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21 August 2015

When Tristan met Lancelot

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Add_ms_5474_f027v DETAIL
Tristan swearing an oath and being accepted as a knight of the Round Table. Add MS 5474, f. 27v, France, N., 4th quarter of the 13th century

Who was the best knight ever to wield lance or sword? Was it Lancelot, whose love for Queen Guinevere spurred him on to no end of daring-do? Was it his son, Galahad, so pure-hearted that he could even be entrusted with the Holy Grail? Or was it perhaps Tristan, a dab-hand on the tournament circuit, but also a masterful musician? These are some of the questions at stake in the Old French prose Tristan, composed before 1235 in northern France. Its authors took their raw material from the 12th-century verse romances of Tristan and Iseult, but they fused it with the cast, setting and indeed much of the narrative of the so-called Lancelot-Grail Cycle. The result was a runaway success. The prose Tristan was transmitted in French across much of medieval Europe, inspiring translations and retellings of the Tristan legend in several other European tongues.

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Historiated initial depicting Luce del Gast, one of the authors to whom the prose Tristan is attributed in manuscripts. Add MS 23929, f. 1r, Italy, N. (Padua or Bologna?), 1st quarter of the 15th century

About a quarter of the c. 85 manuscripts of the prose Tristan that survive today were produced in Italy. This list includes Add MS 23929, the first of two volumes discussed here. The first part of this manuscript (ff. 1r-64r) was copied in a regular rotunda script of the late 14th or early 15th century. To judge by the large opening historiated initial depicting the author at work and the 14 smaller ones marking the beginning of chapters, it was made in north-eastern Italy, perhaps in Padua. The volume’s binding lends credence to such a localization: the motifs impressed into the leather, which include suns and dogs, tell us that in the 15th century it was just down the road in Mantua in the library of the Gonzaga family. Indeed, the first part of the manuscript may well be one of more than a dozen Arthurian prose romances listed in the Gonzaga inventory dated 1407. Even with their sizeable collection of Tristan manuscripts, however, the Gonzaga clearly hadn’t had enough of Tristan’s exploits: after the inventory was made, further episodes were added in a different hand (ff. 64r-86v).

Add_ms_23929_f037v DETAIL
Small historiated initial illustrating Tristan’s birth. Add MS 23929, f. 37v, Italy, N. (Padua or Bologna?), 1st quarter of the 15th century

The Medieval Francophone Literary Cultures Outside France Project has aimed to trace some of the literary traffic between France and Italy in the Middle Ages, but inevitably some mysteries remain. Add MS 23929 is unusual among the surviving prose Tristan manuscripts made in Italy because it preserves the first part of the romance, including a prologue attributed to the unidentifiable Luce del Gast and the tale of Tristan’s distant (and equally adventure-prone) ancestors. Only after recounting Tristan’s family history does this version give us the story as it begins in other manuscripts of Italian origin, relating Tristan’s birth, his arrival at the court of his uncle, King Mark of Cornwall, and his potion-induced love for the Irish princess, Iseult. The francophilia and bibliophilia of the Gonzaga family may go some way to explaining the presence of the first part of the prose Tristan in Mantua, but the full details escape us for now.

Add_ms_23929_f086v DETAIL
A note in Italian at the end of the manuscript points to the continuation of the story in another volume. Add MS 23929, f. 86v, Italy, N. (Padua or Bologna?), 1st quarter of the 15th century

Additional MS 23929 ends with Iseult’s disastrous honeymoon: shortly after marrying King Mark she is abducted by the Saracen knight Palamedés and will only be reunited with her husband thanks to Tristan’s intervention. A note in Italian tells us that the adventure continues in another volume, which seems to have been listed in the Gonzaga inventory of 1407 but has not survived.

