"Jewel Book" of Anna of Bavaria
And It's Secret Meanings

Jule Ross

© Copyright 2021 by Jule Ross

Photo of the jewel book cover.

Jewel Book of the Duchess Anna of Bavaria is a very unique item. It was commissioned in 1552 by Duke Albrecht of Bavaria. The manuscript is an inventory of the jewelry owned by Duke and his wife. It contains 110 drawings of precious gems, necklaces, brooches, and depictions of other scenes, in example Duke and his wife playing chess.

Artistic Book depicts Jewelry Art. Even the first page suggests metaphorical content, showing Duke and Duchess playing chess, as some sort of inside-marriage game. That can hold sense as a hidden dialogue between them. Of course in some classes one cannot say something straight, only using language of sophisticated metaphors. In my opinion, this would be the profound meaning of such book, showing that it goes deeper than a simple inventory list. Court life on specific levels is some sort of network and intrigue. In such environment, it is given to meet other’s intelligence and skills, also what takes place - occasions for art and science peregrinations, sometimes connected with some hermetic insiders arcana. Formed as a book, that suggests wisdom presented on pages, is no ordinary inventory list nor an expensive toy. This is the life of the Duchess depicted in precious materials of gold and gemstones. These are thoughts of the Emperor’s daughter, a woman who was illuminated and wise, formed into expensive matter symbols.

Anna, Archduchess of Austria and Duchess of Bavaria was the daughter of Emperor Ferdinand I and niece of Charles V. When her uncle abdicated the crown of Empire went into the hands of her father. Her mother was Anna Jagiellonka. (1) Her grandparents on her father’s side were Philip the Handsome and Joanna of Castile (Joanna the Mad). She was a descendant of Mary of Burgundy, who was the best matrimony in Europe, very wanted by many rulers for them or their sons. Mary rejected the proposal given by England king’s brother after political events such as the death of her father in battle and the Netherlands States' extortion of partial autonomy of Flanders, Holland, Hainaut, and Brabant. Finally, she married Maximilian Habsburg, son of Frederick III Habsburg, and Eleonore Aviz, a Portuguese Infant. Eleonore’s dowry (60.000 guilders) was very helpful for Frederick with his financial problems. He, as first of the Habsburgs, became Holy Roman Emperor. All following Habsburgs come from this marriage. (2) Parents of Frederick were Ernest the Iron and Polish Princess Cymburgis of Masovia from Piast Dynasty. Cymburgis was famous for her beauty and strength, she could crack nuts in her hands and bend horseshoes.
In the third generation back Anna the Habsburg and Albrecht V were related because great-grandmother Bavarian Prince was Maximilian Habsburg’s sister, Cunegonde Habsburg.  (3)

Duke and Duchess had a great influence on spiritual life in Duchy. They created museums, made Munich become famous for being art-town, founded Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek, they were patrons for painter Hans Muelich and composer Orlando di Lasso.

The first illuminated page of Jewel Book shows coats of arms: Wittelsbach and Habsburg. Both located in a circle surrounded by other coats of arms and placed into an architectural frame with puttas and personifications of virtues and arts. Below stand lion and lioness in an embrace. This page gives a sense of nobility of the Couple. The next page presents the portrait of Duke and Duchess playing chess. They are surrounded by few courtiers with two little dogs as companions. These animals suggest of course one of the most important attributes of a married couple – loyalty. Game of chess means equality of intellects, also chessboard is likely to be the metaphor of the World. (4)

Date “1552” located on one of the first pages is not simply a year of creating a book nor concerns only a couple. This year is very important, because of events that happened at Chambord Castle in France. On January 15, German Protestant Dukes and King of France, Henry de Valois signed a treaty against German Emperor Charles V the Habsburg. 

In the meantime lasted the Council of Trent, one of the most significant in the history of the Catholic Church. This ecumenical council was an attempt to reorganize the Church as an institution and discussion field for many theological issues, mainly considering Reformation. 

