Images of Medieval Art and Architecture

France: Vézelay
Benedictine Abbey Church of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine

Nave: Historiated Capital
Execution of the Murder of Saul


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Subject Matter

On the right, a figure is seated on a chair? (stool?). He is wearing a headdress (a crown?) He raises his right hand to his face and raises the other, pointing his forefinger to the central scene. Some scholars have seen this as the gesture which orders the killing of the central figure. On the right, the executioner holds the hair of the accused in his right hands, and with his left hand, raises his sword. In the center, a figure clad in chain mail leans forward as his hair is pulled and grasps the border of his executioner's garment, either in resistance or in entreaty for mercy.

Most scholars, including Salet, identify this capital as the execution of the murderer of Saul (II Samuel 1:5-16) Others see it as the execution of Agag, king of the Amalekites. Saul had spared Agag though God had ordered him slain. The prophet Samuel reproved Saul for this, and Agag was delivered to Samuel, who slew him. (I Samuel XV).

Location within Floorplan Placement in Elevation

Salet: Number 60-

North side of nave.
East side of seventh arcade pier.


Related Material

Click here to see other Vézelay capitals showing episodes from the Old Testament

Click here to see other medieval images of David


Salet, p. 187.

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Created by J. Vadnal, September, 1998