Add_ms_5474_f074r DETAIL
Tristan outperforms fourteen knights of the Round Table. Add MS 5474, f. 74r, France, N., 4th quarter of the 13th century

In marked contrast to Add MS 23929 is a second prose Tristan manuscript in the British Library’s collections. The text of Add MS 5474 was written in a smaller and rather more angular script, pointing to production in northern France in the (very) late 13th century. Its language bears all the hallmarks of the prestigious Picard scripta of Old French. The conclusions we might draw from the text, moreover, are corroborated by the 26 framed miniatures illustrating the volume: these were in all likelihood painted by the artist responsible for Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, fonds français 110, a Lancelot-Grail manuscript made c. 1295 in the County of Artois or the Cambrésis. There is relatively little evidence of production of Tristan manuscripts in Paris before 1300, but to the north and north-east – beyond the boundaries of the kingdom of France – it was thriving.

Add_ms_5474_f150v DETAIL
Lancelot escaping in his underpants after being tricked into sleeping with King Pellés’s daughter. Add MS 5474, f. 150v, France, N., 4th quarter of the 13th century

Like several other surviving volumes, Add MS 5474 begins about a third of the way through the romance, with King Mark shamefully ambushing Yvain of the White Hands (and feeling pretty smug about it, too). The ensuing narrative, with its countless jousts and tournaments, is dominated by the spectacular Tournament of Louveserp, at which Tristan even outshines Lancelot, and by the story of the Quest for the Holy Grail, which sees Galahad come to prominence. Add MS 5474 bulks up the Grail story with passages borrowed from the Agravain section of the Lancelot-Grail Cycle (ff. 144r-162v). In one of these interpolated episodes, illustrated in the above miniature, Lancelot makes a hasty getaway from Guinevere’s chambers, dressed only in his underwear. He had been tricked into sleeping with the daughter of the guardian of the Holy Grail. Hardly becoming of a Grail knight!

Add_ms_5474_f073r
The ‘Voir Disant’ lay, which spreads the unvarnished truth about King Mark throughout the land. Add MS 5474, f. 73r, France, N., 4th quarter of the 13th century

The prose of the Tristan is punctuated throughout by letters, laments and lays in verse. Like the song above, which denounces King Mark as ‘muck and filth’ (to put it politely), these more ‘lyrical’ moments are often easily spotted in manuscripts thanks to their layout as lines and stanzas of poetry, as opposed to the long-lines of prose. The master composer and performer of songs is, of course, Tristan himself. And it is while playing one of his lays on the harp in Iseult’s bedchamber that the villainous Mark murders him. But is Tristan’s musicianship enough for him to be crowned best knight that ever was? You’ll have to explore the prose Tristan to find out...

 - Huw Grange (University of Cambridge)

18 August 2015

Medieval Music Mash-Up

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Every year there is always that one song (you either love or hate) that seems to take over the summer months. Friday night’s episode of The One Show featured the earliest known English song of the summer, which is found in one very special manuscript from the British Library’s collection. Harley MS 978 includes the only witness of Sumer Is Icumen In, the most famous piece of English secular medieval music. Copied in the 1260s, the manuscript is associated with Reading Abbey, and has been linked to one of its monks, William of Winchester.

BBC_The One Show_Harley MS 978

Close-up of Sumer Is Icumen In, Harley MS 978

Four main voices are intended to sing the round, plus two further parts are written at the bottom of the page.

Harley_ms_978_f.11v

The text inset to the right of the page gives instruction in Latin for the performance of the round, Sumer Is Icumen In, England, 3rd quarter of the 13th century, Harley MS 978, f. 11v

Featuring Dr Nicolas Bell, the British Library’s Curator of Musical Manuscripts, the episode brings this famous medieval song from the 13th century into the 21st century. Musician and TV presenter, Richard Mainwaring even performs a modernised version at Latitude Festival, with a backing track provided by 2013’s summer classic, Get Lucky by Daft Punk (featuring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers).

BBC_The One Show_Harley MS 978_N.Bell and presenter

Dr Nicolas Bell, the British Library’s Curator of Musical Manuscripts, discusses Harley MS 978

For anyone who missed it, the episode is available on BBC’s iPlayer (UK only, approximately 12 minutes in).

