THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Medieval manuscripts blog

145 posts categorized "Royal"

23 April 2014

The Anatomy of a Dragon

Add comment Comments (1)

Happy St George’s Day, everyone!   For some images of this patron saint of England, Portugal, Russia, and many other nations, please see our post from last year.  Today, though, we thought we would turn our attention to St George’s famous opponent, the dragon.

Royal_ms_2_a_xviii_f005v_detail
Detail of a miniature of St George and the dragon, from the Beaufort/Beauchamp Hours, England (London) and Netherlands (Bruges), c. 1401, Royal MS 2 A XVIII, f. 5v

Dragons are near-ubiquitious in medieval manuscripts.  They take pride of place in bestiaries and herbals, books of history and legend, and Apocalypse texts, to name a few.  They serve as symbols, heraldic devices, and even as ‘just’ decoration, and their physical characteristics can vary widely. Cinematic and literary depictions of dragons today are fairly consistent; they are almost always shown as reptilian, winged, fire-breathing creatures (in a word, Smaug).  But this was by no means constant in the medieval period.

Let’s have a look at a very common medieval trope – of the dragon as the nemesis of a saint or angel.  Below we can see dragons facing off against St George (again), St Margaret, and the Archangel Michael.  All these examples are drawn from late 15th century manuscripts, but their dragons are very different, and range from a lizard-y animal with duck-like feet to a winged leonine creature and a demon.

Add_ms_38126_f139v
Miniature of St George and a lizard-like dragon, from the Huth Hours, Netherlands, c. 1480, Add MS 38126, f. 139v

Harley MS 2985 f. 37v C12569-03_detail
Detail of a miniature of St Margaret emerging from the side of a lion-like dragon, from a Book of Hours, Use of Sarum, Netherlands, 3rd quarter of the 15th century, Harley MS 2985, f. 37v

Sloane MS 3049, f. 115r c5473-03a
Detail of a miniature of the Archangel Michael fighting a demon-like dragon, from Francisco de Ximenez’s Livre des anges, France (Tours), c. 1480, Sloane MS 3049, f. 115r

Even within a single manuscript it is possible to find a multiplicity of dragon sub-species.  One notable example is a French copy of the Life of Alexander the Great, in which this famous king is squaring off against three different kinds of dragon (our favourite, of course is the last).

Royal_ms_20_b_xx_f073r_detail
Detail of a miniature of Alexander the Great battling against winged dragons with emeralds in their foreheads, from Le livre et la vraye hystoire du bon roy Alixandre, France (Paris), c. 1420 – c. 1425, Royal MS 20 B XX, f. 73r

Royal_ms_20_b_xx_f078v_detail
Detail of a miniature of Alexander the Great battling against winged horned dragons, Royal MS 20 B XX, f. 78v

Royal_ms_20_b_xx_f083v_detail
Detail of a miniature of Alexander the Great battling against two-headed, eight-legged, crowned dragons with multiple eyes along their torsos, Royal MS 20 B XX, f. 78v

The idea of the dragon as a fearsome foe for all godly and righteous beings stretches back to the late-antique source material that later developed into the 12th and 13th century text of the bestiary.  The book of beasts tells us that the dragon is a variety of serpent, is ‘larger than all other animals in the world’, lives in caves, and possesses great strength in its tail.  Nothing, ‘not even the elephant’, is safe from the dragon, which lies in wait and then suffocates the captured elephant within its coils.  The ominously-curled tail of the dragon is often shown to great advantage in the miniatures illustrating this passage (see particularly the first image below).

Royal MS 12 C XIX f. 62r F60101-65a
Detail of a miniature of a dragon attacking and suffocating an elephant, from a bestiary with theological texts, England, c. 1200 – c. 1210, Royal MS 12 C XIX, f. 62r

Royal MS 2 B VII f. 118v G70035-41a
Detail of a bas-de-page scene of a mother elephant giving birth in water to avoid the dragon circling overhead, from the Queen Mary Psalter, England (London?), 1310 – 1320, Royal MS 2 B VII, f. 188v

The bestiary text also makes explicit the connection between the dragon and the devil, aligning the fantastical creature with evil, deception, ‘vainglory and human pleasures’.  We see this connection repeated again and again in medieval manuscripts, particularly those concerned with describing and explaining evil. 