The arrangement of jewelry and gemstones in the Jewelry Book is not accidental. It is some sort of enigmatic language and this is what I wanted to reveal. Saint Gregory the Great writes in his “Moralia in Job”:

For even in stones from [different] countries you [keep] covenant (5,23). Churches of the Nations are like different countries, which, established in one Faith differ only in languages and manners. So how we suppose to understand stones from [different] countries if not as the Chosen from particular Churches” (5)

All events, such as the Council of Trent, the matrimony of high society’s couples, wars, pacts, and court life created trajectories of aristocratic thoughts. The fact, that Duke was a pupil of Catholics supporting Protestants is very significant.

On the picture that shows Duke and Duchess playing chess, we may find very interesting plates with text. Above the couple one of them says:


Propter hoc dimittet homo patrem et matrem et adherebit uxori suae et erunt duo in carne una.

V” was used as a “U” in some carved inscriptions of Ancient Rome because it was easier to carve straight lines that curves. Manner of such style is visible in these inscriptions.

This is a quotation from Bible, Matthew 19.5, Vulgate, which means: "For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh".

Obviously, these words refer to the marriage of the Noble Couple. What interests me in this plaque is not only the meaning, which is clear but also the overflow of the text. Separation of the words to verses may give specific expression to them. I think, that nothing, even the smallest detail of this art piece is not accidental. It only underlines the meaning of the individual words summarized in lines. Also, a little but significant detail in the first line is interesting. It is way, that the word DIMITED is written. The letter “I” in this text is similar to the letter “T”, due to their serifs. It is visible, that one letter is missing, probably “I” and between “DIMT” and “ET” some sort of an apostrophe is inserted.

Another plaque, on the right side of the couple (Anna's side), says:


Filii tui sicut novella olivarum in circuitu mensae tuae.

In translation it would be: "Your children are as a branch of olives around your table" and it is another quotation, from Vulgate, Psalms 127.3. 

What I found interesting in this plaque is the separation of the word “NOVELLAE”. It is written as two words, “NO” and “VELLAE”. It is an interesting overflow, which can give another meaning to the whole sentence. “NO” could mean negation of the following phrase. Roman law called Vellean Law established in 46 A.D. said that women cannot be a safeguard for anybody. That means that women are not equal in a bureaucratic sense. It may refer to the matrimonial contract of Duke and Duchess, which says that in case of not having male descendants the Austrian legacy of the Habsburgs would fall to the Wittelsbach family. (6)

On the left side of the couple (Duke side) another plaque says:


Uxor tua sicut vitis abundans in lateribus domus tuae.

This is an excerpt of Psalms, Vulgate, and it means: "Your wife is as a fruitful vine on the sides of your house". In my opinion here is another example of interesting overflow. “BUS” means “cattle” in Latin.

At the bottom of the page is located another inscription in Latin and it says:


Everyone must love his wife like himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Hans Muelich made [this]."
This is Ephesians 5,33, Vulgate Holy Bible.

Fortunately, this aristocratic couple had six sons and one daughter. That means legacy was saved for Habsburgs. In further parts of my article, I will try to prove that it wasn’t fortuity. That Anna used all accessible knowledge and, what more, had some concession from her husband for some sort of birth regulation.

Deep analysis of gemstones used in jewelry gave me another clue. Most of the gemstones in precious brooches and necklaces depict in the Book of Jewels contain three kinds of stones: Ruby, Black Sapphire, and Emerald. These stones are called The Great Trinity of Gemstones due to their rareness. They are very valuable and the most wanted just after the King of Stones – Diamond. 

All of them are very valued in Jewelry Art. In the Book of Jewels also occur many Pearls, which are connected with matrimonial felicity, wealth, chastity, and faith. Their astrological reference is the Moon. (7)  As stones of great rarity and beauty they are very precious. In Antiquity, noble ladies liked to connect Emeralds with pearls as some sort of sea metaphor (color of Emerald and marine products). (8)  Pearls have a strange birth and original, that is why they are parallel of th wonderful birth of Christ. It is not easy to find the pearl, the person who does this encounters many dangers, said the Pliny. (9)

