lipprose Werner Nolte über mittelalterliche Architektur und Geschichte

Lion gates

In the Middle Ages, the lion was a powerful symbol.
It stood for power and strength, as well as for a royal attitude. Lions adorned flags and coats of arms, and somtimes word and symbol were merged into the name of a powerful aristocrat.
Take for example Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony (1130?-1195) or the English king Richard the Lionheart (1157-1199).
The Church appreciated lions as well. Numerous medieval bronze doors  are adorned with lion heads as defensive and protective symbols.
Still more imposing are lion gates, which can especially be found in Italy. Only occasionally did they find their way to other countries.
Stiftskirche San Quirico OrciaCollegiate  Church of San Quirico d'Orcia, Southern Tuscany
kaiserdom koenigslutter
Imperial Cathedral in Königslutter
Usually, two lions with opened mouths face each other. Their backs support columns or human figures carrying an ecclesiastic structure.
This symbolizes that the powerful have to submit to the Church.
A different variant (e.g. found in Matera Cathedral) shows the lions holding human figures beween their paws. This underlines danger, yet nevertheless implies that these too have to serve the Church.
Translation Erik Eising (M.A.)

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