This TV appearance also coincides with the return of Harley MS 978 to the Sir John Ritblat Treasures of the British Library Gallery. The lyrics of Sumer Is Icumen In and a translation into modern English can also be found on our blog.

07 August 2015

Magna Carta Catalogue On Special Offer

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Our wonderful Magna Carta exhibition is coming to an end — it closes on 1 September 2015. But all the exhibits can also be viewed in the accompanying illustrated catalogue, edited by curators Claire Breay and Julian Harrison. The catalogue features essays by leading experts on the history of Magna Carta, together with descriptions and colour images of the exhibits, and a modern English translation of the 1215 Magna Carta. And we're delighted to say that the paperback version of the catalogue is now on special offer at the British Library and the Library's online shop, for only £15 (ISBN 9780712357630). If you're unable to come in person to the show, you want a memento of your visit, or you're simply interested in the story of Magna Carta, this is the book for you!

Catalogue

The exhibition catalogue contains the following essays, in addition to the descriptions of the exhibits:

  • 'Kingship and Crisis', by Nicholas Vincent (University of East Anglia and Principal Investigator of the Magna Carta Project)
  • 'Runnymede and the Granting of Magna Carta', by Nicholas Vincent
  • 'Revival and Survival' by David Carpenter (King's College, London)
  • 'English Liberties' by Justin Champion (Royal Holloway) and Alexander Lock (British Library)
  • 'Colonies and Revolutions' by Matthew Shaw (British Library)
  • 'Radicalism and Reform' by Alexander Lock and Justin Champion
  • 'Empire and After' by Zoë Laidlaw (Royal Holloway)
  • 'Magna Carta in the Modern Age' by Joshua Rozenberg (legal commentator and journalist)

4980(5)

An early 17th-century portrait of King John from the National Portrait Gallery, described and illustrated on pp. 118–19 of the Magna Carta catalogue

The reviews of this catalogue, as of the exhibition, have been overwhelmingly positive, with Tim Tatton-Brown in Current Archaeology (June 2015) describing it as a "splendid catalogue ... wonderful and very full".

Cotton_Claudius_B_iv_f59

The Old English Hexateuch, 11th century, from the British Library, described and illustrated on pp. 26–27 of the Magna Carta catalogue

Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy is on at the British Library until 1 September 2015. Tickets cost £12 with many concessions available, and under 18s enter for free.

HO40-41 (390) Poster for public meeting for the Peoples Charter, Carlisle 1839

A Chartist poster, 1839, from The National Archives, described and illustrated on pp. 186–87 of the Magna Carta catalogue

04 August 2015

'The French Language Runs Throughout The World’

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Today we feature a guest-post by members of the AHRC-sponsored project, Medieval Francophone Literary Culture Outside France, a partnership between King's College London, University College London and the University of Cambridge, working with the British Library. Several of the project's manuscripts are housed at the British Library, and we're pleased to say that they have been newly digitised and added to our Digitised Manuscripts site. We're delighted to be able to support research of this kind, and hope that it encourages further investigation into the origins, dissemination and uses of these fascinating texts.

‘Lengue franceise cort parmi le monde’ (‘the French language runs throughout the world’, wrote the 13th-century Venetian chronicler Martin da Canale (d. 1275) at the start of his history of Venice, which he chose to write in French. This echoes another 13th-century Italian writer, Brunetto Latini (d.1295-96), who wrote in his very popular encyclopedia, the Tresor, that French was ‘la parleure […] plus delitable et plus comune a touz languages’ (‘the most delightful and popular of all languages’). French language texts were composed and copied in many parts of Europe outside (and even a little beyond) present day France in the Middle Ages, most notably in the British Isles, Flanders and the Low Countries, the Rhineland, Italy, Catalonia, Cyprus, Greece and Palestine. Whereas traditionally this has been seen mainly as a sign of the prestige of French culture, recent research shows that the reasons for the use of French in such a diverse range of places were more complex, often pragmatic, and also that many parts of medieval Europe were profoundly multilingual. French was in fact a supralocal language in much of medieval Europe alongside Latin (and in some places where French was used alongside Greek, Hebrew and even Arabic).

