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Combat with Sir Pandolf Malateste, The Pageants of Richard Beauchamp

Combat with Sir Pandolf Malateste, The Pageants of Richard Beauchamp

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1485

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Julius E IV

Item number: f.7v

Length: 27.7

Width: 20.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Manuscript

Thought to have been made for Anne, Countess of Warwick and daughter of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick (1382-1439), this is the only illustrated biography of a secular figure to have survived from the late middle ages. Richard Beauchamp was a true high-flyer, but his daughter married Richard Neville ('The Kingmaker'), who opposed Edward IV and so caused the exclusion of Anne from all her possessions after his death. It is believed that, to help recover the family's reputation and property, Anne had the 'Pageants' written, probably from an account kept by the family and possibly under the supervision of John Rous (Beauchamp's chantry priest at the Collegiate Church of St Mary's, Warwick), and the extraordinary illustrations made by a Continental artist (known as the Caxton Master) to enhance further the glorifying message.

The pictures in the manuscript emphasise Richard's chivalric deeds over his military victories but always exploit any chance for grandeur and excitement. Here he engages in a foot-combat with Sir Pandolf Malateste, in the court of an Italian duke, sometimes identified as the Duke of Verona. The Warwick emblem, still in use today, of the silver bear with ragged staff is prominent on his helmet to identify him.

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