Visual History of the World




From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
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Visual History of the World
First Empires
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Dictionary of Art and Artists


The Ancient World

ca. 2500 B.C. - 900 A.D.


The epics of Homer, the wars of Caesar, and temples and palaces characterize the image of classic antiquity and the cultures of ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. They are the sources from which the Western world draws the foundations of its philosophy, literature, and, not least of all, its state organization. The Greek city-states, above all Athens, were the birthplace of democracy. The regions surrounding the Mediterranean Sea and great parts of Northwest Europe were forged together into the Roman Empire, which survived until the time of the Great Migration of Peoples. Mighty empires also existed beyond the ancient Mediterranean world, however, such as those of the Mauryas in India and the Han in China.


Alexander the Great



The Nomad Empires of the
Eurasian Steppes



St Ursula before the King of the Huns




Saint Ursula

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Saint Ursula ("small female bear" in Latin) is a British Christian saint. Her feast day in the Roman Catholic Church is October 21. Because of the lack of sure information about the anonymous group of holy virgins who on some uncertain date were killed at Cologne, their commemoration was omitted from the Roman Catholic calendar of saints for universal liturgical celebration, when this was revised in 1969, but they have been kept in the Roman Martyrology, the official, though incomplete, list of saints of the Roman Catholic Church.

Her legend, probably unhistorical, is that she was a Romano-British princess who, at the request of her father King Donaut of Dumnonia in south-west England, set sail to join her future husband, the pagan Governor Conan Meriadoc of Armorica (Brittany), along with 11,000 virginal handmaidens. However, a miraculous storm brought them over the sea in a single day to a Gaulish port, where Ursula declared that before her marriage she would undertake a pan-European pilgrimage. She headed for Rome, with her followers, and persuaded the Pope, Cyriacus (unknown in the pontifical records), and Sulpicius, Bishop of Ravenna, to join them. After setting out for Cologne, which was being besieged by Huns, all the virgins were beheaded in a dreadful massacre. The Huns' leader shot Ursula dead, supposedly in 383 .



The King of the Huns transfixing Saint Ursula with an arrow after she refused to marry him


The Martyrdom of St.Ursula and the eleven thousand maidens


St. Ursula


Benozzo Gozzoli
Saint Ursula with Two Angels and a Donor


Carlo Crivelli
Saint Ursula


St Ursula before the King of the Huns


Vittore Carpaccio
Arrival of St Ursula in Cologne During the Siege by the Huns


Vittore Carpaccio
Glory of St Ursula
about 1491


Vittore Carpaccio
Dream of St Ursula
about 1495


Hans Memling, The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula


St Ursula Shrine 1489
Memlingmuseum, Sint-Janshospitaal, Bruges

St Ursula Shrine 1489
Memlingmuseum, Sint-Janshospitaal, Bruges



St Ursula Shrine: St Ursula anad the Holy Virgins


St Ursula Shrine: Arrival in Cologne
(scene 1)


St Ursula Shrine: Arrival in Basle
(scene 2)


St Ursula Shrine: Arrival in Rome
(scene 3)


St Ursula Shrine: Departure from Basle
(scene 4)


St Ursula Shrine: Martyrdom
(scene 5)


St Ursula Shrine: Martyrdom
(scene 6)



Saint Ursula

Christian martyr

flourished 4th century, Rome; feast day October 21

Legendary leader of 11 or 11,000 virgins reputedly martyred at Cologne, now in Germany, by the Huns, 4th-century nomadic invaders of southeastern Europe. The story is based on a 4th- or 5th-century inscription from St. Ursula’s Church, Cologne, stating that an ancient basilica had been restored on the site where some holy virgins were killed. Mentioned again in an 8th- or 9th-century sermon, the number of maidens increased to several thousand, reportedly martyred under the Roman emperor Maximian. In Jacobus de Voragine’s Legenda Aurea (1265–66; Golden Legend) Ursula is a British princess who went to Rome accompanied by 11,000 virgins and was killed with them by the Huns on the return from the pilgrimage. The discovery at Cologne in 1155 of an ancient Roman burial ground believed to contain these martyrs’ relics inspired additional legends. Ursula is the patron of the Order of St. Ursula (Ursulines), a congregation of nuns dedicated to educating girls. In the 1969 reform of the Roman Catholic church calendar her feast day was reduced to observances in certain localities.

Encyclopaedia Britannica


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