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Coronation Order of Richard II, in a Historical Compilation

Coronation Order of Richard II, in a Historical Compilation

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1390

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Nero D VI

Item number: f.70r

Length: 35.5

Width: 23

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

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King Richard II (1367-1400), son of Edward the Black Prince, was crowned at age ten, with the regency of a council headed by John of Gaunt. His achievements when an adolescent in negotiating an end to the Peasants' Rebellion, 1381, were not lived up to when he ruled the country as king. He alienated Parliament, was deposed in 1399 and died (probably murdered) a prisoner at Pontefract Castle. This collection of historical documents, a chronicle of English kings and rules for activities at the royal court was made during Richard's reign. It is possible that the king had it made for his ally, Thomas de Mowbray. Its miniatures resemble closely others surviving in manuscripts decorated for the monks of Westminster Abbey as well as a few linked to Richard II, who apparently was an outstanding royal patron of painters. The Wilton Diptych (in the National Gallery, London), probably his personal devotional shrine, represents him before English royal saints adoring the Virgin and Child. This document is the coronation order of Richard II, its first letter historiated (holding a picture) with a coronation scene. The order is placed near the centre of this collection of documents and texts probably intended to promote an image of the kingship of Richard II, mostly via the successes of his Plantagenet forebears, and to assert the rules of his court for the benefit of the nobleman who would have owned or used the book.

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