Chapter 5. SILVER IN THE MIDDLE AGES.

Table of Contents

BYZANTINE SILVER
ARCHITECTURAL DESIGNS.
RELIGIOUS INFLUENCES.
THE SPLENDOUR OF THE PALACES
MEDIEVAL VESSELS
MUSEUM SPECIMENS.

Byzantine silver-Architectural design-Religious influence-Splendour of the palaces-Mediaeval vessels-Museum specimens. THE silver plate wrought with such care by hammer and hand during the Middle Ages-that long period which for the purposes of art had its beginning in the days when the power of Rome began to wane, and when a new era of art was in the making-is very rare. Its study, however, shows that the silver and other metal work then fashioned slowly assumed a distinct type which in many ways was destined to influence the craftsmanship of future generations in Europe. The art of Rome which was under the domination of Greek taste in its earlier times gradually lost its character and became impregnated with Eastern ideas and those influences which made themselves felt in Byzantium where the new art was formulated. Byzantine art spread and was followed and practised in all the countries where the Christian religion took root ; as it will be seen the ecclesiastics of each succeeding century, until the Reformation, exercised an increasing power, and with that strong hold upon popular opinion, and upon wealth, the art that most fitly promulgated and sustained by the influence of the priests was encouraged, and few were allowed to put it on one side in favour of other styles arising out of newer environment. Indeed, throughout the Middle Ages, on the Continent and in England, the art of the silversmiths was founded on that which was established during the first few centuries after the Christian religion was accepted by the Emperors of Rome, and the transfer of the capital of the Empire from Rome to Constantinople had been effected.