Henry VII Being Presented With The Book, in a Collection of Astronomical Treatises and Tables
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
Believed to have been made for presentation to Henry VII, this manuscript contains astrological tables and treatises along with some other texts. A team of three artists created its decoration, varying with first- and second-rate renditions of later 15th century English painting and highly skilled work in Flemish style. An inscription on one of the pages gives the date of completion (30 June 1490) and the name Johannes Wellys, thought to be the scribe. Henry VII was the earliest English king known to have a library. A luxury illustrated book on astrology would have been desirable for a king because the stars were believed to exert powerful influences upon human character and affairs.
This manuscript provides one of the best documentations of the use of astrology by medieval kings in the picture on this page. It is in a section of the famous treatise by the 13th-century Tuscan astrologer Guido Bonatti on annual revolutions or the sun's entry into Aries at the beginning of the astrological year and movement through the zodiac. Placing the king's picture at this point compared his power in his kingdom with that of the sun upon the world. The bishop and presenter of the book point to the stars.