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'About Accidents' by Guido Bonatti, in a Collection of Astronomical Treatises and Tables.

'About Accidents' by Guido Bonatti, in a Collection of Astronomical Treatises and Tables.

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1490

Shelfmark: Arundel MS 66

Item number: f.155v

Length: 44

Width: 29

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Manuscript

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 page opens a section of a famous treatise on the stars by the 13th-century Tuscan astrologer, Guido Bonatti. Called 'About Accidents', it opens with a picture of a man holding a purse who stands beside shelves with golden vases and dishes and an open chest of gold coins. The two words in the lower margin are 'catchwords', the first words on the next page, an aid to assembly of the manuscript.

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