A Psalter is a book that contains the Bible's book of Psalms, a collection of poems and sacred songs attributed to King David, together with other variable texts such as a calendar, canticles, litany and prayers. Small and easy to handle, this book belonged to Henry VIII and was used by him in his private devotions.
The book is one of the calligrapher’s Jean Mallard’s most lavish productions, and was written and illuminated by him around 1540. It contains illuminated initials as well as eight larger illuminations that illustrate the principal divisions of the Psalms.
Several of the illustrations link Henry directly to King David. At the beginning of the Psalms, Henry sits in his Privy Chamber contemplating the Word of God ‘day and night’, just as the Psalmist admonishes. A further example can be seen in the image gallery, where Henry is shown fighting Goliath.
- Article by:
- Alixe Bovey
Men with dogs’ heads, creatures with giant feet, griffins, sirens and hellish demons can all be found in the illustrated pages of medieval manuscripts. Dr Alixe Bovey delves into the symbolic meaning of a variety of monsters to understand what they can teach us about life and belief in the Middle Ages.