30 November 2023

Precious stones

image from a copy of Der naturen bloeme
by van Maerlant, in the part about gemstones

Medieval people of power (princes and priests in Oera Linda) loved precious stones. Whole books were written about them, like the 13th century Middle Dutch Lapidarys by Jacob van Maerlant (partly based on earlier works in Latin), of which no surviving copy has been found.* This book had likely been written in the first place for the young Floris V (1254-1296), son of Willem II (see below).

[* Dutch reading tip: chapter De magie van edelstenen, pp. 170-184 in Maerlants Wereld (Frits van Oostrom, 1996)]

Not more than a year after Hidde Oera Linda finished his copy of the Book of the Adela-Followers, on the frosty 28th of January 1256, William II, count of Holland & Zeeland and king of the Roman empire, tried to conquer Westfriesland. He fell through the ice with his horse, and was lambasted to death by the Frisians in Hoogwoud. Two years earlier the Frisians had already been betrayed by him.* In the following spring (of 1256) he would have been crowned emperor in Rome (ref.: Maerlants Wereld, p. 106). Adherents of Roman royalty (Gola in Oera Linda) will have hated the Frisians for centuries, for having killed their would-have-been emperor.

"Portrait of William, king of the
Romans, count of Holland,
killed by the Frisians in 1256"

[*In 1248 William conquered Kaiserswerth, Dortmund and Aachen. He took Aachen after a siege of five months, helped by Frisians, who with hydraulic engineering ingenuity (water from the mountains was poured over the city like a spring tide with a constructed dam) managed to drive the Staufers out of the city. On November 1, 1248, on All Saints' Day, William was crowned in Aachen by the Archbishop of Cologne. In gratitude for the help of the Frisians, William confirmed the entire Frisian nation in the rights, freedoms and privileges that they had already received from Charlemagne. Despite this promise, the West Frisians would be attacked and plundered by William in 1254. (source wikipedia, Maerlants Wereld page. 262]

Less than 50 years later, in 1303, a massacre took place in or near the Westfrisian town Vronen to finish off once and for all what Willem II had tried. This was concluded in 2011, based on human remains (half of them female and a significant part children) that had been found 20 years earlier.

In short, the Frisians (in those days Westfrisians were still referred to as such), must have had a culture that did not go well with that of the counts of Holland (who served the Roman Empire) and their adherents. Oera Linda offers enough explicit examples to confirm this. These may also explain why Oera Linda never had a warm welcome in the modern Dutch cutural establishment.

One of the more modest examples (as a warm-up) is the topic of precious stones. The most positive context in which they appear is on the walls (surrounding the Lamp with its eternal flame) of the tower of the burg Liudgarda. That is: not in someone's individual possession, but used for the common good. The fragment of chapter 15c is most telling.

2d. Finda was Yellow

Under costly stones (KESTLIKA STÉNA) they laid her body down; with pompous inscriptions they adorned (SMUKTON*) them, bawling loudly to be heard. But in private, they shed not a single tear. [*German 'Schmuck' means 'jewelry']

13d. Ode to Adela

What could they add to highten her beauty? Not pearls (PÀRLUM), for her teeth were whiter. Not gold (GOLD), for her hair shone brighter. Not jewels (STÉNA), for her eyes, though soft as a lamb’s, blazed such that one scarce dared hold their gaze.

13h. Apollania’s Burg

In the tower hangs the Lamp, and the walls are bejeweled with precious stones (KESTLIKA STÉNA).
15th century pope Alexander VI
15c. Yesus or Buda of Kashmir

He taught that no one should grub in her bowels for gold (GOLD), silver (SULVER), or precious stones (KESTLIKA STÉNA), to which envy binds and from which love flees. “To adorn (SJARANE) your girls and women,” he said, “her rivers deliver enough.”
Some more related fragments, not explicitly about precious stones, but jewelry in general:

8e. The Idolatrous Gola 

their merchants traded fancy copper weapons (SKÉNE KÁPRE WÉPNE) and all variety of jewelry (SÍRHÉDON) for our iron weapons and hides of wild animals
10a. Ulysus’ Quest for a Lamp 

he had brought many treasures (SKÀTA), above all jewelry for maidens (FÁMNE SÍRHÉDUM), more beautiful than any in the world
11a. Denmarks Lost 

They gave them iron weapons and tools in exchange for golden ornaments (GOLDEN SÍRHÉDON) as well as copper and iron ore. (...) Their bodies were bedecked with garishness and gloss (BLIK ÀND SKIN), but their warehouses and barns were emptied. (...) The children wanted food from their mothers, and the mothers had jewelry (SÍRHÉDON) but no food. (...) Now the ornaments (SÍRHÉDON) had to be sold (...)
15th century pope Paul II
Finally — also telling — a related fragment about Frya:

2e. Frya was White

Mild Frya! Never would she let metal (MÉT​.AL) be delved from Earth (JRTHA*) for her own benefit, but when it was done, it was for the good of all. [*also the word for 'ore' and 'soil']
Related word studies: