the three on the right are peasants.  Why would he have to make this distinction?

And fourth, why does he have to make special reference to these figures  that “they come from beyond England, Ireland”?  Why would it be so important for him to indicate that they specifically come from Ireland?  When England would have done?

WHO WERE THE GALLOGLASS?

For nearly 100 years after the arrival of the Normans in 1169 AD the old world of Gaelic Ireland was in retreat. The Normans brought to Ireland superior weapons, the long sword, lance, Welsh crossbows, and iron helmets, and chain mail protecting much of the body. This was in contrast to the native Irish with their axes and short swords and dressed in linen tunics. To halt the Norman onslaught the remaining independent Irish Chieftains needed a new weapon and they found it in the mercenary warriors from the Western Isles of Scotland. These Gallowglass or ‘foreign Gaels’ had served as elite warriors in the Western Isles of Scotland for over 100 years prior to their arrival in Ireland.

The first 160 Gallowglass, who appear to have been from Clan MacDoughall arrived in Ireland in 1259AD as part of Dougall MacSorley’s (King of the Hebrides) daughters dowry in her marriage to Aedh O’Connor, the then King of Connaught. The Gallowglass fought like the Normans protected in mail coats and iron helmets. But they were notable with their characteristic two handed axes and Claymores (a large 2 handed sword). This trickle of warriors became a flood as many mercenary Gallowglass Clans either sought new lords after backing the losing side in the Scottish wars of Independence or just somewhere to ply their trade, and given the battle against the encroaching Normans or the constant inter-Clan warfare there was always a demand for the services  in Ireland.

Many Clans like the McCabe’s and MacSweeney’s transplanted completely to Ireland, see Figure. The MacSweeney’s vacated their homeland around Castle Swin on the Argyll peninsula in Scotland for life in the service of the O’Donnell’s in Donegal. Others remained seasonal travellers appearing in the spring and summer offering their services to the highest bidder (everybody appears to have decided that making war in autumn and winter in Ireland was a bad idea). While others like the MacDonald’s/MacDonnell’s’ and MacNeill’s established territories in County Antrim in the northeast of Ireland to complement their lands in Scotland (the MacNeill’s appear to have been the new occupants of Swin Castle vacated by the MacSweeney’s). County Antrim provided the shortest crossing point between Scotland and Ireland and the presence of Scottish Clans there may have been an attempt to monopolise this lucrative trade.

What is certain is that the tide had turned, the Norman Conquest had lost momentum, and the Irish Chiefs with the aide of their new weapon rolled back the Normans By the 14th and 15th Centuries a stalemate developed, with Ireland divided into spheres of influence as reflected in the medieval ethnicity map of Ireland. There was a mini Gaelic revival and although not all the Normans adopted Gaelic ways and customs, the habit of hiring Gallowglass was adopted by all, including the English authorities who’s rule was restricted to the area known as ‘The Pale.’ Some of the Gallowglass Clans had by this time become independent establishing their own territories.

THE STRANGE INSCRIPTION

So if the Galloglass were mercenaries soldiers known for their oversized weapons, why is Duerer specifically saying that the three men on the right are specifically peasants?  that makes no sense, and why does he has to specifically identify them as from Ireland?  Everyone had  known for a long time that these type of mercenaries were from Ireland, despite their transplantation to Scotland.

And especially why is he indicating  the three on the right are not soldiers but are peasants? Two of them don’t even wear shoes. If they are peasants, by definition they are not  Gallowglass, they are Kerns, wqho fought with Galloglass.  And yet they are definitely carrying very large weapons and very distinctive weapons for the Irish.

WHO’S HOLDING THAT STRANGE LONG AXE BEHIND THE MAN IN THE CLOAK?

Who is actually carrying that long axe?  We really can’t tell and that’s one of Duerer’s tricks he uses often.  We see the axe rest on the shoulder of the peasant boy in the middle of the three figures, but we see no right arm of the guy in the robe or the peasant boy in the middle.  WHO IS REALLY CARRYING THE AXE?  AND WHY DOES THIS BECOME IMPORTANT?

More to come.

 

 

 

 

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13 thoughts on “ALBRECHT DÜRER’S ONLY IRISH DRAWING-Happy St. Patty’s day!

  1. Is there some deliberate symbolism in that the front peasant seems to be trying to keep the long sword hidden which is consistent with the fact that he may not have the right to bear arms (which still applied half a century later in England when the Shakespeare family sought a coat of arms). Similarly, the other weapons held by the peasant resemble agricultural tools, another ambiguity that may be deliberate. Is there any significance in the strange arrangement of the feet of the front peasant which is a formal ballet step?

    1. WOW JUSTIN, YOU HAVE PROBABLY JUST BECOME A DE FACTO DURERSLEUTH. GREAT QUESTIONS. WE DON’T KNOW YET WHICH IS WHY THIS WAS PUBLISHED. NONE OF US CAN UNRAVEL THE TRUTH ALONE THAT SO MANY TOOK SO MUCH PAINS TO HIDE. YOU’RE OBSERVATIONS WILL IMMEDIATLEY BE SENT TO OUR OTHER RESEARCHERS.

      GREAT JOB!

