The core stories of Christianity, that is Jesus and the Saints, is told again and again in pictorial and imagistic versions throughout all the christian art we’ve looked at. While an example like the Bayeux Tapestry isn’t religious in nature, it is performing largely the same function by telling the story of the Norman conquest through pictures. Art like this gave illiterate people a chance to engage with these stories, but it also, as with the Bayeux Tapestry, legitimized the political authority of the time. As they say, history is written by the victors, and in these instances it was ‘written’ into artwork. In this vein, the impressive churches that housed this art served not only the illiterate people who came to absorb the stories and drama of the place and found solace in its powerful effects, but they also served the religious-political (the two were very interconnected) powers that existed at the time. The connection that was made between impressive art, propaganda, and authority continues through this period.
One other thing I wanted to mention that isn’t here or there is that looking through the related articles to the Liber Scivias I was struck by how much the imagery and form resembled the Tarot deck. Pretty fascinating that this too was a way for illiterate people to engage with imagery that depicts ‘The Fool’s Journey’ or some kind of process. It’s interesting now that this imagery can be used to try and escape the rationalism and ‘hyper-literacy’ of our time and tune into a more intuitive imagery driven state of mind.