Add MS 38842 f. 5r c7835-03_detail
Detail of a miniature of men worshipping a dragon and the beast of the Apocalypse, from an Apocalypse with commentary in French prose, England (London?), c. 1325 – 1330, Additional MS 38842, f. 5r

Royal_ms_15_d_ii_f153r_detail
Detail of a miniature of the Woman and the seven-headed, ten-horned dragon-beast of the Apocalypse, from the Welles Apocalypse, England, c. 1310, Royal MS 15 D II, f. 153r

Harley_ms_1340_f008r_detail
Detail of a miniature of a human-headed satanic dragon, representing the papacy of Urban VI whose election was contested and resulted in the appointment of the anti-pope Clement VII, from Joachim de Fiore’s Vaticinia de Pontificibus, Italy (Florence), 2nd quarter of the 15th century, Harley MS 1340, f. 8r

It would be too simplistic, though, to claim that dragons were universally objects of horror and loathing.  They were not even always enemies.  Dragons make appearances in discussions of astronomy and natural history, as elements of decoration, and even within the Tudor coat of arms.

Arundel MS 66 f. 33v G70017-79a
Detail of a miniature of the constellation ‘Draco’, from an astrological compilation with political prophecies, England (London?), 1490, Arundel MS 66, f. 33v

Add MS 16577 f. 44v d40053-81a
Detail of a dragon with its tail circling a caption, from a Hebrew festival prayer book, Italian rite, Italy, 3rd quarter of the 15th century, Add MS 16577, f. 44v

Add MS 39636 f. 28 c13835-71
Detail of a historiated initial ‘S’ of the Pentecost, with the body of the initial formed by two intertwining dragons, Italy (Lombardy), 3rd quarter of the 15th century,  Add MS 39636, f. 28r

Royal_ms_11_e_xi_f002r_detail
Detail of an allegorical miniature about the Tudor rose with a red dragon, lion, and white greyhound, from Magister Sampson’s Motets for Henry VIII, Netherlands (Antwerp), 1516, Royal MS 11 E XI, f. 2r

We’ll be tweeting more fabulous British Library dragons over the next day or so; as always, please let us know your favourites.  And have a wonderful St George’s Day!

- Sarah J Biggs

05 April 2014

Royal Manuscripts Follow-on Project - Completed!

Add comment Comments (0)

The Royal Manuscripts project team are pleased to announce that with the publication of 1000 Years of Royal Books and Manuscripts, edited by Kathleen Doyle and Scot McKendrick, published by British Library Publications, the AHRC-funded follow-on to the Royal Manuscripts research project has been successfully concluded. 

Editors
Kathleen Doyle, Scot McKendrick, and 1000 Years of Royal Books and Manuscripts

In February 2012, the AHRC made an additional grant to the Library under the Digital Equipment and Database Enhancement for Impact scheme, to enhance the research undertaken for the original Royal: Illuminated Manuscripts of the Kings and Queens of England project, and its dissemination.  As a digital enhancement project, the principal goal was to augment the resources on Royal manuscripts available to researchers on the British Library’s Digitised Manuscripts website.  Regular readers of the blog will know that we have published regular updates on the project of this digitisation (see the links at the end of this post).

Royal_ms_19_d_iii_f003r
God the creator, from a Bible Historiale, Royal MS 19 D III, f. 3r

The goal of the follow-on project was to provide freely-accessible full online digital coverage of 24,750 pages from approximately 40-50 manuscripts featured in the Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illuminated exhibition held at the British Library 11 November 2011-13 March 2012.  This objective was met and exceeded with 71 manuscripts now available on the website.  Thanks to all of you who provided ideas for digitisation selection.

Durham workshop

The project had two other objectives.  The first was to convene two workshops to allow students and scholars to build on the existing research undertaken as part of the Royal project by analysing texts and images of these manuscripts in collaboration with other researchers.  One workshop was held at Durham University on 6 June 2012, hosted by Professor Richard Gameson, Department of History.  At the workshop eleven undergraduate students presented papers on manuscripts included in the Royal exhibition, and Roger Middleton, Lecturer Emeritus, Department of French Literature at the University of Nottingham, presented a live display of the new research capabilities of the Digitised Manuscripts website.  The second workshop was designed for post-graduate students, and was held in London on 9 November 2012.  This workshop explored the research possibilities of digitisation in a seminar examining three original manuscripts together with their magnified digital images.

