I have mentioned that the persons in a Jesse Tree, whether illuminated or in glass, can be identified by position within the tree, accompanying symbols, accompanying scrolls or banderoles, or even names written near the figure. In the Jesse Tree window, the identification of the persons in the window is important for the understanding of the window.
The bottom panel or panels of a Jesse Tree from the 12th through the mid-15th century is/are occupied by the recumbent or reclining Jesse, asleep usually in a bed. This sleeping Jesse evokes both Jacob’s dream and the sleep of Adam when Eve was formed from Adam’s rib by God as told in the second creation story, Genesis 2.4-24. Sometimes the “rib of Adam” image is enforced with the tree or vine growing from Jesse’s side. At other times, the tree seems to grow from the loins of Jesse, a reference to the "begats" of Matthew 1. When Jesse is lying down, Jesse sometimes appears in multiple panels, especially as the Jesse Trees enlarged from single lancet windows to multiple panels. After the mid-15th century through the 16th century, Jesse is found nodding off while seated on a chair or throne. The seated Jesse is revived in the 19th century neo-gothic windows.
The prophets and patriarchs were most often identified by scrolls or banderoles, and something by names. If there is no written identification of the prophet or patriarch or other ancient person, their identification is nearly impossible since the order and placement of prophets, patriarchs, and priests of the Old Testament was never standardized in Jesse Tree windows.
Symbols identified the kings. In the Angers cathedral window (Cathedral of St. Maurice, Angers, Maine-et-Loire, France) the king of Judah above Jesse is playing a harp, and therefore is King David. The second king of Judah above Jesse is holding a scepter. This is sometimes the symbol for King Solomon. The third king of Judah above Jesse is playing a vielle, the symbol often associated but not always with Solomon since he was considered the author of the Song of Solomon or Canticum Canticorum. Other iconographic symbols include a book or a model of a church for the Temple of Jerusalem. [Note: French scholars seem to refer to the bowed waisted instrument that I call a vielle, a "rote." Rote refers to a Welsh stringed instrument that looks more like a lyre.]
As an aside, the vielle was a bowed 5-string instrument that may or may not have been waisted like a violin. The vielle is related to the rebec and Bysantine lyras that have three to five strings. Among the descendats of the vielle is the viol and later the violin and viola. Vielles were played either on the shoulder or the lap.
Since the 13th century Jesse Tree window of the Cathedral of St. Maurice, Angers, France is hard to see because of corrosion of the glass, I have included details of the upper panels from Christ in majesty at the top to David with harp at the bottom, skipping one unidentified King of Judah. Note King David with harp, King Solomon with scepter and unidentified king with unwaisted vielle
Photo credit: Dr. Stuart Whatling
restorations the panel of Solomon and a generic king of Judah with scepter were reversed. (David King. Angers Cathedral, Vidimus 48 (Feb. 2011, <http://vidimus.org/issues/issue-48/feature/>).
There is a similar orders of the kings of Judah in the Jesse Tree window of Amiens Cathedral.