      THX

      ELIZABRTH

    2. WOW JUSTIN, YOU HAVE PROBABLY JUST BECOME A DE FACTO DURERSLEUTH. GREAT QUESTIONS. WE DON’T KNOW YET WHICH IS WHY THIS WAS PUBLISHED. NONE OF US CAN UNRAVEL THE TRUTH ALONE THAT SO MANY TOOK SO MUCH PAINS TO HIDE. YOU’RE OBSERVATIONS WILL IMMEDIATLEY BE SENT TO OUR OTHER RESEARCHERS.

      GREAT JOB!

      THX

      ELIZABETH

  2. Все это прекрасно, друзья! Но позвольте мне поговорить о самом произведении.Что, собственно, перед нами? Я вижу красивую графику с акварельно раскрашенным фоном..Изящные движения фигур, несколько ленивые и в совершенно другом ритме, очень отличном от нашего времени. Вы говорите о их национальной принадлежности, а мне кажется это вторично. Главное, их индивидуальность, настроение! Две пары беседуют , средний весело смотрит на нас с вами. Они – живые и вполне ясные для нас люди. Как я люблю Дюрера! Одна моя подруга- Наташа- еще в училище нарисовала мой портрет, ну совершенный Дюрер..Я тогда немного обиделась на нее, хоть и похоже . Но эта любовь и понимание художника пришло позже.

    1. THANK YOU FOR THIS COMMENT I REGRET THAT I DON’T UNDERSTAND THIS LANGUAGE NOR DO I HAVE ANYONE READILY AVAILABLE TO TRANSLATE. I only hope the is a very positive response, if not, if you are earnest in your beliefs, thai you for taking the time to comment.

      Best,

      Elizabeth

  3. Elizabeth, It strikes me, as an Irishman, that Durer identified the two on the left (gallowglasses – gall oglaigh or foreign warriors) because that is what they were – their arms and mail armour or quilted linen shirts mark them out as such. By the 16th century they had been the elite soldiers in Irish armies or war bands since the 1300s. The two on the right are shoeless, and they may be kerne – light troops who were usually peasants but who would fight for their lord in times of war using the simplest of weapons – axes or poleaxes. The man in the middle, with his large sword, his brat or large waterproof Irish cloak and with shoes on his feet may be the chief of the group.

    1. Tony,

      Thank you for your comment. Another irishman and I have become so fascinated with the drawing because it is so odd and it is highly encoded, we are trying to trace down exactly what IS the message that is being given in this drawing, however the actual translation of Durer’s authentic writing or inscription that he left was that the two on the left were soldiers and the 3 on the right were peasants and they came from beyond the land of England, Ireland. Now. Everyone KNEW at Durer’s time that Ireland existed, so why does Durer actually HAVE to specially say Ireland? He doesn’t, and that’s a big clue. The Irish who have contacted me are well versed in their knowledge of galloglasses (who actually where originally imported Scottish mercenaries into Ireland, Special Forces as they would be known today) and the kernes,and almost all the Irish want to call the guy with the cloak the Chieftain but we have to remember that the message is being given to someone else by Durer for some important reason and it may or may not be to Irish people or not. Thats what we are trying to determine right now and we are close. Stay tuned, we’ve discovered so much about this drawing that i’m going to be making it into a series once I can get one major connection as to why Durer would HAVE encoded so much a drawing in a sketchbook-How many people are going t see THAT? USUALLY not many. So why is he doing it?

      and you are making the mistake everyone does, until you can locate the arm that is holding that huge weapon behind the guy with the cloak, we don’t know who is really holding that weapon, and that’s a very common Durer trick, when he is usually encoding something that could be very dangerous.

      I invite yu to become a Durersleuth and figure these things out. Your help will always be appreciated.

      Best,

      Elizabeth

      But I DO HAVE A QUESTION TO YOU, WHY DOES THE GUY WITH THE CLOAK HAVE SHOES ON? In the Renaissance shoes DID make the man and much encoding was satire was done by artists, especially Brueghel, using shoes as very important message symbols. And the cloaked guy’s shoes seem to be very strange.

  4. Has it occurred to you that this is simply a drawing of foreign soldies who would have been an unusual sight to a continental European? Not everything is “encoded.” You sound like a crank to be perfectly honest.

    1. HAHAHAHAHA, you certainly ARE surly. And apparently have little knowledge of what artists in the Renaissance were doing. There is SO much proof of encoding and enciphering in all the masters works.

      Thanks for the compliment!

      Elizabeth

  5. Dear Albrecht Dürer Blogg

    I’ve tried to explain the origins of Dürer’s Irishmen sketch in my recent book, Ireland 1518.

    With best wishes,
    Hiram Morgan
    Cork
    Ireland

  6. Dear Albrecht Dürer Blog

    I’ve tried to explain the origins of Dürer’s Irishmen sketch in my recent book, Ireland 1518.

    With best wishes,
    Hiram Morgan
    Cork
    Ireland

  7. Why did Dürer say ‘the land beyond England, Ireland’? Perhaps no one had ever heard of Ireland. You do know that saying ‘ St Patty’s Day’ drives everyone in Ireland mad. It’s ‘Paddy’ short for Patrick. Patty is a woman’s name, short for Patricia. I think the ‘Patty’ sound may be because the American pronunciation of ‘T’ is generally softer, like a ‘D’ as in thir-dy (30) rather than thir-ty. But either way it’s not spelt ‘Patty’. That’s a woman.

    1. Because what was known as by the English Ireland was really the English Pale, a very small part of Ireland. What was beyond that was beyond the England Ireland

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