Bartmann Jugs
Bartmann Jugs

Bartmann jugs are thus named because of the bearded face on the neck. The first Bartmänner were produced around 1550, and pieces of them appear in many contexts across James Fort. Besides its bearded mask with a curved ladder mouth, a Bartmann jug also can sport ovoid-medallions applied to its belly. Medallions on Bartmänner are often armorial, reflecting the coats-of-arms of affluent patrons, European cities and royal houses, ecclesiastical offices, or even the potter’s own Hausmarke or symbol.

The connection between Jamestown and medieval Europe can seen on one jug with a medallion showing a crowned shield divided into four quarters. In heraldic terms, the first and third quarters each exhibit a single lion passant, which means that he is walking with his right paw raised. The second and fourth quarters each have two lion passants. In the first quarter, which is the upper left-hand corner of the shield, there is a heraldic device known as a fess with a label on chief. This is the band across the upper third of the escutcheon that is carrying three stylized fleurs-de-lis. It is this label that identifies the medallion as Italian and, more specifically, as representing a member of the Tuscan Anjoy party or Guelfs, who from medieval times were staunch supporters of the Pope.

The Guelfs’ principal rivals in 13th-century Tuscany were the Ghibellines, who backed the imperial power of the Holy Roman Emperor. These political factions had originated in Germany where they had comprised two feuding powerful families: the Wuelfs and the Hohenstaufen. The latter were the hereditary occupants of the imperial throne and once in Italy they, then known as the Ghibellines, had the support of the aristocracy. Artisans and lesser nobles characterized the Guelf party. It was a political struggle that was to divide Tuscany until 1282 when, with the support of the Pope who resented the threat of imperial authority in Italy, the Guelfs finally prevailed. They continued to be fiercely loyal to the papacy into the 17th century.

Guelf coats-of-arms have never before been recorded on German stoneware. Further, there is no documented trade of the ware in Italy, so this Bartmann jug from the First Well is extremely rare. It must have been commissioned by an individual, perhaps an Italian merchant, who had trade or other contacts with northwest Europe. But what is the jug doing at Jamestown? While potters produced armorial stoneware with an eye to where it would be marketed, the places where heraldic medallions are found should not be strictly used to identify locations of individuals. Marketing practices of the international stoneware trade resulted in much random geographical distribution of armorial stoneware. Was its deposit at Jamestown the result of random distribution to a consumer oblivious to the jug’s symbolism? Or was it a purposeful statement by one of the colonists with papist leanings?

common bartmann jug medallions in the jamestown collection

Bartmann Jug PhotoBartmann Jug Medallion DetailMedallion TypeMedallion Description
Coat of Arms of Duchy of Julich Cleve Berg Mark RavensburgOval medallion with crowned shield. Shield is divided into three sections on top, and two below. Upper right and left quadrants include two rampant lions facing left, representing Julich and Berg respectively. In between the lions is a charbocle representing Cleve. Below these are a fess checky in the lower left quadrant representing Mark, and three chevrons in the lower right quadrant representing Ravensburg. The United Duchies were a combination of states of the Holy Roman Empire.
Coat of Arms of the City of AmsterdamOval medallion with crowned shield and two rampant lions facing inwards on either side of the shield as supports. Three saltires, or Saint Andrews Crosses in pale, meaning, in a band running vertically down the center of the shield.
Coat of Arms of the Prince of OrangeOval medallion with crowned shield. On the shield are two rampant lions in first and second quadrants. In third quadrant is a fess and in the fourth quadrant, two lions passant, one on top of the other (in this example, only the top lion remains). Small central shield contains two horns in first and fourth quadrants and a bend in the second and third quadrants.
Coat of Arms of the Holy Roman EmpireOval medallion with displayed Imperial double headed eagle. Possible sword in the center with crown above. Date “1604” above the heads of the eagles, separated into two parts.
Coat of Arms of the City of CologneOval medallion with shield topped with a plumed front-facing helmet, which is itself topped by a stylized crown containing three crowns. A partial date, including the first two digits 16 is seen to the left of the stylized crown and above the plumage. The shield includes three crowns in chief (meaning, within a rectangular section at the top of the shield), above vine-like motif. The vines may represent the 11 gouttes, or droplets typically seen on the city's coat of arms. A rampant lion stands to the outer left of the shield, facing inwards, and if the vessel were complete, there would have been a matching one on the outer right side.
Coat of Arms of King James I of England and Ireland, King James VI of ScotlandVery large oval medallion, fragmentary. Shield is crowned and is divided into four quadrants. First and fourth quadrant are the English coat of arms, three lions passant in first and fourth quadrant, three fleur de lis in the second and third quadrant. Second quadrant is the rampant lion of Scotland, and third quadrant is the harp of Ireland.
Coat of Arms of ScotlandOval medallion with crowned shield. On the shield is a rampant lion facing to the left within a royal tressure, or a double border decorated with fleur de lis. The fleur de lis adorn each corner and the top and bottom of the tressure.
Coat of Arms of EnglandOval medallion with crowned shield. Shield is divided into four quadrants. Three lions passant in quadrant one and (if complete) quadrant four, three fleur de lys in quadrant two and three.
Coat of Arms of NorwayOval medallion with a crowned shield. On the shield is a rampant lion facing to the left wielding an axe.

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