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Jousting at the Coronation of Joan of Navarre, in the Pageants of Richard Beauchamp

Jousting at the Coronation of Joan of Navarre, in the Pageants of Richard Beauchamp

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1485

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Julius E IV

Item number: f.3r

Length: 27.7

Width: 20

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.

Choice of subjects for illustration focuses upon the spectacular events of Richard's life, optimising the grandeur of his life. Here he jousts at the coronation ceremony of Joan of Navarre (2nd wife of Henry IV) in 1385. The space and figures in it radiate around Richard, his helmet sporting the Warwick emblem, a bear with ragged staff. Above, the queen points to him, her gesture echoed by the man to the left who selects the strongest lance. Around the lower edges of the picture, squires and servants prepare more lances. The pictures were probably drawn first because the captions always avoid the picture.

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