This mobile use of French is nowhere more graphically illustrated than in Matthew Paris’s famous maps showing the route from England to the Holy Land, one copy of which is to be found in Royal MS 14 C VII (ff. 2r-5r). This manuscript was made in the 1250s, almost certainly at St Albans. The language used for the text of these maps is French (with just a bit of Latin). Thus on ff. 4v-5r we see a map of the Holy Land, focusing on the City of Acre (which was to fall in 1291) with explanations almost entirely in French (the flaps on f. 4v relate to Rome and Sicily, which are on f. 4r).

Royal_ms_14_c_vii_f004v
A section of Matthew Paris’s illustrated itinerary to Jerusalem, showing the cities of Damascus, Antioch and Acre. Royal MS 14 C VII, f. 4v, England, S. (St Albans), 1250-1259
 
 
 
Royal_ms_14_c_vii_f005r
A section of Matthew Paris’s illustrated itinerary to Jerusalem, showing the destination, Jerusalem. Royal MS 14 C VII, f. 5r, England, S. (St Albans), 1250-1259

As French is also used in the descriptions of Italy, France and England, French quite literally ‘runs throughout the world’ in this manuscript.

The project Medieval Francophone Literary Culture Outside France aimed to gauge the under-researched phenomenon of the production and circulation of French language manuscripts outside France, since traditional scholarship has often focused on manuscripts that were made in France: One immediate consequence of paying more attention to French language manuscripts that were made outside France is that a rather different view of the literary canon emerges. For example, the vast Arthurian prose cycle, Guiron le Courtois, little known today compared to the other two prose Arthurian cycles the Lancelot en prose and Tristan en prose, is remarkable for its European trajectory. The oldest parts of Guiron were probably written in northern France or francophone Flanders, c. 1230-1240. About 40 manuscripts of Guiron survive, dating from the end of the 13th to the beginning of the 16th century. Direct and indirect attestations are found from Sicily to Britain and from Catalonia to Venice. Unlike Lancelot and Tristan, which were translated and re-written in all the major European languages, as far as we know parts of Guiron were only translated or re-written in Italian. Indeed the cycle had special ties with Italy. Its first attestation is probably in a letter from Frederick II's chancery in Foligno, near Perugia. The letter is dated 1240, and makes reference to 54 quires sent, or about to be sent, to Frederick from Messina after the death of one 'Johannes Romanzor'.

Add_ms_12228_f004r
Page from the Roman de Méliadus with the coat of arms of Louis de Tarente (1320-1362), incorporating emblems of the 'Ordre du Nœud', Add MS 12228, f. 4r, Naples, c.1352-1362

Some important Italian witnesses are held in the British Library collections. For example Add MS 12228 (Naples, c. 1352-1362), despite its relatively late date, goes back to an early source and transmits the Roman de Méliadus, the oldest part of the cycle, in a pre-cyclic form. It was commissioned in the context of the Ordre du Nœud, a chivalric order founded by Louis of Taranto, the Capetian and francophone King of Naples on his coronation in 1352 with a view to giving his somewhat discredited court some courtly and chivalric gloss. The hand and some of the illustration appear to be close to Paris BnF ms fr. 4274, which is a presentation copy of the Order's statutes.

Add_ms_12228_f004r DETAIL
Detail of the coat of arms of Louis de Tarente (1320-1362), showing emblems of the 'Ordre du Nœud', Add MS 12228, f. 4r, Naples, c.1352-1362

Guiron le Courtois was composed after Lancelot and Tristan as a sprawling prequel, telling the story of the older generation of knights: Méliadus de Leonois, Tristan's father; le Bon Chevalier sans Peur, father of Dinadan and Brunor le Noir; Lac, Erec's father; and so forth. It is a world without Merlin and without the Graal, muscular and misogynist, in which most of the strongest warriors belong to Guiron's family, the Bruns. They appear larger than life, incredibly strong, isolated – loners who spend their time wandering far from court. They periodically disappear below the surface of the plot, but resurface later in a complex web of intertwined stories. In Old French, Brun recalls the taboo name of the bear. The Bruns’ ancestor, Fébus le Brun, renounced the crown of France: though he was the legitimate heir, he preferred to go seek adventure in England.

