Elisava and the mystery of the banner


ELISAVA ME FECIT: these three Latin words embroidered on a beautiful ancient banner, acquired by the Design Museum (Museu del Disseny) in Barcelona some hundred years ago, posed an interesting challenge for historians.

‘Elisava made me’ said the text, while as a rule Medieval artists did not sign their work. So the experts wondered who ‘wrote’ it and which other secrets did the standard hide? Here is what they discovered.

The banner was found in a box placed in the niche of the Altar of Saint Ot at the cathedral of Santa Maria d’Urgell, La Seu d’Urgell. Ot of Urgell (now the town’s patron saint) was a bishop of Urgell from a noble family whose members were counts of the region Pallars Sobirà. He presided his diocese between 1095 and 1122 and the standard could very well date from those years, also considering its material and style characteristics.

But who was Elisava? The name was rather common in the Middle Ages, so that does not give us any indication, although it was frequently used by the family of counts over a large period. Continue reading “Elisava and the mystery of the banner”

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