Return to the Chartres index page
Panel 30 - Martin at the banquet of Emperor Maximus
Description:

Chapter XX of Sulpicius describes a banquet held by the Emperor Maximus and attended by Martin. Maximus had courted Martin's favour for some time and persuaded him to attend a banquet along with all the other bishops of Gaul. During the meal the emperor's cup-bearer handed Martin the host's golden goblet to drink from. Everyone assumed Martin would then honour their host by passing the goblet to him but instead he passed it to one of his own clerics, showing that he regarded the priest as higher than the Emperor. Rather than being offended, Maximus accepted this as yet further proof of Martin's merit when compared to the servile flattery of the other bishops. Martin then predicted that if his host proceeded with his civil war (against Valentinian) and invaded Italy he would win the first battles but die soon after, as indeed happened.

This scene matches the text in every detail except one; he servant to the left of the scene appears to have dropped the goblet (a type of covered cup known as a 'hanap') in shock - perhaps at Martin's order that he should pass the cup to someone other than the host which seems at odds with Sulpicius' version of events. It may reflect some other, now lost, version, or it may have been pure invention on the artist's part (perhaps influenced by the account of the cup-bearer in the St Thomas in India window (bay 23). The alternative suggestion made by some authors, that this is miracle of the ampoule of oil that fell without breaking - an obscure incident mentioned in the Dialogues of Sulipicius (rather than in the Vita Sancti Martini) - seems bizarre. With the exception of a falling vessel, none of the details here match that miracle (which happens in the absence of the saint, not at a banquet and where the accident is caused by a boy pulling the cloth on which the glass long-necked flask stands).