In another remarkable Italian witness, Add MS 23930 (Bologna-Padua, before 1369), the beginning of the story of Fébus has a typical northern Italian frontispiece, with bright colours and large motifs, proof of the text’s status among Italian manuscript producers and readers. In several Italian copies, this episode circulated independently from the main narrative, was successful, and underwent many adaptations.

Add_ms_23930_f027r
Frontispiece marking the beginning of the narrative sequence telling the adventures of Fébus le Brun in the Roman de Guiron, with the coat of arms of Guido Gonzaga (d. 1369). Add MS 23930, f. 27r, Italy, Bologna-Padua, before 1369

Add MS 23930 once belonged to the Gonzaga family: the coat of arms on f. 1r and f. 27r are identical for instance to those at f. 2r of Venice, Biblioteca Marciana, MS fr. Z. XVIII, another of our project manuscripts, transmitting the Roman de Troie. Both manuscripts are part of a rich group of medium sized manuscripts, copied in a southern Textualis, some of which are wonderfully illustrated in the bas de page, that circulated in northern Italian courts – where Guiron was appreciated well into the 16th century.

Add_ms_23930_f001r
Frontispiece from the Roman de Guiron, with the coat of arms of Guido Gonzaga (d. 1369). Add MS 23930, f. 1r, Italy, Bologna-Padua, before 1369

- Simon Gaunt (King’s College London)

- Nicola Morato (University of Cambridge and Université de Liège)

03 August 2015

Help Us Decipher This Inscription

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Last week (3 August) we blogged about the medieval sword on display in the British Library’s Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy exhibition. We have been thrilled by the number of enthusiastic comments and suggestions we have received about this sword. Due to the phenomenal range of suggestions, it’s unlikely that we will be able to decipher the mysterious inscription before Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy closes on 1 September — indeed, it could be a mystery that may never be solved! — but we would like to offer huge thanks for all your thoughts and ideas, which have come from all corners of the globe.

The message board on this blog post has now closed, but we encourage you to continue sharing ideas about what the code might mean on Twitter. Please follow our Medieval Manuscripts Blog and @BLMedieval Twitter feed for more news and views from the team.

*         *         *

Visitors to Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy may have noticed that we have one or two objects on display, in addition to the many manuscripts and documents telling Magna Carta's 800-year-old story. One of those objects is a double-edged sword, found in the first section of the exhibition, on loan to the British Library from our friends at the British Museum. The item in question was found in the River Witham, Lincolnshire, in July 1825, and was presented to the Royal Archaeological Institute by the registrar to the Bishop of Lincoln. It weighs 1.2 kg (2 lb 10 oz) and measures 964 mm (38 in.) in length and 165 mm (6½ in.) across the hilt; if struck with sufficient force, it could easily have sliced a man’s head in two. 

BM-Sword

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A double-edged sword, 13th century, possibly of German manufacture but discovered in England in the 19th century (British Museum 1858,1116.5): image courtesy of the British Museum

An intriguing feature of this sword is an as yet indecipherable inscription, found along one of its edges and inlaid in gold wire. It has been speculated that this is a religious invocation, since the language is unknown. Here's what the inscription seems to read:

+NDXOXCHWDRGHDXORVI+

 

BM-Sword detail

Detail of the inscription of the sword

At our exhibition this sword is displayed alongside a 14th-century manuscript of the Grandes chroniques de France, open at a page showing the French invasion of Normandy in 1203. The men-at-arms in that manuscript are wielding swords very similar to the one with the strange inscription.

