Parker Library Calendar – July

July image
MS 16, f. 152v

A whole municipal band of musicians are crowded onto the back of an elephant here, including two trumpeters, a drummer, and a boy piper, as well as the Magister bestie (‘Master of the beast’) at the front ringing a great bell. The occasion was the return from the Crusades by Prince Richard of Cornwall (1209-1272), brother of Henry III of England and also of Isabella, wife of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor 1220-1250. As Richard passed through Cremona in July 1241 he was welcomed by an elephant, which had been given to Frederick II in 1229 by the Sultan of Egypt. On arrival in England, Prince Richard described the extraordinary event to Matthew Paris  (c. 1189-1259), artist monk of Saint Albans, who drew this picture in the margin of his autograph Chronica Maiora, or ‘Greater History’.

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