The third output was the publication of the book, which is a collection of ten essays on the development of Royal libraries, enhancing and building on the research completed for the initial Royal project.  Two of the essays (by Richard Gameson and Catherine Reynolds) were drawn from the new research presented at the Frank Davis lecture series held at the Courtauld Institute of Art in autumn 2011.  Four (by Michael Wood, Nicholas Vincent, John Goldfinch, and Jane Roberts) grew out of lectures given as part of the British Library lecture series accompanying the exhibition.  One (by James Carley) is on a royal manuscript that was once a part of the Old Royal Library but was not included in the exhibition, and so his research is presented in the volume for the first time.  The remaining three contributions (by Joanna Fronska, Scot McKendrick, and Kathleen Doyle) build on research that was undertaken for the initial Royal Manuscripts project presented in the exhibition catalogue.  Thanks to the grant provided by the AHRC, the book is extensive illustrated with ninety-four colour illustrations.   

AHRC

Previous Royal Manuscripts blog posts:

http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2012/11/new-additions-to-digitised-manuscripts.html

http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2012/08/chronicles-lancelot-and-a-journey-to-jerusalem-royal-manuscripts-now-online.html

http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2012/08/gospels-psalms-and-prayer-rolls-more-royal-devotional-manuscripts-online.html

http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2012/08/books-of-beasts-adventure-and-two-from-new-minster-new-royal-manuscripts-online.html

http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2012/08/psalters-bibles-and-the-end-of-days-devotional-texts-from-the-royal-collection-go-online.html

http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2012/06/books-of-history-war-and-mystery-more-royal-manuscripts-go-online.html

http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2012/06/crowns-romances-and-chronicles-aplenty-new-royal-manuscripts-online.html

http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2012/05/the-chosen-royals.html

http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2012/03/keep-your-royal-suggestions-coming.html

http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2012/02/which-royal-manuscripts-should-we-digitise.html

- Kathleen Doyle

20 February 2014

The Lovers Who Changed History

Add comment Comments (0)

Henry and Anne: The Lovers Who Changed History is to be broadcast tonight on Channel 5 (Thursday, 20 February, 8pm). Presented by historian Suzannah Lipscomb, the first episode features Anne Boleyn’s Book of Hours (British Library King's MS 9), in which she and King Henry VIII wrote flirtatious messages to each other.

231v
Miniature of Christ as the Man of Sorrows kneeling before his tomb, with Henry VIII's message addressed to Anne Boleyn in the lower margin (London, British Library, MS King's 9, f. 231v).

The story of Henry and Anne's love affair is well-known; but less so is the precious evidence found in this Book of Hours, held by the British Library, which contains secret messages exchanged by the lovers. Henry portrayed himself as a lovesick king by placing his message beneath an image of the man of sorrows, writing in French ‘If you remember my love in your prayers as strongly as I adore you, I shall hardly be forgotten, for I am yours. Henry R  forever.’ Anne replied in English, writing beneath a miniature of the Annunciation: 'Be daly prove you shall me fynde, To be to you bothe lovynge and kynde.'

066v
Miniature of the Annunciation to Mary by the Archangel Gabriel, with Anne Boleyn's note in the lower margin (London, British Library, MS King's 9, f. 66v).

We can only speculate how Henry and Anne came to exchange these private, scribbled messages. Perhaps Henry wrote his first, and passed the book to Anne Boleyn, who returned the favour. Hopefully we will find our more tonight: don't forget to watch the documentary!

Lipscomb

Julian Harrison

The Medieval Manuscripts Blog is delighted to be shortlisted for the National UK Blog Awards (Arts & Culture category). For more information about the nomination, see the Awards website.

18 January 2014

A Map at the End of the World

Add comment Comments (0)

Now fully digitised on our Digitised Manuscripts site, and currently on loan to the National Library of Australia for the Mapping Our World exhibition, Royal MS 14 C IX is one of the British Library’s copies of Ranulph Higden’s Polychronicon, and one of numerous manuscripts in our collection containing medieval maps of the world.

Higden coined the name Historia Polychronicon – meaning ‘a history of many ages’ – to encapsulate the universal scope of his chronicle, which encompassed not only the history of the entire world from Creation to his own era of the fourteenth century, but also its geography as well.

