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Edward III and David II of Scotland, in a Historical Compilation

Edward III and David II of Scotland, in a Historical Compilation

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1390

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Nero D VI

Item number: f.61v

Length: 35.5

Width: 23

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

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 This collection of historical documents, a chronicle of English kings and rules for activities at the royal court was made during Richard's reign.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. The Treaty of Berwick-on-Tweed of 1357 marked a stage in the ongoing warfare between the English and Scots. The treaty released King David, whom the English had held in prison for the past eleven years, for a ransom of 100,000 marks. The illustration gives an optimistic vision of the agreement, with the English and Scottish kings shaking hands. The illustrated presentation of treaties in this manuscript resembles the work of an early spin doctor. It attempts an affirmation of Richard II's reign, via the feats of his Plantagenet forebears, which was sinking more deeply into trouble and unable to cope with the huge social and political upheavals of the times.

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