Friday, October 14, 2011

Thursday's House Insignia of the Day Revealed - U Zlaté Lilie (At the Golden Lily)

U zlaté lilie (At the Golden Lily)

An age-old symbol of the purity of holy love, the lily was quickly assumed by Christian tradition from classical mythology.  Even in medieval times, this flower held fast to its symbolic position as the emblem of innocence, purity and virginity, as well as the flower assigned to the Virgin Mary.  From the 12th century, the stylized image of a lily also served as the renowned fleur-de-lis - the insignia of the kings of France.  The form of the lily adorned the crown, the coronation raiment and the standards, later even becoming the national flower of France (the Iris is considered the flower emblem of France).  And in French heraldry the symbol became so popular that it was used not only for the state and the reigning dynasty, but also for over five-thousand towns and noble families.

In the house known as U zlaté lilie (At the Golden Lily) - originally Gothic despite its later Baroque  façade - there has stood a pharmacy, perhaps from the building's very earliest days.  In the 14th century, it was known as Onofor's, a pharmacy named after its owner; later, a pharmacist by the name of Rudolf mixed potions and tinctures inside its walls, and his successor was named Tomás.  By this time, the 15th century was already advanced; King Vlaislav II reigned over a land torn with disquiet and strife.  Much of the disharmony was stimulated by efforts from the court of the Hungarian king, Matthias Corvinus, who claimed a right to the Czech crown as well as strove to acquire it by all means possible.  In support of his dark intrigue to have the Czech king poisoned, his agents in Prague managed to purchase the services of the pharmacist Tomás.  He, in turn, sent his assistant far away to Venice, where he was to buy a large quantity of the swiftest of Italian poisons.  However, the Venetian pharmacist was understandably startled at this more than unusual purchase, and for safety's sake informed the local officials.  At this point, events happened in quick succession:  the Venetians sent a report to Prague, where the pharmacist and his assistant were charge with conspiracy to murder; flung into prison, both men met their unwelcome fate in the torture chambers.

A shop window portal with gold-polychromed lillies was preserved...the oldest shop window in Prague.

U zlaté lilie - Malé náměstí 12/458, Staré Město
At the Golden Lily, Small Square 12/458, Old Town