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“This Single Slab of Marble Does Not Show you One Single Face”. •

Funerary Monuments From the Saint Michael Cathedral in Alba Iulia from the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

Acta Historiae Artium Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae
Dóra Mérai


The paper presents stone funerary monuments known from the Saint Michael Cathedral in Alba Iulia (in Hungarian, Gyulafehérvár, in German Karlsburg or Weissenburg, today in Romania) from the second half of the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries, the period of the Transylvanian Principality. These memorials represented a broad variety in terms of their quality and complexity, including simple heraldic ledgers produced locally as well as large wall monuments made of colorful marbles imported from the most fashionable Dutch and Italian workshops in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to commemorate the princes of Transylvania and their family members. All stone funerary monuments, regardless their size and form, are linked by their function: they were created to preserve and evoke the memory of the dead among the present and future generations of the living by communicating specific messages about them. The forms, materials, images, and texts, as well as the location of the memorial in the space of the medieval cathedral and in the context of the other funerary monuments there were all carefully chosen to serve this purpose of communication. The paper analyzes all principality-period funerary monuments from the Saint Michael Cathedral in Alba Iulia as media of memory, including both the simple and the more complex ones ordered from abroad to commemorate the Transylvanian rulers. I will examine the monuments in the context of their production and reception, within the scene of sculpture in Central and Eastern Europe, in order to understand what kind of memory they were intended to preserve and how they were designed to retain and shape the memory of the deceased.

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