Find Broughton, Milton Keynes on a map NB not simply Broughton, Buckinghamshire
The Warning here is directed at those who swear by parts of Christs body, or, not much less reprehensibly, sacramental symbols like his Cross or the Sacrament itself. These oaths were obviously commonly heard, not only in the fifteenth century and not only from the lips of fashion-conscious young men, according to all the accounts - King John was evidently heard to swear By Gods feet that either he or one of his upstart barons must be King in England. No doubt other monarchs did much the same. Parish priests inveighed against the blasphemous habit, assuring swearers that their words wounded Christ anew, and they would pay for them in the end - but to little effect, presumably. The association with gaming, as here with the backgammon board, is strong. Chaucers Pardoner refers to it - Hasard [dice, or gaming] is verray mooder of lesyinges/And of deceite, and cursed forsweryinges/Blaspheme of Christ, manslaughtre...¹
The painting is interesting on stylistic grounds, too. The central Pietà, with its sinewy elegance of line, is much more finely painted than the rather clumsy figures of the young men. It may be that this is the work of more than one hand - a master and assistants, perhaps. Or is the central group a careful copy of another, perhaps earlier, painting, woodcut or engraving? To my eye there is a suggestion of that about it.
There are several other paintings at Broughton, including a Doom and a St. George & the Dragon now on these pages.
*CCT=The Churches Conservation Trust, successor to the Redundant Churches Fund
¹Chaucer, Works, ed. Robinson, 1957 : The Pardoners Tale, 560-562
|Ampney St. Mary, Gloucs (Sabbath Breakers)||Breage, Cornwall (Sabbath Breakers)||Broughton, Bucks (Swearers)||Corby Glen, Lincs (Swearers)||Duxford, Cambs (Sabbath Breakers?)|
|Hessett, Suffolk (Sabbath Breakers)||St. Just-in-Penwith, Cornwall (Sabbath Breakers)||Michaelchurch Escley, Heref.& Worcs. (Sabbath Breakers?)||Nether Wallop, Hampshire (Sabbath Breakers) NEW||Oaksey, Wilts (Sabbath Breakers)|
|Poundstock, Cornwall (Sabbath Breakers)||West Chiltington, Sussex (Sabbath Breakers)|
© Anne Marshall 2002