Royal_ms_16_g_vi_f365v

The French invasion of Normandy in a manuscript of the Grandes chroniques de France (British Library Royal MS 16 G VI, f. 365v, detail)

Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy, is on display at the British Library until 1 September 2015, see our exhibition website for ticketing details. All the items can also be seen on our Learning site, and in the catalogue, edited by Claire Breay and Julian Harrison, that accompanies the exhibition (now on special offer at £15).

 

Postscript (7 August, updated 10 August)

Thank you to everyone who has read and shared this blogpost, and for those who have left their enthusiastic comments and suggestions. We're very grateful for your assistance in helping us to decipher this mysterious inscription. We have received several pages of comments -- to view them all, please use the forward/backward button at the foot of this post. Please note that comments on this post have now closed. 

The following note has been kindly added by Marc van Hasselt (Utrecht University, Hastatus Heritage Consultancy).

 

The River Witham Sword in its European Context

Inscribed swords were all the rage in Europe around the year 1200. Dozens of them have been found, from England to Poland, from Sweden to France. While researching a specific sword-blade found in Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands, I found around a dozen other swords which had striking similarities. One of those swords was the River Witham sword, making it part of a large international family. Using the excellent research by Thomas Wagner and John Worley, an image of a hugely successful medieval workshop was created, making ‘magical’ swords for the elite. The swords themselves are of a high quality, but what most catches the eye are the inscriptions. Both their mysterious contents and the similarities in the lettering are striking. A sword from Sweden might use the same slightly curved X as the River Witham sword. A sword currently in Berlin has an I-S contraction also used on a sword found in the Netherlands. These similarities go so far as to suggest the same hand in making the inscriptions. However, their contents are still a mystery, regardless of their origins.

There is some debate on the language used in the inscriptions. But looking at the other European finds, it seems most likely that this language is Latin. This makes sense in the context of 13th-century Europe, as Latin was the international language of choice (like English is today). To elaborate, let's compare the River Witham sword to the sword from Alphen: both start with some sort of invocation. On the River Witham sword, it is NDXOX, possibly standing for Nostrum Dominus (our Lord) or Nomine Domini (name of the Lord) followed by XOX. On the sword from Alphen, the starting letters read BENEDOXO. Quite likely, this reads as Benedicat (A blessing), followed by OXO. Perhaps these letter combinations – XOX and OXO – refer to the Holy Trinity. On the sword from Alphen, one letter combination is then repeated three times: MTINIUSCS, which I interpret as Martinius Sanctus – Saint Martin. Perhaps a saint is being invoked on the River Witham sword as well?

By putting together pieces of the puzzle from all over Europe, we might come a little bit closer to solving the mystery. And even if we cannot decipher the inscriptions completely, they might bring us a little closer to understanding our ancestors.

Further reading:

http://www.gustavianum.uu.se/digitalAssets/203/203037_3medieval-christian-invocation-inscriptions-on-sword-blades.pdf

http://www.gustavianum.uu.se/digitalAssets/196/196842_how-to-make-swords-talk---an-interdisciplinary-approach-to-understanding-medieval-swords-and-their-inscriptions.pdf

Inscription on the Sword from Alphen:

+BENEDOXOFTISSCSDRRISCDICECMTINIUSCSDNI+

+DIOXMTINIUSESDIOMTINIUSCSDICCCMTDICIIZISI+

01 August 2015

A Calendar Page for August 2015

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To find out more about the London Rothschild Hours, take a look at our post A Calendar Page for January 2015

Add_ms_35313_f005r
Calendar page for August, with decorative border comprising a Zodiac sign, roundels, and bas-de-page scene, from the London Rothschild Hours, Southern Netherlands (?Ghent), c. 1500,
Add MS 35313, f. 5r 

It’s harvest time on this month’s calendar page: two male peasants are reaping fully-grown wheat with sickles, while a female peasant is binding it together in sheaves. A cart drawn by two horses is passing by in the background. August’s religious festivals are gruesomely illustrated in a series of roundels to the right: in the second, fourth and fifth roundels, we see St Laurence being roasted alive (note the figure to the right, fanning the flames with a pair of bellows), St Bartholomew being flayed alive, and St John the Baptist about to be beheaded (with a female attendant waiting nearby with a platter).  For more on the depiction of these saints’ martyrdom, check out our earlier blog posts: Happy St Laurence’s Day, St Bartholomew and Bookbindings, and Don’t Lose Your Head. Other feast days illustrated this month are St Peter in Chains (celebrating his liberation from captivity by an angel) and the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. The Zodiac symbol for this month – Virgo the Virgin – is at the top of the page. 

