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Gottfried's tomb - faith & fidelity

Published May 20, 2022
Updated Oct 27, 2022

📍 🇩🇪 Gottfried tomb at Cologne Cathedral, in the nave

Childless, Gottfried IV Graf von Cuyk-Arnsberg (1295-1371), sold his land for a good price to the Archbishop of Cologne. The latter seems to have returned the favor with this funerary sculpture that represents valor (the armor) and fidelity (the dog).

Note the old princely modesty of hiding one's face behind his helmet in this sculpture. Turned towards God for the last journey, he seems to say - “for God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

14th century CE was very intense for Cologne: the (German) Holy Roman Empire was right past its 13th century height, territorial expansion to the East of Europe stopped and his generation had suffered the bubonic plague of 1348 CE that decimated more than half of Europe’s population. But the German federation remained dominant on the continent and had grown increasingly dissatisfied with Rome's religious control and spending habits. Anti-Papacy revolts will soon emerge after his passing (Hussites). 16th century Protestantism, one of the Vatican’s greatest challenges, is not very far.

In this dark Northern cathedral, one can almost feel the mental gap with Rome’s Mediterranean - illuminated - splendor. Gottfried's tomb stands in the middle of this multisecular tension - like a witness to an old protracted fight.

____ Sources ____

>> Joseph Rovan, “Histoire de l’Allemagne”, 1999

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14th CE