001ROY000014C09U00001VRB
Map of the world from Ranulph Higden’s Polychronicon, England, c. 1350, Royal MS 14 C IX, ff. 1v-2

This marrying of history and geography can be seen with particular clarity in the large mappa mundi at the beginning of Royal MS 14 C IX, unique among the nearly 150 surviving copies of the Polychronicon in containing two maps (see above).  Unlike their modern counterparts, medieval maps were not concerned solely with landmasses, mountains, rivers, borders and cities, nor with ‘to-scale’ representation.  They were conceptual objects, upon which time as well as space were plotted, with historical events shown alongside visual or prose descriptions of the topography and people of the world. 

Royal_ms_14_c_ix_f001v_mesopotamia_detail
Detail of Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, from Ranulph Higden’s Polychronicon, England, c. 1350, Royal MS 14 C IX, f. 1v

Following a pattern laid down by earlier maps, this one divides the world into the three known continents: Asia in the upper half (f. 1v), Africa stretched along the right and Europe in the lower left-hand corner (f. 2r), with England coloured in red. 

Royal_ms_14_c_ix_f002r_england_detail
Detail of England, from Ranulph Higden’s Polychronicon, England, c. 1350, Royal MS 14 C IX, f. 1v

All is surrounded by green ocean, and buffeted by the winds, which are represented by twelve heads, each huffing and puffing.  Major rivers are shown: the Euphrates and the Tigris enclosing Mesopotamia (which means ‘between two rivers’; see above), the Nile snaking its way across Africa, the Rhine coming down from the Alps, and even the Thames meandering past Oxford and London.  Many of the descriptive labels are excerpted from the text of the Polychronicon, indicating that its creator was familiar with Higden’s book, and perhaps used this very copy to annotate the map.

Royal_ms_14_c_ix_f002v_detail
Detail of the Garden of Eden, from Ranulph Higden’s Polychronicon, England, c. 1350, Royal MS 14 C IX, f. 2v

The map also charts the flow of Christian history.  The blank panel at the top is intended to feature a drawing of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (as seen on the other map in this Polychronicon on f. 2v; see above).  Babylon and the Tower of Babel are beneath it, followed by a rather charming sketch of Noah in his ark with a ram, a lion and a stag. 

Royal_ms_14_c_ix_f001v_noah_detail
Detail of Noah in the ark with a ram, lion, and a stag, from Ranulph Higden’s Polychronicon, England, c. 1350, Royal MS 14 C IX, f. 1v

Jerusalem is given particular prominence, but most remarkable is possibly the tiniest representation of the Crucifixion in a manuscript in the British Library. 

Royal_ms_14_c_ix_f001v_crucifixion_detail copy
Detail of the city of Jerusalem and the Crucifixion, from Ranulph Higden’s Polychronicon, England, c. 1350, Royal MS 14 C IX, f. 1v

Beneath the label ‘Mons Caluarie’ (Mount Calvary), we see Christ on the cross, the nails in his hands and feet and the wound in his side all clearly visible, accompanied by two figures, presumably the Virgin Mary and St. John the Evangelist. 

Important sites in subsequent Christian history are marked in the lower half of the map: Rome and St. Peter’s as the centre of the Catholic Church, and Santiago de Compostela as the last stage in the Christianization of Europe.

Royal_ms_14_c_ix_f002r_santiago_detail
Detail of the pilgrimage trail ending in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, from Ranulph Higden’s Polychronicon, England, c. 1350, Royal MS 14 C IX, f. 1v

In Genesis, there are six days of Creation, followed by a seventh day of rest.  St Augustine interpreted this as a prefiguration of the course of human existence, dividing history into six ‘ages of the world’ and proposing that the Last Judgement would occur at the end of the sixth age.  Although Higden divided the historical books of the Polychronicon along different lines, nevertheless he retained the sixfold structure that had been a common feature of universal history since Orosius’s Historia aduersos paganos.  Higden wove together universal and insular historical divisions of time, concentrating the first five ages in the first two historical books of the Polychronicon, and dividing the remaining four according to successive invasions – Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Viking, and Norman – which had long been depicted in history books as divine punishment for people’s sinfulness.  God was immanent in the medieval world and his intervention in human history in the sixth age an imminent possibility.  The reader of this copy of the Polychronicon found themselves at the end of the world in more ways than one.