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Detail of peasants reaping and binding wheat,
Add MS 35313, f. 5r 

Add_ms_35313_f005r_roundels
Detail of roundels depicting St Peter in Chains (above) and the Martyrdom of St Laurence (below),
Add MS 35313, f. 5r 

- James Freeman

31 July 2015

Happy Uncommon Musical Instrument Appreciation Day!

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As we are sure you are all aware, today is Uncommon Musical Instrument Appreciation Day, the day on which we are urged to take time to think about the rare and unusual instruments that have gone obsolete, or are otherwise beyond our ken.  We would like to offer a number of examples in the spirit of this momentous occasion - the familiar, the forgotten and the simply odd.  Please be sure to send any other gems you might encounter to us on Twitter @BLMedieval.  Without any further ado:

Add MS 47683 f. 1v G70059-77
Folio with musical instruments, from a leaf from a giant Bible, Italy, 11th-12th century, Add MS 47683, f. 1v

Harley MS 4951, f. 299v E123871
Detail of a man with bells among musical neumes, from the Gradual of Saint-Etienne of Toulouse, France (Toulouse), last quarter of the 11th-first quarter of the 12th century, Harley MS 4951, f. 299v

Harley MS 2804 f. 3vE102183c
Detail of two musicians playing the vielle and a harp or psaltery, from the Worms
Bible, Germany (Frankenthal), 2nd-3rd quarter of the 12th century, Harley MS 2804, f. 3v

Add MS 62925 f. 54r copy copy
Detail of a miniature of a rabbit playing a bell-like instrument, from the Rutland Psalter, England (London?), c. 1260, Add MS 62925, f. 54r

Stowe_ms_17_f061v copy
Detail of two monkeys playing trumpets in an unusual manner, from the Maastricht Hours, Liège, 1st quarter of the 14th century, Stowe MS 17, f. 61v

Add_ms_49622_f106v copy
Detail of a marginal painting of a rabbit and a dog playing a portative organ, from the Gorleston Psalter, England (Suffolk?), 1310-1324, Add MS 49622, f. 106v

Royal MS 14 E III f. 89r c13827-54c
Detail of a marginal painting of a man playing a rabbit-trumpet (despite distractions), from La Queste del Saint Graal, France, c. 1315 - c. 1325, Royal MS 14 E III, f. 89r

 Harley MS 6563 f. 40r E123884
Detail of a cat playing a vielle, from a fragmentary Book of Hours, England (London), c. 1320 - c. 1330, Harley MS 6563, f. 40r

Add_ms_18851_f419v copy
Detail of a marginal painting of a monkey playing bagpipes, from the Breviary of Queen Isabella of Castile, Bruges, c. 1497, Add MS 18851, f. 419v

Add MS 18852, f. 98r copy copy
Detail of a marginal painting of bagpipes (?), from the Hours of Joanna the Mad, Bruges, 1486-1506, Add MS 18852, f. 98r

Arundel_ms_263_f136r and f. 137v
Leonardo da Vinci's drawings, including a mechanical organ and timpani/drums, from the Codex Arundel, Italy (Florence, Milan, and Rome), 1478-1518, Arundel MS 263, f. 136r and 137v

- Sarah J Biggs

14 July 2015

Caption Competition 2

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The second of our caption competitions is from a manuscript newly published in the Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts.   There are many possibilities for this image – use your imagination! Leave your suggested caption in the comments, or tweet us @BLMedieval. Results will be published here and on Twitter!

K151519
??? England, S. (Westminster or London); 4th quarter of the 13th century, Additional 18719, f. 92.