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Letter to Pope Martin V, in the Letters of John of Whethamsteade

Letter to Pope Martin V, in the Letters of John of Whethamsteade

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1460

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Claudius D I

Item number: f.3r

Length: 33.5

Width: 21.8

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Manuscript

John of Whethamstede (died 1465) had an exciting career as abbot of St Albans, a position he held twice. Frequent lawsuits, war and intensive building activity at the monastery formed the backdrop against he wrote histories, an early historical dictionary (the 'Granarium') and corresponded with luminaries of his day. A collection of his letters and histories, this manuscript belonged to the library of St Albans abbey. It was decorated by the same artist(s) who painted the ornament of a copy of his 'Granarium' which is also in the British Library.

The red title (rubric) at the beginning informs the reader that the letters of John de Whethamstede follow 'written at different times and without prologue'. The beautifully painted letter 'S' begins his letter to Pope Martin V, probably written about 1425, on the claims of Henry Chichele, archbishop of Canterbury, over the abbot's jurisdiction. The richly decorated border has emblems of John de Whethamstede, the Lamb of God and the eagle of St John, in its upper corners and emblems of St Albans abbey in the lower.

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