Ruby symbolizes Love and Enlightenment. It is connected to Mars.
Emerald is assigned to Love, Beauty, and Harmony. It is connected to Venus.
Sapphire is the most precious gemstone, it is worshiped as the Inscrutable Seal of Wisdom. It means Love for the Truth, Spiritual Path of Initiation. In occultism, it is called the Cristal Seal of Heaven. It is connected to Saturn.  (10)

Black Sapphire in the natural world occurs in form of pseudohexagonal columns with hexagonal profiles and bipyramids. These shapes are visible in many places in Jewelry Book. This gemstone is very frequent in Book and creates very important symbols, such as Crosses and the acronym of Jesus Christ – IHS.

In Biblical Times precious stones were symbols of the most valuable things. Medieval added to this symbolism Christological and Marian symbols, also precious stone was given to every Apostle. That creates 12 Gemstones.

In Jewish beliefs, 12 Sons of Israel were fathers of 12 Israelian Tribes. Each of them was connected to Gemstone.

Ruby was Reuben
Sapphire was Zebulun
Emerald was Levi . (11)

All three were sons of Jacob and Leah. They had 6 sons in total. Same number as Anna of Bavaria and Duke Albrecht. This is not only convergence between these couples. Both pairs also had one daughter and were cousins.
Was this some sort of taking patronage from myth or Bible, common in aristocratic societies?
Epitomising of Greek Gods was even more evident later in Baroque, when Nobility wanted to be depicted as mythological patrons, Athena, Hera, Zeus, Apollo.

One of the most important questions in the case of Duchess and Duke is how it is possible to have control over the offspring's gender? 

In human biology, in procreation, it occurs that an embryo starts to exists when an egg cell connects with a spermatozooid. Gender depends on chromosomes X and Y. Female X and male Y. Oval cell always has an X chromosome, sperm X or Y. That creates combination XX – for a girl or XY – for a boy.  (12)
Chromosome Y is lighter when chromosome X is heavier. That is why X spermatozooid is slower than Y. Also, X is more resistant to the acidic interior of female genital organs. When ejaculation happens during ovulation, the possibility of having male descendants is greater. Women have naturally bigger sex attraction during ovulation, so even Aristotle recommends having sex with women when she wants it in order to conceive a boy. This method gives 90% effectiveness with procreating males.

That could be an explanation of many of the pictures in the Book of Jewels. Especially these two I've found interesting from a certain point of view. They are numbered “6” in the original numbering of the Book. 

Both show personages and they have Latin inscriptions. 

One of the inscriptions says: AD NULLIUS PAVESCIT OCCURSUM. This means: “Nobody (or Nothing) I fear to Meet”. The secret hidden behind these words is covered by centuries of distance. What I presume is that the Duchess and the Duke were friends in marriage and their intimate contacts were unforced. That could lead to birth control auspicious for the Duchess.
The other inscription is even more mysterious. It says: NOSTRA ATTULIT AETAS QUAE LATUERE DIU (DIV) IN LUCEM. It is not clear what “DIV” means, but the most possible explanation is that it is an abbreviation for “DIUS” (God). The whole sentence would mean: “Our age revealed what God conceals in Light”. 

Is it a note suggesting some sort of Hermetic Wisdom? God's secret revealed to Enlighted people? It is Great Unknown for us what kind of revelations happen and what kind of knowledge possessed people from the environment of the Court.

The method of conception I've found even more successful in predicting the sex of children is called Selnas and it gives certainty in 98,7 cases. It also consists of the periodicity of ovulation but takes into consideration other attributes of the human organism. It is the polarization of the egg cell. Spermatozooids also have polarization. “Y” are “negative” (-), and “X” are “positive” (+). The egg cell can take “-” or “+” feature in some periods, which are not related to ovulation. These “potential days” are 60-70 during the year. For the rest of the days, the cell is neutral. The conception takes place when a polarized egg cell attracts spermatozooid with the opposite polarization. To specify a woman's days of possible conception for boys or girls all you need is to know her date of birth, blood type, date of the first period, and course of her menstruation cycles. (13) That sounds a little bit like a knowledge based on horoscopes and very private information. What I presume is that kind of cognizance could be possible a couple of centuries ago. It could be hermetic, alchemic, or deeply attached to some ancient scholarship. Duchess, as a woman of many possibilities, noble and educated, could have some of “personal magician” or medicine-man, who helped her and give this knowledge.

