History by the Month: December and Charlemagne

This little early twelfth-century manuscript belonged to Matilda (c.1102-1167), daughter of Henry I of England, who married the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry V, in 1114. The text is a unique account of the imperial family, probably made in Würzburg. The picture here shows the first medieval emperor, Charlemagne, crowned in Rome on Christmas Day, 25... Continue Reading →

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History by the month: September and Elizabeth I

Matthew Parker had been chaplain to Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII. His close relationship with their daughter, Princess (later Queen) Elizabeth, had an important part to play in his life, She was born on 7 September 1533. This coloured engraving of Queen Elizabeth was pasted by Parker inside his own copy of the... Continue Reading →

History by the month: June and Stonehenge

    The Scala Mundi, or ‘Ladder of the World’, is a diagrammatical chronicle of universal history from the Creation to the early fourteenth century, when the manuscript was made. It includes the earliest known depiction of Stonehenge, described as having been built by Merlin. Stonehenge is still used annually to mark the summer solstice,... Continue Reading →

History by the Month: March and Alexander III

Manuscripts from medieval Scotland are rare. This is the unique copy of a chronicle of Scottish history assembled c.1447-49 for Walter Bower (1385-1449), abbot of Inchcolm Abbey, on the island in the Firth of Forth, north of Edinburgh. The illustration here shows the funeral of Alexander III, king of Scotland 1249-86, who died following a riding... Continue Reading →

History by the month: January and the New Year

The enormous two-volume Dover Bible was made in Canterbury, c.1160, for use at Dover Priory, where it was recorded in 1389. The initial here shows the prophet Isaiah, declaiming ‘Ve genti peccatritri’ (‘Woe to the sinful nation’, Isaiah 1:4). It is marked ‘lectio i’ in the margin. According to the preface at the beginning of... Continue Reading →

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