- James Freeman

20 November 2013

The True History of Richard II

Add comment Comments (0)

David Tennant (of Doctor Who and Hamlet fame) is currently wooing audiences in the new Royal Shakespeare Company production of Richard II. This is one of William's Shakespeare's most famous history plays, notable for the richness of its language (“This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle ... This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England”) and its depiction of the king's decline and overthrow. But Shakespeare was equally notorious for embellishing the facts -- to what extent does his play reflect the true history of Richard II?

Harley_ms_1319_f002r

The presentation page of ‘The Capture and Death of King Richard’, showing the author, Jean Creton, and the Duke of Burgundy (London, British Library, MS Harley 1319, f. 2r).

Much of our knowledge of the downfall of King Richard II of England (1377–1399) is based on a contemporary account entitled La Prinse et Mort du Roy Richart (‘The Capture and Death of King Richard’). This work was composed by the French historian Jean Creton (c. 1386–1420), and presented to Philip the Bold, duke of Burgundy. Creton had been sent by King Charles VI of France to accompany Richard on a doomed expedition to Ireland in 1399, and was present when the English king was seized at Conwy in North Wales by the supporters of Henry Bolingbroke (the future Henry IV). La Prinse et Mort du Roy Richart records the official version of Richard II's death, namely that the king had died by starvation; but Creton believed that Richard remained alive and in prison. In 1402, when the French received reports that Richard II was in Scotland, Creton was despatched to ascertain the truth, at which point he finally concluded that King Richard was indeed dead.

A number of manuscripts of La Prinse et Mort du Roy Richart survive, one of which (Harley MS 1319) can be viewed in its entirety on the British Library's Digitised Manuscripts site. Made in Paris early in the 15th century, and painted by the Virgil Master, the manuscript in question contains a series of 16 miniatures which depict events in the final year of Richard II's reign.

A selection of images from Harley MS 1319 is reproduced here. We highly recommend that you look at the others on Digitised Manuscripts, so that you can see how people living in the 15th century would have viewed the life of Richard II, events which even at that time were subject to mystery and suspicion.

 

Harley_ms_1319_f007v

 The relief ships (London, British Library, MS Harley 1319, f. 7v). 

 

Harley_ms_1319_f012r

 Archbishop Arundel preaching (London, British Library, MS Harley 1319, f. 12r).

 

Harley_ms_1319_f019v

 Richard II at Conwy (London, British Library, MS Harley 1319, f. 19v).

 

Harley_ms_1319_f030v

 Henry Bolingbroke and the dukes (London, British Library, MS Harley 1319, f. 30v).

 

Harley_ms_1319_f050r

Richard II and Henry Bolingbroke at Flint Castle (London, British Library, MS Harley 1319, f. 50r).

 

Harley_ms_1319_f053v

 Richard II delivered to the citizens of London (London, British Library, MS Harley 1319, f. 53v).

 

Harley_ms_1319_f057r

Henry Bolingbroke recognized as king by the parliament (London, British Library, MS Harley 1319, f. 57r).

14 November 2013

A New Life for Royal Manuscripts

Add comment Comments (0)

It is always a great pleasure for us in the Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts Section to see the many and varied new ways that people make use of our 'old' material; see, for example, the dozens of retweets on our @BLMedieval Twitter account, or our previous post about a film inspired by the Luttrell Psalter. So, when Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Leckey asked to borrow several banners that had been on display during Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination for an exhibition he was curating, we were thrilled to participate.

Leckey's exhibition The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things was sponsored by the Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, and travelled to Liverpool, Nottingham, and Bexhill on Sea earlier this year. The exhibition explored 'how our relationships with artworks and common objects alike are being transformed through new information technologies' and included works of art from every genre and period. If you weren't able to catch the exhibition, here are a few images of our Royal banners in action!

56

Installation view: The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things curated by Mark Leckey, a Hayward Touring exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary 27 April – 30 June 2013. Photo: Andy Keate

DSC_3853

Installation View: The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things curated by Mark Leckey, a Hayward Touring exhibition at De La Warr Pavilion 13 July – 20 October 2013. Photo: Nigel Green

51

Installation View:  detail of a Mappa mundi from Bartholomaeus Angelicus' De proprietatibus rerum, Royal MS 15 E III, f. 67v, behind Double Dome, 1967 by Derek Boshier, courtesy the Arts Council Collection from The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things curated by Mark Leckey, a Hayward Touring exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary 27 April – 30 June 2013. Photo: Andy Keate

07 October 2013

Fancy Another Giant List of Digitised Manuscript Hyperlinks?