Many of that Ancient Wisdom now is gone, but I think it was actually possible to possess great Methods for creating and changing the world around. Nowadays people often think that we live in some sort of Golden Age, connected to the internet, building our knowledge through telescopes and microscopes. Yes, in XX Century was possible to clone a sheep and go to the Moon, but many think that there were greater civilizations, which left us some of their wisdom. Some even say that ancient knowledge was far more developed than ours now. For example Chaldeans, a nation that lived in the 10th to 6th century BC calculated the length of the solar year with an accuracy of 2 seconds. That kind of Wisdom might be concluded in writings such as Voynich Manuscript from XV Century.

The Jewel Book enclosure, considering the fact, that Art in Medieval and Renaissance had always deeper symbolism, give us many clues, keys to decode meanings. XVI century art in general runs through a specific stencil, which is understood as artistry in giving characters. Branch of Art History, which studies meanings depicted in old paintings is called Iconography. Aby Warburg, Fritz Saxl, and Erwin Panofsky in the early XX century were pioneers for this knowledge. Their work was significant for understanding that Old Masters paintings have deeper and hidden meanings not necessarily connected to the form of subjects presented. Such representations as carnation in Jan van Eyck's “Portrait of a man”, which symbolizes engagement; or egg hanging from the seashell in Piero della Francesca's “Montefeltro altarpiece” which is commonly recognized as a symbol of Resurrection of Christ born from Immaculate Conception; are well known and established. 

Such metaphors often are very complex and require great wisdom and erudition from interpretator. Symbols and signs may be ambiguous and not clear because they were made to be decrypted only by those who have the ability for it.

Jewel Book gives many examples of such artistry. It is in fact some sort of sophisticated collection of metaphors put together in a masterpiece of bibliology.

On the page numbered “7” in the original manuscript is depicted brooch with triangle Black Sapphire, three Rubys and two Pearls. Also visible are hands in shake at the bottom. At the top of the brooch is a sign with two words, three letters each:


These are not real words, rather abbreviation. In my research I've found that this could almost certainly mean:

Mihi (mine, myself, me) and Gaudium (joy, gladness). Combining the meanings of the hands and the sign we receive the joyful symbol of happiness and it is shown in the Book that sort of state of mind is possible in an arranged marriage. 

Also on the page “9”, next to the composition of Rubys and Black Sapphires, there is a sign:


That means “Love wins all”. On the same pendant are visible two quivers with arrows, which probably suggest Eros with his mission to connect couples.

But not only settlement and emotions between Duke and Duchess were interest for them. They were taking part with the whole European system of thoughts and politics. Also considering religion as one of the main structure for organization of ideas.
On site described as “51” there is an interesting message. It is hidden as a metaphor, but not so difficult to decipher. It has a form the great “H” shaped of pearls in a rows and the date placed inside, “1553”. In my decoding “H” is for Hispania (the Roman name for the Iberian Peninsula). One of the most important events of 1553 was the burning of Miguel Servet (and it took place in Spain). The exact number of the pearls in one row is 27, and the precise date of burning was Nov. 27. Miguel Servet was a scientist, doctor theologist, and thinker searching his own way to express religion. When he'd met Jean Calvin, they became enemies. He was denounced to Holy Inquisition and the Catholics burned a puppet as him. Eventually, he was slowly burned (to prolong the suffering) by Calvinists in Geneva. His death caused many discussions towards high societies, this act of religious terror forced people to think and redefine the definition of freedom.  (14)

Duchess and Duke were inside of European court life, with many connections, probably wanted to have an influence on the life of others. Masonic and hermetic symbols hidden in the Book of Jewels, the mystery behind Gemstones, which create something in the shape of circularity, are covered by 500 years old secret Myth. A big amount of Crosses in this inventory refers to spiritual life. The metaphor used to create such a unique item is very sophisticated and some paths are not clear. On the Threshold of the New World, during the Renaissance of Human Thought, it is very important to make a statement. Such an eloquent and elegant way of Significance is the best example of Nobility.