Add comment Comments (0)

As promised back in July, we have an updated list of digitised manuscripts to offer you, our loyal readers.  This master list contains details of everything that has so far been uploaded by the Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts department, complete with hyperlinks to each individual record on our Digitised Manuscripts site.  You can download the Excel spreadsheet here:   Download BL Medieval and Earlier Digitised Manuscripts Master List 07.10.13

Add_ms_28962_f014v
Miniature of King Alfonso V praising our spreadsheet as Bishop Juan de Casanova looks on, from the Prayerbook of Alfonso V of Aragon - a new arrival to our list! produced in Spain (Valencia), 1436-1443, Add MS 28962, f. 14v

We should have another new list for you in 3 months - happy hyperlink clicking!

- Sarah J Biggs

Greek, Harley Science, Royal, and Medieval Manuscripts projects. - See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2013/07/fancy-a-giant-list-of-digitised-manuscript-hyperlinks.html#sthash.zXn4I41e.dpuf
Greek, Harley Science, Royal, and Medieval Manuscripts projects. - See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2013/07/fancy-a-giant-list-of-digitised-manuscript-hyperlinks.html#sthash.zXn4I41e.dpuf

03 October 2013

It's a Busy Life in Camelot

Add comment Comments (0)

Those who are familiar with Royal MS 14 E iii, the gorgeous Arthurian manuscript which was in our Royal Exhibition last year and is now fully digitised on our Digitised Manuscripts site, will know that it contains The Estoire del Saint Graal, La Queste del Saint Graal, and Morte Artu, which tell the religious and mystical sections of the legends of King Arthur.

Add MS 10282 f. 91 K147734
Detail of a miniature of Arthur and Merlin at dinner at Pentecost, northern France (Saint-Omer or Tournai), c. 1316, Add MS 10292, f. 91r

In our collections we have another manuscript made at the same time by the same workshop in northern France, which contains the entire French prose ‘Vulgate Cycle’, as it is often called, and is now divided into 3 volumes: Additional MSS 10292, 10293 and 10294.  Our virtual exhibition on Arthurian manuscripts on the Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts puts these manuscripts into context.

In addition to the texts in the Royal manuscript, these three volumes also contain the Histoire de Merlin, about Merlin’s early involvement in the story, and the Lancelot du Lac, the original stories of Lancelot and the Knights of the Round Table and their chivalric exploits, including the love story of Lancelot and Guinevere.

There are catalogue entries and a selection of images already online in our Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts, but these manuscripts contain over 600 of these colourful, imaginative images, which are soon to be available online, as we are currently preparing them for digitisation. Here is a selection of the delights in store:

Add MS 10282 f. 42v K151434
Detail of a miniature of King Celidoine at sea in a small boat, with a lion, northern France (Saint-Omer or Tournai), c. 1316, Add MS 10292, f. 41v   Quiz question: who is King Celidoine and why is he having a 'Life of Pi' experience?  (A tip: see H. Oskar Sommer, The Vulgate Version of the Arthurian Romances (Washington, 1909-1916), a 7 volume edition based on the Additional Manuscripts.  It is available online here; happy searching!

Add MS 10283 f. 292v K149438
Detail of a miniature of Lancelot, fully armed, joining knights and ladies in an enchanted dance in a forest, northern France (Saint-Omer or Tournai), c. 1316, Add MS 10293, f. 292v

Add MS 10283 f. 325v K147523
Detail of a miniature of Lancelot and Guinevere, northern France (Saint-Omer or Tournai), c. 1316, Add MS 10293, f. 325v

Add_ms_10294_f029v_detail
Detail of a miniature of Hector and Gawain meeting in a forest, northern France (Saint-Omer or Tournai), c. 1316, Add MS 10294, f. 29v

Add_ms_10294_f089r
Miniatures of a lady being wounded by a sword while she mourns for Gawain, and of King Arthur ont the Wheel of Fortune with a blindfolded Lady Fortuna, northern France (Saint-Omer or Tournai), c. 1316, Add MS 10294, f. 89r

Watch this space and be the first to know when the full digitisation of these gorgeous manuscripts appear online!  Or follow us on Twitter @BLMedieval.

- Chantry Westwell