As an artist, I am deeply attached to the experience which leads me to art theory. My first attempts at arts were writing poetry for my dolls. I dance as an amateur since I was 10, and through the motion and touch, I discover the World. In my Primary School, I won the challenge, it was a "Mini playback show" and I pretend to be Sinead O'Connor. I won this competition and since then I encourage myself to be an artist. I was a fashion model, an actress working with professional artists; journalist, painter, sculpturer, I even took one class on cello playing. All this, touching the Medieval Cathedrals, singing on stage at Brodnica Castle, embroidery, potter's wheel, macrame, calligraphy, renovating furniture, origami, plant seeding and watching them grow, cuisine, Love, make me the sensual person in the way that I am able to discover inside values of things. It is very important for Poet to have this insider's perspective, as Walt Whitman once said. I am a "serial reader" since I was 5. One of my first memories was that my parents show me the Book and my ambition to learn to read. I read every kind of writings in this world, from adventurous books like "Robinson Crusoe" to poststructural essays about cognitive learning. All these are structures to me, like math, geometry, something sacred and I search for the Pure Things. Not only do I write erotic poetry, concerning every emotional, physical and symbolic aspect of this phenomenon, also I create grotesque, satire, and horror. In my artistic search, I am like Pablo Picasso, who painted in every style existing in his times. On one hand, I am a rational art scientist, and on the other, I am more like an intuitive shaman, attached to esoteric fields of cognition. Like Aldous Huxley, I go inside the psychology and the meaning of the art objects with a pinch of irony. One of my masters was also Umberto Eco, who I respect for the most difficult art of creating funny essays understandable by commons but also academic style writings like "Semiotic landscape". It is important for artist to have some sort of flexibility. Now I search for opportunities to gain new experience towards art society, research work, and write important books. I am about to publish my first full-length book about Hieronimus Bosch painting "Garden of Earthly Delights", and have other things prepared. I continue to publish on my 3 blogs, Youtube, and have a creative experience with other professionals, directors, painters, and many more. 

1 “Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor” in: The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.
2Charles W. Ingrao, “The Habsburg Monarchy 1618-1815”, Cambridge University Press. 2000.
3“Complete Genealogy of the House of habsburgs” (http://genealogy.euweb.cz/habsburg/habsburg2.html#E1 ), retrieved November 20, 2019.
4Hans Muelich, “Book of Jewels”, https://www.wdl.org/en/item/4104/view/1/9/ , Bavarian State Library.
5“Commentary on Job”, Patrologia Latina, vol. 75-76.
6Reinhard Zimmermann, “The Law of Obligations: Roman Foundation of the Civilian Tradition”, Oxford University Press, 1990. s. 145.
7Stanisław Kobielus, “Lapidarium Christianum”, TYNIEC Benedictines Publishing, 2012.
8Beryl and Ruby Stone, “Astrological stones”, Warsaw, 1992.
9Benjamin Keach, “Preaching from the Types and Metaphors of the Bible”, Kregel Academic and Proffesional, 1972.
10Stanisław Kobielus, “Lapidarium Christianum”, TYNIEC Benedictines Publishing, 2012.
11Alexander Campbell, “The sacred writing of the Apostoles and Evagelists of Jesus Christ, Commonly styled the New Testament”, Bethany, 1828.
12Fauci, Anthony S.; Braunwald, Eugene; Kasper, Dennis L.; Hauser, Stephen L.; Longo, Dan L.; Jameson, J. Larry; Loscalzo, Joseph. “Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine” (17th ed.). McGraw-Hill Medical, 2008.
14William hamilton Drumond, “The Life of Michael Servetus: The Spanish Physician, Who, for the Alleged Crime of Heresy, was Entrapped, Imprisoned, and Burned, by John Calvin the Reformer, in the City of Geneva, October 27, 1553”, London, 1848.

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